Craig Murray: How Can the War End?

Rather than find Putin a ladder to climb down, the NATO leadership will strike heroic poses, wave Ukrainian flags and send more weapons.

 10 Downing Street is lit up with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, Feb. 24. (Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street)

By Craig Murray

I could not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin really would invade Ukraine, because I could see no sensible outcome for him. I still cannot. Initiating a war on this scale has no legal justification, and no moral justification either. Russian troops are in areas which have no wish to be ruled by Russia.

Those of us who opposed the illegal invasion of Iraq must also oppose the illegal invasion of Ukraine. Whether the Ukrainian government is obnoxious or not is as irrelevant now, as the obnoxiousness of Saddam Hussein was irrelevant then. I am as fed up now with being asked if I support Ukrainian Nazis as I was then with being asked if I supported Saddam Hussein.

It is simply illegal to wage a war for regime change, without the endorsement of the U.N. security council. 

I have great sympathy for Russian security concerns about encirclement by NATO and forward missile deployments. But seeking regime change by invasion in Ukraine could not possibly be the answer. I still have not the slightest idea what Putin seeks to achieve. It is simply impossible – and has been since the annexation of Crimea – that a democratic Ukraine is voluntarily going to elect a pro-Russian government. After this invasion, the only way a pro-Putin regime could be maintained in Ukraine would be by extreme authoritarianism, going well beyond the prevailing system in Russia itself.

Let me put it starkly. This can only finish with a government in Kiev which absolutely hates Putin as now do the Ukrainian people, or with Russia maintaining a puppet regime by extreme repression. There isn’t a way out with a peaceful, neutral Ukraine. Once you try to resolve matters by pure force, you lose that option. If I were Ukrainian, there is no way now I would be agreeing to the demilitarisation of my country. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda at Lask airbase in Poland, March 1. (NATO)

As for denazification – which certainly is needed in Ukraine – Putin has given the “heroic anti-Russian nationalist” meme of the Ukrainian Nazi groups a massive boost. While labelling the entire nation and government as Nazi is just wrong.

I did not think Putin would invade, for all those reasons. I did not even think he would acknowledge moving troops into the Donbass. I was unsure what to argue about that if he did. The Kosovo parallel with the newly acknowledged Donetsk and Lugansk republics is arguable. As a supporter of Scottish Independence, I am open to arguments from self-determination, and you can read Murder in Samarkand on the capriciousness of former internal Soviet borders. But this has gone far beyond that.

Yet we have seen nothing like the simply massive civilian casualties the West inflicted on Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan. Not anything like the same order of magnitude. In the town of Sirte, Libya, alone NATO bombing killed 15,000 people. Casualty figures being given for the whole of the Ukraine so far are still in the hundreds, and thank God for that. 

Either Putin has not entirely willed the means, or his armed forces are resisting obeying his wishes. Russia has not unleashed anything like the kind of firepower that would need to be unleashed to subdue Ukraine. Western media has gone into full war porn mode, but the extent of real fighting is uncertain. There seems to be a great deal of shadow boxing.

I do not know the explanation for this. It seems very possible Putin has underestimated Ukrainian morale, and really believed Ukraine would crumble. In fact, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is playing a blinder in terms of maintaining morale, however staged his photo-ops. The more pressing question is whether Putin overestimated the willingness of his own military to kill Ukrainians, or whether Putin himself lacks the will. In Grozny, the capital city of Chechnya, he was directly responsible for civilian casualties on a truly terrible scale, but is he like the West in putting much less value on Muslim lives? 

To date, Kiev has faced nothing like what Sirte faced from NATO or Grozny faced from Russia – but not because Russia lacks the capacity to do it. 

Feb. 27, 2011: A Libyan refugee at a transit camp in Choucha Ras Djir, near the Tunisian border. (UN Photo/UNHCR/Alexis Duclos)

If Putin is himself ready for massive Ukrainian deaths, is his military pulling its punches? I am reminded of the War of Slovenian Independence, where the soldiers of the massively superior Yugoslav army just refused to kill Slovenes. In that case, many of the Yugoslav troops were initially told it was just a live fire exercise, which lends credibility to the idea the same is happening with Russian troops here.

Putin has not improved his negotiating position. My own friends and allies on the left are suggesting that the answer is for there to be a ceasefire and Western agreement to no further expansion of NATO, and a new arms control treaty governing missile deployments. That would certainly be ideal but it is not going to happen.

You have to understand the realpolitik of the Western elite. They will never damage their own interests. That is why the sanctions that would really hurt Putin, targeting companies like BP and Shell over their Russian interests or the real oligarchs like Usmanov, Deripaska and Abramovic, will never happen because they would damage the interests of the British elite. It is why the U.K. government fly Ukrainian flags but will not let Ukrainians come without visas. They don’t really care about the ordinary people at all.

The NATO leadership now see Putin in a position where he either has to back down and retreat, or inflict massive casualties on the Ukraine and get bogged down there for decades. If they wanted to save the Ukrainian people, this would indeed be the time for West to negotiate. But the lives of ordinary Ukrainians mean nothing to them. 

So rather than find Putin a ladder to climb down, they will strike heroic poses, wave Ukrainian flags and send more weapons. I fear Putin will go for the mass deaths scenario. Macho is his entire brand, and his speech last Sunday was worryingly fundamentalist. I do wonder if he is losing the room at home – he spoke of the end of the Soviet Union as a calamity, but Russians under 40 cannot even remember the Soviet Union at all. Nobody under 50 can remember it in any kind of functioning order.

One final thought for now. I applaud those brave people in Russia who have demonstrated for peace. Almost 2,000 have been arrested. But remember this – under the Tory government’s new policing bill, taking part in a demonstration in England and Wales not approved in advance by the police could bring up to 10 years in prison. Just one example of the rife hypocrisy submerging us all at present.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. His coverage is entirely dependent on reader support. Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

39 comments for “Craig Murray: How Can the War End?

  1. delia ruhe
    March 5, 2022 at 04:19

    Putin has expressed concern for the Russians who, willy-nilly, ended up with Ukrainian citizenship when the Ukraine became a real state. There are a lot of them–30 percent of the population. The government in Kiev hates them and wants to Ukrainianize Ukraine, and they have started the process by striking Russian from its status as an official language of Ukraine. Putin found this troubling, especially given the “white supremacist” ideology of all the fascist nationalists who somehow consider Russians as not falling into the “white” category. Oh well, since race is a social construction, I guess anyone can be constructed as non-white.

    Anyway, Putin’s concern made me wonder if he fears a purging of Russians–and I mean exterminating–as a possible way of Ukrainianizing the country, and if he is inclined to do anything about getting as many of those Russians under threat out of Ukraine and into Russia–or into the Donbas after his troops are finished chasing the Ukrainian troops out of it. To me, that would be a worthy reason for this war and a good way to end it.

  2. Tim Slater
    March 3, 2022 at 14:16

    > do not know the explanation for this.

    Mr. Murray, I suspect this is a result of your years of interacting with political and governmental personnel in London and elsewhere; so you start guessing and kremlinologizing. But years of our public knowledge of Putin tell us that he, by contrast, says what he means and means what he says. What has he and the Russian high command said repeatedly? That their military tactics are intended to minimize civilian casualties. Since this is a perfectly sensible approach if you do not want the Ukrainian majority that voted for the “peace candidate” to be more hostile than can be avoided — an obvious motivation if you live next door to them, especially if you feel they are really the same people — why not believe them?

  3. Mike
    March 3, 2022 at 13:28

    I respect Craig Murray for his on-going battle with British Justice but I did see that it was becoming inevitable that there would be either a military operation or complete humiliation. And the only ones rejoicing now are USA, UK.
    As enjoyed by the British Empire, until Hitler came along, the USA is able to maintain its empire fighting wars on other peoples soil. But it was not post British Empire that the USA developed its winning techniques. Even before the Boston Tea Party, it was crushing native Americans by playing one tribe against another; using smaller tribes with a grudge to defeat the stronger ones who refused to give up their lands to the incomers. Over several centuries, the military negotiated using carrot or stick (as appropriate) to drive all the tribes into submission. A typical parlay, if there was one, would involve a small band of cavalry with a white flag visiting the Indian encampment. Waiting behind the hill, however, would be a much larger force with canons and machine guns ready to take appropriate action should a ‘deal’ not be possible (Hollywood did not get it all wrong).

    And so it has been with Russia. While assuring Russia that there was nothing to fear from all the weaponry and expert military advice being pumped into Ukraine, USA / UK used all the former Soviet states (still holding grudges) to goad and complain about the non-existent invasion threat from Russia. Truss went to Moscow showing unbelievable rudeness to her host Lavrov, looking into the camera with a smirk that was saying to Biden ” I’m on a rollercoaster – do you want me to go nastier?”
    When Blinken met Lavrov in Geneva, it was the final turn of the dice / screw. Though it was supposed to be a friendly meeting, Blinken landed a document full of abuse on Lavrov, refused to discuss mutual security and would not support Russia in its demand that Ukraine fulfil its obligations under the Minsk Accord. Within hours of the meeting ending acrimoniously, US military airplanes were landing in Kiev with masses of deadly weapons. The planes were therefore already in the air before the meeting was starting showing there was no intention on the American side to find any common ground.

    Putin then knew that the Ukrainian military would soon have so much powerful weaponry that they would be able to storm and take the Donbas before Russia could take any action to defend it. When Ukraine became ‘united’, it could join NATO and, in little time, there would be long range weapons on yet another stretch of Russia’s border. The Americans deliberately set up this situation through rounds of ‘diplomacy’ knowing that Putin had to let this happen or take military action immediately. Either way, America calculated that it would be the winner – and does not care if Ukraine suffers, just that Russia does.

    How right the American Indians were with their observation: “White man speak with forked tongue”.

  4. vinnieoh
    March 3, 2022 at 10:09

    Firstly, thanks CN for posting this. Russia was absolutely provoked, and as to the assertion of “unjustified,” perhaps that is contingent on the effectiveness of the final outcome, which is the only point of Mr. Murray’s op-ed. I too can not divine what would be a favorable and sustainable conclusion wrt Russian interests within the confines of Ukraine.

    Upon reading this yesterday and concluding as in the sentence immediately above, I then began to wonder whether “the confines of Ukraine” is not where Russia has settled its gaze. Last week or thereabouts I wrote something to the effect that “None of this will ever end so long as the US continues to seek economic, military, and ideological hegemony.” Is it possible that Russia and China together have finally decided to test whether the US can sustain that effort? This campaign has put into play the entire system of global relations: military, economic, energy, and ideological.

    And even if this was not the (Russian) intent, it may be the outcome. The pandemic exposed many flaws and failures in our economics and trade, our societal relationships, and our political/governance stability, not only in the US but in many parts of the world.

    I have no idea if these speculations are valid, or how this may turn out, but I must thank CN for bringing to the fore of my mind questions that have been lurking in the background.

  5. Vera Gottlieb
    March 3, 2022 at 05:12

    The invasion of Iraq…and to this date not a single sanction has been imposed on the US – not a single one. And no sanctions either for all the other countries the US has invaded/attacked – again, not a single one. Yet the Russophobia continues unabated.

  6. KiwiAntz
    March 3, 2022 at 00:29

    By far the worst article I’ve ever seen on CN? The author knows nothing about Russia, Putin or the History of Ukraine & perhaps needs his own ladder to climb down from his high horse or Ivory tower?

  7. alley cat
    March 2, 2022 at 23:45

    “I have great sympathy for Russian security concerns about encirclement by NATO and forward missile deployments. But seeking regime change by invasion in Ukraine could not possibly be the answer. I still have not the slightest idea what Putin seeks to achieve.”

    I respect Craig Murray for his proven courage and integrity, but Putin has made very clear what he seeks to achieve: the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, because Ukraine has become little more than a cat’s paw for U.S. and NATO attacks on Russia, as Murray seems to acknowledge in his post. So demilitarizing and denazifying that cat’s paw by whatever means necessary may be the only way to avoid a much greater evil: nuclear war.

    Now is not the time for moralizing, especially moralizing that equates aggressive violence with defensive violence. It has the effect of piling on against Russia, the real victim of aggression, even though that obviously wasn’t the author’s intention.

  8. Black Cloud
    March 2, 2022 at 22:09

    Mr. Murray has completely ignored the violent CIA coup that installed a neonazi regime after Ukraine decided to join the Russian Trade Federation instead of the EU; the daily murder of civilians in Donbas – for eight years – by a state that refuses to abide by international agreements sanctioned by the UN; threats of achieving nuclear weapons; massive military escalation enabled by weapons, training, and funding by the US and NATO; decades of treaties unilaterally ignored and broken by the west; years of illegal punitive economic sanctions intended to stifle Russia’s economy and among many other things the hypocritical information war of censorship and propaganda well beyond Orwell conceived.

    Accordingly Mr. Murray should stick to what he knows – his domestic politics – and leave geopolitical commentary to those versed in both history (real) and current events (not propaganda).

  9. Sam F
    March 2, 2022 at 16:45

    Although I abhor war and see the ease with which defense is called aggression, defense is another matter.
    1. The Ukraine shelling at of Donbass provoked the invasion.
    2. Russia sought to defeat the attackers and demilitarize Ukraine, without an occupation or another Afghanistan.
    3. Their extreme minimization of casualties, their pincer attack to isolate the Ukraine LOC forces, and their surrounding of cities with humanitarian corridors to avoid urban warfare, appear to fully support their claimed purpose.

    You agree that civilian casualties have been orders of magnitude less than the west usually inflicts, and that Russia has not unleashed the firepower required to subdue Ukraine, wondering whether their military is pulling its punches. So the question is whether they can capture the militants attacking Donbass, demand a neutral government by controlling the coast and airspace, and avoid letting the US cause another Afghanistan with small missiles attacking aircraft and armor.

    Circumstances that would contradict the stated purpose of the invasion might be:
    1. If Russia does not stop at capturing the forces attacking Donbass and occupying southern oblasts to control shipping and airspace to prevent remilitarization by NATO;
    2. If Russia moves to high-casualty urban warfare, which appears to be very unlikely.

    As to the moral and legal arguments for a defensive invasion:
    1. The shelling of Donbass is war, and a measured defense can be justified where offense cannot.
    2. The illegal invasion of Iraq was not provoked by shelling of anyone, so the moral context is distinct.
    3. The purpose of Russia was not “regime change” but capturing rightwing militants who prevent a peaceful state.
    4. Stopping military attacks on Donbass was not about to be approved by the UNSC, so that is not an option.

  10. Mike Maddden
    March 2, 2022 at 16:14

    The government of Ukraine fell on February 22, 2014. Call it a coup, or call it an revolution. Either way, it was an unconstitutional transfer of power, and it was encouraged and supported by the United States. It is under these conditions that Article 1 of UN Charter and the 1975 Helsinki Accords may be invoked by the aggrieved; respect for the self determination of peoples and the change of national borders by peaceful internal means.

    The eastern regions of Ukraine objected to the violent ouster of their democratically elected president, and were aware that neo-Nazis comprised the tip of the spear. They recognized the new government as illegitimate and hostile to their language, culture, and well-being. Yet, they did not send their armies to Kiev to restore democracy, they simply said they wanted no part of it and would govern themselves.

    The coup regime was not so peaceable. On April 15, 2014, it sent military and para-military units to reclaim the Donbas by force. That was three full months before Russia intervened militarily in support of the separatists.

    The Ukrainian Civil War settled into a stalemate with a recognized line of separation. In November of 2021, Kiev began sending reinforcements to the line. Fearing a renewed offensive by Kiev, Russia responded by massing troops on its own territory, and with war exercises in Belarus.

    The war did not begin on February 24th. For eight long years the breakaway provinces have been besieged by an illegitimate government that has been in perpetual violation of Minsk II. This is where all the fighting and dying have occurred, 14,000 people to date. This past week, Russia said enough is enough.

    The UN Charter allows the use of military force under three conditions:

    1. As a response to a military attack that has already occurred.
    2. To thwart a military attack that is imminent.
    3. When the UN Security Council has authorized it.

    Russia’s invasion would have been entirely lawful if had it been limited to the breakaway provinces, where attacks had already occurred and were intensifying. The larger invasion of Ukraine falls into the gray area of what constitutes imminence. If one were to accept the amorphous definition of ‘imminence’ put forth in the 2013 DOJ White Paper on targeted assassination, the invasion of greater Ukraine would also be lawful. I rejected that definition in 2013, and I reject it now. Beyond Donbas, and the immediate area around the line of separation, Russia’s military action constitutes aggression. It does not pass the Caroline test.

    The question now is what the West should do about it. Will it finally acquiesce to Russia’s legitimate security concerns? Will it grant Russia the impunity the United States has enjoyed in the aftermath of its many acts of military aggression? I guess is ‘no’ to both questions.

    • Tim Slater
      March 3, 2022 at 14:01

      Right! And there is one further point: Last fall, the Ukrainian government acquired Turkish Baykar armed combat drones, which has just recently been used to revive another “frozen” war across an analogous “line of control” in Nagorno-Karabach. In October, the forces of the People’s Republics downed the first one. Some government and military figures said they were not willing to compromise, but were going to re-conquer the whole of the Donbas.

  11. alley cat
    March 2, 2022 at 15:58

    “I have great sympathy for Russian security concerns about encirclement by NATO and forward missile deployments. But seeking regime change by invasion in Ukraine could not possibly be the answer. I still have not the slightest idea what Putin seeks to achieve.”

    I respect Craig Murray for his proven courage and integrity, but Putin has made very clear what he seeks to achieve: the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, because Ukraine has become little more than a cat’s paw for U.S. and NATO attacks on Russia, as Murray seems to acknowledge in his post. So demilitarizing and denazifying that cat’s paw by whatever means necessary may be the only way to avoid a much greater evil: nuclear war.

    Now is not the time for moralizing, especially moralizing that equates aggressive violence with defensive violence. It seems too much like gratuitous piling on against the real victim of aggression—Russia.

  12. March 2, 2022 at 15:38

    It’s not a war. It’s a punitive action in retaliation for:
    1. Kyiv’s refusal to honor Minsk after signing it.
    2. Kyiv’s endless battering and shelling Donetsk and Lugansk.
    3. America’s refusal to rescind the absurd extension of NATO they had promised not to effect.
    4. Cowardly, lapdog Europe, the EU and idiot Stoltenberg with his toy police force rebuffing all efforts at diplomacy.

    Putin doesn’t want that wreck of a country. When its capacity to harm the breakaway provinces are destroyed, and its Nazi Azov and Right Sektor ghouls are dismantled and punished, the action will end and troops will pull back into the newly recognized provinces.

  13. Nelson Betancourt
    March 2, 2022 at 15:15

    Craig Murray doesn’t seem to know much about this conflict. On Assange he had it right. On the Ukraine issue, he fails as a diplomat.

  14. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    March 2, 2022 at 14:31

    L’illogisme chez Monsieur Craig, c’est qu’il ne reconnaît pas la légitime défense pour la Russie.
    Monsieur Craig tente de raisonner la BÊTE IMPÉRIALISTE OCCIDENTALE, mais la BÊTE n’a pas de raison, elle agit selon son instinct.
    La Bête veut être l’unique, elle charge sur tout ce qui est HUMAIN pour le détruire.
    Les affidés de la BÊTE IMPÉRIALISTE OCCIDENTALE sont inapte à assumer leur HUMANITÉ, et incapable d’en assurer la sécurité et la survie.
    La RUSSIE est strictement en état de légitime défense face à la charge meurtrière de la BÊTE IMPÉRIALISTE OCCIDENTALE WASHINGTONIENNE ET DE SES VASSAUX DE L’OTAN.

  15. rick sterling
    March 2, 2022 at 12:21

    Has Craig Murray carefully read Putin’s Feb 24 speech? He explains the reasons they have taken this dramatic step. He makes comparison to WW2 and the consequences of Russian appeasement to Hitler. They see this as a long term issue and struggle with US domination and hegemony. Putin lays out the decades long effort to work with the West and their refusal. He says they have “publicly designated Russia as their enemy” and US has crossed the red line with their control of Ukraine and use of it “to attract NATO armed forces and obtain cutting-edge weapons.” The speech is remarkably clear and direct. The full text of the speech was published on Consortium News yesterday, March 1.

    • Polly Titian
      March 2, 2022 at 13:53

      Murray definitely has a blind side on some issues from his Foreign Office days.

    • Randal Marlin
      March 2, 2022 at 16:19

      Just on a historical note, I recall a comment by Professor Robert Escarpit at the University of Bordeaux, that the agreement between Russia and Germany was made under no illusions about Hitler. Stalin simply wanted to buy time to get ready for war, for which Russia was inadequately prepared at the time.

    • Karen Bazemore
      March 2, 2022 at 18:53

      Someone who actually paid attention! Bravo! Our media called it “a rambling and disorganized speech.”

      I thought he was thoughtfully explaining the history and rationale of the current situation.

      For those who didn’t hear or pay attention this is what he means: The NATO countries led by the US have boxed Russia into a position from which there is no escape. They have killed more than 14 thousand Ethnic Russian Orthodox citizens who live in the east in Donbas and Crimea. Ukraine is the last part of our Fortress Europe and we’re pursuing that final part. Putin has warned us against our aggression against them. If Russia will be encircled and destroyed by the west the only thing left for the will be nuclear war- commonly referred to as Mutually Assured Destruction. But “We’re #1” so we’ll keep on bullying. Most dangerous time I’ve seen and I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  16. Trailer Trash
    March 2, 2022 at 11:31

    People in eastern Ukraine have been under fire for eight years and more than 10,000 have died. Mr Murray seems to suggest they should be patient and tolerate even the recently increased bombardment.

    What is the right number of dead in Donbass before patience turns to violent self-defense?

  17. Eugenia Gurevich
    March 2, 2022 at 10:34

    I’ve always respected Craig Murray for his support of Assange. However, he knows next to nothing about Ukraine, Russia or Putin. Nobody in Russia, and Putin least of all, ever intended to kill Ukrainian civilians. Why do you think the movement of the Russian Army is so slow? Precisely because it’s a surgical operation designed to eliminate the Ukrainian military without inflicting civilian casualties. The resistance comes primarily from the so-called volunteer battalions, which are pro-Nazi structures originally organized to deal with Donbass. Just like their predecessors, they’ve been involved in mass murders, torture, kidnapping and marauding in Donbass and other south-western regions. So, they don’t expect mercy from the people of Donbass, and they will receive none. The civilian toll comes from the actions of these battalions holding people hostage or from random shooting and all sorts of accidents, because the Ukrainian junta gave out thousands of arms to anybody and everybody.

    • April Fools
      March 2, 2022 at 14:43

      Yes, Kiev released prisoners to fight. I’ve just read, that Kiev forces have been harrassing and killing Greek citizens in Donbass, too.

    March 2, 2022 at 10:12

    The end of war ? Agreement or the emergence of dark territory. Military borders. Where Russia will release war dogs. He will not burden himself with caring for what no one wants. And Ukraine will then be what it has been. Edgeland Territory. Kaliningrad will do the same. It will leave a huge military camp over Europe. Small crew and a huge nuclear patrol mine.Well, most Ukrainians don’t want to be with Russia. But that’s why they won’t threaten a nuclear weapon. In that case, what is little Israel doing? Stop the Russians water. What did little Israel do in that case? And the Russian had patience for 7 years. Bullying from the Baltic dwarves, which the once drunken tsar bought all for two million tolars.Bullying by bankrupt Soviet communists who sat in the Union’s commissariat. Patience has run out. Russia will set up a military border, take all Russians who want to go back and leave Europe. He’ll just keep an eye on her. And lick your wounds. And when he gets stronger again, he looks around and goes south. To the warm seas. Where people are friendlier and now more industrious than white Ubermensch who despise them.People of all colors. And Russia will add to them its own, not white, Nordic. And then you Anglo-Saxon bastards will suddenly have your Democratic tankers, full of stinky oil, which you are so happy to turn into vouchers for your own debt, so you will have them within reach of a Russian machine gun.
    So fast, how can this be prevented? Simply. You must completely destroy Russia. Divide, trample. And then you get what you give Russia. Can you hear the rustle? It’s a black swan, it’s already fluttering its wings. It is huge and really arrives from Russia. So hurry hurry, as long as there is an opportunity to seduce the Queen of all crises to Russia.

  19. Dr Bruce Spencer
    March 2, 2022 at 09:48

    I am a fan of your writing — given that you wrote in an earlier article

    “The Minsk Agreements were endorsed by the UN Security Council. The U.K. and U.S. are therefore obliged in law to support them. Yet they have abandoned them in favor of the highly intransigent position of the government of Ukraine in refusing to accept any devolution to administrations in Eastern Ukraine. Instead the Ukrainian government insists on a highly centralized Ukrainian nationalist state. ”

    Can you explain how the UN endorsed agreements can be enacted after 8 years if not by force? And if by force what force would be legitimate? Just asking.

    It appears that only agreements made by current US presidents will receive action to implement them.

  20. April Fools
    March 2, 2022 at 09:45

    Well, I live in the US, and I’m sick of US interference and dominance of the world, and I know, our leaders want to
    make the US a “3rd world” country, too.

  21. Tom Dionne-carroll
    March 2, 2022 at 09:34

    This is miss-informed at best Putin is certainly not looking for a ladder to climb down-The West should be if we had any leadership
    Zelensky certainly did not hit a blinder-that is just Western media as he is playing the part they wish-giving out arms to anyone indiscriminately in cities is only going to get a lot of pumped up emotionally distraught people killed-that is not how you defend your cause -saying that you may develop nuclear weapons does not either Zelensky is more -the mad hatter in Alice in wonderland Mr Murray is lost in a hall of mirrors of the western media-

  22. Anna
    March 2, 2022 at 09:29

    A repost from Saker/Voltaire Network: hxxps://

    “the Straussians is a small group of people within the US power that has transformed [Nazified] Ukraine without its knowledge. The group formed half a century ago and has already committed an incredible amount of crimes in Latin America and the Middle East without the knowledge of the United States.

    … The PNAC raised funds for the candidacy of George W. Bush (the son) and published before his election its famous report “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”. It called for a Pearl Harbor-like catastrophe that would throw the American people into a war for global hegemony. These are exactly the words that PNAC Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld used on September 11, 2001. …Thanks to the 9/11 attacks, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz installed Admiral Arthur Cebrowski in Donald Rumsfeld’s shadow. …

    Cebrowski imposed the strategy of “endless war”: the US armed forces should not win any more wars, but start many of them and keep them going as long as possible. The aim would be to destroy all the political structures of the targeted states in order to ruin these populations and deprive them of any means of defending themselves against the US; a strategy that has been implemented for twenty years in n Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen…”

    Neocons want to keep Russia in a state of “endless war.” This plan [will lead] to the inevitable hot phase of the ongoing WWIII.”

  23. UncleDoug
    March 2, 2022 at 09:13

    > “I have great sympathy for Russian security concerns about encirclement by NATO and forward missile deployments. But seeking regime change by invasion in Ukraine could not possibly be the answer.”

    What, I wonder, does Ambassador Murray think could be the answer? Isn’t it obvious that Russia has tried, in peaceful and reasonable ways, or more than two decades, to convince the US/NATO to end the relentless encirclement? Isn’t it true that Russian, American and other expert observers have warned, also for decades, that violent conflict was a likely outcome of the reckless expansion of NATO?

    > “This can only finish with a government in Kiev which absolutely hates Putin as now do the Ukrainian people, or with Russia maintaining a puppet regime by extreme repression. There isn’t a way out with a peaceful, neutral Ukraine.”

    No. This can finish, and should finish, with Ukraine as a neutral buffer state, rather than a a US/NATO puppet threat on Russia’s border. It could finish that way tomorrow, if the West behaved reasonably. This disaster would never have happened if the West had behaved reasonably.

    Ambassador Murray, who has often been very right in his assessment of international conflict, is very wrong here.

    • Daniel
      March 2, 2022 at 11:20

      My feeling, too. It was unthinkable to me over a week ago that Russia would act as it has, and I always appreciate the author’s writings, but I disagree with his take here.

      Troubling times, which the fog of war are now making far worse. I pray this will all be sorted sooner rather than later. Thanks for the great reporting, CN.

  24. March 2, 2022 at 09:10

    It’s simple 1. Russia will not be bogged down in a long term occupation Ukraine will be spill into 2 eastern half pro Russia western half pro EU
    2.Putin has made his point Russia will go to war if necessary to protect Russia against any threats on its borders. ( Putin “Can you hear me Now!!)
    3. Nato cannot stop or prevent Russia from securing it’s security
    4.The west usa/eu have crippled their own ecconomies themselves
    {Stupid is Stupid does}

  25. Altruist
    March 2, 2022 at 08:58

    Great analysis by Craig Murray.

    It’s indeed difficult to imagine what Putin’s end game is. A never-ending occupation combined with an ongoing insurgency? Putin seems to have made a colossal strategic blunder, which is surprising given the Soviet Union’s experience in Afghanistan not so long ago, as well as the USA’s more recent experiences there and in Iraq. And the Afghanistan war led directly to the downfall of the Soviet Union. If Russia is now involved in a “forever war” with continual loss of life, combined with international opprobrium, it probably won’t be that long before Putin is removed by a military coup at home.

    The goal of Russia appears to be regime change in Kiev, probably putting Yanukovich back in power, arguing that the restoration of his government is legal considering that the 2014 Maidan change of government was an illegitimate coup. But matters have moved on since 2014, and it’s very questionable that a new (or old) government installed by Russian bayonets will have any significant popular support.

  26. D. Brand
    March 2, 2022 at 06:08

    “My own friends and allies on the left are suggesting that the answer is for there to be a ceasefire and Western agreement to no further expansion of NATO, and a new arms control treaty governing missile deployments. That would certainly be ideal but it is not going to happen.”

    Exactly, it’s not going to happen. Nato is hell-bent on expansion. While some European leaders assured Putin that Ukraine’s Nato membership isn’t on the table “for now”, other Nato members were busily integrating Ukraine into Nato. While the so-called Crimea annexation in 2014 didn’t cost a single life, now 8 years later, Western military experts are boasting that they have reinforced the Ukrainian armed forces to give the Russians a good fight, which could lead to tens or even hundreds of thousands of casualties. The Russians know that the cost would be even higher in 8 years time. A nationalistic Ukraine inside Nato and/or EU will use these organizations as a stick to beat the Russians with, which will be more than welcome by the hardliners in Washington. The Russians struck now to pre-empt de facto Nato integration of Ukraine, just like Germany struck at the Franco-Russian military alliance in 1914 before that alliance got too strong. We can only hope that the former won’t be as catastrophic as the latter.

    Yes, every war of aggression is morally wrong. But what other options did Putin have for stopping Nato expansion, which the Russians consider a threat to their security? I honestly don’t know. Yet, as you said, there doesn’t seem to be any good outcome for the decision to go to war either. Putin quite clearly put the national security interest above all other considerations. That is exactly what we can expect of a Russian nationalist.

    Western media started to demonize Putin 20 years ago when he confiscated the wealth of some of the Western-backed oligarchs that had robbed the country under Yeltsin. Today, top diplomats in the West gratuitously insult Putin as if the question of war and peace were a mudslinging contest in the kindergarten.

    Western wars of aggression in the greater MENA were morally wrong. They weren’t even justified by national security. Instead of “fighting terrorism and promoting democracy and human rights”, as claimed, they actually boosted international terror and undermined democracy and human rights at home and abroad by fuelling right-wing populism.

    Still, if the outcome had been positive, the immorality and the lies would have been forgotten. If Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan had turned into stable democracies with a market economy and high standard of living, everyone would praise the Neocons and prepare for regime change in Iran. Thus, in the real world the outcome is more important than morality.

    Can there be any good outcome for the war in Ukraine? It takes two to tango. Putin has seen that in 8 years of Minsk peace talks, Kyiv had no intention of making any concessions with regard to Nato membership or autonomy for the Donets. It was just buying time to rearm with the help of Nato. Will Ukrainian leaders compromise to avert harm to their country, or will they fight to the end in the hope that the West will cripple Russia economically? Even if they do come to an agreement with Putin now, the political situation in Ukraine is so volatile that there is no knowing what the next government will do. I don’t see that Putin can install a puppet regime in Ukraine. He may be able to split the predominantly Russian East from the rest, which would then probably join Nato. But that doesn’t address Russia’s security concerns. On the contrary, Nato is using the Ukraine war to further reinforce its infrastructure in the East and to finally shredder the Russia-Nato Founding Act of 1997. In the current war hysteria, calls for peace are treated as treason.

  27. Howling Mad
    March 2, 2022 at 05:56

    “It is simply illegal to wage a war for regime change, without the endorsement of the U.N. security council. ”

    The US sponsored regime change in 2014 which lead to a war…
    We cannot forget the US’s role in this conflict.

  28. James Simpson
    March 2, 2022 at 04:08

    Likewise, I agree that if Putin’s goal is to take over the whole of Ukraine and to install a pro-Russian leader, that will not happen. However, it might be that he will withdraw the troops of his own accord having made his point about the Nazis there. I think we underestimate the level of far-right infiltration in Ukraine over the last few years; I did, and then I read this piece by Lev Golinkin in The Nation, which begins:

    “Five years ago, Ukraine’s Maidan uprising ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, to the cheers and support of the West. Politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of Maidan’s ultranationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots. Freedom was on the march in Ukraine.

    Today, increasing reports of far-right violence, ultranationalism and erosion of basic freedoms are giving the lie to the West’s initial euphoria. There are neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.

    These stories of Ukraine’s dark nationalism aren’t coming out of Moscow; they’re being filed by Western media, including US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE); Jewish organizations such as the World Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and watchdogs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House, which issued a joint report warning that Kiev is losing the monopoly on the use of force in the country as far-right gangs operate with impunity.

    Five years after Maidan, the beacon of democracy is looking more like a torchlight march.”


    • irina
      March 2, 2022 at 12:05

      I happened to be taking a class in contemporary Russian geopolitics in spring 2014 and we watched the Maidan unfold in real time. Even our very conservative, Reaganite – type professor stated that Russia had offered Ukraine a much better energy deal than the EU. One memorable day, we had a guest lecturer who had worked for USAID and the NED in Ukraine. He was very candid about the manipulations towards creating a ‘democratic’ Ukraine, who was behind them, and how they were funded.
      This was just as Maidan was blowing up, and the guest was shocked. I was thinking, ‘what the f did you expect’ ?

      Not trusting anything to the electronic memory hole, I printed out many pages of information about the rise of Pravy Sector and the Azov Battalion and how their leaders were going mainstream in western Ukraine. This was and is horrifying to me.

    • Danny Miskinis
      March 2, 2022 at 12:34

      Excellent points, James. On the other hand, I am shocked by the clueless Mr. Murray, unable to grasp something as simple as why Putin would wage war in this matter. Does he not know that the reason for this invasion was to protect ethnic Russians, who are simply present in greater numbers in the east, from horrific violence perpetrated by neo-nazis, similar to what happened in Odessa in 2014. But now the violence would involve much greater numbers. Although nazis don’t really regard Russians as humans, they still would use them as human shields.

  29. Mikael Andersson
    March 2, 2022 at 03:26

    The will to fight must rise from the stomach. Without food the will must fade. I imagine everything in Ukraine is disrupted now and that shortages will fill the future. Shortages of food, electricity, petrol, medicines, and all manner of essentials. The US/UK war monger elites may send as many weapons as they wish – in arrogant disregard for the only possible path to peace – demilitarisation. Hungry, smelly, sick people will lose the will to use them. Russia has already disabled the threat on its Ukrainian flank. Strategic objective #1. If the US/UK suppositories persist with financial war then Russia can simply turn off their energy supply.

  30. Finn Nielsen
    March 2, 2022 at 03:15

    How does this this analysis apply to Finland after World War 2 or to the Åland Islands after World War 1?

    • Danny Miskinis
      March 2, 2022 at 13:00

      Finland never joined NATO, despite their history and geography. Hopefully, they can maintain their neutrality and remain the happiest people on earth. It’s as if they took a cue from America’s wise founding fathers. We desperately need more sane people in times like these!

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