Although it is an annual tradition to contribute predictions for the coming year, I humbly acknowledge that I am not very good at this art form. Reality is often crazier or more unpredictable than I can imagine. But shame on you, one day you’ll get it right.
Events we already know about are the World Ice Hockey Championships in Finland and Latvia, the coronation of Charles III in May, and the Turkish presidential elections in the summer. Other countries where people go to the polls include Finland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Nigeria, Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh. And during the year, India is predicted to become the most populous country instead of China.
We start with the war in Ukraine. Since there are elections in the Russian Federation in 2024, the current leadership should come up with some kind of positive result during the year to create a sense of unity and victory. Admittedly, the conflict may be frozen for a few months, but by the end of the year they should achieve their goals.
Heavy fighting has raged around the small town of Bachmut in eastern Donbass, and the Ukrainians have moved much of their military capacity to the area. Both sides have suffered heavy casualties, with the difference that the Russians have mostly sacrificed private combat forces (the Wagner group), who in turn have recruited convicts for the difficult mission, while the Ukrainians have sacrificed more of their regular forces.
At the same time, the Russians have built fortifications in the south, to protect the narrow strip of land down to the Black Sea. They have also mobilised hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers, of whom we have seen very little. The militia in the Donbass, the Wagner group and Chechen troops are still in charge of the overall operation.
One wonders what the Russians are up to? And we will probably get an answer to this sooner or later, through a massive operation in the south or in the north, where Ukrainian troops are sparser. An attack on Kiev cannot be ruled out either.
But, if the Russians can take enough land around the city of Donbass, so that they can end the eight-year artillery bombardment, then they could freeze the conflict in whole or in part, and even call it a victory. It would be at least a partial victory; annexing an area larger than Austria, where most of the industries are located, is of course a geopolitical success, even if it does not succeed in overthrowing the leadership in Kiev. Many hope for such a development, without further expansion on the battlefield and a march westwards.
And we now hear more and more Western countries complaining that their military stocks are dwindling because of support to Ukraine, and that production cannot keep up with increasingly extensive consumption. In other words, there won’t be as many arms deliveries to Ukraine in 2023, and then the war won’t continue. Without support from the West, there is no war. The Ukrainians will have to sit down at the negotiating table and agree on the status of the Russian-speaking regions, a negotiation that comes too late, and it will be the Russians who dictate the terms.
So, I predict some sort of Russian victory in 2023, barring any unforeseen events. And the unforeseen in this context I would rather not think about, because it would involve one of the parties using nuclear weapons. Or Poland being tricked into the war. We could also see a coincidental escalation of the unrest in the Balkans, particularly in Kosovo, and the conflict between East and West could also spread to Taiwan.
The economic crisis in the West continues. Our financial system is fragile, and some kind of crash cannot be ruled out. Logistics and transport were damaged by the Covid policy and restrictions. Combined with ill-planned sanctions on Russian exports, this led to difficult conditions, not least in the energy sector, also affected by the nuclear phase-out in favour of weaker complementary energy sources such as solar and wind power.
New viral outbreaks cannot be ruled out, but I think 2023 will be more about how badly the last pandemic was handled by politicians and pharmaceutical companies. But it will take bold prosecutors and a strong judiciary to come to terms with the 2021 events.
American politics will increasingly degenerate into pure clowning; it is now no secret that Biden is way too old for the job, and that his administration is run by incompetent bureaucrats with a weak or distorted grasp of reality. Many mistakes will be made, for which both Americans and other countries will pay the price for many years to come.
While the bureaucrats in Brussels continue to administer the Union as if it were still in its heyday. During the year, the euro will be introduced in Croatia, replacing its previous currency, the Kuna. Perhaps Croatia will be the last country to make the currency changeover? And don’t expect a painless transformation this time. Meanwhile, other member states are calling for the EU parliament to be dissolved over corruption scandals and other issues. The situation is looking more and more like the last days of Rome.
Politics in Sweden is also lousy, but by no means unique, but is controlled from elsewhere via the EU or our old friends in NATO. Sweden as a nation has no say, and has long since given up its sovereignty and popular government. The situation in the country is increasingly reminiscent of Brazil, where large numbers of ethnic groups are pitted against each other, isolating themselves in separate communities. The country is slowly being torn apart by feuds, fear, abuse of power, corruption, crime and violence.
All in all, things look bleak. Although, as they say, it’s darkest before it dawns. Of course there is a way out of all this, but don’t expect a saviour or a king to lead us. No, it’s usually ordinary people and their toil that can get a country back on its feet. It’s time for everyone to start digging where we stand. 2023 should be an interesting year.