Why is Brussels supporting Ukraine?

It’s Wednesday, and as usual I scout around various issues that I have been thinking about rather than write a consolidated analysis on one topic. Today, I consider the question of why the EU elites are spending billions supporting the Ukraine government against Russia. They claim that Russia poses a major threat to European freedom but given the superior Russian military machine has not taken much territory after 783 days of war I conclude that such narratives are fanciful and deliberately being advanced to hide true motives. I also consider the situation in the Middle East and then offer today’s music segment to restore our peace of mind.

Why is Brussels supporting Ukraine?

As you read below, the US Congress has a bill before it which effectively accuses South Africa of being a terrorist state because it had the audacity – in the eyes of the Western (wealthy) establishment – to call Israel out in the International Court of Justice for serial human rights abuses (including genocide).

If it passes, the Bill will allow the US to impose funding cuts to aid and all sort of other bullying initiatives to bring the poor African state to heal.

This quote from the Al Jazeera Op Ed (April 16, 2024) – It is time for a democratic world order – sums up the problem that the progressive politics has fallen into:

When pressed on the necessity of taking this course of action, one of the common off-the-record responses activists, policy analysts and scholars receive from government officials around the world, including South Africa, is: “We want to pursue more meaningful direct action to help the Palestinian people, but we cannot withstand a punishing reaction from the US.”

I was thinking about that as part of one of the three major projects I am working on at present – this one being to revise my 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale (published May 2015) – to take into account Brexit, Ukraine and the Middle East situations, which, arguably, have altered the outlook for Europe in irrevocable and significant ways – none good.

As I think through the issues it becomes more obvious what the agenda in Europe is about and it goes beyond the neoliberal dimensions that have created the dysfunctional architecture of the common currency system.

I have been thinking of how I weave the Ukraine disaster into the book about Europe.

Clearly, the European Commission and the US have spent a massive amount supporting Ukraine’s attempts to win back its border.

That financial and military support appears to be hitting roadblocks now as politicians start to question the hype that Ukraine’s President has been pumping out.

If we examine recent election results, there have been successes by those not keen to continue supporting the Ukraine effort and domestic issues like inflation have localised the political debate somewhat.

My understanding of the Ukraine situation is that it has demonstrated how dependent Europe is on US military support through NATO despite the rather inflammatory rhetoric from, say the French President who wanted to send European military troops into the War.

On March 14, 2024, Emmanuel Macron claimed on national TV that (Source):

If Russia were to win, the lives of French people would change … We would no longer have security in Europe.

Similar statements have come from other leading politicians in Europe and elsewhere.

Claims that Putin will run through Finland, Poland, and beyond are regularly rehearsed to support the demands for ever more weapons and armaments for Ukraine.

I am not military expert but we are now in day 783 of the Russian assault on the East of Ukraine and the Russian military machine has superior weapons, air craft, many more troops, and other advantages and they have not really succeeded in capturing much territory at all.

They have caused some terrible destruction and killed a lot of Ukraine soldiers but have not demonstrated any capacity to penetrate into Europe proper or take back control of the former Soviet satellite states.

So all the talk of Russia becoming a threat to NATO seems to be obfuscation and one wonders why the European leaders are so intent on spending billions of euros supporting the Ukraine when they are busy resuming the fiscal straitjacket on Member States in the face of rising unemployment and on-going inflationary pressures on households.

The progressive politics surrendered to the neoliberalism of the EU Project long ago because they claimed they were cosmopolitans and the Europe was transcending the pettiness of state boundaries and opening up the continent.

It was a faux agenda of course given that the European elites allowed people to drown at their borders – so cosmopolitanism had boundaries it seems.

Except now, I am thinking the Ukraine issue is not a reflection of any genuine fear that Russian forces will not stop at Ukraine, but rather a grand scheme to create a larger Europe and extend the control of Brussels out to the Russian border.

The whole common currency march was a reflection of that sort of mentality – a desire to create a giant corporatist state independent of what the people within the Member States really thought, wanted, or would benefit from.

Elites out of control.

They have effectively supported Zelensky because they know he will be compliant and feel bigger because he will bring the Ukraine into ‘Europe’.

Similar sentiments drove the Greeks and Italians into the euro.

The former was an expression of dissent against the military dictatorship and a hope to be protected by European membership, while the latter reflected disdain for years of corruption among the Italian elites and the desire to force wider scrutiny on Italian politics.

The question I am dealing with as I draft new chapters in the revised book is how is all this going to be legitimised?

In our 2017 book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017) – the issue of identity came up.

Towards the end of that book, we evaluated the various options that the then 19 Member States of the Eurozone had to get out of the dystopic neoliberal austerity machine that they had created when they went into the common currency and surrendered their own sovereignty.

I also delved into that issue in my 2015 book.

One option was clearly to create a true Federal Europe, which was the only way the earlier processes that explored further economic integration (the 1970 Werner Report and the 1977 MacDougall Report) considered would be viable.

The – Werner Report – for example, concluded that for EMU cohesion “transfers of responsibility from the national to the Community plane will be essential” (Werner Report, 1970, page 10).

Moreover, the (p.11):

… transfer to the Community level of the powers exercised hitherto by national authorities will go hand in hand with the transfer of a corresponding Parliamentary responsibility from the national plane to that of the Community. The centre of decision of economic policy will be politically responsible to a European Parliament.

In a similar vein, the – MacDougall Report concluded in relation to the need for a mechanism to cushion “short-term and cyclical fluctuations” (p.12) that:

… because the Community budget is so relatively very small there is no such mechanism in operation on any significant scale, as between member countries, and this is an important reason why in the present circumstances monetary union is impracticable.

The current design of the Eurozone determines that the Member State governments are not ‘sovereign’ in the sense that they are forced to use a foreign currency and must issue debt to private bond markets in that foreign currency to fund any fiscal deficits.

Their fiscal positions must then take the full brunt of any economic downturn because there is no ‘federal’ counter stabilisation function.

The EMU is a federation without the most important component.

The decision by the Delors Committee in 1989 to ignore these recommendations reflected two realities:

1. The neoliberal ideology had become dominant and they didn’t want a major fiscal role for government in the new system.

2. But, relevant here, the decision to leave fiscal policy responsibilities at the Member State level reflected the diverse cultural, historical and language differences across the 19 Member States.

In particular, Germany’s dominant position in the European economy allowed it to dictate terms and there was never going to be a system established where permanent fiscal transfers could be made between states, which in the European context would have meant transfers from Germany to the South (mainly).

There was simply no European ‘demos’, which could force the creation of a truly federal Europe.

Which led me to conclude in – Eurozone Dystopia – that the option for Europe to create an effective federal system was not viable.

That led me to recommend various orders of exit starting from the politically impossible orderly dissolution of the currency sharing to different forms of unilateral exit.

The Ukraine situation has brought these issues into relief.

How can Brussels convince the Member States and the people to support Ukraine, which is not part of Europe at a time when they are intent on invoking harsh austerity on many Member States within the EU?

There are all sorts of narratives going on at present but the overriding storyline appears to be the classic struggle between good and bad.

The political elites in Europe keep telling us that this is a struggle against those that would denigrate and destroy the European values of freedom and democracy and justice.

The same elites ride roughshod over democratic outcomes in the Member States whenever it suits them and it is well documented that the structure of the treaties and the behaviour of the technocrats in Brussels have created a gaping democratic deficit within Europe.

But it suits the elites to spin the virtuous line that the Ukraine stands for European values against the ‘Eastern monsters’ who are no better than roaming animals.

Already the common currency states have pushed the integration beyond what we might consider to be legitimate.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) helps us understand the capacities of the currency-issuer and the consequences of using those capacities.

But it only goes so far.

It says that the imposition of a tax liability drives the demand for the currency.


But that begs the question – how does the government get the tax liability to stick?

And the answer goes well beyond the capacity of the state to lock people in prisons for failure to pay taxes.

The point was that currency sovereignty is only legitimised if there is a demos that accepts that sovereignty and all that it implies.

My assessment after years of detailed study of European history, sociology, economics, culture, language etc is that there is no such demos to support a wider Europe.

Nation states still define cultural, language and other boundaries that define the various demos in Europe.

Thinking that there will be widespread support to integrate Ukraine into this supranational state is fanciful.

That will be Europe’s unravelling.

I stand by the analysis in the 2015 and 2017 books.

Neoliberalism is a state-driven project rather than an abandonment of the nation state.

It has relied on convincing the demos in each nation state that they would be better off.

The EU Project was superimposed on that with lies, deceptions and bullying.

The political developments in Europe tell me that that agenda is losing support.

I will write more about that in later posts.

Middle East

Apparently it is okay for Israel to infiltrate a nation (Syria) and then bomb a foreign embassy (Iran) there thus murdering several people who were working inside, but if Iran does anything in response it is held out in the Western press as “unprovoked” and “unprecedented”.

And Israel then tries to take the high moral ground and demands the rest of the world strengthen sanctions against Iran.

Meanwhile back closer to home, the genocide of the Palestinian people continues in Gaza and illegal Zionist occupiers in the West Bank continue to murder Palestinians there and steal there homes.

Israel is now killing women and children in refugee camps

And the US, which is continually claiming it has a massive debt problem and has to cut spending, ratifies the Israeli actions and spends around $US1 billion on rockets to thwart the drones coming into Israel from Iran.

This is the definition of madness.

And while I am no fanboy for Iran, the actions of the Israeli defense forces amount to war crimes and all the leadership should be punished in international courts accordingly.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Republicans and Democrats have combined to submit a new piece of legislation, the so-called – H.R.7256 – U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act – which effectively seeks to punish South Africa for taking a case against Israel to the International Court of Justice accusing it of genocide.

The US Congress is now being asked to revise the relationship between the two countries because South Africa is apparently supporting a terrorist organisation (Hamas).

One of the bill’s proponents claimed that he is “greatly concerned with South Africa’s alignment with China and Russia and embracement of Hamas in the wake of the devastating October 7th attacks” (Source).

While that is disgusting in itself, the fact that the Democrats also chose to co-sponsor the legislation makes it doubly so.

So we have come so far in this madness that calling out human rights abuses on a massive scale is siding with terrorists.

It is almost beyond one’s imagination how sordid the US has become on this issue.

Music – All Along the Watchtower

This is what I have been listening to while working this morning.

I discovered a box of records the other day that had not been dealt with in my recent house move and within the box was some of my favourite records.

Among them was the great album – John Wesley Harding – released in 1967 by – Bob Dylan – and is, in my view, one of his best.

This song – All Along the Watchtower – has always been among my all time favourites.

And as a special double treat here is the best cover of the song by none other than – Jimi Hendrix – which was released on his 1968 album – Electric Ladyland

Some of the best guitar playing that one could ever hope to hear.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2024 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. Russia wanting Europe is fanciful Europe is a cot case with sanctions that came back to bite them!!!
    Secondly the proxy war in Ukraine is over and Ukraine will be broken up! One needs to look carefully on how the war is being fought the Russian way and aggressive attrition is unique to Russian strategy!!

  2. The US thinks of itself as an empire and they act accordingly.
    For them, the EU is just a vassal to the empire, and the EU acts accordingly too.
    Some say that the EU officials are even chosen by the empire.
    I even read that the EU is more corrupt than India or Pakistan, and all it takes to choose the “right oficcial” is a certain amount of envelopes.
    And that takes us to Ukraine.
    Ukraine had an elected government, that was overthrown in 2014, in a coup bankrolled by envelopes.
    The outcome was the election of a professional clown.
    Nothing new; clowns are beeing made presidents, ever since Ronald Reagan (his best known movie was co-stared with a monkey) was elected back in 1979 or 1980.
    I guess clowns are easy to manipulate.
    But, why is the EU so commited with Ukraine, all the while letting people drown in the mediterranean sea by the thousands, trying to get to the EU?
    Certainly, they have no consideration for people, either African people, Palestinian people, Ukrainian people or european people.
    All they are thinking of is keeping the free lunch.
    And Russia is their desired free lunch.
    No Russia, no free lunch.
    And so, they are sending envelopes to the Ukrainian elites to keep the war going, all the while giving money to the EU’s corporations to build the war machine the EU lacks.
    And that is why it will fail: nothing will come out of a zombie economy.
    Maybe a real estate bubble, at best.

  3. Also, the west is likely going to strip Ukraine of whatever it has left if it the Government remains pro-West. Its the price for all the ‘aid’.

  4. ‘one wonders why the European leaders are so intent on spending billions of euros supporting the Ukraine when they are busy resuming the fiscal straitjacket on Member States in the face of rising unemployment and on-going inflationary pressures on households.’ All that that comparison demonstrates is that the European elites know that they are not money constrained but act as such within the EU for ideological reason. Their support for Ukraine has actually been rather miserly – it wouldn’t look good to splash so much cash in that direction while pretending that cash is the constraint.
    I don’t doubt that the EU meddled in Ukraine at the time of the Euromaidan protests, as did Russia, and has EU imperialist designs (the EU wants Ukraine’s bread basket and a supply of white-skinned workers, at the same time as keeping out dark-skinned ones), but Ukraine is in a tough position. They may well be misty eyed/misled about the EU, but they’ve had a lot longer to decide (ever since the Ukraine peasantry was sold out to Tsarist Russia by their Cossack overlords) that they don’t want to be subsumed by Russia again. That’s not just an economic decision but one of language and culture. You may argue that the Eastern mostly Russian speaking fringe of Ukraine should be conceded as Russian, but that includes Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city of 1.4m people who the Russians continue to bomb the hell out of, and who now visceraly hate Russia, whereas before they regarded Russians as brothers.
    Macron is a loud-mouthed egotist and should be ignored, but just because Russia hasn’t yet seized massive territory, doesn’t tell us the future, given that Russia is now geared as a war economy backed by China and Ukraine’s military capability is degraded, and Ukraine (and Poland, the Baltics, East Germany) presents one big tank playground once over the dnieper river.
    ‘Ukraine, which is not part of Europe.’ By geography and history and culture, it very much is. One should never conflate the short, and hopefully short-lived EU, or more so, the Eurozone, with Europe. The Greeks were similarly misty eyed/conned by the EU, as the Ukrainians, but if Greeks had the unenviable choice between the EU or being subsumed by Turkey, I’m pretty sure they would plump for the EU as the lesser evil.
    We all know the US Congress is not just a supporter of US military and economic imperialism as in the past, but a forum for right-wing racist loopiness, so no surprise for its support of Israel, lack of support for Ukraine and bashing of weaker more moral states. But many on the left have their eyes so focused on western colonial history and its 20th/21st century version, that they are blind to the colonial genocide of Russia and China and its continuation in the 20th/21st centuries – Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan (a line should have been drawn to end the murderous Chinese civil war in 1949 rather than Nixon selling out Taiwan to cosy up to the murderous Mao), the Caucasus, Belarus, Ukraine …
    Prof. Mitchell is correct on Israel and another good musical choice.

  5. One should take the opportunity to look into who insists on spreading the same Zaka lies and question why should they believe their other narratives, and notice who their sources are, and who they aren’t. While you won’t find a good side, as some people say, falling for the necessity of having one, especially since communists have been decimated by everyone, it still implies a stark difference between fanciful accusations and proven facts of our enemy’s enemies.
    On the eastern front, we have been fooled into thinking a successful war is done quickly, forgetting the targets had vastly inferior technology, were impoverished, embargoed of materials, and carpet bombed in a way that makes the Russian army seem precise. It is certainly not the case in the age of drones that has defined the conflict, and the only real resistance to genocide. Without the folly of big offensives, Ukraine could’ve resisted for long, but it wasted men, weapons, and ammunition on “fighting for freedom” suicide runs for which “there is no money”, even if the west could “interfere in the market” to force the military industrial complex to fulfill its existing contracts, let along the actual material needs. That Ukraine can fulfill the conditions to join the EU is a joke, even if the core wants its cheap *white* labor.
    Europe was once again convinced it could muddle its way through crisis to extend and pretend it is working, but it’ll sooner concede to leaders pinning for a mythical past – if not for both weak and strong opponents, both inside and outside – than acknowledge the hegemony’s goals cannot be theirs. It cannot politically afford to increase jingoism, a migratory crisis, antagonizing resource sources, and trade barrier energy transition without collapsing into an supremacist irrelevant bloc fighting against itself. But here we are.

  6. Domino theory (Eisenhower) is used to provide legitimacy. Crimea plays the role of early domino, the role that China and North Korea played prior to the Vietnam (French Indochina) War. The rest of Ukraine (beyond Crimea) is the next domino. (The word “domino” is not used, of course, lest the public recollect prior invocations of the theory.)

    NATO will not relinquish Ukraine. Ukraine provides a delaying buffer zone between Russia and the Bessarabian Gap (and the Focșani Gate).

    Economically, the West wants to maintain the transition to western ownership of Ukraine’s energy, agricultural, and chemical industries. The transition was underway prior to the war, back when Ukraine exported both coal and electricity, in addition to many agricultural inputs and crops.

  7. Call the eurocrats what they are, fascists!
    Europe is dominated by fascism again, but the current fascism is aesthetically different from the old fascism…
    It’s been, since the Maastricht treaty, one government after another acting against the interests of the majority of the population.

  8. Ukrainians don’t what to be ruled by a modern Czar.
    Not difficult to understand is it?

  9. I think the term “monster” is quite fitting for Putin and his brutal accomplices.

    Nowhere in Bill Mitchell’s assessment does he address the plight and the aspirations of Ukrainians.

    Their 2014 revolution was all about Ukrainian desire for democracy and open society, as exemplified by the EU. When people are facing takeover by a well-armed dictator, they should be forgiven for missing the subtleties of EU neoliberalism and its flawed monetary architecture.

    The country is UKRAINE, with no definite article.

    I’m afraid Bill’s misstatement reflects inattention to Ukraine’s perilous and tragic situation.

  10. Ukraine wants to be free and chose the neoliberal EU as opposed to Russia.
    However, which i find weird, do they not know what neoliberalism is?
    Ukraine has no ratified demarcation with Russia. All agreements were not renewed. The delimitations are now being resolved by annexations from military force.
    Israel annexed Golan Heights from Syria, illegally, supported by US and no one raised an eyebrow.
    Russia annexes Crimea and the west cries foul.
    The lesson for Ukraine, delimitations when decided by war, may never go your way. With all the might of NATO supporting Ukraine its sinking, because offensives have failed in retaking lost territory.
    So well done US for meddling in Ukraine since at least 2004.
    As for Gaza, zionism is a nasty vile parasite. The target from what I see isnt really Hamas, its to create calamity for 2.5 million in order to annex parts of Gaza, Westbank. The people in Gaza have been held hostage behind a wall with nowhere to go since they voted for Hamas, by the occupiers of Israel.
    How anyone wants to turn a blind eye at the murdering of women and children and suggest, oh well, Hamas are just using them. Shaking my head. The bigotry of evangelist zionists in the US.
    The US is in total disarray holding its democracy together as a global trophy while continuing its neoliberal agenda and punitive sanctions on those who object to it.
    As the global south rises under BRICS, i see the north slowing down and going in reverse. The endgame. What will give?

  11. Just a couple of nitpicks, Bill, because I think you and couple of commentators here are doing a disservice to Ukraine.

    “I am not military expert but we are now in day 783 of the Russian assault on the East of Ukraine and the Russian military machine has superior weapons, air craft, many more troops, and other advantages and they have not really succeeded in capturing much territory at all.”

    The reason Russia has not been able to succeed is a) the only “superior weapon” is their artillery shell supply from Iran and NK, everything else is 1980’s tech at best, b) Western aid has prevented Russian aircraft from establishing air superiority by providing a steady supply of man-portable anti-air defence, and c) those “many more troops” are either convicts or conscripts sent to the front with little equipment and training.

    The West has pivoted to an overall strategy of overwhelming air superiority and close air support for infantry and mechanised units. However, Ukraine has become an artillery and trench battleground, the like of which has not been seen since 1945. The West no longer has the artillery shell manufacturing capability to keep up with the supply Russia is getting from Iran and NK, and so far, Ukraine has not been provided with anything that could break the deadlock in air superiority.

    So, what we are seeing is a stalemate. Russia still has dug in defensively and has the capability to drop shells on any counter-offensive and blow it to smithereens. Ukraine is also dug in defensively and has superior Western equipment and training to stop any further Russian offensive.

    What will tip the stalemate is either a) Russia runs out of artillery shells, or b) Ukraine can establish air superiority and gets rid of the artillery threat.

    But the key thing is, the support provided to Ukraine is basically Western militaries getting rid of their surplus. There hasn’t been a huge uptick in weapon manufacturing. The handful of aircraft provided (about 60 F16s) represent a tiny fraction of the ~4500 F16s in service. Even the RAAF has more combat aircraft!

    And, like the point you so often make, resources used to make jets and bombs are not really of use making houses and hospitals. So, it’s not about money.

    It’s also not about whether Ukraine joins NATO or the EU or the Eurozone – despite what the Russian disinfo machine would have you believe.

    At the core of it, it’s about an invaded country can rely on the West to put their money where their mouth is and help them uphold their freedom and independence when invaded by a dictatorial superpower. Russia may not be able to proceed any further into Europe, but there’s plenty of resources up for grabs in small African nations they have their eyes on!

  12. “It says that the imposition of a tax liability drives the demand for the currency.


    But that begs the question – how does the government get the tax liability to stick?

    And the answer goes well beyond the capacity of the state to lock people in prisons for failure to pay taxes.

    The point was that currency sovereignty is only legitimised if there is a demos that accepts that sovereignty and all that it implies.”

    how does cryptocurrencies work without taxes?

  13. @kenneth isaac

    how does cryptocurrencies work without taxes?

    Just because people call something a currency does not make it a currency.

    Crypto is a speculative vehicle, in other words something you gamble on. You can not pay taxes with crypto, just like you can not pay taxes with shares (financial assets) that you happen to own.
    Crypto bugs are similar to gold bugs, it is just a business model (a way to make money from people who do not understand how money and the financial system really works). They go round with their story about how crypto is real money and fiat money is fake money etc. If I had invested in crypto I would be going around telling others to invest in crypto so the value of crypto rises.
    If someone gambles and wins money at the horse races –great
    If someone gambled and purchased Bitcoin in 2009 then sold it at its highest price in March 2024 — great.
    It still does not mean that in any way that crypto is a currency.

  14. The elites have wanted to balkanise Russia and access it’s vast resources for years now. The strategy was to defeat Russia economically through sanctions and inflict a military defeat on Russia in Ukraine in order to create political pressure in Russia to achieve regime change. This was outlined in two Rand corporation policy papers:
    1. Overextending and Unbalancing Russia, found here: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB10014.html

    2. Extending Russia Competing from Advantageous Ground, found here:

    We know from the leaked phone call between US undersecretary Victoria Nuland and then US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffry Pyatt the US backed the nationalists in Ukraine to overthrow the democratically elected Yanukovych government and install a client regime, phone call audio here:

    You can listen to Yevhen Karas of C14 fame bragging that it was the “nationalists”, backed by the West, who were essential in overthrowing the democratically elected Yanukovych gov here:

    You can hear Professor John Mearsheimer from Chicago University discuss all this in 2015 here: https://youtu.be/JrMiSQAGOS4?si=PvdHfCl903xo8_9M

    So why does Brussels support Ukraine? Corruption, greed, power, profit, resources, money or perhaps all of the above?

    PS I would add it’s not about gaining territory, Russia is fighting a war of attrition which is about destroying the enemy army and not making territorial gains. Success is measured by eliminating the ability of the other side to fight until they collapse almost entirely and this was discussed in RUSI here:

    People who don’t understand how Russia wages war aren’t able to understand what is happening in Ukraine and so look to territory as a measure of success or failure but they don’t understand Western stockpiles of weapons have largely been depleted, hence the vote in the US Congress to pass the $61 billion that essentially replenishes US inventories.

  15. @Michael Dalrymple re: ‘Ukraine has no ratified demarcation with Russia.’ This doesn’t really tell the story. The internal border between Russian and Ukraine Soviet Republics was settled in 1927 after much wrangling (its western border was altered after that, primarily as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). The only agreed land change between 1927 and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, was the handover of the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954. One (and Russia) might make a point that the Crimea is now peopled overwhelmingly by Russian speaking and Russian looking people, putting aside the fact that the much longer standing Tatar population were ethnically cleansed by Stalin. But it’s become very evident that Putin had no intention of simply settling for regaining the Crimea.
    ‘No-one raised an eyebrow when Israel annexed the Golan Heights’. This is incorrect. Pretty much every country except the USA, including the EU, view the Golan Heights as under Israeli occupation. Of course, most of those countries have no power or influence and the EU/UK don’t actually go beyond diplomatic words when criticising the US or Israel. You’re right if you suggest that there is complete hypocrisy by ‘the west’ with regard to Israel and Ukraine.
    ‘With all the might of NATO supporting Ukraine its sinking, because offensives have failed in retaking lost territory.’ This isn’t correct. NATO has left Ukraine (not a NATO member) very much underresourced, with a mismatch of artillery, no tank capability for many months after Putin’s full-scale invasion, virtually no air cover to support the donated tanks, and a lack of air defence in contrast to that given to Israel, plus a mismatch of army numbers. It will indeed be very difficult to retake territory, with so much devastated and mined. I don’t see much hope in Palestinians or Libyans regaining territory from Israel either, but I know in the case of both Ukrainians and Palestinians, they are the largely wronged party.

  16. @Prep Re: ‘I would add it’s not about gaining territory, Russia is fighting a war of attrition which is about destroying the enemy army and not making territorial gains.’ Russia is indeed fighting a war of attrition, but don’t think its aim isn’t to ‘gain’ Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, in the manner in which it took Grozny, and Odesa, as it has Mariupol and join itself all the way to Moldova, and install a compliant puppet government in Kiev as it has in Belarus.

  17. You’ve a few commenters here that swallow the KoolAid of ‘bad Putin’ & ‘freedumb & democracy’ in Ukraine etc. BS, lol.
    Ukraine’s S & E, mostly ethnic Russian/Russian speaking will be ceded to Russia – some Oblasts already are, following plebiscites. Nothing will/can stop this now. (In March 2022 it could have been different had US etc. not doubled down.)

    The Ukraine play is 100% a US Neocon/CIA game, same as all the other ‘colour revolutions’ – create division/civil war & install US puppet. Kiev’s regime is racist fascist – US’ preferred Gov/politics installed/maintained by street militia violence & intimidation.
    If you want understand better, listen to Scott Ritter, Jeff Sachs, Jaques Baud etc.
    Europe’s ‘leaders’ have all revealed themselves as US/Neoliberal/Neocon puppets, happily degrading Europe’s own economy as they tug the forelock & ignore their own citizens’ interests (surprise!…not).

    Russia has no interest in Europe & it’s military is not configured anyway to project power much beyond ~100km of its own borders (unlike US’ global military reach). It is only since the SMO began, & after US/UK scuppered the agreements reached in Istanbul, that Russia has mobilised enough forces & arms to take Ukraine, & even then not by ‘big arrow’ strategy/tactics.
    Land mass gained is quite irrelevant to judging progress of the SMO – since 2014 Kiev, & with US/NATO support, Kiev built significant/deep fortifications along the Donbass LoC.
    Russia had, & has further developed, it’s rocket & barrel artillery advantage/numbers, but never had air supremacy over US/NATO supplied air defences.
    Likewise US/NATO over Russian air defences, hence the slow grind/attrition process which US/NATO/EU/Ukraine can/will never win, lacking any serious logistics to do so.
    All serious serving western military intel know this & have no doubt informed their political masters who refuse to change policy to avoid all the unnecessary deaths – mostly forced military conscripts on Ukraine side, sadly.

    Russian losses are mostly military & non-conscript & ~15% of Ukraine’s. Most civilian casualties, including since 2014 civil war began, are on Donbass side. Russia is scrupulously avoiding civilian/’collateral damage’ targets wherever possible (buildings damage aside which can’t be avoided). Not least because Russia knows most of S & E Ukraine rejected Kiev’s fascist Russophobe coup in 2014 & want nothing to do with Lvov’s Banderite thugs.

    The global south see exactly what’s going on – they recognise the US Neocon MO.

    Ukraine has little to do with the EU, per se, so hardly worth your effort to contrive some narrative there for your book? (Aside from EU leaders’ acquisition to the US Neocon fold, running US FP for ~30+ yrs at least.)

  18. Patrick B

    There is no ratified demarcation between Russia and Ukraine. Period. Its already documented. It has nothing to do with Soviet era.
    No one raised an eyebrow over Golan Heights means, nothing was done in UNSC because US ensures veto keep it quiet. The UN assembly just raises its hand but has zero power with a US hegemony to do anything. The no raising an eyebrow means the UN is merely for cork sniffing and cocktail parties. It is powerless in reality and while the US pretends its the messiah of truth, justice and freedom, nothing will change.

    Interesting that you would dig up an irrelevant Soviet document since it collapsed in 1991.
    More entertaining was the Nazi Germany and Soviet Union Molotov Ribbentrop pact.

    Delimitations have remained as there is no ratified demarcation.
    Those adjustments will remain until the US puppet PM of Ukraine sits down and signs whatever is offered by Russia or it can continue with its military operation on both sides for territory as both sides never declared war.
    Its so nice that NATO puppet under the US treated Russia as defeated since 1991. The US thought it could do as it pleases like invade Iraq under a false flag.
    So well done peace harmony justice and the American way. Sigh… but what do i know, apparently i need to accept agreements and pacts of dissolved signatories.

  19. @ Michael Dalrymple ‘an irrelevant Soviet document since it collapsed in 1991.’ It did, so what’s a better solution, to keep to the border agreed by Russians and Ukrainians during their period of soviet brotherhood, or to go to war. Clearly you think war and death are a better solution.

    If you found my in bracket reference to Ukraine’s western as distinct from its eastern border amusing, then bully for you. Strange way to get your kicks.

    ‘No-one raised an eyebrow.’ What a very US centric view and dismissive of the majority of countries (most not no-one). Raising or not raising an eyebrow is not the same as having or not having power (as I wrote previously).

    Please don’t try that suggestion of my support for all things American/the American way. Very insulting. Perhaps that’s what you intended.

  20. @ Mike Hall You can keep imbibing that ‘kool aid’ of yours and sucking up and regurgitating the propaganda or you can read a little more widely and stop insulting those of us who are neither pro US/EU/Russia or China (or the UK for that matter). Reminds me of those on the left who regurgitated Stalin’s propaganda ignoring or in ignorance of his crimes against humanity. The same sort of people never learn, imbibing Mao’s Red Book while he was presiding over mass starvation of his own people. Now they find their only outlet for criticism of American imperialism is to go for the full on uncritical embrace of Russia and China.

    ‘Russia is scrupulously avoiding civilian/’collateral damage’ targets wherever possible.’ Wait till I tell my Ukraine, Russian (and Ukrainian) speaking, friend from Kharkiv that Uncle Putin has her best interests at heart and never targets civilians as per Mike Hall. Hahaha.

  21. If you dont like my retorts dont tag me.

    Your comments to me are silly.

  22. In 1989 as the Soviet Union began to unravel Mikhail Gorbachev wanted to work with Western powers to create a new political community with Russia as an equal founding member. He also envisaged Russia joining in a greater European zone of economic co-operation which would exist alongside the EU and the defensive NATO alliance between the US and Western Europe.

    Gorbachev knew that the nuclear arms race with the US was both a threat to human survival and an economic drain that Russia could ill- afford.

    Unfortunately the American side lacked either the statesmanship or the desire to engage co-operatively in the way Gorbachev imagined, and siezed the opportunity provided by the end of the cold war to become a dominant single power. Consequently, when international unity has never been more important US reluctance to explore avenues for peace has become a habit, and contempt for the United Nations is routine.

    An undertaking not to advance NATO to the east, for which Gorbachev endorsed re-unification of Germany, has been repeatedly broken despite increasingly urgent protests from Russia. The huge significance of a post war Russian leader offering such a concession in the interests of peace seems to have been lost on the Americans in their euphoria at the prospect of world domination.

    Russians have become galvanized behind Vladimir Putin in their distrust of Western intentions, and Western Europe has grown increasingly subservient to US policy.

    Putin continues to be driven by a desire to restore Russia to the status it enjoyed during the cold war, but is faced with a hegemonic adversary who will not deign to negotiate with him even over issues he regards as existential, such as Ukrainian neutrality and NATO proximity to Russia.

    Instead of the peaceful co-existence and co-operation once imagined by Mikhail Gorbachev Ukraine is being sacrificed for no reason but to prove the determination of Putin to prevent further NATO expansion at any cost, and to demonstrate that the Manichean United States world view continues more than three decades after the cold war.

    It has been said that the US favours action over reflection, with reflection only employed later to justify the action. There will be much for the US to reflect on when the misery in Ukraine finally ends, not least the missed opportunities for compromise before hostilities began in earnest.

  23. Dear All

    Let’s keep our discourse above the level of you are “silly” please? No one advances with personal slurs.

    best wishes

  24. Thanks Michael for the link to the many assurances given to Gorbachev re NATO. It makes fascinating reading.
    Obviously there were different opinions behind the assurances, such as the US Defence Department wanting to leave the door open to expansion of NATO while Mitterrand personally favoured gradual dismantling of defence blocs altogether. (Might have been the wisest option).
    Nevertheless, given the assurances made by so many leaders and the inclusiveness conveyed toward Russia around becoming part of Europe it seems tragic that so much goodwill could have been allowed to dissipate, leading to a new cold war and ultimately the Ukraine conflict.

  25. One thing looks certain; the longer we remain on this road, where most of our efforts are directed towards killing each other and destroying the essential ecosystems in the environment, the less chance we have of surviving as a species beyond the end of this century.

    The road we should be on has many challenges to overcome within a rapidly diminishing timeframe, but we cannot make any start whilst we are in a different place embarking on an orgy of destruction orchestrated by a few faceless people. Qui bono?

    They do, but only for a short time. Money or wealth have no value meaning in the post-modernity age that is rapidly approaching as the time for civilised transition is long past. If only we had used our imagination, intellect and sagacity to create a simple, safe, peaceful world instead of the nightmare we see before us now.

  26. Thing that nobody talks about is that euro is massive security threat to member nations. If Russia would really attack any of them, financial markets would probably throw immediate hissy fit and cut off funding. Then how do you defend your country when you cannot pay your bills?

  27. @Hepion – Well, if Russia really attacked one of the Eurozone countries, then the mutual defence part of NATO comes into play and the overwhelming might of the combined NATO forces crushes Russia within weeks, if not days, with conventional forces.

    Or it goes nuclear and there is horrible death and destruction around world and the end of civilisation as we know it. On the plus side, it would take care of global warming and overpopulation.

    @Nearly everyone else – You guys all know that Gorbachev is long gone, right? Trying to justify the aims of Putin’s regime based on literally decades-old politics would be like me justifying stealing land from indigenous people at the end of a gun under Terra Nullius. Not really relevant to the world today.

  28. Dear Matt Benfall,

    Please don’t think that in trying to understand Putin’s rationale that I believe his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine can be justified. I regard such action by any leader as a war crime.

    What I do think is that international relations like any human interaction requires trying to put one’s self in the other’s shoes in order to understand their position and reduce the risk of conflict.

    Gorbachev gave his erstwhile enemies a possibly once in a lifetime opportunity to end 45 years of confrontation and the constant threat of nuclear anihilation, in a new era of friendship and co-operation.

    As the Soviet Union broke up, Russia desperately needed financial support to make the change to a free market economy. However, approaches to the US government on its behalf were flatly refused.

    Putin is no Gorbachev, but he did come to office supporting integration of Russia with Europe. Unfortunately America’s dream of Russian economic subjugation has gradually turned him from a potential ally to a suspicious, defensive and eventually aggressive adversary.

    Far from forgetting Gorbachev I think his example should be remembered, along with that of John F Kennedy who worked with Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev for nuclear arms limitation after Kennedy’s failed Cuban invasion almost led to nuclear destruction.

    They both exemplify what is lacking in the American leadership today – a willingness to negotiate, look for common ground, work for peace and admit mistakes instead of doubling down on disastrous military ventures.

    As you rightly point out this conflict in Ukraine, already a disaster, and which could have been avoided at several points but for US influence, has the potential to end in a terminal nuclear conflagration.

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