Ukraine war: does Russia want to negotiate?
While Ukraine is reporting territorial gains in the south, Russia continues to attack Ukrainian targets and negotiations seem a long way off. Previous peace proposals, for example from China, have met with little response — also because they envisage ceding territory to Russia, which Ukraine rejects. Now signals from Moscow indicate an increased interest in negotiations. Commentators discuss the stakes.
The Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti argues in favour of a negotiated settlement:
“Our enemies see that a peace agreement would be advantageous for Russia and are therefore rejecting all the plans — the Chinese, the Indonesian and the African — one after another. And our self-styled patriots are sure that a peace agreement is bound to be a deceitful deal. They too criticise all proposals in advance. Our enemies are trying to drag out the Ukraine conflict in order to exhaust Russia; the Great Patriotic War also ruined us, after all. ... Our patriots are demanding much the same thing — to fight relentlessly until the border with Poland is reached. But let us be realistic.”
Kremlin considering buying territory from Ukraine
Political scientist Nikolai Mitrokhin sees Ria Novosti’s statements on Facebook as an indication of a change of course in Russia’s leadership:
“A few months ago, the idea of a buy-off was also voiced by [editor-in-chief of the Russian state broadcaster RT Margarita] Simonyan. That is, the Russian leadership could be considering putting an end to the war with a contract by which Ukraine would be paid for all territorial acquisitions. ... As can be gathered from the text, Putin (or an influential group in Russia’s political leadership, with which Simonjan and the Ria Novosti author align themselves) does not want any significant new losses on the Russian side. But he is also not prepared to give up what he has conquered, and is therefore planning a deal along the lines of paying blood money.”
Negotiations out of the question
Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of Office of the President of Ukraine, writes on Gordonua.com:
“Unlearned lessons from history have a tendency to repeat themselves. ... The current Russian regime is the result of 20 years of misguided policies of the West vis-à-vis Russia. ... There is only one way to learn this lesson today: unite into a single fist, defeat Moscow, punish war criminals and restore respect for international law. Any attempt to tolerate aggression, any attempt to go back to business as usual and sit down at the negotiating table will legalise genocide as an instrument of international relations and make our planet a much more dangerous place.”
Time is on Moscow’s side
Ukraine is under pressure to succeed fast, political analyst Valentin Naumescu comments on Spotmedia:
“As the conflict is prolonged (or frozen), the empathy of Western audiences and especially their confidence in total victory could dwindle. This could gradually make us believe that we are witnessing a new territorial reality and a new status quo. The Russians have always relied on the fait accompli policy and the West’s subsequent acceptance of the new reality. And there are many in Western Europe who would like to return to ‘business as usual’ as far as economic and trade relations with Russia are concerned.”
Enormous war damage
The exorbitant costs of rebuilding Ukraine continue to rise, Večernji list points out:
“At a major conference in London yesterday, the UK, the US and the European Union promised billions for the reconstruction of Ukraine. ... To start with, the country needs 40 billion dollars to finance the first part of the ‘green Marshall Plan’. ... Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would give Ukraine 50 billion euros between 2024 and 2027. The war damage is enormous. The World Bank, the European Commission and United Nations estimated it at 411 billion dollars for the first year of the war alone in March. But that figure could very easily rise to more than one trillion in the near future.”