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Saturday, May 21, 2022

The most important questions and answers about the weekend’s developments.

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Kremlogy is being practiced again in government offices around the world these days. No one can look at the head of Vladimir Putin, but his latest speeches, the use of weapons, the brutal shelling of Mariupol without regard to civilians, plus the concentration of troops on the border with Belarus.

His war against all of Ukraine went unnoticed by many, so there is growing concern that the Russian president is determined to do anything but not make peace. Here are the most important questions and answers about the latest developments in Ukraine.

What does Russia’s first use of hypersonic missiles mean in the war against Ukraine?

In both the US and Germany, the use of hypersonic missiles was understood not only as a military-technical operation, but also as a clear signal to the West and NATO. Like the rocket attack on a Ukrainian army training camp not far from the Polish border a few days ago, this is apparently intended to send the message that if EU and NATO countries interfere too much on the Ukraine, Russian weapons could also hit. they

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen]

Unlike conventional cruise missiles, the Kinschal hypersonic missile is able to “penetrate air defense systems very effectively,” says Joachim Krause of the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel. There is only speculation about the number real in Russian arsenals.

“The mission was probably intended to give the impression of Russian superiority,” the political scientist said. It is still questionable whether this mission indicates a new phase in the Russian offensive, or even a new strategy.

If Russia also stations or has stationed the hypersonic missiles in Kaliningrad, they could also reach Berlin with a range of 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers: the Russian enclave and the capital of Germany are only 500 kilometers apart as the crow flies. The “ability to perform hypersonic evasive maneuvers” (Krause) makes fighting them more difficult.

Schematic trajectory of a hypersonic missile used by Russia in Ukraine. Photo: Gal ROMA AND Sophie RAMIS/AFP

Supersonic missiles have been around for a long time, most ballistic missiles reach high speeds, intercontinental missiles rush in the final phase of their trajectory at a speed of up to 15,000 km per hour. “What’s new about hypersonic weapons is their maneuverability in high-speed conditions,” says the security expert from Kiel.

Four countries, the US, Russia, China and France, are looking for the necessary technology for this. The new technology does not increase the aiming accuracy of rockets and cruise missiles.

Krause’s verdict: “The basic principle of nuclear strategic stability between the US and Russia, the mutually assured ability to destroy, does not change with hypersonic weapons, especially as long as there are nuclear weapons on strategic submarines.” Well-known security experts support Vladimir Putin’s use of nuclear weapons as unlikely, though not impossible.

How would a Belarusian military attack on Ukraine change the balance of power?

The leadership in kyiv is alarmed: the probability of an attack by the Belarusian army on their own country is high, the presidential office said. The fear is understandable. So far, no troops from the country autocratically ruled by Putin’s closest ally, Alexander Lukashenko, have invaded Ukraine, and apart from rocket attacks in other regions, the Russian military is massing in the north, south and east of the country. .

Therefore, an intervention by the army of the neighboring country to the north in western Ukraine would open another front and commit significant military forces at a time when the defeated Ukraine finds it difficult to resist superior forces.

The connections between Minsk and Moscow are close: the troops of both countries had practiced together on the border with Ukraine before the Russian attack, so they are in tune with each other. The fact that Belarus withdrew its diplomats from kyiv could be taken as an indication of Minsk’s willingness to escalate.

He has not yet sent his army to Ukraine, but kyiv fears that he will: President Alexander Lukashenko is…Photo: Alexey NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP

However, it is not yet clear whether Lukashenko will take this step, because there are apparently signs of resistance in his country that are pro-Ukrainian. The railway workers are said to have cut off all connections with Ukraine. President of the Ukrainian Railways Olexander Kamyshin welcomed the action.

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There is “no more rail traffic” between the two countries, he wrote. This would mean that Russian troops in the Ukraine would not be able to get reinforcements or supplies through these routes, nor would any Belarusian army be able to advance rapidly through these routes. The campaign has yet to be confirmed by independent sources.

Why is a diplomatic solution less likely?

The Russian side is no longer trusted, even in the Foreign Ministry they fear that any attempt to find a solution for a quick ceasefire could be a diversionary tactic, a kind of new Potemki village. In any case, phone calls with Vladimir Putin have so far given Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) little hope.

Above all, the focus is on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who can have no interest in a prolonged and severe downturn in the world economy.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss fears that Moscow could use the ongoing negotiations in the Ukraine conflict for a military reshuffle, buying time to attack even harder. “I am very skeptical,” Truss told the London Times. “What we have seen so far is an attempt by the Russians to buy time for a reorganization.”

There are no signs of a withdrawal of Russian troops and no serious proposals on the negotiating table. Moscow lied over and over again, Truss continued. Under no circumstances should sanctions against Moscow or arms deliveries to kyiv be dispensed with as a result of the negotiations.

Truss warns of a further escalation of the conflict. The Russian president is growing more desperate as his plan for a quick victory continues to fail. “There is always a risk that if he doesn’t make progress he will resort to more and more extreme measures, and we have already seen appalling atrocities in Ukraine.”

Announces successes and denies war crimes: Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense in Moscow.Photo: Russian Defense Ministry/AFP

What does that mean for Germany?

The federal government also wants more arms deliveries, and is also changing its strategy of continuing to work on it, but not talking about it openly, mainly because there are fears that Russia will attack arms deliveries. All details are now de facto nondisclosure.

So far, western Ukraine – this is where most of the weapons enter the country – has not been so badly affected by the war. Weapons are brought into the country in secret transports, not in clearly identifiable convoys.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) has openly stated for the first time that weapons must also be purchased on the international market. “Now it is difficult or almost impossible since the actions of the Bundeswehr.

But there are other options. For example, about purchasing, about upgrade initiatives. And I can assure you that we are talking very seriously with the Ukrainian government about such channels,” he told Deutschlandfunk.

More about the Ukrainian war on Tagesspiegel Plus:

There are opportunities to buy material, also directly through Ukraine, for example. “But that is not a route that goes through the Ministry of Defense, but a route that goes through the Ministry of Economic Affairs, because then we are talking about arms exports, for example when they are bought from German companies and then delivered to Ukraine. “, Lambrecht emphasized that the department headed by Robert Habeck (Greens) is now also becoming more and more involved in this issue.

If the war escalated, would Germany be prepared?

No, at least that’s what experts like former NATO General Egon Ramms say. Air defense is lacking, around 250 tanks instead of thousands, many of which are not up to date in order to ensure a robust distribution of countries and alliances. Also, many things are simply not ready to use. The Tornadoes will be replaced by US F-35 bombers in the coming years, also to transport the atomic bombs stationed in Germany in case the worst happens.

But Lambrecht, in particular, is meticulous in the fact that it is primarily a question of equipment and not rearmament. “When I talk to soldiers and they show me that radio devices, for example, are not up to date, that they cannot communicate with other nations because they are not compatible, that shows what action is needed.”

Lambrecht announced a meeting with Chancellor Scholz and Inspector General Eberhard Zorn on Wednesday about the 100 billion euro program to strengthen the troops. This means that Scholz is increasingly assuming the concrete implementation of the turning point he announced.

The protection of the population against a possible nuclear threat will also be rapidly improved with more bunkers and sirens. Armin Schuster, president of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, calls for additional investments of 135 million euros for the ongoing budget deliberations.


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