Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, foremer German chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin (from left) at a summit on the Ukraine conflict in late 2019. (© picture-alliance/Russian Look/Kremlin Pool)

  Ukraine crisis

  12 Debates

After the harsh words of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken against the Kremlin in Kyiv and those of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Moscow, Antony Blinken is meeting his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva for further talks on the Ukraine conflict today. A look at Europe's commentary columns reveals many questions and calls for pragmatism.

US President Biden has raised eyebrows with comments on the likelihood of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. "It's one thing if it's a minor incursion", Biden said, but added that an invasion would be a disaster for Russia. Europe's media are outraged by the notion that Nato sanctions are apparently to depend on the scale of any invasion.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Ukraine of the US's "unwavering support" during his visit to the country and promised an additional 200 million dollars in military aid. He also threatened Moscow with massive consequences in the event of an attack, which the US apparently considers increasingly likely. Commentators mainly see the ball in Kyiv's court now.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday. On behalf of the EU she warned Russia against invading Ukraine, saying "We have no choice but to defend our common rules, even if it comes at a high economic price." Commentators speculate on what Germany would do if Russia does invade.

Despite intensive diplomatic efforts, the crisis in the Russian-Ukrainian border region continues. Germany's new Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is now making new attempts to defuse the situation with meetings in Kyiv and Moscow. Europe's press makes suggestions and laments the EU's irrelevance.

Former Ukrainian head of state Petro Poroshenko, who is facing trial for high treason, has left the country. The businessman is accused of having financed "terrorist activities" by buying coal worth millions in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine. Commentators criticise both the charges and the escape.

As the year draws to an end, Moscow has once again adopted a harsher tone in the Ukraine conflict. Russian troops remain stationed near the border and President Putin has accused the US of "aggressive" behaviour and threatened to respond "with adequate military-technical measures" if it persists. Commentators analyse the balance of power.

After Nato and the US voiced concerns about a potential Russian winter offensive against Ukraine after a massive deployment of Russian troops, Moscow has reacted by claiming it is Kyiv that is planning an offensive in the Donbass region. Ukraine denies this. Commentators draw comparisons with the past and discuss the West's options.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a virtual summit on Tuesday to discuss the Ukraine crisis. The US is demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops gathered on the Ukrainian border. The Kremlin is demanding a clear rejection of plans for Kyiv to join Nato. Europe's press sheds light on the precarious situation.

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.

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.

In two drafts for treaties with the US and Nato, Russia has outlined the security architecture it envisages for Eastern Europe. It wants Nato membership for former Soviet republics to be taboo and Nato to withdraw all weapons stationed in the region. The US and Ukraine have already rejected the demands. Europe's press debates how seriously they should be taken.