The successful counter-offensive around Kharkiv could represent a turning point in the Ukraine war. While Zelensky has announced new advances aimed at recapturing occupied territories, Putin has signaled willingness to negotiate. With his army failing, the Kremlin boss is coming under growing pressure.

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

The true end of the Cold War

Rzeczpospolita no longer rules out the possibility that Putin’s Russia could collapse altogether:

“Should it actually come to that, it would be a major upheaval, the true end of the Cold War. This may come as a surprise, considering that the Cold War was widely believed to have ended 30 years ago. … But in our part of Europe, despite the obviously successful transformation, there has always been a palpable feeling, if only subliminal, that the Cold War had by no means come to an end. This feeling was reaffirmed, for example, by the incomplete protection of NATO’s eastern flag or the Western countries’ eastern policy, particularly in their privileged treatment of Russia.”

Putin will be made to pay for his crimes

To Vima says Putin won’t get off lightly in the looming debacle:

“Russia’s defence industry is unable to compensate for the losses. … Worse still, morale is low and the soldiers feel that they are just cannon fodder for the Ukrainian forces. Tens of thousands of Russian soldiers have already been killed, the Russian army is in a state of collapse. For now, Putin is keeping quiet about the costs of the senseless war he has decided to wage. But recently, critical voices have been growing louder in Russia, despite the terror and censorship system Putin has created. One day he will be held accountable for the crimes he has committed against his people, Europe and the world.”

Kremlin boss very vulnerable now

Putin has never been as weak as he is now, The Irish Times points out:

“Putin now needs to watch his back. It was possible for him to be wrong about Ukraine so long as he appeared strong. But he is now exposed as both wrong and weak. His unnecessary war has boomeranged into an existential one for him. Far-right Russian nationalists demand a tougher war against Ukraine, with full mobilisation of the population. Russia’s oligarchs and diplomats know they have to keep quiet to survive but are likely desperate for change. This can come suddenly. In the Soviet Union everything was forever until it was no more. So it may be with Putinism.”

The end of Russian imperialism

A Russian defeat in Ukraine could put an end to centuries of Russian imperialism, Tygodnik Powszechny hopes:

“A Western journalist recently wrote that Putin’s fate will be decided in Ukraine. That is possible. Perhaps even more: it may be that today we are witnessing the definitive end of the Russian imperial project. This project began in the 14th century, when Prince Ivan Kalitá laid the foundation for Moscow’s expansion: first in historic Rus’ and then on and on. That is also what this war is about.”

Putin won’t back down

The Russian president will only intensify the war effort, predicts Cătălin Harnagea, former director of Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service, in Evenimentul Zilei:

“The Kremlin boss put his entire political career on the line when he launched this war. And it seems hardly plausible that he will now passively sit back and watch his armed forces be destroyed. As the Chechen war has shown, there is little prospect of Vladimir Putin standing idly by if he considers victory on the battlefield to be absolutely necessary. So this war will have successes and defeats on both sides and claim many more victims and wreak much more destruction before it is over.”

We must not be warmongers

Despite the recent successes of the Ukrainian army Ukraine should not be encouraged to insist on victory at any price, Le Point urges:

“Let us always remember that this war we are not fighting means the death and devastation of others. … Too many experts in our TV studios want to fight to the bitter end in Ukraine. That Ukraine has enough weapons to win is certainly true. But this support should not turn us into unrealistic warmongers ready for any escalation, no matter how high the price for the Ukrainians. Let us never lose sight of the goal of restoring peace, which will inevitably imply some form of compromise with the aggressor.”