The West Keeps Whining That Ukrainians Are Cowards

Western officials — under cover of anonymity and from the safety of their desks — are expressing disapproval of Ukraine’s aversion to being killed, writes Caitlin Johnstone. 

Ukrainian soldiers in a casualty-removal training simulation — conducted in partnership with U.S. forces — in 2017 near Yavoriv, Ukraine. (Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, Eric McDonough, Public domain)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article.

Amid continuous news that the Ukrainian counteroffensive which began in June is not going as hoped, The New York Times has published an article titled “Troop Deaths and Injuries in Ukraine War Near 500,000, U.S. Officials Say.” 

Reporting that Ukrainian efforts to retake Russia-occupied territory have been “bogged down in dense Russian minefields under constant fire from artillery and helicopter gunships,” The New York Timesreports that Ukrainian forces have switched tactics to using “artillery and long-range missiles instead of plunging into minefields under fire.”

Then the article gets really freaky:

“American officials are worried that Ukraine’s adjustments will race through precious ammunition supplies, which could benefit President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and disadvantage Ukraine in a war of attrition. But Ukrainian commanders decided the pivot reduced casualties and preserved their frontline fighting force.

American officials say they fear that Ukraine has become casualty averse, one reason it has been cautious about pressing ahead with the counteroffensive. Almost any big push against dug-in Russian defenders protected by minefields would result in huge numbers of losses.”

I’m sorry, U.S. officials “fear” that Ukraine is becoming “casualty averse”? Because safer battlefield tactics that burn through a lot of ammunition don’t chew through lives like charging through a minefield under heavy artillery fire?

What are the Ukrainians supposed to be? Casualty amenable? If Ukraine was more casualty amenable, would it be more willing to throw young bodies into the gears of this proxy war that the U.S. empire actively provoked and killed peace deals to maintain?

Something tells me that the U.S. officials speaking to The New York Times about their “fear” of Ukrainian casualty aversiveness do not know what real fear is. Something tells me that if you marched these U.S. officials through Russian minefields under constant fire from artillery and helicopter gunships, then they would understand fear.

Western officials have been spending the last few weeks whining to the media that Ukraine’s inability to gain ground is due to an irrational aversion to being killed. They’ve been decrying Ukrainian cowardice to the press under cover of anonymity, from behind the safety of their office desks.

In an article published Thursday titled “U.S. intelligence says Ukraine will fail to meet offensive’s key goal,” The Washington Post cited anonymous “U.S. and Western officials” to report that the massive losses Ukraine has been suffering in this counteroffensive had been “anticipated” in war games ahead of time, but that they had “envisioned Kyiv accepting the casualties as the cost of piercing through Russia’s main defensive line.”

The same article quotes Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba telling critics of the counteroffensive to “go and join the foreign legion” if they don’t like the results so far, adding, “It’s easy to say that you want everything to be faster when you are not there.”

In an article published last month titled “U.S. Cluster Munitions Arrive in Ukraine, but Impact on Battlefield Remains Unclear,” The New York Times reported that unnamed senior U.S. officials had “privately expressed frustration” that Ukrainian commanders “fearing increased casualties among their ranks” were switching to artillery barrages, “rather than sticking with the Western tactics and pressing harder to breach the Russian defenses.”

“Why don’t they come and do it themselves?” a former Ukrainian defense minister told The New York Times in response to the American criticism.

In an article last month titled “Ukraine’s Lack of Weaponry and Training Risks Stalemate in Fight With Russia,” The Wall Street Journal reported that unnamed Western military officials “knew Kyiv didn’t have all the training or weapons” needed to dislodge Russia, but that they had “hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day” anyway. 

“It didn’t,” The Wall Street Journal added.

In the same article, The Wall Street Journal cited a U.S. Army War College professor named John Nagle admitting that the U.S. itself would never attempt the kind of counteroffensive it’s been pushing Ukrainians into attempting.

“America would never attempt to defeat a prepared defense without air superiority, but they [Ukrainians] don’t have air superiority,” Nagl said, adding, “It’s impossible to overstate how important air superiority is for fighting a ground fight at a reasonable cost in casualties.”

And now we’re seeing reports in the mass media that U.S. officials ?— ?still under cover of anonymity of course ?— ?are beginning to wonder if perhaps it might have been better to try to negotiate peace instead of launching this counteroffensive that they knew was doomed from the beginning. 

In an article titled “Milley had a point,” Politico cites multiple anonymous U.S. officials saying that as “the realities of the counteroffensive are sinking in around Washington,” empire managers are beginning to wonder if they should have heeded outgoing Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley’s suggestion back in November that it was a good time to consider peace talks.

“We may have missed a window to push for earlier talks,” one anonymous official says, adding, “Milley had a point.”

Oops. Oops they made a little oopsie poopsie. Oh well, it’s only Ukrainian lives.

Imagine reading through all this as a Ukrainian, especially a Ukrainian who’s lost a home or a loved one to this war. I imagine white hot tears pouring down my face. I imagine rage and I imagine overwhelming frustration.

This whole war could have been avoided with a little diplomacy and a few mild concessions to Moscow. It could have been stopped in the early weeks of the conflict back when a tentative peace agreement had been struck. It could have been stopped back in November before this catastrophic counteroffensive.

But it wasn’t. The U.S. had an agenda to lock Moscow into a costly military quagmire with the goal of weakening Russia, and to this day U.S. officials openly boast about all this war is doing to advance U.S. interests. So they’ve kept it going, using Ukrainian bodies as a giant sponge to soak up as many expensive military explosives as possible to drain Russian coffers while advancing U.S. energy interests in Europe and keeping Moscow preoccupied while the empire orchestrates its next move against China.

Last month The Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote an article explaining why Westerners shouldn’t “feel gloomy” about how things are going in Ukraine, writing the following about how much this war is doing to benefit U.S. interests overseas:

“Meanwhile, for the United States and its NATO allies, these 18 months of war have been a strategic windfall, at relatively low cost (other than for the Ukrainians). The West’s most reckless antagonist has been rocked. NATO has grown much stronger with the additions of Sweden and Finland. Germany has weaned itself from dependence on Russian energy and, in many ways, rediscovered its sense of values. NATO squabbles make headlines, but overall, this has been a triumphal summer for the alliance.”

“Other than for the Ukrainians” he says, as a parenthetical aside.

Everyone who supported this horrifying proxy war should have that paragraph tattooed on their forehead.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon 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 and re-published with permission.

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

34 comments for “The West Keeps Whining That Ukrainians Are Cowards

  1. jordi torrent
    August 24, 2023 at 12:36

    Much recommended to watch (or rewatch) two excellent WWI films:

    Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory”
    “Many Wars Ago” (Italian original “Uomini Contro”) a 1970 anti-war film set on the Alpine Front of the First World War. Directed by Francesco Rosi.

  2. Bruce Considine
    August 23, 2023 at 21:33

    This is what happens to a nation’s leaders when a nation stops enforcing the law on Ultra-Rich criminals because they’re the ones who $ponsor elected officials into office. The Banksters of 2008 were protected from justice. To-Rich-To-Jail. Bribery the graveyard of nations.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    August 23, 2023 at 11:20

    Isn’t it rather the West who are cowards…sending Ukrainians to do their dirty job???

    • Richard Coleman
      August 23, 2023 at 19:49


  4. Share
    August 23, 2023 at 10:58

    Sounds like the old Vietnam, “Must kill them to save them” philosophy.

  5. Eddie S
    August 22, 2023 at 13:00

    To paraphrase Tom Lehrer’s comment (ie; on Henry Kissinger getting the Noble Peace Prize), ‘chutzpah has now been obsoleted’.

  6. Hugh Breyer
    August 22, 2023 at 10:53

    Dems asked for this war but Dems don’t want a draft !
    How do you wage a war without a draft?
    I say order Vicki Nuland and her war pig husband, the dainty Antony Blinken, and florid faced Sullivan, spend their vacations in Odesa.

  7. WLGR
    August 22, 2023 at 10:08

    During the Vietnam War it was “the Oriental doesn’t place the same high price on human life as does the Westerner.”

    Apparently now it’s “those damn Ukrainians are refusing to place the same low price on human life as does the Westerner!”

    • WillD
      August 23, 2023 at 00:03

      Well put!

      The next thing we’ll hear is the US complaining that it paid Ukraine to sacrifice its soldiers! That they are, in effect, mercenaries hired by the US – and, of course, mercenaries’ lives are totally expendable!

  8. rosemerry
    August 22, 2023 at 00:41

    As soon as the USSR did the main job of defeating Nazism at huge cost in the “Great Patriotic War”, the USA had to start a cold war against the evil commies and continue this ever since. Hating Russia and spreading this hatred after at last Russia elected a president who really cared for his country and did not bow down to the US domination has needlessly led to this confrontation in a country the USA/NATO pretend to “protect”. NATO is obsolete but built up as “defensive” while the EU weakly submits to every insult of the USA and joins in its own destruction. Pipelines and sharing are mocked and destroyed. Russia’s need for security is scorned and instead Ukraine is treated as a democratic star to be praised but blamed as well.

  9. WillD
    August 21, 2023 at 23:57

    Only the US, and its vassal allies in Europe, are arrogant enough to call its proxies cowards, oblivious to the monstrous irony of such an accusation.

    Using a proxy to fight one’s wars is the most extreme form of cowardice.

  10. KPR
    August 21, 2023 at 23:29

    It’s always anonymous officials who say it. Why won’t they give their names?

  11. charles
    August 21, 2023 at 23:13

    And remember that Bill Kristol is going to spend an extra $2million in PR to get more support from the American people concerning the war. Kristol and Lindsay Graham need to put on the line with shovels. They will 4 hours to dig their graves because that is how long a new recruit lives going against the Russians line.

  12. Horatio
    August 21, 2023 at 19:24

    As long as the weapons manufacturers are making money no thought of the death of an entire generation of Ukrainians ever enters their heads. In fear of the war ending too soon, they are attempting to expand the conflict to China. They rub their hands in glee over the fact that there are over 1 billion Chinese which promises more meat to grind (they think). To make this tragedy complete we will have new elections next year. Millions will vote with the hope that things will change but they won’t. After all, we will not be able to vote Victoria Nuland out of the State Department.

  13. RomfordRob
    August 21, 2023 at 18:55

    Astonishing, unfathomably evil US foreign policy, backed by lapdog Britain. The worst foreign policy since WW2. Each election cycle I’m thinking it can’t get worse. And each time, they manage just that.

    • Caliman
      August 21, 2023 at 23:09

      My friend, the weapons corp, investors are not complaining about our foreign policy …

  14. Jeff Harrison
    August 21, 2023 at 18:31

    Remember the Earl of Montrose’s toast

    He either fears his fate too much,
    Or his desserts are small,
    Who dares not put it to the touch,
    To win or lose it all!

    Of course, the Earl assumed that people had the testosterone to fight their own fights.

  15. vinnieoh
    August 21, 2023 at 17:42

    How deranged does one have to be to write “…but overall, this has been a triumphal summer for the alliance.”? Ignatius is one sick individual.

    Caitlin nailed it again.

  16. Caliman
    August 21, 2023 at 17:32

    Caitlin getting to the heart of things as always. Great stuff.

    The quote by Ignatius, is there a better encapsulation of the immoral thought processes of the DC Swamp denizens?

    The great RA Lafferty wrote a fine short story about the need to fight Deep State conformity in the 60’s called “About a Secret Crocodile” (the Crocodile serving as his symbol for the DS) in which he described people like Ignatius as “the little birds that fly in and out of the crocodile’s mouth, that preen the teeth and glean little scraps of flesh and slogans and catchwords there?” Isn’t that a great description of the bloody work of the stenographers of power that infest the MSM?

    • EuGene Miller
      August 22, 2023 at 23:58

      Brilliant analogy. The DS crocodile and the little scavenger birds in the MSM. I wonder if the MSM in the 3rd Reich were as compliant as the MSM in America.

  17. Rob
    August 21, 2023 at 16:31

    One reason for blaming Ukrainians for their own destruction is to deflect blame from the actual architects of the disastrous war, namely us. Another is to lay the ground for US/NATO to disengage without losing too much face. I mean it makes no sense for us to continue supporting Ukraine when Ukrainians themselves don’t have the will to fight harder and better? We did our best, but they let us down. Now excuse me while I go puke.

  18. bardamu
    August 21, 2023 at 16:01

    It’s easy to suggest putting American politicians who do not understand what it is to be “casualty averse” in touch with press gangs in Kiev. But really, this is likely not so much ignorance and stupidity as cowardice and projection. People with inside information have to know by now that Ukraine has little chance of managing so much as a “stalemate.”

    The “Ukraine” issue is not going to play well in November ’24, though the Dems may just take the election, as they announce they will do with their primary. Biden is implicated at felony level. Information is seeping out, as it tends to.

    David Ignatius isn’t even correct about other allies–characteristically. What is WaPo even for, at this point? These are institutions that quit processing news, not all at the same moment, but more or less a decade ago, if not more. Back in reality, Saudi Arabia bailed on the petrodollar, and a large wave of nations has asked to join BRICS. The entire Sahel has risen against Western control. The astoundingly cynical Western betrayal of allies has become hard to sell.

    It’s going to take a bit for dust to settle, but Ignatius has to be lying, not guessing.

  19. CaseyG
    August 21, 2023 at 15:30

    America, you make me so sad. YOU started a war with Russia because it looked like Ukraine and Russia were working something out. OH—but this is America: Land of the Free, and at least politically, The HOME of the KNAVE.

    And to Americans, OMG, what has Biden done with his insane war?

    But Dylan Thomas had an idea in his poem that I truly believe in:

    “Do not go gentle into that good night—-rage, rage, against the dying of the light”
    Sadly , it is America and democracy that are dying. : (

  20. August 21, 2023 at 15:25

    ““Meanwhile, for the United States and its NATO allies, these 18 months of war have been a strategic windfall, at relatively low cost (other than for the Ukrainians).”

    It’s not even a cost to the war industry, it’s a profit – and all at the expense to us taxpayers.

  21. Bill Todd
    August 21, 2023 at 15:22

    Perhaps the only legitimate criticism of the Western Ukrainians is of their having become NATO patsies back in 2014 when they tolerated the coup against their democratically elected government that was steering an economically beneficial course between the EU which was offering minimal and austere standard IMF economic ‘support’ compared with the advantages Russia was offering for their acceptance of permanent neutrality. Once that die had been cast (save by the still rebelling eastern regions) they were stuck with Nazi dominance that tolerated no resistance and they probably felt that they had no alternative (though one might wonder whether they still feel that way in hindsight).

    It’s still possible to feel pity for the suffering that they brought upon themselves by such a decision though anger for their having supported the fickle evil that the West has become far to used to getting away with. The only obvious positive contribution they have made to the world is to serve as a dramatic object lesson of just how disastrous believing pleasant words and apparent guarantees from the ‘agreement incapable’ West can turn out to be.

  22. James White
    August 21, 2023 at 15:22

    This is terribly sad for the people of Ukraine and pathetic for the Biden Regime to push Ukraine to make ever greater human sacrifices only to satisfy Victoria Nuland’s bloodlust for Putin and Russia. Eventually the Ukrainians will wake up to the fact that the have been cynically played by NATO and the U.S. and will have nothing to show for their loyalty but half a million to a million graves. What NATO has done is a war crime, an atrocity and a crime against humanity.

  23. Roger Milbrandt
    August 21, 2023 at 14:53

    A brilliant touch in this excellent article is the formulation of the phrase “casualty amenable” to describe that attitude to which, in the opinion of US officials, Ukrainians ought to aspire. When, in July, US officials told the Wall Street Journal that they “hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day” in the Spring Counter-Offensive they were likely using the phrase “courage and resourcefulness” as a euphemism for “casualty amenable.”

  24. mgr
    August 21, 2023 at 14:43

    Always excellent. Chicken-hawks in the Biden admin and chicken-hawks in mainstream media’s elite. What a surprise.

    Of course, what they always leave out of their criticisms of the NATO trained Ukrainian forces is that NATO’s combined forces doctrine hinges on having air superiority. Without that, there is no chance for the NATO doctrines to work. Ukraine of course has no air superiority nor even effective air defense.

    The Biden admin and NATO sent Ukraine into the meat grinder for their own, not Ukraine’s, purposes. This is the doctrine of fighting for US/NATO purposes to the last Ukrainian for real. The main upset for NATO and its arms industry, is showcasing their vaunted wonder weapon failing on the battlefield of a real war. Bad for sales. Not a joke.

    In any case, the huge humiliation is the fact that Russia is more than a match for US and NATO forces. Not even to mention, in its economy.

    In light of the overall humiliation for America, NATO and MSM, it’s time to blame the Ukrainians for dying.

  25. susan
    August 21, 2023 at 14:26

    So, I have an idea – let’s send all of the US Government Officials, their kids and grand kids to Ukraine and let them run through the minefields.

    • cfmmax
      August 21, 2023 at 20:32

      How about we let the adults dance across that minefield with the Biden / Nuland duo leading off, then Barry Obama and Michelle, GW Bush and Pickles, Bill and Hillary, Antoy Blinken, John Bolton and whatever goon he’s married to, every useless House and Senate member who’s pushed this quagmire (and that’s no small number), Lester Holt, Scott Pelley, the Today Show lineup, that idiot governor of N Dakota who’s running for prez, Nikki Haley (if only), and the list just goes on and on and on. I’d buy overpriced tickets for that event.

      • Valerie
        August 22, 2023 at 02:55

        Can we throw in the bloody brits too? (They’re equally, if not more, to blame)

    • CaseyG
      August 21, 2023 at 21:17

      Hi Susan:
      Hey—–now there’s an idea that the public could really get behind!

  26. JonnyJames
    August 21, 2023 at 14:10

    Privileged, coddled, spoiled, armed security-protected, cowardly warmongers are always willing to fight until the last drop of other people’s blood. It is perverse, pathetic, disgusting, and all too predictable.

  27. yancey
    August 21, 2023 at 13:41

    When the big honchos and chicken hawks are facing defeat and humiliation the political correct fall back is to blame the cannon fodder.

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