Munich Conference Reflect Concerns About the Security of Europe

What Happened:

The Munich Conference is a gathering of important officials, including heads of state, senior decision-makers, and high-ranking individuals from industry and academia. The goals of the conference are to come together and solve problems through open dialogue. Frequent discussions include security, economics, development, and aid.

The 2024 Munich Conference celebrated its 60-year anniversary, but the atmosphere was not festive. Attendees reported high levels of armed security, with a drastic increase from previous years. There was also much discussion about Europe’s shortcomings in aiding Ukraine as well as concerns about the continued reliability of the U.S. as an ally.

The conference last year occurred at a time when Ukraine had pushed Russian forces back, retaking large swathes of territory against a sputtering offensive. The 2023 conference was fully resolved around rallying around Ukraine; however, the 2024 conference was more bleak.

The Details:

The conference took place between February 16 and 18 and was mostly focused around Russian success in the fall of Avdiika and the suspicious death of Alexei Navalny, a frequent critic of Putin. Countries stated their concerns over a dwindling Ukrainian ammunition supply and the fears of Russia’s wartime economy outpacing what Europe and the U.S. can provide.

This led leaders to begin discussing when Russia would be a threat to NATO territory, a first for the conference. Although there were varying numbers between defense ministries, most countries believe Russia could be a viable threat to NATO between 3 and 10 years. Russia is quickly rearming with help from China, Iran, and North Korea, putting NATO in a difficult position.

Before the conference, European leaders had stated that they needed to be able to stand alone in the face of the Russian threat after comments made by former U.S. president Donald Trump, who is also the frontrunner for the Republican Party in the upcoming election. There was very little consensus on what to do in order to stop the Russians. Some countries, such as Denmark, offered to donate all of their artillery to Kyiv in an effort to hold up their defense.

European countries are raising defense spending with the goal of every NATO country spending at least 2% of its GDP on rearming. However, Europe is still only at an average of 1.6%, while Russia is likely to increase its spending to 6%.

The next large concern was the U.S. and what future aid may look like, if it comes at all. The Biden administration is adamant that the U.S. will continue supporting its European allies as well as Ukraine. However, with the election in November, no one is sure of what will happen next.

What’s Next:

It is hard to predict whether the House of Representatives will pass the aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Global leaders, including Volodymyr Zelensky, called on American lawmakers to pass the bill quickly, as the longer they delay, the longer Russia has to adapt and take advantage of the situation.

Attendees of the conference note that talks of European “strategic autonomy” were put on a temporary hold as many want the U.S. to be active in the strategy for how to go forward. There were also promises made by Vice President Kamala Harris ensuring that the U.S. would absolutely stand with its allies, but it did little to ease concerns.

Matthew Dellinger
Matthew Dellinger
Matthew Dellinger holds a Political Science and History BS and is working towards a Masters in Public Administration. Before his time at Atlas he joined GoodPolitical to serve as a writer and contributor while also expanding his knowledge on global events. Matthew is proud to be a part of a news organization that believes in delivering truthful, unfiltered, and unbiased news to people around the world.

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