The War in Ukraine Was Provoked

The Biden administration’s insistence on NATO enlargement has made Ukraine a victim of misconceived and unachievable U.S. military aspirations, writes Jeffrey D. Sachs. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, Oct. 31, 2019. (NATO, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By  Jeffrey D. Sachs 
Common Dreams

George Orwell wrote in 1984 that “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

Governments work relentlessly to distort public perceptions of the past. Regarding the Ukraine War, the Biden administration has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the Ukraine War started with an unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

In fact, the war was provoked by the U.S. in ways that leading U.S. diplomats anticipated for decades in the lead-up to the war, meaning that the war could have been avoided and should now be stopped through negotiations. 

Recognizing that the war was provoked helps us to understand how to stop it. It doesn’t justify Russia’s invasion. A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism.

In fact, the relentless U.S. push to expand NATO is widely opposed throughout the world, so Russian diplomacy rather than war would likely have been effective.

Two Main Provocations

The Biden team uses the word “unprovoked” incessantly, most recently in Biden’s major speech on the first-year anniversary of the war, in a recent NATO statement, and in the most recent G7 statement.

Mainstream media friendly to Biden simply parrot the White House. The New York Times is the lead culprit, describing the invasion as “unprovoked” no fewer than 26 times, in five editorials, 14 opinion columns by NYT writers, and seven guest op-eds. 

[Related: Caitlin Johnstone: Unprovoked!]

There were in fact two main U.S. provocations.

The first was the U.S. intention to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia in order to surround Russia in the Black Sea region by NATO countries (Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria Turkey, and Georgia, in counterclockwise order).

The second was the U.S. role in installing a Russophobic regime in Ukraine by the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014. The shooting war in Ukraine began with Yanukovych’s overthrow nine years ago, not in February 2022 as the U.S. government, NATO, and the G7 leaders would have us believe. 

Biden and his foreign policy team refuse to discuss these roots of the war. To recognize them would undermine the administration in three ways.

Dec. 7, 2015: U.S. Vice President Biden meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Flickr)

First, it would expose how the war could have been avoided, or stopped early, sparing Ukraine its current devastation and the U.S. more than $100 billion in outlays to date.

Second, it would expose Biden’s personal role in the war as a participant in the overthrow of Yanukovych, and before that as a staunch backer of the military-industrial complex and very early advocate of NATO enlargement.

Third, it would push Biden to the negotiating table, undermining the administration’s continued push for NATO expansion.

Check the Archives 

George Kennan in 1966. (Warren Leffler, Library of Congress)

The archives show irrefutably that the U.S. and German governments repeatedly promised to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not move “one inch eastward” when the Soviet Union disbanded the Warsaw Pact military alliance.

Nonetheless, U.S. planning for NATO expansion began early in the 1990s, well before Vladimir Putin was Russia’s president. In 1997, national security expert Zbigniew Brzezinski spelled out the NATO expansion timeline with remarkable precision. 

U.S. diplomats and Ukraine’s own leaders knew well that NATO enlargement could lead to war. The U.S. scholar-statesman George Kennan called NATO enlargement a “fateful error,” writing in The New York Times that,

“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”

President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry considered resigning in protest against NATO enlargement. In reminiscing about this crucial moment in the mid-1990s, Perry said the following in 2016:

“Our first action that really set us off in a bad direction was when NATO started to expand, bringing in eastern European nations, some of them bordering Russia. At that time, we were working closely with Russia and they were beginning to get used to the idea that NATO could be a friend rather than an enemy … but they were very uncomfortable about having NATO right up on their border and they made a strong appeal for us not to go ahead with that.”

In 1998, William Burns, then the U.S. ambassador to Russia and now the C.I.A. director, sent a cable to Washington warning at length of grave risks of NATO enlargement:

“Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.” 

OSCE monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in Eastern Ukraine, March 2015. (OSCE, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Ukraine’s leaders knew clearly that pressing for NATO enlargement to Ukraine would mean war. Former Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych declared in a 2019 interview “that our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia.”

During 2010-2013, Yanukovych pushed neutrality, in line with Ukrainian public opinion. The U.S. worked covertly to overthrow Yanukovych, as captured vividly in the tape of then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt planning the post-Yanukovych government weeks before the violent overthrow of Yanukovych.

Nuland makes clear on the call that she was coordinating closely with then Vice President Biden and his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, the same Biden-Nuland-Sullivan team now at the center of U.S. policy vis-à-vis Ukraine. 

Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with members of Ukraine’s Rada in Kiev, May 6, 2021. (State Department/Ron Przysucha)

After Yanukovych’s overthrow, the war broke out in the Donbass, while Russia claimed Crimea. The new Ukrainian government appealed for NATO membership, and the U.S. armed and helped restructure the Ukrainian army to make it interoperable with NATO. In 2021, NATO and the Biden administration strongly recommitted to Ukraine’s future in NATO.

In the immediate lead-up to Russia’s invasion, NATO enlargement was center stage. Putin’s draft NATO-Russia Treaty (Dec. 17, 2021) called for a halt to NATO enlargement.

Russia’s leaders put NATO enlargement as the cause of war in Russia’s National Security Council meeting on Feb. 21, 2022. In his address to the nation that day, Putin declared NATO enlargement to be a central reason for the invasion. 

Historian Geoffrey Roberts recently wrote:

“Could war have been prevented by a Russian-Western deal that halted NATO expansion and neutralised Ukraine in return for solid guarantees of Ukrainian independence and sovereignty? Quite possibly.”

In March 2022, Russia and Ukraine reported progress towards a quick negotiated end to the war based on Ukraine’s neutrality. According to Naftali Bennett, former prime minister of Israel, who was a mediator, an agreement was close to being reached before the U.S., U.K. and France blocked it. 

While the Biden administration declares Russia’s invasion to be unprovoked, Russia pursued diplomatic options in 2021 to avoid war, while Biden rejected diplomacy, insisting that Russia had no say whatsoever on the question of NATO enlargement. And Russia pushed diplomacy in March 2022, while the Biden team again blocked a diplomatic end to the war. 

By recognizing that the question of NATO enlargement is at the center of this war, we understand why U.S. weaponry will not end this war. Russia will escalate as necessary to prevent NATO enlargement to Ukraine. The key to peace in Ukraine is through negotiations based on Ukraine’s neutrality and NATO non-enlargement.

The Biden administration’s insistence on NATO enlargement to Ukraine has made Ukraine a victim of misconceived and unachievable U.S. military aspirations. It’s time for the provocations to stop, and for negotiations to restore peace to Ukraine.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development. He has been adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Sachs is the author, most recently, of A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2020). Other books include: Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable (2017) and The Age of Sustainable Development, (2015) with Ban Ki-moon.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

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


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88 comments for “The War in Ukraine Was Provoked

  1. lester
    May 25, 2023 at 19:39

    “unachievable U.S. military aspirations” has been the history of the US military since 1946, hasn’t it? I can’t imagine what Biden et al. hope to gain from war with Russian AND China. Nothing good. :-(

  2. B
    May 25, 2023 at 18:01

    “Recognizing that the war was provoked helps us to understand how to stop it. It doesn’t justify Russia’s invasion. A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism.” Mr. Sachs – exactly what would have “justified” Russia’s invasion? What level of provocation reaches this threshold? And given Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko have all confirmed the Minsk discussions were entirely for purposes of obfuscation and delay while NATO prepared Ukraine for armed conflict, how is the suggestion Russia could have convinced Europe to take a different path not absurd on its face?

  3. vinnieoh
    May 25, 2023 at 17:01

    Well, better late than never, I suppose, eh Jeffrey?


    “In fact, the relentless U.S. push to expand NATO is widely opposed throughout the world, so Russian diplomacy rather than war would likely have been effective.”

    So, I guess you REALLY don’t get it, even yet, do you?

    There is no amount of Russian diplomacy, or of any other stripe or color, that would have swayed the US from ENSURING that Russia would have no choice but to intervene. The deal was sealed when Biden won the election. This even I did not really anticipate – I didn’t think a nation could be so callous, avaricious, and stupid as to provoke this now runaway melt-down.

  4. May 25, 2023 at 12:32

    “NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: The war in Ukraine has fundamentally changed NATO, but then you have to remember the war didn’t start in 2022. The war started in 2014. And since then, NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.” Washington Post, hXXps://

  5. Eddie S
    May 25, 2023 at 10:42

    While Jeffery Sachs has some economic theories that most of us readers of CN might not agree with, and this article contains information that is ‘old news’ to us, the thing that I find useful is that— for better or worse— Mr Sachs is closer to the MSM than most of the posters here at CN, so hopefully his words will start opening some mainstream eyes and making some inroads into the incorrect but dominant narrative…

  6. Tony
    May 25, 2023 at 08:51

    Sadly, the US has considerable form when it comes to provoking conflict.
    The Carter administration deliberately sought to destabilise the government of Afghanistan in order to bring about the Soviet invasion of that country which it then cynically exploited.

    Why Zbigniew Brzezinski had so much malign influence on the Carter administration is not something that I understand. But this is what he admitted in 1998:

    “Indeed, it was on 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.”

    • cookie out west
      May 25, 2023 at 14:12

      Remember that Brzezinski was Polish and hated the Russians. Not to say all Polish people do, but this man did for sure….at least, obvious in Afghanistan, as you mention above. / Where are the peace activists in the U.S.? Disgraceful hibernating! Except a few voices in the wilderness. Remembering the late wonderful Stephen F. Cohen. May a miracle of peace happen soon!

  7. Katharina
    May 25, 2023 at 03:13

    “A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism.”

    The author has got to be kidding. Russia tried… and tried… and tried. And tried some more. And tried again. Does ‘Minsk Accords’ ring a bell? Those that Merkel admitted were merely a ruse? How long should Russia have waited? Until the Americans build a military camp on the Red Square?

    American hubris indeed.

  8. Ron Chandler
    May 25, 2023 at 02:18

    Russia DID justifiably start the Special military Operation (NOT a war) Under Article 51 of the UN Charter it is permissible to use military force to save the lives of citizens. Donbass civilians were at IMMEDIATE RISK when Russia acted. For the previous 14 days Ukrainian artillery’s fire rate had increased over 3000 percent — onto civilian aread, including Donetsk City — and plenty intel showed they were massed to invade Donbass and into adjacent Russia as well. Russia PREVENTED a holocaust of millions. Washington planned the provocation, rebuffed the Krelmlin’s efforts to put in place security for all. they did that knowing Russia could not ignore their aggression.
    Now Washington will be again made a fool before the world; worse than in Syria, even worse than in Afghanistan. If you couldn’t cope with Pashtun sheep-herders, what made you think you could take on Russia? You lot are criminal MORONS.

    • IJ Scambling
      May 25, 2023 at 16:24

      Valuable comment surely for any “court” of opinion on the question of Russia’s action with its SMO Feb 24 2022. Rarely mentioned is the increase in bombarding Donbas right before Feb 24 and that Biden predicted exactly when Russia’s response would begin. But ever since here at CN we’ve had people like Jeffrey Sachs, Medea Benjamin, and others (the list would include Seymour Hersh in pages elsewhere) deploring “the invasion.” Most recently amongst those CN readers might normally favor is Bobby Kennedy with “brutal invasion.” I suggest CN invite one of these with this type of response to more thoroughly investigate and present their argument to this community, using more than an offhand line or two, instead of adding grist to the Western Narrative distortions. Key question: what alternative(s) did Russia have following all the years of fruitless efforts to present its point of view?

  9. Jan
    May 25, 2023 at 00:22

    For a solid legal analysis of the issue, I recommend this article on RT: “ Daniel Kovalik: Why Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is legal under international law.” Kovalik teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburg School of Law.

  10. robert e williamson jr
    May 24, 2023 at 22:32

    Jeffery D. Sachs may not have the last word on the conflagration in Ukraine, but he should have.

    Having framed his opinions in the context of the true history of the organization, he roots out the facts and how things went south.

    Seems to me that not only MAGA Nuts and Trump have gotten away with gross malpractice of Politics by pressing for misinformation backing lies. The NEOCON – Deep State love affair wrote the book on the perverse behavior which with out help from CIA would have been impossible

    Thanks CN

  11. diplodocus
    May 24, 2023 at 21:42

    Sure Russia could have stepped up diplomacy in Europe and come away with a basketful of empty promises from totally uninterested parties.

    • wrinkle
      May 25, 2023 at 07:57

      Yes Sir, you are right. Didn’t Putin put forward reasonable diplomatic ideas for years previous, all ignored?

  12. May 24, 2023 at 19:56

    God bless you Jeffrey Sachs! You have explained clearly and accurately the treachery of the US and NATO in this whole Ukraine war. Despite disagreement with your suggestion that Putin should have worked harder to negotiate with the UN, we all agree that your timeline of events is accurate and hopefully more AMericans will start to understand that this whole mess was devised and designed by Biden (starting when he was VP and even before) the extremely right wing Victoria Nuland (who Biden advanced to under secretary of state when he became president) and Jake Sullivan, a former CIA agent trained in the CIA’s blood hate of anything Russian, who has been advising Biden for years.
    Sachs has properly laid the whole thing at the feet of this disgustingly evil trilogy. If those who are thinking of voting Democratic in 2024 want more of the same, go ahead and promote senile, scheming, war loving Biden for president without a single opposition primary candidate to debate him, and watch while the whole world goes up in flames.

  13. shmutzoid
    May 24, 2023 at 19:52

    The disconnect from reality by most in the US is absolutely frightening. Narrative control by the empire and their mouthpieces in corporate media is virtually absolute. Social control is not far behind. ….. People in the US are the most entertained, most propagandized and least informed in the world.
    …… The thoroughness with which recent history, vis a vis Ukraine/NATO/USA/Russia, is not lost on our imperial managers. They might be thinking they’re close to a point when the US could stage a coup in some country and install another puppet regime without ANYTHING about it appearing in any corporate media!

    Wiped from public consciousness——> Russia WAS provoked…………The US orchestration of the 2014 coup………… the thorough integration of neo-Nazis in Ukraine culture/military……….. The US sabotage of NordStream……… The charade of Minsk agreement…… The neo-Nazi’s burning alive 50 anti-coup protestors in Odessa………..and much much more.

    This is a fine piece from Sachs. But, as with EVERYONE who writes about and criticizes the US/NATO role in instigating this war, he includes the obligatory denouncement of Russia’s intervention into Ukraine’s civil war. It’s offered as a talisman to ward off corporate media accusations of “aha!….Sachs is a Putin stooge!”

    Putin did everything to avoid this war. Over many years, the West ignored each and every entreaty by Putin to discuss regional security. The West did nothing but lie to Putin, from promises about no NATO expansion to the Minsk sham. …… Article 51 of the UN Charter has been parsed by experts determining if Russia had a justified ‘Responsibility to Protect’ with its SMO. 15,000 or so people had already been killed in Donbas, and a huge neo–Nazi killing spree incursion was imminent. ……….. I fall on the side of those who say Russia had every right to launch its SMO. …….. That woulda’ ended in a matter of weeks had not the US/NATO jumped in to escalate hostilities and thwart any negotiations.

    • Ron chandler
      May 25, 2023 at 02:58

      Exactly. Americans are utterly brainwashed and now so regimented in their thinking — even scholars like Dr Sachs — they are too scared to diverge from the official narrative. There is simply no place on the planet for a nuclear-armed-to-the-teeth crowd of psycho criminals who have left reality behind and cannot think. Either they are paralysed or they are destroyed. Humanity will not tolerate anything else. It may take time, but the USA as it stands cannot continue.

    • John Russell Fletcher
      May 25, 2023 at 07:23

      A great, totally accurate and unbiased summation. Thanks for taking the time and effort to place this in the public domain.

  14. Robert Emmett
    May 24, 2023 at 19:29

    Going back over what-could-have-been when there’s so much uncertainty about what happens now seems a bit pointless. But I don’t see any reason not to take into account the good points that Jeffrey Sachs makes, even if I don’t agree with everything.

    Technically, there were referenda, reportedly with a large majority of public support, to bring Crimea & the Donbass under Russian protection. So then I guess it could be a question of who fired the first shot across the new border? If Ukraine, then wouldn’t Russia be allowed to defend itself?

    I happen to think Hilary Clinton & a goodly portion of the upper eschelon in & out of government were primed to pull the trigger on the ultimate Ukraine provocation when you know who came along.

    Seems like the U.S. now is all-in, bet the house on Ukraine. How would you undo what’s been slowly built over many years even if you suddenly wanted to give assurance to Russia that this would not keep happening? Revoke NATO memberships going back to the Clinton administration? The cards are laid. We’re locked-in tight.

    I’ve been walking forty miles of bad road
    If the bible is right, the world will explode
    I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
    Some things are too hot to touch
    The human mind can only stand so much
    You can’t win with a losing hand
    (B. Dylan, “Things Have Changed”; Happy birthday today!)

  15. gcw919
    May 24, 2023 at 19:16

    The world is clearly running out of time. Between looming climate catastrophes, and possible nuclear annihilation, the last thing we should be doing is perpetuating endless wars. These neo-con maniacs seem devoid of common sense, as well as any humanity. The endless suffering for which they are responsible seems not to phase them at all, and every war this century has been a foreign policy debacle and humanitarian disaster. It would seem that their constant miscalculations result only in promotions from one administration to the next.

  16. Humwawa
    May 24, 2023 at 18:53

    Among American academia, Sachs and Mearsheimer are two voices of reason. The difference is that the latter is a realist while the former is an idealist. Maybe there is a place for idealism, but it certainly doesn’t help that Sachs completely ignores the realistic chances Russia had to solve the conflict by diplomatic means in the face of the determination of US imperialists to destroy Russia as a strategic rival come what may. No, Russia had no other option. The US categorically refused negotiations while a Nato-trained army in Ukraine was getting ready to ethnically cleanse or genocide the people of the Donbass and Crimea.

    • Duane M
      May 25, 2023 at 07:55

      Agree completely. Mearsheimer made another cogent public address this week, to the Committee for the Republic. It can be found here and I recommend it: hxxps://

      The US and NATO built a trap for Russia and Putin tried very hard to avoid it, but in the end he could not. The invasion of Ukraine was the least-worst option.

      And I would add the Wolfowitz Doctrine to Mr. Sachs’ collection of important references, downloadable here from the National Archives: hxxps://

  17. mgr
    May 24, 2023 at 18:35

    Jeffrey Sach’s truth-telling is a welcome voice in the morass of MSM stenography.

    One point that I think should be better highlighted is that the amassed Ukrainian army, I think it was around 60,000, led by the Azov neo-fascist battalions was poised by late February 2022 to deliver a bloodbath to the Ukrainian, Russian speaking residents of Dombass. The artillery bombardment of Dombass by the Ukrainian army had already vastly escalated in preparation for the operation in the week before Putin approved the SMO.

    In fact, Putin and Russia were faced with the choice of standing by and watching the Russian speaking Ukrainian residents of Dombass get slaughtered, and here we can ask — To what purpose? Was giving in here going to dissuade further NATO aggression? — or beginning the SMO. The SMO began with a relatively small Russian force alloyed against the much larger Ukrainian army.

    The Russian SMO is a completely completely different in approach to America’s shock & awe doctrine. As Col (ret) Douglas McGregor explains, Russian went in with a light touch to urge negotiations, to “focus minds,” as Boris the clown might say. The US and NATO responded by escalating weapons and support and urging Kiev to keep upping the ante, not for Ukraine’s benefit, of course, but for the Western goal of weakening Russia.

    It all went sideways because the people, the neocons and their helpers who are running this are ignorant and full of themselves. At it’s root, this entire tragedy and debacle is nothing more than the personal egoism of a handful of people who relentlessly push hatred. Russia has successfully overturned each strategy and escalation by the West and is basically setting the agenda. The US, by its own hand, is now in the unenviable position of trying to win at whack-a-mole, now that Russia and China, and a growing list of others, are engaged in creating an alternative to the US led rules based order.

    The fundamental problem that I see for the US is that it turns out that there is a tremendous pent up desire for an international order of “mutual respect and cooperation between sovereign nations based on well defined international law.” Jeez, what an idea… You will be forgiven for thinking that this is what we already had with America as our champion. In fact, what we have is empire building, and now falling.

    In any case, the US and Europe are caught in the “tar-baby” of Ukraine and the changing world in general. The pressure is only beginning.

    BTW, I would recommend again Judge Napolitano’s “Judging Freedom” series of interviews on Youtube. Ray McGovern, Larry Johnson, Alastair Crooke, Scott Ritter and others are regulars most every week and Judge Napolitano gives them the space to express their views on current events while he does a good job of clarifying their answers even more. Quite refreshing.

  18. Renate
    May 24, 2023 at 17:44

    Prof. Sachs thank you for all the work and time you invest in informing us, the people, so we can judge on our own what we can believe or not. We are aware of and admire your civil courage to speak out relentlessly to stop the slaughter in Ukraine.

    At the start of the article, you mention the possibility to have used other NATO members to help diplomatically to avoid the war. But Putin knew from the Minsk Accord which was negotiated with help from Germany and France but with the absence of the USA but recognized by the UN and was tossed out and never implemented by the Ukrainians.

    Considering the broken promises beginning with the NATO expansion the Putin people took a chance when they did not prepare for a real invasion and even send a diplomatic note in Dec. 2021 informing Biden again about their concern about their nation’s border security. Putin did not even get a prompt diplomatic reply. To trust Biden would be taking a chance Putin could not risk taking after years of NATO funding and training activities in Ukraine. And Russia too used the time to be militarily prepared for a NATO INVASION.

  19. Rob
    May 24, 2023 at 16:44

    I strongly disagree with Jeffrey Sachs’s contention that Russia might have found a way to avoid invading Ukraine by engaging in further negotiations with NATO and the US. The failed Minsk Accords provide irrefutable evidence that negotiations would have been futile. Recent revelations from participants in the Accords process (Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko) show that Ukraine never had any intention of implementing them. Rather, delaying implementation bought time for the arming of Ukraine by the West. War with Russia was always the goal. The neocon wet dream was that Russia would be defeated and broken into separate principalities and that Vladimir Putin would be removed from power. They still cling to this dream even in the face of events on the ground that prove it to be a complete impossibility.

    • Joseph Tracy
      May 24, 2023 at 23:16

      Rob says says exactly what I find irrefutable. Russia tried through Minsk and UN negotiations to get a peaceful resolution. The obvious sticking point for the US and its allies was NATO in Ukraine. That NATO advance toward Moscow was the war-mad Anglo empire’s goal and Europe was not going to be allowed to prevent that.

    • Jan
      May 25, 2023 at 00:04

      Good comment – you took the words right out of my keyboard.

  20. Randal Marlin
    May 24, 2023 at 16:43

    Few people seem to be aware of the importance, for NATO in the Ukrainian context, that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine be seen as unprovoked.

    If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked, and Russia attacks a NATO member’s forces, all other NATO members are obliged to come to the aid of the attacked NATO member, by virtue of Articles 5 and 6.

    On the other hand, if Russia’s invasion was provoked, NATO members are arguably not obliged to come to the aid of the provoking member.

    At least, that is how I interpret Article 7 of the NATO Treaty:
    “This Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

    When I voiced this concern at a University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies Town Hall discussion with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg April 4, 2018, he seemed to me to agree, saying that when he was Prime Minister of Norway, he did not support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. There is a publicly available recording of this meeting, but my comment was the last intervention, and it, along with Stoltenberg’s response, was not included.

    Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine was undoubtedly, to my mind, an act of aggression. But if the acts by NATO and the U.S. prior to that event amounted to provocation then there may be a case for Article 7 overshadowing Articles 5 and 6.

  21. Steve Hill
    May 24, 2023 at 14:32

    Great article. Now, if anyone would only pay attention. However, we in the U.S. have too many people unwilling to see the mess that Mr. Biden has gotten us into because they are too busy hating the last clown.

  22. CaseyG
    May 24, 2023 at 14:20

    I have no faith in many Americans who are said to be working on this.
    Joe Biden seems to be brain dead.

    Blinken doesn’t care at all about Americans killed by Israel—-and he did nothing to help the families of the dead. This awfulness has been going on since the USS Liberty.

    And that awful woman Victoria Nuland and her “Fuck the EU,” comment. Oh what a war whore she is

    Whatever happened to only Congress can declare war? Maybe that is the problem—Congress can declare it but those who declare need to go to war—maybe then America could be a more peaceful nation, with a government that actually worked for WE the PEOPLE!

  23. John DeLunke
    May 24, 2023 at 13:54

    Opening with Russia should have stepped up diplomacy with Europe and Non-western world to avoid going to war overlooks the Minsk Agreements and their utter failure. It’s not like Russia didn’t try diplomacy, but after statements by leaders of both Ukraine and Germany stating Minsk agreements were just done to buy time to build up Ukraine’s forces put Russia in a position where diplomacy was impossible. How do you negotiate with anyone in good faith when previous deals were a fraud?
    At this point, I don’t see how any negotiations with Russia will proceed unless the West allows Russia to install a caretaker government for the whole of Ukraine. Aside from that, Russia will proceed with their war until they meet their objectives (whatever those may be). The West’s only other solution is to escalate into a direct war with Russia to depose Putin and hope it doesn’t go nuclear, as it is fairly apparent sanctioning them is not going to produce the desired results.

  24. Michael Kritschgau
    May 24, 2023 at 13:20

    The hatred towards the U.S. that is increasing in Eastern Europe are at the levels that Eastern Europe had against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
    The U.S. (and the West) doesn’t realize that they are not wanted anymore in the East even though the politicians of Eastern Europe still bend the knee to the Occident just as they did towards the Soviets.
    Nothing lasts forever.

  25. Tommy Pain
    May 24, 2023 at 12:59


    Not really. The only thing interesting is that very little of this reached me, because I had long ago pressed a little switch marked with the letters “OFF”. I do find it quite fascinating about how that works as a very effective block against mind control. Press OFF, the poof, it is gone.

    Yes, I know that ‘they’ tell you that you can not press that OFF switch. That you must ‘stay tuned’. That you will miss so much very important stuff that you just ‘have to know’ if you make the horrible mistake of pressing that OFF switch. There are so many opinions, so much news that you just have to have, and you’ll miss out on all of it if you press OFF. If you press OFF, you’ll fall horribly behind and you’ll never catch up.

    If you had missed everything on this above list, would you care?

  26. Tommy Pain
    May 24, 2023 at 12:40

    I guess that’s interesting, but I would not know. I turned them off decades ago. It is quite fascinating how effective that is at blocking them from putting such thoughts into my mind.

  27. Drew Hunkins
    May 24, 2023 at 12:39

    “…A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism…”

    This line of reasoning may play well over at CommonDreams but it’s patently absurd and plays fast and loose with the recent historical record.

    It’s a fact that Moscow bent over backwards desperately trying for eight years to reach some sort of diplomatic guarantees and assurances from the West, all to no avail. They were rebuffed virtually every single step of the way. Especially after the bloodthirsty Binklen, Nuland, and Sullivan took the reins of power.

    Moreover, it’s basic commonsense that Europe’s completely captured by the Washington-Zio-militarist empire, period. To attempt to reach a peace agreement with Euro leaders was and is a pointless undertaking for the Kremlin since it’s in the back pocket of U.S. decision makers, dancing to their tune.

    How many more ethnic-Russians in the Dobass would have been maimed and killed by the Western supported Ukie nationalists (see the reports by the inestimable Eva Bartlett)? Would nukes eventually have been stationed in Ukraine while Russian diplomats futilely tried to spend even more years desperately attempting to reach an agreement for peace on its border?

    Late in this article Sachs concedes that the West was recalcitrant and in no mood for negotiations. So why come up with the claptrap right off the bat about a far better approach for Russia?

    The liberating SMO was the very last option when Putin was left with no alternatives. Russia’s been conducting it to the best of its ability to limit civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

    • Valerie
      May 24, 2023 at 13:38

      Good arguments Drew. No contesting what you say. But the “dumbed down” MSM-believing populace of europe will always be that. I was astounded today when speaking with a brit acquaintance, that he had no idea Zelensky was a former comedian/actor and TV personality.

      • Drew Hunkins
        May 24, 2023 at 22:52

        The ignorance is palpable. Stay strong.

    • Bramble
      May 24, 2023 at 16:18

      Especially since the author admits that the Russians had been concentrating on using diplomacy throughout. The US was having none of it however, and even faked a diplomatic response (the Minsk Accords) in order to give the Ukraine time to muster a large army designed to invade and occupy the pro Russian regions. Diplomacy only works when both sides want to talk. The West did not.

      • Drew Hunkins
        May 24, 2023 at 18:06

        Precisely Bramble. Thank you.

  28. Selina Sweet
    May 24, 2023 at 12:33

    Thanks to Mr. Sachs for the bit about Biden’s involvement with the 2014 coup and his pro NATO enlargement stance and prior war hawk-ness. It has puzzled me why he selected she-who-never manned a gun but has been avidly coup and war minded – Ms. Nuland – and the other un-diplomatic minded two, Blinken and Sullivan. The whole USA engineered debacle leaves me with exactly the same feeling I had with Bush’s et al Iraq war that massively killed and destroyed. Pure shame. All have dishonored us.

    • Lois Gagnon
      May 24, 2023 at 13:19

      My sentiments exactly! Any American who doesn’t feel ashamed of this government at this point is most likely incapable of feeling shame.

      Hardly anyone, even those critical of US provocation in Ukraine, wants to point out that the same corporate interests that have acquired total control of Western governments and media, prefer fascism to democracy. Just pay attention to the groups used by the CIA to foment discord and coups around the world. Fascists all. Those are the forces Russia finds itself fighting once again.

  29. JonnyJames
    May 24, 2023 at 12:30

    The late prof. Stephen Cohen is on record in 2014, shortly after the US-backed coup in Kiev, as saying that Russia’s “red lines” had been crossed, was a direct provocation, and the coup would result in WAR. He appeared on D-Now with Amy Goodman, the vid is on YT.

    That was 9 years ago, too bad more people did not listen to him, as he was arguably the top academic expert on Russia in the US.
    But the USA is an anti-intellectual society, we don’t like facts, we like fantasy and fairy-tales of freedom and democracy. USA #1!

    • Valerie
      May 24, 2023 at 18:05

      “But the USA is an anti-intellectual society, ”

      Without even realising it.

  30. Cratylus
    May 24, 2023 at 12:18

    One more thing. The first shots in the war were fired not by Russia but by the regime installed in Ukraine by the coup ginned up by the US. In 2014 they began shelling the Russian speakers of Ukraine which continued for 8 years and claimed for 14,000 civilian lives before Russia responded in 2022.
    I think Sachs fails to acknowledge what was going in those 8 years when he says Russia should have done more diplomatically. Russia was trying to implement the Minsk Accords which would have stopped the fighting and given the Donbas a limited autonomy WITHIN Ukraine. The West refused, stringing Russia along for 8 years while arming Ukraine.
    Was this not a diplomatic attempt?
    Sachs wants something more. Russia made no secret that it was suing for peace. The nations of the world largely remained silent.
    In fact the US peace movement largely remained silent.
    Exceptionalism and Hegemonism express themselves in many ways.
    Sachs is off base when he says Russia should have done more diplomatically. It is not true and does not help the caus of peace.

    • Rudy Haugeneder
      May 24, 2023 at 13:05

      There is no American peace movement any more. It died, probably when the Occupy Wall Street movement failed and died. The real story of Nato under Biden’s leadership provoked a Ukraine war that, it appears, is expanding by the moment and could lead to a Russia-America-Europe big, big war, possibly and probably including nuclear weapons.

    • JonnyJames
      May 24, 2023 at 15:50

      Sachs is an Economic Hitman. (See John Perkins and prof. Michael Hudson)

  31. May 24, 2023 at 12:11

    America and the world should be utterly thankful for Jeffrey Sachs and all the other historians academics, and journalists who insist the truths of history be told . These are the real patriots America should be listening to, yet their wisdom and knowledge are on the margins.

    Where events are driven by war, hate , propaganda and ruinous ideologies we are all in big trouble.

    History is the lodestone of our existence.

    • Selina Sweet
      May 24, 2023 at 12:35

      Truth spoken with eloquence. Thank you.

  32. Tommy Pain
    May 24, 2023 at 12:08

    One of the features of The Empire of Lies, where everything is a Lie, and where the national motto is “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” is that everyone appears to spend a lot of time trying to refute the Lies. Sometimes it seems that if you go down that road, you spend all your time refuting lie after lie. Because a liar can make up new lies faster than the evidence to disprove the lies can be accumulated.

    They Lie.
    This is a Known Known. This has been known, and well backed with evidence, for decades. This has been a known known since Dubya was making jokes about looking under the chairs for Saddam’s WMDs. We know that they lie.

    At some point, when dealing with a known liar, it is better just to assume that everything they say is a lie and generally ignore them and get on with what you need to do.

    Peace is Good
    War is Bad

    We know what common sense says needs to be done. Don’t let the lies obscure these basic points that you know to be true. Life is better than Death. Money and wealth is better spent improving our lives than going up in the smoke of war’s explosions. We know these things to be self-evident, so why do we even listen to the liars? We have better things to do, like saving humanity from multiple Doomsdays. And making Love along the way, because Dr. King reminded us that “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hatred can not drive out hatred, only love can do that.” Make Love, Not War.

    • Valerie
      May 24, 2023 at 13:01

      “You see, war is not the answer
      For only love can conquer hate”
      Marvin Gaye – What’s going on. 1971.

  33. alley cat
    May 24, 2023 at 12:01

    Jeffrey Sachs always has some important things to say about the war in Ukraine but he pulls his punches when it comes to assigning ultimate blame for the war: “Recognizing that the war was provoked … doesn’t justify Russia’s invasion.”

    Provocations come in all shapes and sizes. If I call you names, you don’t have a right to use deadly force against me. But if I have a gun and start murdering your family because they are ethnic Russians, it’s different, isn’t it? How about if I put a loaded gun to your head and announce I’m going to shoot you right now. Not the same as calling you names, right? Who would honestly assert that you’re not entitled to use all necessary force to defend yourself?

    Russia acted in self-defense and proportionately under the circumstances. They were forced to either wave a white flag or use force, and they chose the latter.

    Mr. Sachs asserts: “A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism.”

    I know he knows all about the Minsk Accords and Russia’s eight years of attempted diplomacy, yet he seems to temporarily forget about them in order to claim that Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is unjustified.

    NATO nuclear missiles, stationed in Ukraine, would be minutes away from Moscow and St. Petersburg and would completely undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrence. Russians will never allow themselves to be checkmated in this manner. They have the means to prevent it, and they are preventing it.

    Put simply, the Russians are defending themselves and are therefore justified. They’re in the right, and Americans, who are the aggressors and in the wrong, need to recognize this basic truth about the war in Ukraine and back off, before all (nuclear) hell breaks loose.

    • Valerie
      May 24, 2023 at 13:05

      Very well said and explained alley cat. Agree.

  34. Robert James Parsons
    May 24, 2023 at 11:54

    “A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism.”

    Between 13 February 2015, when the Minks Accords were finalized, and 16 February 2022, when, on orders from the Pentagon, the Ukrainians broke the cease-fire supervised by the OCSE and renewed the intense and intensive bombardment of the Donbass,
    EVERY TIME during those seven years, when Putin, Lavrov, Gerasimov and Shukov spoke in public about Ukraine, they demanded the implementation of the Minks Accords. The second version, from February 2015, was negotiated by Angela Merkel for Germany, François Hollande for France and Viktor Poroshenko for Ukraine. Russia stayed on the side-lines, insisting that it was none of Russia’s business, strictly a domestic matter between the central government in Kiev and its two break-away provinces. Later, when Macron tried to draw Russia in to the matter under the revived Normandy Format, Russia again declined.

    France brought the Mink Accords before the United Nations Security Council and incorporated into a formal resolution to endow them with the status of international law, which passed by a unanimous vote. Thus, in insisting on the Minsk Accords, Russia was insisting on international law.

    After leaving the presidency, Poroshenko stated publicly that the Accords were never intended to be implemented, that the purpose of the exercise was to buy time to prepare for war with Russia. Last year, Merkel gave what became a notorious interview with Der Spiegel, saying the same thing. Later, in an interview with Die Welt, she repeated it. Then Hollande piled on and declared the same thing. When Russian commentators, echoing Putin, stated that the West is not agreement capable, to the extent that they were noticed at all, they were denounced as cynical and incapable of civilized discourse.

    Sachs was a main player in the destruction of Russia, along with Strobe Talbott. Their mandate was the de-industrialization of Russia and its opening up to “free enterprise” and “development” by Western transnational corporations. However, the Duma, the Russian parliament where real power resided, kept throwing wrenches into their work, so, the pair notified Washington that something had to be done.

    Accordingly, the State Department drafted a new constitution, had it translated into Russian and imposed on Russia in a move that shocked even the most hardened observers of the rampant corruption under Yeltsin. The new constitution transferred most of the power to the president. When the president was Yeltsin, a drunken puppet, that was just fine. When Putin started exercising those draconian powers (with meticulous attention to legality — he did not have to cheat), suddenly the president of Russia was a dictator.

    The current war started on 20 April 2014, when, on orders from the Pentagon, Dmytro Yarosh, one of two top Nazis, started the bombardment of the Donbass, which was supposed to provoke an intervention by Russia and provide a casus belli for a war to finish off Russia. That didn’t work, and the second time around (this time) it isn’t working either.

    Look at the photos published on Easter Sunday in The New York Times Magazine: one can see the Ukrainian Nazis, with their wolfsangel emblems on their uniforms and their NATO issue rifles, with a U.S. personnel carrier behind them.

    Russia will NOT allow another Nazi regime on its border, much less a nuclear armed Nazi regime (which is what NATO gave the green light to in January 2022). It is literally a matter of survival of the Russian state. The articles, discussions, conferences, white papers etc. in the U.S. since the demise of the Soviet Union are limpid: Russia delenda est. (Russia must be brought down on the model of what was done to Yugoslavia.)

    So, Russia should have “stepped up diplomacy the U.S.’s European vassal states…” I beg to differ.

    • JonnyJames
      May 24, 2023 at 14:04

      Thank you. I see some critical reflections re Sachs here. I agree, he is NOT the person to listen to on this matter. IMO, he gives hypocrisy a bad name. He, even after the Too Big To Fail era, still adheres to ncoclassical/neoliberal economic ideology. I guess we peasants should be grateful that he is not a full-blown, overt warmonger, but a “moderate” economic hitman.

    • Robert
      May 25, 2023 at 10:57

      Thanks for the well written narrative. If the American public knew all the circumstances leading up to the SMO at least some of them (25% ?) might change their mind regarding Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine in February 2022.

      Fortunately, most non western governments do know the circumstances as you described and they do hold Washington D.C. at least equally accountable for the current situation.

      Re Sachs involvement with Russia in the Yeltsin years, his explanation is that his recommendations for Russia were the same as for other countries that had been part of the Soviet Union. Sachs said the bad outcome in Russia was because when it came to Russia western governments changed from cooperating to resistant. That has some validity to me.

      • JonnyJames
        May 25, 2023 at 16:02

        So, privatization, austerity and neoliberal economic ideology was for the Russians own good? I may agree with some of what Sachs says here, but prof. Cohen was the person to listen to 9 years ago, but no one did.

        While he may have stated some truths here, his economic ideology is right-wing authoritarian, he is a hypocrite in that regard. Sachs, like John Perkins, should issue a mea culpa and admit he is an Economic Hitman.

  35. May 24, 2023 at 11:36

    The western states have their responsability by igniting war in Ukraine. But Putin inaction was also determiant factor in the current conflict. Why ? Putin took over the power in 2000 adoubed by Yeltsin following the restauration of capitalism in Russia. When Putin’s era started, NATO’s state members were 16 rising to 30 in 2022. Putin did nothing against such NATO’s expansion aiming at encriclement of Russia. Putin witnessed different color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia without mentioning similar color revoltuion in other ex soviet Republics. During Maidan coup, Putin remained inert, allowed kiev nazi regime to seize power. Russia’s Putin signed Minsk agreements which seem later to be a mere deception aiming at giving Kiev regime enough of time to streghten its army and by the way murdered 14000 russophone people. Russia’s Putin was deceived by the West to abstain during a vote at the Security Council of UN imposing NO FLY ZONE in Libya giving NATO free hand to destroy Libya and to murder its leader Kadaffi. Since his speech in Munich in 2007, Putin knew very well that the West was preparing for a long term war with Russia through proxy states, Georgia and Ukraine; however it did nothing to predict and to prevent the war. I wonder why Putin has awaited 22 years before launching his SMO to protect Russia’s border.

  36. May 24, 2023 at 11:36

    I have high regard for Mr. Sach’s work, but the question the term “Russophobic regime”.

    That’s far too generous. The Coup was driven by violent overtly Nazi organizations. The ensuing government and military then were heavily influenced and even controlled by those same Nazi factions. The view Russians in the same terms that Nazi’s viewed them and many others, i.e. as sub-human and inherently racially and culturally inferior. As a result, the Ukraine government passed laws and the Nazi faction driven military waged a war of ethic cleansing on the Donbass, war did not merely “break out” there.

    • JonnyJames
      May 24, 2023 at 12:22

      True, and the late Robert Parry was one of the first to document the Bandera-worshipping Ukrainian Nazis. Of course anyone who brings this up is bombarded with insults: “Russian propagandist” “Putin Stooge” blah blah. No facts, just insults. They doth protest too much methinks

    • Xpat Paula
      May 24, 2023 at 15:57

      Exactly. I choked on “war broke out.” Usual passive vocabulary of mainstream media. Shame, Jeffrey Sachs. Somebody effin actively started said war.

    • Martin
      May 24, 2023 at 17:14

      check out art.16 of the ukrainian constitution. (wrapped in eco-language and chernobyl-excuses)

  37. scott tandy
    May 24, 2023 at 11:23

    Noteworthy is the fact that Sachs, Media Benjamin, Andrew Bacevich and others are ignored by cable networks, mainstream corporate media to ensure the American people are compliant with the foreign policy of both Democrats and Republicans.

  38. IJ Scambling
    May 24, 2023 at 11:14

    The argument here for the conflict as provoked—versus the smear it was irresponsible aggression—is well-developed, but less convincing is the comment on what Russia should have done instead of its “invasion.” This question has lingered in CN columns for months now.

    The second half of the essay indicates the West’s relentless push to expand NATO from back in the 90’s in betrayal of solemn promises from that time. To this, Jeffrey’s argument for a better response is a flimsy generalization that Russia should have sought to explain itself with Europe and non-Western countries instead of responding militarily.

    But this further effort at diplomacy would occur thirty years after fruitless efforts at diplomacy had already taken place. To what effect might be supposed here? Including political fall-out within Russia on its continuous soft response to what we are told it perceives as “an existential threat” on its borders?

    Again compare the familiar analogy of Russian aggression in southwestern Mexico, and what the US would do—would it resort to diplomatic appeals to South America and the European community to dissuade Russia? Or would it react militarily?

    This dismissal of “the invasion” for a diplomatic alternative is too simplistic, in my view, requiring more thorough evaluation for the historical record. Plus again this word “invasion” is ill-advised as its literalness carries connotations belied by the nature of the SMO (and its continuing slow nature as containment and protection versus massive military response).

    • Xpat Paula
      May 24, 2023 at 16:01

      I agree 1000%.

  39. Jeff Harrison
    May 24, 2023 at 10:56

    The US is hell bent on hegemony. That’s the part you don’t get Mr. Sachs. Everything you said supports what one would do if one was seeking peaceful coexistence. The US is not.

  40. Robert Sinuhe
    May 24, 2023 at 10:41

    Who spoke to the Russians prior to this conflict? Who understood what had been going on in the Donbas for 8 years? What about the draft resolutions submitted by the Russians in December of 2018? What about the Minsk Accords? Who armed and trained the Ukrainians to fight the Russians? The answers to these and other questions should put to rest who is responsible.

  41. Richard Romano
    May 24, 2023 at 10:35

    Thanks for repeating this for the hundredth time. All who read your article know this. But the only place we will learn is in defeat. And it will come one way or another.

  42. Vera Gottlieb
    May 24, 2023 at 10:33

    So many world-wide conflicts have been provoked by the US. The habitual ‘shit disturbing’ just doesn’t end.

  43. Drew Hunkins
    May 24, 2023 at 10:29

    Over at Information Clearing House, in the Comments section under an Escobar piece last week, Jeff Blankfort deemed me a “Putinist” and demanded that I go fight for Wagner because I suggested one would have to be an imbecile to be of the belief that the Kremlin wasn’t provoked into its liberating SMO.

    The bottom line — the biggest and most violent empire the globe has ever seen was fomenting bloodshed against ethnic Russians for eight years (Blankfort said this was a misleading claim and that I was peddling Moscow’s talking points). These same hegemonic imperialists were intent on expanding their footprint (NATO) to Russia’s Western border complete with nuclear capable weapons sites controlled by the West.

    Putin had no other choice but to launch his military action.

  44. Robert
    May 24, 2023 at 10:19

    100% agree with Prof. Sachs. The only positive coming out of this war is that the vast majority of non western governments are well aware that Washington D.C. has wanted this war for 20 + years and they also know that western governments have zero concern about the enormous harm inflicted upon the people of Ukraine.

    There will come a time when an honest historian (or two) correctly assess Zelensky to be the naive fool he is.

  45. James White
    May 24, 2023 at 10:18

    Jeffrey Sachs is one of a handful of people who have been willing to comprehend reality in Ukraine and speak the truth about it. You can be certain that he has paid a heavy price for doing so. As do each of us when we speak the truth to those around us who have been hypnotized by the press and demoralized without their awareness of what has happened to them. Obsequium parit amicos, veritas parit odium. Every member of the U.S. Congress should read this article before committing any more funds to Ukraine.

  46. Bruce Edgar
    May 24, 2023 at 10:15

    As always, Sachs clearly lays out the real story. These deliberately suppressed truths cast utter shade on the complicit media, and especially the NY Times.

  47. Mark Thomason
    May 24, 2023 at 10:11

    Russia opposed the provocations with diplomacy. It did that for decades, when it could do nothing else.

    It did not work. It had no effect on the US. Nobody was willing to stop the US.

    So what other choice did Russia have? I think they had other choices, but none of them were diplomacy.

    Perhaps the best choice would have been tit-for-tat, essentially once agan “putting missiles in Cuba.” Of course they would not have been literally the same missiles gone back to Cuba, but that is the idea. Perhaps security assistance to Mexico, or elsewhere in Latin America. Perhaps open and well funded support for independence groups in Puerto Rico. The world offered choices.

  48. Barbara
    May 24, 2023 at 10:08

    Eisenhower warned us about the Military, Industrial Complex. Every country needs to understand this war attitude and not allow dictators to start unnecessary wars. No one is winning in this set up.

  49. Dienne
    May 24, 2023 at 09:36

    Why is there always an obligatory “this doesn’t justify Russia’s invasion” line? “A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe…” What do you think the Minsk Accords were all about? Did you hear the part about how France and Germany both admitted they never had any intention of supporting those treaties? Europe is obedient to America, even to the point of its own demise. What do you think further negotiations would have accomplished? And what kind of power do you think the non-Western world had to stop the U.S./NATO from provoking and inciting the situation? If Putin hadn’t “invaded” when he did, there would be tens of thousands more dead eastern Ukrainians.

    You can’t simultaneously say that Russia was provoked and blame them for responding to the provocation in the only way left for them to do so.

    • Lisa
      May 25, 2023 at 01:09

      Excellent points!!

  50. James
    May 24, 2023 at 09:21

    The article states that:

    “Ukraine’s leaders knew clearly that pressing for NATO enlargement to Ukraine would mean war.”

    Indeed. Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne also bring this out and more in their most germane and well written article called “Why are we in Ukraine? On the dangers of American hubris.” in the June 2023 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

  51. Larry McGovern
    May 24, 2023 at 09:19

    Great article. Particularly noteworthy is Prof Sachs’ specifying various options to invasion that Putin might have tried.

    There is a major point that Prof Sachs left out while correctly concentrating on NATO expansion as the main provocation to Russia. It is “part and parcel” of the NATO expansion, namely the placement of offensive missiles right on the border with Russia, within minutes of striking distance of Moscow and Russia’s own missiles. (see Ray McGovern’s hxxps:// The analogy to the existential threat that Russian missiles in Cuba posed to the US is more than apt. Putin had been making this point for years, and in particular as the main reason for the annexation of Crimea.

  52. May 24, 2023 at 08:44

    Excellent summary as usual, thanks Jeffrey. Negotiations are almost certainly off the table now that the cynical duplicity of NATO has been revealed to the Russians. Obviously, any cease fire or negotiated cessation of the fighting would be used to rearm Ukraine and fortify new positions in anticipation of more war against Russia. Russia knows full well that they need to finish the job of de-militarizing Ukraine, which will be a long and costly endeavor. But they have no choice because NATO has moved right to Russia’s border and is threatening Russia’s security in ways unacceptable to Russia. Nothing the West does will change this equation, an equation concocted in the West to harm Russia and Putin. But payback is a bitch, and Ukraine and NATO are going to be on the receiving end of that until Russia considers the job done.

  53. Joseph A DePino
    May 24, 2023 at 08:36

    Nor will any factual analysis have any sway with the idiots who see this war as just

  54. Joseph A DePino
    May 24, 2023 at 08:35

    The reason and rationale expressed in this piece is not shared by those flush with Russophobic fever.

  55. Arie Nieuwenhuizen
    May 24, 2023 at 07:11

    Everything Is connected with zionism: Biden, Kagan & NEOCONS and all the others like Bilderberg, etc.
    It’s the elephant in the room ?

  56. Francis Lee
    May 24, 2023 at 04:58

    Interesting how the western media has shaped the war in Ukraine. As follows.

    1. The Ukrainian government under the (legal) control of the then elected Prime Minister, Victor Yanukovic, was overthrown in a violent coup by right wing extremists – Svoboda and Right Sector. The pitched battles took place in Independence Square in Kiev and the newly non-elected leader was ex-finance minister of the then sitting government, Petro Poroshenko.

    2. Poroshenko lost no time instructing the regular army and the right-wing militias, including the Azov battalion, the Aidar battalion, the Tornado battalion all of whom were chaffing at the bit for a little sport in the Donbass. The war began as Poroshenko sent his armed forces into the Donbass – particularly in Lugansk and Donetsk – in the Eastern Ukraine. This was in February 2014. The war had started. Putin was nowhere to be seen, nor was the Russian army.

    3. Please note that this invasion was from West to East.

    4. But the hastily formed militias in the Donbass were too good a match for the Ukie army and the right-wing battalion groups who turned tail in 2014-15 at the battles of Ilovaisk (2014) and Debaltsevo (2015). The long range shelling of the contact line by the Ukie army began. Some 14000.00 Donbass civilians were killed during this period.

    5. The Ukies then rebuilt themselves and wound themselves up for a second offensive, again, along the contact line.

    6. Pressure was mounting from the ordinary Russian people both in the Donbass and in Russia more generally. Putin was tricked into going along with the ‘peace deal’ however the French and Germans were just biding their time and allowing the Ukrainians to rearm. Angela Merkle was eventually quite open about this as it gave time for the Ukrainians to ready themselves for another offensive.

    7. Finally we get to the point. Putin invades Ukraine – but of course, he had nothing better to do! Even then it wasn’t so much and invasion it was what Putin declared to be a Special Military Operation.

    8. So now the mass media jumps in. The whole background to the episode was buried under a mountain of lies and evasions. But of course it would go down in the media and history books as ”Putin invades Ukraine.”

    9. The war continues.

  57. John Manning
    May 24, 2023 at 04:36

    Do you not remember it is mandatory for all spoken or written opinions in western European countries to include the words unprovoked + brutal + aggression when describing Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the home of the defenders of western European values. (Which includes the freedom of expression demonstrated by wearing Nazi symbols.)

  58. Bill Todd
    May 24, 2023 at 02:35

    Sachs blithely asserts that Russia should have used diplomacy to avert the need to invade Ukraine while seeming to be blind and deaf to the diplomatic efforts that Russia has been making for decades and the growing resistance to it which the West (including the main members of NATO who had joined the U.S. back in the early ’90s in pledging to Russia that NATO would not expand eastward) has joined in, along with the complicit U.N., to keep Russia from making any headway at all let alone succeeding. Perhaps Sachs is simply trying not to get completely canceled by what Western audience (and employment) he enjoys.

    The U.S. has set the standard of using brute force (military, economic, media control, etc.) whenever blunt use of diplomacy is inadequate to advance its own interests in the world for at least the past half-century and seems to have thought that Russia would never get sufficiently fed up with this state of affairs to act similarly (and in fact perhaps surprisingly effectively) when its diplomacy failed to curtail the excesses of the West. It is heartening to see so much of the rest of the world inspired by this active opposition to the West’s excesses because they know all too well what opposing the West can bring down upon their heads.

    The bottom line is that when one has the ability to prosecute war effectively it is not necessarily a bad thing when the alternative is continued domination by an enemy bent on your own destruction.

    • Selina Sweet
      May 24, 2023 at 12:11

      Sound points!

  59. Mikael Andersson
    May 24, 2023 at 02:01

    Dear Jeffery, with respect, it would have been absurd for Russia attempt more diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism. Subsequent events in the Baltic have shown that the EU is a USA vassal. When the USA can blow up the main energy supply and smash Europe’s most productive economy, and their leaders pretend it never happened the picture is clear. Subsequent events in Minsk have shown that Germany and France are proven liars. It is equally irrelevant that the relentless U.S. push to expand NATO is widely opposed throughout the world. The USA cares not at all about world opinion. Russian diplomacy rather than war could never have been effective. Only diplomacy through military means could, and will work. I believe that the Russian Federation made the only rational choice.

  60. Patrick Powers
    May 24, 2023 at 01:09

    I think the US sees the destruction of Ukraine as a win.

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