Ukraine War, May 1, 2022: Conditions for negotiation and settlement; Russia running out of precision-guided weapons; Warning against war aim of humiliating Russia

Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates.

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) “Moskau ist wegen Beschuss aus der Ukraine beleidigt,” Die Welt, den 1. Mai 2022;

2) Kristian Frigelj, “Richtig oder „unverantwortlich“? Baerbocks harte Absage an russischen Diktatfrieden,” Die Welt, den 1. Mai 2022;

3) Bernardo de Miguel, Manuel V. Gòmez, y Ziker Seisdedos, “La guerra de Putin en Ucrania entra en una espiral internacional de consecuencias imprevisibles; La creciente agresividad rusa y la decisión de Biden de plantarle cara empujan a Europa al riesgo de ser escenario de un choque fortuito o deliberado entre potencias nucleares,” El País, el 30 de abril 2022 (23:40 EDT).

ENGLISH VERSION (Update)

4) Bernardo de Miguel, Manuel V. Gòmez, and Ziker Seisdedos, “Putin’s war in Ukraine enters global spiral of unforeseeable consequences; Russia’s growing aggressiveness and Biden’s decision to stand up to it are pushing Europe to the brink of becoming the scenario of a clash between nuclear powers,” El País English Edition, May 3, 2022 (12:09 EDT).

Commentary

Conditions for Negotiation and Settlement

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Green Party), reflecting the new and tougher policy of NATO countries, has made an important statement regarding conditions for peace talks with Russia. Her position was strongly supported by all parties in the Bundestag except the right-wing AFP (Alliance for Germany).

Baerbock stated:

Revised Google translation

“It is clear to us that the sanctions can only be lifted if Russia withdraws its troops. A peace on terms dictated by Russia would bring neither Ukraine nor us in Europe the security we have longed for,” Baerbock told the “Bild am Sonntag”. At worst, this would be an invitation to the next war – even closer to the German borders.

Putin irretrievably shattered the peace order in Europe. “There is no going back to before February 24th. We can never again rely on Putin’s promises alone.” That is why Ukraine must be helped to repel the Russian invasion and to protect itself against future attacks.

Her comments should be read in conjunction with recent statements by U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and U.S. Defense Minister Lloyd Austin.

Truss stated this week, “The war in Ukraine is our war – it is everyone’s war… because Ukraine’s victory is a strategic imperative for all of us….We are doubling down. We will keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at a press conference in Poland following his trip to Kyiv on April 24, stated, ““We want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,”

Together, these statements reflect a hardened position by the NATO countries.

Austin’s statement seemed at the time to be unfortunate, and still does.

It was a carefully-crafted statement by Biden’s foreign policy team, which seems out of its depth and until it is reformulated should be thought of as the same team that brought us the Afghanistan withdrawal decision.

Aside from Biden himself, the really weak member seems to be Anthony Blinken, whose State Department has failed miserably at developing support for NATO and Ukraine among the developing countries.

Truss’ and Baerbock’s statements are consistent with the statement of war aims the Observer would suggest:

War aims:

The defense of the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine against the Russian armed attack, and the reestablishment of friendly relations and cooperation between NATO countries and Russia, and between Ukraine and Russia, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.

These terms have special meanings under the 1970 U.N. General Assembly Resolution (Res. 2625) on “Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”

The issue of reparations need not be stated as a goal. It is implicit in international law.

The Big Picture

De Miguel, Gòmez and Seisdedos analyze the situation in general, and provide some interesting details and opinions of experts. They report that Western sources point out that the most hardline faction in Moscow favors openly declaring war against Ukraine, a move which would imply a general mobilization of the adult population for potential conscription.

They also cite analysts who are concerned that the U.S. and NATO not set war aims that go too far, and which leave a humiliated and angry Russia like Germany was after World War I.  They write,

Revised Google translation

The optimism of the West, and of the Biden Administration in particular, about the defeat of Russia and its definitive weakening worries some analysts. “I think it is a mistake to make Russia’s weakness the main target. We should prevent it from becoming an angry, bitter and dangerous power, as Germany was in the twenties of the last century, ”says Michael O’Hanlon, director of Foreign Policy research at the Brookings Institution, a think tank. O’Hanlon, an expert on American defense and national security, adds, “I don’t need to remind you what, a century ago, came after that humiliation.”

Significantly, De Miguel, Gòmez and Seisdedos report,

Revised Google translation

Western intelligence also considers that the Kremlin has exhausted its arsenal of precision weapons and does not have the financial or technical capacity to equip itself with missiles that cost about two million dollars (1.9 million euros) per unit. “Russia is resorting to the artillery of old times and indiscriminate attacks that instead of destroying a specific objective, take out an entire neighborhood of civilians,” allied sources point out.

The authors also consider the renewed intensity of Russia’s nuclear threats, which they note seem to emanate more from Russian media sources than from the government itself. Still, they must be taken seriously, they conclude.

The Trenchant Observer

***

See also,

Only force can stop Putin

“Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2022.

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