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December 19, 2022

Ukraine - Is There Really A Change Of The Narrative?

In Alastair Crooke's latest piece he discusses the change of narrative that occurred due to The Economist's recent Ukrainian interviews:

The Economist leads with interviews with Zelensky, General Zaluzhny and Ukraine’s military field commander, General Syrsky. All three are interviewed – interviewed in The Economist, no less. Such a thing does not occur by happenstance. It is messaging intended to convey the Ruling Class’ new narrative to the ‘golden billion’ (who will all read and absorb it).

On the surface, it is possible to read The Economist piece as a plea for more money and many more weapons. But the underlying messaging is clear: “Anyone who underestimates Russia is heading for defeat”. The Russian force mobilisation was a success; there is no problem with Russian morale; and Russia is preparing a huge winter offensive that will start soon. Russia has huge reserve forces (of up to 1.2 million men); whereas Ukraine now has 200,000 who are militarily trained for conflict. The ‘writing is on the wall’, in other words. Ukraine cannot win.
...
Scott Ritter, in discussion with Judge Neapolitano, believes that The Economist interviews reveal the West pushing aside Zelensky – as Zaluzhny administers his large dose of reality (that will be shocking to many sherpa loyalists). The Economist interview emphasis thus was unmistakably on General Zaluzhny, with Zelensky pointedly de-emphasised – which Ritter suggests indicates that Washington wishes to ‘switch leadership horses’. Another ‘message’?

Just to be clear, General Zaluzhny once said he considers himself a disciple of Russian General Gerasimov, the Chief of General Staff. Zaluzhny reportedly is familiar with the latter’s writings. In brief, Zaluzhny is known in Moscow as a professional soldier (albeit one committed to the Ukrainian nationalist cause).

So, is the West preparing its narrative to cut from this unwinnable conflict –Ukraine – and to move on?

That might indeed by a possibility. Could the U.S. and NATO just limp out of the situation and leave it to Zaluzhny to negotiated his defeat with Russia?

But haven't Biden, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and Germany's chancellor Scholz said that Russia 'can not be allowed to win'? Sure, they have.

But Crooke points to Afghanistan and how fast the chaotic retreat from Kabul has vanished from the media and is now mostly forgotten. The Taliban were another enemy that could not be allowed to win. They won. And no one cares about it.

I dearly hope that the scenario, as Crooke lays it out, will soon come true in Ukraine. But alas I am a realist. Russia will not stop the war without achieving its aims. Zaluzhny will not be allowed to negotiate for peace.

M. K. Bhadrakumar notes that any peace negotiations depend on Biden's agreement:

The clearest indication that the US is far from in a hurry to negotiate comes from none other than the White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan whose visit to Kiev last month (just before the US midterms) had triggered a flurry of speculations that Washington was pressuring President Zelensky to negotiate. 

Now, Sullivan’s remarks at an appearance at the Carnegie last weekend made it clear that the US is in Ukraine for the long haul. He said: 

“We don’t know when this is going to end up. What we do know is that it is our job to continue to sustain our military support to Ukraine so that they are in their best possible position on the battlefield, that if and when diplomacy is ripe, they will be in the best possible position at the negotiating table. 

“That moment is not ripe now, and so, as a result, we’ve gone to Congress and asked for a substantial amount of further resources to be able to continue to ensure that Ukraine has the means to fight this war. We’re confident we will get bipartisan support for that… 

“I am not going to precept the future, I’m only going to assure that in the present we are doing everything we can to maximise Ukraine’s chances of defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity… yes, it is likely to go on for quite some time…”

Basically, the US claims to have a winning hand in Ukraine.

The Economist interviews were published on December 15. The Sullivan talk at Carnegie was held a day later. If there had been a change of mind in the White House it would have been part of that interview.

I also think that Zaluzhny is not the kind of leader who is likely to organize, or allow himself to be drawn into a coup. In fact it may well be that the rumors from Kiev are true and that Zelensky and his staff are working to push him out. He would be replaced by the other Ukrainian general The Economist had interviewed:

On several occasions, [General Syrsky] was actually senior in the chain of command to Valery Zaluzhny, appointed to be the commander-in-chief of the entire armed forces in July 2021. Some political actors behind the scenes may be using that fact in an apparent attempt to foment tensions between the two. Rumours even persist that the presidential administration might be inclined to replace the popular but independent-minded General Zaluzhny with his former boss. Cracks of disunity have high-placed Western military officials worried. The two generals on their part say they fully trust each other and wish to stay out of politics. General Syrsky is uncomfortable with the conversation. “The army is outside of politics,” he says. “It is how it should be, and how the law demands it to be.”

Neither Zaluzhny nor Syrsky are men for a coup. If Zelenski is to go, some other politician, probably a more radical one, is likely to take the lead.

As Bhadrakumar concludes:

Therefore, in the prevailing circumstances, Russia’s option narrows down to inflicting a crushing defeat on Ukraine in the coming months and installing a government in Kiev that is not under Washington’s control. But that requires a fundamental shift in the Russian military strategy, which would factor in the real possibility of a confrontation with the US and NATO at some point.

Even while they are still deluded about Ukraine's chance for success, neither NATO nor the White House have shown any appetite for war with Russia. They have likely come to understand the real meaning of General Zaluzhny's request:

I know that I can beat this enemy. But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFVs, 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23rd.

At the start of the war Ukraine had, at least on paper, a well equipped military:

Ukraine has a lot of tanks and is ranked 13th across the globe with 2,430. In terms of armored vehicles, Kiev also ranks high, occupying the seventh spot globally with 11,435. Kiev’s artillery power is also formidable at 2,040 batteries.

That General Zaluzhny requested all that new stuff is a confession that most if not all the old stuff is gone. That includes the weapons he received after the war started. If the 20 percent of the Russian military that was used in Ukraine could do so much material damage in such a short time how long would a NATO army in a war against Russia survive?

Posted by b on December 19, 2022 at 17:15 UTC | Permalink

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Only possible if some sane person in a position of influence (in the US/UK) has looked into the future and detirmined that this is not headed in a positive direction - positive outcome for the sovereign that is. That would require that there has been something of a revolution. Sulivan does not appear on-board. Too much to wish for, I think.

The MIC was salivating over the re-start of war machine.

In the past, the would require that people should pass away unexpectedly.

Posted by: jared | Dec 19 2022 17:29 utc | 1

As Bhadrakumar concludes: Therefore, in the prevailing circumstances, Russia’s option narrows down to inflicting a crushing defeat on Ukraine in the coming months and installing a government in Kiev that is not under Washington’s control. But that requires a fundamental shift in the Russian military strategy, which would factor in the real possibility of a confrontation with the US and NATO at some point.

No, it won't. Russia has already factored all that stuff in - and is fully prepared to handle anything the US or NATO attempts - including nuclear war. The only problem is for us if it gets that far.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Dec 19 2022 17:32 utc | 2

I viewed it as the west offering Russia a defeat with honor path.

Posted by: jared | Dec 19 2022 17:32 utc | 3

This answer by Zakharova to a media question should also be weighed within the context of Crooke's essay. And thanks b for making it the focus of a stand-alone article!

Question: How would you comment on the statement by State Department Spokesman Nicolas Price in an interview that the Biden administration was trying to build more stable and predictable relations with Russia, which allegedly made them "more unstable and unpredictable?"

Maria Zakharova: I will say right away that this is a false construction that is easily corrected if you swap the United States and Russia. Of course, we initially had no illusions, but we sincerely sought to find common ground even in the context of the confrontation constantly escalated by Washington in order to make Russian-American relations stable and predictable.

It was the desire of the United States to preserve American hegemony at all costs, ignoring the new geopolitical realities, as well as the arrogant unwillingness to conduct a serious dialogue on security guarantees, that led to a natural result. After the high-profile fiasco in Afghanistan, America is increasingly drawn into a new conflict, not only supporting the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev with finances and weapons, but also increasing its military presence "on the ground"."

This is a dangerous and short-sighted policy that puts the United States and Russia on the brink of a direct clash. In turn, Moscow calls on the administration of Joe Biden to soberly assess the situation and not to unwind the spiral of dangerous escalation. We hope that Washington will hear us, although there are no grounds for optimism yet.

Rhetorical assurances of good intentions, constantly heard from the American side in between threats and "five minutes of hatred", cannot be the basis for an equal dialogue by definition. Especially in combination with the fact that US officials do not shy away from lying that Secretary of State E. Blinken is in contact with his colleague Sergey Lavrov. For reference, the last time they spoke on the phone was on July 29, and at subsequent international forums, the head of American diplomacy ran away from our Minister so as not to cross paths with him and not to get into the frame.

Russia is interested in reducing tensions and agreeing on the principles of peaceful coexistence on the basis of strict reciprocity. We do not refuse to communicate with the United States at various levels, but for at least minimal progress, a counter movement is necessary that requires political will, open-mindedness and readiness to negotiate honestly, without a double bottom. And this is exactly what is completely absent now in Washington.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2022 17:33 utc | 4

At one point in the past Zelensky said the war needed to be finished by Christmas. There is some sort of clock happening, lots of moving parts here though. One is that western mucky-mucks have said that russia can't win anything and must be pushed back and "decolonized". So my guess is Zelensky is out - he campaigned on a peace platform and I think the high death count is breaking him mentally. He doesn't always look good. But the war won't stop it'll just grind on with or without a notional Ukrainian government.

Posted by: Neofeudalfuture | Dec 19 2022 17:34 utc | 5

In my somewhat crude way I have been saying the same thing as the piece at the end here. Nothing screams "we are winning" like constant demands for more tanks,planes,artillery missiles,air defence and on and on. I would add that "we are doing fine" is mounting machine guns and auto cannon on utility vehicles,just like ISIS,then sending company strength formations into battle without artillery preparation and tank support. Unfortunately I agree with the view that at this point Russia will not stop till it has achieved all its aims,this must include effective demilitarisation otherwise shelling of Russian civilians will never end.

Posted by: Antipropo | Dec 19 2022 17:35 utc | 6

The ruling elite are not so monolithic that they operate the "narrative" on instant telepathic brain waves. Even if they all agree on the ends they surely have disagreement on the means. When circumstances change some will be too stubborn or stupid to get it.

Posted by: catdog | Dec 19 2022 17:39 utc | 7

Two weeks to a month, then out of ammunition ?

Or ignoring logistics, facing 100% of the RF, excluding additional called up RF reserves, 1/5 of the time, two months ?

Posted by: Outraged | Dec 19 2022 17:40 utc | 8

Sullivan has a wide open mouth: Which politico, in the midst of a campaign, has ever admitted he is gonna loose?

Today in DC, the Jan 06 House Select Committee is releasing its final report with Adam Schiff announcing there is enough evidence to send the DOJ criminal referrals on Trump. Voting underway.

January 03, 2023 the Repubs take over and impeachment hearings are in the cards for Biden.

See chaos brewing!!?

Posted by: Likklemore | Dec 19 2022 17:42 utc | 9

The $enile One's Tribalist administrators and those ones in City of London and Wall $treet who keep their choker-chain on the Mudspattered House in the Di$trict of Corruption, full well realize that the chances of a Ukrainian victory are somewhere between nil and zero. So why does the U$$A pitbull not release it's grip on the Puppet Regime in Kiev and "persuade" them to sue for peace?

Of the two probable reasons for the ongoing hopeless war policy, the most immediate one is the all-powerful in American politrix, the WarDefense Industry. Even more than Big Oil and the most powerful drug-pushers in Big Pharma; the WDI happens to be the #1 money-spigot for their prime investors. Foremost among the WDI powers is Lockheed-Martin, the most profitable such corporation on the face of the planet. Interestingly enough, the prime investors in that outfit are said to be "London Bankers". Discerning researchers are quite aware of the identity of their leading "lights".

So with all those weapons and funding going to Ukraine from both the U$$A and NATO/EU into the Ukraine money-pit...those inventories have been scraped bare amongst the Europeans and significantly reduced from the warehouses of the Pentagon.

Aha! Opportunity knocks. More contracts, some of them like Lockheed's Trillion dollar plus F-35 "Flying Turkey" being no-bid and cost-over-run...are right handy to be rapidly gobbled up by those corps with the most lobbyists and the "bennies" they are able to distribute amongst Congre$$critters and Pentagon Four-Stars.

Perhaps even more critical to those totally behind the scenes are oft-told accounts, including by Zelensky in one of his coke-addled unguarded moments, is the prospect for seriously reducing the Ukrainian population...perhaps by more than one-half of its current depleted levels. Such a development wouldl enable those who are planning (and have been for nearly a thousand years) vengeance against the Slavic and Persian peoples who destroyed the ancient Khazarian Empire. Novo-Khazaria is their dream.

With a victorious Russia highly likely to include the entire Black Sea littoral under their liberated areas for the ethnic Russian majorities, particularly in the city known as The Pearl of the Black Sea, Odessa, compounded with the now established liberated Crimea; the sweetest possible plums for the Novo-Khazaria dreamers will not fall within their greedy grasping materialist schemers. The remnants of Ukraine, under a new administration totally friendly with their closest brother Slavic neighbors, would not be considered as desired real estate by those descendants of the Khazarians. "What!!! no fine beach properties in Crimea?" "No highly sophisticated urban delights in the magnificent city we dominated for decades? Oy and Vey".

Posted by: aristodemos | Dec 19 2022 17:47 utc | 10

Thanks for the posting b

I agree that The Economist is a mouthpiece for empire and the Ukraine interviews had a purpose but after that I am not sure.

The confusion for me is if a change of narrative is focused on the proxy war only or is reflective of a change of narrative in the broader civilization war that Ukraine is a proxy of.

Ukraine giving up does not satisfy Russia's demands for NATO pull back and so I see this as a buy time feint while something else is brought forward to distract humanity from the civilization war.....an example of this is Afghanistan where b wrote above
"
The Taliban were another enemy that could not be allowed to win. They won. And no one cares about it
"
Have the Taliban won? I question the extent of that win in the larger context of not still being under the jackboot of the God of Mammon cult of global private finance.

There is more to go in our civilization war and in the Ukraine/NATO proxy war but understand that the enemy is a relatively small cult of humans that refuse to let our species evolve beyond the barbarism they enslave us with. That small cult is now being challenged by China/Russia and the RoW. The Ukraine proxy SMO is the Might-Makes-Right face of that battle being led by Russia.

I don't ever expect The Economist to report on the God of Mammon cult against the RoW civilization war that we are in the middle of.....it doesn't fit their narrative of good against evil.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 19 2022 17:54 utc | 11

I think the real question is what will happen to NATO after Russia wins. Will the Germans be able to free themselves from vassalage? If they can rid themselves of NATO masters a true revolution in the whole view of the last century will occur.

Posted by: Michael Doliner | Dec 19 2022 17:55 utc | 12

Well, read Strelkov. He may be a traitor to the cause of the anti-satanist war but he is still correct.

https://wartranslated.com/russian-volunteer-murz-on-why-russia-is-not-ready-to-defend-ukrainian-winter-offensive/

Posted by: Fnord73 | Dec 19 2022 17:56 utc | 13

Russia and China are simply allowing the western nations to destroy themselves. What else can they do? Western governments have leaders that have expressed their humanity by mass murder and constant war. They have tried to destroy both Russa and China, before and after communism! The EU has just demonstrated what corruption smells like, and everyone involved is part of the grift, even the whistleblowers! They are turning on one another and cannibalism is the meal de jour.
This captivating television show will go on until the governments of the losing side turn the TV/Internetphones off to quell the food and energy riots. See how smart they are? Drive everyone into the streets to share their frustration and anger at starving and freezing. Take away the internet and our governments get what they want the most, chaos. For in chaos, all their decisions can be filed under "who coulda knowed". This is when Elon is going to save us by providing internet via satellite. Just like Ukraine.

Posted by: Tard | Dec 19 2022 17:59 utc | 14

"Have the Taliban won?.."
Not by a long chalk- in fact enrolling the Tajiks is one of the CIA's high priorities. This war has been going since the seventies and no end is in sight, until the Empire changes its spots.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 19 2022 18:07 utc | 15

The point at issue is Has the Narrative Changed. The Ned Price lies are part of the contribution saying "Plan Ost, no we never had that in mind." But as Sullivan said, the goal remains defeating Russia on the battlefield. IMO, there's a split in the factions--those of the Financial Parasites see mounting loses for their interests while the Neocon Fascists will never give in and always double-down regardless the costs as they view themselves to be immune--Crooke's psychopaths.

Can one bully-pulpit outshout the other? I'm curious to what the secretive FT article Crooke links to has to say. Could it be that The City's Neoliberal Parasites don't like what they see happening in their front yards, that the "Fear Programme" could be turned against them as they're directly responsible for the UK's rapidly escalating misery and that they thus must change the tune before it's too late? Within the Outlaw US Empire, dire economic straits have yet to grip the nation's majority. That set of circumstances will be more concrete come 2024.

Big Picture-wise, Russia and RoW are confident as the new paradigm comes more into view as a real possibility, not just another pipedream. Xi's interactions with the Arabs was a smashing success and will lead to further successes. While lurking in the background is geology's constraints on North American hydrocarbons, a coming reality being studiously ignored by too many. Just in time won't cut it when to have that luxury you must massively build up the proper infrastructure over the preceding decade at minimum.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2022 18:07 utc | 16

I see here occasionally the "why does the RF not take out the 750KV substation, why just the 330s. The RF must be doing something wrong if electricity to this segment or that segment comes back on in x hours, etc.
We do not know their (RF) plans, the data that they can get out of stressing key components in a concerted manner is way above my knowledge. Also do not underestimate the cognitive dissonance of the intermittent, varied in flying objects, with the real possibility of the water heating pipes freezing shut coupled with the clamp down on any talk of what got hit, no knowledge of when your rolling black out will occur - or end. Dark thoughts in dark cold rooms are conducive to FEAR, Future Events Appear Real.

To be blunt, the RF could carry this out for 18 more months with some internal RF deprivation, the second winter is the true death knell for Northern European economics system, scraping the barrel of NATOs inventory, etc. etc.

As Ritter and others have posited, Z might get the Diem treatment (assassination of 2 catholic brothers in charge of southern Vietnam that RomCath Kennedy's signed off on) or maybe just shuffled off to his mansion in Israel. General Zaluzhny just might be the one to be able to accept a capitulation surrender (and hopefully do a Night of the long knives on C14, Adair, etc.) but no, I do not see any moves in this direction until after the RF turns up the tempo in whatever direction(s) they choose.

Posted by: paxmark1 | Dec 19 2022 18:13 utc | 17

Zelensky would do well to study the example of President Ngô Đình Diệm.

Posted by: Exile | Dec 19 2022 18:13 utc | 18

I don't see Zelensky and Zaluzhny as a unit. But I think the decisions are not made by the two of them themselves; Zaluzhny is the Pentagon's representative, while Zelensky gets his instructions from Foggy Bottom.

Therefore, I think an open confrontation is unlikely, but as we have also seen in Syria, the backers sometimes work at cross purposes.

Posted by: HEL | Dec 19 2022 18:14 utc | 19

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2022 18:07 utc | 16

I think you're right that there are cracks in the Washington consensus. Just as there are in the EU, for that matter. I'd like to think that there is some resentment in Germany over the Nordstream pipeline destruction. there are going to be heavy political costs for having backed the war in Ukraine to the hilt and losing, as people are relentlessly squeezed by shrinking economies.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 19 2022 18:22 utc | 20

B's analysis seems to be way too optimistic to me. The central message I got was that the Neocon fraction, through an interview of the top Ukie general to the Neocon newspaper of record, is saying: "either we sink, and we will not allow us to sink, or we enter all-out war openly, as the US and NATO."

Posted by: Piero Colombo | Dec 19 2022 18:24 utc | 21

Nuclear war is like banks that are too big to fail. If Russia defeats Ukraine, the US will mini-nuke their occupying army, causing Armaggeddon. The US armed Ukraine and brainwashed its people in order to re-ignite the cold war Nato made its major gains in Eastern Europe during conditions of cold relations with Russia. The logic of globalisation is that Russia is drawn in to Global involvement, which makes unfavourable conditions for Nato colonisation. There are plenty of ex Soviet stans left for the US to colonise , all the way to the Pacific.

Col. MacGregor invites Russia to invade Western Ukraine. No Colonel, thank you so much for the kind invitation. We will consolidate our defence of the 4 independent oblast and wait for the sun-shy Azov bugs to crawl out from under their stones. Then we will prosecute them for Nazism, genocide and war crimes.

It is not for the enemies of Russia to teach Russia war games. The enemies of Russia, in London and Washington Tel Aviv will be referenced by Azov nazis in the Dock of The Hague as the finances and sponsors of Nazism. And zero action will be taken against those war-criminals or their proxies in 30 years time.

No further major advances will be made imho just consolidation of what is already in the Russian Federation. That will send a clear message to the arseholes in NATO, not to provoke trouble in the Stans.

Posted by: Giyane | Dec 19 2022 18:30 utc | 22

Syrsky and Zaluzhny don’t say shit about the shelling of ZNPP or any of other beyond-the-pale filth that’s going on right under their noses, Austin doesn’t say shit about the DoD biolabs.

Those guys aren’t even close to mattering in the scheme of things.

Posted by: anon2020 | Dec 19 2022 18:31 utc | 23

karlof1 @ 4 & Zakharova

She has it completely over the target there. Blinken will run away to avoid being "in the frame" with Lavrov because he would be completely and totally overshadowed. He can be in photo with Karine or Jen or Adam Schiff or other nonentities in the capital. Like vampires avoid the sun Blinken will avoid Lavrov.

It is hard to predict what Washington will do because they are all petty and all crazy. Can't predict what crazy people do next.

Posted by: oldhippie | Dec 19 2022 18:34 utc | 24

Any hints about non-victory end conditions is either a head fake or a fallback position. The Empire still wants total domination of the world (The Pentagon's New Map) and is willing to grind down American tax mules and slaughter Eastern Europeans for as long as it takes. Slaughter Arabs and, now, Africans, but that's another discussion.

The interesting moment is when the RF won't take "yes" for an answer. Long term, this would be in their interest. But it's impossible to predict these days.

Posted by: jhill | Dec 19 2022 18:35 utc | 25

Also Zelensky’s bizarre and less-than-confident notion of at least a conceptualized fantasy of “liberating” Crimea on behalf of the Ukraine public.

Sullivan’s remarks undercut the previous talking point that it would be Ukraine’s sole choice to decide whether to negotiate or continue fighting, not that anyone informed believed that position anyway.

The scale of the disaster the US “neo” intellectuals (neo-conservative / neoliberal) cooked up for Ukraine beginning early 2014 will continue to expand. Kissinger’s new plan - which is almost on the peacenik fringe of US policy wonks - is effectively Minsk without the federalized political construct and which could have been agreed at anytime without the ensuing loss of life / destruction of infrastructure begun last February. Short of that, the future of Ukraine is partition of a destroyed and failed state and, according to Sullivan’s 5-10-20 year “plan”, the continuation of a hostile standoff / hot/cold war between Russia and NATO interests led by regional players motivated by the conceptual fantasy surmised by Zelensky.

In February 2014, according to the negotiated understanding to the Maidan crisis (after the sniper event), Ukraine had on the table its “territorial integrity” and a buffer of eight months before national elections during which the issues of EU Association etc could be properly debated and democratically resolved. Scotching that understanding was precisely the motivation of the hard-right nationalists, backed by the US State Department, who stormed the Parliament in Kiev and deposed the government, and which ensured the conflict, division, and ultimately disaster which followed and will apparently continue.

Posted by: jayc | Dec 19 2022 18:39 utc | 26

Thanks, b, for the question in your heading. So far as I have read in comments, this from psychohistorian helps me to answer yes ... and no:

"...I don't ever expect The Economist to report on the God of Mammon cult against the RoW civilization war that we are in the middle of.....it doesn't fit their narrative of good against evil."

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 19 2022 17:54 utc | 11

That is, the change of narrative presented in western terms only deals with a battlefield narrative of Russian successes. It does not (correct me if I'm wrong) explore the economic defeats that have been undergone by the west. Perhaps that would be too much to ask, given the rarity of such public admissions.

But then again, given the horrible and tragic consequences of western aggression, perhaps it must be asked.

Posted by: juliania | Dec 19 2022 18:45 utc | 27

It would appear that we are seeing the beginning of back pedaling, although I don't think the narrative is doing anything like a 180 turn. There is usually some waffling, obfuscation and of course distraction before things shift. Now that RF aerospace forces are "tenderizing" most of Ukraine, a different tune is being sung. Honestly I don't get the sense that most people (in the USA) have any clue as to what kind of war is being fought, or what is at stake. Here at the Bar most have a sense that this is for all the marbles and far bigger that Ukraine. But for the normies, it will be comparatively easy to switch narratives simply because they are so ungrounded. Regardless of the messaging, total collapse and the divvying up of (formerly) Ukraine seems inevitable.

Posted by: Chevrus | Dec 19 2022 18:46 utc | 28

I really wish that people, even idiots like Janet Daley, would restrain themselves from writing rubbish like this:
".. Janet Daley, writing in the The Telegraph, warns: 'The critical lesson that has been indelibly absorbed by people in power, and those who advise them, is that fear works. There is, it turns out, almost nothing that a population will not sacrifice if they are systematically, relentlessly frightened.

“The Covid phenomenon has provided an invaluable training session in public mind-control techniques: the formula was refined – with the assistance of sophisticated advertising and opinion-forming advice – to an astonishingly successful blend of mass anxiety (your life is in danger) and moral coercion (you are putting other people’s lives in danger)...."

There was nothing new about the Covid phenomenon except its globalised context, which certainly was new. As to the use of fear to control public opinion- is it seriously being suggested, after a century of Americans being terrified by 'Reds Under the Bed' merchants (hand in glove with the "Blacks are coming to get ya" salesmen) that there is anything new about the use of fear to galvanise the public?
It is the oldest trick in the book, predating viruses themselves.

As to 'Totalitarianism' that is, if not new, then at the stage where nightmares become real: previous iterations of 'totalitarianism' have been all bark and little bite. The conditions now, which include the reality that everyone contributing to this blog might as well be standing outside the local Police Station and recording themselves, are close to being perfect: the internet and social media make 'underground' and even conventionally closed membership groups close to impossible. Everything anyone does is going to be known, nothing should be considered private. All walls are transparent.
View these realities in the context of the story considered here last week of Canada's MAiD legislation which envisages the possibility of all visitors to medical facilities becoming potential suicide victims and let the terror begin. If the Hospital staff are privy to the patient's economic and social condition (as in the case of the homeless man advised to take the easy way out and relieve the public of the burden his continued existence represented) then why should every cardiac unit, ambulance crew or triage receptionist not be able to check whether-from the viewpoint of the state's welfare and public order- prolongation of mutinous, non-conformist life might be a bad idea.

AS to this insight of the neocons: "today’s Russia is no different to the Soviet Union, and that it would take only one big puff and the Russian house would again blow down". Had the US taken anything approaching the provocative steps NATO has taken in Ukraine against the Soviet Union it would have galvanised society into resistance and support for the government.
The pressures that corroded the USSR from outside were ideological and economic, not military except in so far as the arms race destroyed capital better employed in social expenditure.
The neo-cons really do seem to believe that the USSR was defeated militarily but that is very far from being the case. They are wrong. By the same token they have been wrong about Ukraine: provoking Moscow into the SMO will, as is generally understood here, prove to be the founding of a new Russia, in which, willy nilly, the distortions imposed by the Chicago School and their slightly less sophisticated cousins in Cambridge, Mass, will be sloughed off and a much more equal and united society will emerge.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 19 2022 18:46 utc | 29

I think the US is looking for a way out. It can't win.

New found "revelations" about Ukraine committing atrocities will become the story. The US will take some sort of imaginary high road, discontinue support, lie about the entire thing, and declare victory.

The former state of Ukraine and all of Europe can think long and hard about how their trusted ally destroyed the gas pipelines and caused them so much suffering.

Posted by: chunga | Dec 19 2022 18:50 utc | 30

Is it possible that transnational/globalist insiders are using this war to effect the pivot of their main host to the East?
The Western Davos 'globalism' is almost pantomime while at the same time insanely sick with corruptions not just of money but of breaking any and every boundary as 'untouchable' to any process of law.
Does life set up the Bad Cop, (smeared as individual freedom equated to insane egoism), as the foil to the Good Cop - of globalism set in multipolar regionalism - under regional dictates that nonetheless share in biotech, AI and technocratic control systems?

The idea of using world wars to set up global control for the financial system is not new.
The idea of being predictively controlled is less appealing than being kept safe by our leaders. But social engineering is convergent with biotech and media manipulation.

Posted by: isitso? | Dec 19 2022 18:59 utc | 31

No matter what goes down in Ukraine, the West will keep attacking there. Ukraine could entirely cease to exist and become part of RF, or RF could forcefully occupy with installed government either with or without elections, or Ukraine could enjoy modest victories in the field pushing RF lines back further or even out of all four zones + Crimea. In any such case the West will continue in the same vein, namely doing its utmost to make things as messy as possible so that the Russian people will turf Putin out and put a Zio-Neo stooge in after some sort of Mother of All Colour Revolutions.

The RF knows this and thus knows there is no victory to be had in Ukraine alone using military kinetics. So I believe RF's intention is to use the Ukraine conflict as a way to bleed the West white, with the military costs in blood and treasure being an important but not principal part. Financial squeezes or worse, domestic political turmoil, further cultural degradation, widespread dysfunction, mass immigration, energy and food shortages and so on. That is what the RF and New Eurasia is shooting for and since many factions of the Western elites are hell-bent on delivering all this (for whatever nefarious or psychopathic reasons), all they have to do is keep up the pressure and allow the enemy to continue to destroy itself from within.

This being the case, neither side has any reason to resolve the the conflict in Ukraine any time soon.

Biden Admin has two more years to go. After that, there will have to be another phony election or perhaps they will finally be ready to dispense with them altogether because Emergency (World War!) or because Reset (4 horses!) or because Climate (Tsunamis!) or because Pandemic 2.0 or because Whatever.

Any which road, conflict in Ukraine will probably keep going until then because it's a schwerpunkt both sides want to keep in play until then. RF-Eurasia needs it to pressure the US into much further inner turmoil such that the Empire begins to lose its grip on RoW dynamics far from its shores - already happening but still a long way to go. Meanwhile US needs it to justify the further anti-republican regime changes they desire - also already happening but still a long way to go.

Ukraine is not about Ukraine.

Posted by: Scorpion | Dec 19 2022 19:00 utc | 32

@Chunga-30: Very likely to be the case. But here's the thing, the damage has already been done as far as the EU and it being forced to fall on its own sword. Destroying Europe seems to be very much part of the agenda, so there will need to be controls that remain in place preventing individual nations from patching things up with Russia. The best possible thing for European nations to do is to is to get out from under the yoke the USA has imposed and start charting their own futures.

Posted by: Chevrus | Dec 19 2022 19:03 utc | 33

I wrote and posted this comment at Martyanov's blog that has some relevance to the issue of narrative change:

"Andrei, you know well that the Outlaw US Empire installed its global Plunder Network long ago when it had military cred along with more financial/industrial power than the rest. But in reality, there's never been any real improvements made to that initial structure. The Neoliberal Parasites that arose in the late 1970s just took over what was there and have driven that infrastructure into the ground. But until now, no nation or national grouping since the initial attempt from 1955-75 at forming an NIEO has directly challenged the Empire. And they've discovered the paper tiger can still bite, but it's been sedentary so long it's no longer agile. Plus, it's gone soft in the head by not having to do any of the work to attain its hegemonic position.

"As I wrote earlier, the old will be replaced by the new. Except is this case, it's the old paradigm that's being buried and replaced by a new paradigm. Hopefully, we'll live long enough to see its initial stages."

IMO, the Establishment has no choice but to change the narrative as certain realities beyond its control are beginning to exert themselves. But it must be noted there's at least one other narrative at work and it's circulating the RoW centering on the growing alternative to Outlaw US Empire hegemony and the freedom that releases. Such a narrative even gets a hearing in Germany as Hudson's recent interview proves. Even within the Empire the rise of an opposing narrative is visible potentially more damaging than anything published by Assange.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2022 19:09 utc | 34

From the original post:

But Crooke points to Afghanistan and how fast the chaotic retreat from Kabul has vanished from the media and is now mostly forgotten. The Taliban were another enemy that could not be allowed to win. They won. And no one cares about it.

This extrapolation from Afghanistan to Russia seems unjustified. Destroying the latter has been a core objective of US policy for more than 75 years.

Posted by: David Levin | Dec 19 2022 19:10 utc | 35

It could not matter less what the "western" narrative is so long as the lessons have not been learnt, and the lessons most clearly have not been learnt nor even formulated nor are any of the powers-that-be anywhere close to learning them or formulating them in a manner they and others can comprehend and agree on.

In fact the complete opposite is still ongoing; the old versions of clearly formulated lessons are decades into being composted and —heh— mulched (oh dear).

Unconditional surrender etc. by "the west" (as in a previous comment) would be a start, but only a start.

Since that clearly isn't happening we get to enjoy more bullshit about Iranian drones and much more crap like it while we wait for Russia and all global allies to save us from the crazies with the nukes.

Who cares which idiot is the current or future ex-Ukrainian "Herr General Idiot"? Not me.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Dec 19 2022 19:13 utc | 36

@ Chevrus - I hate saying it but sometimes hate is what is needed. It provides fuel for doing unpleasant things that must be done.

Orlov had an article a while back about the west earning the hatred of Russians and now they are fighting, to the finish. They are done fooling around. It could very well be that Europeans will also come to hate the Americans, to such an extent it is beyond control.

I don't like any of this at all but that would be best for everyone, Americans included. The World Police bit is unhealthy and unsustainable.

Posted by: chunga | Dec 19 2022 19:15 utc | 37

David Levin @34--

Crooke's point is if one longstanding narrative can be changed almost overnight then another one can suffer the same fate and seems to be doing so.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2022 19:19 utc | 38

Posted by: Fnord73 | Dec 19 2022 17:56 utc | 13

The increase in tanks being used by the Russians as 'artillery' is seen as an indicator of a shortage of Russia having artillery ammunition?

Posted by: Bill Smith | Dec 19 2022 19:20 utc | 39

NATO will drop Ukraine when the cost of doing so is less than the cost of not doing it. At the moment, they have a comfortable position of killing Russians without direct own involvement and only with financial cost (money can be printed/borrowed). But escalating is always increasing the cost of support (and the cost of Russian counter escalation) and the equation will shift with each step.

Posted by: alek_a | Dec 19 2022 19:23 utc | 40

Re PAXMARK #17
I believe that
Russia is focusing on the smaller, 330 KVA transformers rather than the larger 750KVA transformers for the same reason that they are not destroying generation plants. The smaller transformers are more easily replaced. The physical dimensions of transformers increase with the KVA rating. The 330KVA transformers that weigh dozens of tons can be hauled in via normal truck and trailer. The larger weighing hundreds of tons must be hauled in via railroad or special heavy haul trailers. The smaller transformers require less time and money to manufacture replacements. Russia still wants to take the Ukraine largely intact, but without the Ukrainians.

Posted by: Elmer Fudd | Dec 19 2022 19:24 utc | 41

Posted by: Bill Smith | Dec 19 2022 19:20 utc | 39

Don't bother. He's a troll, ditto moaobserver.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Dec 19 2022 19:25 utc | 42

Thanks also here to karlof1 for posting Maria Zahkarovna's comment. I will just give the final paragraph again:

...Russia is interested in reducing tensions and agreeing on the principles of peaceful coexistence on the basis of strict reciprocity. We do not refuse to communicate with the United States at various levels, but for at least minimal progress, a counter movement is necessary that requires political will, open-mindedness and readiness to negotiate honestly, without a double bottom. And this is exactly what is completely absent now in Washington.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 19 2022 17:33 utc | 4

I disagree with the Alistair Crooke article's main theme however, since it does not give Russia the respect both it and China deserve, in my opinion. Crooke gives two lengthy psychological studies of motivation in crowd management, and strongly implies that Russia is motivated by the second negative and manipulative one. That's not what Maria is saying here, nor has it been in all of Russia's efforts to change our international narrative.

Posted by: juliania | Dec 19 2022 19:28 utc | 43

Le Monde also published an article the other day... which is a piece of reporting from a bus stop in Kherson, de-occupied a month ago by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It is essentially a conversation between three elderly ladies. As if there's nothing else left to report that fits the narrative.

"When the Russians were here, we did not lack anything and we were not afraid to walk in the street. Now we are trying to survive!" No electricity, no running water, no heating. "These Ukrainian soldiers are good for nothing, they don't help us and only attract shells on our heads", Svitlana grumbles.

The journalist gives it a spin, though it too comes a s somewhat ambiguous. It confirms that occupation was more supportive than de-occupation: "With propaganda focused on nostalgia for the USSR and the payment of generous retirement pensions, the Russian occupation authorities have been able to find support among disadvantaged social strata."

War in Ukraine: in Kherson, the elderly turned into sympathizers by Moscow

Posted by: Nomad | Dec 19 2022 19:36 utc | 44

"how long would a NATO army in a war against Russia survive?"

Posted by b on December 19, 2022 at 17:15 UTC | Permalink

If NATO, i.e. the USA and European "partners", also entrenched themselves behind their own population, like Ukraine, then it would not be a quick war. Of course, primarily in Europe, since the US is on another continent. The USA would otherwise act similarly to Russia, as it did in the past. Without fanatics, political or religious, troop sparing is the order of the day. The question is what the respective air force and defence are capable of achieving. How many targets are there for Russia, how many for the enemy? How do you efficiently combat the US military worldwide, logistics, the arms industry and infrastructure? All this rather increases the danger of using nuclear weapons, for the Russians because they have to, for the Americans because they can.

Posted by: 600w | Dec 19 2022 19:41 utc | 45

Kremlinology made sense because there was something to be found.

Usology* is a descent into abhorrent mercurial insanity and thus does not make any sense.

* While the beginning "Us" part references the US "government" it also happens to be that uso means "lie" (untruth) in Japanese (and also one or two other appropriate things such as expression of disbelief and whistling (like some do past graveyards)) so the expression fits even better!

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Dec 19 2022 19:44 utc | 46

Big Serge had a good short take on Zaluzhny stating "I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFVs, 500 Howitzers."

(Sorry lost link to Big Serge quote) Big Serge replies roughly "In other words, I need a new army".

I think he said this would be the third army Ukraine has put together with the Russians destroying the first two.

The war in Ukraine will not end even after Russia destroys the Ukraine military in a Winter Offensive. NATO/US will continue the war with Ukrainian bodies (even women if needed) or they may try to take over the Western part of the Ukraine. But something for sure. It just seems that the combined West has developed the same emotional hysteria toward Russians that the Nazis developed toward the Jews and Slavs.

Posted by: Erelis | Dec 19 2022 19:46 utc | 47

Posted by: aristodemos | Dec 19 2022 17:47 utc | 10

You mention at least two major reasons for the West and Ukraine leaderships' persistence in continuing the already lost battle for Ukraine. The first one is the money, that is being plundered by the parasites who are managing it all, and the second is the popular theme here, related to the so-called dreams of the Khazarian mafia.

The second motivation may be important for some people but it implies a zero-sum solution in which a chance of winning is almost non-existent. So in order to persist with the war the leaderships of the West and Ukraine, apart from being fantasists would also have to be utter lunatics, simply because the loss in this war brings absolutely no rewards. Not so with the first motive - the loot. Win or lose the managers of this war are in a position to fill their pockets irrespective of the outcome, actually the longer it lasts the better. The fact that most of them are sociopaths explains their disregard for human and economic consequences. The only thing they need to worry about is that the war does not turn into a world war in its true meaning, hence the pronouncements that the US and NATO do not want a war with Russia. If they can keep that going it's smooth sailing to the bank in a nearby tax haven.

Posted by: Pagan | Dec 19 2022 19:48 utc | 48

Consider the possibility they do not know what they are doing and have no idea what they are doing next.

Yes, they make plans. Yes, US policy in many ways has been vey consistent for very long time. Just consider that perhaps the current crew is winging it, does not know how they get out of this fix. Or if they do.

Posted by: oldhippie | Dec 19 2022 19:49 utc | 49

The sad thing is that even if everything stated here is true, that Russia is in a strong position and it's Ukraine that is on the brink of collapse, our MSM will never acknowledge it. For a year, now they have pushed out a cartoon version of events that would make the peopel who produced WW2 news reels blush.

[Some of the 1940's news reels were good, I'm talking about the ones that shamelessly used racist memes]

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Dec 19 2022 19:49 utc | 50

Posted by: Michael Doliner | Dec 19 2022 17:55 utc | 12

"I think the real question is what will happen to NATO after Russia wins. Will the Germans be able to free themselves from vassalage? If they can rid themselves of NATO masters a true revolution in the whole view of the last century will occur."

Another factor is Turkey. Erdogan has expressed interest in joining the SCO and BRICS. Russia has pointed out that he cannot join the SCO and still be a member of NATO. If Turkey leaves NATO, then it would be easier for Germany to do so too, as NATO without Turkeys massive army would be even more of a 'paper tiger than it is now. It would probably collapse in real terms without Turkey, and without Germany it wouldn't even be able to afford a fig leaf. The only problem I can see is that Erdogan is not trustworthy.

Posted by: Jams O'Donnell | Dec 19 2022 19:51 utc | 51

Russia is bleeding "The West" white. The West seems to think that the Russians are running out of weaponry. I doubt it. This will end with either the US giving up its wet dream of global hegemony or the world ends.

Posted by: Jeff Harrison | Dec 19 2022 19:51 utc | 52

Russia seems committed to a liberation process of years in the making. Such a time frame will certainly demilitarise and denazify Ukraine. It will also transform nato and a few european political systems when one considers permanent extreme energy cost/fragility and inflation. And all within a time of mass refugee influx.

Over two years!!

The west's propaganda and indoctrination regime will collapse.

The cult mind will fragment.

This is what the west fears most. They have never been so discredited since 1945.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 19 2022 19:51 utc | 53

Posted by: 600w | Dec 19 2022 19:41 utc | 44
"If NATO, i.e. the USA and European "partners", also entrenched themselves behind their own population, like Ukraine"

This makes no sense. It wouldn't be a conventional ground war as it is in Ukraine. NATO can't put together enough troops to invade Russia and if the US tried to build up enough forces on Russia's borders, Russia would strike first. Russia wouldn't bother invading Europe. Russia would wipe out NATO command-and-control (at least in Europe) in the first hour, then the logistics centers. Wouldn't even need to use nukes (unless NATO used nukes first.)

Again, multiple NATO war games show only two outcomes: 1) Russia wins, or 2) WWIII.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Dec 19 2022 19:53 utc | 54

@chunga "New found "revelations" about Ukraine committing atrocities will become the story. The US will take some sort of imaginary high road, discontinue support, lie about the entire thing, and declare victory"

I think it will simply be memory-holed and we'll quit talking about it. That's our MO - when things don't go our way we just quit talking about it.

One consistent barometer of how the war has been going up to now has been the presence or absence of news stories - more than the contents of the stories. When there is a lull, and you don't hear much, it means things are going badly for Ukraine. The smallest Ukrainian victory gets shouted from the rooftops.

Posted by: ian | Dec 19 2022 19:53 utc | 55

I do not thing the western narrative is going to change.
The collective West wants only victory and would be only satisfied with the total defeat of Russia.
Here in Europe, anything less is unthinkable. That is how the EU masses and elites perceive this conflict.

Posted by: Kerensky | Dec 19 2022 19:56 utc | 56

Posted by: Giyane | Dec 19 2022 18:30 utc | 22

Yup thats about it, 200k mobilized fits that strategy. Adapt or die.

Posted by: Neofeudalfuture | Dec 19 2022 19:58 utc | 57

#9 Likklemore

"Which politico, in the midst of a campaign, has ever admitted he is gonna loose?"

This is the conflict in a nutshell.

It is being fought by Sullivan, Blinken, NATO, the Pentagon and their allies as a political engagement.

Putin and his allies in the militias of the disputed provinces, the Chechens and the PMC's, are very much fighting a military engagement.

The only real way that I can see for Sullivan and his pals to even get a draw out of the conflict is to push the nuke button, and make it a zero sum game.

Posted by: Orchard1 | Dec 19 2022 20:00 utc | 58

Posted by: moaobserver | Dec 19 2022 19:18 utc | 37

You should get together with Zelensky and work up a double comedy act. You'll have to do better with the jokes though. Hint: a veneer of credibility makes things much funnier.

Posted by: Jams O'onnell | Dec 19 2022 20:01 utc | 59

"But haven't Biden, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and Germany's chancellor Scholz said that Russia 'can not be allowed to win'? Sure, they have."

And Russia's position should be "the West cannot be allowed to surrender". At least not until it is completely beaten, and seen by the world to be so. This war has always been coming, Pentagon luminaries have lusted for it for generations. The chance will not come again, at least not in the same form, because the west will not miscalculate so grotesquely next time. It cannot win without access to cheap energy, because without cheap energy there is no production and without production there is no trade. The USA could go on for quite a while because it is getting rich from raping Europe, which is why it must be seen to have been beaten and not allowed to play the role of The Great Arbitrator.

Posted by: Mark | Dec 19 2022 20:01 utc | 60

#5 neofeuldalfuture At one point in the past Zelensky said the war needed to be finished by Christmas. There is some sort of clock happening

the clock i've noticed is the repeated reference by pro ukraine sources of a winter offensive starting in February. i've also heard of some sort of ceasefire so people could reorganize of something. which always makes me wonder, what about january? because i'm not sensing Russia taking a break at all. all this new equipment Ukraine needs, they need now, not in February.

another thing, this question regarding NATO vs Russia, whatever weapons Ukraine gets in the future comes from NATO countries, which means every time they give Ukraine more weapons they weaken the potential strength of NATO. NATO is already in Ukraine, only in a sort or underhanded way. so maybe that's what's being debated, is to go in full strength or just keep supporting Ukraine's sinking ship.

Posted by: annie | Dec 19 2022 20:04 utc | 61

330kv single phase transformer = traction motors for rail

Posted by: Exile | Dec 19 2022 20:09 utc | 62

Dima says that Russians cannot develop any further attacks due to the immense massing of Ukrainian soldiers.
Are Ukro human resources endless?

Posted by: Kerensky | Dec 19 2022 20:10 utc | 63

karlof1 @4 said in part;"It was the desire of the United States to preserve American hegemony at all costs, ignoring the new geopolitical realities, as well as the arrogant unwillingness to conduct a serious dialogue on security guarantees.

Yep, this is the U$A's problem in a "nutshell", and the above reality colors everything the U$ says it strives for in dialog...

Posted by: vetinLA | Dec 19 2022 20:12 utc | 64

@karlof1

Citing the "split" between the "Financial Parasites" and the "Neocon" extremists; you do appear to be somewhat unaware of the fact that those seemingly disparate groupings are, in fact, receiving their marching orders from the same source and happen to be following an identical agenda. IMHO, that pairing simply happen to be twin tentacles of a single Vampire $quid of near total financial control and political domination.

Posted by: aristodemos | Dec 19 2022 20:13 utc | 65

The neocons are snorting massive amounts of hopium, so the fighting will continue. That will be a good thing in the long run. The worst possible outcome would be a negotiated peace at this phase of the conflict.

Nothing less than Ukraine's unconditional surrender - and everyting that entails for the neocons - will result in a lasting peace.

Posted by: SingingSam | Dec 19 2022 20:14 utc | 66

The question asked by b is "how long would a NATO army in a war against Russia survive?" Not to be facetious, but really, what NATO army. A pro-Ukrainian YouTuber who actually does a lot of objective analysis asked the question:

Could a European Union Army Defeat Russia?

He looked at the state of the continental EU militaries of the EU (not including UK and USA) and they are in a pathetic state. Good parts of their militaries are no way combat ready. I believe some posters have called NATO more a PR invention at this point. I think they are right. Gotta say I was totally shocked believing NATO has some muscle. So this is why the US has spoken about a coalition of the willing--there is no way they can construct a coalition of the able.

I suppose that the fiction of a NATO army is good news in terms of halting some escalating violence. But that could mean more and more desperate measures by the UK, US, and Poland (and chiwawa Baltic States).

Posted by: Erelis | Dec 19 2022 20:16 utc | 67

First of all, none of us really know the details of what's going on in Ukraine. The western press is totally dishonest, sure, but that doesn't mean that everything they say is completely wrong. If it was, we would know the truth!

While I am not a fan of Zelensky, he is in a bit of a predicament. If (IF) the rumors are true, he was initially ready to declare neutrality with Russia, and then to make a peace agreement early in the war, but was pressured/threatened to continue the fight. But now with so many Ukrainians killed and wounded, and with Ukraine itself physically devastated, how could he possibly just turn around and say 'OK we'll just go back to where we were in Feb.2022'. And all of this death and devastation for nothing? I would hate to have that on my conscience. He sort of has to aim for the full liberation of all of Ukraine including Crimea, or what was the point? He also has to keep pressing the offense, he has to pull out victories no matter the cost to placate his western suppliers. I could see that if (IF) Ukraine negotiates, Zelensky's political position could be untenable for these reasons. I'm not crying for the man - I'm sure he will retire rich somewhere safe - but that could be the pressure that kicks him out of office. Maybe. We will see.

The western elites have also invested a lot of blood and treasure in the operation - but that's always someone else's blood and treasure. The western elites can keep up Ukrainian sacrifice for years, and if they do pull the plug, then as others have pointed out, the whole thing will be forgotten, Ukraine will be left to rot, and the elites will - as always - remain unaccountable. And rolling in profits from all the debt this circus has generated!

Posted by: TG | Dec 19 2022 20:17 utc | 68

HEL @ 19

I don't see Zelensky and Zaluzhny as a unit. But I think the decisions are not made by the two of them themselves; Zaluzhny is the Pentagon's representative, while Zelensky gets his instructions from Foggy Bottom. Therefore, I think an open confrontation is unlikely, but as we have also seen in Syria, the backers sometimes work at cross purposes.

I see it this way too and both have no agency, Zaluzhny is part of a military hierarchy and takes orders from his superiors at Whitehall and ultimately the Pentagon, Zelensky read scripts or improv notes he's handed, anything otherwise, going off script, risks the money being cut-off and money is a short leash. Just look through history what the empire does to vassals leaders that tried to establish agency, could be Zelensky and Zaluzhny are dumb or ambitious or both but I think they well know what's at stake.

If Zaluzhny does replace Zelensky that would suggest the Pentagon just coup'd Foggy Bottom. But, after all the saving the flourishing democracy that is Ukraine from totalitarian Russia bullcrap, I can't see USA and EU putting a military man in charge of Ukraine - a Ukrainian Pinochet would be terribly crass even by neocon standards, it'll have to be some civilian, another figurehead like Zelensky, whether he's placed there by the neo-cons or the Pentagon or both in agreement will be revealed with time.

Posted by: LightYearsFromHome | Dec 19 2022 20:19 utc | 69

re: So, is the West preparing its narrative to cut from this unwinnable conflict –Ukraine – and to move on? . .Crooke points to Afghanistan and how fast the chaotic retreat from Kabul has vanished from the media

Crooke is using the wrong example, which is Afghanistan before Trump.
The US has no intention to end wars, but rather to profit from them without end. Seventy years of Korean war means US bases around China with a reason for high budgets. Afghanistan was in the same category, twenty years of war and while they "turned the corner" dozens of times. It was the outsider Trump who ended it. And so he need some prison time after pulling that off.

Meanwhile the US is talking to Massoud about getting Afghanistan going again. That country is the keystone to Central Asia, the -stans, and the US is not about to give up on owning it.

Crooke says "And no one cares about it." but so what. Since when did the people ever decide these matters. The establishment cares about it, that's enough. The media will help out, no question about that.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 19 2022 20:21 utc | 70

Does Zaluzhny play the piano as well?

*****
Seriously though, IF the Economist article denotes a change in tactics, does it also denote a change in objectives for the Financial parasites waiting in the wings?

Changing Zelensky for an out and out army person could be seen as a hardening of the USNATO stance. The increasing attacks into Russia itself and the use of sabotage (or new lasar weapons from satellites?), means that Russia will have to find a method to combat them, sooner or later. The "hard" facts of the military take primacy. Increasing the area and targets affected by US strikes, brings the probability of a runaway conflict closer.

If, on the other hand, it is supposed to be pointing to a "way out" for the US and Russia, by letting ALL the blame fall on Zelensky, and then disposing of his services, I don't see Zaluzhny as the person capable. He doesn't have the theatrical knowhow of the comedian, to be able to carry out the PR front necessary.

Surely the key is to define what the financial "interests", The Khazars, and others still think they can get out of the situation. It is NOT going to be the easy break-up of Russia as originially planned, or the division of Ukraine as a gigantic bowl of caviar. It must include the now precarious state of the dollar, and the oncoming change to gold and commodity based currencies. ie. The beasts must now choose between; a "reward" (maybe) sometime in the future, against a "stocktaking" (and temporary withgrawal) now. It is not sure that the Russians will go for the latter anyway, as it leaves the main causes of the conflict still in place.

As Juliana says, it is impossible to decide everything on the battlefield, without taking the economic factors into account.
***

So I see this, as only a possibilty and an incomplete change of objectives at the best. Buying time by changing actors. Entracte or new scene?
****

PS. I think they will have to "act" about Zelensky as I can't see his health (mental or physical) lasting much longer. They will need a replacement anyway.

Posted by: Stonebird | Dec 19 2022 20:36 utc | 71

Will the Germans be able to free themselves from vassalage? If they can rid themselves of NATO masters a true revolution in the whole view of the last century will occur.

Posted by: Michael Doliner | Dec 19 2022 17:55 utc | 12

A true revolution it would be. I have been waiting for this to happen since 2014. We are a vassal state allright but the people will tell you we're sovereign and everything is fine. Nobody even wonders who destroyed the pipelines, they may still believe the Russians did it, like some of our media have suggested.
The media (and politicians) are treating us like dumb and immature children to whom they tell fairy tales about good and evil. There is only this one (atlanticist) narrative, strictly being followed by all of the MSM, and people tend to trust the media they consume. They couldn't possibly believe the brazenness of their lying, of all the official voices simultaneously.
Such are the results of the 16 years of Mrs. Merkel, who is a committed atlanticist like we've never had one before. She has knowledge of much of the lies, but nevertheless is convinced that everybody is better off if the US are leading the pack. So there was no public discourse, and we were treated like babies. I used to be a committed SPIEGEL-reader then, and was happy with Merkel until the Maidan episode of 2014 broke and I couldn't help noticing the russiaphobia that surrounded us, which finally woke me up. If it took me so long to wake up, you won't be surprised that the vast majority of us is still asleep - as can be seen in the polls. So I don't share Peter Lavelle's optimism: There will be no revolution in Germany, not during this winter.

Posted by: grunzt | Dec 19 2022 20:37 utc | 72

Posted by: Erelis | Dec 19 2022 20:16 utc | 66

"European Union Army" is complete science fiction. First they, the EU overlords spent decades dismantling "nationalism", turning everything into transgender, destroying agriculture, messing up electricity grids, dismantling domestic industries, dismantling the family system, degenerating the educational system and topped it off with the potentially lethal mRNA vaccine which potentially maims and sterilizes.

An "European Union Army" ain't gonna happen. Or maybe it will, mostly made out of the useful idiots a.k.a liberal left. Whoever have any braincells left at this point are pissed off, for a reason.

Posted by: unimperator | Dec 19 2022 20:38 utc | 73

There is absolutely no intention in the US empire to end the Ukrainian conflict which they carefully provoked. If anything, they want to exacerbate the conflict by pitting mainland Europe as much a possible against the Russians. This kind of (subtle) messages that are supposed to be interpreted as calls for peace are meant to keep the Germans and French on board in this disastrous military adventure that is burning the EU economy and future to the ground.

Posted by: xor | Dec 19 2022 20:39 utc | 74

Typo, My @70 ".....and temporary withgrawal", should be ...."withdrawal".

Posted by: Stonebird | Dec 19 2022 20:39 utc | 75

juliania | Dec 19 2022 19:28 utc | 43
____

No one does manipulation, conniving, and mass-formation hypnosis psychosis as well as the US/Israel...learning from the Nazis harbored after WW2. Certainly not Russia.

But unless I missed something I'm not sure that's what Crooke means when he writes:

"Moscow well understands these shifts that are underway – and knows how to amplify them."

I take that to mean they know how to amplify reality. They do it so comsistently.

Posted by: Doug Hillman | Dec 19 2022 20:46 utc | 76

paxmark1, Learn your own history. JFK did onot support the Diems but did not order their murders and removal. That was the CIA, who took full control of the US government a month or so later.

Posted by: Bob In Portland | Dec 19 2022 20:46 utc | 77

It appears that Putin is currently signing the union paperwork with Lukashenko. Given that Russia always insists on legality of anything they do, I suspect that we will very soon see Belorussia joining the SMO in Ukraine. Wether they might just be on stand by to storm from the North and prohibit Poland to roll in, or they will immediately roll in remains to be seen. To me this looks like the final phase of the SMO which will fulfill all of the Russian objectives. Bielorussa joining Russia sends a clear message to the Wast not to get involved.

Posted by: Milos | Dec 19 2022 20:50 utc | 78

Jeff Harrison there is at least one more option and it's the one many here would advocate in one form or another: remove the US government and whatever is supporting them.

Then somebody can send Zaluzhny a pony (it's all he really wants) if he promises to keep it safe from Zelensky.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Dec 19 2022 20:52 utc | 79

I am not sure how long the west is willing to continue that bloody game. Still the Russians have not yet blown up the Dniepr bridges, nor seriously disabled the train and road networks. Not that they are unable to. Dniepr bridges are 14 or so in total, and supply lines to the fronts are 1200+ km from the polish border. Disabling the train network would not be hard, killing all substations, bombing the axle storages disabling track size change, destroying diesel locomotives, killing more bridges and tunnels. Even if the west ramps up ammo production, the ammo still has to be delivered.

Moreover, equipment is not only destroyed in combat, it requires permanent maintenance and repair, no matter whether tanks, BMP, BTR, or wheeled IFW, or even simple cars and trucks for ammo, food, clothing, medical stuff, fuel, construction material, spare parts. In a country with no steady supply of electricity and water, this is a daunting task. And there is a wild zoo of different, often complex equipment and cars of every kind, all with their own and specific needs and peculiarities. Wars are won by logistics, and Ukrainian/Nato logistics in this war are a nightmare.

And when, if at all, the west will have ramped up their production to meet the needs of the front? Ukraine is told to shoot 6k heavy artillery shells every day in Donbass alone. The US have promised to raise their 155mm production to 19k/month by January, and 40k by spring, which is the demand for a day, or a week. It is doubtful that Ukraine will hold out until the west produces enough ammo. And will it? Noone believes the war, as a material battle, will go on for years, and the industries will be reluctant to do large investments when expecting order cancellations after the war is over, and arsenals are refilled. Fulfilling Ukraine's demands would end up in overcapacities.

I won't be too optimistic (or pessimistic, depending on point of view), but I expect Ukrainian resistance to break in the nearer future, maybe in spring, maybe in summer. I do not expect a large Russian offensive, neither in winter, nor later, otherwise they would have mobilized a million.

Posted by: aquadraht | Dec 19 2022 21:02 utc | 80

@ James O Donnell 51

RIP Jacqueline Sutton

Posted by: Giyane | Dec 19 2022 21:03 utc | 81

The Afghan debacle could be easily made to disappear because it was fought in a far away place, and with printed money that did not affect tax rates (all US$2 trillion of it). The same goes for Iraq, which is hardly ever mentioned these days.

Ukraine is fundamentally different, as the Western "establishment" has dug itself in deep both with the extreme rhetoric, and with the cost to the European citizens. I talked to my sister in England this afternoon and thankfully she has no problem paying for heating, food etc., but the scale of the social crisis that is unfolding there is colossal. Possible power cuts are already being discussed given a cold snap that supposedly the meteorologists failed to see, just to add to the widespread strikes, ambulances not responding for hours, and people using food banks who never dreamt that they would have to. This can only get worse next year as Europe competes for LNG wit the rest of the world when it has no access to Russian gas. The need for the Western elites to subjugate Russia and to stop it becoming a "good example" is also tantamount, especially with 7/8ths of the global population outside the West looking on. A true defeat would very seriously damage the US with non-western elites.

This places the Western elites between a rock and a hard place, with the least resistance path as one of inertia - a slow continuation of the current policies; more money for Ukraine, more arms (whats left in the stockpiles), and more sanctions (EU on its 12th sanction package now). If the West escalates too much it loses big (all the way to a possible WW3 or a massive conventional defeat) and if it retreats it loses big (loss of credibility to the non-West and serious domestic repercussions - the domestic demonstrations are growing in strength).

I feel that the Western establishment frog will need to be boiled until it is forced to leap out of the pan, and that may take the whole of 2023 as Russian victories grind on and the EU elites see how miserably they are failing at refilling the gas storage, the deep recession rolls in (signalled by a steeply inverted yield curve), and the populations get more and more restive. The prospect of a 2023-2024 winter without enough gas supplies may finally force a grudging retreat; at which point Russia should refuse to sell them any gas until all sanctions are fully removed and a peace acceptable to them gained.

Every Western retreat has been grudging (Iraq, Afghanistan) and only after repeated attempts to regain the initiative. US troops are still in Syria to help throttle any recovery, the Afghani foreign exchange reserves remain stolen to immiserate the population. I just cannot see the Western elites carrying out a retreat before they are absolutely forced to, especially with the impact on their global standing and their domestic legitimacy.

Posted by: Roger | Dec 19 2022 21:05 utc | 82

#79 Typo correction: "19k/month by January" meant 10k/month. That was promised.

Posted by: aquadraht | Dec 19 2022 21:05 utc | 83

There is another cleavage in Ukrainian society that may be relevant. That is ethnic cleansing and replacement.

The Hungarian speakers (or of ethnic origins) are the first to be sent to the "front" to be cattle fodder. They do not return. Others flee to Hungary if they can. Nothing new there. However, what IS new is that "central" Ukrainians are sent into transcarpathia, where they take over the "abandoned" houses.

This is the tactic used by the Zionists, among others, to change the ethnic balance and expel or kill the real owners. So the influence is clear to see. How much does this reflect a real "Khazar" ambition?. In which case, the financial parasites I mentioned above, are being superceeded by religious extremists. In which case, NO diplomatic solution can be expected.
***

Orban and Hungary as a whole must be aware of the real situation.

Posted by: Stonebird | Dec 19 2022 21:06 utc | 84

In Judge Napolitano’s latest interview, Col MacGregor discusses the dangerous situation we’re in when a minor power like Poland is able to exert leverage over the US, and that combined with the crazies in Washington, the war can easily spiral out of control, as it did in Viet Nam.

https://youtu.be/XbuZYRtBfWI

Posted by: krypton | Dec 19 2022 21:08 utc | 85

The war in Ukraine will not end even after Russia destroys the Ukraine military in a Winter Offensive. NATO/US will continue the war with Ukrainian bodies (even women if needed) or they may try to take over the Western part of the Ukraine.
Posted by: Erelis | Dec 19 2022 19:46 utc | 47

Yes. After nazis are dead there are multiple options to continue forever. From terrorists to nato troops.
But don't wait for a Russian offensive, there is no army available for it. A horse-face from UK said today: there will be no peace deal, only a reduction of Russia's military power. At this moment the daily Donetsk attacks are uninterrupted, 21 missiles so far. The same hospital hit yesterday was hit again. I hope they were smart enough to leave, we'll see tomorrow if anyone died. There was no response to attacks on civilians from yesterday, only a very weak drone action no one cared about. Looks like the confused general staff is getting more confused

Posted by: rk | Dec 19 2022 21:09 utc | 86

The question, my dear b, is will Russia give NATO 8 years to re-arm before having to face the situation all over again in Poland, the Baltics, Moldova—or indeed anywhere there are ethnic Russians NATO might pick on to provide a casus belli? Your last sentence is interesting: having mobilised and pushed that far, why stop? Press your advantage, a golden rule in warfare. Take NATO back to 1991 borders by force, but don't wait 8 years—do it now.

Posted by: Patroklos | Dec 19 2022 21:09 utc | 87

On American TV last night, on Fox News, I heard what is likely a surrogate for the Biden administration, retired General Keith Kellogg, say that there is no reason to fear Putin using nuclear weapons because if he did that, the world would consider him a pariah; thus we should "super escalate" and give Ukraine Patriot missiles and whatever else they need to win the war. He said Putin would then fall... and this was kind of like the end of his sales pitch, the implication being that Putin would be replaced by someone who would suck up to the U.S. and NATO and the correct order in the world would be restored.

I was hoping the interviewer would ask General Dumbass Kellogg if that included giving Ukraine nuclear missiles, but the question was not asked. Had it been asked, I think this neo-con moron would have been in favor of that along with anything else Ukraine wanted.

The sad fact is that many younger people in the U.S. think we can win a nuclear war, and this isn't the first fool I've heard on TV saying we shouldn't worry about nuclear war with Russia, that we just need to do whatever is necessary to win our proxy war against Russia.

I read the Economist article and have listened to Ritter's speculations but I don't see things getting settled by dumping Zelensky for General Zaluzhnyi. Ritter thought Zaluzhnyi could enter negotiations to settle the war on the basis that Ukraine would keep Odessa, but I don't think that's on the table for Putin who has spoken so endearingly about Odessa.

Odessa has always been close to Russia. They voted for the President who was removed in the 2014 coup. Everyone has always spoken Russian, but now they are being forced through social pressure to speak Ukrainian. They do this for fear of being labeled a collaborator with Russia.

The incessant propaganda since the war with Russia started has succeeded in turning a portion of the Odessa population against Russia, but my guess is that Putin believes most all can be won back to support Russia. This will be appreciated by most, in my opinion, because it will allow them to start speaking Russian again, and they will again be allowed to watch TV programs in Russian.

Posted by: OdessaConnected | Dec 19 2022 21:11 utc | 88

And when, if at all, the west will have ramped up their production to meet the needs of the front?

Posted by: aquadraht | Dec 19 2022 21:02 utc | 79

At this moment Germany has a
shortage of paracetamol and ibuprofen for kids,

Posted by: Passerby | Dec 19 2022 21:33 utc | 89

"If the 20 percent of the Russian military that was used in Ukraine could do so much material damage in such a short time how long would a NATO army in a war against Russia survive?"

(One should not underestimate USA-GB-FRA-ISR weaponery. The billions in the last 30 years might not have been used wisely but even if e.g. 70% of F-35 couldn´t take off or would crash, the rest is still enough to produce inhumane damage. And all the other numerous B-Ware, the various 3rd gen. fighters and too heavy to drive but too heavy to destroytanks etc. - is simply destructive enough. It´s overwhelming the enemy by sheer explosives and steel. NATO´s concept was never elegance. It always was a concept of material and recklessness. Napoleonic Wars 2.0. It was based on an affluence of men in the then largest population on the Continent, France. Now its the capitalist militaries with endless money to spend. Noone would come out of this alive.)

So honestly - I am not in the mood of finding out. And such discussions are a one-direction pathway which is simply insane.

Posted by: AG | Dec 19 2022 21:34 utc | 90

Feels like Russia and Ukraine have destroyed each.

Posted by: Sean | Dec 19 2022 21:37 utc | 91

A few days ago I wrote a long post saying that I don't think there will be a big Russian winter offensive outside of the Donbass. After running through all the possibilities of places the Russians could attack, I will revise my prediction a bit. I think that the Russians *will* attack Zaphorozhie city in order to create a bigger buffer zone for Melitopol, which is extremely vulnerable. Losing Melitopol would be a disaster. There is a smaller chance Russians may also attack the Kharkhov region in order to push the Ukrainians back to the Oskil river.

I still do not think there will be a Belarus offensive, but there will be more psyops like the Putin visit to make UA nervous that there might be.

Posted by: catdog | Dec 19 2022 21:39 utc | 92

Attrition-style weakening of Russia is the goal, and they will burn every field, bridge, and Ukrainian to get as close as possible to reaching it. The singular Russian nation-state is the last major chess piece in the elites' global game. Except this may be a particularly dangerous gambit where they get their heads handed to them and their whole house comes crashing down. Putin is not superman but he knows the game and his people have already lived through decades of bureaucratic tyranny. They see the EU and the US encircling their nation.

Posted by: harrybaggins | Dec 19 2022 21:44 utc | 93

xor @73

There is absolutely no intention in the US empire to end the Ukrainian conflict...

I have a feeling that the Russians have no intention of ending this conflict either. For all practical purposes, they may just as well want things to go on, precisely at this level of intensity and in a relatively safe meat-grinder mode as it is, eventually turning this conflict into a primary (if not the only) battleground for the West vs. the Rest (or rather the other way around). Russian endless resources, Chinese mass production facilities, computer science from India, cheap labor, development of military tech, short supply lines, the army properly engaged and gaining a wealth of practical experience leading to the mastery of the art of war (as opposed to fooling around in a barracks), a strong social cohesion of a population, now mobilized against the "enemy"... It will be like a black hole that will suck in all the neo-colonialist energies that have so far been distributed around the world and messing things up. As long as this conflict lasts and stays where it is, all parties involved on the side of the Rest will finally be able to concentrate their remaining potential on some positive developments for and amongst themselves.

Posted by: Nomad | Dec 19 2022 21:45 utc | 94

"Sullivan said, the goal remains defeating Russia on the battlefield."

karlof1 | Dec 19 2022 18:07 utc | 16
______

Thanks for your lucid commentary, as always. However, as b quotes Bhadrakumar, Jacob Sullivan's recent statements seem to lack much conviction. (emphasis mine)

“We don’t know when [or where?] this is going to end up... it is our job to continue ... military support to Ukraine so that ... if and when diplomacy is ripe, they will be in the best possible position at the negotiating table.

“That moment is not ripe now, and so...we’ve gone to Congress and asked for a [a shitload] more resources ... to ensure that Ukraine has the means to fight this war…

“I am not going to precept the future, I’m only going to assure that in the present we are doing everything we can to maximise Ukraine’s chances of defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity… yes, it is likely to go on for quite some time…"

Basically, the US claims to have a winning hand in Ukraine."

I think Bhadrakumar's end statement is a non sequitur. Sullivan sounds more like a weasel looking for an escape route. No?

Posted by: Doug Hillman | Dec 19 2022 21:48 utc | 95

Posted by: Kerensky | Dec 19 2022 20:10 utc | 62

Are people still paying attention to Dima? He's basically a concern troll with a map.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Dec 19 2022 22:16 utc | 96

What if the neocon support in the Pentagon is a mile wide and an inch deep? Seems to me Milley may be on to something, knowing that senior military figures think that we are not ready for allout war with a peer and nuclear opponent.

Let's say the neocons try to ramrod a war despite senior military leadership resistance. With the "republic" hanging by a thread, it is possible that certain neocon figures might end up in Gitmo or dead. At least one can dream.

I just can't imagine the CIA prevailing over the top military brass in such a critical time.

Posted by: morongobill | Dec 19 2022 22:18 utc | 97

» how fast the chaotic retreat from Kabul has vanished from the media and is now mostly forgotten «

It's very important that Afghan school girls go to school.
Whether they waste away from hunger and perish is completely unnoteworthy.

Posted by: Webej | Dec 19 2022 22:24 utc | 98

@95 Richard Steven hack
Hack away at your substack. Trolls be in charge get under our bridge.

Posted by: Neofeudalfuture | Dec 19 2022 22:26 utc | 99

Given what Merkel said about the Minsk agreement being a scam to enable Ukraine to arm itself, why would Putin even think of entering into negotiations with Ukraine (no matter who the leader is) or with the EU and/or Anglosphere?
"Fool me once...." as GW Bush once so eloquently said.

Posted by: D J G | Dec 19 2022 22:28 utc | 100

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