Matthew Gordon-Banks

Days away from the end of Ukraine’s Summer Offensive the stakes are high

Not long ago I stated that Ukraine was at a high point and that diplomacy needed to be given another chance. Even in Washington, Officials – no, not Col Douglas McGregor the social media commentator who, whilst being a distinguished Gulf war veteran, is not a US Official – are now quietly admitting that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Mark Milley had a point when he called for Kiev to make the most of its gains by suing for peace late last year. We surely missed a window of opportunity to push for earlier talks, once the military conflict actually began, and it may now be too late to do so.

The Ukrainian “summer offensive” is probably about to come to a grinding halt in a few days time; out of soldiers, out of equipment, outmanoeuvred and out gunned. A war of attrition may continue. The West expected them to use their final reserves to burst through with infantry and then follow through with heavier equipment through towards the Sea of Azov. With little in the way of de-mining equipment were they expected to walk over the dead bodies of those that had gone before over the massively mined areas protecting the three lines of defence of Russian forces?

The former Democratic congressman and Obama administration official, who is now at the McCain Institute, had said “for the war in Ukraine to come to an end on terms consistent with American interests and ideals, Ukraine must be seen to have won, and Russia’s invasion must go down in history as a decisive failure”. This may be possible in the bubble of propaganda but is unlikely in reality.

We are soon going to be heading into an election year in both the US and UK; the two main coordinators of Western efforts. Whilst the main UK Opposition Party is unlikely to alter UK policy, which in any case is strongly cemented to follow the US lead, the situation is changing somewhat in the United States. Meanwhile some European countries, including the UK, are suffering very badly with the costs of living; and the possibility of a major Wall Street crash if well known investors are to be believed. All of these factors may have an effect on Western policy; especially in EU countries like Germany.

General Milley may well be forgiven when he retires shortly this autumn were he to say “told you so”. Yet he did. Indeed I myself long argued well before the so called Special Military Operation commenced that numerous opportunities were not just missed but ‘avoided’.

Elections in the West may affect the agenda, but it seems likely that for quite some time the conflict will drag on. Dangerously there is the probability of even greater NATO  direct involvement. We know that hundreds of western advisors are present; many directing some operations. Zelensky relies on British special forces providing his bodyguard. Just whom are they protecting him from? His own people?

It caused some synthetic consternation when I suggested that some equipment and missiles have been launched from NATO territory not from Ukraine. It will be a very long time before the extent of this can be confirmed as the US/NATO will not confirm it and the Russians are reluctant to claim it due to possible war with NATO. There is a convenient mutual silence. Indeed if Ukraine receives  F-16 jets it may be impossible for them to operate without using bases in Poland as Su22’s, the few that are left, are at present.

So when will the conflict reach the point where the West may start to genuinely talk the conflict down? It is not likely to be the Russians doing so first, as Putin feels he was forced into taking  action by US intransigence and they insist Ukraine must remain neutral from NATO. A prolonged conflict will suit the neo-cons and their design on grinding down the Russian Federation. However, Ukraine, which has already suffered enough, will fall further into debt, be even more dependent on US dollars, lose even more of its population and industry and it is not good for the rest of the world either; especially Europe. And, I have not even mentioned the sheer danger of falling into a nuclear war.

One scary scenario popular with many is the possibility or desire to see NATO absolutely directly involved in the conflict. Hello! Have people noticed how denuded of ability NATO is right now. In such a scenario it simply cannot be assumed NATO would win. Much of the equipment sent and used in Ukraine has not exactly proven terribly effective.

For the time being I feel as if all I, and like-minded people, can do is wait. We simply cannot go on too much longer as we are. Meanwhile the sheer viability of Ukraine as a nation is in question; and it never needed to be this way. Europe is being dragged down with it.

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