OTTAWA, Ontario — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday the conflict between Russia and Ukraine cannot be solved by “military means.”
Merkel made the remark in a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, just hours after meeting with U.S. President Barak Obama in Washington. Obama has been considering sending anti-tank weapons and other defensive arms to Ukraine, but said no decision has been made.
Merkel staunchly opposes arming Ukraine’s beleaguered military.
“I hope that we shall be able to solve this conflict by diplomatic means because I think by military means it cannot be solved,” Merkel said through a translator.
Her meetings in Washington and Ottawa followed German and French-led talks last week with Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The parties will meet again Wednesday in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.
“We will see over the next few days whether there will be progress. That is anything but certain,” Merkel said.
The Chancellor said if there is no progress Western allies will coordinate future steps, but reiterated she is not in favor of lethal aid.
“Now we should put all of our efforts into the question can we find a diplomatic solution,” he said. “I’m very grateful that both the American president and the Canadian prime minister support us in this endeavor.”
Harper said he would like to see Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrate the same dedication to a diplomatic solution. Harper said he admires the efforts by Germany and France to bring about a peaceful solution but said “unfortunately at this time Mr. Putin has rejected diplomatic means. He seems to move his agenda through military violence.”
Harper said Canada will look at all options but will proceed cautiously in collaboration with allies.
Canada is home to more than 1 million people of Ukrainian descent.
Harper made headlines during last November’s G-20 summit in Australia when he gave Putin a less-than-warm welcome when Putin approached Harper for a handshake.
“I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine,” Harper told Putin, according to Harper’s spokesman.