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The situation in the morning: why Russia is losing the war in the east


Putin's offensive in the Donbass is faltering - Ukraine now needs heavy weapons, but the German cheetahs are a long time coming. Why is Scholz more afraid of escalation than Finland? This is the situation on Wednesday.

Today it's about Putin's faltering offensive in the Donbass - now the Ukrainians need western heavy weapons, but the German Gepard deliveries are faltering.

And: Why is Scholz more afraid of escalation than Finland?

The big offensive in Donbass is getting smaller and smaller

In Mariupol, the last Ukrainian defenders give up.

The city, which has become a symbol of the Ukrainian will to resist, is about to fall into the hands of Vladimir Putin's troops: hundreds of fighters are now in Russian captivity.

Three months after the start of the war, it is becoming increasingly clear that

Russia cannot win the war

: first, Putin's troops wanted to take over the entire country, including the capital.

Brutal and widespread Russian war crimes against civilians ensued, but ended in military defeat and the withdrawal from the Kyiv area.

Then the Russians tried to take the entire Donbass with a large pincer movement - but the advances largely came to a standstill.

Now Putin's troops are only fighting their way far to the east, piece by piece, near the city of Sievjerodonetsk - but this war of attrition is wearing out Russian material and troops on a large scale.

Most military analysts agree: Russia's forces will soon be exhausted unless it decides to mobilize massively - almost its entire army is currently deployed.

The defender has the advantage, the attacker needs a lot of superiority, and Russia doesn't have that.

In the past few days, for the first time, an expert has been allowed to appear on Russian state television

, which is controlled by the regime

, who clearly told the audience

how bad the situation is,

that it will get worse and that the country is geopolitically completely isolated.

Conversely, however, it is also true that Ukraine is not winning the war at the moment either, because - in order to push the Russian forces back to the situation before February 24, 2022 - they would need western heavy weapons, of which not enough have arrived in the country yet.

Should they arrive in the next few weeks, it is quite possible that the Ukrainians will not only continue to hold back the Russians, but will also

be able to recapture larger parts of their territory in the east

- as they have already managed to do in Kharkiv these days.

The most knowledgeable expert on the Russian army, Michael Kofman, also said this in an interview with SPIEGEL.

Realistically, only then will real negotiations take place.

The talks so far had never been conducted seriously at the highest level by the Russian side.

It is therefore no wonder that both sides suspended talks indefinitely yesterday.

You can find more news and background information on the war in Ukraine here:

  • That happened at night:

    Kiev warns of a Russian land corridor to Crimea.

    President Selenskyj calls the phone call with Scholz "quite productive".

    And: The US wants to investigate Russian war crimes.

    The overview

  • Why is the Russian advance in Donbass faltering?

    Although Russia is making little progress in its offensive in the east, it is also losing areas around Kharkiv and Cherson, where the Ukrainians are currently reporting successes.

    This is also due to their drone tactics. 

  • Now they are in Russian hands:

    about 260 fighters have left the Mariupol steelworks - and handed themselves over to the attackers.

    Kyiv is planning a prisoner exchange, but the Kremlin seems to have other plans.

    Moscow politicians want the death penalty. 

  • Why Putin probably lost 485 soldiers on a Ukrainian river:

    Because the Ukrainians are cutting off the Russians' paths, the offensive in eastern Ukraine is making little progress.

    Many soldiers are said to have fallen in an attack.

    The Kremlin will probably have to scale back its war aims. 

A tank without ammunition, a halting exchange of rings

The problem is that the required heavy weapons sometimes take a very long time to arrive.

This applies in particular to the weapons promised by Germany: the federal government decided more than three weeks ago to deliver anti-aircraft vehicles of the Gepard type.

But they first have to be prepared at great expense and, what was already clear beforehand, the ammunition is missing


You still have to look for them abroad.

It is difficult to understand why Germany has promised to deliver a tank of all things that is one of the most difficult to operate devices on the market and for which there is hardly any ammunition left.

After all, these problems were all known.

Why not opt ​​for the slightly newer Leopard 1?

At the beginning of May, it had also become apparent that the ring exchange with Slovenia, which Berlin had also promised, was not working: The country was supposed to deliver old T72 tanks to the Ukrainians and receive modern Leopard 2 and Puma tanks from Berlin in return.

But now Berlin apparently only wants to hand out old martens and foxes, which is not accepted in Slovenia.

The picture is always the same when it comes to German weapons for Ukraine: It takes a long time, very little happens

, the impression: blockade.

In any case, declarations of intent and reality diverge.

  • Confidential documents from the military department: Where the tank ring exchange with Slovenia got stuck 

How big should the fear of escalation be?

What fits with the hesitant approach to arms deliveries that have been announced but not realized is the fact that

Chancellor Olaf Scholz

conjures up an alleged risk of escalation in many of his appearances.

In SPIEGEL, when asked about the delivery of heavy weapons, he spoke of nuclear war.

On Monday on "RTL Direkt" he said that one must also

"concern that the war will escalate"


Now, of course, an escalation cannot be ruled out, and every responsible head of government must think about how it can be avoided.

But what Scholz himself said in this interview is also true: that you shouldn't let it paralyze you

- and the impression may be allowed that Germany seems paralyzed in foreign policy in the face of this war and that the federal government is spreading significantly more fear of an escalation than the governments other European countries, especially those in Eastern Europe, which should actually be much more afraid of it for geographical reasons alone.

In the traditionally neutral states of Finland and Sweden, where one could also retreat to the escalation argument in the immediate vicinity of Russia, the threat posed by Russia that has come to light has led to the opposite of despondency and fear: the Finnish parliament voted in favor yesterday with 188 to 8 votes joining NATO.

And how did Vladimir Putin react?

Not with escalative rhetoric, on the contrary: he signaled that he would

probably accept

the decisions of the Nordic countries .

Realistically, there isn't much else he can do, since practically his entire army is stuck in Ukraine.

But it also proves that a clear line is much more impressive than all attempts since 2014 to appease him for fear of an escalation.

They made his war of aggression in 2022 possible in the first place.

  • Turkish reservations: What Erdoğan has against Finland and Sweden joining NATO 

Podcast: Surrogacy at War

Finally, I would like to share with you the story of little Lorenz, a six-week-old baby.

Lorenz was born to a surrogate mother in the Ukraine, and the infant spent the first days of his life in a bunker.

In today's episode of our SPIEGEL Daily podcast, my colleague Regina Steffens tells how his German parents rescued the child from the war zone and what became of the surrogate mother.

For almost two months she searched for a family who would be willing to report on such a rescue operation.

Surrogacy, a legal business model in Ukraine, is taboo in Germany.

  • Surrogacy in War: The Story of a Ukrainian Bunker Baby

Loser of the day...


Gerhard Schröder

, former chancellor and Kremlin lobbyist.

Schröder is actually one of the losers of the decade.

To this day it is incomprehensible to me why a man who served his country as Federal Chancellor and who set important political directions during his term of office then sold himself to a power hostile to Germany and destroyed his entire reputation.

Schröder was the spider in the web of German-Russian energy relations, he conceded and conceded and was courted by Putin.

Was he really doing all this just for the money?

How can it be that Schröder stubbornly held on to his post even after the start of the Russian war of aggression?

The traffic light now wants to make an example of Schröder and deprive him of a large part of his privileges as former chancellor, my colleague Veit Medick reports: Schröder's state-funded office and employees (costs: around 400,000 euros per year) are to be abolished, only personal security can he keep.

In principle, former chancellors should only be paid a lavish office if they perform tasks that are in the public interest.

In the case of Schröder, that is certainly not the case.

Schröder will continue to receive his pension, which he is entitled to according to the Basic Law.

And what about his SPD membership?

That's why it was quiet for a long time.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Tuesday that Schröder must be excluded.

  • No more employees: The traffic light wants to remove Schröder's privileges

The latest news from the night

  • Italian energy group Eni bows to Russian requirements for gas payments:

    one account in euros, one in rubles: Italy's energy supplier Eni complies with the Russian announcement for future gas deliveries.

    The step should be closely observed in Brussels.

  • German breweries warn of a lack of beer bottles:

    Glass production costs a lot of energy, which is currently making beer bottles significantly more expensive.

    According to the breweries there is a risk of running empty – empties should therefore not be hoarded.

  • Plane in China may have been intentionally crashed:

    'The plane did what it was told by someone in the cockpit': A passenger jet in China may have been intentionally steered into a mountainside.

    The newspaper "Wall Street Journal" reports now.

The SPIEGEL + recommendations for today

  • The desert Tesla:

    Peter Rawlinson once worked for Elon Musk.

    Until he thought he could build an even better electric car – with money from Saudi Arabia.

    Now he is also attacking in Europe with the »Lucid Air«.

  • “They are often young men without any solid social ties”:

    A man stabbed passengers on the train near Aachen.

    Here, senior public prosecutor Gabriele Tilmann explains what can be behind such acts – and how they can be prevented as far as possible.

  • What good are offers like "Money Cure" or "Bootcamp"?

    With special courses for customers, companies want to take away the fear of investing.

    But critics warn: The coaching is often expensive and brings little.

  • “Horseback riding was the best postnatal course”:

    When Jessica von Bredow-Werndl won a World Cup, she was five months pregnant.

    Here the Olympic equestrian champion talks about dangerous situations, the worries of others and mares feeling the baby.

I wish you a good start into the day.

Yours, Mathieu von Rohr

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-05-18

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