German Chancellor Angela Merkel has dismissed calls to supply weapons to Ukraine in order to help the Ukrainian government battle pro-Russian rebels in its eastern regions, saying international efforts should concentrate on diplomacy and economic measures. Merkel's comments came at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, alongside French President Francois Hollande.
Merkel said that she, as someone who grew up in East Germany, understood the international community's decision not to intervene militarily when East Germany erected the Berlin Wall in 1961.
"I don't blame anyone for the realistic assessment at the time that it would not be successful. The problem (today) is that I cannot imagine a situation in which improved arming of the Ukrainian army impresses Putin so much that he thinks he will lose militarily."
Merkel conceded she was of a different opinion on the arms issue to Ukraine's president, Petro Poroschenko, who was sitting in the front row at the conference, but promised instead to push diplomacy and to improve the economic situation of ordinary Ukrainians.
Recently, as covered by the Inquisitr, U.S. President Barack Obama said that there shouldn't be a military option for dealing with the Ukraine/Russia crisis, which fits with Merkel deciding not to help arm the Ukrainian government. Obama also spoke to the Moscow Times and said that he, as well as the rest of the American government, was "concerned" about the current fighting in Ukraine.
"We are deeply concerned about the latest break in the cease-fire and the aggression that these separatists — with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops — are conducting. I will look at all additional options that are available to us short of military confrontation and try to address this issue. And we will be in close consultation with our international partners, particularly European partners."
Merkel visited Moscow late Friday alongside Hollande, and quickly met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The talks wound up just before midnight in Moscow, and the three leaders agreed to continue to work towards a joint document implementing the ceasefire deal brokered in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, last September. That agreement has collapsed amid renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine. The three leaders are expected to resume negotiations in the coming days.
The Ukrainian conflict first began in the spring of last year and has resulted in thousands of lives lost. However, the question remains how a nation that once was itself considered a rebellion can deny the right of self-determination to others.
[Image via Michaela Rehle/Reuters]