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Burning bridges with Russia and airlift for Mariupol: Foreign media digest as of April 16-18

The Page collage

The Page collage

Western media continue to report about the war in Ukraine: on April 16-18, the media covered how Berlin was burning bridges of friendship with Moscow, while no one already believes in peace negotiations between Kyiv and the Russian Federation.

However, there is the question of how much the U.S. is unconsciously or consciously playing along with Russia when it is too cautious with military assistance to Ukraine, still hoping to persuade both sides of the war to a "compromise" that is hardly possible.

The Page offers an up-to-date review of what the European and U.S. media are reporting on days 52-54 of the active Russian invasion..


Germany burns bridges: New era of security

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

CNN reports that the war is forcing Germany to burn bridges with Russia. The outlet notes that repenting historical wrongs is a "national pastime" in Germany, but even by German standards, the soul-searching over Berlin's Russia policy is remarkable.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, many German politicians have publicly admitted they got Vladimir Putin wrong. Even German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has apologised, saying it was a mistake to use trade and energy to build bridges with Moscow.

Quote"It's a bitter acknowledgement that for 30 years we emphasised dialogue and co-operation with Russia," says Nils Schmid, foreign affairs spokesperson for Social Democrats (SPD). "Now we have to recognise this has not worked. That's why we have entered a new era for European security."

That new era was dubbed Zeitenwende — literally meaning a turning point — by Germany's SPD Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Ukraine's traumas monopolised by Kremlin

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

Under Putin, official Russian policy tried to monopolise the memory of the Second World War for the bilateral German-Russian relationship," Schmid acknowledged.

This blinded parts of German society to the suffering of Ukrainians during the war. Now there is a greater awareness of Ukraine's traumas under the Nazis.

But there are still questions for Germany. For example, the BBC quotes Claudia Mayor, defence specialist at SWP, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs:

Quote"Our partners look at us, and say: OK, you do a Zeitenwende but what are you practically doing? On sanctions we are timid and on weapons delivery, we are reluctant."

Nevertheless, Berlin is slowly moving towards an energy embargo and assures that it is ready to send any weapon to Kyiv. But there is information that some ministries are getting tied up in bureaucracy.

Negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow: Dead dead end

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Sky News quotes British military expert Lord Richard Dannatt, a former chief to the general staff, as saying that peace talks are unlikely to work now.

Quote"Earlier in the conflict there were very reasonable hopes, that both parties would realise that neither was going to achieve their military objectives very quickly, and that some form of ceasefire leading to a peace deal could be arrived at in negotiations," he said.

Dannatt noted both Ukraine and Russia suffered many casualties to easily and quickly give up. While Kyiv is ready to fight for itself to the last, Putin has got to have some kind of success to report to the Russians.

Lord Dannatt also noted that Russia's shelling across the "length and breadth" of Ukraine over the last few days marks the start of a new operation to achieve its goals and this time they have "meticulously prepared."

Russia to focus on east for now

Photo: mrpl.city

Photo: mrpl.city

Now it is necessary to focus on the likely significant Russian attack from the east pushing west to secure the two provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, the analyst notes.

Quote"The shelling that has been widely reported over the last few days across Ukraine has to be seen as a preliminary part of that operation prior to launching their ground offensive to the east," he stressed.

According to the expert, the shelling has two aims: one is to undermine the will of the Ukrainian people and the other is to target military depots to try to hamper Ukraine's ability to defend the attack from the east. In a nutshell, "softening up".

This offensive is meticulously prepared as opposed to the "haphazard" initial push to Kyiv from the north, and after the operation in the east, Russia could then threaten to move further west, Dannatt believes.

Russia wants to sue for its assets

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The Guardian reports two financial news from Russia, both related to the impact of sanctions applied to the country.

Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said the Kremlin plans to take legal action over the blocking of gold, forex and assets belonging to Russian residents.

She added that such a step would need to be painstakingly thought through and legally justified.

At the moment, according to Reuters, foreign sanctions have frozen about $300bn of around $640bn that Russia had in its gold and forex reserves when it launched its latest invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said about 200,000 people risk losing their jobs in the Russian capital because foreign companies have suspended operations or decided to leave the Russian market.

Kremlin: Ukraine "often changes its position"

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Reuters reports that The Kremlin on Monday, April 18, accused Ukraine of constantly changing its stance when it comes to issues that have already been agreed at peace talks.

Quote"Contacts continue at an expert level within the framework of the negotiation process", Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated.

The Ukrainian side is not consistent in terms of the points that have been agreed", he argues:

Quote"It is often changing its position and the trend of the negotiating process leaves much to be desired."

It should be recalled here that the first demands for the Russian peace agreement still included "denazification", "demilitarization", and overthrowing government in Kyiv, so it is not surprising that Ukraine is waiting until the peace conditions look like an adequate position, and not Putin’s imperial wet dreams.

Not to mention the fact that the agreed humanitarian corridors are being shelled, and there is no point in believing any agreement on the part of the Russian Federation.

Not enough weapons are given to Ukraine

Photo: Max Levin

Photo: Max Levin

CBS News argues whether the weapons handed over by the U.S. to Ukraine will be enough. From Javelin anti-tank missiles to body armor, the U.S. military has shipped some ten million pounds of weapons and equipment bound for Ukraine. But is it enough?

Quote"It still does not feel like we are all-in to win," said retired Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe.

He says U.S. support for Ukraine is just too cautious:

Quote"We have exaggerated the potential for a so-called World War III to the point that we're making policy decisions based on an exaggerated fear," Hodges said.

This refers to fear of provoking a man who has thousands of nuclear weapons at his command, and who is willing to deliberately bomb civilians in an attempt to achieve something he might call victory.

Hodges stresses that Russia transitioned to this medieval approach of smashing cities so that at some point somebody would say;

Quote"'For the love of God, please stop killing these civilians. Let's get to a settlement."

And that's exactly what the Russians want: a settlement. Last week, Russia again warned that U.S. arms shipments could lead to unpredictable consequences.

Airlift for Mariupol

Photo: mrpl.city

Photo: mrpl.city

Despite Russia's threats, the Biden administration ratcheted up its support for Ukraine, with 18 Howitzers and 40,000 artillery shells. The new military aid package also includes 200 armored personnel carriers.

Retired Army Colonel Richard Hooker, who served with the 82nd Airborne, when asked how long 40,000 charges would last, admitted:

Quote"I would say weeks, not months. It will be helpful, but I wouldn't characterize it as a gamechanger."

Retired General Philip Breedlove, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, said that the West’s aid could not save Mariupol:

Quote"Forces in Mariupol are surrendering because they didn't have enough food and bullets – very basic things. We need to make sure that those things are delivered to the front where the fighting is going on."

Breedlove mentioned the Berlin Airlift when Josef Stalin imposed a land blockade around Berlin, and the US used a massive airlift.

When asked if supply flights flying into Ukrainian airspace would be attacked by the Russians, Breedlove replied:

Quote"Surely they would. We took the same risks in the Berlin Airlift, didn't we? I believe we're accumulating risk right now by doing nothing. I do not believe there is a no-risk way out of this conflict. We need for the Ukrainians to win this fight."

Instead of an afterword. Despite the fact that Germany is gradually beginning to see clearly regarding its friendship with Russia, and Moscowia is in crisis over the Western sanctions, so that it wants to sue for the arrested reserves, Ukraine remains in a very difficult military situation.

The peace talks expectedly slipped into an even more impasse. But the fact that the United States, which has very great opportunities to support Ukraine with weapons to defeat the Russian Federation, is in no hurry and is too cautious with helping Kyiv, does not at all draw happy prospects.

It would be a salvation to get real force, at least for releasing such cities as Mariupol, where the number of the war victims can reach not even tens, but hundreds of thousands of civilian lives.

Of course, the Ukrainians use every possible weapon to fight the enemy who is more carefully prepared for the second wave of the offensive, but any victory comes to us at too high a price. Ukraine has been fighting for its right to exist for 54 days.

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