The Russian-American talks opened in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday. Eight hours of head-to-head which did not lead to great progress, Russia as the United States remain on their positions. On Europe 1, the editorialist Vincent Hervouët even speaks of a “piece of wooden language at the time of press briefings”.
The mechanics of the info is like an infernal machine, it produces frustration. She beats the drum before the event and after, we don’t know more. All weekend, Ukraine on the front page. Yesterday, in the headlines, the Russians and the Americans in the ring. We saw the ballet of official convoys, the Swiss all happy, Geneva at the center of the world, it’s a return to the past. And then, end of the suspense, a good real piece of waffle at the time of the press briefings. We misunderstand, we retain nothing. The carriage turned into a pumpkin.
Everyone stays on their positions
Russian Deputy Minister Sergei Ryabkov repeats that there was never a plan to invade Ukraine. The 100,000 soldiers at the border with heavy weapons are obviously for self-defense. US Deputy Minister Wendy Sherman brandishes huge sanctions in case of invasion. All that, already said, and several times and on all the keys and always in vain.
But the Russian is satisfied, he says that the Americans take his proposals seriously. It is grosso modo the Finnishization of Ukraine, that NATO is disappearing from the horizon. The American says the opposite, that NATO will maintain its open door policy, but that reciprocal measures likely to improve strategic stability are on the table, one wonders which ones… In short, they leave each other happy, because they decided to meet again and diplomats are like that, they hate war, they like the ambiguity that makes long-term negotiations.
Result: will they put it back?
This role play suits them. Vladimir Putin wants to be taken seriously by Americans. Reconnecting with the tete-a-tete he knew in the glorious days of his childhood in the Komsomols. He put 100,000 men on the border and it works! He phoned Joe Biden twice last month.
Looks like Ukraine is made for this. The Kremlin will never allow her to be sovereign. NATO will never go to war for Ukraine.
The Donbass, an endless war
That’s the first thing left unsaid. The second is that nobody wants Donbass. Kiev does not have a penny to invest in this ruined corner, populated by hostile Russian speakers. And the Russians only want to keep it as a means of pressure on the Ukrainians, to prevent them from throwing themselves on the necks of the American generals.
“Whatever the solution, it must go through Europe,” said European Commission President Ursula Van der Leyen on Saturday. There were two absent yesterday in Geneva. The absent are always wrong. The Ukrainian leaders out of the game, whereas they are the first concerned, and Europe undesirable. While it is directly involved, the conflict is at its border.
France and Germany had succeeded in 2015 in negotiating a ceasefire, with Russia and Ukraine. It was the Normandy format that gave the Minsk 2 agreements. But for Europe to continue to play a role, the agreement of the 25 other Europeans was needed, they preferred to rely on the Americans.
The irony is that we keep daydreaming, chanting, calling for European strategic autonomy when there is less and less of it, that the Russians and Americans are doing without us and without us ask permission.