Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has sunk US-Russia relations to the lowest levels since the darkest days of the Cold War. No easing of tensions is looming on the horizon. Quite the contrary: The two countries appear to be locked in a downward spiral—centered on Ukraine but affecting all aspects of their relations—that could suddenly bring them to the verge of a direct military confrontation, with all the risk of a nuclear cataclysm that entails.
The failure of the recent Ukraine offensive to secure major gains reinforces the impression that the choice in Ukraine is between catastrophic escalation, a long-deadlocked war, or a negotiated accommodation. What lessons might the Northern Ireland peace process have for the negotiation of an end to the Ukraine war?
The U.S. has prevented earnest negotiations and prolonged the war in Ukraine.
Even during the period of wild optimism in the United States during 2022 and early 2023 about Ukraine’s chances of defeating Russian forces, there was a small, dark cloud of doubt about what the Joe Biden administration would do if the prospects of victory unraveled. That question has now become more pertinent and urgent as Kiev’s vaunted offensive clearly is faltering. Territorial gains in Russian-occupied regions are minimal, and they have occurred only with great cost in the lives of Ukrainian troops. For Ukraine’s forces, the war has become a meat grinder reminiscent of the fighting in World War I. Attacks on entrenched Russian defenses have proven to be horrifically costly in terms of both personnel and military hardware
After enthusiastically selling the war since its inception, the mainstream media in Europe may be beginning to change its tune.
As the undeniable failure of Ukraine’s much-anticipated counter offensive begins to sink in on the old continent, another crack in the media narrative around the conflict has appeared — and what’s more in one of Europe’s newspapers of record, Spain’s El País. On Monday, the newspaper published an op-ed (behind paywall) by José Luis Cebrián titled “Defending Ukraine to the Death… of Ukrainians.” The article raises serious concerns about the real objectives of the war, the way it is being waged and its impact on the European Union, much of which is encapsulated in the article’s sub-heading:
“The war is a proxy war between NATO and Russia that has roots that predate the invasion whose immediate consequence has been the subordination of the EU project to the objectives of the [NATO] military alliance.”
This one sentence makes three points that are hardly news to NC readers but may be to many loyal El País readers: first, what is happening in Ukraine is not a David versus Goliath struggle between an aggressive superpower and a small but plucky neighbour, as newspapers like El País have been claiming for the past year and a half, but rather a proxy war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers; second, its roots long predate Russia’s Special Military Operation of February 2022; and third, the EU project has essentially been subordinated to NATO’s military goals, which are essentially Washington’s military goals.
Khan claimed to have a document, a copy of a Pakistani diplomatic cable he couldn’t publicly show for fear of revealing government secrets, that showed assistant US secretary of state for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu pressuring Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States over the no-confidence vote due to Khan’s entreaties to Russia, while warning that leaving him in power would isolate Pakistan from the Western world.
Everyone involved denied it.
Notorious neoconservative Bill Kristol has just launched a $2 million campaign to prevent more Republicans from jumping off the forever war train and to remind them that true Republicans support Ukrainians by backing unfettered aid and weapons for the conflict.
That is the clarion call promoted in this Washington Post storyannouncing “Republicans for Ukraine,” which is designed to provide “counter-programming” to the “populist” strain that has captured the base, particularly on foreign policy. It is the latest advocacy effort by Kristol’s group, Defending Democracy Together, which has been trying desperately to maintain the hawks’ grip on the GOP since Donald Trump began questioning it during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Col. Douglas Macgregor and Judge Andrew Napolitano take a look at the Jake Sullivan’s latest press conference and Ukrainian president Zelensky’s speech in Denmark.
As former New York Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan noted, “You are entitled to your opinions. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
Does Washington have a plan B if the Ukrainian counteroffensive doesn’t work out? Kelley Vlahos and Daniel Larison talk to foreign policy and politics writer James Carden about continued maximalist talk in the Beltway, setting up the Ukraine war for another forever war. He also talks about the “peace conference” in Saudi Arabia last weekend and his disappointment that there is no real diplomatic push on behalf of the major powers. Moreover, how politics in Washington are precluding actual debate on Ukraine, whether it be over the new aid package that the Biden administration now seeks or the lack of a real strategy to end the war.
On Tuesday, April 23, 2019, the Jordan Center at NYU hosted a book talk with Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University and Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and History at New York University. Professor Cohen’s provocative book argued, with great foresight, that America is in a new Cold War with Russia even more dangerous than the one the world barely survived in the twentieth century.
Now we are in the month of August and once again it is the August of a Dark Summer, as the wonderful writer Gene Smith described the Summer of 1939. Once again, the thunderclouds of a far worse and fearful conflict are gathering in the east. Except this time Poland and the Western democracies are not fearfully awaiting the firestorm: They are actively fanning the flames for it to begin.
Before the summer, we had the broad outline of what the endgame of the war in Ukraine would look like: Kyiv would train and build up its forces, launch a summer offensive, reclaim as much territory as it could, and finally enter peace talks with the strongest negotiating hand possible and bring the war to a close.
Now, two months into that offensive and with summer’s end nearing, that scenario looks increasingly unlikely. The Ukrainian offensive has by all accounts stalled, as often exhausted, inexperienced, and hastily trained troops are running headfirst into dug-in and heavily mined Russian defenses, at horrific human cost.
Setting aside international norms, even countries who have not joined the cluster munitions convention must respect the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas. That makes cluster munitions used in such areas illegal—yet “responsible steward” Ukraine has already used its own cluster munitions in the city of Izium, predictably resulting in civilian casualties (Human Rights Watch, 7/6/23).
Between 2014 – the real start of the war when the Ukrainian government began attacking its own people in the Donbass – and the beginning of Russia’s intervention in February of 2022, around 1 million Ukrainians had already immigrated to Russia. This was reported in the mainstream press back then, with the BBC writing about these 1 million refugees, and also explaining, “[s]eparatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Since the violence erupted, some 2,600 people have been killed and thousands more wounded. The city of Luhansk has been under siege by government forces for the past month and is without proper supplies of food and water.” The number of dead in this war would grow to 14,000 by February of 2022, again before Russia’s Special Military Operations (SMO) had even begun.
Carden’s article entitled “The Coming Battle for ‘Who Lost Ukraine?’” in The American Conservative lays out his view that the same people who caused the Ukraine war in the first place will go to great lengths to justify why loosing it will be the fault of those of us who opposed this proxy-war in the first place.
The U.S. has disbursed nearly $44 billion in weapons and other military assistance since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 (that is not counting other aid, which takes that total to over $113 billion).
Below is a link to a speech by Columbia University’s Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the well-known American economist who has made significant contributions to the fields of sustainable development and economic development. He has become an outspoken critic of American policy toward Russia.
Russian anti-war activist Boris Kagarlitsky has been charged with supporting “terrorism” and faces years in prison. Katrina vanden Heuvel, who has known Boris for decades, says whatever your views, people should demand the charges be dropped.