The news that several Western countries are sending heavy tanks to Ukraine is considered provocative by senior Russian officials. According to international relations professor emeritus Henk Overbeek, these reactions should be taken seriously, but he is more concerned that, in his view, the Dutch government and the European Commission lack a “plan B”: “Everyone is asking a victory for Ukraine, but what if that doesn’t happen?’
Overbeek is one of the signatories of the ‘Call for Negotiation’ petition to the Dutch government on the war in Ukraine. “I put my signature because I am concerned that the Dutch government and also the European Commission do not think about the scenario that it is also possible that this war will not be won,” explains Overbeek. “French President Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez are also thinking about it, I think it is irresponsible that the Netherlands is not doing it.”
The emeritus professor finds it difficult to assess the state of the negotiations now that the West has promised heavy tanks. He agrees with a statement by foreign commentator Bernard Hammelburg that every war ultimately ends at a peace-making table. “Negotiations initially start behind the scenes and are eventually made public.”
Not the weather
Former NATO ambassador Pieter Feith thinks it is still too early to sit down to the negotiating table: ‘The delivery of the tanks could almost be said to bring the negotiations closer because both sides are currently at an impasse. The sides are still far apart even in terms of goals and it could still end in defeat for both the Russians and the Ukrainians. As far as I am concerned, it is not yet the time to start negotiations, which is only possible if there is a prospect of reducing aggression. Ukraine must take the lead in this’
An element which, according to Feith, should be taken into account in view of the negotiations, is the place Russia will soon be able to occupy within the international community. “It has to be established whether Russia will be allowed to return or if she will be definitively excluded. It is also in Ukraine’s interest to have a sense of this,” Feith says.