At the start of the Munich Security Conference, Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged the allies to quickly support Ukraine with battle tanks. Anyone who could deliver must "really do so now," said the SPD politician on Friday in his speech at the world's most important meeting of experts on security policy, which is attended by representatives from almost 100 countries. He offered the Allies a German leadership role in training, supplies and logistics. "For me, this is an example of the kind of leadership that everyone can expect from Germany - and which I expressly offer to our friends and partners."
Earlier, in his video-broadcast opening speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the West to speed up the delivery of arms. "Because our life depends on it," he said. He again warned of the consequences if Russian President Vladimir Putin is not stopped in his war of aggression in Ukraine. "If we are broken, then it will continue to eat up all the other states that were once in the Soviet Union."
Ukraine demands banned weapons
In the evening, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olexander Kubrakov called for the delivery of cluster munitions and phosphorus incendiary weapons. Russia uses this type of weaponry every day. "Why can't we use them? It's our territory," he said. He understands the difficulties because of conventions, but this type of ammunition can help to withstand the attackers. Kubrakov was alluding to the fact that the use of cluster munitions is outlawed under international law.
Scholz: Pistorius is working "very hard" on Panzer Alliance
After much hesitation, Scholz announced the delivery of 14 Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine at the end of January and stated the goal of "quickly" setting up two tank battalions together with allies, for which 62 tanks are needed in Ukraine. So far only Portugal has promised three Leopard 2A6s for the battalion, for which Germany took the lead. That means: 14 tanks are still missing. "We won't reach battalion strength there," admitted Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) in the middle of the week.
Scholz now emphasizes that his government will continue the efforts. "The secretary of defense is here. He's working very hard to make it happen." When asked why it was so difficult to get the tanks together, the Chancellor said in an interview after his speech: "Well." Break. "That's a question you need to ask others."
Macron: "Now is not the time for dialogue"
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is also pushing for more battle tank commitments. "I have called on the Allies to do everything in their power to supply modern weapons - including armored vehicles and main battle tanks," he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron also called for more military aid to force Russia to the negotiating table. "We absolutely need to step up our support and our efforts," he said. The aim must be to enable the Ukrainians to launch a counter-offensive. Only she will allow credible negotiations on Ukrainian terms. "The coming weeks and months are crucial." France is ready for an intensification of aid and for an even longer conflict. "Now is not the time for dialogue," he said.
Poland wants to deliver fighter jets if NATO decides
This sets the tone for the three-day conference. Negotiations with Russia must be won - with even more weapons from the western allies.
Polish Mateusz Morawiecki made it clear that Poland would be ready to deliver fighter jets to Ukraine together with other fighter jets. However, he named a "NATO decision" as a prerequisite for such a step. When asked if Poland would also hand over F-16s to Ukraine, he said Poland does not have that many aircraft of this type. It was agreed, however, that other jets could be delivered.
He did not comment on the type. According to data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), in addition to the F-16, Poland also recently had Soviet-type MiG-29 and Su-22M-4 combat aircraft.
Russia must stay out
40 heads of state and government and almost 100 ministers will be advising in Munich until Sunday. How the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine can be ended is the central question. Among those attending are US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The Russian leadership is not invited for the first time since the 1990s. "It's too bad for us to offer these war criminals in the Kremlin a stage for their propaganda at the Munich Security Conference," explains conference leader Christoph Heusgen - a former foreign policy adviser to former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU).
Zelenskyj: "Goliath will definitely fall this year"
Selenskyj was physically present at the security conference last year - at that time still in a civilian suit and tie. Images from his speech in February 2022 were recorded at the start of the conference. Four days after the end of the conference, Russia attacked Ukraine. On Friday, Zelenskyj appeared on the screens in the ballroom of the "Bayerischer Hof" in military gear, as was customary since the beginning of the war.
"There is no alternative to our victory and there must be no alternative to our determination," he said. The Ukrainian President compared his country to the biblical David who had to defend himself against a Russian Goliath. "Goliath has already started to lose. Goliath will definitely fall this year," he said.