U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris travels Thursday to Munich, where officials say she will focus on consulting with allies about the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
While in Germany, where Harris will lead the U.S. delegation at the Munich Security Conference, she is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Harris is also due to give an address Saturday that administration officials said would highlight the level of unity among Western countries and NATO members on diplomatic, military and economic fronts.
“The vice president will underscore how that unity is a source of strength that will allow us to respond swiftly and severely to any further Russian aggression,” a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing Wednesday. “Her speech will also focus on reassuring our allies and partners of our commitments and how we’re committed to bolstering NATO and reinforcing our allies in the face of Russian aggression. And she’ll talk about how a further invasion of Ukraine, we believe, will leave Russia weaker and not stronger.”
Officials said the overall objective of the trip is making sure Western allies are “fully aligned” and send a clear message to Russia about the path forward.
“Our preference is diplomacy and deterrence, but if Russia chooses aggression, we are ready,” an administration official said.
Russia has denied it has plans to invade Ukraine, and in recent days has announced several rounds of troop withdrawals from areas along its border with Ukraine.
The United States and NATO have said there is no evidence of any withdrawals, and a senior U.S. administration official told reporters Wednesday that Russia has instead been adding troops to the border area.