Ukraine War, September 12, 2022: Repercussions of Russian debacle in Kharkiv; U.S. should deliver weapons capable of hitting Russia, rely on commitments from Ukraine not to do so without U.S. authorization; NATO response to tactical nuclear weapon

Dispatches

1) Mike Martin, “Putin is finished. The Ukrainians have him on the ropes with a stunning victory in their sights; In 72 hours, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have retaken over 2,500 sq km of Russian-occupied Ukraine,” The Telegraph, September 11, 2022(9:45am)

Dr Mike Martin is a War Studies Visiting Fellow at King’s College London and author of Why We Fight.

2) Warren P. Strobel and Michael R. Gordon, “Ukraine Signals Major Weapons Request for Long-Term Offensive Against Russia; List shared with U.S. lawmakers shows Kyiv wants longer-range missiles, which U.S. has declined to give,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2022 (12:56 pm ET);

3j “Ukraine War, July 14, 2022: Russia is shooting fish in a barrel; NATO needs to indirectly confront Russia by relaxing restrictions on weapons use,” The Trenchant Observer, July 14, 2022.

4) Phillips Payson O’Brien, “Ukraine Pulled Off a Masterstroke; Ukrainian leaders announced one counteroffensive against Russia—but had another in the works,” The Atlantic, September 12, 2022 (9:10 a.m. ET).

Phillips Payson O’Brien is a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is the author of How the War Was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II.

5) Florian Gathmann, Matthias Gebauer, Kevin Hagen, Marina Kormbaki, Veit Medick and Christian Teevs, “‘Our freedom woll not be defended on German battle training grounds’; Will Germany still give Ukraine battle tanks? The federal government is hesitating – but different sides are pushing the Ample (traffic light) coalition to change course. Pressure also comes from the USA. A SPIEGEL report, Der Spiegel, September 12, 2022 (7:33 pm);

6) Florian Gathmann, Matthias Gebauer, Kevin Hagen, Marina Kormbaki, Veit Medick und Christian Teevs, “‘Unsere Freiheit wird nicht auf deutschen Gefechtsübungsplätzen verteidigt’; Gibt Deutschland der Ukraine doch noch Kampfpanzer? Die Bundesregierung zögert – doch verschiedene Seiten drängen die Ampel zu einem Kurswechsel. Druck kommt auch aus den USA. Ein SPIEGEL-Report,”
Der Spiegel, den 12. September 2022 (19.33 Uhr);

Analysis

Martin provides an incisive and optimistic view of the military situation in Ukraine following the astonishing Ukrainian breakthrough and advances in the Kharkiv region in the last week.

O’Brien provides an authoritative analysis of Ukraine’s strategy and gains over the last week.

Strobel and Gordon report the following:

A document shared with U.S. lawmakers and viewed by The Wall Street Journal lists dozens of types of armaments the Kyiv government says it will need to press its offensive into 2023.

Among them are the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, which has a range of about 190 miles. The Biden administration, which has dispatched more than $15 billion worth of weapons and other security assistance to Ukraine, haStatess declined to provide that system over concerns Ukraine could use it to strike Russian territory and spark a wider conflict with the West.

The Ukrainian war effort is being limited by the conceptually-flawed policy of the Biden administration of months ago to not deliver weapons to Ukraine capable of hitting targets in Russia, out of Biden’s fear of provoking Putin by crossing one og his arbitrary “red lines”.

There has also been a lot of confusion resulting from a spurious distinction between “offensive” and “defensive” weapons. All weapons used in self-defense against Russia’s invasion and war of aggression are “defensive” weapons.

The situation has changed. The U.S. has already authorized Ukraine to hit targets within its internationally-recognized borders, including the Crimea.

Now is the time for Biden to overcome his fear of Putin and to trust the Ukrainian government not to use weapons to attack Russian targets without U.S. authorization.

This would leave open the possibility of the U.S. authorizing strikes on Russian targets in the future, provided Ukraine uses them only in accordance with its right of self-defense against an “armed attack” under international law and Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

In fact, in order to deter Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, the U.S. and NATO should announce that they are considering a relaxation of restrictions on Ukraine using NATO-supplied weapons against targets in Russia from which such strikes are launched, in exercise of Ukraine’s inherent right of self-defense as authorized by Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

If Russia continues to launch such attacks on Ukrainian cities, the U.S. and other NATO countries should implement this policy.

They should also start talking to Russia about the kind of response Russia might expect if Putin detonates a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

NATO should make clear that it would respond with conventional force against Russian forces in and near Ukraine in the event of such an attack on Ukraine, in exercise of the right of collective self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

This right exists independent of any country’s membership in a mutual defense treaty such as NATO, as was demonstrated by the international coalition that intervened militarily to repel Sadam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

This position should be publicly stated, making clear that if there is any escalation Putin will be the one responsible for it. The Biden administration should absolutely avoid any language like “Putin will pay heavy costs.” To be effective, the deterrent threat must be specific.

It is time to trust the Ukrainians and to provide them with the weapons they may need to bring this war to an early end. These may include fighter jets and other weapons which the U.S. has so far refused to provide and prevented NATO countries from providing.

The Trenchant Observer

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