La Brève – Has the war reached the diplomatic stage? – EURACTIV.com
This week marks a resumption of international diplomatic activity by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The question is whether this signals a desire to find a diplomatic solution to the war he started in Ukraine.
On his first trip abroad since ordering the invasion, Putin will visit two small former Soviet states in Central Asia. He will also meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo for talks in Moscow. Indonesia is the current chair of the G20, and its president will also visit Kyiv, seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Putin has every interest in ending the war he started. But this statement does not mean much. All analysts who have made predictions based on what is in Putin’s – and Russia’s – perceived interest have been wrong.
By renewing foreign visits and face-to-face meetings with visiting leaders, Putin is showing that he is not an international pariah, that his health is not as bad as some speculated, and that he does not Didn’t become a hypochondriac, as the long table he sat at visiting French President Emmanuel Macron suggested.
Putin would also like to test some of his political ideas, such as creating an anti-Western coalition, replacing the dollar and the SWIFT system with something else, and finding markets where Russia can send its resources that the West no longer wants to buy.
And whenever possible, to circumvent Western sanctions via friendly regimes.
We assume Putin isn’t looking for mediators at this point, but he might want to have pawns ready, just in case.
There are two reasons to assume that the war in Ukraine will last a long time, as NATO has warned.
The first is that Russia thinks a long war is in its interest.
For those who remember the lessons of World War II, its beginning was disastrous for the Soviet Union. However, in the long run, the country mobilized all its resources and the Red Army could have crossed Europe to Lisbon if the Western allies had not opened a second front in Normandy.
The Kremlin might (still) believe that war will erode the West, especially after a brutal winter in which not all EU countries will have enough gas. Putin assumes that our societies are softer and more vulnerable to difficulties than Russia. He may be right.
The second reason is that Washington also seems to think that they have everything to gain from this long war because they believe (and they may be wrong) that the sanctions will exhaust Russia, that it will not be able to manufacture all the weapons it needs, and that the psychological wear and tear would lead to regime change.
It may sound cynical, but since American soldiers don’t die, Washington is okay with the long-term scenario.
The European approach would be different – if there was one.
If Russia and the United States are on board for the long war, and as long as Ukraine continues to believe in victory (in the sense that the Russian army would be driven out of all Ukrainian territory), it will happen.
If the war (which is entering a low intensity phase) kills 200 soldiers per day on each side, this gives an advantage to Russia, which has a larger population. But of course, the motivation of the Ukrainians, who defend their country against an aggressor, is much stronger.
Could the societies of Russia and Ukraine accept that each lost the lives of 73,000 young men this year? Or 219,000 over three years?
Military specialists use a ratio of one to three to calculate the number of servicemen crippled in war. 219,000 soldiers killed means 657,000 others injured.
The human toll has so far failed to shake either Russia or Ukraine. But Ukraine belongs to our civilization, which claims to place human life at the top of values. This is not the case in Russia (under the tsars, in the Soviet Union and under Putin), where this honor is reserved for the interests of the leader.
Diplomacy could save many lives. European diplomacy should have an essential role in this conflict. Unfortunately, at this point, that’s wishful thinking.
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Pay attention to…
- G7 Summit at Schloss Elmau until Tuesday.
- Environment Council in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
- European Central Bank Forum on Central Banking in Sintra, Portugal until Wednesday.
- NATO summit in Madrid Tuesday-Thursday.
The views are those of the author.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]