Hard Lessons Make for Hard Choices 2 Years Into the War in Ukraine

Two years after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States has the capacity to keep Kyiv supplied with the weapons, technology and intelligence to fend off a takeover by Moscow. But Washington is now perceived around Europe to have lost its will.

The Europeans, in contrast, have the will — they just committed another $54 billion to reconstruct the country — but when it comes to repelling Russia’s revived offensive, they do not have the capacity.

That is the essence of the conundrum facing Ukraine and the NATO allies on the dismal second anniversary of the war. It is a stunning reversal. Only a year ago, many here predicted that Ukraine’s counteroffensive, bolstered by European tanks and missiles and American artillery and air defenses, could push the Russians back to where they were on Feb. 24, 2022.

Now, some harsh lessons have emerged. The sanctions that were supposed to bring Russia’s economy to its knees — “the ruble almost is immediately reduced to rubble,” President Biden declared in Warsaw in March 2022 — have lost their sting. The International Monetary Fund’s prediction that the Russian economy would shrink considerably was only briefly true; with the huge stimulus of military spending, it is growing faster than Germany’s. Income from oil exports is greater than it was before the invasion.

With the setbacks, and the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, hope has just about collapsed that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia will conclude anytime soon that he can make no further gains and should enter a serious negotiation to end the war.

American and European intelligence officials now assess that Mr. Putin is determined to hold on, even at the cost of huge casualties, in the hope that a failure in Congress to fund Ukraine’s effort sufficiently or a victory by former President Donald J. Trump in November will make up for the Russian leader’s many early mistakes.

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