In a fiery speech to the Munich Security Conference fifteen years ago, Vladimir Putin harshly denounced the United States, fiercely criticized NATO enlargement, and called for a new security order in Europe.
It turned out to be a manifesto outlining the Kremlin’s geopolitical goals and a harbinger of what was to come. Just months after the speech, Moscow launched a crippling cyber attack against Estonia.
And in the decade-and-a-half since the February 10, 2007 speech, Russia has invaded Georgia, annexed Crimea, and invaded Ukraine’s Donbas region. The Kremlin has also orchestrated a series of assassinations in Europe, launched a campaign to interfere in elections in Western democracies and back extremist political forces in an effort to undermine NATO and the European Union.
And of course today, Putin is engaging in his most brazen act of geopolitical extortion yet, effectively threatening to re-invade Ukraine unless NATO pledges no further eastward enlargement.
February 10, 2007 was indeed a harbinger. On this week’s Power Vertical Podcast, host Brian Whitmore speaks with former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Daniel Fata and Deutsche Welle columnist Konstantin Eggert about Putin’s landmark speech and what it means in retrospect.