Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR


Vice President Harris plans to meet with 13 heads of state this weekend at the Munich Security Conference. The trip comes as US and NATO allies work to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Carolyn Kaster/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

Vice President Harris plans to meet with 13 heads of state this weekend at the Munich Security Conference. The trip comes as US and NATO allies work to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Vice President Harris will travel to Germany on Thursday to hold a series of lightning talks with European leaders to build unity as concern grows over Russian troops on the Ukrainian border.

Harris plans to meet with about 13 heads of state over the weekend in Munich and will also speak at an annual conference of the world’s top national security officials.

“The vice president’s schedule is going to be very busy, and it will include a series of high-level, high-stakes diplomatic talks,” a senior administration official told reporters late Wednesday.

“The main focus of his trip now is to focus on this rapidly evolving situation, this enormous challenge that we face now, to ensure that we are fully on board with our allies,” the official said.

The trip comes as US officials say Russia has falsely claimed to be withdrawing its troops – instead adding up to 7,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, with some arriving on Wednesday.

“The Russians have also said in recent days that they are ready to engage in diplomacy as we and our allies have repeatedly offered,” a second official told reporters. “But every indication we have now is that they only want to publicly offer to talk about their de-escalation claims while privately mobilizing for war.”

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

U.S. troops disembark from a C-17 plane on the tarmac at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport in southeastern Poland on February 16 as part of a deployment sent to reinforce the eastern flank of NATO in response to Russia.

Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

U.S. troops disembark from a C-17 plane on the tarmac at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport in southeastern Poland on February 16 as part of a deployment sent to reinforce the eastern flank of NATO in response to Russia.

Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images

Harris to meet Ukrainian Zelenskyy in Munich

On Friday, Harris will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, then meet with the leaders of the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – three members of the NATO alliance particularly worried about incursions by Moscow in Ukraine due to their own geographical proximity to Russia.

On Saturday, she will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

She will also deliver a speech at the Munich Security Conference on the state of play on the Ukrainian border and stress that the transatlantic allies are united in their response to Russian aggression.

“Obviously we’re mainly focused on the very serious threat to Ukraine, but it goes beyond that,” a third official told reporters. “Russia poses a threat in what it does here to the European and international order.”

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting with Defense Ministers at NATO Headquarters on February 16. Harris will meet Stoltenberg in Munich.

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting with Defense Ministers at NATO Headquarters on February 16. Harris will meet Stoltenberg in Munich.

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

Harris plans to shed light on NATO coordination

It is essential that NATO allies “speak with one voice” to counter the threat posed by Russia, said Ivo Daalder, who served as US ambassador to NATO in the Obama administration. .

“We are potentially on the cusp of the largest military operation in Europe since World War II,” Daalder told NPR.

He said it was crucial for Harris to seize this moment to show how the United States can bring together the diverse interests represented in the alliance.

Administration officials told reporters that Harris will focus on coordination among NATO members on diplomacy and deterrence, including building up forces on NATO’s eastern flank and working on severe economic sanctions for Russia in case of invasion.

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

Vice President Harris met with French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and other European political and business leaders during a trip to Paris in November.

Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

Vice President Harris met with French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and other European political and business leaders during a trip to Paris in November.

Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

This is a high-stakes opportunity for Harris to show leadership

Harris, who spent most of the early part of his political career focusing on domestic issues, worked to carve out a role for himself in the Biden administration’s foreign policy during his first year as vice -president.

This includes a trip to France in November, where she met Europe’s top leaders. She focused on Central American migration issues and visited leaders in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, and also represented Biden on a trip to Singapore and Vietnam.

She has also been in the room for some of Biden’s biggest national security decisions, including the evacuation of Kabul and the US raid that killed an Islamic State leader.

Halie Soifer, who was Harris’ national security adviser when she was in the US Senate, said the Munich conference was a real opportunity for Harris to show leadership.

“It’s a looming crisis,” Soifer said. “She will play a vital role in assuring our allies that we are on their side at this critical time.”

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

Vice President Harris on a trip to Paris in November. Some Europeans see her as representative of how the next generation of American leaders views the transatlantic relationship.

Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Harris to meet with leaders in Munich to talk about Russia and Ukraine : NPR

Vice President Harris on a trip to Paris in November. Some Europeans see her as representative of how the next generation of American leaders views the transatlantic relationship.

Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

For some Europeans, Harris represents the next generation of Americans

There has been some uncertainty among allies in recent years about how much importance the United States still places on European security.

Some see in this crisis much more than a simple confrontation with Russia. It’s also about whether Europe matters to the next generation of Americans.

Constanze Stelzenmüller, who writes on transatlantic issues at the Brookings Institution, says there is no doubt where Biden and his generation stand.

But Harris can help define what U.S. relations with Europe will look like in the future, Stelzenmüller said.

“This is an opportunity for the vice president to take the stage in Munich and say, ‘I am the face of the next America,'” Stelzenmüller said. “‘And this America cares about its place in the world and cares about world peace and rules and democracy – and we will stand with our allies.'”


npr

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button