Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is in Washington today to discuss the Ukrainian situation with President Obama. Just three days ago, she was in Moscow with French President Francois Hollande to put forward suggestions for peace with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The previous day the two leaders were in Kiev for discussions with the Ukrainian president.
The American Administration and members of Congress have been talking about sending more arms to the Ukrainian government to help it defeat Russian-speaking rebels in the east of the country. Although Russia denies it, it’s fairly certain that Russian troops are actively helping the rebels. Germany and France are concerned to avoid an escalation of the conflict. The French president warned of the prospect of “total war.”
Interestingly, the US was not present at the meetings in Kiev and Moscow. Now, Mrs. Merkel is visiting Washington to update the US president on the discussions, which have been described as the last hope for a peaceful resolution of the situation. It is clear that there are differences between the US and Europe on this issue. How great a rift remains to be seen.
President Putin has until Wednesday to decide on the proposed peace deal.
Meanwhile, discussions continue between Germany and Greece following the Greek election. The new, governing, Syriza party is not only refusing to repay loans made to the country, it is even undoing what the previous government tried to do to restore the country’s economic health. The new prime minister is promising to restore thousands of jobs to civil servants who were previously laid off in order to balance the budget. With Greece pursuing a reckless course, it’s difficult to see how the country can remain within the eurozone.
The prime minister seems set on a deliberate confrontational course, even demanding German reparations for invading Greece in World War II. On a visit to Germany, he even threatened the country with the specter of a revival of Nazism in Greece if the country is pushed too far, reminding the Germans that they know all about that.
So, at a time when European unity is threatened, total war is also a serious possibility. Germany is clearly in the driving seat at a challenging time for the continent of Europe.