Dan Rice, an American serving as an advisor to the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, told CNN’s Outfront on Tuesday that he believes Russia is looking to negotiate to return to positions it controlled before the February 24 invasion.
Rice made the comments when discussing Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and outlining what weapons he thinks Ukraine needs. “They are attacking the cities, trying to attack the grid, making it a very difficult winter,” he said. “They are trying to, in my opinion, trying to get to the negotiating table, to try to go back to the 2014 lines.”
A return to the “2014 lines” would mean Russia keeps Crimea, and Kyiv would have to cede the Donbas region, or at least a portion of it, to the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). But Rice said those terms wouldn’t be acceptable for Ukraine.
“Ukraine won’t have it. Ukraine wants all of their land back to the ’91 lines. They really need air defense systems and aircraft,” Rice said.
Rice is an American combat veteran and the president of Thayer Leadership, a leader development company based at the US Military Academy in West Point. He was appointed as a special advisor to Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, which was first announced in May.
Rice’s comments come as the prospects for a diplomatic solution to end the war seem slim. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently signed a decree ruling out talks with Russia as long as Vladimir Putin is president, and US officials have reportedly ruled out pushing Ukraine to negotiate even though they don’t think Kyiv can win the war “outright.”
While Rice said Russia is looking to return to the “2014 lines,” Putin has signaled that the territory he’s annexed may not be up for discussion. In a speech on September 30, he called for negotiations with Ukraine and said, “But the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson will not be discussed.”
In recent weeks, Russian officials have repeatedly said that they are open to negotiations, but their comments have been rejected by the US. The Kremlin said last week that Moscow remains “open to negotiations to achieve our objectives” in Ukraine.