Russian soldiers hate the United States

Ukraine: Friends wanted


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If war broke out, it would be decided when it broke out. Russia has around a million soldiers under arms, Ukraine only a quarter of them. Russia spends more than thirteen times as much money on military and armaments a year as Ukraine. Russia has the largest tank army in the world with 13,000 vehicles, while Ukraine has barely a fifth of that. And now there may already be over 100,000 Russian soldiers at the Ukrainian border. The nuclear superpower is building up against a Ukraine that voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons in 1994 - incidentally, for the guarantee of its borders by Russia, Great Britain and the USA. It is precisely these limits that are in question for the second time since 2014.

What does the stronger do when he has the weaker in front of him? Old school yard principle: he pushes him into a dark corner and shows his fists. In this case, they correspond to the Russian soldiers around eastern Ukraine. As with the occupation of Crimea in 2014, Russian propaganda speaks of Ukrainian "fascists" and Kievans "provocations".

And what does the weaker one do? He looks around for allies. The deployment of the Russian armed forces has all the prerequisites for a world crisis, and the Ukrainian government is doing everything to ensure that everyone understands this. Your president is on the phone and on the plane, talking to Americans and Europeans. Recently, Volodymyr Selenskyj surprisingly received reinforcements on the Black Sea from a country that many believed to be on the Russian side: Turkey. Russia is trying to resolve the conflict bilaterally - and Ukraine is doing everything in its power to internationalize it. Can this strategy work?

The new US President Joe Biden had put the Ukrainian President off for weeks in the spring. Volodymyr Zelensky was supposed to implement some urgent anti-corruption reforms before he would be honored with a call from the White House. At the beginning of April it was not reforms, but the Russian threatening gestures that persuaded Biden to call Zelenskyi. He promised him full support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine - but he did not say exactly how he would support it. His foreign minister spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart about possible arms deliveries. A NATO membership for Ukraine is also fundamentally an option for the USA. However, they are not doing much about it, because they do not want to import the Donbass conflict with Russia into NATO.

Volodymyr Selenskyj is now calling for precisely that: membership in NATO. To this day, the Ukrainians have not got over the fact that at the NATO summit in 2008 they somehow somehow promised a cloudy prospect of accession, but they did have the necessary prospect membership action plan was denied. And Ukrainians with a long memory know: Angela Merkel played a decisive role in preventing this.

Europeans are much more cautious about Ukraine than the US. The first thing Zelenskyi heard from Paris and Berlin at the beginning of April about the Russian troops on the border was that "both sides should hold back". The equidistance between the stronger and the weaker outraged Ukraine. A telephone conversation between Merkel and Emmanuel Macron and Putin also irritated Zelenskyi, who was not invited. In mid-April, Zelenskyi then demonstratively visited President Macron in Paris, and the Chancellor was digitally connected to the three-way conversation. The French and Germans belatedly added their support for the "integrity and independence of Ukraine within the internationally recognized borders". How exactly, they didn't say either. But the Ukrainians know the means of the Europeans: exhortations to Kiev because of slow reforms, exhortations to the Russians because of support for the separatists, perhaps further sanctions against Moscow and the negotiations in Minsk. These have been in place for six years. Selenskyj is now calling for a four-party summit with Merkel, Macron and Putin. In this situation, nothing could come out of a standstill at the highest level. But apparently nobody in Europe has a better idea.

Surprisingly, the most interesting offers for Ukraine are currently coming from the south. Zelenskyj flew to Istanbul in mid-April. He likes to travel to Turkey, it was his fourth visit since taking office in 2019. President Erdoğan warmly welcomed him to his Bosporus residence and condemned Russia's "annexation of Crimea". He openly supports Ukraine's accession to NATO - more empathically and decisively than the Europeans. Erdoğan does not annoy Zelenskyj with reforms against corruption; He doesn't like to hear that very much himself. Conversely, Ukraine has extradited Turkish opposition members who have fled to Ankara. But Zelenskyi has more plans for Erdoğan.

"Turkey has become a very reliable strategic partner for us," said Deputy Foreign Minister Olga Stefanischyna of ZEIT. "We are in the process of signing a free trade agreement. Above all, however, our armaments and defense industries are working closely together."