The news from Ukraine this week has carried some flickers of hope: a counteroffensive that pushed Russian troops back from the outskirts of Kyiv, a stalled advance in the south, peace talks substantial enough that plans were reportedly being made for Putin and Zelensky to meet face to face. In our conversation, Ustenko, the Ukrainian economic adviser, had mentioned to me how many children had been killed. He told me how many women Russian soldiers had raped, according to a Ukrainian prosecutor, and how young and old the women were alleged to have been. But his argument wasn’t just humanitarian. Ustenko wanted something, which was for European countries to stop importing Russian energy, and he was insistent that this would have the effect of stopping all these horrors. “I think it’s going to be almost an immediate effect on his economy,” Ustenko said. To my ear, it sounded like Ustenko was trying to emphasize how much still hangs in the balance. Devastation was still possible. So was victory.