As the war in Ukraine shifts to the country’s eastern Donbas region, and with the United States and NATO committed to providing even more funding and assistance to Ukraine through at least the rest of the year, the question of how long the war in Ukraine will last is on everybody’s lips.
Nobody can answer the question accurately, however, and the truth is that the war will probably last for as long as Russian President Vladimir Putin can continue fighting – or until he can achieve something in Ukraine that he can paint as a victory to his people.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken told European allies in April that it is the opinion of the U.S. government that the war will likely last through the end of 2022.
Speaking to CNN, unnamed European officials said that the Russian president’s goals in Ukraine have not yet changed – despite being forced to order his troops to retreat from Kyiv and central Ukraine – and that it’s unlikely at this stage the Russian leader will pursue diplomatic negotiations.
“Could Last Years”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned in April that the conflict in Ukraine was entering a “dangerous” new phase. Speaking to NPR, Stoltenberg said that Vladimir Putin had not “changed his overall aim” in Ukraine and that he still intends to take control of the country.
In the month since, Russian forces have focused their efforts on the eastern Donbas region, taking full control of the city of Mariupol, blocking Ukraine’s ports, and advancing westward from Luhansk and Donetsk.
Stoltenberg echoed the United States’ suggestion that Putin would not sit down and engage in “good faith” negotiations for a diplomatic solution.
“Therefore, we need to also be prepared for the long haul,” he said. “And it’s hard to predict. Wars are always unpredictable. But this can last for months and even years.”
Liz Truss Says 10 Years
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also warned that the war in Ukraine could last as long as 10 years.
During a foreign policy event last month, Truss warned of “untold further misery” across Europe and serious global consequences if Russia succeeds in its war in Ukraine, and said that the West “must be prepared for the long haul.”
Calling on NATO countries to continue providing support to Ukraine, Truss also suggested that the war could last for as long as a decade.
Three months into the war, however, it’s clear that Russia can’t go on at its current pace without making changes to its strategy – whether that involves enlisting the support of its allies or changing its overall goal in the country.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.