Biden on Negotiated Solution: Does "Nothing About Ukraine Without Ukraine" Still Matter?

The Americans are Ukraine's main ally in the conflict with Russia.

Biden on Negotiated Solution: Does "Nothing About Ukraine Without Ukraine" Still Matter?

The Americans are Ukraine's main ally in the conflict with Russia. US President Biden has a mantra about working extremely closely with Ukrainians on all major decisions. It just seems to have lost its importance.

Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden repeated one of his most important mantras in the New York Times when it comes to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine: "My principle in this crisis has always been 'Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine'." (English: "Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine") It means that Biden does not want to make any far-reaching statements about Ukraine without having consulted them. He then explains the meaning of the principle in practice: "I will not, privately or publicly, pressure the Ukrainian government to make any territorial concessions."

At a press conference yesterday, Biden responded to a reporter's question as to whether Ukraine "had to give up land for some peace" in a way that was entirely in line with his principle: "From the beginning, I said - and not everyone has I agree that I won't say anything about Ukraine without Ukraine. It's their territory. I won't tell them what to do."

But then he adds: "But it seems to me that at some point there has to be a negotiated solution. And I don't know what that will bring. I don't think anyone knows at this point."

One does not have to view this statement in the way some commentators, publicists or geostrategists blame Biden for "backing down" or headline "Biden says Ukraine may have to cede territory to Russia". But at least he doesn't rule out that possibility.

Biden's statement reflects a strategic adjustment by his government, presumably in view of the Russians' recent military successes, which according to a report by "CNN" have taken place in the past few weeks - also in terms of language. While US officials were still talking about a Russian "fail" as a goal or envisaging a victory for the Ukraine, words like "diplomacy" or "negotiated settlement" are now being used more and more frequently.

US government officials have also met regularly with British and European allies to discuss potential framework conditions for a negotiated settlement, as several "CNN" authors describe in the article, citing informed sources. Ukraine is not involved in these talks - despite the motto "Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine", which was repeated several times this week.

Does this mantra of collaboration still apply? In the language it seems at least already watered down. Talking about negotiations at this moment will not please the Ukrainians in their current situation. Even though the Ukrainian government and its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have repeatedly emphasized their fundamental willingness to negotiate during the course of the war, they do not want to talk about it at this strategic point, where Russia has been experiencing a military upward trend for weeks.

"As long as we haven't strengthened our position and the Russian troops have not been pushed back as far as possible, negotiations make no sense," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, today when asked about an offer of mediation from French President Emmanuel Macron . Ukrainian negotiator David Arachamia made a similar statement. "Our army is ready to use the new weapons and then we can start a new round of talks from a strengthened position," he says.

But a moment in which Ukraine is fighting back with all its might against the Russian military, which appears to be on the rise, is also a moment in which the Europeans and Americans - after an initial war euphoria in view of Ukrainian defense successes - are more than ever years of bloody conflict including a global energy and food crisis.

Biden's signature post in the NYT this week isn't really in the spirit of the mantra, "Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine." He writes: "Every negotiation reflects the facts on the ground. We acted quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of arms and ammunition so that it can fight on the battlefield and be in the best possible position at the negotiating table." He's saying exactly what the Ukrainian government doesn't want to hear.