When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Ideas

Should We Even Be Talking With Putin?

The leaders of key EU countries have been on the phone with Vladimir Putin since the war in Ukraine began. Weighing the costs, benefits...and morals...of leaving the door open to a man who brutally invaded a sovereign nation — and taking Munich 1938 as a starting point.

Protest against Putin in Frankfurt​

Protest against Putin in Frankfurt

Bartosz T. Wieliński

WARSAW— Should world leaders get on the phone with Vladimir Putin, who bears full responsibility for unleashing a criminal war? Why listen to demands from a man letting Russian soldiers in Ukraine commit murder, rape, pillage, bomb cities and destroy food supplies?

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

There are many outraged voices, saying a hard and clear: No. France's Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Olaf Scholz, and Austria's Karl Nehammer are being accused of naivety, of trying to appease the dictator. It is as if the leaders had forgotten the Munich Conference of 1938, when the West threw Czechoslovakia at Hitler's mercy, are naively hoping to prevent war with the Third Reich.


Ukraine is not and will not be a second Czechoslovakia. The West has already paid billions for its defense.

Trump and Kim

It is not just the supply of arms that has enabled the Ukrainians to drive the Russians away from Kyiv and Kharkiv, and now slowing their push in the Donbas. It is also the withdrawal from Russia of Western corporations, severing trade ties, giving up cheap Russian energy resources, which disrupts Russia's funds.

But this is an investment for the future. If Ukrainians do not stop Putin's troops now, the Baltic states and Poland will have to face them at some point. And giving up Russian coal, oil and gas will bring breakthroughs in the energy sector sooner rather than later.

But is it necessary to talk to Putin? Half of the countries in the world are autocratic regimes and many are ruled by criminals. Let us recall that a few years ago President Donald Trump personally negotiated with Kim Jong-un.

Chamberlain (Left) in Munich with Hitler and Mussolini.

en.m.wikipedia.org

The true value of diplomacy

Talks with Western leaders — even if they yield no results — are a way to directly send a message to Putin that the West will not be intimidated or divided, that those guilty of crimes will be punished, and that if Russia does not withdraw from Ukraine, it will face an economic catastrophe.

There is no way to end this war other than diplomatically.

This is important because there is information coming from Russia that Putin has been lied to by his close circle about the situation in Ukraine and the West's reaction.

The fate of the war is now being decided by the Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting the Russians in a tough battle in Donbas or near Kherson. And when Russia, exhausted by the war and sanctions, is ready for ceasefire talks, the communication channels created by Macron, Scholz and Nehammer will come in handy. There is no way to end this war other than diplomatically.

So is talking to Putin necessary? Well, that's what diplomacy is all about.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Important Things: A Rare Unfiltered Look Inside Russian Schools

In Russian schools, lessons on "important things" are a compulsory hour pushing state propaganda. But not everyone is buying it. Independent Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii spoke to teachers, parents and students about how they see patriotism and Putin's mobilization.

Important Things: A Rare Unfiltered Look Inside Russian Schools

High school students attending a seminar in Tambov, Russia

Vazhnyye Istorii

MOSCOW — On March 1, schools found themselves on the ideological front line of the Russian-Ukrainian war. At the end of May, teachers were told they would have to lead classes with students called "Lessons about important things." The topic was "patriotism and civic education."

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

At the beginning of November, we learned about the revival of an elementary military training course for senior classes. In the teaching materials sent to the teachers, it was stated that a "special peacekeeping operation was going on, the purpose of which was to restrain the nationalists who oppress the Russian-speaking population."

Independent Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii asked several teachers, students and parents about their experiences with the school's attempt to instill patriotism and Russia's partial mobilization of citizens.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest