After a year of war, the speeches have become more belligerent at the Munich Security Conference. Macron He called last year “not to humiliate Putin”, still trusting in a negotiation, but in this edition the French president has called to “defeat Putin” and has recognized that “the time for diplomacy has not yet arrived”. Even Germany seems to have begun to overcome its traumas and to be adopting a leadership role unknown until now.
After long months in which Berlin has weighed down shipments of heavy weapons to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Schölz negotiates in the conference asides the formation of a full battalion of Leopard 2A6, coming from allied states of the Ukraine. “It is important that Putin realize as soon as possible that he cannot achieve his imperial ambitions and this also means that all those who want to deliver battle tanks really do so“, the German chancellor has urged the European partners, now boasting that he is at the forefront of tank deliveries.
Everyone in Munich is aware that the war is going on for a long time, that the key lies in unity, resistance and continuity of international support for Kiev, and unanimity reigns on the need to maintain that support. But Zelensky, in his inaugural speech, has gone further and has asked for combat aircraft as soon as possible, about which neither Scholz nor Macron want to talk yet.
All the speeches allude to the fact that there is a long war ahead, from which the need to space out arms deliveries to maintain sustained support can be deduced. All the speakers correct Putin’s calculation that Russia will outlast Ukraine and the West. Everyone understands that what is at stake is which of the parties will be able to continue supplying arms and men to the front for longer and of higher quality. It is an endurance test.
“Heads of state and government on both sides of the Atlantic know what it takes to drive back Putin in Ukraine and curb Russian imperialism going forward: more defense spending, increased arms production, more development cooperation. of arms,” he points out Bethold Kohler, publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine. But it is only Macron who is going a step further and arguing in Munich that the Europeans should also play an active role in trying to return to arms control agreements with Moscow. “The West must prepare for the fact that Putin would prefer to continue threatening with his nuclear weapons, including those that Helmut Schmidt recognized half a century ago as the greatest danger to Europe, medium-range missiles,” adds Kohler. “Berlin must finally accept his repeated offer and talk to Paris about how Germany’s security could also be increased through the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons. The Helmut Schmidt of the 21st century is not called Olaf Scholz, but Emmanuel Macron.
More international responsibility
This discourse is also circulating in Germany, even among the old Social Democrats. Attends the Munich Security Conference Joachim Gauck, who in his day called the country from the Federal Presidency to take on more international responsibility and to stop glorifying what he called the “culture of moderation”, which he associated with the “stay-apart philosophy”. In the 2014 edition of the Conference, he encouraged Germans to have confidence in their democracy and in their armed forces, not to understand responsibility primarily as “paying more”. Today Scholz’s speech seemed “monumental” to him and he says that “after those words we can expect the facts to follow, although at this point I admit that I struggle with my confidence.” Gauck acknowledges that his generation is often stuck in “old mindsets.” “There is still the old tendency to draw red lines,” he laments, and criticizes the calls for a quick negotiated solution that are swarming these days in Germany: “If Putin already has such problems with a single small and non-NATO country, he will He will think four or five times before continuing to pursue his imperialist dreams.”
Defense Davos, as the Munich Security Conference is popularly known, approaches this debate on red lines from the conviction that Ukraine is only the beginning. “Not only Ukraine is threatened, but the entire continent”, Zelensky recalled, “not only the Dnieper is in danger, but also the Thames and the Spree”, he cited the list of rivers that pass through the great capitals of Europe . And from this premise, he has called on the representatives of 150 governments who have come to Munich not to look at this war as the biblical confrontation between David and Goliath, which “does not do justice to the scale of the war, nor to the threat it poses.” for everyone present.”