EU foreign ministers meeting: united against Moscow?
The foreign ministers of the G7 countries and the EU demonstrated unity in the Ukraine crisis at their meetings on Sunday and Monday. There will be "tough diplomatic and economic consequences" if Russian soldiers cross the border into Ukraine, Germany's new Foreign Minister Baerbock warned. Commentators discuss the best approach for the West.
Open up a loophole for Putin
The West has made it clear that it will not give up on Ukraine, Die Presse stresses:
“Perhaps Putin was banking on the US, the EU and the UK being so preoccupied with domestic tensions over Covid, migration and Brexit fallout that a little sabre-rattling would be enough to coerce them into making such a concession. Perhaps he hoped that a new SPD-led government in Berlin would revive old party plans for a neutral Nato-free buffer in the east. But for now, things are taking a different course. The West has realised that it would be fatal to show weakness in such a situation. ... The next challenge will be more difficult, because anyone who wants to defuse this dangerous conflict quickly and completely must now open up a loophole for Vladimir Putin to save face.”
Extensive sanctions could work
Eastern Europe expert Andreas Umland warns in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung against being too soft on Moscow:
“There are those who assume that sanctions will not be imposed and/or will not have sufficient impact. This assumption leads to the conclusion that Western pressure on Kiev is the only way out of the current impasse. ... There are, however, indications that trade and other restrictions could be more effective vis-à-vis Russia than vis-à-vis countries like North Korea or Iran. ... No attempt has been made so far to restrict a larger proportion of Western trade with different Russian economic sectors at the same time.”
Keep up the pressure and plan alternatives
Kurt Volker, US diplomat and former Special Representative for Ukraine, warns in an opinion piece in La Repubblica against adopting an overly aggressive tone towards Russia:
“Over-promising a Nato military response in Ukraine could well prompt the Russian aggression Nato seeks to avoid. The next step is for the United States and European allies to stipulate the harsh sanctions they would impose if Russia were to launch military action, as well as to make alternative arrangements for gas supplies to Europe (including Ukraine, by way of Slovakia) to withstand possible Russian reductions in supply. Getting through the next three to four months is critical.”
German stance weakening the West
Rzeczpospolita criticises Germany's reluctance to deliver defence weapons to Ukraine:
“Germany's obstructionism conveys the impression that the West is divided on Ukraine. There are hawks like the British and doves like the Germans. These are the differences that Vladimir Putin exploits again and again to oppress his weaker neighbours. ... Putin probably hasn't yet decided whether to launch an invasion of Ukraine. But he's not ruling it out either. He holds all the cards. At this stage of the game, the West shouldn't give up its aces either.”