US scrambles to assess prospects for peace as it warns Putin is ‘misinformed’ by advisers

Biden told his counterpart that the United States would provide Ukraine with an additional $500 million in “direct budget support,” the White House said afterwards, and explained “how the United States is working around the clock. 24 to respond to Ukraine’s main requests for security assistance”.

The United States repeatedly rejected Zelensky’s requests for more direct assistance, such as fighter jets and an enforced no-fly zone. In the White House’s reading of the two leaders’ conversation on Wednesday, Biden sought to highlight the military assistance the United States was willing to provide and “the critical effects these weapons have had on the conflict.”

A day after Russia claimed it was scaling back military operations near the Ukrainian capital, strikes continued on the outskirts of kyiv as well as in Chernihiv, whose mayor said the city was under “colossal attack “.
US and Western officials, including Biden, had previously expressed deep skepticism of Russian claims of de-escalation, noting that his forces were already at a standstill in some places where they claimed to be withdrawing. On Wednesday, the United States revealed declassified intelligence showing that Russian President Vladimir Putin was misinformed by his advisers about the performance of the Russian military in Ukraine.

Administration officials were also cautiously monitoring ongoing peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, which both sides said were showing signs of progress after meetings in Istanbul. The United States was less optimistic, saying it did not believe Putin and his underlings were negotiating in good faith.

After his call with Biden, Zelensky wrote on Twitter that he “shared the assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Talked about specific defensive support, new sanctions package strengthened, macro-financial and humanitarian aid”.

The White House also said Zelensky “briefed President Biden on the status of Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia.”

US officials have been working in recent weeks to determine what Zelensky’s goals in the talks might be, including potential concessions. After the meeting in Turkey, potential outlines of a settlement emerged, including discussions on the status of disputed regions, formal neutrality status for Ukraine and international security guarantees. A future meeting between Zelensky and Putin has also been put on the table.

Yet a day later, Moscow downplayed any diplomatic advances. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no breakthrough. And pessimism continued to reign among Western leaders the talks could lead to significant progress. Continued violence in Ukraine on Wednesday appeared to confirm US suspicions that Russia’s de-escalation claims were nothing more than an attempted hijack.

Biden’s phone call with Zelensky, which began just after 11 a.m. ET, is the first time the two have spoken directly to each other since the president’s last-minute trip to Europe for a NATO summit and meetings in Poland. Zelensky appeared virtually at the summit in Brussels, imploring the leaders for increased military assistance to help his army sustain the battle against Russia.

The Ukrainian military succeeded far beyond expectations in keeping Russia at bay, although Russia still inflicted massive destruction on the country. Russian advances on kyiv and Chernihiv had already stalled before Russia announced this week that it was de-escalating its military campaign in those areas.

On Wednesday, a US official said US intelligence shows Putin is “misinformed” by his advisers about the Russian military’s poor performance in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy.

“His senior advisers are too scared to tell him the truth, the official said, adding that the United States had information indicating that Putin had learned of the misinformation, leading to a rift between the Russian leadership and his seniors. defense officials.

“There are now lingering tensions between Putin and the (Defense Ministry), stemming from Putin’s distrust of the MOD leadership,” the official said. Putin was unaware that his military was “using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear break in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president,” the official added.

This intelligence may help explain why Putin rejected a host of diplomatic exit routes that the United States and other countries offered Putin in the run-up to his invasion of Ukraine, believing that the Russian military would be in able to quickly overwhelm Ukraine.

The official declined to provide additional examples of Putin being misinformed by his advisers, saying the information remains classified. The US intelligence community has declassified and downgraded the summary of its findings, but no specific information to protect sources and methods.

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