Sunday, March 19, 2023

"Diplomacy and Negotiations" in Ukraine


Dimitri Lascaris writes at CounterPunch that any realistic peace initiative in the Russia-Ukraine war is going to have to include territorial concessions on the part of Ukraine to Russia.

Nowadays, few things are as hazardous to one’s reputational health as suggesting that Ukraine should make territorial concessions to Russia. The vehemence with which mainstream commentators reject such suggestions is awesome to behold.

Yet if we truly care about the Ukrainian people, we should at least be able to have a civil conversation about territorial concessions. In the quest to end this calamitous war – which has cost so many lives and could cost many, many more – no stone should be left unturned.

Phony advocates for negotiations

Before we venture onto this treacherous ground, let’s dispense, once and for all, with the phony advocates for peace. I’m referring here to those commentators who call for negotiations with Russia while categorically ruling territorial concessions by Ukraine.

Whatever one’s view may be as to the propriety of such concessions, we should all be able to grasp that any offer of peace which requires Russia to surrender all of the territory it currently controls stands no realistic chance of being accepted.

I have to say that I agree and that it is refreshing to see an adult perspective on this subject.  Lascaris goes on to talk about the total unreality of Zelensky's desire to capture Crimea:

This is especially true with respect to Crimea. As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently acknowledged, attempts by Ukraine to retake Crimea would constitute a “red line” for Russia’s government and could provoke a severe escalation.

The reasons for which Crimea constitutes a “red line” for Russia are well known.

As the Center for Strategic and International Studies explained in 2014, control of Crimea ensures Russia’s access to a natural, warm-water port having extensive infrastructure (Sevastopol) and “provides Russia with important strategic defence capabilities.”

If Zelensky and his handlers and enforcers continue to insist on the complete restoration of Ukrain'es 2014 borders before negotiations can even begin, the results will be disastrous for the Ukrainian people:

Until recently, Zelensky and his Western sponsors have defined ‘victory’ as the recovery of all territory Kyiv controlled prior to 2014, when Ukraine’s democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, was overthrown.

If we are truly concerned with the well-being of Ukraine and its people, then we must first ask whether that objective is realistically achievable. If ‘victory’, so defined, is unlikely to be achieved, then Ukraine’s refusal to make territorial concessions is likely to result in far greater death and destruction than Ukraine has endured thus far, and Ukraine will end up having to cede territory in any event.

Moreover, Ukraine’s futile pursuit of total victory could result in an even greater loss of territory for Ukraine.

Read the rest for yourself.  While the propaganda from all sides makes it hard to tell what is really going on (Western propagandists and shills claiming from the start that Putin is falling apart/about to be replaced, Russia is running out of weapons, Russia is going from defeat to defeat, a new "wonder-weapon" for Ukraine will change everything, etc.,  while pro-Russians talk about strategic withdrawls, offensives that never materialize, encirclements that are never completed, etc.,) it does seem to be the case that Ukraine is in a desperate situation.  Even pro-Ukraine news sources can't hide the fact that Ukrainian soldiers in the major battle for Bakhmut are often teenagers or men in their late-middle age.  And there are numerous reports of these men and boys having been press-ganged off the street, given inadequate training and insufficient weaponry to resist the Russians.

There are two narratives.  The stupid one (which most of you believe); That Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine as the first step in his megalomaniacal desire to rebuild the Czarist Empire and that the USA has nobly tried to assist the Ukraine in resisting this unprovoked attack.  Then there is the reality-based narrative: That the USA wants Ukraine's resources and wants to weaken Russia because Russia is too independent for the USA's tastes.  It therefore sponsored a coup in 2014 and installed a pro-USA/anti-Russian government [giving high-level positions in the military and government to bonafide nazis] who had their own nitwit agenda of expelling Russian culture and ethnicity to create a pristine Ukrainian paradise.  The USA and European NATO allies flooded Ukraine with weapons despite repeated pleas from Putin that they stop.  That the Biden administration arrogantly rejected Putin's call for a treaty that respected Russian security concerns and Ukrainian independence (including the goddamned Donbas regions remaining in Ukraine with guarantees of their language rights and a veto on decisions as to whether treat Russia as an enemy or not).  When all this failed and it looked like a major Ukrainian assault on the Donbas was imminent, the Eastern Provinces declared their independence and joined Russia whereupon Russian forces entered and the war began.

None of this had to happen.  That it did happen is almost entirely the USA's fault.  Sure, there's an alternative reality where Putin absorbed Donetsk and Luhansk but waited for the Ukrainian offensive before invading Ukraine, but that's not our reality.  Our reality is that the USA provoked Russia by doing to it what it would never accept for itself.  That the USA [Biden Adminstration]'s policy is a cynical, evil policy that is using Ukrainian lives as poker chips.  

As reading Lascaris's editorial in full will show: Ukraine never really had a hope of winning this war.  The Ukrainian nazis were and are deluded idiots the same way that the ISIS/ISIL fighters in Syria were/are deluded, idiot psychopaths.  The longer this drags on the more thousands of people will be killed.

It's not enough to mouth the words "diplomacy" and "negotiations."  We're talking about real things here.  Real events.  Real lives.  Genuine reality.  It is the goal of the USA's foreign policy leadership [ie., neo-con shitheads and cowards and morons and delusional psychopaths] to encircle Russia and nibble on its edges and gradually weaken and destabilize it until it either breaks apart or a suitable Yeltsin-type puppet can be installed in Moscow.  And then the goal will be to go after China and weaken it so that it has no hope of resisting the USA's whims.

It seems that this might have been a realistic plan perhaps twenty or more years ago.  But the world has changed.  As well, the USA's political leadership are now almost all of them, complete idiots.  Biden is a senile shell of the arrogant dimwit he used to be.  Antony Blinken is the sort of idiot who actually believed he could sit down across the table with the Chinese and lecture them only to be shocked when they told him to go fuck himself.  Hillary Clinton is an arrogant, delusional incompetent.  All of the neo-cons are armchair warriors who do not know how to play the game they're in and who fail to understand the cards they have in their hands.  The Military-Industrial-Complex put their own super-profits before the functionality of their products.  Finance and Silicon Valley are corrupt charlatans.


Jim Kavanagh pointed out the childish unreality of yammering about "diplomacy and negotiations" at the beginning of this tragedy in Ukraine Negotiation Kabuki - .

Here’s the thing, however, that is very important to be clear about in this situation: There is no possibility of “negotiations” or “compromise” in the optimistic sense implied—i.e., talks leading to a deal in which, in some mutually satisfactory way, each side gets and gives up something important to it.

There is no possibility of such “negotiations” or “compromise” because that already happened.

Negotiations and compromise were made when the United States promised not to move NATO one inch to the east in exchange for absorbing East Germany. Negotiations were made, successfully, with the Minsk agreement, which—at Putin’s insistence,  against the independence urgings of Donbass and its Russian supporters—would have granted the Donbass regions limited autonomy within the framework of a unified Ukrainian state. That wasthe compromise. And again, with Minsk 2, negotiated after Kiev broke the agreement, attacked Donbass, and almost had its army wiped out, but for Putin holding LDPR back. And again, with the “Normandy Format,” after Kiev spent seven years continuing to attack Donbass and repeatedly and explicitly stating its refusal to abide by the former negotiated compromises.

Russia initiated its offensive because all the possibilities for a negotiated peace with Kiev (and its U.S. handler) under any conditions other than Russia is now demanding have been used up. Everyone must understand that, and how dangerous it makes this moment. Compromise agreements were successfully made—at least three times!—and then continually destroyed by U.S. and national fascist intransigence and aggression, with attacks on Donbass over eight years that took 14,000 lives. And no one in the U.S.’s “international community” cared a whit.


This is a fight that will be settled by force, not a negotiation that will be settled by words. And, despite his ridiculous promotion to celebrity status in the West, it is certainly not anything that will be settled between Russia and Volodymyr Zelensky, or even between Russia and “Ukraine.” The parties to this conflict, those who control the outcome, are Russia on the one hand, and the U.S., allied with Ukrainian fascist militants, on the other.

Zelensky is a puppet of the latter bloc who will not be allowed by his controllers—the USG and Ukrainian fascists—to make the necessary peace deal with Russia.

Please note how central the fascists are in this charming threesome. Both the U.S. and the Ukraine fascists do not want the war to end, and Zelensky is right now happy enough or forced to go along with that. If he were to attempt the necessary peace deal, even with permission of the U.S., the fascists would kill him and install an embarrassingly obvious fascist government, which the U.S. would then, embarrassingly, have to overthrow. If it could. Fascism has a tenacious grip on this triple alliance.

As Aaron Maté demonstrates in his excellent article, Zelensky lost his chance to be the independent peacemaker he campaigned as, and the U.S. forewent its chance—actually never had any intention—to ally with him in such a project. They both—Zelensky under U.S. pressure—chose the instrumental alliance with the adamantly anti-Russian fascist fighters. It’s all about—it was always all about—the U.S./NATO plan of aggression against Russia, nothing about a peaceful Ukraine. As Chomsky says, the “explicit” policy of the United States has been “rejection of any form of negotiations.”

Russia knows this, and knows that “negotiations” with Zelensky are Kabuki theater that will be replaced by a table laid with terms of surrender when the decisive fighting behind the stage is resolved. One way or the other.

Most of you continue to want Ukrainians to die needlessly.  You have your little Ukrainian flag avatars on your twitter profiles.  Some of you write nonsensical blog posts and etc., parroting last-gasp NATO propaganda and believing those stupid lies.  You shriek "whataboutism!" whenever the hypocrisy and evil and undeniable, damning statements of Biden's government undermine your positions.  You're like children playing a game they don't understand.


Purple library guy said...

How it has ended up is mostly a war of attrition. And Russia is mostly fighting it as a war of attrition. Sure, there are a few cases where the Russians decide they really want territory piece X and throw the Wagner types in and lose some people, but for the most part they've concluded the Ukrainians hang pretty tough on defence so it's not worth pushing unless the place they're pushing into has already been mostly stripped of defenders by artillery.

The Ukrainians have two big problems in this war of attrition. First, they don't have nearly as much artillery, and hardly any air force (decent air defences though or it would be even worse for them). Sure, they have a few fancy HIMARS and stuff, but not enough. If I have 10 decent artillery pieces and you have one fancy one and one kinda barely adequate one, I win. Second, they are kind of forced to fight it as a war of territory--to a fair extent even as a war of pretending to fight for territory to impress their sponsors by generating headlines, so they can get all that fancy stuff to fight with.

So if the Russians make a credible threat to push for territory, they have to concentrate to defend that territory, with both the movements and the concentration making it easier for the Russians to blow them away with artillery. The result is, the Russians aren't taking much territory because the Ukrainians genuinely can make it damn costly for them to do so. But, the Ukrainians are losing like eight times as many people or something. Far as I can make out from daily reports I watch, Ukraine loses an average of around 500 men per day. Doesn't sound like much, but that's 15,000 a month, 180,000 a year. Also quite a few armoured vehicles and artillery systems every day.

The Ukrainians can hang tough and make it look close until they run out of people or equipment or both. Or rather, until their numbers drop to a point where they can't credibly defend the whole front, at which point they won't be able to stop a major breakthrough somewhere. I think it's still a while before we get there, especially with infusions of Western weapons starting to reach the front. But still, one recent blip of Russian territory gain happened when the Ukrainians plugged in a unit to the front that didn't have any heavy weapons or any ammo, hoping the Russians wouldn't notice until they could juggle those guys out of harm's way again or arm them or something. The Russians noticed. But you don't do that in the first place unless you're having some supply issues.

thwap said...


Indeed. And it isn't so much bravery on the Ukrainian side. To call it that is to romanticize and glorify what shouldn't be.

How is "brave" for Zelensky and the Ukrainian high command to press-gang men into the army and ship them to the front to block a Russian advance until they're obliterated by Russian artillery?

This is disgusting.

Eventually, as you say, the Ukrainian ability to resist will crumble like a house of cards.

As in WW2, some nazis will execute deserters as "cowards and traitors" up until the very end before attempting to flee themselves. Others will hole-up in some city and die to the last man regardless of the civilians trapped inside with them.