KYIV – During the last week or so, talk of peace at the annual high-level Munich Security Conference was deafened by the sound of intensified gunfire from Russian forces in the Donbas. The flare-up in the fighting highlighted once again the gulf between the search for peace proclaimed by Ukraine’s Zelenskyy administration and the realities on the ground reflecting Moscow’s enduring intransigence.
On the eve of the Munich forum, held on February 14-15, there were hopes in some quarters that it would reinforce the beginnings of a new dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow created in Paris in December 2019 at the Normandy Four format summit. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared to have the tactical advantage as his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was not attending. Evidently, the Ukrainian leader hoped to make use of this major international event to promote Ukraine’s cause and interests and to counter its image as a hopelessly corrupt state generated most recently within the context of U.S. political infighting.