Reuters: Russian officials claim that US rejected Putin's proposed peace talks

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The U.S. allegedly rejected attempts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to engage in peace talks because Ukraine was not included in the proposed negotiations, Reuters reported on Feb. 13, citing unnamed Russian officials.

Except for unsuccessful talks during the spring of 2022, there have been no direct peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. Kyiv said categorically that a full Russian withdrawal is a precondition for any talks.

Both the Russian officials and an unnamed American source said that the U.S. ruled out holding any back channel peace talks that did not include Ukraine. The U.S. source also said it would not engage in official peace talks with Russia.

The Russian officials said that there had been three unofficial talks in Turkey in 2023 through intermediaries which did not produce any results. Sources from the U.S. said they were unaware of such meetings.

The U.S. is unwilling to pressure Ukraine into joining talks unless the impetus comes from Ukraine, sources told Reuters. Russian officials also said that the U.S. does not believe Russia is interested in negotiating in good faith, and does not trust that Putin genuinely wants to pursue a ceasefire.

Putin allegedly proposed to freeze the war at the current front line, but wanted to keep Russian control over all currently occupied Ukrainian territory, Russian sources told Reuters.

The news echoes a Bloomberg report published in January 2024, in which Russian sources said that Putin was allegedly willing to drop his opposition to Ukraine's NATO accession in exchange for control over the roughly 18% of Ukrainian territory Russia now occupies.

Russian sources told Reuters that there is "frustration" in Moscow over Washington's refusal to push Ukraine into holding peace talks on Russia's terms.

Despite these private signals that Russia is willing to discuss a possible ceasefire, there is little indication that Putin's initial maximalist war goals have changed.

"There will be peace when we achieve our goals. They haven't changed. Denazification of Ukraine, the demilitarization of Ukraine," Putin said in December 2023. The Kremlin has regularly used false accusations of "Nazi-led" Ukraine to justify its aggression.

President Volodymyr Zelensky also said that freezing the war in its current state would only give Russia time to recuperate for another attack later on.

"If there is a stalemate and a frozen conflict, we have to honestly say that our children, or our grandchildren, will have to fight," Zelensky told journalists in November 2023.

U.S. officials told Bloomberg in January that they thought Russia's signaling of a willingness to begin peace talks was a possible attempt to drive a wedge between Ukraine and its allies.

Estonian foreign intelligence chief Kaupo Rosin said on Feb. 13 that Russia is simply spreading "stories" about its supposed interest in peace talks in order to undermine Western support for Ukraine, but they do not reflect a genuine interest.

"The Kremlin still sees this conflict with Ukraine as long-term if necessary, as long as necessary from the Kremlin's point of view, " Rosin said.

Putin suggested in an interview with U.S. far-right commentator Tucker Carlson on Feb. 6 that he was open to "dialogue" with Ukraine, but also repeated false claims that Ukraine is an "artificial" country. He gave no indication that his repeated goals for the full-scale war have changed.

Read also: Bloomberg: Secret peace talks involving Ukraine, G7, neutral countries failed to produce results

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