Caitlin Johnstone: If the US Wanted Peace in Ukraine

Washington could have helped Zelensky pursue peacemaking with Russia — as he was elected to do — and prevented this war. But of course, that didn’t happen. 

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

As we hydroplane toward the brink of nuclear armageddon while Bono and the Edge play U2 songs in Kiev, it’s probably worth taking a moment to highlight how this war could have been avoided. The U.S. could have simply pledged military protection for Volodymyr Zelensky against the far-right extremists who were threatening to lynch him if he enacted the peacemaking policies he was elected president to enact.

To be clear, what we are indulging in here is entirely an act of fantasy. We are imagining what would have happened had the U.S. pledged to protect the Ukrainian government from an undemocratic violent overthrow at the hands of fascists instead of waging a horrific proxy war. In that, we are also imagining a world in which the U.S. government acts in the highest interest of all instead of working continuously to dominate the planet no matter how much madness and cruelty it inflicts upon humanity. That would be a world in which the U.S. had not been taking the steps that it has for many yearsto orchestrate this proxy war.

With that out of the way, it’s just a simple fact that for a fraction of the military firepower the U.S. is pouring into Ukraine right now, it could have prevented the entire war by simply protecting Ukrainian democracy from the undemocratic impulses of the worst people in that country.

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When asked by The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel last month what he thinks is preventing Kiev from signing a peace agreement with Russia, John Mearsheimer, whose analysis of this conflict has been prophetic for many years, replied as follows:


“I think that when Zelensky ran for president he made it very clear that he wanted to work out an arrangement with Russia that ended the crisis in Ukraine, and he won. And what he then tried to do was move toward implementing the Minsk II agreement. If you were going to shut down the conflict in Ukraine, you had to implement Minsk II. And Minsk II meant giving the Russian-speaking and the ethnic Russian population in the easternmost part of Ukraine, the Donbas region, a significant amount of autonomy, and you had to make the Russian language an official language of Ukraine.

I think Zelensky found out very quickly that because of the Ukrainian right, it was impossible to implement Minsk II. Therefore even though the French and the Germans, and of course the Russians were very interested in making Minsk II work, because they wanted to shut down the crisis, they couldn’t do it. In other words, the Ukrainian right was able to stymie Zelensky on that front.”

When Mearsheimer says that the Ukrainian right was able to stymie Zelensky, he doesn’t mean by votes or by democratic processes, he means by threats and violence. In an article last month titled “Siding with Ukraine’s far-right, US sabotaged Zelensky’s mandate for peace,” journalist Aaron Maté wrote the following:

“In April 2019, Zelensky was elected with an overwhelming 73% of the vote on a promise to turn the tide. In his inaugural address the next month, Zelensky declared that he was ‘not afraid to lose my own popularity, my ratings,’ and was ‘prepared to give up my own position – as long as peace arrives.’

But Ukraine’s powerful far-right and neo-Nazi militias made clear to Zelensky that reaching peace in the Donbas would have a much higher cost.

‘No, he would lose his life,’ Right Sector co-founder Dmytro Anatoliyovych Yarosh, then the commander of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, responded one week after Zelensky’s inaugural speech. ‘He will hang on some tree on Khreshchatyk – if he betrays Ukraine and those people who died in the Revolution and the War.’ “

In a 2019 interview with Maté, the late great scholar Stephen Cohen made the following comments:

“But ultimately you have a situation now which seems not to be widely understood, that the new president of Ukraine, Zelensky, ran as a peace candidate. This is a bit of a stretch and maybe it doesn’t mean a whole lot to your generation, but he ran a kind of George McGovern campaign. The difference was McGovern got wiped out and Zelensky won by, I think, 71, 72 percent. He won an enormous mandate to make peace.

So, that means he has to negotiate with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. And there are various formats, right? There’s a so-called Minsk format which involves the German and the French; there’s a bilateral directly with Putin.

But his willingness — and this is what’s important and not well reported here — his willingness to deal directly with Putin, which his predecessor, Poroshenko, was not or couldn’t or whatever reason — actually required considerable boldness on Zelensky[‘s part], because there are opponents of this in Ukraine and they are armed. Some people say they’re fascists but they’re certainly ultra-nationalist, and they have said that they will remove and kill Zelensky if he continues along this line of negotiating with Putin.

Zelensky cannot go forward as I’ve explained. I mean, his life is being threatened literally by a quasi-fascist movement in Ukraine, he can’t go forward with full peace negotiations with Russia, with Putin, unless America has his back. Maybe that won’t be enough, but unless the White House encourages this diplomacy, Zelensky has no chance of negotiating an end to the war, so the stakes are enormously high.”

In an article titled “Why Russia Went to War Now,” Antiwar’s Ted Snyder explains that Putin likely made the decision to invade because Kiev wasn’t respecting Minsk II and because future NATO membership with Ukraine was being kept on the table while weapons poured into the country from the U.S.

“Zelensky wouldn’t talk to the leaders of the Donbas, Minsk was dead and Russia feared an imminent operation against the ethnic Russian population of the Donbas,” Snyder writes. “At the same time, Washington had become a leaky faucet on promises of flooding Ukraine with weapons and open doors to NATO: two red lines Putin had clearly drawn.”

But, again, Zelensky couldn’t enact Minsk because it had been made abundantly clear to him that he faced a horrific death by fascist lynch mob if he did. If the choice is between taking a chance on a U.S. proxy war and getting killed in the public square, I think many leaders around the world would opt for the former.

So Zelensky made peace with the Nazis, whose will for Ukraine aligned with Washington’s.

This means is that every major factor which led to Russia’s decision to invade could have been nullified by the U.S. government. A guarantee of no NATO membership for Ukraine could have been made. The weapons supplies could have been stopped. And Zelensky and his government could have received protection from the U.S. military against the armed fascists who would repeat their violent acts of 2014 upon them.

It would have been wins all around. We wouldn’t be staring down the barrel of nuclear Armageddon. Ukraine would have been spared the horrors of an insane proxy war. Western powers wouldn’t be sending arms to literal Nazi factions. And the U.S. would actually be protecting Ukrainian democracy, instead of just pretending to.

But, again, we are only indulging in fantasy here. Fighting Nazis, protecting democracy and waging peace are not things the U.S. empire actually does in real life. The U.S. is the most tyrannical and murderous regime on earth, by a truly massive margin, and it will happily risk the life of everyone on earth if it means securing planetary rule.

But sometimes it’s nice to imagine the kind of world we might be living in if we were not ruled by psychopaths.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar onPatreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative MatrixRogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone andWoke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

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

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31 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: If the US Wanted Peace in Ukraine

  1. LeoSun
    May 15, 2022 at 11:03

    “But, again, we are only indulging in fantasy here.”

    Concluding, the gerontocracy ruling the Divided $tates of Corporate America is NOT a government of, by & for the people.

    Consequently, “the only thing we have to fear, is reality itself.”

  2. LeoSun
    May 15, 2022 at 03:10

    Books, Bank, and Bling. Bling. Bling.

    “First impressions are lasting. If, it’s less than great—it takes along time to change it.” If, ever….

    “A few days later, I met the high bidder, Malcolm Nance, at a bar in Arlington. I gave him the books; he gave me the check and we started talking.  He immediately began bragging that he was an “intelligence officer.” 

    ? It’s 2001, would the World Wide Web have a Wiki-Bio Page for John Kiriakou

    Imo, Nance meets Kiriakou maybe knowing Kiriakou’s profession & Nance out to impress ends up being “the spy” (intelligence officer) who talks too much, about himself. Clueless of the fact that Kiriakou’s area of expertise is the fakery & phuckery in the world. In our lives. Before his (Kiriakou’s) life was shattered.

    For a moment, fuhgeddabout Nance’s gun. Look at his eyes. The dude is channeling that cowboy from Texas, who started his own war in Iraq, i.e., “I was gonna command the front line; but, but, but, then I got h i g h…..”

    The Malcolm Nance take away, “a calabash with holes cannot be filled.”

  3. LeoSun
    May 15, 2022 at 00:47

    Many people believe, “The health & wealth of the American Eagle to continue to feed & live well, is dependent on the Russian Bear.” (The Ruble rises. The USD is in extreme decline).

    Imo, Biden’s-Harris’ domestic & foreign agenda amount to a series of monumental social crimes aka social murder aka Mutually Assured Destruction. It’s MADness.

    Best practice, “Book ‘Em!” A flight outta our life. Give US peace. Otherwise, indict & prosecute ‘em for war crimes and crimes against humanity, i.e., Joe Biden ALSO said, “In fact, we started our assistance to Ukraine before this war began.”

    He boasted that the US had moved weapons into Ukraine at “record speed” over the past two months, and had provided “ten anti-armor systems for every one Russian tank that’s in Ukraine.” Biden threatened that the US had the capacity to keep up this level of military deliveries “for a long time.” It’s totally f.u.b.a.r.

    China’s advice for JoeY “PATRIOT ACT” Biden: “He who ties the rope around the tiger, must untie it.” 4.23.22

  4. Alex Nosal
    May 12, 2022 at 00:49

    I really appreciate this article. I have felt the same way about this conflict as you have, but you put it so eloquently. What really impressed me is how you explained that “what we are indulging in here is entirely an act of fantasy” as we know that the United States general public has absolutely no control of their federal government and how it caters exclusively to a handful of special interest groups. Your article should be published in every newspaper and on every website that claims to report the news.

  5. delia ruhe
    May 11, 2022 at 19:51

    Excellent piece, Caitlin. It does what every self-respecting journalist covering this war should do–namely, “background.”

    And speaking of psychopathology, Glenn Diesen’s new book is just out. Russophobia: Propaganda in International Politics. it’s expensive, but if everyone downloaded the free Kindle sample, you’d have an excellent take on what it’s about. It’s focus is primarily American Russophobia, and the propaganda element teaches you how Washington makes sure everyone else is infected by it.

  6. Maskkor
    May 11, 2022 at 15:41

    Seems like when Zelensky is meeting one of these Pelosis or Biden-wives or Euro officials, he should move closer to and embrace them then whisper “I seek asylum” and not let go. Then the nazis around him would have to do battle with the guards of the Western dignitary in order to slay him. This might be a good chance for him if he wants to get out of this in one piece.

  7. May 11, 2022 at 14:31

    Thank you Caitlin for your research, along with Aaron Mate and John Mearsheimer, you point to the key issue driving this war, and, by supporting the Minsk Agreement, that even Germany and France support, peace can be gained. The more that people know this, the more we can stop this conflict

  8. Peter Loeb
    May 11, 2022 at 08:58

    “A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT” ; As we can all tell by the vote to support the current Ukraine government
    in Congress, many of us are much too late. I have contacted (per email) my representatives in Congress, Yours truly,
    joining many other “voices in the wilderness”. (PS With apologies, I used the “dollar” as is common in the US saying.
    Please convert to your appropriate currency, thanks.)

  9. May 11, 2022 at 06:51

    See also:
    „The US Power Elite: they are doing it again!“: hxxps://
    Best regards

  10. mgr
    May 11, 2022 at 03:11

    Absolutely. I am sure that Nuland and gang clearly communicated to Zelenski that should he push for a “good neighbor” policy with Russia, which by the way is exactly what the EU should have done (cowardly Van der Leyon), that America would simply withdraw its protection and leave him to the mercy of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis.

    As awful a choice as that is for Zelenski personally, in protecting himself he has chosen for the death of thousands of Ukrainian and Russians combatants and civilians as well as the the complete dismantling of Ukraine as a country. What a guy. I guess comedians are important…

    If Russia succeeds in de-nazifying Ukraine (and if we all survive), perhaps there is a future for the country going forward. With the help of the Nuland/Blinken cabal, it was certainly going nowhere before.

    • Alex Nosal
      May 12, 2022 at 01:01

      Do keep in mind that according the ‘Pandora Papers” Zelensky has already received $850,000,000 USD plus a $34,000,000 house in Florida. This is not inline with Ukrainian comedian salaries. In other words, he is being handsomely compensated for his compliance with corporate America. My guess is that the U.S. government would have promised Zelensky an “exit date” to give him at least some hope of escaping this nightmarish reality that he finds himself in. As history has shown though, these conflicts usually end quite badly for the “charismatic leader” du jour.

  11. Mikael Andersson
    May 10, 2022 at 20:06

    Ireland has so much to teach the world about principled neutrality and how to be a successful member of the EU without submitting to NATO war mongers. These lessons can show Ukraine and the mad countries on Russia’s western border how to avoid being NATO cannon fodder. Instead Paul David Hewson and David Howell Evans (Bono and “The Edge”, stage names, tossers) are playing free gigs in a nation ruled by Zelo neo-fascists? Another tragic, lost opportunity for peace.

  12. Aaron
    May 10, 2022 at 19:50

    What US led NATO is doing Chomsky has called “a grotesque experiment”. It seems like for Ukrainians this is the worst possible scenario, a long drawn out war that destroys everything. It sounds like Zelensky betrayed his campaign promise of peace. If this whole thing were a rock band tour they would have to call it “the end of the world” tour.

    • Mikael Andersson
      May 10, 2022 at 20:13

      Hello Aaran. I read somewhere that Ukraine is “winning”. They have no Black Sea ports or navy. They have a smashed railway system. They have no airforce and can’t put a plane in the air. Every military airfield is Swiss cheese. They can’t move anything around in the country. The Azov Battalion nutcase neo-NAZIs are holidaying in a Azovstal bunker without catering. And the western MSM calls that “winning”? Zelo has driven Ukraine over a cliff and is a media legend? Regards, M

      • Cara
        May 11, 2022 at 15:38

        Great summary of the battlefield. Much more astute than anything in the press. And articulated in a way to make one laugh rather than cry. Thank you!

  13. Robert Patterson
    May 10, 2022 at 17:29

    Oh if only there were some way to have this truly sane column distributed and printed in the U,S. media and perhaps world wide! We Americans are so far out of touch as to the reality of this situation that our only hope is to hear such arguments and truths put forth by Caitlan and others who speak truth to power. Thank you to ms. Johnstone and CN for supporting her writings.

    • JonT
      May 11, 2022 at 06:15

      Yes, if only, (including most of CN reporting). Not much chance of that!

  14. IlfordRob
    May 10, 2022 at 17:17

    Yes. And it’s a testament to the power of western propaganda that the vast majority of ordinary us/Uk punters are totally unable to put two an two together to conclude that this disaster was precipitated deliberately, and at their expense. Worst foreign policy of my lifetime (67 years).

  15. TonyR
    May 10, 2022 at 16:04

    Good report…. If you live in the U.s. remember to vote… Don’t throw your vote away on the green party the communist party the weed party… Vote for someone who can win! Vote for the pro war democratic party or the pro war republican party… I pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of Lockheed….

  16. David Otness
    May 10, 2022 at 15:50

    “If and but,” two words representative of abject and in hindsight powerlessness. I’ll throw in “if only” for dessert.

    The premise that ‘Elensky, iy, yy) [No ‘Zs’ allowed, now illegal in much of Ewerope!] once wore a halo is rather pointless when one remembers to peer behind the curtain and remember that the Ukrainian president is first and foremost a product, and soul-bought possession of Ukrainian tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky, a truly ‘made man’—for he is Kolomoisky’s plaything, and a carefully constructed avatar image at that.

    It doesn’t matter that “he said” anything or everything to get elected, and his carefully crafted political rags to riches story, truly right out of a classic Eweropean folk tale morality play has been well documented as a scripted chronological series of events.
    That Kolomoisky is a significant funder of the Azov Battalion I think says the rest. Like so much about that schizophrenic mish-mash of colliding cultures called Ukraine, it all comes down to how much loot one can scoop and scoot with after the dogs of war have had their way, and in Kolomoisky’s case, he’s raised them from the time they were weaned puppies. And managed to apply to effect enough ‘big lies’ on the Ukrainian people in short order.

    It’s not right (it is wrong) to lose sight of what is actually going down in Ukraine by ignoring the major players, those whose interests are served in this orgy of violent mayhem with unaccountable weapons and money in this free-for-all of pillage. Elements of the same kind of humans who robbed Russia in the 1990s are back on the job in Ukraine right now. Certain newcomers(?) stand out as fast learners from Russia’s debacle. Names like Pelosi, Kerry, Romney, and former Viceroy of Ukraine Joe Biden are prominent. Prominent and so well protected for this many years since the murders of Maidan and Odessa.

    Joe lays down $33 billion, Nancy reciprocates with another (so far hearsay to me) $7 billion, Boris yanks $1.5 billion pounds ($?) from the UK’s Peoples’ Emergency fund; all across Ewerope they altruistically ante up their peoples’ Treasuries.
    And Ihor Kolomoiski’s smile lights up the room, his cut must be impressive. As will be the US political class’s take from their involvement. If you’re going to count on anything regarding Ukraine and the propaganda blitz it has generated, count on some serious skin getting renumeration. We’ve let them get away with it for this long, who wouldn’t by now become not just bold and brazen, but oh-so-audacious too. They have no shame. For that matter, we don’t appear to be blushing much ourselves.

  17. Vera Gottlieb
    May 10, 2022 at 15:47

    Zelensky should have stuck to comedy…He might mean well but he doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to the US. Is Zelensky aware of the billions Ukraine is in debt – US/NATO/IMF??? The country will bleed for years to come…down to the last drop of blood. As for the US’ involvement…same, old same…looking out for it’s own interests regardless who gets hurt. But this time….the US will hurt too. Reap as you sow…

    • Mikael Andersson
      May 10, 2022 at 20:20

      Hello Vera. It is said that the USA will “fight to the last Ukrainian”. I’m sure that you are correct to observe that the USA will “fight to the last hryvnia” (national currency of Ukraine since 2 September 1996).

      • Vera Gottlieb
        May 12, 2022 at 16:21

        Always letting others do the dirty work…and then claim victory.

  18. Anonymot
    May 10, 2022 at 15:35

    Clear, intelligent, and useful. Thanks. It’s something I can send to semi-brainwashed friends.

    • John R
      May 10, 2022 at 20:25

      I would love to send this to my (semi) brainwashed friends, but they would blow it off like they always have. Thanks for even trying. Love how Caitlin gets it right with so few words.

  19. RootBier
    May 10, 2022 at 15:34

    It’s not Bono’s fault the leadership in Kiev prefers a different style of music.


  20. Drew Hunkins
    May 10, 2022 at 15:31

    Zelensky’s a total non-factor in all of this. Washington’s policy, ergo Zelensky’s policy, is being dictated by the four main Washington militarist Ziocons: President Klain, Nudelman, Sullivan, and Blinken.

    Right now, with the Klain regime we are as close to nuclear war as we have ever been in the last 60 yrs. If the militarist-Zionist Russophobic sociopaths in the form of Nudelman, Blinken, and Sullivan cannot be controlled, we will be staring down the barrel of a major conflagration.

    These four warmongering sociopaths put the Kremlin’s back against the wall with nowhere to retreat to. The ethnic Russians were about to be slaughtered, Zelensky had just returned from a Euro meeting vowing to obtain nukes, and NATO/Washington was intent on expanding NATO to Ukraine.

    The double-standard is breathtaking, and one cannot help but to mention it repeatedly: imagine China or Russia doing any of this in southern Canada or northern Mexico — further comment is superfluous. To not acknowledge this double-standard one would have to be either a dupe of the Washington-Zio-militarist psychopaths or a paid shill of the Washington-Zio-militarist psychopaths.

    • robert e williamson jr
      May 11, 2022 at 19:45

      D H : I could not agree more.

      Zelensky should have stuck with doing Comedy, that he didn’t has resulted in Tragedy.

  21. bluedogg
    May 10, 2022 at 15:08

    The United States didn’t spend $5 billion dollars for nothing, along with Germany they created the color revolution and the death from it belongs to the U.S. and Germany along with those murdered at the Trade Building. The U.S. had great plans to install missiles in the Crimea, in fact they had already put out ads for the building of schools and military building there, except Russia beat them to it.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      May 10, 2022 at 15:49

      As I see it – residing in Europe, the EU is going deaf, blind and dumb.

      • Mikael Andersson
        May 10, 2022 at 20:24

        As I see it – residing in Europe, the EU is a USA vassal. Let’s ask Ursula von der Leyen ….

Comments are closed.