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21 Jun, 2023 10:05

White House lays out its preconditions for Ukraine peace talks

President Zelensky’s ten-point plan to settle the conflict should at least be discussed at the start of negotiations, John Kirby says
White House lays out its preconditions for Ukraine peace talks

Washington would only welcome talks on settling the conflict between Moscow and Kiev if they begin with the understanding that Ukraine’s territorial integrity has to be preserved, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stated during a briefing on Tuesday.

The US authorities “support [Ukrainian] President [Vladimir] Zelensky’s vision of a just peace” in the conflict with Russia, Kirby said.

Any negotiations “would be welcome only if it’s going to be credible and sustainable, which means that it has to start with a foundation of a belief in Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and start – at least start – with a discussion of the ten-point proposal that President Zelensky has put forward,” he continued.

The Ukrainian leader has for months promoted his so-called ten-point “peace plan,” which among other things calls for Russia to withdraw its forces to borders claimed by Ukraine, to pay reparations and to submit to war crime tribunals. Zelensky says he would like to stage a Global Peace Summit – without Russia’s participation – to discuss his initiative. However, a date for such an event hasn’t yet been set.

Russia has rejected Zelensky's plan as “unacceptable,” saying it ignores the reality on the ground and is actually a sign of Kiev’s unwillingness to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means. According to Moscow, this leaves it no other options other than to  work towards achieving its goals in Ukraine through military means.

Kirby claimed that the US, which has been Ukraine’s main backer throughout the conflict, supplying it with funds, weapons and intelligence, “want[s] to see this war end. We’d like to see it end today.” For that to happen, Russian President Vladimir Putin has to “do the right thing and pull his troops out,” he said.

“Obviously, he’s not going to do that, and he’s doubling down, and there’s some pretty vicious fighting going on right now in the east and in the south of Ukraine,” the spokesman acknowledged.

In early June, Ukraine launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive along the frontline with Russia. However, according to Moscow, Kiev’s troops have so far been unable to achieve any significant advances, while suffering heavy losses in manpower and equipment.

Last week, Russia’s Defense Ministry estimated that some 7,500 Ukrainian troops had been killed in failed attacks since the beginning of June. Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that some 30% of Ukraine’s Western-supplied military hardware, including a number of German Leopard 2 tanks and US-made Bradley fighting vehicles, have already been destroyed.