Header Ads Widget

Ukraine's Allies Divided As War With Russia Continues

Is it better to engage with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine or to isolate him? Should Kyiv make concessions to end the war, or would that embolden the Kremlin? Are ramped-up sanctions on Russia worth the collateral damage?

These are some of the questions testing the international alliance that swiftly rallied around Ukraine in the days after the Russian invasion but that, three months into the war, is straining, officials and diplomats told Reuters.

As Western governments grapple with spiralling inflation and energy costs, countries including Italy and Hungary have called for a quick ceasefire. That could pave the way for scaled-back sanctions and end the blockade of Ukrainian ports that has worsened a food security crisis for the world's poorest.

Yet Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics warn that Russia is not to be trusted and say a ceasefire would enable it to consolidate territorial wins, regroup and launch more attacks down the line.

The Russians have "spread the narrative that this would be an exhausting war, we should sit around the table and seek consensus," a senior Ukrainian official told Reuters.

U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has said he wants Russia "weakened" and President Joe Biden called for Putin to be prosecuted for war crimes. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Kyiv must not be strong-armed into accepting a bad peace deal and that Ukraine "must-win". read more

Germany and France have remained more ambiguous, vowing to stop Putin from winning rather than to defeat him, while at the same time backing tough new sanctions.

"The question being asked is whether we return to the Cold War or not. That's the difference between Biden, Johnson and us," an ally of French President Emmanuel Macron told Reuters.

Russia launched what it calls a "special operation" in Ukraine in February, saying it was needed to rid the country of dangerous nationalists and degrade Ukraine's military capabilities - aims the West denounced as a baseless pretext.

Moscow has since argued that military support from Washington and allies is dragging out the war and deterring Ukraine from peace talks. In March, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian, and recognise eastern separatist-held areas as independent states as a condition for peace.

The Ukrainian and French sources, and officials in other countries consulted by Reuters for this story, requested anonymity in order to speak freely about sensitive diplomatic and security policies.

Divisions could become more pronounced as sanctions and the war take a toll on the global economy, risking domestic backlashes and playing into Putin's hands.

"It was clear from the start it is going to get more and more difficult over time - the war fatigue is coming," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in an interview with CNN.

"There may be difference between those countries who have much better neighbours than we do, and those who have a different history like us, the Baltic countries, and Poland."

Post a Comment