A series of dilemmas are coming into sharp focus especially as regards to security guarantees alliance members might be able to offer Kyiv. Also, over which conditions could be deemed acceptable by Ukraine for any accord with the war now in its second month.
According to discussions that have taken place in the past week there are divergences between leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, over what further weapons to send Ukraine, and on the question of whether talking to President Vladimir Putin is helpful or not.
After U.S. President Joe Biden said that Putin couldn’t remain in power,some of those differences spilled into the open over the weekend after heavy criticism.
President Emmanuel Macron told French television when asked about Biden’s remarks: “We shouldn’t escalate, with words or actions, to avoid a military confrontation, the aim is to achieve a cease-fire now and then the withdrawal of Russian troops via diplomatic means.”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s chief spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, told reporters on Monday that in view of the horrible pictures that we currently have to stomach now for several days and actually weeks, the highest priority for now is to be able to reach a cease-fire so that the killing can stop.
Last week, Scholz cautioned against any rushed moves, such as abandoning the NATO-Russia Founding Act. Nixing that agreement would permanently shut the door on Moscow and remove binding commitments on troop deployments for both sides.
Germany’s government sees the possibility that the Founding Act and its guidelines could still be needed some day. Ditching it would be a symbolic gesture that wouldn’t help stop the war. At the end of the day, allies will have to find a way to deal with Putin whether they like it or not. Russia has burned all bridges of cooperation for the foreseeable future.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is expected to talk to Putin this week, and will call for a cease-fire and humanitarian corridors.
President Macron has said he is talking to Putin because Zelenskiy asked him to, as well as to try to secure humanitarian corridors. A diplomat said that Macron could also convey information to the Russian president about how badly the war was going for his troops, as those around him were likely cocooning him from reality.
Other NATO members believe the dialog that Paris and Berlin are pursuing with the Kremlin is counterproductive and could play into Putin’s hands.
The U.K., Poland and other central and eastern European nations are skeptical that Russia’s president is serious about negotiating an acceptable peace deal.
Polish President Andrzej Duda asked the other leaders at the NATO summit if they really believed that negotiations on the terms put forward by Putin could succeed and were acceptable.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was similarly skeptical of Putin’s intentions. Ahead of the meeting, Johnson told reporters that Putin had already crossed a red line with his actions in Ukraine. Putin says one thing and does another and so that is the imperative that we judge him and his regime based on how they act.