Backbone melt: Merkel, Hollande warn ‘not to try scaring Putin’ after Friday visit with him

Backbone melt: Merkel, Hollande warn ‘not to try scaring Putin’ after Friday visit with him

[Ed. – With allies like these, it’s no wonder even John Kerry still looks recognizable as homo sapiens to a beleaguered Ukraine.]

On one side, hawks in Washington favour supplying “advanced weapons” to Ukraine’s government in Kiev. On the other, cautious European leaders warned it is easier to provoke Vladimir Putin than to scare him.

“I am firmly convinced this conflict cannot be solved with military means,” said Angela Merkel, the German chancellor at the Munich Security Conference.

Mrs Merkel, who is the only major Western leader to have a working relationship with Mr Putin, said a flow of American arms to Ukraine would not intimidate the Russian leader.

“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,” she said. “I have to put it that bluntly.” …

General Philip Breedlove, Nato’s top military commander, insisted on Saturday that the option should remain on the table. “I don’t think we should preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option,” he said, adding: “There is no conversation about boots on the ground.” …

Mr Hollande has said he is against arming Ukraine and Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, said the UK also supports a diplomatic solution while he denounced Mr Putin’s “bully-boy” tactics.

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