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Compensatory Rhetoric

by Bernhard Romeike
Ukraine has already lost much of its population since 1990, he said. War casualties and flight would further obstruct the country's future prospects. It was against this backdrop that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, stressed in January 2023 that "recapture of the territories taken by Russia is unrealistic."
Compensatory Rhetoric
by Bernhard Romeike
[This article posted on 4/10/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, : Kompensatorische Rhetorik,]

An observer of the Ukraine war in the West, looking at the portrayals in his own country, has difficulty comprehending the course of the war. This seems intentional, but loses credibility. Ralph Bosshard, a former lieutenant colonel in the general staff of the Swiss Army, who also worked for the OSCE for a long time, summed up after a year of war that Ukraine is currently trying to establish a third Ukrainian army. The first was the professional army, which had been built with the help of the West since 2014. It was crushed in the summer of 2022. The second, mobilized army had led a counteroffensive in the fall and was also crushed in the fighting at the time. That is why the Ukrainian army leadership now wants to create a new army. To do so, they need the many tanks and other weapons that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selensky and others are constantly demanding from the West.

Jacques Baud, a colonel in the Swiss Army, had worked for the Swiss Strategic Intelligence Service, the UN - including in various peacekeeping missions - and NATO. He came to similar conclusions in February 2023. Russia, he said, was not primarily concerned with territory, but with destroying Ukraine's militarily relevant potential. The main capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces were destroyed in 2022. Now, he said, the Ukrainian army is "a motley collection of material from different origins, with different capabilities and logistics chains. The Ukrainians' problem is not really the lack of weapons, but the ability to integrate them into an optimal and efficient command structure." Ukraine has already lost much of its population since 1990, he said. War casualties and flight would further obstruct the country's future prospects. It was against this backdrop, he said, that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, stressed in January 2023 that "recapture of the territories taken by Russia is unrealistic."

Former military adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, General Erich Vad, also assessed after a year of war that the "war of attrition" was leading "to Ukrainians defending something that may not exist in the end." There were already more than 200,000 casualties on both sides and 50,000 civilian deaths, he said. In Ukraine, "the eighth wave of mobilization" took place in February 2023, "even the 60-year-olds are being called to arms." Russia has "a comparatively much greater mobilization potential, which Putin has not even played out yet." The situation "cannot be turned around militarily." It would be only "if NATO as a whole declares war on Russia. But nobody wants that at the moment." If only because of the great risk of nuclear war.

At the end of March 2023, Jacques Baud gave a new assessment of the situation. He stressed that Ukraine had never conquered terrain "from which the Russian army had not deliberately withdrawn earlier." "Since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian army has not conquered any territory through combat." By the summer of 2022, Russia had achieved its goal of "demilitarizing" Ukraine. Its army had "lost almost all of its operational capability and began to depend on Western military aid. Selensky had to mobilize territorial defenses and asked the West for weapons." As for the number of casualties, the two sides would keep those secret. In the West, the figures would always be given by Ukrainian propaganda. That is why the figures for the Russians are so high and for Ukraine so low; anyone who doubts them is considered a "conspiracy theorist". Western journalists, he said, pass on the information without checking it, merely copying from each other "and working like parrots."

In fact, in the battle for Bachmut, Ukraine loses a battalion a day, in dead and wounded, that is 200 to 300 men every day. Since the beginning of the war, there has been a website run by the British BBC in conjunction with the Russian opposition platform Mediazona. Their statements are based on death notices in Russian newspapers. According to it, the number of dead on the Russian side is about ten times lower than stated by Ukrainian propaganda, and much lower than Ukrainian casualties. The Russians have more weapons than the West can offer Ukraine. The Russian army, he said, has an artillery superiority of 10 to 1. NATO "was not at all prepared to provide anything to Ukraine because it has fought very different wars in the past."

Since the war is being fought on three levels, the shooting war in the field, the economic war between the "collective West" and Russia, and the propaganda war, it stands to reason that the increasing volume from Kiev correlates with the difficulties on the fronts. At the end of March 2023, it was said that Selensky, after participating in a "virtual world summit for democracy" co-hosted by the United States, declared that "democracy" desperately needed a victory as soon as possible. "And all of us together - Ukrainians, all Europeans, our American allies, our friends on all continents [...] - will do everything to bring this victory closer." Russia is singled out from Europe here, and Ukraine's struggle is elevated to a war of the worlds: "The victory of Ukraine, the victory of freedom, the victory for the rules-based order." This was followed by a eulogy of the U.S. president: Biden had a "leading role in the consolidation of the democratic world." A prankster who thinks of the old phrase: He who pays, orders the music.

At the same time, a statement by Selensky on the battle for the city of Bachmut is revealing. In an interview for the AP news agency, he responded to the objection that Western military analysts doubted the strategic importance of the city, saying that in the event of a Russian victory in the battle for Bachmut, support among the Ukrainian population for the war could weaken. "Our society could get tired and push me to compromise with Russia." At the same time, Western support could then wane. That, in turn, confirms an assessment by Jacques Baud: "In Ukraine, Selensky is basically running the war. In Russia, senior military officers like Gerasimov and Surovikin are waging the war. [...] It is military people who are running the war. Putin does not say a word about military operations. He has given the political guidelines. That is usually the case, and the military has to translate them into military operations. In Ukraine, it's purely political guidance. The military carries out what Selensky says, and that is why propaganda is so important for Ukraine. The goal is not even to win in the field. The important element for Ukraine is that Russia loses."

On April 1, Russia took over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council for a month - which rotates among its 15 members. Ukraine had already called in advance to prevent Russia's chairmanship. Selensky stated, "It's hard to imagine what better demonstrates the complete bankruptcy of such institutions." His presidential office chief, Andriy Yermak, added, "It is not only a disgrace. It's another symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations." If one takes this seriously, the "rules-based order" repeatedly emphasized by the West is not the one based on the UN Charter and UN institutions. The U.S. did not want to go that far, after all. The White House spokeswoman criticized Russia as a country "that flagrantly violates the UN Charter and invades its neighbor," but conceded that Russia is "unfortunately" a permanent member of the UN Security Council and that there is "no viable international legal recourse" to change this.

In early April, an appeal for peace was issued in Germany by well-known social democrats and trade unionists as well as scientists and artists, initiated by Peter Brandt, a son of Willy Brandt. "Instead of the dominance of the military, we need the language of diplomacy." Addressed to the Social Democratic chancellor, "We encourage the chancellor, together with France, to persuade Brazil, China, India and Indonesia in particular to mediate in order to achieve a cease-fire quickly." Andriy Melnyk, who had sufficiently undiplomatized himself as Ukrainian ambassador to Germany and now acts as deputy foreign minister in Kiev, wrote on Twitter, "Go to hell with your senile idea of achieving a 'quick ceasefire' and 'making peace only with Russia'!" His successor in Berlin, Oleksii Makeiev, called the appeal "pure cynicism." The addressee is not Ukraine, but the German chancellor, a repeated "interference in the internal affairs" of Germany.
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