The U.S. and NATO have been focusing on destroying Russia's economy as well as arming Ukrainian combatants. It's not clear how this will end the war. Although no one can be certain of the motives of President Vladimir Putin, there is no reason to doubt his determination to bring the Western-leaning ex-Soviet republic back to Moscow.
Although they may not publicly say it, U.S. officials as well as NATO allies do not see any breaking point for Putin. A severe economic or military loss would be enough to convince him to send his troops home and allow the leaders of Ukraine to govern peacefully.
Biden stated that Ukraine would never be a victory to Putin as he announced the U.S. ban on Russian energy imports Tuesday. However, Putin might not lose the Ukraine war.
Military aid and sanctions may have helped slow down Russia's advance in Ukraine, and maybe discourage Putin from attacking other countries. They could serve as a warning to other powerful countries not to attack their weaker neighbours. However, Western officials are ambiguous about the steps to end the fighting.
The third-ranking U.S diplomat, Under Secretary for State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, gave one of the most direct responses. Tuesday's statement by Victoria Nuland, the third-ranking U.S. diplomat, was that Putin's internal pressure will be stronger than his external.
She testified before Congress that Putin will realize that his leadership is at risk in this situation. He has also put his military and his people at risk. This will bring an end to the conflict. "He must change his course or the Russian people will take matters into their hands."
The provocativest comment came from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina. He called for Putin's assassination by calling for Russians to kill him. The White House quickly distanced itself form that comment.
There is no indication that Putin's grip on power has been loosened. It is also a scary mystery as to how a nuclear-armed Putin would react to a real threat to his power, if he were caught.
No one is expecting a Ukrainian military victory. Although Ukrainian fighters have made a strong defense and are determined not to stop Russian forces from landing on their soils, they are outgunned so it would be difficult to push Russian troops across the border. NATO countries are not about to risk starting World War III by joining forces in defense of non-member states.
A diplomatic solution seems unlikely in this context. Russia has only increased its demands since the invasion last month. Diplomatic efforts by French, Israeli, and Turkish leaders so far have been unsuccessful. Russian and American diplomats at the top are not even communicating with each other. Recent lower-level communications have been almost exclusively focused on expulsions from their respective countries.
"No one knows how this will end, and it's going take some time for us to see how Russia reacts to the obvious dead-end they've got ourselves into," stated Jeff Rathke (a European expert and president at Johns Hopkins University's American Institute for Contemporary German Studies).
He said, "Until the Russians can negotiate something serious and tangible, there's nothing you can do." He said that America and Europe should not be tempted to negotiate with Putin over Ukraine. This is especially true as the economic cost of isolating Moscow increases, especially in Europe. He said that the Ukrainians must decide what they will accept as the endgame.
Ian Kelly, a former U.S. diplomat and ambassador to Georgia who teaches international relations at Northwestern University, said that "I don't see this ending in any manner good for Ukraine so long as Putin remains in power." "He has set his maximalist goal which is basically surrender and that's something that the Ukrainians won't be able accept and the Russians will not be able implement."
Kelly said, "Withdrawal for me is death." Kelly stated, "It's too weak."
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, acknowledged that the West is limited in its ability to end the conflict.
"What we are examining is whether or not Putin will finally try to cut the losses he has inflicted upon himself and on the Russian people. He said Wednesday that he could not decide for himself.
Blinken was joined by Liz Truss, British Foreign Secretary. She suggested that the West may not be able to get Russia out of Ukraine.
She said, "Putin must fall." We know history has shown that aggressors don't understand strength. We know that other aggressors will continue to be empowered if we don’t act now. We also know that Putin's actions in Ukraine will have devastating consequences for global and European security.
Despite the uncertainty, U.S. officials stated that they believe only one thing: An angry and frustrated Putin will send more troops and firepower to Ukraine. The bloodshed will continue until the situation reaches normal.
William Burns, CIA Director, a former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, stated this week that he believes Putin has fundamentally miscalculated how much resistance and determination he would face from the Ukrainians. He said that Putin may soon realize that he is not capable of occupying Ukraine or imposing a Russia friendly regime without facing decades, if not centuries, of violent and bloody opposition.
Burns stated, "Where it leads, I believe, is for an ugly future few weeks in which, he doubles-down with scant regard to civilian casualties in which urban fighting may get even more uglier."