Ukraine is increasingly defending itself offensively and is threatening military strikes on Russian territory. How is the West reacting? And does Scholz still deliver tanks?

Ukraine has crossed a Russian red line at least three times, and not once has President Putin responded with nuclear weapons. The western allies of Ukraine are thus faced with an important change of course: Will they also support the next escalation in this war that has been underway for a long time? Will Olaf Scholz deliver tanks to Ukraine after all, which he has so far refused to do, citing Russian threats of nuclear war?

Recently, in a speech to the Human Rights Committee, Vladimir Putin made it clear that he reserves the right to use nuclear weapons – to defend his own territory. However, this “own territory” from the Russian point of view has already attacked Ukraine three times – and reserves the right to carry out further attacks.

First the attack on the Crimean Bridge, then the liberation of the strategically important city of Kherson, which was occupied by Russian troops, and finally the drone strikes against two military logistics facilities deep in Russia – Ukraine has given up only defending its country defend. It is now also defending offensively, attacking targets either in Russia or on territory that Russia, contrary to international law, claims belongs to it, namely in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

The drone strikes have shown Moscow that there are no longer any safe zones in Russia, an adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense told the London Financial Times, which is currently reporting on this in its military briefing. “Soon we will be able to reach all destinations, including Siberia.”

How does the allied West react to this? So far, the US has not supplied Ukraine with missiles with a range of more than 80 kilometers – which can be read as a sign of distrust in Ukraine’s President Valodymyr Zelenskyy. And the administration of US President Joe Biden reacted with alarm to the drone attack on Russian territory.

John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said: “We have consistently expressed our concern about escalation.” And, Kirby continued, apparently towards the Kremlin: “We have not encouraged them to do that.” “That”, those were the two alleged Ukrainian drone attacks on two air bases far inland in Russia.

Washington remains true to its line of refraining from doing anything to provoke war with Russia. This includes the refusal to deliver American tanks to Ukraine. The Americans are now delivering them to Poland. Defense Minister Blaszak reported that Warsaw bought 116 used Abrams plus ammunition.

In a few years, Poland will have the largest tank army in Europe – around 1,100 tanks. That’s more than Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy combined. Will the political weight within the European Union also shift eastward?

In absolute numbers, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which operates the Ukraine aid tracker, Germany is number one in Europe when it comes to aid to Ukraine – ahead of the British. In relative terms, per capita, it is the Baltic States. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas says her country’s goal is to help Ukraine until “the last Russian soldier” has left the country.

Germany is delivering its Patriot air defense system to Poland, and not to Ukraine, as Warsaw had requested. But Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far refused to sell Leopard and Marder tanks to Ukraine. Which does not mean that Germany would not deliver armored weapons to war zones – on the contrary. The federal government has just announced that it will deliver unmanned tank guns – but it will probably be almost three years before they arrive in Ukraine.

Although the USA itself does not deliver any Abrams tanks to the Ukraine, it does not seem to mind that the Federal Republic of Germany is the first country to deliver tanks of western design. Corresponding information from the FAZ has meanwhile been confirmed by the chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann – after talks that she now held in the US Congress. So will Scholz stick to his refusal?

In April, the chancellor warned, dramatically for his temperament, of a nuclear war triggered by Russia. And thus also justified his refusal to supply Ukraine with tanks. But: In the meantime, three of the Chancellor’s central arguments have become obsolete.

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The military-political “game” will start all over again if Ukraine starts systematically attacking Russian military installations from which Russia is waging its genocidal war of aggression.

Attacking military targets in the attacker’s country is permitted under international law of war. Quite different from targeted attacks from civilians, such as Russia carries out and which is why it has now been classified as a “terrorist state” by the European Parliament.