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communication breakdown
War of the Peace Talks

The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France met in Berlin to try to establish the terms necessary to go ahead with a planned meeting of their countries’ leaders in Kazakhstan. It didn’t go well, as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports:

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier…said the meeting had been a “very open exchange” but did not produce the results needed for the countries to go ahead with a meeting of leaders this week in Kazakhstan. […]

In a joint statement, the four ministers also called on the contact group of Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to meet to try and make progress on implementing a much-violated Ukraine peace deal drawn up in September, including creating the “relevant conditions for an effective cease-fire.”

If this is done, it would “pave the way to the preparation of a successful summit meeting” in Kazakhstan, they wrote.

The fact that they failed to come to good enough terms even to talk in Kazakhstan says a lot about Russia’s willingness to let the situation in Ukraine deteriorate. European leaders, especially in France, Germany, and Italy, have been sending pretty loud signals that they want an excuse, any excuse, to drop the sanctions on Russia when they expire in March and June.

If Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov had given them something to hang their hat on, some vaguely credible sign that the Minsk ceasefire would start to be observed, it’s unlikely the talks would have ended in failure. But as has been the case since Russia first invaded Ukraine, giving Putin “off-ramps” that he can take to wind down the crisis turns out not to be worth the effort. He just keeps driving on by.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Among the scenarios for the cause of this debacle are the Ukrainian government’s utterly stupid putting the country on a path toward NATO membership (a poke in the Bear’s eye) and, given that it did so, the French and German foreign ministers not telling Lavrov that failure to implement the peace agreement by withdrawing support for the rebels would result in a prompt invitation to Ukraine to join NATO. Putin has calculated that Europe is impotent, and until Europe is prepared to take steps to change that impression, he’s right.

  • Corlyss

    “European leaders have been signalling that they will take any face-saving opportunity to wind down sanctions.”

    Oh, Doofus and Putin, those twin fans of leftist statist tyrannical bulls*h*I*t will be MORE than eager to help Europe come up with those opportunities. What a disgrace!

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Strategy is to “Speak softly and carry a Big Stick”, the most important part of that formula is to “Carry a Big Stick”. The Europeans have been looting their militaries to pay for the welfare state for so long that for all practical purposes they no longer have a defense that can even protect themselves, not to mention projecting power outside their own borders. Russia and Putin justly treat their wishes with contempt as unworthy even of talking.

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