Salem AlKetbi: Will Europe negotiate with Russia?


In a statement, the full features and dimensions of which have not yet been clarified, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow is ready to discuss ways to resolve the crisis in relations with the EU if the Europeans initiate real independent efforts aimed at ensuring the interests of European citizens in isolation from constant adherence to American diktat.

At first glance, this idea may seem like an attempt by Russia to drive a wedge between NATO allies, that is, between Washington and its European allies, who are paying the heaviest, most sensitive and influential price in the Ukrainian crisis. A closer look, however, may reveal, among other things, that the US is not standing in the way of seeking a political solution to the crisis.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan urged Ukrainian President Zelensky to express a position reflecting a desire to end the conflict diplomatically in order to maintain the support of European allies, US media reported.

There is no doubt that channels of communication between the US and Russia have not been interrupted throughout the previous period, despite the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. US strategic reports still consider China, not Russia, to be the main strategic adversary.

Therefore, it can be expected that Washington will be inclined to cool the Ukrainian crisis to a certain extent and open the door for the Kremlin if it wants to end the war, provided a formula satisfactory to the Ukrainian side is reached.

Europeans may also be close or identify with the US position, in particular with regard to the consequences of the energy crisis and the growing public pressure in favor of dialogue with Russia.

So, the American obstacle to Europe’s acceptance of dialogue with Russia does not really exist, and what Washington wants has for the most part been achieved, especially with regard to exposing the limits of Russian military capabilities and the collapse of the Russian army in a way that would make it difficult for it to repeat intervention in Ukraine for many years to come.

Many analysts believe that Washington’s goal in urging the Ukrainian side to express its willingness to negotiate is to gain the support of other countries and to maintain existing European support.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s refusal to negotiate with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is sparking anger in most countries around the world, whose economies are suffering from the continuation of the war. In a sense, the American position here is a deceptive maneuver to gain diplomatic points.

However, I believe that this position should be viewed from several perspectives, the main one being that the issue of agreeing to negotiations is a self-evident issue that strengthens the position of either side.

In addition to this acceptance and its purpose, I believe that Washington fully anticipates Congress’ refusal to continue to support Ukraine, and Washington already fears cracks in the European ranks over Ukraine’s refusal to negotiate with the Kremlin in any way.

There is clearly a tendency to discuss ending this war, especially after it has achieved many of its strategic objectives for the US and its allies. Interestingly, events developed after the Ukrainian president signed a decree on Oct. 4 declaring that any negotiations with President Putin had become “impossible;” negotiations with Russia were only possible if a new president came to power.

This puts us in front of possibilities that are linked to each other. The main one is that the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman threw the ball into the court of the Europeans not only to cause a rift in transatlantic relations.

But also to urge them to continue resolving the crisis with Russia and to stay away from the intransigence of the Ukrainian president or to put pressure on him to give up his position.

At the same time, the US position can also be understood in light of Washington’s concern about the continuation of the war and the bleeding of US military resources and equipment it causes, as well as the illogical position of the Ukrainian president, who completely refuses to negotiate with his Russian counterpart.

To sum up, we can say that the Russian and American positions, in particular, show a kind of implicit rapprochement, albeit distant, that has not yet crystallized. But all of these signs will certainly not lead to a rupture in relations between the transatlantic allies.

There is already a deep crisis of trust that will persist for some time between Russia and European countries after the Russian military operation in Ukraine. In addition, Europe needs to maintain a strong allied relationship with the US so that what happened in Ukraine is not repeated for other EU countries.

Therefore, it is hard to expect Europe to turn its back on its American ally under the current realities and circumstances. It is also difficult to start a dialogue with Russia without Washington’s approval. Therefore, Russian talk about the need for Europe to move away from “submission to American dictate” is unlikely to achieve its goal.

Russia has not made a single gesture of goodwill that could polarize the European position or even lighten it.

Its reliance on growing popular protests in some European countries demanding dialogue with Russia is not guaranteed, and its success will require the initiation of real positive Russian steps that will embarrass European governments before their peoples and push them to seek a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis.

What is important in these signs is that there is a mutual openness, even at the level of words rather than deeds, to the idea of seeking a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis. It is definitely too early to look for a way out of this war. But being open to the idea is a good thing, although it may take a lot of time, pressure, escalation, and so on.


The author is an UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate. He can he found on twitter at @salemalketbieng


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