Warnings from a top German Military: Don’t play with fire of nuclear escalation

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By Elisabeth Hellenbroich

On May 30th former NATO Military Commission Chairman German General Harald Kujat in a short interview to “Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung” warned about the “danger of a step-by-step escalation toward a direct military conflict with Russia.”

In reference to the recent decision by US/ NATO, France and other European countries to send western weapons and soldiers into Ukraine, Kujat underlined, that since we are now in the third year of war, during this year 2024 not only the war but the “destiny “of Ukraine as a whole will be decided.

From a military perspective according to Kujat, the Russian military has conquered Ukrainian territory during several offensives and since 10th of May. It has achieved territorial gains in the area of Kharkiv. The tactically clever procedure in conquering places such as Awdijiwka and the chaotic withdrawal of the Ukrainian armed forces, “could become symptomatic for the further evolution of the combat operations.” It would seem however that Russia does not intend to have major breakthroughs, but it rather wants to demonstrate that it is capable to advance at several points of attack along the front and systematically expand its territorial gains.

“Given the fact that western deliveries of weapons systems and ammunition were not capable to improve the situation in favor of the Ukraine and that it can’t balance out the deficits in terms of trained soldiers, the Ukraine recently demanded from the US and other NATO states, to train approximately 150.000 Ukrainian recruits in direct proximity of the frontline. In addition, Ukraine demands information from the USA concerning “targets in Russia and the permission to be able to attack those with far – reaching American weapon systems.”

Kujat emphasized that “so far it is not sure how this demand from Ukraine will be decided upon. On the one side the US government stated that the demand will be ‘considered.’ On the other side the speaker of the White House declared that the USA will ‘not allow attacks with weapons given by the US on Russia territory’. So far President Biden had stuck to the promise not to deploy US troops in Ukraine and not to allow an attack against targets in Russia with American weapon systems, in order to ‘avoid a third world war.’”

The recent attack against Russia’ early warning radar system

Kujat referred to a recent attack perpetrated by Ukraine drones against a Russian Radar early- system, which detects Intercontinental Strategic Nuclear missiles at a distance of 6000 km and that is important for the triggering of Russian countermeasures(!) (News about this were based on reports from the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) that published pictures showing damage inflicted upon an early-warning radar system in the south Russian City Armavir EH).

According to Kujat “such type of attacks irresponsibly endangers the maintenance of nuclear strategic balance between the USA and Russia and could have catastrophic consequences (…) In the US government at the moment a very intense debate takes place, how to react to the Ukrainian demand. Especially US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made pressure to authorize American weapons for direct attacks against Russia, after he had returned from his visit to Kiev two weeks ago, giving a very depressing assessment of the situation. Russia in turn could interpret the giving up of the previous US position in such a way, that President Biden is now ready to take the risk of a world war.  Because if the West really gives in to Kiev’s demands, this would mean the danger of a direct confrontation between soldiers of NATO and Russian Armed Forces and the spread of the war to all of Europe(!); even in case of a small incident NATO could get directly involved into combat operations with Russia!”

Being asked, how certain it is, that the West will dispatch western armed forces, Kujat emphasized that one of the most fervent advocates of western engagement is French President Macron, who several times has made the dispatching of French Armed Forces into Ukraine a subject of discussion. Poland and the Baltic States have made similar statements. Those who so far excluded this were the Germans, the Italians and the Hungarian government. According to Kujat, it seems that within the Alliance the number of states, that don’t agree with the way in which things are evolving, is increasing. Even CSSR president Peter Pavel, a former chairman of the NATO Military Commission, changed opinion and demanded realism instead of naivete as well as a negotiated solution in form of a compromise.

In the interview Kujat pointed to a very interesting and “singular” detail concerning US engagement in Ukraine. He stated that “already now military advisors from several western countries are staying in Ukraine.” Since December last year “there is in addition US -American General Antonio A. Aguto who went with his advisory team to Kiev, in order to look over Kiev’s shoulder. Aguto is chairman of the “Security Assistance Group” of the US army, which is stationed in Wiesbaden and coordinates the weapon deliveries and training of Ukrainian soldier; it supports Ukrainian soldiers in their operational planning and provides them with information (!) “

He further referred to dangerous signals that are coming from France and its president who is thinking about going beyond sending advisors, which is demonstrated by the plans of the French Chief of Staff that “gave further precisions about President Macron’s plans, declaring that France was able to dispatch 20.000 soldiers within 6 weeks to Ukraine and lead a multinational contingent of 60.000 people in combat. So, we are not just dealing with a couple of advisors or trainers.”

Being asked how Russia would react to the deployment of western soldiers in Ukraine, Kujat stated that it would depend on Russia’s plans. So far, the clearest step is the annexation of four Ukrainian administrative districts in Donbass and at the Black Sea. “If we take a sober look at the military situation, we can see that Russia within a short period of time will be able to completely conquer these four regions and consolidate those conquests. Whether they also want to take over Kharkiv or Odessa, is not yet clear, but probable. Russia could claim that it has reached its military aims and declare the end of its ‘special military operation’.”

“Yet, we should expect, that the Russians cannot afford to ignore the deployment of western soldiers – irrespective of the fact that these trainers must be protected against air attacks or combat troops.” Kujat pointed out that the leaders in Moscow recently had announced a large maneuver of Russian nuclear armed forces close to the Ukrainian border. “Here is where the danger lies- it’s the step-by-step escalation of the different sides up to a point, where there could be a direct military conflict between NATO and Russia, which implies the risk of a nuclear war that would be limited to the European continent! (…) I get the impression that many politicians are not conscious about where their argumentation can lead us all. If it is said, for example, that Ukraine has the right to attack strategic targets in Russia or the right for deployment of NATO trainers in Ukraine and for the formation of Ukrainian recruits near the frontline, -to assume that this would not escalate the situation, means to ignore what escalation during war means,” Kujat warned. “Clausewitz said about this: ‘War is an act of violence and there are no limits to its application’; hence an interaction could start that could trigger the worst.”

Kujat was asked about a recent Reuters news agency report, whereby Russian President Putin was ready for ceasefire negotiations, which means that there could be a political solution for the Ukraine war. He responded that if this was true, it would be good news because it contradicts the assumption that Russia intends to completely conquer Ukraine, in order to use it as starting point for further attacks against NATO states. It also would mean that the war would be frozen, even though Russian Armed Forces have so far not completely conquered the four Ukrainian regions.

(…) “It is interesting on which grounds such a ceasefire would occur. The U.S. government a while ago already thought about a Korea-solution: Ukraine should defend the territory that is still under its control and de facto give up the Russian conquered regions. The Korea war began at the 38th parallel and ended there – so no side had to accept territorial losses.  In addition, the ceasefire negotiations at that time extended over two years, the Ukraine doesn’t have this time anymore.”

Kujat referred to Putin’s recent visit in Beijing, where he welcomed the Chinese 12-point program for peace negotiations, which dates back to February last year; he qualified the additional principles that were mentioned by Xi Jinping during German Chancellor Scholz’ visit, as “realist and constructive steps.” According to Kujat Putin recently emphasized again that he is ready for a ceasefire, to resume negotiations at the point, where they were broken off April 2022, “‘if the US and Ukraine would be ready to recognize the realities that have evolved, i.e.  that the conquered areas belong to Russia and that the security interests of Ukraine as well as of Russia would be taken into account.”

The German General agreed in the interview that after the loss of tens of thousands of human lives on the battlefield, Ukraine would have to factually accept painful territorial losses which the Ukrainian president is resisting. “This is undoubtedly the case. But the course of war so far has not improved the situation of the country, but continuously worsened it. Hence, the defenders of the Ukraine achieved the exact opposite of what they wanted to achieve. Insofar ceasefire -and peace negotiations would offer the possibility to keep the territory which the Ukraine still has today. But with all sympathy and solidarity for Ukraine, we should also think about our own interests.  At present this implies that we prevent that the war in Ukraine widens into a European war, which would bring the destruction and suffering onto a new level, without helping the Ukrainians in their situation.”

Putin’s response to the Western war hype

During a press conference which President Putin gave in conclusion of his visit to Uzbekistan (28 May in Tashkent), the president gave a clear response to the western hype that is intended to pump more weapons into Ukraine that could strike Russian targets: “With regard to strikes, frankly I am not sure what NATO Secretary General is talking about,” Putin stated. “If he is talking about potentially attacking Russia’s territory with long – range precision weapons, he, as a person who heads a military- political organization, even though he is a civilian like me, should be aware of the fact that long -range precision weapons cannot be used without space- based reconnaissance. This is my first point. My second point is that the final target selection and what is known as launch mission can only be made by highly skilled specialists who rely on this reconnaissance data, technical reconnaissance data. For some attack systems, such as Storm Shadows, these launch missions can be put automatically, without the need to use Ukrainian military. Who does it? Those who manufacture and those who allegedly supply these attack systems to Ukraine, do. This can and does happen without the participation of the Ukrainian military. Launching other systems, such as ATACMS, for example, also relies on space reconnaissance data, targets are identified and automatically communicated to the relevant crew, then put in the corresponding launch mission. However, the mission is put together by representatives of NATO countries, not the Ukrainian military.  (…) So, these officials from NATO countries, especially the ones based in Europe, particularly in small European countries, should be fully aware of what is at stake. They should keep in mind that theirs are small and densely populated countries which is a factor to reckon with, before they start talking about striking deep into the Russia territory.  It is a serious matter and without doubt, we are watching this very carefully.”

He further added that “the same thing can happen in case, the long – range precision weapons which you asked about, are used. More broadly, this unending escalation can lead to serious consequences.  If Europe were to face those serious consequences, what will the United States do, considering our strategic arms parity? It is hard to tell.  Are they looking for global conflict? I think they wanted to agree upon strategic arms, but we do not really see them eager to do so. They are talking about it, but they are not doing much to make it happen. We will wait and see what happens next(!)”

Similar reflections were also made by President Putin during his press conference with 16 foreign news agencies, at the occasion of the opening of the “St Petersburg Special Economic Forum” (SPIEF 5th till 8th of June), which this year was attended by 21 300 (!) guests: it was dedicated among others to the subject of BRICS and its role in the New World Order. According to former Austrian Foreign Minister K. Kneissl who was an honorary guest at SPIEF,  the conference was reflecting a totally new, multipolar spirit. Among the guests there were Dilma Rousseff, former president of Brazil and today chairwoman of the BRICS development bank; the President of Bolivia L.A. Arce Catacora, as well as several other leaders and representatives from Latin America, Africa, the Mideast, India and China. Putin used the occasion to give in front of a totally packed and attentive Conference Hall a verx confident and optimistic speech, in which he outlined his vision concerning the political and economic future of Russia. The plenary session was moderated by Prof. Sergeij Karaganov, who was a close associate of Primakov and is close to President Putin.  He is dean of the Faculty of Economy and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics (HSE Moscow). Karaganov conducted a quite lively and at times controversial discussion with the president. In particular in respect to Russia’s nuclear doctrine. Putin made clear in his answer to Karaganov that no “special amendment” would be needed for Russia’s Nuclear Doctrine and that he was confident that Russia will win the conflict with Ukraine. During the preceding press conference (June 5th in St Petersburg),  the Russian president had  stated in respect to recent  NATO threats: “We are thinking about the fact that if someone considers it possible to supply such weapons (meaning Storm Shadows/ Scalp, ATAMCS  etc.) to a  war zone to strike at our territory and create problems for us, then why do we not have the right to supply our weapons of the same class to those regions of the world where attacks on sensitive facilities will be carried out? The answer may be asymmetric. We will think about it.”

In an answer to a German journalist from DPA, who wanted to know about Ukraine’s mobilization efforts of new soldiers, Putin emphasized: “We know from the Ukrainian side: the US administration insists that the threshold be gradually lowered from 25 to 23 years and then to 18 or immediately to 18 years, to register. We know this for sure; this is a demand from the US administration to the Ukrainian leadership, if it can be considered leadership after the election was cancelled. The US administration would force the current Ukrainian leadership to take these decisions on lowering the mobilization age all the way down to 18 years and once that it’s done, they will simply get rid of Zelensky. But first he will have to do this. (…) I think they would need a year to do this.”

In a recent interview with Judge Napolitano (“Judging Freedom” US ), former British diplomat Alastair Crooke commented that Putin had recently warned that NATO et al are “playing with fire.” The president’s statement implied that “if you strike deep inside Russian territory and use weapons to strike strategic targets, there may be a strong response that will not be confined to Ukraine, but be placed in any part of the world (for example, Poland, but also France). And the question is whether the US would intervene then?”

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