The Daily Telegraph

German general ridiculed for ‘second Russian front’ claim

- By Jörg Luyken

‘The Social Democrats don’t want to [deliver more weapons] and now they are pulling out every excuse’

GERMANY’S most senior military chief has been criticised for a “stunningly poor analysis” of the Ukraine war after he claimed that Russia was capable of opening a second front against Nato.

General Eberhard Zorn cited the threat of a second Russian front as the reason for Germany’s reluctance to send more weapons to Kyiv during a magazine interview.

“[Vladimir] Putin is capable of ” opening a second front, Germany’s most senior military commander told Focus magazine, saying that Kaliningra­d, the Baltic Sea and the Finnish border were all possible points of attack.

He added that “even though 60 per cent of Russian army forces are tied up in Ukraine, they still have uncommitte­d capacity”.

“If Putin ordered a general mobilisati­on, he would not have personnel problems either,” he said.

Ben Hodges, commander of US forces in Europe between 2014 and 2017, said the claim showed “stunningly poor analysis of Russian capabiliti­es that unfortunat­ely reflects much of the German ‘elite’ thinking”.

“Finland alone would crush Russian forces” while “Lithuania /Poland would smother Kaliningra­d in a week,” Lieutenant General Hodges wrote on Twitter.

Gen Zorn’s comments have led to dismay among military experts.

Gustav Gressel, a security expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told The Daily Telegraph that they amounted to “an attempt to put a gloss on Germany’s own fears”.

“The Social Democrats don’t want to [deliver more weapons] and now they are pulling out every excuse,” he said, referring to Germany’s Social Democratle­d government’s insistence that its army had “hit a limit” in terms of what it can offer.

Rob Lee, of the war studies department at King’s College London, called the comments “bizarre”, pointing out that “Russia has depended on volunteers and reservists” since April. One of the Kremlin’s elite units, the 11th Army Corps was just “heavily degraded in Kharkiv”, he added.

Gen Zorn also appeared to question the significan­ce of the territoria­l gains made by the Ukrainian army over the past week, saying he “would be careful” to describe it as a counter-offensive.

He also expressed doubt that Ukraine could sustain a counter-offensive, saying it lacked the manpower.

Gen Zorn further insisted that the German army could not give more weapons to Ukraine, saying that “all that we have given, we need it back”.

 ?? ?? Germany’s General Eberhard Zorn fears Russia’s military has ‘uncommitte­d capacity’
Germany’s General Eberhard Zorn fears Russia’s military has ‘uncommitte­d capacity’

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