War diplomacy: does Kissinger have a point?

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger talked about ways to end the war in Ukraine. A humiliating defeat for Moscow would be dangerous, whereas territorial concessions to Russia would be an investment in long-term peace on the continent, he said. This elicits fierce reactions from Europe's commentators.

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Pravda (SK) /

History teaches us the opposite

Although they may appeal to some, Kissinger's ideas could not be more wrong, Pravda writes:

“What guarantees does Ukraine have that Russia will not invade again, after unhesitatingly doing so twice already? ... The response of President Zelensky, who compared such ideas with the Munich Betrayal [of 1938], is to the point. Back then politicians naively believed that Hitler would be content if they sacrificed parts of the Czechoslovak border areas inhabited by Germans and allowed the Sudetenland to be annexed by the German Reich. We know that rather than preventing the war this had the opposite effect. The paper negotiated by Chamberlain in Munich is a good reminder that this is not the way to conduct foreign policy.”

Novinky.cz (CZ) /

We would be next

Novinky.cz also feels reminded of Munich 1938 by Kissinger's words:

“There are many in the West who want to make things easy for Putin and warn that he must not lose face. Now Kissinger too. The leitmotif is the same: let's give him what he wants, let's have our peace. But what about the Ukrainians? ... Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger has rightly warned: 'We are next in line. If the Ukrainians don't win, we know that Russia will go further. We need to understand that, especially in the European Union.' What would prevent Putin from repeating the process - with the Baltic states, Slovakia or the Czech Republic?”

Večernji list (HR) /

Kissinger is right

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger presented a pragmatic vision for a peaceful solution in Ukraine, finds Večernji list:

“Henry Kissinger believes that the West must stop trying to defeat Russia, because this could lead to an even bigger war. He also belives that Ukraine should cede part of its territory to Russia. ... Kissinger pointed to long-term relations between Europe and Russia: Europe's leaders must not lose sight of the fact that any other course will lead to lasting destabilisation of Europe and a restructuring of the European power hierarchy. He also pointed to the danger of a permanent alliance being created between Russia and China.”

NV (UA) /

New Central European avant-garde

Europe has what it takes to become a geopolitical player, writes Ukrainian ex-Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in NV:

“Central Europe has realised: Putin, who sits in the Kremlin like Koshchei [an ugly and immortal figure of Russian mythology] wants to catapult all of Nato back to the way it was in 1997. Central Europe knows it must act and has recognised its power. Old Europe must grasp as soon as possible that in this world it is cooler together with the new Europe. Only together, with this willingness to move forward and fight for itself, does Europe stand a chance in global geopolitics. Otherwise it will end up on the periphery. ... This is a unique chance, and it can come from Ukraine. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this, especially in Paris.”

Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

Vilnius should show more gratitude towards Berlin

Lietuvos rytas says Lithuania is being impertinent:

“The principle is: we are the smartest, we understand Russian chauvinism better than all of you and know best what is going on in the world now - and those who think otherwise are just useful (for Putin, of course) idiots. One may sympathise with the Ukrainian ambassador in Germany and admire the Germans for having the patience not to have sent him home yet. ... However, forgiving the bleeding Ukrainians is one thing, but forgiving the Lithuanians who practically live off Berlin is quite another matter. ... Germany has sent the most soldiers to defend Lithuania and is now the biggest donor. ... Isn't it insolent to keep going on now about the Germans being stupid, cowardly and toadies to Putin?”

France Inter (FR) /

Zelensky on the negotiations front

For France Inter, the move towards diplomacy is a step in the right direction:

“The realism displayed by the Ukrainian president contrasts with the idea of a purely military victory that some had imagined and proclaimed out loud in recent weeks. However, serious negotiations do not seem likely any time soon because the logic of weapons appears to still prevail. But in fact there is another front in this war, that of public diplomacy, of the signals - at times contradictory - that each side sends. President Zelensky's statement is one of them.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Reaching out

Italy has submitted a plan for peace in Ukraine to the UN. La Repubbica draws hope:

“The four key points of the plan offer a framework for the start of talks on a ceasefire, including the formation of a maritime corridor, with the prospect of a gradual reduction of sanctions in return for concrete Russian steps. ... The principle of Ukraine's territorial integrity can be maintained but Crimea could be left off the agenda, as Zelensky also hinted yesterday. The plan grants Putin the prospect of a conference to redefine the balance of power in Europe, an indispensable condition for the Kremlin. The precondition is a ceasefire, but that seems to be the most difficult aspect today.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

No to peace at any price

Former Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna warns in Eesti Päevaleht against forcing an end to the war in Ukraine:

“Some ledaers want peace at any price to assuage their consciences about the many civilian casualties. They hope that once peace has been established they can get back to business as usual. Estonia has offered Ukraine strong support both militarily, financially and in terms of values, and has declared that what is happening is genocide. We must call on the West not to tire of the war and seek the easy path by imposing peace at any cost. Estonia must formulate the West's strategic goal and defend it everywhere. That goal is a world without Putin's Russia, so that it can never threaten us again.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

West divided over how to respond

Unfortunately the West is not working together to find ways to end the war in Ukraine, The Daily Telegraph laments:

“For all the talk of the West acting in concert, when it comes to responding to Putin's aggression, the picture is far more fractious - and becoming more so. ... So the Western alliance is not as cohesive as we might like to think. Yes, we have been shocked by Putin this year. Yes we have been appalled by his actions. But about the question of what to do? That remains deeply unclear. The West is united in horror. But we are divided over what to do in its face.”