President Barrack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the Ukraine crisis Monday morning. While this conflict continues to increase in violence these two leaders of countries with vested interest in the conflict met in the Oval Office at the White House to explore options. This meeting was planned ahead and Obama put off making the decision of whether to supply weapons to Ukraine forces on Sunday, until after having spoken with Merkel first.
Russia and the West are not in an unfamiliar place. At this point, some are looking at this scenario as a being very similar to post WWII Germany when Russia would have preferred to usurp all of Germany rather than simply the eastern portion it retained. Russia would certainly like to retain all of Ukraine when negotiations are at end, however, the West does have a vested interest in aiding those in Ukraine who wish to remain strongly connected with the rest of Europe.
Merkel has been in good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past, which may be a reason why Obama wanted to wait to discuss the situation in Ukraine with her prior to making any decisions about supplying weapons to the area. There appeared to have been a debate prior to Merkel’s visit between German and United States diplomats as to the role Germany has played thus far in the conflict. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham asserted the opinion that Germany has “abandoned” Ukraine by not aiding the “struggling democracy” in past months.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier retorted explaining that the reason they have not acted out militarily against Russia, but have pursued negations instead, is because they “know the region a bit.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry saw this exchange as not being productive and expressed that both Europe and the U.S. need to work “united in our diplomacy.”
As the fighting around Debalteve continues with seven civilians and nine Ukrainian soldiers dying there over the last 24 hours, some are looking to see if there are any substantive legal negotiations being drafted. There have been a few documents surfacing dictating timelines for extracting forces and granting citizenship to individuals who find themselves inside borders of a country that is not of their natural citizenship. Although nothing has been signed and little progress made as the body count increases.
U.S. Senator John McCain has spoken out in support of providing arms to the Ukrainian troops and that the West needs to face the “harsh reality” that Russia is supporting the pro-Russia rebels and Ukraine needs additional support. He has also accused Putin of having no desire for diplomatic negotiations and that Russia’s aim is to “dominate” its bordering nations.
Obama and Merkel further discussed Ukraine in a news conference after speaking in the Oval Office. There, Obama expressed how little faith he had in Russia’s commitment to negotiations be reiterating how they have “violated” almost every provision of the deal stuck in the September Minsk agreement. Merkel agrees that something must be done, but she still feels strongly that sending weapons to the area is not the solution.
By Joel Wickwire