The 58th Munich Security Conference, which begins this Friday, will be dominated by one topic: the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The presence of almost 150,000 soldiers in the immediate vicinity of the Ukrainian border raises numerous questions.

Questions that high-ranking foreign and security politicians in the Bayerischer Hof conference hotel will hardly be able to answer this weekend.

Lorenz Hemicker

Editor in Politics

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Because those who are eligible for this do not even travel there.

For the first time since 1991, the Kremlin decided not to take part in the meeting with government representatives.

Instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow.

The transatlantic tone on the Ukraine crisis will be set by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her American counterpart Anthony Blinken on Friday afternoon, following the opening speech by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Before leaving for Munich, Baerbock said on Friday that she would discuss “how we can counter the logic of threats of violence and military escalation with a logic of dialogue”.

Blinken presented the United States' assessment to the UN Security Council on Thursday that Russia intends to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine - be it through a terrorist attack, allegations of genocide or an alleged or real attack with chemical weapons.

As is tradition, the most prominent statesmen will take part in the conference on Saturday.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is leading the German delegation, is expected to give Berlin's latest assessment of the security situation in Eastern Europe when he arrives.

Global warming and Corona as further topics

Kamala Harris, who is attending the conference for the first time as US Vice President, is likely to have a different message for Russia than Joe Biden did 13 years ago.

Today's US President himself traveled to Munich as Vice President and wanted to press the "reset button" in the then already tense relations between the United States and Russia.

It was just an attempt.

After Scholz and Harris, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj will also appear in the afternoon.

Other foreign and security policy issues, which are no less important but may seem less urgent, are likely to be discussed more in the background this time.

Conference participants will talk about the consequences of global warming as well as the corona pandemic, the crisis and conflict regions from Mali to the Indo-Pacific, and the increasing competition between democratic and autocratic states.

The G-7 countries, which Germany is currently chairing, are using the conference in Munich as a place for their foreign ministers to meet.

Ischinger hands over to Heusgen

The corona pandemic ensures that this year's Munich Security Conference will only take place under strict conditions and in a significantly smaller circle and hybrid.

Instead of 2000 people this time only 600 are allowed on site.

Those who take part virtually should be able to participate interactively.

For the long-standing chairman Wolfgang Ischinger, this means that he will not have to say goodbye in front of a large audience in Munich.

Starting next year, Christoph Heusgen will take over the management.

The longtime adviser to former Chancellor Angela Merkel has long been considered the most promising candidate.

Most recently, Heusgen was the German representative at the United Nations in New York.

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