Merkel and Obama discuss arms supplies

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet US President Barack Obama today, Monday, to discuss a joint strategy on the war in Ukraine. Merkel has reaffirmed her opposition to the idea of supplying arms to Ukraine backed above all by the Republicans in the US. Only weapons from the West can stop Putin, some commentators argue. Others warn that hardliners are driving a wedge between Merkel and Obama.

Open/close all quotes
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

End Putin's pinprick strikes

Supplying weapons to Ukraine to end Russia's dominance in the east of the country is long overdue, writes the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung: "Moscow is supplying the separatists with air defence missile systems and tanks and passing on the results of its military intelligence. Special forces are operating the state-of-the-art weapons and training the rebels. By contrast Ukrainian forces have only outdated equipment and lack ammunition. Their position is growing weaker by the day. If things continue this way Putin will be able to dictate the conditions in eastern Ukraine as he pleases. He can order his forces to advance further or concentrate on pinprick strikes and consolidating areas already captured. That would essentially be the opposite of what Merkel and the dwindling supporters of purely diplomatic initiatives supposedly want, namely peace for Ukraine."

Der Standard (AT) /

EU and US must work together

The EU and the US must not diverge in the debate about supplying weapons to Ukraine, warns the left-liberal daily Der Standard: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama will have to find a way to prevent this happening when they meet. It will not be easy. Although Obama is cautious and probably favours Merkel's approach, he is under considerable pressure from Congress. A joint position may be for the US to send defensive weapons to Kiev that would leave its army less entirely at the mercy of artillery shells and drone attacks. At the same time Obama could pledge to match the most recent round of EU sanctions."

Le Monde (FR) /

Arms for Ukraine will destabilise all Europe

The debate over arms supplies for Ukraine is symptomatic of the general confusion about how to deal with the war in eastern Ukraine, the liberal daily Le Monde concludes: "In reality no one except a couple of Republican tenors in the US Congress and the single-minded Baltic states and Poland want to supply Ukraine with arms. President Obama is sceptical and European politicians are aware of the risk of escalation. Some are saying this more clearly than others. But in spite of the renewed German-French attempt to negotiate, which had Europe on tenterhooks all weekend, everyone knows this question must be addressed. That it will be on the table again regardless of the outcome of the Merkel-Hollande mission. Do we arm Ukraine? Ultimately there are few convincing arguments either for or against the idea. But supplying weapons to an almost bankrupt country with 46 million inhabitants certainly wouldn't promote European stability."

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Obama must show solidarity with Merkel

John McCain had compared Merkel's rejection of arms supplies for Ukraine with the appeasement policy vis-à-vis Nazi Germany before World War II. The Republican senator's stance is completely counterproductive, the liberal-conservative Tagesspiegel comments: "US Senator John McCain's criticism of Angela Merkel only impedes negotiation in Europe's civil societies. To accuse the chancellor of pursuing an appeasement policy like that of 1938 and of being indifferent to people being 'slaughtered' in Ukraine is unspeakable and oblivious to history. He is undermining the community. US State Secretary John Kerry should have been far more forceful in rejecting this act of disloyalty among partners, so as to distance himself from it in the name of the Obama administration. But the president himself will have the opportunity to declare his solidarity with Angela Merkel, the key negotiator for the entire West, at their meeting at the start of this decisive week."