Foreign media digest 4 August 2014

Some Western media insist on the necessity to renew the dialogue with Russia.

Ex-ministers for foreign affairs of Russia and Great Britain insist on starting a dialogue between EU and Eurasian Union.
The International New York Times:
Ivanov, Rifkind and other members of the working group, created by European Leadership Network, the Russian International Affairs Council and other security think tanks in Europe, consider three further sets of measures are necessary, apart from some sort of accommodation in Ukraine itself. First, there needs to be a concerted effort by all parties to ensure military and political restraint not only inside Ukraine, but outside as well. Political leaders should review their military rules of engagement to ensure restraint at all levels of command and to reduce any potential for an actual exchange of fire. Similarly, Russia and the West both need to use all their respective influence to ensure that there are no flare-ups in any of the other frozen conflicts in the region. Second, as authors state, we badly need to improve military-to-military communication and engagement between NATO and Russian commands. Third, there is a need to keep alive some direct dialogue between Russia and the West. The NATO-Russia Council was set up to enable contact and communication between the two sides when the relationship was better. But given the current circumstances, it should meet more frequently, not less.
Sanctions are not a solution for the crisis – special coordinator of German government for Russia policy.
Die Zeit:
“There is no way to solve the conflict through military measures, though it is possible for political ones” – said Gernot Erler, special coordinator of German government for Russia policy. Erler is concerned that the solution is possible if Ukrainian party of the conflict will cease fire. “Illusions as to Putin’s behavior towards separatists are fruitless, – continue the author. – The requirements of the West are clear and justified: to stop the supply of weapons, money and soldiers to separatists and to close the border! But can you imagine that Putin will agree with these requirements and will wait to see what will happen?”. “My personal belief is that military solution should be ruled out. It should be followed by immediate cease of fire and accountable control over it. Ukraine should be granted with immediate midterm program of technical assistance in a format of the Marshall plan. We cannot allow somebody to be a loser. This is a herculean work for the western diplomacy”.

If prorussian rebels are to be defeated, the Kremlin is likely to start an invasion in Ukraine.
Tony Brenton, British former ambassador to Moscow, is disappointed with Britain’s position towards crisis in Ukraine: “as the costs to us go up the likelihood that the Russians will listen to us goes down”. David Cameron “is plainly setting himself up as cheerleader for the “we must stop the bear” tendency”. Some of this is sensible, writes Brenton, – “But his comparison last week of Putin’s tactics with those of the Nazis pointlessly (and inaccurately) pricked the bear in its least forgiving spot”. Meanwhile the Russian-backed rebels are losing. “…but it is pushing Russia towards a dangerous decision point. If the rebels are defeated, the Kremlin will lose one of its key holds on Ukraine, and Putin’s standing will be shaken”. The author is concerned that Russia does not want to invade east Ukraine, but “they are gradually being dragged towards doing so”. The risk of the West itself being pulled into military involvement in Ukraine is very high. This means that Angela Merkel, the one Western leader who has taken a relatively rational approach to this crisis, and the only one to whom Putin listens, needs to get back on the phone to him. After taking the inevitable tirade on the subject of sanctions, she needs to resume her pressure for an internationally observed ceasefire and talks on an agreed way forward for Ukraine. Even though the Russian bottom line looks manageable, and a generous aid offer to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko should help get him on board.

The danger of military intervention to Ukraine is one of key topics in western media.

We are not sure about full-fledged reaction of Russia to newly imposed sanctions as well as the level of success of Ukrainian antiterrorist operation. That’s why I am not ready to speak about the end of the war – MEP Pavel Koval.
“I think that various forms of Russian pressure will be more intensive”, – said Koval. Consequently, Koval appeal to western countries to enhance the military support for Ukraine.
Belgian media cites Gernot Erler, special coordinator of German government for Russia policy, who warned about “direct military intervention by Russia”.
The scale of the crisis increased after the Malaysia airplane was shot down on 17 July over separatist-held territory in Ukraine killing all passengers on board. Russia’s failure to help secure the crashsite afterwards hardened attitudes further. Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, used a speech on 1 August commemorating the outbreak of WW1 to remind Europe that “peace is fragile”.

British government goes harsh towards Russia

Cameron: NATO must review its relationship with Russia.
The Wall Street Journal:
WSJ reminds about NATO Summit, which will be held on 4-5, September in Great Britain. In his letter the Prime Minister identifies five priority topics for discussion at the upcoming event: a response to Russia’s actions, financial support for Afghan forces, increasing of spending on defense, the obligation to cooperate with countries that share democratic values and creation of Charter, supporting NATO troops and their families.
“Despite Mr Cameron’s tough talk, analysis commissioned by senior military personnel in June suggested that Britain’s defence spending would soon fall below Nato’s target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product. The Ministry of Defence disputed the claim”, – goes in the article.
British troops will be located in Eastern Europe to deter Russians – Cameron.
The Sunday Times:
“Military chiefs are drawing up plans for hundreds of British troops to be deployed as part of a “persistent presence” in eastern Europe to deter Russian aggression”.
NATO Eyes Rapid Response Force to Counter Threats From Russia, Deputy Commander Says Force Would Include Air and Ground Units
The Wall Street Journal:
The Pentagon informed the Congress about plans to increase the amount of money spent on strengthening the defense of the Ukrainian army up to 19 million dollars.
The Washington Times:
The new level of support simply indicates that the United States “is desperately looking to be able to provide the Ukrainians with something” useful and not too sensitive, Mr. Ganyard said. That way, if the equipment is confiscated by the Russians, the Ukrainians will not be giving its adversary a military advantage, he said. Steve Ganyard is National Security analyst and president of Avascent International.
Czech Foreign Minister said that Russia should be “punished” for destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. If we fail to restrain Russia, it might encourage Moscow to repeat such actions in other European countries.
The Wall Street Journal:
Czech officials, like their counterparts in Austria and Germany, were cautious about sanctions against Moscow in order to do no harm for business ties between the EU and Russia, the newspaper notes. However, after MH-17 crash Czech position became more radical. “Russia has become unpredictable,” – said Zaoralek, Czech minister for foreign affairs.