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Munich Security Conference

Munich Security Conference 2022 without Russia - Putin refused to attend (Courtesy photo for education only)

Munich Security Conference 2022 without Russia – Putin refused to attend (Courtesy photo for education only)

WebPublicPress (New York) – Delegates from across the world have gathered in Munich for the this 2022 year highest level traditional diplomatic forum. But, held this year in the shadow of the Ukraine crisis and Russia is not officially represented, DW (Duteshe Welle) reported quoting major news agencies.

The three-day Munich Security Conference (MSC) kicked off in the Bavarian capital on Friday, with a major focus scheduled to be on Western strategy to counter the Ukraine crisis.

Notably absent are official representatives from Russia, the country that has triggered new fears of war in Europe by amassing thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border.

The chairman of the conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, told reporters that he could not remember when there had otherwise been “so many overlapping crises” to discuss.

Besides the Ukraine crisis, issues such as pandemic strategies and the fight against climate change are to be discussed at the conference. Other panels will focus on less pressing issues, such as the advance of cryptocurrency.Wolfang Ischinger: Capabilities for full-scale war exist

Criticism of Ischinger

The conference opening has been somewhat overshadowed by allegations in German media that the chairman, Wolfgang Ischinger, has used the international contacts gained through the MSC to make money.

The news magazine Der Spiegel had reported that the consulting firm Agora Strategy Group, which he co-founded in 2015, had offered for sale appointments and contacts at the conference.

Wolfgang Ischinger at a microphoneThis is Wolfgang Ischinger’s last time heading the conference after 14 years

Ischinger said in the ARD interview that he had “no knowledge” of any such offer and that he had “no operative control” over Agora,” describing the allegations as “completely baseless.”

Who is attending the conference?

More than 100 ministers and more than 30 heads of state and government will be at the Munich meeting.

Guests include German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US Vice President Kamala Harris, who will be among those to deliver speeches.

MSC chair: ‘I believe that war is avoidable’

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her US counterpart, Antony Blinken, will be, among other things, heading a discussion entitled “Unlearning Helplessness: Meeting Global Challenges.” That discussion will be hosted by Christoph Heusgen, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s adviser on foreign security policy, who has been tapped to succeed Ischinger as MSC chairman.

Ischinger has held the reins at the conference for 14 years.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was also set to speak on Friday afternoon.

What effect does Russia’s absence have?

Ischinger said on Friday he deeply regretted that Russian government representatives had rejected invitations to join the conference.

While admitting that attendance would have “limited enjoyment value” for them, Ischinger told German broadcaster ARD their absence meant Moscow had no chance to give its input on the Ukraine crisis.

“The chance of us actually arranging meaningful talks on the issue in Munich is, of course, much greater if an authorized Russian government representative with permission to speak were present,” he said.

He said “quite a number of Russians” had canceled because COVID restrictions in place at the conference required attendees to be vaccinated with vaccines approved in Germany. Russians are usually vaccinated with Russian-made vaccines that have not yet been authorized in the EU.

He did add, however, that there would be very experienced people from Russia attending the conference.

Future MSC chief: West needs to show unity in Ukraine crisis

Ischinger ‘skeptical’ about Kyiv assault

Ischinger slammed Russia’s depiction of the crisis as having been caused by Western threats to its territorial integrity, describing such a view as “far-fetched.”

However, in an interview with DW, Ischinger said he was “skeptical” that Russia would go as far as attacking the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

“I would think that any responsible Russian military commander, and I would also hope any Russian political responsible leader, would think about how would you — once you have moved all your military equipment over hundreds of kilometers into that, say, up to Kyiv — How are you going to keep this huge area with many millions of Ukrainians under your control?” he said.

tj/dj (dpa, Reuters)

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