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by William Nattrass
Tuesday, 24
January 2023
Analysis
07:00

Russia realism makes a comeback in Central Europe

Untrammelled support for Ukraine is no longer the default position
by William Nattrass
Olaf Scholz greets Viktor Orbán in Berlin last year. Credit: Getty.

A dispute over proposed deliveries of German-made tanks could herald the start of a new, difficult phase in Western support for Ukraine. With Chancellor Olaf Scholz citing fears that the war will “last a very long time,” German hesitancy indicates a possible re-emergence of realist voices who, looking to the long term, see strategic value in saving what can be saved of old relations with the Kremlin. 

Following extraordinary international pressure over the weekend, Germany’s Foreign Minister indicated Berlin “would not stand in the way” if other countries want to send Leopard tanks to Kyiv, before Scholz again seemed to cast doubt on this late on Monday night. The earlier half-hearted consent showed a determination that no matter what happens, Berlin will not be held responsible for the shift in the calibre of Western military support. 

This might seem nonsensical to onlookers elsewhere in Europe, but it’s consistent with wider Central European perceptions of geopolitics. The German stance on tanks, and other military aid for Ukraine since the war began, bears striking resemblances to the much-maligned Hungarian attitude towards Russia sanctions. Both countries have dithered and delayed, raised as many objections as possible, and then yielded to foreign pressure.  

This gains them nothing right now. But some policymakers may hope that by creating an impression of being unwilling partners to Western support for Ukraine, these countries will be able to salvage what remains of their previously valuable diplomatic ties with Russia whenever a rapprochement becomes possible, however distant that may seem. 

Such intentions would be motivated by power, not cowardice. As Viktor Orbán explained in a speech last year, the “German-Russian energy axis” was pursued and encouraged prior to Russia’s invasion because central Europeans “did not want to make ourselves dependent on the Americans”. Partnership with Russia was long seen as vital to a particular idea of European strategic autonomy that has, Orbán said, been “destroyed by international politics”. 

This, in turn, stemmed from scepticism about notions of “the West” as a monolithic entity comprising states that all share the same strategic interests. And doubts about this narrative are now spurring a rise in dissenting voices elsewhere in Central Europe, too. 

In the Czech Republic, a presidential run-off between former prime minister Andrej Babiš and ex-NATO general Petr Pavel has focused on fears that the country could be dragged into war by its pro-Western government, with the vote being portrayed almost as a referendum on staunchly pro-Ukraine and pro-NATO policies. Babiš has made far-fetched promises about using the presidency to create an international coalition which will bring about a peace settlement in Ukraine, while Pavel has claimed that “permanent peace is an illusion”. 

Meanwhile in Slovakia, a shaky pro-Ukraine coalition government has fallen, and agreement is being sought on a date for snap elections later this year. The leader of the resurgent opposition, Robert Fico, has expressed opposition to support for Ukraine since the war began, and was even blacklisted by Kyiv as a “disinformation” spreader. 

Given the strength of political will elsewhere, Western support for Ukraine will likely be able to ride out these regional swells of discontent. But the German tank dispute has shown that underlying differences in Western attitudes to Russia and Ukraine, which existed long before the invasion began, survive to this day and continue to influence policy. The longer the war goes on, the wider this gap among Kyiv’s allies may become.

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Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago

There is no surprise in EU states’ waning support for corrupt Ukraine and Bellicose NATO. The mystery is why the EU and most EU states gave such support in the first place! Russia was an important ally and a very necessary economic partner. The US and its lackey the UK decided to risk WW3 (safely?) in far away Ukraine for their own sick, economic and belligerent reasons. Fine. But why in God’s name did we in the EU support USUK?
In gratitude USUK blew up Nordstream2 and charged us 4 times the US price for LNG! with friends like that who needs enemies?
It is obvious we backed the wrong side! Better still we should have stayed the hell out of it and let USUK fight Russia to the last Ukrainian of that’s what the sick, corrupt Ukrainians want! A plague on all their houses I say.. The EU shot itself in both feet and is now finally seeing sense!

Terry M
Terry M
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

USUK blew up Nordstream2 and charged us 4 times the US price for LNG
“I am altering the deal, Pray I don’t alter it any further”
Idiots in Germany shut down their nuclear plants to rely on Russia. Why should the US give away this precious resource? Perhaps you would like to freeze this winter?
And there is no evidence that the US or UK blew up Nordstream2.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

Only one nation threatened to destroy Nordstream2. The US, via its defence secr Victoria Nuland and out of the mouth of Joe Biden himself. They say they’d do it and they had naval ships in the area and no one else benefitted. And you think it’s okay for the US to profiteer from its allies with blackmarket prices on essential goods? Like I said: with such friends who needs enemies?

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Our Thoreau once said: For every 999 who are gently pruning the limbs of the Tree of Evil, there is but One who is hacking away at the Root. You and a few others are that otherwise solitary, courageous individual. May the Europeans (and our Americans) begin to see the urgency as well.

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

What do you make of the us debt ceiling debacle running alongside this? I know they turn it into a political battle every time but there’s a fair bit more at play this time, could add another level of complication?

Terry M
Terry M
10 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

The US is heading for a catastrophic crash. The only thing holding it up is that the US economy is awful, but not as bad as others. US needs to cut spending on nonsense climate stuff and social engineeering.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

As long as US hegemony holds sway, ie as long as the US dollar is the world currency the US can print as much money as it likes.. the national US debt is $3,000,000,000,000 with crumbling infrastructure, abandoned industry (except for the military industrial complex), flung living standards, worsening life expectancy, uber corrupt politicians and near civil war. Apart from that the US is doing okay I suppose.
If the BRICS+ succeed in launching and / or supporting its own world currency (they’ve already bought up vast quantities of gold to back it) then it’s game over for the US… it’s only option will be nuclear war and they’re pushing for that in case you haven’t noticed!

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Thanks, seems a good assessment that was my line of thinking. It’s the china russia gold back lurking in the background this time that makes me nervous, otherwise like you say, they’ll just keep printing. Crazy times.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Obviously, the Irish are the same people as the English. Indeed, Ireland was under English/British hegemony far longer than Ukraine was under Russia.
They really are one nation.
So I’m sure that when the UK paras march Dublin in their victory parade, you will be in the front rank, cheering on your British Isle brethren.
Makes one mist up with emotion…

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Partly correct.. however, we assimilated our plantation English so they became “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and indeed led several rebellions against England (as happened in the US as well). Ulster was different because hatred was planted by the elite to drive a wedge between the Catholic Irish and Scots Presbyterians who had been allies in the 1798 rebellion. It was so skillfully done it has lasted to the present day.
Celtic Ireland was never “overrun” with foreign invaders as was England where Angles, Saxons and later Normans drove the Celts into Wales and Scotland (and Vikings took over Northern England) so we Irish are, as a result, closer to our Celtic neighbours in Wales and Scotland than to the “pure bred” Anglo-Saxon-Norman English.. but that’s just a question of degree, so you point stands. I married a (Norman) English woman so I can’t get any closer personally, can I?

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

LOL, tovarich

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago

This is probably all true. But Germany needs to understand that there are both real reputational and actual costs to prioritising a long term potential rapprochment with Russian over cooperation with its actual allies today. The article also assumes that whoever’s running Russia in 10-15 years time will be grateful for German acquiescence today – which may not be the case.
The Germans are certainly undermining any claims to leadership and authority in Europe by their dithering. I haven’t thought through whether that’s a good or bad thing in the medium/long term.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

It’s got to be a very bad thing – 38 million Poles and 43 million Ukrainians is almost equal to the population of Germany. Do you really want to antagonise these countries which are going to take off in the next 20 years?

Last edited 10 months ago by Ian Stewart
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

You think the Ukraine is going to “take off” i the next 20 years? Are you joking? We’ll be lucky if the war is over in 20 years. Ukraine is in ruins and continues to be a backward, N¤zi ridden, highly corrupt, poor country. It will take off alright, like Iraq has taken off!

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Sorry, looks like the “Ukro-Nazis” and their US allies will dominate both Eastern Europe and the rest of the world for the rest of this century.
Entirely the result of Putin’s brilliant strategy.

Last edited 10 months ago by Martin Logan
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Eastern EU / NATO states will get tired (even more so) of Ukraine and its shenanigans as will the US when a better economic option turns up; and (even more importantly) when the US reckons Russia and the EU have been sufficiently weakened.
It will be no more important than Iraq or Afghanistan is today.
In particular it will focus it’s greedy attention on China and/or the other BRICS nations. Much depends also on how those other BRICS will react to events, ie will they abandon US hegemony and support a new Chinese led world currency, or vice versa.. or possibly a mix of the two will exist, though I cannot see the US settling for that? ..maybe they won’t have a choice?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Always good to hear the Russian PR angle in these debates. Make sure you get paid first though

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

It’s called balance.. also known as “don’t be a sucker for MSM propaganda, bought and paid for by billionaires including the military industrial complex”.
But if you’re blissful in there with all the other gullible lemmings by all means stay in there, keep your mind closed and avoid all contra opinions.

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

OK, I’ll happily put up UK£100 that Ukraine will be doing just fine in 25 years and have pulled itself up closer to current Western European standards. Provided we continue to support them in expelling the aburd and unjustified Russian invasion. They might need to “drop” some of the Russian speaking areas to do so. But that’s probably a price worth paying to finally be free of Russia and its corrupt kleptocracy.
Russia will be the same old basket case it always has been (25% of Russian homes still have outside toilets – hole in the ground with a small wooden shed around it – just think about that for a moment – outside khazi in a Siberian winter anyone ?). The rest of Eastern Europe had that in many villages until quite recently – it was certainly normal in Romania. But they’ve moved on. Russia will be the last country in Europe to reach Western standards for the whole of its population.

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Still no takers ?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

So let’s be clear.. your bet is contingent on…
1. Continued Western support. Won’t happen for the next 25 years. Look at Iraq and the poor old Afghans!
2. Ukraine being CLOSER to EU standards – like rise from 15% to maybe 20% of EU stds? Put a figure on it will you?
3. Russia keeps East Donbas (+ Crimea I presume)? Hello, have you been following events? Ukraine could have had that as far back as 2008!
Hedging your bet is fine but your proposal is ridiculous.
Using an outside toilet is far greener than indoor plumbing.. and that, even if true (I doubt it) is entirely irrelevant to anything under discussion.

Red Sanders
Red Sanders
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Well having experienced outdoor toilets in the winter, convert your bathroom to a wine storage room. Then, you go park your green-loving rear end out there in the cold.

BTW, you can look down and see green mixed in with the maggots waiting for you to feed them!

Totally ridiculous!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

See post war Germany and Japan – which had two nuclear bombs dropped on it that you’ve maybe forgotten about. The destruction of those countries was in a far greater scale than that inflicted on Ukraine. Oh Vietnam too, another example of post war recovery.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

..a wee bit selective there aren’t we? You don’t mention Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the other abandoned, bombed out countries! You also forget Ukraine was a basket case before the war started.. the most corrupt state in Europe with no other European state even close!

D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

The Ukraine once had a population of 43 million but its doesn’t now

They have lost the Donbas and I bet they will lose Odessa and become landlocked, the future doesn’t look too good for the Ukraine

Last edited 10 months ago by D Walsh
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Calling it The Ukraine implies your opinion isn’t exactly impartial

D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I’ve always called it the Ukraine, I refuse to be told how to speak English by people who don’t

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Wish I could take your bet!

Last edited 10 months ago by Martin Logan
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Have you read the conditions??

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I’m a little confused what you’re trying to say here. I’m not sure whether German leadership in Europe is either sustainable or desirable – not least as their population is now in terminal decline and their industrial prowess also seems to be – I very much doubt that they will be as dominant in the EV automotive market as they have been in the internal combustion engined one.
Poland has already taken off – it’s doing pretty well and will continue to gain on the EU average. Ukraine should also do well if they can get rid of the Soviet era corruption and Russian influence which are holding them back.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

…your last sentence is the only one that makes any sense.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Russia is never grateful, it assumes that there is an ulterior motive (something that will harm Russia).

Maurice Austin
Maurice Austin
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Russia is many things, and one of the worst is its self-delusion. The man on the Claphamov omnibus seriously believes Russia only fights defensive wars, when in fact it has aggressively invaded every neighbour it has ever had for centuries.
As for the ingratitude, most Russians have been brainwashed into believing that they singlehandedly defeated Hitler in a war that started only in 1941 – forgetting that the West helped feed and arm it for the duration.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Russian suspicion of the West is well founded. Gratitude? Russia played by far the biggest role in defeating Nazi Germany, far more than all the other countries combined. How much gratitude does the West show Russia? Precious little I fear.

Red Sanders
Red Sanders
10 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

The Russians paid far more by throwing bodies at the Germans, with no concern about their soldiers’ fates.

And the brutal Russians were already used to killing their own via prison or starvation.

Anybody that sees merit in a mad dog country needs to be ignored.

Chris W
Chris W
10 months ago

The Germans/Europeans have no backbone unless they are obeying orders from America. Every decision will have to be authorised by Biden. The USA will supply all kinds of non-personal geeky things. Beware Geeks bearing gifts.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris W

Gawd that was a bit desperate!

Chris W
Chris W
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

At least you saw it!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago

They all want natural gas. That’s the bottom line IMO.

Iris C
Iris C
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Also “rare earth” minerals vital for modern tech.appliances

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Arctic shipping lanes and resources are involved too. Russia and China are cooperating there too.

‘The Kingdom of Denmark, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the US have issued a joint statement against the Russian aggression in Ukraine calling it a grave impediment to cooperation in the Arctic as well.3’

https://www.thearcticinstitute.org/changing-contours-arctic-politics-prospects-cooperation-russia-china/

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
10 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

I would think that after all the lies they have been told the Russians would not believe a single word from any one from the West. Doesn’t auger well for peace.

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Yes, I agree, and if peace is now impossible arguably we do need to get tanks out there now too, regardless of who started what, we have pushed past the negotiation window by the sound of it, we might be committed now anyway. If that’s the case the msm media should start explaining that and we need to either get nato/ a lot more kit in there pronto before the Ukrainians do loose ground or seriously consider climbing down right now and negotiate with them. It looks unlikely russia will be backing down now. Like you say, trust is now at an all time low. What a pickle.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Indeed, the US is the largest producer of natural gas, so they would love to have a competitor.

peter worthington
peter worthington
10 months ago

Putin-Russia wants a neutral Western-Ukraine. The US wants NATO bases surrounding their border ? Compromise needs to come from the US Imperialists.

Vít Samohýl
Vít Samohýl
10 months ago

I think it is much simpler: Germany has only so many tanks, it can’t send them all to Ukraine, especially since tanks seem to be one of the things they still have. I fully expect Germany not to bend to twitter pressure since security matters are too important and German decision making process is too serious for that. But if I am wrong then Germany has more of a limited sovereignty and will just do what US tells them.
As for Babiš he is ideologically unmoored so if they keep badgering him that he is not for sufficiently “pro-western” he might just end up that way along with his supporters – he already did to a significant extent. Fico is rather similar, but much more on the way. I mean, if you are blacklisted its kinda hard to keep helping Ukraine…

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Vít Samohýl

Reality check ! Around 3600 Leopard II tanks have been produced so far (in several different variants). The tanks do not have to be supplied directly by the German armed forces (which you would know if you’ve been paying attention). The tanks are German, so most of the 3600 are probably operational (unlike some of the Russian stuff).
It is stretching credulity to suggest there aren’t enough spare Leopard II’s to supply Ukraine. It’s not like anyone else is actually using them on any serious scale right now.
Get real.

Peter Buchan
Peter Buchan
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Peter B: I’ve not commented here for some time because when people adopt wishful, premature – and largely ahistorical – positions (as you and many here have done from the outset on this particular issue), and then bullhorn and gaud dissenting contributors from a moral pulpit, one’s time is usually better spent elsewhere.
However, while much has changed, and is changing ever more rapidly both on and behind the battlefield, I see that you’re still booming and badgering you way around.
I tried to warn you that Ukraine cannot win this war, that peace should have been sought against the reality at that time (an opportunity since irretrievably lost due to the EU Kowtowing to US Neocons) and that escalation was madness, risking us all.
Well, they are losing the war – a war of multiple-level attrition, not a war of “territory” – and nothing the West can or will do can stop it short of nuclear escalation. Will they?
And sorry, no, “3600” German Leopards are not available, Not in the least. Very few of those remain in or available to the EU and/or Ukraine, actually, as per the records of which countries they were sold to. And even if there were 3600, Russia has 4 times that and building more. You assert that they are “probably” (‘probably?’ I love it!) operational – unlike “some Russian stuff”. Which stuff, exactly Peter? Care to provide a source? Maybe the same one/ones that said Russia was “out of missiles” mid last year?
Er…get real?

Last edited 10 months ago by Peter Buchan
peter worthington
peter worthington
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buchan

Spot on. The Germans military might is weak. Unlike the US their focus has not been on Military-Industrialization. The US has been the primary NATO financier.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buchan

Your dead right! The site is replete with the wishful thinking of armchair warriors confusing their Xboxes with reality!

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buchan

Yes even the us thinks the conflict is maybe not achievable by military:
Quote:
On November 9, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said, “There has to be a mutual recognition that a military victory is probably, in the true sense of the word is maybe not achievable through military means,” he added, “and therefore you need to turn to other means.” On October 9, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said in an interview that the US needs to “do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table to resolve this thing.” Mullen then said that it “really is up to . . .Tony Blinken and other diplomats to figure out a way to get both Zelensky and Putin to the table.” He then added, “the sooner the better.
But it’s not sooner. Months have passed, and parity may not have lasted. Ukraine has not retaken more ground. And they have suffered tragic losses of life as Russia has captured Soledar and is closing in on Bahkmut, key regions for the battle for Donbas.

“We have started to see a slowing — an ossification — of the line of contact,” Cleverly said on January 17. He then added that “we think that now is the right time to intensify our support for Ukraine.” The next day, Stoltenberg said, “This is a pivotal moment in the war and the need for a significant increase in support for Ukraine.”

Source:
https://original.antiwar.com/ted_snider/2023/01/22/did-the-west-miss-its-window/

So that sounds like the us weren’t confident of ukrainian victory back in November, its dragged on, the window for negotiation seems to have been missed again and now we seem to be escalating a war, they have already said they aren’t sure we can win with the military. Contraversial.

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buchan

If there are 3600 Leopard II tanks (which I note you do not dispute), it is entirely reasonable to suppose that a few hundred could be made available – that’s less than 10% of the total – of which very very are *actually being used at present*. I really don’t think this is a difficult concept to grasp. So I shan’t repeat it for yuou again.
It is well known that a lot of Russian tanks and other equipment held in storage were not properly maintained (mainly due to corruption and incompetence, but likely also limited budget).
If Russian had 14800 operational tanks as you suggest, can you explain why they haven’t conquered Ukraine yet ? A 7:1 numerical advantage in tanks over Ukraine plus a massively larger and more modern airforce plus a huge amount more artillery plus a far larger navy … I’m struggling to understand why they’re still stuck on their start lines after 11 months.
Eagerly awaiting your explanation !

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Still waiting !

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Still waiting !

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buchan

Correction .
“Russia HAD 4 times” that number of tanks.
As I predicted in Feb, most are rusting in Ukraine.
And Russian industry is designed to build EXPORT tanks of much lower quality. Almost none of the new T-90s are in production, or can be produced this year.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Spot on, Vit ain’t up to speed. Just the Eastern European countries, which have huge numbers of these tanks with supporting logistics infrastructures, have already agreed to provide at least 100 tanks. Spain and Greece have another 700(!!) of them.

Vít Samohýl
Vít Samohýl
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Well, they have already “released” tanks from other countries, didn’t they? But do not expect that Greece, Turkey or for that matter Finland is going to send tanks. German armored vehicles have low availability btw; way lower than Russian vehicles. In what country exactly are these thousands of tanks just waiting to be send to Ukraine?
The whole point of such waivers however, is because of your own security, and that is what matters before anything. If you hand out your latest military tech like candy, you will be in trouble pretty soon and that is why countries do not do it.

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  Vít Samohýl

What on earth are you on about ? Where did I suggest that Ukraine needs or wants “thousands” of Leopard IIs ? They really only need low 100s. You’re just making stuff up.
You really need to up your game on the trolling. Noise like the junk you’re posting really doesn’t cut it.

Terry M
Terry M
10 months ago
Reply to  Vít Samohýl

And what message does it send to Putin if Germany backs away from sending (allowing others to send) tanks to Ukraine? The message loud and clear will be that Putin can bully his way into the former Soviet satellites. Who is next? Poland? Latvia? Slovakia?
Germany may feel safe due to the buffer that Poland provides against a direct Russian invasion, but if Germany won’t help Ukraine where will they turn when Russia bullies them again? As an American, I feel that Germany made their own bed by going whole hog in on foolish green policies, and we should let them sleep in it.

peter worthington
peter worthington
10 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

Where do you get the idea that Putin wants to expand beyond Ukraine ? Does he even want all of Ukraine ? Your sources may be owned by the profiteers of war itself.

Terry M
Terry M
10 months ago

The same place I got the idea that he wanted Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine. He, like Trump, is living in the 70’s and 80’s. For Trump it was the Cuban criminals sent to FL, for Putin it is the Soviet empire.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

“Merchants of Death!”
Actually, US and allied equpt are far superior to Russia’s. Guess why Russia’s fallen back on all fronts?
Whatever the cost, western arms industries give value for money.
And now they are about to give even more.

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

Don’t worry. Poland seems hell bent on bypassing Germany. You neocons will likely get your escalation regardless.
You better hope russia and China aren’t lining up to f*ck the dollar at the same time you need to raise your debt ceiling. Will you be defending Europe then? Or will you take all of us down with you? Hmmm.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

I’ve largely tried to stay out of the Ukraine war debates because it’s a complicated subject with a dearth of credible information, but there’s almost zero chance Putin invades Poland.

Terry M
Terry M
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes, because the Russians have been stymied in Ukraine. Without western weaponry and US satellite info, they would have lasted a few weeks. That’s why all the predictions were for a quick war, they didn’t count on western support and Ukrainian bravery.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago
Reply to  Vít Samohýl

You’ve missed the point. German tanks owned by other countries – Poland, Spain etc. – can’t be re-exported without German approval. That’s how the international arms market works.

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago

I think you’llk find that it general it does not work that way. There’s plenty of second hand arms trading going on where the original exporting country or manufacturer is not consulted. It probably depends on the complexity of the equipment and if you need ongoing factory support and software upgrades (like you would for a fighter jet, or perhaps a tank). Would not apply to a rifle.

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago

Poland said they would send them regardless of German approval. That’s why the Germans relented, Poland gave them little choice.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
10 months ago

Actually for me, the failure to approve the delivery of Leopard tanks to help Ukraine isn’t the most important outcome of this debate. It’s the demonstration by German politicians of focussing exclusively on German security concerns, alone.

They are hugely undermining their international relations, for the very long term, with other European countries, particularly in Eastern Europe. These eastern countries won’t forget this, and will start coalescing around new security arrangements for their region that exclude Germany – it’s already happening – and will include the U.K. and the USA. And their defence industry will suffer too since Germany can no longer be trusted as an ally.

It seems such a stupid move by Germany, just to preserve relations with Putin’s Russia, which is in serious, long term, economic decline. But Heyho, it’s good news for Brexit Britain to have such close allies in the EU.

Last edited 10 months ago by Ian Stewart
Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

German realism is much needed at this time. It’s time to think, not knee jerk. It is also time to refuse to follow NATO and American propaganda that deliberately seeks to mistake Effects (destruction of Ukraine) for Causes (NATO encroachment and American imperialist perfidy).
Since American and European bad actors have provoked this invasion by undermining Minsk–as Merkel and others have testified–then it is up to Europeans to awaken, to discard war mongering disinformation coming from DW, BBC, the Guardian and sheepish leaders who fear American backlash for expressing a contrary opinion.
We are now learning that our approaches to Covid were unwarranted, divisive, and craftily designed to benefit big pharma at freedom’s expense. Soon enough, it will become clear to everyone that we have been similarly maneuvered into accepting stupid solutions and propaganda in the case of Ukraine.
I will be interested to see when this discovery dawns upon the slumbering, silent masses. Their own leaders have been knee capping them all along. Such weeping and gnashing of teeth. Such a tsunami of Schadenfreude.

Last edited 10 months ago by Bruce Edgar
martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

Nice to see gas at half the price a few months ago.
And oil at a discount that can’t sustain the Russian war machine.
Looks like curtains for Putin.
And US hegemony for the rest of the century.

Last edited 10 months ago by Martin Logan
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
10 months ago

Last time this sort of thing went on was as Russia and Germany secretly agreed to divide Poland in 1940. But it can’t be that this time, the German government is too spineless to agree even to settle for gas supplies

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

The Putin Verstehers are getting quite hysterical.
I find it amusing that, after a year of failed Russian attacks, and Russian casualties approaching the half million mark, many still claim that siding with the loser is the best option.
No, Surovikin’s plan to freeze Ukrainians cities didn’t force them to leave or surrender. It just made Ukrainians as mad as Londoners in 1940. If they could, they would convert Moscow into Hamburg ca. 1942.
No, Russian industry isn’t revving up to pour out T-90s by the mile. They lack the western components to do that, as well as dozens of other ancillary industries. So far 3 T-90s have been seen in the field.
No, Putin isn’t raising a New Red Army beyond the Urals to fight the Ukrainian “fascist horde.” About 150,000 are being giving a crash course in soldier basics. They will be far less effective than the (now mostly deceased) lads who tried to take Kyiv.
Putin has already lost this war. The Russian state will never recover from this debacle.
The only question is

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
10 months ago

Good news on the tanks at last and a nice swipe at the Twitterati.

‘Lars Klingbeil, the head of the Social Democrats and a close colleague of Scholz’s, defended the chancellor. “It annoys me immensely that this careful weighing up in this curtailed debate is presented as an attempt to disassociate ourselves from Ukraine,” he told the left-leaning Berlin daily TAZ. “Olaf Scholz carries the responsibility as the German chancellor for what is a historic situation – not those who are constantly giving sly advice on Twitter or in Talkshows.”’

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Schroder left the German Government to work for Gazprom. He was probably already in Russian pay while Chancellor. Who knows whether or not the same applies to Scholz?

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
10 months ago

Fair point. Who knows whether Schröder led and Merkel followed; or whether they planned it together. Hasn’t worked out too well for them, has it?

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago

I agree it’s a good point, it’s worth considering. If that’s the case holy moly. Adds another level. Maybe Poland has been right to put pressure on Germany then…

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

What a cruel blow fate has dealt Putin verstehers!
The Germans have agreed to release the Leopards, and the US is sending Abrams.
Moreover, the fact that allies disagree isn’t exactly a surprise, or a failure.
It’s just the way democracies work.
So looks like everyone will have the rest of this century to get used to it.

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
10 months ago

Germany: the nation that always finds itself on the wrong side of history. Of course Scholz with his peacenik cohorts in the SDP is havering about what to do for the simple reason that Russia has been factored into their political subconscious for decades and, as we know from the lengths to which their political class went in securing economic reliance on the Kremlin, principally through the devotion to the cause exercised by Gazprom Schröder and Nordstream Merkel, the lure of cheap gas at any price was too hard to resist. Now Scholz has buckled when read his fortune by Biden and their unprincipled pusillanimity is there for all to see. And this is of course not to mention the degree to which the BND has been compromised. Who’d a thunk it?

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago

Very interesting, he’d been off to China too Scholz had. Merkel was very friendly with putin.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

This is seeing Russia as a European nation (or a potential European nation), and thus a player in the European great game.
It’s not.
Russia may at times have played that role during the 19th C decline of the Romanov’s. But Putin’s war is about the eternal Russia/Soviet struggle with dark, “illegitimate” forces (“World Capital,” Ukraine, NATO, the EU, the modern world). It’s about how Russians see themselves, not about their (irrelevant) neighbours. There is almost no other coherent viewpoint now. Anyone holding such opinions is either in prison, exile or dead.
Putin’s Russia will thus get a whole lot worse and more belligerent before it gets better. Every Russian will blindly follow (or be forced to follow) until the whole edifice collapses. That’s just how their society operates.
Then, when Russia’s Ukraine gambit totally collapses, it will be replaced by a regime as different from Putin’s as Lenin’s was from Nikolai’s. Again, that’s just how Russia operates.
And the one group those Russians won’t talk to will be the “Putin Verstehers” referenced above.

Last edited 10 months ago by Martin Logan
Bernard Davis
Bernard Davis
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

And what precisely is the great European game that the sinister Asiatic subhumans are not capable of playing? Is it 500 years of colonial plunder, or Drang nach Osten? Racist drivel.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Davis

Most Russians, especially people like Putin, know little if anything about the world outside Russia.
That’s why they routinely fail.
This will only be one more collapse in a long line of failed attempts to create a viable nation–as opposed to an empire.
Just normal Russian history.
Learn some.

Last edited 10 months ago by Martin Logan
D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Martin you’re delusional, Putin lived in Germany for years, he speaks fluent German, he also seems to know a little French and English

Peter B
Peter B
10 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

He lived in Dresden. East Germany. Another Soviet state. So no experience in life outside the disfunctional and corrupt Soviet bloc.
Dresden’s doing fantastically well now it’s free of Russian/Communist influence holding it back. Not a coincidence. East Germany was the most advanced part of Germany before 1945 when the Russians came in and trashed it.

Terry M
Terry M
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

There have been many reports of demonstrations against the war in Russia. IN RUSSIA!
I think you are misreading the situation. Putin is seen at home as having stuck his neck out too far. Our concern is whether there is a way for him to save face without going nuclear, or whether he will be removed by force (unlikely given that he has killed/disappeared most challengers).
The West needs to hold firm but remain flexible to any overtures from Russia. Ukraine is being destroyed – we need to be sure we (USA) aren’t paying for the re-building; that should be a wholly European project, Germany up front.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
10 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

The breathtaking silence of Europeans regarding their leader’s surrender to American Neo Cons and their perpetual war mania, is baffling. Wait. Maybe not. It illustrates the spectacular propagandistic effectiveness of the so called “free press” press in the West–and abundantly evident here in America as well.
The fact that Russians are protesting the war but that Europeans are not is more than telling.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

Indeed. The lemmings are marching to their doom.
The horrible prospect is that Ukraine will probably win, and Russia–the only nation on earth that the far right and far left can applaud–will crumble into dust.
Sad….

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

The $300 billion held in western banks will pay for it all.
Mighty tough on Russians. They’ll probably be much worse off than in the 90s.
But they need to learn that tolerating incompetents like Putin has a very steep price.
Things will be better for them in the next century.

B Emery
B Emery
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Right yeah that’s why America is broke and its spending exceeds gdp, oh yeah and you’ve hit your debt ceiling. AGAIN.
What do we get this time. More qe? More interest rate f*ckery?

Last edited 10 months ago by B Emery