Home European News Munich Security Conference Opens With Europe On Edge Over War In Ukraine, Trump’s View Of NATO

Munich Security Conference Opens With Europe On Edge Over War In Ukraine, Trump’s View Of NATO

Munich Security Conference Opens With Europe On Edge Over War In Ukraine, Trump’s View Of NATO

The Munich Security Conference kicks off on February 16 at a critical time, as the U.S. presidential election campaign heats up with a rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden looking likely and with a major U.S. military aid package bogged down in Congress.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to address the conference on its opening day to be followed on February 17 by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who will make his first in-person appearance at the conference since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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He addressed the 2023 conference virtually.

An estimated 50 world leaders are expected to attend the annual event that bills itself as the world’s leading forum for debating international security policy. The governments of Russia and Iran have not been invited.

It will be an encore for Harris, who spoke at the conference in 2022 and 2023, but the stakes are different this year.

She faces the task of reassuring allies that Washington remains committed to defending their security after Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, questioned defending NATO allies who failed to spend enough on defense from a potential Russia invasion.

Harris plans to pledge that the United States will never retreat from its NATO obligations, and contrast Biden’s commitment to global engagement with Trump’s isolationist views, a White House official was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“The vice president will recommit to defeat the failed ideologies of isolationism, authoritarianism, and unilateralism…[and] denounce these approaches to foreign policy as short-sighted, dangerous, and destabilizing,” the official said.

Harris is expected to meet with Zelenskiy during the conference, according to the White House.

She will be joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who just completed a visit to Albania, where he reinforced what he called an “extraordinary partnership” between Washington and Tirana.

The U.S. vice president will also express confidence that the American people will continue to support the Biden administration’s approach to Ukraine.

Ukraine, which is heavily dependent on economic and military aid from its Western allies, has been facing a shortage of ammunition and military equipment on the battlefield and is now facing intense fighting for the eastern city of Avdiyivka.

Kyiv also is desperate for a replenishment of supplies of air-defense systems to protect its civilians and infrastructure, which are hit almost daily by Russian shelling and drone attacks.

Harris is certain to be asked about a $95.34 billion military-aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan that the Senate, led by Democrats, approved on February 13 but that may never be put up for a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representative because of Trump’s opposition to it.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s European allies have begun increasing their support for Ukraine.

Ahead of his arrival in Munich, Zelenskiy was scheduled to travel on February 16 first to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and then to Paris to sign a security pact with French President Emmanuel Macron, his office in Kyiv and the Elysee Palace in Paris said.

Berlin did not release any details about Zelenskiy’s meeting with Scholz, but Germany is also negotiating a security agreement with Kyiv.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa


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