Ukraine war: what comes next?

After a week of war, the crisis in Ukraine has taken on ever more dramatic proportions. Several major cities were targeted by heavy air attacks last night, and the southern city of Kherson has fallen to the Russian forces. Ukrainian and Russian representatives are now to meet for a new round of talks in Belarus. Europe's press examines to what extent Putin has his back to the wall.

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Denník N (SK) /

Subjugation is impossible

Writing in Denník N, columnist and security expert Edward Lucas analyses the reasons for Russia's slow progress despite its military superiority:

“Russian military personnel were told that their mission was an innocent exercise or a noble mission to save compatriots. Now they are realising that they are supposed to be shooting at Ukrainian grandmothers, bombing kindergartens and besieging towns full of people like themselves. Firing missiles is one thing, but killing people face to face is another. ... The first desertions by soldiers and commanders could trigger an avalanche. Russia can still capture or destroy a few Ukrainian cities, but it will not subjugate Ukraine.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

The power of freedom

Gazeta Wyborcza is pleasantly surprised by the West's response:

“It took less than a week and already we find ourselves in a completely new world. The gloomy decadence of the democratic West has ended. The free world has awakened and is better than it seemed. ... Nato is not a paper tiger. ... Rude autocrats may pull on its whiskers and rattle its cage with a stick, for the wisdom of the West is based on calm and cautious restraint. But those who step on the free world's tail learn the power of freedom.”

Krónika (RO) /

A completely different way of fighting

The fight against Putin must be fought with tough and unusual weapons, Krónika warns:

“There are no sanctions that would be tough enough to make Putin waver even for a moment. Economic and financial sanctions can only work in a world that functions according to certain rules. The Russian president has left this framework ... The biggest question is to what extent Nato and the Western world are prepared for this kind of struggle. ... Are they also prepared for the fact that as a result of their actions taken against Putin, who is openly and proudly assuming the role of the vandal, they may be left freezing in their own homes?”

Sega (BG) /

No turning back for Putin

No matter how the fighting ends, Putin has already lost the war, Sega concludes:

“Putin started the war under the pretext of denazifying Ukraine, but the world realised that the only thing that harks back to the Nazi era is his behaviour. As can be seen on the banners of many anti-war protests around the world, he is being compared to Adolf Hitler as an instigator of war. People see him as the ultimate evil, raising the ire of the entire world. His only refuge is power, so he will cling to it ever more desperately. When he leaves the Kremlin, his path will lead directly to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they are already waiting for him.”

Večernje novosti (RS) /

Europe must not become a US colony

The pro-government paper Večernje novosti says the war will also have far-reaching consequences for Europe's sovereignty:

“The selfish goals of a power thousands of kilometres away from Europe have brought Europe to the brink of a war far bigger than that which we are seeing right now in Ukraine. Whether we accept it or not, this conflict is spilling over into all of Europe, but even the US won't be safe in its distant paradise. ... Europe must now decide whether it will make sovereign and independent decisions or become a puppet union, a US colony whose decisions are made in Washington.”