Prospects for peace between Russia and Ukraine darken despite Moscow hinting at easing tensions with US

Prospects for peace look more bleak than ever despite hints of a possible easing of tensions between Washington and Moscow as Russian and Ukrainian forces exchange blows in the eastern Donbass region. appear.

“As for Ukraine, there is nothing to discuss with them. [the United States]Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister said on November 18.

“There can be no dialogue or discussion because our views are diametrically opposed,” Sergei Ryabkov told Russian state media.

But Moscow is open to the possibility of high-level talks with the United States to discuss issues related to “strategic stability,” he added.

Russian-Ukrainian War
People fill containers with water from a public water pump in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 31, 2022. (Sam Mednick/AP Photo)

“If the Americans show interest and readiness, we will not refuse,” Ryabkov said.

Hopes for a diplomatic solution rose earlier this month when US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

“If there is an opportunity for negotiations that can achieve peace … seize the moment,” Millie said on November 9.

He made this statement after Russia announced plans to withdraw its troops from the right bank of the Dnipro and from the strategic city of Kherson.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian forces replaced Russian forces that had departed in the city of Kherson and other strategic positions near the riverbank.

Russia’s withdrawal is widely hailed as a major victory for Kyiv.

But it has also helped free up a significant amount of Russian personnel and equipment, which are reportedly redeployed to other areas along the 680-mile front line.

Epoch Times photo
Ukrainian tanks move near the front line in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, October 21, 2022. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

The Russian front has also been strengthened by Moscow’s recent call-up of 300,000 recruits.

Reports from both sides indicate that fighting is now most intense in Donetsk and Luhansk, which make up the Russian-speaking eastern Donbass region.

Earlier this week, Moscow claimed that its forces had captured the Donetsk town of Pavlivka after several days of heavy fighting.

The Epoch Times was unable to confirm the claim.

In late September, Russia formally annexed the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions and now considers them all part of the Russian Federation.

Kyiv has pledged to regain all four territories, along with the southern region of Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014 and is now home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said negotiations can only take place after Russia withdraws from all annexed territories.

Speaking to reporters on November 16, Milly appeared to downplay the possibility of a complete military victory for Kyiv in the short term.

“The likelihood of a military victory for Ukraine, defined as driving the Russians out of all of Ukraine and including what they claim to be Crimea, is militarily unlikely to happen anytime soon,” it said. said the general.

Kremlin: No comment on ‘negotiations’

In a related development, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a meeting between top US and Russian intelligence officials in Ankara on Nov. He said he played a “significant role”.

In a statement issued by the president’s office on November 18, Erdogan called for the stalled Ukrainian-Russian negotiations to resume, saying the ongoing conflict would only “increase the risks”.

On November 14, US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Naryshkin, in the Turkish capital.

The previously unannounced closed-door meeting was reportedly held at the headquarters of Turkey’s national intelligence agency.

It was the first face-to-face contact between top US and Russian officials since Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February.

After the meeting, Burns traveled to Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Epoch Times photo
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 16, 2022. (Alexandr Demyanchuk/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

A White House spokesperson quoted by Reuters at the time claimed that Burns was “not in negotiations” with Naryshkin, who heads Russia’s foreign intelligence service.

“He is not discussing the resolution of the war in Ukraine,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Former Moscow ambassador Byrnes warned Naryshkin about the consequences of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons, according to US officials.

Since Russia’s territorial annexation in late September, the Western media has been flooded with headlines about Moscow’s “escalating nuclear rhetoric.”

Moscow, meanwhile, said its statements were taken out of context and that its nuclear doctrine clearly indicated the circumstances under which it might deploy nuclear weapons.

November 17th, When asked about the meeting between Burns and Naryshkin in Ankara, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I will not comment on the content of the negotiations.”

The next day, Peskov appeared to float the idea of ​​Western-backed peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

Peskov said, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, that “communications with Western countries can also be an element of guidance, reinforcement and strengthening of communications” between Russia and Ukraine.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Adam Morrow