This debate shows just how complicated the Biden administration’s position on Ukraine has become. US officials have publicly pledged to help Kyiv with large amounts of aid “as long as it is needed” while hoping to resolve the conflict that has raged for the past eight months. It wreaked havoc on the global economy and sparked fears of nuclear war.
U.S. officials share the assessment of their Ukrainian counterparts that Putin is not serious about negotiations for now, but President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ban on talks with him has brought the chaos of the war to an end. It acknowledges that there are concerns in parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America, where it is hot. The impact on food and fuel availability and costs is felt most prominently.
“For some partners, fatigue over Ukraine is real,” said, like others interviewed for this report, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss nuanced conversations between Washington and Kyiv. A U.S. official who spoke to the terms said.
A spokesman for Zelensky, Serhiy Nikiforov, did not respond to a request for comment.
In the US, polls show Republican support for continuing funding of the Ukrainian military at current levels has declined since the end of the Cold War.
During a visit to Kyiv on Friday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the United States supports a just and lasting peace in Ukraine and that U.S. support will continue regardless of domestic politics. “We’re going to make sure we have the resources where needed and get votes from both sides of the aisle to make it happen,” he said at the briefing.
Inside the Republican rift on growing Ukrainian aid
As Ukrainian forces retake occupied territories and get closer to Putin’s focus areas, enthusiasm for a potential solution to the war is growing. They include cities along the Sea of Azov, starting with Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, and now providing a “land bridge” to the Ukrainian peninsula. Zelensky vowed to fight every inch of Ukrainian territory.
Veteran diplomat Alexander Vershbow, the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and NATO Deputy Secretary General, said that war would take place at any time, given U.S. interests in ensuring European security and European security. He said the US could not be completely “agnostic” about how it would end. Deter further Kremlin aggression across Russia’s borders.
“I don’t think the administration will be passive if the terms of the negotiations become more favorable,” Vershbow said. “But in the end it’s the Ukrainians who will fight, so we have to be careful not to guess them.”
In the weeks following Putin’s February 24 invasion, Zelensky presented a negotiated peace offer that included the neutrality of Ukraine and the return of territories occupied by Russia since that date, but Ukrainian officials has solidified its stance in recent months.
In late September, after Putin annexed four additional regions in eastern and southern Ukraine, President Zelensky issued a decree declaring it “impossible” to negotiate with the Russian leader. “We will negotiate with the new president,” he said in a video address.
This change was facilitated by systematic atrocities in areas under Russian control, including rape and torture, regular airstrikes on Kyiv and other cities, and orders to annex the Kremlin.
Why Putin Fights for Kherson: Freshwater and Overpass to Crimea
Ukrainians reacted indignantly when foreigners offered to concede their own regions as part of a peace deal. to enable.
In recent weeks, Ukraine’s criticism of the proposed concessions has become sharper, with government officials blaming Western “beneficial idiots” they accused of serving Kremlin interests. there is
“If Russia wins, we will face a period of turmoil: tyranny, war, genocide, the flowering of the nuclear race,” said presidential adviser Mikhail Podoljak. Said Friday. “Today’s ‘concession’ to Putin is a deal with the devil. You won’t like the price.”
Ukrainian officials say a peace deal was signed in 2015 in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, but Russia only gave Putin time before he launched a full-scale invasion earlier this year. ing. They question why the new peace deal would be different, and argue that the only way to prevent Russia from returning for further attacks is to defeat its troops on the battlefield.
Facing a disadvantage on the battlefield, Russia offered negotiations, but in the past proved unwilling to accept much other than Ukraine’s surrender.
“Ironically, Russian and Western supporters are offering an olive branch. Yermak writes in a recent op-ed published by The Washington Post.
Ukrainian officials have also questioned how negotiations can be conducted with a Russian leader who basically believes in Moscow’s hegemony over Kyiv.
Putin continues to undermine the notion of a sovereign and independent Ukraine, reiterating in his remarks last month that Russians and Ukrainians are one and the same ethnic group, and that Russia has “enhanced Ukrainian statehood, sovereignty, , can become the nation’s only real and serious guarantor.” territorial integrity. “
Western officials are also skeptical of Russia’s aims, but are frustrated by Ukraine’s harsh public condemnation, as Kyiv remains entirely dependent on Western support. Banging donors and excluding talks could hurt Kyiv in the long run, officials say.
Maximalist rhetoric on both sides has fueled global fears of years of conflict over the life of Russia’s 70-year-old leader. It is driving consumer energy prices up, causing commodity price spikes and exacerbating hunger in countries such as Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Ukrainians say Democrats pushing for peace talks don’t understand Putin
In the US, rising inflation, partly linked to war, is increasing headwinds for the president Ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, Biden and his party have raised new questions about the future of US security assistance, worth $18.2 billion since the war began.The Wall Street Journal reported 11 A poll released on March 3 found 48% of Republicans said the United States was “going too far” to help Ukraine, up from 6% in March.
Progressives within the Democratic Party want diplomacy to avoid a protracted war and published a letter urging Biden to redouble efforts to seek a “realistic framework” to stop the fighting, but later retracted it. .
Sullivan said in Kyiv that the war could easily end. “Russia chose to start it,” he said. “Russia can choose to end it by ceasing to attack Ukraine, ceasing to occupy Ukraine, and that is exactly what it should do from our perspective.”
Concerns about a longer-running conflict are already reluctant to commit to a U.S.-led coalition backing Ukraine, either because of its relationship with Russia or because of its reluctance to fall behind Washington. This is particularly noticeable in countries where
South Africa abstained from a recent UN vote denouncing Russia’s annexation order, saying instead the world must focus on promoting a ceasefire and a political settlement. Lula da Silva said Zelensky was as responsible for the war as Putin.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has tried to maintain good relations with Russia and Kyiv, offered help in peace talks in a phone call with Zelensky last month.
President Zelensky said Ukraine was not willing to hold negotiations with Putin, but said Ukraine was “working towards a peaceful solution through dialogue”. pointed out that
Ukraine presents demands for peace talks as West prepares for escalation
Despite Ukrainian leaders refusing to speak to Putin and vowing to fight to retake everything U.S. officials in Ukraine say they believe Zelensky will likely support and eventually accept negotiations as he suggested conceding early in the war. They believe that Kyiv is trying to secure as many military gains as possible before the onset of winter, which will be a window for diplomacy.
Zelensky faces the challenge of appealing both to domestic constituencies that have been devastated at the hands of the Russian invaders and to foreign audiences who provide his army with the weapons it needs to fight. . To motivate Ukrainians at home, Zelensky became a symbol of defiance, promoting victory over resolution and motivating Ukrainian forces on the battlefield.
Last month, members of the G7 developed bloc appeared to bolster their vision of a victorious Ukraine, backing a “just peace” plan that included possible reparations payments by Russia and security guarantees to Ukraine. , some of the same countries could turn a corner if Ukrainian forces approach Crimea.
Reports of a Russian withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson raised the question of whether Ukrainian forces could finally march to the strategic peninsula.
Not only has Crimea been under direct Russian control longer than the areas seized since February, but it has long been the site of a Russian naval base and home to many veterans.
As exemplifying Russia’s elevation of Crimea, the Kremlin last month responded to an explosion on a bridge connecting the region with mainland Russia, a symbol of Moscow’s control over the peninsula and Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv. fired a barrage of missiles at Put an end to the long peace in the capital.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian leaders continue to telegraph their intentions to pursue complete victory, not only to the impoverished citizens, but also to Moscow.
Zelensky told the interviewer On Wednesday, the first thing he will do after Ukraine wins the war is to visit the recaptured Crimea.
Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.