Day 258: US and Russia Officials Confirm High-Level Talks; Zelenskyy Restates Conditions for Peace
Amid reports that officials from the US and Russia have restarted high-level talks in recent weeks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told an event in New York on Monday that the US has, "channels to communicate with the Russian Federation at senior levels."
Amid reports that officials from the US and Russia have restarted high-level talks in recent weeks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told an event in New York on Monday that the US has, "channels to communicate with the Russian Federation at senior levels." He did not say whether he'd been directly engaged in the dialogue.
Sullivan continued: "We have done so when it's been necessary to clarify potential misunderstandings and try to reduce risk and reduce the possibility of catastrophe like the potential use of nuclear weapons." In spite of his reticence, a source confirmed to Reuters he was involved in the talks.
Meanwhile, according to the Russian publication Kommersant, three sources have confirmed that talks are underway between the two nations. The sources said that both governments have worked to arrange the first face-to-face discussions since the war started over the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the US — the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).
Elsewhere, following reports that US officials have quietly encouraged Ukraine's leadership to soften their stance on negotiations, Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated his conditions for talks on Monday. "Once again: restoration of territorial integrity, respect for the UN Charter, compensation for all damages caused by the war, punishment of every war criminal and guarantees that this will not happen again. These are completely understandable conditions," he said.
Zelenskyy previously stated that he would not hold talks as long as Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin was in power — a position repeated by a senior presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, on Monday: "Ukraine has never refused to negotiate. Our negotiating position is known and open: First, [Russian Federation] withdraws troops from Ukraine. After, everything else. Is Putin ready? Obviously not. Therefore, we are constructive in our assessment: we will talk with the next leader of [Russia]."
On the ground, as Kherson continues to brace for what will likely be a major battle, Russian strikes were recorded in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia, with no reports of civilian casualties at this stage. Heavy fighting continued in Donetsk where Ukrainian officials said three civilians were killed and seven more were injured in Russian attacks. Pro-Russia officials from the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) reported that one civilian was killed and six others were injured in Ukrainian attacks.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked Norway, Spain, and the US after he confirmed receipt of two advanced missile defense systems — NASAMS and Aspide — from the countries. Reznikov said of the development: "These weapons will significantly strengthen the Ukrainian army and will make our skies safer."
Narrative A, as provided by Bulwark. If Ukraine autonomously decides to seek negotiations, such talks should come from a position of strength. Now is not the right time to meet with Putin, particularly as negotiations could deflate Ukrainian morale ahead of a major offensive.
Narrative B, as provided by Politico. A sober analysis shows that Ukraine is unlikely to drive Russian troops from all its territory and, the longer this war goes on, the worse it will get for Ukraine. The Biden administration has a duty to try and bring about a peaceful resolution to the war, as extending the conflict will only increase the chances of a hot war between Russia, the US, and NATO.