U.S. Isn't Dictating Ukraine's Terms for Peace Deal With Russia: Pentagon

The United States is not dictating the possible terms for a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion at the end of February, the United States government quickly moved to support Ukraine. In the months since, the U.S. government has provided billions of dollars in aid and has vocally advocated for Ukraine on the global stage.

Officials are now facing questions on what the end of the war will look like in regards to Russia potentially taking any land from the widely condemned invasion and what Ukraine might demand during peace talks.

During a news briefing on Monday, Austin said the "end state" of the war would not be determined by the United States or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and that the U.S. goals are to provide support for Ukraine both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Rather, the Ukrainian people and government, led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, will have the authority to determine the "end state" of the conflict.

Zelensky has previously outlined several key conditions that would need to be met for the war to end. He has said Russian troops would need to retreat to pre-invasion positions to proceed with peace talks and that demands for independence referendums in eastern territories controlled by Russian forces would prompt Ukraine to withdraw from any possible discussions.

U.S. not dictating Russia-Ukraine deal: Lloyd Austin
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States will not determine the "end state" of the war between Ukraine and Russia during a news briefing on Monday. Above, Austin speaks during the briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Wong/Getty Images

"We're going to stick with doing everything we can to make sure that they [the Ukrainians] achieve their objectives," Austin said at Monday's briefing. "At the end of the day, what this looks like—what end state looks like—will be defined by the Ukrainians, not by us."

When pressed on whether or not NATO would have any voice on how the conflict ends, Austin doubled down, saying, "The way that it ends will be defined by the Ukrainian people, by Ukraine."

"This is Ukraine's fight. It's not the United States' fight," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the U.S. of trying to prolong the war with the goal of seeing more Russian soldiers killed. Last Tuesday, he said Ukraine may have found some "acceptable principles for reaching agreements" during previous peace negotiations but that the West did not support those terms.

Newsweek reached out to Ukraine's foreign defense ministry for comment.