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俄烏戰爭現況:開欄文
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烏克蘭的春季攻勢」蛻化為「夏季攻勢」後,明顯地陷入膠著;沒有什麼值得寫封家書來匯報的進展。以下轉載兩篇「戰況評估」。我存檔備查;看官們請自行參考。

第一篇號稱是分別從普丁和澤倫斯基兩位的角度(佔有)領土心理、以及軍事三個層面所做的分析。

第二篇是布林肯國務卿的評估。我相信政治作用含量應該超標,可信度自然必須打個折扣。何況,自鮑爾之後,「美國國務卿會說謊」是討論政治的人不得不常記於心的教訓。

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《NATO會員國出兵烏克蘭》小評
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俄烏戰爭初期和中期,憑藉優勢火力,加上俄軍指揮官無能和士兵缺乏訓練,烏軍得以在戰場上取得贏面。隨著戰事的延續,人力成了決定勝負的關鍵因素。俄、烏兩軍對壘的形勢開始逆轉。

當馬克洪總統提出「兵力支援烏克蘭」的構想時,我相信「歐洲集體安全議題」是他最重要的考量(本欄2024/03/19貼文)。面對俄軍新一波「人海戰術」攻勢,以及烏軍傷亡慘重,人力不足的困境,在軍火之外,對烏克蘭提供「人力支援」,是避免烏軍全面潰敗的唯一方法。

NATO
會員國派出「顧問」和「技術/訓練人員」,只不過是出兵烏克蘭的一個過場或先聲。布萊恩先生這一部分的分析可謂一語中的(請見本欄上一篇貼文)

如果烏軍全面潰敗,其它和俄國接壤的NATO會員國勢必風聲鶴唳,寢食難安;「骨牌效應」將從陰影成為災禍。因此,要避免第三次歐戰或第三次世界大戰,NATO會員國出兵烏克蘭勢在必行。從而,我對布萊恩先生大作中最後的結論甚不以為然

If the Russians are successful, a bigger war in Europe
will be avoided. If not, with the introduction of US forces, Europe will be plunged into World War III.

我認為和平從備戰開始」並非亙古不易的「真理」不過,當面對普丁領導下的俄國,它確確實實是個顛撲不破的硬道理。

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NATO會員國出兵烏克蘭 –---- Stephen Bryen
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請參見本欄下一篇對此文的《小評》。


NATO starts deploying troops as Russia races to win

The plan to try and ward off disaster seems to be to fill in gaps in Ukraine’s forces by importing ‘advisors

STEPHEN BRYEN, 04/26/24

NATO is starting to deploy combat troops to Ukraine. Soldiers from Poland, France, the UK, Finland and other NATO members are arriving in larger numbers.

Although Russia says there are over 3,100 mercenaries in Ukraine, these newly arriving troops are not mercenaries. They are in uniform, home country proclaimed via insignia. They mostly are concentrated in the western part of the country, although in some cases they are close to the actual fighting in the east.

NATO is putting out the word these are not combat soldiers but are in Ukraine to operate sophisticated western hardware. But if they are firing at the Russians the only proper way to interpret their presence is that they are playing an active part in the shooting war.

More or less this is the same pattern that the US used when it sent “advisors” to Vietnam. In fact, they were US Special Forces who engaged in combat.

The Biden administration, at least for public consumption, says it opposes sending NATO soldiers to Ukraine. But Biden in truth may be waiting for his reelection before he gives the order for US soldiers to fight in Ukraine. After Biden is reelected, he will have a free hand. The recent passage of the $60 billion air bill for Ukraine signals that Congress will go along with whatever the Biden administration wants to do “fighting the Russians.”

The national security establishment fears a Russian victory in Ukraine. It would constitute a major setback in America’s security strategy and would be a blow, even a fatal one, to NATO.

Reportedly the Russian army is now 15% bigger than it was before the Ukraine war. It is also far more experienced, and the Russians have found ways to deal with US high tech systems, such as jamming and spoofing.

Meanwhile NATO is far behind Russia in weapons, manpower and industrial might. Furthermore, stockpiles of weapons are very low and equipment supposedly for national defense has been sent to Ukraine, leaving defenses wanting.

The consensus opinion in the US National Security establishment is that Ukraine is losing its war with the Russians and could potentially face the collapse of its army.

There already are reports that some brigades in the Ukrainian armed forces refused orders from their commanders. Those include the 25th Airborne Assault Brigade; the 115th Brigade; the 67th Mechanized Brigade (which abandoned positions in Chasiv Yar) and the 47th Mechanized (which demanded rotation after more than a year on the front lines). These are top Army brigades and not territorial defense units.

The Russians know what is going on and they are targeting foreign forces while also grinding down Ukrainian fighting units, inflicting heavy casualties. The Russians say Ukraine has already lost almost 500,000 troops in the war, and the numbers destroyed in combat grow on a daily basis.

Ukraine is desperate to find new recruits, and it is getting some help from countries where Ukrainian draft-age refugees are hiding out. Lithuania is planning to send Ukrainian draft-age men home. So is Poland.

A report on training of Ukrainian F-16 pilots also is revealing. According to some of the western officers working with the Ukrainians, progress even after a year teaching pilots to operate F-16s has been less than a success. Language barriers and unfamiliarity with western systems and combat tactics, has proven to slow the learning process. Rumors have it that when the F-16s finally begin arriving in Ukraine this summer, the planes are likely to be handled by “retired” pilots from European air forces.

NATO’s plan to try and ward off disaster seems to be to fill in gaps in Ukraine’s forces by importing “advisers,” waiting for the US to commit its army to the battle after the election in November. The Russians know this and are in a race to try and collapse Ukraine’s army before Biden returns to office, if in fact he does. If the Russians are successful, a bigger war in Europe will be avoided. If not, with the introduction of US forces, Europe will be plunged into World War III.


Stephen Bryen served as staff director of the Near East Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as a deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.

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馬克洪改變立場的原因:歐洲安全和歷史定位
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0.  前言

英國廣播公司》的評論主要以「國內政情」來解釋:法國總統馬克洪在俄烏戰爭議題上,從鴿派轉變為鷹派的原因(本欄03/18第一篇貼文)。《每日電訊報》則在「國內政情」外,更著重法、德兩國領袖在歐洲政壇「爭戰略一哥」地位(本欄03/18第二篇貼文)。此議題也請參看本欄02/2903/07兩篇貼文。我略表淺見如下。

這些記者們或「據實報導」,或「言不及義」。我不是說:以上兩個「因素」不是馬克洪改變立場的因素;而是說:一個更重要的「因素」沒有被提出來公開和正式討論;它僅僅被暗示或一筆帶過。我指的是:歐洲集體安全議題。

1. 
歐洲安全

因為具有人力優勢以及烏軍後勤難以為繼(人員和軍備),俄軍在戰場上反敗為勝,再度展開攻勢。普丁則在一度灰頭土臉後,又變成活龍一尾開始蹦達。

師老無功,歐、美一般民眾對繼續支持烏克蘭自然興趣缺缺。而政客們一向短視近利,在民情和輿論雙重壓力下,也不得不打退堂鼓。這些都在意料之中。相形之下,俄國周邊小國雖然有唇亡齒寒,刀上魚肉的驚悚,卻難逃愛莫能助,杯水車薪之困窘。

克里米亞被兼併後,普丁開始蠶食烏克蘭,繼之以2022的鯨吞。目前雖然戰況膠著,但烏克蘭在彈盡援絕情況下,終將淪陷。骨牌效應的陰影,已經籠罩歐洲大陸。

2. 
歷史定位

除了知道他的老婆曾經是他老師外,我不甚清楚馬克洪的為人處事;無法對他的人格特質或政策走向做有意義的分析。但我相信他非常了解第二次世界大戰歷史,以及吸取了慕尼黑協定的深刻教訓。從而,他應該思考過普丁據有烏克蘭後的下一步行動。

和其他大多數當下在位的歐洲政治領袖不同,馬克洪沒有連任考量;他也就不必事事或時時以「民意」為依歸。他可以「奢侈」的考慮法國和歐洲前途,以及他自己的「歷史定位

3. 
結論

提出兵力支援烏克蘭的構想後,馬克洪既不必執行這個方案,又可以擺脫「張伯倫們」的標籤;他這個算盤可以說敲到我在台灣都聽見了

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馬克洪改變立場的原因:爭歐洲戰略一哥 -- James Crisp等
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請參看本欄02/2903/07篇貼文。下文也提及本欄(今天)上一篇評論提到的法國國內政情」因素


The real reasons Macron turned from dove to hawk on Ukraine

French president desperate to be seen as dominant power in Europe amid shifting political landscape internationally and at home

James Crisp, EUROPE EDITOR ; Joe Barnes, IN BRUSSELS ; Henry Samuel, IN PARIS and James Rothwell, IN BERLIN, 03/17/24

We are “united on this day”, 
Emmanuel Macron said after meeting Olaf Scholz in Berlin, and “determined never to let Russia win” the war in Ukraine.

The studied show of togetherness came after months of all-too public tensions between the two leaders, epitomised by the French president apparently blindsiding the German chancellor by declaring the West had not “ruled out” 
putting boots on the ground.

Also present at Friday’s meeting was 
Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister. Some joked that he was there to keep the peace.

“This is a serious moment. A new era is dawning, and we’ll be there,” Mr Macron said after the three men locked hands for the cameras. “To 
support the Ukrainian people to the end is a strength for us, our peoples, our security and our Europe.”

Mr Macron, who has a fondness for disruptive grandstanding, is engaged in a power struggle with the more cautious Mr Scholz that is throwing a spanner in the Franco-German “engine” of European policymaking.

At the heart of the battle is the French president’s sudden transformation 
from Ukraine dove to hawk.

Mr Macron’s comments about 
the possibility of sending European troops into Ukraine at a hastily-convened Paris summit in February represented an astonishing about-turn for a president who once warned against humiliating Moscow and insisted on keeping diplomatic channels with Putin open.

To understand the reasons behind this unexpected volte-face, The Telegraph spoke to numerous sources in the Elysee and the Bundestag.

They paint a picture of a leader desperate to be seen as 
the dominant power in Europe amid a shifting political landscape, both internationally and at home.

Germany has repeatedly made it clear it does not think that France, the EU’s major military power, is pulling its weight on weapons supplies – a view reportedly shared by the US.

When Mr Scholz gave a speech in February urging European allies to step up their “insufficient” efforts 
to supply Ukraine with crucial arms, it ruffled French feathers.

Mr Macron responded by recalling Germany’s initial derisory offer of helmets to Kyiv two years ago when the Ukraine war broke out. He has also highlighted French donations of long-range Scalp missiles and urged Mr Scholz to follow suit with 
its Taurus missiles, considered one of the Bundeswehr’s most modern weapon systems.

The German chancellor, who has a track record of dithering 
over arms to Kyiv, has repeatedly refused for fear of escalating the conflict, with the Bundestag this week voting down the third proposal so far this year.

Berlin sources point out that Germany, unlike France, does not have nuclear weapons, making it more exposed 
to Russian retaliation.

Whenever he is challenged over Taurus, Mr Scholz brings up the fact that Germany is the second largest donor of weapons after the US.

It is true that Russia’s invasion has triggered a revolution in German defence policy. Mr Scholz announced an £85.5 billion modernisation of the long-neglected military shortly afterwards before ordering 35 American-made F-35 fighter jets worth more than €10 billion.

Germany also spearheaded a European anti-missile shield project using US and Israeli technology, which Paris has pointedly not joined. Not only have such initiatives shown France up, they have also undermined Mr Macron’s attempts for a “buy European” policy at the heart of the EU’s defence strategy.

Paris sees this as German trespassing on its turf. Berlin was breaking the gentleman’s agreement that is the bedrock of the Franco-German engine, one source close to Mr Macron said.

Simply put, Berlin takes the economic leadership in Europe, while Paris takes the strategic leadership. “The frontiers are now blurred and there are attempts to intrude into each other’s domain,” said the source.

French and German sources both admit there are differences, but deny the relationship is irretrievably broken.

As a result, Mr Macron was intent on reclaiming 
the European strategic leadership role on Ukraine, the source said, adding: “We are in the midst of a veritable Franco-German duel. Macron is perfectly well aware of the power struggle with Scholz.”

To retake the initiative, Mr Macron carefully planned a bombshell announcement. At a summit in Paris on supporting Kyiv, he suggested that European nations 
could send troops into Ukraine, saying: “There is no consensus today to send ground troops officially but ... nothing is ruled out. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war.”

Elysee sources claim Mr Macron gave Mr Scholz two days warning of his intentions. That did not stop the exasperated chancellor feigning surprise, they said, and he wasted no time in 
ruling out boots on the ground in Paris before other leaders followed suit.

It was a deeply unhelpful comment for an under-pressure leader of a country with a horror of militarism, Berlin sources said.

The day after the Paris summit, Mr Scholz said the issue had been discussed, but the participants had agreed “that there will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil who are sent there by European states or Nato states”. France was now “isolated”, an unimpressed German source said.

French sources insist Mr Macron knew there was noconsensus” for his latest big idea. He was certainly aware of his closest ally’s opposition to blurring the long-held Nato red line on ground troops.

But in a sign of the parlous relationship between Europe’s two most influential leaders, Mr Macron went ahead anyway.

“He has a taste for transgression,” said a French source close to the president. “There’s a price to pay for spelling out his vision, but he always hopes that the others will end up following him and that history will end up proving him right.”

Mr Macron’s jostling isn’t just about making a tilt for leadership within Europe but also to be seen as the region’s leader on Ukraine globally, particularly ahead of a US election that could see 
the unpredictable, Nato-baiting Donald Trump return to the White House.

In February, the Republican presidential candidate said he would let Russia do “whatever the hell it wanted” to any nation 
not meeting its Nato defence spending targets. Republicans have already blocked more US aid to Kyiv in Congress at Mr Trump’s urging.

Mr Macron, an ardently Europhile centrist, is devoted to the concept of building the EU’s “strategic autonomy” to ensure the bloc can punch its geopolitical weight independently of the US.

“He is saying that Europeans need to take their destiny back into their own hands, and if they need to send troops to safeguard their own destiny, they must be in a position to do so,” said a Macron insider said.

That is in stark contrast to Mr Scholz, who believes Europe should follow US leadership. He rarely misses an opportunity to highlight that Germany is the largest weapons donor to Ukraine after the US.

On Wednesday, the chancellor noted in the Bundestag that Germany had sent  €7 billion 
in aid to Ukraine this year, compared to France’s €3 billion.

One thing both sides agree on – the continent has to at the very least match US support 
to Ukraine to keep much-needed finance from Washington flowing to Kyiv amid a flailing counter-offensive and growing international war-weariness.

Polls report that while most people are opposed to Putin, about 68 per cent oppose the idea of Western boots on the ground. The Ifop polling company says there is a “progressive erosion of support for the Ukrainian cause”.

This is another reason why Mr Macron decided to shake things up. France and Europe needed a “sursaut” – a mental leap from the cosy certainties of the old, dying era and into the harsh realities of the new.

French sources said the situation on the ground in Ukraine was what finally convinced Mr Macron to go public over his boots on the ground talks. Ukrainian forces are under increasing pressure in the relentless land war, with Russia 
making gains in the east.

Mr Macron’s 
Churchillian intervention was designed simultaneously to hearten the Ukrainians and stiffen European resolve. “No one can now say France is fatigued with supporting Ukraine,” one diplomatic source said.

But the French president also fears that Russia will not be satisfied by conquering Ukraine, and that Europe would be sleepwalking into catastrophe if it allows the country to lose the war.

French sources said he wanted to introduce “strategic ambiguity” into the stand-off with Russia. Far better to keep Putin guessing than let him believe Ukraine would be allowed to fall, he reasoned.

The French leader no longer trusts Putin, Volodymyr Zelensky told French TV this week, adding “It took some time, but the result is there.”

The Ukrainian president revealed he had thanked Mr Macron for his support, saying: “He understands perfectly well that defending Ukraine means defending Europe – and France. I think that’s what he arrived at. As long as Ukraine holds out, the French army can stay on French territory.”

In a live televised address this week, Mr Macron told France Ukraine had to be supported now to prevent Putin 
being tempted to invade EU countries bordering Russia.

German sources say Mr Macron’s new combativeness and willingness to increase weapons shipments is a sign he is finally beginning to take the war seriously.

There is another, more domestic concern that Mr Macron is trying to allay with his new stance. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, a party with a history of admiring Putin, is on course 
to trounce the president’s centrists in the European Parliament election in June.

Ms Le Pen, Mr Macron’s rival in the 2022 presidential elections, hopes to use the victory as a springboard for her next tilt at the Elysee, when Mr Macron will reach his two-term limit.

Gabriel Attal, the prime minister and Mr Macron’s possible successor, recently accused the nationalist party of being Putin’s “foot soldiers” in Europe.

“Macron has long been attacked for his ambiguities towards Moscow,” the source close to the president said. “So three months before the European elections, he is offering a clear choice which is for or against Ukraine, even if it means pushing the boat out a long way.”

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馬克洪改變立場的原因:國內政情 – Hugh Schofield
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請參看本欄02/29和03/07兩篇貼文。

Macron switches from dove to hawk on Russia's invasion of Ukraine

03/16/24

What came over Emmanuel Macron to turn him from appeaser to warmonger in the matter of Russia and Ukraine?

That - crudely put - is the question being asked in chancelleries across Europe, as the French president warms to his new role as the continent's resister-in-chief to Vladimir Putin.

Certain countries - the Baltics, Poland - welcome President Macron's apparent conversion to their "realistic" assessment of the Moscow threat.

Others - notably Chancellor 
Olaf Scholz's Germany - are aghast at this new-found va-t-en-guerre (gung-ho) French spirit.

All are confused and uncertain. How genuine is the new Macron line? Is his recent refusal to rule out sending troops to Ukraine just another of his surprises - testimony to his insatiable need to cut a diplomatic dash?

And how much of his new positioning is purely politics?

European elections are approaching, and the hard-right of 
Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella looks set to trounce the Macronites.

So is Emmanuel Macron using Ukraine to create a fault line between his side and the opposition, setting a contrast between his own lucid belligerence and Ms Le Pen's turbid complicity with Moscow in the past?

In a live interview on French television on Thursday evening, the president implicitly acknowledged that these critical questions were being asked.

But in true Macron fashion, he set out not to mollify but to assert. Far from muting his new-found alarmism, he explained it.

Not remotely embarrassed about his "conversion" from dove to hawk, the president's view was that the one inevitably had to precede the other.

Only after all efforts to reach out to an adversary have been exhausted, he argued, is it possible to say conclusively that that adversary is beyond the pale.

Furthermore - the second part of his self-justification - he argued that the Russians have now pushed their aggression to a whole new level.

The Kremlin, he said, had in recent months "got noticeably harder-line" - placing the Russian economy on a permanent war-footing; stepping up repression of internal opposition; escalating cyber-attacks on France and other countries.

With Ukraine looking increasingly beleaguered, and the United States no longer dependable as an ally, Europe was entering a new world, he said: "A world where what we thought was unthinkable actually happens."

This is why, according to the new Macron doctrine, France and Europe needed to be preparing a sursaut - a mental leap out of the cosy certainties of the dying era and into the harsh realities of the new one.

In deliberately Churchillian tones, he believes that in order to keep the peace, Europe needs to be ready for war.

As always with Emmanuel Macron, the logic is impeccable; the arguments unbreakable.

But as always with Emmanuel Macron there is also the question: he may convince, but can he persuade?

Because the French head of state's abiding difficulty is not, obviously, lack of brainpower - but the ability to convert that brilliance into a different talent: leadership. A capacity for getting others to follow.

And on this issue, it is far from clear that the others will fall in line.

The most glaring sign is the rift that separates the French leader from the man who is supposed to be his closest ally in Europe, Germany's Olaf Scholz.

In traditional Franco-German style, both sides are now publicly patching up and putting on the mandatory common front. Hence the Macron visit to Berlin on Friday.

But no amount of man-hugs can conceal the fundamental discord: France accusing Germany of foot-dragging on help for Ukraine, and wilful blindness in clinging to the permanence of the US security umbrella; Germany accusing France of reckless belligerence, hypocrisy (its arms deliveries are in fact way behind Germany's), and Macronic grandstanding.

But domestically too, support for Emmanuel Macron on Ukraine is softer than he likes to think.

Polls show that a big majority - around 68% - oppose his line on sending Western troops. More generally, while most people are clearly opposed to Russia, the Ifop polling company reports a "progressive erosion of support for the Ukrainian cause".

And if there is indeed an electoral subtext to his new hard line on Moscow - intended to expose the far right's ambiguities - then it does not seem to be working. Opinion surveys show support for Le Pen's National Rally (RN) only strengthening.

In transforming into Europe's leading anti-appeaser, President Macron is once again staking out new ground.

He is taking the lead, and pushing Europeans to think hard about their security, and about the sacrifices that may soon become necessary.

All this is no doubt welcome.

His difficulty is that too many people react badly to him.

They resent his self-belief, and feel he too readily confuses what is right for Europe and the world with what is actually just right for France - or himself.


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馬克洪再度呼籲應考慮出兵烏克蘭 -- Alex Lantier
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這篇文章出自World Socialist Web Site文末有該網頁同仁的立場宣示。我不清楚該組織是純左派或普丁同路人;轉登此文純粹出於我維護言論自由的立場;並不表示我同意其論述。

「反戰」是我的一般性立場;但我反對,並支持抵抗,任何侵略性行為;如目前已經進行兩年多的俄國攻擊烏克蘭。


In Prague, French President Macron repeats call to send European troops to Ukraine

Alex Lantier, 03/06/24

Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to the Czech capital for talks on nuclear energy and on escalating the NATO war against Russia in Ukraine.

Polls show mass popular opposition in Europe, by 68 percent of French people and 80 percent of Germans, to Macron’s call to send European troops to fight Russia in Ukraine. It comes after German army plans were revealed to send long-range Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine for strikes on targets in Russia. Nonetheless, Macron doubled down on these staggeringly reckless proposals, which open the path to escalation to World War III between NATO and Russia, including the use of nuclear weapons.

At a press conference with Czech President Petr Pavel, he said: “My comments were clear, thought out, and precise. … For two years we have repeated at each press conference that war has returned to European soil. We have revealed how much military materiel we have already delivered, how much we have already spent. Is this our war, or isn’t it?”

In fact, an overwhelming majority of the French people does not think it is their war. Macron contemptuously dismissed public opinion, however, instead calling to intensify France’s existing partnership with the United States and the Czech Republic to send artillery and shells to Ukraine. He said, “We are at a time in Europe where it is fitting not to be cowardly.”

Macron admitted that his policy risks nuclear war but cynically blamed this on Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said, “Who is threatening, whatever we say or do, to use nuclear weapons? President Putin. All of you, turn to him and ask him what his strategic limits are. But if each day we explain what our limits are, faced with someone who has none and who started the war, I can tell you, defeatism is stalking us. … [Be] careful about the message that is stalking us.”

What is “stalking” Macron and other NATO leaders? The Ukrainian puppet regime they armed against Russia is suffering a military debacle, with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians dead and the Ukrainian army in retreat after having lost Avdiivka. Moreover, as all of them know their plans to escalate the war face explosive popular opposition.

But nonetheless, they are conspiring to intensify attacks on Russia, gambling that the Kremlin may ultimately be intimidated and back down. Macron’s admission that he does not know Putin’s strategic limits for the use of nuclear weapons—like his call not to state what strategic limits the European powers might have—only underscores the staggering recklessness of this policy.

Macron’s attempt to blame the war entirely on Russian aggression is a lie, flagrantly contradicted by his comments on sending European ground troops to fight Russia in Ukraine. Indeed, he cited the many escalations NATO countries have carried out in their arms deliveries to Kiev, none of which resulted in Russian military action against NATO. On this basis, he argued that Russia will not decide on how the war escalation proceeds—that is, that the NATO imperialist powers, not Russia, are driving the war.

Macron said, “At each step over the last two years, people said, if you send tanks, there will be retaliation. If you send planes, there will be retaliation. If you send medium-range artillery shells, there will be retaliation. We all did all of that, after having all said that we would not. … The pace of escalation is not defined by the Russian side, it is defined by a consensus between everyone.”

This amounts to claiming that Putin, who has warned that further NATO escalation risks civilization-ending nuclear war, is just bluffing. While he tells the public that Russian aggression is responsible for the war, Macron asserts without any proof that Russia will not take drastic action and that a consensus between the NATO powers will be able to control the extent of whatever escalation they provoke. But there is no justification for this complacent argument.

The media is fully complicit in the NATO leaders’ moves to hide the danger of total war from the public. None of the journalists at Macron’s press conference with Pavel asked what he would do if the Kremlin responded to launches of German Taurus or French SCALP missiles from inside Ukraine by bombing Berlin or Paris. Nor did any of them ask how many millions of French lives Macron plans to risk in the escalation he is unleashing.

It is known, however, that one Russian RS-28 intercontinental ballistic missile, carrying 15 nuclear warheads of a total explosive power of up to 50 million tons of TNT, can obliterate a territory the size of France, the EU’s largest country by surface area, or the US state of Texas.

While Macron assured his audience that a “consensus” between the NATO powers can control the war, the mounting divisions between the imperialist powers were on display at the Prague summit, notably between France and Germany.

Macron spent much of his time in Prague promoting the French state electricity monopoly EDF’s offer to build nuclear plants in the Czech Republic. Prague is at the center of French plans to export EDF nuclear plants across Eastern Europe, a region in which German capital is economically dominant—from Poland to Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania. During Macron’s visit to Prague, Czech officials signed a deal with French firm Orano (formerly Areva) to obtain uranium for their nuclear plants.

Macron pointed to substantial tensions between Paris and Berlin around this initiative. He hailed the Czech Republic for its role in the 12-country “European nuclear alliance,” that included Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden. Formed last year, this alliance successfully opposed Berlin’s efforts to block the designation of nuclear energy as a low-carbon energy source in EU green energy legislation. Macron said, “It’s not just about energy, it’s not just about business. It’s clearly about strategy, autonomy. … We have to face climate change and decarbonize our economy.”

He boasted, “The French strategy is based on more efficiency, more renewables, more nuclear. This strategy today is the European one.”

The problem of climate change cannot be resolved within the bankrupt framework of the capitalist nation-state system however. The most powerful states are not cooperating to resolve the climate crisis but are waging war on each other.

There is deep-rooted opposition among workers and youth to the military escalation Macron and other NATO heads of state are setting into motion. The opposition of the vast majority of the German and French people is one sign. It is also worth recalling that polls in 2015 found that only 29 percent of French youth would accept fighting for their country, while 62 percent wanted to participate in a mass uprising.

Workers and youth across Europe and internationally must be alerted to the danger of catastrophic military escalation and mobilize against it. As the World Socialist Web Site wrote in its statement yesterday, “
US-NATO risks nuclear war with plans for attacks on Russia:”

The World Socialist Web Site denounces the conspiracy by US-NATO imperialism to drag mankind into a nuclear catastrophe. Power has to be taken out of the hands of these warmongers. Their actions are threatening human civilization with destruction.

Mass protests must be organized in every country to demand the total withdrawal of all NATO forces from Ukraine and an immediate end to the conflict. This must be connected to the development of an anti-imperialist movement in the international working class, to counter capitalist barbarism with the program of world socialist revolution. 


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馬克洪拋出「兵援烏克蘭」構想--J. Irish/M. Rose/A. Gray
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構想到執行可能要等到猴年馬月;但禁忌話題一開,或許會產生滾雪球效應。

過去烏軍以火力壓制俄軍的人海戰術但烏軍的傷亡難以避免搞久了,難免有無兵可用,難以為繼的窘境如果和平遙遙無期,西方國家出兵是必須的


Macron's Ukraine troop talk shakes up NATO allies

, 02/28/24

PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron wanted to create "strategic ambiguity" by openly discussing the idea of sending Western troops to Ukraine, but he was so ambiguous that he sparked confusion and irritation among some allies.

Macron's comments at a late-night news conference, after he hosted a meeting of Western leaders to rally support for Ukraine, fitted with his reputation as a diplomatic disruptor who likes to break taboos and challenge conventional thinking.

By declining on Monday night to rule out putting Western boots on the ground in Ukraine, Macron was challenging the prevailing view that such a move would gravely escalate the risk of a global war between NATO and Russia.

His comments may turn out to be prescient (先見之明的) and pave the way for greater direct Western involvement in the war in Ukraine against Russia’s invasion sometime down the line.

But they also run the risk of undermining the very thing Macron sought to bolster with the Paris meeting – unity among Ukraine’s Western allies as Kyiv's forces struggle to hold off Russian troops two years into the war.

The White House declared it would not send troops to Ukraine. Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic also all swiftly distanced themselves from the idea.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, said such a move would make a direct conflict between NATO and Russia an "inevitability".

French officials were sent out to explain that Macron had wanted to stimulate debate and that ideas under discussion involved non-combat troops in roles such as demining, border protection or training Ukrainian forces.

"We must consider new actions to support Ukraine. These must respond to very specific needs, I am thinking in particular of mine clearance, cyberdefence, the production of weapons on site, on Ukrainian territory," French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne told lawmakers.

FRANCO-GERMAN TENSION

Macron's comments also risked exacerbating tensions between France and Germany, whose relationship forms the core of European political cooperation.

He appeared to goad Berlin over its initial reluctance to send offensive weapons to Ukraine, noting that some countries two years ago had only wanted to send "sleeping bags and helmets".

Behind the scenes, German officials have accused France in recent weeks of not sending enough military aid to Ukraine.

A Western official said Macron had "rattled some cages and provoked some head-scratching" among NATO members.

The official said the move could complicate U.S. debate over a bill stuck in Congress that would provide some $60 billion in aid to Ukraine - if it stoked fears of an escalation in the war.

A European Union diplomat said the result of Macron’s comments was "a cacophony (噪音嘈雜刺耳的聲音) between allies, at the expense of credibility".

But a French diplomatic source said that if the West stayed on its current course of donating arms and aid and making declarations of support, "we will comfort President Putin in his impression that we are weak".

"In reality, we're taking a big risk with that game for all of us in Europe, which is to see Russia win."

Some officials, particularly in eastern Europe, backed the idea that the West should make its calculations and red lines less predictable for Putin.

"Times like these require political leadership, ambition, and courage to think out of the box. (跳出傳統的思維框框) The initiative behind the Paris meeting yesterday is well worth considering," said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

One eastern European diplomat said: "I do very much think what (Macron) said is useful. It also demonstrates to our public opinion the urgency of the matter and what is at stake."

OPTIONS ON TABLE

Gen. Onno Eichelsheim, the Netherlands’ top military officer, said Macron likely wanted to make clear to Putin that no option was off limits.

"You have to put all the options on the table," he told Reuters during a visit to an arms plant in the Czech Republic.

"This is the far-end option and I don't think the NATO countries are yet very much willing to do it. But you never know what happens in time."

Eichelsheim’s visit to the arms factory underscored Ukraine’s most pressing need – for munitions to replenish badly depleted stocks to maintain the fight against Russia's invasion.

At the Paris meeting, Macron signalled he was dropping French opposition to using EU funds for a Czech initiative to go on a global shopping spree to buy artillery ammunition for Kyiv.

Some European officials suggested that was a far more important priority than talk of Western boots on the ground.

"I'm glad if France is considering how to support Ukraine more strongly, but if I can make a suggestion, then send more weapons," German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said.

A second eastern European diplomat said the open discussion about sending Western troops showed how dire Ukraine's plight had become.

"The fact that it is now on the table means it's much, much worse than we thought it was," the diplomat said.

(Additional reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Andreas RinkeEditing by Gareth Jones)

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美國政府回絕普丁停火提議 – Faulconbridge/Korsunskaya
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Exclusive-Putin's suggestion of Ukraine ceasefire rejected by United States, sources say

, 02/14/24

MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) - Russian President 
Vladimir Putin's suggestion of a ceasefire in Ukraine to freeze the war was rejected by the United States after contacts between intermediaries, three Russian sources with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.

The failure of Putin's approach ushers in a third year of the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two and illustrates just how far apart the world's two largest nuclear powers remain.

A U.S. source denied there had been any official contact and said Washington would not engage in talks that did not involve Ukraine.

Putin sent signals to Washington in 2023 in public and privately through intermediaries, including through Moscow's Arab partners in the Middle East and others, that he was ready to consider a ceasefire in Ukraine, the Russian sources said.

Putin was proposing to freeze the conflict at the current lines and was unwilling to cede any of the Ukrainian territory controlled by Russia, but the signal offered what some in the Kremlin saw as the best path towards a peace of some kind.

"The contacts with the Americans came to nothing," a senior Russian source with knowledge of the discussions in late 2023 and early 2024 told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

A second Russian source with knowledge of the contacts told Reuters that the Americans told Moscow, via the intermediaries, they would not discuss a possible ceasefire without the participation of Ukraine and so the contacts ended in failure.

A third source with knowledge of the discussions said: "Everything fell apart with the Americans." The source said that the Americans did not want to pressure Ukraine.

The extent of the contacts - and their failure - has not previously been reported.

It comes as U.S. President Joe Biden has for months been pushing Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine, but has faced opposition from allies of Republican presidential nomination frontrunner Donald Trump.

The Kremlin, the White House, the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) all declined to comment.

U.S. SAYS 'NO BACK CHANNEL'

Putin sent thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, triggering a full-scale war after eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces on the one side and pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian proxies on the other.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence and the West casts Putin's invasion as an imperial-style land grab that challenges the post-Cold War international order.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he will never accept Russia's control over Ukrainian land. He has outlawed any contacts with Russia.

A U.S. official, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, said that the U.S. has not engaged in any back channel discussions with Russia and that Washington had been consistent in not going behind the back of Ukraine.

The U.S. official said that there appeared to have been unofficial "Track II" conversations among Russians not in the government but that the United States was not engaged in them.

The U.S. official said Putin's proposal, based on what has been publicly reported, was unchanged from past demands that Russia hold on to Ukrainian territory. The official suggested that there appeared to be frustration in Moscow that Washington had repeatedly refused to accept it.

Putin told U.S. talk-show host Tucker Carlson last week that Russia was ready for "dialogue".

CONTACTS

Intermediaries met in Turkey in late 2023, according to three Russian sources.

A fourth diplomatic source said that there had been Russian-U.S. unofficial contacts through intermediaries at Russia's initiative but that they appeared to have come to nothing.

The U.S. official said he was unaware of unofficial contact through intermediaries.

According to three Russian sources, Putin's signal was relayed to Washington, where top U.S. officials including White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met.

The idea was that Sullivan would speak to Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, and set out the next steps, one of the Russian sources said.

But when the call came in January, Sullivan told Ushakov that Washington was willing to talk about other aspects of the relationship but would not speak about a ceasefire without Ukraine, said one of the Russian sources.

The U.S. official refused to be drawn on any details of Sullivan's purported calls, or whether such a conversation with Ushakov took place.

PUTIN 'READY TO FIGHT ON'

One of the Russian sources expressed frustration with the United States over Washington's insistence that it would not nudge Ukraine towards talks given that the United States was helping to fund the war.

"Putin said: 'I knew they wouldn't do anything'," another of the Russian sources said. "They cut off the root of the contacts which had taken two months to create."

Another Russian source said that the United States did not appear to believe Putin was sincere.

"The Americans didn't believe Putin was genuine about a ceasefire - but he was and is - he is ready to discuss a ceasefire. But equally Putin is also ready to fight on for as long as it takes - and Russia can fight for as long as it takes," the Russian source said.

The Kremlin sees little point in further contacts with the United States on the issue, the Russian sources said, so the war would continue.

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson)


Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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《澤倫斯基陣前換將》小評
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由於俄軍在人員和後勤資源上的優勢,烏軍2023的夏季反攻陷入戰局膠著。面對人員補充的困境,在俄軍第二波冬季攻勢中,烏軍只能以火力與裝備來爭取平衡。不幸的是由於師老無功,歐美各國軍援出現難以為繼的窘境因此,對烏國將領來說,「戰局膠著」實為非戰之罪。

澤倫斯基在這個節骨眼採取「陣前換將」(請見本欄上一報導),不但是兵家大忌;也是愚蠢和短視的政治操作。我對戰局前景相當悲觀。



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澤倫斯基陣前換將 -- Andrew E. Kramer
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Zelensky Removes His Top General, in Major Shake-Up of Ukraine Military

Gen. Valery Zaluzhny led the effort that thwarted Russia’s initial assault on Kyiv. But his troops have struggled to make progress recently, and tensions have mounted with the civilian leadership.

Andrew E. Kramer, Reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine, 02/08/24

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Thursday he had removed his top general in the most significant leadership shake-up since Russia invaded Ukraine almost two years ago.

While praising Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander who has led the nation’s war effort for two years, Mr. Zelensky said “urgent changes” were needed to ensure victory.

“Starting today, a new management team will take over the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Mr. Zelensky said in an evening address to the nation, adding the he had met with General Zaluzhny and thanked him for his service.

General Zaluzhny will be replaced by Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, the head of Ukraine’s ground forces, the president said.

The upheaval comes at a precarious moment for Ukraine in the war, amid intensified Russian attacks, skepticism in the United States over providing aid to Kyiv and the tensions between Ukraine’s civilian and military leadership. It remained unclear whether General Zaluzhny, who is widely popular in Ukraine’s military and society, had resigned or been fired from the position.

Gen. Zaluzhny led Ukraine’s war effort from the initial, successful defense against Russia’s attack through the past year of bloody, inconclusive fighting along a front that has barely shifted but where Ukrainian soldiers once again find themselves outmanned and outgunned.

Rumors began circulating online in Ukraine last week that General Zaluzhny, 50, had been dismissed, prompting the president’s office to issue a denial. A Ukrainian member of Parliament said the two men met on Jan. 29 but the fate of the country’s top military commander was not decided.

Two Ukrainian officials said Mr. Zelensky’s government had been planning on dismissing the general all along, and only backed off briefly after the news was leaked and generated backlash from some Ukrainian political leaders and soldiers.

Friction between the president and general had simmered since early in the war in a rivalry mostly hidden from public view amid military successes. The schism deepened last fall, when General Zaluzhny published an essay declaring the fighting a deadlock, contradicting Mr. Zelensky’s continual, hopeful assertions of progress.

That breach followed a Ukrainian counteroffensive backed by billions of dollars in Western weapons donations that failed to achieve a breakthrough, despite costing thousands of Ukrainian casualties.

More recently, the two had publicly disagreed over a Ukrainian plan to draft as many as half a million men to replenish the army as a counter to Russia’s renewed ground attacks in the eastern Donbas region. Though Ukrainians still overwhelmingly support the fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion, the mobilization is expected to be unpopular. Many men who intended to volunteer already have.

Ukrainian forces have in recent weeks been on the defensive as Russia launches fierce assaults along the front line. Kyiv did receive a boost to its war effort last week when the European Union approved a $54 billion aid package that will help avert a near-term Ukrainian financial crisis.

But lawmakers in Washington this week have been unable to forge an agreement that would provide another $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, assistance that Ukrainian officials and military analysts deem as critical to Kyiv’s war effort. Republicans in the Senate blocked a measure on Wednesday that would have provided funding, leading Democrats to propose an alternate bill that was being debated Thursday.

As speculation about the military commander’s fate reached a fever pitch, General Zaluzhny maintained his usual low public profile. He paid tribute to a touchstone in Ukrainian military history, praising a small band of Ukrainian soldiers who repelled a much larger Russian invasion force marching on Kyiv, the capital, in 1918. The battle, he said, “became a symbol of heroism and self-sacrifice of the young generation in the fight against the aggressor.”

“We thank everyone who is currently defending the state, its independence and future,” he said. Throughout the past two weeks, he offered no public comments.

When the war with Russia began in 2014, General Zaluzhny, who was educated in a Soviet cadet school in Odesa but served most of his career in the Ukrainian army after independence, was appointed deputy commander of forces fighting along a violent section of frontline near the eastern cities of Debaltseve and Bakhmut, where he gained experience commanding troops in combat.

Mr. Zelensky appointed General Zaluzhny commander of the military’s general staff in 2021, before Russia’s invasion. Military analysts have credited the general with preparing the army in the weeks and days before the attack by flying jets to reserve airfields and moving troops from barracks that were subsequently bombed.

Mr. Zelensky’s frustration with his top general burst into the public eye in early November, after General Zaluzhny published his essay calling the war a “stalemate.” The Ukrainian president suggested the comment was helpful to the Russians, a striking rebuke.

Around the same time, the president’s office replaced one of General Zaluzhny’s deputies, the head of special operations forces, without providing any explanation. It also dismissed the head of Ukraine’s medical forces.

Criticism against General Zaluzhny reached a new level in late November, when Mariana Bezuhla, a lawmaker and former member of Mr. Zelensky’s political party, appeared to call for the commander’s departure, accusing him of failing to plan carefully for the next stage of the war.

“If the military leadership cannot provide any plan for 2024, and all their proposals for mobilization boil down to the fact that more people are needed,” Ms. Bezuhla wrote on Facebook, “then such leadership should leave.”

Opinion polls had consistently ranked the president and general as the most trusted figures in Ukraine during the war. Through the fall, Mr. Zelensky’s ratings had fallen while General Zaluzhny had retained consistently high levels of support.

General Zaluzhny’s high standing with the Ukrainian public led to speculation that he could be a prospective challenger to Mr. Zelensky in future elections, prompting some in the country to regard them as political rivals.

The military leader earned the nicknamed the “Iron General” for his decisive leadership of the army when Russian forces swept en masse across the border last year and toward Ukraine’s major cities. Under his command, Ukrainian troops stopped Russian forces at the door of the capital and drove them into retreat.

A few months later, Ukrainian troops crashed through Russian positions in a counteroffensive that retook thousands of square miles of northeastern territory, including dozens of towns.

But the general was also saddled with the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south this summer — a push that many in Ukraine and the West had hoped could split Russian troops and show that Ukraine was making steady gains in the war. The operation has failed to break through formidable Russian defensive lines, with Ukrainian troops advancing by just a few miles at a bloody cost for both sides.

In his November essay, General Zaluzhny said that unless Ukraine received more advanced weapons and technology, the country would be mired in a long war in which Russia would have the upper hand.

Constant Méheut , Marc Santora and Maria Varenikova contributed reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Andrew E. Kramer is the Kyiv bureau chief for The Times, who has been covering the war in Ukraine since 2014. More about Andrew E. Kramer

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