The Munich Security Conference has opened with world leaders, top officials, policymakers, and security experts set to focus on the escalating crisis prompted by fears that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine.
UN chief Antonio Guterres told the opening ceremony on February 18 that it would be “catastrophic” if the Russia-Ukraine crisis escalated into a war.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other leaders and senior officials are taking part in the security forum, where a number of meetings on the sidelines are also scheduled.
Harris is scheduled to meet NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on February 18, and will also hold talks with Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the leaders of the three Baltic countries — Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
For the first time in years, Russia is not sending any official representative to the gathering.
More than 30 heads of state and government are attending.
On February 19, the foreign ministers of the G7 group of industrialized nations, including Blinken, will meet on the sidelines of the conference.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also set to attend the February 19 session, joined by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
Discussions about Ukraine, Russia, and NATO are set to dominate the conference on February 19, while February 20 will be dedicated to the future of the European Union.
Last year, the conference took place virtually due to the pandemic.