February 27, 2015

Germany is emerging, faster than it wanted, as a global diplomatic force. (...) Its new engagement is evident in the awe-inspiring stamina of Mrs Merkel’s diplomacy. In one recent week, she shuttled between Berlin, Kiev, Munich, Washington, Ottawa, Minsk and Brussels on consecutive days. In Minsk, as the picture shows, she negotiated through the night for more than 17 hours with four complicated men (the presidents of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and France).

Ukrainian military and separatist representatives exchanged dozens of prisoners under cover of darkness at a remote frontline location Saturday evening, kicking off a process intended to usher in peace to the conflict-ridden east. 139 Ukrainian troops and 52 rebels were exchanged, according to a separatist official overseeing the prisoner swap at a no man's land location near the village of Zholobok, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of the rebel-held city Luhansk.

As conflict persists in the east, the massive financial lifeline pledged by the international community is rife with uncertainties, especially linked to the country's debt. Strangled by 10 months of deadly fighting between government forces and pro-Russia separatists, Ukraine's backers have proposed a new $40 billion, four-year deal to support government finances and combat a severe recession.

February 12, 2015

Does anybody remember soft power? Apparently Canada has it in abundance. It just doesn’t work. Soft power is, like so many trendy ideas in this country, an American invention.

President Barack Obama said he wouldn’t decide whether to supply weapons to Ukraine until European leaders exhaust one last diplomatic effort to resolve the conflict there, setting aside for now trans-Atlantic differences on the best way to get Russia to relent.  Mr. Obama announced his decision after a White House meeting Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that followed days of sometimes testy exchanges between U.S. and German officials.

The United States will send more economic help and "other kinds" of assistance to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russian-backed rebels, Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday. Kerry said he could not provide any details of possible military equipment that the United States might send to help Ukraine fight the rebels.

Ukrainians are documenting the conflict with Russia online. NPR's Scott Simon talks with the Wall Street Journal's Paul Sonne about how once-lighthearted websites have become grim logs of destruction.