Leaks Reveal Reality Behind U.S. Propaganda in Ukraine

Yves here. The raft of leaks of presumed-authentic highly classified US documents has produced a fair bit of commentary, even in normally gung ho outlets like the New York Times, about how they show Ukraine’s forces are in far worse shape than officials admitted. Tucker Carlson described how they vitiated US claims that a Ukraine victory was inevitable. Other right wing outlets have been showing clips from Lloyd Austin’s recent Congressional testimony, and have argued that the documents show Austin was lying to Congress.

Nevertheless, the officialdom is doing its best to get the easily-distracted US public to look the other way. One is to quickly try to make, as much as possible, the leaker the story. It was a little too cute that the FBI had invited a media helicopter to video the arrest of Jack Teixeira. Of course, the government also tried to put the toothpaste back in the tube by getting various social media platforms to remove copies of the images. That actually appears to have succeeded to a degree. Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson complained that despite looking hard, he was only able to find about a dozen of the >50 slides that most media outlets reviewed (recall the Washington Post said it had viewed roughly 300).

Finally, I wonder if the Washington perception-managers are adopting the strategy used by many US companies, of the bad quarter dump. They hold off making writedowns, and then make them when they have other bad news, like having to shutter a line of business. The idea is to get analysts to see the bloodbath as a one-off and look at “normalized earnings” as if all that hidden hemorrhaging hadn’t been part of normal operations too.

But there’s no way to sweep something as big as Ukraine under a rug. It’s already lumpy and moving.

By Medea Benjamin, the cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and the author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran,  and Nicolas J. S. Davies, an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq

Leaked document predicts a “protracted war beyond 2023.” Image credit: Newsweek

The U.S. corporate media’s first response to the leaking of secret documents about the war in Ukraine was to throw some mud in the water, declare “nothing to see here,” and cover it as a depoliticized crime story about a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman who published secret documents to impress his friends. President Biden dismissed the leaks as revealing nothing of “great consequence.”

What these documents reveal, however, is that the war is going worse for Ukraine than our political leaders have admitted to us, while going badly for Russia too, so that neither side is likely to break the stalemate this year, and this will lead to “a protracted war beyond 2023,” as one of the documents says.

The publication of these assessments should lead to renewed calls for our government to level with the public about what it realistically hopes to achieve by prolonging the bloodshed, and why it continues to reject the resumption of the promising peace negotiations it blocked in April 2022.

We believe that blocking those talks was a dreadful mistake, in which the Biden administration capitulated to the warmongering, since-disgraced U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and that current U.S. policy is compounding that mistake at the cost of tens of thousands more Ukrainian lives and the destruction of even more of their country.

In most wars, while the warring parties strenuously suppress the reporting of civilian casualties for which they are responsible, professional militaries generally treat accurate reporting of their own military casualties as a basic responsibility. But in the virulent propaganda surrounding the war in Ukraine, all sides have treated military casualty figures as fair game, systematically exaggerating enemy casualties and understating their own.

Publicly available U.S. estimates have supported the idea that many more Russians are being killed than Ukrainians, deliberately skewing public perceptions to support the notion that Ukraine can somehow win the war, as long as we just keep sending more weapons.

The leaked documents provide internal U.S. military intelligence assessments of casualties on both sides. But different documents, and different copies of the documents circulating online, show conflicting numbers, so the propaganda war rages on despite the leak.

The most detailed assessment of attrition rates of troops says explicitly that U.S. military intelligence has “low confidence” in the attrition rates it cites. It attributes that partly to “potential bias” in Ukraine’s information sharing, and notes that casualty assessments “fluctuate according to the source.”

So, despite denials by the Pentagon, a document that shows a higher death toll on the Ukrainian side may be correct, since it has been widely reported that Russia has been firing several times the number of artillery shells as Ukraine, in a bloody war of attrition in which artillery appears to be the main instrument of death. Altogether, some of the documents estimate a total death toll on both sides approaching 100,000 and total casualties, killed and wounded, of up to 350,000.

Another document reveals that, after using up the stocks sent by NATO countries, Ukraine is running out of missiles for the S-300 and BUK systems that make up 89% of its air defenses. By May or June, Ukraine will therefore be vulnerable, for the first time, to the full strength of the Russian air force, which has until now been limited mainly to long-range missile strikes and drone attacks.

Recent Western arms shipments have been justified to the public by predictions that Ukraine will soon be able to launch new counter-offensives to take back territory from Russia. Twelve brigades, or up to 60,000 troops, were assembled to train on newly delivered Western tanks for this “spring offensive,” with three brigades in Ukraine and nine more in Poland, Romania and Slovenia.

But a leaked document from the end of February reveals that the nine brigades being equipped and trained abroad had less than half their equipment and, on average, were only 15% trained. Meanwhile, Ukraine faced a stark choice to either send reinforcements to Bakhmut or withdraw from the town entirely, and it chose to sacrifice some of its “spring offensive” forces to prevent the imminent fall of Bakhmut.

Ever since the U.S. and NATO started training Ukrainian forces to fight in Donbas in 2015, and while it has been training them in other countries since the Russian invasion, NATO has provided six-month training courses to bring Ukraine’s forces up to basic NATO standards. On this basis, it appears that many of the forces being assembled for the “spring offensive” would not be fully trained and equipped before July or August.

But another document says the offensive will begin around April 30th, meaning that many troops may be thrown into combat less than fully trained, by NATO standards, even as they have to contend with more severe shortages of ammunition and a whole new scale of Russian airstrikes. The incredibly bloody fighting that has already decimatedUkrainian forces will surely be even more brutal than before.

The leaked documents conclude that “enduring Ukrainian deficiencies in training and munitions supplies probably will strain progress and exacerbate casualties during the offensive,” and that the most likely outcome remains only modest territorial gains.

The documents also reveal serious deficiencies on the Russian side, deficiencies revealed by the failure of their winter offensive to take much ground. The fighting in Bakhmut has raged on for months, leaving thousands of fallen soldiers on both sides and a burned out city still not 100% controlled by Russia.

The inability of either side to decisively defeat the other in the ruins of Bakhmut and other front-line towns in Donbas is why one of the most important documents predicted that the war was locked in a “grinding campaign of attrition” and was “likely heading toward a stalemate.”

Adding to the concerns about where this conflict is headed is the revelation in the leaked documents about the presence of 97 special forces from NATO countries, including from the U.K. and the U.S. This is in addition to previous reports about the presence of CIA personnel, trainers and Pentagon contractors, and the unexplained deployment of 20,000 troops from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Brigades near the border between Poland and Ukraine.

Worried about the ever-increasing direct U.S. military involvement, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz has introduced a Privileged Resolution of Inquiry to force President Biden to notify the House of the exact number of U.S. military personnel inside Ukraine and precise U.S. plans to assist Ukraine militarily.

We can’t help wondering what President Biden’s plan could be, or if he even has one. But it turns out that we’re not alone. In what amounts to a second leak that the corporate media have studiously ignored, U.S. intelligence sources have told veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that they are asking the same questions, and they describe a “total breakdown” between the White House and the U.S. intelligence community.

Hersh’s sources describe a pattern that echoes the use of fabricated and unvetted intelligence to justify U.S. aggression against Iraq in 2003, in which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan are by-passing regular intelligence analysis and procedures and running the Ukraine War as their own private fiefdom. They reportedly smear all criticism of President Zelenskyy as “pro-Putin,” and leave U.S. intelligence agencies out in the cold trying to understand a policy that makes no sense to them.

What U.S. intelligence officials know, but the White House is doggedly ignoring, is that, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, top Ukrainian officials running this endemically corrupt country are making fortunes skimming money from the over $100 billion in aid and weapons that America has sent them.

According to Hersh’s report, the CIA assesses that Ukrainian officials, including President Zelenskyy, have embezzled $400 million from money the United States sent Ukraine to buy diesel fuel for its war effort, in a scheme that involves buying cheap, discounted fuel from Russia. Meanwhile, Hersh says, Ukrainian government ministries literally compete with each other to sell weapons paid for by U.S. taxpayers to private arms dealers in Poland, the Czech Republic and around the world.

Hersh writes that, in January 2023, after the CIA heard from Ukrainian generals that they were angry with Zelenskyy for taking a larger share of the rake-off from these schemes than his generals, CIA Director William Burns went toKyiv to meet with him. Burns allegedly told Zelenskyy he was taking too much of the “skim money,” and handed him a list of 35 generals and senior officials the CIA knew were involved in this corrupt scheme.

Zelenskyy fired about ten of those officials, but failed to alter his own behavior. Hersh’s sources tell him that the White House’s lack of interest in doing anything about these goings-on is a major factor in the breakdown of trust between the White House and the intelligence community.

First-hand reporting from inside Ukraine by New Cold War has described the same systematic pyramid of corruption as Hersh. A member of parliament, formerly in Zelenskyy’s party, told New Cold War that Zelenskyy and other officials skimmed 170 million euros from money that was supposed to pay for Bulgarian artillery shells.

The corruption reportedly extends to bribes to avoid conscription. The Open Ukraine Telegram channel was told by a military recruitment office that it could get the son of one of its writers released from the front line in Bakhmut and sent out of the country for $32,000.

As has happened in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the wars the United States has been involved in for many decades, the longer the war goes on, the more the web of corruption, lies and distortions unravels.

The torpedoing of peace talks, the Nord Stream sabotage, the hiding of corruption, the politicization of casualty figures, and the suppressed history of broken promises and prescient warnings about the danger of NATO expansion are all examples of how our leaders have distorted the truth to shore up U.S. public support for perpetuating an unwinnable war that is killing a generation of young Ukrainians.

These leaks and investigative reports are not the first, nor will they be the last, to shine a light through the veil of propaganda that permits these wars to destroy young people’s lives in faraway places, so that oligarchs in Russia, Ukraine and the United States can amass wealth and power.

The only way this will stop is if more and more people get active in opposing those companies and individuals that profit from war–who Pope Francis calls the Merchants of Death–and boot out the politicians who do their bidding, before they make an even more fatal misstep and start a nuclear war.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Vesa

    Medea Benjamin although a decent person, seems not understand the battle of Bakhmut nor the war of attrition. But maybe this is because of her role in code pink. She tries to be so neutral. I think it is ridiculous to write that the casualty numbers are the same on both sides as Russians outgun Ukraine by a factor between 7 to 15.

  2. chris

    What I find interesting in articles like this is the implicit agreement that Russia is not doing well in the war that the US Blob thinks Russia should be fighting. But then these articles go on to describe all the problems with US intelligence and Pentagon bias. Or how bad the Ukrainians really are at anything because of how corrupt their government and society are. Why is it that no one except people like Hersh even try to question the fundamentals? What if Russia is doing just fine in the war it thinks it is fighting?

    I don’t know enough about military matters to offer useful commentary beyond questions. I just find it damning that so few in our media seem to question any of the stated “truths” in this conflict after so many lies and failures in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Serbia…

  3. Lupana

    It isn’t just young Ukrainians dying – it’s also young Russians. Each death is an unspeakable tragedy for families on both sides of the war and for all of us – made even more tragic because this all didn’t need to happen. The unspeakable evil is that those who are really to blame for this war (the US and EU) will suffer no consequence and will at some point move on and repeat this same scenario elsewhere. They always do.

    1. juno mas

      The consequences to the West are clear: Europe will deindustrialize, the US will have sustained inflationary pressure and the value of the dollar (worlwide) will decline. Consequences?. You ain’t seen nothin’, yet!

      1. hk

        A long term decline of the dollar would not be a bad thing, necessarily. While it is true that that will mean inflation in US due to rise in prices of imported goods, it will also curb deinstrialization and financialization, with their attendant abuses that hurt not only people abroad, but also American workers.

        1. Altandmain

          The issue is that the ruling class in the US can’t capitalize on a weakening currency. They aren’t competent at setting up an industrial policy the way the Chinese are.

          Also keep in mind that the US will also be negatively affected by the rising commodity and energy prices.

          1. Merf56

            Your comment hits the nail squarely on the head – that the US is incompetent in setting up industrial policy.
            Our industrial base has been hollowed out for decades not just at the bottom but at the top. Industrial policy itself is not only piecemeal but for the most part virtually nonexistent.
            Further, literally too few know how to design, build and but most especially run factories of the latest design and technological efficiency.
            My spouse, an industrial hygienist, has traveled for work all over China for the last 20 yrs – as well as working across the US in multiple industries.
            He compares the two industry wise as US are recalcitrant toddlers bent on their own isolated way and China are the middle aged hardworking adults looking always for the best way

        2. tevhatch

          A stable currency is more important, who wants to invest heavy sums into a currency for long term when it is unstable, much less in decline?

  4. Frank

    Oligarchs in Russia have only lost wealth and power as a result of the war, they are almost uniformly against it as a class. I can’t imagine the Ukrainian oligarchs are particularly happy, either. It is a field day, however, for corrupt government officials.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      Actually, most oligarchs in RU are doing just dandy:


      The RU oligarchs who have suffered are mainly those with assets and domiciles in the west: Abramovich, Aven, Fridman, and Tinkov, to name the most obvious. It’s ironic that the west’s sanctions have served mainly to punish the pro-western oligarchs whilst rewarding those who kept most of their assets (and domiciles) in RU.

      1. Zala

        The Moscow Times? Seriously?
        And even they need to include this:
        “One reason for the startling uptick in the fortunes of Russia’s wealthiest, according to Forbes, was that 2022’s list was compiled in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of
        Ukraine amid market panic, a run on the Russian currency and dire predictions about the Russian economy.”
        which basically invalidates the entire thesis of the article. (Note: The Forbes list is compiled in dollars, so when the ruble crashed to 150/dollar in March these oligarchs fortunes were nominally cut in half.)

        1. Maxwell Johnston

          MT is simply commenting on the Forbes article, which you can easily find yourself (even the Russian version). I posted the MT article because it’s in English, and because I was surprised that a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Putin outlet like the MT would publish something that goes against the prevailing narrative that “the sanctions will spur the oligarchs to overthrow Putin”, or something like that. Which clearly ain’t happening.

      2. begob

        I believe Abramovich always kept his tax domicile in Russia – ruling by the UK High Court about ten years ago?

        1. Maxwell Johnston

          Could be so. He’s quite the transnational nomad (citizen of RU and Israel and, for awhile anyway, Portugal), and residences all over the place. I doubt he ever spends 183+ days in any one country, so his tax advisors might be able to domicile him in RU (which still has pretty low taxes on personal income). But he has a pro-western orientation, spends most of his time outside of RU, and has seen his net worth get absolutely hammered this past year. Unlike many of the oligarchs who stayed at home.

          1. Michael Fiorillo

            My sense is that Vladimir Vladimirovich’s deal with the Oligarchs is that they’re cool, so long as they don’t interfere with certain state interests or get too nostalgic for the 1990’s. There’s always the object lesson of Khodorovsky, if they need a reminder.

            1. Polar Socialist

              Then they wouldn’t be oligarchs or plutocrats, though, just enormously wealthy people without much arkho or kratos.

              At least not in Russia but maybe in other places like UK or Israel?

      3. Marlin

        The Moscow Times is a Western propaganda outlet published in the Netherlands. I wouldn’t believe anything they write.

    2. tevhatch

      That’s odd, I know for a fact that the rice oligarch, wheat oligarchs, and quite a few others are making a killing from the way it worked out. There are even businessmen in the arms industry who are doing well, it’s not 100% state owned. Now, there are limits on how they can engorge themselves, unlike say EU or USA, but they also no longer have to worry about “hostile” takeovers delivered in the back of the skull.

  5. The Rev Kev

    ‘The only way this will stop is if more and more people get active in opposing those companies and individuals that profit from war–who Pope Francis calls the Merchants of Death–and boot out the politicians who do their bidding, before they make an even more fatal misstep and start a nuclear war.’

    What is more likely to happen is that the Russian military will end this war by rolling up the Ukrainian military in the same way that the Taliban ended the Afghanistan grifting machinery. The powers that be are already starting to make moves with Taiwan so you can bet that all the graft and money making and grifting is already being planned out for this one.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    Well, isn’t this lovely:
    “U.S. intelligence sources … describe a “total breakdown” between the White House and the U.S. intelligence community. Hersh’s sources describe a pattern that echoes the use of fabricated and unvetted intelligence to justify U.S. aggression against Iraq in 2003, in which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan are by-passing regular intelligence analysis and procedures and running the Ukraine War as their own private fiefdom.”

    Whoa! Doesn’t Victoria “Banality of Evil” stop in their offices with a plate of cookies now and again, along with some mutilated Russian soldiers to spice things up?

    I note that in the second half of Medea Benjamin’s essay, she devotes eight paragraphs to the endless corruption. Eight paragraphs.

    Recommending: Kaputt, by Curzio Malaparte. Same region, same horrors, same racket.

    1. chris

      No matter how brave our Pentagon officials may be, no one is stupid enough to take a bite of anything offered by Vicky “F#$% the EU” Nuland. The best case scenario is that it’s poisonous.

      The other funny thing about what you quoted is that if the major source of leaks and anonymous quotes in all these articles are “senior intelligence officials” then there’s literally no guarantee any of what they’re saying is accurate or useful. All these official stenographers are doing is quoting what people assume might be happening based on bad communications and bias. And yet, B over at MoA is spreading misinformation??? Matt Taibbi is a “so-called jounralist”??? The entire thing stinks like a rotten corpse.

  7. JW

    I continue to be amazed that commentators just don’t listen to what Putin said was the aim of the SMO. To destroy the war making capability of Ukraine and its ‘nazis’.
    The attritional war Russia is fighting is not designed to quickly take territory, its designed to destroy the machines and human capability for making war. As NATO/US seem hell bent on supplying arms to this meat grinder , Russia must be trying hard to not smile as its ‘enemy’ is being so helpful as to ship its resources to the place Russia is best equipped to destroy them.
    Now the talk is of under-equipped and under-trained troops using more NATO/US arms without air cover being thrown against the Russian defences this spring. More of the same, with the same results.
    Its all pretty brainless. But the US MICs must be loving it.

    1. paddy

      biden authorized the 36 release of us military gear to kiev yesterday, or tuesday.

      every release will be replaced at really good profit, cost plus restarting production lines and well paid delays finding integrated circuits etc, for the mic!

      and the effect of the weapons is largely nil, except to the russians who garner data from the unexploded bomb kit, and learn to counter all the wunderwaffen…..

      1. jsn

        The DC Clown Show thinks they’re re-starting American manufacturing with military Keynesianism, but the grifters who own the industry know demand won’t last to justify investment so they’re pocketing the markups as profit or using it for share buybacks to juice their stocks even more.

        The festering sore of corruption that Ukraine has been is now poisoning all the arteries of the Western Neoliberal system.

        One worries that if the Big Brains of the collective West get any stupider they’ll nuke us all, but short of that it’s hopeful there beginning to perpetrate delusion-penetrating stupidity and mass audiences are starting to awake from the Big Lie… maybe.

        1. Synoia

          Which came first, the grafters who own the industry, or the Ukrainian Nazis?

          I’m having a Chicken and Egg problem with the US’ pursuit pursuit of the Ukraine problem, as it appears that the US Blob was active in ignoring the settlements agreed after the fall of the Soviet Union.

          The Ukraine business also has some appearance of being a deliberate provocation designed to bring the EU Serfs back onto their knees, and stop being a model the US to copy.

    2. Dalepues

      “Russia must be trying hard to not smile as its ‘enemy’ is being so helpful as to ship its resources to the place Russia is best equipped to destroy them.”

      It seems that the warmakers in Russia prefer the opposite of their U.S. counterparts: Fight them here so we don’t have to fight them over there.

    3. jrkrideau

      I continue to be amazed that commentators just don’t listen to what Putin said was the aim of the SMO.

      It appears that Western politicians and most commentators are unable to comprehend that Putin actually means what he says (typical diplomatic platitudes aside). Is it that they just cannot conceive of any politician telling the truth or in-build suspicion of Russian duplicity? In any case it is amazing.

      It also may be that they lack the mental flexibility to grasp that not everyone thinks as they do. That senior intelligence officer whom Hersh says states that “The current crisis is not helped by the fact that Putin also is acting irrationally.” I have no seen any indication of that so far.

      Some of Putin’s and Stavka’s decisions may not have been optimal but my amateur view does not see “irrationality” but the likely existence of various game plans/ possible desired outcomes that a US official is not going to easily grasp. I suspect the Russian cabinet and Stavka are balancing any number of considerations that Western intelligence are not even aware are important.

  8. Not Again

    A couple weeks ago I was scrolling through Telegram and came across a video of two Ukrainian guys sitting in a foxhole in Bakhmut. One was an ethnic Hungarian from the west of Ukraine. He spoke pretty fractured English and he had no idea why the hell he was there except he had no choice. His comrade – the father of five – was in an ill-fitting military uniform and looked like the real-life version of the old comic “Sad Sack,” with a helmet at least two sizes too big and a military demeanor that was non-existent. The only thing they had in common was that they wanted to go home.

    I often wonder if they survived – and how long- and why people like Blinken, Nuland and Sullivan cannot fathom that it these people really don’t care which flag they salute but all they want is a better life for their families than they had and once you are dead, it doesn’t matter if you were killed by Russian artillery or some National Front sniper shooting anyone who retreated.

    I hope there is a god – but I doubt it – these people need some kind of retribution for their hubris and hate.

    1. Karl

      Attritional warfare erodes the ability to fight and the will to fight. Morale among the troops on the Ukraine side must be very low and getting worse, as you point out. Yet polls purportedly show that something like 90+% of Ukrainians believe Ukraine is winning. But they aren’t doing the fighting.

      Complexity theory demonstrates what happens to a complex system when something piles up slowly and inexorably, as with attritional warfare. At first everything seems OK. “See how plucky those Ukrainians are!” But each little grain of sand added to the pile puts additional strain at critical weak points. Then suddenly it collapses. I see this happening once the Russian offensive starts in earnest. Russia simply needs to find the critical weak points and add “more grains of sand” at those points. It doesn’t even need to be a major offensive. Just a shove in the right place and time.

      I think it’s quite possible that Russia knows where those critical weak points are and are deliberately NOT trying to jostle them because of what Scott Ritter calls “escalation management.” I suspect Russia would prefer not to start a sudden collapse yet, but to let the weakening progress slowly so as to avoid alarming the West too much (for now). But the thing is, the process of collapse is inherently chaotic. When it happens, it’s unstoppable.

      As the saying goes, “collapse starts slowly, then suddenly.”

  9. TimH

    Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz has introduced a Privileged Resolution of Inquiry to force President Biden to notify the House of the exact number of U.S. military personnel inside Ukraine and precise U.S. plans to assist Ukraine militarily.

    Good for Mr Gaetz.

  10. Eclair

    Aurelian (our David) has a new post on Substack about the inability of bureaucracies everywhere in every time to change course, even when we all know it’s the wrong track and headed for certain disaster. Apologies if this has already been linked: we’re out there with the chain saw, cutting up felled dead ash trees. And planting peas and potatoes. Reading time has been sporadic.

    “In the end, many political collapses are intellectual rather than practical and institutional in origin. The French and Russian revolutions happened ultimately because the traditional power structures were intellectually incapable of imagining some modification of the political system and some compromise with its challengers. The accumulated political inertia of hundreds of years of absolute monarchy was such that the systems were effectively paralysed as disaster loomed in from of them. Something similar looks to have happened when the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991: the possibility of reform was there, but those in charge did not understand how to manage a political transition outside the very narrow intellectual framework that political inertia had left them, and the result, when it came, was brutal and violent.”

  11. begob

    Extraordinary video here of the deadliness of Russian mortar fire – you get first-person POV from the body-cam of one of the Ukrainian soldiers as they flee with a wounded comrade (apparently a Brit), and as the moment approaches a simultaneous in-frame wide shot from the spotter drone. Both cameras capture the mortar impact and its result.

    I guess the Russians took the body-cam in a mopping up operation.

  12. Mo

    I believe that the problem someone like Medea Benjamin faces when writing a persuasive piece is that she can’t stray too far from the ingrained misconceptions of the people she is trying to persuade. These people are for the most part sh*tlibs, not to put too fine a point on it. So she has to say yes, Russia is losing, yes, Russia is the aggressor, yes, every bad thing you believe about Russia is true. Otherwise they will scream “Putin puppet”.

    Propaganda and group think is very strong.

    1. TimH

      I was about to respond the same way to Vesa (1st comment), but you put it better.

      Can’t tell an audience what it isn’t prepared to hear…

  13. JoeBiden

    I find it so ironic that Ms Benjamin (and Ms Webber) whine about the US military complex as the driving force causing this conflict, whereas Putin’s motives are very clear, this conflict is a result of his obsession to reclaim Crimea and the existing rail/road links to it. Sevastopol is Russia’s only Mediterranean connected seaport, not only vital for shipping exports, but essential as a military site. To regain this territory he has backed secessionist movements in the eastern rail/road Ukrainian provinces and the outright invasion of Crimea while claiming Ukraine does not exist, that the Soviets/UkSSR were wrong to draw the borders as they did. The Putin military industrial complex was bound and determined to reclaim the submarine pens.

    Even Ms Benjamin has admitted there is no defense for Putin’s overt military invasion, but this revisionism/excusing for Putin is wrong historically and ignores his base motivations.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I think both port of Novorossijsk and port of Rostov-na-Don are bigger than that of Sevastopol. And then there are ports of Taganrok, Gelendzik and Sochi. So Sevastopol is not the only or even the most important seaport Russia has connecting to Mediterranean.

      Those movements were originally not secessionist, but backing the old constitution and the legitimate government. They became secessionist only when Ukrainian nationalist militias started killing people in Donbass.

      As we now know, Putin was fooled for 8 years to do nothing to help the secessionist while The West trained and armed the Ukrainians to fight this war they knew was coming.

      1. JoeBiden

        “So Sevastopol is not the only or even the most important seaport Russia has connecting to Mediterranean.”

        And yet, Crimea was invaded. If it was so insignificant as you claim, it is so weird how Putin has invested so much time and treasure to reclaim it…..and the rail /road connections/territory to it.
        I know, it is all about the “people” of the regions. Putin is concerned about those people. It has nothing to do with the Black Sea Fleet’s most important port.
        Again, it is supposedly “the West” and their military aims, not Putin’s.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “The greater the leader, the less history he knows.”

          Joe Tzu #43 (Jen Psaki rendition)

        2. topcat

          Well, Crimea wasn’t really invaded, the Russians were already there in force as they had a long term lease on the naval bases. The population speaks Russian and regard themselves as Russian, so the takeover looked a lot like Hitler’s “invasion” of Austria. Took about half an hour and no one noticed.

        3. Polar Socialist

          I did not claim it was insignificant, I merely pointed out you were wrong to claim it was the only Russian seaport in the area.

          And Crimea was not technically invaded. The Russian troops already on the peninsula and half of the Ukrainian troops that joined them did not take control of any administrative buildings, radio or television studios or newspapers. They only prevented the Ukrainians from intervening when Autonomous Republic of Crimea declared independence, which was within it’s rights and which it had attempted several times earlier but prevented each time by the Kiev regime.

          1. JoeBiden

            “I did not claim it was insignificant”

            Uh-huh, you have been avoiding the point, it is THE main port for the Black Sea Fleet. It is THE reason Putin wants to retain Crimea AND the connecting rail/road/territories.

            PS, I can’t remember at any point Ukraine invading the Black Sea ports you cited. Funny, that.

            “which was within it’s rights”

            False, the agreement with Ukraine established that any vote for independence would include all of Ukraine voting on the measure.

            But keep on spouting the Putin arguments, it’s fascinating.

            1. Polar Socialist

              Your original claim was this:

              Sevastopol is Russia’s only Mediterranean connected seaport, not only vital for shipping exports

              My only point was that your claim is wrong. We can continue when you admit your starting premise was false.

              I don’t know of any agreement the Crimean parliament was party of that took away their right to declare independence if that is the will of the Crimean people.

              1. JoeBiden

                No bro, that is NOT your only point. It was a mistake on my part to claim it was the only Russian port on the Black Sea…..that in no manner makes a difference on why Putin want to keep the invaded Crimea and the land bridges/eastern provinces. It is absurd to claim that it is a matter of humanitarian/autonomy concerns. Putin is NOT a liberal trying to create a free Crimea, he is primarily motivated by MILITARY concerns. He has stated multiple times that the border lines created under the Soviet regimes were a mistake, even in the face of historical census analysis by the Soviets in the creation of the borders…..after the expulsion of Tartars from Crimea. He has never negotiated for a settlement WITHOUT the use of military force. His history of supporting movements to re-incorporate former Soviet vassals into Russia is well documented. He is a former KGB officer, a FSB officer. He is not Gandhi.

                The knock liberals in the US got was not recognizing how bad Stalin was, funny how your lot are still so starry eyed with Putin. I just don’t get it.

                1. Henry Moon Pie

                  “And projection ain’t just a light on a screen.”

                  Joe Tzu # 12 (Jen Psaki rendition)

                2. Adam

                  Yes, we just love, love, love us some Putin here. You are just so amazing, smart and observant! You forgot to add the part about us being commies and dirty hippies. :-)

                    1. Late Introvert

                      I think the tell is the last para. Who says “your lot”, or references the 30’s Stalin nonsense in reference to “liberals”? Not too many of those in these parts.

                      Try harder sock puppets, maybe one of those AI bots?

                3. tegnost

                  he is primarily motivated by MILITARY concerns

                  so then you acknowledge that there are reasons to be militarily concerned, would those reasons, in your opinion, include belligerence by the west?

                4. Kilgore Trout

                  I think you still have it backwards. Russia was drawn into this war by the US and NATO who used Ukraine as a proxy to try to weaken Russia, and possibly overthrow Putin. It hasn’t worked out very well for either Ukraine or the West. We are out of weapons, while Russia has shown it can fight war on an industrial scale the west cannot match. But no one has shown that Russia is interested in an aggressive war of conquest; there is no evidence of that. Having lost 25 million in WW2, its people and its leaders (including Putin) know the true cost of war–in stark contrast to our own. One does not need to be “starry-eyed” over Putin to recognize who is the real aggressor in having provoked this war, starting in 2014, and keeping it going at every turn since ( i.e.: scrapping the 2015 Minsk accords, B. Johnson’s visit to Ukraine in 2022 when a settlement appeared imminent.) There should be a special place in Hell for Nuland, Blinken, et al. They would join a long line of criminally culpable USians going back to the Dulles brothers at least.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          Making Shit Up is not on.

          Crimea was not invaded. Russia had lease that allowed it to maintain a base. Russia quickly organized a referendum in a historically and currently very strongly ethnic Russian area after the Maidan coup. That population was sure to face even more harsh treatment of ethnic Russians to discourage more Donbass-type breakaway attempts. So the referendum was approved with high turnout and a big margin.

          Oh, BTW, Swiss intelligence officer and former NATO secondee Jacques Baud described long from how process/treaties were violated in 1991 for Crimea to go to Ukraine rather than Russia. Don’t have time to track it down again.

    2. Kilgore Trout

      While any invasion of one nation by another deserves condemnation, I think there is arguably more legal justification for Russia’s SMO than anything the US has done militarily since WW2. Crimea sought independence for itself after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and before Ukraine’s boundaries were established. Ukraine insisted on retaining Crimea, over the objections of Crimea, and therein lies a tale. Recall that Crimea has been “Russian” since the time of Catherine the Great. NATO’s designs on Crimea, and Russia’s naval base in Sevastopol (which real estate it leased from Ukraine) became clear after the Maidan Coup made clear the right-wing nationalist direction Ukraine was taking. Crimea’s vote last year to join the Russian Federation was at least as fair as any recent US election. Russia’s actions after Maidan likely pre-empted a likely joint NATO/Ukraine effort to take over the naval base and Crimea, and perhaps prevented ethnic cleansing by the likes of AZOV. Our coup in Ukraine unleashed a civil war between the ultra-nationalist West and the neutral/Russian-leaning east that our Neo-cons encouraged and supplied with weapons. The real date of the start of the war is after the coup in 2014. Because creating conflict and war is what we do best. USA! USA!

      1. JoeBiden

        “before Ukraine’s boundaries were established.”

        Um, Crimea was established as a part of Ukraine……in 1954.

        1. hk

          In 1954, Ukraine was well established as part of USSR, and centuries earlier, whatever that might be called “Ukraine” had long been part of the Russian Empire.

          Also, even in 1954, Crimea was granted special autonomy rights as part of Ukrainian SSR. You don’t take that away by fiat without facing serious pushback from the locals.

          The analogous argument would be to claim that US Civil War was fought by the state of Virginia to “liberate” West Virginia from Yankee invaders.

          1. JoeBiden

            “In 1954, Ukraine was well established as part of USSR”

            Wrong, it was established as a part of UkSSR, ie, Ukraine. If it had been a part of Russia/USSR….Putin would not have lamented the “bad” border lines.

            1. hk

              “Wrong, it was established as a part of UkSSR, ie, Ukraine. If it had been a part of Russia/USSR….Putin would not have lamented the “bad” border lines.”

              Amazing misrepresentation of history and law. I suppose you also say that Lincoln invaded the sovereign nation of Virginia and illegally occupied West Virginia? I suppose Ukrainians do love the Confederacy and the Klan.

              If you were going to be technical but accurate about this, you would have said that Russia is not same as USSR, which, incidentally is what everyone agrees. Whether the internal borders of USSR remain valid as international borders once it broke up is a complicated question but it is something that, ironically, even Putin accepted as a legal given for a long time as long as Ukraine respected its own constitution and laws with regards autonomy of Crimea. Instead, you resort to absurd nonsense.

    3. tegnost

      I’ll give you a C minus on this one.
      One party to your irony is “US military complex” alone,
      whilst the other party has been assigned motives.
      You can improve your grade by including the motivations of the “US military complex”.
      In this way your reader can compare/contrast the assigned motivations, spurring more rigorous debate.
      It also will of course affect your grade if you wrongly conflate US/Putin,
      it’s either biden v. putin, or US v Russia
      Thank You

      1. JoeBiden

        “One party to your irony is “US military complex” alone,
        whilst the other party has been assigned motives.”

        I’m sorry, are you arguing Ms Benjamin is NOT assigning NATO/US motivations as the cause? That is what I’m reading from her and Webber et al. I’m pointing out the irony of such commentators while they ignore Putin’s “MIC” motivations. I find it funny that they want to assign his motivation to humanitarian concerns. Yes, it is clear that Putin is REALLY a liberal, motivated by his overwhelming actions to support the principles of The Enlightenment! He is not an dictator, not the head oligarch…..He’s really a great guy, very democratic.

        Good grief.

        1. tegnost

          I find it funny that they want to assign his motivation to humanitarian concerns.

          Your namesake is not motivated by humanitarian concerns.
          Stopping the shelling of donbass seems kind of humanitariany to me.

          You did not improve your grade,..

    4. Pat

      Please go read the history of Crimea, its forced attachment to Ukraine, and something other than the NY Times for the period after the coup and their referendum that overwhelming stated their population’s wishes to be part of Russia. They were not invaded. They were not under attack. They had a clear view of what was happening and wanted no part of where Ukraine was going.

      I know accepting the truth about Crimea undermines much of your position about the situation in the area, but it is as delusional as your namesake is even on his best days.

    5. samm

      I think the only person interested in JoeBiden’s counterfactual moralizing about who’s driving this conflict and why is JoeBiden himself. The US of A of JoeBiden has absolutely zero moral standing to make any such judgement, and the only ones who don’t see that are the ones who’s paychecks rely on them not seeing it, such as JoeBiden.

    6. Felix_47

      Putin was OK with the lease arrangement with Ukraine. Russia is poor and supporting more people who are not productive is not a big goal. On the other hand converting Sebastopol to a US Navy base is something even Catherine the Great would have a fit over. I did see some time ago (maybe a decade) that the US was so confident that we would get Ukraine as ours that the Navy put out bid requests for remodelling and upgrading infrastructure to include schools etc. presumably in preparation of a large permanent US Navy base. I saw the requests. They are on the internet somewhere presumably. The Treaty of Montreaux has always complicated the ability of the US to position a carrier battle group in the area. The thought is that doing that check mates Russia……I think Catherine understood that as well. So assuming the contract proposals I saw were not fake, and I do not think they were, they are pretty good evidence that Ukraine has been a neocon target for over a decade and that the US has been driving the train…….not Putin and his military industrial complex as you say. Do not forget the entire Russian military budget is and has been a 12 th of that of the US. And based on dealing with Falluja I have to say the Russians are having a very tough time fighting the US and our mercenary army. Fighters who have occupied buildings, mixed with civilians and booby trapped everything are essentially impossible to root out without horrific casualties on both sides but perhaps worst on the attackers. We decided to flatten everything in Falluja and in the end Bakmut looks similar if not quite a flattened as Falluja. And we lost a lot of good Marines in Falluja. And many more civilians lost their lives and limbs as well. My guess is that had the Germans put up the city fight that the Ukrainian army is putting up the Russians may never have captured Berlin and the US would have given up on the demand of an unconditional surrender. It was just that the German people had had enough and realized they had been lied to. That is why propaganda is so important in this war as well. And the Russians are not doing a very good job of it although I did see an article in the Times commenting on the fact, inexplicable to the authors, that many of the eastern Ukrainians in Russian territory seem to not be eager to see the Russians give up.

  14. Cristobal

    Ho Joe!

    Glad to see that you are back from your nap. Though awake now, somehow the memory of events prior to February 2023 seems to have vanished from your memory. Don´t worry, it is a common thing that happens to people of a certain age especially when they are under stress. At least your ghost writer has been able to string three or four coherent sentences together. Probably a much younger person, I wonder though why he or she seems to have missed the essential character of the government you are so eagerly supporting. Is it the Benjamins?

    Best wishes, live long and prosper!

  15. Freethinker

    Re: the propaganda war, it’s amazing how powerful this tool still is, somehow, even in the age of the internet when all, including people at the frontline, have smartphones, so can cut through the lies by recording evidence live. That just goes to show how improvements in tech are useless when people’s brains still can’t keep up beyond stampeding over the cliff like panicked sheep, believing whatever they were told last by their leaders.

    Also, history shows it is seldom the more corrupt side in a war that can win, given it is effectively handicapping itself on many levels at once, all necessary resources, unity, morale etc.

    It’ll be interesting to see where the crony clique kleptocracy selling out the Ukraine, ‘retire’ to with their stolen millions when the country finally totally implodes.

  16. Jorge

    We believe that blocking those talks was a dreadful mistake, in which the Biden administration capitulated to the warmongering, since-disgraced U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and that current U.S. policy is compounding that mistake at the cost of tens of thousands more Ukrainian lives and the destruction of even more of their country.

    I’m quite fascinated to learn that BoJo had agency in this situation, and was not merely an errand boy telling the Ukrainians what the US wanted. This puts a whole new light on everything, while my previous impression from reading the news for a long time was the BoJo, like most politicians, is just a human ChatGPT: you wind him up and point him in a direction, he marches along spewing nonsense.

  17. Paula

    I heard Russia bombed an underground bunker where NATO operated, killing 300 people. Anyone have information on that claim?

Comments are closed.