Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Washington’s European allies that the US believes the war in Ukraine could last through the end of 2022, CNN reported Friday, citing two European officials.
The report said that many Western officials have assessed there’s no short-term end in sight for the war, and public comments from US officials have reflected this. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has warned of a “protracted conflict” that he said could go on “for months or even longer.”
Last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said he believes the war will continue for years. “I do think this is a very protracted conflict, and I think it’s measured in years. I don’t know about decade, but at least years for sure,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.
A senior State Department official told CNN that Blinken has “has discussed with his counterparts our concern that the conflict could be protracted, but all of his engagements have revolved around how best to bring it to a halt as quickly as possible.”
But Blinken hasn’t explored diplomacy with Russia as a potential avenue to bring about an end to the war. Blinken hasn’t spoken with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, since February 15, and President Biden doesn’t appear to have plans to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Instead of diplomacy with Moscow, the US is significantly increasing its military aid to Ukraine. On Wednesday, Biden authorized a new $800 million weapons package for Ukraine, bringing the total military aid pledged since Russia invaded on February 24 to about $2.6 billion.
A second senior State Department official told CNN that the US has “done a lot and so we do have faith and we always had faith in our Ukrainian partners. But as the fight doubles down, so does our commitment to give them weapons and equipment that they can use.”
Russia formally warned the US this week to stop arming Ukraine in a diplomatic note sent to the State Department by the Russian Embassy in Washington. The Russians said that the Western campaign to arm Ukraine was “adding fuel” to the conflict and could lead to “unpredictable consequences.”
Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in negotiations, but the US and its allies have signaled they don’t want Kyiv to grant any concessions to Moscow. The Washington Post reported last week that for some NATO members “it’s better for the Ukrainians to keep fighting, and dying, than to achieve a peace that comes too early or at too high a cost to Kyiv and the rest of Europe.”