Caitlin Johnstone: Dying for Inches in Ukraine

That weapons systems are being tested on human bodies to the immense benefit of war profiteers over a completely avoidable and provoked war is nightmarishly depraved. 

Ukrainian trenchline at the Battle of Bakhmut, November 2022. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article.

A heartbreaking graphic is going around right now showing the almost microscopic changes that have occurred to the frontline of the war in Ukraine this year despite nonstop death and destruction of unfathomable horror the entire time.

The graphic comes from a New York Times article titled “Who’s Gaining Ground in Ukraine? This Year, No One,” which eventually gets around to acknowledging that Russia has actually gained more ground than Ukraine in 2023 despite Kiev’s much-hyped counteroffensive, which began in June.

“When both sides’ gains are added up, Russia now controls nearly 200 square miles more territory in Ukraine compared with the start of the year,” the Times reports.

As “Left I on the News” noted on Twitter, this contradicts the titular claim in another New York Times article published last week under the headline “Ukraine Has Gained Ground. But It Has Much Further To Go.

As the map of gains and losses shows, so much has been given up for so very, very little. At least tens of thousands have died in this war with hundreds of thousands wounded, all for those little blips on the map.

Ukraine is now freckled with more landmines than anywhere else on Earth, which experts say will take decades to clear. This giant deathtrap is exacerbated by the cluster munitions that are spreading across the land, which will go on to detonate and kill civilians (mostly children) for years to come.

The mines and artillery fire on the frontline of this war are reportedly creating tens of thousands of amputees, numbers comparable to what was seen in World War I.

[Related: US House Rejects Cluster-Bomb Ban]

And all for what? Essentially nothing. A few inches gained here, a few inches lost there. The meaninglessness of it all is probably one of the reasons why military-aged Ukrainian men have been fleeing and attempting to flee the nation in droves to avoid conscription.

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And now we see Western officials and media outlets telling us all to prepare for this war to drag on for years, potentially into the 2030s

This nonsensical violence, which even the head of NATO now admits could have been avoided by simply ceasing to amass a Western military threat on Russia’s doorstep, is scheduled to drag on as long as possible for no grander reason than the advancement of U.S. strategic interests.

This news from The New York Times comes out at the same time as a Wall Street Journal article titled “The War in Ukraine Is Also a Giant Arms Fair,” subtitled “Arms makers are getting orders for weapons being put to the test on the battlefield.”

“The Panzerhaubitze howitzer is part of an arsenal of weapons being put to the test in Ukraine in what has become the world’s largest arms fair,” writes WSJ’s Alistair MacDonald.

“Companies that make the weapons being used in Ukraine have won orders and resurrected production lines. The deployment of billions of dollars worth of equipment in a major land war has also given manufacturers and militaries a unique opportunity to analyze the battlefield performance of weapons, and learn how best to use them.”

If you contemplate those words the meaning is so deeply evil it will give you nightmares. The fact that weapons systems are being tested on human bodies to the immense benefit of war profiteers over a completely avoidable and deliberately provoked war is one of the most depraved things you can possibly imagine, and is a clear sign that we are living in a profoundly sick society.

This is so, so ugly, and it’s slated to get even uglier — these freaks haven’t even gotten started on China yet. The sooner this monstrous power structure can be brought to its knees, the better it will be for everyone.

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.

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34 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Dying for Inches in Ukraine

  1. Rafi Simonton
    October 3, 2023 at 02:41

    The image says everything.
    An eerie evocation of WWI. The war that began as the machinations of dying empires yet claimed to be the war to end all wars. The result? The dictatorship of the U.S.S.R. The draconian punishment of Germany and the rise of the Nazis. The partitioning of the Middle East to serve the interests of Europe. WWII. The Cold War. The U.S. belief that it won WWII and the Cold War thus entitled to world dominance, blind to its many failures.
    This lineage of war shows nothing but horror yet here we go again, trenches and all.

  2. October 2, 2023 at 10:23

    This is madness. The Russians could take the rest of Ukraine whenever Putin pulls the trigger. Putin appears to be the most restrained and mature leader in this senseless conflict but unfortunately the warmongers in the West most likely see it as a weakness as well as the Russian Generals, troops and Russian people themselves.

    JFK did not want to humiliate a great world power as the Soviet Union and it would be a reasonable assessment that President Putin is attempting to do the same thing by slowly squeezing Ukraine until it capitulates and accepts Russia’s security demands. Russia doesn’t want to govern western Ukraine. It is full of Banderite worshippers who hate the Russians and Poles equally.

  3. Maura Tierney
    October 1, 2023 at 21:30

    Hundreds of millions of dollars going to Ukraine . Example a luxury sweater shop is bailed out
    while some USA cities small businesses ruined by protests and riots years ago remains boarded up and empty. No government funds to rebuild.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    October 1, 2023 at 17:10

    PUTIN “was left no choice actually”. See how that propaganda thing works.

    Thanks CN

  5. robert e williamson jr
    October 1, 2023 at 17:06

    Wars of choice.

    Apparently no one seems to make the connection between the US supporting the Mujahidin fighting against the Russians, 1978 – 1992 and Zbig being the 9th National Security Advisor for Carter 1977 – 1981. A war of choice that deeply damaged the Soviet Union.

    He was preceded by Brent Scowcroft and succeeded by Richard V Allen, look them up I already know the story of the Carter Presidency.

    1979 at 3 am Zbig answers the red (?) phone russia has launched 250 missles at the US -hone rings again, not 250, 200-0. The phone rings again, ” Never mind this is all a big mistake”, evidently on our, the U.S., end.

    In my humble opinion, with the election of ronnie Raygun the gates to wars of choice blocked open and the neocons were released to wreak havoc on the world.

    Saddam invades Kuwait, war of choice, CIA claims to be surprised and 41 invades Iraq then leaves. But why?

    In 2001 the Saudis, ah, who ever, attacks the U.S. homeland and Zbig writes on March 27., 2007 in the Washington Post., Terrorized: by The War On terror . Read it!

    I tried and obviously failed at my last attempt to pull this off. Wrong approach, DEAD wrong!

    When persons of influence miss judge their timing or through fear speaking the truth they fall victim to the human frailty, no one or thing to blame but a missed opportunity that at times can change the world.

    Read this article he wrote, please and then ask why didn’t anyone see the clarity and beauty of his logic.

    Could be Zbig had seen that he had been not much more to the government than a useful idiot, but in the end they would have feared him, if he had spoken earlier.

    Given the origin and timing involved in producing the patriot Act, (see patriot act wiki) Zbig should have been aware of this early work because of the Foreign Surveillance Act of 1978. These were busy times, see John Kerry Organized Crime Investigation, and Money Laundering Legislation.

    Now we have another war of choice, Biden was left no choice because the US and NATO wanted war.

    I’m missing football and I need a stiff drink.

    Thanks ya’ ll each and every one. Be Safe in this super safe homeland we now reside in. Yuc yuc!

  6. Lois Gagnon
    October 1, 2023 at 13:50

    I worry too many people are not grasping the real danger we are facing with this proxy war. The West appears to be attempting to reignite WWll turning Russia into the instigator and making the Nazis into the heroes fighting Russia. There are too many instances of protecting and honoring Nazis to overlook. The recent standing ovation for a WWll Nazi in the Canadian Parliament was the dead giveaway. How long will people be in denial about what’s really going on here? I suspect the Russians no longer have any illusions about any of this.

  7. Smedley
    October 1, 2023 at 13:21

    People now need to study the Iran-Contra scandal (featuring the last President who was only good for playing with his jelly beans.) The Congress of that era had gone further than not funding the President’s evil Contra war. They had placed a ban on any funding of ‘the Contras’. This was, if I remember correctly, called “the Boland Amendment.”

    What happened was that the Patriots like Ollie North said to heck with the Congress or the Constitution and organized their own outside funding. Part of this was contributions from rich rulers or rich oligarchs. Part of it was selling missiles and spare parts to their Iranian friends for money to fund the Contras. O

    If you picture those funding channels, and the other ‘dark’ money that the CIA has had access to for a long time, and picture slush funds and investments helped by banker who give valuable information in advance, you can easily imagine that they official money being absent for only a few weeks won’t be missed. They have plans for such an emergency. Today’s Ollie North won’t be inconvenienced.

    Remember, the Pentagon has been playing games with the funding for some time, discovering ‘accounting errors’ that ‘allow’ them to spend even more money. And of course, the Pentagon is famous for not being able to pass any audit.

  8. Smedley
    October 1, 2023 at 13:12

    What I’m waiting for is for the American taxpayers to wake up to the fact that they have been massively ripped off by the Merchants of Death? What if that hugely expensive, super-promoted, weapons system ain’t worth more than scrap metal in a real shooting war?

    We’ve seen that America spent huge amounts of money buying expensive ‘armored’ trucks that were designed to fight insurgents in Iraq and survive their roadside bombs …. be useless on a modern battlefield. The Bradley infantry carriers not much better. We’ve seen that the vaunted Patriot system, with its expensive price-tag and its $4million a piece missiles, can’t even defend itself. We’ve seen that our super-smart HIMARS can be jammed and intercepted.

    Back when America was closer to a democracy, the Merchants of Death were at times criticized for $400 hammers and $1000 toilet seats (or was it vice-versa). Since 9-11, the Congress has been literally throwing tax money at the Pentagon, with more appropriated than the Pentagon even asks for, and with zero oversight because questioning the Merchants of Death and the Generals is unpatriotic and downright anti-America. Could it be that the American people have been robbed blind? And of course will now be told that they have to sacrifice even more to replace the current over-priced, over-hyped junk.

    Could it be that the patriots at the Merchants of Death haven’t been exactly honest?

  9. Vera Gottlieb
    October 1, 2023 at 10:36

    No excuse but hasn’t it always been this way…testing weapons at war time???

    • JonnyJames
      October 1, 2023 at 15:06

      True. For example, the Israelis routinely test out weapons (many gifted to them by the US) on Palestinians.

  10. J Anthony
    October 1, 2023 at 07:28

    With every passing day this passage by Krishnamurti becomes more relevant:
    “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
    That many people are going off-the-rails, sinking into depression, or acting odd more than usual is actually a sign of their humanity; decent people ought to have adverse reactions to all of this. This is not to say that anyone who has managed to keep their wits about them is inhumane, not at all, as their maladjustment may be showing in other ways. But watch for those who are behaving as if all is going according to plan, or as if it all makes no difference. Those are the people whose humanity may be lost for good.

    • Valerie
      October 1, 2023 at 15:57

      Really good points J Anthony. So many mental health/depression problems abound nowadays.
      I hadn’t looked at it the way you describe it, but it makes sense now i ponder it.

  11. October 1, 2023 at 02:32

    This focus on how much territory each side has gained or lost is straw man propaganda that we should call BS on. It is not a war about territory or at least it will not be until later in the war. It has been a war of attrition, with its true face being the number of casualties on each side. There seems to be broad agreement among close observers that Russia is only losing about one soldier for every 5-10 Ukrainian casualties. In other words, Ukraine is running out of men to fight. At the point that Ukraine’s armed forces are on the verge of collapse, if there is no capitulation, it will finally become a war about territory.

  12. HelenB
    October 1, 2023 at 01:50

    All wars are dumb. Always have been. When will they ever learn?

  13. James White
    September 30, 2023 at 17:54

    The U.S. Congress has passed a bill to fund the U.S. government for 45 days that includes no further funding for Ukraine. The battle is far from over and the Democrat majority Senate is eager to print more money to send to Ukraine. No doubt the Pentagon will miraculously discover unspent funds to funnel to Ukraine. When you are spending $trillions there are always places to hide a few billion. The grim calculus is that the U.S. can end the war at any time by cutting off the flow of arms and cash. Funding the U.S. government with no allocation of spending for Ukraine is a reversal of the past policy and a baby step in the direction of ending the war.
    Several Eastern and Central European countries have seized the opportunity to withdraw support for the war for a variety of reasons. Poland has stopped sending arms to Ukraine and Germany has halted the planned transfer of long range missiles. Whenever the U.S. stops funding programs that involve Europe, European countries quickly follow suit. There was always a question of whether Europe would step in to fund Ukraine if the U.S. funding faltered. Europe didn’t even wait for the U.S. to halt funding before their support started to dry up and arms transfers were paused, then cancelled. It was not hard to see this coming.
    Zelensky admitted recently that Ukraine would collapse without U.S. funding. It is therefore no longer a case of whether the Zelensky Regime will collapse, but when.

    • Valerie
      October 1, 2023 at 03:49

      And they have found it:

      “US president Joe Biden has called on Congress to swiftly approve aid to Ukraine after it was left out of the deal that averted a US government shutdown on Saturday.”

      “Agence France-Presse reports that Biden welcomed the agreement but said in a statement:

      We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted.”

      (Wasn’t the gov close to a shutdown couple years ago? Which was narrowly averted too?)

      • James White
        October 1, 2023 at 15:15

        The power of the purse belongs to Congress, not the President. Biden can bloviate all he wants but Congress can simply cut him off at the knees by not authorizing his intended spending.
        The Department of Defense was apparently outraged and sent a delegation to the House to whine and cry: ‘How dare you?’ This, after the DoD mocked Congress before any potential government shutdown, saying that any shutdown would not stop them from sending more arms to Ukraine. Our defense budget has been out of control for decades. The United States led the ranking of countries with highest military spending in 2022, with 877 billion U.S. dollars dedicated to the military. That constituted nearly 40 percent of the total military spending worldwide that year, which amounted to 2.2 trillion U.S. dollars.
        With our national debt spiraling out of control, the time has come to cut the defense budget in half, just for starters. The fact that the U.S. has taken on debt to finance the war in Ukraine, despite a majority of voters opposing it, shows the grip that MIC lobbying has on our Congress. The fact that the House showed the guts to face down the Senate and Biden to pass a CR with no funding for Ukraine shows that the people are making their opposition known to their elected officials. Now is not the time to let up. Let your Congressperson and Senators know that you oppose any more funding that only produces more dead Ukrainians while piling up more debt.

        • J Anthony
          October 3, 2023 at 06:35

          It’s a lot worse than just taking on debt to finance war; the whole of the monetary-system is debt-based, if the entirety of the “national debt” was paid down tomorrow there wouldn’t be a single dollar in circulation. Congress abrogated it’s constitutional authority to create and regulate the currency long ago, which is why we even half such a ludicrous debt in the first place. Private banks create money today simply by pressing a few buttons. It’s all backed by debt. Right now only the interest is paid back, and even that is becoming too difficult. The principal is not meant to be paid back, it’s a tool. Just about every business and government endeavor in the country is debt-financed. This is the crux of the problem. See Ellen Brown’s 2007 book “Web Of Debt”, a most thorough, credible and comprehensive history and explanation of this fraudulent operation.

  14. John Manning
    September 30, 2023 at 15:25

    One of the best ways to create change in Ukraine is to describe the war correctly.

    It is BIDEN’S WAR.

    Keep saying it and the politicians will change.

    • JonnyJames
      October 1, 2023 at 13:49

      I get your point, but on the other hand, this is Clinton/Bush/Obama/Trump/Biden’s war. The Cold War never ended, this is just a continuation. Despite the cheap misinformation offered by the MassMediaCartel (Ministry of Truth), US/UK foreign policy is long-term, and changes very little in substance over different US regimes.

      DT is a great example: he continued and increased economic warfare (sanctions) on Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, China etc. He wanted to provoke a war with Iran by assassinating Gen. Suleimani, fortunately that didn’t work. Recall that Iran is an ally of Russia. DT also continued the support for the Kiev regime. He also continued the illegal occupation of Syria and bombed Syria, while boasting that we were stealing the oil. If we were to believe the BS from the “media”, Trump’s foreign policy was radically different, when it clearly was not. Only the blah blah and BS is different. The illusion of choice must be maintained, and the myth of US democracy perpetuated.

      A quick re-read of The Grand Chessboard, for just one example, makes this clear. One can also review Halford Mackinder

  15. Carolyn L Zaremba
    September 30, 2023 at 15:07

    Anyone who listens to Scott Ritter or Brian Berletic (as I have been doing for years) will learn the facts on the ground. Berletic in particular always shows a map similar to the one on the NY Times article to emphasize how little has changed after 4 months and he and Ritter both reveal that every piece of materiel, including tanks from all over Europe, is destroyed the minute it is deployed. Berletic posts links to every story he covers, as well. Ritter knows all about how much training is necessary for combined arms warfare, and the Ukrainians don’t get that training. He also goes into detail about the logistics of war, getting food to the troops, getting fuel and ammunition to the field, and much more. I feel like I’ve taken a college course in armed warfare just by listening to these guys.

    • Valerie
      October 1, 2023 at 03:55

      Well it might come in handy one day Carolyn. Meanwhile on the training point:

      “British troops could deploy to Ukraine for first time to train soldiers, says Grant Shapps”

      “Defence secretary says proposal being discussed would reduce reliance on UK and other Nato members’ bases”

      Sat 30 Sep 2023 23.34 CEST Guardian

      “The new defence secretary, Grant Shapps, said he has held talks with army leaders about deploying British troops within Ukraine for the first time for a training programme.”

      (Funny, i thought it was said Ukraine is running out of soldiers)

    • Valerie
      October 2, 2023 at 17:27

      Now they’ve backtracked:

      “No immediate plans to send British military instructors to Ukraine, says Rishi Sunak”

      “Comments from the UK prime minister come after his defence secretary, Grant Shapps, said soldiers could be deployed to Ukraine to carry out training”


      Mon 2 Oct 2023 01.29 CEST

      “There are no immediate plans to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday, rowing back from comments by his defence minister who had suggested troops could carry out training in the country.”

      Perhaps the defence minister omitted to include sunak in his original ideas. Obviously a breakdown in communication. (What idiots.)

  16. David Otness
    September 30, 2023 at 13:19

    Nothing bodes well. Nothing.

    Damn their eyes!

  17. geroj
    September 30, 2023 at 13:03

    The Russian politician Ilya Yashin submitted a very eloquent address to the Sept 29-30 Paris forum “Russie-Libertés”. Everyone should read it. You will need to be able to read Russian (for now, a translation may be available shortly).

    • gwb
      October 1, 2023 at 12:51

      Could you post a link? I’d like to read it. Russian is OK.

  18. Laurie Holbrook
    September 30, 2023 at 12:51

    Yes, the sooner the US regime is brought to its knees, the better for all of us. It’s the bringing to its knees that unfortunately will cause a lot of suffering in the US and outside the US. What a mess we humans have created. I am ashamed of my Canadian government who is so far up Washington’s butt, GPS can’t find it. And now we have the cheering of Ukrainian Nazi war criminal by all political parties in the Canadian parliament. Heaven help us all.

    • Roger Milbrandt
      September 30, 2023 at 23:55

      Laurie: sharing your shame, I applaud your disturbingly accurate description of the location of the Canadian government.

  19. Jeff Harrison
    September 30, 2023 at 10:36


  20. susan
    September 30, 2023 at 10:02

    Such a bloody, crying shame. Will we never learn??

    • Monsoon
      September 30, 2023 at 11:38

      The problem is the lack of critical thinking, the rise of irrationality and the diminution of human thought and action.

      This is pre-history

    • Susan Siens
      September 30, 2023 at 15:07


      In my experience, few human beings seem capable of learning, and the further up the class ladder you go, there is a corresponding decrease in the ability to learn, to think, to feel genuine feelings. This is the worst thing about getting old, realizing that people only seem to get stupider as they age when they should be gaining wisdom.

      • Steve
        October 1, 2023 at 08:40

        But of course, YOU are one of the benighted few who get wiser … right?

        I find these kind of arguments against an entire class of people to be specious at best, since they always imply that the speaker is an exception.

    • Rudolf Angle
      October 1, 2023 at 23:11

      You have to understand, the neocons have learned the lesson well: war is immensely profitable for them. To add: up to now, threatening those countries with war, via proxy or through sanctions keeps the “jungle “ countries subservient.
      If life on earth is to continue, the warmongers must be stopped. Otherwise….

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