Merkel and Hollande negotiate in Ukraine conflict

French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have started a new initiative to find a solution to the Ukraine conflict, presenting a peace proposal in Kiev on Thursday before travelling to Moscow today, Friday. Commentators see the move as the last hope for diplomacy and stress that it could be very much in Vladimir Putin's interests.

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Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

West proves willingness for dialogue

The attempt by Angela Merkel and François Hollande to mediate is the best proof that the West is determined to find a political solution to the crisis, the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore comments: "Even Poroshenko has always insisted that the solution can only be political and not military. A Ukraine that was better equipped militarily would force the Russians to think twice before they launch their next offensive, but it could also cause an escalation. And so far only Putin has caused escalations. The West's goal must continue to be dialogue. ... The best proof of the will to find a diplomatic solution is the unplanned and unique nature of Merkel and Hollande's mission."

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Mission reveals West's desperation

Angela Merkel and François Hollande are undertaking what can be described as a final attempt to restore peace in eastern Ukraine, the conservative daily Lidové noviny writes commenting on the two European leaders' trip to Kiev and Moscow: "The West apparently wants to reach a direct agreement with President Putin but at the same time not do anything behind Ukraine's back. Anything else is speculation. The European powers, supported by the US and Nato, are coming with an initiative all we know of which is that it is based on Ukraine's territorial integrity. What does that mean? That Donbass should not become another Transnistria, Abkhazia or South Ossetia. But it can become anything else. Even part of a federation Russia is working to create. The mission proves how desperate the West is and how willing to negotiate. ... But for Putin that won't necessarily be enough."

Le Figaro (FR) /

Putin must accept a compromise for Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin should accept the negotiation offer from François Holland and Angela Merkel, the conservative daily Le Figaro urges: "It's one thing for the Kremlin chief to get involved in a localised conflict against a weak nation. But it's another thing altogether to let himself in for an East-West conflict with Ukraine in the middle. Just as he's benefited until now by aggravating the situation, today he has every interest in seeking appeasement. A ceasefire, the territorial integrity of Ukraine, autonomy for Russian-speaking Donbass: the parameters of an agreement are clear. For Moscow it may be enough simply to shift a few pawns in what looks set to be a lengthy game of chess. But for the West it's no doubt the last manoeuvre: it's betting everything on the diplomatic card before rushing headlong into conflict. Putin should seize this opportunity for what it is."

Duma (BG) /

Merkel and Hollande on peace mission

Angela Merkel and François Hollande are travelling to Moscow and Kiev to try and repair the damage the US has done with its aggressive policy against Russia, the pro-Russian daily Duma writes: "The chaos that Washington and the right wing in Kiev have caused is becoming a threat to global security. The White House also seems to finally realise that it has gone too far. ... It's no mere coincidence that Barack Obama said that America is not ready for open confrontation with Russia. When it added fuel to the fire and then watched the Old Continent suffer from the sidelines, things looked good for the US. But once the fire threatened to spread to its own back yard everything changed. The war rhetoric hasn't stopped yet - there is still talk of sanctions, and they're trying to frighten us telling us about the 'threat from Russia'. But Europe is gradually growing tired of facing the consequences of Washington's actions."