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Biden and Putin Could Talk Ukraine (But That Won’t End the War)

M777. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Soldiers serving with Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Division, shoot a round down range from their M777A2 howitzer on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. The round was part of a shoot to register, or zero, the howitzers, which had just arrived on KAF from Forward Operating Base Pasab. The shoot also provided training for a fire support team from 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, 4th Inf. Div. This is similar to artillery now engaged in Ukraine. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ariel Solomon/Released)

Can Biden End the Ukraine War By Speaking to Putin? – As Joe Biden held a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, reporters quizzed the president on his willingness to engage with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

When asked about the conflict, Biden said that there is “one way” for the war in Ukraine to end.

“The rational way,” Biden said.

Biden said that the only way for the war to end is for Putin to “pull out of Ukraine,” though he immediately recognized that the chances of him doing so were slim.

“He’s paying a very heavy price for failing to do it, and he’s inflicting incredible, incredible carnage on the civilian population of Ukraine. Bombing nurseries, hospitals, children’s homes. It’s sick what he’s doing,” the president said.

After admitting that he has “no immediate plans” to contact the Russian leader, the president said that he would be willing to do so “if there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet. If that’s the case, in consultation with the French and my NATO friends, I’ll be happy to sit down with Putin to see what he wants and has in mind.”

Will Putin Do It?

Given Putin’s decision not to attend the G-20 summit in person in November, primarily to avoid an embarrassing situation whereby the Russian president may have been lectured to by foreign leaders, it seems unlikely that Putin would be willing to meet Biden now.

Meeting Biden may put Putin in the hot seat on matters relating to war crimes committed in Ukraine, but it could potentially gain him some much-needed support domestically.

According to a poll commissioned by the Kremlin, originally intended for internal use only, just 25% of Russians now support continuing the war in Ukraine.

The survey, which was conducted by the Federal Protective Service, also found that 55% of Russians now support peace talks with Kyiv.

The results of the poll were shared by the independent Russian-language outlet Meduza.

Heading into talks with Biden could make Putin appear weak to his most loyal supporters, but could also win him favor with Russian citizens growing tired of the economic uncertainty caused by Western sanctions.

Meeting or talking with Biden and agreeing to end the war could, on the one hand, make him look weak, although there’s no telling what the Kremlin could do to convince the people of Russia that it isn’t actually a victory for Russia.

For Putin to do it, he’d need Western countries and Ukraine to give an inch – and that likely means Putin ending the war with more territory than he had before the invasion began.

It’s Not Just Up to Putin

Beyond whether or not the Russian president would ever be willing to negotiate directly with the U.S., NATO Allies don’t expect Ukraine to accept any compromise from Russia that would see Putin take control of more Ukrainian territory.

During the same press conference on Thursday, President Macron told reporters that France and NATO would “never call on Ukrainians for a compromise that will be unacceptable.

If a discussion between Presidents Biden and Putin were to take place, therefore, it would only result in a peace deal if the Russians accept defeat or if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is willing to reverse his position on denying Russia control of the Donbas.

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.