Russia is ready to talk with the United States and Pope Francis to end the war in Ukraine. This good news was given this morning by Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Russian presidency, during the telephone press conference he holds every morning with the media. "We are ready to discuss all this with the US and France, and with the pontiff."
The statements come a day after French President Emmanuel Macron asked Pope Francis to make a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as to the leader of the Orthodox Church, Kirill, and President Biden, with a single goal: to push for peace in Ukraine.
Macron took advantage of his meeting with the pope to make this request and it seems that Russia is willing to accept. However, they made their conditions clear: "If all this is in line with the efforts in terms of finding possible ways out, then this can be assessed positively." Peskov also noted that, during that meeting, there had been no question of calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to clarify "the legislative framework, which from now on prohibits any negotiations with the Russian side."
All this, Russian diplomatic sources say, is essential for such talks to take place: "I repeat again: Russia is open to all contacts. But we must proceed from the assumption that Ukraine banned the continuation of negotiations."
Democrats calling on Biden to negotiate a cease-fire
Macron isn't the only one who is actively calling for a cease-fire. Some Democrats are asking the American president to mediate in the conflict. They did so by sending him the following letter.
In the letter, signed by 30 Democratic representatives, they urge Biden "to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire." They consider this to be "in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict."
They recognize that they are partly responsible for the war. "As legislators responsible for the expenditure of tens of billions of US taxpayer dollars in military assistance in the conflict, we believe such involvement in this war also creates a responsibility for the United States to seriously consider all possible avenues, including direct engagement with Russia."
The White House responds
President Joe Biden received the letter, CNN reports. This was confirmed by John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, who stated that the Biden Administration "certainly appreciate[s] the sentiments expressed by these members of the Congress." They referred to the people who signed the letter, which include politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.
However, they wanted to make one thing clear. One option they will not discuss is Biden negotiating directly with Russia. They insist that Ukraine be present in the negotiations.