So, what's the risk of a wider war resulting from the Ukrainian conflict? How about the total absolute destruction of all life in North America and Western Europe! Does that sound like a risk? I'd say so! Here's where we are and why it's possible!
Putin, obviously, has lost perspective and badly misjudged both his military's ability, the resolve of the Ukrainian people and their willingness to fight for their country. Most Russian soldiers are conscripts, young and without combat experience. Only a few NCO's and officers have war-fighting experience. However, none are really motivated to attack and kill Ukrainian people.
The Ukrainians, by contrast, are fighting to remain free and independent. Many grew up in a free country and do not wish to be a subservient Russian client state. They are far more aligned by culture, education and experience with Western Europe. In the military, there's an axiomatic truth that fighters on their home territory have a 6 to 1 advantage over invading foreign forces. Of the 40 odd million Ukrainians, I imagine some 2 to 5 million have picked up arms and are fighting. The 150,000 Russians, despite their armor and aircraft, are at a severe disadvantage. In fact, some 4,000 Russians are already dead vs perhaps 400 Ukrainians.
The Ukrainians may not have the technical advantages but they are planting very deadly and effective IEDs and booby traps. Their civilians are tossing petrol bombs and snipers are picking off Russian troops. The man-carried anti-tank missiles are taking out Russian tanks and armored vehicles as well as ground to air weapons, which have downed a number of helicopters and aircraft. Even the few Ukrainian fighter aircraft have shot down Russians.
The Russians, once inside the cities, will be and are subjected to sniper fire, booby traps and relentless hostility. What were seeing here is the truth of the old saying that it's not the size of the dog in the fight but instead, the size of the fight in the dog!
Putin is losing this war and the question is what is he going to do, what is he willing to do and what will he do? The western world has seriously sanctioned Russia. Every Russian with money or property in any western country has seen their holdings seized. They have been made pariahs and are being persecuted everywhere. Many are being listed as war criminals and even officers and soldiers who order or engage in the murder of Ukrainians will face the international courts of human rights for war crimes against humanity. No doubt Putin has made a terrible mistake!
Clearly, the Russians are faced with a most serious problem. How far gone is Putin, is he nuts, will he start world war III? The answer for us is "we don't know?" Do the top Russian leaders know? I hope, for all our sakes, they do and are seriously thinking about what to do!
My most serious recommendation to the Russian leaders is arrest Putin and get the army out of Ukraine immediately! Putin is a trapped rat facing an enraged world. He has only two options 1) withdraw immediately or 2) double down and use whatever weapons he has to eliminate all Ukrainian resistance. That means likely the murder of a minimum of five to ten million human beings and chancing a far wider, far bloodier and far longer conflict.
Also, that necessarily means the doomsday clock will move far closer to midnight. If ole Puttie goes for mass murder, there's the very real likelihood of western NATO forces actively assisting the Ukrainians. That, my friends, could very well be the trigger for a catastrophic nuclear disaster. Why?
If western forces get involved in active (open) warfare with Russian forces the Russians will loose. That you can take to the bank! The NATO air and ground forces will, in 24 hours, clear the skies and the warthogs will eliminate all Russian armor and supply depots that same day. That will spell the end of the Russian conventional forces. Putin will be a doubly cornered rat with only one move left- Nuclear war! Is he crazy enough to loose Armageddon- if so, it will spell the end of all western civilization! I guarantee, should the worst come to be, you can bend over and kiss your fat ass goodbye. That will be all she wrote!