The Silent Slaughter of the Flower of Ukraine’s Youth

Yves here. After televised coverage of the horrors of the war in Vietnam helped fuel opposition to it, the US, with many other governments following it, has sought to keep the human cost out of the public eye. Many military families were upset during the Iraq war that the press was kept well away from returning coffins. Similarly, while Australian reporters presented the cost to Iraqis, such as looted hospitals and a lack of electricity for most of the day in Baghdad, the US media stayed well away from the idea that we were greatly worsening the quality of life. But the severity of the cover-up in Ukraine is worse.

Ukraine was already thin on 20 to 30 year olds. The USSR dissolution hit Ukraine even harder than Russia economically, leading to a baby bust in the 1990s through the early 2000s. It allegedly takes about $7000 for a candidate for military service to buy his way out, further reducing the population of potential cannon fodder.

The Western press has for the most part also been trying to pretend that the normal rules of military math don’t operate in Ukraine, where in land battles, the level of casualties and deaths correlates to the amount of artillery shelling. Early in the war, Russia was firing 20,000 rounds most days, peaking sometimes to 40,000 to 60,000, while Ukraine was sending off 5,000 to 7,000 rounds. Ukraine is now down to 1,000 to 3,000 rounds a day, while Russia’s firing level has increased to 40,000 rounds a day or more. So the idea that Ukraine is losing 7 to 10 men for every Russian is precisely what you’d expect, before getting to the fact that Russia is also much more successful at getting the wounded treated quickly (this has apparently been a big MoD priority for quite a while).

This terrible picture is made even worse by the shift in Ukraine tactics in the last week or so. Its little attacking convoys, typically with minesweepers in front, followed by a tank or two, then armored personnel carriers, were taken down by unexpectedly dense mine fields, plus remote mining, plus drones, plus “Alligator” helicopters. The many videos of all that supposedly tide-turning equipment being dispatched so quickly was apparently very embarrassing to Ukraine and its NATO minders. So to avoid such scenes, Ukraine is now trying to rely mainly on infantry, using personnel carriers who hug unmined tree lines, then having the men get out and advance to the line of contact on foot. This is the functional equivalent of human wave tactics, all to avoid bad optics:

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies, the authors of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, published by OR Books in November 2022. Medea Benjamin is 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. Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

“Plans love silence. There’ll be no announcement of the start.” Photo credit: Ukraine Defense Ministry

As Ukraine prepared to launch its much heralded but long delayed counteroffensive, the media published a photograph of a Ukrainian soldier with his finger on his lips, symbolizing the need for secrecy to retain some element of surprise for this widely telegraphed operation.

Now that the offensive has been under way for two weeks, it is clear that the Ukrainian government and its Western allies are maintaining silence for quite a different reason: to conceal the brutal cost Ukraine’s brave young people are paying to recover small scraps of territory from Russian occupation forces, in what some are already calling asuicide mission.

Western pundits at first described these first two weeks of fighting as “probing operations” to find weak spots in Russia’s defenses, which Russia has been fortifying since 2022 with multiple layers of minefields, “dragon’s teeth,” tank-traps, pre-positioned artillery, and attack helicopters, unopposed in the air, that can fire 12 anti-tank missiles apiece.

On the advice of British military advisers in Kyiv, Ukraine flung Western tanks and armored vehicles manned by NATO-trained troops into these killing fields without air support or de-mining operations. The results have been predictably disastrous, and it is now clear that these are not just “probing” operations as the propaganda at first claimed, but the long-awaited main offensive.

A Western official with intelligence access told the Associated Press on June 14, “Intense fighting is now ongoing in nearly all sectors of the front… This is much more than probing. These are full-scale movements of armor and heavy equipment into the Russian security zone.”

Other glimpses are emerging of the reality behind the propaganda. At a press conference after a summit at NATO Headquarters, U.S. General Milley warned that the offensive will be long, violent and costly in Ukrainian lives. “This is a very difficult fight. It’s a very violent fight, and it will likely take a considerable amount of time and at high cost,” Milley said.

Russian videos show dozens of Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles lying smashed in minefields, and NATO military advisers in Ukraine have confirmed that it lost 38 tanks in one night on June 8th, including newly delivered German-built Leopard IIs.

Rob Lee of the Foreign Policy Research Institute explained to the New York Times that the Russians are trying to inflict as many casualties and destroy as many vehicles as possible in the areas in front of their main defensive lines, turning those areas into lethal kill zones. If this strategy works, any Ukrainian forces that reach the main Russian defense lines will be too weakened and depleted to break through and achieve their goal of severing Russia’s land bridge between Donbas and Crimea.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense reported that Ukraine’s forces suffered 7,500 casualties in the first ten days of the offensive. If Ukraine’s real losses are a fraction of that, the long, violent bloodbath that General Milley anticipates will destroy the new armored brigades that NATO has armed and trained, and serve only to escalate the gory war of attrition that has destroyed Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk and Bakhmut, killing and wounding hundreds of thousands of young Ukrainians and Russians.

A senior European military officer in Ukraine provided more details of the carnage to Asia Times, calling Ukraine’s operations on June 8th and 9th a “suicide mission” that violated the basic rules of military tactics. “We tried to tell them to stop these piecemeal tactics, define a main thrust with infantry support and do what they can,” he said. “They were trained by the British, and they’re playing Light Brigade,” he added, comparing the offensive to a suicidal charge into massive Russian cannon fire that wiped out Britain’s Light Cavalry Brigade in Crimea in 1854.

If Ukraine’s “Spring Offensive” plunges on to the bitter end, it could be more like the British and French Somme Offensive, fought near the French River Somme in 1916. After 19,240 British troops were killed on the first day (including Nicolas’s 20-year-old great-uncle, Robert Masterman), the battle raged on for more than four months of pointless, wanton slaughter, with over a million British, French and German casualties. It was finally called off after advancing only six miles and failing to capture either of the two small French towns that were its initial objectives.

The current offensive was delayed for months as Ukraine and its allies grappled with the likelihood of the outcome we are now witnessing. The fact that it went ahead regardless reflects the moral bankruptcy of U.S. and NATO political leaders, who are sacrificing the flower of Ukraine’s youth in a proxy war they will not send their own children or grandchildren to fight.

As Ukraine launches its offensive, NATO is conducting Air Defender, the largest military exercise in its history, from June 12th to 23rd, with 250 warplanes, including nuclear-capable F-35s, flying from German bases to simulate combat operations in and over Germany, Lithuania, Romania, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The exercise has led to at least 15 incidents between NATO and Russian aircraft in the skies near Lithuania.

It seems that nobody in NATO’s foreboding fortress in Brussels has stumbled on the concept of a “security dilemma,” in which supposedly defensive actions by one party are perceived as offensive threats by another and lead to a spiral of mutual escalation, as has been the case between NATO and Russia since the 1990s. Professor of Russian history Richard Sakwa has written, “NATO exists to manage the risks created by its existence.”

These risks will be evident in the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 11-12, where Ukraine and its eastern allies will be pushing for Ukraine membership, while the U.S. and western Europe insist that membership cannot be offered while the war rages on and will instead offer “upgraded” status and a shorter route to membership once the war ends.

The continued insistence that Ukraine will one day be a NATO member only means a prolongation of the conflict, as this is a red line that Russia insists cannot be crossed. That’s why negotiations that lead to a neutral Ukraine are key to ending the war.

But the United States will not agree to that as long as President Biden keeps U.S. Ukraine policy firmly under the thumbs of hawkish neoconservative desk warriors like Anthony Blinken and Victoria Nuland at the State Department and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House. Pressure to keep escalating U.S. involvement in the war is also coming from Congress, where Republicans accuse Biden of “hemming and hawing” instead of “going all in” to help Ukraine.

Paradoxically, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies are more realistic than their civilian colleagues about the lack of any military solution. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, has called for diplomacy to bring peace to Ukraine, and U.S. intelligence sources have challenged dominant false narratives of the war in leaks toNewsweek and Seymour Hersh, telling Hersh that the neocons are ignoring genuine intelligence and inventing their own, just as they did to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

With the retirement of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the State Department is losing the voice of a professional diplomat who was Obama’s chief negotiator for the JCPOA with Iran and urged Biden to rejoin the agreement, and who has taken steps to moderate U.S. brinkmanship toward China. While publicly silent on Ukraine, Sherman was a quiet voice for diplomacy in a war-mad administration.

Many fear that Sherman’s job will now go to Nuland, the leading architect of the ever-mounting catastrophe in Ukraine for the past decade, who already holds the #3 or #4 job at State as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

Other departures from the senior ranks at State and the Pentagon are likely to cede more ground to the neocons. Colin Kahl, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, worked with Sherman on the JCPOA, opposed sending F-16s to Ukraine, and has maintained that China will not invade Taiwan in the near future. Kahl is leaving the Pentagon to return to his position as a professor at Stanford, just as China hawk General C.Q. Brown will replace General Milley as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs when Milley retires in September.

Meanwhile, other world leaders continue to push for peace talks. A delegation of African heads of state led by President Ramaphosa of South Africa met with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv, and President Putin in Moscow on June 17th, to discuss the African peace plan for Ukraine.

President Putin showed the African leaders the 18-point Istanbul Agreement that a Ukrainian representative had signed back in March 2022, and told them that Ukraine had thrown it in the “dustbin of history,” after the now disgraced Boris Johnson told Zelenskyy the “collective West” would only support Ukraine to fight, not to negotiatewith Russia.

The catastrophic results of the first two weeks of Ukraine’s offensive should focus the world’s attention on the urgent need for a ceasefire to halt the daily slaughter and dismemberment of hundreds of brave young Ukrainians, who are being forced to drive through minefields and kill zones in Western gifts that are proving to be no more than U.S.- and NATO-built death-traps.

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  1. Ignacio

    We are all neoconservatives now, like it or not, even if from our desktop trenches we show disgust on this horror. The public have been made disappear from the equation or largely brainwashed with the neocon narrative or, more simply, not consulted. In the collective West disapproval of Russia’s leadership is above 90% (Eurobarometer) though to tell the truth if the same question was asked worldwide about US’s leadership many countries would probably show similar disapproval rates. But you don’t ask what is not convenient of course. If only for that reason we are all turned neoconservatives willingly or unwillingly.

    1. Benny Profane

      I dont think so. Get back to us on that when the Kennedy kid wins a primary or two.

    2. Cristobal

      One´s opinions are formed by the information one receives. The near total control of the European media by the Atlanticists / neocons / neo-Fascists (though they probably don´t admit it to themselves) / corporatists, all longing for their disapeared imperial pasts has done its work. The web of lies is so deep it is hard for a person to get to the reality of the conflict. We will see if the changing situation on the ground in Ukraine will be reflected in the information the public receives. At some point though, your lying eyes will take precedence over the stories we are told.

      On a brighter note, MoA has a positive take on things today.

      1. Felix_47

        Speaking of media capture the Frankfurt Paper had this striking photo of a wounded soldier on the front page today. The wounded soldiers are not all young men. The propaganda is hot and heavy in Germany and the FAZ seems to just be a division of the New York Times/Washington Post. Getting rid of the draft was one of the worst decisions in the history of the US.

        1. Benny Profane

          “Getting rid of the draft was one of the worst decisions in the history of the U.S.”

          Well, maybe not the WORST, but, for years now, I’ve been saying, bring back the draft, if you want to stop the forever war. This chapter is perfect, because, military gear goes out, profits made, and no body bags back. The neocons, even the Polish version, will really regret putting boots on the ground, if it comes to that.

          1. hk

            Historically speaking, conscription did not prevent imperialism. Colonial empires all had professional colonial armies separate from their regulars–the Foreign Legion being the best known example, but other nations had similar forces. Conscripted soldiers went nowhere near real ugly events as a general rule. Even if the draft came back, conscripts wouldn’t be the ones doing imperialism nor their families bear the burden.

            1. Benny Profane

              Dude, I came within inches of being sent to Vietnam. C’mon, man. And that’s pretty recent history, historically speaking. Read The Things They Carried, to get some idea. You wanna know why kids aren’t marching in the streets against all this? Because, 95 to 90% of America have not been in the military, and don’t have to even consider it. Start forcing them, and rest assured that will not go well, like in 68.

            2. bernie

              Benny, I rather agree with hk.

              I grew up during Vietnam. Once the MIDDLE class started seeing possibility of their kids being brought home in body bags or w/out limbs, the war became increasingly hard to sell.

              If wars were fought by Congressionals and their children, as well as the middle classes, the immediacy of the conflict and its effects would be driven home to them in spades and be taken with the seriousness the conflicts deserves

    3. chris

      What “we” are, as in We The People, is irrelevant. The most decisive thing a citizen in the US can do these days with respect to our government’s foreign policy directives is whether to fly the latest lawn flag or not. And perhaps, we can choose whether to send our children into the armed services or not. But seeing as the US will happily take bodies from anywhere to shove into some meat grinder or another even that aspect of choice is debatable.

      As has been said a lot lately, we didn’t vote our way into this mess. We can’t vote our way out. So what the average American agrees or disagrees with on the international stage is irrelevant :/

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Very true, and constantly reinforced by the effective job #McResistance media does in keeping the PMC distracted and ever-hyped on the latest doings in the Trump lawfare spectacle. Today in the Times it’s something or other about his business dealings in Oman: Shock Horror!

        I have a close friend who has the worst case of Trump Derangement Syndrome I’ve witnessed. As Lambert says, Trump is living rent-free in this person’s brain, and is banging on the pipes and blasting music at all hours, and generally living the carefree deadbeat life of Troll Zero. If the topic of Hunter Biden came up, and I were to ask my friend to, you know, abstractly, hypothetically, in theory, as a thought experiment, put the shoe on the other foot and consider what his reaction would be if, after Orange Man helped oversee a coup in a foreign country, Donald Jr then accepted a highly-paid position on the Board of a major company there, in an industry where Jr. had zero experience. What would he think?

        Anyway, I’d never find out, because this person’s head would explode, and I would get that hysterical, high-pitched, catch-in-the-throat “But they put babies in cages!”

        I imagine I’m not alone in seeing this kind of thing. Anyway, my point is that right now it seems that, if the respectable, educated classes are any indication, we’ll never even have to consider how TPTB might respond to opposition to their overseas misadventures, because it’s cognitively and emotionally impossible.

        1. Malcolm Barnett

          I have lifelong friends and adult kids with whom it is not advisable to discuss the role of Nato in Ukraine

          1. Ridgewood Bond

            The phenomenon of compartmentalizing was confined to practicing Roman Catholics I thought, who ignored news stories about clerical abuse.
            However the reaction to the ongoing NATO Russia war has one realize it is a lot more wide-spread. People refuse to put the situation in context.

      2. Roland

        If your vote didn’t matter, then why is the Blob trying so hard to fight Trump?

        I’ll answer that question: Because Donald Trump is the peace candidate, and has some real credibility as a peace candidate, since during his Presidency, he did not start any new wars, despite being under pressure to do so.

        Therefore, if you are an American voter, and you want peace, then the logical thing to do would be to vote for Donald Trump.

        Give the Blob Trump. Give them nothing but Trump. Every American voter ought to ram Donald Trump straight down the Blob’s throat, and never stop.

        The Blob loves torture, so punish them in a manner worthy of classical mythology, and torment them forever with more Trump.

        1. Michael Mck

          I would rather give them Cornel West or RFKj. I suspect the blob hate would be even greater.

            1. Kilgore Trout

              Yes, Trump can win, but he is incompetent, and too cowardly, to actually oppose the deep state. In the end, Trump is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

              1. Benny Profane

                Hey, total dbag page 6 clown, been laughing at him all my adult NYC life, but, he didn’t get us into any new wars, especially against a greater nuclear power, so, baby steps. First, get rid of these incredibly dangerous villains in charge. And, to be honest, I find him kind of funny, too, and we all need a laugh these days.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          Iranian general Suleimani was turned to pink mist on Trump’s orders, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump had zero idea who he was before giving the spooks the OK to drone him.

          “Peace candidate” might be a bit of a stretch.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Milley was in on that one? And he was the one telling Trump that American soldiers would die if he does not act? He truly is an idiot with no thought of strategic consequences which, when you think about it, is actually in his official job description as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of what he should be doing.

      3. Kouros

        Maybe the Americans should boycott the elections for once, in a sign of protest, and completely delegitimize the current mockery of government they have.

        A New Constitutional Assembly is long overdue…

        1. Janie

          A constitutional assembly is the fervent hope of the far right. Since each state has one vote and there are more red states than blue, we could end up with a constitutional theocracy, ban on abortion, no control of firearms, etc.

          1. AndrewJ

            Or dissolution of the United States via a constitutional amendment nullifying the document, my preferred outcome and the only way I see that this country can halt it’s nosedive into a fascist police state and avoid widespread civil war. I have yet to hear any other realistic ideas. Voting doesn’t work.

      1. John Wright

        This is too slow a feedback loop. As one can see from the Ukrainian and Iraq wars, foreign nationals and mercenaries can provide much of the cannon fodder.

        The wealthy and powerful have found ways around the draft, witness George B. Bush’s National Guard service and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Vietnam era “service”.

        For Blumenthal see

        From the article:

        “But what is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events.”

        “Sometimes his remarks have been plainly untrue, as in his speech to the group in Norwalk. At other times, he has used more ambiguous language, but the impression left on audiences can be similar.”

        We need to drastically shrink the Pentagon’s budget and repurpose our defense industry (organic gardening?)

      2. tegnost

        Maybe change the rules to be if you have 7000 dollars then off to the front with you, rather than if you don’t have 7000…

        1. Daniil Adamov

          That’s a very old model, from when part-time soldiers were expected to buy/already possess all their equipment and were stratified on that basis as citizens. I wonder what polis military branch you would qualify for with 7000 dollars today, though.

        2. The Rev Kev

          During the US Civil War, you could find a person to substitute to be drafted in place of you so a rich guy would just pay big money for some guy to do so. As the poorer guy was probably going to get drafted anyway, this was a way to get a big payout – unless he got himself killed in the war of course.

      3. Nikkikat

        In the book The Devils chess board. About Dick Cheney, costarring Donald Rumsfeld,
        It was Rumsfeld idea to get rid of the draft. With the very idea that people seeing war on the TV news and drafting people that didn’t want to be there just didn’t work well.
        He got Nixon on board and that was that. Of course. George HW Bush banned the coffins coming into Andrews in the gulf war as the cameras took pictures and embedded the press so that they were told what to print by a military officer.

  2. Louis Fyne

    Just like most modern wars, it is the children of the non-rich, non-elite who are getting slaughtered.

    Anecdotally via social media, lots of young Ukrainians are having a great summer partying in Ukraine.

    Are Lindsay Graham and Nancy Pelosi ready to send their grandkids to fight for Taiwan? (not holding my breath for an answer)

    1. JTMcPhee

      Graham has no offspring, so machts nicht to him whether the world goes up in flames. Pelosi? Not giving odds on how bloody-minded she is. Since she is willing to poke the dragon and inflate the chances of thermonuclear war with China. She’s old enough not to have much to lose.

      We are ruled by monsters.

    2. JohnA

      Ursula VDL was actually asked whether any of her 6 (or so) children were in the military. She laughed and said of course not!

    3. Benny Profane

      Bachelor Lindsey has no kids, and the Pelosi kids will probably be too obese from all the high end ice cream to serve.

    4. Carolinian

      No grandkids for Lindsey. As for Pelosi, Hillary, Nuland and other would be warrior women they are a poor advertisement for feminism. Lady Macbeth much?

      In any case there seems to be plenty of blame to go around for the present disaster and as mentioned above the enthusiasm for this conflict is bipartisan. Trump has a paw in it too since he let Pompeo talk him into building up Ukraine’s army. When it came to smaller adversaries like Venezuela or Syria Trump was more than happy to “take their gas” and play the bully.

      Who knows what the solution is and perhaps even past historical periods of peace are more of the “they made a desert and called it peace” variety. We humans fight until exhausted and then have to take a break.

    5. SocalJimObjects

      Exactly. Nowadays when I see something like this ” hundreds of brave young Ukrainians”, all I can think about is that these guys could not afford to pay $7000 to dodge the draft.

      Speaking about Taiwan, starting from 2024, the National Service period will go back up to one year from its current period of 4 months. The thing is though, once hostilities look imminent, many foreign workers including those from Indonesia and Philippines will be getting out of Dodge ASAP, leaving Taiwan with a shortage of manpower in critical industries and healthcare. But then again since the Chinese will simply blockade Taiwan, a shortage in nurses will probably not matter since even they can’t cure hunger.

      From earlier this year,

      1. Kouros

        Under the Confederate conscription law, a draftee could evade service by hiring someone who was exempt from the draft to replace him-someone under or over the mandatory conscription age, one whose trade or profession exempted him, or a foreign national…

        I suspect the same was the case for the Union side…

        1. jrkrideau

          I seem to remember reading that a lot of Irish immigrants found themselves in the Union Army that way

  3. Mickey Hickey

    Having one of my children married to an Ukrainian in Canada what strikes me most about Ukraine is that its per capita GDP declined from being equeal to Russia’s in 1991 to being 1/3 of Russia’s by 2019. Robbed blind by US supported oligarchs from the get go. Then being the soft underbelly of Russia and on the ropes economically it was blatantly used by the US and UK to weaken Russia. As long as there is a Ukrainian willing to fight the US-UK will continue to “support” Ukraine. Ukraine was the jewel in the crown of the USSR and Russia has pullled its punches as stated by Putin who describes them as being a fraternal country. One third of the Ukrainian population is Russian and the US-UK used their usual divide and conquer tactics to ruin the country.

    1. James

      I wholeheartedly agree. I think UK learned “divide and conquer” from the Romans and US learned it from the UK. How else does a tiny island in the North Atlantic conquer two thirds of the world?

      1. Kouros

        It is divide and rule, not divide and conquer. Divide et Impera.

        I guess this is the root of the “Rules based international order”. As in who rules the world…

    2. Polar Socialist

      I think in most years of Soviet Union the Ukrainian GDP was below of what they consumed. In other words, Russians were funding them and building the infrastructure. That was one of the main reasons Yeltsin et al. pulled the rug under the Soviet Union – they figured Russia was much better off without all the “freeloaders”.

      That, of course, included also Afghanistan, Cuba, Angola, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Vietnam and North Korea. Already Andropov had stated that merely cutting all those off, Soviet Union could balance it’s budget easily.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    Ironic on so many levels, although the word “irony” is weak stuff compared to the death of thousands in war:

    ‘“They were trained by the British, and they’re playing Light Brigade,” he added, comparing the offensive to a suicidal charge into massive Russian cannon fire that wiped out Britain’s Light Cavalry Brigade in Crimea in 1854.’

    It would be a Monty Python sketch if it could have been confined to television.

    Instead, it is the banality of evil.

    1. digi_owl

      whenever light brigade gets mentioned i get this small piece of a song going in my head but i keep failing to track down the proper name of it. I suspect it is something by Pink Floyd though.

        1. digi_owl

          Nope. I want to say it opens with a reading of a text of some sort, before transitioning into a song that is more of a ballad.

            1. Not Bob

              It most certainly is not about Gallipoli. It was written in the late 1800s during the Shearer’s Strike…the strike that lay the groundwork for workers rights in Australia.

              It’s right there in the lyrics.

              1. Retired Carpenter

                Janie is probably thinking of “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. Liam Clancy ( ) has a good version.

                As an old (leg) infantryman, I am appalled by the senseless slaughter of Ukrainian combat troops. I hope that those who instigated, commanded and are needlessly prolonging this ignominy will end up facing “war-crimes” tribunals.
                Retired Carpenter

  5. Objective Ace

    That Guardian article on RFK is pretty difficult to get through. Reads like a hit piece. The guy has faults for sure, but this is just misrepresentation. I thought RFK laid out a brilliant strategy for tackling global warming. In an effort to reconcile the right and actually pass policy, he explicitly only wants to focus on fixing the immediate environmental issues: clean water, clean air, and protecting natures. The solution to these issues is very much the same as combatting climate change. But this approach, rather then focusing on line graphs and statistical precision estimates resonates much more with part of the population.

    Given that, it was pretty tough to read the Guardian quoting only half of that strategy to completely distort his position:

    He told Breaking Points: “In my campaign I’m not going to be talking a lot about climate. Why is that? Because climate has become a crisis like Covid that the Davos groups and other totalitarian elements in our society have used as a pretext for clamping down totalitarian controls.”

  6. chris

    I wonder if the failure of this offensive will do anything to stop the NATO war drums? Or will we double down on things at the next meeting and insist that NATO members accept Ukraine in its hour of need? I really don’t understand what is happening right now. We knew from the first this wouldn’t work. We’ve had ample evidence along the way that Ukraine couldn’t “win”. And now wanton disregard for their own lives isn’t enough? This war continues because the US wants it to. Let Vicky Nuland spend the rest of her life burying the dead and clearing mine fields and stop the bloodshed now.

  7. James

    I personally think that the west is trying to kill all Ukrainian males between the age of 16 and 50 so that the resulting single Ukrainian females are forced to move to London and can be snatched up by poxy Englishmen with poor dental work.

    1. dandyandy

      As gory as this will sound, I think that actually it will be the Russians who will move in, once the mass extermination is concluded, to re-pollinate and ensure next 100 years are truly Russian. As they have to and as they should.

      1. James

        I think that east of the Dnieper will be under Russian control and west of the Dnieper will be under US/UK/EU control.

        1. Kouros

          West of the Dnieper will be No Man’s Land. Likely the Black Sea Coast, while West of the Dnieper will not be included in that No Man’s Land…

  8. Stephen

    I think it was also Jacob Dreizin who said in an audio message that the west cares more about the bad optics of equipment being destroyed than Ukrainian lives. It is a conclusion that is hard to disagree with.

    The tactics do seem to be inspired by western “trainers” who have never fought in a real war like this. Western populations are typically so brainwashed that they even buy the lie of western military competence.

    I wonder where the Challenger tanks are. The British seem to have made sure that Leopards got destroyed while Challengers are wrapped in cotton wool.

    1. begob

      Perhaps all the Challenger ammo went up in that big Russian missile strike about a month ago, when there was speculation on depleted uranium contamination.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ammo is getting short everywhere. There was a report from Germany that they only have 20,000 high explosive artillery rounds left and that is it. That would be enough for a day or so in the Ukraine-

        One of the aims of Russia was to demilitarize the Ukraine and that has more or less worked. But it is also true that the Russians have managed to demilitarized all the NATO countries as well to the point that some African countries have much more military gear than some major NATO countries. But for the neocons in Washington, the frustration must be intense as all their plans have blown up in their faces. And all the people dying there? They don’t care. For them it is just one bunch of dirty Slavs fighting another bunch of dirty Slavs so no skin off their noses. They would only care that there will be no financial jackpot by the break up of Russia. That they do care about.

        1. Subhasis_Aragorn

          I read ‘Slaves’ the first time, probably not so different from warmonger elites’ perspective!

          1. Daniil Adamov

            The English word “slave” is derived from “Slav”… They may well recall that.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              aye. my Bohemian grandad(2nd generation born in Texas) told me that, as he handed me a big manila folder stuffed with family trees and whatnot.
              its remembered…or at least it was before the boomer generation, who wanted to forget about all that.(in my family, at least)

    2. digi_owl

      Those that follow MSM outlets closely likely are. Others are likely on a state of detachment or hypernormalization, knowing things are bad not unable to envision an alternative.

  9. curlydan

    right after reading this article, I shifted back to my browser’s “home page” aka Bing. The first story encountered there was a video of a Russian tank being destroyed. This is what the public gets served: mini-victories over Russia or rumors of Putin’s demise/cancer/etc when in reality, the war is going terribly for Ukraine and any poor Ukranian under 40 or 50 gets sent to slaughter in our proxy war.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i wander through msm, and a few pro UKr twitfeeds(and various imperial mouthpieces(Foreign Policy, etc)) in my rounds…but it’s almost verbatim…ie: useless.
      but integrity makes me keep going back,lol.
      just so i can be well rounded

    2. jrkrideau

      Putin is suffering from cancer, hoof & mouth disease, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, male pattern baldness, and he is cowering in a bunker 300m below the Kremlin refusing to see anyone but Peskov. It’s a good thing Putin does not suffer from claustrophobia.

      I may have missed a few diseases. Why does the Western media spout such nonsense?

  10. MichaelSF

    That “fifteen incidents” link leads to an article by the Counterpunch national security columnist, a “senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. A former CIA analyst . . .” He informs the reader that the “fact that Russia is technologically, militarily, and economically inferior to its western opponents only adds to the sense of enduring vulnerability.” He later talks of the overreactions of U.S. leaders and suggests that provactive military exercises by the US can cause China and Russia to overreact in turn.

    It is odd to me that the Counterpunch writer can see that the US is being foolish, but still hold to the unshakeable truths of Russias inferiority vis a vis the West, especially with the spook and educational credentials he has.

  11. David in Friday Harbor

    Who is dying for “Ukraine” — ?

    After the initial Ukro-nazi battalions like Azov were ground down it’s been youngsters who lacked the gumption or payola to get out of the country early being kidnapped off the streets. Many of these press-ganged draftees appear to be ethnic Russians who thought that casting their lot with the EU was the road to the côte d’azur. The favored get to be “refugees” — my furniture was delivered the other day by two strapping young men of military age whose only words of English were “We from Ukraine.”

    My suspicion is that Kiev is using “counter-offensive theater” to engage in a bonus bit of the ethnic cleansing endemic to this benighted region…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Several days ago 11 Hungarian-Ukrainians POWs were handed over to Hungary by Russia instead of back to the Ukraine. These men are in contact with their families but not with Kiev as they know that if they were back in the Ukraine, that they would be sent straight back into battle-

        Hungary is telling Kiev that they consider these men free and probably Orban is telling Kiev to go fly a kite with their demands.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Actually I do not think the Azov types have been doing their fair share of dying. Their usual role is to be behind the front lines and shoot those who try to retreat or escape.

  12. Aurelien

    Well, up to a point. It isn’t disputed that the Ukrainians are taking terrible casualties and using tactics which increase the slaughter. There are reasons for this, but you’d be hard put to find them in this grab-bag of bits of popular history. For example, the problem of the “security dilemma” was well-known during the Cold War, and led the two sides to eventually adopt Confidence-Building Measures in an attempt to calm things. But it has little to do with the Ukrainian offensive. It isn’t a “paradox” either that the Pentagon is more “realistic” about the war than the State Department: they understand the subject-matter and they are the ones who will die in any “escalation”. This seems to be a reflection of the tired old belief that the military are keen on having wars. I’ve never met an officer of any nation who was.

    It’s true that much of the training of Ukrainians has been done by the British, and there are real doubts about the value of that training. That has nothing to do with the Charge of the Light Brigade, though. In that much-mythologised incident a cavalry force was ordered to charge and recover some abandoned guns before the Russians could get to them, but the order was so badly phrased that the Brigade charged the wrong guns, that were fully manned. But the Brigade wasn’t “wiped out.” Of around 700 men who charged around 120 were killed and about the same number wounded. The British captured the guns and killed or forced the crews to retreat, but were eventually driven back. Had they been reinforced, the battle would have gone down as a British victory, albeit a costly one. If the Ukrainians had ever managed to pull off an offensive as successful as that, they wouldn’t be in the mess they are now.

    Nor has the Battle of the Somme any connection with the war in Ukraine, except in one sense. Here, two groups of armies of roughly equal strength faced each other, and a breakthrough was only possible if one side could physically destroy the other faster than it was itself losing troops. This is what the Somme was about, just like the concurrent battle of Verdun. Attrition was the only way to win the war, although for political reasons, objectives were expressed in terms of ground taken and towns captured. Although the British made a lot of errors, they learned from them, and in the end German losses in the battle exceeded British, which is what mattered, since the Germans could ill afford the losses. Between them, Verdun and the Somme broke the German Army, and paved the way for the victorious advances in 1918. Ukraine is an attrition conflict like World War 1, and the Russians are using now, all things being equal, much the same tactics as the British then.

    No, the real problem is Afghanistan, and it’s not just the British. No western army now operates or thinks at the scale that the Russians do. When you can’t even field one full-strength division, what’s the point of teaching or practising the divisional or corps level of war, as the Russians do? The result is that western armies teach effectively small-unit tactics, and the “teachers” of the Ukrainians are in many cases those who were themselves taught by Afghan veterans, but have never been in combat themselves. You can only teach what you know, and that’s what western trainers are doing, which is why you see those pathetic small groups of UA forces, approaching as though they were going to assault a village held by the Taliban.

    The other reason for these attacks, of course, is politics. Yes, it would make much more sense to gather UA forces together for one big attack, which might actually capture a significant amount of ground in front of the first Russian defensive line. But that attack would be halted, the forces involved wiped out, and that would be the end, or nearly so. The absolute need is to keep up the appearance of action and momentum until the NATO Summit on 11 July, and the easiest way to do that is to send a platoon to be wiped out capturing a field, and just keep doing it, hoping you don’t run out of forces before NATO meets.

  13. Susan the other

    I’d really like to know just exactly who Bojo thinks he is. Even Churchill was more discrete. Bojo is more like excrete. He’s a big mess of a person who is willing to be the propaganda stooge and mentor of the comedian stooge who is running Ukraine headlong to its death. I can’t think of a more disgusting couple. Clearly it takes far more courage and integrity to pursue peace and cooperation than this farce of war. These two quislings don’t even care. NATO needs to be dissolved. There is no reason for its existence. End NATO. Replace it with NAPO. For peace.

    1. jrkrideau

      I keep it in the back of my mind. The disintegration of Russia is probably the main goal but Europe is a desirable secondary goal. A bit like defeating Germany & Japan was the main goal of the USA in WWII but the distruction of the British Empire was a definite plus.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The path to victory is done by destroying all of your Allies and leaving them very much weakened in the face of major competitors – said Sun Tzu never!

  14. Riverchurningclam

    One thing Kursk Rerun is clearly showing is how thoroughly we in the US have been done over by our military–industrial complex. The US spends more on weapons than the next eight countries, and it 2022 our weapons budget was almost 10 times the Russians . We spend a good part of our taxpayers’ money on fiendishly complex, massively expensive gadgets that are “supposed to keep us safe.” In fact, the Pentagon and weapons lobby even use the massive cost they make us pay as a selling point. Of course we overbuild and overspend, “the last thing we want is a fair fight!” (During my very brief career as a military contractor, I read this very statement by an Air Force spokesman justifying the F-22 and its perpetual cost overruns.)

    And now, what do we find? All that those over-priced Bradleys, Patriot batteries, and the rest of the wunderwaffen we’ve sent to Ukraine aren’t doing any better under fire than the inferior obsolete clunkers (according to Administration and NATO propaganda) that the Russians are fielding. Even if the Ukrainians were trading tank for tank with the Russians, it would still be a rip-off, given how much more the defense industry gougers charge us per item.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye, lol.
      ive seen that nowhere in msm uke flag flying places.
      trillions of dollars spent…and for what?
      we’re out of bullets?
      tanks taken out in first 15 minutes?
      planes that cant fly in the rain or without a cast of thousands in support?
      ships that are essentially targets and run into each other a whole lot more than we’d like?
      i, for one, want the money back…spend it on healthcare and air conditioning for the poor…education, perhaps…rent control…or just buy up all the empty houses and give them away.
      better return on investment, i’d wager.

      i’m tired of this boner for empire and all the swagger and prancing about and bullying.
      i find that i get far more done of practical value now that i dont have a frelling boner all the time.

    1. Polar Socialist

      At a meeting of the Collegium of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation Shoigu announced that if any HIMARS or Storm Shadows are used outside of the area of SMO (Crimea, mainly), Russia will consider both UK and USA as co-belligerents and also destroy the decision-making centers of the “Kiev regime”.

      For Ukrainians, that must be an irresistible opportunity to finally draw the anglo-saxons into the war by sacrificing Zelensky. NATO may have to throw UK and USA out to manage the risks created by unhinged war-mongering.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Even the FT reports no evidence of uprising or rebellious troops on the street. Either Prigozhin has lost his mind or this is the mother of all psyops.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      I tried to post a translation, but it seems to have been swallowed up somehow. Meduza has a good one though:

      “The Wagner Group commanders’ council has made a decision. The evil that the country’s military leadership is carrying out must be stopped. They neglect soldiers’ lives. They’ve forgotten the word “justice” and we’re bringing it back. Those who destroyed our guys today, those who destroyed many tens of thousands of Russian soldiers’ lives will be punished.

      I ask that no one put up resistance. Anyone who tries to resist we will consider a threat, and we will swiftly eliminate. Including any checkpoints we meet on the road. Any aircraft we spot above us. I ask that everyone remain calm and not succumb to provocation, and to remain at home. Be advised not to go outside along our route.

      After we finish what we’ve started, we’ll return to the front to defend our Motherland. Presidential power, the government, the Internal Affairs Ministry, the National Guard, and other structures will work as they did before. We’ll deal with anyone who destroys the lives of Russian soldiers, and we’ll return to the front. Justice for the troops will be restored, and after that, justice for all of Russia.”

      For what it is worth, the same is reported as said by Prigozhin in regular Russian media.

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