Da tempo, in realtà sin dall’inizio dell’invasione russa in Ucraina, circola l’idea in diversi ambienti sia in Europa sia negli USA, che questa sia primariamente il risultato dell’aggressività statunitense, e che il popolo ucraino sia semplicemente usato come “carne da cannone” in funzione anti-Russia. Un articolo recentemente pubblicato da Meduza confuta questa tesi e mette in risalto il modo in cui si è diffusa, anzitutto in ambienti “anti sistema” occidentali per poi essere ripresa anche dai vertici moscoviti. Riportiamo qui quell’articolo, che è pubblicato con la licenza Creative Commons e, come ci ha chiesto Meduza, indichiamo anche il loro sistema di crowdfunding <https://support.meduza.io/en>
The Kremlin says the US is waging a “war to the last Ukrainian.” Of course, this is propaganda. But isn’t Ukraine dependent on the West?
On December 22, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, commenting on Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to the United States, said : “The United States continues its line of de facto and indirectly fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.”
Director of the North American Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Darchiev said in an interview with TASS on the same occasion : “The American military-industrial complex is making super profits, and the political class, despite the fierce intraspecific struggle, is in solidarity with the fact that “war to the last Ukrainian” is a profitable investment in America’s security. “.
As early as December 5, the commander of the Akhmat detachment, Apti Alaudinov, in his telegram claimed that Ukraine had lost more than 200 thousand killed, and added: “The war declared by the West to the last Ukrainian is almost over. The war began to the last European. The Ukrainian side claims that the losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine range from 10 to 13 thousand people.
The fact that “the West wants to fight with us to the last Ukrainian,” said in July and Vladimir Putin. Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, responded by saying that this “mantra” is “another proof of the deliberate Russian genocide [of the Ukrainian people].”
Statements about the war of the United States, NATO and the West against Russia “to the last Ukrainian” at various times were made by the deputy head of the presidential administration Sergei Kiriyenko , State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin , LDPR leader Leonid Slutsky , Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov and many other Russian officials and politicians, not speaking of propagandists and publicists.
Who came up with the “war to the last Ukrainian”?
Most likely, American political radicals (both right and left), who become situational allies of the Kremlin, criticizing US foreign policy.
No Western officials, of course, have ever said anything similar. The first use of the formula “war to the last Ukrainian” was found by journalist James Kirchik in a column by veteran American politician Ron Paul, published on his own website on March 14, 2022. Paul has not held any public office for 10 years now.
Paul consistently professes a policy of US non-intervention in the affairs of other countries. Back in 2014-2015, he demanded that the US authorities stay away from the war in Ukraine and stated that the annexation of Crimea has legal grounds. His son, Republican Senator Rand Paul, was warmly received in Moscow back in April 2018. Then he even promised to raise the issue of lifting sanctions against Russia in Congress.
Paula’s father and son are right-wing isolationists. They believe that the resources that are spent on an active foreign policy should be better saved for solving more pressing domestic problems of the United States.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum from them are the left, who criticize American foreign policy for imperialism. Their dissatisfaction with this policy is so comprehensive and uncompromising that they often come out in support of any dictatorial regimes, as long as their leaders regularly speak out from anti-American positions .
In fact, right and left turn out to be situational allies on foreign policy issues, similar to the war between Russia and Ukraine. And they even often resort to the same rhetoric, including the expression “war to the last Ukrainian.” All these people, publications and organizations with very different positions on various issues are unanimous in one opinion: the blame for the war in Ukraine is wholly or to a large extent supposedly lies with the United States, NATO and the West in general, as such , and Russia is only a victim of their machinations.
Two fundamental remarks. First, both of these views are marginal in the United States. Neither the foreign policy platform of any major party nor the editorial policy of any major media outlet is based on them.
And the second. Those who preach these views are speaking primarily to an American audience. Everyone has their own ideological, political or selfish interests. Some are simply paid to spread Russian or Chinese government propaganda. For others, US abandonment of world hegemony and transition to isolationism is an intermediate goal, and the ultimate goal is the internal political reorganization of the United States itself. None of them is “rooting” for Russia out of sincere love for her.
How does Russian propaganda use the “war to the last Ukrainian”?
Russian propagandists present this marginal view of a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine as mainstream in the West — and almost as the official position of the United States.
The goal is simple – to “replace” the enemy: they say that Russia is not at war with Ukraine, but with the entire “collective West” . It is easier to explain the obvious failures this way: the failure of the operation to quickly seize Kyiv in February-March, the September counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kharkov region, the surrender of Kherson in November.
And now let’s look at just one example of how Russian propaganda works with these inputs.
Here is the RIA Novosti headline : “The United States announced plans to wage war until the ‘last Ukrainian’.” It might give the impression that such a statement was made by someone like the president, the secretary of state, or the secretary of defense. This is actually what retired diplomat Chaz Freeman said in an interview with The Grayzone.
Freeman was once the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. But his reputation has long been hopelessly damaged: for example, he said that the Chinese authorities were unnecessarily gentle with the “extra crowd” of protesters on Tiananmen Square in 1989 (then, according to various estimates, from several hundred to several thousand people died).
The Grayzone website, on which the interview was published, was founded by journalist Max Blumenthal, a conspiracy theorist, a preacher of the fight against American hegemonism in the name of a “multipolar world” and also an advocate for the Chinese authorities (for example, he denies the oppression of the Uyghurs). Of course, Blumenthal is a frequent guest of Russia Today.
The Grayzone actively helps the Chinese, Cuban, Venezuelan, Russian and other regimes to fight the opposition and independent media. For example, Blumenthal personally insisted in the pages of The Grayzone at one time that Medusa’s satirical games like “Putin Bingo” are actually Western intelligence operations (yes, yes, seriously).
The authors of The Grayzone call Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nothing more than a “proxy war” of the United States against Russia, and the Ukrainian authorities are exclusively called the “Zelensky regime”, so the publication’s sympathies in this conflict are quite obvious.
After the release of Freeman’s interview, he (and separately the passage about “the war to the last Ukrainian”) was praised by one of the most authoritative left-wing critics of US foreign policy, Noam Chomsky (we have already written about him here ).
Then this expression was quoted several times by the Western media – left-wing anti-imperialist, right-wing isolationists, as well as, for example, political scientist from the University of Chicago John Mearsheimer , a representative of the school of “foreign policy realists” (those who believe that international relations are determined not by ideology, but by the comparative strength of countries) .
Finally, having made several circles between the left and right flanks of American political thought, the meme about the “last Ukrainian”, having lost all the nuances along the way, reached the Kremlin itself and the media controlled by it, where it was presented as the official position of the United States and the West.
Ukraine in this propaganda picture of the world turns out to be completely controlled by the United States, that is, a puppet regime. Russian politicians and propagandists are also very fond of the arguments about the “puppets of the West” and “the transition of Ukraine under external control”. That’s just another distortion, which, among other things, interferes with an adequate assessment of the situation – and leads to disastrous decisions like a “special military operation.”
How dependent is Ukraine on the West?
Pretty strong. But to consider her a “puppet of the West” is both insulting and simply wrong.
Judge for yourself. According to The Washington Post, even before the full-scale Russian invasion and immediately after it began, representatives of the American intelligence and the White House strongly suggested that Volodymyr Zelensky leave Kiev and be ready to create a Ukrainian government in exile. All the calculations of the United States and its allies proceeded from the fact that Ukraine would not withstand the first onslaught of the Russian army and would be occupied.
Zelensky refused to run. Perhaps the Armed Forces of Ukraine would have been able to defend Kyiv without him. However, Zelensky’s behavior demonstrated not only purely military, but also political resilience of Ukraine – and it was thanks to this that the Western countries were convinced that the supply of weapons to it would not be a waste of resources, but would give a very real chance to repel aggression.
It turns out that Vladimir Zelensky, by his personal decision – contrary to advice from Washington and Brussels – changed the course of history. Not very “puppet”.
Michael Kimmage, professor of history at the Catholic University of America, in an interview with Signal admits that with the outbreak of a full-scale war, Ukraine became somewhat dependent on the United States – on arms supplies and, to a lesser extent, on economic support. At the same time, he recalls, the US administration consistently insists that only Ukraine can decide on what conditions it is ready to end the war.
Ruth Dayermond, a lecturer at the Department of Military Studies at King’s College London, notes that the United States and Western countries are obviously trying to set some framework for Ukraine’s actions. For example, to prevent the transfer of hostilities to Russian territory, as this could lead to an escalation of the conflict. But, Dayermond admits, it won’t be easy: if the US insists too much on it, it will look like an unreliable partner, and thereby lose influence not only in Ukraine, but also in its allies in Europe and other parts of the world.
And this, perhaps, is the key point: it is the reputation of a reliable partner that is the main basis for the international influence of the United States. Michael Kimmage also emphasizes this: South Korea, for example, should not be forced to ally with the United States and allow American influence, because the alternative is North Korea and China. Already in 2022, Sweden and Finland themselves asked to join NATO – not because the United States forced them to do so, but because it would be calmer for them.
Emma Ashford of the Atlantic Council’s Center for Strategy and Security notes that research confirms that even during the Cold War, when the United States facilitated regime change in a country and tried to install a controlled government there, it very often turned out that it was at odds with its superpower patron on fundamental political issues (the USSR faced the same difficulties). Managing “puppet regimes” is very difficult, it is a highly unreliable method of influencing international politics, says Ashford.
According to Ruth Deyermond, the expression “puppet regime” is used only as an insult to the government, which the speaker does not like. She notes that Belarus, for example, is now in fact completely dependent on Russia – but Russian politicians and propagandists are in no hurry to call it a “puppet regime.”
An unexpected discovery we made while preparing this letter
In Finland, the saying is still popular : “Sweden will fight [with Russia] to the last Finn.” It obviously refers primarily to the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939–1940, when Sweden, while officially maintaining neutrality , unofficially supported Finland, hoping to discourage the USSR from expanding in northern Europe.
SOURCE: https://meduza.io/en — https://meduza.io/feature/2022/12/28/kreml-govorit-chto-ssha-vedut-voynu-do-poslednego-ukraintsa-konechno-eto-propaganda-no-razve-ukraina-ne-zavisit-ot-zapada