Top White House official held undisclosed talks with Russia – WSJ
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has reportedly been trying to avert the risk of an escalation over Ukraine
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has been engaged in behind-the-scenes contacts with senior Russian officials in a bid to decrease the chances of a broader conflict over Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing its sources.
According to US and allied officials interviewed by the newspaper, Sullivan has been in touch with Yuri Ushakov, a foreign policy aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and with Nikolay Patrushev, who heads Russia’s Security Council. The aim of the talks has been “to guard against the risk of escalation and keep communications channels open” rather than to discuss a peace settlement for the Ukraine conflict, officials told the Wall Street Journal.
The WSJ’s sources refused to provide details on when the negotiations took place or whether they were productive.
US officials said Sullivan has insisted on keeping a line of communication with Russia open, in contrast to other senior White House officials, who feel that engagement with Moscow will not be fruitful at this stage.
WSJ sources indicated that Sullivan has not only taken a leading role in coordinating Washington’s policies over the Ukraine conflict, but has also been involved in diplomatic efforts, visiting Kiev last week to meet with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.
During the talks, the US national security advisor urged the Ukrainian leadership to publicly signal that they are ready to resolve the conflict, one US official told the outlet. According to the WSJ and earlier media reports, Washington is not insisting that Kiev return to the negotiating table, but wants it to show to the world that it is trying to bring the hostilities to an end.
In late September, Sullivan said the US had warned “the very high levels” of the Russian leadership that Moscow would face “catastrophic consequences” should it resort to nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
His comments came after Putin vowed that Russia would use “all means available” to defend its people and territory, a statement that Washington and its NATO allies interpreted as a veiled threat to deploy nuclear weapons. However, several Russian senior officials have insisted that Moscow is not threatening anyone with its nuclear arsenal.