MUNICH (dpa) – The conflict in Ukraine is the dominant theme at the this year’s Munich Security Conference, which will also host panels and discussions on the Middle East, international terrorism and security in the Pacific.
Dozens of leaders and defence and foreign ministers will gather in the German city for the three-day event, which starts on Friday.
The conference will be opened at 3pm (1400 GMT) by Wolfgang Ischinger, a German veteran diplomat who heads the organising committee. Next are addresses by German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO’s Supreme Commander in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove, then takes part in a discussion on hybrid warfare, a term that characterises the conflict in Ukraine, where Russia is accused of waging a covert war with volunteer fighters, arms deliveries and a massive propaganda effort.
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd later hosts a debate on Pacific Geopolitics, followed by a panel with UN High Commissioner Antonio Guterres on the international refugee crisis.
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address the conference, followed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Merkel launched a last-minute peace initiative together with French President Francois Hollande in Kiev Thursday, where they met Poroshenko.
The two leaders are expected to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Friday in Moscow.