Merkel's crisis talks with Putin in Berlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to German Chancellor Angel Merkel in Berlin for the first time since 2012. Together with the French and Ukrainian presidents they agreed on a plan of action for Eastern Ukraine. Merkel also criticised Russia's "inhuman" actions in the Syrian war. But without a strategic vision, Europe's leaders are powerless against Putin, commentators complain.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Putin won't let Europe call the shots

Without a strategic vision Europe won't be able to negotiate successfully with the Russian president, Le Figaro explains:

“It's true that Vladimir Putin is pushing his luck with his interests and his fighter jets, but he has displayed undeniable strategic skill. So far he has always known how far he can go. He doesn't break off ties, but he plays with the differences of opinion between governments. And causes chaos in national election campaigns. The Europeans are playing for time. Tougher sanctions? Fewer sanctions? An endless debate. In this situation all the French foreign minister can do is appeal to the 'political and moral strength' of his Russian counterpart. Putin, however, is not letting this bother him because he knows that this is Europe's weak spot. … If the Europeans want effective talks with him they must find their way back to two things: a strategic vision and faith in their own values.”

Delo (SI) /

Pointless summit

A disillusioned Delo asks why meetings like this take place at all:

“Since even before the summit was held, not only Moscow but also Berlin issued precautionary statements that no serious progress should be expected, some people are asking why the heads of state and government are bothering to meet at all. There is at least one good reason: as long as they are talking about peace there is less time to think about war. But how can we expect talks like these to have any success, unless at least all the international players are involved?”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Talks with Russia are indispensable

The meeting between Merkel and Putin offers a glimmer of hope, the Tages-Anzeiger comments:

“It's good that at least they're still talking in Berlin. And it's good that the invitation to dialogue came from Merkel. Because Putin knows that he can talk and haggle with the chancellor but she won't give up her principles. Dialogue with Russia cannot boil down to giving the Kremlin whatever it wants. The West cannot simply accept Russia's annexation of Crimea, its intervention in Ukraine and its high-handed approach in Syria. But it can try, like Merkel, to find ways out of the current impasse and to secure help for the suffering civilian population. Up to now the West has relied mainly on sanctions to tame Russia, and now even new punitive measures are being discussed. But more than two years after the sanctions were imposed it must be clear to everyone that they haven't had the desired effect.”

Adevărul (RO) /

War crimes must be tried in court

Merkel is to broach the subject of the war in Syria during her meeting with Putin. But talk and admonishments won't achieve anything, journalist Cristian Unteanu writes in his blog with Adevărul:

“What is the international community doing? It gets angry, it feels horrified, it passes judgement. It writes reports. It distributes diplomatic communiqués. All in vain, utterly futile. It has no choice but to resort to harsh sanctions against Russia. It must prolong the current sanctions or even impose further sanctions. And it must do one more thing: it must charge the Damascus regime and its allies, in particular Russia, with war crimes, as the foreign ministers decided to do at their meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. When, where and how will the international criminal proceedings against the perpetrators begin? Because if no action is taken, this precedent - of deliberately using excessive violence - will be repeated.”