Author Topic: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...  (Read 3920 times)


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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #50 on: January 09, 2023, 04:05:56 PM »
Caitlin Johnstone: Unprovoked!
January 8, 2023
In the mass media you’re not allowed to talk about the U.S.-NATO actions that diplomats, politicians, academics — even the head of the C.I.A. — have long warned would lead to war in Ukraine. 

Dec. 9, 2019: From left: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting in Paris for negotiations aimed at ending the war in the Donbass. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article

In an interview with the Useful Idiots podcast not too long ago, Noam Chomsky repeated his argument that the only reason we hear the word “unprovoked” every time anyone mentions Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the mainstream news media is because it absolutely was provoked, and they know it.

“Right now, if you’re a respectable writer and you want to write in the main journals, you talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you have to call it ‘the unprovoked’ Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Chomsky said.

“It’s a very interesting phrase; it was never used before. You look back, you look at Iraq, which was totally unprovoked, nobody ever called it ‘the unprovoked invasion of Iraq.’ In fact, I don’t know if the term was ever used — if it was it was very marginal. Now you look it up on Google, and hundreds of thousands of hits. Every article that comes out has to talk about the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

“Why? Because they know perfectly well it was provoked,” Chomsky said. “That doesn’t justify it, but it was massively provoked. Top U.S. diplomats have been talking about this for 30 years, even the head of the C.I.A.”

Chomsky is of course correct here. The imperial media and their brainwashed automatons have spent many months mindlessly bleating the word “unprovoked” in relation to this war, but one question none of them ever have a straight answer for is this: if the invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked, how come so many Western experts spent years warning that the actions of Western governments would provoke an invasion of Ukraine?

Noam Chomsky in 2011. (Andrew Rusk, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Because, as Chomsky notes, that is indeed the case. A few days after the invasion began in February of last year a guy named Arnaud Bertrand put together an extremely viral Twitter thread that just goes on and on and on about the various diplomats, analysts and academics in the West who have over the years been warning that a dangerous confrontation with Russia was coming because of NATO advancements toward its borders, interventionism in Ukraine and various other aggressions.

It contains examples such as John Mearsheimer explicitly warning in 2015 that “the West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path, and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked,” and Pat Buchanan warning all the way back in 1999 that “By moving NATO onto Russia’s front porch, we have scheduled a twenty-first-century confrontation.”

Empire apologists love claiming that the invasion of Ukraine had nothing to do with NATO expansionism (their claims generally based on brazen misrepresentations of what President Vladimir Putin has said about Russia’s reasons for the war), but that’s silly. The U.S. war machine was continuing to taunt the possibility of NATO membership for Ukraine right up until the invasion, a threat it refused to take off the table since placing it there in 2008 despite knowing full well that this threat was an incendiary provocation to Moscow.

This is to say nothing of the U.S. empire actively fomenting a violent uprising in 2014 which ousted Kiev’s sitting government and fractured the nation between its more Moscow-loyal populations to the east and the more U.S./EU-friendly parts of the country. This led to the annexation of Crimea (overwhelmingly supported by the people who live there) and eight years of brutal warfare against Russia-backed separatists in the Donbass.

Ukrainian attacks on those separatists are known to have increased exponentially in the days leading up to the invasion, and it has been argued that this is what provoked Putin’s final decision to commit to invading (which was a last-minute decision according to U.S. intelligence).

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The U.S. power alliance could very easily have prevented this war with a few low-cost concessions like enshrining Ukrainian neutrality, rolling back its war machinery from Russia’s borders and sincerely pursuing detente with Moscow instead of shredding treaties and ramping up Cold War escalations. Hell, it could likely have prevented this war just by protecting President Volodymyr Zelensky from the anti-Moscow far right nationalists who were openly threatening to lynch him if he began honoring the Minsk agreements and pursuing peace with Russia, as he was originally elected to do.

Instead it knowingly chose the opposite course: continuing to float the possibility of formal NATO membership for Ukraine while pouring weapons into the nation and making it more and more of a de facto NATO member with closer and closer intimacy with the U.S. war machine, and then either ordering, encouraging or tolerating Ukraine’s aggressive assault on Donbass separatists.

Why did the empire opt for provocation over peace? Congressman Adam Schiff gave a pretty good answer to that question in January of 2020 as the road to war was being paved: “so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”

If you relinquish the infantile idea that the US empire is helping its good friend Ukraine because it loves the Ukrainian people and wants them to have freedom and democracy, it’s not hard to see that the U.S. sparked a convenient proxy war because it was in its geostrategic interests to do so, and because it wouldn’t be their lives and property getting laid to waste.

Brian Berletic put out a good video  ago about a Pentagon-funded 2019 Rand Corporation paper titled “Extending Russia – Competing from Advantageous Ground,” which is exactly what it sounds like.

The U.S. Army-commissioned paper details how the empire can use proxy warfare, economic warfare and other Cold War tactics to push its longtime geopolitical foe to the brink without costing American lives or sparking a nuclear conflict.

It mentions Ukraine hundreds of times, and it explicitly discusses the same economic warfare tactics we’ve seen like sanctions and attacking Russia’s energy interests in Europe (the latter of which Berletic points out is also being used to bolster U.S. dominance over its vassals in the EU).

RAND Corporation headquarters in Santa Monica, California, in 2015. (Coolcaesar, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The paper even explicitly advocates continuing to threaten NATO membership with Ukraine to draw out an aggressive response from Moscow, saying,

“While NATO’s requirement for unanimity makes it unlikely that Ukraine could gain membership in the foreseeable future, Washington’s pushing this possibility could boost Ukrainian resolve while leading Russia to redouble its efforts to forestall such a development.”

President Joe Biden has made calls for regime change in Moscow that can’t even really be called thinly disguised, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has openly said that the plan is to use this war to “weaken” Russia, which other U.S. officials have told the press is indeed the policy.

Comments from the Biden administration continually make it clear that the U.S. alliance is buckling down to keep this war going for years to come, which would fit in nicely with Washington’s known track record of deliberately drawing Russia into military quagmires against U.S. proxies in both Afghanistan and Syria.

March 26, 2022: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the war in Ukraine, at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, where he said Putin “cannot remain in power.” (White House, Adam Schultz)

So, make no mistake, behind all the phony hand-wringing and flag-waving, the U.S.-centralized empire is getting exactly what it wants from this conflict. It gets to overextend Russia militarily and financially, promote its narratives around the world, rehabilitate the image of U.S. interventionism, expand internet censorship, expand militarily, bolster control over its European client states. And all it costs is a little pretend empire money that gets funneled into the military-industrial complex anyway.

Which is why when it looked like peace was at risk of breaking out in the early days of the conflict, the empire sent in former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tell Zelensky that even if he is ready for the war to end, his partners to the West were not.

Boris Johnson, then-U.K. prime minister, left, meeting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, April 9, 2022. (Ukraine government)

So, as you can see, the notion that this war is “unprovoked” is a fairy tale for idiots and children; there’s no excuse for a grown adult with internet access and functioning brain matter to ever say such a thing.

Had China backed a coup in Mexico and now had a loyal vassal in Mexico City who was letting Beijing distribute weapons along the U.S. border while continually shelling English-speaking separatists in Baja California who are seeking U.S. annexation, there’s no question that Washington would consider this a provocation and would respond accordingly. You can tell me that’s not true, but we’d both know you’re lying.

But as Chomsky said, the press are still spouting this “unprovoked” nonsense anyway.

“Russia is widely believed to have been taken aback by the West’s assertive and unified response to its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” reads a CNBC article.

“The diplomatic visit underlines the importance of the Russian relationship for China, even in the face of international blow back against Moscow after its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine earlier this year,” reads a report from CNN. “It was an unprovoked attack on a sovereign country,” a source is quoted as saying in another CNN article.

It is, as Chomsky observed, really freaky how hard they’ve been hitting us with this line every time the invasion of Ukraine is mentioned. It seems like every time it comes up they’re obligated to say it, just as Michael Jackson had a quota for how often MTV hosts were obligated to refer to him as “The King of Pop Michael Jackson” when his name was mentioned.

In the mass media you’re not allowed to talk about the known U.S./NATO/Ukraine actions which experts have been warning for many years would lead us to this point. You’re only allowed to say Putin attacked Ukraine completely unprovoked, in a vacuum, solely because he is evil and hates freedom. And you have to do it while saying the word “unprovoked” at every opportunity.

Empire apologists get upset when you talk about the fact that this war was provoked because a large amount of empire apologia is built around pretending that provocation just isn’t a thing. By some trick of Orwellian doublethink, this concept we’ve all lived our entire lives knowing about and understanding is now suddenly a freakish and ridiculous invention of the Kremlin.

We’re all guilty of doing the things we knowingly choose to do. If I choose to provoke someone into doing something bad, then they’re guilty of choosing to do the bad thing, but I am also guilty of provoking them. I’m not saying anything new here; this is the plot behind any movie or show with a sneaky or manipulative villain, and it’s been a part of our storytelling since ancient times.

Nobody has ever walked out of Shakespeare’s Othello thinking that maybe Iago was just an innocent bystander who was trying to help out his friends.

Most of us learn that provocation is real as children with siblings, kicking the other under the table or whatever to provoke a loud outburst, and we’ve understood it ever since. But everyone’s pretending that this extremely basic, kindergarten-level concept is some kind of bizarre, alien gibberish. It’s intensely stupid, and it needs to stop.

Empire apologists will also argue that saying Russia was provoked into invading by the U.S. empire is like saying a rape victim provoked her rapist by wearing a tight skirt, or a battered wife provoked her abuser by disobeying him.

And as a survivor of multiple rapes and an abusive relationship I must say I find it extremely offensive when people compare blaming the most powerful empire that has ever existed for its well-documented aggressions to blaming victims of rape and domestic violence. The globe-spanning empire is not comparable to a rape victim, and if you find yourself thinking so it’s time to re-think your entire worldview.

It’s not okay to be a grown adult and still say the invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked. You’ve got a brain between your ears and an entire internet of information at your fingertips.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #51 on: January 12, 2023, 12:55:45 AM »
SCOTT RITTER: 2023 Outlook for Ukraine
January 11, 2023
Given the duplicitous history of the Minsk Accords, it is unlikely Russia can be diplomatically dissuaded from its military offensive. As such, 2023 appears to be shaping up as a year of continued violent confrontation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin observing military exercises in the eastern Primorsky Krai region, September 2022. (Kremlin)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

After almost a year of dramatic action, where initial Russian advances were met with impressive Ukrainian counteroffensives, the frontlines in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict have stabilized, with both sides engaged in bloody positional warfare, grinding each other down in a brutal attritional contest while awaiting the next major initiative from either side.

As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches, the fact that Ukraine has made it this far into the conflict represents both a moral and, to a lesser extent, a military victory.

From the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to the director of the C.I.A., most senior military and intelligence officials in the West assessed in early 2022 that a major Russian military offensive against Ukraine would result in a rapid, decisive Russian victory.

The resilience and fortitude of the Ukrainian military surprised everyone, including the Russians, whose initial plan of action, inclusive of forces allocated to the task, proved inadequate to the tasks assigned. This perception of a Ukrainian victory, however, is misleading.

The Death of Diplomacy

As the dust settles on the battlefield, a pattern has emerged regarding the strategic vision behind Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. While the mainstream Western narrative continues to paint the Russian action as a precipitous act of unprovoked aggression, a pattern of facts has emerged which suggests that the Russian case for preemptive collective self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter may have merit.

Recent admissions on the part of the officials responsible for the adoption of the Minsk Accords of both 2014 and 2015 (former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, former French President Francois Hollande and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel) show that the goal of the Minsk agreements for the promotion of a peaceful resolution to the post-2014 conflict in the Donbass between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists was a lie.

Feb. 12, 2015: Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merke, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the Normandy format talks in Minsk, Belarus. (Kremlin)

Instead, the Minsk Accords, according to this troika, were little more than a means to buy Ukraine time to build a military, with the assistance of NATO, capable of bringing the Donbass to heel and driving Russia out of Crimea.

Seen in this light, the establishment of a permanent training facility by the U.S. and NATO in western Ukraine — which between 2015 and 2022 trained some 30,000 Ukrainian troops to NATO standards for the sole purpose of confronting Russia in eastern Ukraine — takes on a whole new perspective.

The admitted duplicity of Ukraine, France and Germany contrasts with Russia’s repeated insistence prior to its Feb. 24, 2022, decision to invade Ukraine that the Minsk Accords be implemented in full.

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In 2008,  former U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Burns, the current C.I.A. director,warned that any effort by NATO to bring Ukraine into its fold would be viewed by Russia as a threat to its national security and, if pursued, would provoke a Russian military intervention. That memo by Burns provides much-needed context to the Dec. 17, 2021, initiatives by Russia to create a new European security framework that would keep Ukraine out of NATO.

Simply put, the trajectory of Russian diplomacy was conflict avoidance. The same cannot be said of either Ukraine or its Western partners, who were pursuing a policy of NATO expansion linked to the resolution of the Donbass/Crimea crises through military means.

Game Changer, Not Game Winner

The reaction of the Russian government to the failure on the part of the Russian military to defeat Ukraine in the opening phases of the conflict provides important insight into the mindset of the Russian leadership regarding its goals and objectives.

Denied a decisive victory, the Russians seemed prepared to accept an outcome which limited Russian territorial gains to the Donbass and Crimea and an agreement by Ukraine not to join NATO. Indeed, Russia and Ukraine were on the cusp of formalizing an agreement along these lines in negotiations scheduled to take place in Istanbul in early April 2022.

This negotiation, however, was scuttled following the intervention of then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who linked the continued provision of military assistance to Ukraine to the willingness of Ukraine to force a conclusion to the conflict on the battlefield, as opposed to negotiations. Johnson’s intervention was motivated by an assessment on the part of NATO that the initial Russian military failures were indicative of Russian weakness.

April 9, 2022: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky takes U.K. Prime Minister on walk around Kiev. (President of Ukraine, Public domain)

The mood in NATO, reflected in the public statements of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (“If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wins, that is not only a big defeat for the Ukrainians, but it will be the defeat, and dangerous, for all of us”) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine”) was to use the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as a proxy war designed to weaken Russia to the point that it would never again seek to undertake a Ukraine-like military adventure. [Coupled with an ill-fated economic war, it was also designed to bring down the Russian government, as President Joe Biden admitted last spring.]

This policy served as the impetus for the injection of what would amount to well over $100 billion worth of assistance, including tens of billions of dollars of advanced military equipment, to Ukraine.

This massive infusion of aid was a game-changing event, allowing Ukraine to transition from a primarily defensive posture to one that saw a reconstituted Ukrainian military, trained, equipped and organized to NATO standards, launching large-scale counterattacks that succeeded in driving Russian forces from large swaths of Ukraine. It was not, however, a game winning strategy — far from it.

Military Math

The impressive Ukrainian military accomplishments that were facilitated through the provision of military aid by NATO came at a huge cost in lives and material. While the exact calculation of casualties suffered by either side is difficult to come by, there is widespread acknowledgement, even among the Ukrainian government, that Ukrainian losses have been heavy.

With the battle-lines currently stabilized, the question of where the war goes from here comes down to basic military math — in short, a causal relationship between two basic equations revolving around burn rates (how quickly losses are sustained) versus replenishment rates (how quickly such losses can be replaced.) The calculus bodes ill for Ukraine.

Neither NATO nor the United States appear able to sustain the quantity of weapons that have been delivered to Ukraine, which enabled the successful fall counteroffensives against the Russians.

This equipment has largely been destroyed, and despite Ukraine’s insistence on its need for more tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery and air defense, and while new military aid appears to be forthcoming, it will be late to the battle and in insufficient quantities to have a game-winning impact on the battlefield.

Likewise, the casualty rates sustained by Ukraine, which at times reach more than 1,000 men per day, far exceed its ability to mobilize and train replacements.

President Joe Biden delivering “stand with Ukraine” remarks on May 3, 2022, at the Lockheed Martin facility in Troy, Alabama. (White House, Adam Schultz)

Russia, on the other hand, is in the process of finalizing a mobilization of more than 300,000 men who appear to be equipped with the most advanced weapons systems in the Russian arsenal.

When these forces arrive in full on the battlefield, sometime by the end of January, Ukraine will have no response. This harsh reality, when coupled with the annexation by Russia of more than 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory and infrastructure damage approaching $1 trillion, bodes ill for the future of Ukraine.

There is an old Russian saying, “A Russian harnesses slowly but rides fast.” This appears to be what is transpiring regarding the Russian-Ukraine conflict.

Both Ukraine and its Western partners are struggling to sustain the conflict they initiated when they rejected a possible peace settlement in April 2022. Russia, after starting off on its back feet, has largely regrouped, and appears poised to resume large-scale offensive operations which neither Ukraine nor its Western partners have an adequate answer for.

Moreover, given the duplicitous history of the Minsk Accords, it is unlikely Russia can be dissuaded from undertaking its military offensive through diplomacy. As such, 2023 appears to be shaping up as a year of continued violent confrontation leading to a decisive Russian military victory.

How Russia leverages such a military victory into a sustainable political settlement that manifests itself in regional peace and security is yet to be seen.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #52 on: January 25, 2023, 04:27:13 PM »
SCOTT RITTER: The Nightmare of NATO Equipment Being Sent to Ukraine
January 24, 2023
The West’s recent approval of more military assistance for Kiev risks nuclear nightmare, fails Ukrainian expectations and rebukes the World War II history enshrined in a prominent Soviet war memorial in Berlin.

Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten, West Berlin. (Mike Peel, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

On Tuesday the White House decided that it would send about 30 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which was seen as political cover for Germany, which decided to ship 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev.

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

Early on the morning of May 2, 1945, General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8thGuards Army, accepted the surrender of the German garrison of Berlin.

Two days prior, soldiers from the 150th Rifle Division, part of the Soviet 5th Shock Army, had raised the victory banner of the Red Army over the Reichstag. An hour after the banner went up, Adolf Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, committed suicide in his study inside the Furhrerbunker.

Chuikov, the hero of Stalingrad whose battered 62nd Army was renamed the 8th Guards Army in honor of their victory in holding that city in the face of a massive German onslaught, had led his troops into the heart of the Nazi capital, battling stubborn Nazi resistance in the Tiergarten district of Berlin, where the den of the Nazi beast was located. The Soviet general was rewarded for the courage and sacrifice of his soldiers by being in position to accept the German surrender.

“Raising a flag over the Reichstag” photo by Yevgeny Khaldei. (Russian Defense Ministry)

In honor of this accomplishment, and the sacrifice it entailed, the Soviet Army inaugurated, in November 1945, a commemorative monument along the Tiergarten. Constructed from red marble and granite stripped away from the ruins of Adolf Hitler’s Neue Reichskanzlei (New Imperial Chancellery), the monument, consisting of a concave colonnade of six joined axes flanked by Red Army artillery and a pair of T-34 tanks, with a giant bronze statue of a victorious Red Army soldier standing watch from the center pylon.

From 1945 until 1993, when the Russian Army withdrew from Berlin, Soviet guards stood guard over the monument. Since that time, the monument has been maintained according to the terms of the German Reunification Treaty of 1990, which brought West and East Germany together in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Carved into the granite of the monument, in Cyrillic letters, is an inscription that reads “Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in battle with the German fascist occupiers for the freedom and independence of the Soviet Union.”

In a turn of events which must have Vasily Chuikov and the Soviet heroes to whom the Tiergarten war memorial was dedicated turning in their graves, the forces of fascism have once again reared their odious heads, this time manifested in a Ukrainian government motivated by the neo-Nazi ultra-nationalistic ideology of Stepan Bandera and his ilk.

Soviet military commander Vasily Chuikov, second from left, at the 62nd Army command post in Stalingrad in December 1942. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Bandera and his murderous movement had been physically defeated by Soviet forces in the decade following the end of the Second World War. However, its ideology survived in a western Ukrainian diaspora formed from the survivors of that movement who found safe haven in West Germany (where Bandera himself settled until assassinated by the Soviet KGB in 1959); Canada (where Chrystia Freeland, the granddaughter of a former publisher of pro-Bandera propaganda, currently serves as deputy prime minister), and the United States (where the followers of Stepan Bandera have constructed a “heroes park” outside Ellenville, New York, including a bust of Bandera and other neo-Nazi Ukrainian ultra-nationalists.)

[Related: SCOTT RITTER: The Death List]

The ideology also survived in the shadows of the western Ukrainian districts that had been absorbed by the Soviet Union following the dismemberment of Poland in 1939, and later, after the reoccupation of these territories by Soviet forces in 1945.

CIA-Funded Political Underground

Here, beginning in 1956, (following the de-Stalinization policies instituted by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the aftermath of his “secret speech” to members of the Communist Party), thousands of members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)/Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Bandera (OUN-B), who had been arrested and convicted by Soviet authorities, were released from the Gulag and returned to their homes, ostensibly to be reintegrated into Soviet society. This reintegration never materialized, however.

Instead, Ukrainian fascists, funded by the C.I.A., operated as a political underground, running sabotage operations and fomenting anti-Soviet/anti-Russian ideology amongst a population where the precepts of Ukrainian nationalist ideology ran strong.

[Related: JOE LAURIA: On the Influence of Neo-Nazism in Ukraine]

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, at the end of 1991, these Ukrainian nationalists emerged from the shadows and began organizing into political parties backed by gangs of violence-prone extremists who promulgated, through physical intimidation, a cult of personality built around the person of Stepan Bandera.

Protesters with OUN-B’s red and black flag among Maidan Square protesters in Kiev, December 2013. (Nessa Gnatoush, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Political parties such as Svoboda (“Freedom”) and the Right Sector came into being. Although lacking support among the majority of the Ukrainian population, these groups were able to leverage their penchant for organization and violence into a dominant role in the riots that broke out in Maidan Square in Kiev, in early 2014, that led to the ouster of democratically-elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and his replacement by a government of people hand-picked by the United States, including the future prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

An intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, which took place in the days prior to the ouster of Yanukovych in February 2014, had Nuland positioning Yatsenyuk as the future leader of Ukraine and, in this context, was actively encouraging Yatsenyuk to coordinate with Oleh Tyahnybok, the head of Svoboda, who was being openly backed by armed radicals from the Right Sector.

May 16, 2015: Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (left) at the police patrol training site in Kiev, Ukraine. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Flickr)

The close coordination between the new post-Maidan government of Ukraine and the pro-Bandera Svoboda and Right Sector political parties manifested in these organizations having an oversized role in Ukrainian security affairs.

By way of example, Dmytro Yarosh, the former head of Right Sector, became an adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi. In that role, Yarosh oversaw the incorporation of numerous volunteer units of the Right Sector into the regular armed forces of Ukraine.

One of the units created because of this reorganization is the 67th Separate Mechanized Brigade, which since November 2022 has been undergoing training in the United Kingdom.

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The fact that NATO members, such as the United Kingdom, are actively involved in the training of Ukrainian forces is well-established. In July 2022 the British Defense Ministry announced that it would begin training approximately 10,000 Ukrainian troops every four months.

That they are playing an active role in providing combat training to ardent neo-Nazi military formations is something Western media outlets appear to eschew.

Ukraine Defense Contact Group

The issue, however, is far more complex — and controversial — than simply providing basic military training to a few thousand adherents of Stepan Bandera’s hate-filled ideology.

The 67th Separate Mechanized Brigade is likely to be one of three Ukrainian brigade-sized formations that will be trained and equipped using billions of dollars of military assistance recently approved during the eighth session of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

The contact group was first convened at the sprawling U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, in April 2022, and has served as the primary mechanism of coordination between the armed forces of Ukraine and NATO regarding the provision of training and material support to the Ukrainian military.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video at the eighth Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Jan. 20. (DoD, Jack Sanders)

The most recent convocation of the Ramstein Contact Group took place in the shadow of an interview given by the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, to The Economist, in December 2022. According to Zaluzhnyi, the primary problem facing Ukraine was the need “to hold this line [i.e., the Soledar-Bakhmut defensive belt] and not lose any more ground.”

Since that interview, Soledar has fallen to the Russians, and Bakhmut is threatened with being surrounded. Moreover, Russian forces are on the offensive north and south of the Bakhmut front, in some instances advancing up to seven kilometers per day.

Zaluzhnyi also stated that the second priority for Ukraine was

“to get ready for this war which can happen in February [2023]. To be able to wage a war with fresh forces and reserves. Our troops are all tied up in battles now, they are bleeding. They are bleeding and are being held together solely by courage, heroism, and the ability of their commanders to keep the situation under control.”

The Ukrainian commander noted that the February “war” would have Ukraine resuming the attack:

“We have made all the calculations — how many tanks, artillery we need and so on and so on. This is what everyone needs to concentrate on right now. May the soldiers in the trenches forgive me, it’s more important to focus on the accumulation of resources right now for the more protracted and heavier battles that may begin next year.”

The goal of this offensive, Zaluzhnyi said, was to push Russia back to the borders that existed on Feb. 23, 2022, the start of the Russian invasion. He also indicated that the liberation of Crimea was an objective.

“In order to reach the borders of Crimea, as of today we need to cover a distance of 84 km to Melitopol [a strategic city in the south of the Donetsk Republic]. By the way, this is enough for us, because Melitopol would give us a full fire control of the land corridor, because from Melitopol we can already fire at the Crimean Isthmus.”

General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, right, with Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi during the Battle of Kiev, March 2022. (Commander in Chief of Ukraine, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Zaluzhnyi exuded confidence. “I know that I can beat this enemy,” he said. “But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFV’s [infantry fighting vehicles], 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23rd.”

Zaluzhnyi spoke of an upcoming meeting with U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I will tell him [Milley] how much it is worth, how much it costs. If we don’t get it, of course we will fight to the end. But as a movie character said, ‘I don’t vouch for the consequences.’ The consequences are not hard to foresee. This is what we have to do.”

In short, Zaluzhnyi was saying he could win the war with Russia if he received the requested amount of military equipment. Otherwise, Ukraine would likely lose the conflict.

The Eighth Session

The eighth session of the Ramstein Contact Group convened on Jan. 20 and the Ukrainians pressed hard for their Western allies to provide the material support Zaluzhnyi had requested.

Defense ministers from more than 50 countries participated, including Ukraine’s Oleksii Reznikov who, speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum a few days before the Ramstein meeting, declared that “We [Ukraine] are carrying out NATO’s mission today. They aren’t shedding their blood. We’re shedding ours. That’s why they’re required to supply us with weapons.”

Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov, right, with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 8, 2022. (DoD, Chad J. McNeeley)

The Contact Group took the Ukrainian demand for material support under consideration, and by the end of the meeting had committed to providing Ukraine with a multi-billion dollar support package, including air defense weapons, artillery ammunition, support vehicle, and (perhaps most importantly) approximately 240 of the 500 infantry fighting vehicles it had requested, broken down roughly into one battalion (59 vehicles) of U.S.-made M-2 Bradleys, two battalions (90 vehicles) of M-1126s, one battalion (40 vehicles) of German Marders and one battalion (approximately 50 vehicles) of Swedish-made CV90s.

The Ramstein Contact Group also promised delivery of four self-propelled artillery battalions, consisting of 19 Swedish-made Archer’s, 18 British-made AS-90’s, 18 U.S.-made M-109 Paladin’s, and a dozen French-made CEASAR’s. When added to the 24 towed FH-70 pieces, the total of artillery pieces being sent to Ukraine amounts to just under 100 artillery pieces, a far cry from the 500 requested by Zaluzhnyi.

Missing from the Ramstein Contact Group list was anything remotely resembling the 300 tanks Zaluzhnyi had requested; the best Ukraine’s European allies could muster [until Tuesday] was a promise from the United Kingdom to supply a company’s worth (14) of Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

Ukrainian trenchline at the Battle of Bakhmut, November 2022. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Zaluzhnyi, in his interview with The Economist, had indicated that he could not accomplish his planned offensive with anything less than the three armored and three mechanized brigade-equivalents he had requested.

The collective West had responded with barely two brigade’s worth of equipment.

These two, when added to a third mechanized brigade that had previously been formed and was undergoing training in Poland, gave the Ukrainian general half of what he claimed he needed to launch a successful offensive against Russia.

For U.S. General Milley, the equipment shortfall wasn’t the issue — training was. Prior to arriving at Ramstein, Milley toured the sprawling Grafenwoehr training grounds in Germany. There the U.S. Army is in the process of training some 600 Ukrainian soldiers to effectively move and coordinate their company-and battalion-size units in battle, using combined artillery, armor and ground forces.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at podium during a press briefing after a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Jan. 20. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin on left. (DoD, Jack Sanders)

Speaking to reporters, General Milley said such training was critical in helping Ukraine recapture territory lost to Russia last year.  The goal of this training, Milley said, is for incoming weapons and equipment to be delivered to Ukraine so the newly trained forces will be able to use it “sometime before the spring rains show up. That would be ideal.”

What the West is Giving

Operational training, no matter how competently delivered and absorbed, does not paint an accurate picture of the true combat capability being turned over to Ukraine by the West. The reality is most of this equipment won’t last a month under combat conditions; even if the Russians don’t destroy them, maintenance issues will.

Take, for instance, the 59 M-2 Bradley vehicles being supplied by the United States. According to anecdotal information obtained from Reddit, the Bradley is, to quote, “a maintenance NIGHTMARE.”

“I can’t even begin to commiserate how f***ing awful maintenance on a Bradley is,” the author, a self-described U.S. Army veteran who served in a Bradley unit in Iraq, declared.

“Two experienced crews MIGHT be able to change one Brad’s track in 3 or 4 hours, if nothing goes wrong (something always goes wrong). Then you got the track adjuster arms, the shock arms, the roadwheels, the sprocket itself, that all need maintained and replaced as needed. I haven’t even started talking about the engine/transmission pack yet. When you do services on that, it’s not like you just raise the engine deck lid. You got to take the armor OFF the Bradley so an M88 Wrecker vehicle can use its crane to LIFT the engine/tranny out of the hull.”

The Stryker isn’t any better. According to a recent article in Responsible Statecraft, U.S. soldiers who used the vehicle in both Iraq and Afghanistan called the Stryker “a very good combat vehicle, so long as it traveled on roads, it wasn’t raining — and didn’t have to fight.”

Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, M1126. (U.S. Army, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

The Stryker is also a difficult system to maintain properly. One of the critical features of the Stryker is the “height management system,” or HMS. In short, it is what keeps the hull from riding on the tires. A failure to constantly maintain and monitor the HMS system will result in the hull rubbing up against the tires, causing tire failure and a non-operable vehicle.

The HMS is complex, and a failure to maintain or operate one component will result in the failure of the entire system. The likelihood of the future Ukrainian operators of the Stryker properly maintaining the HMS under combat conditions is near-zero — they will lack the training as well as the “logistical support” necessary (such as spare parts).

The German Marder IFV appears to represent a similar maintenance headache for the Ukrainians: according to a 2021 article in The National Interest, “The vehicle was considered unreliable from the outset: Tracks rapidly wore out, transmissions often failed, and soldiers could not easily remove the vehicle’s engine for field maintenance.”

While Germany is preparing to invest a significant amount of money to upgrade the Marder, this hasn’t yet been done. Ukraine is inheriting an old weapons system that brings with it a considerable maintenance problem Ukraine is not prepared to properly handle.

The Swedish CV 90 saw some limited combat in Afghanistan when deployed with the Norwegian Army. While there is not enough publicly available data about the maintainability of this system, one only needs to note that even if the SV 90 proves easy to maintain, it represents a completely different maintenance problem from that of the Bradly, Stryker, or Marder.

In short, to properly operate the five battalion-equivalents of infantry fighting vehicles being supplied their NATO partners, Ukraine will need to train its maintenance troops on four completely different systems, each with its own unique set of problems and separate logistical/spare part support requirements.

It is, literally, a logistical nightmare that will ultimately prove to be the Achilles heel of the Ramstein tranche of heavy equipment.

But even here, neither NATO nor Ukraine seems able to see the forest for the trees. Rather than acknowledging that the material being provided is inadequate to the task of empowering Ukraine to carry out large-scale offensive operations against Russia, the two sides began haranguing each other over the issue of tanks, namely the failure of Germany to step up to the plate in Ramstein and clear the way for the provision to Ukraine of hundreds of modern Leopard 2 main battle tanks.

German History & Optics

The Ramstein meeting was hampered by concern within the German Parliament over the optics associated with Germany providing tanks which would be used to fight Russians in Ukraine.

This angst was perhaps best captured by Petr Bystron of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party. “German tanks [fighting] against Russia in Ukraine,” Bystron challenged his colleagues, “remember, your grandfathers tried to do the same trick, together with [Ukrainian nationalists] Melnik, Bandera and their supporters.

“The result was immense suffering, millions of casualties on both sides and, eventually, Russian tanks came here, to Berlin. Two of those tanks remain on permanent display nearby, and you must keep this in mind when you pass them by every morning,” Bystron said, referring to the two Soviet T-34 tanks at the Tiergarten memorial to fallen Soviet soldiers.

Soviet War Memorial in the Tiergarten, West Berlin. (Klearchos Kapoutsis, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The issue of Leopard tanks, however, was more political than technical, with Poland threatening to ignore Germany’s refusal to allow the tanks to be sent to Ukraine, announcing that it was prepared to dispatch 14 of its own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in the near future. When combined with the 14 Challenger 2 tanks being promised by the British, Ukraine was getting 28 of the 300 tanks it said it needed for any future offensive. [Now roughly 58 with the U.S. Abrams.]

The numerical disparities and maintenance difficulties aside, NATO politicians seem quite pleased with what was accomplished at Ramstein. According to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, in an address to Parliament,

“The international community recognizes that equipping Ukraine to push Russia out of its territory is as important as equipping them to defend what they already have. Today’s package is an important increase in Ukraine’s capabilities. It means they can go from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil.”

Wallace seems to ignore that by empowering Ukraine to expel Russian troops from what are — following the annexation of the four former Ukrainian territories (Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson) last September — permanently part of the Russian Federation, NATO would be potentially creating the conditions under which Russia would be able to doctrinally employ nuclear weapons. Those conditions would be to defend against the accumulation of conventional military power capable of threatening the existential survival of Russia.

Russia, however, has not ignored this. Speaking after the Ramstein Contact Group finished its meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters “Potentially, this is extremely dangerous, it will mean bringing the conflict to a whole new level, which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and pan-European security.”

Senior Russian officials chimed in on social media. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, declared on his Telegram channel that:

“It should be clear for everyone — we will destroy any weapons supplied to the Zelensky’s regime by either the United States or NATO. That is true now as it was true during the Great Patriotic War. The emergence of tanks, bearing Nazi insignia, on the former Soviet soil unequivocally makes us aim at toppling the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine and creating normal conditions so that the neighboring peoples in the region could live peacefully like in the old days.”

Dmitri Medvedev, a former Russian president and close adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, added on Twitter that those who promote a Russian defeat risk unleashing global ruin. “None of them gets it that a nuclear power’s loss of a conventional war can lead to a nuclear one. Nuclear powers haven’t been defeated in major conflicts crucial for their destiny.”

The Consequences for Ukraine

The reality is, however, that the consequences of the Ramstein Contact Group’s work will be far more detrimental to Ukraine than Russia.

Under pressure from the West to carry out a major offensive designed to expel Russian forces from the territories captured last year, General Zaluzhnyi will be compelled to sacrifice whatever reserves he would be able to assemble in the aftermath of Ramstein for the purpose of engaging in fruitless attacks against a Russian opponent that is far different from the one Ukraine faced in September and October of last year.

Then, a reconstituted Ukrainian army, bolstered by tens of billions of dollars of NATO equipment, training and operational support, was able to take advantage of over-extended Russian forces to recapture large swaths of territory in Kharkov and Kherson.

Today, Russia’s military presence in Ukraine is a far cry from what it was in the autumn of 2022. In the aftermath of Putin’s September 2022 decision to mobilize 300,000 reservists, Russia has not only consolidated the frontline in eastern Ukraine, assuming a more defensible posture, but also reinforced its forces with some 80,000 mobilized troops, allowing for Russia to sustain offensive operations in the Donetsk regions while solidifying its defenses in Kherson and Lugansk.

From Feb. 24 through the autumn of 2022, Russia deviated significantly from how it doctrinally prosecutes armed conflict. Moving forward, Russia will be waging war by the book. Defensive positions will be laid in a manner designed to defeat concerted NATO attack, both in terms of troop density along the frontline, but also in depth (something lacking in the Kharkov offensive in September 2022) and with sufficient dedicated fire support (again, lacking in September 2022).

By General Zaluzhnyi’s own admission, Ukraine has insufficient forces for the task. Even if Ukraine were able to concentrate all three brigades’ worth of men and material that are in the pipeline following the Ramstein Contact Group meeting at one place at the same time, the 20,000 or so troops this represents would be unable to breach a Russian defensive position laid out in doctrinal fashion.

Ukraine and NATO should heed the history lesson that Petr Bystron presented to his fellow German parliamentarians — German tanks do not historically fare well against Russian tanks on Ukrainian soil.

And Ben Wallace and Mark Milley should pay attention to the order of battle of the Russian forces opposing the Ukrainian Army, especially around the critical battlefields in and around the strategic city of Bakhmut. There, Russian soldiers belonging to the 8th Guards Army are poised to continue in the tradition of Vasily Chuikov’s heroes of Stalingrad and Berlin, destroying the forces of fascism on the field of battle.

While the modern-day soldiers of the 8th Guards Army may not be mounting a new generation of tanks on display in the Berlin Tiergarten, rest assured they know fully well their historical legacy and what is expected of them.

This, more than anything else, is the true expression of the Ramstein effect, a cause-effect relationship that the West does not seem either able or willing to discern before it is too late for the tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers whose lives are about to be sacrificed on an altar of national hubris and ignorance.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #53 on: January 28, 2023, 04:15:03 PM »
The war in Ukraine to maintain the European Union under tutelage
by Thierry Meyssan
It is difficult to admit, but the Anglo-Saxons do not hide from it. To paraphrase a famous quote from the first Secretary General of the Alliance, Nato was designed to "keep Russia out, the Americans in and the European Union under trusteeship". There is no other possible interpretation of the continuation of the useless "sanctions" against Moscow and the vain and deadly fighting in Ukraine.


But why have Josep Borrell, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, who have been convicted of corruption and proven incompetent, become the leaders of the European Union? To do what Jens Stoltenberg tells them.
It has been almost a year since the Russian army entered Ukraine to implement Security Council Resolution 2202. NATO, rejecting this reason, considers that Russia invaded Ukraine to annex it. In four oblasts, the referendums on joining the Russian Federation seem to confirm Nato’s interpretation, except that the history of Novorossia confirms Russia’s explanation. The two narratives continue in parallel, without ever overlapping.

For my part, having edited a daily newsletter during the Kosovo war [1], I remember that the Nato narrative at the time was contested by all the Balkan news agencies, without my having the means to know who was right. Two days after the end of the conflict, journalists from the Atlantic Alliance countries were able to go to the scene and see that they had been fooled. The regional news agencies were right. Nato had been lying all along. Later, when I was a member of the Libyan government, NATO, which had a Security Council mandate to protect the population, misused it to overthrow the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, killing 120,000 of the people it was supposed to protect.
These experiences show us that the West lies shamelessly to cover its actions.

Today, NATO assures us that it is not at war since it has not deployed any troops in Ukraine. However, we are witnessing, on the one hand, gigantic arms transfers to Ukraine so that the Ukrainian integral nationalists [2], trained by NATO, resist Moscow and, on the other hand, an economic war, also without precedent, to destroy the Russian economy. Given the scale of this war by Ukrainians, a confrontation between NATO and Russia seems possible at any moment.

A new World War is however highly unlikely, at least in the short term: indeed, the actions already contradict the NATO narrative.

The war goes on and on. Not because the two sides are equal, but because NATO does not want to confront Russia. We saw this three months ago at the G20 summit in Bali. With Russia’s agreement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky intervened in the debates on video from Kiev. He called for Russia’s exclusion from the G20, as it had been from the G8 after Crimea joined the Russian Federation. To his surprise and that of the Nato members present at the summit, the United States and the United Kingdom did not support him [3]. Washington and London agreed that there was a line that should not be crossed. And for good reason: modern Russian weapons are far superior to those of Nato, whose technology dates from the 1990s. In the event of a confrontation, there is no doubt that Russia would suffer, but that it would crush the West within days.

In the light of this event, we must re-read what is happening before our eyes.
The influx of weapons to Ukraine is a decoy: the majority of the materials sent do not reach the battlefield. We announced that they would be sent to start another war in the Sahel [4], which the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has publicly confirmed by attesting that many of the weapons destined for Ukraine were already in the hands of African jihadists [5]. In any case, building up an arsenal of odds and ends, adding weapons of different ages and calibers, is useless. No one has the logistics to supply fighters with multiple munitions. The conclusion is that these weapons are not being given to Ukraine to win.

The New York Times sounded the alarm by explaining that the Western defense industry is unable to produce sufficient weapons and ammunition. Stocks are already depleted and Western armies are being forced to give away the materials needed for their own defense. This was confirmed by the US Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, who warned about the current stripping of the US military [6]. He said that if the US military-industrial complex does not manage to produce more weapons than Russia within six months, the US military will not be able to accomplish its mission.

First of all, if US politicians want to start Armageddon, they do not have the means to do it in the next six months and probably will not have them afterwards either.

Let us now study the economic war. Let’s leave aside its camouflage under a chastened vocabulary: "sanctions". I have already dealt with this issue and pointed out that they are not court decisions and are illegal under international law. Let’s look at currencies. The dollar crushed the ruble for two months, then it went back down to the value it had from 2015 to 2020, without Russia having borrowed massively. In other words, the so-called "sanctions" had a negligible effect on Russia. They severely disrupted its trade for the first two months, but are no longer a problem today. Moreover, they did not cost the US anything and did not affect it at all.

We know that, while prohibiting their allies from importing Russian hydrocarbons, the United States is importing them via India and thus replenishing the stocks from which they drew during the first months of the conflict [7].

On the other hand, we are observing an upheaval in the European economy, which is forced to borrow massively to support the Kiev regime. We have no statistics on the extent of these loans, nor do we know who the creditors are. It is clear, however, that European governments are appealing to Washington under the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. Everything the Europeans give to Ukraine has a cost, but it will not be accounted for until after the war. Only then will the bill be established. And it will be exorbitant. Until then, everything is fine.

The sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines on September 26, 2022, was not claimed afterwards, but beforehand by US President Joe Biden on February 7, 2022, at the White House, in the presence of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. It is true that he only committed himself to destroying Nord Stream 2 in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but this was only because the journalist who interviewed him had framed the subject without daring to imagine that he could also do so for Nord Stream 1. By this declaration and even more so by this sabotage, Washington has shown the contempt in which it holds its German ally. Nothing has changed since the first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Ismay, declared that the real aim of the Alliance was "to keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down" [8]. The Soviet Union disappeared and Germany took the lead in the European Union. If he were still alive, Lord Ismay would probably say that the objective of NATO is to keep Russia out, the Americans in, and the European Union under control.

Germany, for whom the sabotage of these pipelines is the most serious blow since the end of the Second World War, took it without flinching. At the same time, it swallowed the Biden plan to rescue the US economy at the expense of the German car industry. To all this, it reacted by moving closer to China and avoiding anger with Poland, the new US asset in Europe. It is now proposing to rebuild its industry by developing munitions factories for the Alliance.

As a result, Germany’s acceptance of US suzerainty has been shared by the European Union, which Berlin controls [9].

Second remark: the Germans and the members of the European Union as a whole have taken note of a decline in their standard of living. They are, together with the Ukrainians, the only victims of the current war, and they have come to terms with it.

In 1992, when the Russian Federation had just been born on the ruins of the Soviet Union, Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, commissioned the Straussian [10] Paul Wolfowitz to write a report which has only come to us largely redacted. Excerpts from the original report published by the New York Times and the Washington Post show that Washington no longer considered Russia a threat, but the European Union a potential rival [11]. It stated: "While the United States supports the project of European integration, we must be careful to prevent the emergence of a purely European security system that would undermine NATO, especially its integrated military command structure. In other words, Washington approves of a European defence subordinate to NATO, but is ready to destroy the European Union if it imagines itself becoming a political power capable of standing up to it.

The current U.S. strategy, which does not weaken Russia but the European Union under the pretext of fighting Russia, is the second concrete application of the Wolfowitz doctrine. Its first application, in 2003, consisted in punishing Jacques Chirac’s France and Gerhard Schröder’s Germany for having opposed NATO’s destruction of Iraq [12].

This is exactly what the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said at a press conference after the Allies’ meeting in Ramstein on January 20. While he had demanded that each participant donate weapons to Kiev, he acknowledged that "This year, it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine. In other words, the Allies must bleed, but there is no hope of winning anything in 2023 over Russia.

Third remark: This war is not being waged against Moscow, but to weaken the European Union.

Thierry Meyssan
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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #54 on: February 01, 2023, 03:01:51 AM »
SCOTT RITTER: Germany Risks Forgetting Its History
January 31, 2023
In deciding to supply Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, Olaf Scholtz breaks the self-imposed constraints on the military’s role in German foreign policy that had been in place since the end of WWII.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, January 18, 2021. (NATO, Flickr)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

Two days before Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, under heavy pressure from Washington and pro-war members of his own government, announced that Germany would be sending 14 Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Answering media questions at the German Bundestag, Scholz declared:

“It is right that we act closely with our international partners to support Ukraine — financially, with humanitarian aid, but also with weapons deliveries. Now we can say that, in Europe, it is us and Britain who have made the most weapons available for Ukraine. Germany will always be at the forefront when it comes to supporting Ukraine.”

Two days later, at her own press conference, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded:

“We all remember what are German tanks. These are machines which became a symbol, not only of death…not only of deathly ideology. They became a symbol of misanthropy, as a global existential threat to the planet.

When you read about Nazism and fascism about those times in the Second World War, I think that these SS uniforms and these very German tanks and these symbols of the Third Reich had become a global symbol of the fall of the humankind into the abyss of hatred and horror and massacre.”

Zakharova had more to say:

“It was exactly the German tanks which became the symbol — the anti-symbol, I would say — which will stay in the memory of all humankind forever. Now these German tanks will once again be on our land. … So what does Berlin expect? That these armored vehicles, with all their symbols back then and now, that they will cross our villages and settlements? We remember the end of those times. Does Berlin remember?”

The Morgenthau Plan

Henry Morgenthau, Jr., center, with FDR in Poughkeepsie, NY, Nov. 6, 1944.  (FDR Presidential Library & Museum/Wikimedia Commoms)

In the aftermath of the horrific atrocities inflicted on the world by Nazi Germany, there were many who believed that Germany no longer had the moral right to exist.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. was one of those people. In 1944 he promulgated a plan, subsequently known as the “Morgenthau Plan,” which called for the demilitarization and dismemberment of Germany after the Second World War.

“It should be the aim of the Allied Forces,” Morgenthau wrote, “to accomplish the complete demilitarization of Germany in the shortest possible period of time after surrender. This means completely disarming the German Army and people (including the removal or destruction of all war material), the total destruction of the whole German armament industry, and the removal or destruction of other key industries which are basic to military strength.”

Morgenthau singled out the Ruhr Area for particular attention. “Here lies the heart of German industrial power, the cauldron of wars,” he wrote. “This area should not only be stripped of all presently existing industries but so weakened and controlled that it cannot in the foreseeable future become an industrial area.”

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Morgenthau didn’t just target the industrial capabilities, but the human potential to sustain them. “All people within the area should be made to understand that this area will not again be allowed to become an industrial area. Accordingly, all people and their families within the area having special skills or technical training should be encouraged to migrate permanently from the area and should be as widely dispersed as possible,” he said.

New Security Model

Leopard 2A4 tank in Singapore, 2010. (CABAL, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

This history seems lost on Armin Papperger, the CEO of Rheinmetall AG, the producer of the Leopard 2 tank. The headquarters of Rheinmetall AG is in Dusseldorf, the capital of North Rhine–Westphalia Land, the epicenter of the Ruhr Area targeted by the Morgenthau Plan. Papperger and his armaments company are the benefactors of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Zeitenwende (“watershed”) policy, announced with great fanfare on Feb. 27, 2022 — three days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In this speech, Sholtz turned his back on the German experiences of both the First and Second World Wars, where unrestrained German militarism worked in concert with German industrialists to build massive military capability, which was then married to aggressive German foreign policies that turned into global conflict.

Sholtz was now proclaiming military-based deterrence as the national security model for Germany going forward, including a massive increase in defense expenditures that would dramatically increase the profit margins of companies like Papperger’s Rheinmetall AG.

Rheinmetall headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany. (Dacse, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

According to Papperger, Scholz’s Zeitenwende has indeed been a watershed moment for Germany, allowing many Germans to see past the self-imposed constraints on the German military’s role in German foreign policy that had been in place since the end of the Second World War.

“In former times we were insulted and sometimes threatened,” Papperger told a reporter. “Today people say and write to me: ‘Thank God you’re around.’”

Papperger appears unapologetic about the role that he and his company have played in the dispatch of German tanks to Ukraine. “I think about what weapons can do,” he said. “But I also think about what can happen when you don’t have weapons. You can see that right now in Ukraine.”

Scholz, Papperger, and their ilk would do well to reflect on the example set by former German Chancellor Willie Brandt.

Memorial plate in Warsaw commemorating Willie Brandt’s “Warsaw genuflection.”  (Szczebrzeszynski, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

On Dec. 7, 1970, Brandt travelled to Poland where, some 25 years after the end of the Second World War, he was seeking to sign a treaty on the mutual renunciation of the use of force and the recognition of the country’s post-war borders.

Cognizant of the moral responsibility he bore toward Germany’s history with the Poles, he laid a wreath at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw. But Brandt did not go through the motions of simply bowing his head; he fell to his knees in what is now known as the “Warsaw Genuflection,” where he remained for more than a minute.

From the symbolic action of the “Warsaw Genuflection” emerged what became known as Ostpolitik, the process of normalizing relations and openness between West Germany and “the East” — Russia and the nations and territories which, in their totality, represented the major victims of Nazi Germany’s lawless wars of aggression.

Elements of Ostpolitik could be found in the policies of long-time German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who headed the German government for 16 years, finally stepping down in 2021 following elections which saw her Christian Democratic Union party defeated by a coalition led by Social Democrat Scholz and Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock.

Merkel, a fluent Russian speaker, openly promoted policies built around the notion of supporting trade with Russia, noting that given its size, Germany simply could not get away with ignoring their large neighbor to the east.

Merkel’s Betrayal

But there was a darker side to Merkel’s Russia policy, one which manifested itself in the form of deceit and betrayal of both Brandt’s Ostpolitik and Russia’s seeming sincere search for a peaceful resolution to violence that had broken out in the Donbass in 2014 following the removal by a pro-Western coup of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his replacement by a hand-picked government dominated by Ukrainian nationalists.

“The 2014 Minsk agreement,” Merkel recently admitted to the German media, referring to a ceasefire agreement she had brokered together with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin, “was an attempt to give Ukraine time” to become stronger.

Merkel’s confession has been mirrored by both Poroshenko and Hollande, both of whom admit that the Minsk Accords were little more than a sham to buy NATO time to build a Ukrainian military capable of defeating Russian-backed forces in Donbass.

Oct. 17, 2014: Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, in talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Seen in this light, the announcement at the 2014 Munich Security Conference by then-Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that “Germany must be prepared to get involved earlier, more decisively and more substantially in foreign and security policy,” seems to be little more than the declaration of a policy designed to lead Germany and Russia down a path toward war.

Germany’s current foreign minister, Baerbock, has foregone all pretense as to what the true policy of Germany toward Russia is. During a keynote address last week to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, Baerbock declared, “We are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”

Baerbock was seeking to defend law, democracy and human rights in response to “Russia’s murderous attack on the people of Ukraine.”

Baerbock’s honesty, however, flies in the face of the stated policies of her own political party, the German Green Party, which in its 2021 manifesto staking out its positions on the eve of the German national elections explicitly called for banning “export of arms and military equipment” into war zones. “Germany should be a driving force in the political de-escalation of conflicts,” the manifesto says.

The hypocrisy of Baerbock and the Green Party is only matched by that of Scholz, and Merkel before him, both of whom have embraced a path of German militarism and foreign policy activism — the very policy courses that put Germany on their respective paths to disaster in both World Wars.

Loss of Independence

It was this policy direction that Zakharova was speaking about when she implored German leaders during her Sunday press conference “not to make the same mistakes of the German ancestors, that the German people paid a huge price for.”

Zakharova stared into the camera, addressing the German people:

“The day that it was allowed that Leopard tanks should be sent to Ukraine is historical because it has cemented the thing that we talked about, that Germany has completely lost sovereignty. And Scholz has just signed the loss of independent German foreign policy forever.”

Zakharova needed no help reinforcing her last point — she got all the help she needed from U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who during testimony before the U.S. Senate on Friday bragged to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that, “Like you, I am, and I think the administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”

Nord Stream 2 was a major piece of critical energy infrastructure built jointly by German and Russian companies at a cost of over $12 billion to deliver some 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to Germany per year. On Sept. 26, 2022, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was destroyed by man-made explosions. No nation has taken credit for the attacks, although Russia blames the U.S. and U.K. Nuland’s brazen comments suggest that the Russian’s might be correct.

Nuland’s comments come one year to the day after she made similar statements to the same Senate committee. “We continue to have strong, clear communication with our German allies,” Nuland said. “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”

Despite extreme reluctance, the same reluctance he showed towards shipping the Leopards, Scholz shut down Nord Stream 2 last year as it was about to open. It was a clear statement of the surrender of German sovereignty to U.S. policy interests.

Pity the German nation that is forgetting the lessons of its history.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #55 on: February 07, 2023, 06:46:51 PM »
US-Laid Trap for Russia Has Trapped West Instead
February 6, 2023
A month before the Feb. 24, 2022 Russian invasion, CN wrote that the U.S. was laying a trap to lure Russia into an economic, information and proxy war. All three have failed for the U.S.

U.S. President Joe Biden after delivering remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 24, 2022. (White House, Adam Schultz)

The U.S.-led West could not launch its economic, information and proxy war against Russia without cause. That cause would be Russia invading Ukraine to defend ethnic Russians in a civil war that had raged since 2014.

The economic war, intended to spur Russians to overthrow their government, has failed spectacularly. The ruble did not collapse despite sanctions on the Russian central bank. Nor has the economy.

Instead an alternative economic, commercial and financial system that excludes the West is rising with China, India and Russia in the lead, and most of Asia, Africa and Latin America taking part. It is the final collapse of Western colonialism. The sanctions instead backfired on the West, especially in Europe.

The information war has failed across the world. Only the United States and Europe, which consider itself “the world,” believe their own “information.” 

The proxy war is being lost on the ground, though more than $100 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine has created a bloodbath. There will either be a negotiated settlement in which Ukraine loses territory; a total Russian victory; or a third world war, potentially the final war.

The U.S. pushed Russia to the brink to provoke its intervention. It began with a 30-year NATO expansion eastward with NATO exercises on Russia’s borders. In December 2021 the West rejected Russian treaty proposals to roll back NATO troop deployments and missile installations in Eastern Europe.

A peace deal to end the 8-year Ukrainian civil war, sparked by the unconstitutional ouster of an elected president in 2014, was endorsed by the U.N. Security Council and was to be implemented under German and French auspices.

But the German and French leaders at the time recently admitted they had no intention of implementing the deal that would have given the ethnic Russian Donbass autonomy, while remaining part of Ukraine.

Instead Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande said Russia was deceived to give NATO time to build up Ukraine’s military to supposedly defend against a Russian invasion. Russia had eight years to invade, but instead pinned its hopes on the Minsk Accords to avoid a larger conflict. When a Western-backed offensive on Donbass began last February, Russia acted.

The West got its larger conflict.  On Feb. 4, 2022, 20 days before the Russian invasion, Consortium News laid out the trap being set for Russia, which one year later has trapped the West instead. The quicker it understand this, the better.

The U.S. and NATO are pouring weapons into Ukraine. Kiev says it plans no offensive against Donbass, but if Washington forced one, Moscow would have a major decision to make, writes Joe Lauria.

Ukrainian government tanks in eastern Ukraine, 2015. (OSCE)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Feb. 4, 2022

United States plans to weaken Russia by imposing punishing sanctions and bringing world condemnation on Moscow depend on Washington’s hysteria about a Russian invasion of Ukraine actually coming true. 

At his press conference on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin said,

“I still believe the United States is not that concerned about Ukraine’s security, though they may think about it on the sidelines. Its main goal is to contain Russia’s development. This is the whole point. In this sense, Ukraine is simply a tool to reach this goal. This can be done in different ways: by drawing us into some armed conflict, or compelling its allies in Europe to impose tough sanctions on us like the US is talking about today.”

At the U.N. Security Council on Monday, Russia’s U.N. envoy Vassily Nebenzia said: “Our Western colleagues say that de-escalation is needed, but they are the first to build up tension, enhance rhetoric and escalate the situation. Talks about an imminent war are provocative per se. It might seem you call for it, want it and wait for it to come, as if you wanted your allegations to come true.”

The war mania being drummed up in U.S. and British media recalls even Zbigniew Brzezinski‘s warning that “whipping up anti-Russian hysteria … could eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Without an invasion the U.S. seems lost. No sanctions, no world opprobrium, no weakening of Russia.

If the U.S. is trying to lure Russia into a trap in Ukraine, what might it look like?

Offensive on Donbass

Ukraine says it is not planning an offensive against the breakaway provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, which border Russia in the east.  But just ten days ago Ukrainian President Zelensky said:

Joe Biden has said a Russian invasion will come in February, when the ground freezes. But it could also be the time for a Kiev offensive to recover the two Donbass provinces. NATO nations are pouring weapons into Ukraine supposedly to defend it against the “invasion.” But the weapons transfers could instead be preparation for an offensive, on orders from Washington. The U.S. essentially runs the country since the 2014 U.S.-backed coup, which led the ethnic Russian provinces to declare independence from Ukraine and led to Kiev’s war against them. All Ukrainian leaders, including Zelensky, serve at the pleasure of the U.S. president.

The ground will also be frozen for Kiev’s forces in February, which was the month of the 2014 coup, while Putin was in Sochi for the Winter Olympics.  He is now in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, away from the command center in Moscow.  (The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was also the time Georgia instigated its war with Russia against its renegade provinces at the behest of the United States.) 

When Kiev stepped up attacks against Donbass in March and October 2021, Russia both times increased its troop deployments near the Ukraine border, which this time is being interpreted by Washington as plans for an “imminent” invasion.

It is an invasion the U.S. absolutely needs to implement its plans to weaken Russia (and ultimately to replace Putin with a pliable leader in the mold of Boris Yeltsin.) As Moscow has never openly threatened such an invasion, the U.S. appears to be devising ways to get it.

The Russian ‘Plot’

On Thursday U.S. intelligence leaked what it says is a diabolical scheme by Russia to stage a provocation in Donbass or even on Russian territory itself to provide a pretext for an invasion. The New York Times reported the lurid details of this supposed plot:

“The plan — which the United States hopes to spoil by making public — involves staging and filming a fabricated attack by the Ukrainian military either on Russian territory or against Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine.

Russia, the officials said, intended to use the video to accuse Ukraine of genocide against Russian-speaking people. It would then use the outrage over the video to justify an attack or have separatist leaders in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine invite a Russian intervention.

The video was intended to be elaborate, officials said, with plans for graphic images of the staged, corpse-strewn aftermath of an explosion and footage of destroyed locations. They said the video was also set to include faked Ukrainian military equipment, Turkish-made drones and actors playing Russian-speaking mourners.”

Of course unsaid is that the U.S. can get Kiev to launch an actual attack, even inside Russia, and then say it was the false flag event, to try to prompt the Russian intervention.

As usual, the U.S. “intelligence officials” refused to provide any evidence for such a plot. “Officials would not release any direct evidence of the Russian plan or specify how they learned of it, saying to do so would compromise their sources and methods,” the Times reported.

That prompted AP State Department correspondent Matt Lee to have this exchange with spokesman Ned Price on Thursday. Because Price was unable to produce any evidence he resorted to smearing Lee as taking “solace” in Russian information. 

So if the offensive comes this month, with or without a false flag, how will Russia respond?

Options for Russia

If a major offensive attempts to regain Donbass (likely downplayed by Western media) there’s no reason to doubt Russia would continue supplying arms, ammunition, intelligence and logistical support to the militias there.

However if those defenses begin failing, the Kremlin would have a major decision to make: intervene with regular Russian units to save the inhabitants, most of whom are Russian-speakers, or abandon them to avoid giving Washington the invasion it seeks to prompt the harsh U.S. response. 

If Russia did not intervene it would see massive refugees, destruction of the Minsk agreements that would give Donbass autonomy, and a hostile Ukrainian force at its borders. Putin would also have hell to pay from the Duma that has been moving legislation to annex the provinces to Russia, a move resisted so far by Putin. If they became part of Russia, Moscow would argue it was no invasion at all.

Political analyst Alexander Mercouris told CN Live! on Wednesday that he thought an offensive unlikely because of the low morale of senior Ukrainian military. But, he said:

“If there were an offensive in eastern Ukraine, Russia would back the militia … and if there were a chance of a Ukrainian breakthrough, I think the Russians would respond, and respond decisively. I don’t think this is speculation. If you look at the statements that Russian officials have made, including by [Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, including to a great extent Putin himself, I think it’s absolutely clear what the Russian response would be.”

But that, as long as Donbass remains part of Ukraine, would be the invasion Washington has been screaming about and much of the world has been prepared to believe is about to happen. And it would mean that Russia had taken the bait and fallen into the U.S. trap.

Precedents for a Trap 

April 18,1991: Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the “Highway of Death”, the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. (Joe Coleman,/Air Force Magazine,/Wikimedia Commons)

There are precedents for this. One is the clear signal given to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, in 1990 that the U.S. would do nothing to stop him from invading Kuwait. She told Saddam that the U.S. had no “opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” But it wasn’t just Glaspie that left the door open to Kuwait.  The Washington Post reported on Sept. 17, 1990:

“In the same week that Ambassador April Glaspie met a menacing tirade from Saddam with respectful and sympathetic responses, Secretary of State James Baker’s top public affairs aide, Margaret Tutwiler, and his chief assistant for the Middle East, John Kelly, both publicly said that the United States was not obligated to come to Kuwait’s aid if the emirate were attacked. They also failed to voice clear support for Kuwait’s territorial integrity in the face of Saddam’s threats.”

Following the 1979 Islamist revolution in Teheran that overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah, the United States sought to contain Iran by supplying billions of dollars in aid, intelligence, dual-use technology and training to Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980, spurring an eight-year long brutal war. The devastating conflict ended in a virtual stalemate in 1988 after the loss of one to two million people.

Though neither side won the war, Saddam’s military remained strong enough to be a menace to U.S. interests in the region. The trap was to allow Saddam to invade Kuwait to give the U.S. a reason to destroy Iraq’s military. For instance, retreating Iraqi soldiers were essentially shot in the back in the massacre on the Highway of Death.

The ‘Afghan Trap’

Another U.S. trap was to lure the Soviet Union into Afghanistan in 1979. In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski admitted that the C.I.A. essentially set a trap for Moscow by arming mujahiddin to fight the Soviet-backed government in Kabul.  He said:

“According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

He then explained that the reason for the trap was to bring down the Soviet Union, (much as the U.S. today would like to bring down Putin’s Russia.) Brzezinski said:

“That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.’  Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”

Brzezinski said he also had no regrets that financing the mujahideen spawned terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?,” he asked.

So if the U.S. is setting a similar trap in Ukraine for Moscow, will it work?

“I think the Russians are smarter than Saddam,” said military analyst Scott Ritter. “Any Ukrainian incursion into Donbass would be handled by the pro-Russian militias, backed by Russian forces. I don’t think Russia would move on Ukraine unless NATO membership was invoked.”

It remains to be seen whether Russia steps into a U.S. bear trap in Ukraine.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @unjoe 

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #56 on: February 14, 2023, 03:15:06 AM »
Caitlin Johnstone: The West’s Sabotage of Peace in Ukraine
February 13, 2023
Former Israeli Prime Minister Bennett’s recent comments about getting his mediation efforts squashed in the early days of the war adds more to the growing pile of evidence that Western powers are intent on regime change in Russia.

October 2021: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, second from left, meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

Days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago, The New York Times reported that “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has asked the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to mediate negotiations in Jerusalem between Ukraine and Russia.”

In a recent interview, Bennett made some very interesting comments about what happened during those negotiations in the early days of the war.

In a Feb. 5 article, “Former Israeli PM Bennett Says US ‘Blocked’ His Attempts at a Russia-Ukraine Peace Deal,” Antiwar’sDave DeCamp writes the following:

“Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in an interview posted to his YouTube channel on Saturday that the US and its Western allies ‘blocked’ his efforts of mediating between Russia and Ukraine to bring an end to the war in its early days.

On March 4, 2022, Bennett traveled to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. In the interview, he detailed his mediation at the time between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he said he coordinated with the US, France, Germany, and the UK.

Bennett said that both sides agreed to major concessions during his mediation effort.   …

But ultimately, the Western leaders opposed Bennet’s efforts. ‘I’ll say this in the broad sense. I think there was a legitimate decision by the West to keep striking Putin and not [negotiate],’ Bennett said.

When asked if the Western powers ‘blocked’ the mediation efforts, Bennet said, ‘Basically, yes. They blocked it, and I thought they were wrong.’”

Bennett says the concessions each side was prepared to make included the renunciation of future NATO membership for Ukraine, and on Russia’s end dropping the goals of “denazification” and Ukrainian disarmament.

As DeCamp notes, this matches up with an Axios report from early March that “According to Israeli officials, Putin’s proposal is difficult for Zelensky to accept but not as extreme as they anticipated. They said the proposal doesn’t include regime change in Kyiv and allows Ukraine to keep its sovereignty.”

Bennett is about as unsavory a character as exists in the world today, but Israel’s complicated relationship with this war lends itself to the occasional release of information not fully in alignment with the official imperial line. And his comments here only add to a pile of information that’s been coming out for months which says the same thing, not just regarding the sabotage of peace talks in March but in April as well.

In May of last year Ukrainian media reported that then-British prime minister Boris Johnson had flown to Kiev the previous month to pass on the message on behalf of the western empire that “Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured, not negotiated with,” and that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not.”

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky walking around the center of Kiev on April 9, 2022. (President of Ukraine)

In April of last year, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that “there are those within the NATO member states that want the war to continue, let the war continue and Russia gets weaker.”

Shortly thereafter, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the goal in Ukraine is “to see Russia weakened.”

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A September Foreign Affairs report by Fiona Hill, senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council during the Trump administration, asserts that in April of last year a peace deal had been in the works between Moscow and Kiev, which would presumably have been the agreement that Johnson et al were able to sabotage:

“According to multiple former senior U.S. officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.”

March 2018. Fiona Hill, at far end of left side of table, at meeting between National Security Advisor John Bolton — beside Hill — and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In March of last year Bloomberg’s Niall Ferguson reported that sources in the U.S. and U.K. governments had told him the real goal of Western powers in this conflict is not to negotiate peace or end the war quickly, but to prolong it in order “bleed Putin” and achieve regime change in Moscow. Ferguson wrote that he has reached the conclusion that “the U.S. intends to keep this war going,” and says he has other sources to corroborate this:

” ‘The only end game now,’ a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month,  ‘is the end of Putin regime. Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. China has made a huge error in thinking Putin will get away with it. Seeing Russia get cut off will not look like a good vector and they’ll have to re-evaluate the Sino-Russia axis. All this is to say that democracy and the West may well look back on this as a pivotal strengthening moment.’

I gather that senior British figures are talking in similar terms. There is a belief that ‘the U.K.’s No. 1 option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.’ Again and again, I hear such language. It helps explain, among other things, the lack of any diplomatic effort by the U.S. to secure a cease-fire.  It also explains the readiness of President Joe Biden to call Putin a ‘war criminal.’ ”

All this taken together heavily substantiates the claim made by Russian President Vladimir Putin this past September that Russia and Ukraine had been on the cusp of peace shortly after the start of the war, but Western powers ordered Kiev to “wreck” the negotiations.

“After the start of the special military operation, in particular after the Istanbul talks, Kyiv representatives voiced quite a positive response to our proposals,” Putin said. “These proposals concerned above all ensuring Russia’s security and interests. But a peaceful settlement obviously did not suit the West, which is why, after certain compromises were coordinated, Kyiv was actually ordered to wreck all these agreements.”


Month after month it’s been reported that U.S. diplomats have been steadfastly refusing to engage in diplomacy with Russia to help bring an end to this war, an inexcusable rejection that would only make sense if the U.S. wants this war to continue. And comments from U.S. officials continually make it clear that this is the case.

In March of last year President Joe Biden himself acknowledged what the real game is here with an open call for regime change, saying of Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

Statements from the Biden administration in fact indicate that they expect this war to drag on for a long time, making it abundantly clear that a swift end to minimize the death and destruction is not just uninteresting but undesirable for the U.S. empire.

U.S. officials are becoming more and more open about the fact that they see this war as something that serves their strategic objectives, which would of course contradict the official narrative that the Western empire did not want this war and the infantile fiction that Russia’s invasion was “unprovoked.”

Recent examples of this would include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech ahead of Zelensky’s visit to Washington in December. “President Zelensky is an inspiring leader,” McConnell said.  “But the most basic reasons for continuing to help Ukraine degrade and defeat the Russian invaders are cold, hard, practical American interests. Helping equip our friends in Eastern Europe to win this war is also a direct investment in reducing Vladimir Putin’s future capabilities to menace America, threaten our allies, and contest our core interests.”

In May of last year Congressman Dan Crenshaw said on Twitter that “investing in the destruction of our adversary’s military, without losing a single American troop, strikes me as a good idea.”

Indeed, a report by the empire-funded Center for European Policy Analysis titled “It’s Costing Peanuts for the US to Defeat Russia” asserts that the “US spending of 5.6% of its defense budget to destroy nearly half of Russia’s conventional military capability seems like an absolutely incredible investment.”

In May of last year U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said at the World Economic Forum that he opposes any kind of peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia, preferring instead to use the conflict to hurt Russian interests and hopefully remove Putin.

“I am totally committed, as one person, to seeing Ukraine to the end with a win, not basically with some kind of a treaty; I don’t think that is where we are and where we should be,” Manchin said.

“I mean basically moving Putin back to Russia and hopefully getting rid of Putin,” Manchin added when asked what he meant by a win for Ukraine.

“I believe strongly that I have never seen, and the people I talk strategically have never seen, an opportunity more than this, to do what needs to be done,” Manchin later added.

Then you’ve got U.S. officials telling The New York Times that they plan to use this war to hurt Russia’s fossil fuel interests, “with the long-term goal of destroying the country’s central role in the global energy economy.”

 You’ve also got the fact that the U.S. State Department can’t stop talking about how great it is that Russia’s Nord Stream Pipelines were sabotaged in September of last year, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying the Nord Stream bombing “offers tremendous strategic opportunity” and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland saying the Biden administration is “very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”

The U.S. empire is getting everything it wants out of this proxy war. That’s why it knowingly provoked this war, that’s why it repeatedly sabotaged the outbreak of peace after the war broke out, and that’s why this proxy war has no exit strategy. The empire is getting everything it wants from this war, so why wouldn’t it do everything in its power to obstruct peace?  I mean, besides the obvious unforgivable depravity of it all, of course.

The empire has always been fine with cracking a few hundred thousand human eggs in order to cook the imperial omelette. It is unfathomably, unforgivably evil, though, and it should outrage everyone.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #57 on: February 16, 2023, 04:16:49 PM »
Caitlin Johnstone: Pentagon’s Propaganda Push in Ukraine
February 16, 2023
The U.S. military’s push to “counter disinformation” actually has nothing to do with “taking apart Russian propaganda” and everything to do with suppressing dissent.

Screen display during U.S. Ambassador Bridget Brink’s visit to Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation in Kiev, June 15, 2022. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine, Flickr, Public domain)

By Caitlin Johnstone

A Washington Post article, “Pentagon looks to restart top-secret programs in Ukraine” contains some interesting information about what U.S. special ops forces were doing in Ukraine in the lead-up to the Russian invasion last year, and what they are slated to be doing there in the future.

“The Pentagon is urging Congress to resume funding a pair of top-secret programs in Ukraine suspended ahead of Russia’s invasion last year, according to current and former U.S. officials,” writes the Post’s Wesley Morgan. “If approved, the move would allow American Special Operations troops to employ Ukrainian operatives to observe Russian military movements and counter disinformation.”

Much further down in the article we learn the specifics of what those two top-secret programs were. One entailed U.S. commandos sending Ukrainian operatives “on surreptitious reconnaissance missions in Ukraine’s east” to collect intelligence on Russia. The other entailed secretly administering online propaganda, though of course The Washington Post does not describe it as such.

“We had people taking apart Russian propaganda and telling the true story on blogs,” WaPo was told by a source described as “a person in the Special Operations community.”

U.S. special ops forces “employing Ukrainian operatives” to “take apart Russian propaganda” and “tell the true story on blogs” is just U.S. special ops forces administering U.S. propaganda online.

Whether or not they actually see themselves as “telling the true story” or “taking apart Russian propaganda” does not change the fact that they are administering U.S. government propaganda. A government circulating media that advances its information interests is precisely the definition of state propaganda.

The U.S. government is theoretically prohibited from directly administering propaganda to its own population (though even that line has been deliberately eroded in recent years with measures like the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act and U.S. government infiltration of the mass media and Silicon Valley), but there’s nothing stopping the funding and directing of foreign bodies to circulate propaganda on the internet, which has no national borders.

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Back when U.S. propaganda was limited to old media like the C.I.A.’s Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia it was possible to claim that the propaganda was solely targeting populations where that media was broadcast, but propaganda circulated online will necessarily trickle over everywhere, including to U.S. audiences.

The Washington Post explains that these secret programs were discontinued ahead of the Russian invasion last year because a stipulation in the 2018  National Defense Authorization Act which, while permitted their funding, forbids their use during a “traditional armed conflict.”

The Pentagon is working to persuade Congress to repeal that condition. Part of its sales pitch to restart these secret operations is that they will be “what the U.S. military calls ‘non-kinetic’ — or nonviolent — missions,” which would cover the administering of propaganda.

As we discussed recently, it’s very silly that there’s a major push in the U.S. power alliance to begin administering more government propaganda in order to “counter Russian propaganda” when Russian propaganda has no meaningful influence in the Western world.

Before RT was shut down it was drawing just 0.04 percent of the U.K.’s total TV audience. The much-touted Russian election interference campaign on Facebook was mostly unrelated to the election and affected “approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content” according to Facebook, while research by New York University into Russian trolling behavior on Twitter in the lead-up to the 2016 election found “no evidence of a meaningful relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior.”

A study by the University of Adelaide found that despite all the warnings of Russian bots and trolls following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of inauthentic behavior on Twitter during that time was anti-Russian in nature.

In reality, this push we’ve been seeing to pour more and more energy into propaganda, censorship, and other forms of narrative control has nothing to do with “taking apart Russian propaganda” and everything to do with suppressing dissent.

March 3, 2016: U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on a tour of the Microsoft Cybercrime Center in Seattle as part of a trip to strengthen ties between the Department of Defense and the tech sector. (DoD/Tim D. Godbee)

The U.S. empire has been frantically ramping up propaganda and censorship because the “great power competition” it has been preparing against Russia and China is going to require economic warfare, massive military spending, and nuclear brinkmanship that no one would consent to without lots of manipulation.

Nobody’s going to consent to being made poorer, colder and less safe over some global power struggle that doesn’t benefit them unless that consent is actively manufactured.

That’s why the media have been acting so weird lately, that’s why dissident voices are getting harder and harder to find online, that’s the purpose of the new “fact-checking” industry and other forms of narrative control, and that’s why the Pentagon wants congressional funding for its propaganda operations in Ukraine.

The empire’s “great power competition” happens to be occurring at the same time as widespread access to the internet means that drastic measures must be made to ensure its information dominance so it can march the public into playing along with this agenda. The more desperate our rulers grow to secure unipolar planetary domination, the more important controlling the narrative becomes.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #58 on: February 20, 2023, 04:35:38 AM »
The Timing of the Pipeline Attack
February 18, 2023
The timing of the U.S. attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last September may have been dictated by events in the war at the time, Joe Lauria reported on Sept. 28, 2022.

As the only possible suspect it was clear to many observers at the time of the explosion who the culprit was. In this article published two days after the blasts, CN‘s editor explored the reasons behind the timing of the attack.  Seymour Hersh, in his report on how the United States and NATO carried it out, says another reason was that winter was coming and European politicians were worried about an angry public that could be priced out of heating their homes.

The U.S. had already forced Germany to shut down Nord Stream 2 but there are signs that an end to the Ukraine war would have put it back online, writes Joe Lauria.

Biden calling for overthrow of Putin in Warsaw in March. (Office of the President)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Sept. 28, 2022

President Joe Biden, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by his side, promised a White House press conference in early February that the U.S. was “able” to shut down the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea if Russia invaded Ukraine.

A reporter asked Biden, “But how will you do that, exactly, since…the project is in Germany’s control?” Biden said: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”

When Russia indeed invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Washington was able to get Berlin to suspend the pipeline project that was about to go online, even though it wasn’t in Germany’s interests.

The pipeline has remained closed ever since. Why then did someone attack the pipeline on Monday, releasing the gas it contained into the Baltic Sea? As long as the war continues, the U.S. has what it wants regarding the pipeline.

Evidently, the fear in Washington is that the war might not continue for as long as it wants. I argued on Feb. 4, twenty days before the invasion, that the U.S. was setting a trap for Russia and needed it to invade Ukraine in order to unleash an information, economic and proxy war with the ultimate aim of regime change in Moscow. All that was confirmed by March 27.

Since then the U.S. and Britain have done everything it can to keep the war going, and the economic sanctions in place.  But those sanctions on Russia are devastating the European economy, driving energy prices up and shutting businesses down.  Ordinary Europeans are facing a winter in which they may not be able to afford to heat their homes.

This has led to growing popular unrest and pressure on European governments to end the war, lift the sanctions and save their economies.  Ending the war and lifting sanction would lead to the reopening of Nord Stream 2 (and the turbine repair of Nord Stream 1, which was also attacked).

Site of the Nord Stream 2 attack. (Danish Defense Ministry)

Offer to Resume Shipments

Three weeks ago, President Vladimir Putin told a press conference in Samarkand that Russia was ready to resume supplying natural gas to Germany if Germany lifted its economic sanctions against Russia.   Putin said:

“After all, if they need [gas] urgently, if things are so bad, just go ahead and lift sanctions against Nord Stream 2, with its 55 billion cubic metres per year – all they have to do is press the button and they will get it going. But they chose to shut it off themselves; they cannot repair one pipeline and imposed sanctions against the new Nord Stream 2 and will not open it. Are we to blame for this? Let them think hard about who is to blame and let none of them blame us for their own mistakes. Gazprom and Russia have always fulfilled and will fulfil all obligations under our agreements and contracts, with no failures ever.”

So the offer is there to return normal gas supplies to Europe if the sanctions are lifted. With the war having passed into its most dangerous phase, there is a growing urgency to stop the war, including talk of a Saudi-led peace process in which Ukraine would cede territory to Russia in exchange for peace.

If momentum grows for a peace deal of any kind it would ruin Washington’s long-term plans to weaken Russia. It would mean Nord Stream 2 would reopen, which would help Germany and Russia, but crush U.S. aims at regime change and making Europe dependent on U.S. energy.

“I promise you, we will be able” to shut down Nord Stream 2, Biden vowed. But how would the U.S. do that if Germany became poised to reopen it?

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @unjoe 

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #59 on: February 26, 2023, 06:26:14 PM »
More Evidence Emerges That US Wanted Russia to Invade
February 24, 2023
In the past year, additional proof has emerged proving the West’s provocation of Russia to give it its “Vietnam” in Ukraine.

Consortium News on Feb. 4, 2022 warned that the U.S. was setting a trap for Russia in Ukraine, as it had in Afghanistan in 1979 and Iraq in 1990, to provoke Russia to invade Ukraine to provide the pretext to launch an economic, information and proxy war designed to weaken Russia and bring down its government — in other words, to give Russia its “Vietnam.” Twenty days later Russia invaded.

One month later, President Joe Biden confirmed that a trap had indeed been set, as reported by Consortium News on March 27, 2022, republished here today. The evidence that the U.S. wanted and needed Russia to invade as cause to launch its economic, information and proxy wars was clear:

The U.S. backed a coup in 2014, installing an anti-Russian government in Kiev and supporting a war against coup resisters in Donbass.
The 2015 Minsk Accords to end the Ukrainian civil war were never implemented.
On the day of the Feb. 24, 2022 invasion Biden told reporters that economic sanctions were never intended to deter Russia, but to show the Russian people who Russian President Vladimir Putin was.  In other words the U.S. was not trying to stop the invasion but to overthrow Putin, as Biden confirmed a month later in Warsaw, in order to restore the dominance over Russia the U.S. enjoyed in the 1990s.
The United States and NATO rejected Russian treaty proposals to create a new security architecture in Europe, taking Russia’s security concerns into account. Despite a Russian warning of a technical/military response if the draft treaties were rejected. The U.S. and NATO rejected them nonetheless, knowing and welcoming the consequences. Rather than withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe as the treaty proposals called for, NATO sent more troops.
For 30 years, NATO continued expanding towards Russia, despite promises to the contrary, routinely holding exercises near its border, despite fully understanding Russia’s objections, from Boris Yeltsin to Putin, and knowing it would provoke a hostile reaction.  Sen. Joe Biden said as much in 1997.
The fake Russiagate scandal helped prepare the U.S. population for hostilities against Russia and launched sanctions based on a lie that have never been lifted.
Despite 100,000 Russian troops on the Russian side of the border, the OSCE reported an increase of shelling by Ukraine of Donbass at the end of February 2022 indicating an impending offensive against ethnic Russian civilians who had suffered eight years for resisting an unconstitutional change of government in 2014.  It was tantamount to baiting those Russian forces to cross the border.
In the past year, additional evidence has emerged proving the West’s provocation:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin acknowledged that the U.S. strategy in Ukraine is to “weaken” Russia. To this end, the U.S. has stopped peace efforts, even by Israel, to prolong the conflict.
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former French President Francois Holland, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko all admitted in recent months that they never had any intention of implementing the Minsk Accords (endorsed by the U.N. Security Council) and were stringing Russia along to give time for NATO to train and equip the Ukrainian military for the Russian intervention it anticipated.
Planning for sanctions against Russia began in November 2021, three months before the invasion, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Council.
Planning to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines were begun by the United States in September 2021, five months before the invasion, according to reporting by Seymour Hersh.         
Taken together, all this evidence leaves little doubt that the U.S. was provoking Russia to invade Ukraine in order to implement its plan to bring down the Russian government.  That the U.S. plan has so far failed, is another matter.
This was Consortium News‘ report on March 27, 2022:

In a moment of candor, Joe Biden has revealed why the U.S. needed the Russian invasion and why it needs it to continue, writes Joe Lauria.

President Biden departs Brussels en route to Poland early Friday morning. (White House)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
March 27, 2022

The U.S. got its war in Ukraine. Without it, Washington could not attempt to destroy Russia’s economy, orchestrate worldwide condemnation and lead an insurgency to bleed Russia, all part of an attempt to bring down its government. Joe Biden has now left no doubt that it’s true.   

The president of the United States has confirmed what Consortium News and others have been reporting since the beginnings of Russsiagate in 2016, that the ultimate U.S. aim is to overthrow the government of Vladimir Putin.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said on Saturday at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The White House and the State Dept. have been scrambling to explain away Biden’s remark.

But it is too late.

“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” a White House official said. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia, or anywhere else, for that matter,” the last words inserted for comic relief.

Biden first gave the game away at his Feb. 24 White House press conference — the first day of the invasion. He was asked why he thought new sanctions would work when the earlier sanctions had not prevented Russia’s invasion. Biden said the sanctions were never designed to prevent Russia’s intervention but to punish it afterward. Therefore the U.S. needed Russia to invade.

“No one expected the sanctions to prevent anything from happening,” Biden said.  “That has to sh- — this is going to take time.  And we have to show resolve so he knows what’s coming and so the people of Russia know what he’s brought on them.  That’s what this is all about.”  It is all about the Russian people turning on Putin to overthrow him, which would explain Russia’s crackdown on anti-war protestors and the media.

It was no slip of the tongue. Biden repeated himself in Brussels on Thursday: “Let’s get something straight …  I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him.  Sanctions never deter.  You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter.  The maintenance of sanctions — the maintenance of sanctions, the increasing the pain … we will sustain what we’re doing not just next month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year.  That’s what will stop him.”

It was the second time that Biden confirmed that the purpose of the draconian U.S. sanctions on Russia was never to prevent the invasion of Ukraine, which the U.S. desperately needed to activate its plans, but to punish Russia and get its people to rise up against Putin and ultimately restore a Yeltsin-like puppet to Moscow. Without a cause those sanctions could never have been imposed. The cause was Russia’s invasion.

Regime Change in Moscow

Biden’s speech in Warsaw. (Office of the President/Wikimedia Commons)

Once hidden in studies such as this 2019 RAND study, the desire to overthrow the government in Moscow is now out in the open.

One of the earliest threats came from Carl Gersham, the long-time director of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Gershman, wrote in 2013, before the Kiev coup: “Ukraine is the biggest prize.” If it could be pulled away from Russia and into the West, then “Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

David Ignatius wrote in The Washington Post in 1999 that the NED could now practice regime change out in the open, rather than covertly as the C.I.A. had done.

The RAND Corporation on March 18 then published an article titled, “If Regime Change Should Come to Moscow,” the U.S. should be ready for it. Michael McFaul, the hawkish former U.S. ambassador to Russia, has been calling for regime change in Russia for some time.  He tried to finesse Biden’s words by tweeting:


On March 1, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said the sanctions on Russia “we are introducing, that large parts of the world are introducing, are to bring down the Putin regime.” No. 10 tried to walk that back but two days earlier James Heappey, minister for the armed forces, wrote in The Daily Telegraph:

“His failure must be complete; Ukrainian sovereignty must be restored, and the Russian people empowered to see how little he cares for them. In showing them that, Putin’s days as President will surely be numbered and so too will those of the kleptocratic elite that surround him. He’ll lose power and he won’t get to choose his successor.”

After the fall of the Soviet Union and throughout the 1990s Wall Street and the U.S. government dominated Boris Yeltsin’s Russia, asset-stripping former state-owned industries to enrich themselves and a new class of oligarchs, while impoverishing the Russian people.  Putin came to power on New Year’s Eve 1999 and started restoring Russia’s sovereignty. His 2007 Munich Security Conference speech, in which he blasted Washington’s aggressive unilateralism, alarmed the U.S., which clearly wants a Yeltsin-like figure to return.   The 2014 U.S.-backed coup in Kiev was a first step. Russiagate was another.

Back in 2017, Consortium News saw Russiagate as a prelude to regime change in Moscow. That year I wrote:

“The Russia-gate story fits neatly into a geopolitical strategy that long predates the 2016 election. Since Wall Street and the U.S. government lost the dominant position in Russia that existed under the pliable President Boris Yeltsin, the strategy has been to put pressure on getting rid of Putin to restore a U.S. friendly leader in Moscow. There is substance to Russia’s concerns about American designs for ‘regime change’ in the Kremlin.

Moscow sees an aggressive America expanding NATO and putting 30,000 NATO troops on its borders; trying to overthrow a secular ally in Syria with terrorists who threaten Russia itself; backing a coup in Ukraine as a possible prelude to moves against Russia; and using American NGOs to foment unrest inside Russia before they were forced to register as foreign agents.”

The Invasion Was Necessary

The United States could have easily prevented Russia’s military action. It could have stopped Russia’s intervention in Ukraine’s civil war from happening by doing three things:  forcing implementation of the 8-year old Minsk peace accords, dissolving extreme right Ukrainian militias and engaging Russia in serious negotiations about a new security architecture in Europe.

But it didn’t.

The U.S. can still end this war through serious diplomacy with Russia. But it won’t. Blinken has refused to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Instead, Biden announced on March 16 another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine on the same day it was revealed Russia and Ukraine have been working on a 15-point peace plan. It has never been clearer that the U.S. wanted this war and wants it to continue.

NATO troops and missiles in Eastern Europe were evidently so vital to U.S. plans that it would not discuss removing them to stop Russia’s troops from crossing into Ukraine. Russia had threatened a “technical/military” response if NATO and the U.S. did not take seriously Russia’s security interests, presented in December in the form of treaty proposals.

The U.S. knew what would happen if it rejected those proposals calling for Ukraine not to join NATO, for missiles in Poland and Romania to be removed and NATO troops in Eastern Europe withdrawn. That’s why it started screaming about an invasion in December. The U.S. refused to move the missiles and provocatively sent even more NATO forces to Eastern Europe.

MSNBC ran an article on March 4, titled, “Russia’s Ukraine invasion may have been preventable: The U.S. refused to reconsider Ukraine’s NATO status as Putin threatened war. Experts say that was a huge mistake.” The article said:

“The abundance of evidence that NATO was a sustained source of anxiety for Moscow raises the question of whether the United States’ strategic posture was not just imprudent but negligent.”

Senator Joe Biden knew as far back as 1997 that NATO expansion, which he supported, could eventually lead to a hostile Russian reaction.


The Excised Background to the Invasion

It is vital to recall the events of 2014 in Ukraine and what has followed until now because it is routinely whitewashed from Western media coverage. Without that context, it is impossible to understand what is happening in Ukraine.

Both Donetsk and Lugansk had voted for independence from Ukraine in 2014 after a U.S.-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych.  The new, U.S.-installed Ukrainian government then launched a war against the provinces to crush their resistance to the coup and their bid for independence, a war that is still going on eight years later at the cost of thousands of lives with U.S. support. It is this war that Russia has entered.

Neo-Nazi groups, such as Right Sector and the Azov Battalion, who revere the World War II Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera, took part in the coup as well as in the ongoing violence against Lugansk and Donetsk.

Despite reporting in the BBC, the NYT, the Daily Telegraph and CNN on the neo-Nazis at the time, their role in the story is now excised by Western media, reducing Putin to a madman hellbent on conquest without reason. As though he woke up one morning and looked at a map to decide what country he would invade next.

The public has been induced to embrace the Western narrative, while being kept in the dark about Washington’s ulterior motives.   

The Traps Set for Russia

Six weeks ago, on Feb. 4, I wrote an article, “What a US Trap for Russia in Ukraine Might Look Like,” in which I laid out a scenario in which Ukraine would begin an offensive against ethnic Russian civilians in Donbass, forcing Russia to decide whether to abandon them or to intervene to save them.

If Russia intervened with regular army units, I argued, this would be the “Invasion!” the U.S. needed to attack Russia’s economy, turn the world against Moscow and end Putin’s rule.

In the third week of February, Ukrainian government shelling of Donbass dramatically increased, according to the OSCE, with what appeared to be the new offensive.  Russia was forced to make its decision.

It first recognized the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, a move it put off for eight years. And then on Feb. 24 President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country.

Russia stepped into a trap, which grows more perilous by the day as Russia’s military intervention continues with a second trap in sight.  From Moscow’s perspective, the stakes were too high not to intervene. And if it can induce Kiev to accept a settlement, it might escape the clutches of the United States.

A Planned Insurgency

Biden and Brzezinski (Collage Cathy Vogan/Photos SEIU Walk a Day in My Shoes 2008/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain/Picryl)

The examples of previous U.S. traps that I gave in the Feb. 4 piece were the U.S. telling Saddam Hussein in 1990 that it would not interfere in its dispute with Kuwait, opening the trap to Iraq’s invasion, allowing the U.S. to destroy Baghdad’s military. The second example is most relevant.

In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Jimmy Carter’s former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted that the C.I.A. set a trap four decades ago for Moscow by arming mujahiddin to fight the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan and bring down the Soviet government, much as the U.S. wants today to bring down Putin.  He said:

“According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

He then explained that the reason for the trap was to bring down the Soviet Union. Brzezinski said:

“That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.’  Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”

Brzezinski said he had no regrets that financing the mujahideen spawned terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?,” he asked.  The U.S. today is likewise gambling with the world economy and further instability in Europe with its tolerance of neo-Nazism in Ukraine.

In his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Brzezinski wrote:

“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. Russia without Ukraine can still strive for imperial status, but it would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state.”

Thus U.S. “primacy,” or world dominance, which still drives Washington, is not possible without control of Eurasia, as Brzezinski argued, and that’s not possible without control of Ukraine by pushing Russia out (U.S. takeover of Ukraine in the 2014 coup) and controlling the governments in Moscow and Beijing. What Brzezinski and U.S. leaders still view as Russia’s “imperial ambitions” are in Moscow seen as imperative defensive measures against an aggressive West.

Without the Russian invasion the second trap the U.S. is planning would not be possible: an insurgency meant to bog Russia down and give it its “Vietnam.” Europe and the U.S. are flooding more arms into Ukraine, and Kiev has called for volunteer fighters. The way jihadists flocked to Afghanistan, white supremacists from around Europe are traveling to Ukraine to become insurgents.

Just as the Afghanistan insurgency helped bring down the Soviet Union, the insurgency is meant to topple Putin’s Russia.

An article in Foreign Affairs entitled “The Coming Ukrainian Insurgency” was published Feb. 25, just one day after Russia’s intervention, indicating advanced planning that was dependent on an invasion. The article had to be written and edited before Russia crossed into Ukraine and was published as soon as it did. It said:

“If Russia limits its offensive to the east and south of Ukraine, a sovereign Ukrainian government will not stop fighting. It will enjoy reliable military and economic support from abroad and the backing of a united population. But if Russia pushes on to occupy much of the country and install a Kremlin-appointed puppet regime in Kyiv, a more protracted and thorny conflagration will begin. Putin will face a long, bloody insurgency that could spread across multiple borders, perhaps even reaching into Belarus to challenge Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin’s stalwart ally. Widening unrest could destabilize other countries in Russia’s orbit, such as Kazakhstan, and even spill into Russia itself. When conflicts begin, unpredictable and unimaginable outcomes can become all too real. Putin may not be prepared for the insurgency—or insurgencies—to come.

Many a great power has waged war against a weaker one, only to get bogged down as a result of its failure to have a well-considered end game. This lack of foresight has been especially palpable in troubled occupations. It was one thing for the United States to invade Vietnam in 1965, Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003; likewise for the Soviet Union to enter Afghanistan in 1979. It was an altogether more difficult task to persevere in those countries in the face of stubborn insurgencies. … As the United States learned in Vietnam and Afghanistan, an insurgency that has reliable supply lines, ample reserves of fighters, and sanctuary over the border can sustain itself indefinitely, sap an occupying army’s will to fight, and exhaust political support for the occupation at home.'”

As far back as Jan. 14, Yahoo! News reported:

“The CIA is overseeing a secret intensive training program in the U.S. for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and other intelligence personnel, according to five former intelligence and national security officials familiar with the initiative. The program, which started in 2015, is based at an undisclosed facility in the Southern U.S., according to some of those officials.

The CIA-trained forces could soon play a critical role on Ukraine’s eastern border, where Russian troops have massed in what many fear is preparation for an invasion. …

The program has involved ‘very specific training on skills that would enhance’ the Ukrainians’ ‘ability to push back against the Russians,’ said the former senior intelligence official.

The training, which has included ‘tactical stuff,’ is “going to start looking pretty offensive if Russians invade Ukraine,’ said the former official.

One person familiar with the program put it more bluntly. ‘The United States is training an insurgency,’ said a former CIA official, adding that the program has taught the Ukrainians how ‘to kill Russians.’”

In his Warsaw speech, Biden tipped his hand about an insurgency to come. He said nothing about peace talks. Instead he said: “In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed. This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves of a long fight ahead.”

Hillary Clinton laid it all out on Feb. 28, just four days into Russia’s operation. She brought up the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, saying “it didn’t end well for Russia” and that in Ukraine “this is the model that people are looking at … that can stymie Russia.”

What neither Maddow nor Clinton mentioned when discussing volunteers going to fight for Ukraine is what The New York Times reported on Feb. 25, a day after the invasion, and before their interview: “Far-right militias in Europe plan to confront Russian forces.”

The Economic War

Along with the quagmire, are the raft of profound economic sanctions on Russia designed to collapse its economy and drive Putin from power.

These are the harshest sanctions the U.S. and Europe have ever imposed on any nation. Sanctions against Russia’s Central Bank sanctions are the most serious, as they were intended to destroy the value of the ruble.  One U.S. dollar was worth 85 rubles on Feb. 24, the day of the invasion and soared to 154 per dollar on March 7.  However the Russian currency strengthened to 101 on Friday.

Putin and other Russian leaders were personally sanctioned, as were Russia’s largest banks. Most Russian transactions are no longer allowed to be settled through the SWIFT international payment system. The German-Russia Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was closed down and become bankrupt.

The U.S. blocked imports of Russian oil, which was about 5 percent of U.S. supply. BP and Shell pulled out of Russian partnerships. European and U.S. airspace for Russian commercial liners was closed. Europe, which depends on Russia gas, is still importing it, and is so far rebuffing U.S. pressure to stop buying Russian oil.

A raft of voluntary sanctions followed: PayPal, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and McDonalds have been shut down in Russia. Coca-cola will stop sales to the country. U.S. news organizations have left, Russian artists in the West have been fired and even Russian cats are banned.

It also gave an opportunity for U.S. cable providers to get RT America shut down.  Other Russia media has been de-platformed and Russian government websites hacked. A Yale University professor has drawn up a list to shame U.S. companies that are still operating in Russia.

Russian exports of wheat and fertilizer have been banned, driving up the price of food in the West.  Biden admitted as much on Thursday:

“With regard to food shortage … it’s going to be real.  The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia, it’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.  And — because both Russia and Ukraine have been the breadbasket of Europe in terms of wheat, for example — just to give you one example.”

The aim is clear: “asphyxiating Russia’s economy”, as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian put it, even if it damages the West.

The question is whether Russia can extricate itself from the U.S. strategy of insurgency and economic war.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @unjoe 

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