The other reason why Mr Putin may desist is if Germany and France have promised behind closed doors to give him what he wants without a war: Ukraine on a platter, stripped of sovereignty and locked into Moscow’s strategic orbit. To call it Finlandisation is a euphemism. It is closer to Russification.
We will find out soon enough what has been going on in these private sessions but it was revealing to see the ashen face and involuntary wince of Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky as the German Chancellor spoke in Kyiv.
Mr Scholz did indeed seem to be pulling the rug from underneath his feet, deflating Ukraine’s hope of genuine independence with the soft-spoken words and careful precision of an employment lawyer, the Chancellor’s former job.
Markets are implicitly betting that a Western sell-out on Mr Putin’s terms is the likely outcome, and that Ukraine will be pressured into “voluntary” realignment – like the Czechs in 1938 – allowing business to continue as usual.
Utter cynicism is usually the safest bet.
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"The Kremlin could sever all gas flows to Europe – 41% of the EU’s supply – for two years or more without running into serious financial buffers" | Writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard https://t.co/ASx3MLhwsP
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) February 15, 2022