October 3, 2022

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Michel: Putin says no. The war between the United States and the European Union

From the lead in Brussels. Although the attack on the field continues unabated, we are back on the topic. This is certainly a positive fact, even if yesterday’s diplomatic contacts did not lead to tangible results. The Kremlin has rejected Kyiv (and Brussels)’s request for a truce for the Orthodox Easter, with humanitarian corridors open from the besieged Ukrainian cities, which wants Ukrainian soldiers to surrender first.

Yesterday there were “several long talks” between the head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, and the Ukrainian delegation, David Arachhamiya. But above all there was an important connection at the highest level, between Vladimir Putin and Charles Michel. The Russian president and the European Council president stayed on the phone for ninety minutes: a confrontation that the EU leader’s entourage defined as “frank and direct”, underscoring the level of tension in the question and answer. Many aspects were addressed, but it was not possible to find a meeting point in any of them. In fact, the phone call was an opportunity to accuse each other of a series of accusations. Thus, at the end of the day, a senior EU official clarified that at the moment there is only one certainty: “Russia will intensify attacks in eastern Ukraine and on the southern coast,” which is why “the next two weeks could be decisive.”

However, yesterday’s phone call also indicates a significant change in the attitude of Vladimir Putin towards the European Union, which is fully recognized as an actor and interlocutor. Or at least this is the reading given in the Brussels premises, where a high-ranking source reveals that the Kremlin chief “has repeatedly addressed EU actions regarding, for example, military support for Ukraine or sanctions options: before the war he would not have expressed himself.” In this way.” Putin has always tried to reduce and divide the role of the European Union and to conduct direct bilateral contacts with the leaders of individual countries. However, yesterday the union spoke with one voice, Charles Michel, and Putin recognized its legitimacy. The same source acknowledges “Thanks to him this unity took root.”

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The phone call between the two came after Michel’s visit to Kyiv. According to what was possible to rebuild through cross-sources, the President of the European Council very clearly emphasized the “unacceptability” of this war and violations of international law and listed the costs that Russia would have to bear for its “aggression”. . And the interlocutor responded, calling the statements of EU leaders “irresponsible” who demanded a military solution to the conflict (Michel himself said in Kyiv: “We want Ukraine to win.” At that time, the President of the European Council accused him of miscalculating Moscow, which on the one hand had hoped for The invasion of Kyiv within 48 hours on the other hand aimed to divide the European Union, but also huge and unexpected military losses. It did so – as a senior EU official explained – “to fill the information gap that seems to exist about Putin.” Pointing out that the feeling is that senior Russian officials “do not share all the information” with him, and therefore Putin has a far-fetched perception of the situation. This is Michel referred to. He also noted that the EU’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity remains “steadfast”. According to the information provided by Leaked by the Kremlin, Putin responded by saying that Brussels should instead “use its influence to stop the bombing of Kyiv in the Donbass” and stop “tolerating the Russophobia that manifests itself in the cultural and sports fields.”

Michel then made several concrete requests to the head of the Kremlin: to allow a truce for Orthodox Easter, with the opening of humanitarian corridors from Mariupol and other cities under siege, and to accept a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky. Putin said no to both. Regarding the humanitarian corridors in Mariupol, he reiterated that he first wanted to hand over Ukrainian soldiers “which Kyiv is preventing,” and in the meeting with the Ukrainian president, he said that this would not be possible until the two foreign ministers involved reached an agreement on peace. But the Russian Sergei Lavrov admitted that the negotiations were “on hold”. So the spaces for a diplomatic solution are becoming increasingly narrow, even if the Secretary-General of the United Nations – Antonio Guterres – goes on Tuesday to Moscow to meet with Putin. In the same hours, the Western Front will continue to operate at the military level: The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, has invited all his colleagues from the allied nations to a meeting at the US base in Ramstein, Germany, to discuss support for Tuesday. In Kyiv, even in the post-war period.

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