US not dictating terms to Ukraine for peace deal with Russia: Pentagon

The United States would not dictate the possible terms of a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in late February, the United States government quickly began supporting Ukraine. In the months since, the US government has provided billions of dollars in aid and has been vocal in supporting Ukraine on a global scale.

Officials now face questions about what the end of the war will be like, with Russia potentially taking land from the widely condemned invasion, and what Ukraine might ask during peace talks.

During a news conference on Monday, Austin said that the “final state” of the war would not be determined by the United States or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and that U.S. goals are to assist Ukraine both on the battlefield and in Ukraine at the negotiating table. Rather, the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, will have the power to determine the “final state” of the conflict.

Zelenskyi previously outlined several key conditions that must be met for the war to end. He said Russian troops would have to withdraw to pre-invasion positions to proceed with peace talks and that calls for independence referendums in the eastern areas controlled by Russian forces would prompt Ukraine to pull out of possible talks.

US not dictating Russia-Ukraine deal: Lloyd Austin
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States would not determine the “final state” of the war between Ukraine and Russia during a news conference Monday. Above, Austin speaks during the briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“We will do everything we can to make sure they [the Ukrainians] to achieve their goals,” Austin said at Monday’s briefing. “Ultimately, the look – what the final state looks like – will be determined by the Ukrainians, not by us.”

When asked whether or not NATO would have a voice on the end of the conflict, Austin said, “The way it ends will be determined by the Ukrainian people, by Ukraine.”

“This is Ukraine’s fight. It’s not America’s fight,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the US of wanting to prolong the war with the aim of killing more Russian soldiers. Last Tuesday, he said Ukraine may have found some “acceptable principles for reaching agreements” in previous peace talks, but the West does not support those terms.

news week has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for comment. US not dictating terms to Ukraine for peace deal with Russia: Pentagon

Rick Schindler

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