The Empire Knows It’s Pouring Ukrainian Blood Into An Unwinnable Proxy War

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readJul 24, 2023


Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

In a new article titled “Ukraine’s Lack of Weaponry and Training Risks Stalemate in Fight With Russia,” The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Michaels reports that western officials knew Ukrainian forces didn’t have the weapons and training necessary to succeed in their highly touted counteroffensive which was launched last month.

Michaels writes:

“When Ukraine launched its big counteroffensive this spring, Western military officials knew Kyiv didn’t have all the training or weapons — from shells to warplanes — that it needed to dislodge Russian forces. But they hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day.

“They haven’t. Deep and deadly minefields, extensive fortifications and Russian air power have combined to largely block significant advances by Ukrainian troops. Instead, the campaign risks descending into a stalemate with the potential to burn through lives and equipment without a major shift in momentum.”

The claim that western officials had sincerely believed Ukrainian forces might be able to overcome their glaring deficits through sheer pluck and ticker is undermined later in the same article by a war pundit who says the US would never attempt such a counteroffensive without first controlling the skies, which Ukraine doesn’t have the ability to do:

“America would never attempt to defeat a prepared defense without air superiority, but they [Ukrainians] don’t have air superiority,” the U.S. Army War College’s John Nagl told WSJ. “It’s impossible to overstate how important air superiority is for fighting a ground fight at a reasonable cost in casualties.”

Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp writes the following on the latest WSJ revelation:

“Leading up to the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which was launched in June, the Discord leaks and media reports revealed that the US did not believe Ukraine could regain much territory from Russia. But the Biden administration pushed for the assault anyway, as it rejected the idea of a pause in fighting.

So the empire is still knowingly throwing Ukrainian lives into the meat grinder of an unwinnable proxy war, even as western officials tell the public that this war is about saving Ukrainian lives and handing Putin a crushing defeat whenever they’re on camera.

This attitude from the empire is not a new development. Last October The Washington Post reported that “Privately, U.S. officials say neither Russia nor Ukraine is capable of winning the war outright, but they have ruled out the idea of pushing or even nudging Ukraine to the negotiating table.”

Now why might that be? Why would the western empire be so comfortable encouraging Ukrainians to keep fighting when it knows they can’t win?

We find our answer in another Washington Post article titled “The West feels gloomy about Ukraine. Here’s why it shouldn’t.”, authored last week by virulent empire propagandist David Ignatius. In his eagerness to frame the floundering counteroffensive in a positive light for his American audience, Ignatius let slip an inconvenient truth:

“Meanwhile, for the United States and its NATO allies, these 18 months of war have been a strategic windfall, at relatively low cost (other than for the Ukrainians). The West’s most reckless antagonist has been rocked. NATO has grown much stronger with the additions of Sweden and Finland. Germany has weaned itself from dependence on Russian energy and, in many ways, rediscovered its sense of values. NATO squabbles make headlines, but overall, this has been a triumphal summer for the alliance.”

Anyone who believes this proxy war is about helping Ukrainians should be made to read that paragraph over and over again until it sinks in. The admission that the US-centralized power structure benefits immensely from this proxy conflict is revealing enough, but that parenthetical “other than for the Ukrainians” aside really drives it home. It reads as though it was added as an afterthought, like “Oh yeah it’s actually kind of rough on the Ukrainians though — if you consider them to be people.”

The claim that this war is about helping Ukrainians has been further undermined by another new Washington Post report that Ukraine is now more riddled with land mines than any other nation on earth, and that US-supplied cluster munitions are only making the land more deadly.

That’s right kids! We’re turning Ukraine into an uninhabitable wasteland of death and dismemberment to save the Ukrainians.

We should probably talk more about the fact that the US empire is loudly promoting the goal of achieving peace in Ukraine by defeating Russia while quietly acknowledging that this goal is impossible. This is like accelerating toward a brick wall and pretending it’s an open road.

The narrative that Russia can be beaten by ramping up proxy warfare against it makes sense if you believe Russia can be militarily defeated in Ukraine, but the US empire does not believe that Russia can be militarily defeated in Ukraine. It knows that continuing this war is only going to perpetuate the death and devastation.

“Beat Putin’s ass and make him withdraw” sounds cool and is egoically gratifying, and it’s become the mainstream answer to the problem of the war in Ukraine, but nobody promoting that answer can address the fact that the ones driving this proxy war believe it’s impossible. In fact, all evidence we’re seeing suggests that the US is not trying to deliver Putin a crushing defeat in Ukraine and force him to withdraw, but is rather trying to create another long and costly military quagmire for Moscow, as western cold warriors have done repeatedly in instances like Afghanistan and Syria.

Wanting to weaken Russia and wanting to save lives and establish peace in Ukraine are two completely different goals, so different that in practice they wind up being largely contradictory. Drawing Moscow into a bloody quagmire means many more people dying in a war that drags on for years, with all the immense human suffering that that entails.

The US does not want peace in Ukraine, it wants to overextend Russia, shore up military and energy dominance over Europe, expand its war machine and enrich the military-industrial complex. That’s why it knowingly provoked this war. It’s posing as Ukraine’s savior while being clearly invested in Ukraine’s destruction.

It is not legitimate to support this proxy war without squarely addressing this massive contradiction using hard facts and robust argumentation. Nobody ever has.


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