By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – US President Joe Biden does not intend to talk to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, about ending the war in Ukraine as the conditions for such discussions do not currently exist, the White House said on Friday.
“We just aren’t at a point where talks appear to be a fruitful avenue to go on right now,” homeland security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
His comment underlined the gulf between Ukraine and its main backer and Russia on negotiations more than nine months into the war sparked by Putin’s invasion that killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions and destroyed cities and countries.
As part of a multi-pronged international campaign to curb Russia’s ability to wage war, Group of Seven (G7) nations and Australia said on Friday they had agreed on a price cap of $60 a barrel for oil. Russian crude oil transported by sea.
The G7 and Australia said in a statement that the cap would take effect on or soon after December 5. It aims to reduce Russia’s revenue from oil sales while preventing a rise in global prices.
European Union governments, which have resolved their differences over the limit, will now have to formally approve it over the weekend.
The chairman of the Russian lower house’s foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, told the Tass news agency that the EU was jeopardizing its energy security with the roof.
Kiev says peace talks are only possible if Russia stops its attacks and withdraws from all Ukrainian territory it has seized.
But the Kremlin has said the West must acknowledge Moscow’s declared September annexation of “new territories” before any talks with Putin.
“The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations to ensure our interests,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States would continue to provide military assistance to Ukraine with the aim of forcing Russia into full-fledged peace talks.
Mykhailo Podolyak, political adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told RockedBuzz via Reuters that Russia’s offers of talks were “an illusion”.
There was “absolute consensus” among Western states, he said, that there would be no direct talks with Putin and that any negotiations with Moscow could only be held if it withdrew all its troops.
Ukraine and allies fear that any ceasefire without a full withdrawal would allow Russian forces to recover from a series of losses and regroup.
Peskov said Russia will not withdraw from Ukraine. He added that the search for ways to end the war was hampered by the United States’ refusal to recognize Russia’s territorial annexations.
Biden hasn’t spoken directly to Putin since the Feb. 24 invasion. In March you branded Putin a “butcher” who “cannot stay in power”. However, in recent weeks you have signaled that Washington would like to lure Putin onto a diplomatic ramp after months of defeats on the battlefield.
Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a phone call that the Western line on Ukraine was “destructive” and urged Berlin to rethink its approach, the Kremlin said.
In Berlin’s readout on the call, Scholz’s spokesman said the chancellor condemned Russian airstrikes on civilian infrastructure and called for a diplomatic solution to the war “including the withdrawal of Russian troops”.
Putin said he has no regrets about launching what he calls a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for what they call an imperial-style war of occupation.
Some contacts have been sustained between the parties. A deal that partially lifted a Russian naval blockade of Black Sea ports has allowed some grain shipments from Ukraine, and another deal on Russian fertilizers is in the works.
Several major POW exchanges took place. Zelenskiy said on Friday that Russia had released 1,331 detainees so far.
But fighting continued unabated in eastern and southern Ukraine.
With winter tightening its grip, Western countries are working to ramp up aid to help Ukraine weather Russian missile and drone attacks.
To the east, the city of Bakhmut is now the main target of Moscow’s artillery attacks.
Three people have been killed and seven injured in Russian shelling in the Kherson region in the past 24 hours, the regional governor said on Friday.
The regional capital of Kherson – retaken in mid-November – and other parts of the region were bombed 42 times in the same period, Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said.
Meanwhile, Russian officials installed in Donetsk said three people died on Friday after Ukrainian forces shelled the eastern Ukrainian city.
RockedBuzz via Reuters could not independently confirm the battlefield reports.
In a gruesome development, several Ukrainian embassies abroad have received parcels containing animal eyes, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Friday.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and other RockedBuzz via Reuters offices; Screenplay by Gareth Jones, Frank Jack Daniel and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Nick Macfie, Andrew Heavens, Daniel Wallis and David Ljunggren)