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U.S. Sees Little Prospect for Ukraine Talks With Putin After Biden Offer

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WASHINGTON — A day after President Biden said he would be happy to discuss a possible peace deal in Ukraine with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, the Kremlin reacted coldly and prospects of resolving the bloody conflict remain distant. was.

Biden said on Thursday that if Russian leaders were “looking for ways to end the war,” they would have their first conversation with Putin since before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. . But U.S. officials said Russia was not ready to negotiate in good faith, as they had previously assessed, and Russian officials reiterated hardline demands that Kyiv would not accept.

While some see Biden’s remarks as renewed emphasis on moves toward peace talks with Russia, National Security Council spokesman John F. He said his position had not changed.

“The president is very consistent about it,” Kirby said. “He is not going to talk to Mr Putin now. As he also said, Putin has shown no inclination to be interested in any kind of dialogue. All this shows Putin’s interest in continuing this illegal and gratuitous war.”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said at a news conference on Friday that Putin remained “open to contact and negotiations” and that diplomacy was “the preferred method” for achieving Russia’s goals. ‘ said.

However, Peskov noted that the US “has not yet recognized the new territory as part of Russia” and that the reference to the eastern region of Ukraine, which Putin claimed would be annexed after a fake referendum in September Be clear and look for common ground for mutual discussion. ”

Indeed, Russia’s position essentially precludes serious negotiations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Interview in mid-November Bloomberg News reported that the war could not end until Ukraine regained all its territories from Russia, including the allegedly annexed territories and the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. .

“Russia, of course, has made it very clear that it has no intention of engaging in constructive dialogue or constructive diplomacy,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference. He added that the conversation between Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin was “just a hypothesis at this point.”

“The United States and nations around the world will never, never, never, never recognize Russia’s illegally annexed territory in 2014, or even more recently, as part of its illegal and brutal aggression against Ukraine. We’ve been very clear,” Price added.

Biden’s comments — made during a press conference with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, who has held several meetings with Putin over the past year, including in late August — The US official said that the recent situation in Ukraine, but the successful attack will be a window for negotiations. Last month, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark A. Milley, told reporters that Ukraine’s position of “strength” produced. The “Possibility” of a Political Solution.

But Anders Vor Rasmussen, who served as NATO’s secretary general from 2009 to 2014, during a visit to Washington this week spoke with Biden administration officials, who said they had asked the Ukrainian government to negotiate with Russia. He said he saw no signs of pressure to start.

“It was a fledgling idea, but it was quickly dropped,” Rasmussen said. “Trying to force Zelensky into premature peace talks would really weaken the Western Front because it would be a trap.”

“Putin has not been sincere about peace talks,” Rasmussen added.

Ukrainian officials have said the same, warning that Russia may try to suspend fighting for negotiations, but that time will only be used to prepare for another military strike. ing.

Mr Macron reaffirmed France’s support for Ukraine and nodded at the reality that the Ukrainian people, furious about the Russian occupation, will not compromise. France will “never encourage compromises that are unacceptable to the Ukrainian people,” he said.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tagjani said on Friday that Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure such as power grids “make any kind of dialogue impossible”.

“We all want peace, but it must come through Kyiv’s independence, not through surrender,” Tajany said. “Russia alone is to blame for this situation. Now the Kremlin must give a concrete signal instead of bombing the population.”

A White House official said he was not surprised by Russia’s reaction to Biden’s remarks. Given Russia’s actions over the past few weeks, most of the president’s national security team expected things to be different from Putin’s.

“This atrocity against the Ukrainian people is barbaric,” Secretary of State Anthony J. Brinken said at a NATO meeting in Romania on Wednesday.

Officials said Biden’s remarks about his meeting with Putin ranged from hinting at policy changes and promises that the Ukrainian leadership would decide when and how to negotiate an end to the president’s decision. was not intended to indicate that the war.

Aides say the president continues to believe negotiations will be necessary. But he does not believe a face-to-face meeting with Putin will be possible unless the “facts on the ground” change, they say.

In Thursday’s remarks, Mr Biden said he was careful to show respect for Ukraine and its NATO allies and would only speak to Mr Putin after consulting with them first.

In part, the message was intended to show support for diplomacy by his counterparts. emphasizes the importance of maintaining He called Putin in August and plans to meet in the next few days. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with the Russian president on Friday morning.

a Reading out the Kremlin During a conference call with Mr. Scholz, the West condemned the lack of negotiations, saying that the Western approach of “arming the Kyiv regime” and providing financial and political support “would give Kyiv the idea of ​​negotiations.” to refuse,” he said.

But there are other audiences to consider as well. Some leaders worry about the economic fallout of the war, which has pushed up food and energy prices around the world. And in the United States, some Republicans and progressive Democrats have said the Biden administration, which has provided nearly $20 billion in military aid to Kyiv since the Russian invasion, is calling it a “clean slate” without any explanation for the final game. expresses dissatisfaction that it appears to be writing a “check for conflict.

A White House official said the president’s remarks about his readiness to meet with Putin under certain circumstances were not directed at those groups directly. But the remarks show that the Biden administration hasn’t ruled out the possibility of diplomacy, even though Mr. Biden hasn’t spoken to Mr. Putin since mid-February.

Blinken has met his counterpart Sergei V. In October, Mr. Biden said he would be happy to discuss the release of two Americans with Mr. Putin.

Biden’s remarks came a day after Rasmussen, the former head of NATO, said he doubted Ukraine would accept a peace deal that would allow Russia to occupy some of its territory.

“We can confidently conclude that the conflict will continue as long as Russian troops remain in mainland Ukraine,” he said. “The only exit for Putin is to leave Ukraine.”

Elisabetta Povoledo contributed to the report.

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