Hopes rose Wednesday (9 February) that efforts to stop Russia from invading Ukraine may be starting to pay off, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz joining Kyiv and Moscow in a chorus of “positive” voices assessing that diplomatic bids to defuse the crisis could work.

In the face of the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War, diplomatic action has kicked into high gear, taking French President Emmanuel Macron to Kyiv and Moscow earlier this week.

After separate talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Macron said on Tuesday he glimpsed a way forward towards easing tensions.

Scholz, who had come under fire at home over his dithering response to the Ukraine crisis, said he saw “progress” after a flurry of talks on various levels.

“The task is that we ensure the security in Europe, and I believe that that will be achieved,” he added after meeting Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.