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Four taboo truths about the Ukraine war

by Ingar Solty & K D Kolenda
Like every war in history, the Ukrainian war has a prehistory that does not begin with Russia's invasion of the neighboring country nearly a year ago, or even in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea to Russia. Second, the war has an immense potential for escalation.
Four taboo truths about the Ukraine war

Analysis If you address the escalating danger of the Ukraine war on talk shows or in newspapers, you're cold-called. That's partly because the opinion-makers in this country are left-liberal - they're more concerned with morality than realism
by Ingar Solty
[This article posted on 3/30/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Vier tabuisierte Wahrheiten über den Ukrainekrieg.]

Four uncomfortable truths characterize the war in Ukraine. They have done so basically from the beginning. They include, first, that like every war in history, the Ukrainian war has a prehistory that does not begin with Russia's invasion of the neighboring country nearly a year ago, or even in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea to Russia. Second, the war has an immense potential for escalation. And this is true both within Ukraine and beyond its borders, because it has expanded from a war of invasion to a proxy war with international participation on both sides, because it is a war with a nuclear power, and because it is becoming apparent that without the direct participation of NATO troops, the Ukrainian side will run out of soldiers to operate the weapons supplied from the United States and also from Europe. The fact that the war has its origins in a civil war only makes the situation all the more difficult.

Third, this war will not end in a victorious peace. There is no primarily military way to an end to the terrible bloodshed, to an end to destruction, mayhem, psychological disruption, sexualized violence, forced recruitment, and flight. This is increasingly evident now that the war has moved into a phase of positional and attritional warfare, with a blood toll approaching 300,000 dead overall and up to 1,000 casualties on both sides every day. And fourth, the Ukrainian war, intolerable as one finds it, will not end without territorial concessions by the Ukrainian Government.

It is remarkable to see that these four truths have been heard not primarily from leftists or not first or loudest from politicians of the left, but in many cases from critical liberal-conservative academics, from senior military officers and from the state apparatuses themselves: In Germany, for example, Wolfgang Ischinger, from 2008 to 2022 the head of the "Munich Security Conference," which set the pace, and Günther Verheugen, former deputy president of the European Commission and EU commissioner for eastward enlargement, touched on the taboo of previous history - the East-West tug-of-war over Ukraine, which ultimately tore the country apart in 2014. They cited similar causes for the Ukraine conflict as Henry Kissinger, probably the most influential U.S. foreign policy thinker during the Cold War, the conservative international relations theorist and political science professor at the University of Chicago, John Mearsheimer, and even the U.S. neocon and mastermind of the Iraq War, Robert Kagan, had done before them.

We live in a society dedicated to the idea of progress: Democratic, scientific or technological. We are promised social justice, prosperity and a good life, a new world or even a new planet. It is precisely this idyllic concept of progress that Nicoleta Esinencu takes aim at.

Too close a shoulder with the USA

In an article published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the eve of the war, Ischinger emphasized that it was the aggressive attempts by the U.S. administration of George W. Bush to draw the economically, politically, ethnically and linguistically divided Ukraine into NATO that fostered Russia's alienation from Europe and Russia's nationality-political destabilization policy in the Caucasus, Ukraine and also Russia's Syria policy. The starting point for the Western tug-of-war over Ukraine was the NATO summit in Bucharest (2008). In this context, the country's entry into the defense alliance would not only have been against Ukraine's constitution at the time, but also was far from corresponding to the majority will in Ukraine at the time or to the interests of NATO's Western European allies.

Verheugen (FDP, later SPD) was similarly critical, especially of the policies of his successors. The goal declared in 2002 by then EU Commission President Romano Prodi of creating a "ring of friends" for the EU had failed because Russia's efforts to create a close partnership on an equal footing - with the prospect even of Russia joining NATO or, as Putin proposed at the time to the cheers of Europeans, a common Eurasian economic area "from Lisbon to Vladivostok" - had not been taken up, but "the EU's Eastern Partnership after 2007 had been set in motion without Russia's participation". And this while NATO was expanding eastward - against the explicit warning from the Russian government.

The Europeans had thus acted in far too close shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States and ultimately violated their own economic, political and peace and security policy goals. What was needed instead was a much more independent position in relation to the United States. It was "imperative to understand and correctly classify the entire history of the Ukraine war," Verheugen said. The EU will then "also have to be prepared to come to terms with its own mistakes." In analyzing the "prehistory" of the war, he said, "two questions must be closely scrutinized": "Who caused the Minsk agreement to fail, and who or what drove the EU to participate in a regime change operation in Ukraine in 2013?"

In doing so, Verheugen also spoke out against the tabooing of the prehistory of the Ukrainian war, which naming has always been interpreted as relativizing Russia's war guilt. The failure, however, to "really seriously come to terms with the whole prehistory (...)" would mean "repeating the same mistakes." He said it was "strange that entire libraries are written" about causes and developments leading to World War I and World War II, but the mere demand to come to terms with "the entire prehistory (...) of the first major war in this century in Europe" was already "considered appeasement."

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Is the use of uranium munitions imminent in Ukraine?
by Klaus-Dieter Kolenda.
[This article posted on 3/23/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Steht der Einsatz von Uran-Munition in der Ukraine bevor?.]

The British government wants to supply Ukraine with munitions containing uranium. Shells for Challenger 2 tanks. Why the weapon is controversial.

A news item on March 21, 2023 startled many people, including me. Great Britain wants to supply Ukraine with uranium munitions and Vladimir Putin threatens with reactions. British Secretary of State for Defense Annabel Goldie confirmed in response to a question in the House of Lords: indeed, armor-piercing ammunition made of depleted uranium is to be supplied. "Such projectiles are very effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles," Goldie stressed.

A report by Deutsche Presse-Agentur said in this regard that Putin had claimed that these were "weapons with a nuclear component." He had added:

'I would like to note that Russia will be forced to react accordingly if all this happens.

Health hazards of uranium munitions?

On the health risks of using uranium munitions, the report states:

Uranium is a radioactive metal. Because of its higher density than steel or lead, depleted uranium has a higher penetrating power. The projectiles were used, for example, in the wars in Iraq and in Serbia and Kosovo.

According to a 2010 opinion by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (Scher), there is "no evidence of environmental or health risks" from depleted uranium: "Radiation exposure from depleted uranium is very low compared to naturally occurring radiation."

However, there are media reports from Iraq of deformities attributed to the munitions previously used in the war.

Long-term health and environmental damage to be feared in Ukraine

In a press release dated March 22, 2023, the medical peace organization IPPNW responded by stating that it condemns the British government's decision to supply armor-piercing uranium (DU) munitions to Ukraine.

The Physician organization estimates that the use of DU will additionally cause far-reaching and lasting environmental and health damage to the people already suffering from the war and appeals to the German government to influence Great Britain and Ukraine with the aim of renouncing the export of uranium munitions.

Further, the IPPNW press release states:

DU harms life in two ways: As a heavy metal it is a chemical cell poison, as an alpha emitter it causes radioactive damage. Both effects are potentiated. The use of this munition leads to toxic and radiological long-term damage.

In 2009, Italy had acknowledged the causal link between DU munitions and certain cancers and allocated 30 million euros as a reparation fund for sick soldiers.

Depleted uranium munitions had been used in the Balkan wars, the Kosovo war, and both the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars. There has been an increase in deformities, as well as cancer in children and adults, he said.

"Ukraine should not allow soldiers and civilians in its own country to be exposed to long-term health and environmental damage through the use of DU munitions," said IPPNW Chair Angelika Claußen, MD.

Depleted uranium is produced during the enrichment of nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants and weapons-grade uranium for nuclear bombs. Militaries and defense companies worldwide use weapons with uranium munitions, for example to destroy tanks or blow up bunkers. The United States, Britain, France, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, among others, possess these weapons.

"When uranium munitions explode, an aerosol is formed with particle sizes in the nano range. These particles enter the human body through inhalation, ingestion with water or food, and also through wounds.

The uranium aerosol can be dispersed over a wide area by the wind. DU dissolved in the blood is excreted by the kidneys in a few days, but uranium particles deposited in the skeleton lie there for years, irradiating the surrounding cells with alpha particles. This causes bone tumors and leukemia.

Inhaled uranium particles are encapsulated in the lungs or transported to regional lymph nodes, where they remain permanently and can cause cancer," Claußen explains.

According to the IPPNW, the damage to health caused by uranium munitions to civilians, soldiers and the environment is so serious that these munitions must be internationally outlawed.

Current series of articles on uranium weapons

For information on further health and environmental damage caused by DU munitions in the recent wars of the West, I would like to refer to a three-part series of articles published in Telepolis in February 2023.1

There, the controversies about health damage from DU munitions are also addressed. Because: In many media reports the thesis is represented since 2001 that there are no indications of environmental and health risks by depleted uranium, as also the dpa repeats, however with the coy addition, in Iraq there are media reports about deformities, which are attributed to the ammunition used before in the war.

The first part of this series of articles is a report about the concealed uranium weapons and their consequences and about Prof. Siegwart-Horst Günther, a German doctor who had the courage to be the first to clarify this.

The second part gives an overview of the damage to health caused by the use of DU ammunition, which has been established in scientific studies.

And the third part reports on the controversy over "Gulf War Syndrome," which has been diagnosed in many thousands of U.S. and British military personnel who had been exposed to uranium munitions on the battlefield.

The series of articles was prompted by the fact that with the latest U.S. military assistance package to Ukraine, there was evidence that it may have included uranium-containing ammunition for the new Western tanks that are soon to appear on the Ukrainian battlefield.

This was said by military expert and retired Bundeswehr colonel Jürgen Hübschen, who has been running an informative and critical security policy blog for many years.

For example, he said, it can be assumed that depleted uranium projectiles are the common ammunition used in the U.S. M1 Abrams main battle tank. The British Challenger 2 main battle tank could also fire uranium munitions, he said.

While the possibility of renewed use of uranium weapons has received largely sober treatment in the mainstream media, media outlets such as Nachdenkseiten2 and Overton magazine3 provided more detailed information about the consequences. Telepolis also addressed the consequences.

The delivery of depleted uranium munitions is another dangerous escalation of the war in Ukraine.

Russia, of course, also possesses such munitions. Whether they have already been used in the course of the war is unknown.4 However, this escalation will certainly lead to the fact that Russia will then also use uranium weapons in Ukraine, with the result that in this country probably further thousands of people will lose their lives and Ukraine will become more and more a second Iraq.

Author: Klaus-Dieter Kolenda, Prof. Dr. med., specialist in internal medicine - gastroenterology, specialist in physical and rehabilitative medicine/social medicine, was head physician of a rehabilitation clinic for diseases of the cardiovascular system, respiratory tract, metabolism and locomotor organs from 1985 to 2006. Since 1978, he has worked as a medical expert for the social courts in Schleswig-Holstein. He is also involved in the Kiel group of IPPNW e.V. (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and for Social Responsibility).

E-mail: klaus-dieter.kolenda [at] gmx.de
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