We were wondering what would become of the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and And Germany's Merkel along with French President Francois Hollande. The implications of this meeting may be quite significant in terms of the EU's continued support for the U.S. From early reports, it appears that Merkel and Hollande may be making a break from the U.S. in terms of relations with Russia. If so, this would have enormous ramifications:
Germany's Angela Merkel said on Saturday that sending arms to help Ukraine fight pro-Russian separatists would not solve the crisis there, drawing sharp rebukes from U.S. politicians who accused Berlin of turning its back on an ally in distress.
The heated exchanges at a security conference in Munich pointed to cracks in the transatlantic consensus on how to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over a deepening conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 5,000.
Ukraine's military said on Saturday that pro-Russian separatists had stepped up shelling of government forces and appeared to be amassing troops for new offensives on the key railway town of Debaltseve and the coastal city of Mariupol.
The rebel offensive has triggered a flurry of shuttle diplomacy, with Merkel and French President Francois Hollande jetting to Moscow on Friday to try to convince Putin to do a peace deal.
But European officials acknowledge that the Russian leader may have little incentive to negotiate now, preferring to sit back and watch as separatists seize more territory, undermining a ceasefire agreement clinched last September in the Belarus capital Minsk.
The German leader conceded in Munich, after returning home from Moscow in the dead of night, that it was uncertain whether a Franco-German peace plan presented to Kiev and Moscow this week would succeed.
But she flatly rejected the notion that sending weapons to Kiev, an idea being considered by U.S. President Barack Obama, would help resolve the conflict.
U.S. senators Lyndsey Graham and John McCain, both Republican hawks, were withering in their criticism of the German stance, which is supported by other big European countries like France.
"At the end of the day, to our European friends, this is not working," Graham said of Merkel's diplomatic efforts. "You can go to Moscow until you turn blue in the face. Stand up to what is clearly a lie and a danger."
McCain added: "The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we're sending them blankets and meals. Blankets don't do well against Russian tanks."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, also in Munich, said there were "good grounds for optimism" that the talks between Merkel, Putin and Hollande could yield a deal.
Lavrov also delivered a diatribe against the West. He accused Europe and the United States of supporting a "coup d'etat" against deposed Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich, a Moscow ally, a year ago and turning a blind eye to nationalists he said were intent on ethnic cleansing in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine Peace Talks In Tatters: Defiant Putin 'Won't Tolerate Unipolar World'; Hollande Proposes 'Strong Autonomy' For Rebel Region
Germany's Merkel exclaimed honestly that it's "uncertain whether this will be successful,"seemingly resigned to the fact as she added, "but it's at least worth making an attempt." French President Hollande admitted that Ukraine's eastern regions likely need "strong autonomy." Ukraine's Poroshenko blustered that he "trusts" Merkel, that the economy is collapsing (more money please), that the country does not need peacekeepers and a lack of arms is fueling conflict (so send us weapons) while pushing for a Russian withdrawal and quick cease-fire. Finally Vladimir Putin blasted that Russia is unwilling to tolerate a post-Cold War global system dominated by one absolute leader, to which US VP Joe Biden remarked simply "get out of Ukraine."
French President Francois Hollande called for “quite strong” autonomy for Ukraine’s eastern regions while speaking on France 2 TV. He also revealed part of the joint plan discussed in Moscow on the conflict’s solution. On Saturday, Hollande said that the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk need “rather strong” autonomy from Kiev.
“These people have gone to war," Hollande explained "It will be difficult to make them share a common life [with Kiev]."
Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a defiant tone a day after talks in Moscow with the leaders of Germany and France failed to achieve a breakthrough in resolving the Ukraine crisis.Russia won’t tolerate the post-Cold War global system dominated by a single leader, Putin said Saturday at a meeting with the Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Sochi.“That type of world order has never been acceptable for Russia,” Putin said. “Maybe someone likes it and wants to live under a pseudo-occupation, but we won’t put up with it.”
Vice President Joe Biden served up some blunt talk on Saturday, telling Russian President Vladimir Putin simply to "get out of Ukraine."
Perhaps - in the same way - US leadership needs a 'foreign' boogey-man to focus national attention away from what is under the surface a weak and extremely divided economic 'recovery'?
Nineteenth-century German historians had a phrase, Primat der Innenpolitik, meaning that all foreign policy was essentially driven by domestic concerns. One government would pick a fight with another, not because of geopolitical imperatives, but in order to shore up its support at home.
Shakespeare has Henry IV give his son some advice from the deathbed: “Be it thy course to busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels”
Russia And Egypt: Relations Are On The Rise
Amid heightening tensions in the world, the growth of the global economic crisis, and the imposition of unjust sanctions by the West, it is as never before important for Russia to strengthen international political and business ties with its partners. One of such countrie, actively seeking a mutually-benefitting partnership with Russia is the Arab Republic of Egypt, with which we have a long history of cooperation in all areas of relations. The visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for a near future, which will be a response to the visit of the president of EgyptAbdel Fattah as-Sisi to Russia in August 2014, will undoubtedly serve as a new impetus for their development and strengthening.
It should be said that recently both Egypt and Russia have undergone serious social and political changes, but the atmosphere of mutual trust and respect has always played a key role in the relationship between Moscow and Cairo. Currently, both countries are partners in bilateral affairs as well as on the international arena. This is not surprising, if one recalls the glorious chapters of mutually benefitting partnership. These include the Aswan hydroelectric power station, Helwan Iron and Steel Works, an aluminium plant in Nag-Hammadi, an Egyptian Russian University in Cairo, and many others.
Recently, Russia and Egypt have been actively restoring their relations which inadvertently suffered as a result of the revolution and the following regime change in this Arab country, stated Russian president Vladimir Putin. “We are restoring our relations to the fullest extent. And the development of the economy goes along with the intensification of political contacts. It is growing, in spite of the problems in the global economy,” noted Russian president.
The leadership of Egypt adheres to the same opinion, as the Egyptian ambassador to Russia Mohammed El-Badri recently stated, saying that the current Egyptian-Russian relations are on the rise. “This is a very important step for us, as speaking metaphorically, the most difficult flight stage for an aircraft is the take-off. Today our relations develop very harmoniously, and they are promising,” said the ambassador.
On the eve of Putin’s visit to Egypt, it can be said with confidence that Russia and Egypt have undergone serious social and political changes, but the atmosphere of mutual trust and respect has always played a crucial role in relations between Moscow and Cairo. Russia and Egypt, as it has been demonstrated, today are mutually benefitting partners, not only in bilateral affairs, but they also have identical or very similar views on many international issues. And, no doubt, the upcoming visit of the Russian president to the friendly Egypt will only confirm this view.
Jordan carried out a third straight day of air strikes on Islamic State targets on Saturday, it said, in response to the group's killing of a captive Jordanian pilot.
“Sorties of air force fighters today bombed bases of the Daesh terror gang,” state television said in a bulletin, using a derogatory Arabic name for the militants. It said some of the targets were in the Syrian city of Raqqa but gave no other details.
Jordan began on Thursday what it called an "earthshaking" response to the death of the pilot.