Press Reviews and Analyses

A small selection of reports and analyses on the debates in Munich

"Munich Security Conference 2015 - Key security challenges ahead" (Carmen-Cristina Cirlig, European Parliament Research Service Briefing, February 19): "[W]orld leaders, former and current politicians, as well as media and civil society representatives gathered for the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC), an increasingly important forum for debate and exchange of views among the world's security community. [...] The underlying theme of the conference focused on the dangers of a collapse in the global order, of its institutions and, most importantly, of the principles on which it has been built since the Second World War."


"United Against Putin, Divided on How to Stop Him" (Serge Schmemann, International New York Times, February 10) "It was at the venerable Munich Security Conference in 2007 that Vladimir Putin first sounded the resentful Cold War blast that now defines his foreign policy, bitterly accusing the United States of seeking a monopoly on global power. Subsequent Munich conferences were marked by desultory efforts to 'reset' the relationship, to maintain the appearance at least of collegiality. All that was before Ukraine. At the security conference this past weekend in a bitterly cold Bavarian capital, the talk in the hall packed with generals, defense ministers, lawmakers and senior politicians was not of Russia’s place in a European security order."


"Western Illusions Over Ukraine" (Roger Cohen, New York Times, February 9) "Lavrov’s performance here reflected the alternate universe in which the Russian spaceship has docked almost a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union. George Orwell’s doublethink scarcely begins to describe his assertions."


"Proceed with Caution on Iranian Diplomacy" (David Ignatius, Washington Post, February 9) "Sitting next to Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday as he said that another extension of the nuclear talks isn't 'in the interests of anybody,' it seemed clear that this particular can isn't going to get kicked down the road much farther."


"Spotlight: Munich meeting ends with Europe-U.S. clash over Ukraine" (Tang Zhiqiang/He Mengshu, Xinhua, February 9) "The just-concluded Munich Security Conference underlined international security cooperation, yet divergences over the Ukraine crisis remain - not only between the West and Russia, but also inside the Western camp. The meeting, which closed Sunday, saw Europe and the United States at odds over whether to offer arms to the Ukrainian government to support its battle against independence-seeking insurgents in the eastern part of the country."


"Deadline Nearing, Iran Presses for Progress in Nuclear Talks" (Michael R. Gordon/Steven Erlanger, New York Times, February 9) "Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Sunday that Tehran did not favor another extension of the talks on limiting its nuclear program and expected economic sanctions to be quickly lifted if an accord was reached."


Europe Pushes for Diplomatic Solution in Ukraine Amid Calls for Arming Kiev (Anton Troianovski/Laurence Norman/Julian Barnes, The Wall Street Journal, February 9) "Munich - The diplomatic scramble to calm the resurgent Ukraine crisis spilled into the open here on Saturday, as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko urged an immediate cease-fire, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel countered calls from some U.S. senators for the West to deliver weapons to Ukraine."


"Crisis in Ukraine Underscores Opposing Lessons of Cold War" (Alison Smale, New York Times, February 8) "The Cold War is history, but its spirit this weekend stalked the security conference held here each winter for the past 51 years."


"Russia, West face a deep divide" (Nina Werkhäuser, Deutsche Welle, February 8) "On this cold winter morning in Munich, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sat alone on the podium, welcomed by scant applause. Only former German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference, was with him. With a stony demeanor, he began to castigate the West for what it has done, in his opinion, at the expense of Russia. And not just since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis over the past year, but also in the past quarter of a century - meaning since the end of the Cold War."


"Merkel downbeat as world awaits Putin’s response to latest Ukraine peace plan" (Julian Borger, The Guardian, February 7) "Angela Merkel, who travelled with Hollande to Moscow on Friday evening to set out their proposal, was downbeat about its prospects on Saturday. The German chancellor told the annual Munich Security Conference: “It is uncertain whether it will lead to success but, from my point of view and that of the French president, it is definitely worth trying.”


"Western Nations Split on Arming Kiev Forces" (Michael R. Gordon/Alison Smale/Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, February 7) "Differences within the Western alliance over whether to send defensive arms to Ukraine were thrust into the open on Saturday when Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, bluntly opposed providing lethal military support to Kiev and called instead for continued efforts to persuade Russia and separatist forces to cease fire."


"Urgency increases from world leaders trying to broker Moscow-Ukraine cease-fire" (Anthony Faiola/Carol Morello, Washington Post, February 7) "The viability of a joint French and German proposal to halt fighting in eastern Ukraine faced significant hurdles Saturday as European and American officials attending a security conference demanded that Russia withdraw its troops while Russian officials blamed the United States for the escalating violence."


"U.S.-Germany Rift on Ukraine Aids Putin" (Josh Rogin, Bloomberg View, February 7) "The crisis in Ukraine is at the top of the agenda here at the Munich Security Conference, and almost all the officials attending (not counting the Russians) agree that the situation is deteriorating rapidly and that Western countries must do something drastic to alter the course of events and influence Russian President Vladimir Putin. But that’s where the agreement ends. And the growing rift between the U.S. and Europe over the way forward in Ukraine only plays into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine."


"The Dialogue of the Deaf Between the West and Russia" (Judy Dempsey, Carnegie Europe, February 7) "After listening to Merkel give her candid view about very complex issues from the crisis in Ukraine to hybrid warfare, it was instructive to hear Lavrov. The Russian, who comes to Munich each year for this annual gathering of world leaders, defense chiefs, and security experts, could have simply sent a video of his performance of last year."


"Merkel warns Ukraine peace plan may fail, but worth the effort" (Stefan Wagstyl/Sam Jones, Financial Times, February 7) "German chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that she may fail in her last-ditch attempt to ease the Ukraine crisis but said it was worth the effort for the sake of the people of Ukraine and the defence of peace and stability in Europe. [...] Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Europe’s largest security gathering, a tired-looking chancellor said it was uncertain whether her initiative “will be crowned with success. But in my view and the view of the French president it was worth it. We owe it to the people of Ukraine.”


"Europe’s Losing Information War" (Judy Dempsey, Carnegie, February 6) "The panel included General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s military commander (and the United States’ top soldier in Europe), Edward Lucas, the Economist’s energy editor, and Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway’s minister of defense. [...] They all have their own experiences and interpretation of hybrid warfare, a relatively new term that has come in for much use and criticism ever since Russia sent “little green men” into parts of eastern Ukraine over a year ago. [...] Modern warfare has changed, in some cases so far beyond recognition that the old NATO handbooks have to be thrown in the bin. Yet that is no excuse for European governments, the EU, and the media not to deal with hybrid warfare [...] Lucas spelled out the role of Russia’s powerful propaganda machine, arguing that it has had a free ride, largely because the Europeans have been so slow to react."


"Ukraine Insists Any Pact With Russia Must Adhere to Terms of September Accord" (David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, February 6) "Washington and NATO have been more open to the possibility of sending arms to Ukraine. Speaking at a security conference in Munich on Friday, NATO's top commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, said military support should not be excluded if economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure fail to persuade Russia to cease its military support for the separatists in Ukraine. [...] As the security conference got under way, the German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, came under pressure over German refusal to supply Ukraine with weapons. Stressing that it was important to remain united in Europe over Ukraine, Ms. von der Leyen argued that negotiations with Russia, unlike with Islamic State jihadists, were possible."


"Munich hangs Ukraine hopes on Merkel-Hollande plan" (Michael Knigge, Deutsche Welle, February 6) "Given the many previous failed efforts to bring Ukraine closer to a sustainable peace, optimists who believe that this time it will be different are hard to find in Munich. But, at least for now, the Merkel-Hollande initiative has given the Munich Security Conference very profound purpose."