By David Sole
With the Ukraine-Russian Federation war approaching its one year anniversary, some elements of the United States ruling class are questioning how to make the best of a bad situation. After many months of media exaggeration touting Ukrainian battlefield gains the grim reality is emerging that Ukraine cannot prevail.
Of course Ukraine has been the willing pawn of western imperialism since the C.I.A. engineered a rightwing coup in February 2014. The U.S. and NATO spent the next 8 years building up the Ukrainian military which was used against the ethnic Russian population in the Donbas region. At the same time Ukraine has been pressing for NATO membership.
The Russian Federation finally responded to these provocations and threats to its own security with a Special Military Operation against Ukraine beginning on February 24, 2022.
In the following year Ukraine’s military was militarily driven from about 20% of its territory. The Russian Federation incorporated four former Ukrainian provinces following referendums approving annexation.
The call up of 300,000 Russian reservists has strengthened Russian and allied front lines which stopped earlier advances by Ukrainian forces, bolstered by tens of billions of dollars’ worth of heavy weaponry from the U.S., the UK and the European Union nations. In the western Donetsk front Ukraine has been locked in heavy fighting.
Russian advances at several points on this heavily fortified Ukrainian front threaten to lead to the collapse of the entire line of Ukrainian defense. Following months of heavy fighting the city of Bakhmut is reportedly surrounded. It is estimated that 24,000 or more of Ukraine’s best troops may be trapped in this cauldron.
Ugledar, to the southwest of Bakhmut, also faces being encircled by Russian Federation troops. This fortified town has been used for many years to shell the provincial capital of Donetsk City. Should the Russians succeed in both locations, it would undermine the whole front and create a military crisis as well as a political debacle for Ukraine’s leaders and their western masters.
The lack of trained troops, after months of heavy casualties, led acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klimenko to issue a call for the formation of “Attack Guard” units. The previous Interior Minister recently died in a mysterious helicopter crash that many speculate was an assassination by political rivals.
Klimenko addressed his appeal to police officers, border guards, members of the National Guard and other untrained Ukrainians “who have enough rage to beat the enemy.” A website lists several brigades, including the notorious “Azov” unit with open ties to pro-Nazi groups.
It is instructive to examine some of the conclusions drawn by the Rand Corporation, an influential U.S. government and corporate financed think tank, in a 32 page report titled “Avoiding a long war: US policy and the trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”
The report admits that “U.S. interests…are not synonymous with Ukrainian interests.” While U.S./NATO “involvement in the war is breathtaking in scope…inadvertent escalation that leads to NATO’s entry into the conflict is also an ongoing risk…fighting can unintentionally spill over to the territory of neighboring U.S. allies…potentially sparking an action-reaction cycle that could lead to a full-scale conflict.”
The RAND authors admit that “an end to the war that leaves Ukraine in full control over all of its internationally recognized territory…remains a highly unlikely outcome.” Recognizing what has become regular news in the media, RAND notes that “the intensity of the military assistance effort could also become unsustainable after a certain period. Already European and some U.S. stocks of weapons are reportedly running low.”
What is becoming more apparent to those honestly watching developments is that “there is thus reason to question whether a longer war will lead to further Ukrainian gains – losses are possible too.”
Citing the many costs to the western backers of the Ukraine proxy war the report admits “the increase in energy prices alone is likely to lead to nearly 150,000 excess deaths …in Europe in the winter of 2022-2023.”
“In short” RAND concludes “the consequences of a long war – ranging from persistent elevated escalation risks to economic damage – far outweigh the possible benefits.” The report then examines many different scenarios for a negotiated settlement of the conflict, none of them previously even entertained by the Biden administration and the neocons who engineered the plan to undermine the Russian Federation.
No doubt there will be more and more conflicting views among the ruling class as Ukraine’s military situation deteriorates. Should it turn out that the Russian Federation launches more successful military offensives the danger of direct U.S./NATO involvement will grow as will pressure for a negotiated settlement. With Ukraine’s military short of troops and equipment the question may arise – who will negotiate a Ukrainian surrender?