The Biden administration is preparing for the war in Ukraine to turn into a frozen conflict for years or possibly even decades, similar to the situation on the Korean peninsula, POLITICO reported on Thursday.
US officials have been discussing the possibility, including potential options for where to draw the lines for a frozen conflict that either side would agree not to cross. The report said the idea of freezing the fighting could be a “politically palatable long-term result.”
The administration is considering the possibility because they don’t expect Ukraine to regain much territory in its long-awaited counteroffensive. According to POLITICO, the US is expecting that the assault “won’t deal a mortal blow to Russia.”
A US official said the administration is preparing to support Ukraine for the long term, whether the conflict is frozen or not. “We are planning for the long term, whether it looks frozen or thawed,” the official told POLITICO.
That long-term support would involve continuing to arm Ukraine and trying to make the country’s military more interoperable with NATO. Some NATO members are looking to upgrade Ukraine’s status within the alliance. The US and NATO members in western Europe are reluctant to give Kyiv a concrete path to membership, but some new guarantees are expected in the future.
According to POLITICO, new guarantees for Ukraine could range from “a NATO-style Article 5 mutual defense deal to Israel-style arms deals with Ukraine as a deterrent against Russia.” US officials said at a minimum, NATO would ensure Ukraine’s weapons are compatible with the alliance and conduct joint training with Ukrainian troops.
Ukraine Tells China Envoy It Will Not Cede Territory Or Accept 'Freeze' https://t.co/VOpxjs4JpY— zerohedge (@zerohedge) May 18, 2023
Since one of Russia’s main motives for invading Ukraine was its alignment with NATO, and its main demand during short-lived negotiations in the early days of the war was Ukrainian neutrality, a frozen conflict that involves NATO continuing to arm Kyiv would likely not be acceptable to Moscow. While Russian officials have expressed an openness to negotiations, the Kremlin has said it believes Russia’s goals can only be achieved through military means.
If the conflict is frozen along the current battle lines, Ukraine would lose significantly more territory than if it negotiated a deal with Moscow shortly after the invasion. But the peace talks were discouraged by the US and its allies, and the Biden administration still shows no interest in pushing for a lasting diplomatic solution.