Conor here: John Helmer details another German general trying to hit the brakes on Berlin’s support for Ukraine before the train goes completely off the tracks.
Unfortunately, retired Major General Harald Kujat’s claims have been ignored in the US and in Germany. That Kujat says the US media have been less deceptive in their reporting of the war than the German press really gives you an idea of how bad the censorship is there.
Wolfgang Streeck wrote recently in New Left Review about how stifling the environment has become:
In other respects as well, the corridor of the sayable is rapidly, and frighteningly, narrowing. As with the destruction of the pipelines, the strongest taboos relate to the role of the United States, both in the history of the conflict and in the present. In admissible public speech, the Ukrainian war – which is expected to be termed ‘Putin’s war of aggression’ (Angriffskrieg) by all loyal citizens – becomes entirely de-contextualized: it has no history outside of the ‘narrative’ of a decade-long brooding of a mad dictator in the Kremlin over how to best wipe out the Ukrainian people, facilitated by the stupidity, combined with greed, of the Germans falling for his cheap gas. As this writer found out when an interview he had given to the online edition of a centre-right German weekly, Cicero, was cut without consultation, among what is not to be mentioned in polite German society are the American rejection of Gorbachev’s ‘Common European Home’, the subversion within the United States of Clinton’s project of a ‘Partnership for Peace’, and the rebuff as late as 2010 of Putin’s proposal of a European free trade zone ‘from Lisbon to Vladivostok’. Equally unmentionable is the fact that by the mid-1990s at the latest, the United States had decided that the border of post-communist Europe should be identical to the western border of post-communist Russia, which would also be the eastern border of NATO, to the west of which there were to be no restrictions whatsoever on the stationing of troops and weapons systems. The same holds for the extensive American strategic debates on ‘extending Russia’, as documented in publicly accessible working papers of the RAND Corporation.
More examples of the publicly unsayable include the historically unprecedented arms build-up on the part of the United States during the ‘war on terror’, accompanied by the unilateral termination of all remaining arms control agreements with the Soviet Union of old; the unrelenting American pressure on Germany to replace Russian natural gas with American liquid natural gas after the invention of fracking, culminating in the American decision long before the war to close down Nord stream 2, one way or other; the peace negotiations that preceded the war, including the Minsk agreements between Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, negotiated by among others the then German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, which fell apart under pressure from the Obama administration and its special envoy for US-Ukrainian relations, the then Vice President Joe Biden, coinciding with a radicalization of Ukrainian nationalism.
Helmer also makes an important point about the military-industrial complex in Germany and weapons companies’ alliance with the war-mongering Green Party. In a separate post today, we look at the Green (and specifically foreign minister Baerbock) efforts to increase Germany’s involvement in the Ukraine war.
By John Helmer who has been the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to have directed his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. Originally published at Dances with Bears
A fresh German general has issued a public warning that the war on the Ukrainian battlefield by the US and NATO armies is lost, and that Germany will be lost next if the advance of the Russian forces toward Kiev and Lvov isn’t halted quickly by an armistice, partition and demilitarization of the Ukraine, and time to rebuild the German army.
Retired Major General Harald Kujat — son of a Wehrmacht soldier killed fighting the Red Army who grew up to become chief of the German army and then of the NATO military staffs — is the author of a military assessment in which he blames the German press, ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel, British prime minister Boris Johnson, and other NATO allies he doesn’t name for a new German version of the stab in the back .
In this scheme, according to Kujat, the NATO allies have aimed at sabotaging Germany’s power in Europe. This is being carried out, he said, by escalating the “risk of a conventional attack on Germany”, and “pursuing the goal of exposing Germany to Russia in particular”. Without explicitly targeting the US, Kujat blames Washington for establishing a direct nuclear threat to Russia in the Aegis missile batteries now installed in Poland and Romania; for making Germany a direct party to the war in the Ukraine by allowing “the US [to] train Ukrainian soldiers in Germany”; and for destroying the Nord Stream gas pipelines to Germany.
Kujat’s assessment was published in Switzerland on January 18; German publication followed on January 20. Attacked in the past by mainstream German media, and by US government officials, Kujat’s new statement has been ignored in Germany and the US.
“The longer the war lasts, the greater the risk of expansion or escalation,” Kujat warned, adding the German army, German territorial security, and German industrial might will be the loser because “Russia could surpass the Western escalation at any time with its own.” Kujat meant this to include the use of nuclear weapons.
Kujat is the most senior German officer to make public an attack on the German and allied war to defeat Russia in Europe.
He follows Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, head of the German Navy, who was forced to resign in January 2022, after a public speech in which he said that “the Crimea Peninsula is gone: It will never come back — this is a fact”; and that Russian security concerns should be addressed with “respect”. “What [Putin] really wants is respect. And, my God, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost. … It is easy to give him the respect he really demands — and probably also deserves.”
After Schönbach’s ouster, no serving German officers have dared to risk public criticism of the war policy in Germany. Instead, they are expressing themselves through retired officers. Brigadier General Erich Vad, the ex-head of the military group in Merkel’s chancellery, issued a detailed attack earlier this month; read the details here.
Referring to the resistance by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to sending German Leopard tanks to the Ukraine, Kujat says “the debate over the supply of certain weapons systems clearly shows the intention of many media outlets to make policy themselves. It may be that my unease about this development is a consequence of my many years of service in NATO, including as chairman of the NATO-Russia Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission of Chiefs of Staff. I find it particularly annoying that German security interests and the dangers to our country posed by an expansion and escalation of the war are given so little attention. This shows a lack of responsibility or, to use an old-fashioned term, a highly unpatriotic attitude.”
Kujat claims to “have always believed that this war must be prevented and that it could have been prevented”. That this has not been the outcome he blames on Merkel for her policy of deceiving Russia, calling that “a blatant breach of trust” and “a breach of international law, that is clear.”
The turning point in the Russian-German security balance of forces began in Washington in 2002, Kujat says, when US President George W. Bush cancelled the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty, and then in 2008 when Bush “tried to push through an invitation from Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO”. The Obama Administration’s decision in 2009 to deploy “NATO’s ballistic missile defense system in Poland and Romania” was a new escalation “because Russia is convinced that the US could also eliminate Russian intercontinental strategic systems from these launch Facilities and thus endanger the nuclear strategic balance.”
Germany’s survival is imperiled by this nuclear imbalance, according to Kujat, because Russian nuclear arms are now directly threatened by the US, and by the escalation of conventional US and NATO weapons on the Ukrainian battlefield. “You have to reckon with that. The longer the war lasts, the greater the risk of expansion or escalation. [Question: We already had this in the Cuban Missile Crisis?] It was a comparable situation.”
Like Vad, Kujat has been obliged to publish through a small-circulation Zurich magazine, Zeitgeschehen im Fokus (“Current Events in Focus”), and then in an obscure German publication based in Frankfurt; called Overton, an English revolutionary name, this magazine reveals nothing about itself except that it is “a voice against debate constriction and moralism. It questions the general narratives and is decidedly not an ideological mouthpiece or organ of pronouncement, but feels committed to the Enlightenment.” Vad published his military analysis in Emma, a Cologne feminist magazine.
Vad was explicit in his criticism of Merkel and the current German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock. Despite being asked about her in his interview, Kujat avoids attacking Baerbock by name. He also claims the US media have been less deceptive in their reporting of the war than the German press, citing an “article in Foreign Affairs…by Fiona Hill, a former senior White House National Security Council official. She is very competent and absolutely reliable.”
Kujat blames the British, not the Americans, for disrupting the ceasefire terms he believes the Kremlin was ready to sign following the Istanbul negotiations at the end of March 2022. Follow what happened in Moscow and in Istanbul at the time in this report.
In Kujat’s version, “Russia had apparently [sic] agreed to withdraw its forces to the level of February 23, i.e. before the attack on Ukraine began. Now the complete withdrawal is repeatedly demanded as a prerequisite for negotiations… Ukraine had pledged to renounce NATO membership and not to allow any foreign troops or military installations to be stationed. In return, it should receive security guarantees from states of its choice. The future of the occupied territories should be resolved diplomatically within 15 years, with the explicit renunciation of military force… According to reliable information [sic], the then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened in Kiev on 9th April and prevented a signing. His reasoning was that the West was not ready for an end to the war.”
Kujat did not reveal the “apparent” and “reliable” sources for his claims. He also appears to signal that US officials were not behind Johnson’s action, and what Kujat also calls President Vladimir Zelensky’s “repeatedly chang[ing] the strategic objectives of Ukrainian warfare”.
Kujat has misrepresented and misreported Hill’s role in escalating US war aims against Russia for several years; for evidence of this, click to read the archive. Kujat has done the same in claiming Johnson, not US officials, have controlled Zelensky.
Like Vad earlier this month, Kujat appeals to the Pentagon, US military officers, and US weapons makers to stop the escalation of the war on the Ukrainian battlefield as Russian strategic objectives harden, and the tactical defeat of US, German and NATO weapons becomes inevitable. “According to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley,” Kujat says, “Ukraine has achieved what it could achieve militarily. More is not possible. That is why diplomatic efforts should be made now to achieve a negotiated peace. I share this view… it is questionable whether the Ukrainian armed forces still have a sufficient number of suitable soldiers to be able to use these weapons systems in view of the large losses of recent months. In any case, [Ukrainian Chief of Staff General Valery] Zaluzhny’s statement also explains why Western arms supplies do not enable Ukraine to achieve its military objectives, but only prolong the war. In addition, Russia could surpass the Western escalation at any time with its own. In the German discussion, these connections are not understood or ignored. The way in which some [sic] allies are trying to publicly urge the federal government to deliver Leopard 2 battle tanks also plays a role. This has not happened in NATO so far. It shows how much Germany’s reputation in the alliance has suffered as a result of the weakening of the Bundeswehr and the commitment with which some allies are pursuing the goal of exposing Germany to Russia in particular.”
Kujat implies that Chancellor Olaf Scholz is being secretly pressured by the US for reasons Kujat does not want to reveal now — except for his hint that the Americans and British aim to weaken Germany politically in Europe, and supplant the German arms industry with their own companies. “The current efforts of the USA to induce the Europeans to supply further arms may have something to do with this situation. A distinction must be made between the publicly expressed reasons and the concrete decisions of the Federal Government. It would go too far [sic] to go into the whole spectrum of this discussion. However, I would like the Federal Government to receive really competent advice on this issue and – perhaps even more importantly – to be receptive and capable of judgement in accordance with the importance of this issue.”
Kujat also omits to mention Baerbock’s and the Green Party’s alliance with Germany’s aerospace and defence industry to secure Green votes in Kiel, Dusseldorf, Munich, and other city and state (Bundesland) electorates where the Greens aim to draw large vote swings from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Kiel is home to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Maschinenbau, builder of the Leopard tank. In the Kiel parliamentary vote of 2021, the Greens gained almost 14% to score 28% of the total, while the SDP lost ground but held on to the seat with 29.5%. Just over two thousand votes separated them. The anti-war Left and Alliance for Germany (AfD) candidates lost ground in Kiel, ending up with 5% and just over 7,000 votes each. In Dusseldorf, headquarters for the Rheinmetall group, the Greens gained 13% in 2021 from the SDP and CDU, losing narrowly to the CDU. Similar vote switches to the Greens were recorded in Essen and Duisburg, where Thyssen-Krupp directs its military industrial complex.
Kujat’s links to these leading German arms makers are indicated by his chairmanship of the advisory council of the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium, an association of US, German and other European weapons makers. For more on the prospects of the German corporations he and the consortium represent, read this.
Kujat is warning that defeat of the US and NATO by the Russian forces in the Ukraine puts the future profitability of this business in jeopardy. “This is the current situation in which modern Western weapons systems are used in the Ukraine war. In December, Russia launched an extensive program to evaluate the technical and operational-tactical parameters of captured Western weapons, which should increase the effectiveness of its own operations and weapon effectiveness.”