PATRICK LAWRENCE: US Endgame in Ukraine — War Without End, Amen

What happens when a powerful nation cannot afford to lose a war it has already lost?

Field of Mars at the Lychakiv Military Cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine, Dec. 2023. (President of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News 

It is now two and a half years since Moscow sent two draft treaties, one to Washington, one to NATO in Brussels, as the proposed basis of talks toward a new security settlement — a renovation of relations between the trans–Atlantic alliance and the Russian Federation.

An urgently needed renovation, we must quickly add. And after that we must also quickly add the Biden regime’s rejection of Russia’s proposals as a “nonstarter” faster than you can say “deluded.”

Let us pause for a sec to bring to mind all those who have died in the war that erupted in Ukraine a year and a few months after Joe Biden refused, even mocked, Vladimir Putin’s honorable diplomatic demarche. All the maimed and displaced, all the towns and cities destroyed, all the farmland turned into moonscape.

And the all-but-complete peace accord, negotiated in Istanbul a few weeks into the war that the U.S. and Britain rushed to scuttle. And of course all the billions of dollars, somewhere north of $100 billion now, not spent on improving Americans’ lives but spent instead on arming a regime in Kiev that steals aid extravagantly while fielding an army with professed neo–Nazis.

It is useful to recall these things because they give context to a string of recent developments it’s important to understand, even if our corporate media discourage any such understanding.

If we keep recent history in mind, we will be able to see that the viscously irresponsible decisions of a couple of year ago, so wasteful of human life and common resources, are now repeated such that it is now certain the brutalities and waste will continue indefinitely even as their pointlessness is now way, way, way beyond denying.

The doorway opening on to this new sequence of events is the recent advance of the Russian military in Ukraine’s northeast. This new incursion now threatens Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second-largest city and lies a mere 25 miles from the Russian border.

Even the mainstream press, loathe to report the setbacks the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have suffered, describes Russia’s northeast campaign, which began a few weeks ago, as a rout. The Kremlin says it has no interest in taking Kharkiv, and this so far appears to be the case.

Kharkiv city. (Ekaterina Polischuk/Wikimedia Commons)

But the AFU’s rapid retreat bears a strong whiff of final defeat wafting in from not so far off in the distance. “Several Ukrainian combat brigades have not defected, or considered doing so,” Seymour Hersh, quoting his customary “I have been told” sources, reported in his newsletter last week, “but have made it known to their superiors that they will no longer participate in what would be a suicidal offensive against a better trained and better equipped Russian force.”

Brigades average 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers each and can run to 8,000 or even more. Hersh’s report suggests that a considerable number of Ukrainian troops, and maybe a very considerable number, are now effectively in mutiny against the AFU’s high command.

In evident response to Russia’s swift new incursion and the direction of the war altogether, the well-coordinated if not very artful American propaganda machine has begun preparing the public for a wider war that is to extend, as a matter of policy and military strategy, into Russian territory. This effort began with a New York Times interview with Volodymyr Zelensky, which was videoed and published in last Wednesday’s editions. A transcript of the interview is here.

This document is plainly intended to appeal to kale-consuming, Biden-supporting liberals who must be assured of the Ukrainian president’s just-like-us humanity and good judgment. He talked about his children and his dogs — there must be dogs in this sort of imagery — and how he reads fiction every night but is too tired to get very far.

But the core point, beyond the window dressing, was to insist that it is time to begin bombing Russian territory and that the Biden regime must reverse its prohibition of such operations.

A key passage:

“So my question is, what’s the problem? Why can’t we shoot them down? Is it defense? Yes. Is it an attack on Russia? No. Are you shooting down Russian planes and killing Russian pilots? No. So what’s the issue with involving NATO countries in the war? There is no such issue.

Shoot down what’s in the sky over Ukraine. And give us the weapons to use against Russian forces on the borders.”

Zelensky, a television actor we must not forget, has played this role on numerous occasions: Badger us for tanks, planes, long-range artillery, and missiles, the script written in Washington reads, and we will hesitate briefly before granting you your pressing needs as you defend democracy, the free world, and all those other “values” in the Cold War inventory.

Two days later, two, the Times reported exclusively that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, returning from “a sobering visit to Kyiv,” has of a sudden decided it is indeed time to broaden the war in the direction of a direct confrontation with Russia. The byline on this piece is worth noting: It belongs to David Sanger, who typically writes this kind of deep-inside piece because he is by all appearances so unwholesomely deep inside.

“There is now a vigorous debate inside the administration over relaxing the ban,” our David reports, “to allow the Ukrainians to hit missile and artillery launch sites just over the border in Russia—targets that Mr. Zelensky says have enabled Moscow’s recent territorial gains.”

See what I mean by artless? The one-two of this perception-management op has all the finesse of the old MAD magazine. I am beginning to take offense, honestly. If I am going to be subjected to incessant propaganda, I demand, I absolutely demand that it is sufficiently sophisticated to be at least entertaining.

In between the Zelensky interview and the Sanger report, the Russophobes in Congress wasted no time tucking into this operation. Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican who ranks with Tom Cotton among the prominent dummköpfe populating Capitol Hill, pounced partisanly last Wednesday.

McCaul in Ukraine, February 2023. (U.S. Embassy Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons)

McCaul, who chairs (I can hardly believe this) the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stood before a map that showed — my best count — 50 or so targets in Russian territory. And there he went for a twofer, arguing in favor of removing restrictions on the deployment of U.S. weapons while turning the question into a boringly pointless attack on the Biden regime.

Have a listen:

“We have a really bad situation going on, as you know. This is a sanctuary zone they [Russians] have created…. However, your administration and Jake Sullivan [sic] have restricted the arms use so that Ukraine cannot defend itself and fire back at Russia. That’s why I mandated the attacks in the supplemental [the aid package Biden signed into law last month], the long-range, the short range, and the HIMARS that your administration is tying their hands arms behind their back.”

Never mind the incoherence. A sanctuary? The Russians have created a sanctuary on their own soil? What kind of language is this? What is running through McCaul’s odd mind, the Cambodian border in the spring of 1969, Operation Menu?

Let us all declare we feel unsafe as we realize what these people are talking about and what they are risking. Any allowance for expanded use of U.S.–made weapons against Russian targets, which will require American personnel on the ground in Ukraine, will unambiguously escalate the proxy war into a direct conflict between the U.S. and the Russian Federation.

Quagmire, anyone?

Reuters filed an impressive, equation-changing exclusive last week featuring unmistakably intentional leaks from the Kremlin signaling President Putin’s desire to stop the war in Ukraine and negotiate a ceasefire. Guy Faulconbridge and Andrw Osborn cited interviews with “five people who work with or have worked with Putin at a senior level in the political and business worlds.”

Time to sit up.

“Three of the sources, familiar with discussions in Putin’s entourage,” the two correspondents reported, “said the veteran Russian leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about what he views as Western-backed attempts to stymie negotiations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s decision to rule out talks.”

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They then quoted one of their sources, “a senior Russian source who has worked with Putin and has knowledge of top-level conversations in the Kremlin,” as asserting, “‘Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but Putin is also ready for a ceasefire—to freeze the war.’”

While Putin has sent such signals on numerous occasions over the course of the past decade of war, this is big, in my view. For one thing, it strongly indicates what the new Kharkiv campaign is all about. Moscow does not want to take Kharkiv, the Faulconbridge and Osborn reporting suggests: It wants to enter talks from the position of strength all sides in all conflicts seek in the pre-negotiation phase.

Some other details confirm what distinguishes this set of signals from the Kremlin from others sent previously. From the Reuters report:

“Three sources said Putin understood any dramatic new advances would require another nationwide mobilisation, which he didn’t want, with one source, who knows the Russian president, saying his popularity dipped after the first mobilisation in September 2022.

The national call up spooked part of the population in Russia, triggering hundreds of thousands of draft age men to leave the country. Polls showed Putin’s popularity falling by several points.”

Interesting. Another reason to listen to what the Kremlin wants to world to know just now.

I am not going to buy Reuters’ suggestion that Putin has a case of political nerves. He has just won a new six-year term as president. But the Russian leader has demonstrated numerously in the past that he is sensitive to popular sentiment, the sacrifices of soldiers absent from their communities and places of work, and the visuals of war — body bags at airports, rows of military graves.

As Faulconbridge and Osborn report, Putin continues to reject the Zelensky regime’s insistence that no talks can begin until Ukraine regains all territory it has surrendered since the war began in 2014, including Crimea. “Let them resume,” they quote Putin as saying Friday, “[but] not on the basis of what one side wants.”

Via his leaky confidants, who were almost certainly authorized, Putin proposes what amounts to an armistice. Both sides would stop shooting, and territorial dominion would remain as it is—not necessarily etched into the earth, but until both sides can negotiate on to another step toward a lasting settlement.

No, Kiev would not regain Crimea or the four republics that voted in September 2022 to rejoin Russia; and no, Russia would neither have demilitarized nor de–Nazified Ukraine, as it has many times stated as its aims.

From left, Rishi Sunak, Biden; Giorgia Meloni, Zelensky NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana in Vilnius on July 12, 2023. (NATO, Flickr, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There is a legal principle here that goes back to the Romans. Qui tenet teneat—“he who holds may go on holding,” roughly — is often a feature of Asian diplomacy, which is more accepting of fluidity and temporary uncertainties that Westerners are usually not prepared to accept. Chas Freeman, the noted diplomat, taught me this years ago via the complex disputes over maritime jurisdictions in the South China Sea.

Putin’s proposal, viewed in this context, seems to me the most promising thought out there at the moment, and — to be noted — a number of officials and commentators in the West have bruited the idea about in recent months.

“A frozen conflict, such as those in Kashmir, Korea and Cyprus,” John Whitbeck a noted international attorney, said in a privately circulated memo the other day, “while not ideal, would be far better than more war and very much in the interests of mankind.”

This brings us back to… to December 2021, actually. Now as then, neither Kiev nor Washington has any interest in promising thoughts.

Biden’s national security people have not even stirred to react to the Faulconbridge and Osborn report. You would have thought they would at least have trotted out “nonstarter,” their favorite Britishism.

The Zelensky regime immediately responded to the Faulconbridge and Osborn report with another attack, again not short of its usual ad hominem tint. “Putin currently has no desire to end his aggression against Ukraine,” Dmytro Kuleba, Kiev’s amateurish foreign minister, told Reuters. “Only the principled and united voice of the global majority can force him to choose peace over war.”

Putin. His aggression. No desire to end it. I simply cannot see how anyone can take this seriously as statecraft. It is performative posturing, nothing more.

As to the voice of the global majority Kuleba mentioned, wait for it. This is a reference to a conference Zelensky and his ministers have organized for two days in mid–June. The Swiss have agreed to host it at a resort owned by the Qatari government near Lake Lucerne, and the Swiss Foreign Ministry, buying into the Ukrainians’ pretensions, is calling it “a peace summit.”

A peace summit? Please tell me how this works. The Russians are not even invited. What it amounts to is a Ukrainian attempt to get the world to line up behind it as it continues to wage a war it has already lost. As a former Swiss official said to me over dinner Saturday evening, “It’s about money. Kiev needs money.”

There is talk here that Biden plans to attend, but my money says this is out. Zelensky said in mid–April he expects 80 to 100 heads of state, but I question this, too.

As of May 15, Le Monde reports, about 50 nations had responded to Bern’s invitation. Remember, 80 percent to 90 percent of the globe, measured by population or by counting sovereign nations, has remained resolutely nonaligned on the Ukraine question.

Swiss peace conferences, planted New York Times interviews, congressmen sounding foghorns as they cheer on an expanded war: I find all this extravagantly pitiful. Maybe Putin is serious about his proposed armistice, maybe there is less in it than it seems. But no one on the opposing side wants even to explore the idea of ending the war?

The net response to the new Russian advances toward Kharkiv and the Kremlin’s artful leaks last week is to launch a new phase in a proxy war the West has already lost — a phase that also seems to have little chance of success, but holds more danger than any truly responsible statesman would ever risk.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s dapper spokesman, told Faulconbridge and Osborn the other day that Russia didn’t want “an eternal war,” a forever war in the American idiom. This is a good thing not to want.

Neither Biden nor Zelensky, on the other hand, wants this war to end: They cannot afford it for a variety of reasons. This is the reality. They are the main impediment to peace. They have painted the conflict as some kind of cosmic confrontation between good and evil, and in so doing they have also painted themselves into a corner.

But what happens when a powerful nation cannot lose a war it has already lost?

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for The International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows, available from Clarity Press or via Amazon.  Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. 

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41 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: US Endgame in Ukraine — War Without End, Amen

  1. Realist
    May 30, 2024 at 01:01

    Any real commitment to a truly frozen conflict simply cannot be believed if the promise is made by the United States, which is thoroughly dishonest and unreliable. Its word is absolutely no damned good. Both Washington and Kiev, whose words are equally no damned good, would be back at it manufacturing and stockpiling weapons and raising armies for the next opportunity to re-kindle the war by attacking Russian civilians. The only agreement that Moscow should risk making with Washington is that both sides will swear to never use nuclear weapons, no matter how threatened their position may become on the battlefield. Even then, everyone, especially the Americans, will keep their fingers on the triggers of their nuclear missile launchers.

    The best outcome that Russia can hope for now–considering the both murderous and suicidal tenacity of both Kiev and Washington–is that the collapsing American economy will force us Yanks to stop fighting, shut down all our foreign bases, and come home to where we belong! America, along with Ukraine and Nato, has no hope unless it resorts to nukes, the best it can accomplish is simply to delay the day that it formally surrenders, or more likely simply walks away from the fighting–which they should do NOW, in my opinion. I hope the latter is acceptable to Putin and that he suggests it to his fanatical enemies. There is no more to gain, only more poor souls to reap and lives to nip in the bud. Thousands of children never to be born. The Ukrainians must have already lost an entire generation, or at least cut their numbers by more than half all based on unconscionable decisions made by their leadership. Our American leaders have been, frankly, guilty of genocide of that lost generation by callously using them as no more than cannon fodder and a cudgel with which to harm Russia. America had nothing at risk when it started to relentlessly provoke Russia to war back in 2008 and 2013, the last straw of which was the large, highly trained and well-equipped invasion force it had assembled on the Russian border just waiting to invade the Donbass and further persecute the ethnic Russians living there. From the Russian perspective, they were finally moved to prevent further genocide of their blood relatives. Even if we make allowances for ethnic conflicts between neighbors (which is a hideous idea), the United States had no business interjecting itself into some long standing argument that the Ukies may have had with the Ruskies. It was none of our business and was blatantly forced to damage Russia’s growing prosperity under Putin. Sorry, there was no moral basis for our actions and probably no valid legal premise either.

  2. bardamu
    May 29, 2024 at 17:02

    Russia has been ready to negotiate since before the invasion. But with whom?

    After so many broken promises, how is Russia to verify compliance? With each new threat, it becomes more difficult to work out how Russia escapes having to conquer, purge, and govern the entirety of Ukraine.

    If this is not what US warlords wanted from the outset, what suggests otherwise, given that we cannot trust their words?

    • Realist
      May 30, 2024 at 13:05

      You would think that America, Nato and Friends would learn a lesson from the nightmare they have dumped in Russia’s lap. If Ukraine is functionally too much for Russia to conquer, occupy and govern without constant terrorism and rebellion causing Russia to take unending major losses, suffer severe casualties, including many civilians, and go broke in the process, how does the West figure it can successfully invade, conquer, dissect, ingest and placidly rule all of Russia with an iron fist… or even a titanium fist controlled by whiz-bang digital electronics courtesy of the MIC? Likewise, the West has no more possibility of accomplishing all these necessary steps in subjugating China, whether before, after or concomitant with vanquishing Russia? Short of opting for nuclear Armageddon, which the Bidenistas seem fascinated with implementing, none of the three great powers have the actual capacity to successfully invade, occupy and rule the others. Time for Biden to realise this, pack up and go home where all the money underpinning these wars SHOULD be spent. Damn, but our leaders are stupid!

  3. vinnieoh
    May 29, 2024 at 12:20

    Another clue the US intends to escalate: Anne Applebaum was on the Sundays’. War-loving witch.

    As someone below said, the Russians understand all of this and more; their task is to make the US understand what it so strenuously refuses to acknowledge.

  4. TP Graf
    May 29, 2024 at 08:14

    It is grotesquely simple. We are told ad nauseam of the intractable Putin who will not stop until he marches across western Europe and beyond, while the democracy loving West will not even talk to the man. The lie persists–it all started with “Russian aggression” in February 2022. Trump has already betrayed his bluster about ending funding for Ukraine and is cozying up to the Nikki Haley, Tom Cotton rhinos so whatever pipe dream his supporters hold for ending this mess with him in charge is wishful thinking at best. The best outcome at this point is for the Ukrainian troops to turn on their master for the sake of their own lives, take the now-expired president out and bring Wang Yi in to forge a peace agreement and rebuilding plan for a neutral Ukraine. Let the fractured NATO consume each other in the endless blame game that is already progress.

  5. Em
    May 29, 2024 at 06:36

    Yessiree, Pats trick is as potently provocative as a finely honed stimulant!

  6. Gordon Hastie
    May 29, 2024 at 05:39

    Is that Stoltenberg’s hand on NATO’s puppet Zelensky’s shoulder? Every picture tells a story. To what extent has all NATO’S war games since 1991 been about filthy lucre, I wonder…

    • LarcoMarco
      May 29, 2024 at 18:30

      HAHA more like a pursed-lipped ventriloquist with a little lap dummy.

      • Em
        May 31, 2024 at 07:02

        Father wants, only what he determines is best for his child!
        The too old, inapt and abusive story of time immemorial.

  7. AG
    May 29, 2024 at 01:42

    Gordon Hahn on his blog has this to say:


    Russian President Vladimir Putin has numerous times now expressed Moscow’s readiness to engage in peace talks without ceasefire. So have other Russian officials. But there is no evidence that Moscow has pursued a back channel to begin talks, and it is highly unlikely that it has done or will do so.

    Although in foreign diplomacy any public expression of willingness to talk is taken less seriously by others than is private communication of the same, the existence of the former and absence of the latter do not indicate that the public expressions of unwillingness to talk on Russia’s part are empty propaganda or misdirection. In reality, Moscow is ready for talks, but awaits from the West — Washington and or Brussels — a private or precise public request to begin talks.

    There are at least two reasons for this:

    see here:

  8. May 29, 2024 at 00:31

    NATO and Russia cheek by jowl along the current line of contact would leave Russia in an even more insecure position than it was at the start of its 2022 special military operation — a disaster from the Russian perspective because rather than to have demilitarized Ukraine, a “freeze” would enable NATO to rearm what remains of Ukraine to resume and escalate its attacks on the Donbas and pre-2022 Russia.

    Russia needs a cordon sanitaire to protect Russian soil from Ukrainian long-range weapons and a buffer between the Donbas and Crimea and NATO, preferably a demilitarized buffer. Reuters might have gotten some of its story right, but a freeze is the last thing Moscow would agree to after having absorbed the costs in blood and treasure of its efforts so far to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine.

  9. James White
    May 28, 2024 at 23:25

    Zelensky’s only hope has always been to drag the U.S. or any other hapless NATO country into his epic war blunder. A war with Russia that Ukraine could never win. Zelensky is nothing if not relentless in his mission to spark WW3. To drag the entire world down with him. Zelensky’s endless lies about the war serve as a frequent reminder of our immersion in a dystopian existence where the obvious truth is buried under a constant repetition of false narratives.
    At a minimum, Putin ought to reclaim historic Russian cities Kharkiv, Odessa and Poltava. The battle of Poltava being the very location of Peter the Great’s defeat of Sweden’s King Charles XII in 1709. And to ensure that Ukraine never again will serve as a launching platform for NATO, to marginalize Russia or to threaten it with nuclear weapons. Ordinary Russians must be asking themselves, how many times must we fight and die over this same piece of land? When will Sweden, France, Germany and now the U.S. ever get the message that Russia can and will defeat them in Ukraine every, single time.
    How did Michael McCaul ever get put in charge of the Foreign Affairs Committee? It ought to be renamed the Endless Wars Committee. McCaul is a one-trick pony. He never met an endless war he didn’t like. Speaker Mike Johnson was speaking frequent truth about Joe Biden’s constant stream of lies. He was holding the line on spending until McCaul and a few others flipped him. Since then, Johnson has never been the same. Now both McCaul and Johnson need to go.

    • Chris Cosmos
      May 29, 2024 at 11:26

      Congress and the Executive are beholden only to the finance oligarchs and National Security thugs, i.e., those who carry the guns both literally and figuratively. Johnson or anyone gets orders and follows them enthusiastically since they know the power-relations of the Empire. Electoral politics is irrelevant in terms of major foreign policy goals which are always–the Empire must expand until it conquers the entire globe.

    • Robert
      May 30, 2024 at 05:47

      Agree with you on McCaul and Speaker Johnson. They need to go, but unfortunately neither are going anywhere. McCaul represents the worst of the worst politicians completely owned by the MIC. Pre Ukraine, he was a simple, run of the mill warmonger. For whatever reason, losing in Ukraine transformed him into war addicted lunatic. That guy is crazy mad about losing in Ukraine. No logic or reason coming out of McCaul. He’s an emotional wreck at this point. Johnson is a HUGE disappointment to me. Don’t recall a flip as big or quick as Johnson did on Ukraine. And then he invites Bibi to address the House. Good Lord, what in the world did the Deep Staters say to Johnson over two days of “consulting” ? Then again, maybe its just a simple case of the CIA calling in and telling him that he’d be better off if certain information about his private life weren’t made public.

    • Jams O'Donnell
      May 31, 2024 at 13:03

      No point in blaming Zelensky – he is just a glove puppet, and we know who’s hand is in the glove.

  10. Whisker Dawk
    May 28, 2024 at 23:21

    Here’s what the Exceptional Americans do not understand.

    That nobody cares what the losers of a war think.
    Especially not the winners.

    American can make all the plans it wants. The battlefield renders its own verdict.

    World War I ended when the front was moving steadily back on the Germans, and they had zero options except to surrender and eventually agree to the punitive Versailles Treaty.
    World War II ended when an army reached Berlin.
    On those days, what the Kaiser or Hitler planned or thought matter a whit.
    Losers don’t get to decide what happens at the end of a war. At best, they get to surrender and march off to a camp.

    • Caliman
      May 29, 2024 at 11:11

      Rarely are modern wars as definitive as ww2 … this war is unlikely to end with a march into Kiev.

      • May 30, 2024 at 13:04

        What does Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Venezuela, Cuba, Ukraine, Niger, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Iran and Ukraine have in common?
        They are all fronts in the trans-Atlantic corporate oligarchy’s drive for global dominion.
        All the little wars since the end of WWII have been battles in the wider war. WWII was followed directly be WWIII, we know it as the Cold War. It was nearly a done thing, but Vladimirovich Putin ruined it all by saving the Russian Federation from dissolution in the winter of 1999-‘oo.
        This war can only end with citizens of the continental states marching on Washington. The only way this ends is when the union is dissolved.
        Ultimately, all wars end with one side chattered and scattered to the wind.

        • Realist
          May 30, 2024 at 15:33

          “Ultimately, all wars end with one side chattered and scattered to the wind.”

          So, why did Mad man Biden repeatedly opt for war? He (and his predecessors) had over a decade and hundreds of opportunities to honorably de-escalate the situation. They all defiantly refused to even consider that they MIGHT need an exist ramp to avoid the Apocalypse. Nevertheless, they persisted doggedly in their stupidity. And here we are with America’s citizens, including innocent babies and young children, factored in America’s wealth, infrastructure, industrial and agricultural bases, all at risk of being obliterated. For what? To stroke Lord Biden’s ego?

          Perhaps the explanation is as simple as the anti-war song that Pete Seeger wrote and performed.

          I give you “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.” (“And the big fool said to march on….”)

  11. WillD
    May 28, 2024 at 22:20

    I don’t doubt for a moment that the Russians understand all of this – and much much more.

    They have been very consistent in their words and actions, as far as I can tell, so I see no reason to doubt that there is any new desire for a ceasefire when a) they are clearly winning conclusively, and b) they have made it quite clear they will not stop fighting until a solid ‘trustworthy’ (if such a thing is even possible anymore) agreement and new security architecture are in place – or they have fully achieved their objectives without one. Since there is no trust, there will be no agreements, so there will be no ceasefire.

    My view now is that the Russians no longer believe any satisfactory negotiations or agreements are possible, and so will continue the attrition until the Ukraine military collapses and the junta in Kiev is forced to surrender, or go into exile in the west or abroad.

    At that point, Russia can redraw the borders, install a Russia-friendly government, and help the diminished Ukraine recover and rebuild, without any further need to involve the US or Europe, while making sure that Ukraine is fully demilitarised and absolutely neutral, acting as a large buffer zone to keep the west at bay.

    This will put the collective west into the position where it has few options other than outright war against Russia directly. It has weakened itself so much and been found wanting in so many areas in which it thought itself strong and invincible that despite all of the sabre rattling from politicians and fools in NATO, they will be forced to accept that they have really do have no chance of success anymore.

    They have failed on all three counts – military, economic and information (propaganda).

  12. Rafi Simonton
    May 28, 2024 at 21:27

    Isn’t it playing nice to call them “neo-Nazis”? After all, there’s nothing “neo” about it; homegrown since WWII.
    (SN)AFU would be a far more accurate acronym.
    And don’t disparage MAD magazine–which has run clever critiques of U.S. politics, economics, elites, and the military for 7 decades. Far more informative, sensible, and reliable than anything official from the U.S. government since the New Deal.

  13. Jeff Harrison
    May 28, 2024 at 20:59

    I hate to say this Patrick but I think you’ve blown this one.
    First of all, you’re quoting the CIA/Reuters publication. Big mistake. Claim: Putin now wants a cease fire. Really? He tried to get a peace treaty only to have “The West” scuttle it. After that and after Russia kicked a little Ukie ass, Putin has consistently called for talks and been ignored. Beyond that, the situation isn’t the same as it was in 2022. As Russia points out the Z-man is no longer the valid leader of the Ukraine. Negotiating anything with him would be a waste of time and effort. The Ukies could and probably would repudiate any negotiations as soon as they had a valid government, maybe sooner. What was it that Shrub said? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…. you can’t fool me again?

    Claim: Russia would have to do another call up if they want to keep moving. Snopes says FALSE. Russia currently has more volunteers than they can use and while in the Russian scheme of things conscripts can’t be sent into combat, volunteers can be. This looks like a CIA/MI-6 plant. The Russians made their strike toward Karkhiv with a much smaller force than would be required to subdue a city. They have been surprisingly successful which says that the Ukies are on their last legs (probably because the rest of the legs are either dead or amputated). It is the Ukraine, not Russia that is having trouble raising an army.

    Claim: The Ukies need the US’s permission to strike Russian military targets just over the border. Reality? Bullshit. The Ukies don’t attack military targets and they have been using Western weapons to attack apartment complexes, schools, and hospitals just over the border. But the US seems to think that giving the Ukies longer legs will be free. Am I the only one who has noticed that whenever the Ukies have been particularly annoying, Russia has reached out and flattened important parts of the Ukraine – electrical grid, rail system, finally some dams, and some specific defense plants and industries and a bunch of French mercenaries. Do you seriously think that they won’t do that again?

    I personally think that the cause behind the move against Karkhiv coupled with Putin’s claim that he doesn’t have a valid interlocutor in Kiev is simple. He wants the US to replace our vassal in Kiev. After all, we have fomented coups and color revolutions all over the world. We can do it again.

  14. Caliman
    May 28, 2024 at 20:54

    “But what happens when a powerful nation cannot lose a war it has already lost?”

    But what happens when a powerful nation is fully captured by its Mil-Sec-Ind sector, for whom war and chaos create desired financial windfalls? What happens when the so-called people’s representatives actually represent the financial interests of MICIMATT and not the people? Do you not in these circumstances end up in endless war and conflict?

    Rest easy, friends … all is going according to plan.

    • Chris Cosmos
      May 29, 2024 at 11:35

      Amen to that. The US national security system is built on “losing” wars at this point in history and it will continue until the finance oligarchs decide to adopt a different strategy.

  15. May 28, 2024 at 20:40

    Thank You Patrick

  16. wildthange
    May 28, 2024 at 20:20

    This is the western NATO alliance circling the wagons for a new Cold War of western world lack of global vision in favor of economic starvation via economic sanctions and increased arms race spending. This is the western world with centuries of military world dominance behavior as it fears global development gaining parity.
    It is using “with us” or “against us” cold war and Bush GWOT economic and military alliance technology blackmail. It is part of the religious sens of superiority granted by false monotheistic mythological gods as always aiming for full spectrum control of world cult-ural supremacy with a dash of Roman Orthodoxy vs Russian Orthodoxy of competing one true churchism foolishness for motivation. Noting that the eastern Constantinople version moves to Kiev and then to Moscow long ago. Fascism played a big part in this in recent history as well.
    The secular world needs to realize it is still at risk from religious war-folly mixed with military technological profit motives to good to give up regardless of the human roulette involved.

  17. Jim Fiala
    May 28, 2024 at 19:58

    As others have noted, when we speak of U.S. leadership, we’re not talking about anything approaching intelligent, reasonable, competent leadership. Also, they have demonstrated a truly shocking total lack of regard for human life and suffering. It is irrefutable that they don’t care about Ukrainian lives any more than they care about Palestinian lives. The question is whether or not it’s even possible for anyone at any time under any set of conditions to deal with them at all.

  18. Wayne
    May 28, 2024 at 19:57

    If the US objective is to strategically weaken Russia enough to prevent it from being much help to China when the US takes on China, then it is far from defeated. The plan is to prevent peace so as to force Russia against its desire to militarily conquer the entirety of Ukraine while destroying much of the country in the process, which Russia and Russia alone will then be entirely responsible for. If the US plays its cards right, the demands of rehabilitating a failed depopulated state and restoring a destroyed economy/infrastructure will be so burdensome and costly that Russia will be tied down for a decade or more and so not be of much use to China in the coming conflict with the US.

    • Jams O'Donnell
      May 31, 2024 at 13:13

      “ehabilitating a failed depopulated state and restoring a destroyed economy/infrastructure”

      Why would they bother. They will rebuild the Donbas and other southern oblasts. The rest will, as you say, be depopulated and destroyed, overseen by thousands of cheap long range drones, backed up by strikes on any infiltrations from bordering countries. I imagine this could be done reasonably economically.

  19. Ray Peterson
    May 28, 2024 at 19:47

    “Quagmire anyone? Yes, for sure, a permanent war for neo-Nazi
    regime is music to the ears of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin et al.

  20. ZimInSeattle
    May 28, 2024 at 18:09

    Thanks for this essay. I think the Faulconbridge and Osborn report is an IC generated trial balloon where the west is trying to freeze the conflict North Korea style. It seems the idiots running the show have finally realized Russia isn’t going to stop until Odessa is taken and rump Ukraine is a land locked failed state. I fully expect this to be the case by the end of the year.

    • AG
      May 28, 2024 at 20:35


      This Reuters piece is – as almost anything we get around here – intended for the Western public only.

      It would be idiotic for the RUs to stop where they already were before – allegedly, because it´s not correct – in Dec. 2021 (it´s way of claiming “stalemate” again…pooooh).

      So no, Putin does not want to freeze this. (He doesn´t want to destroy cities either, sure. As he didn´t want this war.)

      Why on Earth would he suggest such a thing? Is he ready to negotiate? Of course, any time. But what he would have to say would be unacceptable for the West.

      It should be clear to everyone:

      THIS is the first direct war between the two major nuclear super powers ever. The war we always dreaded. And as such it´s unique.
      The established rules of conduct, of engagement, of diplomacy do not matter here.

      There is only one law and that´s the power of the atom. That´s the only thing that keeps the Americans from making all hell break loose.

      If there is anything to these fairy-tales concerning Moscow then it might be, perhaps, US attempts in order to better prepare for China. So from head to toe this is a US inside job. But even this optional US intent I doubt.

      One word on David Sanger: He already produced a piece of pure fiction with his scaremongering yet childishly obvious fabrication from March about the proximity of nuclear Armageddon in Oct. 2022 when Biden saved us from RU nukes.

      His NYT-piece caused some chatter yet offered not a shred of evidenc.
      I urge everyone to read that Terry Pratchett for toddlers really carefully and you will see it´s hot air:

      “Biden’s Armageddon Moment: When Nuclear Detonation Seemed Possible in Ukraine”
      NYT, March 9, 2024

      No surprise that same Mr. Sanger took part in the infamous Aspen Institute Burisma Leak simulation in the summer of 2020 as reported by Michael Shellenberger.

      Last December, Michael Shellenberger reported in a #TwitterFiles thread that the Aspen Institute hosted a “Hack-and-Dump Working Group” exercise in the summer of 2020 titled, “Burisma Leak,” which predicted with uncanny accuracy an upcoming derogatory story in the New York Post about Hunter Biden’s lost laptop.

      The documents Shellenberger published showed how at least five media figures, including David Sanger and David McCraw of the New York Times, Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post, then-Daily Beast and future Rolling Stone editor Noah Schactman, and Rick Baker of CNN worked alongside Twitter and Facebook’s chief moderation officers, Yoel Roth and Nathaniel Gleicher, to plan a response to a hypothetical damaging exposé about Joe Biden’s son.

      How can these folks look into the mirror and call themselves journalists!

  21. Martin
    May 28, 2024 at 17:23

    i wouldn’t pay too much attention to what the nyt, blinken or zelensky publicly say or do. i don’t think it means anything more than manipulation of the domestic audience. the focus on the destruction of russia (and europe) remains the same.

    • May 29, 2024 at 11:17

      I agree with you 100%.

  22. stan azen
    May 28, 2024 at 17:09

    does Putin have a sense you are dealing with total scumbags and all they respect is force? How can he continue to be passive in the face of attacks on russia? why have the military not destroyed all railroads electricity generating and distribution, and entrance of weapons from Poland and Romania? that your radar was struck so effectively shows you do not understand the magnitude of the problem you have allowed to occur

  23. Joseph Tracy
    May 28, 2024 at 16:59

    It is bigger than Ukraine. The Neo-Cons’ sick Hitler style plan has failed. The empire is in deep disarrary despite controlling the traditional large powers in Europe. Shamed before the world by supporting Genocide, new trade alliances forming wherein the Global south want so be paid fairly. War games with China show US loses. Dollar still dropping as nations and individuals buy Gold, bitcoin, sell US Tbills.

    The US last option they can think of is all out European war. Do they really think they can win this? Is it win or next Great Depression? Do they think this is Armageddon and they are the chosen of God? Can anyone explain this level of stupid?

    • May 29, 2024 at 11:34

      I just call it the Demon of willful Stupidity. It’s the spirit of the times we live in. I just find it rather amusing that all of the bad guys look like cartoon characters. It’s beyond irony. And …is written in prophecy. I’m not as informed as the great commentarians here .Patrick Lawrence is a fine journalist and I will be reading him more often but not qualified to comment in ways that will add to the facts.

  24. anaisanesse
    May 28, 2024 at 16:56

    “Only the principled and united voice of the global majority can force him to choose peace over war.”

    China, Russia, all the BRICS and the rest of the 80% or more of the globe are now lined up with Ukraine??

    • Robert
      May 28, 2024 at 19:29

      “Neither Biden nor Zelinsky want this war to end” . For Biden, acknowledging before the November election that the war (his war) is lost would be the final nail in coffin for his bid for re-election. For Zelinsky (and crew) the end of the war means the end of his control of the Ukrainian military and government. The end of his control makes Zelinsky (and crew) a dead man walking. He (and crew) would almost certainty have to flee Ukraine. My bet is that Zelinsky already has aircraft and plans in place to get out of town with an hours notice. Will be fascinating, in a ghoulish sort of way, to see how this debacle ends and how the narrative falls into place. The exit from Afghanistan debacle narrative limited damage to Biden, but the scale of this debacle is hundreds of times larger.

  25. Carolyn/Cookie out west
    May 28, 2024 at 16:19

    Biden wants to win re-election no matter what! Thinks being “in charge” during a “supposedly” just war will win him votes. Seems to care nothing for loss of life. He cannot bear to consider negotiation….seeing it as a defeat for himself in November. Well, we know the MSM is on his side. So too in NYC the use of the pro-Dems (no matter what) i.e. the “Never Trumpsters” to go after in all possible ways the opposition candidate. Disgraceful. / Thank you Patrick Lawrence for your articles! A voice in the wilderness…even among progressives, who want Biden no matter the cost of lives.

  26. May 28, 2024 at 15:41

    It appears to me, those who we Citizens allow to rule over us use us as chattel… disposal as needs require. Resistance to such infamy is obligatory, but sorely lacking throughout the West. Is a time of reckoning coming? One can hope.

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