USA President Joe Biden asked Zelensky to hold talks with Russia to stop the War in Ukraine

 The Biden administration has been privately telling Ukraine to signal willingness to hold talks with Russia or risk losing support from other nations, US media reported on Sunday.

The request by American officials was not aimed at pushing Ukraine to the negotiating table, but a calculated attempt to ensure Kyiv maintains weapons aid, The Washington Post reported, citing White House sources.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has ruled out direct talks with Putin as it is “impossible” to negotiate with him in good faith but has left the door open to Ukraine-Russia talks.

However, US and Ukrainian officials said that Mr Zelensky's ban on talks with Putin had caused 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 Washington Post reported.

“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners,” an unnamed US official told the newspaper, reflecting concerns that if the war drags on then Ukraine could see some wavering support from some of its allies.

Putin is said to be hopeful that by prolonging the war for as long as possible he can drain Western support for Ukraine, such as the delivery of high-powered Himars launchers that have wrought immense destruction on Russian invaders.

When approached for comment about the report, a spokesman for the US state department said: “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,” they added.

They also pointed out that Mr Zelensky said on Friday that Ukraine was “ready for peace, for a fair and just peace, the formula of which we have voiced many times”.

It came as Ukraine’s president said he had evidence of Iran training Russian pilots who carried out drone attacks which have largely targeted civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, in a series of war crimes.

“We know for sure that Iranian instructors taught Russian terrorists how to use drones, and Tehran is generally silent about it,” Mr Zelensky said in an address to the nation.

Mr Zelenskiy on Sunday spoke with Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, to discuss financial aid for Ukraine and further sanctions on Iran for supplying kamikaze drones.

It came as Ukraine's Russian-occupied city of Kherson was cut off from water and electricity supplies after an air strike and damage to a key dam in the region, local officials said. It is the first time that Kherson - which fell to Moscow's forces within days of their offensive launched in February - has seen such a power cut.

"In Kherson and a number of other areas in the region, there is temporarily no electricity or water supply," the city's Moscow-installed administration said on Telegram.

It said it was a "result of an attack organised by the Ukrainian side on the Berislav-Kakhovka highway that saw three concrete poles of high-voltage power lines damaged".

Energy specialists were working to "quickly" resolve the issue, the Russian-backed authorities said, as they called on people to "remain calm".

Russian officials claimed that a Ukrainian Himars strike had caused damage to the dam in the Kherson region, one of the most contested areas of the conflict.

Ukraine and Russia, which appears to be retreating from Kherson, have accused each other of trying to blow up the dam in

in order to cause mass flooding.

In the latest sign of Russia’s retreat from Kherson, Putin on Friday publicly endorsed the evacuation of civilians from parts of the region.

This appeared to be the first time he has endorsed the evacuations personally, though Moscow has been ferrying people out of an area it controls in Kherson on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

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