According to a report from CNN, White House officials are losing confidence that Ukraine will be able to retake all the territory Russia has captured since it invaded on February 24 as Russian forces continue to make gains in the eastern Donbas region.
Unnamed US officials told CNN that President Biden’s advisors have started debating if and how the US should start convincing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should change his definition of what “victory” will look like.
Zelensky has repeatedly stated that Ukraine’s goal is to drive Russia out of all territory it has captured since it invaded. He also has said he wants to expel Russian forces from Crimea, a territory Moscow has controlled since 2014.
But even as the US and NATO are sending more and more heavy weapons to Kyiv, the prospect of Ukraine being able to launch a sufficient counter-offensive does not seem realistic. Ukraine is taking heavy casualties, with officials admitting they are losing between 100 and 200 troops each day.
The fact that Russia would have the upper hand in the Donbas was obvious from the start of the war. But after Russian forces withdrew from areas in the north near Kyiv and Chernihiv in early April, Western officials began pushing the narrative that Ukraine can win. But over the past month, the narrative has collapsed as Ukraine is clearly outgunned.
Both US and Ukrainian officials believe that how Ukraine does on the battlefield moving forward is entirely dependent on Western military aid. “Whether Ukraine can take back these territories is in large part, if not entirely, a function of how much support we give them,” a congressional aide told CNN.
US officials told CNN that even though they have a more pessimistic assessment, the Biden administration is not pushing Ukraine to make territorial concessions to end the fighting. Since Russia invaded, the Biden administration has shown no interest in diplomacy as a potential solution, and the US’s allies have actively discouraged Ukraine from negotiating.