By Horst Teubert
April 19, 2022 German-Foreign-Policy.com
Berlin and the EU prepare new arms deliveries to Ukraine. Ex-US diplomat says West favors a long war to weaken Russia.
Berlin and the EU are preparing new arms deliveries and are not ruling out the war’s prolongation to several years. Over the weekend, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reiterated that Brussels is open to exporting even heavy weapons to Ukraine. The German government is ready to provide “military aid” worth two billion euros to foreign states, the bulk of which should go to the Ukrainian forces. The Düsseldorf based arms company Rheinmetall is prepared to overhaul up to 50 Leopard 1 battle tanks and deliver them to Kiev. The Western powers’ strategy is not oriented toward ending the battles as quickly as possible but to militarily weaken Russia and possibly even defeating it. EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Josep Borrell remarked that the war will be decided “on the battlefield.” According to a retired senior US diplomat, transatlantic powers are fighting Russia “to the last Ukrainian.”
“Years of War”
On Easter Sunday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stepped up pressure to supply Ukraine with more and even heavier weapons than to date. “I do not distinguish between heavy and light weapons,” she declared in an interview with the German Springer tabloid “Bild.” The Ukrainian armed forces must “get what they need and can handle.”[1} So far, the EU has provided €1.5 billion; in addition, to exports from member states. “It applies to all member states,” the Commission President said, “those who can, should deliver fast, because only then Ukraine can prevail in its acute defensive struggle against Russia.” Concerning the objective of the arms supplies, von der Leyen claimed on the one hand that the Union will “do everything” so that the war “will end as quickly as possible.” On the other hand, she openly contradicted her previous claim by stating “Ukraine can win this war.” One should be prepared, however, “that, at worst, the war could last for months, even years.”
Drones, Tanks, Military Helicopters
The NATO-countries are thus in the process of increasing their arms supplies to Ukraine. In addition to anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons that have already been provided in large quantities to Kiev, armored vehicles, howitzers and drones have been added. Now tanks and old Soviet Mi-17 military helicopters will be delivered to areas in eastern and southeastern NATO-member states bordering Ukraine and handed over to Ukrainian soldiers. US deliveries, alone, which also include ammunition and protective equipment of all kinds, are estimated in Washington at a good US $800 million. Since the beginning of the war on February 24, the Unites States, alone, has delivered arms to the Ukrainian troops worth a good US $3.2 billion. Criticism has been raised that it takes time to train Ukrainian soldiers on weapons systems that had not previously been part of Kiev’s stockpiles. According to US military officials the training time could be significantly reduced. Ukrainian soldiers are trained by NATO in the use of these arms mainly in Poland.
Leopards for Kiev
The German government is also increasing its arms shipments to Ukraine. After the Bundeswehr made anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons along with protective equipment available from its stocks, Berlin now wants to provide additional funds and is considering the purchase of combat equipment for Kiev from German arms manufacturers. Last week, it was learned that, alongside the €100 billion “special fund” for the Bundeswehr, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reserved another €2 billion for “military assistance” to foreign states – the lion’s share earmarked for Ukraine. This was done under pressure from politicians mainly from the Greens, the FDP, and the CDU. Supplying Ukraine with Marder infantry fighting vehicles is also in discussion. The Rheinmetall arms manufacturer in Düsseldorf has now offered to deliver up to 50 additional Leopard 1 battle tanks decommissioned by the Bundeswehr and other armed forces that it has in stock. It is clear that the tanks must have at least a makeshift overhaul and the Ukrainian soldiers must learn how to use them. Both, together, would take a few weeks, perhaps even several months.
This corresponds to the fact that in the West’s war planning the conclusion of a ceasefire or even a peace agreement between Kiev and Moscow has long since receded into the distance. At the beginning of the month, following their meeting in Istanbul, Ukrainian negotiators had announced an agreement had been reached with the Russian side concerning the key elements of an accord for ending the war, it was even mentioned that combat could end “in one or two weeks.” In response, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the Ukrainian government against reaching a ceasefire. US President Joe Biden publicly declared that the war could “still take a long time,” whereas NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg explicitly spoke of the war lasting years. On April 7, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Kiev of having quietly made several alterations in the negotiation documents, which obstruct reaching an agreement. In addition, particularly Washington began pushing for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to indict Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for war crimes. This, as well as Biden’s most recent accusation of Russia committing “genocide” in Ukraine, renders an agreement more difficult. Already on April 9, EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Josep Borrell remarked that the war will be decided “on the battlefield.”
The West’s War Objectives
The objectives of the war for the West, was explained on March 24, by Chas Freemen, a US diplomat, whose career in the US Foreign Service from 1965 to 1995 in positions such as US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and in a top position at the Pentagon. According to Freeman, “everything we [the West] are doing, rather than accelerate an end to the fighting and some compromise, seems to be aimed at prolonging the fighting.” There seems to be “a lot of people” in the United States who think that’s “just dandy”: it’s “good for the military-industrial complex;” it reaffirms “our negative views of Russia;” it reinvigorates NATO; it puts China on the spot. Of course, this will lead to a lot of dead people. Some in the West are secretly wondering “what’s so terrible about a long war?” After all, the whole thing is de facto a proxy war against Russia – for the West, “essentially cost-free.” The strategy of the transatlantic powers can be summed up as, “we will fight to the last Ukrainian for Ukrainian independence.”