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SCHOLZ'S STICKS INTO NATO WHEELS (30 01 2023)

Political strategic level
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stated that NATO is not and will not be directly involved in the war between Russia and Ukraine. "A German Chancellor who takes his oath of office seriously must do his utmost to ensure that Russia's war against Ukraine does not turn into a war between Russia and NATO <...> NATO and Russia are not at war. We will not allow the situation to escalate further", Scholz told the Tagesspiegel newspaper. The politician added that German citizens are hoping that their Chancellor will "keep calm" as they watch the news.
"Anyone who wants to support Ukraine in defending its integrity and sovereignty must remain consistent <...> We will not go over the heads of Ukrainians. We agreed on this in advance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stressed that he is ready for peace and presented a peace plan in November. Putin should withdraw his troops from Ukraine and put an end to this terrible, senseless war", Scholz added.
This time, the German Chancellor is putting the nail in NATO's coffin and putting the brakes on a chariot that is preparing for a direct confrontation with Russia. Perhaps Scholz does not understand that without NATO's direct intervention, Ukraine's victory over Russia is hardly possible. Or perhaps he naively believes that somehow an agreement with Moscow will be reached. However, Moscow will not negotiate with Berlin, but will negotiate with Russian soldiers raping German mothers and children. For Putin and for all the Russians who want to win the war, sending the Leopards is already a death sentence for Germany.
This rhetoric from the German Chancellor and his supporters is bound to change. Just as the country's position has changed since the beginning of the war, when, at that time, German airspace was used to prohibit the transport of military aid to Ukraine. On the other hand, such statements 'work' for the Kremlin, slowing down the pace of military aid and disrupting NATO unity from within.
The German Chancellor has also made it clear that he will not support the sending of fighter jets to Ukraine and warned that 'we must not enter into a race to increase armaments'. In other words, Scholz is proposing to send Ukraine a little arms, but not too much. Do not overdo it.
It seems that the leader of the German Social Democrats would be happy to sign a protocol with the Kremlin to give Ukraine to Russia. However, fearing a black spot in history, the game is being played by trying to turn military support into a symbolic one. Not increasing arms and not giving them to Ukraine is tantamount to increasing Russian pressure on the front line and further occupying Ukraine.
Fortunately, the Chancellor's position has its opponents. Merkel's long-time adviser, Christoph Heusgen, supports the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine. According to the politician, international law allows Germany to provide combat aircraft to Ukraine. Christoph Heusgen, head of the Munich Security Conference, favours providing Kyiv with American F-16 fighter jets or Soviet-built fighter jets from old stockpiles of the German Democratic Republic.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is calling on the Western partners to urgently provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said that his country is ready to consider transferring such fighters to Ukraine. The US supports the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine.
Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov expects 2023 to be the year of Ukraine's victory in the war against Russia. However, this requires a lot of effort. Asked when the war might end, Reznikoff said he remained optimistic. "I hope that this year will be a year of victory. We would like it as soon as possible. The Ukrainian people want it. But we will see", the minister said.
Optimism and hope are good things. But beyond optimism, Ukraine and the West need a consolidated plan for victory. So far, we do not see such a plan. We see the prospect of a long-term war.
Petr Pavel, the former head of NATO's military committee who won the Czech presidential election, is to visit Ukraine in spring 2023 together with Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová. He specified that the visit would take place before the North Atlantic Alliance summit in Vilnius in July.
Good and correct initiatives, but too much posturing and demonstrative handshakes in Buche, Irkutsk and Kyiv are becoming annoying. What is needed is quiet and concrete planning. Work behind closed doors.
Israeli Prime Minister B. Netanyahu plans to make it easier for citizens to acquire firearms and to strengthen Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Last week, seven people were killed in a shooting at a synagogue in East Jerusalem. The shooting reportedly followed an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, which killed nine Palestinians. As a result, Israel and the Gaza military exchanged fire. In total, 32 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this month.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Egypt amid growing tensions between Israel and Palestine. Israel, Palestine, Ukraine and Iran are high on his agenda. The US Secretary of State will travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah today to meet with Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The US representative is likely to call for action to reduce tensions and maintain stability in the region.
The US buildup in the Middle East is reminiscent of the good old Reagan days. Back then, America relieved its headaches by strangling the Soviets and their allies around the world.
After the United States accused Pyongyang of supplying missiles to Russia's Wagner Group and helping the Russians in the war, North Korea denied that it was supplying arms to Russia. Earlier this month, the US placed Wagner on its list of 'transnational criminal organisations', making any dealings with North Korea by the criminal armed group prohibited under United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The White House also showed what it said were US intelligence photographs of Russian rail cars entering North Korea, picking up a cargo of infantry rockets and missiles and returning to Russia.
A very clever move by the Kremlin, which is stuck on the Wagner stake. Now, any arms that go to Russia can be considered as military support for Wagner, because the 'private' military formation uses only munitions from the Russian armed forces.
Boris Johnson admitted that Putin had threatened the UK Prime Minister with a missile attack before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. "At one point he sort of threatened me and said: "Boris, I don't want to hurt you, but with a missile it will only take a minute" or something like that," Johnson said in the documentary "Putin vs. the West". Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister himself warned Putin that a war in Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences.
Putin understands only a symmetrical response, so the only way for Western leaders to contain Putin is to threaten to wipe Moscow off the face of the earth, showing that such an action is perfectly realistic.
Operational level
No major changes.
The Russians are expected to further intensify the fighting and pressure on the front line with new mobilised units. The Moscolians will continue to shell Ukrainian positions and civilian infrastructure with additional artillery supplies. Currently, Ukrainian positions are shelled between 1 000 and 1 200 times a day.
Although Moscow claims that the presence of Challenger, Leopard, Leclerc and various modifications of Abrams tanks will not affect the course of the war, Mikhail Podoliak, adviser to the Head of the Ukrainian President's Office, says this is not true.
Ukraine currently needs at least 300-500 tanks for specific tactical and operational tasks. This will not be a full-frontal assault and Kyiv understands this. The Ukrainian army commanders are currently reinforcing logistics and pursuing a tactic of resource and manpower conservation.
If the Russians put 500 lives on the line for 500 metres, then the Ukrainians are withdrawing from an area that makes no sense to defend. The Ukrainian army headquarters has the task of controlling a 1300-kilometre front line, so the withdrawal from Soledar is not considered a defeat. It is important to prepare adequately for new, major military operations, such as those carried out in the liberation of the vast areas of Kharkiv and Kherson.
It is argued that Russia does not currently have the resources to launch a major offensive in either direction. However, everything is being done to take Bakhmut and Vuhledar.
The Russians need a tangible victory on the anniversary of the brutal invasion. And, of course, on the day of the Soviet vodka-and-jelly, real man's day, which is still celebrated with such gusto by some Lithuanian citizens.
Tactical level
Last day the Russians carried out one air strike and 3 missile strikes. One missile was aimed at Kharkiv. Russian terrorists launched 44 attacks with cruise missile systems against civilian targets. Civilians were injured and killed.
The massive shelling of Kherson left 3 dead and 6 wounded.
On the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlovsk axes, the occupants are conducting offensive operations, on the other front lines they are defending.
The settlement of Blahodatne is occupied, the ring around Bakhmut is being narrowed.
Ukrainian warplanes struck an enemy anti-aircraft missile complex and 2 strikes on the occupiers' concentrations of live meat. Rocket and artillery units of the Ukrainian Defence Forces hit 2 radar stations, an ammunition depot and another important Driski facility.
Photo: Greece also promises to send Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine.
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