Ukraine crisis casts long shadow over Munich Security Conference
By Rodrigo Zuleta
Munich, Germany, Feb 19 (EFE).- The threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine preoccupied a raft of Western leaders at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, where dignitaries warned of severe consequences against Moscow should it pursue military action.
The absence of Russian officials at the conference was conspicuous — Sergey Lavrov, Moscow’s top diplomat, has attended the meeting for the last 12 years in a row, even during the crisis sparked by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the conference for the day to issue a rallying call to Western leaders in a series of meetings.
United State vice president Kamala Harris, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson told the conference, in individual addresses, that a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis was still on the table but warned that the situation was increasingly dangerous.
|As we have said all along, there is a playbook of Russian aggression. And this playbook is too familiar to us all,” Harris said on Saturday.
“Russia continues to claim it is ready for talks while, at the same time, it narrows the avenues for diplomacy. Their actions simply do not match their words.
“And let me be clear. I can say with absolute certainty: If Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States, together with our Allies and partners, will impose significant and unprecedented economic costs.”
Von der Leyen said Russia’s actions were an attempt to change the “architecture” of European security.
“The world has been watching in disbelief as we face the largest build-up of troops on European soil since the darkest days of the Cold War,” she added, warning that Russian action against Ukraine would be met with economic and political sanctions.
Johnson said that war in Ukraine would have global repercussions that could ripple as far as Asia and Taiwan, in reference to China’s claim to the island.
He added that the UK government would clampdown on Russian-held British capital.
Germany’s Scholz recalled recent discussions with Vladimir Putin, in which he emphasized Nato’s role as a defensive alliance that did not pose a threat, although the Russian leader mentioned Nato operations in Yugoslavia.
“Then he is coming to argue that in Donbas there is something like genocide, which is really ridiculous, to be very clear on that,” Scholz added. EFE