Alan Stevens - AWAH - Libertarianism, Freedom.
Ukraine and NATO’s Credibility Face Collapse
Western populations are being misled about Ukraine. Here’s what you probably won’t see on the BBC or read in the papers. As ever, salt to taste.
Discussing events in Ukraine is worthwhile, if only because people in the West are being intentionally misinformed by legacy media which are now state propaganda operations.
Ukraine has only really existed as a sovereign state since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. Before that it was just an administrative unit within the USSR. (There was briefly a so-called Ukrainian government in the Kiev area in 1919-1921.)
Today’s Ukraine is two ethnicities bodged together by Lenin and Stalin when it was just an administrative unit inside the Soviet Union (USSR). It is sharply divided geographically into historically Russian and Ukrainian inhabited regions. Much suffering would have been avoided by just allowing the two areas to separate, similar to the peaceful separation of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
In the 2010 elections, everywhere south and east of a line from north of Kharkov to Moldova in the southwest strongly supported the pro-Russian candidate and everywhere north and west of it supported the pro-Ukrainian one. Ethnic Ukrainians are hostile to Russia and to Poland, the two neighbours who have generally occupied them.
After the Western/WEF sponsored Maidan coup in 2014 against Ukraine’s elected government, the Russian areas in the Ukraine saw their language banned in public life, and their political parties closed down. Unsurprisingly these policies, and a massacre of Russians in Odessa, persuaded two eastern regions in the Donbass to try to join Russia.
Putin turned down the Russian Donbass separatists in order not to provoke the West. Russia did however prevent the Ukrainians from crushing the Donbass. It is likely that the Russian areas extending along the coast to Odessa could have been detached fairly painlessly in 2015 by the then victorious Russians. Now it is much harder.
This is a problem for Putin. He has been the most careful and cautious of leaders. He consistently runs the risk of disappointing Russian opinion. This has become more hawkish in reaction to western provocation and support for Ukraine’s war effort. His true vulnerability from now on is to losing support if he lets slip the opportunity to reunite all the Russian areas with Russia.
WESTERN BAD FAITH OVER THE MINSK ACCORDS
In 2015 Putin decided to withdraw and trust the West to implement the Minsk Accords under which the West and the Ukraine agreed that Russian areas in Ukraine would achieve a high degree of autonomy, in return for Russia forswearing military intervention.
The West however once again reneged on its undertakings. Nothing was done. Angela Merkel, until 2021 the German Chancellor, recently said publicly in a German newspaper that there had never been any intention on the part of the West to honour the Minsk Accords. They were a device to buy time for NATO to build up the Ukrainian Army. This has not been much reported in the West. It has everywhere else. Many in the Global South who clung to the idea that the Russian attack was unjustifiable have now abandoned it.
By February last year the Ukrainian Army had been shelling the two separatist Donbass republics for eight years and had occupied over half of their territories. The Russians seemed to be just standing by while Ukrainian artillery killed in excess of 10,000 Russians and injured many more between 2015 and 2021. Western elites sensed weakness.
Meanwhile a letter sent by the Russian Government to the Americans in December 2021 proposing talks to develop a joint security structure for Europe to avoid war was rebuffed. It suggested that Ukraine become a neutral state, outside NATO and the EU, with no nuclear weapons. Western NATO countries would withdraw their forces back behind the old 1990s NATO frontier. The West had, after all, promised the Russians, in 1991, not to extend NATO eastwards beyond East Germany, in return for withdrawing their garrison army. And then it reneged on the deal. NATO was expanded rather than closed down. Russia dismantled the Soviet Union and its own military alliance, the Warsaw Pact.
After the American refusal to show any interest in Russian ideas or ‘red lines’, Ukrainian president Zelensky proposed that the Ukraine host Western nuclear missiles to add to those the Americans had put in Romania and Poland. Ukrainian membership of NATO and the EU was evidently also on the cards. Once the Ukraine joined either organization a Russian military intervention in the Ukraine would mean immediate confrontation with NATO.
Meanwhile in mid-February 2022 Ukrainian shelling of the beleaguered separatist Donbass republics increased several-fold. This seemed to be, and could well have been, the prelude to the Ukrainians crushing the Donbass republics. If that happened, relying on the West’s insincere Minsk Accords process would be seen to have led to disaster for Russians trapped in Ukraine, and an unacceptable loss of face for the Russian government.
THE SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION (SMO)
Russia took the initiative to pre-empt an attack on the Donbass by invading eastern Ukraine as a whole, and not just moving to help the Donbass. By knocking out Ukrainian air defenses and creating a 1000 km front inside Ukraine’s borders it gained the strategic upper hand. Despite Western assertions to the contrary, it has not lost it since.
There had indeed been a build-up of Russian forces in rear areas near Ukraine in the months leading up to the SMO’s start on February 24th 2022. The Russians, who take land war seriously after having fought so many bloody wars, often against Western invaders, had naturally had a military Plan B. Military intervention was decided upon, but it had to take the form of a limited action justified in terms of enforcing the Minsk Accords, as an SMO, not a war of invasion. This reflected Putin’s legalistic bent – he has a PhD in international law – and the need to keep allies onside by sticking to modest, legally defensible objectives.
The SMO sought to achieve a speedy peace based on the implementation of the Minsk Accords. The Russians committed relatively small forces which could never have occupied Ukraine. The result was, so nearly, a success. By late March a peace agreement in principle was reached by the Russians and the Ukrainians. Russia agreed to withdraw. Ukraine conceded effective autonomy or even independence to the Donbass, and agreed not to join NATO or the EU. So much for assertions that Russia was somehow bent on creating a new Soviet empire in eastern Europe. This draft peace agreement was the last time Russia tried to make the Minsk framework work.
THE WEST PREVENTS PEACE
Then the West, in the corpulent form of Boris Johnson, intervened. The West would not allow Zelensky to make peace. He now claims he was insincere in seeking it! That doesn’t mean the Russians were. The West wanted time for the war to bleed Russia white and, more importantly, for sanctions to break its economy and political system.
Western populations don’t know this. They have been abused and lied to by politicians and media nearly without interruption for three years. So, they are not aware that the Ukraine tragedy now unfolding is the result of Western elite double-dealing. But it is known to non-Western audiences.
If I communicate just one idea in this post, I would like it to be that the World is now divided into the West’s ‘golden billion’ and the much more numerous ‘global south’. The latter are better informed, and much more sceptical about the trio of confected fake narratives, Covid, Climate & Ukraine. Carrying opinion in most of the World along with Russia, not the West, has been a huge achievement by Putin and Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.
The West is losing its ascendancy rapidly. For me, it is mostly a good thing. This means the defeat of WEF-style Globalism and its uber-centralised, inhuman Brave New Word or New World Order. As an Austro-libertarian, I want to see unipolar Western hegemony, the brief, badly mismanaged, moment between 1991 and 2022, replaced by a world containing as many independent societies as possible. Somewhere amongst them there should be places where people may live their lives as they see fit - and not according to the dictates of bankrupt statist bullies and their corporatist sponsors.
In any case, ever since April 2022, the suffering of Ukrainians, who have shown remarkable courage in an impossible situation, has to be laid at the door of the ‘West’ by which we must mean Western elites. So, too, must the potentially catastrophic harm that may result from starting WWIII. They chose war. They must see Ukrainians, and indeed us, as cattle to be sacrificed, without real concern, on the altar of their desire for power and wealth.
SANCTIONS - THE WEST SHOOTS ITSELF IN THE FOOT
The most powerful reason for continuing the unwinnable war in the Ukraine was to give western economic sanctions time to work their magic. By ‘magic’ the West meant breaking down Russia’s hard-won political stability and ending the promising prosperity the country had achieved after the moral and material disaster of Soviet Communism, aka ‘Socialism’.
I remain perplexed by Western hostility towards Russia. Our self-appointed rulers dismiss it as ‘a gas station with nukes’, but it is a thousand-year-old civilization of great achievement and resilience. A daughter of Eastern Rome and Orthodox Christendom, the Kievan Kingdom of the Rus emerged at the same time (the tenth century) as Alfred the Great’s successors were creating the first version of England. Unsurprisingly, Russians have difficulty in regarding Kiev, the first Russian capital, as ‘foreign’.
Russia saved Britain’s bacon by breaking the armies of Hitler and Napoleon. 80% of German armed forces casualties in WWII were inflicted by the Soviet Union. The Russians, and the very put-upon French, lost far more lives holding down Imperial Germany until 1917 in WWI than we did. Thereafter they both understandably packed it in (unofficially in the French Army’s case). But by then Britain had finally assembled a proper army of its own. Its remarkable success in 1918 owed much to earlier millions of dead and crippled Russians (and French). To forget this history is reprehensible.
Anyway, back to the blockbuster war-winning economic sanctions. In the Spring of 2022, in a state of near euphoria, Western politicians imposed their longed-for wonder-weapon, new sanctions. Against the advice of many, including the US Federal Reserve, Russia was expelled from SWIFT, the World’s money transfer system. The intention was to cut Russian trade off and bankrupt its economy.
An attempt (only partially successful) was made to freeze Russia’s foreign exchange reserves held overseas. The EU is now looking around for a legal justification for seizing Russia’s frozen reserves and, who knows, giving it to Zelensky or just distributing it to their mates in Europe and the US. Individual Russians with no connection with, or even affection for, the Russian government, had property confiscated in places like Canada or Italian marinas.
The West’s success was built on effective legal protection of private property. It was understood to be the basis of liberty in the 18th century by, for example, Hume. It was the basis of prosperity and progress for his Scottish compatriot Adam Smith. On this foundation developed Britain’s world-changing Industrial Revolution. If this principle is overthrown by our clueless, greedy political classes, the West could become ‘un-investible’.
The sanctions have done great damage – to the inhabitants of the West. Europe, in particular, has lost access to inexpensive Russian oil and gas, minerals, food and fertilizer. Who would have guessed that prosperity depended on peace with Russia? The big loser has been Germany. Its mighty industrial base is probably unviable in its current form. But Germany is in thrall to Greens peddling the ‘Climate’ narrative. They don’t think Germany should have much industry.
A mild winter and the magic of entrepreneurial sanctions-busting has improved the situation, but nobody really knows how the West, especially Europe, will fare in future.
SANCTIONS – RUSSIA STRENGTHENED
On the other hand, Russia is more united than ever. The pro-Western elements in Russian life were numerous in Russian financial, media and cultural circles. They have been largely burned off the Russian body politic. They have left or fallen silent, faced with ordinary Russians angered by the malice and pettiness of Western restrictions, not least on travel.
Leaving SWIFT has not brought collapse. Maybe those cunning Russkies were preparing all along for the Western onslaught – military and economic? We are used to Western leaders who don’t think ahead at all. It is a stretch to imagine having leaders who actually do.
The Russian economy registered a brief blip. Russia continues to fund the war, and produce great and increasing quantities of weapons and munitions while running a trade surplus of over $200 billion at an annual rate. The World’s key supplier of all manner of energy and other resources is surprisingly resilient. It will already have rebuilt the foreign exchange reserves ‘frozen’ by the West last year. Something tells me they won’t hold them in Dollars or Euros. Nor will they entrust their reserves to Western financial institutions.
They have large holdings of gold, of which they also produce a great deal. Much thought is going into establishing a trade settlement money independent of the West and the Dollar. It seems likely to have a significant gold component – if not actually to be gold. That would please the Chinese, who have even more gold, and Austro-libertarian gold bugs everywhere.
FROM SMO TO WINING THE WAR IN UKRAINE
Back at the front, as it were, the Russians took time to accept that the Ukraine would not be allowed to make peace. This SMO could not work. It was necessary to greatly increase Russian strength. Ukraine would now have to be defeated in battle and, if necessary, destroyed. Russia has called up hundreds of thousands of men, with provision to call up more. It is reportedly preparing for a thirty-month war with, indirectly or not, NATO.
It has also legally incorporated all four of the oblasts (provinces) it largely occupies in southeastern Ukraine, thus formally abandoning the Minsk Accords framework. Ukrainian forces in these areas are now, in Russian eyes at least, invaders. Should further Russian-speaking areas be occupied, they will no doubt also be annexed, which gives their inhabitants certainty and reason to welcome the Russian Army.
However considerable time would be needed to train the roughly 300,000 conscripts, and at least 70,000 volunteers, taken into the Russian Army in the summer. These new troops have yet to be deployed in the Ukraine, but it seems likely that they will be soon.
Meanwhile the Russians have largely made do with the forces committed to the original SMO, mainly comprising the two Donbass republics’ ‘militias’, the Chechens and the hybrid Wagner organization. The small size of the SMO force meant it had to hunker down while larger forces were assembled. Russian military doctrine supports giving up territory to conserve strength and avoid encirclement.
Russian willingness to give up ground and to fight defensively and cautiously maximized Ukrainian losses whilst minimizing their own. But it also allowed a misleading ‘Ukraine is winning’ narrative to be spun in the West. Western leaders were able to justify the damage done to their own societies by their misconceived economic sanctions against Russia.
The Russians have nevertheless been steadily grinding away at the Ukrainian held areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics (The Donbass), and in particular the Ukrainian defenses anchored on the obscure town of Bakmut. It has been nearly encircled, even as the Ukrainians send reinforcements into the trap.
Superficially modest as such advances may seem, they conceal a much greater Russian success. Ukrainian determination to gain or hold territory at any cost has afforded the Russians many opportunities to inflict much greater losses than they suffer.
The jury is out on whether Russia can manage large scale combined operation offensives. But it is excelling in WWI style industrial warfare. It is using massed artillery to inflict disproportionate losses on brave but poorly trained Ukrainian soldiers committed to unsuccessful ‘offensives’ to feed the West’s ‘we’re winning’ narrative. It is also using missile attacks across the Ukraine to disrupt its economy and wreck its air defenses.
The Russians may have been firing over 10,000 artillery shells, and manufacturing more, every day. The Ukraine fires many fewer, and too many on benighted Russian civilians in Donetsk. But Ukraine’s more modest consumption is still several times the West’s current production. It is not the Russians who are running out of ammunition, or indeed, soldiers.
Recently, information that Ukraine has suffered 100,000 military and 20,000 civilian deaths appeared on the website of Ursula von der Leyen, the EU president. It seems to be close to the truth, indeed rather to understate it. Other estimates suggest 120,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers and 30,000 more Missing in Action.
In contrast, the BBC and Medusa (an anti-Putin Russian site) recently trawled Russian records and notices on the internet. No friends to the Russian Government, they have nevertheless come up with just 14,000 Russian war dead. This may not be a comprehensive estimate, and both sides are also losing many men to crippling wounds. But the balance is clear, and precisely the opposite from what the West’s populations have been told.
THE WEST SEEKS TO ESCALATE TO WWIII
The Ukraine adventure is turning to ashes. Sanctions have harmed and discredited the West. The Ukrainian Army, the finest army NATO never had, is near to collapse, all because the West blithely or intentionally proceeded with actions that the Russians loudly declared to be an existential threat to them.
Western populations have nothing at stake in Ukraine (interestingly private polling apparently shows that European populations are more sympathetic to Russia than Ukraine). But for Western elites, especially Anglo-American NeoCons, the idea of failure is unbearable. These are psychopaths who double-down when thwarted. As a result, the whole fiasco is in danger of becoming an existential crisis for the West, or at least its political classes and their globalist masters. The ‘Golden Billion’ people of the collective West may be isolated and eclipsed as the Global South powers ahead on coal, oil and gas.
Western governments have poured resources in to keep Ukraine in the fight. About $150 billion, equivalent to the Ukraine’s pre-war annual GDP, will soon have been spent by Western powers overall. Although much or even most has gone to Western arms manufacturers, and to Western and Ukrainian politicians, enough has been provided to fund the Ukrainian state and war effort. Ukraine would otherwise have collapsed long ago.
Britain is apparently training 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers. Kiev may have more combat troops in Britain than we do. Almost certainly, there are NATO personnel in the Ukraine, acting as special forces or operating Western weapons systems.
Western politicians are panicking because Ukraine is losing. None wants to be blamed because they didn’t ‘do something’. Token numbers of Western tanks are being ‘offered’. Currently these are 4 Leopard II tanks from Portugal, and 14 from Germany - along with 80 or so obsolete Leopard I tanks. The British offered 14 Challenger II tanks provided they wouldn’t be captured – their modern armour must be kept secret from the Russians.
Western support has intensified and prolonged suffering in Ukraine without changing the outcome, apart from providing, arguably, just cause for Russian attacks on NATO.
There have been other attempted provocations and false flags, and attacks on Russian territory itself. Russia was wrongly blamed for blowing up Nordstream I and (one tube of) Nordstream II gas pipelines in the Baltic.
Earlier, the Ukrainians had been shelling a big Russian occupied nuclear power station in Zaporishe, whilst improbably claiming that it was the Russians. Presumably it was hoped to pin the blame on Russia for a Chernobyl-scale nuclear disaster.
A missile was fired by the Ukraine into Poland (possibly accidentally), but asserted to have been Russian. Fortunately, a farmer posted photos of the missile’s wreckage. Before Western media could get a ‘Russia attacks Poland’ narrative going, the internet’s decentralized expertise identified it as a missile in service with the Ukraine but not Russia.
SEYMOUR HERSH AND THE NORDSTREAM BOMBING
Respected American journalist, Seymour Hersh, recently published an article explaining that the Biden administration planted explosive devices on the Nordstream pipelines and detonated them remotely three months later. The Americans were planning the operation before the war in Ukraine began. The attack, which they blamed on the Russians, is tantamount to an act of war against Germany, a supposed ally.
This hasn’t been widely reported in the West, although it has caused widespread anger in German industrial and political circles. But it has, again, been widely reported in Russia, China and the Global South. It rather confirms Kissinger’s axiom that being an enemy of America is dangerous but to be its friend was fatal. Perhaps we will date the beginning of the end of NATO and the EU from this stab in the back.
THE WEST’S CONVENTIONAL MILITARY OPTIONS
The West seems hell bent on escalating the war into a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. So far Russian restraint, and resistance from Western militaries, has been able to stave off WWIII. It is a bad sign that the United States has told all its citizens to leave Russia and Belarus. This kind of action suggests that a major escalation, perhaps preceded by a gruesome false flag, may be in the offing.
But how is escalation of the Ukraine crisis supposed to bring about a Western ‘victory’? At the moment it cannot. NATO has been revealed to be a paper tiger. It cannot tackle an advanced industrial power, as opposed to bullying people who can’t defend themselves.
NATO hasn’t got the troops to drive Russia out of whatever territory it eventually occupies in the Ukraine, perhaps all of it. Sophisticated ‘hi-tech’ Western weapons, such as howitzers and HIMAR missiles, have often been ineffective, hard to maintain and too few in number.
How did the West outspend Russia 10:1 and be so unprepared? European forces are scant. The French army reportedly has less than a week’s ammunition. The British Army has only 10,000 combat troops. It reportedly would need months to assemble a 1,000-2,000 strong battalion group to fight in Europe. The German Army held an exercise where all 28 or so PUMA armoured vehicles reportedly broke down. Many tanks and armoured vehicles have been cannibalised for spare parts across NATO.
The Americans have more units but many other commitments. They cannot easily move and resupply many ‘heavy’ units from the States to support ‘light’ infantry (i.e. deficient in armoured vehicles and artillery) now in Eastern Europe.
Whether or not NATO planes are better than Russia’s, the latter’s surface to air missile defenses are likely to be effective against them, especially given that the West’s task would be to attack Russia.
Russia is likely to occupy much of Ukraine, and then be next to impossible to dislodge. NATO attempts to invade Russian territory in the Ukraine would lead to heavy losses and would probably fail. Such losses would be unacceptable to Western populations, which are losing interest in the Ukraine. Russia would stay on the defensive and wait until the West reached economic and moral exhaustion.
THE RISK OF NUCLEAR WAR
The only escalation which could put the West on an even footing against Russia is nuclear war. Everyone, outside a few crazies, psychopaths and narcissists, knows that would be a very bad, even a terminally bad, thing. Unfortunately, those kinds of people infest the upper reaches of big states and their military industrial complexes. Will our elites let go of fantasies of world hegemony or will they recklessly destroy what they cannot control?
And, remember, if the world wasn’t full of people who thought the state was a good thing, we wouldn’t be facing the real possibility of Mutually Assured Destruction. If we get out of this mess, we should get rid of nuclear weapons. Gorbachev and Reagan almost managed it.