Home / Opinion / Views /  Why the West is talking of talks with Russia: 9 points

Washington has indicated that it is ready to consider peace and dialogue in Ukraine. As the war heads into a long winter, the Biden administration recently signalled that it was willing to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss bringing an end to the conflict, which has lasted almost nine months. Mint unpacks the latest effort at dialogue in the unfolding conflict:

1. During a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, American President Joe Biden indicated that his administration would be willing to sit down with President Putin to discuss a peace plan to end the war in Ukraine.

2. This comes on the heels of a string of uninterrupted Ukrainian successes since early September. While Kyiv also managed to retake the vital city of Kherson, the war is now headed into a long winter which will make further advances and victories difficult.

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3. With military gains unlikely, it would seem that America has brought plans for diplomacy and dialogue out of cold storage. Recently, America’s spy chief William Burns met his Russian counterparts to bring down tensions over potential nuclear use while National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also spoke to Russian officials in an effort to maintain stability. While the Biden administration made clear that an end to the war was not discussed, it is clear that Washington is exploring dialogue.

4. Biden has several reasons to seek an end to the fighting in Ukraine. First, the war has had major consequences for the economic outlook in America and allies in Europe. Inflation and supply chain shocks have dented economic prospects for the West.

5. Domestically, support for the Ukraine war has become more controversial. Republicans, who now control the House of Representatives, have taken issue with the billions in “blank check" funding made available for Ukraine's war effort. Republican supporters also increasingly believe America is doing too much in Ukraine.

6. Concerns abound that America’s overinvestment of military resources and attention in Ukraine will damage its larger effort against China. Resources and weaponry are finite and America has depleted its stores of key weapons like the HIMARS rocket launch system to aid Ukraine.

7. However, despite Washington’s efforts to push Ukraine to consider peace, dialogue remains elusive. While Zelensky signalled early in the conflict that he would be willing to consider a Sweden-style neutrality agreement in return for a Russian withdrawal, his position has since hardened.

8. Evidence of war crimes against Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces and military victories have emboldened Zelensky to state that nothing short of victory, i.e, a total Russian withdrawal from Ukraine, will lead to peace. Putin’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine led Zelensky to declare negotiations “impossible".

9. While Russian officials have also signalled their willingness to discuss terms, Moscow has stated that Washington’s refusal to recognise Russia’s annexation of territory “makes more complicated the search for common ground for mutual discussions". This has led many top Western leaders, including former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, that Russia is not seriously considering peace talks. Ukraine and the West have repeatedly refused to recognise these annexations.

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