The United States believes Russia is digging in for a protracted war, and Washington wants to help Kyiv resist, but an overarching goal remains — limiting the conflict to Ukraine to avoid spillover that could provoke “World War III.”

The U.S. military establishment is walking a tightrope as it seeks to balance such demands and avoid nuclear escalation, according to public statements by American leaders and AFP interviews with several officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

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