Merkel On Phone With Putin, Before Meeting With Obama
May 3, 2014 • 8:52AM

At the request of the German Chancellor, she and the Russian President were on the phone Thursday, discussing the critical social and political developments in Ukraine, with Merkel making a special request to Putin to assist Ukraine in releasing the military observers representing a number of European countries, including Germany, who were detained in the southeast of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin stressed that the most important thing now is to withdraw all military units from the southeastern parts, stop the violence, and immediately start a national dialogue that would involve all regions and all political forces within the framework of a constitutional reform. Both parties noted the importance of a maximum involvement of the OSCE's intermediary potential all over Ukraine. Both leaders agreed to have another telephone conversation shortly—after her talks with the U.S. President who received her at the White House on Friday.

On April 30, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had ruled out military intervention in the Ukrainian crisis, saying she was counting on a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. In a speech to about 1,200 people at an election campaign event of her Christian Democrats in Frankfurt, Merkel said the lessons of two world wars in the last century could not be forgotten. "Would we have learned anything 100 years after the start of World War I and 75 years after the start of World War II if we resorted to the same methods? No," said Merkel. "I'll continue working towards a good partnership with Russia."

"We will not resolve our conflicts in Europe with military means. Military solutions can be excluded," she added to loud applause. "The bottom line is that we're counting on a diplomatic solution. We're helping Ukraine on a difficult journey and we want to continue having a reasonable partnership with Russia."

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Bern, meeting with the Swiss President, who is presently chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and also met with the EU's foreign affairs representative, Catherine Ashton, on diplomatic options.