Friday, July 12, 2024

US says ‘not encouraging’ Ukraine peace talks

The US is not pushing Ukraine toward negotiations with Russia, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel has insisted, commenting on media reports claiming that such efforts are taking place behind closed doors. Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky said that at least some of Kiev’s Western backers are likely engaged in back-channel communications with Moscow.

Answering a reporter’s question during a press briefing on Wednesday, Patel said that any such talks “are up to Ukraine,” reiterating Washington’s professed position – “nothing should happen about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

The official went on to claim that the “Kremlin has no interest in negotiating or ending this war.”

In an interview with NBC News on Sunday, President Zelensky conceded that “there are some countries [where] on the level of intelligence or advisers of leaders… maybe they speak with Russia. Maybe they think how to manage everything.” He stressed, however, that the West had not exerted any overt pressure to force him into talks.

According to Zelensky, talks are impossible until Russian troops leave the territory within Ukraine’s 1991 borders – one of the key points of his peace formula. Russia, in turn, has dismissed Ukraine’s conditions as detached from reality.

NBC had on the previous day claimed, citing anonymous US officials, that Washington had been conducting unofficial “delicate” discussions with Kiev regarding concessions that Ukraine would be ready to make in potential peace negotiations with its neighbor. The outlet quoted its sources as saying that the issue was brought up last month during a meeting of Kiev’s backers.

According to the report, the discussions were prompted by growing concerns in the West that the conflict “has reached a stalemate.” Ukraine’s supporters are also reportedly unsure whether they will be able to continue providing defense aid to the country in the long run, with their resources now being urgently diverted to Israel amid its operation against Hamas.

Another issue that has Western governments worried is that Kiev is “running out of forces,” potentially meaning that, even if supplied, additional weaponry will not “do a lot of good,” NBC alleged.

The media outlet also quoted unnamed US officials as warning that Ukraine may only have several months “before more urgent discussions about peace negotiations should begin.”

NBC’s latest report came after months of attempts by Ukraine to win back lost territory, which have so far failed to produce any significant breakthrough. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Kiev has lost more than 90,000 troops in its counteroffensive, which was launched in early June.

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