By Naomi Friedman, Staff Writer
Since the complete collapse of the ceasefire in East Ukraine in January 2015, measures for peace and closure of the war are being debated between Europe and this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
France and Germany have been working together on a diplomatic strategy to stop the war through negotiations, while the United States has been expressing their intention to help Ukraine against the pro-Russia separatists by sending lethal aid.
The West is struggling to maintain a united front against an unflinching Russia while facing a crucial week of high stakes, top-level diplomacy on the Ukrainian-crises, as notes a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article. Following a phone talk on Sunday, Feb. 8, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to meet in person on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 in Minsk, Belarus to hopefully “lead a swift and unconditional ceasefire,” said the New York Times.
The U.S. remains outside of the deal and is skeptical of its outcome as the U.S. government does not trust Russia’s response.
“Let me assure you that there is no division—there is no split,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week in Munich when talking about the U.S. and Western Europe’s relationship—a statement German officials wouldn’t comment on (WSJ).
Merkel and other German officials have publicly expressed their strong opposition in arming Ukraine. They argue the new weapons can’t match Russian arms and forces and would likely escalate the violence and ruin negotiations.
“Ukrainians can’t beat the Russian army, that’s not a practical proposition,” said British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to Sky News, also agreeing with Germany. “There has to be a political solution.”
Russia claims it will be personally offended if lethal weapons are sent to Ukraine, while it denies supporting the rebels on the ground itself. The U.S. and European officials have maintained, however, that Russian equipment and troops have been sent to help the rebels.
“[Putin] has sent troops across an international border and occupied another country’s territory in the 21st century acting like some mid-20th century tyrant,” said Hammond. “Civilized nations do not behave like that.”
A scenario very similar to the Cold War has been rising in the last two weeks, Ukraine being the ground of a so-far indirect confrontation between the West and the Russian world.
If the talks in Minsk do not resolve in any solutions, Western Europe is considering additional economical sanctions against Russia. Indeed, combined with the drop in global oil prices that is strongly impacting the Russian economy, the sanctions would hopefully force Putin to alter course.
Despite the publicly announced German position on lethal aid, alliance officials say Merkel told Putin privately that she will not oppose the U.S. plan if Barack Obama opts to send weapons to Ukraine.
In comparison to pre-World War II when Europe tried to control Hitler through pacts and political agreements that Nazi Germany later deliberately ignored, will the talks in Minsk be any different?