Swiss-German newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) claims that the Biden administration offered one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory to Putin in a secret peace proposal, according to unnamed high-ranking German politicians. Washington denies the allegations.
According to the report given by the foreign policy sources close to NZZ, the peace proposal was put forward by CIA Director William Burns, who took secret trips to Moscow and Kyiv last month to deliver Washington’s offer. Under the alleged proposal, Ukraine would have surrendered 20% of its territory to Russia—about the size of the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine.
The report further states both Zelensky and Putin had turned down the offer. Officials in Kyiv reportedly declined “because they are not willing to have their territory divided,” while their Russian counterparts said they “will win the war in the long run anyway.”
According to the report, President Biden—along with a great number of Washington officials—is ready to make significant concessions to Putin in order to avoid a protracted war. NZZ cites a new study from one of the White House’s foremost strategic think tanks, the Rand Corporation, which concludes that evading a long conflict is a higher priority for the United States than for Ukraine to “control its entire territory.”
It was only after the failed attempt to broker peace between Moscow and Kyiv through land concessions, says NZZ, that the United States finally decided to send 30 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
However, Washington promptly denied the allegations. A CIA official told Newsweek that the reports of Director Burn’s alleged secret trips and the peace proposal were “completely false.” Sean Davett, the White House National Security Council’s deputy spokesman also dismissed NZZ’s report simply as “not accurate.”
Russian officials didn’t confirm NZZ’s allegations either. Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations said that the report was “interesting” but he wouldn’t want to “comment [on] speculation.”
NZZ’s report also claimed that Washington was allegedly divided over how to deal with the war in Ukraine. One side (which includes Director Burns and Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan) “wanted to end the war quickly so they could focus on China,” while the other faction (spearheaded by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin) “didn’t want to let Russia get away with destroying the rule-based peace order and called for massive military support for Ukraine.”