White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated Thursday that the United States would not pressure Ukraine to make territorial concessions to Russia to end the months-long invasion, saying doing so would be inconsistent with international law.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security in Washington, Sullivan said that the goal of U.S. policy is to strengthen Ukraine through weapons and intelligence sharing so that the country can ultimately negotiate with Russia on an end to the war from the strongest possible standpoint.
“We have in fact refrained from laying out what we see as an end game, what we see as objectives,” Sullivan said. “We have been focused on what we can do today, tomorrow, next week to strengthen the Ukrainians’ hand to the maximum extent possible first on the battlefield and then ultimately at the negotiating table. We do think this will have to end through diplomacy.”
“We’re not going to be pressing them to be making territorial concessions, we think that’s inconsistent with international law and is just frankly wrong,” Sullivan continued. “But we are going to support and consult with them as they think about how they want to approach a negotiated outcome with the Russians.”
His comments echoed President Biden’s words in a New York Times op-ed earlier this month in which he vowed not to pressure Ukraine’s government “in private or public” to make territorial concessions to Russia.
Even so, some have publicly floated the idea of Ukraine ceding territory to Russia to end the Russian war, like former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
U.S. officials have been preparing for a long, drawn-out conflict in Ukraine, which began with the Russian invasion on February 24. The war has entered its fourth month with no clear resolution in sight.
Biden on Wednesday announced a new $1 billion security assistance package for Ukraine including artillery, coastal defense weapons and ammunition.
The U.S. also for the first time earlier this month said it would supply Ukraine with advanced rocket systems, called High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS, to help hit Russian targets from a longer range.
But Ukraine says it needs more weapons to defeat the Russians, putting the number at 60 HIMARS earlier this month.
Sullivan said Thursday that U.S. has given an “initial” four HIMARS to Ukraine and predicted that more would be included in the next package of military assistance.
One of the administration’s key considerations in deciding how many to provide Ukraine, he said, is “how many can be absorbed effectively on the battlefield.”