Washington loses hope for peace talks in Ukraine due to the suspension of the counter-offensive

The slow progress of Ukrainian troops during the operation to liberate the occupied territories, which began in the summer, forces the US authorities to reconsider the prospects for ending the conflict. Washington hoped that the successes of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the battlefield would make it possible to start negotiations with Russia near the end of the year, where Kiev would act from a position of strength. But now the confrontation is looking more and more like an open-ended conflict, writes The Wall Street Journal, citing Western officials.

While the development poses some internal political problems for President Joe Biden, the White House will not turn down long-term aid to Ukraine, officials and experts say. “Of course, giving support is easier when things are going well,” John Herbst, former US ambassador to Ukraine and now senior director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, told the paper. But the Biden administration has no choice but to continue supplying weapons, he is sure: if Russia is even partially victorious,

it would be a strategic failure of Biden’s foreign policy that would overshadow even the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

According to a Western diplomat in Washington, the United States may have to come to terms with the fact that the war in Ukraine will not end soon and, together with its allies, must prepare to supply it with weapons for years. “The only real answer is the mobilization of industry, which will make it clear to Ukrainians and Russians that Ukraine will always have everything it needs,” he said. In a similar vein, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley spoke last week at the Aspen Institute’s annual security forum in the US. We need to get as many weapons as possible to Ukraine as soon as possible, he said: “People say you can’t empty all the shelves, you have to save something for a rainy day. So that’s what it is – a rainy day.

At the recent NATO summit in Vilnius, Allies agreed to provide Ukraine with guarantees of long-term military support, to adopt a multi-year assistance program aimed at accelerating the transition of Ukrainian armed forces to NATO standards, and to help rebuild the security and defense sector.

In May, the Financial Times reported, citing several European officials who are constantly discussing the situation in Ukraine with the White House, that Washington regards the next five months as a critical period in which Ukraine should achieve significant success on the battlefield. “It’s important for America to portray this war as successful, including at home, to prove that all these aid packages contributed to a successful Ukrainian offensive,” the FT source said.

But then the rhetoric changed. The counter-offensive will not be easy and there is no need to wait for quick results, now repeat Western military and officials from US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Meanwhile, Washington continues to deliver one military aid package after another. Its size has already exceeded $43 billion. Visiting Helsinki after the NATO summit, Biden said:

I hope and expect you will see Ukraine making significant progress on the offensive and reaching somewhere along the way [мирного] agreements through negotiations.

Kiev faces a very difficult task, a senior European official whose country is one of Ukraine’s most vocal supporters told the WSJ. While surprises are possible, expectations in his government are low. “We don’t expect them to be able to return all the territory occupied by Russia, especially if we consider Crimea and even the lands lost in 2014 in Donbas,” he said.


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