Ukraine War: When can we expect peace negotiations to start?

It’s not uncommon for the US president Joe Biden to say he is willing to meet with Vladimir Putin, or when Olaf Scholz calls Russia after a long phone conversation lasting an hour. This was his first call since September.

This doesn’t necessarily mean high-level peace negotiations are imminent.

The US President stated that it could only occur when Russia’s leader shows he’s willing to stop the conflict in Ukraine. It is not something that has happened yet.

Although the Kremlin claims that Washington doesn’t recognize Russia’s sovereignty in Ukraine’s annexed areas at the end September, and that Kyiv’s supposed intransigence is due to the West arming Ukraine, it does not mean that we’re on the verge of making a breakthrough.

As the war drags into its ninth month, and Ukraine experiences a bitter winter, raising fears of more destruction, death and misery, the question of when peace negotiations should start keeps popping up.

The recent comments by General Mark Milley (chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff), suggesting that a chance to negotiate should not be missed caused speculation about possible divisions in the US government.

Officials and Western leaders alike have maintained that Ukraine is responsible for deciding when and how they negotiate.

As he stood alongside Mr Biden, the French President Emmanuel Macron stated that “we have to respect Ukraines to determine the moment and conditions in Which They Will Negotiate About Their Territories.”

Officials from the West insist that it is still too early to talk. Moscow has not indicated a genuine desire for meaningful negotiations, according to Western officials.

The West has an implied belief that Russia will find itself in a less secure position than now, with Ukraine being on the front line militarily.

A senior diplomat from the West said it best: “There will come a time, but right now doesn’t feel right.”

He said that the West should continue to support Ukraine militarily for the moment, “to place them in the most advantageous position whenever it is necessary”.

It is difficult for officials to predict when this point might come.

However, Ukraine will continue to recover territory over the next months. This debate will be more severe: How far is Ukraine’s Western allies willing to support its war goals?

Simply put, it is about returning to the frontlines that existed 24 February when Russia invaded.

Encourage Ukraine to move beyond these, and to capture areas that Russia seized in 2014 (Crimea and large portions of the Donbas) is another.

There are still quiet channels for communication, involving both the Pentagon and Russia’s Defence Ministry or William Burns, CIA director, and Sergei Naryshkin, his Russian counterpart.

We still appear to be far from reaching a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Ukraine, despite all of the discussion about when and how to begin peace negotiations.


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