After the sham referendums in four Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian troops, Putin is due to sign the corresponding accession treaties this Friday. Formal accession of the four regions to the Russian Federation is to follow a few days later. For Europe’s press the annexation contravenes international law and marks the beginning of a new, ominous phase in the war.

Today, Europe’s press debates the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are some opinions from a selection of European publications, presented by eurotopics.

Little is going according to plan for Putin

In raising the stakes Putin is also putting himself under pressure, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“If his forces were defeated in these areas, he could no longer sell this as a mere regrouping. He would then have lost Russian territories. Another question will be whether the jubilation over the annexation will be able to drown out the Russians’ anger over the mobilisation. … The so-called accession of new territories is Putin’s biggest trump card as far as the mood in the country is concerned. But the enthusiasm threatens to fizzle out in the chaos of mobilisation. Perhaps that’s why the Kremlin hesitated for so long in confirming Friday as the accession date. Little seems to be going according to plan for Putin at the moment.”

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A terrible new dimension

Current developments are paving the way for the use of nuclear weapons, La Stampa comments:

Kremlin Updates Vladimir Putin’s Official Hagiography
Other Topics of Interest

Kremlin Updates Vladimir Putin’s Official Hagiography

The Kremlin’s press secretary announced on TASS that the website ‘biography’ for Russia’s head of state has been brought up to date from the previous version’s 2018 cut-off.

“From today on this will no longer be the war we have experienced so far. … All this because of a referendum that has no legal validity due to the conditions under which it was held and its arbitrary, unilateral character. But that doesn’t change the fact that it triggers Putin’s nuclear blackmail: From now on if you attack Donbas or the Russian-controlled strip along the coast it will be as if you had attacked Moscow or St. Petersburg, and we have the right to defend ourselves with nuclear weapons.”

Aiming for total destruction

Russia will now aim for the total destruction of Ukraine, Adevărul believes:

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“Russia has the ability to target command and power centres in the capital Kyiv as well as other major cities with missiles. It can destroy power transmission nodes. It can burst dams and flood large parts of Ukraine. It can attack the railway network, bridges and major roads, all to paralyse the daily lives of tens of millions of Ukrainians. And it will continue this destruction of the country until Ukraine’s leadership raises the white flag and demands a cessation of hostilities.”

Russia becoming a failed state

Russia is losing control, notes Berlin-based Russian political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann on her Facebook page:

“The Russian Federation as we knew it is entering a new phase of its existence, with a de-legitimised border containing fragments that are not only not recognised de jure by any other country or international organisation, but also not controlled de facto by the central administration (unlike Crimea, for example). … The term ‘failed state’ doesn’t necessarily refer to a state that is bad, brutal or poor. Some of them get along quite well. The crucial factor here is the administrative decline and the inability to fulfil basic functions within its borders.”

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Seek a deal with China now

International pressure must be ramped up to force Russia must to the negotiating table, writes El Periódico de España:

“The steps taken by Russia to annex the eastern Ukrainian territories using the same approach as in Crimea, and its provocative attempts to use energy to blackmail Europe hinder the objective of bringing the conflicting parties to the negotiating table. The efforts of the US and the EU aimed at supplying Ukraine with war materials and smothering Russia’s economy are working. … But they must be accompanied by diplomatic efforts to increase Moscow’s isolation. … An agreement with China would be crucial in this regard and should be pursued with urgency.”

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