The fact that Washington doesn't recognize annexed Ukrainian regions as part of Russia would complicate possible talks between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
“The United States still does not recognize new territories as part of the Russian Federation, and this complicates the search for common ground for negotiations,” Peskov said during a regular call with journalists, when asked whether Moscow sees any prospects for negotiations with Washington.
In September, Moscow illegally declared four Ukrainian regions to be Russian territory: Luhansk and Donetsk -- home to two Russian-backed breakaway republics where fighting has been ongoing since 2014 -- as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, two areas in southern Ukraine that had been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the invasion began.
The illegal annexations followed sham referendums in these southern and eastern regions. Russian troops have since withdrawn from a swathe of the Kherson region, including the regional capital Kherson city.
Here's some background: On Thursday, Biden told reporters during a joint White House news conference with French President Emmanual Macron that he “has no immediate plans” to contact Putin, but added that he’s prepared to speak with the Russian leader if he’s looking for a way to end the war in Ukraine. Biden also clarified that Putin has not done so yet.
“He’s just miscalculated across the board,” Biden said of Putin following his bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with the French president. “And so the question is … how does he get himself out of the circumstances in? I’m prepared, if he’s willing to talk, to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO allies. I’m not going to do it on my own.”
Peskov said Moscow has always been open to negotiations to ensure its interests but Putin's initiative to discuss security guarantees with the US, NATO and the OSCE “was not reciprocated.”
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed those remarks, saying that Moscow "never avoids contacts" but there haven't been "substantial ideas" when it comes to a possible meeting between Biden and Putin.