Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to kidnap the majority of Ukraine, believe US intelligence agencies.
The Moscow military is weakened by the fighting, however, so much so that US officials are exploring the possibility of gradually gaining ground in the area.
It means the war could last a long time, said National Intelligence Director Avril Haines.
In March Moscow once again focused on its efforts to replace the Ukrainian Donbas after failing to take over Kyiv and other cities.
Mr Putin still has the same goals he had set at the beginning of the conflict, said US intelligence chief Haines – taking over much of Ukraine.
“We see the difference between Putin’s immediate military objectives in the area and his military might, the kind of discrepancy between his ambitions and the military’s capabilities,” he told a US Department of Commerce conference.
Ever since it failed to achieve its original goal of capturing Kyiv, Russia has focused on occupying the eastern Donbas region – a major industrial zone where Mr Putin lies about Ukraine killing Russian-speaking people.
Russian troops have benefited from it, recently taking control of the city of Severodonetsk, but progress has been slow and Ukrainian forces have been very patient.
Putin : Long-running war
In her first public statement since May about the US intelligence service test, Ms. Haines suggested that the Russian invasion would continue “for a long time” and that “the image remains negative”.
He said intelligence agencies see three conditions for how the war could end, which could be a slow-moving conflict with Russia that makes “growing profits, without success”.
Alternatively, a very small possibility involving Russia’s great success, or the stability of key lines with Ukraine earning small profits.
It may mean that Moscow relies heavily on “asymmetric tools” to identify its enemies; which includes cyber attacks, attempts to control energy sources and nuclear weapons.
Ms Haines’ comments came Wednesday after Nato leaders promised to represent Ukraine as long as it took – to strengthen the presence of their troops across Europe and to invite Finland and Sweden to join the party.
Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg has called for the biggest change in the alliance since the Cold War, in which US President Joe Biden vowed that Nato “would be strengthened in all areas of life – land, air and sea”.
Responding to the possibility of the two Nordic states becoming members of Nato, Mr Putin accused the military alliance of deliberately escalating the conflict.
“If NATO troops and infrastructure are deployed, [Russia] will be forced to respond,” Mr Putin said during a visit to Turkmenistan.
But, he says, Russia is unlikely to achieve that goal anytime soon.
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