On the day of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, international leaders will gather for the Munich Security Conference, as Kiev intensifies its calls for additional armaments.
During the three-day conference, attention will also be paid to US-China relations, which are tense after Washington’s shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon over American territory.
During the inaugural event, which will centre on Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron will speak.
Also present will be US Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The war will be the main topic of discussion, coming only days before the February 24 anniversary of Russia deploying its soldiers into Ukraine. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, will be speaking on behalf of his country.
The United States and other Western allies, who support Ukraine, have sent it with a sizable number of weaponry and promised a bombardment of others, including heavy combat tanks, which Kyiv has long coveted to resist Russia’s onslaught.
President Volodymyr Zelensky is now intensifying his appeals for Western fighter planes, despite the fact that Ukraine’s allies have so far remained noncommittal.
Zelensky reiterated his demands for further Western military assistance in a BBC interview published on Thursday: “Of sure, new weapons hasten the era of peace. Russia speaks only the language of weapons.”
In a prospective peace agreement with Russia, he also rejected handing away Ukrainian territory, saying that doing so would allow Moscow to “keep coming back,” according to the British broadcaster.
Increased balloon pressures
Yet, Berlin’s recent decision to approve the delivery of German-built Leopard tanks to Ukraine after weeks of deliberation has given Kiev renewed optimism on possible future arms shipments.
Berlin has “risen above itself,” Kuleba told Germany’s Funke media group, even if “certain choices took too long.”
With the Leopard decision, I think things will proceed lot more smoothly, he remarked.
At the conference on Saturday, Kuleba is also anticipated to attend a gathering of foreign ministers from the G7 group of wealthy nations.
The United States and its partners are planning a significant array of fresh measures against Moscow to celebrate the invasion’s anniversary despite indications that Russia is coping with the sanctions imposed over its invasion, a US official said.
The conference’s chairman, Christoph Heusgen, said that discussions will centre on how to preserve the “rules-based international order.”
Will there be a stronger legal system in the future, or will there be a system where the strongest law rules? said he.
There have been rumours of discussions to defuse the spy balloon controversy on the margins of the meeting between a senior Chinese group headed by Wang and a high-level American mission that includes Harris and Blinken.
Last month, a massive white Chinese balloon was seen flying over several top-secret nuclear weapons installations before it was shot down close off the coast of the US.
Blinken postponed a rare trip to China as a result of the event, which caused a diplomatic split. China claims that the balloon was just an errant meteorological research vessel.
In order to “get to the bottom of this,” President Joe Biden said he will speak with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday.