NATO Prolongs the Ukraine Proxy War and Global Unrest

With diplomacy thwarted, the US and its allies plan for “open-ended” military and economic warfare against Russia, no matter the costs at home and abroad.

The Ukrainian military’s routing of Russian forces from Kharkiv, which relied extensively on US planning, weaponry and intelligence, has sparked triumphant declarations that the tide has turned.

According to The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum, “Americans and Europeans need to prepare for a Ukrainian victory,” one so overwhelming that it may well bring “about the end of Putin’s regime.”

Beyond the chorus of emboldened neoconservatives, Western officials are less sanguine.

“Certainly it’s a military setback” for Russia, a US official told the Washington Post said of the Kharkiv retreat. “I don’t know if I could call it a major strategic loss at this point.” Germany’s defense chief, General Eberhard Zorn, said that while Ukraine “can win back places or individual areas of the frontlines,” overall, its forces can “not push Russia back over a broad front.”

Whether or not it marked a major strategic loss for Russia, the battle in Kharkiv is already a major victory for NATO leaders seeking to prolong their proxy war in Ukraine and economic warfare next door.

Ukraine’s expulsion of Russian forces in the northeast, the New York Times reports, has “amplified voices in the West demanding that more weapons be sent to Ukraine so that it could win.”

“Despite Ukrainian forces’ startling gains in the war against Russia,” the Washington Post adds, “the Biden administration anticipates months of intense fighting with wins and losses for each side, spurring U.S. plans for an open-ended campaign with no prospect for a negotiated end in sight.”

As has been apparent since the Ukraine crisis erupted, US planning for open-ended proxy warfare against Russia has led it to sabotage any prospect of a negotiated end.

The US rejection of diplomacy around Ukraine has been newly substantiated by former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill. Citing “multiple former senior U.S. officials,” Hill reports that in April of this year “Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement.” Under this framework, Russia would withdraw to its pre-invasion position, while Ukraine would pledge not to join NATO “and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.”

In confirming that US officials were aware of this tentative agreement, Hill bolsters previous news that Washington’s junior partner in London was enlisted to thwart it. As Ukrainian media reported, citing sources close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Kiev in April and relayed the message that Russia “should be pressured, not negotiated with.” Johnson also informed Zelensky that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on [security] guarantees with Putin,” his Western patrons “are not.” The talks promptly collapsed.

Having undermined the prospect of a negotiated peace in the war’s early weeks, proxy warriors in Washington are openly celebrating their success.

“I like the structural path we’re on here,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham recently declared. “As long as we help Ukraine with the weapons they need and the economic support, they will fight to the last person.”

Graham’s avowed willingness to expend every “last person” in Ukraine to fight Russia is in line with a broader US strategy that views the entire world as subordinate to its war aims. As the Washington Post reported in June, the White House is willing to “countenance even a global recession and mounting hunger” in order to hand Russia a costly defeat. In Ukraine, this now means also countenancing the threat of nuclear disaster, as the crisis surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has laid bare.

The prevailing willingness to sacrifice civilian well-being extends to the US public, as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has newly made clear. Appearing at the Aspen Security Conference, Sullivan was asked if he is worried about the “American people’s staying power” on the Ukraine proxy war, amid “criticism that we’re spending billions and billions to support Ukraine, and not spending it here.”

“Fundamentally not,” Sullivan responded. “It’s very important for Putin to understand what exactly he’s up against from the point of view of the United States’ staying power.” That staying power, Sullivan explained, was cemented in the $40 billion war funding measure overwhelmingly approved by Congress (including every self-identified progressive Democrat) in May.

“That can go on, just on the basis of what we have already had allocated to us and resources for a considerable period of time,” Sullivan vowed. “And then, I strongly believe that there will be bipartisan support in the Congress to re-up those resources should it become necessary.”

To policymakers like Sullivan, there is not only an endless pool of money to “re-up” the war, but a “fundamentally” indifferent posture toward the taxpayers footing the bill.

Despite Biden’s reported scolding of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for admitting that the US goal in Ukraine is to leave Russia “weakened,” Sullivan – speaking before a friendly Beltway crowd — also forgot to stick to the script.

The US “strategic objective” in Ukraine, Sullivan explained, is to “ensure that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… is a strategic failure for Putin,” and that “Russia pay a longer-term price in terms of the elements of its national power.” This would teach a “lesson,” he added, “to would-be aggressors elsewhere.”

By “would-be aggressors elsewhere”, Sullivan naturally precludes the US and its allies, whose aggression is not only permitted but promoted under the US-led “rules-based international order.”

President Biden has made that clear by abandoning his pledge to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state, notwithstanding its murderous (US-backed) aggression in Yemen. The regular aggression by US ally Israel against Gaza and Syria also continues unabated. The United Nations just reported that an Israeli strike on the Damascus international airport in June – one of hundreds of Israeli bombings on Syria that go largely ignored — “led to considerable damage to infrastructure” and “meant the suspension of U.N. deliveries of humanitarian assistance” to Syrians in need for nearly two weeks. As of this writing, the latest Israeli strike killed five Syrian soldiers, eliciting no Western media and political protest. It is more accurate to describe Israeli aggression on Syria as a joint Israeli-US effort, given that the US reviews and approves the strikes.

Allied NATO leaders are also vocally countenancing the Ukraine proxy war’s costs on their domestic populations. In response to the European sanctions, Russia has now halted gas deliveries to the EU via the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Having previously relied on Russia for close to 40 percent of its gas needs, European industries are facing layoffs, factory closures, and higher energy bills that “are pushing consumers to near poverty,” the Financial Times reports.