A Russian attack on a NATO member cannot be ruled out, Christoph Heusgen, the head of the Munich Security Conference, has said in remarks published on Saturday, days before the gathering of world leaders and defence experts starts.
Asked whether he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin could order such an attack, Heusgen responded: “Naturally. Putin has after all said repeatedly that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century, because it resulted in many Russians being stranded outside Russia’s borders.”
Putin aimed to reestablish a Greater Russia with the borders of the defunct Soviet Union, a global empire in which he would rule like a tsar, Heusgen said told the Dusseldorf-based Rheinische Post and the Bonn-based General Anzeiger.
“If Putin does not lose the war in Ukraine, we have to take into account that he could grab Moldova or the Baltic republics,” he said.
Heusgen declined to speculate on what Putin would venture. “But we have to do everything to ensure that Ukraine receives the weapons and military assistance that it needs to resist the Russian aggressors successfully and to drive them from its national territory,” he said.
Heusgen served as foreign policy advisor to former chancellor Angela Merkel between 2007 and 2017, almost her entire period in office. He was then appointed Germany’s ambassador to the UN before taking over at the Munich conference.
Speaking to conservative US television pundit Tucker Carlson during the week, Putin said that Russia had no territorial ambitions regarding Poland or Latvia. A Russian invasion of these NATO countries could be ruled out, unless Poland attacked Russia, he said.
The Munich Security Conference is to be held in the Bavarian capital February 16-18, with around 50 heads of state and government expected. Russia and Iran have been excluded from the invitations.