The stand-off between Ukraine and Russia is a powder keg. But while we must, at all costs, stop it blowing up into a war, it’s also vital that Germany and the EU learn to be more co-operative with “our big neighbour to the East”, says Michael Kretschmer in Die Welt. For a start, Russia hasn’t much national debt and plenty of currency reserves, so it’s a good trading partner. And though we can “kiss goodbye to the illusion” it will ever be a western-style democracy, it’s stable at least. Friendlier relations would also “contribute to peace in Europe”. Thirty years ago, the Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev and German chancellor Helmut Kohl had a vision of Europe “from the Atlantic to Vladivostok”.
That’s unlikely right now, but to ditch it altogether would “drive Russia further into the arms of China” and instead create a sphere of influence from the South China Sea to the Baltic Sea. Of course Russia would have to abandon any such idea to become closer to Europe. But the US would also have to stop “making the prospect of a friendlier Russia and Europe more difficult” – which is what they’re doing by opposing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Yes, we need to be able to talk tough to Russia, but we also need dialogue and vision. Whatever happens, “we must avoid war and a new Iron Curtain”.
Why it matters
We are right to feel uneasy about taking on Russia over Ukraine, says Peter Hitchens in The Mail on Sunday. Say the US had lost the Cold War and Moscow was now trying to detach Texas and California, seized as they were by armed force from Mexico in the 1840s. Only America’s “superpower status” has stopped this grab from being questioned in the same way Russia’s former hold over Ukraine and the Baltic states was questioned after 1989.
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