The Ukraine Scenarios workshop was designed to facilitate a free-flowing discussion on plausible scenarios for the future of Ukraine to the year 2020. It was not a formal simulation with assigned roles, but an open dialogue among 13 participants of diverse expertise related to Ukraine. The objective of the session was to identify and develop three plausible, distinct, and consequential scenarios that merit the attention of U.S. foreign policy-makers.
The launching point for the discussion was a paper prepared by the CGA Scenarios Initiative team (see Appendix) that identified six “drivers of change” in Ukraine: political dynamics, questions of identity, demography, the economy, the energy sector, and foreign policy orientation. Each of these “drivers of change” has exhibited considerable variability in the past and has the potential to diverge significantly from its current trajectory in the future.
Scenarios, as conceived in this project, arise as such “drivers of change” evolve and interact over time, to the extent that a country would be described substantially differently in the year 2020 than at present. We have consciously chosen to deemphasize—without ignoring—the role of external forces in shaping change based on an impression we have gained from previous workshops that country experts tend to underestimate the degree of variability of factors internal to countries. Seemingly stable states surprise observers when they suddenly unravel—the USSR being the classic example. Expectations of stability often turn out, in retrospect, to have reflected limited information, embedded mindsets, political biases, and/or excessive caution. This observation does not amount to a general prediction of imminent instability, but recognizes that states are today subject to an extraordinary combination of internal, as well as external, demands.