February 24 marks the anniversary of the Russian military attack on Ukraine. After initial hesitation, the West is supporting Ukraine with heavy weapons such as tanks, and combat aircraft are now also being discussed. Left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht and activist Alice Schwarzer recently put up vigorous resistance to the arms deliveries. So far, more than 400,000 people have signed their own “Manifesto for Peace”.
This writing is "an expression of the worst national pacifism," said military expert Carlo Masala in the ARD talk "Maischberger" on Tuesday evening. Together with Rüdiger von Fritsch, former German ambassador in Moscow, he analyzed the current war situation and possible paths to a ceasefire and negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
In the manifesto, the blame is "almost unilaterally placed on Ukraine," said Masala. “Both sides have to make compromises, it says in there. In a situation where someone has waged a war of aggression, to say that both have to make compromises is outrageous.” Only Russia wants to wage war. "To say that the attacked person is no longer allowed to defend himself - that is pure cynicism."
Fritsch also harshly criticized the petition, which was signed by celebrities such as Margot Käßmann, Jürgen Todenhöfer and Peter Gauweiler. "You don't have to think that you can reach Vladimir Putin based on German logic," he commented.
It is important to support Ukraine against Russian aggression and at the same time to seek a peaceful solution. "To say we'll stop the arms shipments, then we'll talk and everything will be fine? Putin would only see that as encouragement to continue.” This would also send the signal that violence is worthwhile, said von Fritsch. "There are other ways to think about peace horizons."
According to von Fritsch, two conditions are needed to achieve a ceasefire. "On the one hand, that we continue to support Ukraine with determination and unity, so that it is able to establish a just peace in a ceasefire at eye level." The second requirement would be that conditions would have to be created for a ceasefire in which this peace would be embedded in time. It is about "discussions about major security issues that are in the room and where Russia says, 'that depresses us'. You can start there without making concessions or compromises.”
But who starts such negotiations, asked the moderator, who mediates? "Where is the UN Secretary General?" asked von Fritsch rhetorically. The Secretary-General has a “strong set of instruments and could take initiatives.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres traveled to the Ukrainian capital Kiev in April 2022 and got an idea of the city, which was contested at the time. Von Fritsch: "He was there once and came home empty-handed."
In addition to a ceasefire, ex-ambassador von Fritsch sees four other conceivable outcomes of the Ukraine war. “The first thing would be Vladimir Putin going home. We know how unrealistic that is.” It is also possible that the West will stop providing support. Thirdly, it is “conceivable that one side or the other will win. And another variant would be that the political situation in Russia changes.”
Masala, Professor of International Politics at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, sees no chance of a successful mediation at the moment due to the military and political situation. "The Russian Federation still believes that it can win this war in terms of further territorial gains." The Russian army is currently conducting a spring offensive, which would come earlier than expected, for example due to the tank announcements by the West. Russia used the winter to “bring three or four divisions to the Ukraine. Especially in the Donbass.”
The southern front is currently strategically important for Ukraine. Masala's analysis: "If the Ukrainian counter-offensive succeeds in separating the southern from the eastern front, then the Russian attempt to hold everything from the east across the land bridge to Crimea will collapse." This could lead to a change in the Russian view of the war because "then a major strategic goal can no longer be achieved and Crimea may be up for grabs." If Russia had to fear losing Crimea, "then it could lead to a rethink in Moscow."
At this point in time, Masala considers fighter jets to be less important than ammunition, artillery and spare parts. In addition, Ukraine needs air defense systems to defend itself against missiles and drones.
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