The US is urging Ukraine in private talks to publically show a willingness to end its refusal to take part in peace talks with Russia unless its President Vladimir Putin is removed from his office, a report has said.
The Washington Post reported that sources familiar with the discussions say that the aim isn’t to push Ukraine to negotiate but to make sure that Kyiv retains the support of other countries dealing with concerns of a yearslong war.
The Biden administration is publically committed to supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes” while hoping for a quick resolution to a war that had damaged the global economy and led to trepidation at the prospect of nuclear war.
US officials believe, as the Ukrainians do, that Mr Putin isn’t seriously committed to peace talks, but they say that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s public ban on negotiations has prompted worries in parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America – areas where the effects of the war on food and fuel prices are felt the most.
“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners,” one US official told The Post.
Polls have shown that this is true for some Republicans as well, meaning the Biden White House may struggle to get further funding cleared if the GOP takes control of Congress.
“We fully intend to ensure that the resources are there as necessary and that we’ll get votes from both sides of the aisle to make that happen,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in Kyiv on Friday.
Former US ambassador to Russia and deputy secretary general of NATO, Alexander Vershbow, said the US is unable to be fully “agnostic” about how and when the war ends.
“If the conditions become more propitious for negotiations, I don’t think the administration is going to be passive,” Mr Vershbow told The Post. “But it is ultimately the Ukrainians doing the fighting, so we’ve got to be careful not to second-guess them.”
The Ukrainians have toughened their stances on a possible peace deal since the beginning of the war after successful efforts and winning back territory taken by the Russians. They have also reacted with fury when faced with suggestions by foreigners that they cede land to end the war.
Russian atrocities, such as rape and torture, have also hardened the Ukrainian stance.
Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Friday that “if Russia loses the war, [the] world will face a decade of stability, security and economic growth. If Russia wins, we will get a period of chaos: [the] flowering of tyranny, wars, genocides, nuclear races. Any ‘concessions’ to Putin today – a deal with the Devil. You won’t like its price”.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month that “cynically, Russia and its Western supporters are holding out an olive branch. Please do not be fooled: An aggressor cannot be a peacemaker”.
Mr Putin has argued that Ukraine isn’t a real country and said last month that Russia could be “the only real and serious guarantor of Ukraine’s statehood, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“Russia chose to start it,” Mr Sullivan said in Kyiv. “Russia could choose to end it by ceasing its attack on Ukraine, ceasing its occupation of Ukraine, and that’s precisely what it should do from our perspective.”
US officials said they think Mr Zelensky would eventually support peace talks and accept some concessions, adding that they’re trying to get as many military victories as possible before winter when there’s a possible window for talks.