[Ed. – Crisis point building here. Clearly, European NATO is trying to preempt Obama. He and Kerry don’t appear to be in the loop on this Merkel-Hollande proposal at all. Meanwhile, the two of them have to trek like supplicants to Moscow. Russia can decline to be talked down from her inflammatory position — and then what?]
20.50 Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has said that the new peace plan proposed by Angela Merkeland Francois Hollande, which will be presented to Moscow on Friday, has raised hopes for an end to the fighting with Kiev’s pro-Russian rebels.
Talks between Poroshenko and his German and French counterparts – who unexpectedly jetted into Kiev on Thursday with a new peace proposal –“give hope for a ceasefire”, the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement.
There was no joint declaration by the three leaders after their talks.
20.20 While Barack Obama weighs up whether to arm the Ukrainian forces (see 17.49), a number of European defence ministers have come out against any such action today:
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen:
More weapons in this area will not bring us closer to a solution, and will not end the suffering of the population. We need to put a lot of pressure on the separatists and Russia in an economic and political way to find a solution at the table and not on the [battle]field because to give input to a potential escalation is not a good solution.
Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert:
[Most allies] but in particular the Netherlands, will insist on non-lethal support to Ukraine. Political dialogue is the only way out of the crisis.