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7 Jul, 2023 21:43

Ukraine labels US peace advocates ‘traitors’

A Kiev official fumed over American “imperialism” after a controversial NBC report
Ukraine labels US peace advocates ‘traitors’

Americans who reportedly discussed peace in Ukraine behind Kiev’s back are traitors and imperialists, an ambassador at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has said in response to a news story claiming these talks took place.

“So, a group of anonymous US tankies discussing Ukraine with Russia behind Ukraine’s back? There’re another [sic] words to describe it: treason, betrayal, and pure imperialism,” Aleksandr Scherba, Kiev’s “ambassador for strategic communications” and former envoy to Austria, tweeted

He was reacting to a NBC News report based entirely on anonymous sources which claimed that a group of former US national security officials have been conducting “track two” talks with “prominent Russians believed to be close to the Kremlin” for the past several months. 

The administration of US President Joe Biden found issues with the NBC story, disavowing any role in the alleged talks. Washington “did not sanction those discussions,” a State Department spokesman said in a statement on Thursday. 

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CBS News that, while the White House was aware of the unofficial contacts, “I want to make it clear that these discussions were not encouraged or engendered by us and we were not supporting them in any active way.” 

Richard Haass, the former head of the Council on Foreign Relations who was reportedly involved in the talks, mentioned the NBC report in a Substack post on Friday, seeking to address “some legitimate interest in my position mixed in with nasty, ad hominem attacks.”

Haass said he was present at the meeting between “several former senior US national security officials and a group of Russian diplomats led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov” that allegedly took place in April. No such meeting was acknowledged on Lavrov’s agenda during his visit to New York to chair the UN Security Council. 

Moscow has described the NBC News report as “fake” and “disinformation,” without going into any details. 

Russia has long said it has nothing to negotiate with the Ukrainian leadership, and will only deal with those in the West who are pulling its strings. The US has said that it will never discuss Ukraine without the direct involvement of Ukrainians. Kiev, meanwhile, insists that the only framework for ending the conflict is President Vladimir Zelensky’s “peace formula,” which would amount to Russian capitulation and has been rejected by Moscow as delusional.