Even as Russia's foreign ministry confirmed that its Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov held a rare meeting with Washington's ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan to "discuss bilateral issues" - though with no further details given - multiple statements from top officials of the past two days suggest things still look dire for the Ukraine conflict, for at least the near future.
First, in testimony given before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, US National Intelligence Director Avril Haines said that she sees a protracted conflict unfolding with the unlikelihood of an offramp in the form of negotiations or compromise by either side. "As both Russia and Ukraine believe they can continue to make progress militarily, we do not see a viable negotiating path forward, at least in the short term,” Haines said. She added, "Even if they are successful, we are not confident the fight in Donbas will effectively end the war" - speaking of Russian ambitions to take over the eastern region.
Next, in fresh Wednesday statements by United Nations chief António Guterres, the Secretary-General struck an equally ominous tone in seeming to second the US intelligence head's take. "It was clear for us that, at the present moment, there are no immediate chances of a peace agreement or immediate chances for a global ceasefire," he told a press briefing.
He repeated calls for Russia to immediately halt the invasion while stressing that the humanitarian suffering is causing a domino effect even beyond Ukraine's borders.
Related to this, he described current UN efforts in the region as focused on opening channels of communications between Moscow and Kiev in order to ensure safe evacuation corridors for civilians, akin to what's lately been accomplished in Mariupol.
Guterres further took the opportunity to again condemn the aggression against Ukraine, saying, "The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing massive devastation, destruction and suffering in the country, triggering the largest displacement in Europe since World War II – and sending shockwaves across the region and world." He then repeated: "This senseless war must stop."
Given there's been much speculation among Washington intelligence officials over discerning President Vladimir Putin's possible "end game" in Ukraine, the UN chief was asked the same thing in the Wednesday press briefing. He responded: "If I knew that, I would have divining capacities."
And he explained of what the future might hold: "I hope nothing lasts forever. This war will not last forever," Guterres said. "There will be a moment in which the peace negotiations will be on the table, there will be a moment in which I hope it will be possible to have, in line with the UN Charter and with international law, a solution for the problem." He concluded: "But one thing I can tell you: we will never give up."
* * *
Meanwhile, the rhetoric in Congress is growing more and more unhinged as Washington with seeming ease pumps billions in arms and aid into the war...
Nancy Pelosi loses her mind in demented ramble after sending Ukraine $40 BILLION:— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) May 11, 2022
"When you're home thinking about [what $40 billion to Ukraine] is all about, just think about 'when I was hungry, you fed me' from the Gospel of Matthew."