What in exchange for peace?

Zelenski, Macron, Scholz and Draghi

They have travelled all the way to Kiev, after ten hours by train, a very dangerous journey, to see the Ukrainian leader. Three leaders of the founding countries of the embryonic European Union - France, Germany and Italy - have travelled there.

The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to the Ukrainian capital and Irpin marks a historic milestone as the first time in history that three leaders have visited a country under bombardment by a nuclear power. 

But it is also reckless daring. For less, a world war has been started: remember the assassination on 28 June 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. That triggered the First World War. 

I do not even want to imagine a missile on the train carrying the three European leaders. It seems to me an action of enormous irresponsibility and recklessness. But it has been done.

Because Putin needs to be shown manhood. Because we have to show courage and bravery to the satrap of the Kremlin, bent on his thinking and conception of history in favour of restoring Russia's historical greatness from the very vision of the return of the Soviet Union, thus seeking to erase and deny the changes that have taken place since the 1990s. 

There is a dangerous revisionism and historical negationism that seeks to disregard and ignore territorial powers and subsume the world into a stale past. To do so is not only to undermine democracy but to take the world backwards in history. 

The visit to Kiev and the meeting with the president, Volodymir Zelenski, carries a message full of intentions, the first of which is absolutely rational: how can a country at war, invaded, be accepted as a member of the European Union (EU) if the immediate course it will suffer is ignored?

Imagine the European club accepting Ukraine de facto, in extremis, as member 28 when it is being occupied, militarily invaded, bombed and destroyed. It is Kafkaesque to do so. 

No other country under such circumstances has ever been accepted as a member of the EU. Why should Ukraine, which has been applying for many years, now have the privilege of joining when it is still devastated and invaded?  

For the EU to do so would be a purely irrational process. It did not do so in the past because it cited problems of corruption and democracy, which have certainly not been corrected amid the destruction wrought by Russia. 

The EU will initiate a formal candidacy process for Ukraine and probably Moldova, at the worst possible time for the former, and it will do so out of pride and fear of Putin. Because when the bully of the moment threatens you, what you have to do is to be bold, courageous and united. 

That is what the EU has done. The dilemma is how it will resolve Ukraine, and it is considering several options: accepting the formal membership application in exchange for Zelenski having a negotiated peace agreement with the Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, in which perhaps a special autonomous status for the territories invaded by Russian troops could be achieved. That is, the Donbas region and the territories that connect with Crimea.

On the subject

A few days ago, the Kiev government did not take kindly to Macron's talk of a way out of the war, "the least humiliating" for Putin, suggesting that it is necessary to leave a window - however small - for negotiations between Kiev and the Kremlin. 

During his visit to Zelenski, Macron insisted on the need to seek a negotiated path, a way out for peace at the table, with the EU present as a guarantor. 

The next few days will be crucial to know whether this tripartite visit, with multiple hugs and gestures, will end up sitting Zelenski at a table with Putin accepting a special status for 20% of Ukrainian territory in exchange for starting the process of EU accession and reconstruction funds. Although, of course, there is a catch: it could take years for Ukraine to actually become the 28th member, and neither Zelenski, Macron, Scholz nor Draghi will be there. The EU might not exist either if radical groups finally phagocytise Europe.