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Related Categories: U.S. | Anti-War
Address at the Easter march in Berlin
by Luhr Henken
First, we need to end the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible. The German government should stop adding fuel to the fire by supplying weapons. It should have a de-escalating effect. Second: We must prevent "dark eagles" in Europe.
Third: We must become a broad movement that prevents the rearmament mania in this country.
Speech contribution for the Easter March Berlin on April 16, 2022.
by Lühr Henken, Berlin
[This article published on April 16, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.friedenskooperative.de/ostermarsch-2022/reden/l%C3%BChr-henken-berlin.]

Dear friends of peace,

Russia's war against Ukraine is altogether a huge tragedy, for Ukraine, for Russia and also for the rest of the world. The destruction, the suffering caused among the Ukrainian population, the flight movements - already more than every fourth inhabitant is on the run - are immense. It is estimated that Ukraine will lose half of its economic output this year. The war is not over. There is a threat of a major attack by Russia in the Donbass and deliveries of heavy weapons from NATO countries to Ukraine.

Dear friends,

all possible diplomacy must be used to stop this war as soon as possible! We need a ceasefire! Arms deliveries to Ukraine are the wrong way! They prolong the war and increase the suffering.

Russia has been under massive sanctions not only since February 24, the first day of the invasion. The West now wants to bring it to its knees. The economic damage will also have a lasting impact on Russia. Trust in the West in Putin and the Russian leadership has been severely disturbed, if not completely destroyed.

One could have guessed since the end of February that this is exactly how it would all play out. The question arises: why did Russia, despite this very bad outlook, decide to attack Ukraine? Why is Russia taking this huge risk? There can only be one elementary, very fundamental reason for this, which I think is hardly perceived in this country. Russia is threatened by NATO. The fear is justified. Russia is in a weaker position vis-à-vis NATO. How can you tell that? By numbers: Russia spent nearly $85 billion on armaments in 2014, the year of the crisis over Crimea and the war over the Donbass, and only $62 billion last year; NATO spent 11 times as much as Russia in 2014, and 19 times as much last year. NATO alone has 2 million soldiers in Europe, Russia only 540,000. So Russia is on the defensive against NATO. But numbers are not the only way to see NATO superiority: Putin, in his address to the nation on Feb. 21, three days before the war began, notes that Ukraine's membership in NATO, in the context of the termination of the INF Treaty, would allow the United States to put missiles in Ukraine. He spoke of hypersonic strike missiles under development. They required a flight time of only 4 to 5 minutes from Kharkiv to Moscow. And literally, "This is what is called 'the knife on the neck'". I can relate to that.

What preceded this? The U.S. and NATO had not responded to security guarantees repeatedly requested by Russia. A neutral Ukraine was out of the question for NATO. In mid-February, it appeared that Chancellor Scholz had succeeded with Selenski in finally wanting to implement Minsk II to resolve the Donbass problem. Selensky had promised to introduce the necessary legislation into the Kiev parliament, thus taking the negotiating route. This was all in Russia's mind. On February 15, on the return flight from Moscow to Berlin, Scholz already saw himself as the one who had taken the cow off the ice. At the same time, however, the war on the contact line in the Donbass escalated. Zelensky and the U.S. blamed Russia for this because, both said, Putin wanted to create a pretext to invade Ukraine. However, an analysis of OSCE reports for this period makes clear that it was the other way around: the Kiev side pushed the war on the line of contact in order to blame Russia.

At the Munich Security Conference, Blinken on Feb. 18 and Zelensky on Feb. 19, as promised a few days earlier, could have officially started down the path of Minsk II. They could have clearly said, folks, we want negotiations, we don't want war. They did not! On the contrary, pointing to the alleged escalation in the Donbass by the Russians, Zelenski demanded weapons and NATO membership from the West. Both of them blew the whistle on the negotiation process.

I cannot shake off the suspicion that the U.S. and Zelenski deliberately provoked Russia's attack in order to condemn Russia for isolating Russia and to be able to drive Russia to ruin through merciless sanctions.

This ruin is supposed to be prevented by the historic treaty of friendship between Russia and China signed on February 4, which stipulates that this friendship knows no borders. China has no interest in a regime change in Russia and, as a result, the USA and NATO appearing on China's northern border.

Dear friends,

what we need are negotiations that in the end give Russia and Ukraine security guarantees and Ukraine a neutral status.

I had mentioned that in case of Ukraine's NATO membership, Russia is afraid of deploying hypersonic missiles there. I have to address these missiles again here because they directly affect Germany.

The hypersonic weapons with the short flight time of 4 to 5 minutes from Ukraine to Moscow are called "Dark-Eagle". The U.S. government has Lockheed Martin developing these precise hypersonic weapons with "top priority."

This is the company that earlier also developed the Pershing II as a decapitation strike weapon against the Soviet Union. "Dark Eagle" are also supposed to come to Europe. In fact, it is expected in 2024. Command and targeting is to be carried out by a "Multi Domain Task Force" that has already arrived in Wiesbaden, where the U.S. Army's European Command is located. This is the same unit that led the Pershing II in the 1980s. The gunnery unit is also the one from back then and it is back in Grafenwoehr. Therefore, it is quite possible that "Dark Eagle" will come to Grafenwoehr. But it is also quite possible that they will be placed elsewhere in Europe. From Grafenwöhr, "Dark Eagle" needs 10 minutes to Moscow.

Russia must be afraid of these weapons. Their warhead is conventional. By abrupt changes of course, it overcomes any defense technique and does not allow successful running away, because the warning time is too short for that. The price of just one "Dark Eagle" is over $40 million. That means the target must be more valuable than the missile. The target is a moving target that briefly resides in an above-ground building. It can only be hit with high-speed approaching explosive devices. It is designed as an instrument of murder against Putin and the Russian government. The "Dark Eagle" is only good as an offensive weapon to decapitate a state.

No matter where the weapons, which can be transported on trucks and planes, are stationed in Europe, their command center is in Wiesbaden. Can anyone gauge the danger this city is in should the "Dark Eagle" be deployed? Putin said he felt the knife on his neck. Would Wiesbaden be attacked by Russia? Would the higher-level U.S. headquarters EUCOM in Stuttgart be attacked? How much are our lives in danger if "Dark Eagle" come to Europe? We do not know the answers. The questions alone are scary enough.

What is the conclusion for the peace movement?

It must be prevented that "Dark Eagle" come to Europe! The public must learn about "Dark Eagle", only in this way this extremely life-threatening madness can be prevented!

In addition, there is the enormous rearmament course of the Federal Government. As a peace movement, we have been fighting against the rearmament of the Bundeswehr for years. For years we have been taking to the streets and collecting signatures for the demands "disarmament instead of rearmament". For years we have been demanding the withdrawal of the US nuclear bombs from Büchel and want to abolish nuclear sharing. For years, we have been demanding that the federal governments ease tensions instead of confronting Russia.

NATO's eastward expansion, the maneuvers on NATO's eastern border and the implementation of NATO's two-percent target are precisely the confrontation we warned against. Russia feels cornered and we see what follows from that.

What is grotesque is that the German government has nothing better to do as its first act after the start of the attack on Ukraine than to massively accelerate this rearmament course that it has been pursuing since 2014. Two percent of economic output is not to be spent on the Bundeswehr until 2031, but already this year. The goal of a twelve-year rearmament plan that began in 2019 to double the firepower of the Bundeswehr is thus to be achieved before then. The spending level for the Bundeswehr will thus be catapulted from 53 billion (according to NATO criteria) last year to around 80 billion euros annually. And the increase in armaments is to be permanent. In this way, Germany wants to make itself not only the leading economic power in Western Europe, but also the leading military power.

A brief look at the most expensive weapons to be acquired with the tens of billions makes the dimensions of German rearmament clear:

35 F-35 "stealth bombers" are to be bought in the U.S. for 9 to 15 billion euros. They are difficult to detect on radar and are to be able to carry the 15 to 20 U.S. nuclear bombs stored in Büchel against bunkered command centers in Russia. The U.S. is having the nukes modernized so that they can be detonated underground. These weapons are suitable for surprise attacks.

Chancellor Scholz's top priority is the new FCAS fighter project, which is to be developed together with France and Spain by 2040. It is to use artificial intelligence to autonomously control swarms of drones. FCAS is supposed to be able to be nuclear-armed. The project is so gigantic that it will cost five times more than the most expensive European project to date, the Eurofighter. The cost of the German share alone is likely to be between 120 and 150 billion euros. The goal is to give the EU global air superiority with it.

Another top priority for Scholz is the planned project with France for a new generation of battle tanks. A high-tech system is to be developed by 2035, in which robotics and high-speed missiles will play a decisive role. The intention is to have a military "gamechanger" on the battlefield. Manufacturers estimate that Europe will need 5,000 main battle tanks worth 75 billion euros.

Of the 100 billion in special assets, which are actually debts, Scholz wants to spend 20 billion euros on munitions alone.

These are just the biggest chunks. I'll spare us any more.

What needs to be done?

First, we need to end the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible. The German government should stop adding fuel to the fire by supplying weapons. It should have a de-escalating effect.

Second: We must prevent "dark eagles" in Europe. They threaten to totally destabilize the situation.
Third: We must become a broad movement that prevents the rearmament mania in this country.

Can we do that? We must!

What about the idea of creating peace initiatives in neighborhoods, universities, businesses and church congregations? We already did that out of necessity more than 40 years ago. Back then, it was against Pershing II and cruise missiles. Today, the need is greater than it was then. Let's do it!

Thank you.

Lühr Henken is co-speaker of the Federal Committee Peace Council (http://www.Friedensratschlag.de), editor of Kasseler Schriften zur Friedenspolitik (https://jenior.de/produkt-kategorie/kasseler-schriften-zur-friedenspolitik/) and works with the Berlin Peace Coordination (http://www.frikoberlin.de/).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Ukraine war - what happened before
by Luhr Henken

The Ukraine war - what happened before

Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a breach of international law, a turning point. The terms are manifold. We have addressed the prehistory of the current war several times and complement our coverage with the publication of a lecture on the prehistory of the war.

By LÜHR HENKEN | Published 1 day ago in: World Politics
Protests against the coup in Kiev in Donetsk in April 2014 Protests against the coup in Kiev in Donetsk in April 2014.
[This article published on May 23, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.hintergrund.de/politik/welt/der-ukraine-krieg-was-vorher-geschah/.]

The text is a lecture given at the ND building in Berlin on April 5 (see video). It has been shortened by a few sections for publication.

Russia attacked Ukraine without warning on February 24. This attack on its neighbor came as a surprise, after Russia had previously constantly claimed that its troop buildup - 150,000 troops were most recently mentioned - near the Ukrainian border was merely for training purposes, and that an attack was not planned. This breach of promise alone triggers great fears and uncertainties about Russia's credibility. The already weak trust seems to have been completely shattered. The previously announced sanctions are immense. Russia is taking them on, resulting in long-term damage to its economy. Now, 41 days after the war began, the damage done by Russia to the Ukrainian people is very, very great and very, very painful. The war is not over yet. 10 million people alone had to forcibly leave their homes. That is every fourth inhabitant. Four million of them sought safety abroad. The material damage cannot yet be estimated. It is estimated that Ukraine's economic output will fall by 35 percent this year.1 One third of the country's businesses are paralyzed. The consequences of the sanctions policy outside the country in Europe, Africa and Asia are not at all foreseeable. The question arises, what reason can there be to take responsibility for this catastrophe? Was there no alternative? Must there not be an alternative in view of this immeasurable suffering that this war of aggression is causing?

On February 24, the verdict was in in the NATO countries: Russia is breaking international law. The war could not be justified by anything. The condemnation for the attack is thus comprehensive. The drastic sanctions were a deserved and b necessary to end the war as soon as possible. The only one who can end it is the Russian president. That is the common narrative in this country.

As a result, Scholz's gigantic rearmament program was widely approved; even arms exports to war zones, unthinkable for decades, were suddenly cheered.

Clear breach of international law by Russia?

Let us start with the accusation of a breach of international law. This is the case when the prohibition of the use of force in Article 2, Paragraph 4 of the UN Charter is violated. The central principle formulated therein prohibits the use of force against the territory of another state. The principle guarantees the integrity of the territory of any UN member. War of aggression is illegal under international law, is the consistent assertion in the Western public and also in the peace movement, not only in this country. If there are no rules of international law to the contrary, then so be it.

According to the UN Charter, Russia would have had a right to this forcible border crossing if it had been allowed to invoke an act of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. Russia actually invoked it in two ways. First, to respond to a call for help from the two "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk, whose independence Russia had recognized the day before, because Russia's intervention could ward off an allegedly imminent attack by Ukrainian units commanded from Kiev - I will go into this in more detail in a moment - and second, because the Kiev government intended to deploy nuclear weapons in Ukraine that would be directed against Russia. If either of the two reasons put forward by Russia were true, it would not be an attack in violation of international law. However, the proportionality of the use of weapons would have to be maintained here as well.

If we look at the justifications put forward by Russia, we have to take into account the previous practice of the applicability of Article 51 of the UN Charter. It states that a pre-emptive strike to repel an attack is in conformity with international law if the attack to be repelled is imminent. This condition is not met in the case of nuclear armament - apart from the truth of the matter - and proof of its immediacy has not been provided by Moscow. There was no imminent nuclear attack on Russia from the Ukrainian soil. This Russian claim does not meet the condition as it is based on the practice of Article 51. We will examine later what the issue of nuclear weapons and Ukraine is all about. Because, there is something.

Russian attack an act of self-defense and genocide defense?

Let's move on to the other Russian rationale. Putin said, "The aim of Russia's special operation is to protect the people who were mistreated and murdered by the Kiev regime for eight years. "2 This refers to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, which form part of Ukraine's eponymous oblasts, and of whose approximately 2.5 million residents, some 800,000 have taken Russian citizenship since April 2019. Putin had recognized these "people's republics" as independent by decree on 2/21/22-within the borders of the Ukrainian oblasts further west than the line of contact at the time of that recognition. Putin also spoke of a genocide committed against the inhabitants, the continuation of which must be prevented. To classify these allegations: The genocide allegations have not been investigated or confirmed internationally. However, there is a lot of evidence of Ukrainian attacks on towns in the Donbass that lie west of the line of contact. This was in 2014 and 2015, when these insurgent-held localities were retaken by the Ukrainian side with heavy weapons such as fighter jets, artillery, and tanks.3 The total number of civilians and soldiers killed is estimated at 14,000, but how many on each side is unclear.4

Current fears that Ukrainian attacks on the self-proclaimed People's Republics were imminent were already in the Russian press on January 24,22 but received no attention in this country. The head of the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic, Pashulin, said at the time that Ukraine had already increased its troops to 120,000 in October and had now begun "intensive activities. "5 If that were true, it would be an uneven playing field for the "people's republics," with a combined total of about 34,000 armed men6. On Feb. 18, Pashulin said "any day now a large-scale offensive may simply begin." 7 We also look for this message in vain in Western media. The Ukrainian side rejected these attack intentions.

Escalation on the line of contact in the Donbass.

At the same time, since the evening of Feb. 15, the OSCE observed in its daily reports8 that ceasefire violations to the west and east of the line of contact in Donbass were increasing sharply. By 2/22, daily counts ranged from tenfold to sixteenfold. Specifically, from 153 on 2/15 to 2,400 ceasefire violations on 2/19. Even from the OSCE's detailed tables, the particular trigger of the escalation can be determined in only a very few cases. The OSCE itself never assigned blame. However, for the city of Luhansk, it can be clearly determined that the Kiev side attacked at 19:509 on Feb. 15. Nothing had happened there a whole day before. The OSCE graphical representations with the locations of these ceasefire breaches and explosions in the period from 15 to 22.2 show that from the very beginning they are estimated to be more frequent on the eastern side in a ratio of 3 to 5 to1. This means that from the western - that is, Ukrainian side - there were more attacks. The beginning and the period of this escalation are significant. I will come back to this.

The governments of the "People's Republics" ordered the evacuation of the population to Russia on Feb. 18. Evidence for the claim from Donetsk that Kiev had concentrated troops in the east was not provided by the FAZ until 3/3. This is a very significant report. I quote, "Because of the war in the Donbass, which has been going on for years, about forty percent of the Ukrainian army and seventy percent of its firepower are massed near the 'line of contact' with the separatist areas. "10 Also possibly significant is that in the course of the fighting, the Russian side allegedly captured plans scheduling a Ukrainian army attack on the "people's republics" and Crimea for 8 Mar 22. I am unable to verify the facsimiles11 attached there. For background, Ukrainian President Zelensky had signed a decree on March 24, 2021, a year earlier. I quote from the Berliner Zeitung: "The decree announces the preparation of measures to end 'the temporary occupation' of Crimea and the Donbass. According to the Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform, the government received an order to develop a corresponding 'action plan.'"12 The next day on 3/25/21, Zelensky put into effect Ukraine's military doctrine, which sets Ukrainian integration into NATO structures and membership in NATO as its goal. The re-integration of Crimea and the "People's Republics" are part of the military doctrine.

This circumstantial evidence shows that Kiev's plans to attack, as claimed by the Donetsk and Lugansk governments, cannot be dismissed out of hand. Russian intervention on the side of the "people's republics" can certainly be seen as an act of self-defense.

On 22.2.22 Putin signed a treaty on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with the heads of the "People's Republics", which is to last initially for 10 years and which grants both sides the right "to establish, use and expand military infrastructure and bases on the territory of the other partner. "13 This contradicts the Minsk II agreement, because it aims to integrate the "People's Republics" with autonomous status into Ukraine. The Western accusation of a breach of international law by Russia is true. However, it must be asked back, what did the Western representatives on the side of Ukraine do to make it implement the agreement, which was, after all, the result of a unanimously adopted UN Security Council resolution14? For seven years, the governments of Germany and France ignored Kiev's refusal to negotiate Ukrainian constitutional changes with the representatives of the self-proclaimed "people's republics." This very measure is an integral part of UN Resolution 2202, and Chancellor Merkel, during her visit to Kiev last August, supported Zelensky's position and stressed that he had "correctly rejected talks" with representatives of the Donbass republics15 . Isn't this position also to be blamed as contrary to international law? I think so.

Up to this point, we have dealt with the arguments concerning the invocation of Article 51 of the UN Charter in the case of the call for help from the People's Republics.

Ukraine with nuclear weapons?

Now to the other case of Russia invoking Article 51 because of its own exposure to nuclear attack intentions from the Ukrainian side. It is clear that this is not imminent. Ukraine had committed itself in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum to hand over its Soviet-era nuclear legacy to Russia. At the time, it was the third largest nuclear power and stockpiled 1,700 warheads on its territory. Ukraine is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is subject to IAEA monitoring because it operates 15 reactor units in 6 civilian nuclear power plants. Little known in this country, the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution in 2000 to allow, on a temporary basis, other armed forces to deploy nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine.

In 2015, the Rada updated the law in some respects. Article 4, paragraph 2, states that "potential carriers of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction shall be allowed for temporary stationing in Ukraine in accordance with international agreements of Ukraine, provided that appropriate control over stationing on the territory of Ukraine is ensured by Ukraine itself. "16 The "reconquest" of the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk is to be carried out with the help of "international peacekeeping" forces, which could also use weapons of mass destruction for this purpose.17 Under the law, Ukraine would submit an application to the UN Security Council and/or the European Union. Both could make the final decision on the use of foreign troops and NBC weapon systems in this country. "18 The only source for this is RT-German, which refers to a Spanish-language source. I cannot verify this. However, the Ukrainian military doctrine mentioned above says something to the contrary: "Ukraine's commitment to maintain nuclear-weapon-free status and refrain from developing nuclear weapons - independently or in cooperation with other states - as well as from storing them on its own territory. "19

However, two incendiary statements again call this doctrine into question: President Zelensky's statement to the Munich Security Conference on 2/19/22, in which he questioned the Budapest Memorandum if Ukraine did not receive security guarantees. 20 Translated, this means that Ukraine then no longer feels bound by the 1994 declaration of freedom from nuclear weapons. This is underlined again by the Ukrainian ambassador , Melnik, in Berlin, who told the Berliner Zeitung on 21.2. the following: "We hope that the traffic light government recognizes the seriousness of the situation and is committed to ensuring that Ukraine receives security guarantees under international law without delay, as long as it is not a Nato member. Otherwise, the renunciation of nuclear weapons will be called into question and the international nuclear nonproliferation regime will be shaken." 21

How the implementation of Ukraine's nuclear armament might take place in practice, its protagonists do not leave out. Even producing warheads and delivery systems would be possible only with foreign help, although technological know-how and facilities from Soviet times are still available, but it would take years and would also be expensive. Conceivable would be the production of a "dirty bomb" from the stocks of the breakdown reactor in Chernobyl, which could be accomplished within days. However, the most conceivable option would be the stationing of U.S. nuclear missiles or fighter aircraft with nuclear bombs, as is already the case in five of NATO's member countries in Europe within the framework of "nuclear sharing". But even this is not imminent, so Russia cannot invoke Article 51 of the UN Charter.

What if Ukraine became a NATO member?

Russia's fears are not about the current situation, but about the eventuality of Ukraine becoming a NATO member. Membership was decided at the Bucharest Summit in 2008. It says: "NATO welcomes the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia to join the Alliance. We agreed today that these countries will become NATO members. "22 However, a Membership Action Plan has not yet been activated. This prospect of Ukraine becoming a NATO member is of central, existential importance to Russia. President Putin addresses this in a speech to the nation on Feb. 21, namely, what will happen if Ukraine becomes a NATO member: "I would like to draw your special attention to the fact that the danger of a surprise strike against our country will increase many times over. Let me explain that in the documents of the strategic planning of the USA (in documents!) the possibility of the so-called pre-emptive strike on missile systems of the opponent is enshrined. And we also know who is a main opponent for the United States and NATO. That is Russia. In NATO documents, our country is officially declared the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security. And Ukraine will serve as a forward deployment base for such a strike. If our ancestors had heard about it, they probably simply would not have believed it. And we don't want to believe it today, but they do. I would like that to be understood both in Russia and in Ukraine. Many Ukrainian airfields are located near our borders. NATO tactical air forces stationed here, including the carriers of high-precision weapons, will be able to affect our territory at a depth up to the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of radar reconnaissance assets on Ukraine territory will allow NATO to strictly control Russia's airspace all the way to the Urals. Finally, after the United States destroyed the Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missile Treaty, the Pentagon is already openly developing a range of ground-based offensive weapons, including ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets up to 5,500 kilometers away. If such systems are deployed in Ukraine, they will be capable of engaging objects throughout Russia's European territory as well as behind the Urals. The flight time of cruise missiles 'Tomahawk' to Moscow is less than 35 minutes, for ballistic missiles from Kharkov region - 7 to 8 minutes, and for the hypersonic strike means - 4 to 5 minutes. This is called "the knife on the neck. "23 These are completely understandable facts for me. I will deal specifically with hypersonic weapons later.

Many people, including myself, were surprised by the Russian attack. Since October 2021, Russia had conducted military maneuvers in its west and later also in Belarus and for this purpose probably 120,000 of its own soldiers including military equipment were well visible. Warnings by U.S. intelligence agencies that an invasion of Ukraine was imminent, specifically on Feb. 16, were routinely dismissed by the Russian side as hysteria and scare tactics. Even representatives of the Kiev government toothed the horn from Moscow. Military experts pointed out that this number of Russian soldiers would not be enough to take Ukraine, which has 200,000 soldiers and an additional 100,000 reservists under arms. It would result in a guerrilla war that Russia would lose. Therefore, he said, it would be irrational to attack Ukraine. A surprise attack was out of the question because everything was out in the open.

Chancellor Scholz raises hopes

And when Macron and later also Scholz came up with encouraging mediation results, there was even short-term hope for an easing of tensions. At least that's how I felt. We remember Scholz's visit to Selensky on Feb. 14. The NZZ reported: "The German chancellor seems to see above all a promise by Selensky as a concrete success and contribution to the realization of the Minsk agreement: The Ukrainian government wants to present draft laws for the special status of the parts of the Donbass now not under control and for the holding of local elections. This should show that there are no pretexts for not continuing the talks on the implementation of 'Minsk,' Scholz stressed. "24

And the FAZ reported, "Scholz said after his conversation with [...] Selenkyj that the talk had been 'very, very valuable.' Selenskyj had assured that Ukraine would submit the legal texts that are to advance the Minsk peace process. "25 The next day, i.e. on February 15, Scholz brought the good news to Putin in Moscow. DER SPIEGEL also brought evidence of this positive mood. I quote: "In mid-February, Scholz visited Vladimir Putin in Moscow, carrying in his luggage the promise of the Ukrainian government to finally get the laws for the implementation of the Minsk peace agreement underway. Is there now room for a peaceful solution? Despite 150,000 Russian soldiers near the border? "26 asks DER SPIEGEL. And further: "On the flight back (from Moscow, L.H.), the Chancellor's relief is oozing out of every pore, he seems downright exhilarated. Is he already dreaming of all parties at one big negotiating table, of himself as a moderator who negotiates lasting peace between Moscow, Kiev and NATO? Why not? "27 The SPIEGEL reader promptly learns why this did not happen: "Soon after landing in Berlin, disillusionment follows. The Kremlin continues to increase troops on the Ukrainian border. The hope, it was deceptive. "28 That means, from SPIEGEL's point of view: Putin is to blame for the failure. Is it really that simple?

Détente through Russian troop withdrawal on the Ukrainian border?

At the press conference with Putin in Moscow, Scholz called it a "good sign" that Russia had announced the withdrawal of some units in the morning.29 NATO reported the next day, on Feb. 16, that it would not notice any withdrawal. On the contrary, Stoltenberg is quoted as saying, "it seems that Russia is continuing the troop deployment. "30 So a feint by Russia? However, the FAZ notes, "a delay effect is also conceivable: an order from Moscow to withdraw cannot be implemented immediately, so it would take several days in any case before significant redeployments would be seen. "31 The following day, the FAZ reported: "In military circles, it was said that some units had indeed returned to their bases, as reported by the Russian Defense Ministry.[...] An important indicator of whether the Russians are actually de-escalating is therefore whether all of the roughly 30,000 soldiers stationed there are really being withdrawn from Belarus. This is what Moscow had announced for the end of the 'maneuvers' on Sunday (Feb. 20, L.H.). "32 That was on Thursday, Feb. 17. But the withdrawal did not happen, because something else happened.

Separatist attack on Kindergarten?

The events on the line of contact became of paramount importance. From 15.2. in the evening the shelling on the contact line in Donbass had begun to escalate, but it was made public only the next evening in the OSCE report. February 15 was exactly the day when Scholz brought the good news from Moscow that Ukraine was introducing legislation to implement Minsk II. I had already spoken about that. In the middle of this escalation, the main aggressor of which was the Kiev side, scandalous news burst. On the morning of February 17, a kindergarten on Ukrainian territory in Stanytsya Luhanska was fired upon by separatists. Twenty children were unharmed. The narrative: the separatists are escalating. The related OSCE report33 notes a 1-meter hole in the outer wall of the kindergarten. However, inspectors on the ground failed to determine the direction of the fire. Strange, where the perpetrators were identified in the FAZ on page 1, the separatists. The impossibility to determine the perpetrator was possibly due to the fact that the hole in the kindergarten wall was located in the northeast facade. However, how the hole got there, when the separatist area is to the south and southwest of the kindergarten, remains a mystery only if the separatists are blamed for it. Probably, the projectile flew a loop. Of course not! Clearly, a false flag action of the Kiev side.

Who escalates by artillery fire?

It was reported in this country about the escalation on the contact line that both parties blamed each other for it. However, the U.S. government made a different assessment as early as Feb. 17: I quote from the FAZ about the events in the Donbass: "In addition, there were reports of heavy artillery fire by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, which were confirmed by the OSCE observer mission. They were still analyzing this, (U.S. Defense Secretary, L.H.) Austin said." A review of the OSCE reports referred to provides evidence of a single artillery barrage on Feb. 16, originating from the Kiev side, and another four artillery attacks on the morning of Feb. 17, also all originating from areas under Kiev control. The significance of Austin's lies were in the same breath: ''We have been saying for some time that Russia could do something like this to justify a military conflict.''34 U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Ukrainian President Zelensky sounded the same horn. Blinken fabricated in the UN Security Council about possible false flag attacks by the Russians in Ukraine and Russian hybrid warfare. At the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18, he accused Moscow of "inflaming the situation in separatist areas in eastern Ukraine in order to create a pretext for 'further aggression' against Ukraine. "35 This is a lie.

Selenski and Blinken Blow the Whistle on Negotiated Solutions.

Selenski's appearance at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Feb. 19, was decisive. Anyone who would have expected Ukraine to de-escalate was proven wrong. Here would have been the opportunity to announce that now, finally, the legislation so publicly welcomed by Chancellor Scholz would be put in place so that Minsk II could be implemented. That did not happen. Selenski put the blame on the Russians. He said of the events in the Donbass: "The last two days are particularly revealing. Massive attacks using weapons banned under the Minsk agreements. "36 He did not mention that his troops were the main actors.

The only thing Selensky said there about the Minsk process was, "We are consistently implementing the agreements in the Minsk and Normandy formats. "37 Which was not true. He again used the world stage to demand EU and NATO membership and arms from the West, exactly what Moscow opposes. Blinken and Selenski could have unequivocally made the turn to negotiations here. Neither of them did. They let Russia fight this war in order to be able to condemn it.

While the evacuations from the People's Republics were underway on February 18, the EU announced that it had made final preparations for sanctions against Russia. The term unprecedented was used for this. On Feb. 18, Putin conducted exercises of the Russian nuclear forces together with Lukashenko. NATO simultaneously increased its readiness "in order to be able to deploy Rapid Reaction Force soldiers more expeditiously. "38 Following the appearances of Selensky and Biden and the continued escalation in the Donbass by Kiev, the Belarusian side announced on Sunday, Feb. 20, that maneuvers in Belarus would continue.39 Russia recognized the "people's republics" on Feb. 21; on Feb. 22, the "people's republics" appealed for help on the basis of the friendship treaty, and Putin ordered the deployment of "peacekeeping forces" to the new republics. Russia attacked at 4 a.m. Feb. 24 with ground forces on four fronts, north of Kiev, north of Kharkiv, from Crimea and from the now-recognized People's Republics. Air strikes on military targets were recorded in all parts of the country on the first day of the war. Putin stated that Ukraine was to be demilitarized and denazified. These words were used for the first time and abruptly in this context. There was no thought of occupying the country.

Why is Russia taking this big risk?

It is an invasion. It is a war of aggression. It gives the lie to Russian statements that Russia is not planning a war against Ukraine and proves the U.S. intelligence agencies right, who had announced exactly this for weeks beforehand. Why this attack, which undoubtedly represents a historic break in Western relations with Russia? Why is Russia taking this risk? Previously, the USA and the EU had threatened massive sanctions, which are capable of hitting Russia economically to the core, in addition to political ostracism because of the foreseeable destruction of the neighboring country, the "brother nation". All those who never trusted Russia are proven right with the invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, this brute turning away of Russia from the West. Why? For that we have to stretch the arc even further.

NATO poses a physical threat to Russia

The Soviet Union's and Russia's experience with the U.S. and NATO is negative. The Cold War phase from 1945 to 1990 was characterized by first the U.S. and, from 1949, NATO's unprecedented threats of nuclear war to destroy the Soviet Union. This is formative for the Russian view of NATO. A rampant and aggressive U.S. nuclear rearmament policy, based on brazen lies, repeatedly brought the world close to nuclear inferno. The Soviet Union broke down not least because of these immense armament burdens imposed on them by the West. It had been armed to death.

Instead of dissolving itself after the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty, NATO created a new strategic concept that would allow war operations outside its territory. Without UN mandates, it henceforth waged wars against Serbs in Bosnia in 1995, against Yugoslavia in 1999, in Afghanistan since 2001 and against Gaddafi in Libya in 2011. Its aggressive nature, which it had from the beginning, became obvious.

In parallel, NATO's eastward expansions took place step by step - against Russian interests. In 2000, the U.S. strategy paper "Joint Vision 2020" was adopted, with the goal of achieving military "superiority in all areas" ("Full Spectrum Dominance"); the infrastructure for U.S. global power projection is formed by 625 military bases in 53 countries40 and ten aircraft carrier battle groups on all the world's oceans. In 2001, George W. Bush unilaterally terminated the ABM Treaty in order to gain a free hand to build a global missile defense system; in 2003, the U.S. and Britain attacked Iraq in violation of international law. The three Baltic states as well as Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia were admitted to NATO. Since 2006, the Pentagon has been implementing the plan to be able to carry out conventional "Prompt Global Strikes", i.e. worldwide immediate attacks. The idea is to be able to hit a target anywhere in the world within an hour. This is to be carried out by intercontinental ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons41 , space weapons and combat drones. In 2008, Ukraine and Georgia were promised NATO membership. Obama set in motion a nuclear force modernization program that is expected to cost $1,200 billion within 30 years.

The admission of nine former Soviet republics and Warsaw Treaty countries to NATO since 1999 laid the groundwork for their EU membership. What is clear is that NATO is moving closer to the Russian border. Of particular importance is the U.S. termination of the INF Treaty in 2019, allowing missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km to be deployed in Europe again. And not only there. They had been phased out by treaty in 1988, so that Moscow was no longer exposed to the risk of a decapitation strike by nuclear Pershing 2 and cruise missiles.

Ukraine has effectively been on its way to NATO since 2014. In this regard, I would like to bring a proof from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. The NZZ writes that since 2014 the Ukrainian military has changed a lot. And literally, "The U.S. has spent over $3 billion on equipping and training the armed forces. In addition, cooperation with NATO has intensified. NATO officers trained 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers; the Soviet way of thinking became less important. Salushni (the new commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, L.H.) was one of the main advocates of Ukraine joining NATO and contributed to the interoperability of the military with NATO forces. Before the invasion, Ukraine had 170,000 servicemen and women and 100,000 reservists and veterans. As a result of the war in eastern Ukraine, many units are battle-hardened. The mentality of the troops has completely changed since 2014. "42

Since 2014, NATO has increased its maneuver activity in Europe. NATO holds about 300 wartime maneuvers a year. Particularly significant are the Defender redeployment exercises, in which U.S. soldiers are deployed in division strength to Europe via Germany. Germany is both a hub and a deployment area against Russia. Also noteworthy are the Cold Response exercises in far northern Norway, in close proximity to the ports of the Russian Northern Fleet, which secure Russia's second-strike nuclear capability. The last Cold Response maneuver ended April 1 with 30,000 NATO troops.

Since 2017, NATO has steadily increased and continues to expand its troop deployments in the Baltic states and Poland. From about 8,000, they will triple to 24,400 troops. NATO's western 9 neighbors Russia have increased their troops from 271,000 to 307,000 since 2014.43 Poland stands out. It is aiming to more than double their number of soldiers from 121,000 to 250,000. 44 Poland ordered 32 state-of-the-art F-35 fighters, 5th generation "stealth aircraft," from the United States in early 2020 and has been provided 40 cruise missiles with a range of 370 km and 70 cruise missiles with a range of more than 925 km by the United States for its 3 F-16 squadrons.45 The latter could strike Moscow from Poland. Poland is the main outpost on NATO's eastern flank.

The 2014 decision to increase military spending by European NATO countries to 2 percent from an average of 1.43 percent at the time suggests that this spending will rise from the current 340 billion46 to between $500 billion and $600 billion by 2030. Add to this the U.S., which alone already spent $811 billion last year. By comparison, Russia's spending in 2021 is $62.2 billion47 according to criteria used by NATO. NATO spending totaled $1,175 billion48 last year, according to its own figures. That is nearly 19 times Russian spending.

NATO has a total of 3.6 times the number of servicemen and women under arms as Russia. In Europe it is 2 million49. Russia has only 540,000 of their total 900,000 soldiers50 on duty west of the Urals. This means that Europe has almost four times the NATO superiority over Russia. Correspondingly, there is a NATO superiority in heavy conventional weapons.51 Economically, the difference is also very serious: almost 24 to 1 in favor of the NATO countries52. Or, in other words, Russia's GDP is about the same as Italy's or New York State's.

In other words, Russia is much weaker than NATO economically and in conventional military terms, and can only compensate for this by threatening to use its nuclear weapons. There is a strategic balance here.

Russia demands a guarantee of its security from the USA and NATO

Russia demanded security guarantees53 from the U.S. and NATO on Dec. 17, 2021, and presented them with separate draft treaties. The main points in the draft for NATO are: Withdrawal of NATO forces deployed in new member countries after 1997. This includes U.S. missile defense sites in Romania and Poland, which can easily be armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles. Neither side deploys short- and medium-range missiles that can reach the other side's territory. Note, this includes those with conventional warheads. NATO should renounce its further eastward expansion. This means Ukraine and other countries. NATO countries do not conduct maneuvers in non-member states, i.e. Ukraine, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. On both sides of the border between Russia and its CSTO allies, on the one hand, and NATO countries, on the other, no maneuvers above a brigade strength are to be conducted in a zone whose width is to be defined. The sides are guided in their relations by the principles of cooperation, equal and indivisible security. In the draft for the U.S. is added the prohibition of flying with heavy bombers and stationing them outside their own territory, from where they can reach the territory of the other. The same is to apply to the stationing of warships outside their own territory. In the dialogue, mechanisms are to be developed to avoid clashes and threats over the high seas. The stationing of nuclear weapons outside the country's own territory is to be banned. This is directed against "nuclear sharing" in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey, where a total of about 100 nuclear bombs are stored that can target Russia.

Russian demands are essentially the same as those of the peace movement. Especially when it comes to "nuclear sharing," maneuvering, and NATO's eastward expansion. The peace movement has been demanding détente instead of confrontation from our government for years.

U.S. and NATO responses to Russia were leaked to the Spanish newspaper El Pais54 on February 2 and did not address or reject Russian core demands at all. NATO poses no threat to Russia, it was claimed. The door to NATO remains open, they said. Negotiations would have to be conducted that included new Russian nuclear weapons in the START negotiations. Nuclear reserve weapons and tactical nuclear weapons would also have to be considered. At most, they would be willing to make arrangements for the prevention of unintended incidents. But everything would only be possible if Russia de-escalated with regard to Ukraine. To put it bluntly, the answers were typical for deliberately talking past each other.

The Russian response, in turn, was published on February 17, at a critical time in developments, after Scholz's visit to Moscow, at the beginning of the escalation on the line of contact in the Donbass, and shortly before the Munich Security Conference, which for the first time was not attended by a Russian representative. The detailed Russian response, borne of disappointment, culminates in the sentence, "If the American side is not ready to agree on firm, legally binding guarantees to ensure our security from the United States and its allies, Russia will be forced to respond, including with military-technical measures. "55

The U.S. response to this Russian reaction: none at all. Missing.

On 2/24, Russia began the war, which was not limited to the Donbass, but systematically destroyed Ukraine's air defenses and air force. Air strikes on Russian troops in the Donbass were to be impossible and the Russian air force was to have free rein. A veritable war.

Why is Russia attacking now?

The question arises why Russia is attacking at this time. Couldn't we have waited for NATO and the U.S. to respond and let the negotiation process develop? For one thing, Kiev's aggressive behavior on the line of contact spoke against it, as did the behavior of Blinken and Zelensky at the Munich Security Conference. A very interesting rationale for the timing of the attack was given by European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) Deputy Director Florence Gaub on Markus Lanz, 3/22/22. Gaub, who appeared anything but Putin-friendly, said the Ukrainian army had "massively reformed" after 2014 with support from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. and was moving toward NATO standards. The Ukrainians "were actually almost like a year and a half to two years away from having a status, a standard, where they could have taken back Crimea. That's why Russia couldn't wait any longer either. They had to strike now, because in two years they would have had an adversary that would have been even much more difficult to overwhelm than we have today." 56

For me, another answer why the attack took place now lies in the fact that foreseeably the Western attitude towards Russia does not allow to expect any concession, that the rearmament program would not only bring Ukraine closer to NATO and strengthen it militarily, but also all NATO and EU countries would get noticeably stronger armies, which would have complicated a later military intervention of Russia in Ukraine, and would have pushed open the NATO door for Ukraine, exposing Russia to an existential danger with no escape.

Russia and China form historic strategic alliance

Russia has previously secured support with China. On Feb. 4,22 Putin and Xi signed a historic agreement in Beijing at the opening of the Winter Olympics. The geopolitical and historical significance of this "Joint Declaration" cannot be overstated. In it, China rejects "further expansion of NATO." That is probably the only thing that has become known from it in this country. However, the document is of very high importance for the classification of the war against Ukraine. It can be seen as a Chinese-Russian closing of ranks. Here is a key passage:

"The sides stand for the formation of a new type of relations between world powers based on mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. They confirm that Russia-China interstate relations as a new type surpass the military-political alliances of the 'Cold War.' Friendship between the two states has no borders, there are no no-go zones in cooperation. The strengthening of bilateral strategic cooperation is not directed against third countries. It is not subject to the influence of a volatile international environment and situational changes in third countries. "57

According to Tagesschau.de, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "The ties with Moscow are one of the most important bilateral relations in the world and the friendship of the two peoples is unassailable." And literally, "no matter how threatening the international situation may be, we will maintain our strategic orientation and advance the development of our partnership between China and Russia in the new era. "58

The following passage is also very significant: "The sides note that the denunciation of a number of important international agreements in the field of arms control has extremely negative implications for international and regional security and stability. The sides express concern about the progress of U.S. plans to develop global missile defense and deploy its elements in various regions of the world, coupled with the buildup of a potential of high-precision non-nuclear weapons for the purpose of a decapitation strike and to solve other strategic tasks. "59

What's the deal with the aforementioned U.S. decapitation strike weapon?

The U.S. is having hypersonic missiles developed for the Army, Air Force and Navy60. The program has "highest priority "61 for the Pentagon. For Germany and Europe, a déja-vù is imminent. The key data of the hypersonic missile "Dark Eagle" from Lockheed-Martin, the former manufacturer of the Pershing 2, are clear: range more than 2,775 km, land mobile on trucks and transportable in aircraft, deployment from 2023. They are to be armed non-nuclear. Hypersonic missiles are at least five times faster than sound. "Dark Eagle" has 12 times the speed of sound. That they are to be stationed in Europe is clear,62 where they are to be stationed in Europe is not known. From where they are to be commanded, however, is. From Wiesbaden, at the European headquarters of the U.S. Army. Since November, a 500-man "Multi-Domain Task Force" (MDTF) has been stationed there, whose 56th Artillery Command is exactly the one that was responsible for the Pershing 2 until 1991. The subordinate 41st Field Artillery Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Bavaria, provided the gunners then as now. It therefore stands to reason that the "Dark Eagle" would be stationed at Grafenwoehr. Moscow is 2,000 km away from Grafenwöhr. The flight time of the "Dark Eagle" from there is 10 minutes. What kind of targets are there at a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers that absolutely have to be destroyed within a few minutes? Isn't a Tomahawk cruise missile enough for that?

On this question, the U.S. Army stated in September 2021 that the Dark Eagle missiles would provide "a unique combination of speed, maneuverability, and altitude to defeat time-sensitive, heavily defended, high-value targets. "63

Let's briefly review each parameter: On speed: 12 times the speed of sound to subsonic for Tomahawk. On maneuverability: unlike ballistic missiles, which describe a predictable parabola of flight, "Dark Eagle" is steerable, making interception impossible. At least so far. The glide vehicle, which is detached from the hypersonic missile, precisely impacts together with conventional explosives at hypersonic speed. Direct hit into a house. Time-critical means it does not target immobile targets such as military infrastructure, but moving targets that change location. Heavily defended means defended by missile defenses, and high-value target means political or military leaders. Because of the time critical criterion, Tomahawks are out of the question. They would be 2 hours away and destructible by Russian missile defenses. Hypersonic missiles take 10 minutes from Grafenwoehr to Moscow, and only 5 minutes from northern Ukraine. They are surprise weapons, first-strike weapons designed to kill Russia's political leadership." Dark Eagle "is a high-tech weapon. One shot costs more than $40 million. 64 That the Russian leadership has perceived this threat was raised twice in the lecture today. Putin used the image "of the knife at the throat." Russia launched the war against Ukraine to eliminate this threat emanating from Ukrainian soil.

What will Putin do if "Dark Eagle" are stationed in Germany after Scholz has given the green light to do so? Are Wiesbaden, Grafenwoehr, Stuttgart as EUCOM and AFRICOM headquarters targeted by Russian nukes or hypersonic weapons or is it the cable links between US command centers?

Scholz's rearmament booster starting in 2022

Chancellor Scholz has given us more challenges. An unprecedented coup. In the Bundestag on 27.2.22, he announced a supposed turnaround. Only the heads of the SPD, Green and FDP parliamentary groups were informed the night before. Scholz claimed in the Bundestag: "Putin wants to establish a Russian empire. He wants to fundamentally reorder conditions in Europe according to his ideas, and in doing so he does not shy away from military force. We see this today in Ukraine. We must therefore ask ourselves: what capabilities does Putin's Russia possess, and what capabilities do we need to counter this threat, today and in the future?" He proclaims the goal of a capable, state-of-the-art, advanced German army "that reliably protects us." He then announces measures: the inclusion of 100 billion euros as "special assets" in the 2022 federal budget, from which "necessary investments and armaments projects" are to be taken. This is to be secured in the Basic Law. And Scholz said, "We will invest more than 2 percent of gross domestic product in our defense year after year from now on." He then got specific regarding individual defense projects. "Top priority" would be the construction of a new generation of fighter aircraft and tanks together with European partners, especially with France here in Europe. In addition, the Eurofighter is to be further developed, the Eurodrone will continue to be built and "we are pushing ahead with the acquisition of the Heron drone from Israel," Scholz said. "For nuclear sharing, we will procure a modern replacement for the obsolete Tornado jets in a timely manner. The Eurofighter is to be enabled for Electronic Warfare. The F-35 fighter will be considered as a carrier aircraft. "65

This requires some very critical comments.

First, the assumption that Putin wants to reorganize Europe militarily is not provable. We have seen in the analysis that he is concerned with security guarantees based on reciprocity and mutual control secured by treaty. In particular, the fears about hypersonic weapons, nuclear bombers of nuclear sharing and the encirclement of Russia in Europe, here in particular by the admission of Ukraine to NATO, are the key points. To infer from this that he wants to establish a Russian empire is equally unsubstantiated.

The conflicts of interest can only be resolved at the negotiating table, not with new rounds of rearmament. Where are the horrendously increasing military expenditures supposed to lead? If nineteen times the expenditure is already not a deterrent, should it be achieved by twenty-five times?

The West's policy of confrontation has not led to a relaxation of tensions, but precisely to this Russian constriction, from which Russia knew no other way out than to cut the Gordian knot as early as possible.

What Scholz has been blathering on about here is not a turning point, as he says, but merely the acceleration of an arms buildup that had already begun in 2014 and that envisaged the arms budget growing to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2024 in accordance with NATO criteria and then only rising to 2 percent in 2031. According to Scholz's announcement, the 2 percent should already be reached this year and not in 2031. The 2 percent should be maintained until 2031. This is what the amendment to the Basic Law is for. In 2019, a 12-year plan was set in motion that should ultimately lead to a doubling of the German army's firepower. It is possible that this will be achieved somewhat sooner.

What does this mean for German military spending? Last year, they stood at 53 billion euros66 according to NATO criteria. They had risen every year for eight years. This year, an increase to 57 billion was planned. According to the Scholz announcement, they would have to rise to 77 billion euros67 to make it two percent of GDP. In real terms, that would mean an increase of 24 billion euros over the previous year (+ 45 percent). There has never been anything like this before.
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