In Russia, Ukraine
War tanks of pro-Russian separatists on February 23, 2022 heading for the Donbass-Ukraine border

Tanks of DPR troops on February 23, 2022 heading for the Donbass-Ukraine border Легендарные подразделения от Геннадия Дубового, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Article originally published by Irina Alksnis at A Socialist In Canada, June 22, 2023

(Irina Alksnis is a columnist at the Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti, where this column was first published on June 20, 2023. The translation to English is by A Socialist In Canada. With related analysis further below].

Only now is the depth of the hole that the West has dug for itself in Ukraine beginning to register among people in the West

The Ukrainian counter-offensive, on which everything was said to depend, has failed. In the early days of this attempted escalation at the front, it was difficult for the uninitiated to judge the essence of what was happening, but now it has become clear that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are still operating in the foreground, in the ‘grayness’ of no man’s land. Kyiv is suffering huge losses in people and equipment without even reaching the first line of Russian defensive structures in Donbass. Not to mention breaking this very first line.

Ukrainian lives, of course, do not count in the West’s calculations. But even the Kyiv regime counts its losses in money and supplied weapons, not in human lives. According to Bloomberg News on June 19, the European Union will announce on June 20 another package of financial assistance to Ukraine, this new one to the tune of 50 billion euros (55 billion dollars). The Bloomberg report emphasized that the Europeans want to avoid placing burdensome obligations on themselves, thus, this new ‘assistance’ will be in the form of grants, preferential loans and guarantees.

For the Americans, the situation is not much easier despite their efforts to drown the economies of their European allies. The American billionaire and arch conservative David Sacks published an analysis on June 16 in Responsible Statecraft (Quincy Institute) describing not only the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive but also the impasse in which the Joe Biden administration has found itself.

Sacks’ commentary is headlined ‘Will upcoming NATO summit launch forever war in Europe?’. He writes, “Moscow has declared NATO membership for Ukraine to be completely unacceptable and an existential threat, the prevention of which is one of its chief war aims. A declaration at the NATO summit meeting in Vilnius next month that Ukraine will join NATO when the war ends will effectively ensure that the war goes on forever. It will also take off the table the West’s central bargaining chip to achieve peace, which is a neutral Ukraine.”

The United States has already allocated more than $100 billion in military and financial to Ukraine. It is clear that most of this amount was cut in Washington, but all the same, the funds turned out to be senselessly spent on the Ukrainian direction, instead of being directed to more urgent goals in the current, difficult, economic times for American citizens.

But even all these expenses would not be critical (after all, the U.S. continue to control the main printing press of the planet) if they had a return in the form of achieving certain goals. Instead, the lack of success at the Ukraine front conveys as clearly as possible that Ukraine has become a black hole for the West, simply draining resources and not bringing any positive output.

At the same time, the regime in Kyiv itself is doing well. It realizes that Russia does not intend to go to the Polish border at all, which means that it may be possible to fight against Moscow for a very long time. The main thing for most of the country is to remain on the West’s payroll and endlessly demand increased support. Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has told Ukrainian media that the country will always be short of arms supplies so long as the conflict continues.

All the crazy, snowballing debts being accumulated by Ukraine do not bother anyone in the West. They are saying that reparations imposed on Russia after a Ukraine ‘victory’ will pay for them. The fact that this isn’t working out well at all is, according to the Kyiv regime, the West’s fault because its help is not enough and is being provided badly. An extremely comfortable position! The fact that right now, Ukraine is paying for this folly with the lives of hundreds and thousands of its citizens certainly does not appear to bother anyone in Kyiv. In fact, at the present moment, Ukraine has fulfilled its main dream and will do everything possible to maintain this status quo.

Of course, this whole performance by the West of sitting on Ukraine’s neck in the most boorish of performances could stop at the snap of the fingers. But the West cannot do so. The White House and the rest of the liberal, Atlantic elites have placed a lot on expectations on Ukraine. In light of the rapidly approaching presidential election in the United States, failure seems completely unthinkable. A costly failure for the Democratic Party is too shameful and loud.

David Sacks, like many others before him, draws a parallel with Afghanistan, the U.S. withdrawal from which was a scandalous humiliation for the Americans and for the whole world. The reality for the U.S. is even worse. For 20 years, its Afghan ‘campaign’ had turned into a boring information display to the entire world. The fact is that it had reached a dead-end and the U.S. and its allies had to leave was obvious to everyone. The main reputational losses for the U.S. were not even related to the fact of the withdrawal of troops from a godforsaken country on the edge of geography, but, rather, to how badly it was executed on purely logistical grounds.

With Ukraine, the situation is radically different. For a year and a half, the West has pumped up the topic of confrontation with Russia in the context of a claimed global existential crisis. U.S. and NATO losses will take less than 20 years to lose their sharpness. But a sharp change right now in Ukrainian policy will mean much more than a sensitive blow to the image of the United States and Europe; it will be seen and understood by the whole world as a grave strategic defeat.

In the current situation of a rapid loss of influence in various regions of the planet, the United States simply cannot afford a loss in Ukraine since this will further the collapse of U.S. global hegemony. That is, the issue for U.S. leaders is not so much a domestic political crisis as it is a global crisis.

The crisis over Ukraine will continue to gnaw away, burying itself deeper and deeper. It will end in a geopolitical defeat for the West, not now but a little later. The situation for the West is a classic zugzwang*, from which there is simply no good way out.

* [‘Zugzwang’ is a board game term (eg. chess) describing a situation where any move by a player will worsen their position.]


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