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Germany's retired Brigadier General Erich Vad. Screenshot from YouTube

Fury erupts over comments of Merkel’s ex-military advisor on Ukraine war

Former military advisor to Chancellor Merkel, retired Brigadier General Erich Vad, has caused a furious reaction from the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andrei Melnyk. Referring to the war in Ukraine, he had said that it had "not been Putin's intention" to take a maternity clinic.

Published: April 16, 2022, 8:17 pm

    “Why would he do that? He is being pilloried around the world for that. As terrible as that is, we had that and the acceptance of thousands of dead civilians in Iraq, in Libya, in Afghanistan as well,” Vad told dpa. So-called collateral damage in Ukraine has even been far less than in Iraq or Afghanistan, he added.

    Vad also warned against denying Kremlin leader Putin humanity and labelling him a pathological despot with whom one could no longer talk. The Ukraine war is part of a chain of comparable recent wars. “Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan – none of this is that new,” said Vad. Nor are the dead civilians in the Ukraine war exceptional.

    “In war, innocent people are killed. That is the way war is. It is unfortunately inherent in the system.” Vad recalled the 2003 Iraq war, saying hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in that war and during the subsequent occupation of the country. “Compared to that, Putin is not out of the ordinary.”

    It is also double-edged to accuse Putin of counting Ukraine and Crimea as part of Russia’s geopolitical sphere of influence. It is then said that this is an obsolete view of the 19th century. “But for the Americans, the Monroe Doctrine still applies today, which says that no intervention by foreign powers will be tolerated on the American continent. And the Caribbean is certainly a sphere of influence too, not just since the Cuban missile crisis.”

    “We are doing a lot of war rhetoric at the moment,” Vad said. “But the road to hell, as we know, is always paved with good intentions. We have to think of the end of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. If we don’t want World War III, sooner or later we have to get out of this military escalation logic and start negotiations.”

    Vad also spoke out in particular against the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine, which is being pushed by the Green Party Foreign Minister Baerbock, for example. Such deliveries are potentially a “path to the third world war”, he said. Apart from that, complex weapon systems such as the Leopard main battle tank or the Marder infantry fighting vehicle could only be operated and used properly after years of training. So they are of no military use to the Ukrainians at present and for the foreseeable future.

    The chances for a negotiated solution are not bad in the light of recent military developments, Vad said. “Both sides could come out of this saving face. The Ukrainians have proven that they have effectively defended their capital Kiev and, moreover, are waging a successful defensive struggle against a superior opponent.” The Russians, in turn, have made some land gains in the east and on the Black Sea coast, he said. “These are not the worst conditions for a ceasefire.”

    At the beginning of March 2022, Vad stated that the Ukrainian troops had no prospect of permanently asserting themselves against the Russian troops. From a military perspective, it makes more sense to “pull the Ukrainian resistance to western Ukraine,” where supplies are easier. Battles for cities like Kiev are purely symbolic. The Russian strategy in Ukraine is to encircle the large urban centers and let many civilians leave. “The Russians go into these cities selectively to neutralize buildings important to the government and military infrastructure.” This is the Russian strategy, which they are taking their time with, he explained.

    The 2019 Ukrainian presidential election confirmed the Russian bent of the population of Kiev-occupied Donbass (45 percent). Candidate Zelenski also held a “Russian-compatible” speech at the time, as was reported by FWM. Integration into the Russian Federation was not viewed as a problem at all.

    Interestingly, in 2019, the RAND Corporation considered it extremely costly for Washington to adopt trade and financial sanctions against Russia. The decision to go ahead with such measures appears more and more like an irrational and desperate act.

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