The war in Ukraine enters its 48th week with a new turning point in the conflict between Russia, which invaded the neighboring country last February, and the West, which has militarily supported Kiev’s attempts to resist (Photo: Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) Ukraine’s war enters its 48th week with a new turning point in the conflict between Russia, which invaded the neighboring country last February, and the West, which has lent military support to Kiev’s efforts to resist aggression.
This Thursday (January 19), on the eve of the meeting at which Ukraine’s allies promise a hefty package of new weapons, including war tanks that may not have been sent to the conflict before, Moscow responded to the move by rhetorically threatening to use its nuclear bomb : real nuclear weapons.
Uncompromising Kremlin representative Dmitry Medvedev, who headed the country on behalf of Vladimir Putin from 2008 to 2012, took to Telegram to comment on this Friday (1/20) meeting of the group of 50 countries led by NATO forces, the western military alliance at the American base in Ramstein, Germany.
“Underdeveloped political singers repeat as a mantra: ‘To have peace, Russia must lose.’ It never occurs to them to draw the following elementary conclusion from this: the defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war can lead to a nuclear war. Nuclear powers do not lose conflicts where their fate is at stake,” he wrote.
The statement is interesting. On the one hand, when Medvedev repeats what he has said on other occasions, while appealing to a line that no longer so much affects Western politicians, on the other hand he reveals an unusual frankness: an admission that the Russians can be defeated.
Already in the official environment of the Kremlin, spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed himself in a similar direction, when he commented on a report in the American newspaper “The New York Times”, according to which the government of Joe Biden had discussed supporting a possible Ukrainian offensive against Crimea a peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 and the jewel in Putin’s expansionist crown, home to his Black Sea Fleet.
In political jargon, the report is a test balloon: for such an attack, Kyiv would have to reconquer the province of Kherson, which doesn’t seem so easy. But Peskov took the bait and hinted at the Russian reaction.
“It would mean taking the conflict to a new level that will not end well for European security.” He also backed Medvedev’s comment, saying it was “in line with Russian nuclear doctrine,” on one of the imperatives of using unspeakable weapons: existential risk to the state.
On the other hand, a significant announcement by Sweden suggests that the West is poised to retest the red lines constantly being drawn by the Kremlin. Also this Thursday, the Swedish government, which is negotiating its NATO entry, announced that it will include an unspecified number of Archer artillery systems, of which there are 48 units, in Friday’s military megapackage.
It is one of the best selfpropelled howitzers in the world and, depending on the ammunition used, can hit targets 50 kilometers away. Previously, in this category above 150mm calibers, Ukraine had to rely on the more obsolete Soviet MstaS, of which it had 40 before the start of the war.
Stockholm also promises to send 50 light tanks. So it adds to the aid, which is being spearheaded by up to $2 billion from the US which has already announced 50 Bradley tanks, which are the closest thing to a main battle tank they promised Kyiv, and Patriot antiaircraft systems to include
This is where the problems of Westerners and their allies begin, all under the American umbrella of NATO. Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government wants 300 tanks to hold back the Russian offensive in the east of the country, which this Thursday appears to have drawn even closer to the vital Donetsk city of Bakhmut.
Experts say that 100 new tanks would already help level the game. So far, NATO has avoided talking about sending these vehicles out of fear of the Russian reaction. That changed, and Britain made the first such weapons announcement this week, pledging 14 Challenger2s for the European package that includes allies like Australia on Friday.
All this put pressure on Germany, which produces the most widespread modern tank in Europe, the Leopard2. Not only to ship some of its 376 tanks, but above all to authorize other operators to ship their products to third parties.
Berlin is fighting back, even though the issue contributed to the fall of its defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, on Monday. Questioned by European colleagues at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Olaf Scholz again said caution was advised. On Wednesday (18th), German officials spoke anonymously that Berlin would only release the Leopards if Washington sent its powerful M1A2 Abrams tanks into the conflict. The American reaction was immediate.
“I don’t think we’re that far. The Abrams is a complex, expensive device that is difficult to train,” said Colin Kahl, a Pentagon adviser. The tank uses a turbine engine, like the Russian T80, which boosts performance but makes it a fuel guzzler something Ukraine doesn’t have in abundance.
Be that as it may, there is optimism. The Lithuanian government said it was certain several countries would announce deployment of Leopard2 12 European nations operate it. Britain also said it would supply 600 Brimstone antitank missiles, a powerful weapon, in addition to tanks.
As the debate takes place, Ukrainians accuse the Russians of attacking in the east. “We do not have time. The tank problem must be solved as soon as possible, we are paying for the delay with the lives of our people,” Presidential Advisor Andrii Iermak said on Telegram.