Foreign media digest 26 August 2014

Washington could have supported Kiev with serious military and other aid, and to bolster the front-line states – Poland and Baltic neighbors – by moving serious numbers of troops and equipment there. Washington doesn’t do that. The credibility of the Atlantic alliance is holed below the waterline. Without immediate and urgent salvage work, it will sink.
Wall Street Journal is criticizing Barak Obama by saying he is the worst president in the history of the Atlantic alliance. He has infuriated Europeans who don’t care about security and disappointed those who do. “His administration breaks rules, disdains allies and panders to foes,” the famous author Edward Lucas writes. “As a result, the standing of the U.S. in Europe has never been lower, and the world’s most important security relationship has never been in a worse state. The undeclared war in Ukraine has been a severe test of America’s engagement in Europe, and one that the country has largely failed, the edition thinks.

The member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board Matthew Kaminski makes a conclusion that a muddied compromise over Ukraine would be a moral and a strategic calamity for Europe and America. The likeliest result of a premature cease-fire is a festering “frozen conflict,” backlash from hardened national opinion, instability and trouble for years to weaken Ukraine’s democracy and European ambitions. In that case, Mr. Putin wins.
The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Poroshenko has resisted past German-initiated entreaties to stop his recently successful military advance and cut a deal. As he seems to know, nothing short of recovered Ukrainian control over its territory will fly at home. He needs to win this war on the ground. The likeliest result of a premature cease-fire is a festering “frozen conflict,” backlash from hardened national opinion, instability and trouble for years to weaken Ukraine’s democracy and European ambitions. In that case, Mr. Putin wins, the author writes.
Distracted by the Middle East, Washington has outsourced the Ukrainian file to Germany.
Whoever thinks that another German-Russian understanding will calm Europe’s bloodlands has a historical tin ear., – the author writes.

The former British minister of foreign affairs David Owen – There are four essential issues that have to be addressed at the meeting in Minsk: “a devolved government for eastern Ukraine. A full endorsement of all international agreements on air travel relating to Ukraine, Crimea and Russia. An agreement on all the issues surrounding the gas pipelines passing through Ukraine. Finally, though it may be too early for this, resolution of the international status of Crimea, perhaps along the lines of an indefinite international lease of Crimea to Russia along the lines of the US-Cuba agreement over Guantanamo.
The Guardian:
” If there is no agreement, there is a danger of, at the very least, going back to the cold war. But there is a deeper danger that a shooting war breaks out between Ukraine and Russia.” “The only person who can make sure there is a settlement is Putin.” “Any agreement must be accompanied by the immediate lifting of US and EU sanctions. This will clear the way for dealing with the acute crisis presented by Islamic State. Far more than Ukraine is at stake as we contemplate a resolution to this crisis on our doorstep,” Owen underlines.

Hopes that the dialogue will bring about any major improvement are slim.
The Guardian:
According to a motto shared in Moscow and Brussels, “there are no miracles awaiting”.
«Poroshenko realizes that the war is no way out. He also faces the unpleasant prospect of early parliamentary elections. The situation is in favor of negotiations,” the newspaper is quoting Konstantin Zatulin, the president of the Institue of the CIS (former Soviet countries). But that’s not everything. The Kremlin is also seeking assurances from Kiev or NATO that Ukraine will not join the Atlantic Alliance. But Figaro can’t see imagine how this promise could be realized.

Is France helping separatists?
Not only Russians help separatists. “French specialists” join them. The author writes that there is a small amount of Spanish, French and orthodox Serbians who decide to “defend the European socialist idea” at Donbas. But the city is flooded with “fully armed Chechen people”.

Guenther Oettinger: Sanctions are working. Russian companies have big problems with receiving credits in the EU countries.
“I do not think Russia’s President Vladimir Putin wants to use energy supplies as an instrument of his politics, EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger says.

NATO chief: Moscow may be using convoy to distract from military build-up.
The Financial Times:
“No doubt, the whole convoy approach serves the purpose, at least, to distract attention from possibly more overt military operations,” Mr Rasmussen said in an interview with the Financial Times. “The main reason I’m a bit more concerned now is that the Ukrainian military progress in the east might tempt the Russians to increase their support for the separatists in different ways. You can’t exclude that so-called humanitarian operations are a cover for a military intervention”, – the NATO chief said, noting that Kiev already supplies humanitarian aid to the region. Despite Nato’s condemnation of the convoy and the Russian military build-up, Mr Rasmussen said the main consequences the Kremlin would face would probably be economic rather than military, with the west contemplating more sanctions. Still, he noted that next week’s Nato summit would include measures aimed at bolstering defences in countries bordering Ukraine and Russia.