Staunton, May 2 – Rudiger von Fritsch, who served as German ambassador in Moscow between 2014 and 2020, says that the West should have reacted more seriously to Putin’s attack on Ukraine in 2014, implicitly suggesting that had it done so, the Kremlin leader might have decided not to renew his aggression this year.
In a new book, Turning Point: Putin’s War and Its Consequences (in German; Berlin, 2022), von Fritsch says that at present there are four possibilities as to how the conflict in Ukraine will end (dw.com/ru/smena-jepoh-jeks-posol-frg-i-ego-kniga-o-vojne-rossii-protiv-ukrainy/a-61638382 reposted in newtimes.ru/articles/detail/211973).
The first possibility would be a Ukrainian victory, something that he suggests would be achieved if Ukrainian forces were able to drive Russian troops back to where they were before the expanded invasion began and then open talks about the future status of Crimea and part of the Donbass and Ukraine’s geopolitical position and Russian reparations.
The second possibility, a Russian victory, von Fritsch says, would be if Russia either goes for broke or accepts as a victory the establishment of its own land bridge to Crimea in southeastern Ukraine. That would of course as the events of 2014 did set the stage for future Russian aggression.
The third would be a stalemate in which neither side could defeat the other. Putin might choose to call this a victory, and it is possible that negotiations could then take place, although Ukraine would face a large standing army in the field against it and the burdens of maintaining its own military as well.
And the fourth possibility, the former ambassador says, would involve the use by Russia of tactical nuclear weapons. Calling these weapons “tactical” understates just how destructive they would be: “Present-day tactical nuclear weapons are capable of significantly exceeding the destructive power of the bomb at Hiroshima,” von Fritsch adds.
Such an outcome is less likely because it would lead to both a strengthening of the Western alliance and an increase in its role in Ukraine, things Putin does not want to see.