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Featured Olaf Christian (FDP) Kiew Barbara Wittmann ChinaWirtschaft

Time for the decisive blow against Putin

If the opponent staggers, the boxer has a chance to knock out.

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Time for the decisive blow against Putin

If the opponent staggers, the boxer has a chance to knock out. After the explosion on the Kerch Bridge, Vladimir Putin is weaker than he has been since he stopped advancing on Kyiv. Chancellor Olaf Scholz should seize this opportunity and finally deliver the weapons that Ukraine needs to deal a decisive blow to Russia: German battle tanks and armored personnel carriers.

For too long, the chancellor was guided by his concern that the supply of tanks might be viewed as too much of a provocation in the Kremlin. Now Putin has suffered the greatest possible disgrace, even without Scholz's doing. On the day after his 70th birthday, an explosion shook the strategically important Kerch Bridge, the only land connection between Russia and occupied Crimea.

The bridge was a multi-billion dollar prestige project by Putin after the illegal annexation of the peninsula. In 2018 he had inaugurated it himself. At the same time, it is the logistical Achilles' heel of Russia's war effort in southern Ukraine, which is why it has long been in the sights of Ukrainians.

So far it is unclear who is responsible for the attack. One thing is clear: the damage to Putin is immense. Operationally alone, this presented his troops on the southern front with major supply problems. Even if, as the Moscow Ministry of Transport says, train services should be up and running again, it is unclear whether the route is suitable for transporting heavy equipment.

This is also a serious setback symbolically. The morale of the Russian soldiers will continue to drop. And in front of Moscow's power elite, Putin is embarrassed because he is visibly unable to protect annexed "Russian" territories.

For years, Putin has viewed the political arena as a boxing ring in which the fittest prevails. Any reluctance on the part of European politicians after his provocations - annexations of Ukrainian territories, poisoning of opposition figures or murder of dissidents on German territory - he interpreted as weakness and carried on.

Now is the time to turn the tables. Now Putin is the weak one, and Scholz should find the courage to help Ukraine win with battle tanks.

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