Hopes of a peaceful exit from the crisis are fainter after days of talks. As the military build-up near the border continues, how far will Putin go?
A week that began with low expectations has ended with a still bleaker mood. No one believed that three rounds of talks between the US, Russia and others would magically resolve the Ukraine crisis. But with 100,000 Russian troops massed near the country’s borders, the build up of weaponry and growing sabre-rattling from Moscow, the hope was that the negotiations could help to probe Vladimir Putin’s intentions, and perhaps offer him pathways towards an eventual de-escalation.
After several days of dialogue, the mood is glummer. On Thursday, the Polish foreign minister, Zbigniew Rau, warned that Europe was the closest to war it had been for three decades. After the Nato discussions, and before the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe talks concluded, Russian’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the parties had reached a dead end.