We responded well, far beyond expectations, to what Angela Merkel, after a long silence, described as a “barbaric war of aggression”. We have imposed severe and unprecedented economic sanctions, most recently the embargo on Russian oil, aimed at reducing Putin’s ability to finance his war. (…) But one thing shone out in the West’s response to Putin’s violent expansionism for its absence: a strong diplomatic initiative. Not that there wasn’t diplomacy. (…)Examples abound, both serious and improbable. They include the first telephone calls with Putin by Macron, Scholz, Draghi and Finnish President Niinistö, the attempts by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Austrian Chancellor Nehammer, and those by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. (…) There was no trace of a strong, influential player with strategic skills assuming full responsibility on the diplomatic front, in other words: setting a goal and pursuing it resolutely.

“Negotiations should continue when our negotiating position is strengthened