Merkel Rejected US Push to Send German Warships to Crimea

Wanted warships sent to Kerch Strait to 'show Russia'

Last month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined calls for the US to deploy German warships around the Crimean Peninsula in a direct effort to provoke Russia, according to officials familiar with the situation.

During February 16th’s Munich Security Conference, Vice President Mike Pence pushed Merkel on the matter, saying he thought they should send several German warships through the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the mainland to “show Russia.”

This was somewhat following a naval confrontation between Ukraine and Russia in the Kerch Strait, when Ukrainian boats entered Russian waters and were captured. The US was keen to send NATO warships into the same area to spite Russia.

This is a common naval tactic for US officials in recent years. Officials have been fond of sending the US Navy on “freedom of navigation” trips to areas claimed by rival powers. The big difference here was that they figured on sending German boats instead of American ones, which Merkel wasn’t keen on.

Apparently Merkel proposed sending a German ship and a French ship through the strait one time, but Ukraine’s President Poroshenko objected that this wouldn’t “solve his problem,” and that NATO needed to permanently keep the strait open. France didn’t even want to do the one trip, so the idea was dropped entirely.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of