After 18 months of war in Ukraine, all signs point to more misery with no end in sight. Kyiv says it’s steadfast in pushing Russia out of the country altogether. But Moscow warns that arms supplied by the West risks escalating the war to levels not seen so far. Meanwhile, as America barrels toward the 2024 presidential election, political and public support for the Ukrainians is waning. But if Washington withdraws its material support to Kyiv, Ukraine would collapse and Russia would win a big victory. It is hard to imagine any American president – even Donald Trump – allowing that fate. Many strategists would argue that Ukraine’s collapse would damage US credibility and send a sign of weakness to China.
At the same time, there are virtually no prospects for a peace deal. Russia won’t give back the territory that it’s conquered while Ukraine wants the return of Donbas and Crimea. Plus, Moscow wants Ukraine to be a neutral state while Kyiv wants a security guarantee from the West. The sad reality is that the Russians have a deep-seated interest in taking as much of Ukraine as they can and turning the remaining part of Ukraine into a dysfunction rump state so it can’t be part of NATO.