Ukrainian Roulette

Germany runs the risk of formally becoming a party to the war by training Ukrainian soldiers. British military warn that Russian attacks on NATO airfields could be seen as “legitimate.”

BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – Germany will supply howitzers to Ukraine, instruct Ukrainian soldiers in their use and thus become a party to the war in Ukraine, not only de facto, but also de jure. This was the conclusion pronounced in reports on the supply of seven Bundeswehr self-propelled howitzer-2000s and an expertise by the Reference and Research Service of the German Bundestag. According to the expertise, Germany would leave the secure realm of non-belligerence,” as soon as it not only delivers arms, but also instructs soldiers in their use. If Germany becomes a party to the war under international law, Russian attacks on German targets are possible. Such apprehensions have already been discussed in Great Britain. According to officials, under certain circumstances, airfields from which arms transports are leaving to Ukraine could become legitimate targets for Russian counterattacks. In addition, the possibility of deploying their own troops to Ukraine is already in discussion in the United States. Since some time, political experts have been trying to dispel fears of a world war.

“Superior to Russian Systems”

Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzer-2000s to Ukraine’s armed forces. This has been decided by the German government, as the daily Die Welt reports.[1] The Netherlands had already announced that it would provide five of these to Kiev. Unlike the Gepard anti-aircraft tank, of which Berlin wants to supply 50 to Ukraine – this is not old Bundeswehr decommissioned combat equipment, but a modern weapon that most recently had been used, for example, in Afghanistan. According to the Bundeswehr’s Inspector General, Eberhard Zorn, this weapon is “superior” to Russian systems. It is “incredibly dynamic … and maneuverable,” with an exceptional range of 40 kilometers.[2] By supplying these weapons to Kiev, the German government is further escalating the war. Unlike the Gepards, which the Bundeswehr no longer uses, the delivery of the self-propelled howitzer-2000s is met with significant resistance among the German troops. They point out that of the 119 tanks in their arsenal, only 40 are currently operational and they are indispensable for their own needs. Berlin is obviously ignoring their objections.

Formal Participation in the War

Ukrainian soldiers also receive training in the use of the howitzer-2000s – in the Bundeswehr’s artillery school in Idar-Oberstein. For many years already, the school has provided training on the Howitzers to not only Germans but also to soldiers from other armed forces, for example the Netherlands. Training Ukrainian soldiers, however, has significant implications, since it can be deemed to constitute participation in the war, as was pointed out in an expertise by the Reference and Research Service of the German Bundestag. The expertise, which was already drawn up in March and of which excerpts have now been published, concludes that the delivery of weapons to Ukraine cannot – in principle – be objected to, unless they are used for combat operations from NATO territory, for example, if Ukrainian pilots launch attacks with fighter jets taking off from NATO-countries. The expertise stipulates, “if, in addition to arms supplies, the instruction of the party to the conflict or its training on these arms would also be at issue; one would leave the secure realm of non-belligerence.”[3] This is precisely the case with the training program for Ukrainian soldiers at the artillery school in Idar-Oberstein.

“Not just Weapons, but also Troops”

Beyond supplying Ukraine with heavy weaponry, a discussion has been launched in the United States about the engagement of US troops on Ukrainian territory. As early as mid-April, a close friend of President Joe Biden, Senator Christopher Coons (D) declared that the administration must “come to a common position about when we are willing to go the next step and to send not just arms, but troops to the aid in defense of Ukraine.”[4] At the time, the Biden administration officially dissociated itself from this proposal. Now Adam Kinzinger, a Republican Congressman has announced that he has introduced a bill in Congress giving the US President a congressional blank check to use military force.” As the trigger, Kinzinger named the use of WMDs by Russia.[5] Also currently in discussion is the statement by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, that “America stands with Ukraine until victory is won.”[6] The question that arises from such a statement is, what would follow, should Ukrainian forces find themselves on the brink of defeat.

“Legitimate Targets”

A dispute last week between London and Moscow gives an idea of how an escalation of the war could spill beyond Ukraine’s borders. James Heappey, State Secretary at Britain’s Ministry of Defense, had declared that it is “completely legitimate” for Ukraine to hunt targets in Russia to disrupt logistics, even if the weapons were British-supplied.[7] The spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, then asked, “do we understand correctly that for the sake of disrupting the logistics of military supplies, Russia can strike military targets on the territory of those NATO countries that supply arms to the Kyiv regime?” For his part, Chair of the Defense Select Committee in the House of Commons, Tobias Ellwood warned that Heappey’s statement could carry “the potential of inviting retaliatory strikes against Poland.” Sources within the British Armed Forces were additionally quoted saying that airfields from which military weapons transports leave for Ukraine could be seen as legitimate targets for Russian counterattacks. At least one such airbase is in Germany – the US Ramstein airbase in Rhineland Palatinate.

Fear of World War

For weeks German political experts have been playing down the danger of the war’s escalation to a world war or even to a nuclear war – obviously to lower the thresholds for western politicians to accept such an escalation. For example, Deputy Director of the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), at the time, Florence Gaub, explained during a TV talk show on March 23, that the fear of a Third World War is “exactly what Putin wants to achieve” – “simply propaganda.” “Not the bomb, but rather the fear of the bomb is the weapon.” As soon as one develops fear – such as fear of a Third World War – one “no longer thinks strategically,” because the fear either leads to “flight” or to “appeasement.” Therefore, it should not be permitted, implied Gaub.

“Not European”

Soon thereafter, the EUISS specialist caused a stir, when she alleged that one should “not forget,” Russians may “look European,” but “they are not European.” They have therefore “another relationship” to violence and death. In Russia, where there is “a relatively low life expectancy” people “simply deal differently with the fact that people die.” Gaub declared, that this is not meant to be seen as racist.


[1] Thorsten Jungholt: Bundesregierung will Panzerhaubitzen 2000 an Ukraine liefern. 03.05.2022.

[2] Aus Regierungskreisen – der Podcast der Bundesregierung. Folge 39.

[3] Steven Geyer: Ist Deutschland schon Kriegspartei? 02.05.2022.

[4] Olivier Knox: White House pushes back on a close ally’s Ukraine warnings. 19.04.2022.

[5] Rep. Kinzinger Introduces AUMF to OK U.S. Troops in Ukraine If Russia Uses WMDs. 02.05.2022.

[6] Pelosi says “America stands with Ukraine” after meeting Zelensky in Kyiv. 01.05.2022.

[7] Larisa Brown, Hugh Tomlinson: Putin’s threat to Ukraine allies: I’ll retaliate as quick as lightning. 27.04.2022.