Russia-Ukraine war: US official holds confidential talks with Putin aides
United States President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan held confidential talks in recent months with close aides of Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate nuclear tensions amid Russia-Ukraine war, reported Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The report about the undisclosed conversations between top US and Russian officials came at a time when there were apprehensions of a nuclear attack by Russia on Ukraine.
Why does this story matter?
- Russia and Ukraine have been at war since February this year, which was predominantly triggered by a territorial dispute. Over 6,300 civilians have lost their lives in the Russia-Ukraine war so far, as per the United Nations human rights office.
- Notably, WSJ's report on Sullivan's unpublicized discussions followed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's warnings about attacks on his country's energy infrastructure by rival Russia.
Russia warned against using nuclear or mass destruction weapons
Unnamed US officials were quoted by WSJ as saying that during the confidential talks, Moscow was warned against using mass destruction weapons and nuclear weapons. Sullivan reportedly held these discussions with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev and Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov in recent months, the report said citing official sources. WSJ also said the officials did not specify the dates and number of discussions.
Peace settlement not a goal, says report
Though the West, including the US, has remained sided with Ukraine in the ongoing conflict as they have been providing it with logistic support and supplies, "peace settlement" wasn't the goal of these talks, per WSJ. Interestingly, in September, Zelesnkyy rejected Putin's claims of being open to "talks to stop hostilities" and said Kyiv would engage in talks if Russia gets a new president.
People claim a lot of things: US official
Asked by WSJ about Sullivan's undisclosed talks with Russian officials, US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson played it down, saying, "People claim a lot of things." She also declined to comment further. The Kremlin has also not responded to the report. Meanwhile, the US hasn't acknowledged any talks with Russia involving Sullivan since March, when he warned Patrushev of "escalating costs of war."
Will do anything to protect our country's interests: Putin
On the other hand, Putin, in September, reportedly hinted at considering a nuclear attack on Ukraine after accusing Kyiv of "planning to use a radioactive dirty bomb." "Russia will use all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity—this is not a bluff," the Russian president said in a national address, holding the West responsible for the Ukraine conflict.