As the Ukraine counteroffensive grinds on, conditions on the ground are now too obvious to ignore. Is it time for talking, yet?

by Katrina vanden Heuvel and James Carden, Responsible Statecraft

The fog of war over much of the last 18 months has skewed press coverage and our understanding of what is happening in Ukraine. Yet media opacity can no longer mask the facts on the ground.

In only the past week, reports have emerged in the Wall Street JournalCNN, the Financial Times and the New York Times indicating, among other things, that Ukraine’s much awaited spring offensive has ground to a virtual stalemate and munitions from its NATO-allied partners are drying up.

War in Ukraine. Shopping center that was damaged by shelling on 21 March by a Russian attack in Kyiv, where according to emergency service, at least six people died

The situation is such that, as the Financial Times columnist Ed Luce noted, “At some point, Volodymyr Zelensky … will need to sit down with Vladimir Putin, or his successor, to reach a deal.”

Perhaps more worrying still was NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s admission that “the war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied stockpiles. The current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defense industries under strain.”

None of this is exactly news. This past April, the so-called “Discord leaks” revealed that Washington officials believed back in February that the war wasn’t going as well as it had been heretofore portrayed. But at the time, the media was more focused on helping authorities hunt down the leaker than reporting the contents of the leak. The unavoidable implication of the leaks, that the Biden administration was presenting two different versions of the war’s progress — one private, the other public — seemed almost willfully deleted from the script.

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