With the conflict in eastern Ukraine very much the dominant theme at the Munich Security Conference, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made a fresh appeal to the West for further backing.
In an address to attendees on the second day of the convention, he asked for weapons to be supplied to Kyiv, to assist the armed forces against pro-Russian rebels.
It’s a subject Western politicians have had heated debates about.
Angela Merkel rightly stresses diplomatic approach to crisis. But different means support. Sanctions. Defence could be another. #MSC2015— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 7, 2015
“I know that many experts have argued that enhancing our military will provoke further aggression. On the contrary, we have seen that the lack of defence capability triggers offensive operations against Ukraine and spins the escalation,” said Poroshenko. “Over the course of the conflict, we have proven to be responsible, that we will not use defensive equipment to attack. The stronger our defence, the more conviction our diplomatic voice has.”
Poroshenko brandished passports he said belonged to Russian troops in Ukraine. Russia denies intervening directly in the conflict.
On Monday (February 9), the EU is expected to formally endorse new sanctions against a list of Russians and pro-Moscow Ukrainians.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister will be the highest-profile target.
“I am honoured because it means that I am working effectively. It is a positive remark and it is a high evaluation or estimation of what I have made,” he said. “I am a little surprised when I hear that somebody would like to introduce sanctions against diplomats. What will be in the future? Who will start a dialogue?”
Speaking earlier on day two of the Conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke up about the conflict and its repercussions. He pointed the finger at the US and the EU, accusing them of taking steps “that led to the escalation of the situation” in Ukraine.