Realpolitik can be disappointing when it is built on unrealistic expectations, which is why the West should not get too excited about its power position in the world today. This goes for the time before, as well as after, the Minsk negotiations.
Taking the realpolitik route means acknowledging that the sanctions against Russia are not working in the way the West envisioned. This is because great powers such as India and especially China no longer feel like they have to play along with Western politics.
This is true for all the BRIC countries and many other states, as was made clear when President Vladimir Putin visited Egypt recently. The trip simply showed that Mr. Putin’s back is not to the wall.
The practical conclusions the West should draw from this are uncomfortable ones. And the same goes for the roles that Angela Merkel and François Hollande are playing in the negotiations. Both would like to be mediators between the United States and Russia. But neither of them can really fill the role.