With the partial mobilization and the threat of a nuclear strike, Kremlin boss Putin has triggered a new level of escalation in the fight against Ukraine and the West. Conflict researcher Andreas Heinemann-Grüder is more convinced than ever: no peace is possible with Putin.

Putin continues coldly. Military setbacks in Ukraine, economic problems in Russia, phone calls with Western leaders like Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently – seemingly nothing can deter him from his course of violence and destruction.

With the partial mobilization of the Russian armed forces, for which up to 300,000 reservists are drafted, and the renewed threat of a nuclear strike (“That’s not a bluff!”), the Kremlin ruler triggered a new level of escalation in his ruthless campaign against Ukraine and the West . The hardliner with a background in the secret service confirmed what experts like the political scientist Andreas Heinemann-Grüder had always feared: no peace is possible with Putin.

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The professor from the International Center for Conflict Studies in Bonn had repeatedly warned the West against giving in to Putin and trying to achieve peace by taking a “cosy course”. In doing so, he clearly opposed the “peace activists” in Germany and other countries who believed or still believe that Putin could be stopped by demands for a “negotiated solution” or “major diplomatic offensives”. Now the expert sees himself – unfortunately – confirmed.

“The partial mobilization and announced annexation should put an end to any illusions that Putin should not be provoked because otherwise he would act irrationally. The West should finally support Ukraine with battle tanks and combat aircraft in recapturing the occupied areas. It’s about victory or defeat, not about ‘a bit of peace’,” Heinemann-Grüder told FOCUS online.

Although the West supports Ukraine militarily and imposes economic sanctions on Russia, European leaders keep trying to get in touch with Putin. At the end of May, Chancellor Scholz and French President Macron had an 80-minute phone call with the Kremlin boss. During the conversation, they urged an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops. A few days ago, Scholz spoke to Putin again and called for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine war. Even if, from the West’s point of view, it makes sense not to let the conversation break, Putin is not impressed by warm words, requests or demands. He remains tough and determined, no matter what Western politicians think and say.

Heinemann-Grüder is convinced: “A peace agreement will no longer be possible with Putin, the regime he represents is structurally incapable of peace.” From his point of view, the only chance of ending the hostilities in Ukraine is the “complete debacle of Russian warfare”. . Putin has no reason to back down as long as he sees himself as a victor militarily. “Putin expects that he will have more staying power in the war of attrition and that first the West and then Ukraine will give up.”

“Anyone who wants to conclude a new pact with Putin will only get more war,” said the political scientist to FOCUS online. Faced with the choice of “retreat or escalation?” Putin opted for the latter. “He had lost the escalation dominance, wants to regain the initiative and is looking for a decisive battle because he will not survive a domestic defeat,” said Heinemann-Grüder. Russia’s partial mobilization is the answer to the Ukrainian offensive. The fiction of a “special operation” is abandoned.

“The war arrives in Russia. Partial mobilization does not make war more popular. The reservists who are torn from family and work do not know what they are fighting and dying for, they are not welcomed as liberators. No one will buy the Russians to be a victim,” said the conflict researcher to FOCUS online.

With the four areas that are to be annexed after sham referendums, Putin has defined the territorial claims for the first time. According to Heinemann-Grüder, the annexed areas would be considered state territory in the Russian understanding, which the Kremlin wants to protect by all means, including the threat of nuclear weapons. Ukrainian attacks on these areas would be counted as an “attack on Russia”.

“After the annexation, a tough terror regime will be established,” the expert is convinced. “Anyone who does not accept the Russian passport will then be considered an extremist or terrorist, will be tortured or put in prison. Russian becomes the official language, schools have to adopt the Russian curriculum. Oppositionists will be handed over to the Russian judiciary: North Korea in Russian.”

The expert recalled that the West had failed with its previous course towards Putin. “Negotiations have been going on with Russia since 2014, the annexation of Crimea was de facto accepted and the Baltic Sea pipeline was built. The result: susceptibility to blackmail instead of interdependence (mutual dependency, the editors). Referring to the war in Ukraine, he said: “Only as a result of a defeat will the regime change, open up and face up to its imperialism, militarism and its culture of violence. Only as a result of a defeat will Russia be accepted back into the European family of nations.”

The conflict researcher is convinced that Putin will continue to test boundaries and cross red lines. He will continue to threaten the West and do everything to increase tensions in Germany. “A world food crisis, exorbitant gas and electricity bills, a global recession, new mass migration and the threat of nuclear war should bring civil war to European cities,” said the expert to FOCUS online. “Russia’s elite exploits every weakness, fear of war and divisions in the West.”

The Bonn professor: “The Russian regime does not think in categories of interdependence, a comparison of interests and the preservation of a peaceful status quo, but follows a zero-sum approach and the Bolshevik motto: Every limit that is not clearly set offers an opportunity to cross it. He urgently warns: “Anyone who agrees to a deal with Putin at the expense of the self-determination rights of Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic States, Moldova or Georgia only increases the likelihood of an escalation of the war.”

It is true that Heinemann-Grüder considers an end to the war to be conceivable. “But only if Putin has no other choice and international security guarantees for Ukraine are robust.”