The United States and Western Europe worry about the uncertain end of the war in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — An endless, unwinnable war in Europe? That is what NATO leaders fear and prepare for Russia’s war in Ukraine. it enters its third month with little sign of a decisive military victory for either side and no resolution in sight.

The possibility of an impasse is fueling concerns that Ukraine could remain a deadly European battleground and a source of continental and global instability for months, if not years, to come.

Energy and food security are more immediate concerns, but massive Western support for Ukraine while the world is still emerging from the coronavirus pandemic and struggling to deal with the effects of climate change could deepen the toll on the global economy. And if Russia decides to escalate, the risk of a broader conflict increases.

The United States and its allies are pumping a steady stream of lethal weaponry into Ukraine. to keep him in the fight. While most analysts say kyiv is at least holding its own, those infusions must continue if they are to support President Volodomyr Zelenskyy’s promise to win, or at least continue to match or repel Moscow’s advances.

Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no willingness to intensify the invasion either with a general mobilization of troops or the use of unconventional weapons, he has also shown no signs of backing down.. Neither will Zelenskyy, who now claims that Ukraine will not only repel the current Russian invasion, but will regain control of Crimea and other areas that Russia has occupied or otherwise controlled since 2014.

“It’s very hard to see how you could get a negotiated solution at this point,” said Ian Kelly, a retired veteran diplomat who served as US ambassador to Georgia, another former Soviet republic over which Russia has territorial plans. He added: “Neither side is willing to stop fighting and probably the most likely outcome is a war that lasts a couple of years. Ukraine would be a festering sore in the middle of Europe.”

“There is no way that Ukraine is going to take a step back,” Kelly said. “They think they’re going to win.”

At the same time, Kelly said that no matter how many miscalculations Putin has made about Ukraine’s strength and will to resist or NATO allies’ unity and resolve, Putin cannot accept defeat or anything. less than a stage that he can claim to have. he achieved success.

“It would be political suicide for Putin to withdraw,” Kelly said.

US officials, beginning with President Joe Biden, appear to agree, even after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stunned by saying after a visit to kyiv last month that Washington’s goal is not just to help Ukraine to defend itself, but also “weaken” Russia to the point. where it poses no threat.

Putin “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about it,” Biden said Monday even after he signed legislation designed to restart World War II-era “lend-lease.” and he called on Congress to pass a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine.

So what needs to be done? French President Emmanuel Macron has attached great importance to a face-saving negotiated settlement for both Russia and Ukraine.

“We will have a peace to build tomorrow, let us never forget that,” Macron said on Monday. “We will have to do this with Ukraine and Russia around the table. Ukraine and Russia will mark the end of discussion and negotiation. But it will not be done in denial, or mutual exclusion, or even humiliation.”

US officials aren’t so sure, though they admit the endgame depends on Ukraine.

“Our strategy is to make sure Ukraine comes out of this victorious,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said this week. “Ukraine will do it at the negotiating table. Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine’s position at that negotiating table as we continue to impose increasing costs on the Russian Federation.”

However, the great uncertainty about what constitutes a “victorious” Ukraine has alarmed officials in some European capitals, particularly those in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are NATO members bordering Russia and are especially concerned about Moscow’s possible future intentions. .

For the Baltic nations and other countries on NATO’s eastern flank, the threat is real and memories of Soviet occupation and rule remain fresh. Concessions to Russia in Ukraine will only encourage Putin to push further west, they say.

“To be honest, we are not talking about the endgame yet,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis lamented to The Associated Press in an interview on Monday. He said any territorial concessions in Ukraine would mark the beginning of a world where the “rules-based order” has been replaced by a “rules-based order of the jungle.”

Landsbergis suggested that Western nations issue public statements about what success would be. “Where would we consider what we would take for victory, actual victory? What would be the scenario we would like?

Landsbergis has been outspoken in calling for Putin to be removed as Russia’s leader, going far beyond the position of the United States and other NATO leaders. He says that regime change in Moscow is the only way to protect European and Western security in the long term.

“Coming from me, it’s much easier to say we need regime change in Russia, so we’ve been quite frank and open about it,” he said. “Maybe it’s much harder for the United States to be open about it, but still, at some point we have to talk about this because it’s so important.”

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