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

WASHINGTON — A day after President Biden said he was open to talking with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia about a possible peace deal in Ukraine, the Kremlin issued a cold response and the prospect of a resolution. The resolution of a devastating conflict remains as far away as ever.

Mr. Biden said on Thursday that he would have his first conversation with Mr Putin since before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 if the Russian leader “seeks to end the war”. But US officials say that Russia, as they have previously assessed, is not willing to negotiate in good faith, and Russian officials repeat unacceptably tough demands on Kiev.

Although Mr. Biden’s remarks were seen by some as a renewed emphasis on moving towards peace talks with Russia, John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters. Mr. Biden’s position has not changed.

“The president has been very consistent about that,” Mr. Kirby said. “He has no intention of talking to Putin right now. As he also said, Putin is not at all inclined to be interested in dialogue of any kind. In fact, quite the opposite. Everything he is doing shows that Mr. Putin is interested in continuing this gratuitous, illegal war.”

In Moscow, Dmitri S. Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said at a news conference on Friday that Putin remained “ready to contact and negotiate” and that diplomacy was a “better way” to achieve Russian goals.

But Mr. Peskov noted that the US “still does not recognize the new territories that are part of Russia”, a clear reference to the regions of eastern Ukraine that Mr. Putin announced after annexing. Fake referendum in Septembersays that “this makes it more complicated to find common ground to discuss with each other.”

In fact, Russia’s position essentially precludes serious negotiations with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who said in mid-November interview told Bloomberg News that the war could not end until Ukraine regained all of its territory from Russia, including areas it allegedly annexed as well as the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014 .

“The Russians have made it very clear that, of course, they are not in the mood for constructive dialogue and constructive diplomacy,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference. He added that any conversation between Mr Biden and Mr Putin “is hypothetical at this point”.

“We have been very clear that the United States and the nations of the world will never – never, never, never – recognize the territory that Russia has illegally annexed, not even in Russia. 2014 or more recently, as part of their illegal and now brutal invasion of Ukraine,” added Mr Price.

Mr. Biden’s comments — made during a press conference with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, who has spoken to Mr. Putin several times over the past year, including in late August — followed several signs for found that senior US officials have weighed whether recent Ukraine tensions with successful attacks offer a window for negotiations. Last month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark A. Milley, told reporters that Ukraine’s position of “power” creates “a possibility” for a political solution.

But Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who served as NATO secretary general from 2009 to 2014, said this week during a visit to Washington that he had spoken to Biden administration officials and had seen no indication that they were causing trouble. pressure on the Ukrainian government to begin negotiations with Russia.

“It was an idea that just came up, but it was quashed immediately,” Mr. Rasmussen said. “It will really weaken the Western front if we try to push Zelensky into peace talks soon, because that would be a trap.”

Mr Rasmussen added: “Putin is not sincere when it comes to peace negotiations.

Ukrainian officials say the same thing, warning that Russia may try to pause the fighting for negotiations – but only use that time to prepare for new military strikes.

Mr. Macron reaffirmed France’s support for Ukraine and nodded to the fact that the Ukrainian people resent the Russian occupation and are not in the mood for compromise. “France will never urge the Ukrainians to make a compromise they cannot accept,” he said.

On Friday, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, said that Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure targets such as the power grid had “made any form of dialogue impossible.”

“We all want peace, but it must come from Kyiv’s independence, not from its surrender. “The responsibility for this situation rests solely with Russia. Now the Kremlin must give concrete signals instead of bombing the people.”

White House officials said they were not surprised by Russia’s response to Biden’s comments. Few on the president’s national security team expected anything different from Mr Putin, given Russia’s behavior over the past few weeks, including attacks on infrastructure targets that have made Major cities including Kyiv lose heat, light and running water.

Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken said at a NATO meeting in Romania on Wednesday: “This brutality against the Ukrainian people is barbaric.

Biden’s remarks about his conversation with Putin were not intended to signal a change in policy or show that the president was moving away from his pledge to ensure that leadership, officials said. Ukraine’s leadership decides when and how to negotiate an end to the nuclear deal. war.

Aides say the president continues to believe negotiations are necessary. But they also said he did not believe direct talks with Mr Putin would be possible unless the “facts of fact” changed.

In his speech on Thursday, Mr. Biden was careful to show respect for Ukraine and its NATO allies, saying he would only speak to Mr. Putin after consulting. theirs first.

In part, the message was intended to show support for the diplomacy of his counterparts. Mr. Macron stressed the importance of maintaining dialogue with the Russian leader, if only to avoid dangerous escalation or miscalculation. He phoned Mr. Putin in August and is expected to meet with him in the next few days. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz talk to the president of Russia on Friday morning.

One read the Kremlin of the phone call with Mr. Scholz blamed the West for the failure to negotiate, saying the Western approach was to “pump weapons on the Kyiv regime” and provide the regime with financial support political and political “caused Kyiv to reject any idea of ​​negotiation”.

But there are other audiences to consider as well. Some leaders worry about the economic effects of a war that has driven up food and energy prices around the world. And in the United States, some progressive Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed frustration that the Biden administration, which has provided nearly $20 billion in military aid to Kiev since the invasion of Russia, appears to be writing “zero checks” that do not depict an end game for the conflict.

White House officials said the president’s comments about his willingness to meet with Putin under certain circumstances were not directed at those groups. Either way, that comment signals that the Biden administration has not given up on diplomacy, even though Mr Biden has not spoken to Mr. Putin since mid-February.

Mr. Blinken has spoken with his counterpart Sergey V. Lavrov only once since mid-January, to discuss the possibility of the release of two Americans detained in Russia, Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner. Biden also said in October he was willing to talk to Putin about the release of the two Americans.

Speaking a day before Biden’s comments, Mr. Rasmussen, the former NATO leader, said he did not believe Ukraine would accept a peace deal that would allow Russia to occupy any part of its territory.

“I can conclude with some confidence that as long as you see Russian troops on Ukrainian soil, you will have a conflict,” he said. “The only shortcut for Putin is, get out of Ukraine.”

Elisabetta Povoledo contribution report.


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