U.S. VP Harris to map out next steps to aid Ukraine at Munich meeting
By Trevor Hunnicutt and Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to discuss Washington's future support for Ukraine when she travels to a major European security conference in Germany next week, as Russia's invasion nears the one-year mark.
Harris will travel to Munich, Germany, from Feb. 16 to 18 to attend the Munich Security Conference as Ukraine, still waiting on promised longer-range Western missiles and battle tanks, readies itself for a new Russian offensive that could begin next week.
A White House official said Harris will use a speech there to celebrate the courage of the Ukrainian people, reaffirm international support for the country, condemn Russia's actions, reaffirm Washington's mutual defense commitments under NATO and "outline the path forward" on Ukraine.
She will "make clear that this fight is part of something bigger - the defense of international rules and norms and freedom and liberty," according to the official.
Harris will also "meet with foreign leaders and continue our intensive diplomatic engagement with allies and partners regarding the war in Ukraine as well as other regional and global issues," her spokesperson, Kirsten Allen, said.
With U.S. President Joe Biden's support, Harris has tried to carve out a foreign policy niche during the first two years of the administration, meeting foreign leaders at the White House and shoring up relations with non-Chinese nations that border the South China Sea.
The United States has worked to keep up the pressure on Russia through the year, even as Biden's Democratic Party lost control of the House of Representatives following November's midterm elections.
Support for Ukraine has included $29.3 billion worth of pledged security assistance and an unprecedented use of economic sanctions, including an oil price cap, which have severely impacted Moscow.
Russia's finance ministry said vital oil and gas revenues were down 46% from January 2022 because of the discount that Russian crude now trades at on world markets. Russia has nonetheless shrugged off any suggestions that their military operations will shift.
Harris met with and briefed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at last year's conference, which was held just days before Russia's Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Sandra Maler)