The West’s pattern of continually escalating nuclear brinkmanship in Ukraine has built-in incentives for Russia to ramp up its own aggressions directly against NATO.
By Caitlin Johnstone
Listen to Tim Foley’s reading of this article.
The Biden administration has signed off on both F-16s for Ukraine and attacks on Crimea using U.S.-made weapons. Both of these moves have drawn dire warnings from nuclear-armed Russia and both would have been unthinkable a year ago.
In a Sunday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper from the G7 summit in Hiroshima, President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made it clear that Washington would approve of U.S. weapons being used in an offensive to recapture Crimea, a horrifying prospect that many experts have agreed is the most likely scenario to lead to nuclear warfare in this conflict.
Sullivan told Tapper that while the U.S. has forbidden the use of American weapons to attack Russia, the U.S. considers Crimea to be part of Ukraine, not Russia.
Here’s CNN’s transcript of the exchange:
Tapper: In February on this show, you would not say whether the U.S. would support Ukrainian efforts to recapture Crimea. That’s one of the concerns that has been expressed about whether or not the Ukrainians are given the ability to hit Russian targets in Crimea. Do you think that Crimea is part of Ukraine?
Sullivan: Of course.
Tapper: So, what would be the objection of giving…
Sullivan: Crimea is Ukraine.
Sullivan: I mean, that’s a very straightforward thing.
Tapper: Well, yes you answered it directly. I mean, Russia doesn’t think so, obviously. But do you think that Ukraine should have weapons that can reach Russian targets in Crimea?
Sullivan: Yes. We have not placed limitations on Ukraine being able to strike on its territory within its internationally recognized borders. What we have said is that we will not enable Ukraine with U.S. systems, Western systems, to attack Russia. And we believe Crimea is Ukraine.
Also refreshing clarity from NSA Jake Sullivan "We have not placed limitations on UKR being able to strike within its international recognised territories… we will not enable UKR with US systems Western systems to attack Russia and we believe Crimea is Ukraine" pic.twitter.com/ffVYGilCr8
— Rym Momtaz ??? ????? (@RymMomtaz) May 21, 2023
Moscow has considered Crimea a part of the Russian Federation since its annexation in 2014, meaning efforts to recapture it would — at least in theory — be treated the same as an invasion of any other part of Russia.
It was only by way of an arbitrary bureaucratic fluke that Crimea wound up a part of Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union and Crimeans overwhelmingly prefer to be a part of the Russian Federation. That we may soon be staring down the barrel of a nuclear third world war over something so pedantic is a very dark shade of absurd.
In the same interview, Tapper questioned Sullivan about the Biden administration’s policy shift toward approving F-16 fighter jets to be sent to Ukraine, demanding to know why the war planes weren’t approved sooner.
“President Biden told the G7 leaders that the United States is going to support this joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets,” said Tapper. “As you know, just a few months ago, the president said there was no basis militarily for giving Ukraine jets and that Ukraine didn’t need them at all. What changed? And would these jets not have been more effective if Ukraine had been trained and had them in time for the upcoming counteroffensive?”
It’s so obnoxious how the only time you ever see these mass media propagandists challenging the U.S. government on its warmongering is when they’re pushing it to be more warlike and demanding answers on why it isn’t warmongering more.
This creates the illusion of brave adversarial journalism, when in reality these empire cronies are just manufacturing consent for the increased aggressions the U.S. wants to wage anyway.
CNN’s @jaketapper asks National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan why President Biden changed his stance on providing Ukraine F-16 jets. Watch his response below. #CNNSOTU @CNNSotu pic.twitter.com/fl4vJXXTSw
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) May 21, 2023
These escalations have drawn stern warnings from Moscow, which have just been casually hand-waved away by Biden like he’s rejecting Jell-O for dessert.
In an article titled “Russia Says West Providing F-16s to Ukraine a ‘Colossal Risk,’” Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp writes the following:
“A Russian official said Saturday that the Western plans to provide Ukraine with American-made F-16 fighter jets bring ‘colossal risks’ after the U.S. announced it would sign off on European countries delivering the aircraft.
‘We see that Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario. It involves colossal risks for themselves,’ said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, according to TASS.
‘In any case, this will be taken into account in all our plans, and we have all the necessary means to achieve the goals we have set,’ Grushko added.
During the last day of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, President Biden was asked about Russia calling the F-16 plan a ‘colossal risk.’ He replied, ‘It is for them.’ ”
Deciding to bring the world one step closer to nuclear war while in Hiroshima, how appropriate https://t.co/zuUOuTTpdM
— Dave DeCamp (@DecampDave) May 20, 2023
As Tapper noted, both the F-16 decision and the Crimea decision marked a sharp policy shift by the Biden administration in just a few months.
This proxy war just keeps escalating and escalating, with aggressions once deemed unthinkable due to their likelihood of sparking a nuclear exchange now becoming commonplace.
Every time a new once-unthinkable escalation is enacted, the hawks are already pushing for the next one.
As we’ve discussed previously, this pattern of continually escalating nuclear brinkmanship in Ukraine has built-in incentives for Russia to ramp up its own aggressions against NATO itself.
Every time the West ramps up its brinkmanship and crosses another once-taboo line in the sand without Moscow responding with direct military confrontation, the West takes this as a sign that it can ramp up the escalations again. This has put things on a trajectory toward more and more direct Western-backed attacks on the Russian Federation unless Russia lashes out at NATO powers in some way to show them it’s not worth it.
Which would be about as dangerous an occurrence as you could possibly imagine.
It is not okay for our rulers to play games with our lives like this. It is not okay for them to keep rolling the dice on nuclear escalation more and more often in the name of securing U.S. unipolar hegemony.
These people are making it abundantly clear that sanity and level-headedness are not in the driver’s seat here. Everyone on earth should be shouting a loud, unequivocal “no” to this at the top of their lungs.
Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes. For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.
This article is from CaitlinJohnstone.com 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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It’s a shame & a sham. A shame that so many supposedly free thinking Americans would be taken-in by this so-called unprovoked sham.
In my mind the worst crime so far, by far, is against humanity & its future, primarily against mothers & children, the prospect of lifetimes of anguish borne through the long lasting effects of depleted uranium.
Russian Crimea was arbitrearily tacked on to The Ukraine by Khrushchev in the Soviet era and carried off into independence by Ukraine. Isn’t it a wonder that this fact is a rarely mentioned in the Western media? Biden and elements of the Intelligence Community
have apparently made a pact to renew the Cold War. In the background, we saw the intense public hostility elements of the Intelligence Cummunity expereesed towrds Trump, who wouldn’t go along with their thoughtless game.
de Krim is eind 18de eeuw door Katharina de Grote, met behulp van een Nederlandse admiraal, op het Ottomaanse rijk veroverd,
Oh my——- but from the time Catherine the Great, she owned Crimea for something like 250 years—no doubt as longer than America has been America. And as the people of Crimea speak Russian—- hat also makes sense of the history. We truly need to pay poverty wages to workers of the State Dept. and maybe they would go away!
Well, I guess if this kind of thinking is true —– we should have to give the land back to the Native Americans, as I know that THEY will take care of this planet
Sullivan comes across as a non human cyborg. I don’t think there is a soul or a heart in that body. Although he and Blinken are both war addicted lunatics, Blinken might actually be human.
I think the F-16s might be used to “take back Crimea.” Insane.
Thank you ms Johnstone, for, once again, being the voice of reason!
I’m impressed by the questions Tapper didn’t ask, like “Aren’t you afraid of provoking nuclear war?” Probably Sullivan is stupid enough to think that “It won’t happen; I think Positive Thoughts!”
The First Cold War didn’t have any nuclear exchange, but that does not mean a Second Cold War will not.
Apparently Lenin gave the Black Sea coast to Ukraine in 1929; Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in 1954.
Those areas have largely Russian populations now hated in Ukraine, and have already voted to go back.
So any claim of Ukraine to Donbass, the coast, or Crimea ignores both history and popular will.
They richly deserve to lose it.
Also consider the opposite positions taken by US warmongers and boob tubers, on Donbass vs. Taiwan.
The tubers claim that if they secede to our side that is OK, but if to the “other” side that is treason.
There is no reason or democratic intent behind tribalist tyrants, just propaganda and threats.
I’m pretty sure there was no country called “Ukraine” in 1929. There was only Poland and Russia. Present day Ukraine was invented by Stalin after 1940, and the partition of Poland with Germany.
“Sullivan told Tapper that while the U.S. has forbidden the use of American weapons to attack Russia, the U.S. considers Crimea to be part of Ukraine, not Russia.”
Just a thought but, anyone know what the people of Crimea regard themselves as being part of ?
Sullivan just got caught in another bald-faced lie: recently, US vehicles and equipment were used to attack Russia (Belgorod)
The US knows that the vast majority of Crimeans speak Russian as native language and voted overwhelmingly to re-join Russia. The US does not have democracy, so why should we expect the US gov. to respect the will of the people?
Immediately after the US-orchestrated 2014 overthrow of elected President Yanukovych and the banning of the Russian language, Crimea’s grassroots referendum voiced overwhelming support to return to Russia. The people of Crimea said loud and clear: “We’re Russia.”
They voted, overwhelmingly, to join Russia, not long after the 2014 coup, when Ukrainian Nazis announced intentions to kill them for speaking Russian.
Always take Nazi death threats seriously, guys!
“Sullivan told Tapper that while the U.S. has forbidden the use of American weapons to attack Russia,”
What is this pedantic rhetoric? Does anyone believe they could care less what or whose weapons are used to attack Russia.
If the US/Allies believe they have the right to attack Russia at will…then Russia has the same right.
If military history has one lesson, it is “Don’t invade Russia!”
Yes. The same was true for Afghanistan but we seem to be ignorant of history or for that matter reality.
Caitlin always hits home runs. Surely, Russia is the frog in the the slowly warming kettle of water on the stove. I can’t imagine that Russia did not see this coming. And if they did see it coming, as they must have, what prevented them from putting an end to this situation by using all its resources (short of nuclear) to completely destroy Ukraine? As many have pointed out previously, the US way of war is to utterly destroy all the infrastructure and governmental facilities that it can during the early stages of a conflict. Why has Russia not chosen this path? I wish I knew.
“Shock and awe” might be ok initially Bruce, but it doesn’t mean you will win. Iraq is a good example. Maybe Russia learned from US mistakes.
Biden is pathetic in his attempts to seem tough. The whole administration is either tone-deaf, or psychotic, or both.
True. All of these ivory-tower warmongers are pathetic. It is easy to act “tough” when you are surrounded by wealth, luxury, security guards, surveillance and security systems. Warmongering cowards like Nuland, Bolton, Blinkie, Biden, HRC, Cheney, most of Congress etc. etc. would promptly soil themselves if confronted with danger.
At least Roman Emperors, as ruthless and bloodthirsty as they were, fought with their legions. These physically and mentally inadequate sociopaths should go straight to the combat zone on the Russian Front.
Biden can’t even string two sentences together or walk down stairs anymore – is having him Puppet Emperor tantamount to elder abuse?
Unfortunately, Biden is not a puppet. No one intelligent is in charge behind the scenes.
“It is easy to act “tough” when you are surrounded by wealth, luxury, security guards, surveillance and security systems.”
Underground bunkers built to sustain the few for long periods of time! They can afford to unleash destruction on the 99.9%. They might even want to.
“Psychotic and tone deaf” describes this extremely dangerous PROVOCATION.
In 2001 Cofer Black said “After 9/11 the gloves come off.” After Crimea Russia takes the gloves off. When sanity and level-headedness are no longer in the driver’s seat then it will be war. Personally, I’m astounded how Russia is the only adult in the room, the only restraint, then only country that keeps the Minsk protocol, the only country at the negotiating table, the only people not to escalate. I imagine a limit.
Remember the old meme of “thinking outside the box?” Now you can’t think outside the box. You must think inside the box or else be vehemently denied your humanity. It’s not hard to imagine Jake Tapper, after a nuclear explosion somewhere in the world, asking this same doofus of geography with all due seriousness: “do you think we can put this genie back inside the bottle?” The past is not only another country – it’s a country we can’t visit at all, except through the government-sanctioned narratives that control our shared reality.
Remove the neocons. Tell them that they need to go home…and it’s not here in the US. Troublemakers for profit are not welcomed. We need to have them arrested and put in detention until things simmer down. Then send them to Russia for kicks.
Unfortunately, the neocons are made in America! Their arrogance and ignorance are very typical of my countrymen. :-(
Biden assures Americans he will not give nuclear weapons to Ukraine. But if he does, rest assured he will make Zelensky promise not to use them on Russian territory.
If this pattern continues, limited nuclear war is inevitable, even for us on the American west coast — I am in British Columbia, Canada — which is as far away from Ukraine as possible but a very likely limited possibility in the event of such escalation. Whew.
Don’t underestimate nuclear war with China, too.
Oh you pessimist you. Rudy was so happy in his innocence and naïvety.
Thank you Caitlin, for monitoring the doings of warmongering politricksters and their Sycophant-Stenographers (aka “the media”).
I haven’t watched TV in years, seeing the screenshot of Tapper and Sullivan gives me a sick feeling in the stomach. The obsequious deference of these sycophants, and utter lack of critical thinking (or rationality even) is beyond pathetic. All puffed up in their suits-and-ties, with their pompous, arrogant affectations – all part of their “act” I guess.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists will likely move the doomsday clock ahead again. 30 seconds to midnight?
“30 seconds to midnight?”
There must be a song in there Jonny. (Or a poem)
I’ve written a song. To the tune of Kenny Rogers “Ruby”:
It wasn’t me who started that old crazy Ukraine war
Vicki Nuland is the culprit, i know that for sure
She’s hell-bent on doing wrong and being a bore
Oh doomsday clock, please re-arrange your core
30 seconds isn’t time for me to live a life.
If i am born within that time, it’s slimmer than a knife
And i can see a glimmer of the life i should have had
Oh doomsday clock, don’t make my life so bad.
I’m leaving now, cause i just saw a big flash on the wall
Like the flash Nagasaki, Hiroshima saw before
And i don’t know why people have to be so out of line
Oh doomsday clock, for Godzilla sake turn back the time.
Apologies to Kenny Rogers fans. And sadness today at the death of Tina Turner. Both icons of their musical genre.
Nice one Valerie!
“There must be a song in there Jonny. (Or a poem)”
Echoing Jonny’s sentiment times 100; no doubt, Kenny Rogers’ spirit in the sky & “Ruby” are totally in sync w/Tina Turner’s spirit, imo, all agree, your “remix,” Valerie, is “Simply the Truth.” It’s the present. It’s bleak; but,“Wisdom hidden in the heart is like a light in a jug!!!” TY, Valerie. Keep it Lit!
It’s funny LeoSun but in the comments section of this article: “It’s new territory’: why is Betelgeuse glowing so brightly and behaving so strangely?” in the Guardian today, someone made a comment that it was just the energy of Tina Turner making it so bright. I thought that was lovely. (And i love that song: “spirit in the sky”.)
Great comments, Jonny, and when I turn on the TV (usually quickly turned off) all I see are tombstones in dead eyes.
And I agree about shipping the DC psychopaths to the front lines. All my adult life I’ve wanted to ship our “leadership” to the front lines.
Thanks Susan. “tombstones in dead eyes” that’s great imagery
Actually, demented Biden knows nothing, Tapper should listen to Nuland, she is in charge of the president, she said several weeks ago that Crimea is Ukrainian and Ukraine can rightfully use military actions to take Crimea back. Nothing new about that, what Nuland says, counts. Maybe Biden thinks he is in charge, but Zelensky the clown knows better who really is in charge.
” It is for them.” Yes, because if President Putin decides
to protect his nation, and Crimeans voted well over 90%
to remain with Russia, and uses a nuclear weapon;
Cheshire Cat Biden gets to bomb all of Russia into
the “stone age.”
Pardon my cynicism.
Cynicism ? A Cynic is what an Idealist calls a Realist. You are correct.
The US seeks to exhaust Putin’s patience so he angrily destroys Washington with a half dozen Hypersonics. That gives the US the chance to obliterate all of Russia with several hundred fission weapons.
Rudy (above) says this will be ‘limited nuclear war.’ That phrase is a contradiction in terms. The planet, and us with it, would be dead.
Let us hope ray Peterson and Charlie that it will not come to this nuclear abomination. Admittedly we are gearing up for a confrontation; similar to the scenario in Stephen King’s “the stand”. (And strangely enough centred on a deadly pandemic of weaponized influenza – sound familiar?) But as a cynical, idealistic, realist, i don’t hold out much hope for humanity eitherway; be it nuclear annihilation, weaponized pandemic or climate breakdown. Or just plain inertia to do anything about the challenges we are faced with.