With the Russian invasion of Ukraine high on the agenda of this year’s high-level meeting, the annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) kicked off on Friday.
Over the next few days, representatives from 96 countries will discuss key defense issues.
IMF: Ukraine has met the conditions for the next bailout package
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is in talks with Ukraine for further support.
“At the moment we are completing a four-month program of cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities to help them achieve an economy in extraordinary wartime circumstances,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told DW.
She said she was “very pleased to say that Ukraine has shown a strong performance under this extensively monitored programme, paving the way for the Fund to establish a fully-fledged program for Ukraine.”
Georgieva added that this is “important because Ukraine’s financial needs are significant. We estimate that somewhere between $40 and $48 billion would be needed from outside sources to make the country function. And that’s a good thing.” The fund to be there for Ukraine.”
“No alternative to the Ukrainian victory” – Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered the opening speech via video link, urging allies to speed up support for his country and warning that lives are at stake.
“We are in a hurry. We need speed – speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery… speed of decisions to limit Russia’s potential. There is no alternative to speed, because life depends on speed,” Zelenskyy told the crowd, stressing that there was “no alternative to a Ukrainian victory.”
Zelenskyy compared the fight against the Russian invasion to the biblical fight between David and Goliath, saying that while Ukraine has David’s courage, it still needs the slingshot to defeat “the Russian Goliath”.
Zelenskyy: “We must liberate Ukraine and Europe”
Scholz calls on allies to send tanks to Ukraine
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said before the conference that Putin’s “revisionism” would not prevail and called on allies who were able to send battle tanks to Ukraine.
“Anyone who can send such battle tanks should really do so now,” said Scholz.
In January, Germany approved the export of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine from its own stocks and from third-party allies.
The German Chancellor said his country would provide support with training, supplies and logistics.
Like other speakers, Scholz was of the opinion that the war in Ukraine would not end any time soon.
“I think it’s wise to prepare for a long war,” Scholz told the conference.
“Not the time for dialogue” – Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron took the podium after the German leader and said there must be readiness for a “protracted conflict” in Ukraine, while urging EU members to invest heavily in defense spending.
“It is imperative that we increase our support and our efforts against the resistance of the Ukrainian people and their army and help them launch a counteroffensive, which alone can enable credible negotiations determined by Ukraine, its authorities and its people,” he said Macron
The French President also said it was not the time to attempt a dialogue with Russia as it intensified hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
“It is not the time for dialogue because we have a Russia that has chosen war, that has chosen to intensify war, and that has chosen to go as far as committing war crimes and civil crimes Attack infrastructure,” Macron said.
Putin committed a “break in civilization” – Heusgen
This year, for the first time, the conference will be chaired by Christoph Heusgen – former foreign policy adviser to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel – and successor to Wolfgang Ischinger, who chaired the conference for 15 years.
Heusgen began proceedings by saying that the 2022 conference ended with hopes that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be “impressed by the unity that the international community has shown… We all know what happened.” said Huesgen.
“Vladimir Putin has committed a breach of civilization,” said the MSC chairman, adding that it was the first time since World War II that a country in Europe “denied another country’s right to exist and launched an all-out war.”
NATO with Ukraine “in the long term”
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana told DW that the military alliance was “determined to support Ukraine for as long as necessary and to ensure that Ukraine wins this war.”
“Mr. Putin can end this war at any second,” he continued. “I believe that Ukrainians are the ones who need to define what victory means and what the prerequisites for a political solution will be. We are here to stay with the Ukrainians in the long term.”
Regarding the threat to Moldova’s security from Russia, he said: “Moldova is a common partner of both NATO and the European Union. in a way help Moldova to withstand this enormous pressure from Russia.”
First conference for Pistorius as Federal Defense Minister
Ahead of the conference, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius reiterated the need to increase military funding by exceeding the 2% GDP target, while stressing the importance of the platform. The MSC “has always been a place of understanding and dialogue,” he said.
“What is new is that all of this is taking place while a war is being waged by Russia against Ukraine on European soil,” Pistorius added. “But that raises the stakes for the conference. Also against the background that the attack on Ukraine is not a purely European conflict, not a purely European issue, because it goes far beyond that, as do Russia’s ambitions, as you can see, whether it’s the Middle East, other regions in Eastern Europe, Africa, but also the Indo-Pacific.”
It is Pistorius’ first MSC in office and the last of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who intends to step down from his post in October.
Pistorius: Attack on Ukraine “not a purely European matter”
The conference participants include 40 heads of state and government and almost 100 ministers.
Russia will again be a notable absence as its leadership will not be invited for the first time in two decades.
Other high-profile speakers expected on Friday include China’s senior foreign policy maker Wang Yi and US Vice President Kamala Harris.
jsi, kb/fb (dpa, AFP, Portal)