Russian President Vladimir Putin is not currently contemplating inviting the US to discussions designed to negotiate peace in the war-torn Donbass region, the Kremlin has insisted.
Speaking to Russia's Channel One on Tuesday, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin's American counterpart, Joe Biden, "won't be getting such an offer from President Putin, because the format is sufficient," referring to the current "Normandy" group of nations already engaged in talks.
"The fact that Kiev isn't following the Minsk protocol has made the format's effectiveness very slight," Peskov went on. "But still, both Paris and Berlin thought the format was sufficient, and that there is no need to enlarge it."
In a statement issued by the Pentagon later on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin insisted that the US will, however, do all it can to prevent the situation in the Donbass spiraling into all-out confrontation.
The Normandy Format is the name given to talks between Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France for the purpose of resolving the ongoing conflict in the Donbass. The format takes its name from the first meeting of representatives of the four nations in 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Allied landings in the northern French region during World War II.
The fighting in Donbass had broken out earlier that year, following the Maidan revolution that saw the Ukrainian government replaced. Separatists in the eastern region of the country established self-declared breakaway republics, and Kiev has accused Russia of supporting the rebels and fueling an ongoing civil war. Moscow, however, doesn't officially recognize the legitimacy of the republics and denies being a party to the conflict.
The Minsk Protocols, signed by Ukraine, Russia, and the intergovernmental organization OSCE in 2014 and 2015, were meant to bring an end to the war, but so far the agreements have yet to be implemented. Moscow has said that it stands by the protocols, and accused Kiev of failing to live up to its side of the bargain by refusing to negotiate with the leaders of the breakaway regions.
Earlier this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, elected in 2019, claimed that the Minsk agreements were now effectively unworkable, saying, "I'm now participating in a process that was designed before my time. The Minsk process should be more flexible in this situation. It should serve the purposes of today, not of the past."