Ukraine: are new negotiations on the cards?

US Defense Secretary LLoyd Austin and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday had their first conversation since the war began. The EU is also stepping up diplomatic efforts: leading politicians are visiting Kyiv and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron are pushing for a ceasefire as a basis for negotiations. Commentators voice doubts that these efforts will succeed.

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Phileleftheros (CY) /

A deadlock situation and no will for peace

Political scientist Stephanos Konstantinidis writes in Phileleftheros:

“There are no serious attempts to end the war, no serious attempts at dialogue between the United States and Russia, because the war is essentially being fought between these two countries. Europe, now colonised, is hiding behind the Americans and shooting itself in the foot. China is watching carefully, because it knows that this war serves its own interests. And a few dozen other countries that once sided with the American empire are refusing to break off their relations with Russia. ... The international system is multipolar and each country pursues the policy it believes best serves its own interests.”

La Stampa (IT) /

A chance for reflection

At least there is a glimmer of hope for a ceasefire, La Stampa believes:

“Finally something is happening. With Lloyd Austin's phone call to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the US has taken a step that seemed impossible just a few days ago. Let us take courage from this hope, however faint, and free ourselves for a moment from the nightmare of war. A ceasefire is no more than a wish for peace, nevertheless it allows us to reflect on the time after, on the time longed for by everyone, when the weapons stop blasting and violence gives way to diplomacy. For the first time, we can at least try to imagine the challenges Ukraine will face when reconstruction begins.”

Új Szó (SK) /

Outcome completely open

Hope of victory on both sides is keeping the conflict alive, observes foreign policy expert Botond Feledy in Új Szó:

“Time is an important factor on both sides. ... In the coming months it will become clear who can better use this time to their own advantage. ... The game has by no means been decided. And it is precisely because of the open possibilities that the two warring parties have an interest in continuing the conflict. Both can hope that with cunning they will be able to get luck on their side. So we should not expect the summer to bring peace.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Moscow needs to end the conflict

Radio Kommersant FM sees an urgent need for Russia to engage in negotiations in view of a looming economic crisis:

“Twenty percent inflation is already guaranteed this year. After that it will probably get better. ... However, it's difficult to forecast anything with a high degree of probability at the moment. Why? Because there is no clear understanding of how long the sanctions will last or whether - and in what form - they will be extended. Will our former partners change their minds? It would be good if all this ended in 2024 - but what if it doesn't? No matter how you look at it, much, if not everything, depends on a solution to the Ukraine question. And there is no reason for excessive optimism, at least not as things stand today.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Avert global famine

Kathimerini also calls for negotiations:

“Led by Washington, the West continues to pursue a policy of absolute isolation of the Russian invader, although it realised quite quickly that this failed to create an environment of global isolation. There must be exits on both sides of this motorway of war and devastation, and a strategy for reaching them. This is all the more true given that the global crisis [of famine and poverty] is worsening at an alarming rate. ... So how can we break the deadlock and counter Putin's - in Biden's words - dangerous unpredictability? With urgent negotiations on the sole condition of an immediate ceasefire.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Seek a ceasefire first

La Stampa pins its hopes on the EU as a mediator:

“The first essential basis for a relaunch is agreeing on a ceasefire, and the interlocutor that seems most credible at this stage is no longer Erdoğan's Turkey but the European Union. ... So assuming that the events of the coming days will help to raise the profile of the European Union as a possible mediator, what form should these negotiations take? This is what European diplomacy - especially that which operates between Kyiv and the various capitals - is focused on in order to create a road map with a ceasefire at the top of the agenda.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Europe can prove its strength here

Rome, Paris and Berlin are visibly moving towards a diplomatic solution, La Repubblica comments enthusiastically:

“The real Europe that counts beyond formal definitions is moving together and with a very clear vision to relaunch a negotiated solution to the conflict and prevent Putin from concealing the failure of his own goals behind an endless and dangerous war of attrition. This will not be easy. However, a factor in favour of the mission undertaken by Macron, Draghi and Scholz is the fact that the invasion of Ukraine has reopened the debate on the fate of Europe itself, which is being forced to reposition itself in the global order that will emerge when this crisis ends.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

Kyiv needs clear perspectives from the EU

Aid for Ukraine is not limited to the delivery of weapons, writes the Salzburger Nachrichten:

“In fact the geostrategic course is being set in Europe for a potential post-war order. For one thing, there are the debates about Ukraine's accelerated accession to the EU. ... France's President Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, is insisting on sticking to the usual procedures that could take 'decades'. ... No one is asking for a list of items to tick off. What is needed is astute ideas. Macron is thinking about creating a new 'political community' to complement the EU, in which there could be a premium place for Ukraine. This may sound rather nebulous, but it points in the right direction.”

Observador (PT) /

The war could go on for years

Commenting in Observador, security policy expert João Marques de Almeida holds out little hope that negotiations will bring peace:

“At the moment, no one has any interest in peace. Russia and Ukraine both want to win and refuse to accept the current situation on the ground. I would go even further. I don't believe Putin will ever sign a peace agreement with a Ukrainian government, whatever that government may look like. It is worth remembering that the first phase of the war, running from 2014 to February this year, lasted eight years, and it was never possible to sign a peace treaty. There will only be peace in Ukraine if Putin relinquishes power in Russia. But it could be years before that day comes.” (UA) /

Ukraine has more staying power

Russia is betting on a long war but it will lose in the end, writes exiled Russian sociologist Igor Eidman on

“Putin believes that with more resources he can defeat Ukraine in a war of attrition. However these hopes are in vain. Russia is rapidly exhausting its military potential and has nowhere to wait for supplies, while Ukraine can still pin its hopes on the virtually unlimited military and economic resources of the US and Nato. Over decades - starting with the Israeli-Arab wars - Western weapons have defeated Soviet and Russian ones. This is also the case in Ukraine.”