NBC: U.S. and EU start discussing possible Ukraine-Russian Federation talks
Representatives of the United States and the European Union began discussing with Kyiv possible negotiations with Russia, as well as what concessions Ukraine might have to make to end the war. These discussions began against the backdrop of the risk of the war turning into a protracted positional confrontation and Western concerns about whether the partners would be able to assist Ukraine for a long time.
The war between Israel and Hamas, which has largely diverted public attention from what is happening in Ukraine, as well as problems with funding for aid due to the situation in the US House of Representatives and the difficulties Ukraine has faced in mobilizing, also had an impact on what is happening. NBC reports this with reference to information received from sources.
According to the publication, it is currently a "calm discussion of the possible consequences of peace talks with Russia for ending the war" that US and EU officials are allegedly having with the Ukrainian authorities. These conversations also include concessions Ukraine might have to make to end the war.
Such talks, in particular, took place last month during a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine's Defense in the Ramstein format.
"The talks began amid concerns among U.S. and European officials that the war has reached a stalemate and that they will not be able to continue to assist Ukraine, officials said. According to them, the Biden administration is also concerned that Ukraine is running out of forces, while Russia's reserves seem endless. Ukraine is also having difficulty recruiting soldiers, and there have been recent protests in the country against some of President Volodymyr Zelensky's demands for indefinite conscription," the newspaper writes.
The war between Israel and Hamas has also had an impact on the situation. Events in the Middle East have largely diverted public attention from Russian aggression against Ukraine. And the U.S. government is concerned that this will make it more difficult to provide additional assistance to Ukraine.
The publication also states that some high-ranking officials privately voice the opinion that the war in Ukraine has come down to a "stalemate." The outcome of the battle, in which neither Ukrainian nor Russian troops are making significant progress today, may depend on which side can maintain military strength longer.
According to NBC sources, the United States and the EU may start pushing Ukraine for peace talks with Russia much harder by the end of 2023 or early 2024.
Officially, the United States continues to assert that the decision to start negotiations with Russia will be made exclusively by Ukraine.
"Any decision to negotiate should be made by Ukraine. We are focused on continuing to stand firmly with Ukraine as it defends its freedom and independence from Russian aggression," said National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson, adding that the White House "is not aware of any other conversations with Ukraine about negotiations at this time."
According to NBC's sources, US President Joe Biden is now very concerned about the manning of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the resources to replenish the personnel losses incurred in heavy fighting.
"People are now at the top of the administration's concerns," said one of the interlocutors.
He noted that Western allies can provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment, "but if they don't have competent forces to use them, it's useless."
In addition, the situation in the US Congress makes it difficult for the Biden administration to allocate additional funding for Ukraine. His request for aid for Ukraine and Israel has been met with resistance from some Republicans in the House of Representatives, who are willing to help the Israeli army but oppose aid to Kyiv.
Even before the Hamas attack, while the White House publicly expressed confidence that the U.S. Congress would allocate money for Ukraine by the end of the year, it privately recognized that this could be a serious problem. With the outbreak of the war in the Middle East, the situation became even more complicated.
At the same time, no matter what options for possible negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are proposed by the US and the EU, it is not enough to convince Ukraine that such an end to the war is inevitable. It is also necessary for Moscow to be ready to negotiate with Kyiv. According to NBC, the Biden administration sees no signs of such readiness on the part of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The reason is the Russian dictator's belief that time is his ally and that Russia is quite capable of holding out until the West withdraws its assistance to Ukraine either because of weakening domestic support or because Western officials' decision that the aid may be too expensive for their countries.
At the same time, both Russia and Ukraine are experiencing difficulties with military supplies at this stage.
For example, Russia is increasing the production of artillery shells and, according to Western officials, will be able to reach the level of two million rounds of ammunition per year within a few years. However, given that the Russian army used about 10 million artillery shells in the war against Ukraine in 2022, Russia will not be able to cover its needs without the help of other countries.
Ukraine is too dependent on its partner's assistance. The Pentagon has estimated that since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion, the United States has already allocated $43 billion to help Ukraine. Without a congressional decision on additional funding for Ukraine, the Biden administration has about $5 billion left to help the Ukrainian army. And even that came after an error in the documentation was discovered, according to which the cost of equipment sent to Ukraine was unreasonably overstated by a little more than $6 billion. If not for this, the funds for the allocation of aid to Ukraine would have run out altogether.
With each passing day, the lack of significant progress in the Ukrainian Defense Forces' counteroffensive, as well as the too-slow advance of Ukrainian troops in the south of the country, where Russia has built powerful defense lines, reduces the chances that additional money will be allocated. There is less and less faith in the West that Ukraine will make a breakthrough and, for example, be able to reach the Azov Sea coast, liberating the occupied territories in the south of Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. Without significant progress, NBC quoted its sources as saying, it will be increasingly difficult for both the US and the EU to reverse the downward trend in public support for additional aid.
As a reminder, in late October, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Russia's readiness to negotiate with the West. According to him, Moscow is allegedly ready to start talking to the US and EU about Ukraine and the "further coexistence" of the West and the EU. Such readiness, he said, "remains if the necessary conditions are created."
Shoigu also voiced some of these "necessary conditions." Russia is dreaming of creating a "multipolar world order" in which, according to Moscow, Russia will play an important role. In addition, the Russian Federation allegedly wants to "ensure equal relations between all nuclear-armed states, permanent members of the UN Security Council" because they bear "special responsibility" for peace and stability on the planet.
The states with "special responsibility for peace and security" included Russia, of course, which has been constantly unleashing wars on neighboring states and intervening in conflicts in countries with which it does not even border under the pretext of its "geopolitical interests" since 1991.