“No NATO” for Ukraine, Ukrainian Politician Says

Yves here. It’s noteworthy to see that divisions are developing over the question of NATO membership for Ukraine, of course assuming anything other than a small rump state with fantasies of retaking the territory that joins Russia (and what if other European countries gobble up bits as supposed charity?).

This is not as surprising as it may seem. One of the major Western fantasies for how to extract the US from Project Ukraine without having too much egg on its face is to somehow negotiate a ceasefire….when recall in March 2022, Russia kept prosecuting the war as it was negotiating. We did the same in the Vietnam peace talks. So any durable stop to the kinetic war is very likely to come at the end of, and not early in, negotiations. We still think any negotiated end to the war is vanishingly unlikely, for among other reasons that this is a war with the US and NATO, NATO cannot agree to any deal due to needing to have every state commit individually, which is na ga happen, and the Russian public would go berserk with any deal that did more than take a wee bit of sting out of a Ukraine capitulation.

But the tidbit below, on the US trying to get Ukraine to shut up on the topic of NATO, does point to the US recognizing the Ukraine cause is lost. The more any members with influence in the Collective West keep talking up Ukraine membership in NATO, an absolute red line for Russia. the more it will cement the Russian view that it must continue the war until Ukraine is prostrated and it can install a complaint government.

By Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts. Originally published at InfoBRICS

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pressuring European diplomats to cease any talks about Ukraine joining NATO, according to a member of Rada (the Ukrainian parliament), Oleksiy Goncharenko. This is no minor politician. The son of a former Odessa mayor, he is a member of the Ukrainian Permanent Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The allegations were publicly made in a series of texts posted in his Telegram channel (in Ukrainian). He wrote: “Unfortunately, there will be no NATO [for Ukraine]. Forget about it – it won’t happen.” Goncharenko claims that “several sources” in Washington told him the topic of Ukraine’s accession to the Atlantic Alliance “annoys the US elite” and even “after war” the country should not expect it.

The politician also commented on the ongoing friction between the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery Zaluzhny. According to Goncharenko, Washington is “not happy” about it. In addition, he says, one should expect the next aid package to Ukraine to be the last one: “In a year, at the end of 2024, we will not be given any more money… Most likely, we will switch to a credit form of cooperation. They’ll give a loan. Not a grant that won’t need to be repaid.”

Could such allegations be a fabrication created for propaganda purposes? There is no reason to think so and the logic of it in this case would be far from clear. In fact, Goncharenko’s claims make perfect sense in light of what we already know by now.

We know the US has been pressuring its ally to hold elections. Moreover, the US Mission to NATO last month posted on X (formerly Twitter) a vague message about Washington being “focused on setting the conditions for a just, durable, and sustainable peace” in Ukraine. We also know that European Union (EU) member states are divided over the bloc’s common budget, including additional funding for Kyiv in 2024.

In addition, Pulitzer winner journalist Seymour Hersh has written that, according to his American diplomacy and intelligence sources, the aforementioned General Valery Zaluzhny has been directly negotiating a peace deal with Russian general Valery Gerasimov, independently of Zelensky, who is described as a “wild card”. According to the journalist: “The two generals may continue to talk and Putin may indeed be interested in a settlement that gives him permanent control of Crimea and the four provinces he has claimed, but Zelensky remains the wild card. The American official said that Zelensky has been told that “this is a military-to-military problem to solve and the talks will go on with or without you.” If necessary, the American official told me, “We can finance his voyage to the Caribbean’.”

We know that the unprecedented sanctions against the Russian Federation have been backfiring since the beginning, with the Eurasian great power reaching record trade surplus as early as May 2022. That has sparked division within the European continent, and how de-industralized post-Nord Stream Europe has been hurt by the ongoing conflict and by American subsidy war.

As early as April 2023, as I wrote, former US ambassador to Finland, Earle Mack wrote that the US-led West had been “propping up Ukraine to fight a proxy war” but he could only see “a decade of death and chaos” for the country.

In May Zelensky was planning a number of bold actions against Russia, including bombing the Druzhba pipeline that provides Russian oil to Hungary (a NATO member), and even occupying Russian villages plus targeting the Russian Federation with long-range missiles. Such plans crossed some red lines and were a huge problem from the point of view of both the US and that of Ukraine’s neighbors.

That same month, aforementioned Serymour Hersh also reported that countries such as Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and the Czech Republic, led by Poland (with Germany playing some role in it too) had been pressuring the Ukrainian leader “to find a way to end the war, even by resigning himself if necessary, and to allow the process of rebuilding his nation to get under way.” According to Hersh’s CIA source at the time, these European leaders had “made it clear that ‘Zelensky can keep what he’s got – a villa in Italy and interests in offshore bank accounts – ‘if he works up a peace deal even if he’s got to be paid off, if it’s the only way to get a deal’.” Few months later, in September, Poland stopped sending Ukraine weapons, allegedly over a trade dispute, as bilateral relations deteriorated.

All of this points to a clear picture emerging, one that had been haunting Ukraine for a while: Western abandonment and betrayal – something of which Washington has a solid record. From an European perspective, the picture is even more dramatic: it is about the bloc’s own interests. As I wrote, in December 2021, American and European energy interests are far from converging and in fact the energy crisis in that part of the Old World is something that has benefited Washington, while hurting its European allies – and the same can be said about the American proxy attrition war in Eastern Europe. It is about time to admit NATO’s expansion has been a recipe for disaster and about time to admit Ukraine has a far-right problem and a problem with the way it deals with the Russian minority – and not just in Donbass. And all of that is a problem for Europe, too.

It remains to be seen how European leaders will conduct their policy pertaining to Ukraine and also to the strategic energy interests of the continent. One may expect many European voices urging the bloc to reconsider sanctions against Russia, for instance, as has been the case already. For a start, it could reconsider its stance on the issue of the rights of ethnic minorities.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Alex

    It will end with relatively modest loss of territory by Ukraine, another clown(s) at the helm in Kiev, both sides declaring victory, and meager concessions far from public eyes: some funds unfrozen, some yachts quitely released, some companies allowed operate or unwind. “Russian public” swallowed it when half of Ukraine, filled with Russian leaning populace, left for dead in 2014, hundreds of thousands “liberated”, than betrayed and left behind to be raped, tortured and killed in 2022, war criminals from Mariupol freed in 2023. We will swallow another boatload of crap.
    And when the substance hit the fan next time, well, the guy (maybe another one) will come out and say: oh! We’ve negotiated in good faith, and they tricked us! Fifteenth time in a row.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Man … this level of cynicism is exactly the type I have coursing through my own veins … LOL

      So I get it … totally … but I would urge you to see some silver lining which is that, hopefully, after the previous fourteen lies … Russia is finally done looking toward the neoliberal West.

      This article shows the callousness of the west on full display – after all the “fight till the last Ukrainian” horse-sh**, complete with the cursory impotent tribal virtue signaling – remember, ’twas but a year ago that Z was Time’s “Man of The Year” LOL – Blinken et al are now ready to discard the carcass after the M.I.C. has had enough time to feast on more inflated defense budget and stock market profit-taking, while EU nations have to replenish stock donated to the fetid cause. Wot a sh** show! Russia should build its own Great Wall now … LOL … meaningless in function, but a permanent touchdown dance on American and EU ineptitude. It could be another wonder of the world!

      Великая Русская стена видна из космоса!

      I’d visit it for sure! LOL

    2. david

      “It will end with relatively modest loss of territory by Ukraine” …why?

      Russia has the overwhelming geo-political position / technology / tactical position on the ground/ resource superiority – Now!

      and long term Odessa is a major threat to launch to Crimea – how do you keep a major fleet (only one in warm water) at anchor when Odessa can launch subs / pontoons/ drones at will plus cutting off forever any solution for US / NATO to establish an anchorage plus the commercial control for foodstuffs will keep Kiev on a permanent leash – turn on – turn off access if Kiev are bad boys – is all worth a lot to limit future aggravation.

      Then there is a buffer zone necessary to extend the reaction time for incoming missiles. The DMZ should start north of Maldovia – latitude – Chernevisti to Kharkov – would be a good start. Wiping out the land holdings of Monsanto / Conagra / Cargill and giving them to the Troops as permanent source of a pension sounds like a good idea to keep the folks interested back home.

      Nope – the Washington crowd is in disaray now is the time – for the world to kill this nuclear threat problem and put ot back under the orbit of Moscow

      1. Alex

        Long list of analysts made their predictions assuming Russia plays to win, being focused on its medium and long term interests. All their predictions failed miserably. Who thought that Ukraine can hold for that long? No one. Who imagined “60-km long columns” moving from Belarus, than froze in place, taking RPG fire from sides and artillery from above, then retreat back? Who had foreseen abandoning Kherson, after “we are here to stay”?
        And look at the actions. There are multiple people trying to wrap their heads around direct assaults against heavily fortified positions like Bakhmut or Avdeevka, trying to portray it as a sound strategy. It’s not, and never been. “Grinding down” enemy’s army is bullshit. The best way to destroy one’s army is to cut its supply lines and encircle it, which was proved multiple times by Germans in 1940-1943 and Soviets in 1943 – 1945. Storming castles was worst possible way to conduct war for millennia. It still is. And still it’s what we’ve got.
        Hitting Ukrainian grid? Hit the powerplants. They are large, impossible to defend or fortify, impossible to replace. Their numbers are orders of magnitude lower than those of transformers. And still huge amounts of missiles and drones spent on transformers, while power generation capacity remains intact.
        Selling oil to be processed and send back to power Ukraine’s army and economy? Check. Selling gas to Europe to allow them make a relatively smooth transition to other sources? Despite the monies for previous shipments had been stolen? Check.
        List goes on and on and on.
        Wherever you look, any Russian action is calibrated to be weakest possible to achieve it’s aims. There is no reason to believe situation is going to change. Russia will cut very modest portion of Ukraine, pay for most of Ukraine’s “debts” by it’s reserves, receive a bit relaxed sanction regime and will be happy about it. This generation of elite believes it’s the way to buy “peace of our times”. At least for them.

    3. timbers

      I fear you are correct, because Russia has had the ability to decisively defeat Ukraine yet has consistently not done so. And frankly given Russian behavior so far and her very long list of countless capitulations, its hard not to regard suggestions Russia will take Odessa and others oblasts as wishful thinking. Would like to be proven wrong but Russian actions speak louder than Russian words.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Russia is patient. You are not.

        As Mark Sleboda explains, it is much much much more advantageous for Russia to let Ukraine continue to throw its men and weapons against Russian lines. The offensive force is pretty much guaranteed to take more losses than a defender. It is Russia’s interest to sit more or less pat and let this process continue.


        Sleboda also stresses that there is still a lot of fight in Ukraine. Recall in WWII the Germans had lost as of the battle of Kursk, yet it was 2 years before Germany was defeated.

        Russia’s objective is to end Ukraine ability to wage war. Taking territory doe not accomplish that. Being able to take territory happens as a function of destroying the military.

        Russia wants to bleed out Ukraine in the most efficient manner possible.

        1. ilsm

          “Big arrow” advances require deep air and artillery supremacy. Ukraine is gravely deficient in artillery and air power.

          Russia lacks sufficient supremacy, as well as line of communication assets to pull off a “big arrow” offensive.

          In 1990 it took US 6 months to build the iron mountain of forward stores to initiate Desert Storm!

          Russia does not have the 1990 scope of assets the U.S. had at the end of the Cold War.

          The Ukraine offensive in June looked like a slow motion replay of Union general Burnsides storming Marye’s Heights at Fredricksburg in 1862.

          As if Russian general’s studied Robert E Lee.

          NATO/US are not equipped as in 1990. Sea lines are long, if the Dardanelles remain open.

        2. chris

          I also have to imagine that Russia is willing to play chess to NATO/US checkers. From the stories coming out lately our dear leaders are losing their minds over the lack of funding and support for Project Ukraine. Distracted and distressed opponents make mistakes. I expect Russia military to take advantage of everything it can this winter. And I expect Mr. Austin to have a difficult time getting congress to approve any declaration of war so that US citizens can be sent abroad to shore up Ukraine.

  2. Hickory

    How times have changed! I keep feeling amazed how consistently the US does not learn. And consistently divorced from reality it is.

    One typo –

    when recall in March 2021, Russia kept prosecuting the war as it was negotiating.

    – should be 2022

  3. The Rev Kev

    Since Russia cannot put any faith or trust in the west as far as agreements and treaties are concerned, they will have to take all the Russian-speaking areas and leave a rump Ukraine. There would be no guarantee that down the track through secret negotiations, that the Ukraine would not be brought into NATO almost overnight. Certainly all those NATO plans to turn the Ukraine into a major arsenal cannot be allowed to go ahead either. But at the moment, there are too many factions. Some want the Ukraine into NATO and others not. The Europeans will not want the US to bail and leave them to try to clean up that mess but the US don’t want this hanging over the Presidential elections. They could stabilize the Ukraine with the help of Russia but would refuse to. It may be that we will have to wait for the Ukraine to collapse due to lack of money, soldiers and ammo. But a lot of good people will die before that happens.

    1. Karl

      Good point

      Since Russia cannot put any faith or trust in the west as far as agreements and treaties are concerned….

      This counter-party credit risk could be solved in a way that is alluded to in this final paragraph of the post:

      One may expect many European voices urging the bloc to reconsider sanctions against Russia

      This could be a condition of any negotiated agreement and provide the essential security Russia would need, because breaking the agreement would require resumption of sanctions (and all the inflation/pain that would result). Also, the resumption of natural gas flows through Ukraine, and Russian/Ukrainian food & fertilizer exports to Europe, would help all parties immensely (except the U.S.). As the late Henry Kissinger said (which we seem to have forgotten) economic self interest is a valuable guarantor of peace. Russia would be on strong grounds (and would have EU support) for the elimination of sanctions.

      The EU should definitely want the U.S. on a leash — to follow through on its promises — from here on out!

      1. Polar Socialist

        …economic self interest is a valuable guarantor of peace.

        That’s really not how EU has played this game so far.

        Actually, looking at the economic metrics since the “sanctions from hell”, it looks like EU was seriously leeching on Russia – when the business came to a halt between the two, EU economies have fallen while Russia is today doing better than before the sanctions.

        That relationship may never be restored as it was, so EU may still have some lessons to learn.

  4. Lex

    There’s a lot of wishful thinking all around in the west and a lot of cynicism in Russia. On the latter the question is Putin and I think the answer is in whether he’s broken with the west. I think he’d take a particular deal: all four oblasts ceded officially to Russia and a neutral, essentially demilitarized Ukraine left. But that’s not a deal Zelensky in particular can agree to nor is it one that the US would be amendable to even though it lacks the negotiating position to demand more.

    NATO doesn’t matter. It’s merely a tool of the US and without the US it lacks sufficient forces to do anything. Even the NATO expansion issue is a US problem not a NATO problem per se.

    Based on the statements of Moscow and the official releases of defense budget estimates that show a massive increase in 2024 and then reductions in 2025 and 2026, we can reasonably conclude that the Kremlin projection is for 2024 to mostly settle the Ukrainian issue. That seems reasonable given that everything is building in the same general direction. Russia is putting significant military pressure on a worn out and damaged Ukrainian military all along the front; the Ukrainian military cannot replenish soldiers faster than it is losing them; winter is going to be trying; the west has run out of a lot of stuff and isn’t even able / willing to throw money at the issue; and, the Ukrainian political structure is coming apart at the seams.

    Something has to give. I’ll put my prediction on the table that it will give by late Spring 2024 and then events will start moving rapidly and, from a western perspective, unpredictably. The US will lose control of the situation because of the election and internal Ukrainian politics. It will be able to exert influence but not control. By the time Americans vote, Ukraine will be an unmistakable foreign policy failure of a magnitude the US hasn’t really experienced. Mid to late summer will be a dangerous time. If Biden’s still alive and his poll numbers are bad, a desperate escalation may be his only hope … though on the current timeline that escalation may not be directly related to Russia or Ukraine.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I suggest you read Putin’s recent speeches. He is not even remotely where you are. He and Medvedev have both been talking about Ancient Rus, which includes a lot of north-eastern Ukraine, importantly Kiev.

      1. Lex

        I did. I mentioned a deal Putin might be willing to take right now but also said it’s not possible. I didn’t say but meant that it would require Ukraine handing over the rest of the oblasts that Russia partly controls. Putin would need that kind of victory to make it palatable. Medvedev isn’t worth listening to, IMO. His role is placating and managing the white, black and yellow faction and to show the west (which isn’t listening) where Russian politics will go without Putin. Putin is running for president and like how his official announcement was managed, he’ll be playing a lot of politics for the near term.

        The published defense budgets and MoD statements about this being done by 2025 do not suggest super expansive plans for taking all of Ukraine by force. Of course things can change. But the wildcard is Ukrainian collapse, and that appears to be the scenario russia is pushing. In that scenario I can see a significant territory grab. Quite unpredictable though.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          In light of the Putin and Medvedev signaling that Russia will take more Ukraine territory, Putin is making pretty clear he will not take a more modest deal regarding Ukraine, if nothing else out of Russian security needs. He is also managing public expectations. Putin is exceedingly cautious and would not be making noises consistent with Russia taking more of Ukraine if that were not a serious option.

          And Russia is winning and needs to completely vanquish Ukraine (whatever that looks like in the end), again for Russian security interests. So I can’t fathom your line of thinking given that.

      2. AG

        fyi (sry if these are already known links to the NC community):

        Geoffrey Roberts:
        “How far will he go?: Putin’s territorial goals in Ukraine”

        Nicolai Petro (one of the best scholars on Ukraine I think) in a 2-part 1-hour interview.
        Of course he touches on much of what already did happen. But over the course of both parts offers his understandig of Russian plans / speculations. Highly recommended:

        part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL0wErZQ2as
        part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe96iJXG40s

        However bottom-line for any Russian plan and government is national security as it is considered under threat since 2008 and as Putin, I think, again just recently at Valdai confirmed (“we need to protect our people” something like that.)

        The issue of WMD capabilites is the core problem of course and thus a solution is, to quote Yves, “vanishingly unlikely”. Absolutely.

        And since the Russians have now understood that their ideal of a nuclear-free European zone is completely unthinkable from the POV of the so peace-loving EU…

        – Joschka Fischer and Herfried Münkler in Berlin last week demanding nukes for EU + a high level French diplomat suggesting first strike doctrine for the French nuclear forces the same week –

        …the Russians are currently doing a lot to increase counter-pressure on the West.
        For the first time in fact since the SS-20 situation in the early 1980s.

        You can see it clearly with Gaza – as much as I personally am fighting for an end to WMDs – any nation without WMDs trying to not follow orders will be subject to state terror.

        This also means – and from Geoffrey Robert´s rather open-ended statement it becomes obvious – anything is possible as long as it fulfills Russian national security demands.

        If it means taking out the Kiev government and occupying most of Ukraine is necessary then they will do that with all its caveats.

        However note: only if it makes Russia safer – WWIII is not making Russia safer and neither would war with NATO. Unless a first strike by the US is imminent.

        But the Russians won´t make the same mistake twice. Even if they would love to stop now and try peace solutions described by Nicolai Petro in above linked interview.

        We could have peace in Europe within 48 hours if both super powers agreed to remove all WMDs from EU and Western Russia.

        I am stating this to stress how incredibly maddening and idiotic the current situation is. The most unnecessary and most harmful waste of ressources in our history.

  5. Aurelien

    As far as the specific arguments go, well, being a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE is a nice gig if you can get it, but it doesn’t give you any more insight into world events than you’d get from watching CNN out of the corner of your eye, and a lot less than you get from reading this site. As for the “several sources” in Washington, anyone familiar with the chaotic and dysfunctional system there will know that you can find a “source” for practically every opinion, and those “sources” are often pushing private agendas or simply ignorant of the larger picture. Most importantly, I didn’t think Hersh was right with his story about Zaluzhny and Gerasimov and I’m even less convinced now. People like that live their lives in semi-public, surrounded by staff officers and advisers wherever they go, their every phone call and every meeting carefully minuted. The idea that Zaluzhny could be negotiating with Gerasimov behind Zelensky’s back is sheer fantasy. The only way such talks could take place would be with the explicit approval of the political leadership in each case, and even then you’d start with informal talks at a lower level first. It’s possible (no more) that some trusted subordinate of Zaluzhny, perhaps from the Intelligence side, has been having discreet conversations with an equivalent person in Moscow, and passing messages, but that’s about the limit of what’s believable.

    That said, the author is right that Ukraine Fatigue is setting in, and it’s not clear how the West is going to extricate itself. The West was never particularly interested in Ukraine as such, except insofar as it seemed to them a pro-western, “anti-Russia”, the kind of country they had hoped Russia would turn into in the 1990s. But it did see Ukraine as a way of bringing down the political system in Russia and replacing it with another, and it was hoped and assumed that any direct clash between the two countries would lead to that happening, as a result of the inevitable Russian defeat. When that didn’t work, arms deliveries and training were going to create a force which would defeat the Russian Army and so lead to Putin’s downfall. I was one of those who could not actually credit the idea that people in the West really thought the last offensive would get anywhere. I eventually decided (and I see others have come to the same conclusion) that the only explanation is that the West believed less that Ukraine would be strong, as that Russia was incredibly weak, and its troops would run simply away.

    That being so, and the theory being totally discredited, there are no more options available, and Ukraine will have to be abandoned. The remaining problem, of course is how to do that without losing face. In that case, Ukraine in NATO is not really an issue any more. As I’ve argued elsewhere, at best it would be an embarrassment, at worst a poison pill. What’s the point of having all the existing NATO states argue about signing a protocol like the latest one with Finland and have their parliaments ratify it, with all of the internal disagreements, horse trading and delays and special conditions attached, which at best would take years, and for what? But Ukraine giving up NATO membership really isn’t an issue either. No Ukrainian government could promise to give up that aspiration without violating the Constitution, and changing the Constitution won’t be exactly straightforward. Since the Russians will be unlikely to agree to end the war in return for just a promise, then we can assume the war will continue until the Constitution is changed. (This, it seems, was the rock on which the 2022 negotiations foundered, and the main reason why Kiev accepted western assistance to continue the war.) In other words, whilst the subject won’t die completely, it’s not really in anyone’s interests to continue to make it a major issue.

    1. Kouros

      I don’t understand why changing that part of the constitution would not be that straightforward. After all, it changed to that in 2019 without much fanfare.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Because amending the constitution requires two-thirds majority in Verkhovna Rada and Zelensky, the defender of democracy, has imprisoned, executed or exiled everyone in VR who would vote for such an amendment.

        On the other hand, if one reads the Ukrainian constitution, it’s obvious that Ukrainian leadership considers it more of a suggestion than a binding document.

        1. Karl

          If Ukraine is out of money and out of options, mere words in the Constitution won’t stand in the way of a dictated peace, which is where I think this is headed. Two options: 1) The Russians say, “here’s the new wording, come back when your rump parliament agrees” and 2) the Russians end the existing State altogether (replaced with a new piece of paper called a “constitution”), with the requisite legitimizing theatre. That piece of paper could well include more frightening stuff than we imagine is realistic, e.g. Russian commitments to give slices of rump Ukrainian territory to Poland and Hungry, checkpoints on all goods transiting West or through the Black Sea, etc. Russia could say, “we’re just doing in Ukraine what Israel and the U.S. have long done to Gaza and the West Bank.”

          Credible Russian signals along these lines, right around spring-summer 2024, in the heat of the U.S. election campaign, will be rather persuasive to negotiate seriously sooner rather than later.

          Gotta think outta the Western box.

    2. Feral Finster

      “The West was never particularly interested in Ukraine as such, except insofar as it seemed to them a pro-western, “anti-Russia”, the kind of country they had hoped Russia would turn into in the 1990s.”

      Take away Russia, and Ukraine would be a pariah state.

    3. Cristobal

      I may be wrong, but I recall reading from a reliable source that the Ukranian Constitution that was in adopted when the Soviet Union broke up and the current state was formed specifically stipulated that Ukraine would be a neutral state. Russia was a party to the aproval of that constitution. Russia was weak at that time but not stupid. They would have never agreed to a requirement that the country would join NATO. I also understood that the clause stating that Ukraine would become a NATO state was added shortly after the 2014 coup. If it was changed once it can be changed again. I do not believe that this is a show stopper except for those who are looking for an excuse to continue the war.

    4. Keith Newman

      @ Aurelien, 10:04am
      Re “…the West believed less that Ukraine would be strong, as that Russia was incredibly weak, and its troops would run simply away.”
      The idea was so absurd it was hard to credit serious people actually believed it. But it really does seem to be the case. On that score the formerly very very highly placed Col. Larry Wilkerson described the people currently heading US foreign policy (Blinken, etc.) as literally “stupid”. (See Empire in Decline on The Duran, last November 30, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcm1oWMnpS4)

      1. Karl

        “Stupid” seems to be another way of saying “I can’t understand how anyone with intelligence could do that.” Not very illuminating.

        Putting a little more meat on the idea of “stupid” is Cipolla’s 5 Laws of Stupidity. Cipolla essentially defined stupidity by his 3rd law, which he called the “Golden law”:

        Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

        Putting yet more meat on this is Hanlon’s razor, which is:

        “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

        I’ve thought about this a bit, and believe that Hanlon’s razor should be amended with the following addition at the end: “…or profit.” Or gold, to refer back to Cipolla’s “golden” law.

        And thus we come to what I believe is the raison d’etre of our foreign policy, and it’s not lack of cognitive function, but does fit Cipolla’s definition in that broad and significant U.S. interests are damaged. The key is that a special interest is advanced within the donor class. To me, whenever any of us are scratching our heads trying to make sense of our foreign policy, I tend not to think “stupidity” but the very myopic cravenness of some deep pocketed special interest being catered to. E.g. MIC and AIPAC for our closeness to Israel; the MIC and influential ethnic donors (Soros, Polish-Americans, etc.) for our support for Ukraine membership in NATO.

  6. Ignacio

    Besides the utter idiocy of Ukraine membership in NATO there is the utter idiocy of Ukraine negotiations to enter the EU.
    First there is the budgetary discussion on EU which is anything but straight forward and the EC proposals that include those 57.000 millions for Ukraine for three years demanding more moneys from States that are very much constrained by EU budgetary rules. For instance, Spain is proposing 50% cuts to any new budgetary appropriation by the EU proposed by the Commission (in Spanish) and the main worries are to save the budgets for Common Agricultural Policy (and fisheries I guess). Ukraine may be priority for UvdL but not for many if not most EU Governments and, to tell the truth, UvdL is in her last legs politically speaking.

    Then about the accession of Ukraine into the EU. In the 2022 Council meeting, the proposed fast track membership was ruled out. UvdL has been talking her nonsense about “progress” by Ukraine with regards to accomplishing harmonization with EU rules but everybody knows this is utter BS. Currently only Orban and German budgetary rules are being mentioned as obstacles to negotiations on membership and Ukraine aid. IMO, What is utterly remarkable is the total absence of news, reports and positioning by most, if not all EU members governments except Hungary. It looks as if everybody is waiting to blame the outcome to Orban.

    I would like to see contributions from readers that have better insights on this.

    1. Feral Finster

      What the european elites want, the european elites get.

      Right now they want to see EU membership for the Ukraine regime as a sort of consolation prize.

      1. Ignacio

        Now that you mention it I think that EU elites do not really want the trouble of having the Ukraine regime as part of the EU. It is only posturing IMO.

    2. Cristobal

      Ukranian membership would be the poison pill that destroys the EU. Already the destruction of Germany´s industrial sector via the Nordstream sabatoge and other sanctions on countries that Uncle Sugar does not like is about to bankrupt the EU. It has already bankrupted Germany, the goose that has laid the golden egg for many years. More will follow. As Ignacio says, the CAP is of utmost importance to many members – Spain, France, Italy, Poland, just about all of them depend on it to some extent. The EU is in desperate need of reform. Ursula is living in a parallel universe, all she lacks is to walk around with those silly Metaverse things over her eyes so she will not be bothered by reality.

      1. AG

        One reason for this political suicide by the EU is the catastrophic EU foreign policy of the past 30 years which totally deprived Europe of any meaningful ally except the US.

        Europe is caught in this, among others, because they have no one else to turn to.
        Because they completely failed in building strong, honest and meaningful ties to other regions.

        And as usual elites, if with their backs to the wall, leash out not against their overseas fellow elites but their own domestic populations.

  7. Lefty Godot

    Russia seems like it has the advantage in time. So despite the Ukrainian soldiers fighting fiercely, they are outnumbered and will be getting worn down to nothing at some point. And while there is an election campaign going on in the US, Russia can keep make slow but steady gains, knowing it will make the Democrats very obviously look like the incompetents they are. So maybe their best estimate is to wind things up in January or February 2025. There’s no point in taking big swaths of territory now and then having to defend those when the Ukrainians are coming right up to the current lines. Once the Ukrainians run out of defenders themselves, my guess is the Russians add a few more (maybe 5-6) oblasts to the ones they’ve already got and install a pseudo-neutralist government in what’s left. A result much less than that would look bad for them.

    What’s amazing is that Finland, Georgia, and the Baltics are lining up to be the next countries that the US will hustle down the path to destruction. Is there some post-COVID mental illness thing going on or what?

    I do wonder if Trump is done with the neocons or if he will just bring in a different bunch once he’s back in the White House. They seem to keep coming back, like poisonous weeds.

    1. Feral Finster

      “I do wonder if Trump is done with the neocons or if he will just bring in a different bunch once he’s back in the White House. They seem to keep coming back, like poisonous weeds.”

      I don’t wonder. You are getting warmer.

      If Trump has any value, it’s that US institutions and europeans in general are less gung ho to support a US empire if Trump is nominally in charge.

  8. JohnH

    Shrewd observers, like those who hang around here, may recall that Zelensky himself spilled the beans in the first days of the war. The door that needed to remain open, I suppose as part of an effort to manufacture consent for proxy war, is now being closed publically. “Things change, Kundun”

    “But everyone in the West told me that we do not have any chance of NATO or E.U. membership. I asked them not to drive the Ukrainian people into a corner because our people are brave and the West should also be brave in telling directly to the Ukrainian people that, well, you are not going to be a NATO-E.U. member. They do not have a consolidated position and I requested that personally.

    I requested them personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five. Just say it directly and clearly or just say no, and the response was very clear, you are not going to be a NATO or E.U. member, but publicly the doors will remain open. ”


  9. V V Gerasimov

    As a general rule, the shorter a national border is, the easier it is to defend. The shortest possible western border of Russia would run from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains along the eastern borders of Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania/Poland. An extra bonus of this line is that it also removes any threat to the southern border of Belarus.

    On 6 Dec 2023 Dima at the Military Summary Channel [“The Russian Tsar Visits the Middle East”/”The Russian Offensive Gains Momentum”] posted a most revealing map. He colored in the NATO/CSTO countries, then hilited Ukraine in a brightly contrasting color. A mere glance shows the magnitude of the threat that Ukraine in NATO would pose to Russian security, and why Russia has acted to remove that threat.

    Very soon after WW II the US and Britain began waging a proxy war against the Soviet Union, smuggling agents and weapons into Ukraine and Lithuania. It lasted until 1955, and in that decade the USSR lost over 8,000 soldiers. If Russia does not currently advance all the way to the Polish border (yes, thereby totally eliminating the state of Ukraine), that nightmare will be repeated, as the neocons will never give up their goal of defeating and dismembering Russia. Whatever rump remnant of Ukraine that Russia would foolishly allow to exist would inevitably be used as a base to conduct a 1945-1955 style of war against Russia.

    As for the claim that Russia wouldn’t want to occupy Galicia because “of the headache of ruling such a poisonous nest of Nazis” — the whole point of the SMO is to denazify Ukraine, and that is exactly where such scum is concentrated! And Russia has experience in successfully resolving such problems (see Chechnya).

    Ukraine is rapidly being depleted of both manpower and weapons and (most importantly!) money. Both militarily and politically it is coming apart at the seams, and could actually disintegrate at any time (for a parallel of the current Ukraine situation see the Confederate States of America, and how rapidly its 4-year long war abruptly came to an end with its sudden collapse).

    Whenever and however this SMO finally does end, Russia will be dictating terms to the losers (Ukraine, NATO, US). If Putin et al are serious about finally resolving Western military threats to its security, then totally removing the nation of Ukraine from the map would seem to be sine qua non.

    1. Cristobal

      VVG, Lets hope so. I wonder if, when the scale of the unabashed US and NATO deception finaly comes to light, will there be a backlash on the part of the general population of Ukraine. When they realize that the US did not really give a rats ass about Ukraine, and that it was all about ¨weakening Russia¨ will they turn against the US and NATO countries for the destruction they have brought to their country – if it still exists as such? I know. Its a lot to ask, but we can hope.

      1. V V Gerasimov

        From some videos I’ve seen it appears that such backlash may already be appearing among the upper crust in Ukraine — not sure about the general population yet.

        However, I have seen reports that Kyrylo Budanov, the chief of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense (the man who planned the various bombings, assassinations, etc inside Russia and the Donbas) has promised that such a terror campaign will be executed in European countries if they cease funding/arming Ukraine.

        The CIA must be sweating about their stooge including the US in such a revenge campaign. It appears that they (and their British cousins) trained their Frankenstein monster well when it comes to despicable attacks upon innocent civilians. If he does turn against his creators, the schadenfreude in Russia will be off the charts….

      1. Tom K-ski

        Regarding “gifting” Galicia to Poland, Poles will be welcome to swap Suwalki for Lwow. See Suwalki gap as a land bridge to Kaliningrad. Poles have something of value and could trade it for Lwow. In this particular case Suwalki is a swampy area of marginal commercial value, Lwow oblast comes with plenty of agriculture land. Obviously the local population of Lwow oblast may not like this particular idea, but they could negotiate some sort of local autonomy under Warsaw “Federal” government.

  10. Bill Malcolm

    Having read the article and comments, I personally favour Yves and Aurelien’s take.

    There’s a few points I’d like to know more about, but the prime one is this Hersh rumour abour tin-legs Zaluzhny and Gerasimov having some kind of back-channel natter about ceasefire negotiations. I’ve read more than once, but cannot find now on a search due to the millions of blithering nonsense posts / articles Western MSM has generated, that nobody but the president of Ukraine can initiate ceasefire negotiations. This law amendment happened after the abandonment of the ceasefire agreement 20 months ago. That was when Boris Johnson, Hair Fool Extraordinaire and possessor of a noticeably rolly-polly beer gut paunch, shambled across some tarmac in Kiev to have a word in Ze’s ear. “Fight on, we’ve got your back!”

    My guess is that after Hersh provided the only decent explanation of the Nordstream pipeline destruction, that he has since been “used”. “Sources” is the fatuous term Hersh uses whenever someone gives him a tip, and the tips since the Nordstream article have been fluffy, in my opinion. State and CIA feed him semi-credible nonsense and Hersh has always had an amazing imagination. I pay him little attention, feeling he is far too easily led astray.

    Few of the well-known sorta kinda pro-Russia pundits have gotten anything consistently correct these past 22 months. We all had to be led by the nose, after the fact, to “understand” Russia’s meatgrinder tactics. Simply because everyone had assumed Russia would go all out, but didn’t. Who planted the meatgrinder motif I have no idea. But it was a good excuse, and is true these days, considering the elan the UAF showed, enthusiastically attacking the Russians in the last half of 2022. My theory, and one guess is as good as another, is that Russia noticed how easy it was to kill UAF soldiers heroically advancing without aircover, and thought, “Hey, you know, this meatgrinder thing works!”

    The Russian Army also seemed to have been plagued with old desk generals, and it took a while to demote, remove or otherwise negate the will of the entrenched deadwood. Gerasimov did the cleanup, including sending Surovikin away to sulk for being too palsy-walsy with Prigozhin, a billionaire entirely interested in himself and nobody else. Surovikin lost Kherson City, and his Zelensky-like T-Shirt video-appearance telling Priggy to quit his mutiny looked staged. As in, do this video or you’re toast, orders from Gerasimov.

    Now the Russian armed forces are firing on all cylinders, the old guard booted out, their MIC, about three-fourths one mega company with subsidiaries using old names like AK and Sukhoi, well, Ukraine has had even a lower chance of winning than it did pre “counteroffensive”. And it was about zero even then. In other words, Ukraine never had a hope even against the rundown Russian forces, let alone the shiny new armed forces that have now emerged. To me, the Russians are toying with Ukraine. Gerasimov having serious chats with a Zaluzhny who thinks the war is a stalemate? Hogwash.

    The Europeons may finally wake up and officially recognize that the USA screwed them, and if they want to retain any civilization and independence, they’ll have to buy some Russian natural gas and oil. Going green isn’t making it. Russia will first insist Nordstream be repaired at the EU’s cost, negotiate a price paid in rubles for gas thereafter, “(How? You Eurodonkeys will have to figure it out because it’s non-negotiable, but it won’t be at US ripoff prices just to give you dopes an incentive, and any non-payment of the Moldova type will result in immediate cut-off, no ifs, ands or buts, so get serious), and reparations for stealing Russian GazProm EU properties like offices will have to be paid in full, up front, or no deal. It’ll be eat crow time for Europe. The utter rank stupidity of Europeon leaders in kowtowing to the criminal US neocons will end, simply for survival’s sake. Europeans have wandered around in a smug stance that they were the leaders in taste, fashion and good manners, that the world outside the Eurogarden is a jungle of poor taste and aesthetics where people cannot even produce a good cup of coffee or cheese. Time for a reset on that sort of fake assumed elegance, because all those EU countries have hated each other for centuries and gone to war with each other like tomcats in a sack for naught but tribal reasons. The arbiter of taste angle has been a European conceit for far too long.

    All of which is to say, unless that outright cretin Biden and his associate advisers, plus the entirety of the corporate-bought US Congress, don’t use the nuclear option, Russia has won this war at what almost amounts to but a canter.

    Biden couldn’t even get the King of Jordan to meet him, Putin gets the double Saudi jet flypass and all stops pulled out greeting in Riyadh. Dumb Westerners may not have noticed the change, but the world has, and the US’s “prestige” is at about zero outside the West. Russia faced down the big boy supplying weapons to UKR and won. It’s all over but the nasty winding down which will take months due to UKR intransigence. Who knows the final borders of Ukraine? That’ll be a shifting target for Russia in eventual negotiations, depending on how things go, and who in the West wakes up to a new reality. The longer Europe prevaricates, the more Russia will squeeze them monetarily for being incurably stupid. Gerasimov chatting with Zaluzhny? Probably the big joke at Gerasimov’s HQ — string the UKR dopes along for a giggle — if it happens at all, which I doubt.

    Now imagine the broken mind set of the US neocon dolts who think they’re now going to subdue China. How, and with what? Smug out-of-date overconfidence? That’s the United States outlook to a T. And furthermore, if the Taiwanese succumb to US blandishments to be the proxy warriors against China, they’d have to be monumentally idiotic. Perhaps they are, who really knows? But surely, the US’s abandonment of South Viet Nam, Afghanistan and what now looks like Ukraine, offers a signal to anyone with half a brain who is half awake that partnering with the USA is a deathtrap for them.

  11. Keith Newman

    @Bill Malcolm,7:17 pm
    A detail re the ‘meatgrinder’: if I remember correctly it was either the Russian minister of defence or the general in charge of the campaign in Ukraine who said in the autumn of 2022 that the Russian military would grind down its Ukrainian counterpart. It was a very conscious and clearly enunciated tactic to defeat Ukraine. The idea being to first completely destroy the Ukrainian military rather than take territory, then do what it wanted with a completely defeated adversary.
    It seems this strategy has been successful in part thanks to the Ukrainian high command sending its soldiers to die by the tens of thousands, if not more, in pointless attacks.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    It’s hard to imagine a secure Russian victory without their controlling Odessa, and it’s hard to imagine that being anything other than a bloody slog.

Comments are closed.