U.S. officials are discussing an action plan in case Russia's war in Ukraine turns into a "frozen" conflict, Politico reported on May 18, citing people familiar with the talks.
Options discussed in the White House include a potential territorial demarcation that Ukraine and Russia could agree not to cross, without establishing new official borders, wrote Politico.
The discussions occur amid growing concerns in the Biden administration that Ukraine's expected counteroffensive "won't deal a mortal blow to Russia," according to the publication.
"We are planning for the long term, whether it looks frozen or thawed," said a U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. The official told Politico that the Biden administration was increasingly focused on such planning, as in recent months "it was all about the urgent and short-term."
"There's a school of thought that says, 'Oh, the Ukrainians have to have Mariupol and Azov Sea access.' There's others less hung up about the placement of the lines as long as Ukraine is secure going into the future," a former White House official said, as cited by Politico.
Such discussions are in their early stages, and U.S. officials stress that the war will remain active for quite some time to come, according to the media outlet. The U.S. reportedly intends to continue providing Ukraine with the assistance it needs to liberate as much territory as possible.
President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly claimed that Kyiv won't agree to "freezing" the war — a situation when fighting is suspended, but neither side declares victory.
In December last year, Zelensky told the Economist that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin "will come back" if Ukraine didn't restore its internationally recognized borders of 1991.
Zelensky said it has already happened, with Russia first invading Ukraine in 2014 and then launching an all-out war against the country in 2022. Russia captures "part of the Ukrainian territory and then freezes it (the conflict) for some time, to become more powerful occupiers, ready for more occupation," he explained.
Zelensky presented a ten-point peace plan to end Russia's war against Ukraine at the G20 summit on Nov. 15.