Nato-Russia Council: clear differences, no agreement

Shortly after the meeting between the US and Russia in Geneva, high-ranking representatives of Russia and Nato met on Wednesday for the first time in two years. But there was no sign of a breakthrough on the issues of Ukraine and Nato's eastward expansion: Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke of "significant differences". What position will Europe take here?

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Some signs of a détente

It cannot be said that the Russia-Nato meeting was entirely unproductive, Kommersant FM writes:

“Foreign Minister Lavrov said afterwards: We were promised a written response, we'll wait for it, then we'll clarify our next steps'. But here's a question: If nothing has been agreed upon, what's the point of a written response? Moscow will hardly wait for a written rejection with Biden's or Stoltenberg's signature on it. In other words agreements were reached, and they are quite concrete: the West is prepared to discuss control mechanisms for the deployment of missile systems near the border and to establish rules for holding manoeuvres so as to avoid clashes. Yes, not everyone agrees on this either, but it is something that can be discussed.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Europe needs to design a new security architecture

The logic of the Cold War still hampers Europe today, says Dnevnik:

“The question after this week of intensive world diplomacy thus remains when, where and how the spiral of escalation can be stopped. The question remains whether, 30 years after the official end of the Cold War, a new security architecture can be built in Europe that is neither dictated by Russia nor based solely on the US perspective, but serves above all European interests. A fundamental agreement that efforts and funding must be shifted away from the arms race and towards saving the planet would be a good start.”

Milliyet (TR) /

A unified EU stance is a tough proposition

Milliyet questions whether the EU countries will be able to agree on a common stance in the conflict given their diverging national interests:

“Will the EU (France in particular) say yes to bellicose activities on the part of the US - in whatever form - against Russia? Germany is a different case: Merkel would never have agreed to such a war, but it looks as if the patchwork coalition now in place will. In the ongoing Ukraine conflict Germany has suspended until further notice the operation of the Nordstream 2 pipeline - the construction of which has been completed and via which it was to be supplied with natural gas from Russia.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

Moscow fears that Ukraine could become a US satellite

Maxim Suchkov, associate professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, explains the Russian position in Vedomosti:

“Moscow speaks of the 'active military development' of Ukraine, by which it means the increase of its neighbour's military potential by the US, the infiltration of key government bodies by US secret services and the installation of US military infrastructure. In this way, a military-political threat has emerged dangerously close to Russia's border, reinforced by Kyiv's aggressive policy towards the Donbass. ... 'Russia is being cornered' is not just one of Putin's metaphors but a realistic expression of how Russia's leadership sees the current situation.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Right to form alliances is essential for Europe

La Repubblica explains why Europe in particular must reject Russia's demands:

“The idea of a return to spheres of influence, as if the Warsaw Pact still existed, cannot be accepted by the Western world - and especially not by Europe. Such intentions would in fact set limits above all on the Old Continent: limits on political action, on the freedom to decide for individual countries, and on military presence. The idea that a nation may not determine its own alliances independently must simply be rejected. And it is perceived as a looming threat by the states that have decided to join Nato, starting with Poland.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Does Russia really want détente?

If Russia really wanted peace, it would not keep around 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, says Eesti Päevaleht:

“This is probably a deliberate strategy by Putin to confuse the West so he can stay in the driver's seat. On the one hand, Moscow reiterates that it does not want to attack Ukraine, but at the same time you can't leave such a large contingent just hanging around. Soldiers get frustrated, motivation drops and technology needs to be updated - but the bases are far away. Troops have to either be used or sent home. ... It seems that what Putin really wants is his power system to be accepted in the so-called 'near abroad'. Here the alliance must draw a red line: we must not abandon countries that are on a democratic course.”

NV (UA) /

The Kremlin is just strategising

Political scientist Volodymyr Fessenko warns in NV:

“If Russia agrees to continue negotiations with the US and Nato, it means that all the ultimatums, all the insolence in the negotiations and the military manoeuvres near our borders are aggressive negotiating tactics by the Kremlin, a 'psychological attack' on the West and partly on us. At the same time, Russia is hoping for certain concessions from the US and Nato and is willing to negotiate. ... In any case, we must not let up. If Putin and the Russian leadership sense weakness, they could embark on military adventures against Ukraine.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Putin simply does not understand change

Russia entered the negotiations with false expectations, Rzeczpospolita suspects:

“How did it come to this dialogue of the deaf? It could be because the Kremlin - and Vladimir Putin personally - completely misunderstand how the West works. After all, the Russian leader takes a similar stance towards Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries that have dared to embark on the journey to democracy. He seems convinced that the so-called 'colour revolutions' are the work of American manipulation, not the expression of a mature society.”