Using Ukraine as Cannon Fodder

Last week Western leaders started voicing their frustration with the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The frustration is rooted in Ukraine not using "combined arms" tactics on the battlefield. This means integrating infantry, armored vehicles, and artillery. Basically, their complaint is that Ukraine isn’t going hard enough.

The New York Times reported, "Senior US officials in recent weeks had privately expressed frustration that some Ukrainian commanders, exasperated at the slow pace of the initial assault and fearing increased casualties among their ranks, had reverted to old habits – decades of Soviet-style training in artillery barrages – rather than sticking with the Western tactics and pressing harder to breach the Russian defenses."

According to the West, Ukraine is playing it too conservative, attempting to clear minefields and other obstacles to minimize human casualties – as if the "Soviet style" tactics were light on throwing bodies at the enemy during WWII.

This Western analysis of the current situation is written with an arrogant sense of superiority, as if saying "listen up, Ukrainians, don’t you understand you’re supposed to be throwing even more bodies at the deeply entrenched Russian army which had months to fortify their multiple belt lines of defense on the other side of thick mine fields and have a staggering amount of artillery and air defense superiority? What don’t you understand?"

They’re saying the quiet part out loud: Ukrainians are disposable in the quest to "weaken Russia." Thousands, potentially tens of thousands of Ukrainians have died in the counteroffensive alone, which has produced no sizable gains for Kyiv.

Furthermore, the problem with this narrative is that Ukraine absolutely did kick off this offensive with as much fervor as they could muster, including tens of billions of dollars of support and training from the West. In the opening weeks of the counteroffensive, 20% of all Ukrainian armored vehicles were destroyed according to American and European officials. Those forces which the West had been bragging about training across a swath of NATO countries got demolished by Russia’s defense in depth.

In that first week, I was watching corporate media praising the long-promised offensive finally starting, stating that big gains were expected. In the background of the talking head was 20 seconds of loop footage. One video caught my eye. It was a video from a drone flying a bomb into a group of battered, stuck tanks. Clearly the implication was supposed to be that Ukraine was demolishing Russian armor, except there was one problem: the upper left of the video was clearly labeled "Russian Defense Ministry Video" and the tanks were German-made Leopards.

I sat there, listening to the clueless talking head tell me what he was showing me was the opposite of what it actually was. I wonder if the corporate journalists even noticed.

As with the large majority of US foreign wars – proxy or direct – the host country gets absolutely wrecked. The economy gets wrecked, the infrastructure gets wrecked, and coupled with the massive amount of loss of life, the spirit of the country gets wrecked too.

If history is a guide, Ukraine will eventually fade from the news cycle to be abandoned by the West. Blue and yellow flags will fade from Facebook profile pictures to be replaced with the next thing corporate media tells the people to be angry about. As with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen, the war-torn country will be left to pick up the pieces and bury the dead, much worse off than it was before. The only difference the average American will notice is more price inflation due to money creation to fund the war. War and debt always go hand in hand; both are enemies of liberty; neither can be sustained in perpetuity.

I’m not claiming to know the future, and this war could certainly drag out longer, but it sure seems inevitable that the largely Russian-speaking Eastern part of Ukraine joins Russia, or becomes its own state, possibly wrapping towards Odessa. Either way, it leaves what’s left of the current country a rump state, even potentially land-locked. Again, looking at past tends, I could imagine a scenario where leftover and disgruntled Ukrainian military factions are even targeted by the CIA or DOD for causing trouble. Maybe that sounds crazy now, but remember that Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and the Houthis were all at one point open allies of the United States (and that’s far from an exhaustive list). The list of groups totally abandoned after a failed US war is even longer. How anyone trusts anything any US official says at this point is beyond me.

Regardless, Western officials will still somehow spin this as a strategic win. "Think of what would have happened if we didn’t intervene. Russia would have taken half of Europe!" It doesn’t matter how absurd the claim is, they’ll claim it. They’ll also claim that it weakened Russia, driving it into despair. It has, in fact, driven Russia right into BRICS expansion, and driven most of the non-Western world into closer economic cooperation. Despite the narrative from corporate media and Western officials, Russia is openly trading with the rest of the world. China, Africa, India, and South America are happily buying Russian energy, grain, and fertilizer. All of these countries are ignoring the West’s sanctions, and telling such to their face. It’s becoming a multi-polar world no matter how many proxy wars, coups, sanctions, and bouts of economic bullying Washington elites try to pull.

In the coming months, the situation in Eastern Europe will come to a head. The West will have to decide if it will quietly abandon Ukraine or start WWIII. I wish that the sane option – a cease fire and negotiations – were still an option. But as recent history teaches us, this won’t happen. Therefore, for the sake of billions of people, I pray WWIII is averted, which inevitably means the end of the current Kyiv regime.

And for the record, there was a perfectly reasonable solution: Minsk II. But there’s a reason corporate media and Western officials don’t talk about that, either. It would be saying more of the quiet part out loud.

Jonathan Grotefendt was a 1st Class Petty Officer, Nuclear-Trained Electrician’s Mate on the USS Nevada, an Ohio-Class Submarine. After his six years in the Navy, he moved his family to Central Texas where they built a house and homeschool their four beautiful children. You can read his other pieces here.