Ukraine: what can new negotiations achieve?

As Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities intensify, plans for online talks between delegations from the two countries have been announced. President Zelensky hopes the new round of talks will pave the way for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Putin. Europe's press doubts that real progress can be made.

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Público (PT) /

Zelensky in a dilemma

Political scientist José Pedro Teixeira Fernandes describes in Público the difficult choice Zelensky faces:

“Continuing a defensive struggle that has already made him a hero is probably the only possible course at this point. But prolonging the war of resistance against the invader will mean assuming a high moral and political responsibility. It will drastically increase the human suffering and material destruction of Ukraine without any guarantee of victory. If, on the other hand, he were to eventually accept Russia's terms, albeit in a softer form, this will entail political concessions that Ukraine vehemently rejected before the war. Consequently, serious domestic problems would be likely.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Offer Putin a way out

The Russian president should be offered an acceptable exit strategy, The Irish Independent advises:

“If we are to have any hope of Putin taking the off-ramp, it has to be clear to him where it leads - and not to the International Court of Justice. Only Zelensky can offer Ukrainian concessions, but the West can, at least, lay out a clear path to de-escalating sanctions. It is not merely the language of 'off-ramp' that many will find offensive - it is the idea itself. Without an off-ramp, though, we could be following Putin on a road to catastrophe.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Turkey investing in the future

Turkey's mediation attempts will pay off at the next stage of negotiations, Daily Sabah promises:

“This is the beginning of the war's third stage - following Russia's quick advance (the first stage), which was followed by the Ukrainian resistance and an increase in Western support. At this time, the Russians aim to drive the civilians out of Ukrainian towns to deepen the war, as the West takes its economic sanctions to the highest level. The possibility of an end to the war through diplomacy before the completion of this third stage remains remote. Nonetheless, Turkey's decisive efforts to promote diplomacy and mediate talks are extremely valuable. Those steps will pay off in the war's fourth chapter - whenever it may begin.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

A summit with Biden makes more sense

Der Tagesspiegel predicts that the talks will be fruitless and has another suggestion:

“Putin wants to be respected, he thinks in terms of old power relations. So attempts should be made to persuade him to have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden. As in the past, one on one, a summit of the superpowers. Such a framework would fit in with Putin's self-image. ... It would be unwise to define the goals and limits of such a summit dialogue in advance. That would only create excuses for it to fail. What do the West, Joe Biden and the US have to lose? Not much. And if the summit fails to produce results? Then at least they tried.”

Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

Finland as role model

According to Göteborgs-Posten the Ukraine war ending in the same way the Soviet-Finnish war did in 1939-40 is also conceivable:

“But we must be clear that the Ukrainian side cannot 'win' the war any more than Finland 'won' the Finnish Winter War. After months of bitter resistance, however, Helsinki managed to conclude a peace treaty that ended the invasion in March 1940 and saved Finland's defence and independence. This must be considered a fantastic success for little Finland, despite some concessions in the peace agreement. The same would be the case if Ukraine were to achieve such a solution thanks to its stubborn resistance.”

Vzglyad (RU) /

Beijing a good candidate for mediation

The pro-Kremlin portal Vsgljad advocates involving China in the search for a peaceful solution:

“A guarantor and mediator must be uninvolved in the conflict, objective and impartial. China is all of these. China has not supported Russia as a party to the conflict. It has only declared that Russia has a right to insist on its interests. China's attitude towards Ukraine, as well as the [separatist republics] DNR and LNR, is balanced. It has investment interests in Ukraine, and after international recognition of the republics China would probably also cooperate with Donbass. China has a sincere interest in the conflict being resolved quickly, new borders being drawn and recognised, and peaceful economic reconstruction beginning.”

Público (PT) /

Peace depends on Putin's strategy

Peace depends on what Putin really wants, writes Público:

“There are at least two possible scenarios for this war: the first is that Putin is reacting to Nato expansion [since 1991]. ... This scenario opens the door for an understanding. The second scenario is that Putin, a strategist by nature, has a plan. If so, this is bad news. Putin's plan seems to mean the end of peace in Europe and a potential imperialist attempt to advance on Ukrainian territory for the time being, but it must be clear that it won't stop there. This scenario makes us fear the worst. ... Europe has already experienced the consequences of having a leader with a plan and military power.”

Politicus (GR) /

Pacifism à la carte

It's wrong to blame only Russia for the war, columnist and author Christoforos Kasdaglis writes on the website Politicus:

“People seem more interested in victory than in peace. In crushing Russia rather than saving Ukraine. They talk mainly about weapons and very little about diplomacy. And, perhaps most importantly, they are focusing solely on the current responsibilities for the war and ignoring the causes, not to mention the deeper consequences. To put it somewhat simplistically: I see people around me and hear voices in the media practising pacifism à la carte.”