What Might A Ukraine Peace Agreement Look Like? 436


Currently nobody in power wants peace. Both sides believe they might yet improve their position on the ground. Thousands are needlessly dying horrible deaths in Europe. But the West now has a proxy war with Russia itself that is weakening Russia militarily, economically and diplomatically. Putin has to keep going, hoping to show something he can portray as victory and worth all the pain. Meantime the arms manufacturers and related interests are profiting enormously – and never forget that applies to both sides.

NATO is cock-a-hoop with probable expansion to include Sweden and Finland. That is one of very many ways in which Putin’s war is counterproductive for Russia and makes its strategic problems worse.

The most alarming aspect of all this is the blithe brinkmanship with which the West is pushing Putin towards a position where his only chance of claiming victory is to use tactical nuclear weapons. [And yes I have read Scott Ritter, I both know and like him but think he is very wrong about Russian ground superiority].

It does not have to be nuclear Armageddon. There is a more likely scenario where the war carries on for years, and probably Russia inflicts increasing damage on cities with long range weapons. That would be unlikely to involve radical change from current frontlines; we could have hundreds of thousands of casualties over as much as three to five years. I believe this is what NATO actually want to happen. It would in effect leave a frozen conflict looking not too different to today, but with much more destruction.

This is the time that true statesmen would be trying to end the conflict. The only person who in the least appears to have been making genuine efforts is Macron, for which he is reviled. The UN evidently judge it too early to talk about more than ceasefires and humanitarian corridors. Do not be discouraged by or critical of that. These “confidence building measures” – ceasefires, evacuations, prisoner exchanges, humanitarian relief – are how conflict resolution classically starts.

So, if I were in the UN working on an outline peace proposal, what would it look like? Well, here are some first thoughts.

Now I know some people will ask why anybody should look at any proposals from me. Well, plainly I have no current standing. But I do have experience. Together with then Head of UN Peacekeeping, my late friend Kofi Annan, I while Head of Cyprus Section at the FCO drafted the Cyprus peace plan that we then took into proximity negotiation with Denktash and Clerides. We did not have total success but the process did contribute to the island’s current peace and prosperity.

Further as UK Representative to the Sierra Leone Peace Talks, I was deeply involved in the drafting and the negotiation with all sides of the Sierra Leone Peace Accord, as detailed at length in my book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo. That conflict probably had more casualties than the Ukraine War to date and was just as bitter, with its own extremely complicated history and causes.

So in suggesting ideas for the draft of a “Peace Plan”, this is something I have done in “real life”, not just a fool opining from his armchair. For that look to some of my other posts!

The first and most difficult question is territory, as it is in most armed conflict. Russia currently occupies large areas of Ukrainian territory. This is a powerful negotiating position. Ukraine has recovered significant ground around Kiev following that particular defeated attack, and smaller parcels elsewhere. In the last couple of weeks, gains and losses by both sides have been broadly in balance, though Western media emphasises the Ukrainian gains.

If we are starting from broadly the current territorial position, my basic proposal would be this. Ukraine formally cedes Crimea to Russia, and Russia hands back all other Ukrainian territory, including the Donbass.

This gives Putin a boast he can make to his people – the World, which had refused to recognise the Russian annexation, would now have bowed to Russia’s rule. The US, UK, Germany, all had been made to acknowledge Crimea is Russian and to eat humble pie. It would play well for Putin.

On the other hand, neither the West nor Ukraine would really have lost anything at all but pride. It would simply be bringing the de jure and de facto in line, which is generally a good thing. Few seriously believe the Ukrainian army is going to be able to retake Crimea. To do so would indicate an extremely bloody war, with very serious potential to escalate to the nuclear.

Crimea is in practice now Russian. It makes sense to base a peace deal on acknowledging this reality.

Is Crimea enough of a prize for Putin to give up all of Russia’s other gains? I believe so. There is a realistic chance that Russia could suffer humiliating loss of some of the areas it holds. Much better to negotiate them away while you have them.

Could Zelensky survive giving up the Crimea? Well, his personal prestige is now enormous. His people are brave but would welcome an end to the war, and the number of Ukrainians still in Crimea is now low. In return for getting back all of the Donbass lost in 2014 plus Kherson and Mariupol, and getting an end to the war, I think it is not impossible for Zelensky to sell giving up the Crimea as the price of peace.

The Donbass was of course Putin’s given reason for invasion. It would be hard for Putin to give up Donbass because it is central to his consistent programme of bringing Russophone areas of ex-Soviet states into Russia. But his domestic position in a long war would weaken if not successful. Given guarantees on Crimea and an end to ruinous war and sanctions, I think he could accept it after negotiation, with a number of figleafs.

It is worth noting that a bilateral agreement is not possible. Any agreement is going to need to involve a much wider group of parties, on for examples the lifting of sanctions and recognition of Russian annexation of Crimea.

So here is a start to my proposed bundle:

Ukraine to cede Crimea to Russia
Russia to hand back all other occupied Ukrainian territory
A devolution settlement for Donbass
Russian again to be an official language in Ukraine
Ukraine to be acknowledged as a sovereign state free to join NATO or EU if it chooses
An Arms Control Treaty restricting weapons systems in Ukraine and neighbouring Russia
An end to all EU and US sanctions on Russia imposed following the invasion
A joint War Crimes Commission, and Truth and Reconciliation process, but immunities for agreed persons (including Putin)
An international fund for reconstruction, including provision for relocation assistance for Russian speakers wishing to leave Donbass or Ukrainians wishing to leave Crimea.

Now here is the moral dilemma. If you want to insist on no immunity for war crimes, you would need to be willing to pursue total war to the utter defeat of one side. You cannot get a peace deal that involves putting Putin on trial at the Hague. Equally neither side can get all it wants on any subject without total victory.

Peace otherwise means compromise.

When discussing Cyprus with Kofi Annan, we agreed any peace deal would involve Turkey giving up some land in proportion to its percentage of population. The possibilities were Morphou or Karpass. We realised that this land deal would need to entail some assistance with population relocation of those who wished to move. It is often impossible to resolve a geographic conflict without some element that can be portrayed as endorsement of ethnic cleansing. These are the problems of peace.

I do hope that gives you some material for your own thought. It will no more interest the partisans on either side than it currently does those in power. Thus I sadly expect the killing to continue. I am off to Turkey tomorrow for a briefing on the limited peace talks that have taken place to date. That does not mean I will necessarily be able to spread information further at this stage.

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436 thoughts on “What Might A Ukraine Peace Agreement Look Like?

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  • david

    Cant see any prospect of a peace deal. Russia has over reached with Ukraine and is feeling the pain, as this war develops Russian forces will grow weaker and Ukrainian forces will get stronger. I also don’t think Ukraine will stop until it has retaken all the lands it calls it own. Zelensky offered Putin the Crimea at the start of this war, but it was rejected. Once the Russian movement forward has stalled completely then I see a large push back. That will be the most dangerous part of this conflict as that is the point Russia will realise that its lost and the use of Tactical Nukes will probably come into play.

    Russia will lose, it could take a year or a decade but the end result is inevitable.

    • Wikikettle

      David. Thats what Hitler said to Berliners as the Red Army was approaching the outskirts. Young boys and old men dragooned to their deaths.

    • Jack

      The whole idea of the nuclear option is the exact reason why Russia will not lose the war. If it comes to that escalation, the west will call on Ukraine to make peace at the table. The whole idea that Russia will one day say, ‘oh we are going to stop fighting now and move home, have a great day all!’. That is not going to happen.

      Former British commander Richard Kemp claimed the other that Russia will hold the eastern regions as a tool to push Ukraine into talks. I believe this is closer to truth and what is going to happen eventually.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1RQswDU_bs

      Also, Russia have (only) used like 1/5 of the whole of their military force, they can keep doing what they do for a long time.

      • Jimmeh

        > The whole idea of the nuclear option is the exact reason why Russia will not lose the war.

        It looks like that, doesn’t it. But popping nukes isn’t a practical way of waging a war; once you’ve used your nuke, it’s no longer a threat.

        It’s true, I think, that there’s no way Russia is going to withdraw. That would require some kind of revolution in Russia.

        > Russia have (only) used like 1/5 of the whole of their military force

        Russia can’t concentrate all of their military force in the West; they have other borders. Also, I suspect that a large part of their forces are not fit for combat. They did their best to concentrate forces, and it didn’t work.

        I think Russia has not deployed it’s best forces to Ukraine. I don’t know why – perhaps because they’re afraid they might need them to control their own population. They’ve deployed Wagner mercenaries and Chechen mercenaries. The Russsian regular army seems to have been unenthusiastic about this war.

    • Goose

      I think it’s far from inevitable, and Russia has the wild card to play : tactical nuclear weapons – as hideous as that prospect may be.

      Our UK press and MoD are in full war propaganda mode; they may be pumping out stories of near invincible Ukrainian ‘super soldiers’, super pilots like ‘the ghost of Kyiv’ laying waste to vast swathes of Russia’s military hardware, but even were that the case(I doubt it is) at what point does Russia snap and say enough is enough, let’s force a total Ukrainian surrender?

      We also have emerging reports that ‘Putin has blood cancer’ and not long to live, the accuracy of which can’t be verified. But that, if anything, is scarier still, as it lowers the threshold for any Russian decision to go nuclear. How would NATO respond? It’s far from clear European leaders would embark on a course of action that would inevitably lead to European capitals like London, Berlin and Paris being levelled in thermonuclear strikes. Zelensky, goaded on by anti-Russia US hawks, has put his country in an unenviable position. One that is unlikely to end well, even if they have the moral support of the world on their side.

      These risks are why I so dislike the pumping in of arms and gung-ho US politics around this war. Were Russia a conventionally armed country and not a formidable nuclear power, I’d be all for such weapons supplies. But being prepared to fight to the last Ukrainian against a nuclear armed foe that can play that wild card at any moment, is betting the house needlessly. We should be calling for a ceasefire and providing an off-ramp.

    • annie

      ‘Russia has overreached’ I doubt that, because without a solid Russia victory, the alternative would be appalling. We would break up Russia, loot and rape it like before. And the US would drag us all down in a world that doesn’t need it or want it. Our precious West has gone to hell. No one hates quite like us, lies like us, kills like us. The US is the leader of the pack here, number one gang member. It’s a bully that should be called and taken outside. Aggressive as hell and yet weak as hell. It’s actually a country led by people of little worth and terrified. Insignificant people with nukes!
      CM has lost his bite, his boldness, a man who hates Putin, calls him him a thug, some say a Hitler, some a diseased man. Yet, he is a better leader than all of what we have put together. No, Russia will not lose, it’s the collective West that’s down and out.

      • BrianFujisan

        I agree with what you say annie … and I can’t believe Craig suggests Handing back the Donbas. They have suffered 14,000 murders at the hands of the Ukraine Mob since declaring independence from the U.S-imposed Puppets.
        And coming From a Scottish independence fighter. Oh dear… Hope the Talks in Turkey are fruitful.

        And now Zelensky says next years Eurovision Song Contest farce will be held in Mariupol … I Doubt it.

        Well regarding the Donbas – good reporting here from the Greyzone –

        In a live interview with Max Blumenthal and Anya Parampil, reporter Alejandro Kirk details what he’s seen inside and around the strategic battlefront city of Mariupol. Kirk has been reporting from the front lines of Donbas for HispanTV, and puncturing the one-sided narrative fed to Western

        The Grayzone: Reporting from the ground in Donbas (YouTube, 1h 29m 4s)

        • Piotr Berman

          What Craig proposed is more sensible:

          • Ukraine to cede Crimea to Russia
          • Russia to hand back all other occupied Ukrainian territory
          • A devolution settlement for Donbass
          • Russian again to be an official language in Ukraine
          • Ukraine to be acknowledged as a sovereign state free to join NATO or EU if it chooses
          • An Arms Control Treaty restricting weapons systems in Ukraine and neighbouring Russia
          • An end to all EU and US sanctions on Russia imposed following the invasion
          • A joint War Crimes Commission, and Truth and Reconciliation process, but immunities for agreed persons (including Putin)

          If you take out somewhat ceremonial bits, this is like a possible agreement that Ukraine could and promised to negotiate in Minsk agreements that were supposed to lead there, if observed by Ukraine. Which Ukraine vehemently refused, except for a “lapse” by Zelensky in 2019.

          Here is a conundrum: if “reasonable peace” is once more rejected, then what?

          An additional question to Craig, why he is not satisfied with a devolution agreement from which he currently benefits (or under which he suffers).

  • Gorilla

    You say Zelensky’s “personal prestige is now enormous”, meaning in the Ukraine. What is your source for that?

    How well loved is he in Lvov, Kiev, or for that matter by the Azov Regiment out east?

    Is there much support for Zelensky’s policy of continuing and escalating the war against the Donetsk and Luhansk republics that has been going on for 8 years? That is a key question.

    As for Russia allowing the Kiev government to take over the Donbass, which would presumably then either be administered as two colonies or else cleared of the majority of the population (who are Russian) before being reintegrated into the Ukraine, that isn’t going to happen.

    From a grownup “let’s stop this killing” point of view, further referendums in the two territories might be a good idea, perhaps under UN supervision. (The results would be in favour of staying outside of the Ukraine, but hey, put that through the ballot box again if it saves lives.)

    • Bramble

      Considering that Zelensky won by a landslide on a platform of peace and establishing a reasonable relationship with Moscow, I can’t help feeling that a large number of Ukrainian voters are being side-lined and silenced on the subject of this proxy war. (That’s apart from the disenfranchised Russian speakers in the Donbass who have been side-lined and silenced from the start.)

      • Gorilla

        Zelensky won because he was the star of the TV series “Servant of the People”, and then while new episodes were being broadcast the oligarch who owned the series, Ihor Kolomoisky, paid for him to run as the presidential candidate of the “Servant of the People” party. He won by a landslide. The language the series was broadcast in was Russian. Imagine Paul Eddington leading the “Yes Minister” party and becoming prime minister.

        People say Zelensky was “anti-corruption”. If he’d been anti-corruption, the first person he’d have ordered to be arrested would be the “oligarch” who was paying him.

        Before Zelensky there was Vitali Klitschko, former world heavyweight boxing champion, who led the “UDAR” party. “Udar” means “punch”. He’s still mayor of Kiev.

        Before Klitschko, there was Yulia Tymoshenko who after trousering millions from distributing Star Wars videos got made up to look like Princess Leia from Star Wars and became prime minister.

        Frankly none of this speaks well of the intelligence of the bulk of the electorate in the Ukraine.

        It’s similar to Stuart Drummond getting elected as mayor of Hartlepool calling himself “H’Angus the Monkey”. What did he say in his manifesto? I have no idea, but I’m sure it was whatever a lot of people wanted to hear. At least that was a bit of a laugh, and he didn’t start or escalate any wars.

        I haven’t seen any polls on Zelensky’s popularity, but I strongly doubt he is “popular” any more. Most people in the Ukraine probably think he’s a c*** by now. To find out whether this is true, don’t ask the BBC or any other part of the western MSM.

        Most people throughout the Ukraine will just want the Kiev government to leave Luhansk and Donetsk alone, as well as the Crimea which nobody ever really saw as “Ukrainian” anyway. Kick the ex-paramilitary Azov Regiment out of the Ukrainian army and don’t help them any more. Pull Ukrainian forces back to the border. Recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk republics. Guarantee Ukraine won’t attack them, which in practice will mean neutrality. What is there to lose in that, for the majority of the population in the Ukraine? Nothing.

        I imagine Putin would agree to pull Russian forces out of every part of the Ukraine then. Obviously whether they stayed in Donetsk and Luhansk would be a matter for those republics and Russia, but it would be in the interests of everyone apart from the neo-Nazis to have a peaceful border.

        My guess is that Putin would not insist on staying in Kherson or more generally in the region between the Donbass and the Crimea and on towards Transnistria. Russia doesn’t need that region to be able to maintain communications with the Crimea. As for Transnistria, it’s the Kiev government and its “backers” who are trying to stir things up there.

        Donetsk region + Luhansk region = Donbass.
        Mariupol is in the Donetsk region.
        Mariupol isn’t in the Ukraine.
        Donetsk referendum 2014: 89% for independence, 75% turnout.
        Luhansk referendum 2014: 96% for independence, 75% turnout.
        Crimea referendum on rejoining Russia, 2014: 97% yes, 83% turnout.

    • Jimmeh

      > or else cleared of the majority of the population (who are Russian).

      Are they Russian? They are citizens of Ukraine, which to my mind makes them Ukrainian. The term “ethnic russian” is often bandied around. It’s a loose phrase, which might mean nothing more than that their mother tongue is Russian (so is Zelyinsky’s), or that they are affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, or that they tell their children Russian fairy-stories at bed-time.

      • Bayard

        If you hold a British passport, you are British. If only one of your grandparents was born in Ireland, you are also Irish, as far as the Irish government is concerned. So you are British and Irish, just like you can be Ukranian and Russian. It’s not either/or.

        • Piotr Berman

          Some ingrates want to be Scottish and not British, even thought they hold British passports — for which they should be thankful. On the other hand, Ukraine banned education in Russian, and ALL political parties accused of being pro-Russian, so being Ukrainian is more onerous than being British. That said, there are some common pains associated with the citizenship, and, alas, residence, in a country starting with U and K.

  • Ewan2

    As for the dumping of arms in Ukraine, where will all these weapons end up? All over Europe in the hands of criminal gangs, or just people with a penchant for an AK or two.?

    Anyhow, it’ll raise another problem further up the line that will require another ill-thought out plan for which politicians will relinquish all responsibility; which seems to be their singular talent.

  • Stevie Boy

    So, we discover that the UK Government is actually run by an unelected cabal, just like the Nazis who infest the Ukrainian Government and Military. Democracy and public votes are irrelevant when the strings are being pulled by the establishment.

    https://thegrayzone.com/2022/05/15/operation-leaked-emails-intelligence-coup-boris-johnson/

    If Bozo is replaced by Truss we now know explicitly who to thank. And, the impossibility of any sensible peace agreements will probably be determined by the same people.

    • John Kinsella

      Shark jumping going on here.

      Nazis everywhere… Except in Russia of course..

      This thread is an echo chamber for fans of the neo fascist Putin regime.

      Sad.

      • Shaun Onimus

        Johnny, I always thought fascism were the countries run by their corporate overlords. Not having seen Russia from the inside, I can tell you with confidence the US is run for and by the corps. Maybe it’s corporatism or cleptocracy, but knowing who the US are, I can tell you this war is very heavily pushed by Western arms dealers. ‘Putin baad and Russia baad’ is the current political flag to wave, so either we all wave it or we are ‘fans of the neo fascist Putin regime’. One could say the other side are spineless corpo slaves, yes men to the MIC. We do vote these people in dont we? Ruskies are defending their ethnicity while we salivate that our leaders are able to get super rich from wars. I thought we’d learn something from the peaceful Irish folks but they are in between Europe and US, there is no way propaganda wouldn’t have blown em West. Those with strong roots can at least sway back and feel the fresh Eastern breeze.

      • D

        Not sure if you’re actually being serious: there is an azov battalion; their logo is taken from the Nazi wolfsangel; their founder did have a position in the Ukrainian parliament; congress did for a while refuse to fund them due to their views; there are Ukrainian soldiers with panzer division totenkopf; nato it appears has trained them; you can even now buy their badges on Amazon …

          • D

            Times it by 4 divide it by 7 .. was hoping for a bit more of an objective intellectual debate on this subject , researched fact based ..

          • Bayard

            “Why? Because it was a forgery.”

            and your reasons for implicitly trusting that particular website are…? (apart from that it’s saying what you want to hear)
            In any case, as someone points out on that website, is the forger supposed to have photoshopped the guy doing a Nazi salute as well? and why, if the Nazi flag has been photoshopped, did the forger not use the regular version, with the swastika inside a circle instead of a close-fitting square?

            “You can read the story of the fake photo and how it was circulated as part of a Russian propaganda campaign here”

            ditto

          • siberiancar

            Letter Z is just a letter. A tactical sign. The Russians also use V and O.

            What does V remind you of? Remember, there was a famous picture of Churchhill showing a victory sign?

          • Dawg

            Bayard:

            “and your reasons for implicitly trusting that particular website are…? (apart from that it’s saying what you want to hear)”

            You assume too much to suit your own purposes, Bayard. The significance of the report is in the content, not the source. Similar debunks of the same photos can be found on numerous unrelated sites, such as Italy 24 News. So there’s no need to trust “that particular website”, nor any other website. It’s not “trust” that disrupts the forgery; it’s the cited facts which can be chased up and verified.

            As for intuiting what you think I “want to hear” … I’m afraid your clairvoyancy skills are grossly deficient.

            Let’s focus on the content, and go through the points in more detail.

            The photo with the swastika flag was first identified as a fake in 2014 by Dr Neal Krawetz, a specialist in the forensic analysis of digital photos. Part of the analysis can be found on his fotoforensics website.

            He cited several reasons for concluding that the swastika was artificially imposed on the photo, including:

            • The hue values of the pixels in the Nazi flag do not match the camera’s palette in the rest of the photo (as evidenced by the fotoforensics analysis);
            • A statistical Principal Component Analysis of the photo areas also reveals a mismatch in the region of the flag;
            • The camera focus is sharper in the flag;
            • It does not coincide with the plane of focus;
            • A red corner of the flag unnaturally ends above the fingers of the soldier who’s holding it up.

            It was shown to be a fake years ago, by forensic analysis. It wasn’t big news until it was recently circulated by the pro-Russian propaganda site Radikal.ru – whether in error or in deceit.

            In fact, there are many other versions of the same photo, doctored with flags of several other nationalities and movements – including Israel, the Hitler Youth, and the Islamic State (which you can see in the spamchronicles report). There are red edges in some of them because they were derived from the doctored swastika image rather than the original photo.

            As it happens, the people in the photograph aren’t from the Azov Battalion at all – they’re actually

            “a group of fighters from the notorious Russian mercenary Motorola’s group, who took part in the original capture of eastern Donbas in 2014. It was the separatist flag and not the flag of the Azov battalion that was held by the fighters in the original photo. The photo on the left shows one of the members of the group raising his hand. This same flag of Motorola’s group was published in 2014 by the Russian propaganda publication Rusvesna.”
            International Media Regurgitating Old Fakes about the Azov Battalion and Neo Nazism in Ukraine (Stopfake, 10/3/2022)

            I totally agree that the fascist salute in the photo is very sinister. Do you still hold that position, or have you changed your mind on it, now that they’re seen to be evil Russkies instead of evil Ukies?

            That’s all pretty embarrassing for anyone defending the swastika photo as a genuine portrait of the Azov Battalion. And that could be the key point here. The spamchronicles report considers the possibility that so many versions of the forged photos have been circulated precisely to muddy the waters (a known Russian disinformation tactic – the “firehose of falsehood“) in order to sow confusion and obscure the true source.

            It’s arguable that the photo has been circulated widely for two, contradictory, reasons: first as (superficial) evidence of the Nazi influence in the Ukrainian army; and, more sneakily, to embarrass people who present it as evidence of same. Exposing the swastika photo as an obvious fake undermines the credibility of the pro-Russian dupes making false claims about it – which ultimately discredits them as a reliable source and thereby strengthens the Ukrainian propaganda campaign. So you should think twice about defending it in public.

            People who portray obviously fake photos as the genuine article are gullible gimps who undermine their own propaganda efforts.

            And there is a huge amount of propaganda doing the rounds of social media and independent news sites, on both sides. Instead of petty point scoring, it’s more constructive to be sensitive to the signs of deceit wherever they appear. This is one clear case. But of course there are many other examples, including on the Ukrainian side. Witness Zelenskyy’s weaselly efforts to avoid using the word “surrender” in relation to the Mariupol defeat; instead he portrays the “withdrawal” or “evacuation” as some kind of heroic rescue effort. It isn’t: it’s a complex negotiation for surrender and prisoner exchange … which very likely involves some people who are avowed Nazi sympathisers as well as Ukrainian soldiers. That’s the real story in the current news stream, and the MSM will no doubt try every tactic to divert attention away from it. Don’t help them in that mission.

      • David Warriston

        The first thing any fascist regime does is arrest the leaders of its main opposition: the Communist Party and Trade Union leaders. This is not the case in Russia where the main opposition party remains the Communist Party. Needless to say the Communist Party has regularly been banned in Ukraine, long before the present conflict, and the number of opposition parties closed down now runs into double figures under martial law. Only in Ukraine are fascist groups incorporated into the state defence apparatus. In UK terms it would have been like the UVF incorporated into the UK armed forces in 1970s Belfast, with a platoon led by Lenny Murphy.

        One of the the myths which underpins western hysteria is that Ukraine was a peaceful, law abiding democracy – as claimed by Mrs Zelensky – until the Russians invaded their utopia. Another is that the poor, underfunded country hardly had any weapons at all until this all blew up two months ago.

      • Bayard

        “Nazis everywhere… Except in Russia of course..”

        OK, name me a European country that doesn’t have any Nazis in it.

        “This thread is an echo chamber for fans of the neo fascist Putin regime.”

        To point out that unthinking regurgitation of right-wing propaganda is just that does not make the pointer-out a fan of anything, it just makes them someone who is aware of the existence of the propaganda and the lack of thinking behind its repetition. Not agreeing with lies about Putin and Russia is not support for either.

      • Yuri K

        The saddest fact is that Congress had already forgotten that 3 years ago they specifically banned any financing of Azov battalion because of its neo-Nazi nature. Now they pretend this never happened.

        • Bramble

          Scary, isn’t it? The way that history is reshaped and minds reprogrammed overnight according to the interests of the ruling elites. You wake up one morning and suddenly it’s a remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. And almost nobody seems to be aware of it.

      • Natasha

        John Kinsella’s comment above, reflects the dangerous success of nasty propaganda techniques, cynically designed by so-called ‘security services’ to exploit the psychological predispositions of consumers of mainstream media – an “echo chamber for fans” – to push them to ideate a false idea that ‘our side’ is ‘good’ by manufacturing an enemy cast as the ‘worst’ kind of human being imaginable, in this instance by (ab)using highly emotive words such as “fascist” and “regime”.

        Sad.

        • John Kinsella

          @ Natasha.
          Supporters of the Putin regime constantly accuse supporters of the Ukrainian Government of being “Nazis”.

          A very emotive word I’d have thought?

          But somehow using words such as “fascist” and “regime” is an abuse?

      • jimmy cc

        one man’s nazi is another man’s freedom fighter.

        a good way to turn a nazi into a freedom fighter is invade his country.

        good job putin

      • Jimmeh

        > This thread is an echo chamber for fans of the neo fascist Putin regime.

        It is, and I’m finding it very odd. I’m still trying to work out whether they’re just Russian trolls, taking advantage of a relatively liberal moderation regime, or old-school Stalinist commies. A few of these Putinists are long-term commenters here.

    • Fred Dagg

      So, it turns out that the behind-the-scenes effort to ensure that the statement of intent of the most democratic vote in UK history was in fact enacted was undertaken by one faction of the bourgeoisie acting against another, not “The Russians”.

      There – fixed it for you.

      • Goose

        FD-

        Provides fascinating insights, doesn’t it. Civil service senior moles, eh, and you can tell from the caution being expressed by those involved that they know they’re acting deeply unethically, if not criminally?

        This is the sort of stuff you’d expect to be a front page guardian exclusive given that paper and its readers’ ongoing Brexit angst. However, I’d expect nothing about this staggering level of meddling in politics by this secretive, unelected cabal. Blaming Russia is easier, more comforting and consistent for the hacks.

  • M biyd

    Have you understood nothing? The Russians need Mariupol for Crimea to be viable. The schwerpunkt was always to the south and east. Kiev and Kharkov were always diversionary. The war will keep going because NATO are prolonging the inevitable but Russian war aims are at the point of fruition. Young men and women are dying needlessly. We have a proxy war between two states that are the most corrupt in Europe and the World and we think it’s a good idea to send to the warzone unfettered tonnes of munitions and modern weaponry!

    • DunGroanin

      I think when it comes to Europe there are a lot more corrupt countries. Unless you believe we in the U.K. aren’t in Europe. We have the most prominent political prisoner since Mandela.

      Is Russia in Europe in your book? They weren’t in the Eurovision wankfest.

      Is Ukraine in Europe! It certainly is one of the most openly corrupt countries and has been a slave whore to the Yanks at least.
      Let’s see what is crawling out of the azovstal dungeons, it is known by some reporters but they have been told to hang fire, not just self declared Ukrainian Nazis.

      Is Israel European? Will it also want to officially join nato? Or will it just fizzle away in a few decades as many Israelis duped there find they don’t want to forever be conscripted and hated by these they terrorise daily and steal land from. And against whom they can never win or own. Because these too will soon be part of the SCO and its securities.

      The proxy war is between the ‘Collective Waste’ and the Russian Federation. It is aimed directly at the old Mackinder world island and imperialism’s Great Dream which is doomed by the Eurasian Economic Union which promises the raising of the poorest and Energy , Food and Health security for the multiple billions they represent – the few millions who manage the world as the psychopathic managers for the long time self declared owners of all humans and resources. The forever Class War. The forever Masters of the Universe Money Controllers.

      It helps if we can try and look at such issues from longer perspectives than the dumbed down short attention spanned emotional or should I say Pavlovian TRAINED responses. Just saying.

  • JS

    Some heated debate here. I’m not going to weigh in on the rights and wrongs of the War / Special Operation. I’ll try to give you the sentiment of “Pro-Western Russians” (not many exist anymore unfortunately). Qualification for my ‘opinion’: I’ve been to Russia, Ukraine and Crimea several times and have friends and families in all. I lived in Europe with my Russian wife (I’m from the UK) and 2 Russian step-sons for 15 years. Welcomed everywhere and and all good until the invasion. The family pretty much all anti-Putin but believed he was a necessary evil, to rid Russia of the Mafia wars of the 80s and 90s, and they understand it’s a dictatorship and corruption is rife. One son even contributed monthly from his salary to Putin’s jailed political opponent, Alexei Navalny. One son completed his 2 years’ military training in Russia (as they must all, if they live there) and one returned to Russia during Covid due to loss of job.

    They fervently believe that the Azov Nazi element with USA CIA backing (plus politicians John McCain etc) supported a Coup that lead to the overthrow of the legitimate pro-Russian government (as highlighted in ‘Ukraine on Fire’ by Oliver Stone) and therefore the Donbass Russian speakers were entitled to fight this. In the West we are fed with obvious propaganda, i.e. Snake Island, Ghost of Kiev (Alexa’s spelling, not mine) etc. and the Russians are getting the same if not worse. If you dig you can find the grey areas in-between. I’ve seen the Telegram channels my son shares with me, many of which are verified reports, and I’ve not seen ANY mention in the MSM.

    So I’ve got one son on the front-line and another training to go. However you view what has happened, most of Russia now collectively hate the West as much as ‘we’ hate them. There is a resolve in Russia and they view this is an existential crisis – losing is NOT an option and ALL options are on the table – I don’t think people know how close we actually are to a nuclear war, and watching this clip of Biden recently sent shivers down my spine (as if he’s prepping us for 60 million deaths….):

    https://twitter.com/maajidnawaz/status/1506072187215753218?s=11

    Craig, good article and thanks for bringing a balanced view; but if you think Donbass is on the table to remain part of Ukraine – I’ll save you a plane fare to Turkey.

    I’ll leave you with the last text I got from the son who contributes to Putin’s political opponent:

    “I’ve always hated Putin but what I hate more than him is how America dictates how the rest of the world should live”.

    • Laguerre

      I agree there’s no such crack in the Western/Ukrainian propaganda onslaught. It wouldn’t be allowed. Only on blogs like this one.
      I’ve only just understood how many overtly fake stories were put out. E.g. Snake Island, and Ghost of Kiev. The Russians haven’t done that.

    • Stevie Boy

      So, Jonny Boy. On the one hand you say there is no freedom to express divergent views in Russia, and on the other you say a Russian Colonel is questioning what is happening. You can’t have it both ways you need to be consistent otherwise people may think you’re just cherry picking stories to support your narrative.

      • John Kinsella

        Stevie,
        as I’ve never met you, let’s keep it to John and Stevie?

        I haven’t been addressed as Boy for over 50 years…

        John (who is not a boy anymore).

        PS the Russian Colonel is not of my invention. Perhaps he is given licence to criticize the conduct of the war given his obvious support for it. But the fact that one ex military man is allowed to criticize the conduct of the war doesn’t change the fact that Russia is a police State.

    • francescange

      He is probably received in Russia with the same amount of credibility Colonel Macgregor is accorded in the US

  • john

    If you want to see how the world operates, says Catherine Austin Fitts, take an afternoon free and watch The Godfather Parts 1 – 3.

    It’s run on dirty deals and violence, far from diplomacy.

    In a recent Q&A session with Sergey Lavrov in Algeria, he predicts that the EU diplomacy function will disappear, because it is usurped by the world gangsters in the US:

    “Question: What do you think of Josep Borrell’s initiative to give Ukraine frozen Russian assets as “reparations?” Can we say that the masks have come off and the West is moving on to open robbery?

    Sergey Lavrov: You could say it is theft, which they are not trying to hide.

    This is becoming a habit for the West: they have frozen the money in the United States that belongs to Afghanistan (its Central Bank). They don’t intend to use it for the needs of Afghanistan’s citizens who have suffered from the consequences of NATO’s 20-year presence, but for some other purposes not related to the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

    It is not only this statement and ideas about confiscation of other parties’ property that Josep Borrell is known for. Not so long ago, he said that the Ukrainian crisis must be resolved exclusively by military means. He would do well to remember what his job title is. He is the chief diplomat, not a military leader in the EU.

    We may soon see the post of the EU chief diplomat abolished because the EU has virtually no foreign policy of its own and acts entirely in solidarity with the approaches imposed by the United States.”

    https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1812196/

    • John Kinsella

      Almost self parody there John.

      OK for the Putin regime to rain death and destruction on Ukraine, to kidnap civilians back to Russia…

      But for the West to seize Russian assets in Europe and use them to rebuild Ukraine once the orcs (sic) have been driven out would be a Bad Thing (TM)?

      A lot of cranky old men on this thread taking out their disappointments on the people of Ukraine.

      • D

        You know the Ukrainian army have been attacking donbass since 2014 right ? Civilian / non-military infrastructure hit , civilian deaths right ? That’s Ukraine raining death and destruction on Ukraine ..

          • Bruce_H

            I wonder if he knows that the use of the term “orcs” comes from Ukrainians who follow the Azovs or similar pleasant people? It is because they see Slavs as sub-human, like in Tolkien’s stories. I won’t ask him directly though, I’ve wasted enough time trying to reason with similar posters on the Independent’s forums. Life is too short.

      • Piotr Berman

        OK for the Putin regime to rain death and destruction on Ukraine, to kidnap civilians back to Russia…

        But for the West to seize Russian assets in Europe and use them to rebuild Ukraine once the orcs (sic) have been driven out would be a Bad Thing (TM)? <?????

        Why NATO countries did not confiscate assets of KSA and UAE and use them to rebuild Yemen to undo that destruction? A serious question.
        One answer is that all can be forgiven to those who pay billions for the overpriced weapons and services from the West.

        The second answer is that West can steal your money at any time they find it convenient, and Gulfie potentates feel quite dismayed by this move. They decided not to lift a finger to relieve the West from the self-inflicted consequences of its actions.

        In any case, right after USA with allies confiscated Afghan funds as soon as they stopped ruining the country directly, and confiscated Venezuelan assets because …[incomprehensive blather], it is clear that on the level of governments, this argument is a hypocrisy, on the level of citizens (or subjects, in UK?) it is an idiocy. The West is generous only with (a) weapons (b) funds to corrupt the local elite. Enjoy your austerity, John.

  • John Kinsella

    Post by Russian military blogger (translated by Google translate).
    Original at https://t.me/strelkovii/2557

    Not optimistic about Putin regime’s military prospects. (See the General Conclusion at the end.)

    It would make a fellow wonder if a Putin regime victory is inevitable after all. 😎
    ================================================================

    Strelkov Igor Ivanovich
    Front summary.

    Kharkov direction.
    The enemy continues to try to completely push the RF Armed Forces and parts of the LPR reservists beyond the border line northwest of the city. In some places (between Kazachya Lopan and Volchansky, about a point – exclusively) the enemy has reached the border line and the front passes directly along it (approximately). Over the past day, the situation has not changed fundamentally.

    South of Izyum. – After a long and bloody meat grinder, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation completely took the ruins of the village of Dolgenkoe. Fighting in the area around this settlement. continue. The enemy is actively counterattacking.
    Fierce battles also continued in the area of ​​the city of Liman (Krasny Liman), during which, in a few days, our troops advanced and liberated several settlements to the west and northwest. However, the city itself and its environs are stubbornly defended by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    Severodonetsk-Lysichansk area.
    As I expected, the enemy does not intend to surrender these cities without a long battle, even under the threat of encirclement. Which, however, is still far away. Stubborn fighting continues in the area north of Popasnaya with heavy losses on both sides.

    There are no significant changes in the front in the Gorlovka area.

    In the Donetsk area, our troops – personnel units of the DPR Armed Forces – yesterday attacked the outskirts of Staromikhaylovka (a suburb of Donetsk between Donetsk itself and Krasnogorovka) and are now conducting heavy bloody battles in this village. The situation in Maryinka is still not clear to me.

    There are no changes in the front in the Ugledar region – the city itself has been turned into another “fortress” and is ready for a long defense.

    I have very little information on the Zaporizhzhya, Krivoy Rog and Nikolaev fronts. In general, as far as I can judge, the position of the parties has not changed significantly, although in the past few days the Armed Forces of Ukraine managed to slightly push our troops in places.

    General conclusion:
    I must state with regret that the operation to defeat the enemy’s Donetsk grouping, widely publicized in late April-early May, FAIL. For more than two weeks of fierce fighting (which cost both sides very heavy losses), only tactical successes were achieved. Not a single large settlement was liberated (the exception is the city of Rubezhnoye, but the battles for it began before the offensive began). Probably, certain tactical successes will still be achieved before the moment when the enemy goes over to the counteroffensive. But it is already clear that Donbass will not be fully liberated before the beginning of summer. Probably, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will not even be thrown back from the suburbs of Donetsk.
    And I cannot say that this result is unexpected for me. Vice versa. The art of war requires its adherents to strike where the enemy least expects them. In our case, the intention of the Russian command was so obvious, the terrain was so beneficial for the defending side, and the balance of forces was almost equal on both sides, that only … our General Staff could count on decisive success.
    At the moment, our troops are drawn into exhausting offensive battles, continuing (as I have already noted) “to play by the rules proposed by the enemy.” And the point is not only and not so much in individual examples of “outstanding bungling” (such as forcing S. Donets), but in the fact that losses incurred in daily offensive battles (not ending in the defeat of the enemy) cannot be quickly compensated by trained replacements. While the enemy continues to frantically prepare its strategic reserves. And where he will deliver his blows, when our troops will finally “run out of steam” – no one knows (although this can also be predicted, but I will not do this publicly … until I do).

    What should be done in the current situation, when it became CLEAR THAT OUR TROOPS CANNOT DEAL EVEN LIMITED DAMAGE TO THE ENEMY IN A FIELD BATTLE, and when it is NECESSARY TO PREPARE FOR A PROTRACTED HEAVY LARGE-SCALE WAR – I have already written and said more than once. So far, only “a good friend of all Urgants” has responded and stated that nothing of this will be done … Well, well …

    t.me/strelkovii/2557 | 335.3Kviews | May 16 at 14:24

    • Mikhail

      Strelkov is very popular indeed and quite competent, he is a hero of the Russian Spring of 2014/14, he has enormous respect but he also famous for his well… very special personality and notorious pessimism. During the initial stage of the war in 2014/15 there even was a popular meme: “Igor Ivanovich is sad”, roughly meaning “if Igor Ivanovich is sad then everything is more or less OK”. So I would take Igor Ivanovich’s statement with a little grain of salt.

      A typical cartoon:
      https://toyotacamry.ru/attachment.php?attachmentid=21037&d=1405581599
      Igor Ivanovich says: “Everything is bad, everything is lost”

  • Tim

    Hi Craig, sorry I have not read all the comments and this has probably been repeated elsewhere;

    Donbass declared itself independent, in 2015, and has fought a war ever since. Donbass is not in Russia’s gift, and will not return to Ukraine, although Russia has made it clear that protection of Donbass is an existential issue, and they will use nukes if necessary to protect it. Hell will freeze before Donbass goes back to Ukraine.

    Russia has occupied other areas of the south such as Kherson. Same story.

    It is incidentally very clear that Russia has overwhelming military superiority. Azovstal was perhaps the strongest fortress in Europe, garrisoned with 8,000 men, fresh, motivated, equipped, armed, trained and led by NATO generals. It was the very best NATO fortress in Europe, embedded in a Russian city whose population Russia was sworn to protect. It was comprehensively destroyed without the use of bombers, ballistic missiles or flamethrowers, let alone nukes, using a small fraction of Russia’s resources. If Russia can take Azovstal it can take anything in the country, and is in the process of doing so.

    There is absolutely no way on earth that Donbass or Kherson are going back to Ukraine.

    • Jimmeh

      > Russia has made it clear that protection of Donbass is an existential issue

      But that’s bullshit. Donbas isn’t part of Russia; the fate of Donbas has nothing at all to do with the existence of Russia.

      • John Kinsella

        No.
        Any state may declare anything “existential”.
        But no-one need take any more notice of the declaration than a nod and a smile.
        If the Putator decides to use tactical nukes (against the advice of his generals, we may assume) he and his country will pay the same terrible price that the rest of us will.
        We cannot prevent a mad selfish sick old bastard using nuclear weapons.
        But his staff can.

        • Bayard

          “We cannot prevent a mad selfish sick old bastard using nuclear weapons.”

          I think Joe Biden is still in fairly good health, actually, despite his age.

          • John Kinsella

            Very droll.

            You do know that Putin was born in 1952 so old by most measures?
            He is widely reported to be unwell so sick by most measures?
            He has vastly enriched himself in office so selfish by most measures?
            He has launched an utterly futile “war of choice” against a Slavic neighbour, causing many tens of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian deaths so mad by most measures?

            But you know better?

          • Bruce_H

            @John
            So he’s 3 years younger than me… that’s not old, Churchill was 71 at the end of WW2 and he was still going strong despite a fairly atrocious life style from the drink and cigars point of view. Putin doesn’t drink or smoke so the chances are his health is ok and if he really has got a blood disease most can be treated nowadays, I’ve been treated for one for over ten years and I should think a President would get at least as good treatment, it won’t stop him thinking.

            It’s one of the least attractive traits in a person to attack someone on this sort of issue.

  • francescange

    For one thing, there is no mechanism for getting Putin to the Hague anyway, unless my understanding is wrong(which is entirely possible)
    For another, who would safeguard the people of the Donbas from the well known terrors of the SBU, should those republics be subjugated to Ukrainian rule?The SBU abuses (torture ex judicial killings )are well documented
    There is nothing in that package that safeguards Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers
    How would an arms treaty restricting and disadvantaging Russia work in the face of Nato aggression .This would be absolutely rejected by Russia
    I personally don’t think Russia gives a tuppeny fuck about US/EU sanctions .They are leaving the WTO and WHO.They are turning away from Europe and the collective west and moving east.
    I am struck by the chasm now becoming clear between what a peace settlement might look like now in utterly devastated Ukraine, and how it might have looked had equal energy been put into encouraging /bribing/or whatever it took for Ukraine to start implementing the Minsk accords.

  • Gerald

    Russia will never hand back Donbass Craig. If you knew about the situation of the last 8 years you would know at least that much. Russia will take all Donbass up to the two Oblast borders. Donetsk and Lughansk. After the well documented war crimes committed there by Ukrainian Nazis this will never be up for discussion. This conflict can only ever be ended by the US and the UK as the prime movers. Zelensky is a puppet. However people are not yet realising the potential for an internal rebellion against the present leadership. Casualties are high and morale is low, Ukraine is on its 4th mobilisation, all males between 16-60, 4 million people have left the country and dissatisfaction is growing. The Americans will be losing the clout they have as the domestic situation worsens in the EU and in Ukraine. I don’t think Putin minds taking it slow, western suffering will far outweigh anything the hardy Russians will have to go through. No one will be going hungry in Russia and energy, oil, gas and nuclear will not be running out. Car fuel is currently $1.76 per gallon in Russia and will stay that way. No food shortages either, in fact I remain far more concerned as there have been empty shelves in my Sainsburys for 2 years now and getting worse. Russia is the worlds largest exporter of wheat and has had their biggest ever crop this year. 87 million tonnes. Non of that will be making its way to the West. Ukraine is a war of attrition that can only ever favour the Russians in terms of materiel and logistics. Staunch support at home leaves Putin personally on solid ground and winter this year in Europe and the UK risks being deadly in multiple ways, nobody will be freezing or going hungry in Moscow. The West has outdone itself in nonsensical propaganda but truth is on the battlefield so this idea of ‘if you can’t win the real war win the imaginary one’ only goes so far.

    • Wikikettle

      Gerald. I think that only the silent majority in the Ukrainian Army can resolve this matter. To overthrow the Zelensky puppet government and purge all Nazis, hold elections and guarantee Neutrality. Only problem is that all the corrupt politicians and Nazis will be given UK and US citizenship and keep their billions.

  • Ronny

    I disagree wrt “Ukraine free to join NATO”. Russia won’t sign up to that one, and it isn’t really necessary for Ukraine to hold out for it. As Sergei Lavrov said, it will never happen.

    • Wikikettle

      ” Free to join NATO ” actually means, loss of Sovereignty to US, huge increase transfer of wealth to US, expensive fragile high tech weapons, which cost as much to service as they cost to buy. If those US weapons, missiles and bases risk being put on Russian border, then will be destroyed. Finland has just bought 60 F35’s , as many as Russia has 5th generation fighters of its own. Huge transfer of wealth to US arms manufacturers thanks to corrupt politicians of Nato member countries who are not patriots. A very expensive and suicidal true cost.

      • Bruce_H

        Reading your post made me realise that in fact all this is about selling weapons and then their maintenance costs, like when you buy some makes of cars, the x years guarantee is only valid if you use the make’s garages to maintain the car. At first the merchants of death hand the weapons over for next to nothing, or on credit like they are now but once you’re hooked they start raking it in.
        So Biden is the biggest arms trafficker on the planet, he doesn’t have to think, just smiling and looking an easy touch will do.

        I already realised that arms salesmen profited from the US’s wars but I hadn’t quite realised just how major the scam is.

        • Bruce_H

          And NATO, with it”s obligatory standard training programs and interchangeable weapons systems makes it practically obligatory to buy the same makes of weapons, so NATO is all part of the scam too… I wonder if the client country has to pay for the training too?

          I’m sorry if the rest of you all realised this ages ago, it’s age that does it, as John suggests.

  • Mikhail

    With all due and sincere respect, Craig, I have to tell you that your article bears signs of typical British imperial arrogance. Please assume no offence but I have to say it straight in your face.

    All Western analysts only speak about Putin, Putin, Putin, Putin and they all fall victims of the Western propaganda. Western totalitarian propaganda portray Putin as a bloody dictator who has enormous power based on something like magic (like he can kill people with his sight or something). It is true that Putin is a very authoritarian leader and it is true that he built a highly efficient police apparatus, but the basis of his power is the trust of the Russian people who gave him credit for pulling the country out of Eltsin’s disaster of 90-s. The Russian people is a subject not object. Don’t forget that in the 20th century there were three revolutions in Russia despite of seemingly unshakable strong power of the Emperor or the CC CPSU. Undermining the value of the public opinion in Russia is typical Western arrogance. Most Russians see this war as a sort of the Great Patriotic War 2.0. And any result rather than total defeat of Ukraine would be considered by Russians as a disaster and would lead to another revolution. British don’t understand what was the WW2 for the Russian people. 400,000 brits died during the WW2 and it was a horrible tragedy of course. But it was 27 MILLION of the Soviet citizens who perished, 18 million of which were civilians. And the vast majority of Russians remember that. Look at the popular ‘Immortal Regiment’ movement – how many people come to the streets every May. And for Russians having a russophobic Nazi state at Russians border which would join NATO and thus get access to nuclear weapons is the worst nightmare. Until this threat is clearly eliminated the Russian society wouldn’t accept any peace treaty, otherwise Putin can instantly lose his power like the Czar Nicholas II or Gorbachev. And Putin clearly understands that, he is definitely not stupid. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to this tragedy but if Western people really want to help to find any solution they should put aside their arrogance first.

    • Andrew H

      But the Russians must put aside their arrogance. The West has no role to play in the outcome of this. To believe we can impose some kind of solution is delusional. It is not our war except to provide Ukraine with the heavy weapons it needs to defend itself. Failure to continue to do this will lead to an untold humanitarian disaster in the areas of Ukraine that Russia has not occupied – and will also exacerbate food crisis in Africa – leading to more refugees in Europe. I am actually impressed with the way Poland and Biden have handled this – in that he has made it very difficult for Russia to resort to tactical nukes. My guess things will end when Russia has been pushed out of Ukraine (except Crimea) and then Russia will have to negotiate over that in order to have sanctions lifted. As a westerner – I don’t think I have a legitimate position on what the solution for Crimea should be – or indeed for any part of Ukraine.

      There is little value in Ukraine reaching a formal peace agreement with Russia – without an explicit agreement, US/UK courts can be used to obtain damages which would see much of Russia’s frozen $300 billion of assets going to Ukraine more (obviously the court process would take many years, so the rebuilding using loans would happen first). The problem with a peace agreement, is that it is unlikely Russia would agree to forfeit such a sum – and I don’t see Russia accepting an agreement where they could still be sued for damages through courts. In many ways a frozen conflict with Russia and its oligarchy forfeiting its wealth is better than a western imposed peace agreement.

      • Andrew H

        And for those that say we can’t just confiscate the assets of the oligarchs – that it is true. However, they will have a choice to spend 20 years fighting through courts to get sanctions lifted, or simply agreeing to give 90% of their money to Ukraine in exchange for sanctions relief (whilst still keeping a few hundred million so they can live happily in Europe). Agreements can be made. Similarly Russia will eventually agree to a settlement in order to get sanctions lifted (I’m guessing they will pay as much as $500 billion – the $300 billion that is frozen and another $200 billion in loans – more than that would be too punitive).

        • Wikikettle

          Andrew H. The worlds 90% have seen how the Wests 10% can seize assets, sanction, blockade, overthrow and invade at will with no fear. This arrogance, hypocrisy, racist, exceptionalism power, they see being countered in Syria and Ukraine by Russia. Our long period of Hegemony is coming to an end. We see it bloodily played out in the proxy wars now and to come. It needn’t have to been this way if we had not insisted on our right to full spectrum domination.

          • Andrew H

            Russia illegally invaded Ukraine. If Russia gave a damn about the Russian speaking Ukrainians, instead of bombing their Russian speaking cities, it would rather encourage Ukraine to join the EU – where the rule of law and human rights are paramount. The EU is the one entity that will genuinely protect peoples rights to speak Russian. However, this is not about that – this about Russia’s right to exert its authority over independent neighboring states. It has no such right. By your logic, Ukraine should be able to invade “unfriendly” Russia, bomb its cites and annex the parts it wants – that is the logic of another century.

            Since you are Russian it is incorrect for you to talk about “our period of hegemony”. Unfortunately democracy and respect for human rights is the only way forward – so if that is hegemony then it will persist. Russia is welcome to live outside of the western trading system – but it won’t because Moscow and St Petersburg are European cities, so after some years in the wilderness trying to eek out an alternative universe with China it will return. Believe me, China is going to be far less of a friend to Russia than France/Germany that have spent the last decade making genuine investments in Russia. However, the reason Russia will return to the west as a democracy (and why China won’t waste its time with serious investments), is that the two main Russian cities see themselves as being a part of Europe. This was Peter the Greats failing – and nothing fundamental has changed or will change in that desire.

          • Wikikettle

            Andrew H. I am British not Russian and my considered view is that our period of Empire and ruling the world both militarily and economically is coming to an end much quicker than expected. Coexistence is not in the neo cons and neo Liberal culture. Democracy and Human Rights are a good idea but not practiced in our countries, we pretend to have them. A multi polar world is happening, like it or not. Trade, development, education, health, transport and Sovereignty is what 90% of the world want and will achieve. The US has torn up most of the arms control treaties and declared war on Russia – a peer and match for US, UK, Nato. We in the West are not used to fighting someone our own strength. We use poor proxies and betray them, as we have many times, the latest being Ukraine. How have ” we stood by Ukraine ” ? Rank Hypocrisy.

          • Wikikettle

            As I said before, the only people to stop this war are Ukrainian Army themselves. I said they need to overthrow the Zelensky puppet government, purge all the Nazis, hold elections and declare Neutrality. As I write there is a mass surrender and refusal to fight happening now by Ukrainian troops who faced a pointless death. I hope the war stops and the Ukrainian Army takes over control. The hyper Ukrainian and Western media propoganda about how the war was being won is now being shown for what it was, a big Empire of Lies.

          • Kacper

            @Wikikettle You’re just blindly repeating Russian propaganda line, nothing original. It’s quite sad indeed, given all the crimes that Russia has committed over the last century. The facts are that several times more civilians were killed by Russia than by Britain in the last 100 years; yet you either don’t see it or you indeed are a Russian troll.

  • Kacper

    Trying to be a fair judge, lol. I fear that wars don’t work this way, Craig, and your proposal is unfortunately a non-starter. Let’s begin with the fact that to award the invaders in any way will feel abhorrent to the invaded, and so is a non-starter in negotiations.

    Then, to have NATO on Russia’s doorsteps is a key redline for Putin. Granted, his redlines tend to be movable if left with no choice (vide Finland and Sweden), still it’s not something Russia will ever entertain in negotiations with, as they call it, a quasi-state.

    The concept of devolution might sound attractive on the British islands, but unfortunately it’s one that directly leads to the breakup of the state in longer perspective (just wait re. Northern Ireland and Scotland), additionally fostering the growth of separatism (or its careful nurture by the larger neighbour). As much as it’s awful from the human rights perspective, any Ukrainian attempts to retain a relatively stable state must steer clear from the concept of local autonomies; especially ones drawn along ethnic/linguistic lines.

    By the way, I’m quite sure all the ongoing Russian attempts to portray the war as prone to uncontrolled escalation into NATO territory are bluff. It’s pure war propaganda, typical of Russia (strategic and tactical ambiguity). In reality, Russian leadership has neither appetite nor capability to engage in high- or mid-intensity armed operations in additional theatres (not counting Moldova which would be low intensity). Russia has already committed around 80% of its troops to the Ukraine campaign, and the remaining 15-20% are its defensive forces (including nuclear forces) that are expected to never leave the territory of the Russian Federation. The political leadership is clearly unwilling to mobilise additional forces (for political and economic reasons). Western militaries are well aware of this, and while you fear of escalation, a playing hardball with Russia is perfectly fine as I see it.

    Finally, let’s don’t treat Russia like a naughty child. We don’t need to coach it. We’re not its parent, we’re not its role model, we have almost zero influence over its sovereign decisions. Russia started this war (no, it wasn’t “forced” to it), Russia miscalculated the resistance, and Russia will have to bear consequences. Just as it’s been with all military misadventures for centuries.

    • Kacper

      Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to offer Russia anything to end the war. Countries don’t need gifts. Just as it’s happened with Vietnam and Afghanistan, it’s enough if the invading country determines that its original objectives are militarily unattainable and/or politically too costly, and they will wind down their military.

      • Wikikettle

        Kasper. You have a lazy way of dismissing a critic by calling me a Russian troll. Both WW1 and WW2 were caused by Europe not Russia. Study history and not the Sun newspaper. I get my information on world affairs from solely western sources. Would you call Michael Hudson, Ray McGovern, Bill Binney, The Grayzone, The New Atlas, Scott Ritter, Ron Paul, Tucker Carlson, Naom Chomsky, Robert Fisk, and our host Russian trolls ? As they among others are my sources of information and I agree with some if not all their points. News, current affairs, geo politics are not gleaned by a five minute TV Radio state broadcast every half and hour. Spend some time reading and studying the history and context of how we got here and where we are going.

        • Andrew H

          PS I disagree with MOD comment on this. It is not just about quality of argument – it is of genuine interest and of social importance whether people who are British and grew up in Britain actually believe Ukrainians are nazis. I have not met any real person who has expressed that opinion, and I find it quite out of this world – and I do acknowledge there are some genuine but bizarre viewpoints actually held by some British – such as the lizard people theories. It is of interest to me whether there are real British people that hold these outlandish views of Ukrainians outside of the virtual world.


          [ Mod: For your information, there are plenty of British people who hold that view, as you can see from visiting other sites.

          In any case, the advice to ignore other commenters’ background characteristics and focus on the argument comes from Craig Murray himself. If you disagree with the terms of posting here, you’re under no obligation to continue. ]

    • Alyson

      I regret I did not keep links to the videos of Senate members discussing the planned coup in 2013, and the intended Russian invasion to follow, which would sadly completely destroy Ukraine, but would serve the purpose of depleting Russia’s armaments while the US could keep producing more to supply to Ukraine to keep the war running for as long as possible.

      One key player who is overlooked is Victoria Nuland who I first noticed when she commented the Russia had secured one of the US’s (26) biological warfare labs (which are linked to Hunter Biden’s laptop).

      “Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her, because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for deputy secretary of state for political affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia.

      Nor do they know that from 2003 to 2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration.

      You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying “Fuck the EU” during a February 2014 phone call with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

      During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt appeared to be plotting to replace or undermine elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for favoring former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko to take over as prime minister, instead of the U.S. first choice, Artseniy Yatsenyuk, who indeed took power after Yanukovych was ousted about three weeks later.

      The “Fuck the EU” call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call’s authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies.

      Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government — and America’s responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe.

      In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan — co-founder of The Project for a New American Century — and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover.

      Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the No. 3 official at Biden’s State Department? We’ll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination. “

      Oil is at the centre of all the recent wars, proxy wars, and pipeline disputes. Dollar hegemony and control of supply underpins this one too. Hence Europe will not be allowed to purchase from Iraq, Libya, Iran or Russia in euros.

      Biden would like to unilaterally attack Iran, but Russia guaranteed territorial integrity for Israel and Iran, in an agreement first brokered by Kissinger and renewed by Netanyahu, both of whom no longer hold powerful negotiating positions.

      Putin has not invaded with the intention of destroying Ukraine, however. The coup in 2014 overthrew the democratically elected government in Ukraine, and paved the way for siting NATO armaments in Ukraine in contravention of the Minsk Agreement. It was impressive how quickly the evacuation of women and children was facilitated. Most people are kind. No one wants to be caught up in a war.

      But Putin must be removed before Biden can invade Iran. This list of countries to invade was drawn up by George Bush following in his father’s footsteps. Europe is in a vulnerable position as an ally and must be aware of its limited scope to buy oil and gas other than from approved suppliers and using approved currencies.

      Putin at one time allegedly wanted Russia to become part of Europe, as many Ukrainians would like to do. Imagine that.

    • D

      Re Russia wasn’t forced to do it : osce report 20 feb 2022 , Donetsk 1,100 explosions , Luhansk 926 explosions . 21 feb , Donetsk 332 explosions , Luhansk 1,149 . Minsk deal signed 2014 .
      Re committed 80% of their troops , never seen such a high number reported anywhere , that doesn’t sound remotely plausible

  • Anna

    This might be feasible (if not, in my more-than-humble opinion, desirable, as Ukraine cannot be free to join NATO or the EU), if the conflict were over land.it isn’t over land, however, but over ideology.

  • Anna

    And Erdoğan could play such an important role (like Macron). But why on earth would he want to help the EU? Instead of allowing Turkey to join, the EU has made Turkey become, like Hungary, paid bouncers of fortress Europe, and their economy has suffered drastically as a result (despite the spin that it’s due to the Islamic take on interest rates). Apparently the UK is even paying Turkey to ship the UK’s landfill waste there. I don’t like Erdoğan particularly much at all but any leader would have trouble trusting an EU-led coalition of peace makers given the devastation the EU has wrought upon Turkey. It’s a terrible starting point for collaboration.

  • D

    Andrew h : why would Russia encourage the Russian speaking region / the people that see themselves as Russian not ‘pro Russian’ as the msm constantly describes them as to join the eu when the pre mentioned voted to be automatous in 2014 , this vote included Mariupol , if we ( Biden ) can boastfully bribe Ukraine to fire their chief prosecutor ( not really the sign of an independent nation ) why can’t bribes be used for the good of the people in regards to the ‘indigenous people laws’ that Ukraine have passed that are clearly anti Russian language which = anti Russian . In regards to 2 Russian cities that see themselves as European do you have a source that supports that hard to believe claim . I currently can’t see any majority of Russia being pro Europe today …

    • John Kinsella

      @Anna
      The devastation of the Turkish economy is down to Erdogan.

      His crazy policy of lowering interest rates to tackle inflation is not working. And is nothing to do with Islam, rather saving his friends who have borrowed heavily.

      Annualised inflation is over 100%.

      Erdogan is trying to keep the show on the road till the 2023 elections, I doubt if he’ll pull it off. Even Islamists need bread at affordable prices.

      I’m very happy that the EU didn’t take in Turkey. An autocracy with a large uneducated population and a deficit economy would have been a disaster.
      Hungary is bad enough.

      • Wikikettle

        John Kinsella. I care little for Erdoğan but you patronising the Turkish as largely uneducated takes the biscuit. As for Inflation I see Wiemar levels in Europe shortly. It would be interesting to find out their debt levels compared to us in UK let alone USA. Hungary is charting an Independent course away from a United States of Europe with Blair as President ! The Euro is a dead duck. Buy Roubles !

        • John Kinsella

          7% in Europe, 100%+ in Turkey.

          Turkey imports most of its energy, has a long term balance of payments deficit and has a currency that has halved in value in the year before the Putin regime invasion.

          Erdogan is running to the Gulf regimes for a bailout.

          A bit awkward to ask Putin for help given that Turkey is a NATO member..

          Oh yes, the Turkish people in the West of Turkey are well educated. The people in Anatolia not so much.

          Of course poor ignorant people are far more easily manipulated into voting for an authoritarian regime, just like in Hungary…

  • John Kinsella

    John Sweeney has just returned from Kyiv with his take on why Ukraine is winning the war.
    He believes that Putin is not long for this world, whether because of cancer or a palace coup.

    An informative and entertaining interview.

    https://youtu.be/YE0Vj51iOV8

    • Peter

      @ John Kinsella

      Do you work for the BBC by any chance John, or the government perhaps?

      You do yourself no favours linking to the most disreputable journalists and in your attempt to besmirch Noam Chomsky above you go some way to rendering yourself irrelevant.

  • Jams O'Donnell

    I’m surprised at you. Craig. It’s not up to Putin to decide what status Donbass has. The people of Donbass have successfully fought for their cultural rights against the Ukranian government, and have now declared independence. International law provides for lawful national independence for them, just as it would for Scotland, if we ever managed to do the same (which we won’t).

  • Steel Rat

    With all due respect, but the conclusions are wrong.

    1. Russia will take Donbass + Odessa, Kherson, Nikolaev and not only. Russia has concluded that the West is not capable of;
    2. Nazism and the Orthodox of Ukraine are incompatible – Nazism is an alien phenomenon for them. Do not think that Ukrainians support the Nazis. For 8 years they lived in fear. They were killed, tortured, kept in prisons. This is not only Donbass – it was all over Ukraine. Give them guarantees that the Nazis will not return, give them weapons, and they will sweep this Nazi plague from their land. And so it will be. Now the CAA and armed formations are being created there, which are still maintaining order;
    3. actually there are no “Ukrainians”. Look at Gallup research – more than 80% of “Ukrainians” prefer to communicate in Russian, receive media, conduct office work, business. Google research has shown that 86% of “Ukrainians” make a search query in Russian. When they say that Russians are a minority in Ukraine, it must be understood that they were forced to be called “Ukrainian”.
    • John Kinsella

      @Steel Rat.

      You do know that hundreds of millions of Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and Irish people communicate in English, receive media, conduct office work, business. Google research has shown that 86% of “Americans, Canadians etc ” make a search query in English.

      So there no “Americans, Canadians etc ”? Just English “expats”?

      Ha. Ha. Ha. 😎

      • Steel Rat

        This means that the official language there is English, no more. There is no discrimination on the basis of language.
        In Ukraine, the majority of the population is Russian-speaking, they are forcibly forced to speak Ukrainian, they are rewritten as Ukrainians.
        You are comparing the wrong criteria.

  • D

    The indigenous people law passed in the Ukraine recognises some minorities but not Russians. The law guarantees those against assimilation, deprivation of cultural values, eviction or forced relocation. They have cultural, educational and linguistic rights. They are able to establish their own educational institutions to teach their own language, history and culture and own media. I repeat: Russians are not included in this law.

  • Paul Mc

    This article is already outdated. As of today (May 25, 2022), the Russian / separatist forces are only about ten miles from Slavyansk, in Lyman. Slavyansk is where the bulk of the Ukrainian forces in the east are concentrated. The loss of this key city would carry with it the destruction or capture of the best trained and equipped part of the Ukrainian army. Weapons shipments from the West will not make up for the loss of trained soldiers.

    • Wikikettle

      Paul Mc. I have found Defence Politics Asia a reliable and neutral source of information on the front lines, his maps are detailed and updated daily quoting various sources.

  • Jacomo

    We can disappear down rabbit holes arguing about NATO expansion and Western foreign policy failures all we want, but the core truth is this:

    Putin is a fascist. This means that Russia is, for now, a fascist state.

    How do you negotiate with fascists? They take an absolutist view. Putin views Ukraine as an illegitimate state and Ukrainian people and culture as inherently inferior. How does Ukraine put faith in any peace deal to end the war?

    Ceding Crimea to Russia and reinstating all the rest of pre-2014 territory as Ukrainian is rational, but Putin / Russia isn’t a rational actor. Little short of a Kremlin coup, it’s hard to see an end point right now.

    • D

      Nato expansion to you may be a rabbit hole … the absolutist view seems to be the claim how Putin views things and how his very clear words are ignored or jigsaw puzzled into soundbite journalism , I’ve read so much of putin’s words through interviews, I can’t recall ever gitting a hint of him viewing Ukrainian people or it’s culture as inferior , occasionally he’s stated they are equal , the same people . the peace deal was the Minsk deal so to have no faith in a Russian deal when Ukraine didn’t ratify the Minsk deal just seems illogical to me : ignoring the failed participant

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