The Guardian • Issue #2090

Desperation and self-deception in Imperialism’s war against Russia

A woman covers her son with a blanket after fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland.

A woman covers her son with a blanket after fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland. Photo: AP Sergei Grits (CC BY 2.0 Deed)

The US-NATO war against Russia has gone very badly. It is now two years since the first shots were fired and there is a sense of demoralisation in Washington, NATO headquarters and in Kyiv. The US and its allies believed their own misplaced propaganda. The war would be quick and Russia would be broken. Their Ukrainian puppets would make some sacrifices but gain a share in imperialism’s victory.

The forces aligned against Russia miscalculated terribly but remain committed to keep ‘fighting to the last Ukrainian.’ Rather than finding a way out of the quagmire they created, their new focus will make things much worse.

The war, of course, did not begin in 2022. The 2014 right-wing US-inspired coup in Ukraine set the scene. The pro-Russian areas of Donbass, Crimea, and Luhansk were engulfed: The US had promised NATO would not move an inch to the east after 1992. Instead, it encircled Russia.

A sense of optimism prevailed in the corridors of imperialist power as it prepared for war.

The US and its Ukrainian client state believed, as all imperialist powers believe, that wars can be quick and profitable. In the early months of the war a flawed logic maintained that Russia would implode, that Putin would be overthrown, and all would be rosy. Zelensky was making absurd demands that Russia make war reparations, echoing the disastrous conditions imposed on Germany after World War One.

Zelensky also let the cat out of the bag quite early to the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit just a few months after the fighting began. He promised that “after victory we will do everything quite fast,” and reassured his audience that foreign capital would “get access to our country, our 40 million-plus market.”

There was also talk of a new Marshall Plan for Ukraine.

The original Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe’s industrial base. It also greatly stimulated the US economy and guaranteed markets for US exports. Catastrophe, for capital is just another word for opportunity.

All of this was happening in 2022. The Financial Times saw the potential. “The EU … should not see this as an expense. EU companies will be contracted for infrastructure, housebuilding, transport and more … . Beyond this, it is an investment in Europe’s values and its security. It would bring 44 million people firmly inside the liberal democratic fold and into the social market economy – a historic achievement to rival the continent’s post-cold war reunification and the Marshall Plan itself.”

A broken Russia was, in this scenario, little more than a potential quarry for imperialist exploitation and plunder. Two years on such predictions are being seen as fantasy.

The rivers of gold that would come to the imperialist powers are now a distant dream. Including the latest European Union pledge, the EU will have spent $150 billion on the war. The USA’s outlay has been equally vast. Weapons companies are loving it, but nobody is talking anymore about making a quick profit from a destroyed Russia.

Today, the talk is quite different. The ultimate goal remains the same but with every day that passes any semblance of optimism diminishes. Russia is clearly not just holding its own against the might of imperialist materiel but is achieving significant victories in liberating the areas that are in dispute.

While this is a fact and an incontrovertible fact, it does not mean that the US and NATO can or will accept the truth of the debacle it has engaged in. Two recent events show this to be the case and make the future of the region and the world far less secure.

The first was the ill-conceived and belligerent comments made by NATO chief, Jens Stoltenberg. He made it clear that there was no doubt that Ukraine would join NATO, insisting that ‘Ukraine will join NATO. It is not a question of if, but of when.’

As an interim measure, NATO was ‘helping’ Kyiv to make its forces ‘more and more interoperable’ with those of NATO.

The second threatening statement came from France’s President Macron. He was speaking at a European Union heads of government summit in Paris. He made it clear that “individual European countries” choosing to send troops to Ukraine was in no way to be ruled out.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that a new coalition was to be established to supply Ukraine with ‘medium and long-range missiles and bombs for strategic strikes.’ Such weaponry can only be considered in the context of direct attacks on Russian ‘targets’ and could only intensify and prolong the war and the suffering that goes with it.

There has been a furious shift in the propaganda offensive as the two-year mark in the war passed and as Russian advances were becoming impossible to airbrush away. Russian casualties have probably been inflated, and Ukrainian losses definitely downplayed, according to US intelligence sources.

The war need not have gone on for so long. The US and its staunchest allies saw to it that no serious attempts were made to settle the issue. A reasonable resolution has never been a difficult concept. Ukraine must accept that the people of Donbass and Luhansk, along with the Crimea chose, as long ago as 2014, to become more closely allied with Russia. They have that right to national self-determination.

If Ukraine recognised that right and accepted a future apart from NATO, then the killing would stop. But it won’t. Zelensky cannot make that choice. His regime is an adjunct to NATO and US imperialism. The US is unwilling to accept the reality that their war is effectively unwinnable. Decades ago, a bumper sticker urging nuclear disarmament pictured a dinosaur with the caption “too much armour, not enough brains.” The US can’t read the signs.

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