A group of former US officials have held talks with senior Russians linked to the Kremlin, NBC News reported , citing six people interviewed. It is alleged that one of these Russians was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with whom he met in April in New York.
During the talks, "the most pressing issues of the war in Ukraine" were reportedly discussed. These included the fate of the occupied Ukrainian territories, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces presumably will not be able to liberate, and the search for conditions for the start of ceasefire negotiations acceptable to all parties.
The discussions in question took place with the knowledge of the administration of US President Joe Biden, but not at his direction. It is not known how often such meetings took place, and whether they are part of a single initiative. American delegations came to Russia for such meetings.
In addition to Sergei Lavrov, they included Russian experts and scientists, as well as heads of major research institutes, whose opinion Vladimir Putin is believed to be able to listen to. NBC News sources do not release their names, fearing for the safety of these people.
Earlier it was reported that in June the head of the CIA, William Burns, visited Kiev on a secret visit, where he was presented with a plan to return the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia. According to him, the Armed Forces of Ukraine must recapture the territories in the south of Ukraine up to the border of Crimea and install artillery and missile systems there. Having thus created a threat to Russian troops on the peninsula, as well as to the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, Ukraine allegedly intends to abandon the forceful return of Crimea and start negotiations with Russia on a ceasefire.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later confirmed Burns' visit to Kiev. He emphasized that his communication with the CIA "should always be behind the scenes."