Lots of drone bombs, lots of satellites, lots of cyber intelligence, and lots of guided missiles wreaking havoc. But the most crucial episodes of Russia’s war against Ukraine are now being played out, inch by inch, in mud and ice, in trenches like those that criss-crossed Europe in 1914-1918. A Ukrainian soldier told Euronews: “The scariest thing is when you see a tank coming towards you. When the tank fires, it happens very quickly. If it’s a projectile heading towards our position, you hear it and you have a second or two to hide.”
One of the most shocking scenes in All Quiet on the Front, and there are many shocking ones, comes as tanks plow through weakened German positions on the French front at the end of World War I. Its armor deflects bullets, its cannon fires at close range, its tracks negotiate any bumps or crush anyone who stands in its way.
The Netflix film – based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, which hit screens back in 1930 and 1979 – is a technical and emotional marvel, hence its nine Oscar nominations. But it can suffocate the viewer because no detail of the horrors of war is spared. The story underscores the futility of the loss of young lives, particularly those sent to the slaughterhouse for no gain, when a ceasefire was already being negotiated.
Russia is preparing a major land offensive once the 300,000 force-mobilized troops are deployed. The New York Times calls it a “brutal new phase of the war”. Berlin and Washington have released the tanks requested by Kyiv. The future of Europe is again at stake in the trenches as it was a century ago. Nothing indicates that we are near the end.
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