The State Department’s top spokesman acknowledged Friday it is “possible” that Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine will last through the end of this year.
Ned Price gave the assessment during an interview with CNN, which previously reported that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told European officials of Washington’s grim prediction that the war will rage for at least another eight months – even after tens of thousands have died in the conflict’s first 50 days.
“That is possible, Kate,” Price told CNN host Kate Bolduan on Friday, “but what we are trying to do is to shorten this conflict. We think we can do that by strengthening Ukraine’s hand at the negotiating table. We’re doing that by providing Ukraine with an unprecedented amount of security assistance.
“At the same time, we’re applying the same degree of pressure to Russia with our economic sanctions and other financial measures,” Price added, “hoping that these two things meet and then ultimately, a diplomatic agreement can be reached to bring this senseless violence and aggression to an end. ”
Some members of Congress, meanwhile, reportedly fear the war could stretch out even longer and are quietly comparing it to the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953 and has never come to a formal conclusion.
The CNN report echoed national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s warning at a White House briefing earlier this month that the war “may very well be protracted.”
After an initial phase that saw “an enormous amount of killing and death,” Sullivan predicted that “this next phase could be measured in months or longer.”
In that April 4 briefing, Sullivan made it clear that the drawn-out war was the last thing Russian President Vladimir Putin expected.
“When Russia started this war, its initial aims were to seize the capital of Kyiv, replace the Zelensky government, and take control of much – if not all – of Ukraine. Russia believed that it could accomplish these objectives swiftly and efficiently, ”Sullivan said.
“But Russia did not account for the strength of the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian people,” he said.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday praised his “unbreakable” citizens
for making “the most important decision of their life” to fight, and surviving 50 days of war when Russia “gave us a maximum of five.”
“They didn’t know how brave Ukrainians are, how much we value freedom and the possibility to live the way we want,” Zelensky said in one of his regular video addresses.
Ukraine estimates that 20,000 Russian troops have been killed since the invasion was launched on Feb. 24, the Kyiv Independent reported Friday.
Russia has also lost 163 planes, 144 helicopters, 756 tanks, 366 cannons and 1,976 armored personnel carriers, among many other military pieces, according to the assessment published by the outlet.