White House Says Only Zelensky Gets to Determine When Negotiations Will Happen

Zelensky has signed a decree ruling out peace talks with Russia as long as Putin is president

The White House said Wednesday that it sees no prospects for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and that it’s up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to decide when talks will happen.

“Neither side is in a position to sit down and negotiate,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, according to The New York Times. He said that “if and when it comes to the table,” Zelensky “gets to determine when that is; he gets to determine what success looks like, and he gets to determine what or what he is not willing to negotiate with the Russians.”

Kirby’s comments are the latest confirmation that the US has no interest in pursuing diplomacy with Russia despite President Biden’s recent warning that there is a greater risk of nuclear “armageddon” today than at any time since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Russia has recently signaled that it is willing to hold talks, with the Kremlin saying its goals in Ukraine can be achieved through negotiations, but Zelensky has shown no interest. In response to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian territories it controls, Zelensky signed a decree ruling out talks with Russia while Vladimir Putin is president, essentially calling for regime change in Moscow before negotiations can happen.

Ukraine’s war goals are to drive Russia out of all the territory it has captured since February 24 and Crimea, which has been under Russian control since 2014. The prospect of losing Crimea would be viewed as an existential threat to Russia, which could be enough justification to use nuclear weapons under its military doctrine, although Putin said Thursday that he wouldn’t use nukes in Ukraine.

There are virtually no calls in Washington for diplomacy with Russia, even as the war in Ukraine looks like it will drag on for years and years. A group of 30 House Democrats sent a letter to President Biden on Monday calling for talks with Russia, but it was quickly retracted after the lawmakers received backlash.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.