The annual International Security Conference has begun in Munich, Germany. The three-day conference is also overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis.
Speeches at the inaugural session focused on the severity of the crisis and the potential dangers. The conference is attended by delegates from many countries. The conference will conclude on Sunday, January 20.
At the conference, German Foreign Minister Analina Beerbok called the gathering of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border an unacceptable threat to Ukraine and other European countries.
Addressing the delegates at the conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the Ukraine crisis was a serious threat to global security and could be described as more serious than the Cold War.
In a speech to the Munich Security Conference, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevis said that diplomatic efforts were needed to resolve the Ukraine crisis. He also said that it was important to continue negotiations with Russia so that the Moscow government could face difficulties in attacking.
Shelling between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine has been confirmed for a second day. Washington and Western nations have said Russia could use the shelling as a pretext for military action.
Eastern Ukrainian rebels announced yesterday that they would relocate citizens of their territory across the border into Russia, but Russia has not commented.
Major exercises of the Russian army were announced by the Ministry of Defense from Moscow. They are said to include strategic nuclear weapons.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, President Vladimir Putin will inspect the military exercises today from the observation room in the Defense Ministry building.
The exercises also include tests of advanced missiles. An announcement from Moscow said the exercises had been planned for some time but were being launched now.
The exercises come a day after US President Joe Biden said a Russian assassination was possible in the next few days, while Russia insisted it had no plans to strike.