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Opinion: It's Time To Turn the Tables on Moscow


Battle tanks don't prevent negotiations, they set the conditions for them. The West's decision to send Leopards to Ukraine shows a determination to see Kyiv win the war against the Russian aggressor.

Even if Olaf Scholz isn't saying it, the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks marks a turning point in the war in Ukraine.

This is true militarily because battle tanks are the most powerful weapon a land army has at its disposal.

But it is especially true politically and psychologically.

The German chancellor himself has justified his previous restraint by saying that the West must not become a party to the war.

Scholz considered the provision of the Leopard 2 to be one step too far.

Whoever takes this path, he has warned, risks having the war spill over to Ukraine's neighboring countries and to Germany.

But now Scholz has revisited that position.

With the delivery of the 14 Leopard 2 main battle tanks, Germany is expanding its military support for Ukraine.

The fact that the chancellor only adopted the new line after careful consideration should not be held against him.

It is good that the people of Germany have the impression that their leader is not taking this step lightly.

Ultimately, Scholz made the right decision, that's what matters.

Allies, including the United States, also want supply tanks.

The West wants Ukraine to win this war.

Although Scholz has so far refused to utter that sentence, it is the message behind the choice in favor of sending the Leopard 2A6, one of the most advanced combat machines of the modern era.

War equipment like this could be a game changer for Ukraine.

Combined arms are considered the key to modern warfare.

Germany's Marder infantry fighting vehicle, which has already been pledged to Ukraine, can only be deployed to its full capabilities in combination with a Leopard 2. This doesn't guarantee victory for Ukraine, but it does change the military situation: Kyiv's troops will no longer be limited to defending themselves against Russian attacks.

They will have the ability to go on the offensive.

In the best-case scenario, Ukraine will succeed in recapturing occupied territory, perhaps even in the Donbas or Crimea.

This had previously been considered a red line for many Western governments out of concern that a cornered Putin might be driven to an act of desperation.

But what looks like an escalation of the war could actually be a crucial step toward its end.

As things stand, there is no reason for Putin to negotiate.

He hasn't achieved his war aims.

Russia is in a better position to sustain a long war of attrition than Ukraine because its population is three times larger, it has large military potential and due to the fact that for Putin, a few tens of thousands more or less dead don't matter .

To deny Ukraine further support would be to drag out the war incalculably – with all the casualties and suffering that would entail.

Putin will only reconsider his stance if he is threatened with defeat.

Battle tanks don't prevent negotiations, they create the conditions for them to happen.

It is not yet possible to foresee under what conditions talks would then take place and what a possible outcome might look like.

It will take a lot of statesmanship to end this war through negotiations.

For now, the challenge is to make such talks possible.

But how far are Europe and the United States willing to go?

There are already initial calls in Germany's federal parliament, the Bundestag, to supply Ukraine with fighter jets.

Why not submarines that could be used to attack Russia's Black Sea Fleet?

These are legitimate questions.

But there is no reason to answer them hastily.

Ukraine's supporters should keep all options open except the use of soldiers and nuclear weapons.

So far, Putin has kept the West on its toes with his strategic ambiguity.

Now, it is time now to turn the tables.

Two things will be critical in the coming weeks and months.

The German government must fulfill its obligations as quickly as possible.

It owes that to Ukraine.

It also owes this to its partners, more than a few of whom have doubts about Berlin's will and determination.

This is the price Scholz is paying for his wait-and-see attitude.

In the Bundestag last week, the chancellor appealed to the German people: "Trust me."

For that, Scholz would have to do a better job of explaining to a concerned public why he now considers right what he rejected as too risky only a few months ago.

Otherwise, he will only confirm people's impression that he always just ends up doing what others demand of him.

And that is dangerous in the long run.

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2023-01-30

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News/Politics 2023-01-11T16:02:00.256Z

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