The West is supplying more and more weapons, it is encouraging Ukraine, it is opening up the prospect of EU membership. But the situation is getting darker. And someone says so openly.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has authorized himself to rule until 2036 and the next presidential election will take place in spring 2024. Which means that Russia will certainly not voluntarily withdraw its troops from Ukraine until then. After all, Putin cannot run for election with a lost war as a burden.

There is only one head of government in Europe who expresses this – obvious – expectation: Viktor Orban. Anyone who considers the Hungarian prime minister to be a European enfant terrible who shouldn’t be taken seriously should be warned – the Biden administration is also of the opinion that Ukraine cannot win Putin’s war – in their sense – is also widespread.

On Jan. 20, US top soldier Mark Milley said this in Ramstein: “I stand by it – this year it will be very, very difficult to drive Russian forces out of every inch of occupied Ukrainian territory.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj reacted angrily, and his advisor Andriy Yermak called Milley’s assessment “absolutely unacceptable” at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Victory” means for Ukraine the reconquest of Donbass – and Crimea.

After that, the US Department of Defense defended Milley’s assessment. The US platform “politico” reports on a confidential briefing by the Department of Defense for the American Defense Committee. Also present was Deputy Minister Laura Cooper, responsible for Russia and Ukraine. The government message read: Ukraine is currently unable to retake Crimea.

This assessment corresponds to the arms deliveries of the West. Under the leadership of the Americans, the Western Allies have moved one alleged red line after the other – it was a long way from the 5000 German helmets for the Ukraine to the Leopard battle tanks – but not one:

To equip Ukraine in such a way that Zelenskyy can attack the Russians on their territory – and not in Crimea either. Around 100 western main battle tanks are not enough for this, nor are the air defense systems, which already carry their defensive character in their name.

The US is not supplying Ukraine with 300-kilometer-range missiles – and President Joe Biden has publicly halted discussion of fighter jets. But it’s not being debated publicly – on many levels.

The next meeting in the Ramstein format, on February 14, is unlikely to decide on fighter jets; the West wants to wait. Which only means that Ukraine will have to withstand the next major Russian offensive, which Zelenskyy told the Arabic broadcaster Al Jazeera has already begun, as “revenge” for the announced western tanks, without air support. And without the Abrams tanks promised by the Americans, which should at most be delivered by the end of the year.

That worsens the prospects for Ukraine – and the visit of Ursula von der Leyen and her EU delegation to Kyiv cannot change that. Because this is about the European accession perspective of Ukraine. Kyiv hopes to join within two years, which is probably an illusion, especially in view of the massive destruction that Putin has caused and will continue to cause in the country.

Back to Orban, who may be an outlaw from a Brussels perspective, but he is a strategic thinker. A 15-strong international delegation visited Orban last week. Also present was the son of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. The meeting was recorded by journalist and bestselling author Rod Dreher, who has been in the journalism business for 30 years, for the platform “The American Conservative”.

The West is “in a war with Russia”. That is the situation, says Orban – in his assessment, exactly in line with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens). Every day the West gets more and more involved in Putin’s war – and the next question will be about NATO ground troops. After all, what will the West do if the Russian spring offensive is successful?

Orban has a cool view of the situation. Having failed in an attempt to seize Kyiv quickly, Putin has now reduced Ukraine to rubble so that it remains a burden to the West. Russia is successful in this: “It’s Afghanistan now,” says Orban about Ukraine. He called the country “no man’s land”.

And time is playing for the Russians – an assessment shared in the federal government. Orban says Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu (his son was present) should mediate. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also offered to do so, but he is in the middle of an election campaign. And threatens the Americans to enter into an alliance with Russia, Syria and Iran. What is basically incomprehensible for a NATO member.

Anyone who calls for “negotiations” in this situation fails to recognize that they have probably existed for a long time. The NZZ reports, on the basis of two high-ranking German sources, about an attempt at mediation by CIA chief William Burns. He offered Moscow “land for peace” and Kyiv “peace for land”. Selenskyj and Putin would have refused. Putin because he wants to advance further into Ukraine, Zelenskyj because he wants the Russians out.

At the moment everything seems to be lost and hopeless.

Orban was also asked what sets him apart from other leaders in Europe. He answered frankly and freely. Instead of asking what was in the national interest of their people, they said they were elected “to be on the right side of history.”