In May and December, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger voiced opinions to the media that the war between Russia and Ukraine should be mediated to a peace agreement as soon as possible, including if the latter had to cede territory to the former. Late in 2022, Chair of the JCS General Mark Milley suggested something similar—that Ukraine should negotiate from its position of strength.
These voices will be neither heard nor tolerated in 2023. The previous year saw the Biden Administration spend more American taxpayer dollars on propping up the Ukrainian state and military than the budgets for a great many departments of the US federal government combined—over $100 billion—in just 10 months.
As another former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently pointed out in her own op-ed, co-authored with Robert Gates, the money is authorized and it should be spent immediately.
This is the view that will dominate 2023 going forward, as the conflict in Ukraine allows everyone in Washington that’s in favor of backing the Ukrainians with the full-powers of the Military Industrial Complex to avoid even the pretense of delivering a single strategic argument or answering a single tough question; the moral position has proven enough for the media and Congress.
A recent interview on CBS News epitomizes this, when Tom Karoko, a guest from the Center for Strategic and International Studies and supposed expert on, one might suppose, strategic and international studies, said he would be more worried if the US wasn’t pushing Moscow towards a potential conflict with NATO proper.
“I think we are beyond that point, at this point if we’re irritating Moscow, in terms of their war of aggression that should a badge of honor and kind of an indication that we’re doing the right thing,” said Karoko, when asked how the political situation might change if the Pentagon flew Ukrainian soldiers to Washington to learn how to use a Patriot missile battery.
“If we weren’t irritating them in terms of not giving the Ukrainians both offensive and defensive capabilities to repulse the Russian invasion, I think I’d be more worried about that”.
The Patriot system will soon be arriving in the country, and General Milley, who recently flew to Germany to inspect a program training Ukrainian troops in the country, expressed his hope the training program would have them ready before the spring rains turn the countryside into muck.
Ukraine is NATO
Whether or not a country has joined NATO is in many ways irrelevant. In this age of technological integration, modern armies the world over essentially use equipment based on the Russian system, the Chinese system, or the NATO system. NATO systems, from drones, to tanks, or aircraft carriers, to soldier’s computers and helmet cameras are all intercompatible.
Ukraine is now so flooded with NATO-compatible systems, Moscow’s 2020 fears of a NATO-equipped Ukraine on their southern border have been essentially realized. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told BBC on Friday just as much—that Ukraine is a “de facto” NATO member.
“This concern about the next level of escalation, for me, is some kind of protocol,” Reznikov said. “Ukraine as a country, and the armed forces of Ukraine, became the member of NATO. De facto, not de jure [by law]. Because we have weaponry, and the understanding of how to use it”.
Whatever goal of containment that Russia had before the war has been sitting in the waste bin for months. Moscow will continue large-scale war until such a time as they can sustain the conflict boiling down to small-scale fighting.
From NATO, there will be no political will amongst anyone to face down Russia hawks and try to encourage a settlement.
A source familiar with Western intelligence on the war told CNN that Ukraine is “absolutely a weapons lab in every sense because none of this equipment has ever actually been used in a war between two industrially developed nations”.
For this claim, like with the claim that Ukraine is a de facto member of NATO, Reznikov was there from the start, inviting Western arms manufacturers and the governments they collude with “to test the new products here,” adding that “we are interested in testing modern systems in the fight against the enemy”.
For months, no one was particularly forthcoming with casualty numbers, but the US military recently estimated that 100,000 Russian soldiers, and 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died thus far. Since that drummed up no support on any side, at least that we know of, towards ending the war, there’s no indication that any side will relent or play peacemaker in the war over the year to come. Another 100,000 at least on both sides would seem a distinct possibility. WaL
PICTURED ABOVE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a visit in Bucha. PC: Man Hai. CC 4.0.