Kamala Harris to Speak at Munich Security Conference, Bolster for her Foreign Policy Credentials
By: Ahmed Fathi
Kamala Harris will meet with US allies and partners at the Munich Security Conference next week in an effort to dissuade Russian aggression in Ukraine, a trip that will serve as a crucial diplomatic test for her vice presidency.
According to a senior administration official, Harris will deliver a speech, define US policy in a series of public appearances, and reaffirm America's commitment to NATO members. Germany's, the EU's, and NATO's leaders will be in attendance, but Harris is not scheduled to meet Russian or Chinese leaders.
The summit, which was initiated by Western nations during the Cold War to handle military crises, is scheduled to take place in Munich from February 18-20, amid a high-stakes battle between Western nations and Russia over Ukraine.
"This journey is intended to engage our allies and partners and to build on the extensive engagement that has already begun," the official stated.
Harris would "reiterate America's commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity" as the country faces the prospect of a large-scale Russian invasion, the official added.
Russia has built a force of approximately 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border. Although it denies planning an invasion, US officials have stated that a strike may come within days or weeks.
President Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday morning for the second time in a week that if Ukraine joined NATO and then attempted to reclaim the Crimean peninsula from Russia in 2014, European countries would be inevitably drawn into a war with Russia in which "there will be no winners."
President Joe Biden of the United States has threatened Russia with the most punitive penalties in history if it sends soldiers across the border, but has underscored that the US prefers diplomacy. On Monday, he spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and stated that if Russia invades Ukraine, the Nord Stream 2 gas project would be blocked.
While Harris's public presence and efficacy on a range of significant domestic problems have come under fire, particularly from the opposition Republican Party, she is more frequently hailed as a trailblazer, the United States' unusual female leader.
According to White House insiders, Biden has frequently urged his vice president to engage directly with foreign leaders and build her own rapport with key US allies, and the Munich trip is expected to be a major diplomatic test of her vice presidency and her most high-profile foreign trip to date.
Harris attended Biden's meeting with Scholz at the White House.
"The vice president is beginning to illustrate more clearly and openly how critical she is to the overall execution of our foreign policy," the person added.
The vice president has sought to bolster her foreign policy credentials through solo meetings with foreign leaders and travel to Central America, Asia, and Europe in order to advance administration priorities such as reducing migration from Central America to the United States and bolstering international support to counter China's growing global influence.
At its usual venue in the Bavarian capital, the conference will bring together approximately 35 heads of state and government. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summit was virtually held in 2021.