KYIV —The leaders of France, Germany and the UK will join dozens of others Friday at a security conference in Germany to discuss the next steps in supporting Ukraine as the Russian invasion nears its one-year anniversary.
For the first time in two decades, Russian leaders were not invited to the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of world leaders, politicians and security experts, which is set to open with a video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
US Vice President Kamala Harris is returning to the conference a year after she shared warnings, just days before the invasion began, that Russia was about to attack its neighbor.
Harris will meet French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the sidelines of the Munich forum to discuss the next steps in supporting Ukraine on the battlefield and efforts to impose costs on Russia, the White House said.
She will also have a joint meeting with the prime ministers of Finland and Sweden in which she will underscore Washington’s strong support for their applications to join NATO.
The Nordic nations, which were previously closely aligned militarily with NATO without actually being members, rushed to join the military alliance after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But their accession has been held up by Turkey, which has put pressure on Sweden in particular to crack down on exiled Kurdish militants and other groups that the Turkish government considers security threats.
Hungary also has delayed approving the two Nordic bids. All NATO countries must approve new members in the alliance.
The Munich conference will bring together about 40 heads of state and government as well as politicians and security experts from almost 100 countries.
Besides the Russians, the organizers didn’t invite officials from Iran due to the bloody crackdown on nationwide anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic.
Russian officials were invited but didn’t attend last year’s conference in Munich, which ended just four days before the invasion of Ukraine started on Feb. 24. — Euronews