Ukraine crisis: between war and peace

Although US President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin have signalled their willingness to convene for a summit meeting, an escalation still seems likely at present. The US and Nato believe that Russia is ready and determined to attack Ukraine, including Kyiv. Will Moscow succeed in wringing concessions from the West? And what would the consequences be? Europe's press comments.

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Iswestija (RU) /

Putin could force concessions

The imminent danger of war could lead both sides to agree on otherwise unthinkable compromises, writes political scientist Dmitry Suslov in Izvestiya:

“Faced with the prospect of a hard military-political confrontation, adversaries are forced to observe each other's red lines - even if they consider them illegitimate - and to correct their policies accordingly in order to avoid war. The US and Nato will only abandon their 'open door' policy towards Ukraine if its disadvantages clearly outweigh the benefits. And Russia, according to what we've been hearing, is prepared to discuss security guarantees for Ukraine if the question of Nato accession is put aside once and for all.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Yielding would have long-term repercussions

The West's credibility is at stake, Le Figaro reminds readers:

“Even if Putin is content to just play war, to evoke fears so as to make Kyiv back down and to expose the limitations of Nato, Europeans and Americans risk their credibility in this chess game. The more the military pressure mounts, the greater the temptation will be to reach an agreement with the Kremlin leader. But one must ask what the price would be. Will it mean sacrificing Ukraine, closing the door to the Alliance for good and sending it back into Moscow's orbit? It is questionable whether Nato would recover from such a flagrant admission of weakness.”

The Sunday Times (GB) /

Doing nothing would be worse

The Sunday Times calls for tough sanctions against Russia even if they are painful for the West too:

“It is time for EU leaders to set self-interest aside. Western countries, including the UK, must accept that imposing real pain on Russia may involve a degree of pain on our side too. The alternative is worse. ... Eighty-four years ago European leaders gathered in Munich to deal with the challenge of another dictator. They failed to contain Nazi Germany. Today, before he reaches the pass - and he is very nearly there - Mr Putin must be forced to see clearly a unified west wielding a baton of extremely punitive sanctions.”

Berlingske (DK) /

New types of sanctions are needed

Bearing in mind that Russia can potentially cushion financial sanctions using cryptocurrencies or by cooperating with China, the EU should revise its options, Berlingske warns:

“There is an urgent need to address the policy of sanctions, and the EU has worked hard on this. The last decades have proven that many sanctions are ineffective and in the worst case also hit the country imposing them. And if local laws prevent more targeted sanctions, they must be changed. Otherwise the West will lose a good 'weapon' that can prevent a bloody war.” (UA) /

Evacuation is nothing but propaganda

Pro-Russian separatists in occupied eastern Ukraine are using the evacuation of civilians from Donbass as propaganda, writes journalist Stanislav Aseev on, demanding clarifications from the Ukrainian side:

“I am convinced that the president should make an official statement as soon as possible on all national channels, saying: Ukraine is not planning any offensive action on the territory of ORDLO [the 'temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine' in Donetsk and Luhansk] and there is no reason to evacuate. Furthermore, the children who are currently being loaded onto buses in Donetsk are indeed in danger - however not because of Ukraine's actions but because of the plans of Russia, which would not hesitate to 'sacrifice' them for the sake of escalating the situation.”

Eco - Economia Online (PT) /

No one believes Russia

Russia has gambled away all trust even before the war begins, writes Eco:

“It's clear that Russia is the big loser in the disinformation war. ... Its official channels are obviously compromised and propaganda services like Russia Today and Sputnik, which already had little value, are not even allowed to broadcast in many countries. And their efforts on social media are also failing as platforms become more attentive and the flow of information promoted by Washington and its experts drowns out dissenting opinions. The truth is that no matter how hard Moscow tries to justify a likely invasion by pointing to some previous attack on Russia, no one will believe it.”