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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?

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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.

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Geopolitics

Minsk Never More: Lessons For The West About Negotiating With Putin

The longer the war in Ukraine continues, the louder calls will grow for a ceasefire . Stockholm-based analysts explain how the West can reach a viable deal on this: primarily by avoiding strategic mistakes from last time following the annexation of Crimea.

"War is not over" protests in London

Hugo von Essen, Andreas Umland

-Analysis-

Each new day the Russian assault on Ukraine continues, the wider and deeper is the global impact. And so with each day, there is more and more talk of a ceasefire. But just how and under what conditions such an agreement might be reached are wide open questions.

What is already clear, however, is that a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine must not repeat mistakes made since the open conflict between the two countries began more than eight years ago.

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Contrary to widespread opinion, the so-called Minsk ceasefire agreements of 2014-2015 were not meant as a definitive solution. And as we now know, they would not offer a path to peace. Instead, the accord negotiated in the Belarusian capital would indeed become part of the problem, as it fueled the aggressive Russian strategies that led to the escalation in 2022.

In early September 2014, the Ukrainian army suffered a crushing defeat at Ilovaisk against unmarked regular Russian ground forces. Fearing further losses, Kyiv agreed to negotiations with Moscow.

The Minsk Protocol (“Minsk I”) – followed shortly thereafter by a clarifying memorandum – baldly served Russian interests. For example, it envisaged a “decentralization” – i.e. Balkanization – of Ukraine. An uneasy truce came about; but the conflict was in no way resolved.

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