Is there any possibility of a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine?
Twelve months into Russia's war in Ukraine, efforts to find a diplomatic solution appear to have ground to a halt.
“We are facing a paradox that we weren't prepared for,” Judy Dempsey, a senior analyst at Carnegie Europe, told Euronews. “Moscow and Kyiv do not speak to each other, but Russia and Ukraine have never been so diplomatically active. Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov is in Africa to strengthen relations and extend Russian influence over countries rich in resources such as rare earths. Even Volodymir Zelenskyy for his part has begun his umpteenth diplomatic tour of European capitals after being in Washington. It almost seems that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is serving to clarify the areas of influence at a global level, outlining what the world of tomorrow could be”.
"Some mistakes were certainly made on the Ukrainian side at the beginning of the conflict", said Jaroslava Barbieri, a professor at the University of Birmingham, "especially during the meetings in Istanbul when the Kyiv government balked at its request to be part of NATO. However, as things went later, after the Bucha massacres, Ukrainian public opinion united behind its own executive."
Errors were made on both sides, François Gere, president of the French Institute of Strategic Analysis in Paris, told Euronews. “No one expected Russia to actually mount an operation of this scale trying to take Kyiv. I'm quite sceptical about a diplomatic response. Europe is still too divided and too weak politically, France with President Emmanuel Macron tried to convince President Putin to discuss, but without success. NATO's behaviour has sometimes been unclear and moreover Moscow sees the Atlantic Alliance as smoke screens. And not even the UN can do anything due to the establishment of the Security Council which includes Russia and China, allies and with the right of veto. I don't think that at this stage there is the slightest diplomatic glimmer."
Ball in Putin's court
Putin's attacks on Kyiv and the bombing of cities like Lviv, in the extreme west of the Ukraine, have pushed many to no longer believe the Kremlin's initial declaration of wanting to liberate the Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine. "Discussing diplomatically with the Russian president has become difficult because no one has really understood what Putin wants", continued Judy Dempsey, "since the beginning of the conflict he has changed his requests too many times and now the international chancelleries, at least in the West, no longer believe in the good faith of the Russian leader.”