Despite the failure of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, both NATO and Russia are intent on continuing a war of attrition no matter the cost.
The scale of death has accelerated in the past three months since Ukraine launched its counter-offensive.
Ukrainian and Western media outlets have celebrated the recapture of small towns as major breakthroughs against Russia. In reality, the counter-offensive has made only tiny territorial gains.
According to the Washington Post, an intelligence briefing to members of the US Congress in August admitted that Ukrainian forces would not be able to make it to Melitopol and so would be unable to cut off the land bridge from Russia to Crimea—the key aim of its counter-offensive.
A US defence document from the Discord leaks showed the Pentagon was already aware in February that the counter-offensive was likely to fall “well short” of these objectives. The Biden administration pushed for it to go ahead regardless, knowing many more Ukrainians would die.
Three months into the counter-offensive Ukraine has only advanced a few kilometres south and east. The counter-offensive has cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons.
At the end of August Ukraine said it had reached Robotyne, past the first line of Russian defensive fortifications.
But Melitopol is still 72 kilometres away, behind two more Russian defensive lines which are made up of deep dug trenches, minefields and anti-tank barriers.
The counter-offensive is likely to stall by the middle of October as autumn brings wet and muddy conditions that make further advances difficult.
The New York Times reported that American planners have grown anxious with the pace of the Ukrainian effort, advising it to deploy a higher concentration of soldiers in the front towards Melitopol instead of spreading them evenly across several areas of fighting.
US officials also complained that the lack of progress was due to Ukraine becoming more “causality adverse”. In other words, the US wants Ukraine to accept more deaths in order to win back territory.
With each new development on the ground it becomes clearer that the war in Ukraine is a proxy conflict between NATO and Russia.
NATO is still escalating weapons deliveries to Ukraine, with the Netherlands and Denmark announcing plans to send 61 F-16 jets once Ukrainian pilots undergo training.
Ukraine hopes that better air support will allow its counter-offensive to be more successful, countering Russia’s advantage in terms of aircraft. But the first Ukrainian pilots will not finish training to fly the planes until February.
NATO is playing a major role directing Ukrainian military operations. As the New York Times reports: “[US] General Milley speaks to General Zaluzhnyi [from Ukraine] every week or so about strategy and Ukrainian military needs” and from the UK “Admiral Radakin, a polished officer who served three tours in Iraq, has developed close ties with his Ukrainian counterpart during multiple trips to the country”.
The US sees the war as a chance to weaken Russia and is happy for thousands of Ukrainians to die to boost US power.
US Senator Richard Blumenthal argued recently that the US is getting its “money’s worth” in Ukraine because: “For less than 3 per cent of our nation’s military budget, we’ve enabled Ukraine to degrade Russia’s military strength by half … All without a single American service woman or man injured or lost.”
Similarly, Senator Mitt Romney called the conflict “the best national defence spending I think we’ve ever done”, because “we’re losing no lives in Ukraine” but the US was “diminishing and devastating the Russian military”.
Vladimir Putin has shown that he is murderous and, as the assassination of former Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin shows, willing to act ruthlessly and hold onto power with an iron grip.
Despite their claims that they are arming Ukraine in the fight for democracy, the US and NATO are also prepared to see tens of thousands of people in Ukraine die to increase Western power.
The war has become a bloody stalemate.
A poll conducted by CBN showed that for the first time 55 per cent of Americans oppose further funding of the Ukraine war.
Opposition to the war continues inside Russia too, where left-wing activist Boris Kagarlitsky became one of the latest to be imprisoned in late July on trumped up charges of “justifying terrorism”.
NATO and Russia are both committed to an ongoing war where thousands more could die. We need to build opposition to Australia’s ongoing efforts to prolong the war through piling in more weapons and demanding an end to the slaughter.
By Jordi Pardoel