Reuters reports after nine months of non-stop German diplomacy to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, Chancellor Angela Merkel decided in mid-November that a change of tack was needed. Ahead of a summit of G20 leaders in Australia, Merkel resolved to confront Vladimir Putin alone, without the usual pack of interpreters and aides. Instead of challenging him on what she saw as a string of broken promises, she would ask the Russian president to spell out exactly what he wanted in Ukraine and other former Soviet satellites the Kremlin had started bombarding with propaganda. Since February, when the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, fled Kiev amid violent protests on the Maidan square, Germany has taken the lead in trying to convince Putin to engage with the West. Now, German officials say, they have run out of ideas about how they might sway the Russian leader. The channels of communication with Putin will remain open, but Berlin is girding for a long standoff, akin to a second Cold War.