In Human Rights, International, National Security

Those who follow my writings will know that, prior to October 7 of last year, the primary focus of my analysis and reporting over the preceding eighteen months had been the war in Ukraine. In that time, I argued repeatedly that NATO’s hype could not be reconciled with realities on the ground.

They will also know that my focus changed dramatically after the Hamas offensive on October 7, when Israel launched a murderous war on occupied Palestinians. Since then, and as a matter of conscience, I’ve written almost exclusively about Israel’s genocide in Palestine.

Still, during the past several months, much has happened in Ukraine. Among other developments, the trajectory of the war has turned decisively in Russia’s favour.

Ukraine’s looming defeat will have profound implications for U.S. hegemony in the months and years ahead, not only in Europe, but in the Middle East as well.

As 2023 drew to a close, I decided to revisit my initial analysis and predictions about the Ukraine war, and to assess them in light of recent events.

A war that Ukraine could not win

From the earliest days of the Ukraine war, I argued that Ukraine was likely to lose it.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s government consistently defined ‘victory’ as the recovery of all territories seized by Russian forces since 2014, including Crimea.

There were many reasons to believe that his goal was wildly optimistic. Chief among them were Russia’s massive advantages in artillery and air power, as well as Russia’s much larger population and industrial base. These factors provided Russia with a superior capacity to replace its losses in men and materiel.

When I first articulated these views, the prevailing line in Western media was that Russia’s military was on the ropes. Its officers, Western ‘experts’ claimed, were incompetent and corrupt. Its soldiers were poorly trained and poorly equipped. Their morale was low, their belief in Russia’s cause, non-existent.

Bold predictions of Ukrainian victory have since evaporated. Today, Western media are brimming with reports that Ukraine’s summer offensive was a colossal failure, and that Russian forces have the upper hand. Ukraine’s government, we are now advised, must sue for peace.

Last month, General Sir Richard Barrons, one of the U.K.’s most senior former military officers, told The National News that Ukraine’s military “has got nothing left in the locker right now… The initiative in this war is unequivocally transferring to Russia and that is not the situation we expected at the start of this year but it’s an honest appraisal of where we are.” Barron acknowledged that Russia’s huge advantage in artillery had inflicted a heavy toll on Ukraine’s army.

Until recently, Canada’s CBC uncritically repeated every NATO talking point about this disastrous proxy war, but a recent article by its defence and security reporter, Murray Brewster, acknowledged that Ukraine’s months-long summer counteroffensive “fell short of allies’ hype and failed to dislodge the Russian Army from the 20 per cent of the country it occupies.” Brewster bemoaned Ukraine’s “war-weary population, growing domestic political anxiety and infighting, and international allies who have grown more capricious — even delinquent.”

At the end of 2023, Newsweek reported that Ukraine faced growing calls to cede land for peace. Republican opposition to more funding for the war was growing, Newsweek said, because “significant numbers in aid has been sent to Ukraine, but it remains unlikely that it will become victorious against Putin’s forces and push them out.”

A recent assessment published by CNN struck an ever grimmer tone. Titled “Ukraine’s hopes for victory fade in the face of waning Western support and Putin’s relentless war machine”, the article scoffed at Zelensky’s bold prediction, made on the first anniversary of the war, that “2023 will be the year of our victory!” According to CNN, “Russians’ vast reserves of manpower and hardware… mean they can continue bludgeoning the smaller Ukrainian military…”.

Ukraine’s defeat was readily foreseeable. I was by no means the only person to foresee it. Yet those of us who understood the daunting obstacles confronting Ukraine, and who dared to advocate for a peace deal to end the war swiftly, were derided as ‘Putin stooges’ and banished from the mainstream discourse.

As a result, tens of thousands of men died needlessly. Many more were disabled and traumatized for no sound reason. The lives of these brave men lie on the conscience of Western warmongers who prioritized hurting Russia over saving Ukraine.

The primary cause of the Ukraine war: NATO expansion

Two days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, I authored an article in which I argued that the Russian government’s primary motivation for invading Ukraine was to prevent Ukraine’s admission into NATO.

Citing numerous luminaries from the U.S. foreign policy elite, I explained that Russia’s political and military elite viewed the presence of NATO forces in Ukraine as an existential threat to Russia, and that NATO’s eastward expansion was a blatant violation of assurances NATO governments had given to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the time of German reunification.

In response, supporters of NATO claimed that NATO expansion was merely a pretext for Russia’s invasion, and that Russia’s true intention was to conquer all of Ukraine. Russia’s President, they insisted, was hell-bent on reconstituting the Soviet empire.

These advocates for escalation asserted – with no evidence – that Russia’s government intended to attack NATO countries in Eastern Europe if it succeeded in conquering Ukraine. Their claim could not be reconciled with their assertion that admitting Ukraine into NATO would deter Russia from attacking Ukraine, but they made the claim nonetheless. Even worse, they demonized critics of NATO expansion by accusing them of ‘spreading Russian disinformation‘.

This past September, shortly before Israel launched its genocidal assault on Palestinians, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg quietly admitted the truth. In testimony before the European Parliament, NATO’s now-disgraced honcho stated:

The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition to not invade Ukraine. Of course, we didn’t sign that.

The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our Alliance, introducing some kind of B, or second-class membership. We rejected that.

So, he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.

[Emphasis added.]

Stoltenberg’s testimony leaves no doubt that the real disseminators of disinformation were those who claimed that NATO expansion was merely a pretext for Russia’s invasion.

It gets worse. On December 5, 2023, Ukrainian Ambassador Oleksandr Chalyi, who personally met Putin on sixteen occasions and has inside knowledge of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, stated that the ‘key roots” of the war in Ukraine were “the hard confrontation between the United States and Russia over Ukraine” and “the desire of Ukraine to become a member of NATO and the EU”.

Chalyi insisted that war between Ukraine and Russia was not “inevitable” and that, after Putin made the “mistake” of invading Ukraine, he tried “to do everything possible” early in the war to conclude a peace deal with Ukraine.

According to Chalyi, in April 2022, Ukraine and Russia were “very close” to concluding such a deal. Yet “for some reasons,” that deal “was postponed.” Chalyi did not specify the reasons for the ‘postponement’, but those reasons are now clear: the U.S. and U.K. governments opposed the deal and refused to give Ukraine the security guarantees that it desired.

In other words, the Americans and British decided to sacrifice Ukraine in an effort to weaken Russia.

Ukraine has indeed been sacrificed, but by many measures – including the size of its army and the sophistication of its weaponry – Russia’s military is now stronger than it was at the outset of the war.

The ‘Churchillian’ Zelensky

In July 2022, I authored an article titled “Ukraine’s ‘servant of the people’ is a Western fiction“. In that article, I argued that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was spectacularly unqualified for the Presidency of Ukraine, that Zelensky’s time in office had revealed him to be tyrannical and neoliberal, and that there were strong grounds to suspect Zelensky of corruption.

At the time, my views about Zelensky were, to put it mildly, unpopular in the West. Zelensky had just completed his coming-out, political rock-star tour of Western Parliaments. Western political and media elites were presenting Zelensky to the world as a ‘Churchillian‘ colossus bestriding the world stage, an historic defender of democracy and a one-man bulwark against the evil Russian horde. In the West, one could hardly turn on the television or open a newspaper without seeing Zelensky in his trademark military fatigues.

How fortunes have shifted for the forlorn Zelensky. In Western media, Zelensky is now routinely subjected to withering criticism.

On November 1, 2023, the once pro-Zelensky Time reported that Ukraine’s summer offensive had “proceeded at an excruciating pace and with enormous losses, making it ever more difficult for Zelensky to convince partners that victory is around the corner.” Time quoted “one of [Zelensky’s] closest aides” as stating that Zelensky “deludes himself. We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling him that.”

Another “close” Zelensky aide told Time that some front-line Ukrainian commanders had begun refusing orders to advance, even when they came directly from the office of the President. Their insubordination was based on their lack of both weaponry and manpower. As regards corruption, a “top presidential adviser” told Time that people in the Ukrainian government “are stealing like there’s no tomorrow”.

In December 2023, BNN reported that 63% of Ukrainians view corruption as a major issue, and that “many Ukrainians have increasingly refused to fight for what they perceive to be a corrupt and incompetent government.”

At the same time, the pro-Ukraine Foreign Policy published an op-ed by Professor Nicolai Petro, an American expert in Ukrainian politics. Petro argued that Ukraine has a ‘civil rights problem’. According to Petro, “Ukrainians across the political spectrum… are questioning the long-term social merits of wartime policies that effectively relegate Russian speakers to permanent second-class status.”

Days ago, Oleksii Arestovych, Zelensky’s former Strategic Communications Adviser, called on Ukrainians to mount mass protests against Zelensky for the purpose of overthrowing his government.

As Arestovych was agitating for Zelensky’s ouster, Asia Times published an op-ed by Stephen Bryen titled “Zelensky needs to go before Ukraine collapses”. According to Bryen, a U.S.-based expert in security strategy, “there is an emerging consensus in the Biden administration that Ukraine is barely hanging on in its war with Russia and that some sort of negotiated settlement will be needed.” Zelensky’s fantasy of total victory, Bryen explained, is a major barrier to peace.

During the early months of the Ukraine war, I sometimes encountered supporters of the Palestinian cause who admired Zelensky, and continued to do so even after the former comedian proudly declared his ambition to turn Ukraine into a “big Israel”. This ought to have been a flashing red sign to all supporters of the Palestinian cause. Now that Zelensky has pronounced his unwavering support for Israel, no Palestinian solidarity activist should harbour illusions about Zelensky’s true values.

Zelensky was never a champion of democracy. He was never a defender of human rights. In the spring of 2022, Zelensky abandoned a peace deal whose terms were far more favourable than any peace deal he could secure today.

Ukraine’s Churchill has brought ruin upon his people. Today, the greatest service he could render to his country is to resign.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Yurad

    Thank goodness blogging has changed to “self-publishing” and there are no barriers to entry when calling oneself a “journalist”.

  • Youri Smouter

    interesting piece Dimitri! i wonder how much longer this tragic carnage can end? here’s hoping soon with Russia’s withdrawal, and Ukraine paritioned with the Russian speaking East mostly seceding, and West Ukraine in what I think is a misguided marraige with the collective West. Its sad this happened, but such are the evils and tragic consequences of Western imperialism.

  • David Gutnick

    Dimitri believes Zelensky should resign because he is not as democratic as the dictator who sent his troops.over the border to kill hundred of thousands of civilians.

    What more is there to say?

    Why bother?

  • John Partyka

    Yes, it was clear to many of us in 2022 that the Ukraine war was actually driven by NATO expansion and a strong US desire to hurt Russia economically. All of us endured the contempt of groupthinkers, who called us “Putin apologists” and “unpatriotic”. Those of us who resisted will never be vindicated and the many liars in govt and msm will never be prosecuted for the hundreds of thousands of people they misinformed, used and destroyed in Ukraine and Russia for their personal benefit. As a Canadian, I cry in shame for those innocent victims I helped to kill and maim, simply by paying taxes! And I cry out in anger against all who profited from this mass murder! It disgusts me to know that they will live on and prosper from future wars. And I can’t understand why doesn’t that disgust everyone else.

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