In the previous post of the series, I promised to show how both the Economic Power and Casualties Rates hypotheses can be combined within the same computational model. Yesterday, the SocArxiv finally published my preprint describing this model (it took several weeks to resolve some bureaucratic issues), and I now can direct readers to it:
Furthermore, thanks to my research assistant Jakob, you can now play with the model yourself:
The AWM is quite straightforward–essentially, an accounting device. The key assumptions are (1) future dynamics of war materiel production by the contenders, (2) how materiel is translated into casualties, and (3) how the end point is determined. The details are in the preprint.
But the overall message is very clear. Once the war settled into the attrition phase (by the end of 2022), and it was clear that Western sanctions failed to shut down Russian productive capacity, the eventual outcome became, essentially, a mathematical certainty. Of course, there is always a possibility of a low probability (“fat tail”) major game-changer, but conditioning on that it won’t happen, the model predicts, ultimately, Russian victory. This prediction is encapsulated in this graphic (which is a bit more sophisticated version of the main chart in the post I published in July, War in Ukraine IV: Projections):
Ten realizations generated by the AWM for the dynamics of Ukrainian casualties. The blue band represents the estimated end point (the level of casualties when the war becomes unsustainable).
While the final outcome is not in doubt (again, barring a game-changing event), there is a lot of uncertainty about how long the conflict will last (in the model, a brown curve intersecting the level somewhere within the blue band). Some of this uncertainty is due to various random events affecting the prediction, but even more is due to lack of precise knowledge about the model parameters and initial conditions (such as initial stocks of shells and rates of their expenditure), The latter problem will be somewhat ameliorated after the war ends, when better knowledge becomes available.
As I explain in the preprint, I used the AWM to explore what it would take to reverse the predicted outcome. It looks like an early suppression of Russia’s capacity to produce munitions is a necessary condition (but I would be curious to hear if a reader finds another set of assumptions). Since this didn’t happen by January 2023 (when the two alternative predictions, discussed in the previous post, were made), it is now clear which prediction was based in reality, and which was not.