To talk or not to talk? EU divided on Putin policy

Shortly before the EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron suggested a meeting between EU leaders and Vladimir Putin in the near future. But in Brussels, the proposal was rejected as premature, in particular by Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Europe's media are also divided on the question of what approach to take with Moscow.

Open/close all quotes
Die Presse (AT) /

Reverberations of the Geneva summit

Die Presse asks why a rapprochement should be pushed for now, of all times:

“After all, it's not as if Putin has been particularly eager to improve Russia's relationship with the West in the seven and a half years [since the last EU-Russia summit in January 2014]. ... The Kremlin has left no doubt that it considers the European model of open societies with party pluralism, protection of minorities and fundamental rights to be decadent. ... But the impact of US President Joe Biden's Geneva meeting with Putin can't be denied. ... So in short, have Macron and Merkel thought about what concrete positive moves they can make which could prompt Putin to respond with his own concrete positive counter-moves? Only time will tell.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Divisive potential on a silver platter

Hospodářské noviny has nothing positive to say about the move:

“Unlike the US, the European Union has no geopolitical influence on Russia. The Kremlin, meanwhile, has been relatively successful in Europe with its strategy of undermining the unity and cohesion of its allies. Offering Putin another opportunity to show that he is strong and powerful and can divide the Europeans in this situation is - to put it politely - unreasonable.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

The EU accepts the facts that Russia creates

For Eesti Päevaleht, the idea of normalising relations with Russia through dialogue is naive, to say the least:

“Russia has just started a hybrid war against Lithuania with bus transport of illegal immigrants to the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. A thousand kilometres to the south, in the Black Sea, the Russian Ministry of Defence has chased a British warship away from the waters off Crimea. ... Unfortunately, there is not the slightest sign that Putin's Russia wants to normalise relations. Such moves by the West are exploited by Russia to distort normality. Crimea as part of Russia and Navalny rotting in jail have been turned by Putin into the new normality that the West effectively accepts.”

Duma (BG) /

The EU should rethink its approach

Abandoning top-level talks with Russia would be a mistake, says the pro-Russian daily Duma:

“The EU can't be held hostage to the excessive Russophobia of the Kiev government, which refuses to comply with the Minsk agreements and is doing all it can to bring about a dangerous confrontation between the West and Europe on one side and Russia on the other. Old Europe has understood that Moscow won't give up Crimea, that the sanctions aren't working and haven't influenced Russia's Ukraine policy in the slightest. It would be a smart move for the EU to change the way it deals with its biggest neighbour.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Don't let Putin play the victim anymore

An EU-Russia summit is worthwhile irrespective of its results, Handelsblatt argues:

“The Kremlin boss is relying on Russia's isolation, its turning away from Europe and an alliance with China for his own survival. But he wants to blame the West for this, and is playing the victim. That's why it's important that not just the EU but also the G7 countries offer Moscow opportunities for talks - to sound out whether a rapprochement can still be achieved. Or who would bear the responsibility for a new cold war in the event of failure.”