For those who follow the Ukraine-Russia crisis closely, this week was quite a roller-coaster with conflicting signals.
First, there were various warnings from the West that a Russian attack was imminent — maybe even before the end of the winter Olympics.
Then the Russian side said that some military drills near Ukraine were over and the troops heading home, something the US government and NATO did not trust. On the contrary, they say that Russia is continuing its military build-up.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic talks were dominated by a Russian core demand: that Ukraine will never be allowed to join NATO. A very sensitive issue for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We have the NATO infrastructure directly in front of our house. Moreover, the question on Ukraine’s entrance is being discussed. They say it will be not tomorrow. Then when? The day after tomorrow? What does it change for us in a historical perspective? Absolutely nothing,” Putin said at a news conference following his talks with the German chancellor.
Olaf Scholz not only downplayed Ukraine’s NATO membership perspectives, but he also highlighted Putin’s desire to stay in office for so long.
“It (Ukraine joining NATO) is not on the agenda. Everyone knows that very well. It is not a topic that we are likely to encounter again in our offices as long as we hold them. I don’t know now how long the president plans to be in office, but I for one have this feeling that it might last longer – but not forever,” Scholz said.
Scholz left Moscow to attend to serious business again in Brussels, where the twice-delayed EU-Africa summit was held, a massive meeting of leaders of both continents.
Tian Johnson, lead strategist at The African Alliance, told Euronews that these types of meetings are big on expectations, but low on results.
“History is littered with these treaties, with these summit declarations, with these statements of support and solidarity and brotherhood and North/South relationship building. It means nothing if Africans are going to continue living in sickness; in poverty; in inequality,” Johnson said.
Vaccines, climate and a €150 billion investment package were on the table, with Europe bidding to reaffirm its commitment to the continent in the face of China’s ambition to wield influence over it.
There was also an announcement that six African countries, including Nigeria and Kenya, will receive the necessary technology to produce mRNA vaccines.