Ukraine Endgame Accelerates as Congress Denies Any Funding in Stopgap Bill and Fico Wins in Slovakia Vote

Your humble blogger had intended to write a longer post about the gradually emerging contours of the Ukraine endgame tomorrow. But the dramatic outcome of Republican dissidents successfully standing firm on the issue of not authorizing any funding Ukraine in the shutdown game of chicken is a huge blow for the Ukraines’s prospects for future significant US support. And Ukraine suffered another blow with anti-Ukraine-support candidate Robert Fico winning the election in Slovakia on Sunday.

These are such important developments that we’ll give a short discussion today, with a fuller treatment in the next day or two. But several points now.

One is the importance of anchoring. The Republicans having zeroed out support for Ukraine through November 17 (the time frame of the continuing resolution just passed) sets the precedent for “just saying no” to the Ukraine money burn pit. Even though polls have shown falling support among voters for continuing Ukraine funding, the sentiments of the great unwashed seldom matter. What might have changed the dynamic?

First, as Alex Christoforu was early to call, was the meager $700 handouts to Maui fire victims compared to the $113 billion and (until just now) counting for Ukraine. Assuming an average population of 30 million from February 2022 till now, that’s nearly $3,800 per capita. And a dollar goes a lot further in Ukraine than Hawaii

Second was the factoid, that even Snopes could not deny, that if a shutdown had taken place, Ukraine government salaries would continue to be paid while many Federal employees would face furloughs. This laconic explanation didn’t make the bare facts any prettier:

If the U.S. government shuts down, American civil servants will, indeed, suffer a pause in paychecks that will have been caused by a lack of action in the present congressional session. The fact that Ukrainian workers will get paid during this time period is thanks, however, to congressional action in previous sessions of Congress.

Third are the official efforts to let the air out of Project Ukraine balloon. The wee problem has been that the propaganda about how well Ukraine has been doing and the great exaggeration of the odds for victory greatly complicated managing expectations to a more realistic level, particularly given how much we and our allies have bet on it. One top off that, we have splits among the elites,, with some still believing that victory is still possible (as if we are bleeding Russia when the reverse is happening), others who are realists knowing defeat is inevitable and looking for a way to pretty that up, and others simply regarding Ukraine as a diversion of resources from Project China, and thus necessary to cut back irrespective of possible embarrassment and collateral damage.

But the success until recently of greatly overhyping Ukraine, in a social media environment that is well disposed to create reputational pump and dumps means that once Ukraine and Zelensky were no longer sacred, the correction could be swift. The massive Congressional diss is very likely to create a feedback loop where more previously withheld or watered-down negative information information about the war will come forward.

A few hot takes:

Mind you, there will be efforts to get Ukraine back on the drip feed. Matt Gaetz is threatening a vote on McCarthy continuing as Speaker; I wonder if that is intended to check reviving Ukraine spending:

For instance, the US is clearly in need of someone to scapegoat and not happy with Zelensky, so it would seem a twofer to push him out. But that is tricky given how recently we’ve depicted him as the second coming of Churchill and how Zelensky has kneecapped any conceivable replacements. So the US needs time to execute its presumed preferred plan of cornering Zelensky to reverse himself and hold elections in 2024 (which he seems pretty sure to lose) and for us to find and pump up a tractable candidate. The sudden prospect of a funding drought both accelerates the timetable and reduces our leverage.

The second is the impact that the US hitting the money brakes, even if allegedly on a transitory basis, will have on EU/NATO allies. The US has been far and away Ukraine’s biggest backer. Even supplying a hodge podge and dwindling amount of often-dated weapons still kept up the appearance the West had Ukraine’s back. This chart is dated but it gives an idea of the relative importance of the US cash spigot. From the BBC:

Notice how big the “financial” part is. We’ll elaborate on that in our next post.

Now let us look briefly at the Robert Fico win in Slovakia. He was first in a fragmented party system, but given that had a solid margin. From Aljazeera in Slovakia’s populist party opposed to Ukraine aid wins vote:

The populist party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico that wants to stop military aid to Ukraine and is critical of the European Union and NATO has won Slovakia’s election, results showed on Sunday.

SMER-SSD party scored 23.3 percent, beating the centrist Progressive Slovakia (PS) that garnered 17 percent of the votes, the Slovak Statistics Office said early on Sunday after completing the count of 99.98 percent of the votes from some 6,000 polling stations….

Analysts predict a Fico government could radically change Slovakia’s foreign policy to resemble that of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, straining a fragile unity in the EU and NATO on opposing Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

And from the Financial Times:

While Fico may struggle to form a stable coalition, his victory will raise alarm bells in Washington and Brussels because it could bring another anti-Ukraine voice into the EU alongside Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán.

Fico has opposed sanctions against Russia and also claimed that Nato-led support for Ukraine undermines national sovereignty…

Slovak analyst Milan Nič, of the German Council on Foreign Relations, said: “The task for the west now is not to lose Slovakia and engage constructively with Fico, but I think that Moscow is celebrating what will be seen as cracks in Europe’s east and Hungary no longer being alone.”..

Fico now needs to find enough allies among Slovakia’s fragmented political parties to avoid another hung parliament. Since May the country has had a technocratic government, appointed by President Zuzana Čaputová after the previous coalition imploded.

A potential kingmaker in forming a new government is the Hlas party of another former prime minister, Peter Pellegrini, which came third with 14.7 per cent of the votes. Pellegrini replaced Fico in office before he fell out with his former mentor and left Smer to form Hlas.

“There seems to be a path for Fico to have a working coalition” if he joined forces with a smaller ultranationalist party and mended his relationship with Pellegrini, Nič said. The three parties together would have 79 of 150 seats in parliament…

Pavol Demeš, a former Slovak foreign minister, said: “Fico will not be as strong as Orbán, but the EU has already been struggling to keep unity on Ukraine and I’m sure international policymakers will be worried about how far Fico can go in terms of fulfilling all the rhetoric from his campaign.”…

On Sunday Fico said his stance was to continue helping Ukraine “in a humanitarian way” and eventually take part in its postwar reconstruction, but not to provide more military aid for now.

It is not yet clear if Fico can form a government. But his coming in first when Slovakia has historically been an ally of Ukraine is another proof that more and more citizens and as a result, their elected officials, are in fact not willing to do whatever it takes to support Ukraine when the costs keep mounting and there is no end in sight. And if Fico can form a government, Orban will no longer be isolated in questioning reflexively Russia-hostile stances. Even though Fico’s participation in EU and NATO decisions won’t change outcomes, it will force groupthinkers to defend their positions, which will be revealing.

And more immediately, what do Europe-savvy readers think these developments portend for the upcoming elections in Poland?

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    1. Another Anon

      He is someone very much worth listening to, and as a bonus, he talks while walking the streets of various East European and Mediterranean cities so you get a sense of what those places are like.

  1. JonnyJames

    The bad PR lately about Zelensky, Prime Minister Pretty Boy, and the Canadian crew honoring bona-fide Waffen SS fighters could not help. Of course this was not the first time that western countries have honored Ukrainian Nazis, but this one became too obvious. (I noticed the house down the street took down their big Ukrainian flag after the Canadian parliament debacle). Besides, as noted, the future of the Kiev regime looks shaky.

    The “election” season drama and “shutdown” drama to perpetuate the illusion of choice is at work as well. I can’t take the kabuki theater too seriously. The Rs this, the Ds that – it gets all too boring and predictable the older one gets. US foreign policy is long term and changes very little in substance, no matter which freak sits in the WH or what the MassMediaCartel says.

    I wonder if the Biden regime can come up with some trickery to bypass Congress for some more weapons/funds/terrorist acts? The CIA is infamous for this sort of thing. How much will they lean on the vassals to cough up some more cash and weapons? Will the EU try to use stolen/seized Russian funds to finance more war?

    As usual, it will be very interesting to see how matters unfold.

    1. marku52

      That was Putin’s comment as well. Something along the line of “I’ve worked with 3 US presidents. They come and go but the policy never changes.”

      That man is not dumb….

    2. ambrit

      I’ve read suggestions that “My Kevin” made a deal to bring up the “Extra!” Ukraine aid as a separate bill.
      The thing to watch there, if such be the case, is whether the “separate bill” actually comes up for a vote. The “Faux Left” in American politics has been fooled numerous times with this ploy. The bills are split up, and the “officially important” one goes forward. When it comes time to vote on the other bill, something always happens in committee, or delay lasts until the end of the congressional session, etc. etc. The Bill then dies an unnatural death.
      If the above happens to the “Extra!” Ukraine ‘aid’ package, then we will know how the political winds blow in Foggy Bottom. If the “Extra!” Ukraine aid bill does go forward, then we will know that “the fix is still in” for America’s proxy warriors.
      This might be a good time to contact one’s Congresscritter and tell Him, Her, or It that they can expect to be Primaried if they “vote the wrong way.”

      1. skippy

        Congresscritters long ago abdicated their constitutes that voted for them, today they sell themselves to interests for a vote not unlike the lobby outside chambers in Texas back in the day. Unwashed not granted ***Access*** and even if they did they would not have the green backs to make a difference in voting preferences = stop the beatings and call it love ….

        Funny story about all that, long time situation that was allowed because it was out of sight and out of mind of the unwashed, until one cowboy in desperation to get the results he wanted before a vote burst into chambers at the last moment before the vote and started slapping checks down on critters desks. This was even too uncouth for Texas and the whole thing had to be shut down and conducted off premises otherwise the unwashed might git a wiff of it and then whats a body too do thingy …

        Look today they bargain for private concerns to give them something to hook their electorate in getting another term and one hand washes the other e.g. more funds for the industries that make stuff that goes to or has to be replace too the Ukraine and not just military stuff …

        Reminds me of the old Devo movie Gawd TV scene …

        1. ambrit

          Love the Texas Legislature “matching funds” story!
          I’ve long considered “K” Street in the District of Columbia to be one of the last “official” Red Light Districts to be found in America.
          Stay very safe in the Antipodes.

          1. skippy

            Sorry mate but almost 30 years of relationship/marriage with someone with BPD [borderline personality disorder] precludes any notion of safety [lol], yet things are getting better with kid, others, and life in general.

            Youngest just pinged me after a year away – All I’ll say for right now. Since I’ve been away I travelled back to banff, I’ve been to Paris, Barcelona, Mallorca, marsille, nice, Monaco, bristol, wales and faro in Portuga

            So chuffed but it I was to link a picture I would have to advise you should no look to hard and her eyes and face …. falling comes to mind … endlessly ….

    3. Random

      The long term policy of maintain the empire by any means is indeed unchanging.
      There are however major disagreements on the strategy of how to achieve this.
      Republicans/Democrats/whoever fighting over whether the US should fight Russia first or China first or both at the same time isn’t theater. And the more resources Ukraine absorbs without results the easier it will be for the China first people to advance their argument.

      1. JonnyJames

        Yeah, major disagreements on how to rearrange the deck chairs… lol… but the ship’s going down anyway.

    4. clarky90

      Huta Pieniacka Massacre

      The Ukrainian Galician Waffen SS, were the murderers. They (Galician Waffen SS) were recently celebrated, by both sides of the Canadian Parliment, (everyone was on their feet, clapping enthusiastically). There were no dissenters, no dissent. Only standing ovation……..

      “The attack commenced around 5-6 am…

      Witnesses interrogated by the Polish prosecutors of “The Head Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation” described the details of crimes committed against women, children and newborn babies. After murdering the inhabitants of Huta Pieniacka, the local Ukrainian population looted the remaining property of the murdered, loading everything on horse-drawn carts that had been prepared beforehand.[8] According to those Poles who survived, the Germans did not participate in the massacre itself…….”

      ….January 2017: Monument to Polish WWII massacre victims desecrated with fascist symbols in Ukraine. A cross made of stone was blown up, while two tables with the names of the Poles killed in the 1944 massacre were damaged. The Polish Foreign Ministry has condemned the attack on the monument. In a statement published on its website, it called for an “immediate” investigation, saying those behind it must be punished. Incidents like this threaten relations between the two nations,….

      These were crimes against Polish civilians carried out by Ukrainian volunteers.

  2. nippersdad

    So many of these constructs one sees in the MSM have just gotten downright irritating. They always refer to Russia’s intervention as a “brutal” and “full scale invasion.” They make it sound like a “shock and awe” or an “anschluss” type of thing when that was certainly not the case.

    At some point the official figures for civilian casualties will come out, and propagandists throughout the West are going to have a hard time explaining their rhetoric in light of the casualty figure comparisons from their own pet wars. If Russia’s war in Ukraine was “brutal” what will that make ours?

    Wake me when they start bombing weddings, and the funerals that follow.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The official figures (as in by UN*) are already out. While there really are no good metrics for brutal, measuring by civilian casualties per day, Russian invasion of Ukraine (or SMO) is about half as brutal as NATO bombing of Serbia, and about 1/30 as brutal as the Invasion of Iraq.

      That’s not including the fact that many civilian victims in Ukraine have not been victims of Russian weapons, you know. At least 22% of the victims were in the area not controlled by Ukrainian government at the time. Almost half of all the casualties occurred in March 2022. This year the monthly civilian total is less than the daily toll of the Iraqi invasion.

      Having the constant stream of Western politicians popping in for photo opportunities in Kiev, it’s really hard to buy this narrative of an indiscriminate and brutal Russian bombing.

      * see Moon of Alabama or links in NC today (or was it yesterday?)

      1. nippersdad

        “Russian invasion of Ukraine (or SMO) is about half as brutal as NATO bombing of Serbia, and about 1/30 as brutal as the Invasion of Iraq.”

        I can see you on MSDNC debating with Lloyd Austen; now THAT would be brutal. I wonder how he would react to figures like that being bandied about? That is why they need to be siloed.

        I even find myself arguing whether Russia “invaded” Ukraine or not in conversations with meat people here on the ground. How can you “invade” a couple of duly recognized countries that invited you in under applicable UN law? Maybe the other two provinces they are presently in, but it was never in doubt that Lugansk and Donetsk were separatist regions that had governed themselves and protected their borders for eight years prior to the SMO. Ukraine, itself, wasn’t even sovereign insofar as the 2014 coup effectively got rid of their democratically elected government (and then Zelensky ignored his own mandate for peace), much less territorially so without the Donbass.

        There just isn’t anything about the propaganda in that debacle that isn’t up for debate. If the NYT and the WaPo haven’t already ruined their reputations over the other wars, this one will.

        1. timbers

          The war did not start in 2022, and Russia didn’t start it. American did. It started in 2014 when Obamanation overthrew the govt and installed the umm….Azov types.

          I’ve wasted many breathes not saying from the start when discussing Ukraine with those who get there info from MSM.

          1. Acacia

            Yep. This is the line I’m using now:

            “The war started in 2014, evidently years before you were paying attention.”

            1. The Rev Kev

              The Russians certainly consider this war to have started in 2014 and not just with the Special Military Operation.

            2. hk

              A sort of catch with that is that Ukrainians (or, better informed Ukraine supporters) would insist that Russia “invaded” in 2014. I’m liable to get a bit snarky at this point: “yeah, like how US invaded Boston in 1775.”

    2. Lex

      If Russian actions were as brutal and destructive as suggested, the TV and papers would be full of pictures of devastation. But since Kiev won’t allow media coverage of strikes on military targets and that’s what the Russians hit, public opinion has to be kept up with vague, verbal suggestions.

  3. Feral Finster

    Fico & Co will get a stern talking-to similar to what Syriza got in 2010, albeit with even less carrot and more stick.

    1. GramSci

      I don’t know Slovakia’s FX position, but from what I’ve seen here on NC. it doesn’t seem as dire as Greece ca 2024. I bet it would be welcomed into BRICS.

      1. Feral Finster

        Slovakia, like the other “new” EU members, is a massive recipient of EU structural adjustment monies.

        1. caucus99percenter

          One contrast between what used to be two halves of the same country: Slovakia adopted the euro (EU common currency) in 2009, while the Czech Republic still has its own Czech koruna or crown.

    2. chris

      Interesting to read takes in the Guardian and hear similar opinions around coffee with friends that the problem with Fico is his pro-Russia position of focusing on Slovakia rather than Ukraine. As if not wanting to send resources to another another country is a bad policy for a politician from the donor country. When you bring up all the issues he had in 2018, they just blink and say, “Of course! That’s why he’s pro Putin!” Rather amazing to see propaganda work in real time.

  4. Ignacio

    SMER 23% of votes is 3 points above polls conducted until 26th September. Some might be feeling in other EU countries that the electoral landscape could change in a radical way. If US stops Ukraine funding I believe that many EU supporters of funding and providing military equipment might think twice.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Let’s see how the AfD does in the two German state elections — in Bavaria and Hesse — coming up a week from today.

      How unhappy are voters with Berlin when it comes to migration, war, and the economy? A big shift to the AfD will show that voters mean business — anything less will let the traffic-light coalition off easy and be taken as confirmation that nothing needs to change.

    2. NN Cassandra

      There was even bigger fail with exit polls. Right after voting ended, it was predicted PS will win with 23% and SMER will be second with 22%. So it looks like people distrust the establishment so much they are lying to them even after walking out of voting booth. Or polling firms are just straight up faking these numbers.

      1. Feral Finster

        I suspect that the exit poll discrepancy was a sort of Slovak Bradley Effect – people didn’t want to to admit to being Bad Europeans.

        1. caucus99percenter

          Especially now, when many people know the technical possibilities for covert surveillance are out of control.

          Even if persons polled trust the polling organization itself to keep answers confidential, the thought must occur to a significant percentage of them: “Hmm, who knows what third parties may be listening in, with whom a ‘wrong’ answer could get me into trouble?”

          Here in former East Germany, many people think that it is again unsafe to let one’s true opinions to be known, due to “cancel culture” and so on having become mainstream.

          1. caucus99percenter

            Jonathan Turley wrote about this in 2019:

            Poll: Only 18% percent of Germans feel free to voice views in public

            Notably, over 31 percent of Germans did not even feel free expressing themselves in private among friends. Just 17 percent felt free to express themselves on the Internet and 35 percent said that freedom to speak is confined to the smallest of private circles.

            Even at the height of the Stasi, citizens were not nearly as controlled in East Germany. It is the irony of our times. It has been otherwise liberal governments that have succeeded with authoritarian regimes failed in getting people to give up their free speech rights. All in the name of fighting intolerance . . . by codifying intolerance to an ever-expanding range of speech.

            1. Petter

              The author Walter Kempowski was interviewed two months before his death in 2007 and had this to say about freedom of speech in Germany:

              What was your crime? What did you do to the literature business?

              I’m conservative and liberal. That’s not allowed in Germany.

              Why not?

              Even today, you can’t speak your mind in Germany. You try it! One step off the path and you’re done for. A cheerful bit of chit-chat is not allowed. Even just talking to you, dear Mr. Teuwsen, I have to watch what I say. This is a dreadful situation. Is it as bad in Switzerland?

              Link provided if requested.

            2. Rubicon

              Based on what our European friends in France and Italy have been saying for years about Germans, these behaviors are nothing new. By and large Germans have always been fore-square for “Law & Order.” Laws that lay down what is socially expected of the citizens; Order that makes everything operate on time and fulfills its purpose. .

              As the US further destroys German Industries, while making Germans pay for the Ukraine War, and as more & more public institutions become privatized, we’ll be watching closely how Germans react. It should be quite intriguing to watch.

          2. Feral Finster

            I was thinking of some dimwit who was cheerfully predicting (in 2019) that the Afghan puppet regime was on solid footing because public opinion polls.

            Of course the people polled are going to tell the pollster what they think he wants to hear. There’s no real downside to doing so, and a very real potential downside to telling the truth.

            Even if the polling really were anonymous and the people polled really believed that , the last thing those people want is the security services to focus their tender mercies on your district.

  5. nippersdad

    It looks like Serbia/Kosovo is about to break out again while Ukraine is diverting attention, and those are in the same general neighborhood as Slovakia. I wonder what kind of object lesson that might present to the individual EU/NATO electorates?

      1. Dons

        And Hunter Biden is chafing at the Biden bit with helmet and AR15 and a pack of hand grenades to lead the attack on St.P….. again.

    1. mrsyk

      Yes, I see my algorithms are full up with “Serbia behaving ba-a-a-ad” stories. Not the first time, mind you.

  6. MapleLeaf

    further note on the payouts for victims on Maui… that was $700 per household… not even per person. With multi generational families quite common in certain areas of the island, could very well amount to less than $150 per person.

    1. JonnyJames

      Interesting point. It looks like even more indigenous Hawaiians will be priced out of their own homeland and have to leave for somewhere more affordable to live. Already more native Hawaiians live on the mainland than in the islands. This looks like more economic ethnic cleansing.

    2. scott s.

      I don’t think the $700 counts the ongoing cost of putting up families in hotels. Some were dropped out today — illegals and COFA migrants who I assume aren’t eligible. As far as native Hawaiians I suspect when all is said and done it will be ethnic Filipinos most impacted due to their large presence in the local sugar industry.

    3. Vicky Cookies

      Ukraine has, as an inheritance from their Soviet past, universal, that is, state Healthcare. From what I’ve read, it has its issues, and both corruption and a creeping privatization have taken their toll on the system. That said, while Americans die from treatable and preventable illness due to poverty, or, rather due to medicine being made a commodity, their tax dollars will be be subsidizing socialized medicine in another country. While I see the funding of Healthcare systems as being of a higher moral order than, say, the funding, or sending of machines which make shreds of human beings, I do hope Americans who cannot afford medical treatment are comforted by the largesse and humanitarianism being expressed with their money.

      1. Petter

        Universal health care but how much is it just on paper? Hungary has it too but when an ex-colleague tried to get care for her father in Budapest she paid under the table. To get him farther up on the waiting list.

        1. Polar Socialist

          In an Ukrainian study from 2019, 63% of participants (patients and health care professionals) self-reported taking part in corruption practices. The study concluded that the medical sphere was the most corrupted in Ukraine.

          It’s not just that patients had to pay under the table for treatment, diagnosis (whether real or fake) or prescription, but even the health care personnel had to pay for employment or for license to practice medicine, and the medical facilities to avoid oversight and especially to procure equipment and pharmaceuticals.

      2. Feral Finster

        I am probably the only one posting here who actually has stayed in a state-run Ukrainian hospital.

    4. The Rev Kev

      That $700 only added up to about $2 million total which is insulting. The Biden regime could have been generous with those people and really helped them out but they didn’t and now things like that and what happened at East Palestine will come back to haunt them over their abandonment of ordinary Americans. Why did Biden not act? For Maui, I suspect that the local Democrat mafia told him not to so that the people could be pushed off their land and that town be rebuilt as an exclusive gated community with its own marina and beach hotels. The money opportunity was too good to pass up. And so a deal was made but although the media will not talk about Maui and East Palestine during the election campaigns, if the Republicans were smart they should make a point of it again and again.

    5. marym

      The $700 did not include money for temporary housing. The link below is an overview of other kinds of payments FEMA can make. They can’t reimburse for expenses covered by insurance. What FEMA pays for, the amount they pay, and the availability of funds for the payments are a matter of law. For example, the current disputes in Congress now over “keeping the government open” include additional disaster relief funding requested by Biden. Other federal agencies provide additional assistance depending on the nature of the disaster, such as search and rescue, or hazardous waste removal.

      This is not to say assistance is sufficient, timely, uncorrupt, or equitable. It’s just that it’s not $700 and it’s not exclusively a president’s decision, although presidents are rightly criticized for the role they play, along with Congress, as far as funding and eligibility rules.

      1. mrsyk

        This is a valid point. The $700 looks to be a one time “critical needs assistance” payment and should be critiqued as such.
        From the FEMA link:
        Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) is a form of Other Needs Assistance that is not available in all disasters. If CNA is requested and authorized for the declared disaster and you meet the eligibility requirements, you may receive a one-time payment to help with costs incurred for immediate and critical needs because you were temporarily displaced from your primary residence or needed to shelter somewhere other than your home due to the disaster. 
        IMHO, it’s the layers of bureaucracy that will be the undoing of many disaster victims. For instance, there will be no payments without a settlement/denial statement from your insurance company. Forget it if you don’t have a computer and wifi. I see that “annual household income” is required info in order to apply.
        My favorite bit:
        Eligible repairs are intended to make the home safe to live in and may not restore the home to its pre-disaster state.

  7. Benny Profane

    “So the US needs time to execute its presumed preferred plan of cornering Zelensky to reverse himself and hold elections in 2024 (which he seems pretty sure to lose) and for us to find and pump up a tractable candidate.”

    But who? Who, at this point, can run against him and actually win? Who will he actually allow to participate in that scenario, or, of course, the Nazis with a gun to his head allow? And, after The Great Canada Ovation, anybody that the Nazis deem worthy will probably, hopefully, be exposed by even the mainstream media as, duh, a Nazi.
    Sorry, no way Zelensky allows elections. They have to kill him first. Oh, wait…

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I agree this is not a viable plan since Zelensky has been removing potential competitors (among other things, by accusing them of corruption, a given in Ukraine). That is why the US would need time to have any hope of pulling this off….which I doubt it can execute.

      We did kill Ngô Đình Diệm. Even Wikipedia concedes it was a CIA backed coup. That weirdly was a formative event in my childhood. My mother was furious that we assassinated him. So I got a very early lesson that our government was treacherous and murderous.

      If we do kill Zelensky, we’ll blame it on Russia and use it to try to rally EU support.

    2. Feral Finster

      Zelenskii would “win” any “election”.

      Funny how that works when you have the entire media apparatus captive, opposition candidates jailed and opposition parties banned, and helpful paramilitaries to persuade anyone who steadfastly refuses to get the message. Not to mention a Zelenskii election is a promise that the Western gravy train will continue to flow.

      The “we need another five billion to hold an election” is just a backdoor means of securing more cash.

      Of course, were Zelenskii to hold such an “election”, with the predictable result, the MSM would dutifully proclaim that The Voice Of The Ukrainian People Has Spoken!

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        That’s not what Zelensky believes, otherwise he would be willing to hold one. The US is pushing for elections in 2024 (on schedule) based on the belief that would be the cleanest way to be done with him.

        1. GW

          Yves: you are saying that the US would like to dump Zelensky because he’s sabotaging compromise with Russia and peace?

          Or are you saying the US would like to replace Zelensky with more zealous pro-war type, who will compliment the depraved US neocons’ goal of defeating Russia?

      2. R.S.

        AFAIK (I may be wrong) you can’t legally run a one-candidate-no-vote-against, late-USSR-style elections in Ukraine. And Ukrainian population showed a consistent pattern of protest voting before. My point is, virtually anyone running against Zelensky may hope to be elected, “just because”.

        1. Feral Finster

          Who cares what the laws say? What matters is what the people with guns say.

          And I don’t recall any really widespread pattern of protest voting, and I personally saw the Ukrainian elections of 2004, 2008 and 2012.

          1. R.S.

            OK, maybe I got it wrong, kinda misled myself listening to some Russian pundits. They pointed to a sort of a quite rapid political cycle: someone comes to power on promises, fails to deliver (at least the situation is framed in this way by their opponents), their popularity plummets, the cycle restarts anew.

            BTW, what were the 2008 elections? I don’t quite recall any in that year, and couldn’t find any information.

  8. John k

    Things seem to be precipitating. Reps halt funding, Slovakia turning east, and German elections this month might also shift away from the west, with the first two possibly influencing the third… if us is pivoting away, why should Germany stay a losing course?
    Imo this war is dangerous, the sooner the west turns away the better.
    Not that sending carrier groups to Taiwan is so much better. What will us do if an engagement between carrier and Chinese jets results in China sending a kinzal copy to take out the carrier? Will Milley give orders that there absolutely be no hot engagements? What will China do about carriers sitting in the straight as things hot up? I’m not convinced China will be as patient as Russia was 2014-2022.

  9. Earl in NC

    I saw an item two weeks ago that funding for Ukraine had been put on a exemption list. I don’t know if that is for the 45 days only. I have a strong suspicion that this may be one of those reasons they can’t or won’t pass an audit. Raid a maintenance or training fund for a few hundred million and problem solved. Nothing to see here folks, move along now.

  10. ChrisFromGA

    Re: side deal alleged

    1. It’s alleged by Democrats, who have motive to fib in order to put pressure on McCarthy.
    2. It sounds kind of like copium by pro-Ukrainian war hawks
    3. Time spoils all deals. I doubt much business gets done this week in either chamber, due to the Feinstein funeral and memorial.

    1. Feral Finster

      Deals will get done if TPTB want them to get done. They’d sign a bill on top of Feinstein’s coffin during the funeral service if that was what it took to keep the war funded.

  11. Willow

    As tide goes out on popular support for Ukraine, risk is now that UK (who continue believe they can draw US into a European war against Russia) and US State Dept (who desperately need to avoid being seen as responsible for another Afghanistan-like disaster) will try to draw Russia into open conflict with NATO. Poland seems to have come to its senses and pulled back very publicly so it looks like UK will have to make the first move. While the Vietnam-esque plan for UK to train troops in Ukraine got a slap down by UK PM it signals that UK Establishment is moving in that direction. Important to keep in mind that Ukraine is as much UK’s baby, probably more so, than the neocons in US State Dept.

    1. magpie

      Sunak was quick to pour cold water on Shapps’ foolish schemes.

      Not to say they won’t eventually try something profoundly stupid.

  12. Sean

    We’re up to 6.5 billion for Ukraine refugees in Ireland

    That support doesn’t seem to be included. The eu support of Ukraine refugees. In Ireland they get unemployment benefit, accommodation and free healthcare.

    Coincidentally, the healthcare had a one billion overrun this year.

    Those costs are not borne by the USA. I think a proper breakdown including nordstream and how it has cost the eu would be interesting.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is a very fair point. The chart looks to be just for explicit support to Ukraine, as in monies for arms and supporting its government. The humanitarian category looks too small to include social support for refugees.

  13. ChrisRUEcon


    Laughing because there are few things as funny as seeing the proxy-war-mongers gettin’ whacked where it hurt$ … sobbing, because I actually do gotta hand it to the feral GOP despite being an #MMT adherent, who sees the whole shutdown thing as BS.

    I’m trapped in a glass cage of emotion! (via knowyourmeme)

  14. ChrisRUEcon


    As always, thankful to this family blog for clueing me into things that I’ve not been following. I had no idea about changing tides in Slovakia – and that is a welcome circumstance. Godspeed, you magnificent bastard!

  15. Piotr Berman

    “… what do Europe-savvy readers think these developments portend for the upcoming elections in Poland?”

    I will not claim that I am Europe-savvy, but I keep Polish passport and I understand the language. While less fragmented than in Slovakia, there is a number of parties, with somewhat clear implications. The next parliament will have United Right (PiS, Law and Justice, plus very small groups that preserve the current parliamentary majority), Confederacy (also “right wing”, the name implies a coalition, but also opposition movements in the times of monarchy, monarchists form a component…), and three coalitions that form center-left. Center-left is like in Germany, they will follow what EU commission and Americans advise. PiS is socially conservative (like outlawing abortion even more than before, do not even mention LG), economically populist and vehemently anti-Russia. Also anti-German.
    Confederacy is economically libertarian, socially conservative and on foreign policy, realistic — picking fights with Russia and Germany is stupid when not necessary (and it is not), war in Ukraine “it is not our war”. And “end with Ukrainization of Poland”.

    After removing “other” and “hopeless but in polls”, the polls average 40% for United Right, 10% for Confederacy and 50% for center left, but the average includes quite large disparities. But it seems like 50% chance for center-left coalition, and 50% chance for United Right trying to make a coalition with Confederacy. Recent agricultural conflict with Ukraine and vocal doubt if military aid to Ukraine makes sense for Poland may be attempts to gain farmer votes for center-left and facilitating coalition with Confederacy. Polish right wingers tend to be pigheaded, but United Right has a knack to for creativity when they need to stay in power. If they succeed, it could be like in Slovakia, much more tepid support for Ukraine and not including arms.

    If such two governments are formed, I suspect it may have a slow snow-balling effect. They are governments that follow “NATO/European solidarity” without much vocal conviction, Bulgarians justifying it they cannot go against the rest of EU (because all Bulgarians know how dependent they are, the last Bulgarian Empire ended about 1000 years ago (900?). Croatia may be like that too, based on statements of the president (with limited power). That said, Atlanticists have many levers to press, so I will refrain from bold predictions.

  16. Louis Fyne

    ….Assuming an average population of 30 million from February 2022 till now, that’s nearly $3,800 per capita. And a dollar goes a lot further in Ukraine than Hawaii…

    in PPP-terms, $3800 spent in Ukraine equals ~$22,000 if spent in America.

    Helicopter money! if you’re Ukrainian (and well-connected)

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