Ukraine talk at Lanz: Neitzel: “This is just the end of the beginning”

Ukraine talk at Lanz
Neitzel: “This is just the end of the beginning”

By Marko Schlichting

Military historian Sönke Neitzel would like more arms deliveries from Germany to Ukraine. He currently sees no scope for a diplomatic solution with Russia. The war is just in the first phase, he says to Lanz.

According to military historian Sönke Neitzel, the “turning point” speech that Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave three days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine was one of the best that had been given in Germany to date. Alone, he misses the actions that should follow the speech. Germany is still delivering too few weapons to the war zone, he criticizes Markus Lanz on ZDF. “Particularly when it comes to ammunition production, one gets the impression that the government hasn’t heard the shot yet,” said Neitzel. Things are slowly moving in the right direction, “But this country can do more.”

Neitzel sees part of the problem in the administrative apparatus. “We are geared towards peace and our government is an administrative system,” said the military historian. For example, since the end of the Cold War, the number of jobs in the Ministry of Defense has increased by 40 percent. Germany has more generals than in the Cold War, although the strength of the troops has dropped significantly. “We need ministers to say: I’m reforming it, I’m going to smash it now, and everyone will follow me. We have to put more pressure on the boiler.”

Neitzel is a historian specializing in military history. He has been teaching at the Historical Institute of the University of Potsdam since 2015. He is the only professor of military history in Germany.

“Germany is a dwarf in terms of security policy”

According to Neitzel, the war in Ukraine is at the end of the first phase. “For all we know, this is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning,” he quotes Winston Churchill as saying. The danger of Ukraine being occupied by Russia no longer exists. But Russia is playing for time. The morale of the Ukrainian army is very high, says Neitzel, “but I would ask myself whether they will manage to force the Russians out of their territory. In any case, nothing will work without Western help.” Russia has a military problem: they have underperformed, says Neitzel. Now they would have to use Iranian kamikaze drones. This is a sign of Russian weakness. “It’s the same as when the United States orders its weapons from Amazon,” scoffs the scientist. The drones are cheap, they don’t always work, but the Russian army saves on high-tech material.

The task now is to shape the war in Ukraine in a positive way. Neitzel currently sees no scope for diplomacy. “And one thing must also be clear: Germany is not involved in negotiations anyway.” In terms of military policy, Germany is a dwarf, he says. “If Ukraine had had to rely on Germany, it wouldn’t exist anymore.”

Above all, the USA had supported Ukraine in the war, which is why they would later want to help shape the peace.

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