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The frustration at the hesitation of NATO - and Germany

While the NATO foreign ministers were discussing the Ukraine war in Bucharest, fighting south of the town of Bakhmut in the Donbass continued on Wednesday with an unprecedented intensity.

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The frustration at the hesitation of NATO - and Germany

While the NATO foreign ministers were discussing the Ukraine war in Bucharest, fighting south of the town of Bakhmut in the Donbass continued on Wednesday with an unprecedented intensity. A lot is at stake: If the Russian troops succeed in breaking through the Ukrainian defense line at Bakhmut – as they did at two other strategically important points – the danger increases that Russia will advance into the largely unprotected rear of Ukraine.

At the same time, the rocket fire on Ukrainian energy infrastructure continues: millions of Ukrainians are now sitting in the dark and in the cold. Winter is just beginning in the country. In Kyiv, the daytime temperatures are currently around minus two degrees Celsius, at night it's minus six degrees. "This is a terrible start of winter for Ukraine," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in Bucharest.

A race against time has now begun for Ukraine. The crucial question here is: will the Ukrainian armed forces, after important military successes recently in the south near Cherson, succeed in preventing Moscow from further widespread destruction of the infrastructure so that the supply of civilians does not finally collapse at some point.

The need of the people urges action. The NATO foreign ministers therefore decided to significantly increase practical aid for the country: Fuel, hundreds of generators and transformers, but also blankets, ambulances and material for repairing destroyed energy infrastructure are to be delivered.

This is important. But it is not what the foreign ministers promised in their official joint statement at this meeting. It will help Ukraine, it says, "to strengthen its resilience, protect its people and counter the disinformation campaigns and lies".

At dinner with his NATO colleagues on Tuesday evening, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba clearly formulated what his country urgently needs to protect the people: "In short: patriots and transformers are what Ukraine needs most." And he added : "We welcome what has been done so far, but the war goes on." It is not easy to find thousands of transformers and generators quickly, but the NATO countries at least want to try.

In contrast, the Ukraine has so far encountered granite with the alliance when it comes to the state-of-the-art Patriot air defense system of the type PAC 3. At the same time, Ukraine urgently needs a powerful anti-aircraft defense system so that it can keep Russian drones, fighter jets, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles from destroying its electricity, gas and water plants.

The Patriot anti-aircraft systems are more effective than the German Iris-T anti-aircraft missiles and the United States' Nasams, which have previously been delivered in small numbers. Their destructive power is greater, they fly up to 160 kilometers and they can also disable ballistic missiles. However, such a guided missile costs up to five million euros and requires 70 to 90 well-trained soldiers to operate the system. The training could take weeks.

But Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), who is certainly one of Ukraine's strongest supporters in the federal government, put on the brakes. She referred to the delivery of the Iris and the protection of Alliance territory, with Patriots playing an important role in air defense. In purely formal terms, both arguments are correct.

But they don't convince the Ukraine: So far, only a copy of the Iris T has been delivered, which is far too few and, moreover, Russia would not be able to seriously attack a NATO country at the moment. "The Patriots should now be deployed where they are most needed - in Ukraine," a senior military official told WELT.

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