Russian President Vladimir Putin led a cabinet meeting at his residence outside Moscow on Wednesday. Alexei Nikolsky/Press Pool Three days after the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin for at least the 30th time since the Ukraine crisis erupted. She had a blunt message, according to people briefed on the phone conversation: Call me if you have progress to report in defusing the conflict. That was July 20. The two leaders haven’t spoken since. The silence marks a breach in perhaps the most important relationship in European geopolitics, illustrating the daunting challenges facing the West in trying to calm the crisis in Ukraine. More broadly, the frayed relationship between Ms. Merkel and Mr. Putin shows the disintegration of a decadeslong effort by both Germany and Russia to bind the World War II adversaries to each other. Mr. Putin, in […]