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

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.

(Bloomberg) — 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 earlier this year, but slow progress in Ukraine’s counteroffensive in recent months has tempered expectations. 

Leaders from the group, including President Joe Biden, brought that message to the UN General Assembly this week in New York, using the venue and citing its founding principles as a reason for other nations to throw their support behind Ukraine. 

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.

Biden reiterated his commitment to Ukraine in his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday.   

“We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow,” The US and its allies and partners “will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom.”

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, 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.”

(Updates with comments by President Biden from fifth paragraph.)

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