Should the EU continue to talk to Vladimir Putinwho in Brussels is considered solely responsible for the brutal and unjustified aggression against Ukraine? This issue has caused a real schism between European leaders. France, Germany or Italy defend that dialogue with the Russian president is essential to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible or for Moscow to unblock Ukrainian cereal exports.
In contrast, the Baltic countries argue that the staging of Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz or Mario Draghi does nothing more than legitimize Putin. In his opinion, the EU should concentrate all its efforts on arming Ukraine so that Russia loses the war and not on forcing a ceasefire that the Russian president could interpret as a victory.
This division has been exposed during the extraordinary summit that concluded this Tuesday in Brussels. Over there, Baltic leaders have particularly lashed out at Macron and Scholz, who last Saturday had a long conversation with Putin without any concrete results. The French president and the German chancellor are also criticized for not having visited kyiv yet to show their solidarity with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in person.
“I do not see what is the point of talking to someone who is committing genocide in the neighboring country. Putin will speak when he feels that he is losing, and that should be our goal. But the perception of public opinion in each country is different. In the Baltic countries we have a perception, and perhaps in Germany, Italy, Spain or Portugal the perception is different”, said the Prime Minister of Latvia, Krisjanis Karins.
“I would welcome any conversations or phone calls with anyone if they yield any results. Unfortunately, our sad experience shows that they have not yielded any results. And probably the opposite has happened: that Russia feels legitimized by these talks. For having the opportunity to speak freely with the leaders of Western Europe, not promising anything, doing nothing and simply deceiving them,” complained the Lithuanian president, Nauseda Gypsies.
“This is why I am really skeptical about these efforts. I appreciate them because I know their intention is good. But unfortunately the result is obvious and we have to draw some conclusions from that,” Nauseda said.
At the opposite end of the debate, the French president has defended himself against criticism and has argued that the EU has to continue talking to Moscow, although it will always be the kyiv government that has the last word on a ceasefire. “Those who have to negotiate are the Ukrainians and the Russians the day they decide so and the day there is a real ceasefire,” Macron said.
“But as Europeans we will be guarantor parties of the process, so it is normal to engage with each party and continue discussing. For all these reasons, I approve of speaking with Vladimir Putin on a regular basis, in full transparency with Zelensky“, insists the French president.
Also Pedro Sanchez sees it necessary to maintain dialogue with the Russian president. “We have to be tough and forceful in the response, but at the same time tWe have to have an open diplomatic channel so that hostilities can be ceased, a ceasefire and peace can be achieved in Ukraine”, the President of the Government pointed out.
In his opinion, Europe “has to be sitting at the table” when the peace talks between Moscow and kyiv take place. A role that Germany and France have already played in the past in the so-called ‘Normandy format’. Of course, Putin must be aware at all times “that economic sanctions will not end until the last Russian soldier leaves UkraineSanchez maintains.
Dialogue with Putin also serves to countering disinformation narratives about the war being spread by the Kremlin in other countries around the world suffering from rising energy prices or food shortages. “It is important that (these countries) see that Europe is an actor that wants and seeks peace, an end to the invasion and a solution to this conflict that only has one aggressor, who is President Putin”, the President of the Government pointed out.
“All wars – he continued – have a diplomatic channel that never has to be closed”. In any case, the President of the Government admits that the defense of dialogue with Russia is not a unanimous position within the European Union. “There are countries that do not agree with this strategy. There are countries that have a much more assertive position with respect to RussiaSanchez points out.