Fallen as of today: Kherson. Encircled cities from this list as of today: Kharkiv and Mariupol. Fighting has reached the center of Mariupol, so it is likely to fall soon. So that would leave only one additional city to fall to close this question.
Shoutout to @Jgalt for his news reporting.
Going way down based upon Putin's Victory Day speech. Also, Air Force participation was canceled based upon "bad weather," clearly not true. Also, Putin's stiff, yet wavering body language,
The rise in private militaries in Russia suggests that power players are preparing for a civil war. On the other hand, the owners of these private armies may have unfortunate encounters with windows or stairs.
I had been low on this question based on my belief that Mariupol would still be controlled by Russia by the end of the year. Russia would not permit a credible count of the city's deaths. However, things are looking up for Ukraine now, in which case it may be able to get a credible count of Mariupol's fatalities.
Putin has declared peace talks are "dead." Given Putin's messaging to his citizens, it seems unlikely that he would ever stoop to being in the same room with Zelensky. See also @kievalet's post below.
Holy cow, at one source, Brent futures are almost there at $130.20! Source: https://www.investing.com/commodities/brent-o…. However, the futures price on NASDAQ is $118.11, source https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/commod…. The resolution source pegs it as $129.35 right now, source https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/future/….
Given the collapse of much of Russia's forces, going up to 33%. I would go higher except that the city is so devastated that there are few people left to save, and few assets left to aid the war effort. I expect that Ukraine would take the entire Kherson oblast first, and perhaps even Crimea first. However, if Putin is deposed this year, I would greatly increase the probability of Ukraine taking Mariupol.
Russia has terminated the inspections required under START. I expect Russia to refrain from formal withdrawal and simply continue now with informal withdrawal. I'm looking at this as similar to the question of Russia formally declaring war on Ukraine. Doing these things only informally is a strategy for preventing the Russian public from rebelling.
If I'm wrong, oh, well....
Dateline 5-25-2022 ...eight million people are displaced inside the war-torn country itself. Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60555472
Dateline 3-29-2022 ...Ukrainian official close to the talks...said that chances of success in cease-fire talks had grown in recent weeks, “from 10% two weeks ago to 50%.” Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-and-russ…
Erdogan offers to host peace talks between Putin, Zelensky. Dateline 3-17-2022 In call with Putin, Erdogan offers to host him and Zelensky for talks The Kremlin said that Russia was putting colossal energy into talks on a possible peace deal with Ukraine that could swiftly stop the Russian military operation there. Source: https://www.jpost.com/international/article-701571
Putin's attacks on Ukraine's electrical power system appear to have countered his loss of Kherson, thus satisfying the hawks while avoiding the need to draft additional cannon fodder. However, things could change is vast numbers of mobiks were to die from hypothermia. But this might take beyond the forecast horizon to endanger his rule.
@TeeJayKay Thank you, I stand corrected.