The shock to the world order represented by the Russian invasion of Ukraine brings with it dramatic immediate battlefield challenges, but also profound strategic reconsideration. Both plans surfaced this Friday, the first day of the Munich Security Conference. Significant in the first was German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s exhortation to the Allies to expedite deliveries of their Leopard tanks to Kiev, in a scenario where hesitation and slowness are perceived. In the second, French President Emmanuel Macron urged Europeans to “invest heavily in defense” and “rethink security doctrine” to make Europe a player at the geopolitical tables of the future.
“If we want peace, we must invest in the means to have it. France is doing its part, but it needs investment ambitions at the European level,” said Macron. “It also means strengthening the industrial and technological base of our defense. We need more production capacity, and we need more standardization, more simplification.” The French President indicated that in this context he wants to organize a conference on European air defense in Paris, which he says will address “both the strategic and the industrial dimension”. should treat. “When it comes to European security, we have to think about it, produce it and guarantee it,” the French head of state demanded.
Scholz also mentioned the need to advance the path of strengthening and greater integration of the European military dimension. Among other things, he recalled the ongoing projects for a future air combat system (with France and Spain), another initiative in the field of ground combat (with France) and, in particular, the coordination of a joint air defense. “We must consolidate a geopolitical Europe. A more capable Europe,” he reflected.
Beyond military issues, Scholz stressed the need for the EU to be more resilient and less critically dependent, but advocated not achieving this through deglobalization – which he said was economically damaging and contrary to the openness values of the European project. , but with a surgical intervention, reduce risks in strategic areas, diversify supply chains, expand networks.
“This is not the time for dialogue”
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The two presidents agreed that the conflict in Ukraine will be prolonged and underscored the determination to maintain the allies’ unified support for Kiev for as long as necessary. “This is not the time for dialogue,” Macron said. “It’s not our arms shipments that are prolonging the war. But on the contrary. the sooner [el presidente ruso, Vladímir] Putin understands that the greater the chance of an end to the war, he will not achieve his imperialist goal,” said Scholz.
Both spoke at the conference in the Bavarian capital ―which this year will bring together more than 30 heads of state and government, a hundred ministers, dozens of heads of international organizations, senior military commanders and experts from a variety of countries, but not from Russia and Iran, who don’t were invited to participate – after the intervention via video conference by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He insisted on the concept that the speed of confirmation and execution of allied decisions is “crucial” and that “hesitation is a resource on which Putin’s dictatorship feeds” and that this is leading to more deaths and destruction in Ukraine.
Precisely in relation to this race against the clock against a Russia looking to rearm and launch new offensives, Scholz found himself in the unusual role of urging the Allies for accelerated military aid to Kiev, whose cautious behavior during the war was so often violent has become criticism. After the considered green light from Berlin for the delivery of Leopard tanks in the hands of a large number of allies, it turns out that in many cases delays in the continuation of deliveries are noted. “Anyone who can deliver them should do it. Germany will do everything in its power to make this possible,” he said.
The Bavarian meeting comes at a time when there are increasing signs that Russia is motivated to launch new offensives after recovering from the massive losses it suffered in the first phase of the invasion. Zelenskyy expressed skepticism about a possible participation of Belarus in the hostilities.
Beyond the conflict in Ukraine and the strategic future of the EU, this year’s Munich conference will focus on the growing tensions between the United States and China, symbolized by the incursion of a Chinese balloon ―with espionage capabilities― into Washington – in US airspace . A possible meeting between the heads of diplomacy of both powers is expected in Munich.
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