US VP Harris headed to Munich conference before Ukraine war’s 1-year mark

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Vice President Kamala Harris will once again head the U.S. delegation to the Munich Security Conference, two people familiar with her plans said, a sign of the continued importance the U.S. is putting on transatlantic cooperation on Ukraine nearly one year into the war.

Harris’ appearance at Europe’s premier defense conference is meant to underscore that America won’t abandon Kyiv even as the war is expected to grind on for at least another year. She’ll arrive in the southern German city after a few tense weeks of negotiations between Washington and Berlin over supplying more advanced weapons to Ukraine.

Following discussions with German officials, who had said they’d send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine if the U.S. sent its Abrams tanks, President Joe Biden authorized the transfer of 31 Abramson Wednesday. In response, Germany quickly greenlighted its own Leopard tanks and those held by other nations.

It’ll be Harris’ second go in front of the conference, taking place Feb. 17-19.

Just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the invasion, Harris will get a chance to update transatlantic-minded officials and experts on the progress the U.S.-led Western resistance has made and potentially preview further steps. Ukraine, for instance, has made no secret about its desire to field fighter jets, including F-16s, from the United States.

Last year, the vice president gave a well-received speech just five days before Vladimir Putin sent his forces across the border into Ukraine. Harris, echoing her boss’ sentiments, vowed that the United States would stand up for Kyiv and the broader transatlantic alliance under such dire circumstances.

“If Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States, together with our Allies and partners, will impose significant and unprecedented economic costs,” she said.

A White House official said there’s no travel to announce for the vice president.

The news of Harris’ involvement in the event comes as rumors grow that Biden might make a visit to Europe in commemoration of the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The White House has yet to confirm any discussions of such a trip, let alone say that a flight over the Atlantic is officially on the schedule.