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The Russians In Ukraine

Above photo: Kherson street after Russian strike on the city center on Feb. 2. National Police of Ukraine, Wikimedia Commons.

Recent disclosures provide an incomplete inventory of the West’s covert activities in Ukraine.

There is more than we have been told, surely.

You may have read or heard about the freakout that ensued after Emmanuel Macron convened a summit of European leaders in Paris last week. At a press briefing afterward, the French president allowed that NATO may at some point send troops to Ukraine to join the fight against Russian military forces.

Before I go further, let me suggest a couple of thoughts readers can tuck somewhere in the corners of their minds for later consideration.

One, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine two years ago last month was unprovoked. Two, all the Kremlin’s talk about the threat of NATO hard by its southwestern border is nothing more than the distortion and paranoia of “Putin’s Russia,” as we must now refer to the Russian Federation.

It went this way in Paris last week. At the presser following the summit Macron was asked whether Ukraine’s Western backers were considering deploying troops in Ukraine. The French president replied that while European leaders had not reached any kind of agreement, the idea was certainly on the table when they gathered at Elysée Palace.

And then this:

Nothing should be ruled out. We will do anything we can to prevent Russia from winning this war.

Instantly came the vigorous objections. The Brits, the Spanish, the Italians, the Poles, the Slovakians, the Hungarians: They all said in so many words, “No way.” Even Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s war-mongering sec-gen, objected to Macron’s assertion.

No one was more vehement on this point than Olaf Scholz. “What was agreed among ourselves and with each other from the very beginning also applies to the future,” saith the German chancellor, “namely that there will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil sent there by European countries or NATO states.”

Plenty Of Offensive Hardware

O.K., but at the same summit those present joined to support sending long-range missiles to the Ukrainians, weapons fully capable of reaching cities, power grids, industrial plants and other targets deep inside Russia. So: No troops, plenty of offensive hardware.

The Paris gathering precipitated a significant moment of truth, if we can call it such. Scholz, who is on a knife’s edge politically in part for his government’s support for Ukraine, immediately asserted that Germany would not send its Taurus long-range missiles to Ukraine because German troops would have to go with them, as the Ukrainians could not operate them on their own.

Look at the British, Scholz added indelicately. When they send their Storm Shadow missiles (and I must say I love the names the West’s arsenal minders come up with for these things) British personnel have to go with them.

Yikes! Such indiscretion.

As Stephen Bryen reported in his Weapons and Strategy newsletter, “The British cried foul and accused Scholz of ‘flagrant abuse of intelligence.’” Abuse of intelligence is a new one on me, but never mind. Bryen, who follows these matters closely as a former Defense Department official, continued:

Scholz confirmed what everyone already knows, that NATO officers and trained personnel are in Ukraine operating weapons such as the Patriot and NASAM air defense system, the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system, the British–French Storm Shadow cruise missile (SCALP–EG in France), and many other complex weapons provided to Ukraine.

There we have it — or there we have had it, if covertly, for a long time.

Last week The New York Times published a long takeout on the Central Intelligence Agency’s presence and programs in Ukraine, which extend back at least a decade and almost certainly much further.

This includes an archipelago of sub-surface tracking, targeting and communications centers the agency set up and now helps operate for the Ukrainian intel services, a dozen of which are strung along Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Another case of the covert turned overt, in the Times’ case by design. As your columnist has noted elsewhere, the Times’ reporters could never have unearthed the C.I.A.’s doings in Ukraine had the agency not decided to give them a guided tour.

Then there are the Western mercenaries and others of indeterminate status. There is naturally no accurate count of these, but they certainly number in the thousands — Americans, Brits, French, Germans, Poles, Romanians and who have you.

In mid–January the Russians announced they had shelled a hotel in Kharkiv that served as a base for French “volunteers,” as the common euphemism has it, killing 60 of them. Paris marked this down as “disinformation,” that useful catchall for inconvenient disclosures.

But Moscow had immediately summoned the French ambassador to complain of “Paris’s growing involvement in the conflict over Ukraine.” Does this kind of thing figure in any disinformation op you’ve ever heard of?

It is unthinkable, at least in my view, that these recent disclosures make a complete inventory of the West’s covert activities in Ukraine. There is more than we have been told, surely. But let us consider what has to date been brought into the open.

Stephen Bryen puts best the point that must be made in view of these facts literally on the ground. “If NATO is so much against sending troops to Ukraine,” he asks, “why doesn’t NATO demand that the soldiers already there be sent home?”

Over-Invested In The Conflict

Excellent question. My answer: The Western powers, radically over-invested in Ukraine’s confrontation with Russia, are panicking as the Armed Forces of Ukraine retreat in the face of Russian advances and as support for this folly wanes on both sides of the Atlantic.

If anything, the covert presence of Western personnel in Ukraine may increase.

It is obvious that Ukraine is losing its war against Russia, and at a faster pace than most analysts seem to have anticipated even last autumn. I am reading reports now that the final collapse of the AFU may prove three or so months away.

You have to wonder what then. Pulitzerworld will recognize the Times’ perfectly dreadful Ukraine coverage with one or two of those ridiculous prizes the big dailies pass around among themselves. All those neo–Nazis the Times euphemizes as the AFU’s “elite commandos” will have to work off their pathological Russophobia in some other fashion.

The West’s weird, disparate presence in Ukraine: This will not look the same. But it will not go away. And so we come to the truth at the heart of this recent raft of revelations.

It is this. The Russians — “Putin” if you like — were right all along. The Ukraine crisis is merely the latest phase of the West’s long campaign to surround the Russian Federation up to its borders, destabilize it and finally subvert it. Regime change in Moscow was and remains the final objective.

This is not a war in defense of “Ukrainian democracy” — a phrase that causes one either to laugh or do the other thing. It is the West’s proxy war, start to finish, Ukrainians cynically cast as cannon fodder, expendable stooges.

Russia had no choice when it intervened two years ago, this after eight years’ patience as the Europeans — Germany and France, this is to say — broke every promise they made by way of supporting a settlement. The Americans didn’t break any promises because they never made any — and no one would take them seriously if they had.

I come to the judgment I offered when the war that began in 2014 erupted into open conflict two years ago. The Russian intervention was regrettable but necessary. I took some stick for this view back in 2022. I learn lately it is recorded in some European intelligence files as if it were a major transgression.

It is as true now as then. All we learn in drips and drops about the Western powers’ various covert doings in the sad, failed state they have done much to ruin, confirms this.

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