It was a day of bluster and speeches, but also paralysis over how to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.
On one side, hawks in Washington favoured supplying "advanced weapons" to Ukraine's Government in Kiev. On the other, cautious European leaders warned it is easier to provoke Vladimir Putin than to scare him.
"I am firmly convinced this conflict cannot be solved with military means," said Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, at the Munich Security Conference.
Merkel, who is the only major Western leader to have a working relationship with Putin, said a flow of American arms to Ukraine would not intimidate the Russian leader.
"I cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily."
She added that force had not proved to be the solution in the past when dealing with Russia. "I grew up in East Germany, I have seen the Wall. The Americans did not intervene in the Wall, but in the end we won."
More than 5300 people have died in the conflict so far, many in devastating artillery barrages, and Kiev warned yesterday that rebel troops were massing for a fresh offensive.
An increasing number of US politicians and senior officials have suggested countering the rebel troops by supplying "defensive weapons" such as Javelin anti-tank missiles, small arms and ammunition to allow Ukraine to strike back at the tanks, artillery and troops that Russia appears to be sending to the east of the country.
General Philip Breedlove, Nato's top military commander, insisted yesterday that the option should remain on the table. "I don't think we should preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option," he said, adding: "There is no conversation about boots on the ground."
President Barack Obama has remained silent so far, but Ashton Carter, his nominee for Defence Secretary, told a Senate committee last week that he is "very much inclined" to provide arms to Petro Poroshenko's Government.
A day after five hours of talks in Moscow between Merkel, Francois Hollande, the French leader, and Putin yielded no public agreement beyond a commitment to a further phone call.
All the major players in the crisis met at the Munich Security Conference. There was no mistaking where the sympathies of the audience, made up of international leaders including 20 heads of state, lay. When Merkel mentioned in her speech that she was glad to see Poroshenko present, the Ukrainian President stood up and took a bow, to rapturous applause. Brandishing the passports of Russian soldiers allegedly seized on Ukrainian territory, he said they were the "best evidence for the aggression and for the presence of Russian troops".
Hollande has said he is against arming Ukraine and Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain also supported a diplomatic solution, while he denounced Putin's "bully-boy" tactics.
"At the moment we do not feel that the supply of arms would be a helpful contribution," said Hammond. "And so long as there is something approximating a military stalemate, the focus must be on finding a political solution to resolve it."
But Malcolm Rifkind, the former British Defence and Foreign Secretary, was one of several delegates who pressed Merkel on how Putin could be tackled without bolstering Ukraine's army. "Frederick the Great said that diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments."
Joe Biden, the US Vice-President, appeared to leave a route open for weapons supplies to Kiev, saying: "We do not believe in a military solution to the conflict, but we do not believe that Putin has the right to do whatever he wants." He added: "Too many times, Mr Putin has promised peace and delivered tanks."