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US State Department denies pressuring Ukraine to negotiate with Russia

by Abbey Fenbert November 8, 2023 4:52 AM 2 min read
U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel, May 15, 2023. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The U.S. State Department denied reports that the U.S. has been urging Ukraine to participate in peace talks with Russia, Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a briefing on Nov. 7.

"[A]ny negotiations...are up to Ukraine," Patel told reporters.

NBC News reported on Nov. 3 that officials from the U.S. and Europe had held behind-the-scenes talks with the Ukrainian government on possible negotiations with Russia. Sources told NBC News that the conversations included potential Ukrainian concessions.

"We are not aware of any conversations with Ukraine about negotiations outside of the peace formula structure," Patel told reporters, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky's 10-point plan for an end to the war.

Zelensky's peace formula calls for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from illegally-occupied Ukrainian lands and the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity.

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In an interview with NBC News on Nov. 5, Zelensky denied that the war had reached a stalemate and urged international allies to continue supporting Ukraine's defense.

"If Russia will kill all of us, they will attack NATO countries, and you will send your sons and daughters. And it will be — I’m sorry, but the price will be higher," the president said.

Western support for Ukraine has wavered in recent months. Partisan battles over aid funding have caused turmoil in the U.S. House of Representatives, while some E.U. leaders have withrawn military support or admitted to "tiredness" over the war.  

Zelensky acknowledged that the fatigue was real, but did not say Ukraine was ready to cede territory in exchange for promises of peace.

“We are not ready to give our freedom to this f***king terrorist, Putin,” he told NBC News.

Patel also said in the Nov. 7 briefing that the U.S. did not expect Russia to participate in meaningful peace talks.  

"[T]he Kremlin has no interest in negotiating or ending this war, and we are committed to supporting our Ukrainian partners," he said.

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