Ukraine and Russia negotiate in Turkey

Talks between Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba are under way in Turkey today in the first meeting between high-ranking representatives of the two countries since the war began. In Europe's commentary columns expectations that the meeting will be fruitful remain low.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

Balancing act for Ankara

Turkey maintains relations with both warring parties. A difficult role, De Volkskrant observes:

“A lot is at stake for Turkey. Half of its energy supply comes from Russian gas. It has ordered the S-400 air defence system from Moscow. The volume of mutual trade is large, and normally Turkey is visited by 5 million Russian tourists a year. ... Russia can also make life difficult for the Turks in Syria. ... So this means a balancing act for Ankara. On the one hand Turkey is sticking to Nato's course: it has closed the Bosporus to Russian warships and even supplied Ukraine with drones, which are now being successfully used against Russian tanks and army vehicles. On the other hand, it wants to keep Moscow as a friend.”

T24 (TR) /

Nor ready for peace yet

Both sides would have to make concessions, explains Volkan Vural, former Turkish ambassador to the Soviet Union and Russia, in T24:

“To end this war, both sides need to get to a point where they are not focused on achieving all their goals but on meeting their basic requirements. ... Admittedly, both parties do not appear to be ready for such an agreement. On the contrary, Russia continues its military attacks while Ukraine is demonstrating its determination to resist. ... If Russia doesn't experience a change that allows for flexibility, dark scenarios such as an even more devastating war and the collapse of the global economy await our world.”

NV (UA) /

West leaving Kyiv little room to manoeuvre

Ukraine will probably have to accept Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's proposal to avoid an even worse scenario, Russian opposition political analyst Andrey Piontkovsky comments on NV:

“Roughly speaking, Moscow [if it supports the Bennett plan] will renounce the occupation of all Ukraine and keep Donetsk, Luhansk oblast and Crimea, while Ukraine pledges not to join Nato, declares its neutrality and, so to speak, resigns itself to Crimea and the Donbass remaining Russian. That sounds a lot like capitulation. But Ukraine can hardly be blamed for this. Because this is being offered on the very same day that the West is literally demonstrating its helplessness and unwillingness to defend Ukraine even minimally.”