Australian news, and some related international items

The need for a negotiated settlement to end the Ukraine war – Western allies discuss this

senior Western officials — including US President Joe Biden — are emphasizing anew that even with advanced western weaponry, Ukraine’s prospects for peace will ultimately rest on diplomacy.

Western allies meeting regularly to game out potential framework for Ukraine ceasefire as war hits 100th day. By Natasha BertrandKatie Bo LillisBarbara Starr and Jeremy Herb, CNN, June 3, 2022,Washington (CNN)Staring down the prospect of an extended stalemate in Ukraine, the US and its allies are placing a renewed emphasis on the need for a negotiated settlement to end the war as the conflict grinds into its 100th day with no clear victory in sight for either side.

US officials have in recent weeks been meeting regularly with their British and European counterparts to discuss potential frameworks for a ceasefire and for ending the war through a negotiated settlement, multiple sources familiar with the talks told CNN. Among the topics has been a four-point framework proposed by Italy late last month. That framework involves Ukraine committing to neutrality with regard to NATO in exchange for some security guarantees, and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia on the future of Crimea and the Donbas region.

Ukraine is not directly involved in those discussions, despite the US commitment to “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.” US and Ukrainian officials said the US has not been pressuring Ukraine to commit to a certain plan or directly pushing them to sit down with the Russians.

Still, there is some confusion about what kind of framework the US would consider appropriate to bring to the Ukrainians for further discussion.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield told reporters earlier this week that the Italian framework is “one of those initiatives that we certainly would love to see bring a conclusion to this horrific war and the horrific attacks on the Ukrainian people.” But two US officials told CNN that the US actually does not support the Italian proposal.

In any case, US and western officials tell CNN that there is a growing concern that if the Russians and Ukrainians don’t get back to the table and work out a deal, the war will drag on — potentially for years.

Subtle language shift

It’s not clear whether these discussions will translate into eventual settlement talks. The Biden administration still sees no real prospect for any diplomatic breakthroughs or ceasefires anytime soon and two NATO officials said that the western alliance sees little appetite to negotiate on the Ukrainian side — in part because Russia’s brutal bombing campaign and myriad human rights violations have destroyed public support for any concession to Russia.

Moscow has also showed little interest in serious talks, officials say. Right now, Ukraine remains focused on ensuring a decisive military victory in the east and the south in order to put themselves in a superior negotiating position, these sources said.

“We can propose all the plans we want, but unlikely Kyiv will go for anything that cedes territory at the moment,” according to one official.

The concern that the conflict could grind on indefinitely — with mounting costs — has been reflected in the subtle shift in language and messaging by US officials over the past several weeks.

In April, the US’ stated goal was for Russia to “fail,” a National Security Council spokesperson said at the time, and for the Russian military to be significantly “weakened” in the long term, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin proclaimed — comments that reflected optimism that Ukraine might be able to defeat Russia decisively on the battlefield after successfully defending Kyiv.

But as an effective stalemate has taken hold on the battlefield, with Russia making incremental gains in the east and Ukraine saying it is increasingly outgunned and outmanned, senior Western officials — including US President Joe Biden — are emphasizing anew that even with advanced western weaponry, Ukraine’s prospects for peace will ultimately rest on diplomacy.

“As President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said, ultimately this war ‘will only definitively end through diplomacy,'” Biden wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday. “Every negotiation reflects the facts on the ground. We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.”

The hope, officials said, is that the US can support Ukraine long enough to see it through to a peaceful settlement rather than a full capitulation……………………..

As the US looks to maintain its military and financial support for Ukraine and isolate Russia for as long as it takes to get to a peace agreement, a key strategy will be keeping the NATO alliance unified. But already, sources say, there are cracks appearing in NATO — Turkey is refusing to allow Sweden and Finland to move forward with joining the bloc, and diplomats had to carve out an exception for Hungary as part of Europe’s recent oil embargo against Russia.

There’s also the challenge of maintaining domestic support for funding Ukraine’s war. There’s been growing opposition among Donald Trump-aligned Republicans with each assistance vote that Congress has taken, one Democratic lawmaker noted. He added that there are concerns over how willing Congress will be in the future to fund a protracted conflict……………..

June 6, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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