The White House reiterated today that only Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in a position to approve the start of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, and rejected any idea of US pressure on Kyiv.
“We all agree that a negotiated diplomatic solution is the best possible outcome short of a decision by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to withdraw his troops” from Ukraine, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters today.
“We have also stated that it is up to President Zelensky to say whether, and when, he would be ready for negotiations and what form those negotiations would take. And no one in the United States is investigating, insisting, and bringing it to the table” of negotiations, he stressed, especially after the massive Russian strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.
The official was asked about statements by US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, who has repeatedly said recently that there might be an opportunity to start talks on a political solution to the conflict.
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“The Russians are indeed in a difficult phase, so you want to negotiate at a time where you are in a position of strength and your opponent is in a position of weakness,” he said on Thursday.
American media have recently reported that some high-ranking officials have begun encouraging Ukraine to consider negotiations, which President Zelensky has so far denied.
The US has been the largest donor of military aid to Kyiv since the conflict began on February 24.
At the G20 on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Ukraine’s terms for opening talks to end the war “unrealistic”.
Ukraine is demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from its territory and the restoration of its territorial integrity, while Moscow requested the annexation of four Ukrainian regions in late September, in addition to the Crimean peninsula it annexed in 2014.