NewsWeimar Triangle summit yields compromise on Ukraine aid strategy

Weimar Triangle summit yields compromise on Ukraine aid strategy

Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Donald Tusk
Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Donald Tusk
Images source: © PAP | HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

6:44 AM EDT, March 16, 2024

Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron aimed to utilize the Weimar Triangle, alongside Donald Tusk, to smooth over the disagreements regarding aid to Ukraine. Sources from WP reported that the leaders of Germany and France believed they had reached a reconciliation. Behind closed doors, they all acknowledged that Europe and Ukraine were facing critical months ahead.

The unexpected Weimar Triangle summit in Berlin, announced by Donald Tusk following his visit to the White House, brought Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron to a consensus on aid to Ukraine, at least in their public statements. The German and French leaders recognized that they could ill afford more disagreements amidst the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

In the weeks leading up to the summit, Berlin criticized Paris for its vocal support for aid—including proposals to send troops to Ukraine—while concurrently spending too little on rearmament. Conversely, the French criticized the Germans for their reluctance to approve the dispatch of Taurus cruise missiles. A joint press conference featuring Tusk, Scholz, and Macron was intended to resolve these issues.

Sources informed us that discussions among Scholz, Macron, and Tusk affirmed the gravity of the situation. According to sources, Washington has been advising its allies, including Poland, of its desire to see the conflict in Ukraine conclude or reach a stalemate favorable to Kyiv within two years. The U.S. reportedly fears that beyond this timeframe, its focus will necessarily shift to the Pacific and the potential threat of China attacking Taiwan. This sentiment is understood to be shared across both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Sources from WP have shared that, according to Polish and its allies' assessments, "the threat of Russia attacking Poland or other European countries hasn't been as high since World War II." However, leaders are hopeful that intensified efforts could alter the outlook significantly, potentially allowing Europe to achieve military superiority over Russia within two years. This information has reportedly been conveyed to Poland's leading politicians.

Berlin and Paris step back

Signals of a tactical compromise between Berlin and Paris, with Warsaw's involvement, were evident during the Weimar Triangle's concluding press conference. Instead of pointing fingers, both parties indicated a willingness to compromise.

The German Chancellor announced the formation of a coalition for long-range missiles under the Rammstein format, a significant move given his previous skepticism towards such military aid among NATO members. This suggests a move towards a more comprehensive military support strategy. Furthermore, Scholz highlighted that, despite unwavering support for Ukraine, Europe was not at war with Russia.

The French President subtly signaled his willingness to support allied efforts aiding Ukraine, such as cybersecurity, while emphasizing that actions leading to further escalation would be avoided. He also dropped previous mentions of deploying NATO troops to Ukraine, reflecting the broader European leadership's stance.

Diplomatic sources reported to WP that, behind closed doors, Scholz made no new commitments regarding the Taurus missiles on Friday. Despite the formation of a new coalition, there was no promise of German approval for supplying long-range cruise missiles.

Emmanuel Macron clarified that his statements on deploying troops were meant to caution Putin against underestimating Europe's resolve. However, he made it clear that no such actions would be taken, at least for the rest of the year.

Macron also secured support from Warsaw and Berlin for further allied involvement. This includes cyberspace support for Kyiv, demining efforts, and assistance in patrolling the border with Belarus.

Inventory review

Informants indicate that discussions in Berlin concluded that military aid for Ukraine is set to increase, with Warsaw, Berlin, and Paris pushing this agenda. This push is particularly aimed at countries like Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Moreover, most EU leaders have agreed to urgently review their military inventories, ensuring that previously withheld ammunition will now be made available to Kyiv.

"The coming months are crucial. Our minimum objective is to ensure that the situation on the frontlines in Ukraine does not deteriorate by year's end. We recognize that especially until the U.S. elections this fall, Europe must take the initiative in supporting Kyiv. This entails pooling and expending all European resources on assisting Ukraine and procuring weapons," said an informant.

Sources indicated that a decision was made in Berlin to allocate profits from frozen Russian assets entirely towards arming Ukraine, estimated to provide about $4.5-5 billion a year in support. While the U.S. has urged that all such assets should be tapped for arming Ukraine, this broader approach has met with resistance within the EU.

Departing from the Weimar Triangle summit, Tusk, Macron, and Scholz were convinced they had managed to temporarily resolve the discord between France and Germany. They also believed their agreement would pressure other EU countries into accelerating aid to Ukraine. Poland remains watchful, expecting Berlin and Paris to oversee each other's commitments, anticipating that the next summit in Poland during the early summer will verify whether their declarations have been translated into action and the situation in Ukraine has stabilized or improved.

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