A US official has denied that the Biden administration is nudging Ukraine toward negotiations with Russia, saying it’s up to Kyiv when to seek peace talks.
The comments from James O’Brien, assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs, came in response to a report from the German tabloid Bild. The report said the US and Germany were trying to nudge Ukraine toward the negotiating table by providing just enough weapons to maintain the current battle lines.
“The Bild story I thought was intriguing, but no, there’s no US policy,” O’Brien said. “We’ve always said that this is a matter for Ukraine to decide. We decide nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. And I think the other reality here is we see no indication that Russia is willing to entertain substantive, real peace negotiations.”
According to Ukrainska Pravda, Germany also denied the Bild report. “Ukraine has to define military and political goals in its defensive fight against the Russian aggression. Only Ukraine can set a date of the start of peace talks,” the German government said.
The US and most of its NATO allies have discouraged peace talks throughout the war and actively worked against short-lived negotiations in the early days of the conflict. David Arakhamia, a member of Ukraine’s parliament who led the Ukrainian delegation to Istanbul during peace talks with Russia in March 2022, confirmed last week that Russia only wanted a commitment of Ukrainian neutrality to end the war at the time.
Arakhamia also confirmed earlier reporting from Ukrainska Pravda that then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told President Volodymyr Zelensky that even if Kyiv was ready to sign a deal with Moscow, Ukraine’s Western backers were not. “When we returned from Istanbul, Boris Johnson came to Kyiv and said that we would not sign anything with them at all, and let’s just fight,” he said.