Politico reported last week that US officials are preparing for the possibility that the war in Ukraine could become a frozen conflict, lasting many years or even decades.
A frozen conflict is when there is a pause in fighting while neither side is declared the winner nor do the sides agree that the conflict is over.
One official familiar with the Biden administration’s discussions on Ukraine told Politico that officials are planning for a long-term conflict, “whether it looks frozen or thawed.” The official said this planning has become a growing focus within the administration.
US officials are also mapping out the possible long-term security ties the US will have with Ukraine, as well as Ukraine’s relationship with NATO.
While the discussions are currently in the early stages, the officials who spoke with Politico emphasized that the war in Ukraine is expected to remain hot for some time and the Biden administration remains intent on providing the weapons and support Kyiv needs to retake as much territory as possible from the Russians.
But according to Politico, even planning for a frozen conflict could undermine Kyiv’s confidence in the US’s continued commitment to the war.
Another administration official told Politico that various contingency plans are being considered but the situation remains fluid.
While most US officials avoid discussing on the record how the war will evolve, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, has frequently predicted that the war will not end in a military victory for either side but through negotiated peace.
One Pentagon official told Politico that the recent military aid packages reflect that administration’s shift to a long-term strategy. While the equipment sent from US stockpiles has been diminishing over the last few months, the aid packages used to purchase new weapons from contractors have increased. Obtaining weapons purchased from contractors can take months to even years.