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Is there a path ahead for peace in Ukraine?

As we approach the grim first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which came on the heels of last year’s Munich Security Conference – GZERO is back in Germany, discussing the past year since the war began, what’s likely to come next, and what it means for the world.

Benedetta Berti, NATO’s head of policy planning in the office of the Secretary-General; Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media; Comfort Ero, president and CEO of Crisis Group; and Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, sat down with CNN’s Nic Robertson at the Munich Security Conference for a Global Stage livestream, hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft.

Taking stock of the past 12 months, the panelists discussed Western unity and Ukraine’s resolve while warning against underestimating Russia’s possible next moves. The West gets a top grade for its response to the invasion, Ian Bremmer says. But much depends on sustained unity and keeping war fatigue at bay. “I think it's always more difficult for a democratically elected government to sustain that kind of political support and public support,” says Brad Smith.

While many overestimated Russia’s military prowess and underestimated Ukraine’s agility to embrace technology and stay the course, Benedetta Berti warns that it ”would be a real strategic mistake if we started to underestimate what Russia could do in the future.” Could spillover be a threat to Europe and the world?

Bremmer notes that the West cannot afford to assume that the Russians are incapable of doing anything to NATO simply because they haven’t done so yet. “Russia is becoming the most powerful rogue state in history, and we have seen that a much less powerful Iran has caused an enormous amount of problems in their backyard.” What form could Russian aggression toward NATO take? “I think that we should recognize,” says Bremmer, “that we will start to see asymmetric attacks from Russia against NATO.”

Comfort Ero, meanwhile, was careful to point to the global ramifications of the war, noting how it has disrupted food supplies while distracting many from other major crises. “Everybody's got Ukraine in their headline, but the most deadly violent conflict last year was not Ukraine,” she says. “It was Ethiopia.”

The panelists also reflected on the power of technology, addressing whether it is making the world a safer or more dangerous place. Smith noted how quickly and flexibly Ukraine has used technology to its advantage – both on the battlefield and particularly “President Zelensky's ability to use [it] to really rally the support of the world.”

But can tech make the world a safe place? How will the US-China AI race impact its development and use?

Bremmer says that technology has certainly made the world wealthier, making people safer by pulling them from poverty. But while 8 billion people worldwide are better off because of it, “they feel like technology is becoming more dangerous” because of its speed of development.

As for the future of Ukraine, the biggest worry, says Bremmer, is that we’re “not seeing even a remote possibility of an exit ramp, a remote possibility of negotiations getting started.” This means the West has no idea of what things might look like after the war.

“I've never seen the fog of war feel this thick.”

More from Global Stage

Ian Bremmer: The West is united on Russian energy, the rest of the world is not

With talk at this year’s Munich Security Conference from most of the world’s most powerful countries about decoupling from Russian energy, it can be easy to forget that most of the world’s population has other priorities. “What we're seeing is that a majority of the world's economic strength and certainly military strength really wants to put Russia back in a box, but a majority of the world's population does not,” said Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer during a Global Stage livestream conversation.

AI at the tipping point: danger to information, promise for creativity

Artificial intelligence is on everyone's mind these days. The potential for AI to mess up democracy is scary, but the truth is that it can also make the world a better place. So, are bots good or bad for us? We asked a few experts to weigh in during the Global Stage livestream conversation "Risks and Rewards of AI," hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft at this year's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Tech innovation can outpace cyber threats, says Microsoft's Brad Smith

AI is having a giant moment of growth, as is the ability for actors to use it nefariously. In an uncertain global environment, how can the US outpace challenges in cyberspace? “One of the things that I find just fascinating about the development of AI…it's actually an area where if you take the problems seriously and you have an engineering team that's willing and prepared to work on a moment's notice, you can correct the problems far faster than you can solve most problems in life,” said Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith at this year’s Munich Security Conference.

We should not underestimate Putin, says NATO’s Benedetta Berti

The war in Ukraine may not have gone the way Vladimir Putin expected, but his objectives remain the same. “I don’t think we underestimated Russia’s strategy and what they were planning in Ukraine … If anything, maybe at the beginning we had overestimated the Russians’ military capabilities,” says Benedetta Berti, NATO’s policy planning chief at the Munich Security Conference.

Mongolia: the democracy between Russia and China

After a peaceful revolution in 1990, Mongolia established a democracy that remains strong today. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is one of the founders of Mongolia’s democracy and served as both President and Prime Minister of his nation. As he continues to advocate for freedom globally, he’s speaking out about the importance of supporting Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression.

Ukraine dominates the dialogue in Munich

While there are many security risks and global challenges on the agenda at this year’s Munich Security Conference, none have dominated the dialogue more than Ukraine as the war there enters a second year with no clear end in sight. While there’s truth to that overall, there are many nuances and differences in approach from country to country, says Mij Rahman, Managing Director for Europe at Eurasia Group.

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