Follow us on social

Diplomacy Watch: Negotiations appear as elusive as ever

Diplomacy Watch: Negotiations appear as elusive as ever

In the two-plus years since Kyiv and Moscow last held talks, both sides have hardened their positions

Reporting | QiOSK

The New York Times reported last weekend on three documents from the talks between Russia and Ukraine in March and April 2022. It is the latest in a series of analyses that show that the two sides were somewhat close to agreeing on the broad contours of a deal, but that crucial sticking points were never resolved.

Today, more than two years after the latest round of talks between Kyiv and Moscow, peace appears as elusive as ever.

On June 14 and 15, Kyiv hosted its largest “peace summit” to date, a meeting to which Russia was not invited and whose goal was to build support for President Volodymyr Zelensky’s vision of a peace proposal.

The joint communique released at the end of the summit declared that “the principles of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states, can and will serve as a basis in achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine,” but primarily focused on nuclear safety, food security, and prisoners of war.

Seventy-eight countries signed the document, but a number of key middle powers — including India, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia — declined to join.

“U.S. and Western actions in the Middle East and elsewhere have done serious harm to the task of holding Moscow to account in what was clearly an illegal invasion of Ukraine,” the Quincy Institute’s Sarang Shidore wrote in RS this week. “Many in the Global South are keenly aware of the double standards at work, and do not wish to be used instrumentally to settle Western scores with Russia.”

But Zelensky appears largely unmoved by his inability to win over these nations (China, who Kyiv has previously seen as a key player in winning over Global South countries, declined to attend the meeting.)

“Zelensky has pledged to keep fighting, describing his peace plan as one in which Russia withdraws from all of Ukraine’s territory, pays reparations and is punished for war crimes,” according to the New York Times.

“If we don’t make progress this year, then we will try again next year,” Zelensky privately told a European counterpart recently, according to the Times, “And if we don’t make progress next year, we will try again the following year, and the one after that.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, also hardened his negotiating stance last weekend. Putin has previously gestured at being open to freezing the lines of the conflict and using the 2022 talks as a baseline for future negotiations. But in a statement responding to the summit in Switzerland, Putin said last Friday that Russia would only cease military operations if Ukraine gave up its aspirations to join NATO (which Kyiv had reportedly agreed to in 2022, but whose desire to join the alliance has significantly strengthened since) and ceded four regions that Russia claims to have annexed.

The Quincy Institute’s Anatol Lieven argued in RS this week that both of these official proposals are “absurd,’ and each contain provisions that are unacceptable to the other side. But, Lieven argues, they are not irreconcilable.

“Even de facto acceptance of Russian rule over five Ukrainian provinces would be a most bitter pill for Ukraine and the West to swallow. However, this would still be far less than the maximalist goals of Russian hardliners, whether in terms of the subjugation of the whole of Ukraine, or annexation of all the Russian-speaking areas of the country, including Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, and the whole of the Black Sea coast,” Lieven writes.

“If in the months and years to come, the Ukrainian army can manage to hold roughly its existing lines, then the eventual line of division between Ukraine and Russia (whether drawn in a formal peace settlement or accepted as part of an armistice) will also run along these lines,” he said.

In other diplomatic news related to the war in Ukraine:

— The Kremlin said on Monday that it was in discussions with Washington over a potential prisoner swap involving detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, according to Reuters.

"I want to remind you again of the president's conversation with the heads of information agencies in St. Petersburg - he confirmed that there are such contacts," Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said. "They go on but should continue to be conducted in complete silence.”

— Putin visited North Korea this week for a state visit and said that he and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un had agreed to a mutual aid agreement.

“Putin and Kim didn’t make it clear whether the new accord amounts to a pledge to fight for one another in a war or was simply a promise to extend other forms of support,” according toThe Wall Street Journal. “The two countries are already aiding each other, with everything from oil and food to munitions.”

—The White House confirmed reporting from The Financial Times on Thursday that Washington was redirecting the delivery of Patriot air defense systems and interceptor missiles from other countries to Ukraine until Kyiv had enough to defend itself from Russian aerial attacks.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called it a “difficult but necessary decision” that “demonstrates our commitment to supporting our partners when they’re in existential danger.” Which countries will be affected by the decision remains unclear. Kirby said that other countries will receive the defense systems “on a delayed timeline” but that deliveries to Taiwan and Israel would not be affected.

U.S. State Department news:

In a Monday press briefing, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was asked about the countries that abstained from signing onto the joint communique in Switzerland.

“If you look at the support that Ukraine got, you had over 90 countries that attended this peace summit. You had over 80 countries and international organizations that signed on to the final communique. We think both of those numbers represent a very significant show of support for Ukraine, and for not just peace but a just and lasting peace, something that we have always made clear is important,” Miller said. “And we’re going to continue to work to make sure Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself now, but we are going to continue to work to try to secure a just and lasting peace. And we welcome the support from dozens and dozens of other countries around the world in that regard.”

Diplomacy Watch: Domestic politics continue to challenge Ukraine’s allies
Diplomacy Watch: Domestic politics continue to challenge Ukraine’s allies
Reporting | QiOSK
Menendez's corruption is just the tip of the iceberg

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) looks on, following his bribery trial in connection with an alleged corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen, in New York City, U.S., July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Menendez's corruption is just the tip of the iceberg

QiOSK

Today, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) became the first U.S. senator ever to be convicted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. While serving as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez ghost-wrote a letter and approved arms sales on behalf of the Egyptian regime in exchange for bribes, among other crimes on behalf of foreign powers in a sweeping corruption case. An Egyptian businessman even referred to Menendez in a text to a military official as “our man.”

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Menendez was engaging in politics for profit. "Because Senator Menendez has now been found guilty, his years of selling his office to the highest bidder have finally come to an end,” he said.

keep readingShow less
States should let the feds handle foreign influence

The Bold Bureau / Shutterstock.com

States should let the feds handle foreign influence

Washington Politics

In April, a state bill in Georgia aimed at clamping down on foreign influence landed on the desk of Governor Brian Kemp.

Presented under the guise of common-sense legislation, the bill was more reminiscent of McCarthyism; if passed, it would have required workers of foreign-owned businesses such as Hyundai, Adidas, or Anheuser-Busch in Georgia to register as foreign agents, placing a huge burden on everyday Americans.

keep readingShow less
Will stock trade ban curtail DOD budget corruption?

Billion Photos via shutterstock.com

Will stock trade ban curtail DOD budget corruption?

QiOSK

A new bipartisan proposal to ban members of Congress and their immediate family members from trading individual stocks looks to close a glaring conflict of interest between politicians who control massive government budgets, much of which go to private contractors.

The potential for serious conflicts of interest are quickly apparent when reviewing the stock trades of members of Congress's Senate and House Armed Services Committees, the panels responsible for the National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that sets recommended funding levels for the Department of Defense.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest

Newsletter

Subscribe now to our weekly round-up and don't miss a beat with your favorite RS contributors and reporters, as well as staff analysis, opinion, and news promoting a positive, non-partisan vision of U.S. foreign policy.