By Hans Modlich, Toronto
Biden’s provocative February 20 trip to Kyiv – nine years to the day after the bloody Maidan coup –is a clear signal that this war is no longer about Ukraine’s (or even Donbas’s) self determination, but has escalated into a proxy war between NATO and Russia itself. The unstated aim is to bring about regime change in Moscow and eliminate Russia as a hegemonic rival.
On the battlefield the war has become an unmitigated disaster for Russia’s military, beginning in the first days with the stalled thrust on Kyiv. Like they did with the advancing Hitler forces in 1941, the defenders opened the Idper Dam , thus flooding the north west flank to Kyiv to the Russian tanks. Then followed the sinking of the Moskwa, state of the art flagship of the Russian Navy, the bombing of the recently built Kerch bridge to Crimea – its only pre-invasion link to the mainland, and then the re-conquest of Kharkiv and Cherson. Casualties of ill prepared Russian GI’s are reported to number into the hundred thousand.
Just like WW I, the Russian invasion has become a war of attrition, rather than a cake walk. A war which neither side can now afford to lose.
Biden’s trip –signals for all the world to see what before German Wunderkind and Blinken’s protégé Annalena Baerbock had only inadvertently blurted out at a recent EU summit “this is now a war against Russia”. A geopolitical war to dislodge and weaken Russia from its perceived perch as the world’s second most powerful military. The under reported detail enabling this visit — in itself unthinkable a year ago — was that the State Department gave Moscow a full hour’s heads-up that Biden was on his way, by rail even, to thumbing his nose in Putin’s face in Kyiv!
The strategic setbacks for Putin are even more devastating. Instead of forestalling NATO expansion into Ukraine, NATO has been consolidated like never before enlisting Sweden and Finland, and there are now even Swiss voices calling to join.
EU membership for the Ukraine is now firmly on the agenda, as soon as the conflict has ended. What the leaked “F…the EU” (which Victoria Nuland had let slip before the 2014 Maidan Coup against Yanukovych), has been exploded into broad daylight with the sabotage of Putin’s pet project Nordstream 1 and 2 . No-one except for Seymour Hersh, having the guts to point the finger at Washington. In short EU has been brought to heel and Poland is competing for Washington’s favorite nation treatment. Biden, instead of meeting Scholz in Berlin, is hauling the German chancellor on the carpet in Washington, to eat humble pie for holding out so long against tanks and now fighter jets.
Putin, instead of a quick regime change in Kyiv, has reaped more than his match in Zelensky, who has consolidated a right wing oligarchic hold on government – with virtually all real opposition parties banned. While Putin’s troops may hold the Donbas Region, the swath of destruction left in the wake of their intervention overwhelms that in the previous 8 years of civil war, launched as it was by Kyiv’s post coup Poroshenko.
This will cast doubts on the outcome of any referendum in the disputed Russian speaking regions – no matter how objectively supervised.
Is it really so hard to imagine why Putin felt threatened and wanted to preserve his military power vis-a-vis a mushrooming NATO presence ever closer on his doorstep?
Place yourself for a moment in Russia’s position, and do so remembering the historic fact that Crimea has been Russian for longer than Arizona has been American!
Just imagine how Washington would react if today Mexico claimed the return of its lost territories in the 1844 US war of annexation, and in doing so Russia was supplying it with all the latest weapons of war! Unthinkable of course! Heretical even the mere mention of it.
How would the US Navy react to a foreign threat to its Norfolk Naval base in Virginia –the equivalent to Sevastopol? And who dares to raise the detail that Washington has condoned Israel’s illegal annexation of occupied Palestine for over 55 years?
And why? Because the western world is becoming unipolar. For Washington this war has now become a war for global hegemony, for Pax Americana at last — so convinced is it with the prospect of victory. So what if the gambit rests on the assumption that , even faced with an existential threat, Putin will not resort to nuclear weapons , even tactical ones.
In tandem with this goes the explicit assumption that China will stay out of this – or else.
I’m reminded of the recent tweet attributed to Trump that ”Biden could end this war in a day if he wanted to”. This time there is indeed some truth in what he tweets. While Trump had blustered about MAGA, Biden is doing it! And on both nuclear armed fronts!
What options are left?
What if Biden in his extensive East European travels had flown instead to Helsinki — and offered to meet Putin to negotiate a immediate ceasefire? Odds are pretty good that an embattled Putin would have been there — with bells on!
Let’s also recall that just one year ago, before the invasion, Biden could have acceded to Putin’s demand for a top level meeting to negotiate a demilitarized non-NATO Ukraine. But instead Biden spurned the eleventh hour offer, grandstanded like a schoolyard bully – in fact daring Putin to ‘bring it on’.
Biden’s most blatant lie, echoed by all his vassals, was and is that this was an unprovoked war. More chilling is the fact that no-one has dared to call him out on it. For all the professing to stand for democracy, the big lie has gone unchallenged by the entire main stream media and virtually all political pundits — hook line and sinker!
Let us dispel the myth that this war is just one year old – factually of course, the ill-conceived and illegal Putin invasion happened a year ago. But this war has been in the making for three decades, beginning with Clinton’s NATO “Partnership for Peace” enlisting Stalin-era Turkmenistan in 1994.
Instead of disbanding NATO in step with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the withdrawal of 400,000 Russian troops from German soil, our Cold War alliance was maintained and steadily expanded.
With Gorbachev still teetering in the saddle of a disintegrating USSR, the next American “Feindbild” (as we Germans call the US imperative to have a foreign threat in order to sustain its Military-Congressional-Industrial complex — to name it how Eisenhower called it) the former client Saddam was turned into a global threat and Iraq was turned into ashes, in Schwarzkopf’s Operation Desert Storm. An all too trusting Gorbachev did not see the hand writing on the wall, as he believed Baker’s promise that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward” beyond the German border. (Supposedly to keep the lid on any unified German military fantasies.)
The step by step expansion of NATO is documented by U of Ottawa Professor Ivan Katchanovski in a 2011 paper titled Puzzles of EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries
“The anti-Russian bias extends to post-Soviet countries to a significant degree since they, like the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire, are often associated in the West with Russia. For example, the Soviet Union and its many nationalities, in particular those that became independent in 1991, such as Ukrainians or Belarusians, were often referred to by political leaders and mass media in Western countries as ‘Russia’ or ‘Russians’. The Baltic States are exceptions because they were perceived in the West as distinct from Russia, both at the time of the Soviet Union and in the post-Soviet period”.
Putin’s response was made repeatedly in the 2004 Bucharest conference and more emphatically so in the 2007 Munich “Security” Conference .
Warnings from within the US establishment included those of CIA head William Burns. He is on record that NATO expansion to Georgia or Ukraine is “crossing the brightest of all bright red lines”. George Kennan, John Mearsheimer and even Kissinger have warned against such adventurism.
We have seen how ruthlessly and tenaciously Putin has hung on to his Mediterranean Naval base near Aleppo. How much more will Russia defend its Crimean naval stronghold of Sevastopol? And with it how strategically important is a land bridge to Crimea via the Donbas, the predominately Russian speaking part of that ‘Cleft Country’ that Katchanovski defines as Ukraine.
“Previous studies show that post-communist countries that belonged to the Austrian, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires before World War I have generally been more democratic, rule-of-law oriented, successful in terms of economic reforms and economic development, and less corrupt than countries which belonged to the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
Similar historical legacies are major determinants of pro-Western orientations and political values in regions of post-Soviet Ukraine. Several western Ukrainian regions which experienced Austrian rule before World War I are consistently much more likely to favour the pro-Western orientation of this post-Soviet country compared to other regions that experienced Russian or Ottoman rule during the same historical time period.”
More significant yet is Katchanovski’s research into what really happened in the Feb 20th 2014 Maidan Coup that ousted an elected government in Kyiv. His website video-documents the massacre by the Swoboda putschists shooting into their own crowds and then blaming Yanukovych’s Berkat police. He also reveals the trial testimony of many witnesses and foreign journalists.
But looking into these factual historic details is glossed over by the pro war propagandists – at great detriment to all of us. Most of all at the expense of Ukrainian lives and property.
So rather than asking the question what does Putin want – ask what does Biden want?
He, or his proxies, have thrown down the gauntlet on numerous occasions, from the sinking of the Moskwa flagship , the Kerch Crimean bridge bombing, and last September, the brazenly denied and now whistle blower sourced Seymour Hersh revelation of the CIA-Norwegian pipeline sabotage.
It is reported that Himars missiles, while manned by Ukrainians, are supplied GPS target co-ordinates by NATO whose AWAC aircraft patrolling the war zone oversee a coverage of 300,000 sq kilometers. Musk’s satellite phones have provided key frontline communications support. Leopard I tanks are being followed by Leopard 2’s and the clamour is now for F-16’s.
Will Depleted Uranium shells be used, spreading their lethal radioactivity as they did in Iraq? Will these then become a pretext for the use of tactical nuclear weapons – to fend off a real enough existential threat?
Biden’s poking Putin in the face in Kyiv marks but the latest and most explicit indication that Washington is all out for victory — for regime change in Moscow . Just about all its NATO vassals ( and two new ones) have been lined up and all voices of doubt have been muzzled or ignored. A decisive threshold has been reached – one that is more threatening than the Cuban Missile crisis.
Only an anti-war movement can now stand in the way. But given the proxy nature of the war, and the all but totally embedded media what stands in the way? Even the forces of the hard left are divided!
Biden clearly sees this as his mission to gain a second term. Against a backdrop of growing repression of women’s right and black voting rights – neither of which he has taken decisive action to preserve on the home front. The imminence of the climate threat to the planet has been thrust into the background while oil companies windfall profits go untaxed and the profiteering war mongers themselves have become the biggest threat to the survival of the species.
Progressives must realize that there is little to choose from between American PLUTOcracy and Russian KLEPTOcracy. Ultimately what is so different about the slow murder of Assange and that of Navalny, the assassination of Boris Nemtsov and the assassinations of Malcolm X , MLK and the killing and mutilation of Che Guevara? 58 years later we still have no conviction in the killing of the most effective challengers to American Racisms?
When the Berlin Wall came down – much to the surprise of the Pentagon war hawks — and through no doing of theirs, the ideological pretext between the so-called socialist and capitalist world had ostensibly ended. For a brief and unique moment the CIA and FSB collaborated on analysing the threat of climate change, with Siberian accumulated data and the crunching power of US super computers. Both sides realized that the threat was real enough . But then the truce ended as suddenly as it had begun. This historic blip was recorded in a German-French ARTE documentary called “The Warning” . But you all know what seemed to pre-occupy Clinton more at (or under) his White House desk.
“Socialists” supporting NATO expansion are not worthy of bearing that name — any more so than flag waving 1914 Social Democrats did supporting the Kaiser’s war reparations. Kurdish Die Linke MP Sevin Dagdelin has become a lone voice in the German Bundestag telling it like it is – just like Clara Zetkin and Karl Liebknecht did to oppose ‘the war to end all wars’
China’s proposed peace plan — of which I have only seen a draft — seems to be causing equal amounts of irritation in Moscow and Washington? The 12 step plan appears to provide a last minute off-ramp before another massive wave of needless destruction and bloodshed of Ukrainian and Russian lives.
Already Blinken , Baerbock and of course retiring NATO hound-dog Jens Stoltenberg, have dismissed the plan, but interestingly enough Zelensky has not joined the chorus! He has invited the Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi.
To this writer, this appears as the last chance to avert a major war – an all out war between east and west.
Just as the threat to humanity from Climate Change becomes even more accelerated than predicted.
Hans Modlich, Toronto, February 24th 2023
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PS: Please also feel free to circulate.