Security expert on Donbass: "Russia is really waging a war of annihilation"

The war in Ukraine has shifted to the east of the country.

Security expert on Donbass: "Russia is really waging a war of annihilation"

The war in Ukraine has shifted to the east of the country. Russia is waging a war of annihilation there. Nevertheless, a victory for Ukraine in this conflict is not unlikely, is the opinion of the guests on the ARD talk show Maischberger.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had imagined things very differently when he launched an attack on Ukraine on February 24. Putin had assumed a blitzkrieg. The war has now lasted almost three months. One end is not foreseen. The war in Ukraine was once again a topic on the ARD program Maischberger. The discussion guests agree on one thing: This war can last for a very long time. Because no party is interested in peace negotiations at the moment.

Security expert Claudia Major can neither estimate how long the war in Ukraine will last nor how it could end. Things are looking bad for Ukraine at the moment because Russia has just made small land gains. But what you can see: "Russia is really waging a war of annihilation." The tactic that Russia is currently using in the area around the city of Luhansk and in the Donbass is total destruction of the region. "There is no consideration for infrastructure, it's really just destruction, an attack without regard for losses."

Major cannot say what the current goal of the Russian army is. For a while it was assumed that the army wanted to unite with the Russian troops in Transnistria. But apparently the army does not have the strength to get there. In any case, Russia still wants to completely annihilate Ukraine. "I think the hope that the Russian army will be limited to the Donbass and Crimea is illusory," says Major. The West has supported Ukraine and must continue to do so: with arms deliveries, financially and with sanctions against Russia.

Nikolaus Blome goes one step further. The political chief of NTV and RTL demands from Maischberger that Chancellor Olaf Scholz must finally define a clear war goal and also plan for the future. "What happens when the front collapses? Would the federal government then supply more and faster heavy weapons, including some from Bundeswehr stocks? One would be able to formulate that if one were to think a little further ahead," says Blome.

CNN reporter Frederik Pleitgen, who also worked for NTV and RTL for a long time, was in Ukraine just a few weeks ago. He has accompanied both the Russian and Ukrainian armies. The Ukrainian soldiers are sure that they will win the war, he says. In Ukraine there is not only a classic army, but also a very significant guerrilla element. In addition, many Ukrainians volunteered for the army, while many Russian soldiers were drafted. The Russians also fought a war like in the 20th century, and with some very old weapons. Pleitgen reports on vehicles that collapse and howitzers that cannot be moved. The Ukrainian soldiers are already well trained, and further training, especially for heavy weapons, is under way. And most of the weapons, which come mainly from the USA, have not yet been used.

Pleitgen sees the situation for the Ukrainian army quite favourably. He explains: In fact, the Ukrainians in Donbass are retreating. But in the Kharkiv region they pushed back the Russians, sometimes across the Russian border." His conclusion: "Ukraine may be able to launch a major offensive in the next few weeks."

Pleitgen is angry about the hesitant arms deliveries from Germany. Because of this, he was often exposed to critical questions in Ukraine, he says. He refers to the discussion about deliveries of Gepard tanks. "Nobody believes the Germans, who buy the best cars in the world, when they say: We supply Cheetah tanks, but we have no idea where to get ammunition from. After all, we are world champions in logistics."

Claudia Major sees it similarly. "The question is how seriously do we take support for Ukraine. And the question is which Europe do we want to live in," she says. The Bundestag decided to supply heavy weapons, and Ukraine now needs artillery, armored vehicles and anti-aircraft defenses to prevent Putin from winning the war.

"Of course, the military isn't the only one," Major concludes at the end. "It's an overall package. But it won't work without the military."