As Ukraine prepares for a spring offensive, some U.S. and European officials believe it could lead to negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow by year's end, with China potentially playing a role in bringing Russia to the table.
The willingness to involve China and encourage negotiations represents a shift in Western thinking, particularly in the U.S., which has been skeptical of China's involvement due to its support for Moscow. However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently expressed optimism that Beijing could help defuse the conflict.
The interest in negotiations aligns Washington more closely with some European countries eager to see the conflict end or at least moderate in intensity. While the U.S., U.K., and other countries have publicly supported Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron has been the most explicit in pushing for negotiations with the Kremlin after the spring offensive.
Key U.S. officials on the National Security Council are said to favor negotiations. At the same time, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have been more skeptical, wanting to see the outcome of the offensive before advocating for a diplomatic off-ramp.
The push to negotiate comes amid concerns on both sides of the Atlantic that the scale of support provided to Ukraine for the coming inspiration may be challenging to match in the future if the war grinds into a stalemate. The supply of ammunition is a crucial issue, as Western industrial capacity has struggled to meet its demands while supporting Ukraine.
While European officials push for negotiations, countries such as Poland, the Baltic states, and some officials from the U.K. believe Ukraine should be given the time it needs to make gains, even if the coming spring offensive doesn't reshape the battlefield.
In February, China called for peace talks to end the war in Ukraine and outlined its plan in a 12-point document, casting itself as a neutral mediator. European officials have since urged Beijing to play a constructive role in diplomacy. Key European leaders are confident that China is eager to remain involved in eventual cease-fire negotiations.
The potential involvement of China in peace talks has slowly gained acceptance among Western leaders, who had previously considered Beijing an unsuitable negotiating partner due to its open support for Russia. However, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, recently stated that Kyiv welcomes any country that can play a constructive role in their pursuit of peace, though she did not believe Beijing was crucial.
As Ukraine's spring offensive approaches, key European leaders, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, continue to explore diplomatic options, hoping to bring about a cease-fire agreement that could involve China as one of its guarantors. This sentiment has been echoed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who believes countries with significant influence that are prepared to pursue a just and durable peace, including China, are welcome in the effort.
Despite the growing consensus among Western leaders that halting the conflict might be the best option, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no public signs of winding down the war or changing his objectives.
Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official responsible for Russian policy and now with the Brookings Institution, suggests that any durable arrangement would require Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to accept Russia's occupation of Ukrainian territory.
The coming months will be critical in determining whether the spring offensive and the potential involvement of China can lead to meaningful peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. As the conflict continues, the international community remains watchful and hopeful that a diplomatic resolution can be reached to end the ongoing violence and suffering.
- West Looks at China's Potential Role in Ending Ukraine War - WSJ
- Ukrainians Return Home, Renewed and Resigned - NYT
- Zelensky Says White House Told Him Nothing ABout Discord Intelligence Leaks - Washington Post
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