Nato meeting in Riga: a clear message to Russia

NATO's tone towards Russia is getting harsher: at the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Riga on Tuesday and Wednesday, Secretary General Stoltenberg warned that Russian aggression against Ukraine would "come at a high price". US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of evidence of Russia having such plans and threatened economic sanctions. Europe's press interprets the signals from the conference.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

In the worst case Kyiv is on its own

Nato's declarations of support for Ukraine are empty words, the taz is convinced:

“Should Russia actually invade Ukraine, Nato would not lift a finger. And the idea that Ukraine could become a member of the Western defence alliance in the foreseeable future is equally unrealistic. In the 'best case' scenario, Kyiv will now receive a few additional arms deliveries. That will hardly be enough to serve as an effective deterrent.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Ukraine a victim of the new world order

Others have suffered the same fate as Kiev is now facing, De Volkskrant comments:

“There are parallels to the situation of Taiwan in the shadow of Xi. Both countries are struggling with strategic isolation and are examples of a post-American world order in which great powers claim the right to interfere in their back yard - without it being clear whether there is another power that can or will stop them. These two are not the first countries to lie on the slaughtering block of the new world order. Hong Kong was brutally forced back under direct Chinese control while the world looked on helplessly. Ukraine was already partially truncated in 2014, and before that there was the war in Georgia in 2008.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Everyone wants to relax at Christmas

For Radio Kommersant FM, the current tensions can be put down to political calculation:

“In this situation, stoking the flames is beneficial for absolutely everyone concerned. Nothing can distract public opinion more effectively than the threat of war. And as we know, there are problems on all sides. The trick is to avoid overdoing it. The scenario is also clear: Putin and Biden will meet, and after their talks each will announce a diplomatic victory. The tensions will die down for a while and everyone will peacefully celebrate Christmas - until the next escalation. The main problem is the lack of solutions to the Donbass crisis.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Nato's path to the Baltics could be cut off

The situation in the region is very precarious, Avvenire notes:

“Riga faces the threat of Iskander missiles stationed in Kaliningrad and fears an invasion by the 50,000 troops Vladimir Putin has stationed between Crimea and Belarus. ... If fighting were to break out on the Ukrainian side, the [Polish] Suwałki region, which borders the Baltics, would be the first to capitulate. ... Suwałki is the only land route connecting the Baltic states with EU countries and Nato allies. It is a hub of the Atlantic Alliance, which is under constant pressure from Russian missiles and interceptors. A real problem for Nato. Its hands would be tied and it would not be able to come to the aid of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in time.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Drive up the cost for Putin

Der Tagesspiegel calls for arms deliveries to Ukraine:

“The point isn't to make the country capable of defeating Russia. It's enough if Putin has to reckon with such a high price should he attack - from Russian soldiers' coffins to sanctions - that he prefers not to. In the hybrid war in eastern Ukraine, Moscow-backed militias withdrew their tanks when it became known that the US was supplying Ukraine with armour-piercing weapons. Such clarity about how high the costs could be was lacking in 2014, before Putin decided to occupy Crimea.” (UA) /

Not just Ukraine is threatened by Russia

The Nato foreign ministers should address the threat posed by Russia in many regions of Europe, journalist Olexandr Horobez writes in LB:

“There is currently a danger of a new escalation in Ukraine. However, we should not think that all other European states are immune to Russian invasion. Recent developments have diverted attention from the equally important regions of the Black Sea and the Baltic. Just as an example, the modernisation and reinforcement of the Russian forces in Kaliningrad with Iskander operational-tactical missile complexes in 2018 already posed a threat to Central Europe, given the range of this type of missile.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Moscow's muscle-flexing is counterproductive

Political scientist Lilia Shevtsova explains on Echo of Moscow the side effects of Putin's strategy of maintaining tension with the West:

“First, this policy jeopardises the survival of Russian capital holders because their resources are shifted westward. Second, it creates problems in terms of using the West as a resource for the Russian state. Third, the West is forced to militarise. Even sluggish Europe, accustomed to the protective shield provided by the US, has roused itself and is thinking about its defense capabilities. ... Russia is trying to preserve its global role with the threat of being able to explode the status quo at any time and anywhere on the globe. Russia's leadership needs this global role to compensate for its inability to reinvent Russia through internal reforms.”