Smoke and dirt rise in the city of Severodonetsk during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops at the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 2, 2022.
Washington CNN  — 

Staring down the prospect of an extended stalemate in Ukraine, the US and its allies are placing a renewed emphasis on the need for a negotiated settlement to end the war as the conflict grinds into its 100th day with no clear victory in sight for either side.

US officials have in recent weeks been meeting regularly with their British and European counterparts to discuss potential frameworks for a ceasefire and for ending the war through a negotiated settlement, multiple sources familiar with the talks told CNN. Among the topics has been a four-point framework proposed by Italy late last month. That framework involves Ukraine committing to neutrality with regard to NATO in exchange for some security guarantees, and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia on the future of Crimea and the Donbas region.

Ukraine is not directly involved in those discussions, despite the US commitment to “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” US and Ukrainian officials said the US has not been pressuring Ukraine to commit to a certain plan or directly pushing them to sit down with the Russians.

Still, there is some confusion about what kind of framework the US would consider appropriate to bring to the Ukrainians for further discussion.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield told reporters earlier this week that the Italian framework is “one of those initiatives that we certainly would love to see bring a conclusion to this horrific war and the horrific attacks on the Ukrainian people.” But two US officials told CNN that the US actually does not support the Italian proposal.

In any case, US and western officials tell CNN that there is a growing concern that if the Russians and Ukrainians don’t get back to the table and work out a deal, the war will drag on – potentially for years.

Subtle language shift

It’s not cle