Will we be able to find calm relations with Russia?

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The Russian-led war in Ukraine has led to extreme diplomatic tension between Westerners and Russians. How should relations with Russia be conceived in the future?

This is a question that European leaders are beginning to think about, but the answer is currently complex. Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, we have rather logically witnessed a deterioration in relations between the European Union and Russia. Considered as an aggressor of extreme brutalitythe country is subject to severe sanctions, aggravated by Russian military operations and the suffering of Ukrainian civilians.

The exchanges are tense and hostile. However, two phenomena should be noted: first, the most serious sanctions have not yet been taken against Moscow, in particular, the failure to accept more Russian gas. A measure that would be painful for Europeans, hence the current procrastination, but also for the Russian economy.

► Read also: Ukraine: EU imposes new sanctions against Russia, including a coal embargo

So, the dialogue, if it is tense, tense, cold, that dialogue does not break. Diplomatic relations, at their lowest level, of course, remain in force. So much for the current state of these relationships. During the weeks, the months, even the years to come, everything will depend first of all on the evolution of the war itself. The bloodier and more brutal it is, the more difficult it will be to talk to Vladimir Putin.

A total rupture that is not possible

However, can we think of completely breaking off dialogue, if not with Vladimir Putin, then at least with the Russian people? History and geography respond not to this hypothesis. Russia is part of the European continent, at least up to the Urals. Trade, as we can clearly see right now, is very important. In short, the interpenetration of the two blocs is too important to foresee a complete break.

It is not the first time that a European power has disturbed order in the Old Continent. We can cite Napoleon’s France or, more recently, Hitler’s Germany. In both cases, it was necessary to defeat these powers militarily before rebuilding a relationship with them and reintegrating them into the European diplomatic game.

A fragile and increasingly difficult communication channel

But in the case of today’s Russia, the situation is different. Simply because this state has nuclear weapons, the ultimate weapon that Putin has threatened to use on several occasions. And this is what makes the situation very complicated. Westerners know very well that if they confront Russia directly, the risk of world war is very real.

And, paradoxically, it is because we cannot engage in this direct confrontation with Russia that we still have to maintain a channel of communication with Moscow. A fragile and increasingly difficult channel as the abuses committed by Russian soldiers in various Ukrainian towns are revealed. But a channel anyway, because with or without Putin, it will be necessary (but when?) to get out of this absurd war through a political negotiation on Ukraine and, more broadly, on the architecture of reinforced security for the entire European continent.

© RFI

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