US Vice President Kamala Harris concluded a weekend of outreach to European allies with an effort to bolster the West’s resolve to confront Moscow with crippling sanctions as increasingly dire signs suggest Vladimir Russia’s Putin plans to order an invasion of Ukraine.
In a burst of diplomacy at the annual Munich security conference, Harris tried to make the case to US allies that rapidly escalating tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border meant European security was under “direct threat”. and that there should be unified support for economic sanctions if the Kremlin invades its neighbor.
“We are talking about the potential for war in Europe. I mean, let’s really take a moment to understand the significance of what we’re talking about,” Harris told reporters before returning to Washington. Europe, she said, could be at its most perilous moment since the end of World War II.
“It’s been over 70 years, and in those 70 years…there has been peace and security,” she said. “We are talking about the real possibility of war in Europe.”
During a series of choreographed meetings and a major speech at the security conference, Harris told world leaders they stood at a “definitive” and “decisive” moment for the world.
Harris met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, leaders of the three Baltic countries, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Biden sent Harris to Germany with simple marching orders to amplify his fear that a Russian invasion is very likely and impress upon European allies that they must be prepared to impose the toughest sanctions Moscow has ever seen.
Harris told reporters that an invasion — and subsequent sanctions against Russia — would also have costs for Americans.
“When America stands up for principles and all the things that we hold dear, it sometimes forces us to present ourselves in a way that maybe will come at a cost,” Harris said. “In this situation, it may be related to energy costs.”