By Josie Ensor, US CORRESPONDENT
1 December 2022 • 9:13pm
Joe Biden said he was prepared to sit down with Vladimir Putin if he agreed to pull out of Ukraine and end the war.
Speaking at a White House press conference after talks with French counterpart Emmanuel Macronon Thursday, Mr Biden said he would only do so in consultation with his Nato allies.
Asked if a Russian withdrawal from Crimea should be a condition for negotiations, Mr Biden said: “There’s one way for this war to end – the rational way. Putin to pull out of Ukraine, number one. But it appears he’s not going to do that. He’s paying a very high price for failing to do it.”
Mr Biden added: “The fact of the matter is I have no immediate plans to contact Mr Putin.”
The US President then said he would “choose his words carefully”.
He said: “I am prepared to speak with Mr Putin, if in fact 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 my French and my Nato friends, I’ll be happy to sit down with Putin and see what he has in mind. He hasn’t done that yet.”
Mr Biden later added: “He [Mr Putin] has miscalculated across the board. The question is how does he get out of the circumstance he’s 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.”
Mr Biden’s comments came as Mr Macron urged allies to stop demanding that Mr Putin step down as a precondition for talks with Russia, which put him at odds with Ukraine.
The French president, on a state visit to Washington, said he plans to speak to Mr Putin “in the coming days” after his discussions with Mr Biden.
Mr Macron, unlike other Western leaders, has engaged multiple times with Mr Putin since Moscow invaded Ukraine.
He said: “My conviction and my pragmatic approach is to say, I have to engage with the existing leaders and the one in charge of the country.
“Because if we do believe in national sovereignty, we cannot decide to say that a precondition is regime change to start negotiating.”
‘Good peace isn’t peace imposed by others’
As to whether Mr Putin could be a faithful and reliable participant in peace negotiations, the French leader suggested the verdict was still out.
He said: “If I had the answer, I would be around the negotiating table with him.”
But he made clear he believed “a good peace is not a peace that will be imposed on the Ukrainians by others”.
Mr Macron has tried to position himself as a negotiator on the world stage, boosting his credentials at home. In doing so he has also sought European autonomy from Washington, Kyiv’s biggest backer in the conflict.
Mr Macron’s overtures and his regular contacts with Mr Putin have underscored a split between France and more hardline Ukraine supporters, including the UK, Poland, and the Baltic states.
The French president on Thursday expressed optimism over Ukraine’s progress in resisting Moscow but cautioned that a long and difficult war lay ahead.
He said: “Ukraine is clearly having a very positive counteroffensive, (but) saying they are winning the war is probably too early.”
He stressed a “sustainable” peace that ends the conflict could still be hammered out. “I think it’s still possible” to return to negotiations, he told ABC News.
Biden ramping up training for Ukraine soldiers
Meanwhile, CNN reported that Mr Biden is considering a dramatic expansion in the training the US military provides to Ukrainian forces, including instructing up to 2,500 soldiers a month in Germany.
The drills would cover more sophisticated battlefield tactics including on how to coordinate military manoeuvres with artillery support.
The US was also considering sending Patriot air defence systems, in what would be yet another threshold crossed by the White House.
Some comments from readers:
Ron Thompson: “If Russia pulls out of all of Ukraine, I can’t see why talks to make that peace permanent shouldn’t be held. However, Putin lies and breaks agreements, so there needs to be something to deter future invasions in the mix.
The easiest way would be to fast track Ukraine into NATO. Then Putin would know he couldn’t invade Ukraine with impunity ever again.
Macron is still doing his disingenuous best to elbow the US out and present himself as the leader of the free world.
Macron: “a good peace is not a peace that will be imposed on the Ukrainians by others”.
Rather surprised he said that, since in February he unilaterally offered Putin Donbas if he called off his invasion plans.
I doubt he asked the Ukrainians whether that would be OK. It’s the equivalent (say) the Swiss president in 1940 offering Hitler Cornwall if he promised not to invade Britain.
Wouldn’t have gone down too well in the Dog and Duck.”
Transit Trucker : “Putin is responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians (mothers, babies,Dads,Uncles, sons). He is a murderous criminal. Would you sit down to talk to him. I wouldn’t.”
Hugh Tredegar: “Macron = Vichy France.
Two old men, Biden and Putin, out of touch. Part of the problem, not the solution.
Whatever. This isn’t over til Putin and KGB Thugs are in the Hague Court.”
Crimea and the whole of the Donbass returned to Kyiv’s control.
Mark Jones: “It has to be all of Ukraine President Biden, to 2013 borders.
Then a discussion about war damage costs for Ukraine by Russia would be perfectly reasonable.”
Z. Hunt: “It is glaringly obvious that the desires of Ukraine were omitted from this conversation. Neither Biden nor Macron have any business deciding who or when Ukraine should negotiate with Putin. When France cedes the French Riviera to Russia, then maybe Macron will have earned a spot at the negotiating table.”
Robert Lund: “Those who don’t learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.
Leaving Germany “undefeated” ( in their eyes) in 1918 only created the a new war 20 years later.
Leaving Russia “undefeated” will only create a new war when Russia has rearmed and refinanced. And its not just Putin. There are other even worse monsters waiting in the wings in Moscow.
Russia must be crushed totally.
Its the only way to bring lasting peace.”
Anthony Chambers: “The sooner Putin looses, the sooner this is all over with. Why are the Americans pulling their punches? Certainly we should not. We have 100 Eurofighters that can be provided, get on with it.”
Michael Louret: “On Thursday, German chancellor Olaf Scholz also said that Russia could return to its pre-war “peace order” with Europe, as long as Moscow committed not to invade its neighbours.”
“Another inane comment from Scholz – is he serious?! – taking the word of a genocidal and delusional Dictator who is (now) hell-bent on the total destruction of Ukraine – a far cry from a ‘special military operation’. Taking such a person at face value is akin to believing in the word of an Austrian “down-and-out” who became a similar leader a few decades ago – or has Scholz “forgotten” that uncomfortable fact? As for Macron; – he should be seen as an blatant opportunist who cares for one thing only – himself.”
Zippy Vader: “Is Scholtz barking mad? Russia can return to the status quo ante after invading a neighbour, resulting in war which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced many more? Germany has serious questions to answer, given it’s inadequate response to Russia’s 19th century style aggression.
NATO has serious questions to answer as well, given it’s characterisation of Russia as firstly the enemy, then irrelevant but this does not in any way justify the German position. Does Scholtz really represent how Germans feel or is he an outlier? For the sake of sanity and the future of my children, I hope the latter!”
Carpe Jugulum: “Macron knows about money, he knows NOTHING about violent criminals and his utterly witless pronouncements demonstrate that. Vividly. Russia is now obviously losing in Ukraine, they are losing troops and equipment at an unsustainable rate. The Russian economy is being crushed and oligarchs fortunes are evaporating.
A very, very simple question for Mr Macron. Is Putin’s position more, or less secure if he is seen as a liability to extricating Russia from this debacle? At some point the criminal oligarchs and generals are going to do their own Putin cost/benefit analysis. Macron isn’t helping to make sure it proves Putin needs a cardiac event or ‘accidental’ fall.”
Putler’s not going to sit down with Joe because he believes he is winning.
He believes he is winning because Joe has not provided any air power and the only game changer he has provided; HIMARS, are insufficient in numbers and not equipped with ATTACM’s.
Though it has been a long time coming and I still would like to see Ukraine get ATACMS or equivalent, the GBU-39 is a low cost solution that extends Ukraine’s range to about 150 miles. As for air craft Gripen would be a great fit if they can be procured. F-16 for quantity availability.
Would be nice if UK could deliver some tornados also.
Wishing and hoping for Gripen:
I am hoping that RAF technicians and engineers are currently pulling a couple of squadrons of Tormados our of mothballs and prepping them up for action; ready to join the Ukrainian Air Force.
According to the video the max range is 100 miles. HIMARS I think reach 60-70 miles, so it’s an improvement.
But even if the deal goes ahead, they won’t be in theatre until next summer.
And yes Sir Scradge I agree Ukraine needs many more HIMARS/ MLRS / equivalent to keep raining fire down on the rashists. Apparently a Turkish version has already been on the battlefield but not reported till recently.