As Russia and Ukraine prepare for what may be the largest tank battle in Europe since World War II, the future of Vladimir Putin’s war remains impossible to predict. Large-scale tank and artillery engagements in the flat, open terrain of eastern Ukraine could favor Moscow, and the sheer weight of the Russian military machine could force territorial gains, but other outcomes are possible. Ukrainian courage, tactical brilliance, and access to Western arms and equipment could hand Russia another series of humiliating setbacks.
The worst-case scenario for Mr. Putin would be that Russia’s war in Ukraine ends in a wholesale military defeat, with the collapse of the pro-Russian enclaves in Donbass and Moldova, and Ukraine’s integration into the West. Such a defeat would be more than personal humiliation; It could be a setback for him, ending his career. It would also psychologically and strategically shake Russia’s standing and self-image. The course of Russian history would change.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-end-of-russia-empire-ukraine-war-eastern-slavic-national-identity-invade-soviet-czar-putin-ussr-11650307491 The end of the Russian Empire?