• An EU defence force for Ukraine

    EU: growing pressure to deploy soldiers on Ukrainian soil. Berlin so far preferring an intervention scenario with air defence systems stationed in Poland and Romania.

    BERLIN/KIEV (own report) – As Russia’s current offensive gains momentum in Ukraine, politicians in Berlin are debating the merits of deploying European soldiers on Ukrainian territory. Last week, Lithuania announced that it was ready to send military trainers to the war zone without delay and was only waiting for a request from Kiev. Estonia has said that it is prepared to demonstrate military presence of its own on Ukrainian territory as part of a hoped-for “coalition of the willing”. Its focus would be on air defence capabilities. In Germany, the direct deployment of German troops is, with the exception of a few hardliners in Berlin, not publicly advocated. This is partly due to the important state elections upcoming next autumn. However, politicians from the CDU, FDP and Greens are backing intervention proposals that envisage the stationing of air defence systems on Polish and Romanian territory that can shoot down Russian offensive weapons over Ukraine. Warnings that this step would be tantamount to entering the war are being played down. At the same time, discussions are taking place on post-ceasefire scenarios, which might see the deployment of EU or NATO troops in Ukraine. Read more

  • “Keep the Ukrainians in the fight”

    G7 foreign ministers are looking for options to avert a Ukrainian defeat. Experts believe that Russia can soon break through the frontline.

    BERLIN/KIEV (own report) – Ahead of the meeting of G7 foreign ministers, beginning today on the island of Capri, there are frank warnings of a Ukrainian defeat on the battlefield. Alarm is being voiced both in Ukraine and in Western capitals. Kiev is “at great risk” of losing the war in the course of this year, declared a high-ranking British military officer at the weekend. Senior Ukrainian officers had previously warned that the Russian armed forces could soon be able to smash open sections of the front. A Russian advance into large parts of eastern and even central Ukraine is no longer ruled out. Experts criticise the way Western accounts have “talked up the situation in Ukraine from the outset”. The Ukrainian officers complain in particular that the impact of new Western weaponry is frequently overestimated – often based on a traditional bullishness and self-certainty. It is now clear, for example, that the Russian military has learnt how to eliminate Storm Shadow or SCALP cruise missiles, targeting them with a high hit rate. The G7 foreign ministers are now looking at options for preventing a collapse of the Ukrainian front. Foreign Minister Baerbock is proposing a worldwide “mapping of all Patriot systems” to secure faster supplies from third countries. Read more

  • No ceasefire wanted

    A new study traces efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Ukraine since 28 February 2022: Russia’s repeated attempts to halt the fighting have been ignored by the collective West.

    BERLIN/KIEV (own report) – The first, almost successful, negotiations to end the Ukraine war began two years ago yesterday, on 28 February 2022. We have been reminded of this by a recently published study by a military expert: retired Bundeswehr Colonel Wolfgang Richter, a former military adviser to the German missions to the UN and the OSCE. Those talks opened a path to compromise in late March 2022. The deal would have centred on neutrality and EU accession for Ukraine, and Russian troop withdrawal. The talks brought an early peace “within reach”, argues Richter, who now works for the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). The main reason for their failure, apart from the “resistance” from Ukrainian nationalists, was the “massive influence exerted by representatives of Western governments”, who vigorously urged Kiev to continue the war. Moreover, the New York Times has reported on a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin for a freeze on frontline movements and a ceasefire as early as autumn 2022, and then again in September 2023. Kiev and the West have consistently rejected these offers. They insist on seeking to achieve victory at all costs. It is from this stance that Europe is now discussing the deployment of boots on the ground. Read more

  • The Butcher

    Berlin drives up ammunition production for Ukraine. Experts say 5,000 artillery shells a day are needed. Kiev can’t find enough soldiers for the front. A new commander-in-chief: nicknamed the “Butcher”.

    KIEV/BERLIN/UNTERLUESS (own report) – The Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Carsten Breuer, has held talks in Kiev with the new commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Olexander Syrskyj. The discussions covered future German arms supplies. Syrskyi had replaced the previous army chief Valery Zaluzhnyi a week earlier. Zaluzhnyi’s relationship with President Volodymyr Zelensky had been considered irreparably damaged since autumn 2023, especially after Zaluzhnyi had declared Ukraine’s June offensive a failure. Indeed, in his view, formulated in an article for the British Economist magazine, the war was de facto unwinnable. Zelensky has now replaced him with Syrskyi, a military leader who is nicknamed the “butcher”. He has a reputation for ruthlessly sending large numbers of soldiers to certain death. His appointment has unsurprisingly been greeted with dismay by elements in the Ukrainian military. The armed forces are already suffering from a shortage of personnel. It is reported that units on the front line have barely 35 per cent of the personnel numbers originally planned. Ukrainian forces also lack ammunition. Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to attend the laying of the foundation stone for another Rheinmetall ammunition factory in Unterlüß on 12 January. Read more

  • The legal arm of NATO

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rejected Ukraine’s case against Russia. Berlin, Washington and NATO now want a special tribunal to prosecute Moscow while side-stepping established international law.

    KIEV/THE HAGUE/BERLIN (own report) - The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has largely dismissed a lawsuit brought by Ukraine against Russia. The ruling clearly runs counter to Western interests, now for the second time in just a few days. Kiev initiated proceedings against Moscow back in 2017. The charges were mainly based on accusations of Russian financial support for eastern Ukrainian separatists and repression of Ukrainian and Tatar minorities in Crimea. The ICJ does not share this interpretation of events. It merely accuses Moscow of insufficiently promoting the Ukrainian language in school teaching in Crimea. This major institution of international law cannot now be relied on to support Western claims. In response, Berlin, Washington and NATO have begun to work on setting up parallel structures. A special tribunal is to be established to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It is to be installed solely for this purpose, and thus exclude potential prosecutions for waging wars of aggression, in violation of international law, against Iraq or the former Yugoslavia. The West is effectively discarding the idea of equality of all states before international law. Read more

  • The EU lifebelt

    The EU resorts to desperate measures to meet Kiev’s massive deficit: tapping into frozen Russian funds and threatening economic war against a recalcitrant Hungary.

    KIEV/BERLIN/BRUSSELS (own report) – In its efforts to procure more funding for Ukraine, the European Union is adopting unusually aggressive methods. The big powers in the EU have chosen a path of escalation and growing tension within the Union. In order to force Hungary to agree to the 50 billion euro aid package for Kiev at tomorrow’s special EU summit, Brussels has threatened Budapest with a severe economic attack. By making an official declaration to the effect that all EU funding for Hungary might be cut, the European Council intends to trigger a shock on the financial markets. This could cause the Hungarian currency to crash and do severe damage to Hungary’s economy and people. Brussels also plans to tap future profits from Russian assets frozen in the EU. Expropriated profits would then be used to support Kiev in its war. Critics warn that this would set a dangerous precedent, signalling to future foreign investors that money and assets in the EU are not safe. Moreover, other countries, including Russia, could then retaliate and recoup their losses by seizing EU assets on their territory. The Brussels initiatives come in the context of Ukraine’s budget deficit reaching 36 billion US dollars last year, while the United States is increasingly unwilling to underwrite the mounting costs. The government in Kiev is left with the EU as its “lifebelt”. Read more

  • The Strategy of Containment

    According to a report, Washington and Berlin urge negotiations between Kiev and Moscow. US experts call for a shift from warfare to a “strategy of containment” of Russia.

    BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – In Germany and the United States, pressure is mounting on Kiev to stop rejecting ceasefire negotiations with Moscow. As was reported late last week, the governments of both countries are seeking a transition to negotiations, but would like Kiev to take the initiative without being requested to do so publicly. An appeal would make a mockery of the West’s constant assertion that Ukraine is deciding on its own course of action. The plan to initiate talks with Moscow reflects the failure not only of Kiev’s counter-offensive, but also of the Western sanctions against Russia: Already since some time, experts have been recommending a transition to a policy of containment, given the fact that Ukraine’s armed forces are unable to achieve victory on the battlefield and Russia cannot be defeated economically. This should freeze the current military situation without formally ceding Ukrainian territories to Russia and should be accompanied by NATO’s massive rearmament. Experts are calling for a “change of mentality” in Germany and Berlin is insisting on “warfighting capability.” Read more

  • Armaments Hub Ukraine

    Ukraine expands its armaments industry with Western help and aims to become a “leading nation” in that sector. Rheinmetall has already concluded a joint venture for tank production.

    KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) – Ukraine is pushing ahead with the expansion of its arms industry and is wooing US companies, since concluding a cooperation deal with the German Rheinmetall arms manufacturer. It was announced at the end of last week that at a conference to be held in Washington in about two weeks, Kiev will insist on US arms factories being established in Ukraine. Rheinmetall is already present in Ukraine and is beginning to repair tanks, damaged at the Russian-Ukrainian front, while also planning, in the long run, to produce up to 400 Panther main battle tanks – including for export, given Ukraine’s extremely low wages. The Ukrainian government is seeking joint ventures between Western arms companies and its domestic arms industry, to compensate for the future lack of Western arms deliveries and to establish Ukraine as a central armaments hub. Arms production should become one of the main sectors of the Ukrainian economy in the future. Government members see their country on the road to becoming “the leading nation in the arms industry” by 2040. Read more

  • “An Irreversible Demographic Shock”

    Experts warn of a permanent massive population loss in Ukraine due to war fatalities and flight. In particular, the shortage of young and highly qualified people endangers reconstruction.

    KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) – Experts predict an “ irreversible demographic shock” and massive problems in recruiting the necessary workforce for post-war reconstruction. The country’s population had already dropped 20 percent from 1990 to 2021, according to a current study by The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW). War fatalities and refugees have further reduced the population. Because mainly younger and well-educated people have fled, and a significant portion of the Ukrainian refugees want to permanently remain within the EU, reconstruction will be impacted by the lack of particularly important segments of the population. According to WIIW, by 2040, the working-age population in Ukraine will shrink by 22.6 percent to 25 percent compared with pre-war levels in 2021 – with serious consequences for the entire country. The longer the war lasts, the more severe will be its impact. Kiev must urgently initiate repatriation programs for refugees. This will, however, encounter rivalry also with Germany, because German companies are looking for low-cost skilled labor from among the Ukrainian refugees. Read more

  • “Prerequisites for Victory”

    Rheinmetall will open an armored vehicle plant in western Ukraine within the next 12 weeks. Green Party MP calls for supplying cruise missiles, CDU politician speculates about Kaliningrad blockade.

    BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – The German arms company Rheinmetall will soon open an armored vehicle plant in Ukraine, the company’s CEO, Armin Papperger told US broadcaster CNN. Rheinmetall will open the plant in western Ukraine within the next 12 weeks, where it will build and repair the Fuchs armored personnel carrier in cooperation with Ukraine’s state-owned Ukroboronprom. According to German government sources, Chancellor Olaf Scholz will announce a new “very substantial” arms supply for Ukraine at the NATO summit beginning in Vilnius today. According to these sources, the German government will not yet deliver Taurus cruise missiles, which Kiev has already been demanding since some time. With a range of more than 500 kilometers, they could be launched deep into Russia. The US announcement of supplying Ukraine with cluster munitions is being met with comprehension by the German government. Roderich Kiesewetter, a CDU member of the German parliament suggests that, under certain conditions, “Kaliningrad could have its Russian supply lines cut.” Read more