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US and G-7 Allies Now Expect War in Ukraine to Drag On for Years

US and G-7 Allies Now Expect War in Ukraine to Drag On for Years
Lubov Jarova holds her dog, Peremoha (victory), as she walks among the rubble of a school in the frontline town of Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine, 07 September 2023, amid the Russian invasion. The school was operating as a center for distribution of humanitarian aid until the premises were hit by two consecutive air strikes. Lubov says that her dog saved her life. Following the first strike, she ran after it outside the school when the second strike happened, destroying the building and killing seven people. Today Lubov lives in Zaporizhzhia, around 65 kilometers north-west, and she occasionally brings humanitarian aid to her hometown of Orikhiv, located less than 10 kilometers from the nearest Russian army position. Before the war, Orikhiv had a population of over 14,000. The town is currently home to around 700 people, witnessing daily attacks from Russian forces. EPA-EFE/KATERYNA KLOCHKO

The US and its allies in the Group of Seven now expect the war in Ukraine may drag on for years to come and are building that possibility into their military and financial planning.

A senior official from one European G-7 country said the war may last as much as six or seven more years and that allies need to plan financially to continue support for Kyiv for such a long conflict.

That’s much longer than many officials had expected even early this year, but slow progress in Ukraine’s counteroffensive in recent months has tempered expectations.

G-7 officials discussed the darker outlook at a dinner on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Monday night and agreed that the conflict is likely to last for the medium or long term, a senior US State Department official told reporters Tuesday. The officials requested anonymity to discuss matters that aren’t public.

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The US and European Union have injected tens of billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine to help it repel Russia’s invasion, which is now in its second year, while avoiding direct action that would widen the scope of the conflict.

Allies provided weapons and training for Ukraine’s counteroffensive, but Kyiv’s forces have struggled to break through Russia’s elaborate defensive lines. Time is running short ahead of cold, rainy weather in the autumn that would complicate military operations.

“The Ukrainians have penetrated several layers of defense. It is not 100% penetrated yet, but they’ve penetrated several of the layers,” Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said. He spoke alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin after the conclusion of a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Germany.

Long-term assistance to Ukraine will include energy and infrastructure aid and is expected to bolster the country’s economy to deter Russia in the future, the US official said.

The European Union over the summer announced an additional €50 billion ($53 billion) support package for Ukraine to be delivered through 2027, which doubles total EU commitments. Germany, Ukraine’s second-biggest supporter in the fight after the US, has pledged to provide €5 billion annually through that period.

In the US, President Joe Biden is seeking $24 billion in support for Ukraine for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, but opposition to continued spending is facing growing opposition in Congress.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is among leaders in New York this week, where he’ll seek to rally nations to the war effort. That includes a meeting scheduled for Wednesday with Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a prominent leader of the so-called Global South who has so far refused to pick sides.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called Russia’s invasion a violation of the UN charter and international law. “Ignoring global treaties and conventions makes us all less safe,” he said. “And the poisoning of global diplomacy obstructs progress across the board.”

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