The Russian reaction to Western arms deliveries is cautious. Behind this is apparently a change of strategy by President Putin. He wants to make Ukraine look weak by preferring to emphasize Russia’s strength.
After the federal government announced the delivery of armored personnel carriers and a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine on Thursday, Russia accused the federal government of dangerously escalating the Ukraine war. The Russian embassy in Berlin announced that the federal government had crossed a “moral line” that it shouldn’t have crossed.
In view of the concern of a further escalation and a possible direct confrontation between Russia and NATO, the reaction is rather cautious. The wording does not cause concern in the Chancellery.
Russian officials and military bloggers also failed to respond to the announcement by the United States that it would provide Ukraine with new military aid totaling $3.75 billion. The US think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) explains why Putin is silent.
The ISW concludes from the lack of reactions that President Putin has changed his strategy. Instead of constantly reacting to arms deliveries with new levels of escalation, the Kremlin prefers to deal with its own propaganda and the effects of the new situation on Russian operations.
In addition, there is a calculation behind verbally downplaying the Western arms deliveries and instead emphasizing one’s own strength: According to the ISW, Putin wants to make it clear to the West that Ukraine is weak despite the deliveries and that he is not impressed by the aid. And with that, Putin wants to ensure that support from the West crumbles.
The ISW believes that Putin will use Western military aid for his propaganda in the future. Accordingly, Putin selects which arms deliveries or aid could create the image of a weak Ukraine.
With the restrained reaction, Russia is taking a different course than at the beginning of the war. In the past, Putin has repeatedly warned the West against a “rapid response” from Russia should the West become too meddlesome. Threats regarding the use of nuclear weapons were also made.
The ISW comes to the conclusion that this time may be over. According to the US think tank, this observation should be included in the Western discussion about supplying Ukraine with Western weapons.
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