Ukraine crisis: imminent war or détente?

The situation on the Ukrainian border remains tense. Although Russia has announced a partial withdrawal of its troops stationed near Ukraine, US and Nato observers are reporting additional mobilisation. Intensified shelling and gunfire on the front in Donbass is also fuelling fears of an imminent escalation.

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Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Putin back on the international stage

Although Russia has united the West with its behaviour, it has also forced it to take Moscow seriously, Lidové noviny sums up:

“The Russian head of state can be satisfied. ... In any case, the crisis he provoked has made him very visible. He has shown the world that he is a force to be reckoned with. That is no small thing. Moreover, there are more than a few influential people in the West who point out that some of Russia's security demands may be legitimate. The former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, for example, has called for a broad agreement under the heading Helsinki 2.0.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Now comes the story of genocide in Donbass

Pro-government Russian media have reported the discovery of mass graves in Donbass. Commenting on Echo of Moscow, journalist Matvei Ganapolsky doubts the veracity of such reports:

“Who is supposed to have created the mass graves? Only the separatists could do that, because it was the Ukrainian army that retreated, not the other way round. ... But if they - or let's say: someone - is supposed to have done this in 2014, why were the graves 'discovered' only now? ... The answer is simple: having suffered a political defeat and withdrawn his troops, Putin is now playing the 'Ukrainian genocide' card. He needs it to start 'saving the Russians', to whom Russian passports were issued at the time, which is why the [separatist republics] DNR and LNR must now be recognised. Or why such recognition can be used for blackmail.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

Not a matter that doesn't concern us

In the event of an escalation Greece would be more involved than many perhaps believe, Efimerida ton Syntakton stresses:

“Greece's involvement in this crisis is not only due to the fact that our country is a Nato member. For years - and especially since the Greek-American defence agreement - Greece has become a military base for the Americans, to the detriment of Russian interests in the region. This is illustrated by the US's use of the port of Alexandroupoli. Let's hope that the developments won't take us in the direction of war. We must hope that reason will prevail and that a compromise solution will be found for both sides.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Just regular military exercises

Ria Novosti is incensed at a West that does not believe anything Russia says and lies itself:

“Our Ministry of Defence always maintained that it was conducting scheduled exercises after which the military units would be sent back. The Western media responded by yelling that these troops would invade Ukraine today or tomorrow. Now, as promised, the return of troops to their bases has begun - and no one has invaded anyone. Suddenly the Western media are claiming this is a 'withdrawal from the Ukrainian border'. And brave Western Kremlinologists are claiming that Russia has always lied and said that its army was not on the border. In short, we have always told the truth and they have lied, but now they accuse us of lying.” (UA) /

A successful alliance

The West's strategy worked, writes Yuri Butussov, editor-in-chief of, in

“The US and UK launched what was essentially a hybrid war against Putin, mobilising a campaign of unprecedented scale in support of Ukraine and against Putin. The Russian threat enabled the Americans and the British to break Russian influence in Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark, which agreed to supply modern weapons to Ukraine. The three Baltic states also supplied weapons, and the US and Britain opened a complete airlift to Ukraine with European support. ... The pro-Russian front in Europe was broken.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Putin can breathe a sigh of relief

Scholz's assurances to Moscow may also have contributed to de-escalation, Jutarnji list comments:

“Russian media highlight the following as the most important result of the meeting between the Russian and German heads of state on Tuesday: Ukraine will not become a Nato member, at least not any time soon. The Russians emphasised Scholz's words that Nato enlargement was 'not under discussion' or on the agenda at the moment, and even that the topic would remain off the agenda 'as long as he or Putin are in power'. ... Many interpreted this statement to mean that Putin can breathe a sigh of relief because he heard the soothing message from the German chancellor: as long as he is in power, Ukraine will not join Nato. And he alone will decide just how long that is.”

The Times (GB) /

Putin's peace is not to be trusted

Celebrating the partial withdrawal as a diplomatic success would be premature, warns The Times:

“Russian concessions are always tactical. If the units being withdrawn, ostensibly because they have finished their training exercise, leave in place all the heavy equipment needed for an invasion, they might as well have stayed where they were. They or replacements could be back within hours. At the same time, the pressure is being increased on the two breakaway Ukrainian provinces which were the casus belli in 2014 and which have received massive Russian support as well as passports for thousands of their citizens.”

La Stampa (IT) /

What about Donbass?

La Stampa is also sceptical:

“Having reached dizzying heights, the media's poker game seems to have ended happily. Vladimir Putin announced that 'Russia does not want war in Europe', an assurance that his ministers and spokesmen had already repeated at every opportunity but that the supreme leader had not yet endorsed. But at the same time the Russian president is replacing the retreating tanks with a diplomatic weapon offered to him by his parliament: the Duma is asking Putin to recognise the self-proclaimed 'people's republics' of Donbass: a bomb that could blow up the Minsk peace process at any moment and turn this 'low-intensity war', as the UN calls it, into a hot war again.”