Stian Jenssen, chief of staff to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, suggested in a panel discussion that Ukraine could be offered NATO membership in exchange for ceding territory to Russia, according to the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang. Under what conditions negotiations could begin would be up to Ukraine, Jenssen reportedly added. Kyiv described the remarks as unacceptable. Commentators weigh in.

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War rhetoric at a dead end

La Stampa (Italy) is glad to see NATO adopting a new tone:

“It seems to indicate that the adventurous war rhetoric that spread from the back benches in the West may have come to a dead end, namely the bitter limit imposed by the facts. ... Even a high-ranking NATO bureau chief has broken the taboo, shattering the postulate that the West had hitherto conceded to Zelensky without discussion: let's not talk, let's win! ... Instead, he has shared with the astonished journalists the possibility of the Ukraine war ending not with the destruction of the antichrist Putin, but an exchange of territory for security. This is not a farce or a slip of the tongue. It is a test to see how an excursion into reason will be received.”

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A wave of disinformation will follow

The Russian leadership will now work harder than ever to divide the West, The Daily Telegraph (UK) predicts:

“With opinion polls in Europe identifying a clear divide between those who want to maintain solidarity with the Ukrainian cause and those, especially citizens affected by the cost of living crisis, who back a negotiated settlement, there is undoubtedly fertile ground the Kremlin can exploit to exacerbate divisions within the Western alliance. In such circumstances, it would hardly be surprising if the Kremlin were to intensify its spying operations against the West. The more intelligence and information the Kremlin can glean about Western thinking on the Ukraine issue, the better equipped it will be to sow division and discord.”

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The West has also grown war-weary

The West will not be able to support Ukraine forever, says T24 (Turkey):

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“Since 22 Feb. 2022, US 'aid' for Ukraine alone has climbed to a total of $113 billion. And for Europe in particular, there are other problems besides the financial dimension, such as the restricted energy trade with Russia. Yet the West's goal is to stop, weaken and, if possible, oust Russian leader Vladimir Putin from power.... However, the economic problems and political turmoil in Western countries increasingly pose the question: how long will money continue to be poured into Ukraine?”

Too early to rethink the strategy

Commenting on 444.hu (Hingary), Russia expert András Rácz sees no reason why Ukraine should make compromises now:

“Assessments that already describe the counter-offensive as a blood-drenched failure are most likely unfounded. ... First, a lack of quick results does not equate to complete failure. ... Secondly, more than 50,000 Ukrainian soldiers have not even taken part in the counteroffensive operations yet, and most of the tanks received from the West have yet to be deployed. .... Third, Ukraine is constantly stepping up its attacks on Russian supply lines. This is relevant because there would be no reason to do this if the counter-offensive had already ended in certain defeat.”

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A fatal signal

Newspaper taz (Germany) is outraged:

“Just imagine what this scenario would actually mean for Ukraine - or what would be left of it - in practice. ... The Kremlin would be rewarded for its war of aggression against its neighbor which has left thousands dead and many areas completely devastated. The Ukrainians living in the occupied territories would be sacrificed. ... Apart from that: mind games such as land for 'peace' send a fatal signal to the Ukrainians. ... There is fear among the people that the West's support could crumble. Because Jenssen's message can also be read in that way. If these fears are realized, it would be a catastrophe.”

Membership becoming a concrete possibility

The proposal also has its good side, columnist Vitaly Portnikov writes on 24tv.ua (Ukraine):

“The very fact that the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO is being discussed during the war is a blessing for us. These discussions create a chance not only for Ukraine to win this war but also for Ukraine to remain a nation until this victory, and not just a page in the history books about the heroic struggle of the Ukrainian people against the Russian invasion. We don't need a history book, we need living people who are able to build a living Ukrainian state after this war.”

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Painful compromise no longer taboo

Despite Kyiv's rejection the scenario proposed by Jenssen will remain on the table, Liberal (Greece) predicts:

“Advisers to the Ukrainian president immediately issued statements calling the remark unacceptable and declaring that ceding territory in exchange for NATO would constitute a - deliberately brought about - defeat of democracy, an undermining of international law and the passing on of the war to future generations. Nonetheless, the debate has been initiated. ... While it is not the first time such a thought has arisen, Jenssen's statement to this effect seems at least to confirm that in the NATO corridors in Brussels a painful compromise for Kyiv is no longer taboo.”

Not without the Ukrainians' consent

Pravda (Slovakia) rejects the proposal on principle:

“Should Ukraine give up lost territory? For armchair generals and distant observers, this seems an obvious choice. However, the Ukrainian perspective is different and needs to be understood. We wouldn't want others to decide about things that affect us without us either. ... Since the probability of one side completely destroying the other is almost zero, there will be negotiations. The horror of war will end one day. But the question of which cards the players sit down at the table with is still open. We can only realistically think about compromise if the Ukrainians resign themselves to a loss of territory. Otherwise, all calls for surrender are misplaced, contemptible and cynical.”

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Comments ( 1)

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Nowa Jan
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Compromised Stiane Jenssen must be fired without delay. Why compromise with someone who doesn't have integrity? Integrity is everything. With more lethal economic sanctions and
lethal military attacks, Russia's economy and currency will collapse-Russia will implode-and then the Russians will force Putin and his heartless oligarchs to leave Russia if not destroy them. The very brave Ukrainian soldiers are very close to winning the Ukraine war. Patience is the number key to winning.

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