Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday denied a report that EU and U.S. officials have spoken with the government in Kyiv about possible peace talks with Russia.
“No leader of the United States or European Union, our partners — nobody puts pressure on us for us sitting at the negotiation table with Russia and give something away,” Zelenskyy told a joint press conference in Kyiv with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was on an unannounced visit to the worn-torn country.
It “has never been like this and will never be,” Zelenskyy said.
NBC News reported Saturday that U.S. and European officials have begun talking with the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail, citing one current U.S. official and one former U.S. official familiar with the discussions. The conversations may have included what Ukraine might need to give up to reach a peace deal with Russia, according to the report.
The officials said the discussions started last month during a meeting including NATO members, amid concerns that the Russia-Ukraine war had reached a stalemate, NBC reported. There are also concerns about how much aid countries can continue to provide to Ukraine, according to the report. EU officials warned last month that Europe can’t compensate if Washington drops support for Kyiv.
“Ukraine is a sovereign country and [will] take sovereign decisions,” von der Leyen emphasized at the joint press conference in Kyiv, pointing to Ukraine’s 10-point peace proposal put forward last year.
Over 600 days into its battle to fight off Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine faces a funding crunch due to delays in planned aid from the U.S. and amid uncertainty about when exactly Europe’s next big package of aid will be delivered.
Any delay could expose Kyiv to a 2024 budget shortfall — a potential situation that is causing anxiety in Ukraine.