Last month CNN published a poll revealing 55% of people surveyed in the United States do not support spending more money on the Ukraine war. A tone-deaf White House responded by requesting another $24 billion, mostly for weapons and military training that would bring the Ukraine war tab for US taxpayers to nearly $140 billion. CODEPINK, a member of the Peace in Ukraine Coalition that represents over 100 anti-war organizations, is committed to raising up the majority opinion that the U.S. needs to stop fueling this war. We condemn the illegal Russian invasion but we believe that this conflict has no military solution, only stalled counter-offensives, random drone attacks and profound heartache for the families losing their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods.
Is likely that billions of people around the world view the conflict in Ukraine as a proxy war being waged by the U.S. against Russia. US President Joe Biden has pledged to aid Ukraine’s pursuit of victory “for as long as it takes,” without defining what the end state might be. Russian President Vladimir Putin has interpreted U.S. intentions to mean a fight “to the last Ukrainian.” Anyone with a discernible pulse is aware of the danger that the conflict could escalate into a conflagration large and destructive enough to morph into World War III. The threshold would likely be crossed once nuclear weapons were unleashed.
The United States has articulated a policy that it wishes to continue this war to severely ‘weaken Russia’ – as US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and other high officials have been explicitly stating – and, it is claimed, to place Ukraine in a stronger bargaining position for eventual negotiations (or in a weaker position, if the Russian offensive makes an impact, a strong likelihood that is quietly ignored). The policy of trying to ‘weaken Russia’ through the escalation of the war in Ukraine is the position of the United States and the United Kingdom, and with some variation, their European allies (France, as usual, demurs here and there, but when push comes to shove, lines up with Washington).
During the disastrous Vietnam War, it was said that the US government treated the public like a mushroom farm: keeping it in the dark and feeding it with manure. The heroic Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers documenting the unrelenting U.S. government lying about the war in order to protect politicians who would be embarrassed by the truth. A half-century later, during the Ukraine War, the manure is piled even higher. According to the U.S. government and the ever-obsequious New York Times, the Ukraine war was “unprovoked,” the Times’ favorite adjective to describe the war. Putin, allegedly mistaking himself for Peter the Great, invaded Ukraine to recreate the Russian Empire. Yet last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg committed a Washington gaffe, meaning that he accidently blurted out the truth.
It doesn’t take much in our media system to be labeled a “Putin apologist” or “pro-Russia.” In this New Cold War, even suggesting that the official enemy is not Hitlerian or completely irrational could earn ridicule and attack. After the largely stalled Ukrainian counteroffensive against the Russian occupation, conditions on the front have hardened into what many observers describe as a “stalemate.” Like virtually all wars, the Russo-Ukrainian War will end with a negotiated settlement, and the quicker it happens, the quicker the bodies will stop piling up. Despite this, anyone who advocates actually pursuing negotiations is immediately attacked.
A friend and colleague wrote in an unusually sage commentary a couple of years ago that Ukraine would prove “NATO’s Waterloo.” He called the brewing conflict there “a debacle-in-waiting.” This was two months before the U.S. provoked the Russian intervention in February 2022. Now that is prescience. Ukraine, indeed, has revealed NATO somewhat in the way of the old pun: No action, talk only. As Scott Ritter argued in a recent speech, it now appears the alliance is incapable of waging war in Ukraine or anywhere else in Europe. But let’s set NATO’s surprising weakness aside for now and consider who, as the Ukrainian sinkhole widens and deepens, is tumbling fastest into it.
A hidden disadvantage of our ruling class within the US/NATO imperialist sphere is that frequently, these elites need to scramble in response to developments they haven’t foreseen, and whose consequential outcomes they have limited control over. When the Democratic Party and its partnered intelligence agencies used the DNC leaks to construct a narrative about “Russian hacking,” they hadn’t planned the inciting incident; they were reacting to it. And their attempt to turn the leak in their favor by pointing to it as “evidence” of a Russian plot against America wasn’t ultimately effective. When somebody decides to lie strategically, they then take on the risk of that lie getting exposed.
During the Cold War there were similar dangerous moments, but John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, as well as Ronald Reagan and Michael Gorbachev, managed to avoid the worst-case scenario. George H.W. Bush talked in 1990 about a “Europe whole and free” and a new “security architecture from Vancouver to Vladivostok,” while Boris Yeltsin, during his 1992 address to the joint chambers of Congress, exclaimed, “God bless America.” So, what went wrong? Why are we talking about nuclear war again? According to Washington, Putin and his desire to restore the Soviet empire are to blame. Moscow points the finger back at Washington for its vision of a unipolar world order under the U.S. hegemony.
During a speech at the EU Parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg clearly and repeatedly acknowledged that Putin made the decision to invade Ukraine because of fears of NATO expansionism. His comments, initially flagged by journalist Thomas Fazi, read as follows: The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine. Of course we didn’t sign that. The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our Alliance, introducing some kind of B, or second class membership. We rejected that.
Zelenski goes on to threaten, in rather unthankful fashion, those countries which have delivered aid to Ukraine but may want to cut their losses: Curtailing aid to Ukraine will only prolong the war, Mr Zelensky argues. And it would create risks for the West in its own backyard. There is no way of predicting how the millions of Ukrainian refugees in European countries would react to their country being abandoned. Ukrainians have generally “behaved well” and are “very grateful” to those who sheltered them. They will not forget that generosity. But it would not be a “good story” for Europe if it were to “drive these people into a corner”. I have seen such threats from low ranking individuals of the fascist Bandera fringe. They spoke of terrorism they would unleash in the West should it end its support for Ukraine.
Western sanctions are backfiring: The European Union is now importing Russian liquified natural gas at record levels, and China has made high-tech breakthroughs despite US export restrictions. Washington’s and Brussels’ economic warfare is, ironically, strengthening the economic sovereignty of Beijing and Moscow while blowing back on Europe. The world is living through a new cold war: Cold War Two. And one of the main ways in which this war has been waged is through economic means. Sanctions are the principal instrument of economic warfare. When they are imposed unilaterally by a country, without the support of the United Nations, they are referred to as “unilateral coercive measures” and are illegal according to international law.
Years before emerging as Kiev’s top private weapons trafficker, ex-legislator Serhiy Pashinsky played a key role in the 2014 US-backed coup which toppled Ukraine’s democratically-elected president and set the stage for a devastating civil war. Though the notoriously corrupt former Ukrainian parliamentarian was condemned by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “criminal” as recently as 2019, a lengthy exposé by the New York Times has now identified Pashinsky as the Ukrainian government’s “biggest private arms supplier.” Perhaps predictably, the report makes no mention of evidence implicating Pashinsky in the 2014 massacre of 70 anti-government protesters in Kiev’s Maidan Square, an incident which pro-Western forces used to consummate their coup d’etat against then-President Viktor Yanukovych.
One of the most glaring plot holes in the official mainstream narrative on Ukraine is the way US officials keep openly boasting that this supposedly unprovoked war which the US is only backing out of the goodness of its heart just so happens to serve US interests tremendously. In a recent article for the Connecticut Post, Senator Richard Blumenthal assured Americans that “we’re getting our money’s worth on our Ukraine investment.” “For less than 3 percent of our nation’s military budget, we’ve enabled Ukraine to degrade Russia’s military strength by half,” writes Blumenthal. “We’ve united NATO and caused the Chinese to rethink their invasion plans for Taiwan.
The whitewashing of the historical context for the war in Ukraine has resulted in a profoundly embarrassing episode for the United States embassy in Prague. An Aug. 21 Tweet from the embassy with a message roughly translated from Czech to mean “Aggression always comes from the Kremlin,” showed two photographs: the first displayed Soviet tanks in the streets of Prague in 1968. The second showed fire burning in front of a building and was marked “Odesa 2023.” Twitter users were quick to point out the embassy’s error. “The bottom photo is from 2014 Odessa Clashes where pro federalism (mostly pro Russian) got burned alive in clash with Ukrainian nationalist(s) while police and fireman stood watching.
I just returned from my third trip to Russia, and my second trip to Donbas (now referring to the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk collectively) in about eight months. Between 2014—the real start of the war when the Ukrainian government began attacking its own people in the Donbas—and the beginning of Russia’s intervention in February 2022, around one million Ukrainians had already immigrated to Russia. The fact that Ukrainians were going to live in Russia was reported in the mainstream press back then, with the BBC writing in September 2014 about some of the refugees while noting that “[s]eparatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.