US, Germany Stand Tight on Achieving Ukraine Peace
But Obama and Angela Merkel disagree on arming Ukraine against Russia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2015 2:11 PM CST
President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – To arm or not to arm Ukraine is the question—and although the US and Germany may not agree on the answer to that question, for now they're presenting a unified front in finding a solution to Ukraine's conflict with Russia. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a joint press conference this morning at the White House, declaring that Russian aggression against Ukraine has only strengthened the resolve of Europe and the US to work toward a resolution, the AP reports. "We are in absolute agreement that the 21st century cannot have us stand idle and allow the borders of Europe to be redrawn by the barrel of a gun," Obama said, per USA Today. The sticking point between the two countries lies in what Obama calls "tactical disagreements": whether or not to send lethal aid to Ukraine. The US has so far only provided Ukraine with non-lethal assistance.

Merkel—who, along with French President Francois Hollande, met with Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last week and is scheduled to meet with them again Wednesday—doesn't believe arming Ukraine is wise. Although Obama noted that Putin has "violated just about every commitment" in striving for a peaceful solution, Merkel said the "progress that Ukraine needs cannot be achieved with more weapons," per CNN; she added she fears Russia could increase military action if that happens. Sen. John McCain, however, said that "[Putin] does not want a diplomatic solution, he wants to dominate Ukraine as well as Russia's other neighbors," and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond calls the Russian leader a "mid-20th century tyrant," the Independent notes. The European Union agreed to new sanctions against Russia today, though it decided to delay the sanctions for one week to see if a peace plan can be reached.