Are Leopards Bringing the West Closer to War with Russia? Experts say no

Are Leopards Bringing the West Closer to War with Russia?  Experts say no

Javelin anti-tank missiles, 155mm howitzers, Himars missile launchers, Patriot anti-aircraft systems, light tanks, Challenger, Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks. The emergence and strength of Western military aid to Ukraine in defense against Russian invasion has sparked a heated debate about the extent of Allied countries’ involvement in the war and whether a potential direct conflict is imminent. Angered by the invasion aimed at stripping Ukraine of its sovereignty, the Kremlin has stepped up the tone of its allegations against the Atlantic Alliance, insisting that the latest shipments imply NATO is at war with Russia in Ukraine, namely over Kiev troops armed with weapons allied military equipment; a “proxy war” [por intermediación]“. The rhetoric of the Kremlin is followed by some European quarters, but international law protects countries that support Ukraine with weapons to defend themselves. And so they don’t see themselves as part of the conflict. The red line is designed to take military boots to the ground. A prospect for which allied countries are preparing.

After Germany and the United States announced the delivery of powerful, modern tanks to Ukraine as part of a major joint Allied effort, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán this week recognized in the EU and NATO as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s submarines. Putin is said to be against the new aid. “If you send weapons and finance the annual budget of one of the parties to the conflict and think about sending more and more modern weapons, say what you want, you will be part of the war,” Orbán said. “It all started with the Germans wanting to send helmets. Now we are in tanks of war and there is already talk of airplanes,” he noted.

Russia is today furious at a similar argument after some comments by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock were manipulated by the Putin administration to claim that Berlin and NATO are belligerent in the war. “We are at war with Russia and not with each other,” the Council of Europe minister said in English. Moscow asked for clarification, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zajárova assured on her Telegram channel that the remarks proved that the West was waging “a deliberate war against Russia”.

Elena G. Sevillano reports that the federal government resolved the issue on Friday at its regular press conference: “Neither NATO nor Germany are part of the war. the chancellor [Olaf Scholz] He emphasized this repeatedly. We support Ukraine, but we are not part of the war,” said a spokeswoman, explaining that the phrase was said in the context of a debate on how the European Union, G-7 and NATO can work together against “the ruthless war”. stand against Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

self defense

The Kremlin has long claimed that what is happening in Ukraine is a “proxy war” between Russia and the West, between Moscow and NATO. Geraint Hughes, professor of military and diplomatic history at King’s College London, has commented on the issue in a robust essay and concludes that, despite Russian propaganda, this argument is flawed. And it isn’t, he explains, because there is a dispute between Ukraine and its allies over arms requests, because Western support would be of little use if the Ukrainians were not ready and willing to fight and responded early in the war. the natives and finally because Ukraine is a sovereign and independent state recognized by the international community and has the right of self-defense.

Kristi Raik, deputy director of the International Center for Defense Studies, rejects the concept of a “proxy war” in this case. “Somehow reduce the autonomy of Ukraine. And this war is happening because Ukraine is defending its independence, they are determined to do that. And that is why the West supports them in this Russian-initiated war,” he emphasizes.

At the end of 2021, Russia wanted to turn back the clock and threatened NATO and the US if they did not stop all military activities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Moscow wanted to return to the Cold War world order. A few months later, to justify his invasion, the Russian president assured that the prospect of Ukraine joining the Atlantic Alliance – Kiev received the letter of invitation in 2008 and that no progress had been made since then and before the invasion. with no prospect of progress – it posed a threat and therefore had to “demilitarize” and also “denazify” the country – Ukraine has a Jewish prime minister and president. Since then, the Kremlin has been trying to sell at home and through its propaganda apparatus that this is indeed a war against NATO. “To mobilize the population, it is more acceptable to sell the threat and the war against NATO than against Ukraine,” says Raik.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the Atlantic Alliance has insisted not to participate in the conflict. And it rejected calls by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government to impose a no-fly zone to prevent Russian bombing, arguing that this would put alliance forces in direct conflict with Russia. Although NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged allied countries to deter Ukraine and increase their support, military and financial support for its members has become the lifeblood of Ukraine’s war effort. And they support the attacked country in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which allows for individual and collective self-defense.

Sending arms and providing aid from outside the country is very different from having a military presence in the country, said Jamie Shea, a professor of strategy and security at the University of Exeter and a former senior NATO official. “Collective legitimate defense includes rights, that is, help from a country legally defending itself,” he says. ‘Allies can supply weapons, organize training. As long as they do not operate systems for the Ukrainians and as long as they do not have a real presence in the country, the allied countries are not combative and cannot be considered brothers in arms,” the defense expert assures. Volunteer or contract soldiers coming to Ukraine to fight in one of its international brigades aren’t considered direct involvement, Shea says, because while the Allies don’t stop them from coming, they don’t encourage or support them, and their participation is individual.

A Ukrainian soldier with a Himars rocket launcher in the Donbass region last July Anastasia Vlasova (The Washington Post via Getty Im)

However, some allies fear that certain transfers of military equipment could push Russia to escalate the war. This is the case of Olaf Scholz with the German-made Leopard 2 tanks that some countries had offered to Kiev, but could not send without a green light from Berlin for re-export, as stipulated in the defense treaties. Germany ran a complex balance sheet during the war: Older generations still remember the tanks that ravaged Eastern Europe during World War II, and there is a certain shadow of guilt, considerable post-war anti-militarism, and also for its economy and its trade relations with Russia.

After much pressure, and only after Washington agreed to send its own Abrams tanks to Ukraine as well, did Germany decide not only to allow other countries to send Leopard 2s, but also to send its own party in a coalition, the international that the naval forces’ efforts were aimed at creating a better logistical and support structure, but also at closing the cracks that had become visible in the NATO unity and breaking a mental plan that had hitherto failed heavy tanks marked as a clear red line. “In everything we do, we must always make it clear that we are doing what is necessary and possible to support Ukraine,” Scholz said. “But at the same time, we are preventing the war from turning into a war between Russia and NATO,” he said.

fear of climbing

Fears of a military escalation held back the shipment of heavy offensive military equipment to Ukraine for some time, but according to the latest intelligence reports, an escalation is less likely, but never ruled out. And that also played a role in the discussion about military aid at the geostrategic table. A strategic body where there are other variables such as the current and future role of Iran (which already supplies drone bombs and can also provide missiles to the Kremlin) in the conflict and North Korea, taking note of the course of the war, aims to to do allied sources.

The debate, the strategic, legal and ethical discussion about helping an invaded country is nothing new. The United States was faced with the dilemma of continuing to send arms and troops to Britain during World War II until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sparked their involvement. For Kristi Reik, the current situation is more reminiscent of the Winter War of 1939, when the Soviet Union attacked Finland in a war of aggression.

Jamie Shea also makes an interesting comparison to the 1930s, when France and Britain in the League of Nations adopted a non-intervention policy in the Spanish Civil War, which meant sending no arms, let alone troops. “This time is different in that non-interference is defined as the ability to hand over weapons as long as they are fully controlled by Ukrainian forces,” he says.

It is possible that heavy tanks will not be the last taboo to be broken. The Zelensky government is now asking for fighter jets. While this debate between the allies has yet to officially begin, they are already designing the framework to make Leopard 2 and Abrams effective. NATO and several intelligence sources have warned that Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring. Or even before that. And that helped with the decision to send tanks. “We are going to see a much more intense war,” says military analyst Jérôme Pellistrandi, who believes the conflict is likely to continue into next year. Ukraine is also planning a counter-offensive to gain ground, and the analyst believes future military aid from the Allies will largely depend on how things pan out in the spring.

Meanwhile, Russia has upped the ante, saying the decision to deploy tanks is “very dangerous” and “brings the conflict to a new level of confrontation.” Also that the West is “in permanent escalation”. In response, US President Joe Biden repeated an argument that Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin continually makes against Moscow: “If Russian troops return to Russia where they belong, this war would end today.”

Source: La Neta Neta