Zelenskyy speaks to world leaders at the Munich Security Conference

Zelenskyy speaks to world leaders at the Munich Security Conference

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address Friday’s Munich Security Conference to world leaders who are expected to reaffirm their unwavering support for Kiev nearly a year after Russia’s invasion.

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“A year ago, Zelenskyi gave an urgent warning speech at this conference,” said his diplomatic chief Dmytro Kouleba.

This year he will speak via video link “and set the tone of the discussions,” he added in a statement.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron will be present in the Bavarian capital and will speak early Friday afternoon.

After a year of war, there is no appeasement in sight and the chances of a diplomatic solution to the conflict are nil.

Since the offensive began on February 24, 2022, the number of casualties on both sides has risen to tens of thousands, and NATO is expecting a new Russian offensive.

In this regard, “the priority is to speed up the already promised arms and ammunition supplies to Ukraine”, Kouleba assessed and also advocated political decisions in favor of deliveries of fighter jets – which Westerners are currently reluctant to do – and he reiterated his country’s desire to to join the Atlantic Alliance.

For his part, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he hoped that other states such as Germany, Poland and Canada would commit to supplying heavy Leopard-type tanks to Kiev.

“The talks are ongoing,” he said in Munich.

Russia not invited

More than 150 government representatives gather for this three-day conference on international security issues, which takes place annually in Munich.

Also present are Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Vice President Kamala Harris, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg, who is to leave office in the autumn.

No Russian official was invited that year.

On Thursday, the NATO chief said he feared a war of attrition. “We have to be prepared for the long term, which can take many, many years,” he warned in an interview with AFP.

Western countries are supporting Ukraine with arms deliveries to Kiev and economic sanctions against Russia.

In this regard, Washington and its allies are preparing to adopt “a new major package of sanctions” “around February 24,” the anniversary of Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, said Victoria Nuland, secretary of the state deputy for political affairs on Thursday.

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The diplomatic heads of the G7 countries will meet on Saturday on the fringes of the Munich conference.

Allies have already imposed drastic sanctions on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine hit the highest levels of the Russian state, as well as its industry, banks and oil sector.

tensions with China

Tensions between the United States and China, exacerbated by the overflight of a Chinese balloon over American soil, should also feature prominently on the conference discussion list.

Beijing insisted it was a balloon for civilian use and retaliated by accusing the United States of flying balloons over Chinese territory.

These disagreements come at a time when Europeans, particularly Germany and France, still hope to persuade China, which remains an ally of Moscow, to pressure Vladimir Putin to end the war.

In November, Olaf Scholz traveled to Beijing, where he met President Xi Jinping.

And the Elysée confirmed on Thursday that Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China “in the first half” is actually “in preparation”.

Wang Yi is said to be going to Moscow after a European tour. In particular, his French interlocutors “encouraged” him to “send messages” to “get Russia back to the negotiating table” and “stop the bombings” against civilians, said an adviser to the French head of state.