Inspector General of the German Army Eberhard Zorn claims that the Ukrainians are not yet carrying out a real counter-offensive, but only “counter-attacks that can serve to retake places or individual sections of the front, but not to push Russia back on a broad front”.
“I am careful with terms,” explains Zorn, who gave an interview to the German news magazine Focus. In it, he commented on the current situation at the front as well as the German attitude to the supply of weapons.
“Just a fortnight ago, I would have said that the entire Donbas would be in Russian hands within six months,” said Zorn. He added that, in his opinion, the Ukrainian army behaves “smartly, rarely goes on the offensive and conducts operations sovereignly and very mobile”.
In recent days, Ukrainian forces have been reversing gains that Russia has been building for months and that have cost the country many casualties. In particular, they continue to counterattack in the Kharkiv region and have penetrated deep into the territory controlled by Russia. They also achieved success in Luhansk, which, along with Donetsk, is a key Russian war target.
According to the think tank Institute for the Study of War, Ukraine has liberated approximately 9,000 square kilometers of territory since the end of August.
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However, the Inspector General of the German Army points out that the coming winter may bring many difficulties. “It won’t ease the suffering, on the contrary,” the general claims.
Arms deliveries to Ukraine
In the interview, Zorn also highlighted Germany’s previous assistance in the field of arms supplies. “We will support Ukraine as long as necessary,” Zorn claims. However, according to him, Germany should significantly limit arms exports in the future.
“The list is considerable, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Together with the Dutch, we equipped the entire Ukrainian battalion with a 2000 self-propelled howitzer and an MLRS rocket launcher. Both come from our own stock. The last of 30 cheetahs has just been handed over to the Ukrainians (German air defense, note ed.). In addition, we supplied countless vehicles, ammunition and equipment. With the IRIS-T system, we are broadcasting a missile defense system that we ourselves would like to have,” explains Zorn.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced on Thursday that Germany will provide the Ukrainian army with 50 Dingo armored vehicles and two MARS salvo rocket launchers with ammunition.
MARS salvo rocket launchers, as the German army refers to the American M270 MLRS devices, Berlin has already provided Ukraine with three ammunition, according to the government’s list of delivered weapons. Now, according to Lambrechtová, she will add two more with 200 rockets. For the first time ever, Germany will send MRAP armored vehicles to Ukraine, which have enhanced resistance to mines and IEDs. Specifically, Berlin will hand over 50 Dingo vehicles, which are also in service in the Czechia, to the Ukrainian forces.
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A narrow majority of Slovaks would rather welcome the victory of Russia than Ukraine. According to the Slovak website Denník N, this is shown by data from a survey conducted in July on a sample of thousands of people by researchers from the agencies MNFORCE, Seesame and the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
Ukraine also demands armored personnel carriers and Leopard 2 tanks from Germany. So far, the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz is reluctant to supply them. However, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that she proposes to decide as quickly as possible whether Berlin will comply with the Ukrainian request at the level of the government coalition and international allies.
“My advice is to really realize our numbers: Everything we give out, we need back,” Zorn warned against further arms deliveries to Ukraine.
A similar position is taken by Lambrecht, who has previously defended her ministry against accusations that it is not providing Ukraine with the weapons it needs, saying that its primary duty is to ensure that the German military is adequately equipped to defend its country.
According to Zorn, Putin understands only one language, and that is the language of power. “For effective deterrence, we need adequate forces. Our partners rely on us,” the general said, adding that Russia has the means to open another front in another location.
“Kaliningrad, the Baltic Sea, the Finnish border, Georgia, Moldova… the possibilities are many,” Zorn lists possible hotspots. “Putin would have the skills. Although about 60 percent of its ground forces are deployed in the war in Ukraine, the ground forces, and especially the Russian navy and air force, still have unused capacity. If Putin had ordered a general mobilization, he would not have had problems with human resources,” the general adds.
Germany has repeatedly faced criticism from Ukraine for restraint in providing weapons. After the initial hesitation of the German government to send any weapons to the warring Ukraine, Germany supplied the Ukrainian army with equipment, ammunition and anti-aircraft tanks.
It also promised to send weapons worth more than 500 million euros in 2023 to help Ukraine repel a Russian invasion, Deustche Welle reports. However, pressure on Germany increased as Ukraine pushed out Russian troops in a counter-offensive and regained large swaths of territory. Berlin still insists that all arms shipments will be sent in coordination with its close allies.