Bloomberg dropped a bombshell on Thursday, citing three high level sources familiar with US-German talks at last month’s Munich Security Conference who revealed US Vice President Mike Pence tried to persuade German Chancellor Angela Merkel to directly provoke Russia by sending German ships through the Kerch Strait, the two mile wide flashpoint off Crimea which saw Russia seize Ukrainian vessels and their crew members on November 25.
Merkel reportedly rebuffed the efforts which Bloomberg described as “a naval maneuver in Russia’s backyard aimed at provoking President Vladimir Putin.” Merkel declined Pence’s urging while citing reservations voiced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who viewed such an act as “not enough” to ensure Russia opens the strait permanently, according to the sources. Sources said Pence’s plan was designed “to show Putin that Western powers won’t surrender their access to those waters.”Image source: Reuters
Interestingly, Merkel’s stance wasn’t based on any principled desire to promoted peace or prevent needless provocations which could potentially spark regional war between Ukraine and Russia and western allies, but out of concern it essentially “wasn’t enough”.
According to Bloomberg:
Merkel had indicated she was willing, in coordination with the French, to send a convoy through the waterway as a one-time maneuver but Poroshenko said that wasn’t enough to solve his problem — he wants to ensure the strait is open permanently, the people said. France also refused to take part, judging the idea as an unnecessary provocation, according to another official who declined to be identified.
Following the controversial 2014 Crimean status referendum, which resulted in the peninsula coming under Russian suzerainty, Russia has been accused of choking off Ukrainian naval access to its ports on the Sea of Azov to the north of the Kerch Strait.
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