US-Laid Trap for Russia Has Trapped West Instead

A month before the Feb. 24, 2022 Russian invasion, CN wrote that the U.S. was laying a trap to lure Russia into an economic, information and proxy war. All three have failed for the U.S.

U.S. President Joe Biden after delivering remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 24, 2022. (White House, Adam Schultz)

The U.S.-led West could not launch its economic, information and proxy war against Russia without cause. That cause would be Russia invading Ukraine to defend ethnic Russians in a civil war that had raged since 2014.

The economic war, intended to spur Russians to overthrow their government, has failed spectacularly. The ruble did not collapse despite sanctions on the Russian central bank. Nor has the economy.

Instead an alternative economic, commercial and financial system that excludes the West is rising with China, India and Russia in the lead, and most of Asia, Africa and Latin America taking part. It is the final collapse of Western colonialism. The sanctions instead backfired on the West, especially in Europe. 

The information war has failed across the world. Only the United States and Europe, which consider itself “the world,” believe their own “information.”  

The proxy war is being lost on the ground, though more than $100 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine has created a bloodbath. There will either be a negotiated settlement in which Ukraine loses territory; a total Russian victory; or a third world war, potentially the final war. 

The U.S. pushed Russia to the brink to provoke its intervention. It began with a 30-year NATO expansion eastward with NATO exercises on Russia’s borders. In December 2021 the West rejected Russian treaty proposals to roll back NATO troop deployments and missile installations in Eastern Europe.

A peace deal to end the 8-year Ukrainian civil war, sparked by the unconstitutional ouster of an elected president in 2014, was endorsed by the U.N. Security Council and was to be implemented under German and French auspices.

But the German and French leaders at the time recently admitted they had no intention of implementing the deal that would have given the ethnic Russian Donbass autonomy, while remaining part of Ukraine.

Instead Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande said Russia was deceived to give NATO time to build up Ukraine’s military to supposedly defend against a Russian invasion. Russia had eight years to invade, but instead pinned its hopes on the Minsk Accords to avoid a larger conflict. When a Western-backed offensive on Donbass began last February, Russia acted.

The West got its larger conflict.  On Feb. 4, 2022, 20 days before the Russian invasion, Consortium News laid out the trap being set for Russia, which one year later has trapped the West instead. The quicker it understand this, the better. 

The U.S. and NATO are pouring weapons into Ukraine. Kiev says it plans no offensive against Donbass, but if Washington forced one, Moscow would have a major decision to make, writes Joe Lauria.

Ukrainian government tanks in eastern Ukraine, 2015. (OSCE)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Feb. 4, 2022

United States plans to weaken Russia by imposing punishing sanctions and bringing world condemnation on Moscow depend on Washington’s hysteria about a Russian invasion of Ukraine actually coming true.  

At his press conference on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin said,

“I still believe the United States is not that concerned about Ukraine’s security, though they may think about it on the sidelines. Its main goal is to contain Russia’s development. This is the whole point. In this sense, Ukraine is simply a tool to reach this goal. This can be done in different ways: by drawing us into some armed conflict, or compelling its allies in Europe to impose tough sanctions on us like the US is talking about today.” 

At the U.N. Security Council on Monday, Russia’s U.N. envoy Vassily Nebenzia said: “Our Western colleagues say that de-escalation is needed, but they are the first to build up tension, enhance rhetoric and escalate the situation. Talks about an imminent war are provocative per se. It might seem you call for it, want it and wait for it to come, as if you wanted your allegations to come true.” 

The war mania being drummed up in U.S. and British media recalls even Zbigniew Brzezinski‘s warning that “whipping up anti-Russian hysteria … could eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” 

Without an invasion the U.S. seems lost. No sanctions, no world opprobrium, no weakening of Russia.

If the U.S. is trying to lure Russia into a trap in Ukraine, what might it look like? 

Offensive on Donbass

Ukraine says it is not planning an offensive against the breakaway provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, which border Russia in the east.  But just ten days ago Ukrainian President Zelensky said:

Joe Biden has said a Russian invasion will come in February, when the ground freezes. But it could also be the time for a Kiev offensive to recover the two Donbass provinces. NATO nations are pouring weapons into Ukraine supposedly to defend it against the “invasion.” But the weapons transfers could instead be preparation for an offensive, on orders from Washington. The U.S. essentially runs the country since the 2014 U.S.-backed coup, which led the ethnic Russian provinces to declare independence from Ukraine and led to Kiev’s war against them. All Ukrainian leaders, including Zelensky, serve at the pleasure of the U.S. president. 

The ground will also be frozen for Kiev’s forces in February, which was the month of the 2014 coup, while Putin was in Sochi for the Winter Olympics.  He is now in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, away from the command center in Moscow.  (The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was also the time Georgia instigated its war with Russia against its renegade provinces at the behest of the United States.)  

When Kiev stepped up attacks against Donbass in March and October 2021, Russia both times increased its troop deployments near the Ukraine border, which this time is being interpreted by Washington as plans for an “imminent” invasion. 

It is an invasion the U.S. absolutely needs to implement its plans to weaken Russia (and ultimately to replace Putin with a pliable leader in the mold of Boris Yeltsin.) As Moscow has never openly threatened such an invasion, the U.S. appears to be devising ways to get it. 

The Russian ‘Plot’

On Thursday U.S. intelligence leaked what it says is a diabolical scheme by Russia to stage a provocation in Donbass or even on Russian territory itself to provide a pretext for an invasion. The New York Times reported the lurid details of this supposed plot:

“The plan — which the United States hopes to spoil by making public — involves staging and filming a fabricated attack by the Ukrainian military either on Russian territory or against Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine.

Russia, the officials said, intended to use the video to accuse Ukraine of genocide against Russian-speaking people. It would then use the outrage over the video to justify an attack or have separatist leaders in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine invite a Russian intervention.

The video was intended to be elaborate, officials said, with plans for graphic images of the staged, corpse-strewn aftermath of an explosion and footage of destroyed locations. They said the video was also set to include faked Ukrainian military equipment, Turkish-made drones and actors playing Russian-speaking mourners.”

Of course unsaid is that the U.S. can get Kiev to launch an actual attack, even inside Russia, and then say it was the false flag event, to try to prompt the Russian intervention. 

As usual, the U.S. “intelligence officials” refused to provide any evidence for such a plot. “Officials would not release any direct evidence of the Russian plan or specify how they learned of it, saying to do so would compromise their sources and methods,” the Times reported.

That prompted AP State Department correspondent Matt Lee to have this exchange with spokesman Ned Price on Thursday. Because Price was unable to produce any evidence he resorted to smearing Lee as taking “solace” in Russian information.  

So if the offensive comes this month, with or without a false flag, how will Russia respond?

Options for Russia 

If a major offensive attempts to regain Donbass (likely downplayed by Western media) there’s no reason to doubt Russia would continue supplying arms, ammunition, intelligence and logistical support to the militias there.

However if those defenses begin failing, the Kremlin would have a major decision to make: intervene with regular Russian units to save the inhabitants, most of whom are Russian-speakers, or abandon them to avoid giving Washington the invasion it seeks to prompt the harsh U.S. response.  

If Russia did not intervene it would see massive refugees, destruction of the Minsk agreements that would give Donbass autonomy, and a hostile Ukrainian force at its borders. Putin would also have hell to pay from the Duma that has been moving legislation to annex the provinces to Russia, a move resisted so far by Putin. If they became part of Russia, Moscow would argue it was no invasion at all. 

Political analyst Alexander Mercouris told CN Live! on Wednesday that he thought an offensive unlikely because of the low morale of senior Ukrainian military. But, he said:

“If there were an offensive in eastern Ukraine, Russia would back the militia … and if there were a chance of a Ukrainian breakthrough, I think the Russians would respond, and respond decisively. I don’t think this is speculation. If you look at the statements that Russian officials have made, including by [Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, including to a great extent Putin himself, I think it’s absolutely clear what the Russian response would be.” 

But that, as long as Donbass remains part of Ukraine, would be the invasion Washington has been screaming about and much of the world has been prepared to believe is about to happen. And it would mean that Russia had taken the bait and fallen into the U.S. trap.

Precedents for a Trap  

April 18,1991: Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the “Highway of Death”, the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. (Joe Coleman,/Air Force Magazine,/Wikimedia Commons)

There are precedents for this. One is the clear signal given to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, in 1990 that the U.S. would do nothing to stop him from invading Kuwait. She told Saddam that the U.S. had no “opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” But it wasn’t just Glaspie that left the door open to Kuwait.  The Washington Post reported on Sept. 17, 1990:

“In the same week that Ambassador April Glaspie met a menacing tirade from Saddam with respectful and sympathetic responses, Secretary of State James Baker’s top public affairs aide, Margaret Tutwiler, and his chief assistant for the Middle East, John Kelly, both publicly said that the United States was not obligated to come to Kuwait’s aid if the emirate were attacked. They also failed to voice clear support for Kuwait’s territorial integrity in the face of Saddam’s threats.” 

Following the 1979 Islamist revolution in Teheran that overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah, the United States sought to contain Iran by supplying billions of dollars in aid, intelligence, dual-use technology and training to Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980, spurring an eight-year long brutal war. The devastating conflict ended in a virtual stalemate in 1988 after the loss of one to two million people.

Though neither side won the war, Saddam’s military remained strong enough to be a menace to U.S. interests in the region. The trap was to allow Saddam to invade Kuwait to give the U.S. a reason to destroy Iraq’s military. For instance, retreating Iraqi soldiers were essentially shot in the back in the massacre on the Highway of Death. 

The ‘Afghan Trap’

Another U.S. trap was to lure the Soviet Union into Afghanistan in 1979. In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski admitted that the C.I.A. essentially set a trap for Moscow by arming mujahiddin to fight the Soviet-backed government in Kabul.  He said:

“According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention. 

He then explained that the reason for the trap was to bring down the Soviet Union, (much as the U.S. today would like to bring down Putin’s Russia.) Brzezinski said:

“That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.’  Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”

Brzezinski said he also had no regrets that financing the mujahideen spawned terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?,” he asked. 

So if the U.S. is setting a similar trap in Ukraine for Moscow, will it work?

“I think the Russians are smarter than Saddam,” said military analyst Scott Ritter. “Any Ukrainian incursion into Donbass would be handled by the pro-Russian militias, backed by Russian forces. I don’t think Russia would move on Ukraine unless NATO membership was invoked.”

It remains to be seen whether Russia steps into a U.S. bear trap in Ukraine.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

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24 comments for “US-Laid Trap for Russia Has Trapped West Instead

  1. peter mcloughlin
    February 7, 2023 at 09:29

    In history, all empires end up trapping themselves, in the very conflict they sought to avoid. Rulers have very little to see this and change.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    February 7, 2023 at 05:12

    And WHO? might end up paying for all this? The entire European continent.

  3. WillD
    February 6, 2023 at 20:49

    I am slowly coming to the conclusion that there must be a guiding hand (not divine!) in the US’ spectacular set of miscalculations and failures over this proxy war with Russia. Even though there are competing camps in the US administration, I find it harder and harder to believe that all the analysts’ and experts’ warnings would have been dismissed and unheeded.

    The risk of a massive backfire must have been well understood, yet they persisted. Was it merely a toxic combination of belligerence, delusion, ignorance, stupidity and hatred or are there hidden influences guiding the US’ actions?

    Sounds like a conspiracy theory, doesn’t it. Perhaps the Russians did more than ‘influence’ an election (debunked?) or two, perhaps they awakened their sleeper moles placed all over the government during the Cold War. That would make a terrific story, and film.

    Whatever it is, it is hastening the demise of the evil empire, and that can only be a good thing for the world.

    • yu ma
      February 7, 2023 at 04:26

      Not sure any of the “losses” of US military over last few decades are actually miscalculations and failures. Real reasons for military interventions were always achieved.

      Iraq is a mess, US did not go in to bring down a horrible dictator with WMD in his hands, it is just a story for the US media. They did not go in for the oil either, although that is certainly a bonus icing on the cake. They went in to annihilate a regime that wanted to trade oil in something else then $US. Mission accomplished.

      Destroying Libya follows a very similar reasoning to destroying Iraq. Not about oil, democracy or anything else but preserving petro dollar. Mission accomplished.

      Syria is a bit more complicated then that, involving pipelines etc. Still, mission accomplished.

      War in Ukraine is nothing about Ukraine, but is waged for the same reason, preserving US dollar. This time, though, it is a bite they might choke on. I just hope it does not go nuclear.

      They do not care about Ukrainian or Russian lives, they do not care about their own citizens either, who are paying for this war, and will continue to do so for decades after the $ printing machines have burned down. This is an existential war for US banking system and an existential war for Russia as a nation. Two rhinos having a fight in a china shop, damn the collateral damage.

      Who is in charge of US banking system and who owns the Federal Reserve? Always follow the money……

      • vinnieoh
        February 7, 2023 at 13:12

        Thank you, WillD & yu ma for getting a little bit closer to the reality of things here. Once again, I feel I must insist to many commenters here that those they are belittling as “stupid, arrogant, delusional,” etc., and anon, are not really. They may be ultimately and irredeemably evil and inti-human but they are fully aware of what they are doing. To repeat, certain actors, present in the halls and rooms of the US government over many decades are single-minded, deadly serious determined, and perfidiously insidious. They will not stop unless and until they are stopped by others. Think of – as an example – the take-down of Hitler and the “Thousand Year Reich.”

        And yes, as always, and ultimately – FOLLOW THE FUCKING MONEY.

      • robert e williamson jr
        February 7, 2023 at 17:43

        yu ma got this one right on the nose. yu R are a wise individual my friend.

        Hell what could go wrong the U.S. was machine stays finely tuned and the profits for the Millitary Industrial Complex abound. Just to publically mention one entity that must be celebrating.

        BTW how are the markets doing?

  4. Eric
    February 6, 2023 at 20:35

    Prescient story, but ….

    “Only the United States and Europe, which consider itself ‘the world,’ believe their own ‘information.’”

    As usual, Canada — loyal satrap under Washington’s thumb — is ignored.

    • JPC-W
      February 7, 2023 at 01:38

      Canada, rings a bell where is it ?

      • February 7, 2023 at 12:14

        If you spread the American cheeks, you may find what you are looking for.

        • Valerie
          February 8, 2023 at 04:29

          That’s funny. LOL. I was going to say, it’s just over the river from Detroit.

  5. Lois Gagnon
    February 6, 2023 at 16:37

    There should be no doubt if there ever was any that Washington is not capable of rational thought and acts accordingly.

  6. ray Peterson
    February 6, 2023 at 14:47

    An addendum to a great review “All Ukrainian leaders including
    Zelensky, serve at the pleasure of the U.S. President.” And
    that includes Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion. They don’t
    call him “dirty Joe” for nothing.

  7. Anna
    February 6, 2023 at 12:55

    Mr. Price is a shameless stooge for War profiteers and Bankers. It is painful to listen to how this refuse of a Price abuses journalists and the intelligence of the American citizenry.

  8. evelync
    February 6, 2023 at 12:54

    The hubris and lack of maturity of the people we foolishly trust to run our country was on display when Vice President Biden boasted 2 Richard Haas at the CFR about his threats to withhold $1B from Ukraine if they didn’t fire their prosecutor (the one who was investigating Burisma and Hunter Biden supposedly):

    The whole video is here (with the $billion shake down threat at about minute 52):


    This political class of reckless foolish uneducated opportunists who climb to the “top” by serving the short term financial interests of an elite class that funds their election (thanks to Citizens United) have absolutely no respect for the interests of the vast majority of the people of their own country and far less for the people of the countries they coup and has finally bitten off more than it can chew, a CN points out in this article.

    They are so dumb and arrogant it’s beyond belief and we have failed to find a way to elect well informed people with integrity like, for example, former Senator Russ Feingold who had the strength of character to buck the warmongering to vote against the Patriot Act and fought against Citizens United. He tried to run for president but that campaign never gained momentum.

    I keep thinking of Jack Kennedy and Bobby…

    I guess that the only hope for the world to survive is for the multipolar world to speed up the shift to a non PETRO$ financial system…and use bilateral trade with domestic currencies….
    this crowd in DC seems incapable of “understanding” what’s happening in front of their eyes.

    Instead they’re fussing over weather balloons….wasting another $380,000 to shoot it down:

    Pepe Escobar

    The Mightiest Army in The History of All Known Galaxies used a
    $ 380,000 Sidewinder missile launched from a F-22 to shoot…

    … a balloon.

    • Valerie
      February 7, 2023 at 05:00

      “Well, SOB. He got fired”

      Thankyou for that clip. Hadn’t seen that before. And now how many billions has the US sent in weapons aid.

      I wonder how things would have turned out if JFK hadn’t been assassinated.

  9. Frank Lambert
    February 6, 2023 at 12:40

    What a fantastic assessment of the situation in Ukraine, the US sponsored war to topple Russia and President Putin, aided by the docile, flunkies in the EU who cowardly bow to the dictates of the Imperial American war machine for world conquest.

    Thank you Joe Lauria for the invaluable information in this article which should be read by every American and European citizen on what and why the Russian Federation intervened (finally) in the Ukraine to save the lives of the Russian speaking, anti-Ukrainian Nazis in control of the US-backed puppet regime in Kiev.

    Many thanks to Joe and the CN Staff!

  10. Jeff Harrison
    February 6, 2023 at 11:30

    The West’s empire is built on sand – i.e. debt. They should print dollars on toilet paper. That’s what having $32T in debt and only $22T in GDP means. Our vassals – the EU and Japan are in a similar situation. Net result? The US and its vassals are starting to circle the drain. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. Russia is getting the US to do to itself what we claimed we did to Russia. It will be our economic demise.

  11. February 6, 2023 at 11:26

    MANY thanks, Joe, for re-running your Feb. 4, 2022 prophesy, which spelled things out so clearly. You had it figured out and you sounded the trumped with an unambiguous sound. “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? [1 Corinthians 14:8].

    I would add an event of tectonic importance that, oddly, came the same day your original piece was posted (Feb. 4, 2022). On that day Putin and Xi issued a comprehensive joint statement saying there was no limit to their strategic relationship, which they had earlier defined as an alliance “exceeding” an ordinary alliance.

    NONE of the specialists on China that I consulted at the time thought that Xi Jinping, with Putin there in Beijing, would give Putin a nihil obstat — a waiver on Beijing’s bedrock adherence to the principles of Westphalia. That seems to me to be exactly what happened. “Just wait, best friend Vlad, until the winter Olympics in Beijing are over.”

    I do not think Russia would have invaded Ukraine without that nihil obstat from Xi together with his pledge of political support from China, which the US openly declares is next in line for Washington’s tender ministrations. Who knows whether I’m right on that particular point.

    The key point is that the triangular relationship, indeed the “world correlation of forces” has changed fundamentally. It is now two against one — essentially bipolar. The lily-white West against the rest of the world, the vast majority people of color. And the White House still crows that we have “isolated” Russia.

    Tectonic is the right word — and throw in ominous.

    Keep sounding the trumpet, Joe!


  12. IJ Scambling
    February 6, 2023 at 10:01

    Would like to add this valuable analysis via Ray McGovern’s website:


  13. DMCP
    February 6, 2023 at 09:35

    Excellent analysis by Joe Lauria. We are fortunate to have such good journalists. I hope that this particular column, which summarizes so much of US foreign intervention so concisely and with such concrete evidence, will be transcribed onto clay tablets, baked and stored in a cave, so that it will persist for some future historian to find after our nuclear conflagration.

  14. Bruce Edgar
    February 6, 2023 at 09:25

    These two reports/analyses are superb. Much more than a breath of fresh air in this misinformation coal mine. Thank you, CN.

  15. Tony
    February 6, 2023 at 07:51

    “Another U.S. trap was to lure the Soviet Union into Afghanistan in 1979.”

    A shocking reminder of the truly gruesome nature of the Carter administration.

    Brzezinski appears to have wielded enormous power and influence for some reason.

    As for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, I now think that Bush was acting when he claimed to be surprised at the invasion.

  16. James White
    February 6, 2023 at 03:45

    Precisely the same thought I had this morning. The U.S. and NATO lured Russia into a ground war in Ukraine, only to fall into their own trap. Sanctions intended to crush the Russian economy have instead led to global inflation. Hardest hit is Europe, with spiraling energy costs that are disrupting German industry and shrinking economic growth. As Germany is normally the economic engine of Europe, the entire E.U. is impacted, as well as the U.K. Russia’ economy has continued to grow as oil prices have risen and sanctions have harmed Europe more than Russia. U.S. DEFSEC Lloyd Austin completely ignored the (Colin) Powell Doctrine which lays out terms such as having specific, measurable and attainable objectives before any military commitment is made. Instead, Austin and the Biden Regime engaged the U.S. in a proxy war with nuclear powered Russia based on the vague notion of weakening Russia’s military strength. Instead, Russia has increased the size of its’ armed forces and increased production of arms. The U.S. has depleted its’ stocks of artillery shells and anti-tank weapons as has the U.K. NATO has been exposed as being incapable of cobbling together a few tanks to send into the conflict. Ukraine has suffered massive losses of armed forces that it cannot replace. Russia started the conflict with larger armed forces and the mismatch has only grown over the past year of war. Ukraine is now scraping the bottom of the barrel for replacement troops, with civilians pressed into service while Russia has reinforced and grown the size of its’ advancing army rapidly. This is classic blowback by every measure.

  17. Valerie
    February 6, 2023 at 03:11

    Thankyou for re-posting this. Europe and the US certainly shot themselves in the foot.
    Too arrogant by far. And their arrogance could lead to the planet’s total destruction. Such fools.

Comments are closed.