Washington is contending with the blowback from its latest diplomatic gambit in the struggle with Russia. Last week, U.S. officials began to float the possibility of offering Ukraine defensive weapons to counter the latest advances by Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country. If this was a trial balloon meant to reassure Kiev, it had the unfortunate side effect of throwing some major European powers into overt panic.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande publicly declared their opposition to the plan and hurried to Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There are plans for another meeting of the three powers, this time also involving Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in Minsk this Wednesday.
Whatever Germany and France can deliver on the ground in eastern Ukraine, they have already effected three changes to the diplomatic landscape surrounding the conflict.