Correction: The Donbass is named after the Donets “coal basin” (one of the richest coal-bearing regions on Earth), not the drainage basin of the Don river, although the Donets river does flow into the Don, which is entirely within Russia. The mistake in the below text is corrected in the attached PDF version of the fact-sheet.
The probability of another major—and potentially decisive—flareup in the Ukraine-Russia conflict is now far greater than it has been at any time since August 2015. Whether it happens ultimately depends on U.S. domestic politics. If war does come, the U.S. will be involved to one extent or another, and—however it turns out—the Democrat media will hype President Biden as a Churchillian statesman, crisis manager, and unparalleled strategic genius. Republican elected officials and pundits can choose to sit in the back seat of that circus car, or they can find their own ground.
Ukraine’s President is in a catastrophic position
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine—until 2019 the country’s top comedian, with no political experience—was elected with a staggering 73 percent of the vote but would have trouble reaching 20 percent today.
In 2019, his strongest showing was in southern and eastern Ukraine, due to his promise to peacefully end the war against Russian-backed separatists, which is very unpopular in those areas. That promise has been forgotten.
Zelensky got into a spat with the nation’s supreme court, locking them out of their own office,
and has failed to help the economy, which, having cut most ties with Russia, is dependent on an
“IV drip” from the International Monetary Fund, with no end in sight.
For its COVID-19 vaccine, Ukraine turned to Indian and to a lesser extent Chinese imports, which are widely perceived as ineffective at best. Thousands of doctors and nurses (by some accounts, the majority of Ukraine’s medics) have refused vaccination, and even the country’s Surgeon General fell ill with COVID-19 almost two weeks after getting his shot.
Things are so bad that in late March, Zelensky’s “Servant of the People” party —Ukraine’s ruling party, an ad-hoc creation which followed the comedian into power—placed fifth in a special election in a parliamentary district in the country’s east.
To staunch the hemorrhage, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (the “RNBO”), with the public blessings of the U.S. and UK embassies in Kiev, issued an order shutting down the nation’s three leading opposition television stations, which are owned by a Zelensky opponent and tycoon who is alleged to have indirect ties to Moscow. In the absence of evidence to charge him with treason or any crime, the RNBO also “cancelled” the man, prohibiting anyone from doing business with him.
Zelensky has tried to compensate for collapsed support among his core electorate by coddling up to Ukrainian ultranationalists including neo-Nazis, but that has not gone well. He is desperate, but cannot go “full dictator”, as Ukraine must have relatively fair (and on-schedule) elections so as to maintain appearances with its patrons internationally.
Unless something breaks in his favor, Zelensky will not last until the 2023 election.
He may be removed in a “palace coup” or some other intrigue, or gently forced aside by Ukraine’s benefactors (chiefly the U.S.), followed by snap elections to parliament, which would see his party wiped out.
His one hope to remain in power is to drum-up patriotic fervor through a successful military campaign against the Russian protectorates in eastern Ukraine—the so- called “Donetsk Peoples’ Republic” and “Lugansk Peoples’ Republic.”
Prospects for a big war
The war in the “Donbass”—the Donets coal basin, the general name for southeastern-most Ukraine, home to the so-called Republics—never ended, but has been largely forgotten in the U.S. Over the last several years, it has killed roughly 300 to 400 combatants on each side per year. It is a static, “low-intensity” conflict, with most casualties arising from sniper fire, the occasional artillery duel, or a recon patrol walking into an ambush or minefield.
In recent months, Ukraine’s government has made clear its dissatisfaction with the “Minsk Protocol”, the vague framework set down in 2014-2015 for ending the war. Kiev has stated that Minsk has outlived its usefulness and become unproductive. Russia, on the other hand, publicly adheres to Minsk, although this is likely a way to buy time and to satisfy the major European countries, which value diplomatic form perhaps more than does the U.S.
On March 25th, Donetsk, for the first time, decreed the reinstitution of draft boards and medical examination commissions to Ukrainian or Soviet-era standards. Although there is no time to train new soldiers for an imminent conflict, this is a signal that the Republic is preparing for war. Indeed, some prominent Russian veterans of the Donbass conflict have indicated that a “big” war could start this month.
There are Russian “advisors” in Donetsk and Lugansk, but not enough to make a difference (in a bigger war) without reinforcements. There are also many hundreds of U.S., British, and German “advisors”, intelligence liaisons, drone operators, mercenaries, etc., working in Ukraine, as there have been since 2014. On each side, few if any are on the front lines—yet— although Western personnel have long flown reconnaissance drones over rebel lines.
President Zelensky cannot launch a major assault without approval from Washington.
Since 2014, Ukraine has been a U.S. dependency, with all its major decisions, to include key personnel appointments, being run through the U.S. Embassy in Kiev and/or the U.S. National Security Council, and, until January 2017, being cleared by Vice President Joseph Biden, who was in charge of Washington’s Ukraine policy at the time.
A Ukrainian offensive would be portrayed by the U.S. Department of Defense, the State Department, and our elite media outlets as responding to Russian aggression (with no explanation as to why Russia would attack now, other than to “test Biden”, just because.)
In truth, the decision on whether or not Ukraine goes to war, rests with the Biden Administration.
Thus, the presence or absence of a Ukraine-Russia war in 2021 (or beyond) is ultimately a question of U.S. policy and politics, to include U.S. domestic politics. If grandstanding over a war is perceived as beneficial to the Biden administration, there will be a war. If a war is seen as distracting from the administration’s domestic priorities, the war will be cancelled or at least delayed.
U.S. domestic implications
Ukraine has shown great utility to U.S. foreign policy as a submissive, loyal, reliable, and very cost-effective thorn in Russia’s side, and a potential launch pad for regime change within Russia itself. It is not realistic to give up on this tool in the foreseeable future.
However, Republicans and their affiliated media outlets should be careful to avoid a “rah-rah” embrace of a “war-of-choice” initiated at the discretion of the Biden-Harris National Security Council.
It will be hard for some Republicans in Congress to overcome their knee-jerk compulsion to slip in a few sound bites against “Russian aggression.” Talking tough about punishing Russia has long been the default method of burnishing one’s foreign policy credentials in the Senate. And yet, Republicans should be aware that their electoral base has moved past that.
Even while throwing shade at Russia, Republicans should remember that their core voters don’t care now about spreading “democracy” abroad, when they are losing it at home.
Conservatives are being persecuted; people have lost their jobs for Facebook posts against BLM or the transgender agenda. Tens of millions of others live in fearful silence. Half the country sees the FBI as corrupt and politically compromised. Over 100 Americans are facing up to 10 years in jail for nothing more than trespassing at the Capitol, while charges are dropped against communist revolutionaries who threw gasoline bombs and conspired to attack the Federal Courthouse in Portland for many weeks on end. Moreover, Democrats seek to implement a one-party state through their “HR1” legislation.
In short, it is a political dead end for Republicans to hand the Democrats a loud “me too” chorus in support of a Biden war-of-choice in Ukraine. Most Republican voters are more concerned with the Democrats turning the U.S. into Russia, than they are about Russia.
If the U.S. deploys military assets during a Ukraine-Russia conflict, even (as would be most likely) as a show of force to some place far from the front lines, or on the sea or in the air just outside Russian territory, Republicans should demand an honest and unscripted explanation from the President himself, to include answering live, unscripted questions from non-Democrat-oriented media outlets.
Republicans should not allow Biden to play the “tough guy” and grandstand off an optional war, while he pawns the coherent talking off on his Secretary of Defense or someone else.
If he owns it, he owns it—he is our Commander-in-Chief. If he is incapable of addressing the nation regarding a major conflict which his government has authorized—especially if he has sent American ships, aircraft, or other assets to Russia’s coasts or borders, where they may be shot at, by mistake or not—he should consider making way for younger leadership.
Congressional Republicans, particularly those in the Senate, are already short on credibility with the GOP base, and with Trump diehards in particular. After years of Russia nothingburgers to bring down our 45th president, rallying to President Biden for an opportunistic proxy war with Russia risks further alienating the base. If the Democrats need a war, it is advisable to let them fight it themselves.
UPDATE: April 12, 2021
You are hearing it here first (the MSM won’t touch this.) For those on Capitol Hill with access to information, feel free to follow up with your defense liaisons and confirm. Since the beginning of this month if not earlier, NATO—primarily U.S. Air Force—transport aircraft have been making near-daily or in some cases daily deliveries of guided anti-tank munitions and other gear to Ukraine, to include, for the first time—this never happened under Presidents Obama or Trump—by way of multiple direct, consecutive-day flights (at most, refueling in Europe) from the U.S. to Ukraine, suggesting that what is being delivered to Ukraine is more advanced than what was donated previously (though it’s also possible that the relevant U.S. military stores in Europe have simply run out.)
This is effectively an “air bridge”, comparable in principle (though on a smaller scale) to what the U.S. maintained during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. It is clear the DoD is preparing to fight, in the immediate term, using Ukraine, a fairly large-scale proxy war—conceivably with direct U.S. involvement, if things go south for Ukraine, as they likely will—with Russia. It is also clear that several years of relative global peace and stability experienced under President Trump are likely soon coming to an end (in case anyone doubted that would happen.) Even if war is averted in the Ukraine, we can expect it will break out in the Pacific or somewhere else; it is just a question of where and when.
The Democrat party regime is now exceedingly weak—like Napoleon in Moscow, they seem to be in charge, but they are losing direction and (with Senators Manchin and Sinema holding on the filibuster) they can’t produce their intended results—and one obvious solution is a foreign war to rally the masses with some rah-rah chyrons under Wolf Blitzer’s solemn face on CNN.
Sadly, it is also clear now (for anyone who just woke up) that the interests of the DoD have become those of the Democrat party regime and vice-versa. We can only wait to see how the Republicans and Fox News (what’s left of it) handle this, whenever and wherever it finally does happen. Will they cheerlead, trying to out-Democrat the Democrats, allowing their opponents to shove through some radical legislation under cover of a war fever?
UPDATE: April 19, 2021
All indications are that the Ukraine-Russia war is on full-steam-ahead mode. The U.S. Embassy in Kiev issued a security alert for American travelers late last week, stating that “security conditions may change with little or no notice”, which doesn’t prove anything, but which, interestingly, was done by another U.S. Embassy in the region several days before the start of last year’s Armenia-Azerbaijan war (the war having appeared to come as a surprise for the Armenian government.)
The Russian navy has re-directed, through unknown means (presumably through Russia’s river system) the majority of its Caspian Sea flotilla into the Black Sea; the windows of government buildings in Donetsk are being sandbagged; and the Russian press has been full of stories and advice on what to do if the U.S. turns off Visa and Mastercard global services for Russian travelers and prohibits correspondent relationships between Russian and American banks.
Furthermore, the Russian government is preparing to deport 1 million illegal aliens (working primarily construction and building trades) who would likely find themselves idle and “emotional” should Russia’s economy contract due to another round of sanctions. I cannot confirm this, but a reliable Donetsk “citizen” news source reports that Ukrainian commanders have received special orders packets which are to be opened simultaneously only on a special signal from Ukraine’s General Staff.
Meanwhile, to constructively inform the American public, Tucker Carlson had Tulsi Gabbard on last week to tell us how nuclear war can literally melt your face off. I thought Tulsi would have more to say, but it turns out she is not a particularly deep thinker. What does seem clear is that war in principle has either been approved at the top levels of Biden-Harris (i.e. the National Security Council and Biden-Harris themselves), or else the decision has been outsourced for flexibility’s sake to the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense.
At this time, a Ukraine-Russia war seems likely, barring a major U.S. domestic “distraction”, such as, potentially, widespread civil unrest in the wake of a failure to convict Derek Chauvin in Minnesota. As explained before….
…..these foreign events matter to us, as the Democrat media complex would use them to build up the great war-leader Biden and potentially distract and steamroll domestic opposition to their radical agenda in a way that was not possible without another round of Russia hysteria.
UPDATE: April 30, 2021
On April 20th, the Wall Street Journal claimed that Biden-Harris officials are “preparing options” for sending weapons to Ukraine, though nothing has yet reached the President’s desk. On April 22nd, a Department of State spokesman stated with regards to this subject: “It is something we are always taking a close look at. It’s something we’re always evaluating… I’m not going to get ahead of any additional moves we might make.”
Our brilliant journalists might wish to consult open sources on the ground in Ukraine as well as to monitor open-source “flight tracker” websites in real time, because there is nothing hidden about the half-dozen or more NATO (mostly U.S.) large military cargo aircraft that flew into Ukraine—two of them on direct flights from the continental U.S, extremely unusual, unprecedented—in the first half of April, as reported in this bulletin. Some of these flights went straight into Kiev, so there is no chance they were carrying U.S. Army personnel to train Ukrainian forces at a base in the west of the country. These are cargo flights.
There is much that the public is not being told; the censorship (or self-censorship) is similar to what’s been going on in Russia with respect to its army deployment on its border with Ukraine. War (or the threat of it) tends to silence the truth. And of course,
what they tell or don’t tell the media is usually what they’re telling or not telling Congress—although it’s not, technically, lying if it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Last week, a bill to provide a partially conditioned (minor strings attached) $300 million in “foreign military financing” (FMF) to Ukraine for Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026 cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. One may agree or disagree with the policy, but it’s how we do things in a lawful society with co-equal branches of government. This is not the first FMF for Ukraine and it won’t be the last. However, FMF is not weapons but financial aid that must be spent on weapons (typically, made in the U.S.) or other military needs, which is done more or less out in the open, and it takes time. On the other hand,
what the Department of Defense (DoD) is doing appears to be an “off the books” (Ollie North style) operation, because, well, Congress moves too slowly, attaches too many strings, and the Pentagon has a war to run.
It’s anyone’s guess as to whether this deception or “omission” is coordinated with the Executive Office of the President (Biden, Harris, the National Security Council, etc.) It’s hard to imagine that the most relevant people in Congress are unaware. But officially, it’s not happening. Of course, the Russians know, so the secret has no military value. And yet, Congress as a whole—and the public—have not been informed that the DoD has already just run potentially several hundred million dollars of guided antitank launchers/missiles (one C-130 can accommodate tens of millions of dollars of such gear) and other weapons from U.S. military stockpiles to Ukraine, making the pending Congressional appropriation of $300 million over five years almost irrelevant.
It’s difficult for many patriotic, pro-military conservatives to stomach, but we know the DoD opposed President Trump’s withdrawal goals in Afghanistan, and actively, aggressively and shamelessly sabotaged the same in Syria. Who’s to say they are not running their own policy with respect to Ukraine (which is now replacing Afghanistan as Uncle Sam’s number one nation-building project)?
After all, there are now many hundreds if not thousands of jobs in the DoD, State Department, and CIA devoted exclusively to Ukraine—a lot of careers to be made. And, we have thousands of officers, staff, and contractors who must be reassigned now that Afghanistan is winding down. It’s not beyond imagination that Biden-Harris may have offered a deeper Ukraine engagement to this “special interest group” in exchange for being “allowed” (unlike Trump) to finally leave Afghanistan.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that Uncle Sam needs another project on the scope and potentially the scale of Afghanistan, and Ukraine is now the only obvious candidate. We should expect more funny business, because there is a lot of “turf”, career self-interest, financial profit, and political benefit behind “standing up to Russian aggression.”
It’s also clear that this game is exclusive to Biden-Harris and the DoD (or perhaps just DoD), and that Republicans—in fact, Congress as a whole—now have no real role at all, except as potential dumb cheerleaders in the event of a bigger war than what Ukraine and Russia have fought so far, through which the Democrat infotainment complex would elevate Biden-Harris to the status of historic military geniuses (and hey, if you need some pork spending passed, “war is infrastructure!”)
To anyone who hasn’t figured it out, the Republican base doesn’t give a damn any more about Russia or any “foreign threat” besides China and perhaps Iran (and even then, many of us don’t want to fight China unless its forces strike east of the Sierra Nevada—we don’t see the western side as worth shedding Deplorable blood for.) In short, we… just… don’t… care.
ANY RUSSIA HYSTERIA OR ANY FOREIGN CONFLICT NOW WOULD BE A MAJOR DISTRACTION, HIGHLY DISRUPTIVE TO THE “AMERICA FIRST” CAUSE. IF SENATE REPUBLICANS FEEL THEY HAVE TO “RAH-RAH” AND FALL IN LINE BEHIND WHATEVER THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH WANTS TO DO, IT WILL VASTLY STRENGTHEN THE DEMOCRATS AND THE BUSH-CHENEY-RYAN WING OF THE GOP, WHILE DELAYING THE RECONSTITUTION OF A GENUINE, POST-TRUMP REPUBLICAN AGENDA SO AS TO ENSURE THE NATIONAL GOP IS NOT JUST A ME-TOO, DEMOCRAT-LITE PARTY AS IT WAS IN 2015.
I know this is hard for many Republicans on Capitol Hill to appreciate, as most key staff there deal with the bureaucracy and entrenched interests much more than with ordinary voters. But they’ve got to wake up to it. Please, don’t fall into that trap!
Glad I found your blog, Jacob! Very insightful. Will be a regular visitor here. Keep up the good work of informing us – the American tax payers, of the machinations of the current rulers.
If I may ask one totally unrelated question – could you please identify the music that you play at the beginning of your (May 8?) Ukraine – Military Developments Over the Weekend?? Thank you!
Folks! Help the gentleman out!
Dreizen, this piece of music seems to be wreaking havoc among your readers.
I’ll help you, Injunus, it’s the “Dance of the Knights”, from Romeo and Juliet ballet, by Prokofiev. My favorite of all times.
Dreizin, thanks for the great reporting. I feel so isolated, surrounded by sheep…
Glad to be home, at the no propaganda zone.
My name is Maria de la PAZ (Paz=Peace=Mir in Russian).
I am from Spain and we have 2 family names. Mine both end by “Z”, hence my “nom de plume” with 3 Zs 🙂
Oh, I think you mean День Победы, “Victory day”. Fantastic too!