On Friday morning, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet with President Obama amid a tense atmosphere that involves the ongoing situation in Ukraine as well as disagreements over the U.S.’s spying policies.
President Obama, according to The Wall Street Journal, will ask Merkel to increase pressure on Moscow the longer that Russia fails to de-escalate, and strategize with the chancellor on what actions by Russia would force the U.S. and Europe to enact tougher penalties. Merkel is widely regarded as western nations’ best chance at getting Putin to back down; she’s spoken with the Russian president twice as much as any other European leader or President Obama. They’ve spoken at least ten times since Feb. 20, usually conversing in German (Putin’s German is better than Merkel’s Russian).
The other issue, which has mostly gone to the backburner as the Ukraine crisis continues to unfold, is America’s surveillance policies, which became a major scandal in Germany last year when documents provided by Snowden revealed that the NSA had monitored Merkel’s phone. According to The New York Times, the two countries have come to a stalemate over the issue. Germany asked for a blanket “no-spy” agreement that would prevent the U.S. from conducting espionage activity on German soil. Such an agreement is unprecedented in American foreign policy, and talks between the countries fell apart. American officials say German dropped out of an intelligence-sharing agreement.