On Wednesday Mrs Merkel takes a few hours off from the Euro crisis to appear in Minsk with France, Ukraine and Russia to see if they can reach a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis.
Russia will want the west to put on hold any ideas of arming the Kiev government, and will ask about recent NATO deployments. Russia will also want to know when and how the Ukrainian government will stop shelling its own citizens in East Ukraine. The Ukraine government will want guarantees of no further Russian support for UKrainian citizens in armed revolt against the Kiev government, and will argue that much of the violence has come from rebels armed by Russia. France and Germany will presumably urge caution and peace on both sides, and will seek to reach an agreement based loosely on the positions the two sides currently occupy. There is talk of a demilitarised zone around the present front line between the two forces.
It is difficult to know how the Ukraine government can pick up the pieces and offer fair and peaceful government to the whole country after what it has done to some of its civilians. The Kiev government will not want to trust the armed rebels, or forgive them their attacks. Similarly the rebels will not easily accept Kiev sovereignty, and will distrust the Kiev government. It may be possible to draw up new lines, allowing parts of East Ukraine a large measure of self government based on the territories the two sides have now established. The longer a peaceful solution takes, the more likely the rebels will want full independence and the less likely Kiev will wish to give it to them.
This is a huge test for the politicians and officials and involved. Most of the west does not want a war with Russia, but nor does it wish to see an easy Russian victory. Condemning Russian military intervention is the easy part of the response. Finding a way to resolve the conflict on acceptable terms is altogether more difficult. Delay in finding a diplomatic solution both sides can accept makes a prolonged war in Ukraine more likely, and increases the risk of a wider flare up in violence. It is a great pity the EU started out on its expansionist course with the Ukraine without properly considering the likely reaction of pro Russian people inside Ukraine, and the ability of Russia to give them support.