The American policymakers, when wanting to isolate and antagonise Russia, must have asked, “What ‘redline’ would have to be crossed for Putin to act?” In retrospect, in light of Putin’s Victory Day Speech which coincided with Russian successes in the Donbass region and the East of Ukraine as a whole, the answer is clear.
Did Kiev, and now the US and NATO in this proxy war, still think that Ukraine was actually capable of attacking its predominately ethnic Russian regions in the East of Ukraine, trashing the Minsk Agreement in the process, without having to pay a very high cost?
In consequence, a regional conflict has turned into a proxy war, as confirmed by US lawmakers, how else can you take the statement of Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton, who serves on the US House Arms Services Committee. Moulton has joined a number of other US legislators in openly describing the fighting in Ukraine as a proxy war between the United States and Russia.
“We are not just at war to support the Ukrainians, we are fundamentally at war, though a proxy, with Russia, and it is important that we win.”
Moulton has said openly what Russia watchers have understood since 2014 – what brought us to where we are now, and what the American and NATO agenda is in Ukraine. How can NATO possibly call itself a defensive organisation under these circumstances?
Cat is out of the bag!
To add injury to insult, Biden gave his signature to what is described as a lend lease programme. This creates an open line of credit to buy weapons for Ukraine, which means “lock and load’, and thus an attempt to use Ukraine to bleed Russia, try to destroy its economy and bleed the Ukrainian people in the process.
Lend lease is the same World War Two programme which supported America’s allies in their attempts to defeat Nazi Germany. The actual law is S.3522, the ‘Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022,’ which makes it easier to export military equipment to Ukraine. As Lieven says, “basically, this means in simple terms that the US is at war with Russia, and NATO as its instrument is going along for the ride”.
Guns stop the talking
Discussion of redlines, while still popular, is moot for now, as members of the US Congress and NATO leaders have proclaimed their intentions so openly. The phrase “redlines” was used by Obama in connection with Syria allegedly using chemical weapons. But there was no follow-up, as that story was soon debunked, demonstrated to be a false flag on the part of the same puppet masters now operating at the bidding of Kiev.
Russia adopted a wait and see approach to the actual chemical-biological weapons, which really exist, in Ukraine, until pushed to the limit by Kiev, NATO and the US. It was still taking this position as late as last year, until at least Biden and Putin had met over summer.
It was hoped, at least on the side of the Russians, that diplomacy could have been entered into and the Russian position clarified. But the threats of nuclear rearmament on the part of Ukraine were not taken as veiled, and their import was supported by later revelations about active biological weapons and the engagement of foreign fighters and military officers in the supposedly local conflict in more than an advisory capacity.
The Russian concern was not limited to biological research programmes, as there was more than one smoking gun, and far more than one provocation has put the ball into play. Ukraine is a free fire zone in which the smoking gun can nevertheless be heard loud and clear, buttressed with political rhetoric.
The Western media is proving itself to be an echo chamber, and any pundit who questions the official line is quickly labelled as a conspiracy theorist or Putin apologist. Those questioning reports by Kiev and the West are deemed to be traitors, at least if they work for Fox News and don’t accept the standard line.
Answering the question
US policy is in flux in words and already overextended in actions. It lacks consistency, and media spin is the most used solution, as it is for NATO. What a crazy situation: bleating about peace whilst sending ever more weapons to perpetuate war.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, is constantly warning Moscow that Washington will “respond” to any acts of aggression or recklessness carried out by the Russian government, as if saying this is all he wants to be known for. He knows very well that protecting local citizens in the East of Ukraine has been a “redline” for Putin, but the rhetoric has not abated.
If this conflict turns out to be a long haul like so many other US misadventures, the question is how long the US leadership will really be willing to back its statements with direct financial and military support for Kiev. It was described last year that an upcoming trip to Ukraine was a way to demonstrate America’s “unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. However the visit added nothing new to the discussion, and it was surprising that it even came to pass, given the danger of revisiting Biden’s and his son Hunter’s commercial interests in Ukraine.
Kamala Harris has now been put in charge of border issues and space, to stop too much sticking to the boss, so perhaps she will be put in charge of Ukraine as well. That will look good on her CV for when she runs for president, or takes over the rest of Biden’s term, in terms of learning the rhetoric too.
Whatever mistakes the US made in the past, there was at least a plan, and it was followed, more or less. When it did not work, the US pulled out, as in Vietnam, and either started in a new direction or found a way to distance itself from the mess, rather than mire itself further in it with its collective mouth.
Who acted or is acting recklessly?
It is worth nothing, with a smile, that as described by the Atlantic Council, “Biden’s personal ties to Ukraine when elected inspired a degree of confidence for Kiev. As US vice president in the Obama administration, Biden oversaw Ukraine policy and visited the country on six occasions.”
No previous US president has ever been so intimately familiar with Ukrainian affairs, or benefited so much financially from having been Vice-President. Only his wife has the gonads to show up for a State visit, and it is not hard to understand why Joe Biden will not allow himself to be more in the limelight, considering his sordid past and the family business.
That topic has been well discussed by the New York Post and NEO. But now the skeletons in the closet are coming out, and that is perhaps all the more reason why the US is wanting to engage via proxies, which may soon include Poland.
All that history ties in with energy deals, kickback schemes, efforts to mandate European energy policy and to sanction Russia for all sins, real, perceived or imagined. Yes, “Hunter Biden had a lot of problems in life”, and many of these are associated with his name, and his using it for family business. However he is but a sideshow in all this, as more is yet to come.
It was hoped that Germany, at least in the intermediate future, would not look to forfeit energy security for greed and corruption. But times change, and now it wants to restart its own arms industry, and import US hydrocarbons. It should not put too much trust in US LP gas, but still wants to be an energy hub for all of Europe, for all kinds of hydrocarbons and alternative sources too.
Soon Germany will realise what direction US policy might take in Europe, and that it may be Germany and much of Europe that will suffer the most, call it blowback or unintended consequences. When many aspects of German industry come to a standstill, and this generates growing civil unrest and increasing pro-Russian sentiment, more and more both Germany and the rest of Europe will be asking what they are willing to lose in supporting the Kiev regime at the behest of the US.
Germany wants to continue playing a major role in EU policies. But with the US taking a more proactive role in Ukraine, it may be that Europe and the US, notwithstanding NATO, will be the real casualties from a hot war in Ukraine.
Blinken and his team must not make any shifts or blatant statements which bring about more and unintended consequences, as there may be severe fallout—with US elections coming up, and the Democratic Party defending many midterm seats, governorships and committee chairs, Ukraine has the potential to effectively transform American into a one party system, and it will not be the Democratic Party which survives.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.