(Reuters) - The United States is privately encouraging Ukraine to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia, the Washington Post reported, as the State Department said Moscow was escalating the war and did not seriously wish to engage in peace talks.
The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying the request by American officials was not aimed at pushing Ukraine to the negotiating table, but a calculated attempt to ensure Kyiv maintains the support of other nations.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials acknowledged that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's ban on talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin had generated concern in parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America, where the war's effects on costs of food and fuel are felt most sharply, the Post said.
"Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners," it quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying.
Zelenskiy signed a decree on Oct. 4 formally declaring the prospect of any Ukrainian talks with Putin "impossible" but leaving the door open to talks with Russia.
The White House National Security Council had no immediate comment on the accuracy of the report.
A State Department spokesperson responded: "We've said it before and will say it again: Actions speak louder than words. If Russia is ready for negotiation, it should stop its bombs and missiles and withdraw its forces from Ukraine.
"The Kremlin continues to escalate this war. The Kremlin has demonstrated its unwillingness to seriously engage in negotiations since even before it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine."
The spokesperson also noted remarks by Zelenskiy on Friday, in which he said: "We are ready for peace, for a fair and just peace, the formula of which we have voiced many times."
In his nightly address to the Ukrainian people on Friday, Zelenskiy added: "The world knows our position. This is respect for the U.N. Charter, respect for our territorial integrity, respect for our people."
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said during a visit to Kyiv on Friday that Washington's support for Ukraine would remain "unwavering and unflinching" after Tuesday's midterm congressional elections.
The United States announced $400 million worth of additional security assistance for Ukraine, including refurbishing T-72 tanks from the Czech Republic and missiles for HAWK air defences that could be used against Russian drones and cruise missiles.
The new assistance brought the amount of U.S. military aid sent to Kyiv to more than $18.2 billion since the invasion.