Ukraine will make decision on any negotiations with Russia - Blinken

Secretary of State Antony Blinken's and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba held a meeting to discuss any negotiation framework with Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and India's Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar hold a joint news conference at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan (JNB) in New Delhi, India July 28, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and India's Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar hold a joint news conference at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan (JNB) in New Delhi, India July 28, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Ukraine would decide on the timing and contents of any negotiation framework with Russia, according to a readout of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Phnom Penh on Saturday.

Blinken also discussed the United States' unwavering commitment to assisting Ukraine in mitigating the effects of Russia's attacks on critical infrastructure as winter approaches, including accelerated humanitarian aid.

"Secretary (Blinken) reiterated that the timing and contents of any negotiation framework remain Ukraine's decision," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

The Washington Post reported last week that the Biden administration was privately encouraging Ukraine's leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless President Vladimir Putin is removed from power.

The paper quoted unnamed people familiar with the discussions as saying that the request by American officials was not aimed at pushing Ukraine to the negotiating table, but a calculated attempt to ensure Kyiv maintains the support of other nations facing constituencies wary of fueling a war for many years to come.

 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as he speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, February 22, 2022.  (credit: CAROLYN KASTER/POOL VIA REUTERS) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as he speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, February 22, 2022. (credit: CAROLYN KASTER/POOL VIA REUTERS)

What else was said during the meeting?

During Saturday's meeting, Blinken and Kuleba reaffirmed the importance of renewing an agreement allowing Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea before it expires next Saturday.

According to the United Nations, 10 million tonnes of grain and other foods have been exported from Ukraine under the Black Sea initiative agreed upon in July, helping to stave off a global food crisis. Russia said on Saturday there was no agreement yet to extend the deal, repeating its insistence on unhindered access to world markets for its own food and fertilizer exports.