Ukraine: EU threatens Moscow - but with what?
At their last summit of the year, EU leaders have adopted a resolute stance vis-à-vis Russia. An invasion of Ukraine would entail "restrictive measures coordinated with partners," they warned. Exactly what such measures would entail remains unclear. Nevertheless, Europe's press sees the EU on the right track.
Nip Putin's aggression in the bud!
A strong response is needed, explains former Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivskyi in Ukrayinska Pravda:
“Our common experience proves that Putin does not attack when there is a 'new ideological reason' for invasion but when a strike is unexpected and the target is weak and defenceless. Only afterwards does the Kremlin always come up with political and pseudo-legal justifications for its actions. ... If there had not been an outcry in the world's leading media, if President Biden had not coordinated the positions of the US and the Europeans, Putin could have used this propitious moment for a large-scale provocation. ... This example proves that Putin's aggressive intentions must be nipped in the bud.”
Cutting Russia off from payments system goes too far
The West should be careful about which sanctions it imposes, warns The Economist:
“There is talk of cutting Russia off from swift, an international payments system. This would harm Russia, but it is a bad idea as it would disrupt other economies, and start a rush of autocratic regimes to find non-Western alternatives. The same deterrence could be achieved, with less collateral damage, by threatening to blacklist Russian financial institutions individually. Meanwhile, America should present a united front with European allies. For starters, Germany should not approve Nord Stream 2, Russia's newly built gas pipeline that bypasses Ukraine.”
The old power struggle is back but more civilised
At least there is still dialogue, interjects foreign policy expert Michel Kerres in his column in NRC Handelsblad:
“Talking is always good. It can buy time. It can defuse the worst tensions. You can make very clear what is unacceptable. A real discussion about Putin's dissatisfaction can only begin after he reduces the tensions and withdraws soldiers from the border area. There is no talk of that yet. Such a conversation is complicated. Putin will not receive any guarantees about Nato membership. Ukraine's sovereignty remains a top priority. The vocabulary of rivalry between the great powers may be back, but the customs of those times are not. Not yet.”