Imperialism wanted Ukraine to fight a proxy war against Russia – a war whose ultimate aim was to balkanise the country. This was to be an American war, fought out primarily on Ukrainian soil, led by neo-nazis and sacrificing Ukrainian lives.
That was the reality. But to obscure this reality, the stooge showman president Volodymyr Zelensky had to present in its place a make-believe war, a war of supposed ‘national resistance’ against a bullying oppressor; a war which pitched a supposedly ‘democratic’ Ukrainian David (don’t laugh) against an evil and oppressive Russian Goliath. A war that could be sold to US public opinion (and to the US Congress in particular).
False narratives shifting under pressure of battlefield realities
It was always a struggle to maintain this fiction when the facts on the ground so roundly asserted themselves to the contrary, but, with the help of a compliant media, public opinion in the west for some time remained largely credulous, drip-fed on a diet of fabricated tales of Russian atrocities and Ukrainian derring-do.
What has really started to shift perceptions in a big way is the hopeless collapse of the much-touted Ukrainian spring/summer ‘counteroffensive’. And after being pent up for so long behind a wall of propaganda lies, when reality now comes bursting through, it is unstoppable.
Suddenly everything is spilling out: the corruption infecting every corner of government (with its epicentre in the presidential office itself), the dominance of neo-nazis in public life (with the Waffen SS veteran cheered to the rafters in the Canadian parliament) and the police state reality that underlies the pretty lies about Ukrainian ‘freedom and democracy’.
Most of these unsavoury truths have long been available to anyone prepared to dig a little. But there is nothing like defeat in war to bring them all to the surface.
A recent interview in the Economist with Ukrainian commander-in-chief General Valery Zaluzhny gave a damning assessment of Ukraine’s conduct of the war, concluding that the current military situation is one of ‘stalemate’.
Zaluzhny maintains that an army of Ukraine’s standard ought to have been able to move at a speed of 30km a day as it breached Russian lines, pointing out: “If you look at Nato’s textbooks and at the maths which we did, four months should have been enough time for us to have reached Crimea, to have fought in Crimea, to return from Crimea and to have gone back in and out again.”
Instead of which, his troops got stuck in minefields on the approaches to Bakhmut in the east, where his western-supplied equipment got pummelled by Russian artillery and drones. He says that the same thing happened on the offensive’s main thrust in the south, where inexperienced brigades immediately ran into trouble. (Ukraine’s commander-in-chief on the breakthrough he needs to beat Russia, Economist, 1 November 2023)
Zaluzhny wants to save his own skin – and perhaps even to carve out a political future for himself – by ascribing Kiev’s military disaster to causes beyond his control or somehow down to political interference. But in so doing, he has opened the door a crack, revealing the massive incompetence and waste of lives and money the war has incurred.
US leaders preparing to ditch their failed project
Since February 2022, the USA has spent $43.9bn on what it calls ‘security assistance’ (ie, weapons) for Ukraine. The total that has been spent in propping up the Ukrainian state and national economy as well as its war machine runs to $75bn from the USA alone (supplemented by further billions from Britain and the European Union states). But now NBC News cites one US official as saying there is only about $5bn left in the kitty before the money runs out. Less than Ukraine gets through in a month. (US, European officials broach topic of peace negotiations with Ukraine, sources say, NBC News, 3 November 2023)
A Gallup poll three months ago found that 24 percent of US citizens thought the USA was giving Kiev too much aid. Now the malcontent percentage has risen to 41 percent (in a poll that is bound to be rigged to find in favour of government policy).
This growing mood of public disaffection with the war is reflected in the reluctance of some in Congress, especially on the Republican side, to go on funding Ukraine. In a bid to circumvent resistance to further funding, President Joe Biden is trying to sneak aid for Kiev in on the back of funding for Israel, but this is also facing opposition.
Meanwhile, as a delusional Zelensky continues to insist that there will be “no talks” with Russia until Crimea and all the other liberated Russian territories revert to rule by Kiev, NBC News has reported that “US and European officials have begun quietly talking to the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail to end the war, according to one current senior US official and one former senior US official familiar with the discussions.
“The conversations have included very broad outlines of what Ukraine might need to give up to reach a deal, the officials said. Some of the talks, which officials described as delicate, took place last month during a meeting of representatives from more than 50 nations supporting Ukraine, including Nato members, known as the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, the officials said.”
Imperialism has no permanent friends …
Ukraine’s illegitimate actor-president Volodymyr Zelensky is finding out what happens when a puppet of imperialism fails to comply with the instructions he has been given by his masters. If, instead of slavishly following orders, he had taken a little time to consider the cruel fate that had awaited other puppets and collaborators when they failed to deliver the results their masters had demanded of them, this former comedian might have been less enthusiastically compliant.
Had he not seen those television images of disappointed collaborators fighting to get aboard the helicopter before it lifted off the roof of the US embassy in Saigon (as was)? Or those more recent images of collaborators fleeing Kabul as the occupation regime abruptly folded?
If imperialism is ruthless against its enemies, it is as much if not more so against its ‘friends’ when they fail to deliver the outcome for which they have been paid. Zelensky has not only failed to deliver on plan, but is now imprudent enough to blame his masters for the failure and obstinate enough to resist all suggestions of talks with Russia.
It was not so long ago that Time magazine showcased Zelensky as Person of the Year for 2022 and had him on the front cover in heroic pose. But a more recent edition of the magazine this month featured a lengthy article by Simon Shuster. Its tone was a million miles away from that earlier fawning coverage – a grim reminder of how fast the imperialists and their pet media will raise you up or bring you low.
Under the mocking headline, ‘Nobody believes in our victory like I do’, Shuster comprehensively tore the Ukrainian leader apart.
“Volodymyr Zelensky was running late …
“The invitation to his speech at the National Archives in Washington had gone out to several hundred guests, including congressional leaders and top officials from the Biden administration. Billed as the main event of his visit in late September, it would give him a chance to inspire US support against Russia with the kind of oratory the world has come to expect from Ukraine’s wartime president. It did not go as planned.
“That afternoon, Zelensky’s meetings at the White House and the Pentagon delayed him by more than an hour, and when he finally arrived to begin his speech at 6:41pm, he looked distant and agitated. He relied on his wife, first lady Olena Zelenska, to carry his message of resilience on the stage beside him, while his own delivery felt stilted, as though he wanted to get it over with. At one point, while handing out medals after the speech, he urged the organiser to hurry things along …
“After his visit to Washington, Time followed the president and his team back to Kiev, hoping to understand how they would react to the signals they had received, especially the insistent calls for Zelensky to fight corruption inside his own government, and the fading enthusiasm for a war with no end in sight. On my first day in Kiev, I asked one member of his circle how the president was feeling. The response came without a second’s hesitation: ‘Angry.’
“The usual sparkle of his optimism, his sense of humour, his tendency to liven up a meeting in the war room with a bit of banter or a bawdy joke, none of that has survived into the second year of all-out war. ‘Now he walks in, gets the updates, gives the orders, and walks out,’ says one long-time member of his team. Another tells me that, most of all, Zelensky feels betrayed by his western allies. They have left him without the means to win the war, only the means to survive it.
“But his convictions haven’t changed. Despite the recent setbacks on the battlefield, he does not intend to give up fighting or to sue for any kind of peace. On the contrary, his belief in Ukraine’s ultimate victory over Russia has hardened into a form that worries some of his advisers. It is immovable, verging on the messianic.
“‘He deludes himself,’ one of his closest aides tells me in frustration. ‘We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling him that.’” (‘Nobody believes in our victory like I do.’ Inside Volodymyr Zelensky’s struggle to keep Ukraine in the fight by Simon Shuster, Time magazine, 1 November 2023)