John Helmer: Blinken Concedes War Is Lost – Offers Kremlin Ukrainian Demilitarization; Crimea, Donbass, Zaporozhe; and Restriction of New Tanks to Western Ukraine if There Is No Russian Offensive

Yves here. The reading that John Helmer highlights is so out of left field that it’s hard to know what to make of it. Aside from being a spook, David Ignatius of the Washington Post is too high profile a reporter to err in recounting a one-on-one interview with Blinken.

Helmer takes this interview to be the US offering “terms of concession”. The problem is that if that is what it is meant to be, it is so procedurally irregular as to be an obvious red herring. If the US really wanted to talk, it would go through channels. And there is no evidence that has happened. Senior Russian officials have repeatedly said they have not only not gotten any proposals from the US, the Russians have made a point of stating that there has been virtually no senior level communication between the US and Russia for months. One of the sort of recent exceptions was the mid-November meeting in Istanbul between CIA chief William Burn and the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin. Russia later stated that Burns said nothing new with respect to Ukraine.

The second, as Helmer points out, isthat the collective West has shown itself to be not agreement capable and even proud of its cheatin’ ways.

But on top of that, if Blinken is actually willing to trade the Donbass, Crimea and Zaporzhizhia on a short-term basis for a cessation of hostilities, the Washington Post piece does not say anywhere. If it’s coded, I can’t see where; perhaps some of Helmer’s Russian interlocutors discern that but again, I would like to know how exactly. It may be that the admission that Ukraine can’t take Crimea is so radical that Russian tea-leaf readers see that as signifying more.

But if that’s the point, Blinken underscores that any concession is not expected to be lasting. From the Washington Post:

The administration shares Ukraine’s insistence that Crimea, which was seized by Russia in 2014, must eventually be returned.

In other words, in a piece meant to convince…somebody…the US is still admitting that it fully intends to retake the territory is claims it might be willing to admit it can’t have now. I don’t read this as a sweetener for the Ukraine government and the “on to Moscow” types like the Poles and Baltic states.

In any event, things have gone too far for Russia to stop and accept facts on the ground when it is clearly on the cusp of being able to greatly improve its position, first by further destroying Ukraine’s fight force and NATO weapons and then by taking further territory.

Helmer infers that the West is worried about the economic viability of Ukraine and does not want Russia taking the rich agricultural land east of the Dnieper. That presumably goes double for Odessa.

But this article nevertheless comes off as enshrining the view that US can dictate the end game in Ukraine, which is clearly nuts. And per the Crimea remark flagged above, Blinken signaling that territorial concessions are temporary makes even a supposedly limited offer a non-starter to Russia, and presumably allows for plausible deniability with allies.

So who is the audience for this piece? Is it to start lowering expectations in the US of the long-predicted Ukraine total victory? It can’t be Russia despite pretenses otherwise. China, India, Turkey, and the Global South, to show the West isn’t being unreasonable? The Poles and Balts, to signal they need to moderate their demands in light of Ukraine’s inability to perform?

A further comment: Helmer notes that:

Highlighted in bold type in Blinken’s text is the phrase, “a strong, noncorrupt economy and membership in the European Union”…. It is also Blinken’s acknowledgement that Vladimir Zelensky’s move early this week to force the resignations and dismissals of senior officials means the US is calling the shots in Kiev and Lvov.

This is at best what the Biden Administration is trying to sell House Republicans. With Zelensky having been outed in the Panama Papers less than two years ago, his position at the helm belies any claims regarding a clean up. Ukraine is too fabulously corrupt for anyone in a position of influence to have clean hands.

But the US likely is making sure that some heads are rolling so as to be able to claim when it’s become undeniable that an awful lot of cash and goodies sent to Ukraine went astray that the perps were found and have been sent packing or worse. The purge at a minimum is meant to throw a great big blanket over that problem.

But the US is likely also of the belief that it can orchestrate a house-cleaning so as to get outcomes they desire. That is delusional. I sincerely doubt the US has remotely a good enough grip on what is happening within the Ukraine government so as not to be snookered. It’s not hard to see one faction successfully undermining another with cherry picked and fabricated evidence.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

David Ignatius (lead image, left) has been a career-long mouthpiece for the US State Department. He has just been called in by the current Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) to convey an urgent new message to President Vladimir Putin, the Security Council,  and the General Staff in Moscow.

For the first time since the special military operation began last year, the war party in Washington is offering terms of concession to Russia’s security objectives explicitly and directly, without the Ukrainians in the way.

The terms Blinken has told Ignatius to print appeared in the January 25 edition of the Washington Post.  The paywall can be avoided by reading on.

The territorial concessions Blinken is tabling include Crimea, the Donbass, and the Zaporozhe,  Kherson “land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia”. West of the Dnieper River, north around Kharkov, and south around Odessa and Nikolaev, Blinken has tabled for the first time US acceptance of “a demilitarized status” for the Ukraine. Also, US agreement to  restrict the deployment of HIMARS, US and NATO infantry fighting vehicles, and the Abrams and Leopard tanks  to a point in western Ukraine from which they can “manoeuvre…as a deterrent against future Russian attacks.”

This is an offer for a tradeoff –  partition through a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the east of the Ukraine in exchange for a halt to the planned Russian offensive destroying the fortifications, rail hubs, troop cantonments,  and airfields in the west, between the Polish and Romanian borders, Kiev and Lvov, and an outcome Blinken proposes for both sides to call “a just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity”.

Also in the proposed Blinken deal there is the offer of a direct US-Russian agreement on “an eventual postwar military balance”; “no World War III”; and no Ukrainian membership of NATO with “security guarantees similar to NATO’s Article 5.”

Blinken has also told the Washington Post to announce the US will respect “Putin’s tripwire for nuclear escalation”, and accept the Russian “reserve force includ[ing] strategic bombers, certain precision-guided weapons and, of course, tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.”

President Putin has offered a hint of the Russian reply he discussed with the Stavka and the Security Council last week.

Putin told a meeting with university students on Wednesday, hours after Blinken’s publication.   “I think that people like you,” the president said,    “most clearly and most accurately understand the need for what Russia is now doing to support our citizens in these territories, including Lugansk, Donetsk, the Donbass area as a whole, and Kherson and Zaporozhye. The goal, as I have explained many times, is primarily to protect the people and Russia from the threats that they are trying to create for us in our own historical territories that are adjacent to us. We cannot allow this. So, it is extremely important when young people like you defend the interests of their small and large Motherland with arms in their hands and do so consciously.”

Read on, very carefully, understanding that nothing a US official says, least of all through the mouths of Blinken, Ignatius,  and the Washington Post is trusted by the Russians; and understanding that what Putin and the Stavka say they mean by Russia’s “adjacent historical territories” and the “small and large Motherland” has been quite clear.

Follow what Blinken told Ignatius to print, before Putin issued his reply. The propaganda terms have been highlighted in bold to mean the opposite — the public positions from which Blinken is trying to retreat and keep face.

January 25, 2023
Blinken ponders the post-Ukraine-war order
By David Ignatius

The Biden administration, convinced that Vladimir Putin has failed in his attempt to erase Ukraine, has begun planning for an eventual postwar military balance that will help Kyiv deter any repetition of Russia’s brutal invasion.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined his strategy for the Ukrainian endgame and postwar deterrence during an interview on Monday at the State Department. The conversation offered an unusual exploration of some of the trickiest issues surrounding resolution of a Ukraine conflict that has threatened the global order.

Blinken explicitly commended Germany’s military backing for Ukraine at a time when Berlin is getting hammered by some other NATO allies for not providing Leopard tanks quickly to Kyiv. “Nobody would have predicted the extent of Germany’s military support” when the war began, Blinken said. “This is a sea change we should recognize.”

He also underlined President Biden’s determination to avoid direct military conflict with Russia, even as U.S. weapons help pulverize Putin’s invasion force. “Biden has always been emphatic that one of his requirements in Ukraine is that there be no World War III,” Blinken said.

Russia’s colossal failure to achieve its military goals, Blinken believes, should now spur the United States and its allies to begin thinking about the shape of postwar Ukraine — and how to create a just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity and allows it to deter and, if necessary, defend against any future aggression. In other words, Russia should not be able to rest, regroup and reattack.

Blinken’s deterrence framework is somewhat different from last year’s discussions with Kyiv about security guarantees similar to NATO’s Article 5. Rather than such a formal treaty pledge, some U.S. officials increasingly believe the key is to give Ukraine the tools it needs to defend itself. Security will be ensured by potent weapons systems — especially armor and air defense — along with a strong, noncorrupt economy and membership in the European Union.

The Pentagon’s current stress on providing Kyiv with weapons and training for maneuver warfare reflects this long-term goal of deterrence. “The importance of maneuver weapons isn’t just to give Ukraine strength now to regain territory but as a deterrent against future Russian attacks,” explained a State Department official familiar with Blinken’s thinking. “Maneuver is the future.”

The conversation with Blinken offered some hints about the intense discussions that have gone on for months within the administration about how the war in Ukraine can be ended and future peace maintained. The administration’s standard formula is that all decisions must ultimately be made by Ukraine, and Blinken reiterated that line. He also backs Ukraine’s desire for significant battlefield gains this year. But the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council are also thinking ahead.

Crimea is a particular point of discussion. There is a widespread view in Washington and Kyiv that regaining Crimea by military force may be impossible. Any Ukrainian military advances this year in Zaporizhzhia oblast, the land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia, could threaten Russian control. But an all-out Ukrainian campaign to seize the Crimean Peninsula is unrealistic, many U.S. and Ukrainian officials believe. That’s partly because Putin has indicated that an assault on Crimea would be a tripwire for nuclear escalation.

The administration shares Ukraine’s insistence that Crimea, which was seized by Russia in 2014, must eventually be returned. But in the short run, what’s crucial for Kyiv is that Crimea no longer serve as a base for attacks against Ukraine. One formula that interests me would be a demilitarized status, with questions of final political control deferred. Ukrainian officials told me last year that they had discussed such possibilities with the administration.

As Blinken weighs options in Ukraine, he has been less worried about escalation risks than some observers. That’s partly because he believes Russia is checked by NATO’s overwhelming power. “Putin continues to hold some things in reserve because of his misplaced fear that NATO might attack Russia,” explained the official familiar with Blinken’s thinking. This Russian reserve force includes strategic bombers, certain precision-guided weapons and, of course, tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.

Blinken’s refusal to criticize Germany on the issue of releasing Leopard tanks illustrates what has been more than a year of alliance management to keep the pro-Ukraine coalition from fracturing. Blinken has logged hundreds of hours — on the phone, in video meetings and in trips abroad — to keep this coalition intact.

This cohesiveness will become even more important as the Ukraine war moves toward an endgame. This year, Ukraine and its allies will keep fighting to expel Russian invaders. But as in the final years of World War II, planning has already begun for the postwar order — and construction of a system of military and political alliances that can restore and maintain the peace that Russia shattered.

Click to follow Putin’s remarks in the official Kremlin translation.

Highlighted in bold type in Blinken’s text is the phrase, “a strong, noncorrupt economy and membership in the European Union”. This is Blinken’s message to the Kremlin that the  US wants to preserve Ukraine’s agricultural economy, its grain export ports, and the trade terms agreed with the European Union before the war. It is also Blinken’s acknowledgement that  Vladimir Zelensky’s  move early this week to force the resignations and dismissals of senior officials means the US is calling the shots in Kiev and Lvov.

Nothing is revealed in Blinken’s offer “for the Ukrainian endgame and postwar deterrence” of how, and who on the US and Russian sides, to negotiate directly on the particulars. Instead,  there is the hint that if the Russians agree to trust the Americans and delay the planned offensive, and if they allow the rail lines to remain open between Poland and Lvov, the Americans will reciprocate by keeping the Abrams and Leopard tank deliveries in verifiable laagers west of Kiev.

As Russian officials have been making clear for months, no US terms of agreement can be trusted on paper, and nothing at all which Blinken says.  A well-informed independent military analyst comments on the Russian options: “The best response is continue the special military operation, destroy the Ukrainian military in their present pockets,  complete de-electrification and destruction of the logistics, then either take everything east of the Dnieper or establish a de facto DMZ,  including Kharkov. Blinken and the others cannot be trusted to follow through if they think they have a chance to stall for time. The Ukrainian Nazis are conspicuously absent from this proposal – and they remain to be dealt with. We know there will be no end to tro

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  1. Cocomaan

    Definitely an interesting change in tenor when they are also sending in advanced battle tanks.

    Thanks for continuing to report on this. You cannot find good information on this war anywhere.

    1. digi_owl

      So far it is all talk and nothing crossing the borders, same as when they talked about sending over Polish jets until Poland said “nope, you do it!”.

  2. JohnA

    How is this different from the Merkel/Hollande admission that Minsk II was all about giving Ukraine time to arm and fight Russia?
    Fool me once and all that,

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, the Russians will recognize this immediately. My completed opening section, reinforcing what Helmer says, notes that Blinken commits to eventually retaking Crimea. Whatever he is proposing is openly a stopgap despite trying to spin otherwise.

      So my take is that this is not at all aimed at the Russians. The US go through channels to make a serious overture. Amusingly it has so burned its bridges with the logical go-between, Erdogan, that I wonder who it could use.

      The question is then who are the intended recipients? Or is the US so high on its propaganda supply that it’s convinced itself that this self-serving ploy would actually appeal to Russia?

      1. sinbad66

        Who is this for? You had already said it: China, India, Turkey, and the Global South, to show the West isn’t being unreasonable? Especially China, India and Turkey. China – oil purchases and other tech transfer; India – ditto (including spare parts for its auto industry); Turkey – so to maybe try to woo them back into the fold (a kinda hard sell at this point, especially concerning Swedish and Finnish NATO membership). And to perhaps get ahead of the Russian proposal that they could become the new gas hub for that part of the world? Curious to hear what the guys at The Duran will say about this. Excellent work from you, Helmer and all the other indie outlets!

      2. JohnA

        Exactly. Erstwhile ‘neutral’ countries such as Sweden, Finland, Austria and Switzerland cannot be considered neutral or potential go-betweens anymore. Even Ireland has swallowed the EU narrative.

        “I met a traveller from an antique land,
        Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
        Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
        Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
        And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
        Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
        Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
        The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
        And on the pedestal, these words appear:
        My name is NATO, King of Kings;
        Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
        Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
        Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
        The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

        With apologies to Shelley

        1. Susan the other

          In the link to Putin he is quoted as saying Germany has no sovereignty which comment was obviously meant for Germans. Shrewd. Because there has definitely been a mutiny cover up. Why else would Blinkie say such glowing things about Olaf “the sausage” Sholz and the wonderful cooperation of the Germans? It is so blatantly disingenuous of Blinkie to slobber like that it makes NATO cringe.

      3. carrie_f

        “Amusingly it has so burned its bridges with the logical go-between, Erdogan, that I wonder who it could use.”

        How about:
        Security for Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Ukraine at the weekend was funded by taxpayers’, Downing Street has said.

        The former prime minister, facing fresh questions over his personal finances, said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had invited him to travel to Kyiv once again.

        Mr Sunak’s official spokesman confirmed the government paid for Mr Johnson’s security as he visited some of the warn-torn suburbs around capital Kyiv on Sunday. [Source MSM news]

        But see also this piece by Gilbert Doctorow.

        1. JohnA

          Johnson has no official government post. He is purely a backbencher, aka voting fodder for the government and supposedly to act on behalf of his constituents.

          In a capacity as a journalist, famous for having been sacked from the Times for making up quotes, and as Brussels correspondent making up lies about EU legislation, Johnson subsequently wrote a desperate big front page splash in the Daily Mail arguing that the west should send every weapon including kitchen sinks to Kiev to help them overcome the evil Putin and his unprovoked (sic) invasion. Naturally the lying lard bucket will never put his own corpulent body or swollen wallet on the line.

          1. carrie_f

            In this instance, could he be the carrier of the real message – the reassurances? (A role he’s played before re scuppering the peace talks last spring.) Or is there something in what Doctorow’s Russian sources say?

            Whatever, it is reasonable to assume there will be benefit to Boris somewhere underneath all of these many visit to Zelensky.

            1. Jams O'Donnell

              Johnston has no capacity or inclination to tell the truth at any time, so he is probably the perfect emissary to carry the implied message.

        2. Bugs

          Probably there for entertainment purposes. Kiev was well known for that before the war and now those businesses are likely expanding widely to get a take of the funny money sloshing around the joint.

        3. ex-PFC Chuck

          Here’s a working link for the Doctorow piece on corruption.
          Today he has put up a link about the response to the tank announcements on one of the Russian talk shows he watches regularly: “Russian news from Praslin Island, the Seychelles”
          Here’s his closing comment:

          “I close with a comment on the unusually pained, strained look on Nikonov’s face during the entire program. From watching The Great Game over the past several years, I was used to his energetic and positive personality. Not last night. There was weary resignation in Russia’s carrying on with a fight that is inescapable, that will be victorious but at great cost.”

      4. John k

        My question, too… who is the audience? Doesn’t seem it could be Russia. Maybe row? But surely blinken knows they’ve heard what merkel said about Minsk.
        my guess is it’s for the wapo readers, the blob, telling them it’s time to pivot to Taiwan. Maybe reps threatening an audit has goaded the anti Russia and China factions into such a decision.

      5. Rubicon

        We would not have EVEN bothered making conjectures about that journalist, Blinken and the other gentleman in question. That three-some are players within the matrix of US financial/military power.
        Since when would we have any confidence in what they say?

        Look at the larger picture: keep your eyes on the internal problems within the US Financial Hegemon.
        Keep reading/watching the economist Dr. Michael Hudson and his observations re: Western finance, politics, vs the growing chasm between that and the Non-Western nations trying to severe ties from the $$ Hegemon.

      6. digi_owl

        Nothing is aimed at the Russians, it is all for domestic consumption.

        It is the age old negotiation technique of trying to give the other party some concessions so they ease up their demands. And the other party is the increasingly tired citizenry murmuring about continuing not being worth it.

        It is all so media can go “see, Biden tried but evil Putin turned him down!” while in the background it is status quo ante.

        They do not want this to end. They want to see tanks rolling in Moscow’s streets, and Putin in chains.

      7. Willow

        Is Dept of Defense starting to assert dominance over Dept of State? Blinken’s overture is Dept of State trying to placate Dept of Defense?

        Lets go back to early 2021, reported in June 2021, with a Chinese defector who thought it safer to trust the DIA than the more obvious agencies. It was reported at the time, but difficult to find sources now, that China had thoroughly compromised Washington (but not the DIA..). Which suggests the puppet master behind the whole anti-Russia mania is actually China. With a former Dept of State Secretary an obvious money hungry muppet..

        And so what was Palantir hedging in Aug 2021? China or Russia?

        China master plan for at least the last 40 years, since 1980’s, is to supplant the USD with the CYN. And the US has fallen for the trap with an almost perfect misdirection.

        1. Willow

          If the Baltic states expect the US to come to their aid in a direct conflict with Russia, they are sadly mistaken.

  3. KD

    Let us see:

    1.) Escalate by sending heavy tanks.

    2.) Go public with some vague offer of peace you know won’t be accepted–when you killed a peace deal in April 2022.

    I presume then you set up the case, when the Russians go on the offensive anyway, hey, we tried, I guess we have to send in F-16’s and long range artillery systems. The only good thing in this is he is reiterating that Biden doesn’t want to send in NATO.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, your simpler explanation probably makes more sense that trying to pull a lot of meaning out of what Blinken said. Give a flabby, factually not well grounded interview (“Look how badly Russia is doing! But we the American deciders will still have to make concessions at some point to prevent nuclear outcomes”) so they can posture the US is willing to talk.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Honestly, sending in the F-16s now would make the war end sooner. As an entire shipment would be shot down in a week, even with western pilots. !970’s-era planes (F-16) stand no chance against Russian air defense system.

      Once the ruling class realizes that the US has no wunder-weapons against Russia’s industrial base in Russia’s own front yard, they might swallow their pride and talk peace.

      Not holding my breath though—the western governing class is so drunk on its propaganda that propaganda has become reality.

      1. Skip Intro

        How does covid differ from an F-35?
        it’s airborne! I’d take the F-16s

        I may prove amusing if the US actually makes efforts to ramp up arms production, only to discover the country deindustrialized itself years ago.

      2. KD

        Honestly, sending in the F-16s now would make the war end sooner. As an entire shipment would be shot down in a week, even with western pilots. !970’s-era planes (F-16) stand no chance against Russian air defense system.

        . . . resulting in more orders for F-35s. If I were in the Washington power elite, I would just be horrified by the prospect of more orders going to Defense Contractors.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Lockheed wants everybody to know that they are ready to help start supplying a stream of F-16s-

          ‘Although Lockheed is not directly involved in any talks regarding potential deliveries of military aircraft to Kiev, St. John stated his company nevertheless plans to ramp up production of the fighter planes to get to the point where it will be able to “backfill pretty capably any countries that choose to do third-party transfers to help with the current conflict.”’

      3. redleg

        A week? If I were the Targeting Officer on the Stavka Operations staff, I’d make sure they were hit by missiles as soon as they landed. It takes several minutes to taxi to the hardened shelters, and surely Ivan has intelligence wherewithal to observe the planes in transit.
        A few hypersonic missiles later and Boom! Done.

    3. JohnnyGL

      Yes, I think this is a very good TLDR summary.

      Unfortunately, the remark that Biden won’t commit to WWIII is about as comforting as the US advocacy that Ukraine get Crimea back.

      All the signs point to NATO slowly sinking in while claiming otherwise. Likewise, all signs point to Ukraine never getting Crimea back, too.

      The US can say whatever the heck it wants, but it’s plain to see that the US is still refusing to come to grips with reality in this situation.

    4. digi_owl

      Maybe not officially, but i suspect we will see more and more obvious Flying Tigers etc if this drags on for long.

  4. ChrisRUEcon

    ” … if the Russians agree to trust the Americans …”

    “закатывание глаз”

    We got to this point because Russia trusted Americans and NATO before.

    ” … no US terms of agreement can be trusted on paper, and nothing at all which Blinken says”

    Correct. There is no more trust.

    There is, however, a potential “shock and awe” campaign to bring this to a definitive end in Russia’s favor … and of course, pour encourager les autres.

  5. nippersdad

    The meetings between the US and Russia must not have gone well, if they went at all.

    So, “freezing” the conflict in return for demilitarization of the Crimea and politically turning it into the next Taiwan, and allowing time for NATO to build defenses in Western Ukraine just as they did with the Donbass in ’15.

    I can’t imagine why no one trusts these people.

    1. redleg

      There’s no way in hell Russia would ever agree to demilitarizing Crimea. Russia’s most important Black Sea naval base ìs on the peninsula, and has been for what amounts to forever. The base was active even when Crimea was part of Ukraine. Think of it like China demanding the US demilitarize Hawaii. Its never going to happen, and demanding this is simply ridiculous.

  6. Sibiryak

    Helmer has gone off the rails. None of the assertions in the title of his article are substantiated by the WP article.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I put up a note saying my introduction would not be done until 7:45 AM. I less pointedly say I don’t see where Helmer finds the idea of a Blinken concession, save re admitting Ukraine can’t take Crimea any time soon and that even trying to push into the Russian-“liberated” parts of Zaporzhizhia could lead to nasty-bad Russian escalation, which the US always hypes as nukes.

      So the WaPo piece does say that the West will have to live with Russian facts on the ground for quite a while. That actually is a pretty big admission against interest. It is also a big deal that Blinken is making the admittedly not-credible offer of demilitarizing…what, Crimea? The referent in the piece is not obvious. If he really does mean Crimea, that’s actually beyond loopy. Helmer reads this as his pet idea of a DMZ, but that requires a treaty and neutral parties as enforcers. After the OSCE being revealed as feeding targeting information to Ukraine, I doubt Russia would trust any party that would be acceptable to the West.

      The further question is whether Helmer’s apparent over-reaction is his own, or is based on the interpretation of Russian insiders. I agree if there is more in there, it sure is very very heavily coded.

      1. Sibiryak

        “It is also a big deal that Blinken is making the admittedly not-credible offer of demilitarizing Ukraine.

        Where does Blinken make such an offer? The only mention of demilitarization is in regards to Crimea while under Russian control.

        In this passage, “demilitarized status” clearly refers to Crimea:

        But in the short run, what’s crucial for Kyiv is that Crimea no longer serve as a base for attacks against Ukraine. One formula that interests me would be a demilitarized status, with questions of final political control deferred.

        Regarding Ukraine itself, the argument is for increased militarization:

        Rather than such a formal treaty pledge, some U.S. officials increasingly believe the key is to give Ukraine the tools it needs to defend itself. Security will be ensured by potent weapons systems — especially armor and air defense — along with a strong, noncorrupt economy and membership in the European Union.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Looks like what you saw was in the revision period. See your time stamp v. mine.

          It is also a big deal that Blinken is making the admittedly not-credible offer of demilitarizing…what, Crimea? The referent in the piece is not obvious. If he really does mean Crimea, that’s actually beyond loopy. Helmer reads this as his pet idea of a DMZ, but that requires a treaty and neutral parties as enforcers. After the OSCE being revealed as feeding targeting information to Ukraine, I doubt Russia would trust any party that would be acceptable to the West.

      2. Kouros

        I took the first part of Helmer’s article as a satire, as in coming from The Onion. It is clear from the actual WP article that US is staying the course.

  7. Alan Roxdale

    At most this is a symptom of those remaining Washington statecrafters still seeking a resolution to all this. I fully expect the existing establishment immune system to plug this development with enough political pus to make any short-term progress impossible. I don’t see the fever will abating that quickly. ‘When men go mad…’, etc.

    More realistically, I am not certain there is sufficient pain on the western political class (perhaps absent Germany) for them to consider backing down. If anything, continuing all this seems to be suiting certain emerging political groups who are seizing the initiative. We might end up passing through a political phase transition (e.g. the Green’s in Germany becoming goosesteppers). The old guard slow on the uptake might be getting nervous, which would be difficult to disentangle from any remaining adults trying to argue for sanity.

  8. The Rev Kev

    This whole thing is just nuts. Blinken must share Zelensky’s nasal habits or something. Is this whole thing just so later DC can say that they actually did try to negotiate in good faith? None of this would be acceptable unless it was verifiable. The US says that they will demilitarize the Ukraine but that would only mean that they could train up a new army in countries like Poland and to be mated with equipment there that one day could be driven back into the Ukraine. And any DMZ would be more a hope than anything else so I can only assume that it is an attempt to freeze this conflict in place but how are the Russians suppose to trust them. Just yesterday the Ukrainians attempted yet another attempt on the Zaporizhzhia power plant area but which was shot to bits. And demilitarizing Crimea? That would mean the elimination of the Black Sea Fleet and putting the status of that place up for negotiations which would be illegal under the Russian Constitution. Maybe what the whole thing is about is that DC knows that the Russians are getting ready to drop the hammer on the Ukraine and there is nothing that they can really do to stop it, hence a form of panic developing.

    1. Sibiryak

      The Rev Kev: “The US says that they will demilitarize the Ukraine…

      Where does the US say that? Blinken in the WP article says the opposite. The only mention of demilitarization is in regards to Crimea–in the short run, before it is eventually returned to Ukrainian control.

      Did you read the WP article? It does NOT say what Helmer says it does. Full stop.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        That section actually does not parse clearly, and I don’t think that is an accident. It may be that Blinken understands that’s such a nutty idea that he choked it back or that he wanted it to be ambiguous.

      2. The Rev Kev

        It is in the fourth paragraph under that image of two men and says ‘Blinken has tabled for the first time US acceptance of “a demilitarized status” for the Ukraine.’

          1. The Rev Kev

            I think that Sibiryak may have the correct interpretation when I think about it. I also think that as we approach endgame in the Ukraine, that all sorts of lunatic ideas and proposals will come out of DC and Brussels as they start to panic.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I am not clear why Helmer would have gone so far out over his skis based on the article itself. So I am assuming this is based on Russian reactions. Note the quote at the end, Helmer has input from at least one Russian source who did see Blinken as making a proposal:

              “The Ukrainian Nazis are conspicuously absent from this proposal – and they remain to be dealt with.”

    2. jefemt

      Well, we could add more arms, say Tanks for instance, and really escalate into the quagmire mud season…

      Might offset the looming recession to kickstart the M I complex into emptying and re-stocking the shelves.

      Nextgen wepons at a higher price point, internal margins, manufactured in multiple states, of course.

    3. Keith Howard

      My instinct (perhaps too optimistic) is that the actual military situation in the Ukraine is now understood by so many of the DC establishment bigwigs that Blinken feels the need to shore up his own position. How? By making noises that sound reasonable to the uncritical. It can’t be directed to Russia.

  9. Watt4Bob

    Someone is afraid that those main battle tanks are going to make a poor showing?

    All that vintage stuff they’ve burned through is making them money, but pictures of smoking M1 Abrams tanks on the internet is going to be embarrassing.

    It’s a case of too little too late, the Russians got there first with the mostest.

    Someone has realized that slowly feeding our ‘best’ stuff into the meat-grinder is not a good look.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The Russians could mess with NATO minds by taking a bunch of reporters to their military museum in Moscow and showing them the two empty spaces – one reserved for a M1 Abrams tank and the other a Leopard 2 tank. They could have already the information plates for each on display just waiting…

      1. nippersdad

        They may have them on display even before they make their debut on the battlefield. How embarrassing would it be were they to have bought some and made them exhibits to show just how corrupt the Western weapons programs in Ukraine are?

        1. sinbad66

          Better hope the crewmen of the destroyed tanks are actual Ukrainians, not NATO personnel wearing Ukie uniforms. Lucy will have a lot of explaining to do….

  10. stop nato

    I will not pay to read a Pentagon Propaganda rag. Russia needs to eliminate the Russiaphobic and NATO on it’s borders, no matter what it takes. NATO is not trustworthy regardless of how many treaties it signs. I pray for the underdog Russia in the fight against a NATO dictatorship across the globe.

  11. Stephen

    Reminds me a little of the scene in the film The Outlaw Josey Wales when Josey meets Ten Bears.

    Josey is able to go in peace but refuses in order to save his friends who have been captured. He then offers various things that Ten Bears already has. His alternative is to fight. Words of Peace or Words of War.

    He explains that he knows he is not giving Ten Bears anything new. The two men are simply giving each other life.

    The massive difference is that Wales in the film is an honourable man. Unlike other white men that Ten Bears has dealt with. He is prepared to die to save his friends. Such a man will keep a deal. Ten Bears recognizes this and agrees.

    None of this applies to the collective west which seems keen for other people to die on its behalf and then as Yves says even boasts of its willingness to renege on any deal they do.

    A deal by Russia now will just be a truce until the collective west gets itself in a position to create another threat. As Helmer recognizes. The Kremlin must realise this too and surely Blinken is sufficiently self aware to know that also. Or maybe not?

    Given these thoughts, I wonder if Germany is the true audience for this to try to show that the US is not purely war mongering. And to help keep the pro war “alliance” together (or at least not from collapsing).

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My sense is “agreement incapable” is everywhere behind closed doors and the West no longer maintains a tech, industrial, or cultural brainwashing edge. Now Blinken is trying to show he’s agreement capable with a generous exit clause, so he can explain he wasn’t dishonest and impress the global south with his shrewd negotiating skill.

  12. Pinhead

    Is not Erdogan the joker in the deck? If he maintains his veto on Sweden’s joining Nation, the obvious step will be to create a new status, “de facto Nato membership”, whereby Sweden becomes a Nato member in all but name.
    By itself that may actually change little because an attack on Sweden could only come through Finland which will soon be in Nato. In this new scenario, what will prevent Ukraine from becoming a de facto member of Nato? Don Coreleone would tell Zelensky that it is an offer he and his brave country cannot refuse.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We have a link in Links today with a connected Turkiye businessman saying Erdogan is on track to hike out of NATO based on how the US has been pushing Turkiye around. I assume that message is being sent through official channels too. The US and/or NATO need to give Erdogan a big bribe or this could actually happen. Turkiye has the second biggest NATO forces, which = the biggest in the European theater. While Erdogan likes playing Russia off versus the US and NATO, if the US and NATO aren’t understanding the game and not trying to incentivize Erdogan not to go over to the Russian camp, why should he keep being mistreated?

      However, I do see sanctions on that path…..does Erdogan?

      And what happens with the joint US/Turkiye airbase at Incirlik? That’s critical to US operations in the Middle East. If the US gets really ugly with Turkiye, it could suspend landing rights….

      1. MRLost

        Pretty sure NATO / USA store a number of nuclear weapons at Incirlik. If Turkiye decided to leave NATO, then the status of those weapons could become very interesting.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      What does Turkey need NATO for? Borrell types might want a more garden like Europe (cough cough), but Turkey can always leave. NATO as a colonial force will be more obvious. Turkey is part of the white washing efforts. Right now, NATO offers very little to Turkey (anyone but US arms dealers really as the EU would replicate NATO institutions almost instantly in its absence except with a domestic arms industry).

      The correct level of whiteness is being put ahead of both the security of the EU and NATO member states.

    3. John k

      He sits on the edge of the coming east-west divide. The Ukraine war is demonstrating Russia is the power in Europe, not us or nato. Why would he pick the west? They tried to kill him, and would again. They’re arming the Greek islands just off the Turkish coast. Russia has offered a cheap gas hub, imo this and low wages will be an attractive option for eu heavy industry as it looks for a new home. And Turks will never be part of the eu. Imo he sees his future in the east.
      But why leave nato now when he can continue blocking nato expansion? This is quite useful to Russia in preventing escalation. Removing the us base is not urgent, can wait for the likely us pivot to Taiwan. Plus if he left now he would be sanctioned, whereas the longer he waits the better defenses the east will have vs west sanctions.

    4. digi_owl

      Sweden already is. They have practiced flying in formation with US bombers in Swedish airspace. And quite a bit of equipment, particular on the soldier level, is NATO compatible. Sweden has in practice not been neutral since Kosovo.

  13. Cetra Ess

    Granted we’re still unsure what was said in the WP piece and how it lines up via Helmer, but my initial thought was the Americans are seeking a way to end this before the tanks can be put into action, nothing else has happened timing wise. There’s a real possibility here the very expensive tanks will be shown to be lemons, what effect will that have on American perceptions around their own ominipotence, but also….there’s this huge military industrial complex that has been raking in the taxpayer dollars on the perception this hardware is at least formidable, but how much of it actually is? The tanks are $500 toilet seats all over again.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The tanks are fine, but they are meant for a combined arms approach. The offensive drives of both Iraq wars were quirks of geography and total air supremacy. In 1991, we used about as many fighters as we have from airbases 3x closer to Iraq than our current airbases are to the combat zone.

      Part of the problem is the tanks are meant to fight waves of invading Soviet tanks. They would probably be fantastic if Russia invaded Poland, like the stingers would be if the Russians didn’t withdraw and shorten supply lines. We repurposed certain weapons to thrown little countries against the wall and reduce the number of pilots (drones, planes that carry more bombs etc), but invasions are hard and require control of the skies.

      The Abrams may outperform a Russian tank, but they won’t meet those tanks until after advanced artillery has had a chance to work them over.

      1. Cetra Ess

        Not to mention these super loud and heavy tanks will be up against the passive Penicillin systems triangulating their positions and movements via seismic and audio if they’re anywhere near the front. That was probably not factored in either.

    2. jan

      I read it may take up to a year to get those tanks in well trained Ukrainian hands. So who knows, by then it might not matter anymore. Maybe that’s what the Pentagon is secretly hoping for?

    3. Oh

      The back handed offer to negotiate is a trial balloon to see if the Russians will bite. It clearly is a sign of weakness on part of the US.

      As far as non performing US tank or any other military hardware is concerned, the Ameican people wouldn’t be so worried. After all, the US has lost any meaningful conflict. The only ones we have won are the Iraq, Libya and Grenada ones. Korea, Vietnam? No! The MIC will only be too glad to rub their hands in glee at the prospect of replacing Tanks and other arms. $$$$$!

    4. digi_owl

      Or they want Germany etc to ship their, while eternally stalling on some technicality themselves.

      Keep in mind that a year back they tried to get Poland to hand over some Cold war MiGs to Ukraine, in exchange for F-16s. Only for the whole ting to fall flat when Poland refused to do the handover directly, and instead wanted to fly the planes to Ramstein where it would be up to USA to get them to Ukraine.

  14. Tom Pfotzer

    The obvious answer also happens to be the simplest.

    The West is about to lose in Ukraine, so they need to start the back-down process before the catastrophic fail.

    As I said earlier, the NeoCons are running out of moves, and they need to clear a path for their slink-out.

    1. Alan Roxdale

      You are being very optimistic. Even without full scale mobilization, there is a lot of gas in the neo-con tank to keep this going.

      Note the purchases of old soviet equipment from 3rd world countries. Every tank in Africa could well end up in Ukraine before this blows out. To say nothing of elsewhere. And as for guns, bullets, even men? Setting an enticing “market price” for more mercenary support is the very ideology of neo-liberalism. Propaganda pushes and campaigns to hoover up eager young men across the world? Converting consumers cars to technicals. Privatizing a few airforces or army groups? There is a long way to go yet before either mobilisation or resignation. Bashi-bazouks, soliders of fortune, letters of marque and reprisal could all make a comeback for the 21st century. See also: The Spanish Civil War.

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        Your scenario assumes that Russia doesn’t make any decisive moves, and the grind continues at its current pace.

        I think the pace, the intensity, and the debilitating losses by Ukraine are going to increase rapidly. The West’s tanks band-aid and these tricky moves to buy time are tells.

        The decisive tell, though, is the continued eradication of Ukraine conscripts who happen to be anywhere along the front, and the number of high level Ukraine officials that are accidentally dying or being rotated out.

        They know it’s over.

      2. digi_owl

        Any third world leader worth their salt should turn right round, call Putin, and put in an order for yet more Russian kit. It would be such a spectacular example of the cobra effect in action.

        And ugh, now i got flashbacks to my teen years reading the Shadowrun TTRPG books. Where one “spectator sport” was Desert Wars. Effectively mercenaries fighting mercenaries in the Libyan desert, as if it was a football match. And this was written long before Libya was turned into the present day hell hole.

  15. spud

    this is pure hubris out of the free traders. free traders, whats mine is mine, what yours is mine, and there will be no discussions about this period. they see russians as sub humans who do not have the same intellectual and reasoning powers as a free trader, so they feel the russians will fall for this.

    there is a twofer here, the free traders see the black sea as russias corridor to the Mediterranean, which the free traders view as theirs.

    crimea and the spit of land turkey owns in europe is the key to locking out russia from the black sea and the Mediterranean.

    so any coastline of the black sea that they will still have, is a giant bonus, and in their eyes, like the eyes of the fa##ists in WWII, russia has to be that stupid, because we are so smart and are superior.

    so that coastline will be used to funnel in the next super weapons to take back the crimea.

    but what about turkey? well, that spit of land will come under attack at the same time a attack is launched on taking back the crimea.

    time turkey really paid attention to whats going on, before they find themselves locked out of europe.

    you can see this by looking at finland and the baltics that think they can bottle up the russian baltic sea coast, and the twofer is kaliningrad.

  16. sushi

    My interpretation is based on the key facts contained in the WaPo / Blinken release: 1) The present western coalition is on “shaky ground” and 2) Blinken has spent most of his days attempting to maintain the coalition.

    I suggest the following is likely:

    1) German resistance to the release of MBT to UA was likely predicated on the recognition that such release was escalatory and offered no prospects of future resolution.

    2) German recognition that a future escalation path would likely involve Germany in the form RF response targeting US occupation enclaves such as Ramstein, Ansbach, Buechel, Geilenkirchen, Spangdahlem, Garmisch, Hohenfels, Baumholder, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberammergau, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden. Germany recognized that is on the front lines of any escalation. Each of these may be vaporized by conventional warheads at hypersonic speeds.

    3) German recognition that the entirety of NATO has drawn down its war stocks and / or is unable to engage in rapid force generation. This is due to NATO populations unwilling to enlist, unfit to enlist, the loss of the required industrial capacity with even the US having problems meeting its military recruitment programs and the US incapable of replenishing its own stocks of weapons without 1 to 2 year lead times.

    4) CIA Director Burns recently travelled to Ukraine to meet Zelenskiy. It was reported that this meeting was for the purpose of informing Z that US support past June was unlikely. Any dolt would realize that after $30 billion in transfers the American public might resent the governments inability to support and house the endless stream of illegal immigrants, repair critical infrastructure etc, etc, while sending billions to 404. Why send Burns when an email would suffice?

    I suggest Burn’s visit served to reinforce the fact the US called the shots and bad things would happen in UA if Z did not play his proper role. The “bad things” likely included the death of the Interior Minister in a helicopter crash, the “coming out” of lieutenant colonel Oleksii Arestovych who, after resigning as an adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, has been critical of the Z regime.

    That Arestovych is able to engage in public criticism of the Z regieme without fear for his life suggests that he has angels protecting him. The fact that Arestovych has appeared next to Aleksandr Dugin in Moscow and delivered a speech against the prospect of Ukraine’s NATO membership and its EU integration and is also reported to have opposed the Orange Revolution and supported the Eurasia Movement led by Dugin suggests he may be seen as a more “credible” leader of the future rump UA certainly one more appealing to the RF.

    If I am correct the NATO alliance is teetering and a military paper tiger, and that the NATO membership recognizes 404 to be not only a lost cause but that the conflict constitutes a threat to which they have no response (populations unwilling to fight, depleted arms stocks, limited capacity for replenishment due to loss of heavy industry resulting from high energy costs, relocation of industry due Biden’s IRA subsidy program, the high social and economic costs of a further wave of foreign migrants).

    Burns visit re-educated Z, demonstrated the US ability to foretell the future, created an opening to develop a future 404 head of state less objectionable to the RF, disposed of Interior Minister Monastyrsky who was responsible for the AZOV battalions (the SS of 404) and one of Z’s longest serving political advisers.

    If this interpretation of events is correct, then it is likely that the US is being forced to seek an off-ramp from the present escalatory path. Given the past admissions of Merkel and Hollande, I doubt the RF will do anything other than prosecute the war to its successful conclusion once RF terms are fully satisfied.

    1. Polar Socialist

      For what it’s worth, Gilbert Doctorow says that in Russian media all those forced to resign from Zelensky’s government were aligned with Boris Johnson and his policies. And that it’s likely the replacements will be more US minded (but run by whom?).

      That leaves room for an interpretation that by getting rid of the British meddling in Ukraine, US can actually now make moves towards an off ramp.

      1. John k

        Interesting. I think Boris went there recently, is he off the reservation? Or was it still in flux at that time, and the dc blob’s anti Russian/anti Taiwan factions have just now reached an agreement to pivot?

      2. Mikel

        That the Brits are seen as more rabidly anti-Russia than the USA just makes me think somebody is still upset about cousin Nicky and family.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Putin is not in the Pandora Papers. The insinuation is that political contacts of Putin’s are laundering money for Putin, with no evidence. Remember. Tony Blair actually was in one of these exposes.

  17. Dick Burkhart

    Sounds like the US wants to give Ukraine long term NATO-like military capabiliy without formally being in NATO. This will be a tough subject for negotiations with Putin. A demilarized zone should be on the table, I think.

    But we must distinguish formal US policy positions – meant to reassure Ukraine – versus actual willingness to negotiate. It’s clear that willingness has increased, especially due to pressure from Germany.

  18. Gregory Etchason

    My bet is once Russia mops up the Ukrainian belligerents. A “bloody partition” will be established along the Dnieper River. Then a NATO peacekeeping force will move into the rump Ukraine to
    Protect US Corporate farming ie ADM, Cargill, Monsanto. Zelenskyy will sell the greatest farmland on earth for pennies on the dollar on his way out of town.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The good land is east of the Dnieper. Helmer contends that a motivation for Blinken is to have Russia not go as far as the Dnieper to preserve the economic viability of rump Ukraine.

      1. Gregory Etchason

        80% of Ukrainian Industrial GDP was produced on land already controlled by the Russia military, Ukrainian grain production is between of the Dnieper and Poland

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That is not what maps from USDA show. The two export crops that were noised about the most with respect to Ukraine are wheat and sunflowerseed.

          The percents for the oblasts regularly add up to way less than 100%, see for wheat. There is nevertheless pretty close to the same level of wheat production east of the Dnieper v. west. For sunflowerseed, there is a bit more on the east,

          Also note the votes for Zaporzhizhia and Kherson to join Russia were for the entire oblast, and Putin said they are forever now part of Russia, which means he has pre-committed to taking them. My statement was about the Dnieper but a realistic scenario is that Russia takes those oblasts, including land west of the Dnieper, and other territory

          The high producing areas for corn, millet are also more to the east of the Dnieper than west. The high output areas for barley and soyabean are more in the west than east but there is still considerable output in the east.

          I had based my comment on earlier statements that Ukraine’s prized black soil is primarily in the east. Clearly I overlooked how much raw acreage there is in the west v. the east and that lesser quality soil still can be productive and put to proper uses. But based on a look at the various USDA maps, it appears that eastern Ukraine’s crop output is disproportionate to its land area.

          1. Gregory Etchason

            Soybeans are principally an industrial grain, not food. Food riots have been the major mover of history. But when it comes to Capitalism soybeans are the big prize.

      2. Karl

        I was struck by this:

        Also in the proposed Blinken deal there is the offer of … “no World War III”

        “No World War III” is now a U.S. bargaining chip?

        As for an independent “rump” Ukraine: that’s no longer a viable outcome, imho, if “rump” means it has the independence and ability to continue to be a wedge for future conflict. That would just kick the can down the road. Given the sacrifices made and Russia’s battlefield advantages on the ground, I think the Russian people will demand that Putin finish the job–i.e. take firm control over the whole of Ukraine. For that to happen, the Ukrainian people (and yes, US/EU/NATO) will need to tire to the point of exhaustion. I predict that this war will continue until the West and Ukraine reach rock bottom. That will, unfortunately, require more losses of population by battlefield casualties and flight, and more losses of infrastructure (bridges, roads, electricity transmission).The collapse will be followed by thorough de-nazification, re-education via controlled media, etc. In the post-war reckoning, as I see it, Russia will reinforce the narrative that all of Ukraine’s suffering was due to the Nazis.

        My guess is the post-war “nation building” plans are being developed in minute detail. (Unlike the US which didn’t do enough advance planning after the fall of Saddam in Iraq).

        The prospect of tanks, which are inherently offensive weapons, may greatly accelerate Russia’s timetable.

        1. tegnost

          Thanks Karl,
          I’m not mensa material, so I’ll leave it for others to pencil out, but it seems the money choice is on russia’s (notably not the soviet, it’s a different world) side here. USA is give or take 3.8 million sq miles,pop 334 million souls, and china is 3.7 million sq miles and pop 1.45 billion souls.
          Russia is 6.6 million sq miles and has a pop of 143 million souls.
          I will not do math here and leave it to others…but…
          natural resources are money…

        2. hk

          I came to the conclusion some time ago that Ukraine is atat best secondary ot tertiary to this conflict. The Western powers always saw Ukraine only as the means to destroy Russia. Russia has, after a few months of conflict, shifted their goal to, I think, essentially demilitarizing United States and “denazifying” Europe. The catch is that, at least for now, neither the West nor Russia want to have the fight spill out of Ukraine. This is made complicated because Ukrainians and their NATO puppets (neocons, whose hubris Ukrainian leaders are playing like fiddle) are trying hard to expand the conflict and fight the Russians to the last American if they have to.

  19. Glen

    “Post war” seems to be doing a whole lotta work outside my normal understanding of that use of “post” as in post-Ukraine-war order. Especially given that all this week’s news seems to consist of sending what was never going to be sent to Ukraine:

    Top U.S. officials don’t want to give Ukraine tanks despite German pressure
    US decides against sending tanks to Ukraine in aid package
    They have us over a barrel’: Inside the US and German standoff over sending tanks to Ukraine

    All reminds me of this:

    ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

    Remind me again how that worked out.

  20. Raymond Sim

    I’ve known individuals to produce what I took to be attempts at communication, which resembled what Blinken’s doing. In the end I concluded that these unpleasant but otherwise seemingly normal folks either had very strange inner lives, or somehow lacked theory of mind.

  21. Brooklin Bridge

    One possibility, a bit far out, would be that in back channels, Blinken is telling Russia these concessions would be permanent and there would be more of them than made public, while to the American public, they are presented as temporary and limited. Since Americans have a limited attention span, about the length of a TV ad, time limits and the promise to put Humpty Dumpty back on the wall again would soon be forgotten, presto, “all gone!”

    Russia would get what the West thinks they want, or would accept, in exchange for the West saving some face and keeping the bread basket. Whether or not the West would live up to such an arrangement is more than dubious but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try to sell it to the Russians along with a crank case full of saw-dust.

    If something like this fits, what is remarkable is just how far down the rabbit hole Blinken et-all have gone. Russia has had it up to the eyeballs with this nonsense.

  22. Richard Kirchhofer

    If Putin would start quoting Kennedy on Pax Americana when he speaks about a multi-polar world it would be incredibly funny and poignant.

  23. Frederick Herschel

    The beyond key passage in the WaPo piece is the one about Ukraine not becoming part of NATO. that they won’t be able to involve Article 5.

    The neocons are desperate to end the war ASAP. Ignatius’ article is the first step in preparing the public for defeat. The neocons are of course praying that Russia will accept the territories they have annexed and Ukraine not being part of NATO as a peace deal. In that they are dreaming. But whatever the terms, retreat has been sounded. And be certain that the first person to have been told was Zelensky by Burns.

  24. Sausage Factory

    Empire of Lies as Putin so astutely noted. I’d answer no to this. Carry on with the offensive, the front line is collapsing and there simply aren’t enough well trained Ukrainian conscripts to prevent it doing so. Secondly any Ukie counter offensive is months away. Blinken is a rat and Russophobe the US will simply buy time then try again later. My preferred option is complete US and UK humiliation in Ukraine, Russia can take what it wants, install a favourable govt in Kiev and demilitarize the bits it doesn’t want. I noticed no Odessa in the Blinken deal, so that’s a no no for me. Russia will be able to take it soon anyway, destroy British influence in this area, land lock Ukraine (other than allowed traffic) The west is heavily invested in the odessa region in terms of intelligence gathering, RF has to leave no western footholds in this region and no access to the black sea. Oh … and of course as we all know, Odessa is Russian so …

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