Ukraine crisis: what can defuse the situation?

The US is issuing increasingly urgent warnings about an escalation of the situation in Ukraine before the end of the Olympic Games. While Moscow, Washington, Paris, Berlin and Kyiv engaged in intense telephone diplomacy over the weekend, several states called on their citizens to leave the country. Commentators warn against the use of war rhetoric and advise a change of strategy.

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Fuelling fear only helps Putin

Biden urging US citizens to leave Ukraine sends a dire message, criticises Deutschlandfunk:

“If panic spreads in Ukraine, this will play into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Because who will still want to invest in a country that is presumably about to be invaded? Western journalists are already reporting on bunkers in Kiev instead of, for example, the successes in the Ukrainian agricultural sector, with a grain harvest that also benefits Germany as an importer. Ukraine is in danger of being demoted to a risk area. ... The Kremlin is using the politics of fear. At home as well as abroad. So far the Ukrainians have withstood this threat with remarkable calm. If that changes, Putin could win a war without even having started it.”

Népszava (HU) /

War suits too many vested interests

A further rhetorical escalation of the situation is also likely because so many stand to benefit from it on the domestic level, says Népszava:

“For Putin, the brutal suppression of the opposition is not enough to achieve internal stabilisation; he also needs an imperial mentality. ... Nato has finally been given a sense of purpose again and Macron has astutely donned the perfectly tailored suit of the European statesman fighting for world peace. ... From Biden's perspective, too, there's not much to be said against a war that could distract the Americans from their own problems.”

El País (ES) /

First threaten, then cooperate

Wolfgang Münchau of the think tank Eurointelligence calls for a two-track strategy vis-à-vis Moscow in El País:

“The most effective measure the West could take now, on the eve of a potential war, would be to be transparent about the sanctions it will impose. Faced with a maximum military threat, we should respond with a maximum economic threat. ... Ordinary Russians would understand that Putin's decision to invade would come at a cost for them. ... We should also make it clear that we should consider Russia as a partner. The Arctic is becoming increasingly important for the US and the EU. In the long term we will have to find ways to cooperate with Russia. It is not the enemy.”

Dialogos (CY) /

Don't play follow the leader with the US

The EU should develop its own strategy vis-à-vis Moscow, demands Giorgos Georgiou of the communist Akel party in Dialogos:

“Unfortunately, the EU seems incapable of responding to the major issues regarding peace, security and stability in the region. ... In practice, it only obeys its masters, the Americans and Nato. Some countries even show with enviable speed what model pupils they are. At the same time they are aware that a conflict would cause irreparable damage to Europe itself. ... Europe must remember its own values and defend peace and the universal ideals before it is too late!”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Do not waver

Steadfastness is the West's best tactic, Tygodnik Powszechny comments:

“The final outcome of this chess game will depend on the extent to which Putin's ongoing intimidation campaign has the desired effect on Ukraine and the West. The best preparation for a (hopefully) successful endgame against Russia is therefore strong 'pieces'. Concretely, this means continuing to supply Kyiv with weapons, demonstrating Western unity and unwavering resolve, and preparing a comprehensive package of sanctions that can be activated immediately.”