Munich Security Conference: What are the key takeaways?

As the three-day Munich Security Conference came to an end on Sunday, high-ranking politicians reaffirmed their will to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's war of aggression. Aside from the unity of the West, however, European commentators also see diverging positions and many uncertainties.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

United in uncertainty

Russia's war has left little time for other issues, Corriere della Sera laments:

“Sure, in Munich Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with US Secretary of State Tony Blinken. But their meeting was rather peripheral and was basically the exception that confirmed the new rule: the world out there is increasingly fragmented and the Western states need to discuss things among themselves. ... But the meeting told us little about the coming year: how long the war will last and how long the West will remain united, how quickly we will be able to support Ukraine's war effort to prevent its defeat, and whether and what place Russia will occupy in the European space in the future.”

Polityka (PL) /

Focusing on the essentials

At last the Security Conference has addressed its core tasks, Polityka notes approvinly:

“Indicative of the new role in which the West is only slowly finding itself was the omission of the trendy topics and challenges that dominated the previous unedifying Munich conferences. There wasn't much about the climate, the role of the media, Big Tech or AI. Nor were there discussions about countries outside the West's current confrontation with Russia: there was nothing about India, Brazil, Africa or the problems of the global South. The West focused on itself, its states and its institutions - not excluding the EU - in an effort to 'gain muscle'.”

Der Spiegel (DE) /

Kubrakov has done a disservice to Ukraine

Der Spiegel says Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov's statements about the potential use of phosphorus incendiary weapons and cluster munitions are unwise:

“The use, transport, production and storage of cluster bombs is prohibited by the Oslo Convention. Germany and most other European countries are among the approximately 110 signatories - Russia and Ukraine, but also the US and Western Balkan countries, on the other hand, have not yet ratified the agreement. So Kubrakov knew that the use of such weapons, while possible, is also highly controversial - and is in no way likely to unite the Western allies behind Kyiv. ... This is desperation on Kubrakov's part. But it is also a disservice to Ukraine.”

Strana (UA) /

China could be coordinating its position with Russia

Strana sees a growing divergence between the West and China over the war on Ukraine:

“The Munich Conference made it clear that there are serious differences between the West and China on this issue. And China has let it be known that Western countries caused peace talks to fail at an earlier stage. So it is possible that China will present an alternative peace draft in the near future. And it is highly likely that this plan will be coordinated with Russia in advance. At the same time, there is the possibility of China acting as a kind of representative of Russia in the negotiations with the West.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Berlin's words must be followed by deeds

Germany's security and defence policy is too indecisive, the Financial Times complains:

“As a proportion of output, defence expenditure remains well below Nato's 2 per cent target, as it has been since the end of the Cold War. Tussles between the chancellery and government ministries have delayed the formal announcement of a new national security strategy. ... A more vigorous, properly funded German defence and security policy is necessary not just because of Russia's aggression. It is the best way to persuade politicians in Washington that Nato's European members are not simply free-riders on the US security guarantee of the continent.”

Delfi (LT) /

The world is becoming divided

Russia is far from being isolated internationally, political scientist Linas Kojala notes on Delfi:

“The data shows that public opinion about Russia in the developing world (over six billion people) has not worsened, even against the backdrop of its brutal aggression. On the contrary, more people than before have a positive image of the Kremlin. In Southeast Asia, for example, six out of ten people see it this way. As a result, the world is increasingly splitting into a democratic world that takes a certain view of the geopolitical challenges and the rest that takes the opposite view. ... This complicates the West's efforts to isolate Russia and fully enforce economic sanctions.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

The guest list says it all

The invitations to the Conference reflect the renewed confrontation between blocs, Handelsblatt explains:

“Russian government representatives were deliberately not invited. The organisers are also not willing to offer the Iranian Mullah regime, which brutally suppresses its people's desire for freedom, a forum at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. The Chinese government, however, will be represented at a high level to promote its model of a socialist market economy. And the 'global South' can decide which side of the new world order it wants to be on.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Growing discontent with the international order

More attention should be paid to the interests of non-Western countries at the conference, demands La Vanguardia:

“The Munich Security Conference has always been an extremely interesting forum for discussing the political and security dynamics in the world. But after Russia's unjustifiable aggression in Ukraine, its role in analysing the changes that have occurred not just at the European but also the global level has taken on even greater importance. ... A compromise must be sought to pave the way for a perspective that is less European and Western and takes into account the demands of countries in other parts of the world that are no longer hiding their discontent with an international order that does not respond to their needs.”

Delo (SI) /

Stop this war!

Delo publishes an appeal signed by former President Milan Kučan and other Slovenian politicians and scholars:

“The political talk of losers and winners is at odds with the aim of peace. Neither side can win this war. Peace can only be concluded at the negotiating table. ... We therefore expect you, the governments of the countries of the EU, Nato, the US and Russia, to form an alliance to stop the fighting, halt further arms build-up and start negotiations. The world of the future, peace, security and the fight against climate change are your responsibility! Your duty is to safeguard the lives of our children and their descendants in a world without fear that guarantees the existence of humanity.”

e-vestnik (BG) /

An unresolvable conflict for now

E-vestnik compares the war in Ukraine with the Middle East conflict:

“Netanyahu said about the Middle East conflict: 'If the Palestinians lay down their weapons, there will be peace. If Israel disarms, there will be no Israel.' So it is with this conflict - if Russia lays down its arms there will be peace, if Ukraine lays down its arms, there will be no Ukraine. Putin and the aggressive Russian society have plunged the world into the worst conflict in history. ... We can only hope that this war will continue to smoulder without turning into a nuclear conflict. It won't end anytime soon. For the time being the situation is beyond repair.”