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Former US officials held secret negotiations concerning Ukraine with Russians close to Kremlin – media

Thursday, 6 July 2023, 16:19
Former US officials held secret negotiations concerning Ukraine with Russians close to Kremlin – media
Photo: Getty Images

A group of former top national security US officials has held secret negotiations with famous Russians, who are close to the Kremlin, and Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, in order to lay foundations for future negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine.

Source: NBC News with reference to informed sources

Quote: "Among the goals, they said, is to keep channels of communication with Russia open where possible and to feel out where there might be room for future negotiation, compromise and diplomacy over ending the war."


Details: Some sources report that the negotiations were held with the knowledge of Joe Biden's Administration but not on its order. Herewith former officials, who participated in the meeting with Lavrov, later informed the National Security Council of the White House about the discussion.

Specifically, Lavrov has spent a few hours at the meeting with the members of the group in April in New York. Sources state that Richard Haas, former diplomat and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who is leaving his office, Charles Kupchan, Europe expert, and Thomas Graham, Russia expert, have participated in the meeting.

On the agenda of the meeting there were such issues as the fate of Russian-held territory that Ukraine may never be able to liberate, and the search for diplomatic decisions that could be tolerable to both sides.

The discussions of the so-called Track Two diplomacy have involved some former Pentagon officials, including Mary Beth Long, a former US assistant defence secretary with deep experience in NATO issues, according to two people briefed on the talks.

As part of the effort, at least one former US official has travelled to Russia for discussions involving the Ukraine war, two of the individuals said.

Aside from Lavrov on the Russian side, the discussions have involved academics, leaders of major think tanks or research institutes and others in the Russian foreign policy sphere perceived as having President Vladimir Putin's ear or being in regular touch with Kremlin decision-makers.

The sources of NBC refused to identify the Russian participants by name out of concerns for their safety.

An official in the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said they would not comment on specific news reports based on unnamed sources, but their overall position remained the same.

"Our position is unchanged — the fate of Ukraine cannot be decided without Ukraine. Many times the president and all our official speakers spoke about it. Not anonymously, but quite specifically and publicly," they said.

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