U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Sunday met with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibasvili in Munich, amid discussions on whether Europe and the United States should bolster Ukraine's fight against pro-Russian separatists. Biden urged Georgia, which fought a brief war with Russia in 2006 when Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared their independence from Georgia in a situation closely paralleling the conflict in Ukraine, to keep its focus on democratic reforms.
Biden told Garibasvili the U.S. supports Georgia's "sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House said in a readout of the meeting.
The United States has said it would consider sending arms to Ukraine but the head of the Organization for Security and Co‑Operation in Europe warned such action risks escalating the conflict, Reuters reported. "It may even lead down the line to more direct intervention of Russia in this conflict. ... Our objective remains that of de-escalating, so I think really the effort should continue to focus on that," OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier said ahead of the Munich Security Conference.
President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are scheduled to meet in Washington Monday to discuss the situation ahead of Wednesday's summit involving the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday.
Biden has tried to downplay the differences between U.S. and European leaders on the situation. He said Saturday the U.S. agrees both sides should endeavor to settle the conflict peacefully, but made clear Washington is ready to help Kiev defend itself.
"Too many times President Putin has promised peace and delivered tanks, troops and weapons," Biden said. Russia has denied it supports the separatists and has been suffering under Western-imposed sanctions since it seized Crimea last Spring.
Biden also discussed increased U.S. assistance to Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State group during a meeting with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and met with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic to discuss that country's effort to join NATO.
Before heading back to Washington following the meetings, Biden toured the Dachau concentration camp, including a walk through the camp's crematorium where inmates were gassed, accompanied by his granddaughter, Finnegan Biden. The vice president was greeted at the entrance by camp survivor Max Mannheimer, 95, who described what the concentration camp was like. Biden told him one of his early aides was a Holocaust survivor from Hungary. A docent described the liberation of the camp by the 42nd Infantry Division and the 20th Armored Division of the U.S. Army.