Policy Splits in Europe on the Ukraine Crisis
May 11, 2014 • 2:41PM

With the British and Obama leaning all over German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular, to line up solidly with their sanctions and other policy provocations against the Russians, Merkel yesterday met in Germany with French President Francois Hollande. She emerged to tell the press:

"We consider the referendum scheduled for tomorrow [in Ukraine] illegitimate and focus on the [presidential] election of May 25. If no internationally recognized presidential election were to take place, this would inevitably further destabilize the country. [In that case], we are ready to take further sanctions against Russia." Merkel and Hollande gave no specifics of what that might entail, although they did call on all non-military combatants to turn in their weapons starting Thursday. This has close to zero chance of succeeding, given the Nazi-fomented violence sweeping the country.

A far saner approach continued to be promoted by former German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, who recently worked with Russian President Vladimir Putin to obtain the freedom of the European monitors who had been arrested in eastern Ukraine. In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, as reported today by Voice of Russia, Shroeder cautioned Germany and other Western countries against imposing tougher sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. "Instead of building pressure on Moscow, the West should be more attentive to Russia's security concerns and resist Americas push for tighter sanctions," Voice of Russia reported.

"Germany is Russia's central partner both from the economic and political viewpoints, therefore the role of the German government is so important here, the ex-chancellor said."

Shroeder also stated that the Ukrainian government should stop using military force in eastern Ukraine against its own population, and take any opportunity to find a peaceful solution. "Not doing so would be irresponsible," he said. "The key to the Ukrainian crisis is not just in Moscow, but also in Brussels, Washington and Berlin, Shroeder said," according to accounts in the Russian media.