Ukraine war: ESC won, Mariupol lost – after the initial victory euphoria „war fatigue“?
After the initial euphoria of victory in the West, the belief in the apparently invincible powers of the people of Ukraine, comparisons of David and Goliath, Asterix and Obelix, the image of the Slavic Vietcong and Mudjahhedin and the superman and hero Selensky, the Russian occupation of Mariupol and the Azov steelworks, along with the surrender of the Azov regiment and further Russian attacks on 400 towns and villages in the Donbass, clearly dampened the rapid confidence in victory. They won the ESC and Selensky announced that it will be held in Ukraine next year, but Russia has conquered Mariupol. Having been on the offensive, the Ukrainians are now back on the defensive and according to experts this will not change until heavy weapons are operational in the country. Meanwhile, Putin warned Scholz and Macron in a phone conversation about the delivery of these heavy weapons, which the US and UK are not bothered about continuing to deliver. The West hopes that the Ukrainians will then be able to launch an autumn offensive again in September/October.
The Westpoint expert on urban warfare, John Spencer, who also wrote a mini manual for the defense of cities, expressed himself very euphorically before the capture of Mariupol:
“Vladimir Putin totally miscalculated – and I see absolutely every day that the Russian army misses its targets as a victory for Ukraine. Ukrainians are getting stronger every day. And likewise, the Russians are weakening by the day.” Major John Spencer, retired US staff officer and expert on urban warfare, explains in an interview with FOCUS Online the reasons for his optimism about developments in the Ukraine war. The military strategist also explains why he thinks nuclear attacks by the Russian president are unlikely – and why he continues to rely on the Ukrainians in the fighting in the east of the country, despite all the progress made by the Russians. He also reveals his assessment of Putin’s state of health. He describes the US $40 billion aid package as a “game changer”. In addition to Mariupol, Russian soldiers have again shelled the city of Odessa on Ukraine’s west coast. But Spencer is also confident about this: “Putin will never succeed in taking the port city. Odessa has an even better underground system than Kyiv – the tunnels under the capital are extraordinarily complex and very impressive. I consider a complete conquest of Odessa to be as good as impossible.” At the beginning of the war, the strategist for urban warfare and urban warfare raved on Twitter about the sophisticated tunnel networks in many Ukrainian cities: “The underground is a powerful resource for any urban defender. Kyiv and many Ukrainian cities have extensive underground networks. Tunnels are excellent for evading bombing, storing weapons/supplies, surprise attacks on enemy forces.”
After Putin was conqueringg Mariupol, all that sounds less like enthusiasm. Especially since there is no agreement on the war goals, neither in the West, nor in Germany, nor in the Ukraine. While Selensky initially wanted to concede Donbass and Crimea to the Russians, a neutral Ukraine without NATO membership but an EU perspective, he took all this back and demanded the conquest of all of Ukraine, including Crimea, as well as NATO and EU membership. The head of the Ukrainian secret service considers the reconquest of all of Ukraine to be unrealistic and has formulated more modest war goals.
SWP expert Markus Kaim criticizes exactly that in a SPIEGEL guest article:
„If Putin loses… „
Russia must not win,“ says Chancellor Olaf Scholz. But the goals of the federal government in this war are unclear. What does Germany want for Ukraine – and how does it want to deal with Russia in the future? (…) Germany’s political goals in this conflict will inevitably be influenced by political and military developments within Ukraine, but these should not alone determine German goals; on the contrary, the political goals should guide the steps Germany is taking in and towards Ukraine. Of course, Ukraine above all has the right to define its war aims, and it remains the privilege of Ukrainians to decide their political future. But the opposite also applies to Germany. Although West Germany’s interests overlap with those of Ukraine, Germany’s interests as a leader in Europe and a key partner of the US are more complex, subject to different constraints and requiring different considerations. Germany must therefore also resolve the contradiction of not making decisions over the heads of the Ukrainians, but at the same time exercising its own sovereignty in terms of security policy. Corresponding bilateral consultations already now are therefore essential in order to prevent major fault lines opening up between Ukraine and Germany in the long term.“
The military expert Masala from the Bundeswehr University in Munich, for example, doubts the extent to which war goals can be determined so quickly: War is a dynamic thing and so are war goals. General ret. Domröse in a WELT interview is giving a more complex picture. . According to this, the Donbass is lost, the Russians will now surround the Donbass triangle, encircle the Ukrainian troops and the population and shell them until they give up and capitulate, as they did in Mariupol. As long as no heavy weapons had arrived, the situation was hopeless. Russia now also has the land bridge to Crimea with Mariupol and, after taking Donbass, will advance down the south coast to Odessa in order to cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea and make it landlocked. There is a period of half a year that the Ukrainians would have to „bridge“ until the heavy weapons are fully operational and then an autumn offensive can be launched, and the sanctions in Russia will then take effect. The whole thing is not a “walk in the park”:
„Donbass is lost anyway, but without weapons Ukraine has no chance at all“ „Even if weapons are delivered today, they will no longer be effective in the Donbass,“ says retired general Hans-Lothar Domröse on the dramatic situation in eastern Ukraine. At the moment, Ukraine has to play for time in order to regain space in the long term. However, that would only be possible with heavy weapons.”
In another podcast with MDR, Domroese shares the assessment of former US General Ben Hodges that the Ukrainian counter-offensive could take place from September/October. https://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/podcast/ukrainekrieg/index.html
However, it is clear that the Ukrainians are not expected to be able to reconquer all Russian-occupied territories. Good Ben Hodges. It will be interesting to see whether anything will come of the September/October offensive or whether the new Russian commander-in-chief Dvornikov, “the butcher of Syria”, is not already considering counter-moves in the face of such open announcements to prevent this. After the fall of Mariupol one can be a bit skeptical as John Spencer heralded great successes with his mini-manual for urban warfare and the defense of cities. But Selensky may have won the Eurovision, is present in the media, had a stamp printed from the sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva, awarded a mine dog the Order of Merit to the delight of all dog lovers and animal lovers, also gave a speech at the World Economic Forum, but just lost Mariupol. Well, John Spencer’s lessons will be proven again in Odessa, where he believes Biden’s $40 billion land and lease program is the game changer. The good Ben Hodges is not only limited to the Ukraine theater of war like German generals , but assumes in the case of Asia that there will be a „kynetic conflict“ between the USA and China in the next 5-6 years – unlike Domroese, for example. But both agree that there is much not to be gained from Ukraine in a September offensive, let alone retaking all Russian-held territory. The question is whether you want to keep the Russians busy forever (Afghanistan 2.0) so that they cannot do any damage elsewhere, perhaps damage them so much that there is a regime change in Russia, or whether you want a ceasefire and a temporary diplomatic „solution“. , like the Italian diplomatic initiative proposing a ceasefire, demilitarization and a new European peace order. Dr.Rahr today sent us a propoasal from RIAC boss Dr. Kortunov who portarys 3 scenarios for a peace settlement.
“Andrey Kortunov offers three scenarios for the end of the war in Ukraine
The Russian political scientist sees it as a clash between societies as well as armies
The military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine is not an ethnic conflict: ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians are fighting on both sides of the frontline. And radical nationalism is not the main motivation for Ukrainian resistance—contrary to many of Moscow’s statements. Neither is it a fight about religion. Both Russia and Ukraine are essentially secular states, and the recent religious renaissance in the two countries is superficial. Nor is the fight mostly about territory, in my view (though related disputes remain a formidable obstacle to reaching a peace settlement).
The conflict concerns a clash between very different ways of organising social and political life within two countries which together once constituted a large portion of Soviet territory. It is also an intellectual and spiritual confrontation between two mindsets: two views on the modern international system and on the world at large; two opposing perceptions of what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and what is not, what is legitimate and what is illegitimate and of what national leadership should entail.
It would be hard to argue that Ukraine has already emerged as a model of Western-style liberal democracy. But the country is persistently moving in this direction—slowly, inconsistently and with understandable setbacks and inevitable procrastination. Russia, in turn, is not a classical Asian or European authoritarian state, but it has been drifting away from the liberal democratic model for at least the past 20 years. Ukrainian society generally is organised from the bottom up, while Russian society has a top-down process at its core. Since independence in 1991, for example, Ukraine has elected six presidents. Each won power after highly contested (and sometimes very dramatic) elections. In the same period Russia has been ruled by only three heads of state. Each new leader was carefully selected and supported by his predecessor.
Historians, cultural anthropologists and sociologists debate the reasons for this remarkable divergence. The most important thing, however, is that this fundamental incompatibility of the two models of social organisation has led not only to a horrendous fratricidal military confrontation in the very centre of Europe, but that it will also dictate how each side acts in the conflict. From personnel to propaganda and from strategy to statecraft, the two competing post-Soviet models are being put to the test. The outcome will have repercussions that go far beyond Europe.
In Kyiv they can argue that the terms of the encounter are not fair. Russia is bigger, wealthier and militarily more powerful than Ukraine is. On the other hand, Ukraine enjoys international sympathy and almost unlimited defensive, economic, humanitarian and intelligence assistance from the West. Russia can rely only on itself and is exposed to the pressure of increasingly painful sanctions.
Many Russian experts are used to saying that the massive Western military and other support is the only reason why Ukraine has not yet crumbled or surrendered. But this narrative does not explain the sources of Ukraine’s motivation. Consider Afghanistan, where all the long-term large-scale military support from America and its partners did not prevent the Taliban’s unstoppable offensive last year. Though the two conflicts cannot be compared directly, the reality on the ground seems clear: whereas Afghans in 2021 were no longer motivated to fight for their country and for their values, Ukrainians in 2022 clearly are.
The stakes in the conflict could hardly be higher. It is about the future of the international system and about the future of the world order. Most important, it is about our understanding of modernity itself and, consequently, about our preferred models of social and political development.
There are three scenarios for how the war ends, and each would have enormous geopolitical consequences. If the Kremlin were to lose decisively in this epic standoff, we would probably see a re-emergence of the unipolar moment—the remaining opposition to this arrangement by Beijing notwithstanding. Although Ukraine might be unfinished business for Mr Putin, Russia’s status is itself unfinished business for many in the West. Triumph for Ukraine might lead to a tamed and domesticated Russia. A quiet Russia would allow the West to cope more easily with China, which would be the only major obstacle to liberal hegemony and the long-awaited “end of history”.
If the conflict results with an imperfect but mutually acceptable settlement, the final outcome of the collision between the Russian and the Ukrainian models will be postponed. Fierce competition between the two models of social organisation will continue, but, I hope, in a less brutal mode. A less-than-perfect compromise between the West and Russia might be followed by a more important, and more fundamental, compromise between the West and China. If a deal with Mr Putin is possible, a deal with Xi Jinping would be a logical continuation. A rapprochement between China and the West would require more time, energy and political flexibility from the West, however. That would lead to a reformation of the global order, with major changes to the UN system, archaic norms of international public law and recalibrations at the IMF, the WTO and other bodies.
If there is no agreement on Ukraine and the conflict endures through cycles of shaky ceasefires followed by new rounds of escalation, expect decay in global and regional bodies. Inefficient international institutions may collapse amid an accelerating arms race, nuclear proliferation and the multiplication of regional conflicts. Such change would lead only to more chaos in the years ahead.
Assessing the probability of any of the three scenarios is extremely difficult—too many independent variables could influence the outcome of the conflict. I consider the reformation scenario, in which an agreement is made to end the war, to be the best option for all. The others either will introduce change too quickly or block badly-needed change; in both cases political risks will multiply. If the conflict triggers a gradual, orderly and non-violent transition in which the global order becomes more stable, it would mean that humankind has not let Ukraine’s sacrifices go to waste. ■
Andrey Kortunov is a political scientist and director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think-tank.„
But there are also concerns about so-called diplomatic „solutions“ and fears of a „dictated peace“, as Putim could sell tis as a victory, give him a breather for regeneration and then new adventures, provided that his health lasts the next few years like „Sleepy Joe“. , whereby he could also count on Trump being re-elected in 2024 or on a “kynetic conflict” between the USA and China (as predicted by Ben Hodges) as a game changer.
Especially since there is another regional power that Erdogan-Turkey is now making quite a significant contribution to. Erdogan is also trying to mediate between Russia and NATO, whether it’s grain exports through Ukrainian ports (although he could go down in history as the world’s savior for the starving peoples of the so-called „Global South“) or their veto on NATO membership Finland and Sweden, with Erdogan making his approval conditional on a 10-point list of demands covering everything from the delivery of F-35s to the extradition of PKK members to Turkey, while at the same time making demands on Putin to give him important gains for his potential veto. Unclear how this will turn out. The ex-NATO Secretary General Rasmussen also called for a „leading role for Germany“, although it is unclear to what extent Scholz could achieve anything between the USA, Russia and Selensky, especially since SWP expert Markus Kaim correctly states that neither in Germany nor in Ukraine there is agreement on the war goals and the time after that, and the German Chancellor Scholz did not bring anything new in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davis.
However, this does not yet price in what will happen if the Russians will stop the supply of heavy weapons and cut the supply routes or disrupt them permanently, so that the autumn offensive does not turn out as hoped. The question also remains what the sanctions will do in the West, which is already suffering from inflation, if an oil embargo were to come about.
The more Russophile and Putinesque Sahra Wagenknecht devotes a video to the sanctions and proposed oil embargo, but makes some thoughtful arguments that the oil embargo will not harm Putin as he will ship his oil to Asia and other countries, Russia will tarnsferits oil exports to third countries tranship them or mix it with other oil other oil, thereby simply circumventing the embargo, just as most oil importers have now switched to paying in roubles. In addition, Russian oil and gas imports would have to be made at the low prices of long-term contracts and replacementof Russian n oil would have to be bought at horrifically exploding world market prices, which would further fuel inflation.Her meassage: The oil embargo does not harm Putin, but rather the western population and makes everything more expensive without any real effect. Whether that’s true remains to be seen. Especially since her Left Party comrade Jan van Aken is not only demanding an oil embargo, but also a gas embargo and other things in order to avoid arms deliveries. The Left Party speaks with at least 2 votes, is at least 2 parties under the umbrella of one, especially since Wagenknecht only addresses the social and economic consequences, but would never demand that Putin should simply stop, maybe simply withdraw from Ukraine or propose another politician instead of Putin who could potentially establish the proposed European peace order. West and US bashing only. But she may be right about the economic and social consequences, even as she hopes this will rekindle her „Stand up“ (Auftsehen) movement.
Here her video: „Everything is getting more expensive – How Habeck and Co gamble away our prosperity“
In any case, Habeck already seems to be aware of the consequences when he openly says, „We’re all getting poorer,“ things are getting „lumpy,“ and Annalena Baerbock warns of „war fatigue.“ As said by General a. D. Domroese to put it bluntly: It will not be a walk in the park. In an article, however, the left-wing Jungle World doubts whether a protest movement will emerge here, let alone as Sahra Wagenknecht hopes a new left-wing populist uprising movement:
“Left-wing populism cannot achieve success in Germany The precariat is fragmented
Left-wing populist politicians have achieved success in various European countries and the USA in recent years, but not in Germany. The precariat of European crisis profiteers is divided and is fighting defensive battles among themselves.
After Bernie Sanders in the USA, Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain, Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, Sahra Wagenknecht set out in 2018 to bring the left-wing populist trend to Germany with her so-called »Stand Up« /Get up (Aufstehen) movement. However, the media found the attempt relevant, but not other left-wing parties or a sufficiently large number of supporters. At that time, Wagenknecht was working towards a cross-party alliance between the SPD, Die Linke and the Greens, in which politicians from all of these parties also participated. From today’s perspective, that seems almost strange. Under Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the SPD has oriented itself to the right and the Left Party seems to be tearing itself apart since the recent federal election, which it saw as disappointing. Wagenknecht’s proposal was rigorously rejected by the Left Party and SPD and institutionally excluded. This is one of the reasons why »Stand Up« ended up being just another group close to the Left Party with only a few comrades-in-arms from other parties. In Germany, the welfare state, civil society and education system have woven a fine network of hierarchies and demarcations.
Left-wing populism has little to offer left-wing parties in Germany anyway. No other party in this country is as well networked in civil society as the SPD. It is anchored in trade unions and churches, in public broadcasting and in social organizations, in sports, allotment and singing clubs. It is the party of teachers, civil servants and employees in the city and administration. Why should they have joined and even subordinated to a diffuse, self-proclaimed movement that hopes for the traction of supposedly charismatic leaders and ultimately calls on a largely disinterested audience to take part in demonstrations and protests? »Die Linke«, on the other hand, has been orienting itself towards a red-red-green coalition since the federal elections of 2013 at the latest, adapting to the institutional practices of the SPD: they shifted to joint historians’ conferences, met at the municipal level to exchange ideas, young politicians from both parties informally probed Berlin restaurants. However, left-wing populism in Germany is not only failing because of the party system. It is based on rallying large groups of people around a few catchy slogans like the demand for „social justice“.
Success was not brought about by the rhetorical magic of a Bernie Sanders or a Jeremy Corbyn – both are rather boring and slow-moving speakers – but a common class situation of the population groups addressed: Academics in the USA and Great Britain often start their professional life heavily indebted with student loans, the probability that they can’t make it professionally and end up in the precariat is much higher than in Germany. In Spain, Italy, Greece, even in France, the financial and euro crises since 2008 have produced a whole generation of well-educated young people who have no suitable career prospects. Youth and academic unemployment in these countries is immense. At the beginning of 2022, the former in Spain was 29.6 percent, in some cases well above the EU average of 17.2 percent. Even France’s youth unemployment rate of 16.3 percent is below the EU average, but it is more than twice as high as in Germany. In all of western and southern Europe, and especially in the USA, the intelligentsia is much more exposed to the threat of social decline than in Germany. Culturally, in terms of taste, education and knowledge, these young people are far removed from the habitus of rural workers, immigrants, small traders and contract workers in the factories. Socially, however, they face a similar fate. And the left-wing populist politicians offered them an alliance with “the people”. The form of the open movement, which manages without the rigid hierarchies of a party, proved to be appropriate.
Culturally, in terms of taste, education and knowledge, these young people are far removed from the habitus of rural workers, immigrants, small traders and contract workers in the factories. Socially, however, they face a similar fate. And the left-wing populist politicians offered them an alliance with “the people”. The form of the open movement, which manages without the rigid hierarchies of a party, proved to be appropriate. This strategy cannot be transferred to Germany because the conditions are different here. On the one hand, Germany was the winner of all crises in Europe in the past decade and the hated country of longing for unemployed young people who came from Italy, Greece, Spain and all of Eastern Europe in search of their happiness in this country. There is still a shortage of skilled workers on the labor market. On the other hand, the academization of the professional fields is progressing. With the academization, the hierarchization in the professions is also increasing. Academics can indulge in the illusion that success in wage negotiations depends on the level of training and can be achieved individually in a trusting conversation with the boss.
Certainly, there have also been social protests by intellectuals in Germany – just think of the attempts under the hashtag #IchBinHanna to draw attention to the professional disadvantages of young researchers and teachers. In public, however, this is perceived as a niche protest. In Germany, with the active help of social democracy, the welfare state, civil society and the training system have woven a fine network of hierarchies and demarcations: trade unions fight for permanent staff, not for temporary workers; employees at universities for permanent employment, not for equal educational opportunities for all; stressed parents for setting up more day-care centers, not for the demands of striking teachers. That is why left-wing populism in this country cannot offer an alliance of the precarious and the proletarian. These are isolated from each other in their social niches, where they fight for themselves and sometimes even have success, which they then want to protect against others.
Especially since the left party is split between the Wagenknecht and the so-called lifestyle left wing, at odds and, like the churches, paralyzed by the cases of abuse and obvious symptims of dissolution. What could mean that the AfD in East Germany, which would be most affected by an oil embargo because of its refineries, is also Russophile and Putin-friendly, could start a right-wing populist movement, perhaps also street marches and demonstrations, at which Höcke would then win the favor of the hour and maybe also replaces Chrupalla and officially converts the AfD into a leader party. Then, as the next step, to overthrow Bodo Ramelow, the last left-wing asset , and to make Saxony and Thuringia the new location of the movement, citing Sahra Wagenknecht’s left-nationalist arguments and perhaps also as a cross-political front, as Hitler once did with Munich in the Free State of Bavaria as the city of the movement and prepare for the March against Berlin. Höcke then wants to compete as leader in East Germany against the whole left-green filthy liberal Berlin and the Coca Cola West. That should take even longer, especially since this would not necessarily be the recipe for success for West Germany, but in the event of a serious economic slump, Putin would also have the option of making parts of East Germany ungovernable for Berlin with a Höcke-AfD, and he also could count on the broad support from the AfD-affine Russian Germans. Especially since, given the German archetypical fear of hyperinflation, the potential for class and West German protest would not be limited to the fragmented precariat described by Jungle World.
In his Merzmail 99 in May, the CDU chairman Friedrich Merz even speaks of a split between East and West Germany on this issue: “
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is also changing the political climate of opinion in Germany. In recent years, the CDU and CSU have found it increasingly difficult to justify the need for military national defense. Foreign and security policy had also lost importance within the Union, and other issues came to the fore. But since the morning of February 24, 2022, we have known that imperialism and military force have returned with force to the European continent. The threat of weapons is no longer an abstract quantity, but a real threat to freedom in Europe. A rarely large majority of the population once again believes that defense capability and military deterrence are essential to protect our country.
However, there is a very split opinion between East and West. Only half of the population in East Germany agrees with NATO membership and the resulting obligations, as well as with the issue of arms deliveries to Ukraine, and even fewer with the views in the West. The AfD and the Left Party use these differences to recruit their electorate in the East. If this is not to result in a permanent new division between East and West, then the CDU in particular must have a stronger presence in the East with foreign and security policy issues. Presence does not mean teaching the audience from the above; First of all, being present means listening and looking for the reasons for the skepticism about NATO and readiness for defence. The Bundeswehr is also asked to improve its visibility, but also its willingness to engage in dialogue in the East. 32 years after national unity, especially in these weeks of war, we see once again very clearly how different our character and life experiences still are in East and West. The war in Ukraine is challenging politics like never before. But it is precisely the very different opinions in Germany on the answers that we want to give politically and militarily that remain a special responsibility of politics and society.”