|English.news.cn 2015-02-08 05:24:24|
by Xinhua writers Tang Zhiqiang, He Mengshu
MUNICH, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The 51th Munich Security Conference entered into its second day on Saturday, dedicating more than half of its agenda to the Ukraine crisis, an issue which few who was here a year ago had expected could be fueled from a spark of anti-government protests to a fire of internal war within less than a year.
Leaders, mainly from the West, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko participated in the discussions on Saturday and expressed a common wish: to immediately find ways out of the crisis which has killed thousands of people.
Merkel, who just came back hours ago from a surprising visit to Moscow with French President Francois Hollande for talks over the crisis with Russian President Vladimir Putin, told her audience that the tripartite meeting was worth an attempt though "it is uncertain whether the talks will succeed".
Lavrov, though questioned doubtfully, and in some occasions aggressively, by western listeners, said Russia saw "good grounds for optimism to issue recommendations for conflict resolution".
Biden, threatening to "impose costs" to Russia, said actions were needed to end the conflicts.
Poroshenko, asking for supports from abroad, said the people in Ukraine were urgently needed to be protected.
Ukraine has become the front line of tensions between the West and Russia, some experts said. The West is united in its "battle" against Russia, imposing economic sanctions which dragged Russian economic growth down to 0.6 percent and forced its government to cut 2015 growth forecast to minus 3 percent.
The discussion in Munich on Saturday, however, showed that the union was divided on key issues linked to their different national interests.
"We should have right to defend our territory and our people with the support of the whole world," said Poroshenko, asking its allies to supply defensive weapons which "we will not use ...to the attack".
This was the core divergence within the West: whether military intervention should be involved in resolving the Ukraine crisis.
Slamming Russia for alleged direct involvement in the Ukraine conflict, which Moscow has denied repeatedly, Washington is considering offering Ukraine lethal weapons to boost its fight against militants in the eastern part of the country.
In his speech, Biden said the U.S. government was ready to provide support to Ukraine so that the country can defend itself .
The plan, however, was slapped by Merkel.
"I am firmly convinced that this conflict can not be solved by military means ... the progress that Ukraine needs can not be achieved by more weapons," she said, adding that there were already a lot of weapons in Ukraine and solutions should be concentrated in diplomatic dimensions.
In an interview with German ZDF television, which is to be aired on Sunday, U.S. Republican Senator John McCain said that Merkel's behavior in the Ukrainian conflict was a huge disappointment for him.
"Her behavior reminds me of the policy of the '30s," he was quoted as saying.
"The policy priorities in Germany and France are different from those in the United States," said Gu Xuewu, Director of Center for Global Studies in Bonn University in Germany, in an interview with Xinhua.
While Europe fears to push Russia too much in the corner would trigger strong reactions from Russia which would be dangerous to it neighbors, Gu said, "Obviously, the Americans would not like to see a ceasefire in Ukraine before Russia paid a bigger price".
"A collapsed Russia does not meet the interests of Europe," he said.
Russia ranked as the third largest trading partner for Germany outside Europe, following behind China and the United States with a trade volume of 77 billion euros (about 87 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013, data from German statistical office Destatis showed.
More than 6,000 German enterprises are operating in Russia and 10 percent of German exporters are doing business with the giant country.
Tensions between the West and Russia dampened German exports and hit companies' investment confidence in 2014, dragging down Europe's biggest economy to a negative growth during the summer months.
According to analysis of John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, Russia's core strategic interests were threatened by the West via North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) enlargement, EU expansion and value promotion in Russia's backyard, ignoring Russia's repeatedly warnings.
Gu said Germany and France are showing Putin their difference with the United States in interests and stance.
He expected that a compromise will be achieved within the year 2015 under the mediation of Merkel and Hollande.
MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that Washington will further support Ukraine and called for Russian actions to find a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis.
He made the remarks in an address to the ongoing 51st Munich Security Conference, which has entered its main day with intensive discussions about Ukraine. Full story
MUNICH, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday that Russia saw grounds for optimism on the resolution of Ukraine crisis, but stressing that military intervention should not be an option.
In a speech at the ongoing 51th Munich Security Conference, Lavrov said negotiations over Ukraine crisis would continue in the future and that his country believes "there are good grounds for optimism on issue recommendations for conflict resolution".