Ukraine Allies See a Way War Can End but Lack Plan to Achieve It
22:00, Monday, 27 March, 2023
Western leaders are beginning to have a clearer vision of how they hope the war in Ukraine will end.
What is missing is any plan to make it happen. The hope in Washington and European capitals is that a Ukrainian counteroffensive—boosted by Western tanks and other fresh weaponry—will punch a hole in Russia’s control of Ukrainian territory this spring.
In theory, that gives Kyiv’s forces such a battlefield advantage that Russian President Vladimir Putin is nudged into peace talks where the Kremlin cedes at least the territory it has taken since the invasion in February 2022. Then Ukraine is free to anchor its future in the west, and a defeated and diminished Mr. Putin can face the wrath of his own people.
But few officials have any confidence the war and the peace will unfold so neatly, and there is little sign Ukraine’s Western allies have a serious plan to help shape events.
Many of Ukraine’s supporters are focused on a short-term priority: a furious scramble to find enough ammunition for Kyiv to hold Russia back in eastern Ukraine, as well as provisioning for a lightning counteroffensive.
Far more likely, though, is a war of attrition that lasts until one side is so defeated or exhausted that it calls a halt without realizing its ultimate aims.
Such an outcome, many diplomats acknowledge, would be measured in years not months.