Ukraine War, April 6, 2022 (III): NATO consults on future course of war; Chancellor Olaf Scholz decides what weapons the Ukrainians really need

Developing

Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being written. please check back for updates and additions.

To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.

Dispatches

1) Steven Erlanger and Michael Crowley, “NATO Nations See Differing Paths as Ukraine War Enters Uncertain Stage,” New York Times, April 6, 2022 (3:40 p.m. ET);

2) Thomas Sebastian Vitzthum, “Was die Ukrainer brauchen, entscheidet Scholz selbst,” Die Welt, den 6. 2022.

Commentary

“What the Ukrainians need, that (Chancellor) Scholz decides himself.”

Vitzthum describes the painfully slow and bureaucratic obstacles which must be overcome in Germany in order to deliver military aid to Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky has provided the Germans with a detailed list of the weapons he needs. But Germany provides Ukraine only with the weapons it–Chancellor Olaf Scholz–determines they really need and would be useful. In effect, Scholz substitutes his military judgment for that of the Ukrainian military officials.

A similar scenario plays out with Zelensky’s requests to the U.S., where Pentagon officials decide what Ukraine really needs. In vetoing Zelensky’s request for a transfer of Polish Mig 29’s to Ukraine, for example, the Americans argued that the Ukrainians didn’t really need them, and that they wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway.

Vitzthum states the issue in striking terms:

Would you refuse to throw a life preserver to a drowning man who calls out for one because you think it wouldn’t help him? Certainly not. Whoever is in distress should know best.

Scholz deserves credit for reversing Germany’s lonstanding policy of not sending arms into conflict zones.

But, like other leaders in the West, he doesn’t seem to have really come to terms with the enormity of the challenge Putin and Russian barbarism pose for Europe, and indeed the entire civilized world.

The response of the West to Putin’s aggression and crimes against humanity has been impressive, in terms of what had been done before, but it hardly measures up to the full dimensions of the challenge and the threat posed by a militaristic and nationalistic Russia that has gone rogue. It has gone rogue, threatening to upend the entire international order, just as Adolf Hitler and Germany went rogue in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

NATO Summit in Brussels

Erlanger and Crowley provide keen insights into what is going on in the minds of the foreign ministers meeting at the NATO Summit in Brussels this week. They seem to be groping their way forward, somewhat at a loss as to how to proceed in what is an entirely new and more dangerous strategic situation in Europe.

They are deciding to abandon–finally, eight years after Russia’s invasions of tbe Crimea and tbe Donbas in 2014!–to abandon the commitments in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act to not permanently station NATO troops in the front-line NATO countries on tbe Eastern front.

Erlanger and Crowley report:

There is a general agreement that Russia is no longer a strategic partner of the alliance, that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is no longer bound by the troop limits of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and that its military posture must be sharply enhanced to deter a confrontational Russia, so long as Mr. Putin and his allies retain power there.

That they are only reaching this decision in 2022, after Russia has invaded Ukraine, gives you some idea of how agile the Alliance had become, and how far it has to go to meet current security threats.

These leaders, who are being told and who are announcing that the war in Ukraine may last many months, even years, have not yet drawn the necessary conclusions.

Defense production should be ramping up at emergency speed, both to provide sufficient weapons to Ukraine in a protracted war, and to build up their own armories in anticipation of the day when their countries might become more directly involved in the military conflict with Russia.

The Trenchant Observer

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