Summits in Brussels: strength or powerlessness?

On Thursday, the representatives of Nato, the EU and the G7 met in Brussels, primarily to discuss their course of action with the war in Ukraine. Ahead of the meeting, Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky had once again asked for heavy weapons. This request will not be fulfilled but the Nato members did agree on massive weapons deliveries to Ukraine. The European press evaluates the summit meeting.

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Polityka (PL) /

A nightmare for Putin

Polityka puts in:

“A bad day for Vladimir Putin. Not only because one month after he started the war against Ukraine he can neither defeat it nor force it to accept his demands; not only because on this day he lost at least two warships in an occupied Ukrainian port; on top of all that he also got a 'gift' from Nato in the form of more and better armed troops near his borders. ... This must be a nightmare for him, considering that when he started this war which contravenes international law he cited two main objectives: subjugating Ukraine and pushing back Nato.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Nato more alive than ever

El Mundo stresses the great responsibility the military alliance now faces:

“The largest military organisation in history, whose very raison d'être is to protect the democratic order and avert the totalitarian threat, must use its power responsibly when a nuclear-armed, psychopathic imperialist like Vladimir Putin is on the other side of the border. ... Everything has changed and today Nato is more alive than ever to defend the values for which Ukraine is fighting and Russia is invading. ... The war will face the liberal democracies with new tests of resolve and sacrifice. ... We must be up to the challenge.”

Denník N (SK) /

The West is reaching its limits

Denník N sums up the day of summits in Brussels:

“In addition to strengthening their eastern front, the Nato leaders agreed to provide Ukraine with anti-tank and air defence systems as well as drones. But they will stop short of supplying fighter jets. Things were even less satisfying as far as the EU goes. Even before the summit, the heads of state and government were divided on the issue of a Russian energy embargo. While the Latvian prime minister said the Union should agree to an embargo, the Dutch PM refused to stop imports of Russian oil and gas and made it clear that he did not anticipate an agreement on new sanctions. The West seems to be slowly reaching its limits. The indignation remains, but it is unwilling to run an even greater risk.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Disturbing powerlessness

The fear of escalation is leaving the anti-Russian coalition with its hands tied, Le Soir laments:

“'The step too far that makes everything spiral out of control'? ... Nato, G7, the EU - all evoke the possibility of a Russian biological, chemical or nuclear attack. One month after Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine no one can say that a turnaround is on the horizon. And while images of unspeakable horror from Ukraine reach us on a daily basis, the virtual world tour of Ukrainian President Zelensky repeating his unsatisfied demands sends a disturbing message of powerlessness day after day.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Restraint is important

For the pro-government Magyar Nemzet, Nato's not wanting to get directly involved in the conflict is a sensible stance:

“A sober decision was made in Brussels. Nato stands by Ukraine, but is trying to prevent the war from spreading to Nato territory. The Hungarian position that the country will not supply weapons to the neighbouring country and will not allow any arms shipments to pass through has been accepted. ... We don't know what the future holds with this war, but we [Hungary] don't want to get dragged into it.”

Vzglyad (RU) /

Poland has its eye on western Ukraine

The pro-Kremlin website Wsgljad accuses the Polish government of acting with evil intent with its calls for a military peace mission:

“Experts are not ruling out the total disintegration of Ukraine - and then, some in Poland hope, it can be suggested to Russia that the Russophobic western part of the country be put under Polish control. If the Kremlin agrees, Warsaw could station its peacekeeping troops there, securing a mandate over the territory. ... There is also an even more dramatic version: the territory of Ukraine cannot remain 'masterless' for long if the state disintegrates. ... In this case Warsaw would have the right to propose to the territories under Western administration that they 'self-determinedly' become part of Poland.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

The hour of truth

The summit will show just how committed the US is to Nato, Le Figaro stresses:

“Like his predecessor Donald Trump, Joe Biden didn't want to save the world, and certainly not Europe. ... Now comes the moment of truth: will the US return to Europe, even if it means neglecting the challenge posed by China? Or will it give its allies to understand that it's time for them to get along without the US's help? Nato's very raison d'être is at stake: what future can a military alliance have if it is so afraid of war that it does not draw a red line for the enemy? Making Putin understand that he does not hold all the cards would be the best way to protect ourselves.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

A geopolitical gift for Biden

Biden expects Europe to be ready to defend itself now, says Corriere della Sera:

“With Putin's invocation of nuclear weapons, the idea that one can defend oneself with 'soft power', with the quality of one's own civilisation, has been dismissed as a fairy tale of the past. ... For Biden, this is truly a geopolitical gift. Thanks to Putin, he will have less reason to suspect that any ally is playing a double game. He can thus delegate more responsibility for the continent's defence to the Europeans, allowing him to focus more on the crucial challenge with China while retaining the indispensable leadership role in Nato.”

hvg (HU) /

Hungary is worried

Hvg sees Nato as the only hope in a worst-case scenario:

“What is the difference [between Hungary and Ukraine]? That Hungary is a Nato member? Yes, that is the difference. But is that enough? Would those who now take the position that we shouldn't close the airspace [over Ukraine] because that would risk an unpredictable escalation of the war think differently if we were talking about Nato member Hungary? ... We can only hope so, because that is our only hope.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Nato not the only option

Nato states are not bound by Nato in their decisions, Ukrayinska Pravda editor Serhiy Sydorenko and Ukraina Analytica editor-in-chief Hanna Schelest stress:

“If the US, Poland or the UK wanted to enter the war on our side, they would not need a new alliance to do so. Nato member states are free to decide for themselves on this matter and can do so without the consent of the allies. Unfortunately, in practice they don't even want to provide us with aircraft, on the simple grounds that Ukraine is not a member of Nato.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Sceptics not necessarily Putinists

The overwhelming support for Nato membership is having a detrimental effect on the debate in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat complains:

“As public opinion changed, a new problem emerged in the Nato debate: Nato opponents became afraid to speak out. ... Nato supporters loudly proclaim how they feel, but many of those who were against Nato in the past are now biting their tongues. This may be out of caution or fear. In the current heated atmosphere, Nato sceptics are quickly labelled Putinists. Nato membership may be a wise decision, but there are also serious arguments against it. So we should continue listening to both sides.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Why only after disaster has struck?

The Western democracies are late in showing their unity, Dagens Nyheter comments:

“Putin is not the only authoritarian leader challenging the international order. Xi Jinping also hopes to play Europe and the US off against each other. ... There was no need to wait for an acute crisis for Washington and Brussels to find common ground. Would Putin have started the invasion if he had realised that the West's reaction would be this united, swift and strong? Or would it have deterred him? It's hard to dismiss the thought that showing unity only after disaster has struck comes at a very high price.”