Chance of peace through new direct talks?
For the first time in three weeks, Ukrainian and Russian delegations are coming together for direct face-to-face negotiations this week. Ukraine has said the minimum goal was to improve the humanitarian situation in the besieged cities, but has also indicated willingness to discuss neutrality. Some commentators discuss whether there is a chance that these negotiations could lead to a quick ceasefire. Others advise Ukraine not to rush things.
Things are moving
Inspired by historian Tatiana Parkhalina, journalist Danila Babkin points to a glimmer of hope for the negotiations on the website of Radio Kommersant FM:
“Most recently, the delegations have only met online, which was explained with the desire to save time travelling to and from the meeting. Now both sides have taken that time. This means that things are moving forward. Two other factors also play a role: the extraordinary Nato summit, at which it was decided to massively strengthen Nato's eastern flank and to continue to support Ukraine. And the announcement that [the eastern Ukrainian separatist regions] LNR and DNR want to hold referendums on their accession to Russia.”
Russian delegation without decision-making power
Commenting in La Stampa, Rosa Balfour, head of the think tank Carnegie Europe, holds out little hope that the negotiations will be successful:
“The Russian delegation taking part in the talks is of secondary importance and has no influence whatsoever on the decision-making inner circle around Putin. Not even Kremlin spokesman Peskov and Foreign Minister Lavrov seem to have a direct line to the president. It is hard to imagine that the Russian delegation could propose or accept anything at this stage of the war.”
Don't rush into bad peace deal with the butcher
Ukraine's negotiating position is getting stronger by the day, Postimees points out:
“One of the obvious successes is that the negotiations are taking place in Turkey and no longer in Belarus, where they started a month ago. Ukraine needs peace to alleviate human suffering, but quick negotiations are much more in Russia's interest. Truly substantive negotiations, however, can only begin when the Russian position is no longer dictated by Putin. Until then, Western politicians should not force Ukraine into a bad peace and should not give Russia any hopes of dismantling sanctions as long as the 'butcher' is in power.”
Any chance must be seized
We'll soon know whether the negotiations will be a success, The Irish Independent is confident:
“If these remarks [Zelensky's announcement about neutrality and giving up territory in Donbas] are not sufficient to bring solid momentum to discussions, Moscow is not serious about a settlement. Putin clearly did not prepare for the expense or the fallout of a protracted war of attrition. But realistically, given the enormous imbalance of military resources and Putin's proven ruthlessness, grounds for optimism are probably premature. Nonetheless, if the contours of some kind of settlement can be set, every effort must be made to find them. ... Any chance to find a way out of this war must be seized, whatever the misgivings.”