Lauren Moye, FISM News
The White House formally took a more direct role in diplomacy to ease fears between Russia and Ukraine on Thursday, but some sources close to the U.S. president suggested that Ukraine might be asked to give up territory to appease Russia.
An AP News report on Thursday warned that Biden planned to encourage Ukraine to cede certain territory in the Donbas region to Russia. The Donbas region participated in the 2014 revolt against the Ukrainian government. The uprising was made with Russian support. Separatists still control eastern Donbas, which has held a “special status” for the past six years.
Cessation of the territory is a noted landmine for the White House in negotiations between the two countries. President Biden has pledged on multiple occasions to promote the sovereignty of Ukraine, including in a Dec. 07 video call directly between the U.S. president and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin following the aggressive movement of troops against their southern border.
The report on the call between Moscow and the White House reads that Biden “made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of a further military intervention. He reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Biden made a similar commitment during a Dec. 09 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
A former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pifer, suggested to AP News that Ukraine may be asked to “make some step forward on” areas like allowing the Donbas region to control its own health care, police, and schools.
Pifer added, “But I don’t see Washington pushing the Ukrainians to take steps that would compromise their sovereignty or the ability of the national government when it came to making decisions,” Pifer said.
Zelenskyy said on Friday that he would not “rule out a referendum on Donbas in general.”
However, with mounting tension in the Pacific Ocean, some have voiced concerns that Biden’s interactions with Russia and Ukraine might embolden China to act on threats to retake Taiwan. A greater concern voiced by a news reporter is the U.S. may not be prepared to deal with dual threats if both China and Russia continue their aggressions.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan responded during Tuesday’s press conference, “The United States is going to take every action that we can take, from the point of view of both deterrence and diplomacy, to make sure that the Taiwan scenario you just described never happens, and to try to avert the invasion into Ukraine. That is the object of our policy right now. Those are the steps we’re taking.”
The U.S. has only warned of economic sanctions if Moscow does not pull its troops back. However, after negotiations broke down late on Thursday, the crisis between Eastern countries has garnered greater international attention. German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said on Saturday that the G7 alliance wanted to see negotiations continue.
“We need to take every action to return to dialogue,” Baerbock said, suggesting a return to the Normandy Format that was used to resolve the 2014 Donbas war and involved Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany.
The U.S.’s top diplomat will also emphasize the Normandy Format during her time spent in Kyiv and Moscow on Dec. 13-15, with the State Department statement reading that Dr. Karen Donfried “will emphasize that we can make diplomatic progress on ending the conflict in the Donbas through implementation of the Minsk agreements in support of the Normandy Format.”