US offer on Ukraine: how will Moscow respond?

The US has submitted its written response to Russia in the negotiations on the Ukraine conflict: Although Nato's open-door policy is not up for discussion, it is open to talks on arms control in Europe. If Moscow does attack, harsh sanctions will be imposed. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed dissatisfaction wit the response but stressed that his country does not want war. Europe's press predicts a prolonged struggle.

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Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

A brief, deceptive calm

We can expect a breather, albeit a dubious one, Tygodnik Powszechny puts in:

“There are good reasons to assume that a certain calm will now return, but it's very likely that Putin is not satisfied with the US's reaction. In that case he will not rest and will continue to fuel the spiral of fear. After all, he hasn't achieved his goal. Putin needs the whole of Ukraine (and not just the piece of Donbas and Crimea he took from it) and the dismantling of Western solidarity, be it in Nato, the EU or transatlantic cooperation.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

A sensible offer

If Putin really wants to negotiate now is the time to do it, says the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“After what the Americans have said publicly, their answer essentially corresponds to what the Kremlin has been hearing for weeks from Washington and the alliance: Nato won't allow itself to be bossed around when it comes to membership issues but is prepared to engage in confidence-building measures and arms control. This is a reasonable offer that could eliminate many of the military tensions that have built up not only in connection with Ukraine. Putin's ambition to rule over Eastern Europe, on the other hand, is not enforceable. The sooner the Kremlin realises this, the better it will be for all concerned.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

The Kremlin doesn't want détente

Echo of Moscow expects the tug of war over Ukraine to continue for a long time to come:

“Russia demands that Nato stop its manoeuvres on our border. But we Russians can do whatever we want on our territory! Nato replies: We do what we want on our territory. ... It is not in our interest to solve this crisis but to keep it going. It's like in Donbass: it is not in the Kremlin's interest to resolve the conflict but to maintain permanent tensions. Without tensions, you have no leverage. And without leverage, nobody pays us any attention. That is why we will have to continue to observe these entertaining but pointless shenanigans.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Putin's satisfied silence

Putin's silence is a tactic, De Standaard believes:

“Whereas Biden has gone on and on about Ukraine in recent weeks, Putin has no longer touched on the issue. And that's not because he's stopped making public appearances. On the contrary, he's constantly in the media. ... As always with Putin, one can only speculate about the reasons for his silence. In principle he knew that Nato and the US would reject his demands. Is he quietly preparing the next step? Or is he still hoping for a way out of the stalemate? In any case, his silence is making the West increasingly nervous. And for him, that is already a victory.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

This time the sanctions could really hurt

Corriere della Sera writes:

“When Russia occupied Crimea in 2014, it took months for Western governments to decide on sanctions. ... A list of measures that cost Russia one and a half percentage points of growth. Vladimir Putin decided that this was an acceptable price to pay for regaining part of Moscow's lost empire. This time the Americans want to thwart the Russian president's plans, both in terms of the severity and the speed of the sanctions already prepared. And it doesn't matter whether European governments want to go along with this or not, because Washington's package is designed to force European companies to adapt if they don't want to be excluded from US markets.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

Wasted potential

Aamulehti says Russia could put its know-how to better use:

“With its actions the Russian leadership has manoeuvered itself into a corner from which there seems to be no way out. There's a good chance that something unpleasant will happen in Russia's power game in the coming weeks. What is most distressing about Russia's actions is the country's wasted potential. Russian science and research are first rate. Instead of developing weapons technology this know-how could have been used to develop renewable energies such as hydrogen systems. Russian science could also help to develop technologies for filtering fossil fuels and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”