Ukraine Will be the First Battle Won in the Emerging World

Sergio Rodriguez Gelfenstein,  published on Workers World, November 17, 2023

Interesting analysis by Venezuelan international relations expert.  Editor

In Palestine, a live and direct genocide has been taking place for over a month now, sponsored and armed by the United States. Meanwhile Ukraine, Washington’s other putative child, is languishing in oblivion. So far in November, we witnessed the release of a series of statements that show the rotten and terminal state of Kiev, just waiting for the last rites that will undoubtedly have repercussions beyond its borders.

On the first day of November, the head of the Pentagon, General Lloyd Austin, speaking at the Senate hearing about the additional funds the administration requested, stated with extraordinary forcefulness that Ukraine could not win the conflict with Russia without Washington’s support. This brought home a truth, long known to the top military officers, that Western political leaders have long sought to conceal. Simply put, Ukraine’s military effort depends almost exclusively on U.S. input to sustain it.

To make the assertion more obvious, and perhaps thinking that there might be some doubts about it, just three days later, on Nov. 4, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre warned that the U.S. government “is running out of funds to finance arms shipments to Ukraine.” In something that might seem laughable if thousands of human lives were not at stake, the spokesperson affirmed that they are going to start delivering “smaller aid packages” to expand the capacity to support the Kiev regime “for as long as possible.”

It is worth recalling that on Oct. 20, the White House asked Congress for a new aid package for Kiev worth $60 billion. Last Thursday, Oct. 2, however, the House of Representatives passed a bill providing more than $14 billion in emergency aid to Israel, but with no mention of Ukraine. The explanation came from Republican Rep. Mike Johnson, the new leader of the House of Representatives, who stressed that Israel’s needs are more “urgent” than those of Ukraine.

All this comes as Ukraine’s Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko informed the public that his country faces a $29 billion deficit by 2024, and that without the help of its Western allies, it will be difficult to overcome such a stumbling block. Marchenko said he saw a lot of “weariness” and “weakness” among Ukraine’s partners, adding that Western officials “would like to forget” about military actions, although hostilities “are still ongoing, on a large scale.”

Ukrainian general admits ‘stalemate’

Adding facts to reinforce our assessment, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valery Zaluzhny himself, admitted in an interview for the British magazine The Economist that Russia was in a better position in the armed conflict. Zaluzhy described the current situation on the front as “a stalemate” in terms of the level of technology.

Zaluzhny’s interview not only caused discontent and demoralization in Ukraine, but also brought widespread terror to some of Kiev’s allies. President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the contrary, asserted that his country was not at a stalemate with Russia. He stated that what was happening was that Moscow had total air superiority, which forced them to take care of their troops. He then outlined a proposal to overcome this situation, based on the delivery by the West of the promised F-16 multipurpose fighter jets.

Adding fuel to the fire, the next day, Nov. 5, the former adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Alexey Arestovich, agreed with Zaluzhny, stating that Ukraine could not — under the current conditions — defeat Russia on the battlefield. Arguing in favor of his idea, Arestovich asserted, “The enemy is more powerful in economic, military, mobilization and organizational terms, and our partners, on whom we depend, are not interested in defeating the Russian Federation.”

The most interesting thing about this statement is that it was the first time a spokesperson for Kiev refuted the idea that the failure of the operations depended exclusively on the contribution of the West in armaments and financial resources. Instead they incorporated in the analysis Ukraine’s large deficits in human resources and organization, for which external aid has no major influence. On the other hand, this statement makes Kiev’s dependence on the West to sustain the actions explicit, as General Austin had already pointed out.

This debate, which covers the internal news of the country, is inserted in an electoral dynamic in view of next year’s presidential elections. But Zelensky closed any possibility in this regard by saying that elections cannot be held in a situation where martial law is in force.

Although it was rumored that the new Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov, linked to former President Petro Poroshenko, had submitted a request to dismiss Zaluzhny, such information was denied by the adviser of the Presidential Office Serhiy Leshchenko, who characterized it as “false news.” However, the evil was already done when it became clear that a sector of the society wants Zaluzhny to leave.

In this regard, the Presidential Office issued a harsh public criticism of Zaluzhny, but the president did not take the decision to dismiss him. Zelensky must have taken note of Zaluzhny’s excellent relations with NATO military commanders and especially with the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

It is, however, necessary to understand the negative dimension of what it means for any country when the head of state and the head of the armed forces publicly express contradictory opinions, particularly when referring to the situation of the conflict in its military aspect. The Nov. 4 New York Times noted that such a situation is an expression of “an emerging fissure between the general and the president” that “comes as Ukraine is struggling in its war effort, militarily and diplomatically.”

Inner battle in Kiev

This controversy was once again a reason for Arestovich’s intervention in order to continue “rubbing salt in the wound.” It is no secret that the former adviser has expressed his aspirations for the presidency. Somehow, that explains his permanent appearance in the media and social networks. In this context, it explains his apparent interest in mediating in the brawl that evidently goes against the fighting spirit of the armed forces.

Arestovich has appealed to Zelensky to “show some sense” and settle his disagreements with Zaluzhny. He also let him know that in his hands is “the key to change the position of the opposition, of the Americans, of the whole world, of the Army and of society.” Arestovich took the opportunity to tell Zelensky that it is not those who criticize him and urge him to hold the elections that generate instability in the country, “but you yourself, with your ineffective policies that undermine the faith of the citizens in the victory, the feelings in the Army, the confidence of the partners and allies.”

Some of the most influential Western media have been joining this controversy. For example, the magazine Time, which has now become — without any qualms — a strong detractor of the Ukrainian government, published an article in which it describes Zelensky as a person who lives on the fringes of reality. The assertion is surprising, knowing that this media outlet is strongly linked to the CIA, the main foreign intelligence agency of the United States.

In this regard, Fox News journalist and broadcaster Clayton Morris asked, “Why would a CIA-backed magazine suddenly decide to show the true, bleak picture of the situation in Ukraine? To get their support or [to] lay the groundwork for something less pleasant?” Morris stated that in order to write the article, Time gained access to Zelensky’s inner circle and, as a result, he could be portrayed as a “mentally unstable and unrealized leader.”

The article, published Oct. 30, comments on Zelensky and his entourage, noting that the Ukrainian president’s excessive out of touch optimism, even despite failures in combat operations, “hinders his team’s attempts to realize new strategies and ideas.”

With extreme harshness, the publication asserts that Ukraine will no longer be able to recruit the necessary human resources to use all the weapons that the West has promised it. At the same time, it states that also conspiring against its success is the fact that local officials “are stealing as if there were no tomorrow.”

Kiev’s counteroffensive fails

In the background of this dispute is the disagreement between Zaluzhny and Zelensky in their respective assessments of the situation at the front in the face of the failure of the Kiev counteroffensive. On this matter, the New York Times went so far as to say that the operations of the Ukrainian military failed to make “any progress,” and resulted — on the contrary — in a large number of casualties. The Times added that, “Ukraine is facing intensive Russian attacks in the East while skepticism in Europe and the Republican Party of the United States has grown.”

Since June 4 (the date of the beginning of the “counteroffensive”), the Ukrainian armed forces have suffered 90,000 casualties (including dead and seriously wounded beyond recovery), as well as 557 tanks and 1,900 armored vehicles destroyed. To get an idea of the significance of this figure, suffice it to say that so far the West has sent to Ukraine 595 tanks (out of the 830 committed) and 1,550 armored vehicles.

Russia, for its part, is carrying out active defense operations which means the execution of small-scale offensive actions in some sectors, focusing its attacks through strikes against air assets, troop concentration sites and logistics. It should be remembered that — from the war point of view — for Russia this conflict has basically the characteristics of a war of attrition that has already overwhelmed the capabilities of Ukraine, affecting also the United States and, above all, Europe.

In this context, the Ukrainian elite are beginning to show signs of desperation. Thus, we have started to witness a call for “understanding” from the West because, according to Zelensky, the Ukrainian troops are defending “common values” such as democracy, which are today under attack by the Russian autocracy. In the collective imagination, it is about installing a new bipolarity, “democracy vs. autocracy.”

In his uneasiness, Zelensky appealed to the West to fight against the Russian danger that could “kill everyone,” and thus leave the door open to attack NATO countries, in which case “you will send your sons and daughters [to war]. And the price will be higher. It is very important not to lose the will, not to lose this strong position, and not to lose your democracy.”

In the height of his frustration, last Monday, Nov. 6, the overwhelmed Ukrainian president asked “the United States, the European Union and Asian countries” to send air defense systems to his country or “at least to lease them to us during the winter.”

The truth is that such a “counteroffensive” of the Ukrainian Armed Forces did not live up to the hopes of the West, and it was probably the last chance for Ukraine because Kiev no longer has the resources to carry out a major operation on the front.

This whole situation puts the possibility of a negotiated solution to the conflict on the table, if such a possibility exists. The Washington Post has pointed out that there had been a possible negotiated settlement of the Ukrainian conflict, but it has already disappeared, since Russia has an advantage on the front and is unlikely to desist.

Although Zelensky denies such an idea, it has become more and more widespread. For example, Slovakia’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Juraj Blanár stated unequivocally that there is no military solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

Crisis in West Asia has impact on Ukraine

Even Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and a perennial warmonger, has had to admit that the crisis in West Asia has had a strong impact on policy towards Ukraine. In an unusual burst of honesty, Borrell stated, “Let’s be frank, the crisis in the Middle East is already having a lasting impact on our policy in Ukraine.” Borrell called for a solution to the Middle East conflict, but not to forget Ukraine because: “If Ukraine loses, we lose. We have to maintain our unanimity and our unity in supporting Ukraine.”

As Indian diplomat and international political analyst M.K. Bhadrahumar has said, “The Ukraine war is on autopilot.” He argues this point by stating that the strategic objectives set by President Vladimir Putin in February last year remain intact. But now, “Russia feels that it has taken the lead in the war and that this is irreversible.”

Although Russia has not launched a major offensive, its preparation for it is evident. However, for the last month, whatever happens in Ukraine will be irrevocably linked to the conflict in West Asia. This situation cannot be absent from political and military assessments. The simultaneity in time of both events and many others that are occurring in various corners of the planet are related to the crisis of the West and the United States and their inability to maintain their unilateral hegemony in the world.

It seems difficult for the United States to deal with both conflicts at the same time, especially because the two are not the only conflicts. At the same time, the U.S. must contend with China in the economic sphere, manage its own internal crisis, sustain the colonial power structure that is now tottering in Africa and generate responses to the silent rebellion that is beginning to manifest itself in different ways in Latin America and the Caribbean, especially because Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have been able to resist and hold their flags high.

For the time being, the conviction seems to be spreading in the United States that Ukraine is not going to win the war against Russia, pessimism is spreading and panic is flooding the interstices of imperial power. We don’t know yet, but perhaps Ukraine will be the first battle won in the world that is being born.

A Venezuelan international relations expert, Sergio Rodriguez Gelfenstein was previously Director of the International Relations of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, his country’s ambassador to Nicaragua and an adviser for international politics for TeleSUR. You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter): @sergioro0701. Translation: John Catalinotto

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