When the Munich Security Conference Pretends to Ignore the Decisive Defeat of Ukraine

On February 16, the expected turning point in the Ukraine war likely occurred, with the defeat of the Ukrainian Army in the strategically key town of Avdeyevka. De facto, no obstacle now stands in the way of the Russian Army’s reaching the administrative borders of the Donbass region. Thus, the end of the war may be near given the military, physical and moral consequences of the battle on the Ukrainian forces.

The strategic significance of the fall of Avdeyevka is clear to all military analysts. Therefore, one would have expected the issue to be intensively debated at the Munich Security Conference, the “Davos of Defense” which opened the same day. After all, the top military brass and analysts from all those countries assisting Kyiv were gathered in the southern German metropolis. The celebrated western democracies should have had an open debate on the consequence of this “little Stalingrad”.

And yet, no such open debate occurred – although the issue certainly dominated private discussions – and a Kafkian public comedy was staged. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba, with his “peace plan” requiring the withdrawal of Russian troops from “occupied territories”, was reminiscent of Hitler moving non-existent divisions into his bunker. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that a ceasefire would only benefit Russia, and warned Beijing not to help Moscow, as Washington “would view any provision of military assistance or evading sanctions as a very serious problem for us and for many other countries around the world”. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met with President Zelenskyy to assure him that the weapons and cash required to keep Ukrainians dying in battle would be maintained, while Germany and France concluded a security agreement with Ukraine. (True, the latter was not really impressive since, as the Maidan and Minsk experiences show, German and French signatures are not worth the paper they’re written on). Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for his part, made his pre-programmed demand for more weapons and more money.

The “clincher” of the comedy, however, was the news of the death of Alexei Navalny on the morning of Feb. 16, just as his wife Yulia was scheduled to address the conference. It was, of course, a coincidence that Yulia Navalnaya was invited to the MSC this year, and that a few hours before her scheduled speech, her husband was found dead in his Siberian prison cell. But instead of rushing back to Russia, as might be expected, she decided to stay in Munich and denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin as the assassin.

As a result, instead of being informed of how NATO was badly losing its proxy war in Ukraine, Western citizens were bombarded with massive anti-Russian propaganda around the Navalny case. To avoid any misunderstanding, we clearly regret the death of Alexei Navalny, just as the loss of every human being, and we hope for full clarity on the circumstances of his death, but it is certainly deceitful to describe Navalny as a hero of democracy. Alexei Navalny was known for his xenophobic and reactionary views and was much more a product of Western propaganda than a real political threat for Vladimir Putin. As a matter of fact, Putin will be most harmed by his passing.

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