After battle tanks and fighter jets, Ukraine presented its western allies with a new weapon they wanted to use in the fight against Russia at the Munich Security Conference. Deputy Prime Minister Olexander Kubrakow called for cluster munitions and phosphorus incendiary weapons – the use of both weapons is very controversial. Like Russia, his country also wants to use this “type of ordnance”. “It’s our territory.” 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. Cluster munitions are rockets and bombs that burst in mid-air over the target, releasing many small explosive devices. Phosphorus munitions can cause severe burns and poisoning in humans.

Kubrakov also campaigned again for the delivery of fighter jets. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made it clear that his country 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.

Despite the drastic demands, it is unlikely that US Secretary of State Kamala Harris or British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will address them in their eagerly awaited speeches. Harris also wonders how she is going to deal with the balloon affair between the US and China.

Almost two weeks ago, the US military shot down a suspected spy balloon over the Atlantic off the coast of the state of South Carolina. The United States accuses China of wanting to spy on military installations. Beijing, on the other hand, speaks of a civilian research balloon that has gone off course.

China’s top foreign policy leader Wang Yi in Munich

It is speculated that she or US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet China’s most important foreign policy leader, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the meeting. There are great tensions in the already strained relationship between China and the USA.

US President Joe Biden defended the shooting – but at the same time requested a meeting with China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping. However, China reacted coolly to the offer of talks, which is why a meeting in Munich would be of great importance. Wang Yi was only promoted from the Foreign Ministry to the Communist Party’s Politburo in October, and he is also on the list of speakers in Munich.

After the security conference, Yi also wants to visit Moscow. Beijing has been supporting Russia so far – but at the G20 summit in November, together with the western countries, warned against the use of nuclear weapons.

Demands for criminal consequences for Putin

Meanwhile, calls for criminal consequences for Russian President Vladimir Putin have been raised again in Munich. Putin must be held accountable for the crime of aggression, “otherwise history will keep repeating itself,” demanded Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, according to the official translation at the security conference. Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham emphasized: “If Putin gets away with it, then the same thing will happen again in the future.”

The Russian war of aggression has now lasted almost a year. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the conference by video address on Friday and unequivocally called for more arms deliveries, including fighter jets, and for faster decisions by the allies. In contrast to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Selenskyj expressed optimism that he would win the war against Russia this year. The prerequisite for this, however, are the corresponding deliveries of weapons.

The issue of arms deliveries to Ukraine is also at the top of the agenda at a foreign ministers’ round table discussion, in which Annalena Baerbock, US Secretary of State Blinken and her Ukrainian colleague Dmytro Kuleba also take part.

Leopard deliveries to Kiev – Baerbock appeal to allies

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock appealed to the allies, like Germany, to deliver Leopard main battle tanks to Kiev. Together we must now ensure that Ukraine can defend itself and save lives, she said in an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk. “That’s why we’re appealing so urgently to other partner countries that have a similar model to what we’re supplying” to also make such tanks available.

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,” Defense Minister Boris Pistorius admitted in the middle of the week.

Politicians and experts from around 100 countries have been invited to the security conference. For the first time in more than 20 years, the Russian leadership has not been invited. On the other hand, Russian Kremlin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov will be on the podium late on Saturday evening. Unlike in previous years, the Iranian leadership and politicians of the AfD did not receive an invitation either.