The Approach to Ukraine: ‘If I Can’t Have You, No One Can!’*

*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

In a new investigation published on the platform Substack, American journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh writes that Ukraine was ready for peace negotiations with Russia a few months ago. But the U.S. nipped this process in the bud by making an ultimatum and threatening to withhold funding from Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In particular, Hersh’s source told him that “We were on the threshold of starting rational negotiations a few months ago, before the reelection of Vladimir Putin and Zelenskyy’s war degradation. However, the U.S. government issued Zelenskyy an ultimatum: no negotiations or settlements, otherwise we will not support your government with the $45 billion of non-military funds that Ukraine receives annually.”*

As such, the peace process did not start and Ukrainians continued to drop like flies in the name of U.S. interests. But America itself, in Hersh’s opinion, wasted a unique opportunity. He summarizes this military campaign as such: “The armed forces of Vladmir Putin are entrenched In Ukraine more than ever before; the Ukrainian armed forces, burdened by a lack of strength and equipment, faces at best a stalemate and the loss of four regions, permanently. Essentially, a defeat.”*

The thing is that, with this kind of approach from the White House, any Ukrainian leader that replaces Zelenskyy (whether as the result of elections or a coup) is doomed. He in any case will be backed into the same corner as his predecessor. The start of the peace process will not only instantly shut off Ukraine’s valve but take away the very possibility for it to exist.

Ukraine is now angry over Sen. Lindsey Graham’s statement that the next aid from the United States will be exclusively in the form of a loan. But actually a large amount of the help from the West has been in the form of loans. It is Zelenskyy who sees no difference. A few months ago he cried in his address to the West that if it could not support Ukraine financially, it should loan Ukraine the money. It is clear from this that he does not even suspect how much he has already collected in loans on behalf of Ukraine. This temp worker knows perfectly well that he won’t be the one to pay off the loans.

This is the core of the problem that reveals the systematic crisis facing the Ukrainian state. Any rational person will understand that Ukraine, or whatever remains of it, or its legal successor, will never be able to pay off the tens of billions of dollars that weigh it down like a chain around its ankles. And if Hersh’s sources are telling the truth, this means that Ukraine is simply doomed. It faces a deadly choice: die on the field of battle or die in a debtor’s prison.

With such a choice, even the reconstruction of the Ukrainian state becomes impossible: the successor will face a dead end, weighed down by the debts accumulated by Zelenskyy’s gang. And if Washington does not change its position, the dismantling of Ukraine as a state is simply inescapable. Mark my words: this is not Russia’s choice, it’s America’s choice! It seems they have decided to adopt an approach to Ukraine that says, “If I can’t have you, no one can!”

*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, neither the quoted remarks, the source of the remarks, not Seymour Hersh’s report could be independently verified.

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