The New York Times bewails a taboo around discussion of "peace through compromise" with Russia; Politico cites Kuleba’s response to the criticism of the counteroffensive; Reuters reports about Russia’s threat to block the final declaration of the G20 summit.
Meanwhile, Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to the Ukrainian President, said in an interview with POLITICO that diesel, kerosene, and other fuels refined from Russian crude were flooding into Europe.
Western analysts complain about Ukraine unwilling to give up territories to Russia
Discussion of a Plan B, should Ukraine fail to win a total victory, has become nearly taboo, Western analysts complain in a piece in The New York Times.
Thus, Stian Jenssen, the chief of staff to the secretary general of NATO, has recently been chastised for suggesting that Ukraine give up its occupied territories in exchange for NATO membership.
Given that even President Biden says the war is likely to end in negotiations, Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, believes there should be a serious debate in any democracy about how to get there.
"There is a broad and increasingly widespread sense that what we’re doing now isn’t working, but not much of an idea of what to do next, and not a big openness to discuss it," he said.
With the counteroffensive going so slowly and some American officials beginning to blame the Ukrainians, Western governments are feeling more vulnerable after providing so much equipment and raising hopes, said Charles A. Kupchan, a professor at Georgetown University and a former American official.
Kupchan believes that the hopes of the American leadership for Ukrainian battlefield success haven't been fulfilled, but a hardheaded conversation about the endgame is still a political taboo.
He and Richard N. Haass, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, were castigated in April for their piece in Foreign Affairs, urging Washington and its allies to come up with "a plan for getting from the battlefield to the negotiating table." That criticism worsened considerably when it was disclosed that the authors, together with Thomas E. Graham, a former American diplomat in Moscow, had private conversations with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.
Nevertheless, Kupchan still insists that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is not going well and urges to explore alternatives, while denouncing Jens Stoltenberg and other Kyiv’s partners for "slogans" about their willingness to support Ukraine "as long as it takes."
German officials are eager for a negotiated solution and are talking about how Russia might be brought to the negotiating table, but are only doing so in private and with trusted think tank specialists, several of them said.
But for many others, the suggestion of a negotiated solution or a Plan B is too early and even immoral, said Constanze Stelzenmüller of the Brookings Institution.
Eagerness from Paris or Berlin to negotiate too early will simply embolden Mr. Putin to manipulate that zeal, divide the West and seek concessions from Ukraine, said Ulrich Speck, a German analyst.
Kuleba suggested that the critics of the counteroffensive should try themselves
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday lashed out at those criticizing the slow pace of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Politico reports.
"Criticizing the slow pace of counteroffensive equals to spitting into the face of Ukrainian soldier who sacrifices his life every day, moving forward and liberating one kilometer of Ukrainian soil after another. I would recommend all critics to shut up. Come to Ukraine and try to liberate one square centimeter by themselves," he told reporters during a break at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers that he attended in Toledo, Spain.
Kuleba also insisted that Ukraine expects Germany to provide Taurus long-range missiles similar to those already delivered by France and the United Kingdom.
"I constructively, kindly, without putting any pressure, call on the government of Germany to make this decision that makes sense," the minister stressed.
Kuleba also called on all EU member states who operate F-16 fighter jets to join the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway in providing Ukraine with those planes.
Russia threatens to block the G20 summit
Russia will block the final declaration of this month's G20 summit unless it reflects Moscow's position on Ukraine and other crises, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, as cited by Reuters.
Lavrov is due to represent Russia at the September 9–10 meeting of the Group of 20 in New Delhi.
"There will be no general declaration on behalf of all members if our position is not reflected," Lavrov told students at the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Lavrov said the West had raised Ukraine in meetings preparing for the summit, to which Russia had replied that "the issue is closed for us."
He suggested that if consensus could not be reached at the G20 meeting, a non-binding communique could be issued by the G20 presidency.
"Another option is to adopt a document that focuses on specific decisions in the sphere of G20 competences, and let everyone say the rest on their own behalf," Lavrov said.
Diesel and kerosene from Russia are pouring into Europe—Oleg Ustenko
Diesel, kerosene, and other fuels refined from Russian crude are flooding into Europe, said Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, in an interview with POLITICO.
He urged the EU, the U.K., and the U.S. to close the "loophole" that allows third countries like India, China, and Turkey to refine crude bought from Moscow and sell fuels without restrictions.
In December, the G7 agreed to set a price cap of $60 a barrel on Russian crude. As a result, countries like India are buying up cheap Russian crude and then selling refined products to other countries.
According to Ustenko, before the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian oil accounted for around 1 percent of Indian imported oil, but now its share has risen to almost 40 percent. For its part, the EU exported 5.1 million barrels of diesel and 3.2 million barrels of jet fuel this June, up from just 1.68 million barrels and 0.51 million barrels respectively in June 2021.
G7 countries should ban the imports of all refined products produced using Russian oil, Usteko said. He also noted that Kyiv insisted on bringing the price cap down to just $30 a barrel. Poland and the Baltic countries pushed for a lower price last year, but countries like Greece—whose oil tankers transport a lot of Russian crude—balked.