Merkel Heads For U.S. As Germany Works Towards Settling Conflict In Eastern Ukraine

hollandeGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in the United States on Sunday and is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday just days after talks involving Germany, France, and Russia aimed at resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine ended in Moscow with no major agreement.

Merkel explained that she and French President Francois Hollande were not sent to Moscow to act as mediators between Ukraine and Russia but were representing European interests.

As fighting escalates across southeastern Ukraine and heavily armed pro-Russian separatists expand territorial gains while amassing more troops along the coastal city of Mariupol, the ceasefire Minsk Protocol signed in Belarus last September between Russia and Ukraine appears to be withering away.

The United States has called for the need of Ukrainians to defend its border with Russia through military force and is considering to send arms to Ukraine’s military.

The Minsk Protocol specifically calls for the withdrawal of illegal armed groups in Ukraine, decentralizes power, allows for international monitoring along the Ukraine-Russian border, and creates security zones in border regions.

German Chancellor Merkel and French Prime Minister Hollande spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday about the Minsk Protocol and will conduct a phone call on Sunday to discuss preliminary results of a possible joint document on its implementation.

The document includes a proposal from Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and suggestions offered by Russian President Putin.

Speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, Chancellor Merkel said that she doesn’t believe that sending military equipment to Ukrainian government forces will achieve much success.

“The problem is that I cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily” Merkel said.

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden also spoke on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference and explained the need for the United States to provide security assistance to Ukraine after Russia sought to block Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the European Union and stands accused of supporting a military incursion across eastern Ukraine.

“Too many times President Putin has promised peace, and delivered tanks, troops, and weapons. So we will continue to provide Ukraine with security assistance, not to encourage war but to allow Ukraine to defend itself” Biden said.

Biden explained that the United States do not believe there is a military solution in Ukraine but pointed out that the Ukrainian people have a right to defend themselves and Russia doesn’t have the right to do what they’re doing.

Although Russia has already faced a range of international sanctions for its intervention in Ukraine, Biden said on Saturday that Russia could be faced with even heavier costs in the future.

“And Russia needs to understand that as long as it continues its current course, the United States, and, God willing, all of Europe, and the international community will continue to impose costs on their violation of basic international norms” said Biden from Munich.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke at the Munich Security Conference and said that efforts by Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande to find a resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine are “important and urgent” for the region.

Stoltenberg said that international rules must be respected, not rewritten, or violated.

-Johnathan Schweitzer

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