“If America doesn’t help, then we lose.” The reporter asks whether that’s true. “That’s true,” responds Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine. Then he fixes his gaze on the reporter, Charlie D'Agata from CBS, and adds in a rough voice: “Now it's our turn. Then comes Kazakhstan, then the Baltic states, then Poland, then Germany. Or at least half of Germany.”

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

Majid Sattar

North American political correspondent based in Washington.

Konrad Schuller

Political correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in Berlin.

Zelensky and the reporter chose a striking location for their conversation: not a presidential office with stucco and velvet, but a wartime landscape at the front: rubble in the foreground, a bombed-out house further back. Wallpaper blows out of gaping rooms. The president was once a film director. He knows: the place makes the message.

On the same day, Maundy Thursday, March 28th, the Institute for the Study of War, a pro-Ukrainian American think tank, published an unusual daily report. “At the moment,” it says, Ukraine could still hold its own against Russia. But if the House of Representatives in Washington, under the influence of Donald Trump, continues to prevent President Joe Biden from supplying Ukraine with weapons and money, Russia may soon achieve “exponential” successes. The word is military jargon. The institute says in a few lines what it means in everyday language: Without help from America, there is a risk of a Russian “breakthrough”.

On the one hand, experts take this seriously, but on the other hand, they warn against panic. The situation is also ambiguous: the Russians have been able to advance since January, but despite heavy losses, they were only able to take over an area that barely corresponds to the Vorpommern-Greifswald district. At the moment they are giving it a little rest because tanks cannot drive in the spring mud, but experts like Franz-Stefan Gady from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) expect “bad news” at the end of May, when the soil is solid again. At the moment, the Ukrainians still have enough ammunition for a “successful defense,” he says. But in a few weeks “a critical phase” may come.

“Give up land in a targeted manner”

Konrad Muzyka from the Polish institute “Rochan Consulting” is also concerned: If America and the West do not help Ukraine again, one should expect “faster Russian advances”. So far, the attackers have only pushed back the Ukrainian lines but not broken through them. But if they manage to overrun the first Ukrainian line, an “accelerated advance” can be expected.

However, many experts also agree that the feared advances should not mean a final Russian victory. Nico Lange, the leading Ukraine expert at the Munich Security Conference, believes that Russia is not capable of “large-scale operations” because of its high losses. The Russian advances, for example near Bakhmut and Avdiivka, only ever achieved “a few kilometers with high losses”. Therefore, despite their lack of resources, the Ukrainians would only have to “give up targeted land” in limited areas. “In the worst case,” says Lange, “it could be militarily wise to shorten the front.”