While privately conceding that its ally Ukraine is not “capable of winning the war,” the Biden administration keeps fueling it.
By Aaron Maté
Source: Aaron Maté Substack
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has presented the White House with a geopolitical crisis that it played a critical role in creating. In February 2014, Victoria Nuland, a current senior State Department official and former Dick Cheney advisor, was caught on tape plotting the installation of a new Ukrainian government – a plan, she stressed, that would involve Biden and his then-top aide, and current National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan. Weeks later, the democratically elected Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted and replaced by Washington-backed leaders – including a prime minister selected by Nuland.
The regime change in Kiev made Biden the most influential US political figure in Ukraine, as underscored by the lucrative Burisma board seat gifted to his son Hunter. While the Biden family and other well-connected players profited, Ukraine fell into civil war. In the eastern Donbas region, Kremlin-backed Ukrainian rebels took up arms against a fascist-infused coup government that cracked down on Russian culture and countenanced murderous assaults on dissidents. Rather than promote the 2015 Minsk II accords — the agreed-upon formula for ending the Donbas conflict – the US fueled the fight with a weapons and training program that turned Ukraine into a NATO proxy. Influential US politicians left no doubt about their intentions. As the Donbas war raged, lawmakers declared that they were using Ukraine to “fight Russia over there” (Adam Schiff) and vowed to “make Russia pay a heavier price,” (John McCain). In February of this year, Russia invaded to bring the eight-year fight to an end, leaving Ukraine to pay the heaviest price of all.
The Biden administration shunned multiple opportunities to prevent the Russian assault. When Russia submitted draft peace treaties in December 2021, the White House refused to even discuss the Kremlin’s core demands: a pledge of neutrality for Ukraine, and the rollback of NATO military forces in post-1997 member states that neighbor Russia. At the final round of talks on implementing Minsk II in early February, the “key obstacle,” the Washington Post reported, “was Kyiv’s opposition to negotiating with the pro-Russian separatists.” Siding with Ukraine’s far-right, which had threatened to overthrow Volodymyr Zelensky if he signed a peace deal, the US made no effort to encourage diplomacy. Emboldened to escalate its war on the Donbas, the Ukrainian government then massively increased shelling on rebel-held areas in the days immediately preceding Russa’s February 24th invasion.
Looking back at the pre-invasion period, Jack Matlock, the US ambassador to the Soviet Union under Bush I, now concludes that “if Ukraine had been willing to abide by the Minsk agreement, recognize the Donbas as an autonomous entity within Ukraine, avoid NATO military advisors, and pledge not to enter NATO,” then Russia’s war “probably would have been prevented.”
For Washington, preventing the war would have interfered with longstanding objectives. As US policymakers have openly recognized, Ukraine’s historical, geographical, and cultural links to Russia could be used as a tool to achieve regime change in Moscow, or, at minimum, leave it “weakened.”
As Ukraine enters another winter of war, this time facing an intensified Russian assault, the Biden administration is apparently in no mood to end a crisis that it helped start.