Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts

16 August 2022

The U.S. Army's Next War Has Already Begun

Christopher D. Booth

The U.S. Army’s most important focus should be to understand how it is most likely to be used and in which environments. Throughout its history, the Army has regularly engaged in small wars and will likely continue to do so. David Kilcullen offers a compelling argument that most conflicts will occur in highly-networked mega-cities located on the littorals, many of which will be “feral cities.” Intervention in these spaces may be undertaken for various reasons ranging from humanitarian aid to peacekeeping to counter-insurgency, and involve low-to-medium intensity conflict. The Army must therefore prepare for what former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Charles C. Krulak described as the “Three Block War scenario. Fighting in open terrain is a historical anomaly common only to the past several centuries; instead, siege warfare and wars in cities have been the norm, to which modern war may be returning. Before becoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley predicted that the Army would likely have to fight in urban areas. As a result, it needed to change how it organized, trained, and equipped itself as it was not postured for this mission.

15 August 2022

Will an Attack on Crimea Change the Course of the Ukraine War?

Emma Ashford and Matthew Kroenig

Emma Ashford: Good morning, Matt! Are you enjoying the dog days of summer?

Matthew Kroenig: Like many Washingtonians, I am doing my best to avoid the swamp this month. I am currently in La Jolla, California—technically for work, but I hope to make it to the beach at some point.

Although you and I generally take a different approach to foreign policy, I suspect you were also savvy enough to escape the city this month?

EA: I tried, but it’s heating up everywhere: including in Crimea, once a favorite summer vacation spot for Soviet elites and now a conquered territory and a springboard that helps Russia sustain its intervention in Ukraine.

In fact, it is so hot that things are going boom. Reports are saying that Ukrainian special forces are responsible for the massive explosion in Crimea that took out a Russian airfield. It marks a significant escalation in the war: Thus far, the Ukrainians haven’t really been able to stage attacks that far behind Russian lines.

How Putin’s Ukraine War Has Only Made Russia More Reliant on China

THOMAS LOW and PETER W. SINGER

Just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Sino-Russian strategic cooperation has no end limits, no forbidden areas, and no upper bound.

In the months following, however, Russia learned that the rhetoric does not match reality. While the wave of global sanctions on Putin’s regime and allied oligarchs have seemingly strengthened political, economic, and military ties between the two countries, the real strategic effect for Russia has been increasing reliance on China. And Chinese Communist Party leaders have shown no qualms about using this growing dependence to their advantage. China has increasingly dictated the direction of the partnership and squeezed more concessions from the Russians, hiking up prices and walking a diplomatic tightrope with Western nations from which it can’t afford to commercially detach. Rather than making Russia great again, as hoped, President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has instead deepened Russia’s position as the clear junior partner in the Sino-Russian relationship, militarily and economically.

Will Russia Run Out of Precision-Guided Munitions?

Kris Osborn

The Russian military is increasingly unable to acquire the technology needed to replenish its stockpile of precision weaponry of crucial importance to their continued advances in eastern Ukraine.

For months, there have been reports that Russia’s arsenal of precision weaponry has been running low. At the same time, the Russian military has also been willing to fire unguided munitions indiscriminately into civilian areas, killing families, children, and non-combatants.

Nevertheless, any kind of sustained offensive will certainly need precision weaponry to attack defensive positions, command and control nodes, and troop locations. Previously, Russian forces were reported to be running low due to the sheer amount of munitions, rockets, and missiles they had been firing. Yet, Pentagon leaders now say that sanctions are increasingly impairing Russia’s ability to replenish its stockpile of precision weapons. Many of these rely upon advanced technology such as GPS signals, inertial measurement units, and other kinds of guidance systems.

More Than Missiles: How Russia Took 80,000 Casualties in Ukraine

Kris Osborn

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog,” former CIA acting director John McGlaughlin told CNN when he was asked about Ukraine’s early successes in repelling Russian invaders. At the time, there were clear, if surprising, reports of Russian failures, tactical missteps, logistical complications, supply problems, and a clear inability to successfully close in on Kyiv. But while many reasons explain Ukraine’s unanticipated successes and ability to capture the world’s imagination, one thing is clear: the invading Russians lacked the “will” to fight.

This makes sense, to some extent; many Russian soldiers were reportedly told they were on a training mission. Yet the Russian morale problems were even larger than some expected. There were numerous anecdotal reports that Russian soldiers lacked food, supplies, and any kind of coherent command and control. Also, just what exactly were the Russian soldiers expected to want to fight for?

It’s an artillery war, but Ukraine still kills tanks with Javelins

Isabelle Khurshudyan

NEAR IZYUM, Ukraine — It turns out, some Ukrainian soldiers discovered, that Javelin cases make great beds. The U.S.-made antitank missiles are packed in large, black rectangular capsules — perfect for elevating a slim cot off the dirty, cold floors of front-line positions.

“Make sure you mention they’re empty,” said a soldier, showing off the makeshift beds. “The last thing we need is Americans thinking they’re sending us Javelins just so we can sleep on them.”

It’s the opposite, actually: The 93rd Mechanized Brigade had fired so many Javelins at Russian tanks that they needed something to do with the pile of empty cases.

Germany’s Ukraine Problem Europe’s Largest Country Needs Time to Adjust to a Dangerous New World

Wolfgang Ischinger

In late July 2022, it emerged that Germany’s plan to help its eastern European allies arm Ukraine had made little progress. According to the scheme, countries such as Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era weaponry from their armed forces; in turn, Germany would transfer its own Western-made equipment to replenish the stock of those countries. Yet despite months of talks, no such transfers of German weapons have been made.

This was not the first example of Berlin having difficulties carrying out its promises on Ukraine. In early spring, Germany pledged to provide heavy weapons directly to Kyiv, but as late as July, only a few such weapons had been delivered. For policymakers in Washington and Brussels, the pattern has become something of a running theme in discussions about the German government: promises followed by foot-dragging. The delayed action is especially concerning since Germany already suffers a deficit of trust among many European allies for its close energy relationship with Moscow, and in particular for refusing to suspend the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project until just days before the Russian invasion began. Instead of providing strong foundations for European action, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has often seemed to be struggling to catch up to his more resolute peers.

The Case Against a New Arms Race

Rose Gottemoeller

As Russian President Vladimir Putin marched his army into Ukraine on February 24, he issued dire warnings to the West. Any state that sent its troops to fight Russia, he said, would face “ominous consequences”—the likes of which the world has “never seen in [its] entire history.” His country was ready to act and had made “the necessary decisions” to respond if attacked. “I hope that my words will be heard,” he declared.

Putin didn’t explicitly state what those consequences would be, or what attacks he had in mind. But to anyone listening, the message was clear enough. If the West directly intervened in Ukraine, Russia would use its nuclear arsenal.

Putin’s invocation of nuclear war has reignited debates about deterrence and the utility of nuclear weapons. It has led Admiral Charles Richard, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command responsible for nuclear deterrence, to argue that the United States may need more nuclear weapons to deter and defend against Russia and also China, which are both modernizing their nuclear forces. “We do not necessarily have to match weapon for weapon,” he said in March. “But it is clear what we have today is the absolute minimum.” Proponents of a nuclear buildup point out that in the coming years, China could rapidly acquire more nuclear weapons, or that Iran, a newcomer, could develop and deploy them for the first time. The United States, the argument runs, risks weakening its own security if it doesn’t amass a larger nuclear arsenal to maintain its advantage over rivals.

14 August 2022

Exclusive: U.S. readies new $1 billion Ukraine weapons package

Idrees Ali and Mike Stone

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - (This Aug 5 story adds dropped word in paragraph 9.)

The Biden administration's next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to be $1 billion, one of the largest so far, and include munitions for long-range weapons and armored medical transport vehicles, three sources briefed on the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The package is expected to be announced as early as Monday and would add to about $8.8 billion in aid the United States has given Ukraine since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that President Joe Biden had not yet signed the next weapons package. They cautioned that weapons packages can change in value and content before they are signed.

The Strategic Importance Of Snake Island In Past And Present

Matija Šerić

On February 24, 2022, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops occupied Snake Island, a small but strategically important position in the Black Sea about 140 km south of Odessa. The 13 Ukrainian soldiers stationed there bravely repelled the Russian attacks twice, but they could not continue the fight because they ran out of ammunition. Photos and audio recordings of Ukrainian defenders defying Russian attackers have gone viral. Ukraine celebrated the story with patriotic fervor, issuing a commemorative postage stamp. All the defenders were believed to have died and were posthumously honored by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, however it was later reported that they had survived and were in captivity. When Ukraine regained control of Snake Island on June 30, it marked a huge and much-needed morale boost for Ukrainian soldiers.

Snake Island is a key strategic point of Ukraine in the Black Sea. The reason is the proximity of Romania (a member of NATO) and the fact that it is located on the edge of Ukrainian territorial waters in the Black Sea. The island has an X shape, an area of ​​0.205 square km. The highest point on the island is 41 meters above sea level. The island does not have a prominent mountain, but rather a hilly area with low slopes. Despite its small size, the American think tank Atlantic Council concluded that Snake Island is “the key to Ukraine’s maritime territorial claims”. The rocky islet is located 35 km southwest of the mainland of Ukraine, east of the Danube delta. It has strategic value for controlling the northwestern Black Sea, Ukrainian coastal cities and shipping routes that form an important part of the global grain supply chain.

Gas wars: How Putin sent EU energy prices rocketing

AMERICA HERNANDEZ

Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted most of the EU to wake up to the danger of depending on the Kremlin for its natural gas.

But moving away from Russian gas, which last year accounted for 40 percent of EU demand, is a painful process — and Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't pulling any punches.

Even before the invasion of Ukraine, his state-backed export monopoly Gazprom slowly began selling less natural gas to European buyers, draining storage and slowing pipeline flows to a trickle.

Those supply changes — coupled with Putin's bombastic statements, false promises and periodic jokes at Brussels' expense — caused energy prices to spike, plunge, recover and dip again, as anxious traders tried to predict how much gas they could count on come winter.

Europe’s Energy Crisis May Get a Lot Worse

David Wallace-Wells

I don’t think many Americans appreciate just how tense and tenuous, how very touch and go the energy situation in Europe is right now.

For months, as news of the Ukraine war receded a bit, it was possible to follow the energy story unfolding across the Atlantic and still assume an uncomfortable but familiar-enough winter in Europe, characterized primarily by high prices.

In recent weeks, the prospects have begun to look darker. In early August the European Union approved a request that member states reduce gas consumption by 15 percent — quite a large request and one that several initially balked at. In Spain, facing record-breaking heat wave after record-breaking heat wave at the height of the country’s tourist season, the government announced restrictions on commercial air-conditioning, which may not be set below 27 degrees Celsius, or about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, an Associated Press article said, “urban guerrillas” are taking to the streets, shutting off storefront lights to reduce energy consumption. In the Netherlands a campaign called Flip the Switch is asking residents to limit showers to five minutes and to drop air-conditioning and clothes dryers entirely. Belgium has reversed plans to retire nuclear power plants, and Germany, having ruled out the possibility of such a turnabout in June, is now considering it as well.

Liz Truss Is Ready to Flex London’s Muscles Abroad

Ben Judah

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is on the verge of becoming Britain’s next prime minister. Truss’s political journey has been a tangled one. A former student Liberal Democrat, anti-monarchist, and campaigner for legalized cannabis, she became a David Cameron loyalist and firm Remainer in the Brexit campaign. A disastrous speech on pork in 2014 got her widely mocked. But now the much-photographed face of the post-Brexit foreign policy that the government dubs “Global Britain” is not only endorsed by the hard-right Daily Mail but seen by the most radical Leavers as a champion of their cause.

It would be easy to make one of two mistakes about Truss: either she doesn’t believe in anything or she believes everything she’s saying at any one time. But, according to Westminster sources I spoke to, she’s a more complicated mix of chameleon politics over a solid framework of belief—especially on geopolitics.

As foreign secretary, her worldview has been deeply shaped by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Truss would be the continuity-plus candidate for the foreign policy promoted by outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson—and extremely active in promoting it. She was fully behind Johnson as he embraced a form of muscular Atlanticism toward Russia and China: sending heavy weapons to Ukraine early on, positioning London as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s closest partner, heartily increasing U.K. defense spending, standing up for Hong Kong with a generous visa offer, and seeking to bolster Britain’s role in the Indo-Pacific with the AUKUS pact, in partnership with the United States and Australia, while beginning to disentangle the U.K. from Beijing on sensitive matters such as Huawei’s 5G technology.

Spotlight on Russia’s Attack on a Ukrainian Marine Gas Turbine Supplier

Cynthia Cook, LinkedIn Joseph S. Bermudez Jr and Jennifer Jun

On March 13, 2022, the Russian military attacked the Zorya-Mashproekt gas turbine complex in southern Ukraine, a complex that once supplied engines to the Russian navy. This strike represented the coup de grace and final indicator of the end of Russia’s longstanding dependence on the key industrial capacity of Ukraine. The strike also offers evidence of continuing Russian efforts to reduce dependence on Western suppliers and develop domestic capabilities. This decoupling may be a bellwether for how Russia and other states act in future conflicts—namely, reducing dependencies where countries want to mitigate risks in case of armed conflict. If Russia or other states have moved to onshoring acquiring capabilities from other countries, this could signal their plans for strategic realignment through force or other coercive methods.

13 August 2022

How Russia Took Over Ukraine’s Internet in Occupied Territories

Adam Satariano andScott Reinhard

Several weeks after taking over Ukraine’s southern port city of Kherson, Russian soldiers arrived at the offices of local internet service providers and ordered them to give up control of their networks.

“They came to them and put guns to their head and just said, ‘Do this,’” said Maxim Smelyanets, who owns an internet provider that operates in the area and is based in Kyiv. “They did that step by step for each company.”

Russian authorities then rerouted mobile and internet data from Kherson through Russian networks, government and industry officials said. They blocked access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as to Ukrainian news websites and other sources of independent information. Then they shut off Ukrainian cellular networks, forcing Kherson’s residents to use Russian mobile service providers instead.

Ukraine Live Briefing: Russia ‘cannot feel safe in Crimea’ after air base blasts

Adela Suliman, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kendra Nichols

A deadly strike on a Russian air base in occupied Crimea was carried out by Ukrainian special forces, a Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

In central Ukraine, at least 13 people were killed when Russian strikes hit Dnipropetrovsk overnight, local officials said.

Key developments

Tuesday’s airfield explosion in Crimea was the work of Ukrainian special forces, a Ukrainian official told The Post. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and confirmed Ukraine’s role on the condition of anonymity, did not disclose details of how the attack was carried out. The Ukrainian air force said in a separate statement that nine Russian aircraft were destroyed in the blast, without any claim of responsibility. The attack reportedly killed one person and injured at least 13, including two children.

A Ukrainian attack in Crimea would mark a dramatic escalation in the war. It would demonstrate a remarkable ability by Ukrainian forces, or their allies, to strike at Russia far from the front lines. Russia said the blast at the air base was caused by an ammunition explosion. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ukrainian forces apparently had carried out the strike but did not use a weapon provided by the United States.

A day after the attack Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the end of the war “directly depends on the question of the losses that Russia will suffer. The more losses the occupiers suffer, the sooner we will be able to liberate our land and guarantee Ukraine’s security.”

The Russian TV journalist who staged an on-air protest in March faces criminal charges for allegedly spreading fake information about Russia’s armed forces, her lawyer said. Marina Ovsyannikova was detained and her home was raided, the lawyer wrote, adding that the charges relate to a photograph she posted holding up an antiwar poster on July 15. “More than 350 children died in Ukraine, are these fake?” she wrote in a Wednesday post detailing the house search.

Battlefield updates

Pro-Russian separatists accused Ukrainian forces of shelling an industrial site in Donetsk, which led to an ammonia leak and fire. One person died and two people were injured, the Russian group said. Residents within two kilometers were warned to stay inside, away from the irritant.

The Donetsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office has opened up an investigation into Wednesday blasts in Bakhmut, Donetsk. According to the office, seven were killed and six injured by Russian shelling and land mines Wednesday. The Donetsk emergency services ministry reiterated a mandatory evacuation call for civilians. By what it called the autumn-winter period, no more than 235,000 people — working in defense and critical infrastructure — should remain in the region. In late February, 1.67 million people lived in Donetsk, according to the Kyiv Post.

Tuesday’s Crimea strike demonstrated to the Russians that “they are not invincible anywhere,” said Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian defense minister who is now chairman of Ukraine’s Center for Defense Strategies, an independent think tank. “Most importantly, they cannot feel safe in Crimea. They thought they were safe in Crimea, and they thought they were safe at long-range distance.”

Russia has “almost certainly established a major new ground forces formation,” dubbed the 3rd Army Corps, to fight in Ukraine, made up of volunteer male troops up to 50 years old and incentivized with cash bonuses, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday in a daily intelligence update. However, it said the new formation is “unlikely to be decisive to the campaign,” given “very limited levels of popular enthusiasm for volunteering for combat in Ukraine.”

Overnight Russian strikes in Dnipropetrovsk killed at least 13 people and destroyed more than 20 buildings in the Nikopol district in central Ukraine, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. According to Reuters, Ukraine accused Russia of exploiting its position and control over the Zaporizhzhia power plant to target neighboring Dnipropetrovsk.

Global impactReturn to menu
Mali’s interim leader, Assimi Goïta, thanked Putin in a phone call for Russia’s “multifaceted support,” according to a Kremlin readout. The two agreed to further step up coordination and discussed possible Russian deliveries to Mali of fuel, food and fertilizer. Putin also expressed hope that a 2023 Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg would “help promote traditional friendship with all African states.” U.S. officials have raised concerns about Russia’s profile in volatile parts of the continent, including mercenary outfit Wagner Group’s activities in Mali.

Hundreds in the Bulgarian capital protested against Russian energy giant Gazprom. The demonstrators vocalized fears that the caretaker government — in place after a pro-Western government collapsed in June — may revert to a Russia-friendly energy stance. “We refuse to be dependent on Gazprom and finance Putin’s outrageous war!” one banner read, reported the AP.

The United States “would not want to implement a total ban on all Russians,” a U.S. official told The Post’s Daily 202. A total travel ban would mean denying entry to Russian dissidents and those who have criticized the war, as well as those who are persecuted for politics or sexual orientation, the official said. In an interview with The Post this week, Zelensky called on Western countries to ban all Russian travelers, comments quickly condemned by Russia.

In an interview with Russian-state media, China’s ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui calls the United States “the architect and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis,” comparing Washington’s approach in Ukraine to its support for the self-governing island of Taiwan.

The Group of Seven countries demanded Wednesday that Russia return control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia to Ukraine. In a joint statement, the G-7, which includes the United States, also expressed support for a visit to the plant by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, after recent nearby shelling raised fears of a crisis at the facility.

From our correspondents

In the Ukraine war, a battle for the nation’s mineral and energy wealth: After nearly six months of fighting, Moscow’s sloppy war has yielded at least one big reward: expanded control over some of the most mineral-rich lands in Europe. Ukraine harbors some of the world’s largest reserves of titanium and iron ore, fields of untapped lithium, and massive deposits of coal. Collectively, they are worth tens of trillions of dollars.

The lion’s share of those coal deposits, which for decades have powered Ukraine’s critical steel industry, are concentrated in the east, where Moscow has made the most inroads. That’s put them in Russian hands, along with significant amounts of other valuable energy and mineral deposits used for everything from aircraft parts to smartphones, according to an analysis for The Post.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict Holds Cyberwar Lessons

Robert Lemos

The online attacks against infrastructure and information operations used by both sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine fulfill the definition of cyberwar and hold lessons for governments and companies, two researchers plan to say this week at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas.

Cyberattacks preceding Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022 — and ongoing operations since the initial push into eastern Ukraine — qualify as cyberwar because they involve state-sponsored actors, use tactics designed to support Russia's objectives, and focus on specific targets and motivations, says Tom Hegel, a senior threat researcher at threat intelligence firm SentinelOne, who will present the research at the conference. The threat actors aimed to support the overall war effort, in the case of Russia-linked actors, or the support for Ukraine's defense, in the case of Ukraine-linked actors, he says.

In their Wednesday, Aug. 10, presentation, "Real 'Cyber War': Espionage, DDoS, Leaks, and Wipers in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine," Hegel and colleague Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade plan to outline how attackers have used seven different families of malware and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks to attack everything from telecommunications infrastructure to oil and gas firms.

What’s up with Amnesty International and its moral myopia on Ukraine?

Max Boot

In February, Amnesty International, one of the world’s premier human rights organizations, removed the status of “prisoner of conscience” from Alexei Navalny, arguably the world’s most famous political prisoner. Amnesty apparently acted in response to a coordinated pressure campaign by pro-Russian trolls pointing out that Navalny, a fearless critic of Vladimir Putin, had once echoed some Russian nationalist views. In May, the organization backtracked, redesignating Navalny a “prisoner of conscience” and apologizing for taking the label away.

Yet Amnesty International seems to have learned nothing from what should have been a chastening experience. It is still exhibiting a bewildering and unconscionable bias against Putin’s enemies. On Thursday, the organization issued a morally myopic statement accusing Ukrainian forces of “violating the laws of war” by “establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals.”

The Russians, who have launched an unprovoked war of aggression, were predictably delighted — and the Ukrainians, who are fighting to save their country from a merciless and bloodthirsty foe, just as predictably dismayed.

12 August 2022

China’s New Vassal

Alexander Gabuev

The war in Ukraine has cut Russia off from much of the Western world. Barraged by sanctions, denounced in international media, and ostracized from global cultural events, Russians are feeling increasingly alone. But the Kremlin can rely on at least one major pillar of support: China. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has forced Russia to turn to its fellow Eurasian giant, hat in hand.

In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union viewed China—at least until the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s—as a poorer cousin, a country to be steered and helped along in its fitful progress toward respectability. Decades later, the tables have turned decisively. China has for some time boasted a more robust and dynamic economy, greater technological prowess, and more global political and economic clout than Russia. That asymmetry is destined to become only more pronounced in the coming years as Putin’s regime depends on Beijing for its survival. China will likely gobble up more of Russia’s overall trade. It will become an essential market for Russian exports (notably natural resources) while Russian consumers will increasingly rely on Chinese goods. And it will take advantage of Russia’s predicament to assert the renminbi as both a dominant regional and major international currency.

It’s Time for Olaf Scholz to Walk His Talk

Lukas Paul Schmelter and Bastian Matteo Scianna

On Feb. 27, visibly shocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three days earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stepped before an emergency session of the German Bundestag in Berlin and gave his now-famous Zeitenwende speech—outlining a “change of era” in German defense policy. In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression, Scholz promised a decisive break with Germany’s negligence of military defense and passive attitude toward foreign affairs. Scholz pledged to spend more than 2 percent of GDP on defense annually “from now on,” provide an emergency fund of 100 billion euros (around $110 billion) to facilitate this increase, and to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine in a reversal of long-standing German arms export policies.

The speech was immediately lauded as a historic milestone—not just in Berlin, but also in Washington and other NATO capitals, where the absence of any serious German defense policy has been lamented for years. In a curious way, Scholz’s thunderclap of a speech has established a narrative about a newly sober, serious Germany finally taking some responsibility for European security. The problem with this narrative is that there remains a rather large gap between Scholz’s Zeitenwende rhetoric and Germany’s policies since then.