The Ukraine War Clock Is a Time Bomb – It Blows Up On November 8, US Election Day

Yves here. Helmer gives interlocking updates, one of what can be inferred about the state of the war in Ukraine, the other on the prospects for Team Dem come November. Recall that Helmer was part of the Carter Administration, as so has some perspective.

A couple of additions: Helmer provides evidence that Ukraine is regrouping and forming new units that are meant to attack the Russian forces. However, so far, Ukraine aggressions have either been playing into Russian tactical withdrawals (which are sometimes followed by planned counter-strikes) or what amount to pinprick-level advances. There are occasional exceptions; for instance, one Russian advance south from Izyum is being slowed by Ukraine surprise attacks in forested terrain.

Even though Helmer describes Western arms as going into the east, as readers have pointed out, weapons carried and deployed by single users are not all that effective except when deployed as part of a bigger unit with tanks, armored vehicles and large weapons systems. Confirmation of sorts comes from the latest sitrep at the Russia-friendly The Saker (hat tip Chuck L):

A few important words on tactics. We’ve spoke before about how the conflict in Ukraine is becoming Syrianized in the tactics of the AFU who, having most of their heavy weapons/armor destroyed, are mostly now relying on small bandit groups/DRG’s riding around on tacticals (small pickup trucks with larger caliber machine guns in the back) in the manner of ISIS. Like this:

But the hunter is fast becoming the hunted because Russia’s own saboteur groups are now increasingly ambushing these small, roving bandit teams:

Keep in mind, the AFU does have some armor and heavy weapons left, but most of them are tied to the strategically important cities they are defending, and they do not have the fuel or logistical capabilities to utilize their armor in any sort of maneuvering force action or real military operations/advances. They are hidden mostly in and around cities like Kharkov, Nikolayev, etc. Any armor that roams outward is very quickly destroyed by RF forces. And even still, in the urban agglomerations there is not a lot of it relatively speaking.

As for US politics, keep in mind that the earlier Biden war bump in the polls was teeny compared to the ones for Bush the Senior in Desert Storm and W for the Iraq War.

By John Helmer who has been the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to have directed his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

If you understand the war in the Ukraine as the US operation to fight to the last Ukrainian for as long as required to save the Democrats at the November election and conceal the most incapacitated president since Woodrow Wilson’s stroke in October 1919, how well is it going?

And if you understand the war as the Russian operation to defeat the NATO attack against Russia through the Ukraine, and its neighbours, what is the parallel answer?

In Washington, the war has steadied President Joseph Biden’s falling approval rating. If not for the war, Biden’s job approval on inflation and jobs, the direction of the country, and immigration would be crushing the small hope remaining that the Democrats can stave off the loss of both the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 8, and preserve their defence against the rising approval for Donald Trump’s re-run for the presidency in 2024. Biden is desperate for Ukrainian and Russian blood to keep flowing; and European too, if need be.

Score the war the best the Americans can hope for right now — but they have only six months left.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin and the Stavka  have completed their reassessment of Phase-1 of the campaign. As Putin told Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in his report on the Battle of Mariupol on Thursday, “we have to prioritize preserving the lives and health of our soldiers and officers…. There is no need to penetrate these [Azovstal] catacombs and crawl under these industrial facilities. Seal off the industrial zone completely.” Putin explicitly identified the same territorial objectives as he had announced them on February 24 — “our people in Donbass [to] live in peace and to enable Russia, our country, to live in peace.”

Score the war according to the Russian plan — also according to the clock.

Putin has just stretched the time for the American, Canadian and other NATO officers directing the war from their Azovstal bunker to take Marshal Friedrich Paulus’s way out of Stalingrad – surrender, not suicide; then on trial testify to the war crimes of their commanders-in-chief.

The General Staff’s reassessment preceded Shoigu’s report by two days, appearing in an April 19 report from GRU sources in Vzglyad (“Viewpoint”) by Yevgeny Krutikov.

“During the operational pause, the Ukrainian Armed Forces were able to transfer all available forces east of Dniepropetrovsk from near Kiev and Chernogov.  As a result, a group of 20-25 thousand people was formed with full ammunition and the possibility of constant supply. It is this grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that is going to unblock the Donetsk contingent if it is still surrounded… Additionally, the ongoing supply of a new grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (up to four newly formed from mobilized and volunteer brigades) raises questions. Despite the consistent destruction of the infrastructure of Ukraine and the military supply system, Kiev is successfully restoring the destroyed at least to the size that it would be possible to pass echelons to Pavlograd and further to Lozovaya. The need to interrupt the supply of the Ukrainian group in the Donbass still remains a problem.”

This disclosure of extensive resupply from west to east was calculated for public effect, but to what end? Was the General Staff telling the Kremlin that orders not to strike at bridges, rail lines, and roads moving US and NATO supplies and troops from the Polish, Slovakian and Romanian borders should be reversed?

A leading political figure in the Donbass said privately: “The fact that in the first days of the operation they tried to spare the soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and beat only on their equipment, was a mistake unless it was fitting into some kind of plan. However, it is now clear what we have got ourselves into. Having air supremacy, we do not destroy their military command, and most importantly, we do not try to paralyze their supply. War is logistics, logistics and logistics. But all the bridges across the Dnieper are intact, all the railway stations are intact. All major highways are intact. The enemy receives weapons from the west in a stream, and calmly carries them to their destination. The groups near Kharkov and in the Donbass do not have any problems with ammunition. The talk about how they will run out of fuel tomorrow remains just talk.” He said this at the beginning of this week.

A Canadian military veteran with NATO warfighting expertise cautions against taking what the GRU is saying at face value. He sees the strategic plan as a trap – “the  Ukrainians, European and North American ‘volunteers’,  are being allowed everything they need to march, ride, drive, or fly to their ultimate destruction east and southwest  of the Dniepr. And when they are surrounded in various pockets/cauldrons, hungry, thirsty, miserable, and dying under non-stop shelling and bombing, no one will be coming to save them.”

“The new formations moved east to check the Russians do not represent high-quality units such as the airmobile/airborne brigades which have been engaging them along the Donetsk line of contact. They instead represent much lower quality conscripts bolstered with Freiwillegen  outfits consisting of European and North American mercenaries, Nazis, white supremacists,  and, possibly, tiny NATO special operations contingents performing recon and intelligence-gathering or acting as advisors.”

“In the fighting east of the Dnieper River, what we are seeing, besides the diminishing Ukrainized Soviet-era kit, are the same hodgepodge of US/NATO-supplied weaponry, communications gear, and drones. Judging by the April 18 Russian missile strike on a weapons storage depot in Lvov, as well as renewed strikes on railways in the Pavlograd region on the same date, and the subsequent howling from Zelensky to get weapons from the U.S./NATO, the situation in terms of attrition and re-supply of any of those items is getting worse, not better. All of this comes after reports regarding the April 10 destruction of the Slovakian-donated S300 SAM systems in the Nikolaev region by Russian Kalibr missiles.”

“The transfer of spare aircraft parts to allow Ukraine to repair and refurbish its jets was the latest instance of a growing openness by the US and its allies to send heavier weaponry to Ukraine. It also came as Russia began an assault in the east and south of the country, having failed to conquer Kyiv. Last week, President Joe Biden announced an additional $800mn in lethal aid to Ukraine, including expanding US assistance to include heavy artillery. The US is expected to announce a further $800mn in aid this week. Source: 

The Canadian source responds: “There is no reason to believe that the same fate that befell the kit in Lvov or the S300s, or destruction in the field, does not await the much-ballyhooed deliveries of obsolete Warsaw Pact era T72 tanks, BMP-1,    and other armoured fighting vehicles. Besides that, where are the trained personnel to operate this equipment — let alone operate it correctly — going to come from? It is not as if every Ukrainian conscript or foreign volunteer is a tank crewman. As Ukrainian service and repair facilities have been largely knocked out by Russian missiles, how will the logistics, and logic, of sending the equipment to Poland or Czech republic — another western media-promoted scheme —  pan out? A quick look at what Ukrainian units are getting around in — mainly re-purposed civilian vehicles, with increasing numbers of  ‘technicals’,  pick-up trucks mounting machine-guns (so far) —  provides a more accurate assessment of where things have been, and are, headed.  All of this strikes me as an ‘everything except the kitchen sink’ approach in terms of personnel and equipment thrown at the Russians. It also strikes me as, once again, playing straight into Stavka’s hands.”

“The seemingly irrepressible existence of Ukrainian artillery has more to do with US (and Canadian) support in terms of providing satellite imagery of Russian force dispositions to Ukrainian military intelligence. US-supplied counter battery radar, such as the AN/TPQ-48,  which the Ukrainians have been equipped with and trained on since at least 2019, is even more helpful in this regard. Russian military analysts and bloggers have commented on the ability of Ukrainian artillery to fire volleys of highly accurate and destructive fire on Russian forces only to quickly displace to set up in another location in order to repeat the process.”

Source:    and also: and and


“Incidentally, some of the same experts have called upon the Russian Forces High Command to target the Ukrainian space intelligence-gathering nodes. I’ve yet to read any calls, official or otherwise, regarding retaliatory sanctions on the companies, or their officers, who provide these capabilities to the Ukrainians. Past that, how the US and Canada providing satellite imagery to the Ukrainians does not amount to interference, as apparently defined by President Putin at the opening of the Russian Special Military Operation, is a question worth asking.”

“Finally, is there a question of Russian reluctance to use their air superiority to its full potential and neutralize Ukrainian re-supply?  Since Phase-2 of the Russian military operation began in the Donbass over this past weekend, various sources across Telegram and  Youtube,  as well as the Russian Defence Ministry,  have reported at least four Ukrainian military ground-attack and air-superiority craft have been shot down over the area. Numerous Ukrainian drones, as well as helicopters, have been taken down as well. This stands in stark contrast to Russian air forces who are providing increasingly frequent and devastating tactical air support to Russian ground forces in the theatre with minimal losses. I am curious as to the true attrition rate of Ukrainian pilots and aircrews. Even if, as recently reported, the U.S./NATO can supply spare parts to resurrect previously inoperable air frames, who will fly them? Poles? Slovaks? Balts? Indeed, who, after they’ve lost numerous aircraft and (it can be assumed) pilots, are flying the machines the Ukrainian air force is managing to deploy these days? This, in my opinion, is the bigger question.”

Donbass military sources provide mixed assessments, and depending on the daily battlefield newsflow they are receiving, there is more impatience.  “Yeah, I remember how they [US, NATO] trained the Afghan and Iraqi armies. Whatever they are building now is for the defence of the region beyond Donbass. I think the Russians will come to that when they come to that. A lot of this is Europeans offloading their junk which will need to be replenished. We are talking billions in fighter jets to replenish these numbers,  and junk. I do not think they will make it to the operational theatres, and if they do, they will not make any difference at all. This is just business.”

There has been general satisfaction at the Kremlin’s report on the Battle of Mariupol.

Source, with videoclip and transcript:

“I think it is very important to put on the record all the many minute details of Azovstal and what exactly is happening,” comments a well-informed Moscow source. “Obviously, this segment is for the TV, for the public to know what and why is being done. Usually, the format for all ministers, governors or CEOs is that they bring two copies of presentations with a lot of pictures;  Putin’s visitors then gos through them as they read their narrative. This one was designed for public consumption and an important signal that despite everything, there is no bloodlust. It’s for domestic consumption only.”

The day before Putin called in Shoigu, the domestic impact of the war in Washington required special amplification by President Biden in this 5-minute media display with General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, nodding visibly on his left, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan prompting off-left.

President Biden holds briefing with  US general staff,  commanders, and Defence Secretary at the Cabinet Room, April 20.

The US polling agencies indicate that it’s already too late for Biden to celebrate “our standing with Ukraine against Putin’s brutal and unjustified war” because most American voters have stopped listening.    According to the tracking of all poll reports by  the war gave Biden’s overall job approval rating (average of polls) an upward bump between March 5 and March 14, when it rose by 1.4 points from 41.5 to 42.9. Since then it has turned down again.


RealClearPolitics (RCP) turns its poll averages for voter approval of the president’s performance on domestic issues and foreign policy into a composite.  Source:

The relative flatness of the  line on the chart or the stability in Biden’s rating is contributed by the war. Without it, Biden would be far worse off, as inflation and other domestic economic issues eat away at most American voters’ support for him.

The shortness of Biden’s time and his weakness in the meantime have also been capitalized on by his old Democratic Party rival, the 80-year old Senator Bernard Sanders. His disclosure, first reported on April 20, is that if Biden decides not to run for a second term, Sanders will bid for the party’s nomination again. This is a signal that the succession to Biden has already begun.

Neither the president nor the  other Democratic candidates can afford too many more Battles of Mariupol to turn out the way Putin and Shoigu plan they will.

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  1. wolfepenguin

    The one thing about the US strategy in Ukraine that continues to puzzle me is that how “stupid” it all seems. There is this book by Chris Fettweiss on the psychology of superpower where American policymakers are blinded by the psychological handicap of being the hegemonic power (, but I still feel like there’s something still missing on how catastrophically and insanely stupid the whole strategy has been. Has it always been this stupid or are we getting a “special” group? I’ve read NC’s articles on it, and I’m still left wondering if they have all that experience and access to data that us plebs do not have access to, how are their conclusions… so dumb?

    1. divadab

      Hubris. And ideology. Willful ignorance. And reliance on a bankrupt playbook.

      Why else would they have spent five years’ worth of US personal income tax revenue on the failed invasion of Iraq? These people only know how to break things. They’ve never created anything but chaos in their worthless lives.

      The USA’s 1991 USSR moment can’t come soon enough to rid us of these parasites.

        1. jsn

          With what’s happening in Pakistan, Peru, Mexico, KSA and Sri Lanka, off the top of my head, that appears to be what the neo-N organizers in the blob intend.

          Demographics don’t favor their success anywhere outside the near term info war IMHO.

          As reality claws it’s way back into imperial politics there will be a kaleidoscopic fragmentation of narratives along with logarithmic scaling of censorship. A sparkle ball of fog we’re just seeing the start of.

      1. tindrum

        Follow the money – as someone pointed out the Ukraine strategy is working just as planned, the USA destabalises Europe, oil business booms, gas business booms, armaments business booms, big Ag exports booms, Euro in free-fall in fact the whole thing is looking just fantastic for the USA. Not for the americans themselves of course but for the MIC.

        1. Glen

          You are right, but this will most likely result in some bizzaro fracturing of the EU which cannot be anticipated when America’s foreign policy of “managing for quarterly profits a la Wall St” starts to wreck the EU. Even the neo-toadies running France and Britain may fall out of favor.

        2. bwilli123

          Neo Nazis leave Ukraine for Poland & Germany. Once naturalized make for millions of new Right wing voters.
          ‘Free for all’ weapons make repeated unwelcome visits in W.Europe (the 1st plane that is downed by a Javelin kills the European tourist industry stone dead)
          Hungary kicked out of EU.
          Germany re-arms.
          Russia/Belarus re-claims Lithuania under ‘responsibility to protect.’

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘Neo Nazis leave Ukraine for Poland & Germany. Once naturalized make for millions of new Right wing voters.’

            Must be using the Canada plan then. Seems that a lot of the soldiers that fought with that Ukrainian SS Division ended up emigrating to Canada ‘for their own health’. Chrystia Freeland is a result of this wave of Ukrainian refugees.

          2. Greg

            Stingers for tourist planes; Javelins are for elite motorcades.

            Fortunately plenty of both have been given to the trustworthy gentlemen of eastern europe. The future of popular politics is bright.

        3. Anonymous

          Anyone who has read the Rand Report, available on the Internet, will note that provoking Russia via Ukraine was a tactic designed to destabilize Russia and destroy the economic ties between the Russia and the EU, so that the US could retain its position as ruler of the world. Germany had once again become to powerful, cordial relations between Russia and Germany were seen as a threat to the Empire. Regrettably, the leaders of the EU are merely puppets of the CIA and US leadership, taking orders from the greedy, power hungry ego maniacs who run America.

    2. Louis Fyne

      HR (human resources hiring) = destiny.

      My armchair pleb opinion is that since the Clinton years the State-War Dept-CIA bureaucracy has hired nothing but liberal interventional or neo-con interventionists.

      And as the politicians always fought has always fought 3rd world countries, shooting never resulted in domestic blowback or personal career blowback—even if the US lost. see W Bush.

      So we have a Dunning-Kruger professional bureaucracy in love with its own hubris, self-reinforced in a feedback loop by the Beltway circle jerk of think tanks, friendly media, and corporate-international lobbyists.

      Recipe for disaster as the US is writing checks that it can’t cash in UA

      1. Objective Ace

        I dont know that its Dunning Kruger. They only need to think/be competent at enriching themselves and their enablers which they have been wonderfully successful at. There was never any domestic blowback because both parties have the same agenda.. that doesnt necessarily mean our political class actually thinks its doing a good job at international affairs

    3. PlutoniumKun

      One of the best insights was from more than half a century ago – Graham Green’s ‘The Quiet American’. It pretty much explains everything about the Vietnam War, and it was written before the war started.

      In a broader sense, I think a crucial problem in Washington is that there is literally no accountability. Nobody gets fired or discredited for getting things wrong. They only get fired or discredited for saying something that disturbs the consensus. A few working generations of this and you end up with organisations that are collectively much stupider than the individuals within the organisations. And since people like Kagen (and a long list of other neocons/liberal interventionist ‘thinkers’) are demonstrably stupid and ignorant about the countries they write about, that is saying something.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

        The Quiet American is a wonderful novel; and, as PK notes, it anticipates America’s tragic involvement in Vietnam (not to mention other foreign policy disasters), despite being published in 1955.

        1. juno mas

          I haven’t yet read the book, but was alive for the Korean War (1950-53) and knew older people who fought in it. US involvement in Vietnam (as advisors to the French) began in 1955 after the French defeat at Diem Bien Phu and subsequent Geneva Accords (1954). My point: “The Quiet American” had observable seeds to grow from. I’ll read it.

            1. Ignacio

              Put it in my list. I only read now books in English as a way to keep the level and have enjoyed G Greene in Spanish long ago. He is well known and respected in Spain and visited Spain frequently. But, because my limits i need the books to be entertaining and not exceedingly complex in constructs and ideas not to get stuck in the first page with the dictionary.
              My fear is that I might end talking as people like Peter Robinson or Ian Rankin write but at a more pedestrian level.

              1. barefoot charley

                Greene aptly characterized it as a romantic easy read. It’s extraordinary all that’s underneath the easy exoticism. You’ll like it.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          When I read it first I literally had to keep checking the inside page to confirm that it had indeed been first published in 1955. It was incredibly prescient about the slide into war.

          I actually first read it when I was visiting Ho Chi Minh City in 2003. Even back then, the city had changed a lot, I amused myself one day by cycling around trying to track down the locations in the book, without success, everything had changed.

          1. Susan the other

            They made it into a movie, iirc it was back in the 80s. And the American in question was reported to be Col. Lansdale who managed to finagle us into the war, and not too subtly. He helped orchestrate the murder of Diem and his brother, and some books even portrayed him as a puppeteer behind the JFK assassination – also intended to get us into Vietnam. For experienced colonialists, like the British and the French, a Vietnam war was not hard to predict. The tactics are age-old. And we Americans were naive but willing; we were already up to our eyeballs in overturning other countries – 1953 and Iran? I always wondered if we also poisoned Stalin (1953). The head spins.

      2. digi_owl

        Interesting, the book seems to describe a similar phenomena to what played out in Iraq between the world wars.

        According to Adam Curtis there the British administration, taking over after the Ottomans, tried to empower the regional sheiks while sidelining Bagdad. This because the British had a romantic notion of landed aristocracy that they transposed onto the sheiks.

        As an aside, i increasingly find myself weary of social sciences with a prescriptive/activist bent. I find far more useful those sciences that are of a more descriptive type.

      3. Sardonia

        I never read the novel, but saw the film when it came out. I was too stunned by the beauty of Michael Caine’s girlfriend to even notice the bombings, much less the subtler themes.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

          That was a great film, release of which was delayed by the 9/11 attacks. As I said above, the book is terrific – one of Greene’s best. And I say that having read all of his novels, the autobiographies, the film criticism (including the notorious Shirley Temple review), as well as seen the films made from his screenplays, e.g., The Third Man. Plus I made it through all three volumes of Norman Sherry’s biography.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          There was an older film version of the book with Audie Murphy – I’ve never seen it, but it doesn’t have a good reputation. The studio wanted to shelve the movie after 9/11, but to Caines credit he fought very hard to get it released. Its a very good film, and as you say the lead actress is amazingly beautiful, although she had nothing really to do in the part but look pretty while Caine and Fraser fought over her.

          Whether that was due to her limitations as an actress, or the directors fault, its hard to say. If I had one criticism to make of the film, the Vietnamese characters were all relegated to bit parts. Although maybe that was the point.

    4. KD

      I want to say “liberal interventionists” and “neocons” took over and now its all downhill, but that wasn’t the case in 1964, and the US still got itself dragged into Vietnam, and lied through their teeth that we had destroyed the Vietcong’s ability to launch an offensive campaign, and then all the lies got disproven with the Tet Offensive and the public turned against the Vietnam War and the liars who told them pretty stories. Frankly, the same story is also true: losing the Vietnam War didn’t actually matter to America geopolitically, and losing our Ukrainian “proxy war” isn’t going to matter either. Looking at the Neocons or the Liberal Interventionists is fine, these people are the enablers and the boosters, but if you want to ask why does the US consistently get into stupid wars in which it has no national interest, you have to ask who benefits, which brings us back to Eisenhower and the MIC, which is also why the enablers and boosters end up where they are. The nice thing about stupid wars that don’t matter if you win is that its good for the MIC and it doesn’t matter long term, and its a lot easier with contractors and not conscripts.

      1. LifelongLib

        Well, in 1964 the WW2-era interventionists were still going strong. Interventionism was discredited for a while after Vietnam but made a comeback (or a rebirth) under Reagan and subsequently.

      2. digi_owl

        In part thanks to McNamara trying to run a war by statistics.

        One story i heard was of a elderly Vietnamese lady pushing a bike along, that a US soldier shot during a patrol.

        Apparently by the time the report made its way to DC, she had become a genderless, ageless, Vietcong with a grenade. And thus just another number in the enemies killed statistic.

      3. Detroit Dan

        Kennedy was trying to get out of Vietnam, but JFK was “forced out” of office. James K Galbraith has researched and written about this.

      4. EY Oakland

        @KD My understanding is that Eisenhower, in the drafts of his speech, had the word “Congressional” along with military and industrial in his ‘complex,’ but took it out, who knows at whose urging. In the next two elections we’re about to get a big taste of the complete complex. Congress appears to be going the way of the Supreme Court. What can be the counter to all of that far right money, particularly since “liberals” seem to have at least two limbs deep into the big donor tar baby?

    5. Keith Newman

      @wolfepenguin, 7:19am
      Well, the US strategy is “dumb” if you believe its intent is to defend the interests of the people of the US or even the long term interests of the US empire. The intent is neither of those. It is to enrich the members of the Military-Industrial-Counter-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think Tank complex (the MICIMATT as per Ray McGovern). In that it is a great success.

      1. disillusionized

        Even under that paradigm it’s not a good war. Its 30 years of unipolarity coming back to bite. 30 years of liberal (in FP terms) dogma being the only thing in the media, or in the political class –

        1. albrt

          If the Ukraine war leads to all the crappy old materiel being cleaned out of the closets in the US and Europe and replaced by shiny new stuff, as Helmer suggests, then Ukraine will be a spectacular success for the military-industrial part of the complex. How it will pan out for the Media-Academic-Think Tank folks is less clear, but they seem to be pretty good at maintaining their consensus no matter what.

          1. digi_owl

            If the place turns into a Russian quagmire akin to the latest US forever war, as some in DC seemingly is trying to make it, then perhaps we will see some semblance of the truth come out once there is a Republican in the white house. But by then it may well be angled by the media to attribute the mess to the then sitting president.

      2. Jim

        The prime mission of US foreign policy since the turn of the 20th century & even well before that has been global domination. Wilson himself was quite clear on this. There’s no reason to think the mission has changed & it’s just not credible to think it’s now just a matter of enriching the MICIMATT. To the extent people believe that narrative, it obscures the far darker and deeply illegitimate truth.

        1. judy2shoes

          “The prime mission of US foreign policy since the turn of the 20th century & even well before that has been global domination.”

          What would motivate the U.S. to pursue the goal of global domination? I would posit that it is to enrich the groups Keith Newman mentioned above because global domination would allow those groups to take whatever they want from the dominated countries.

            1. judy2shoes

              Thanks, William. In my mind, I cannot de-couple power and money. It seems to me that the more money one has, the more power and vice versa. It’s a reinforcing feedback loop.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              Woodrow Wilson, who was one of America’s most evil and vicious Presidents, was a power-mad missionary. Much of his motivation was missionary aggressionist for its own sake.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          The US military was small prior to WWII. Disproves the dating of the start of your global domination. IMHO the US got drunk on having claim to being top dog superpower after WWII (half the world’s GDP, while the commie nemesis, Russia, lost 27 million versus its 1940 population of 110 million).

          1. DJ Forestree

            Perhaps the army was small, but still powerful enough to support the expansionists goals of Washington, DC. I don’t have the quote at hand but I remember that Lenin labeled the Spanish-American-Cuban War as the first imperialist war of the modern times. He was noticing the fact that the US was grabbing by force the last remnants of the Spanish colonial empire (and in the process, trying to stop those small island nations from becoming independent; hence Puerto Rico). In the case of Cuba, that war brought to them the gift of the Guantanamo base, still open for (torture) business today. Prior to that, I believe the invasions and stealing of territory and natural resources from Mexico could be considered as some necessary steps in the process of exerting regional and later world dominance.

      3. Ashburn

        Just a nitpick but the “C” in MICIMATT is for “Congressional.” Otherwise, Ray McGovern’s term is a brilliant description of the world’s most powerful and violent criminal syndicate on the planet.

      4. RonR

        Do you not think it is as much to subdue Russia & gain control of the riches in the country, especially now that Siberia is becoming more accessible.

    6. John Wright

      During the Vietnam war, at least during the middle portion, I remember people suggesting that “the government knows things we don’t” to justify trusting the wisdom of the USA leadership class.

      It turned out the leadership class did know more..

      Per the Pentagon Papers, the USA leaders knew that the Vietnam effort was going far more poorly than was reported in the US media.

      Perhaps the same is true now, with the same incentives to “go with the flow” until current USA leaders can land good sinecures at think tanks, universities, foundations or on defense contractor boards.

    7. YankeeFrank

      These comments lay it out pretty well (from this interview: ):

      Postol: “My grave concern is I know some of these characters who worked for Obama, and who now work for Biden. And I’m sorry to say it—I know it will be considered arrogant to say this—but they are ignorant. Let me be very clear: this is not an accidental statement on my part. They are outright ignorant. And they’re a bunch of—you know, they trained at these elite schools; they don’t know anything, but they think they know things.

      I have taught at Stanford; I have taught at MIT; I have taught at Princeton and at Harvard. So I know what a lot of these people are, because they are very privileged—this is of course a generalization; there are certainly some extremely intelligent and thoughtful people among these. But a great bulk of these people are just completely in love with themselves; they are convinced that they know a lot more than they do; they will not listen, they’re not interested in learning—I mean, you try to present facts to them, they sort of walk away from you laughing.

      And they are not experts. And it’s not a problem—it’s no problem at all that they are not experts. The problem is that they’re not interested in learning. So, you know, I had this character, a guy named Colin Kahl, he’s the deputy assistant secretary now for policy at the Pentagon. He doesn’t know anything. He was at Stanford, they made him a co-director of the center there. Rude beyond belief. And you know, he tells me at one point, I’m trying to discuss something with him—discuss something—he turns around and he says, I’ve got a job, I’ve got a real job, I don’t have time for this. This is a guy who’s at the Department of Defense, top levels now, possibly advising Biden.

      1. digi_owl

        USA really did a damn good job of copying all that was (is?) wrong with UK by the sound of it.

        1. LifelongLib

          Well, I suspect the average graduate of Cambridge in 1900 was more literate and well-rounded than the average graduate of Harvard today. That said, I’m slowly working my way through “A Peace to End All Peace” about European involvement in the Middle East during and after WW1. It’s stunning how little the British knew about what was really going on there, and how wrong-headed many of their ideas were. If that was the case then, I suspect it’s even worse today, about the Middle East and many other places.

      2. bwilli123

        The West promotes lawyers to be its congressmen and parliamentarians. Able people whose skill is arguing a proposition, any proposition (right or wrong) to the best of their ability.

        China promotes Engineers. People who build bridges cannot afford to be wrong.

      3. Science Officer Smirnoff

        Why Postol might be a familiar name—
        Known for
        Criticism of U.S. missile defense effectiveness


    8. lance ringquist

      you have to remember, under free trade whats mine is mine, and whats yours is mine also, and there will be no discussions about this period.

      because of free trade, we have 1000’s of oligarch billionaires who care little of their home country.

      free trade, currency unions, investment treaties, etc. means that the oligarchs have trillions stashed away all over the world, and have private property all over the world. so why should they care if the west gets incinerated, they will simply be gone somewhere else by that time.

      there is a reason why the founders of america warned about entanglements, and it was not just military. they included tariffs, excise taxes, duties, the regulation of commerce inside, and out side of our borders, taxes, and all legislation required too carry out their duties.

      and of course keynes, make most of your own stuff, and never let finance go off shore.

      wilsons name was mentioned, the prototype fascist despised the russians, invaded russia in european russia, and far east siberia. he was going to wipe them out. they stood in the way of the promised land, free trade for all.

      Globalization led Hitler to the American dream: hitler clearly was enamored by globalization and free trade, he based Mein Kampf on it, he also based the E.U. free trade zone on on it

    9. Exile

      The War Party‘s Grand Strategy in Ukraine Is extremely successful. Washington wants Europe to be destabilized. That’s been the Grand Strategy since 1991.

      Every single crisis in Europe since 1990 has been fostered and escalated by the War Party.

    10. Tom Bradford

      The one thing about the US strategy in Ukraine that continues to puzzle me is that how “stupid” it all seems.

      Unhappily I fear it’s going the way the US wants. Russia needed a quick victory to bring the Ukrainians to the conference table and an agreement protecting the ‘breakaway’ eastern provinces from Ukrainian aggression. They didn’t get it, partly perhaps because of US intelligence and spine-stiffening, so where are we now? Battles being fought over those same provinces, wrecking them and their infrastructure, and displacing the Russian-sympathetic populations leaving the Russians with a God-awful mess to clean-up after their victory and facing the prospect of having to maintain a highly-militarised new border for years to protect the areas they’ve taken against a Ukrainian army rebuilt by the West to ‘reclaim’ the conquered territory . Russia will never, now, be able to withdraw from those provinces without exposing them to the kind of ethnic cleansing we saw in Bucha after the Russians withdrew, but on a vaster scale.

      Even if/when Russia wins militarily it will have created for itself a huge sinkhole for financial and military resources for years, and a Europe cut off at the knees by denying itself the resources and markets Russia offered. What’s not for the US to like?

      1. Ace

        Russia will demand that Ukraine forswear reconstitution of its armed forces with assistance from NADO.

  2. LawnDart

    The relative flatness of the line on the chart or the stability in Biden’s rating is contributed by the war. Without it, Biden would be far worse off, as inflation and other domestic economic issues eat away at most American voters’ support for him.

    John Helmer is too kind– Ms. Kimberly, much less so:

    The Ukraine Crisis Can’t Save Biden

    The U.S. propaganda victory over Russia will do Joe Biden and the democrats little good. Their willingness to act on their promises and meet the people’s needs will be the deciding factors in determining their political fate.

    Joe Biden has served the oligarchs well through the course of his career, ruining the lives of countless Americans here at home. It almost makes me glad that he’s preoccupied with Ukraine and not trying to “reform” social security or getting tough-on-crime, whatever’s the flavor of the day.

    I’ve long given up hope or belief that Washington can help us or make our lives better in any way– I just hope that the “elite” don’t make things worse than they already are.

    1. Objective Ace

      I think Yves alluded to this yesterday, but there’s a difference between getting destroyed at the polls and the Democratic party falling apart completely — either like the Whig party or from within if the likes of Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard get some traction

      In that sense, the Ukranian theatre may do the Deomcrat party good

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Tulsi Gabbard remembers her betrayal by the treacherous and perfidious Democratic Party. She is biding her time before deciding whether to convert to High Profile Republican or not.

        But whatever she does in the future, it will be outside the Democratic Party.

  3. Louis Fyne

    —Was the General Staff telling the Kremlin that orders not to strike at bridges, rail lines, and roads moving US and NATO supplies and troops from the Polish, Slovakian and Romanian borders should be reversed?—

    Presumably the RU military has the capability to monitor all movement across the Dniper.

    there are only something like 20 road and train bridges across the Dnipr, it is a wide river ( )

    infrastructure goes two ways…..the same bridges used to supply UA units can be used by RU to roll into blitzkrieg to Odessa and Transnistria (which is presumably phase 3, after the Donbass encirclements are methodically eliminated).

    So, as the kids say, is the General Staff playing “3-D chess” while the public talks about checkers? who knows!?.

    What is for certain is that during WWII, the Soviets fought individual battles that were more horrific, more intricate, involved more troops-equipment-logistics than nearly every US war.

    Presumably all that institutional memory still lives on in the RU military.

    As w/Afghanistan 2021, everything for Kyiv and Biden will look tolerable and stable until (like a super-saturated solution) the final input is added and the status quo changes completely in one day.

    1. timbers

      Once the camel’s back is broken in Donbass, a conservative phase 3 might consist of taking Oblasts Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa. Of those, some of Zaporizhzhia, much/all of Kherson, and some of Mykolaiv have Russian troops in them already.

      That’s the minimum needed to seal Ukraine off from the coast and protect water supply to Crimea.

      Though I discount them as possible propaganda or simple speculation, there are….rumors I guess…that news anchors in Crimea refer to Kherson as The People’s Republic of Kherson and say some want a referendum asking to join the Russian Federation. If true it’s hard to blame them. They’ve had since 2014 to watch the shit-show in Kiev Obama and Nuland subjected them to.

      1. Revenant

        And so it begins…. Russia has begun to take out the bridges over the lower Dnieper. There are so many tensions -between letting the Ukrainian side concentrate men and armour itself in the Donbass and denying them ammunition and fuel to manoeuvre; between keeping the infrastructure open for Russian advances and closing off a Ukrainian retreat – that it is hard to judge whether the article I linked to is right in its view that the Russians are taking out the railway supplies and forcing Ukraine to use lorries.

        I wonder if the idea is to create a cordon sanitaire beyond the intended new LoC. Leave the infrastructure in Donbass intact for Russian advances; prevent West Ukraine from getting close to the LoC by cutting the rail and road links: force Ukrainian traffic to be routed via Kiev region where it could be choked off again in future (if Russia does not take all of Ukraine east of Dnieper); preserve Russian movement east-west across Black Sea Littoral, with the Dnieper bridges held already.

    2. MT_Wild

      The plan may be to wait until all those forces travel east past those bridges, rail junctions, etc., and then destroy them. Better to destroy those weapons and troops in the countryside than in and around Kyiv.

      1. redleg

        That is tactically perfect- isolate the combat units from their supplies, and in the spring when ice bridges are as far away in time as possible.

  4. mrsyk

    Hard to see this strategy bearing much success for team blue come November. It doesn’t seem like Ukraine’s plight carries much weight with the average citizen. For instance, in the deep blue college town next door few of the DNC provided “Black Lives Matter” lawn signs that litter the landscape like discarded Red Bull empties have been converted to the “I Stand With Ukraine” or the head scratching “Thank You Poland” signs. Very few.
    Have the American public become desensitized to “Russia, Russia, RUSSIA!”? Maybe the DNC is having a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” moment. Should we worry about the possibility of a domestic false flag event on a 9/11 scale? Our political masters have form in this department, and have shown that they will do just about anything to cling to power.

    1. Louis Fyne

      there is an interesting study which suggests that ever since the NYT moved the subscription model, its editorial focus changed too—essentially delivering stories that its subscribed clicked on.

      In the NYT world, UA is the only story in the world, much like BLM was the only story in summer 2020.

      Compare the NYT website….UA headlines for weeks on end, with algo/clickbait-driven news sites, or your local news outlets. safe bet NYT UA headlines are dwarfing UA news everywhere else…..people just don’t care about UA anymore. People care more about declining real wages.

      Anyone thinking that focusing on foreign policy right now is good for Biden or DCDems is completely out of touch with reality.

      DC Dems won’t get steamrolled in November because of UA, but because UA sucked all the energy out of theWest Wing such that Team Biden has no motivation to tackle the domestic economic issues which are festering like gangrene right now

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I disagree. Biden is falling in the polls because he’s viewed as not “aggressive enough.” More than half of Americans want him to “do more” in Ukraine, not less. He’s old enough (or lucid enough) to know that WW3 won’t end well. We won’t go to war until Biden is gone. President Kamala being run by the intelligence community will get us the war they want. She’s a naif and not a very bright one. She was chosen for a reason.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            Poll: 46% of Americans Want No-fly Zone over Ukraine even if it Risks Nuclear War

            Fifty-six percent of Americans think Biden has not been tough enough on Russia, while 36 percent say his approach has been “about right.”

            Consistent with prior surveys, the Harvard CAPS-Harris poll found that a majority of Americans (52%) think the administration’s response to the Russian invasion has been “too lenient” rather than too harsh (15%) or just about right (33%).

        1. bluedogg

          Where did you get that information from, I hear very little talk about Ukraine except the endless billions being poured into it while poverty continue its upward march and the people deep dis-content with inflation and failing wages as they finish off the middle class.

          The oldest boy is an independent over the road driver he hauls from Maine to the State of Washington and everywhere in between, and he said he’s heard very little commendation of Russia for going into Ukraine as he talks and eats with other drivers, which to me is a more logical mood of the country. In a survey taken not long ago, 56% of those surveyed stated that this system of government no long worked for them and it’s probably well over 60% by now so you do the math.

          1. polar donkey

            Aside from the same liberals who had trump derangement syndrome, very few “normal” people I see/interact with seem to care about Ukraine. Ukraine is far away and “not really our business”. Seems to indicate the weakness of mainstream media and even social media to gin up war fever beyond their own silos. The war started 2 months ago, which may as well been 10 years ago. Also, since there aren’t Russian tanks rolling through Berlin and Paris, is this really our problem? I will say many people realize war with Russia is a whole different thing than war with Iraq and are scared.

            When I have 15 minutes to explain Ukraine, SWIFT and give a condensed Michael Hudson class on international economics and interconnectedness, “normal” people have a “wtf” moment? Realize NATO/DC/western elites are corrupt, nuts, or both.

        2. Brian (another one they call)

          Michael; It is difficult or impossible to imbue competence on any of these people because they have never demonstrated it in the past to the eyes of Americans. You can’t talk that claim into existence. This is likely to include every chair in congress. They don’t act like Americans because the people of this nation are becoming shocked at how little the harlequins do, can do, want to do, and want not to do.
          No, the Ukraine is no more and that alone will serve world peace. One can only hope that our three branches either begin to assist Americans or they too are gone. Imagine spending billions on weapons for other people and ignoring the privation ongoing and starvation on the horizon.
          Willful idiots are most irredeemable.

  5. The Rev Kev

    I’m going with the idea that this war will be over long before the 2022 midterms. Those elections are, according to Lambert’s countdown clock, nearly two hundred days away. And this war has been going on for what, about 60 days? From what I see, the Russians have secured the entire Black Sea coastline from the Russian border clear through to Crimea, a big chunk of the Ukrainian army is stuck in a cauldron and is about to be neutralized, the Russians have taken a large chunk of territory north of Crimea to give it strategic depth and there is already talk of taking the rest of the Black Sea coastline clear through to Transdniestria. Pretty soon the Donbass Republics will have all their territory under their control again and other Oblasts are talking about going with them. But I don’t see this taking some two hundred days to happen. By the time the midterms kick in, there will be nothing but recriminations and talk of who lost the Ukraine. So will the Democrats hang all their hopes on Biden still?

    1. Samuel Conner

      > By the time the midterms kick in, there will be nothing but recriminations and talk of who lost the Ukraine.

      perhaps by then major attention will have turned back to the US’ own (southern) borderland.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Or Taiwan. I think that it would be in the Democrat’s interest to keep voter’s attention focused on matters overseas and not on internal problems. You start on the borderland and next thing you know, they will be forced by Republicans into debates on rising crime levels, inflation, rising gas/food prices, homelessness, a still raging pandemic, etc. Safer for them to talk about external problems.

        1. Pat

          It may be in the Democrats interest, but is it in the media’s? I think Ukraine is dying as clickbait. Barring some ginned up war crime trial, we have probably hit peak Ukraine for marketing purposes.
          There will not be any sweet blond haired waifs to use for Taiwan. And sadly I think that was part of what spoke to a great number of Americans. So can a proxy war with another nuclear power keep people interested and supportive and checking for even the two months or so Ukraine managed?
          Media will cooperate until it is no longer in their interest to do so. And they have mostly the same deal regardless of party, with few exceptions. For this to help Democrats, the war must interest and be supported by the public. No interest, or interest but angry about it, both add to their problems.
          Not that I believe this brain trust is capable of recognizing that.

    2. Polar Socialist

      In that case the new republics will probably have a huge parade of Ukrainian human rights violations and war crimes from the last 8 years on show in the form of tribunals going on 24/7. A huge propaganda information space controlling effort is needed just to keep that in check.

    3. YuShan

      Not to mention inflation, economic misery, food shortages and possibly famine in some 3rd world countries that will be center stage.

    4. The Historian

      I haven’t been following the Ukraine war too closely (too much war porn) but it seems to me that the only way Ukraine is holding on is because of European armaments. As far as I can tell, countries in Europe are supplying the Ukraine with old weapons which is OK for now because the MIC is selling those countries new weapons to replace the donations. What will happen when there are no more ‘old weapons’ to be given to Ukraine? Will there be a push by the MIC to send new weapons to Ukraine? I can’t imagine that the MIC wants this war to end any time soon. Certainly if those press conferences are anything to go by, the MIC’s mouthpieces (MSM) don’t want it to end.

      I do wish polls mattered, but lately, I don’t think anyone in our political parties care much anymore what any of us think or want.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The idea that they are holding on is a media production. In 50 days Russia looks to have taken out 10% of their non-reservist forces. That’s massive. Russia has also taken out Ukraine’s command and control, so its remaining units are operating in isolation, which translates into greatly diminished effectiveness.

    5. scarnoc

      My expectation is that Russia will have completed their goal of the demilitarization of the whole of Ukraine by the end of the Summer, unless NATO intervenes directly, at which point the Ukraine becomes a single front in a much larger European military campaign (assuming nukes don’t immediately fly).

      As it stands now, the military action in Ukraine is one front in the war for multipolarity. The other fronts are diplomatic and economic. The Russians appear to me to be advancing with consistency on those axes, in concert with their quiet allies. Those advances will continue to turn screws on EU and USA economies in unseen ways. I don’t think that’s good for the Democrats, and I don’t think their leaders are capable of responding except with aggressive sanctions on PRC and other nations. Each round of sanctions will merely attach the USA to the sticky tar trap that the PRC and the Russians have set for us. We are one trick ponies and we telegraph every move before we make it.

      I suspect that if we get to the point where the Russians feel Ukraine is settled to their satisfaction without NATO intervention, then the military portion of the war will move to the Levant.

  6. Safety First

    I think there are two other important angles here.

    One, we now know that the overall goal of the second phase of the war for the Russians is to bring under their direct control the entire southern portion of Ukraine, from the Donbass to Transdnistria, including all of the Black Sea coastline. Whether these territories will be annexed directly, or first go through an “independence” stage, is almost immaterial; the point is that, referencing Peskov’s comments yesterday, these areas will be brought into Russia’s sphere.

    Irrespective of the military utility, therefore, both the government and the economic elites would wish to limit any damage to the infrastructure in those areas to the extent possible; rebuilding it costs money, and until it is rebuilt its value as an economic asset is diminished. In other words, military considerations may only be one dimension of a multi-dimensional problem here, especially if after Phase 2 there is a Phase 3 or a Phase 4. Here again I turn to Peskov who specifically referred to, quote, “southern areas of FORMER Ukraine”, implying that, well, Ukraine in Moscow’s eyes is no more, the only question is how to divide the thing up. [Logically, if they were to capture the Odessa-Nikolaev region, striking directly north towards Belarus from there makes the most sense; it isolates everything east, including Kiev, it creates a rump state in the western end of the country that can be pretty much left up to NATO, and it shortens the new line of contact dramatically. But who knows.]

    Two, there is a possibility that, from a purely military standpoint, the Russian attitude is – let them come. In other words, rather than paralyze all movement across the country, which would also hit civilian deliveries, by the way (e.g. how would Kharkov get enough bread if all the bridges and rail junctions were knocked out?) and possibly cause new Ukrainian forces to just keep building up in the westerly section of the country, let them all come east, where they can be methodically destroyed owing to Russia’s tactical air superiority. Burning precious fuel as they come, by the way (not directly, but the lorries and trains ferrying them east have to run on something too). As well, it isn’t as if NATO has an infinite store of weapons to transfer over.

    I do not know if this is the approach they are taking, but it’s a thought. Risky, of course, but actually in tune with some of what was happening in both Chechnya and Syria (better to let the rebels in either territory come at you to be ground down than melt into the terrain and villages).

    I guess there is a third possibility here – I have now seen several times the rumours surface that the Poles are mustering their army up for a potential intervention in Western Ukraine or even Moldova, a sort of a “peacekeeping force”. This would obviously be a dramatic escalation of the conflict irrespective of what Moscow decides to do about it; and so it is possible that Moscow is hoping by keeping the war still relatively low key (taking out all the Dnieper bridges would most certainly not be low key), this scenario can be avoided. Better a slow drip of NATO arms than a direct intervention.

    1. NN Cassandra

      If Russia captures and redraws Ukrainian territory beyond Donbass, then I would say any negotiated settlement is out of question, no acceptance of neutral status or similar things. Whatever remains of Ukraine will be ruled by hard core nationalists armed to the teeth by West. Not sure how to square that with the stated goal of demilitarization & denazification.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that that is the point. I mean there will be no negotiated settlement. Zelensky is not serious about one and unless the US/EU think that they will gain the winning hand, they will refuse to have any sort of settlement or even recognize what is being done on the ground. And there is zero trust between the two sides in any case. The border between the two Ukraine’s will become the new Korean border which will be frozen like the DMZ. And Washington/Brussels will call that a win.

        1. NN Cassandra

          But can Putin call it win? He will gain couple hundredth kilometers on the way to Moscow in the hypothetical case Europe generates another Napoleon/Hitler. On the other hand, he will increase the chance of such scenario and also create big pool of people willing to take another try at the pilgrimage to Urals. The Korean example isn’t particularly reassuring, given that now North has both nuclear bomb and ballistic missiles to carry it.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Zelensky is probably serious about not being assassinated by various Banderazovi type shooter teams or persons. He may have been serious about pursuing a peace with Russia and Russiakraine, but he is more serious about not being assassinated. And can anyone here really blame him?

          1. integer

            Given his close relationship with Kolomoisky, surely Zelensky would’ve been aware that Kolomoisky (and other Jewish Ukrainian oligarchs) had been funding Azov battalion (and Dnipro etc.). It has been public knowledge since (at least) Maidan:


            A source at Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, cited by Voice of Russia, claimed that “Kolomoisky is the most outspoken opponent of the plan on settling the situation in the East of Ukraine.”

            In April [2014], Kolomoisky placed a $10,000 bounty on the head of any Russian “saboteur,” caught, according to the UK’s The Guardian, which added that turning over a grenade launcher to Kiev authorities would net finders $2,000, and $1,500 for every heavy machine gun handed in.

            There’s also all the training of the UAF by NATO that has taken place since Maidan. Was pretty obvious where things were headed. So, imo it’s overwhelmingly likely that Zelensky knew exactly what he was getting himself into, and by extension, known that he was lying to the Ukrainian public during his campaign wrt seeking a peaceful resolution with Russia. He was just playing a role, and I’m sure his acting skills served him well.

            On a tangentially related note, I came across the following video of Zelensky on a video chat to Elon Musk (and two others I don’t recognize), with what appears to be a a pile of cocaine, complete with a credit card to rack lines, on his desk (out of view of his webcam). No way to verify its authenticity, but it’s interesting nonetheless.


            1. Yves Smith Post author

              There are more and more fresh videos with Zelensky high as a kite, so even if that video is a fake, Zelensky snorting lots of coke is completely credible. Wonder if the Hunter laptop will reveal they did lines together?

              1. integer

                I’d really like to see any Burisma documents that are on the laptop. Have been wondering if part of the plan was to tap Ukrainian natural gas reserves and then use the existing pipeline infrastructure to supply Europe.


                Due to the temporary occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Ukraine has lost the opportunity to exploit the Scythian section of the Black Sea shelf, where gas production was to begin in 2017.

                Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Anton Korynevych said this at the All-Ukrainian Forum “Ukraine 30: Public Utility Bill” on February 15.

                “Shortly before the occupation, agreements were signed in the United States on the distribution of products, on the exploitation of the Scythian section of the Black Sea shelf, which is located near the Crimean Peninsula, outside the city of Sevastopol. This project could have started in 2017 and would be very successful and very correct from the perspective that Ukraine would increase its natural gas production,” Korynevych said.

                The representative noted that about half of all natural gas in Ukraine is on the continental shelf of the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov. Due to the occupation, Ukraine cannot exploit these resources, which has a negative impact on the energy security of both our country and Europe as a whole, he stressed.

      2. KD

        It is also very hard to see the Russians give up portions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya Oblast under occupation at this point. Further, its pretty clear that the West has zero interest in a negotiated settlement, will put sanctions in effect for decades, and with good border security, the ultranationalists in the West might find it easier to traffic meth and fentanyl and NATO heavy arms to Western Europe than it is to promote insurgency in the former Ukraine.

        1. bwilli123

          I think after Bucha the Russians have realized that retreats (tactical or otherwise) only invite retribution of the worst kind for anyone not rabidly pro the former Ukraine.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I was thinking earlier today that if the Ukrainians had been able to invade and take over the Donbass Republics, that the whole of the Donbass would have been a Bucha write large. And there would have only been silence from the west, especially the EU.

          2. Polar Socialist

            Sometime ago the Russians published a recording alleged to be of withdrawing Russians troops in Bucha trying to convince an ex-verhovna rada opposition member to leave with them to avoid the likely Ukrainian retributions.

            The man refuses with “if they kill me, then they kill me”.

            If not a fake, then it seems the Russians already knew what kind of people they are fighting. As did the Ukrainian anti-Maidan opposition, the Party of Regions, with all those members and supporters going missing after the start of the war.

      3. OnceWereVirologist

        How much danger to Russia can a landlocked impoverished Ukraine be ? It’s population might be reduced to 20 million or less as outside of Kiev the southern and eastern oblasts are the most populous. Arming them would be just throwing good money after bad, and very obviously so.

        1. NN Cassandra

          How much the original Ukraine was danger to Russia by itself? I though the problem was the march of NATO, even if by stealth in the case of Ukraine. Arming them might not be good idea, but if our rulers paid attention to what ideas are good and bad, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Political dynamics in West guarantee shipments of huge amount of arms, NATO advisers and training, especially if Putin can execute some non-trivial land grab while not crumbling under sanctions.

          1. OnceWereVirologist

            The original Ukraine wasn’t a danger to Russia itself but certainly strong enough to retake the Donbass and eventually Crimea. The new one won’t be. The US neocons are only incidentally interested in Ukraine as a stalking horse for their own geopolitical ambitions. If the new Ukraine is too weak to be used as such they’ll drop it like a hot potato much as they dropped Georgia.

            1. Sibiryak

              The original Ukraine wasn’t a danger to Russia itself but certainly strong enough to retake the Donbass and eventually Crimea.

              Crimea IS Russia itself now. Unequivocally, irreversibly. An attack on Crimea would be an attack on Russia itself. That’s the Russian view, on both state and popular levels.

              1. OnceWereVirologist

                The international community, however, does not agree, so with the expectation of continued NATO and US support I think the Ukrainians might have eventually decided to try their luck retaking Crimea.

                1. Polar Socialist

                  According to the Donetsk Republic intelligence the date was set to late March 2022. They’ve captured plans, maps and commands.

                  Maybe there’s reason the cream of the Ukrainian army has been positioned around the “rebelling” regions and were clearing minefields at the time of Russian invasion?

                2. Acacia

                  > I think the Ukrainians might have eventually decided to try their luck retaking Crimea

                  If they can’t hold Mariupol, what chance do they have retaking Crimea? And given the odds, what are the ethics of the West supporting them in such a war?

                  Also, regarding “the international community”, there are several countries who recognize Crimea as part of Russia, while China, India, and 56 other countries abstained from the vote on U.N. General Assembly Resolution 68/262 in 2014. Hardly a consensus, then, and that vote was before the years of civil war and atrocities undertaken by Kiev.

                  Jacques Baud has also noted some interesting history that doesn’t get reported in the Western media:

                  We forget that Crimea was independent, even before Ukraine became independent. In January 1991, while the Soviet Union still existed, Crimea held a referendum to be managed from Moscow and not from Kiev. It thus became an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Ukraine did not get its own independence referendum until six months later in August 1991. At that point, Crimea did not consider itself a part of Ukraine. But Ukraine did not accept this. Between 1991 and 2014, it was a constant struggle between the two entities. Crimea had its own constitution with its own authorities. In 1995, encouraged by the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine overthrew the Crimean government with special forces and abrogated its constitution. But this is never mentioned, as it would shed a completely different light on the current development.

            2. Sibiryak

              TASS, February 1:

              No one in the West has ever thought that if Ukraine is admitted to NATO and ventures an attack on Crimea, Russia will have to be at war with the alliance, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

              ” [Crimea] is Russia’s sovereign territory. The matter is closed for us in this sense.

              Let us imagine that Ukraine is a NATO member and ventures such a combat operation. Are we supposed to be at war with NATO? Well, has anyone even given a thought to it? It looks like no one has,” he said.

              He once again stressed that Ukraine’s membership of NATO is unacceptable for Russia. “Listen to me carefully. Ukraine’s doctrinal documents say that they are planning to return Crimea, including by military means. It is not what they are saying in public but what is actually written in documents,” Putin explained. “Let us imagine that Ukraine is a NATO member, stuffed with weapons and state-of-the-art missile systems like in Poland and Romania. Who will stop it from unleashing operations in Crimea, let alone Donbass.”


            3. NN Cassandra

              Hard to believe Russia wouldn’t be able to defend Donbass or Crimea. Even if we discount the prewar cheering from some corners about how Russia has superiority over UA army or even NATO, Ukrainians around Donbass seem to be holding pretty well so far, without air support and with limited resupplies against stronger opponent. So Russia should be able to do the same easily.

              1. Polar Socialist

                So far the main opponent of the Ukrainians around Donbass have been the Ukrainians in Donbass, with less men and armed mainly with weapons captured from Ukrainians.

                And the Ukrainians have dug deep during the last 8 years encircling the Donbass. At places there are 5 or 6 lines of trenches and bunkers. “The Allied Forces” (Russia + DNR + LNR) have been now pounding them seriously with artillery and missiles since last weekend, preparing for the so called Battle of Donbass.

      4. Polar Socialist

        It looks more and more that it’s not an if Russia does so. The Kherson oblast is already slowly being reintegrated back into Crimea-Donbass economic sphere.

        It’s also an area that in 1991 was for federal Ukraine, and 2014 was for autonomic status (as in not really approving of the Maidan coup). After heavy ukrainization the population did turn towards more nationalist attitude, but mainly by anti-Maidan people moving to Donbass or Russia and pro-Maidan people (Tatars) moving in. Now it seems that Tatar being an official language in Crimea while being banned in Ukraine, the Tatars are finding Russia a more hospitable state to live in, and there are indications of a major shift in their loyalties. That may depend on the Russian response to the suggestion of carving an autonomous Tatar state out of parts of Crimea, Kherson and Zaporizzya.

        Perhaps the only way, and I certainly hope not, to square that with demilitarization and denazification is to beat the ethno-nationalist part of Ukraine into tatters so that it’ll take (again) 40-50 years for it to rise again. Germany was de-nazified, Japan was de-whatever-fied, Iraq was de-baathified, all in a way as in not really wanting to travel that road again. It’s even been done in Ukraine, twice, in the last century.

        1. ComradePuff

          I spent about a month in Crimea in 2019, largely among Tartars, and we asked them what they thought about Crimea since Russia had taken over. This wasn’t an abstract question, as every hour or so Russian fighter jets or copters blasted by overhead on patrol.

          They said – and I got the impression that his was a consensus as the people seemed clannish – they were happy with Russian control because their economic circumstances had improved, and moreover that the Russians did not harass them. Asked if they would fight for Russia against Ukraine, they said yes because they feared being dispossessed of their lands by Ukraine for having collaborated with Russia. I seem to recall that at least on member of this clan(?) was in the Russian armed forces and others assisted in various ways.

          It was interesting because it totally contradicted all the Western propaganda that painted Crimean Tartar people as being an anti-Russian ethnic block.

  7. Brooklin Bridge

    I have a hard time believing Biden will run again, he is really pushing it if only on the physical level, but hey, if I have a 50 50 chance of being right, I manage, somehow, to be wrong at 100%.

    I also have to marvel at Sanders; hasn’t he figured out yet that he has a snowball’s chance in Hell getting past the DNC? They would make sure Putin himself got the nomination before Sanders. I can only assume his intentions are to keep his views and ideas visible and more importantly plausible to the public.

    1. Carolinian

      It’s now obvious that the only way Sanders can help is by running as a third party candidate. He should have done that in the beginning.

      Our democracy is rendered meaningless in a system where the only choices are tweedledum and tweedledee. The rise of mass media politics and decline of retail politics have made this even more true now than it was for many years previously. Any reforms that do happen are just nibbling at the edges.

      1. lance ringquist

        agreed, sanders is not a tactitician. 2016 should have been that DUH moment. he should have kept his promise to vote for hillary and ran as a green. 2020 was a embarrassment for him. what a waste of resources and support.

        now americans are really radicalized, perfect fodder for a demagogue.

        it looks like nafta joe biden is the final straw, i was surprised they pulled it off in the first place. didn’t the youth who were bidens main support, see what nafta billy clinton and empty suit obama did to their grand parents, parents, etc.?

        i do not think trump derangement syndrome will go as far as it did last time.

        let the PMC blow steam out of their heads, maybe the women of the view will migrate to canada, where a fascist has full charge. then they can rest easy.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The youth were repelled by the Cultural Fascism of the Republicanazi Fascistrumpanon right.
          And voted their revulsion.

          1. lance ringquist

            by 2020, anyone who did not see that economic rights always precede social rights, is living that nightmare now.

            another way of putting it, to secure social rights, economic rights must be secured first.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Sanders is a narcissist, ya I said it. :)

      he is 80 and still has no plan of succession for his movement. not that it matters anymore…IMO the momentum he had in 2016 is gone. Forever

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        That’s an ageist remark, Louis. Sanders, at 80, has shown no signs of decline. The more salient argument against him running is that it would only succeed as a 3rd party candidacy.

        It won’t happen. And, like many other western countries, the US will instead take a hard turn to the right. Sanders must know and accept his role in allowing this to happen.

        1. tegnost

          Sanders must know and accept his role in allowing this to happen.

          Am I to understand that you are blaming Sanders for the likely turn to the right?

          1. albrt

            Speaking for myself, yes. I blame Sanders for helping the crypto-reactionary Democrats subvert any meaningful opposition to the openly reactionary Republicans.

          2. Acacia

            Sanders was an enabler for Clinton, and an enabler for Biden. He endorsed them both.

            Agree with Carolinian, above: he should have run as a third-party candidate.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I for one am glad Sanders did not decide to sink himself into the tarpit of irrelevancy which the Green Party invited him to step into by running as a Green Party dilletante.

      2. jefemt

        A Canadian pal perceives Sanders and the progressive ‘squad’ (all six of them?) are successfully leading the US into a clueless Socialist welfare state.
        Not my perception… BUT, Bernie and the ineffective Squad are certainly creating fodder for the wingnut radical right and their fox/ newsmax alarmist opinion-making crew. All the while getting nowhere beyond Nancy, the moderate Neocon core, and President Manchin and his cabinet of McConnell, Graham, Grassly et al

        Heady stuff to imagine Jim Jordan at the helm of the two-year election cycle House….

      3. JessK

        On the contrary, Sanders ranks among the most selfless masochists in political history. Few have willingly endured more abuse and humiliation at the hands of their ostensible political enemies (who they then effusively praise and grovel before) for the sake of the immediate electoral success of the Democratic Party.

        Say what you will about Bernie, but there’s no question his institutional loyalty to the Democrats and commitment to electing them to office (even when the candidate is, say, a senile right-wing warmonger who may ultimately end all life on this planet) above all else is certainly genuine.

    3. Oh

      I too have found that I’m 100% wrong when I have a 50% chance of being right. I call it the 50/100 rule. I wish I knew which option I should choose. If I can consistently choose the option that will be 100% successful, I’d be very rich!

      1. LifelongLib

        There was that Seinfeld episode where George figured out what he should do and then did the opposite, with great success.

    4. Hepativore

      The thing is though, the DNC has also openly-stated that they do not intend to hold fair primaries, and I am sure that there is a high likelihood that Biden’s brains will be completely mush by 2024. If Sanders runs, the Democrats might just cancel the primaries entirely, saying that they already have their candidate in the form of Buttigieg, or whomever, and so they are not required to hold primaries at all.

      While Sanders shot himself in the foot with the “friend” rhetoric concerning Biden, if he could at least acknowledge that the DNC is ruthless and dishonest I think it could go a long way towards redeeming himself in the eyes of his former supporters. He could also gain a lot of popularity showing how the DNC establishment has been wrong about everything the past four years.

      The problem is, that even though the Democrats are heading for a wipeout in 2022 and 2024, they have shown time and again that they prefer losing public support and electoral seats rather than the support of their donors, so they would rather sandbag Sanders again than face the prospect of letting him anywhere near the presidency, even if that means they never have a Democrat in the Oval office ever again. You cannot effectively threaten a political party that sees electoral losses as the cost of doing business compared to the lucrativity of fundraising from the threat of Republican opposition and the opportunity of personal enrichment.

      However, if Sanders ran as a third-party candidate, it would have made it even easier for the media and the political establishment to marginalize him, and he and his ideas would have not gotten any airtime whatsoever. I am not opposed to third parties, just that to build the political infrastructure to support a viable third party in our electoral system would require a highly organized and disciplined effort that would probably take several decades and a lot of luck. We simply are not there yet, and it remains in doubt if that could ever happen.

  8. voteforno6

    I wouldn’t read too much into Biden’s approval ratings. Whatever the level of U.S. involvement is right now, it’s not the same as actually being at war. If the U.S. engaged in direct military conflict, I would expect Biden’s approval ratings to improve quite a bit. How sustainable that would be, I don’t know – I think that would depend on how long the conflict would actually last.

  9. Louis Fyne

    Video #1 looks like UA propoganda. I’ve seen zero UA or RU videos in which on side is riding into battle with their flag like it is Gettysburg. (and it says something if UA can’t find footage of UA tanks and APCs to make viral)

    #2 is more like reality for both sides

  10. David

    I think that what this post, like a number of others I have seen recently, inadvertently demonstrates, is that for western political leaderships and those who influence and service them, the war in Ukraine isn’t actually happening;

    What I mean by that, is that in the western mindset today, only what happens on TV or the Internet is actually real. If genuine outside events muscle their way onto the agenda, they are important only inasmuch as they require some kind of PR handling and response. Problems are not managed, they are characterised and labelled. They are not solved, they are just massaged away from the public’s attention. Does a bomb exploding in Ukraine cause any damage if it’s not reported in the western media? The practical consequences of a crisis overseas are limited to its impact on domestic politics.

    For western leaders, images and videos are actually a higher form of reality. If real life does not correspond, so much the worse for real life. These leaders are not themselves very clever, but they grew up in an intellectual environment where Idealism ruled: normative policy-making, humanitarian intervention, Debord’s Spectacle, the End of History, Baudrillard’s theory that the Gulf War never actually happened, Hollywood’s use of GCI, video fakery and a dozen other things combined to create the idea that what is fundamentally true is the realm of Ideas. Likewise, what matters is not what is happening, but how we feel about it, and we demand of our leaders not that problems be resolved, but that they be made to disappear so that we feel better. Battles are only won or lost if governments and the media say so, but this saying-so is not, as you might naively think, seen as a weakness. Rather, it’s an assertion of the primacy of the image over mundane reality.

    Obviously, only a culture which is intensely narcissistic, but also very powerful, can continue this delusion for any length of time. Part of the fear and disconnect that is starting to pervade western political culture is due to the realisation that it is indeed a delusion and, after all this time, nobody has any idea how to deal with reality.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve seen some interesting commentary that some sense of reality is beginning to sink in around Europe – Germany in particular. They seem to be running out of enthusiasm for further sanctions and there is a lot of foot-dragging (something the Germans excel at since the Merkel days) around sending even old Leopard I tanks to the Ukraine.

      I suspect that if and when it becomes impossible to deny that the Ukrainian army is broken and that sanctions have failed that things may change very radically, at least behind the scenes. You can’t of course expect any of them to admit failure in public, but I suspect we’ll see a gradual slipping away from sanctions first. But that will have to wait until after the French elections and the summer. Expect some epic gaslighting about the failures while everyone just gets on with the new reality.

      1. Safety First

        Marders, surely, not Leopard I’s. Or, at least, all the stories on the subject thus far have referenced Marders. And some old-vintage Leopard II’s, maybe.

        Leopard I’s in a modern war environment would just…I don’t see them working. It’s a 40-ton vehicle with no armour to speak of. Ugh. I mean, I guess under certain conditions you can make anything useful, but still.

        More broadly, I somehow am rather more pessimistic on the EU and sanctions even if or when Ukraine is defeated. To begin with, the driver here is not the EU, but rather the US, whose secondary goal seems to be the final subjugation and vassalisation of the EU space. [Hence the recent hysterics over the slim possibility of Le Pen in France – just about everything she says on foreign policy sounds like it was fed to her by the “old” Euro-centric elites.] And, wherever you pretty much look, the political layer has been rendered more or less “atlanticist”, with the exception of some minor states like Hungary. They’ll just keep telling the locals that whatever they are made to suffer is Evil Putin’s personal fault (because, you know, Russia is run by a single individual and has no economic elite or shadowy state-run monopolies or a military slash intelligence “deep state”), and, well, that’s it.

        I mean, look at what has happened in places like the Baltics or whatnot. For decades their leadership has consistently taken precisely the “wrong” economic steps, dismantling the local industrial and energy capacity, selling out what’s left to EU banks, and so on, and so on. And now, cutting off their biggest sources of export income, transit of materials from Russia and Belarus, not to mention the whole gas issue. And so what? They keep doing it! And they will continue to keep doing it, because at this point they are no longer independent actors and the Big White Bwana from across the Atlantic doesn’t really care if the locals are reduced to near-starvation.

        Maybe I am just feeling especially pessimistic this morning.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          They’ve been talking about Marders, but also Leopard I’s. It would always be symbolic, but the advantage of the early Leopards is that they have updated electronics and optics and its relatively easy to train the crews. The German Army devotes 6 weeks to basic training for a crew. They would be no use face to face with a modern Russian tank, but they would have some use for training and for secondary defensive duties, on the theory that ‘a bad tank is better than no tank’. The big problem of course with them is logistics. They will need fuel, and a whole new set of (105mm) ammo. So its pretty pointless, but then again at this stage, even handing over the most advanced modern Leopards would be pointless too.

          The Baltics are a mixed bag economically. Some have actually done quite well in recent years, even though they are a demographic disaster having lost all their young people. Maybe they’ll benefit from an influx of younger Ukrainians.

    2. IsabelPS

      Image is everything, indeed. Actually, I had to check the date of that photo of Putin speaking with Bulavin (apparently not mentioned in the article) because it is so different from the recent photos I have seen of him speaking meters away from anybody eles. 2018, according to google.

    3. Acacia

      Adam Curtis’ analysis could be added to the list. I.e., “governments, financiers, and technological utopians have, since the 1970s, given up on the complex ‘real world’ and built a simpler ‘fake world’ run by corporations and kept stable by politicians.”

      1. Louis Fyne

        WtF, Kofman could have been given a benefit of the doubt pre-war, but his latest tweet thread went off the rails. totally detached from reality.

        If this passes for competent Beltway analysis (which it does cuz he is in CHARGE of the Russia desk at CNA), the West has entered a geopolitical hegemony’s death spiral in 2022.

        All it takes is a clique of insane advisors who manage to convince a barely lucid Biden to air strike Russian military units (a la Dr Strangelove) for the West’s doom loop to be complete

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I don’t know if these people started out thinking they had to sell a pro-Ukrainian line, but its pretty clear that by now they are in a circle jerk of retweeting each others fantasies such that they genuinely have no clue of what passes for the truth anymore. The shock these people will get when they are faced with reality will be a sight to behold.

          It really is fascinating to watch the descent into deeper and deeper layers of stupidity.

        2. Gulag

          I would like to say a few words in defense of Michael Kofman. His politics and mine are different but he has won my respect for his no-nonsense approach to this war.

          He made an accurate prediction that Russia would invade Ukraine based primarily on a
          sophisticated analysis of Russian troop deployments (the best I saw anywhere).

          How completely off the rails is the following–to me they just sound reasoned and cautious (and of course he has his significant biases in support of Ukraine) as do people like Scott Ritter (who is also quite good and has his own set of different biases):

          The Russian attack thus far seems to be an advance on Slovyansk from Izyum (west of Kramatorsk) to attempt a partial envelopment of UKR positions in the northern part of the Donbas.

          Russian forces in the southwest around Kherson are struggling to consolidate a defensible perimeter west of the river. The Russian units deployed there are relatively light and under pressure. They could even be forced over time to retreat east across the Dnipro.

          Its’s unclear if the southern axis of the planned offensive will be more than a fixing action. The SouthernMilitary District’s forces have been mauled over 2 months of fighting. This means a larger operational envelopment is probably beyond their means to support.

          …the outcome in the Donbas range from Russia making gains to suffering another defeat. Most important question is whether the Russian military has reorganized its command and control/ air support and logistics for the new offensive…and he believes that the Donbas is the last major offensive the Russian military can attempt given its current availability and state of forces. Whether it succeeds, or fails, at that point Kofman believes the Russian military will be largely exhausted in terms of offensive potential without a national mobilization.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Sorry, the predictions of Russia invading were on par with the negative yield curve: it predicts 9 out of every 5 recession. But this was worse: we had predictions of invasion in April 2021, Nov-Dec 2021, and then Jan-Feb 2022, with SPECIFIC predictions of an invasion starting on Feb 16 and 20. As Scott Ritter pointed out, these predictions ignored that Russia is a democracy, and it takes about 4 days to approve military action. The Duma voted through recognizing the separatists republics only on Feb 16, the day after Zelensky nixed the revival of the Minsk accords. Putin did not act on it immediately. Launching an attack requires the approval of the Security Council and then the full Duma.

            So did your Kofman reject all the earlier predictions made before and including Feb 20? Hard to take this seriously otherwise.

            1. Gulag

              I don’t consider Kofman your typical Defense community propagandist. He may be closer to what Ritter considers a sophisticated “establishment” realist (someone who understands, recognizes and appreciates sphere of influence calculations in foreign policy decision-making). As a consequence his stance has generated a great deal of respect among his peers.

              He was arguing for the probability of a Russian invasion way before April of 2021. An article which gives a good overview of his position is attached:

    4. responseTwo

      Very good point. What you describe reminds me of the old corporate-news slogan “Ronald Reagan made America feel good about itself”.

  11. Oh

    Sanders may seek the Dem nomination for President in 2024,. That ought to scare the Democrat party. /s

    1. Pat

      I may be wrong but my theory is that Sanders is seeing the same thing that a few others here have, Clinton is running, Biden be damned. I don’t think this is directed at the Democratic Party, it is directed at her. And once she gets over being pissed off, I think it will scare her. I don’t think she wants an entire rerun on 2016. Even Hillary has to know that won’t go well, at a time when the Sanders alternative is crashing and burning AND she already lost to Trump.

      Honestly I don’t think Sanders wants to run, but I bet he wants Clinton running even less.

      But I have been wrong before.

        1. Susan the other

          But it continues: phase 4 is monopolize underpants and phase 5 is underpants war. So logically phase 6 is underpants peace. If we were smart we’d skip the profiteering and go straight to peace.

  12. Dean

    If you understand the war in the Ukraine as the US operation to fight to the last Ukrainian for as long as required to save the Democrats at the November election and conceal the most incapacitated president since Woodrow Wilson’s stroke in October 1919, how well is it going?

    This is the most concerning sentence of the entire article.

  13. Dave in Austin

    I’d like to note a contradiction in Helmer’s post. He quotes the Russian General Staff from 4/19:

    “During the operational pause, the Ukrainian Armed Forces were able to transfer all available forces east of Dniepropetrovsk from near Kiev and Chernogov.  As a result, a group of 20-25 thousand people was formed with full ammunition and the possibility of constant supply. It is this grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that is going to unblock the Donetsk contingent if it is still surrounded. Additionally, the ongoing supply of a new grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (up to four newly formed from mobilized and volunteer brigades) raises questions. Despite the consistent destruction of the infrastructure of Ukraine and the military supply system, Kiev is successfully restoring the destroyed at least to the size that it would be possible to pass echelons to Pavlograd and further to Lozovaya. “

    The main supply road from Dnipro to the Donetsk contingent of the Ukrainian army in the southeast is the E50 divided highway. So it makes some sense for the Ukrainians to position the new, 20-25 thousand man reserve east of Dnipro on the E50 where they can advance down the E50 axis if the army in the east needs to break out. But the line: “… Kiev is successfully restoring the destroyed at least to the size that it would be possible to pass echelons to Pavlograd and further to Lozovaya.” contradicts the “down the E50” theory because this passage suggests the new units will go 30 miles east from Dnipro to Pavlograd then turn north and go 25 miles to Lozovaya.

    Why? I’ll suggest that the Ukrainians will head north to Lozovaya to parry any offensive by the Russians that starts north of Izrum and heads east. This move is unlikely to stop the Russian offensive but it is the best chance the outnumbered Ukrainian’s have.

    Further south near Zaporizhzhia the Guardian reported how game but not-well-armed Ukrainian soldiers are facing tanks: Also in the area Russians seem to be advancing or probing toward the small town of Huliaipole, which is 10 miles north of the long-static front north of Mariopole. The Ukrainians have ordered all civilians out of Huliapole. One Ukrainian source says the Ukrainian army has pulled back in the area a few miles to better defensive positions. All of these are indications that the overstretched Ukrainians are slowly pulling back in the face of larger, better equipped Russian units, including many units no longer needed in Mariupol.

  14. NYG

    Why is this war even happening? Zelensky was elected to bring an end to the civil war raging in Ukraine since 2014. Russia was clearly willing to negotiate a peace deal. Most Ukrainians are related to Russians. Zelensky certainly is not representing the the 70+ percent of Ukrainians who voted him into office. Those people are dying or dead, and are losing (or have lost) their homes, jobs, husbands. wives, parents children as well as their savings and never had anything to gain from playing hardball with Russia.
    Sure Ukraine has war hawks and greedy oligarchs, but what in the world is really behind the US and NATO countries fueling this war with ever more lethal weapons. Do those decision makers really think a nuclear war provides them with a necessary benefit? Or any benefit? Even if these countries are all or mostly on the verge of insolvency do they think that killing many millions of people is a benefit?

    1. Safety First

      Strategically – China.

      If you assume that for the US China represents the greatest geopolitical threat of some kind – and remember, Biden was the “pivot-to-China” man back during the Obama years – then the first task is to separate it somehow from the Russians. Now, one could try to seduce them away, sort of a Nixon-in-China-redux moment – or one could push for regime change in Russia to take it back to the 1990s, when it was de-facto a US vassal in every conceivable way. And to do this latter thing, you’d need to destabilise Russia, weaken it, throw it into internal turmoil. What better way in which to do this than to force it into a 20-year-long Afghanistan-on-steroids – I am using a lot of dashes in this post for whatever reason – while crippling its economy with sanctions?

      Perfectly logical to me. Stupid, but logical. From here, all you have to do is bait the Russians to go at Ukraine by suggesting a forthcoming NATO membership and deployment of US THAAD radars into the area around Kharkov – which, according to at least one Russian expert (the historian Morozov, who is also an ex-officer of Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces), would render at least some of Russian missile sites highly vulnerable to US interceptors already based in Poland (by cutting detection-and-response time in half or more).

      I am not saying they should have taken the bait – I have LOTS of issues with the present Russian government both in and out of the context of this war – but again, the logic is there. It kind of fails if the Russians do not get bogged down for 20 years, and if their economy does not die with a whimper, but who in the White House could possibly have predicted, etc. etc. But this is also why now, the order of the day is to pump Ukraine with as many weapons as possible to keep the Russians bogged down for as long as is possible. Fight this to the last Ukrainian, I mean, it’s not like they’re actual PEOPLE or anything…

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        Seduce them away by, for example, offering partnership in a new European security architecture ? That risks Germany and Russia looking at each other and saying, “Between us we’ve got the manufacturing, the engineering, the raw materials, the financial & military clout. Why do we need the f***ing Americans ?” So destabilizing Empire-of-Chaos type geopolitics it has to be.

        1. Susan the other

          That has always been my take. The thought of Germany and Russia coming together is a nightmare for us, let alone Eurasia. Makes me wonder if it wasn’t Ribbentrop and Molotov who inadvertently sealed the fate of Europe in 1938 by effectively coming together politically. Poland was the buffer (the fuse) back then and all the US and UK needed was a broken treaty to push Germany eastward. (And we literally armed both sides.) To attack Russia while there was still time (except there wasn’t). To this day Germany’s attacking Russia makes no sense. The US had been stirring up a war between Germany and Russia since the end of WW1. The Nazis against the Commies was the perfect plot.

    2. AlanRoxdale

      > Zelensky was elected to bring an end to the civil war raging in Ukraine since 2014.

      I agree. And I think he did try. But the man was clearly at risk of being summarily shot by the forces now in control of Ukraine. In some sense I think the failure of Zelensky’s election to lead to constructive peace talks may have been a big factor in Russian decision making to invade.

      1. NYG

        Zelensky faced the risk of assassination by a minority faction, not by the people who control the country. As the President he was/is in control. He has the full power of the state at his command and is hardly at the mercy a minority faction. The assassination risk theme is floated as an excuse to explain his voluntary choice to align himself with the war hawks and elites. Long before he ran for office he had to know the risks and he still chose to run and give hope to those who yearned for peace.

  15. jr

    Minor anecdote: While walking the dog today, I say a youngish woman in a leather jacket carrying a sign. The jacket had some message painted on it but I assumed it was just some punk-ish fashion statement. The sign clearly said “Save Ukraine” in blue and yellow.

    I’ve seen little overt support for the Ukraine here in my nook of Williamsburg. A few signs in store windows and now this woman. I did a search to see if there were any planned protests around here but nothing new came up. I’ve seen no signs or anything in peoples yards.

    Even when I went walking through Greenpoint about two weeks or so back, I didn’t see much if any literature discussing the war. Greenpoint is heavily populated by Polish-Americans so I would think there would be something. That is if a lot of people actually cared.

    Of course in trendy Manhattan there were the blue and yellow cocktail tables and other such frippery but I haven’t heard of anything else in the news recently. A quick search shows everything is around two months old, Times Square protests and such. My point is I don’t think it’s really on people’s minds, if you brought it up I’m sure the standard propaganda points would be expressed but no one is painting their faces blue and yellow anytime soon.

    1. howseth

      Ah Greenpoint – my neighborhood 1997-99. Yes, it was heavily Polish then as well…(I shared a house, in Hausman St. with the only Dominican family on the block, as far as I knew).

      I remember visiting my former street months after 9/11and there were many American flags out commemorating the local NY dead.

      Out here in Santa Cruz not much pro Ukraine activity on the streets – at least in my neighborhood. I notice a few Facebook friends posting support – and one or two local FB friends spelling their names in Ukrainian ( Is it?)

      My grandfather spent his child hood there – Kiev vicinity – and did not like to talk about it. He spoke Yiddish and Russian and English and said he was glad they left Ukraine… Left me with a dour view of the country – especially after I read the way The Ukrainians teamed up with the Nazis in WWII to kill Jews.

    2. Safety First

      I am not sure how things are with the Polish-American community in Greenpoint – but I do know that in Poland, prior to 2022 it had been far from all roses viz. Ukraine and Ukrainians. Specifically, on the one hand, the government routinely reminded the populace of the Volhynia massacres (30k-40k Poles killed by Ukrainian police units in the employ of the Nazis) – even made a major movie about it in 2017, I think – and on the other hand, both Polish and Ukrainian (and even Russian) press regularly published a story involving altercations between Ukrainian migrant workers and Polish locals. As bad as or even occasionally worse as whatever you hear about the LatAm migrants in places like Texas.

      In other words, it would not surprise me in the slightest if in certain areas of Poland Ukraine and Ukrainians are, shall we say, not looked upon favourably absent US policy priorities. Moreover, I am more than sure that at least some of the Polish elites have seriously thought of using the opportunity to return Lemberg, I mean L’vov, or is it L’viv, back into Poland’s sphere, e.g. via deployment of a “peacekeeping mission” of some sort. I am not saying this will necessarily happen, but there has been enough nostalgia about interwar Poland there to suggest that someone had at least thought about it.

  16. Mikel

    “If not for the war, Biden’s job approval on inflation and jobs, the direction of the country, and immigration would be crushing the small hope remaining that the Democrats can stave off the loss of both the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 8, and preserve their defence against the rising approval for Donald Trump’s re-run for the presidency in 2024. Biden is desperate for Ukrainian and Russian blood to keep flowing; and European too, if need be…”

    The establishment is only distracting themselves and the polls tell them what they want to hear. All part of the same self-reinforcing loop.

    I’m sure there are various points of view of @@the war. I wouldn’t discount cover-up and keep out of jail factors with the shady dealings in the Ukraine beforhand.

    1. ian

      If he’s doing this to deflect from domestic problems, it is misguided.
      It’s hard to compete with gas at $6/gal.

  17. Alyosha

    Conceptually I understand the idea of this being good for the MIC but I question the feasibility. The Lima plant currently produces 11 tanks per month, billions have been poured into it just to keep it open. If the US is going to rearm europe at a tidy profit, i curious as to the how it will be done. Does the US have access to the raw materials, factory capacity and skilled workers to significantly increase military production?

    How does the European arms industry function with even more resource constraints than the US? It can be done, but there’s going to be some lag time. And in that lag time the Eastern European armies that were supposed to absorb the brunt of any Russian attack will be severely under-equipped. (Assuming the news reports of depleted stocks as far west as Germany are true.)

    I assume that since the big military contractors have been thoroughly taken over by finance types that the actual engineering and production angles are left unconsidered. It’s all focused on contract size and projected revenue. The flip side is that Russian tv has “ad” spots that even use the “we’re working” tag line showing a tank factory that is full (probably a year’s worth of US production on the shop floor). The kaliber factory is apparently hiring 500 people (I assume adding a full shift). Wherever the LoC ends up being, it appears one side will be bristling and the other waiting on the contract delivery date that will be postponed 17 times with twice as many change orders.

  18. Louis Fyne

    –. Whether it succeeds, or fails, at that point Kofman believes the Russian military will be largely exhausted in terms of offensive potential without a national mobilization.—

    of all Kofman’s assertions, that one is the one that is most problematic and IMO totally detached from reality.

    even after the Donbas offensive, Russia will have the conventional power to deter and defeat any NATO conventional intervention—particularly as NATO’s armies are operationally flabby, under-trained, and have ammo at the bare minimum levels given all that has been shipped to UA.

    It is NATO that is exhausted, and NATO hasn’t even shot a bullet.

    The Russians have methodically annihilated UA strategic chain of command, the Russian military is methodically annihilating individual units in Donbass, Russian internal ministry units involved in the first part of the war are being released and rotated home.

    YMMV but please trawl the internet for non-Establishment primary and secondary sources.

    And I had 1st hand knowledge of CNA in the beforetime, pre-Woke days, The CNA I knew was dispassionate, analytical, methodical.

    so I too am scratching my head on where Kofman is coming from.

    Guessing media and peer narrative programming. And that Twitter allows the plebs to see the intellectual groupthink of people inside institutions as any independent thinkers are not promoted.

  19. AlanRoxdale

    > Putin has just stretched the time for the American, Canadian and other NATO officers directing the war from their Azovstal bunker

    As tempting as this is to believe, is there really any evidence for it?
    The part I’m missing here is why such officers/supports would need to be anywhere near Mariupol at all, let alone in some supposed Tora Bora bunker complex. My base assumption is that the vast majority of the Nato support officers are sitting in remote offices and C&C centers in Europe or the US, with a handful of plausibly deniable on the ground liasons being based in Kyeev or Lviv.

    So why Mariupol? Outside of some James Bond style secret submarine base I can’t see much reason for anyone important enough to be an embarrassment to hang around there during or before a major conflict.

    1. Louis Fyne

      my assumption is that there are a handful of retired ex-NATO officers working as mercenaries and trainers who got stuck in Mariupol as they believed their own propaganda that the RU army was a paper tigher.

      Then the internet conflated these possible kernels of truth into NATO is in Mariupol.

      we’ll know the truth soon. If starvation doesn’t end the siege, dysentery will.

    2. JoeC100

      I think the only things we know are that radio intercepts identified six non-Ukrainian languages in Azovstal. Also, there seemed to have been very strong efforts to get whoever is there out – including losing three (I think) scarce helicopters trying to sneak into the site to pull priority people out

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