Meeting in Istanbul: a first step toward peace?

There were signs of rapprochement in the negotiations on the Ukraine war on Tuesday. Russia said it plans to reduce its attacks on Kyiv and concentrate on eastern Ukraine. Ukraine formulated conditions for agreeing to neutrality, including the establishment of a group of states that will guarantee the country's security. Europe's press remains very sceptical.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

No one wants to pledge defence against Moscow

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cannot imagine how international security guarantees for a neutral Ukraine could be enforced:

“Apart from the question of whether such an arrangement would be compatible with Putin's hegemonic claims, it is uncertain whether Western states in particular would now make a binding commitment to provide Ukraine with military assistance. Berlin's insinuations speak volumes in this regard. The West cannot extricate itself from the strategic dilemma it has been facing since it promised Ukraine Nato accession in 2008, but never followed through on it. The security that Ukraine demands and deserves must be enforced against Russia. But no one is willing to do that.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Talks are not necessarily progress

The key question is how honestly both sides are negotiating, Jutarnji list writes:

“Do the Ukrainian-Russian talks in Istanbul present a real possibility of ending the conflict and signing a peace compromise, or are they just a cover to show that attempts are being made? This is first and foremost a question for the Russian side, which sometimes strengthens, sometimes weakens its position and constantly adapts it to the situation on the front in the hope that the Western sanctions, which are slowly but surely wearing down the Russian economy, will be eased. The latest round of negotiations has not shown that the parties are on the path to an agreement. But they have allowed each side to present them as a success to their own public.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

Key issues not yet clarified

Russia must not dictate the conditions for peace, Turun Sanomat stresses:

“Peace is still a long way off, because the most important issues have not yet been resolved. ... Putin needs an honourable peace that he can present as a victory. Since a return to the situation at the beginning of the year is impossible, the most important questions for Russia are the fate of eastern Ukraine and Crimea. If Russia achieves its goal, it will have changed the borders of a sovereign state through military action, which is deplored by the West. ... To end the people's suffering, a ceasefire is needed in Ukraine. Peace is the best solution, but it must not be dictated by Russia.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Question mark over country's approval

Whether Ukrainians will give up their quest for Nato membership is questionable, says Corriere della Sera:

“The idea would be to create a mechanism similar to Article 5, which governs Nato's collective defence: an attack on Ukrainian territory would trigger an automatic reaction by the guarantors. However, the necessary constitutional amendment in Ukraine and the referendum to which the possible agreement would have to be subjected are likely to pose problems: will the Ukrainian parliament and people be willing to cede on neutrality after so much destruction?”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Theory conflicts with reality

Commenting in Ukrayinska Pravda, former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko takes a dim view of the proposals:

“They offer us a kind of collective guarantee. Three days after an aggression, China and Israel, Poland and Italy, Turkey and Britain will step in to defend us. But how will they do this in a foreign country with logistics and landscape unknown to them, with different standards and interests? Especially since manoeuvres can only take place if all the guarantor states agree, in other words, with the consent of the aggressor country Russia. Holding a referendum in a situation of war, occupation and with 10 million refugees is absurd. To do so before the withdrawal of the Russian-fascist troops is a crime.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Massive air strikes looming

Handelsblatt does not believe the negotiations will be successful:

“It may be that the ground offensive has come to a standstill for the time being. But there are many indications that Putin is merely regrouping his forces, changing his plans. ... Putin was too confident of victory, too convinced of the superiority of his army - and he underestimated the Ukrainians' resistance. Putin has ruined Russia's reputation and done great economic damage to his country - all for minimal land gains? No, that is unlikely. it is more likely that he will now say: we have negotiated, Ukraine has not ceded enough, the time has come for the very big war, with massive air strikes as a prelude.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Do not forget those in eastern Ukraine

The withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kyiv area is bad news for some Ukrainians, the Tages-Anzeiger points out:

“Should Moscow implement what it has announced, it would be a blessing for the city of Kyiv and an extremely respectable success for the Ukrainian army. But for south-eastern Ukraine where the fighting is already at its fiercest, all-out war is likely to break out: in the besieged and desperate Mariupol, for example, or in the embattled regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. ... The unprecedented wave of solidarity throughout Europe, which also thrives on the fact that the war in all its brutality is visible to all, could quickly subside if the prospect of an endless regional conflict looms far to the east.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Ukraine has demonstrated its strength

If Russia's attacks are concentrated in the east of the country this could shift the conflict in Ukraine's favour, Adevărul believes:

“This would also bring relief for the Ukrainian army in Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa and other areas and enable it to march towards the Donbass. And if it was able to defy the Russians in large-scale operations, it will do even better in more restricted areas. ... In Istanbul there was talk of Ukraine's military and nuclear neutrality, its accession to the EU but not to Nato. In view of the military aid it has received so far, the country no longer needs Nato accession for the time being.”

ABC (ES) /

Don't opt for short-lived peace

ABC warns against giving in too quickly:

“The illusion of peace may be tempting to an exhausted world. ... Western pragmatism already led to the ceding of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 at the expense of a Ukraine to which Moscow is now offering a negotiated way out for Donbass. ... As things stand, the Kremlin's greatest failure is not its uncertain military retreat in Ukraine but its clash with the common front of a Europe that has been made stronger by its resolve in the face of Russian totalitarianism. Giving in, as it has done in the past, would be the shortest route to a reassuring but short-lived peace.”