kyiv must be part of any future negotiations with Moscow, insists Washington
US officials have rejected the idea of direct talks with Moscow without Kyiv’s involvement, after some 30 Democratic representatives penned a letter urging President Joe Biden to seek a diplomatic end to the conflict in Ukraine.
“We have been very clear: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine”, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday, adding that “It’s a decision that the president [Vladimir] Zelensky will have to deal with any type of conversation with Russia, any type of negotiation.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also said Monday that Ukrainians must be part of all future negotiations.
“We are not going to have conversations with Russian leaders without the Ukrainians being represented,” Kirby said, quoted by the Washington Post. “Mr. Zelensky has to figure out – because this is his country – what success looks like and when to negotiate.
Kirby noted that the US administration “appreciate [the lawmakers’] very thoughtful concerns,” while Jean-Pierre admitted that she had not seen the letter. Both, however, insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin could choose to end the conflict. “at any time.”
In a letter to the White House on Monday, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (Washington) quoted the “destruction” of Ukraine, the threat of nuclear war and the economic turmoil in Europe are all reasons to seek a negotiated settlement.
Signed by prominent progressives including Ro Khanna (Pennsylvania), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), the letter acknowledged that the final decision on when to return to the negotiating table rests with the Ukraine. However, he concluded by urging Biden to open “direct talks with Russia” without suggesting what kind of compromise lawmakers think Ukraine should make for peace.
Ukraine’s president has previously said he will never negotiate with Russia while President Putin is in power, and pledged to seize four formerly Ukrainian regions that recently joined the Russian Federation, as well as Crimea, which voted to join Russia in 2014.