According to military historian Sönke Neitzel, Ukraine does not have “all the prerequisites” for the planned counter-offensive in the south of the country. Selenskyj fired the next top official on Monday evening. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.
Tuesday, July 26, 6:17 a.m.: The military historian Sönke Neitzel has dampened Ukrainian hopes for a successful counter-offensive in the south of the country. In an interview with the “Welt” Neitzel said: “The Ukrainians can be quite successful locally. In my opinion, however, all the prerequisites for a large-scale counter-offensive are missing.”
Neitzel explains this as follows: “The quantitative and qualitative superiority does not exist. In addition, it is often forgotten that defending is comparatively easy. Attacking on a large scale is much more difficult and according to all the information I have, the Ukrainian armed forces not only lack the weapons such as modern tanks, more artillery and ammunition, more fighter planes, but also the tactical skills.”
Military expert Carlo Masala agrees with Die Welt: “What Ukraine can only be about are spot-on counter-offensives in the south. Pinpricks in an attempt to thin out the massive concentration of Russian troops in the Donbass, because then troops will have to be sent south to reinforce.”
Masala warns: “It won’t do much to send a million people to the front because you have to train them. In addition, Ukraine does not have enough equipment to conquer territory. It has gadgets to keep the Russians at bay, to wear them down, to destroy things far behind Russian lines.”
Ukraine had recently announced initial successes in the planned reconquest of the occupied Cherson region. “We can say that a turning point has been reached on the battlefield,” Serhiy Khlan of the pro-Kyiv Kherson military administration said in a TV interview on Sunday. “We see our forces advancing openly,” Chlan added.
The Ukrainian troops would switch from the defensive to the counteroffensive. Chlan said that Kherson would be “definitely liberated by September.” Accordingly, the Ukrainians are preparing a ground offensive.
10:00 p.m .: The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj sees a form of Moscow’s “terror” against the West in the further throttling of Russian gas supplies to Europe. “And this is an open gas war that Russia is unleashing against a united Europe,” said Zelenskyy in his evening video message on Monday. Russia is deliberately making it difficult for Europe to prepare for the winter. The country is showing once again that it is not interested in the fate of the people. The country is making people starve due to the blockade of Ukrainian grain exports and suffer from the cold, poverty and occupation.
“These are just different forms of terror,” said Zelenskyj, referring to the announcement by the Russian gas company Gazprom that it would cut supplies through the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 to 20 percent of capacity from Wednesday. Gazprom gave the reason that another gas turbine had to be repaired. For this reason, the current 40 percent output will be further reduced to 33 million cubic meters of gas per day, it said. Nord Stream 1 is Germany’s most important supply pipeline for gas from Russia.
This is another threat for Europe, said Selenskyj. That is why the West must strike back. Instead of thinking about returning the gas turbine that has already been repaired, sanctions against Russia should be further tightened, he said. “Do everything possible to reduce Russia’s revenues not only from gas and oil, but also from other exports that remain,” said Zelenskyy. He warned that any further trade relationship is a “potential means of pressure on Russia”. Russia has long had a reputation for using its gas as a “geopolitical weapon.”
5:27 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismisses Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council Ruslan Demchenko. This emerges from a statement on the website of the Ukrainian President. Demchenko used to be considered Zelensky’s intimate.
As the medium “The Kyiv Independent” writes, Demchenko is said to have campaigned for the signing of the Kharkiv agreements of 2010. These are said to have favored the Russian annexation of Crimea a few years later. The agreement provided Ukraine with a discount on Russian gas. At the same time, the lease for stationing the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea was extended.
11.15 a.m .: Because of problems with arms deliveries via the so-called ring exchange, FDP Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai has shown himself open to direct tank deliveries to Ukraine. If the Ministry of Defense comes to the conclusion that the ring exchange does not work, “from my point of view that is a way to say yes, then it will be delivered directly,” Djir-Sarai said on Deutschlandfunk on Monday.
“This is about concrete support for Ukraine in a crucial phase of the war, and it’s also about Germany’s reputation as a NATO partner,” said Djir-Sarai. It should be investigated very quickly “why the whole thing doesn’t work” and how this can be optimized. If necessary, it should also be said that “this conception of the ring exchange was correct in theory, but unfortunately could not be implemented in practice”.
The foreign policy expert warned that Germany must demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine not just with words, but “in concrete terms with deeds and actions”. Nothing has changed in the balance of power in the Ukraine war – Russia still has a lot of resources. “It is all the more important to continue to support Ukraine at this stage of the war. Time is a very important factor, and in any debate about arms deliveries, it should always be borne in mind that the time component is extremely important.”
The idea of ring exchange arose shortly after the start of the Ukraine war in order to supply the attacked country with heavy weapons. To this end, Eastern NATO partners should provide weapons of Soviet design, which the Ukrainian soldiers can use without additional training, and receive Western makes as replacements from alliance partners such as Germany.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (both Greens) admitted at the weekend that the strategy was not working as planned. After Göring-Eckardt, FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann was also open to direct tank deliveries.
11:06 a.m .: According to British secret services, Russia is also being slowed down in Ukraine by the necessary repairs to a large number of damaged combat vehicles. “Russian commanders continue to face the dilemma of whether to resource the offensive in the east or bolster defenses in the west,” the UK Defense Ministry said in an update on Monday. In addition to the well-known personnel bottlenecks, Moscow also faces challenges in repairing and maintaining thousands of combat vehicles damaged in the war in Ukraine.
On July 18, intelligence services discovered a Russian repair shop about ten kilometers from the Ukrainian border where at least 300 damaged vehicles – including tanks, other armed vehicles and supply trucks – were parked.
Since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine at the end of February, the British government has regularly released intelligence information about its progress. Moscow accuses London of a targeted disinformation campaign.
11.01 a.m .: The Russian aviation industry is losing 19 million passengers in the current year due to the flight bans imposed by Moscow in the wake of the Ukraine war in southern Russia. That is about a fifth of the planned total transport figures, the business newspaper “Vedomosti” reported on Monday, citing the Ministry of Transport.
The aviation industry is one of the sectors hardest hit by the war in Russia. The airspace over Europe and North America is closed to Russia. Western sanctions also ban the supply and maintenance of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, which form the backbone of Russian airlines. Moscow has therefore hastily decided to re-register many machines and stopped air traffic to a number of countries for fear of the jets being confiscated.
In addition, the Russian government has imposed a flight ban over the south of its own country since February due to ongoing hostilities. Eleven airports cannot be served, including those in the Black Sea resorts of Anapa and Gelendzhik and in Simferopol in Crimea, annexed by Russia since 2014. This has serious consequences, especially in the holiday months: In June, the airlines were missing 2.7 million passengers, in July and August there is a risk of a deficit of 3.2 and 3.3 million passengers. The Russian leadership has promised the airlines state aid of 100 billion rubles (1.7 billion euros).
8:57 a.m .: Russia wants to convict more than 200 Ukrainians for crimes against humanity before an international tribunal that has yet to be created. Since the United Nations is dominated by the West, such a tribunal should instead be led by a partner organization of Russia, the head of the Russian investigative committee, Alexander Bastrykin, said in an interview with the state-run newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Monday. According to him, Bolivia, Iran and Syria, among others, have expressed an interest in participating. The International Criminal Court opened an investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine earlier this month.
More than 1,300 criminal proceedings have already been initiated against more than 400 people for crimes against the civilian population in Donbass. In the preliminary investigations, a good 220 people were convicted of crimes against humanity and peace – charges that have not expired. “92 commanders and their subordinates were charged, and 96 others, including 51 Ukrainian officers, were wanted,” Bastrykin reported.
The former college friend of Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin also reported on investigations against Britons, Americans, Canadians, Dutch and Georgians for mercenary activities. They are accused of having fought on the side of Ukraine in the war. The separatists in Donetsk, allied with the Russians, have already sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan to death for this reason. The appeal process is still ongoing. In Russia itself there is a moratorium on the death penalty.
Russia justified the invasion of Ukraine in February with the need to protect the Russian-speaking population, among other things. The Kremlin has named the “liberation” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, only a small part of which was controlled by the separatists before the war, as a war goal.
Monday, July 25, 8:17 a.m.: Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil (both SPD) arrived in Ukraine on Monday for a visit. To start their trip, the SPD politicians visited the war-ravaged city of Irpin. The suburb of the capital, located about 30 kilometers northwest of Kyiv, has now been largely destroyed and resembles a ghost town. Around 50,000 people lived here before the Russian war of aggression against its neighbor five months ago.
As in the nearby suburb of Bucha, serious war crimes are said to have been committed by Russian occupiers in Irpin. At the beginning of May, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) also got a personal impression of the site.
For Faeser and Heil it is the first visit to Ukraine since the beginning of the war. Like other politicians before them, the two traveled by night train from Poland. Meetings are planned with Ukrainian politicians, including Faeser’s counterpart Denys Monastyrskyj, head of civil protection Serhij Kruk, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs Julia Swyrydenko, Minister of Social Affairs Oxana Zholnowytsch and Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
Despite the ongoing fighting in parts of Ukraine, the talks will focus in particular on reconstruction issues. Specifically, for example, how destroyed police stations, fire brigades, rescue services and civil protection in the country can be improved again. At the meeting between Faeser and Monastyrskyj, complex cybersecurity, arms smuggling, mine clearance and the forensic investigation of war crimes are also to be discussed.
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