The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington has laid out the likely options for the Kremlin in an essay by CIA veteran Philip Wasielewski and CSIS security chief Seth Jones.
Mr Putin could peel off the Black Sea coast and link up to the Crimea, perhaps pushing beyond Odessa to deprive Ukraine of its entire coast. However, the British warning on Saturday suggests that he aims for total decapitation of the Ukrainian state.
He could seize the whole of Orthodox Eastern Ukraine as far as the Dnieper River. But this would leave a large enough rump to survive as a viable state and permanent headache.
The conquest would have to include Kiev, the great prize for Mr Putin, who harks back to Kievan Rus as the ancient cradle of the Russian nation in his mythologised ethno-nationalist version of history. His 7,000 word manifesto published last year dismisses the Ukrainian state as the invention of Soviet cartographers.
Read it all (registration).
🇺🇦 "It is a fair bet that Europe will roll over as it did over Crimea, and despairing Washington might accept a fait accompli and cut its losses" | writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 24, 2022