After the Islamic State attack on Paris, there are signs of a rapprochement between Western countries and President Vladimir Putin's Russia. Putin's peace offerings are more style than substance, however.

The West is making tentative steps toward uniting with Russia against Islamic State. French President Francois Hollande, who said a month ago that Putin "is not our ally" in Syria, has promised to talk to U.S. President Barack Obama as well as to Putin "to unite our forces." Obama spoke one on one with Putin for more than 30 minutes at the G-20 summit in Istanbul, a change to the usual practice of mutual avoidance.

Western openness to a "grand coalition" against Islamic State doesn't mean it will happen, though; there are still plenty of political differences to resolve and roles in the conflict to divide once that's done. Nor has Putin given ground on Ukraine. For about six weeks, the conflict zone was quiet; Putin had apparently leaned on the pro-Russian insurgents to cease fire as the Russian air force started bombing Syria. In November, however, the Ukrainian military usually reports several deaths a day. On Sunday, for example, three Ukrainian soldiers were reported killed.