Munich Security Conference: the takeaways?

The dominant topic at the Munich Security Conference this year was once again Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also attended and blamed the lack of success in the defence strategy on a shortage of weapons and ammunition. Europe’s press sees urgent need for action.

Vladimir Fesenko (UA) /

Emotional appearances promote understanding

Writing on Facebook, political scientist Volodymyr Fessenko welcomes the participation of Ukrainian veterans:

“In my opinion, the strongest impetus at the Ukrainian events on the sidelines of the Munich Conference came from the speeches of our heroes, the veterans of the war against the Russian invasion. They talked about their experiences and about their fight for their lives and for ours. It was very sincere, emotional and moving. And their emotions, their dramatic stories (they suffered serious injuries, some were even taken prisoner) had a strong effect on the audience. It is right that they are invited to such forums. Because when rational arguments no longer work, we have to bring out the ‘emotional guns’.”

Wolodymyr Fessenko
La Croix (FR) /

Gap between promises and deliveries

Awareness of the need for military support for Ukraine is not growing fast enough, La Croix laments:

“Faced with Putin’s bloody attempt to test its strength, the EU, which shares a 2,257 kilometre border with Russia, is facing an almost existential confrontation. Understandably, Russia’s immediate neighbours Poland and the Baltic states were the first to react. But now no one, including Germany, is denying the need for additional military aid for Ukraine. However, the gap between promises and actual deliveries remains wide, and the members are paralysed by the divergent policies of the arms industries.”

Isabelle de Gaulmyn
taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Don’t give up the search for alternatives

Barbara Junge, editor-in-chief of taz newspaper, is not yet willing to accept pan-European militarisation:

“The most noble task of politics these days seems to be the opening of new weapons factories. ... It’s clear that with a murderer like Putin there can be no Ukrainian state and no lasting peace, at least not without brutal concessions — if at all. There seems to be no alternative to delivering more weapons to Ukraine and strengthening the European defence industry. And yet: where are the discussions about a world without, with fewer or at least not with more weapons? Who is providing a platform for the search for disarmament, not rearmament? There was no such platform in Munich. Naive? Certainly. But at the same time more necessary than it ever has been since the end of the Cold War.”

Barbara Junge
La Repubblica (IT) /

Press ahead with integration of defence

Common defence begins with concrete steps, La Repubblica admonishes:

“It is a paradox of history that France, which sank the European Defence Community 70 years ago, could now develop an embryo of common defence on the subject of nuclear weapons (and the United Kingdom?). ... In the meantime, the essential step remains the integration of European programmes and supplies to protect us in a scenario in which the United States will certainly be less present and Russia threatens to become more and more dangerous. This would be a more important step than the creation of the post of EU Defence Commissioner envisaged by Ursula von der Leyen, as any commissioner would be subject to the limits of the intergovernmental method.”

Michele Valensise
Etelä-Saimaa (FI) /

The rest of Europe must follow suit

Etelä-Saimaa writes:

“In Trump’s caste system Finland belongs to the better group. It will spend around 6.2 billion euros on defence this year, corresponding to around 2.3 percent of GDP. This proportion will remain above the target in the coming years, because significant investments are being made. ... The proportion is also high in other countries on Nato’s eastern border, such as Poland and the Baltic states. The rest of Europe should understand that despite the Nato umbrella, it must take care of its own defence capabilities. ... European countries must prepare for changes within Nato and strengthen their own defence, regardless of who is elected the next US president.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Artillery trumps security promises

As the conference draws to an end, the Tages-Anzeiger comments:

“The enormous show of solidarity with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Munich conference: in the end it will capitulate to the muzzle of the gun. Artillery beats a promise of security — that is the simple logic of Russian superiority. ... [Putin] knows that war comes first, then politics — not the other way round. A promise of Nato membership does not frighten him, nor does a promise of EU membership, because he believes that these institutions are not prepared to make the ultimate and greatest sacrifice in self-defence: war.”

Stefan Kornelius