August 11, 2023

The civil war between Ukraine and Russia is one of the most poorly reported conflicts that I’ve ever witnessed. Western media has shown how much it has become an arm of big government.

Much of our media and the British media have faithfully parroted Washington’s official party line on the war: saintly little Ukraine versus evil Goliath Russia. Not since the US invasion of Iraq has the American media so blatantly promoted a war or so vilified a foreign leader, President Vladimir Putin.

Today, he is an ogre. But two decades ago, when his army was laying waste to the tiny Caucasian republic of Chechnya, the US government secretly financed Russia’s brutal repression of the independence-seeking Chechens.

Why? Because the Chechens were Muslims.

Washington thought it would turn then Russian leader Boris Yeltsin into a US client and bring Russia into America’s geopolitical orbit. US intelligence even supplied Moscow with a telephone system provided to Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev supposedly for ‘peace talks’ that was used to assassinate him.

Another tragic example: another third world leader. Gen. Jonas Savimbi, head of Angola’s UNITA anti-communist movement. During the 1980’s, I was with his guerilla army in southern Angola battling Angolan Marxists and their Cuban and East German allies.

Washington initially supported the charismatic Savimbi, one of Africa’s most capable, intelligent leaders – until the Marxist regime in Luanda found even more oil and did a deal with the US to supply US markets.

After that, the faithful Savimbi became a hinderance to US imperial oil plans in Africa. The CIA hired an Israeli hit squad that ambushed and murdered Savimbi – a fact confirmed to me by a former US ambassador.

The US then made allies of the oil-rich Angolan Marxists. As Henry Kissinger said, being America’s ally can be more dangerous than being its enemy.

Ukraine should take this grim lesson to heart. President Joe Biden clearly aims to finish off Putin’s Russia and Balkanize the former Soviet state. Few know how the US and its allies will deal with the manifest dangers of an imploded Russia. Collapsed Yugoslavia in 1990 would be a possible analogy.

With high intensity US media support and British machinations, the US neocons overthrew the pro-Moscow regime in Kiev and brought in the current US ‘guided’ regime of President Zelensky, a former TV actor.

The powerful oligarchs and criminal dons who actually ran pre-1991 Ukraine were kept in the wings by their American benefactors.

Having abandoned Afghanistan’s drug barons, who supplied 90% of the world’s heroin supplies, the US now took over as unofficial godfather of powerful Ukraine’s underworld. Call it payback for the collapse of the US-installed puppet regime in Afghanistan.

Now, media hysteria has focused on the issue of armed drones. These are little more than adult toys. Their military effect has been minor, aside from reconnaissance. Artillery has become the real decisive arm on the battlefield.

During World War I it took an average 1,600 – 1,800 artillery shells to kill a single enemy soldier. The NATO members are down to near empty when it comes to stores of artillery shells over 120mm. Germany has admitted it is almost out of spare parts and backup munitions. At one point, Germany had only 15 operational tanks.

155mm shells, such as those lavishly supplied to Ukraine by the US, Britain and Germany cost from US $300 to $1,800 depending on if they have an internal guidance system. Rate of fire is 1-4 rounds a minute. A few barrages of 155’s can quickly amount to a huge amount of money. So far, the Biden administration has poured $95 billion into Ukraine’s war effort. US European allies have added about $50 billion to Kiev’s military.

This dreary war is likely to drag on for years. Both sides face the risk of internal collapse or insurrection. Ironically, Putin announced that Russia would cut back on military spending shortly before Ukraine’s US-installed government decided to become an ally of US-run NATO. At that time, Putin had declared Russia would cut way back on its formerly powerful conventional forces and increasingly rely on tactical nuclear weapons. Funds saved would go into the civilian economy.

The result: Russia’s conventional forces were seriously weakened. Russia’s armored forces, navy and air forces suffered severe cuts – just as the Ukraine War exploded. War stocks were run down and not replenished. Interestingly, the same process of gradual but largely hidden disarmament occurred among NATO members, notably Germany, whose military had become a laughingstock. Neither side would admit they had seriously depleted military forces.

If NATO’s proxy army in Ukraine breaks through and begins to advance into Crimea and southern Russia, Moscow could be forced to use nuclear weapons or call on China’s large armed forces for help. President Biden and his neocon allies are so enthralled by the prospect of a pre-election military victory that they ignore the manifest dangers such a development would bring.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2023

This post is in: Russia, Ukraine, USA


  1. There isn’t a treaty or agreement that the US hasn’t betrayed, starting with its treaties with the indigenous peoples of America right through to tearing up the US-Iran nuclear agreement, pulling out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Paris agreement on climate change, threatening to end NAFTA unless it got extra concessions, violating NAFTA to punish Canada via the ban on softwood timber exports for not joining the Iraq war, and so on. History is replete with treaties that the US has signed but not ratified, signed and then unsigned, and even refused to sign after pushing everyone else to sign. With friends like that…

  2. peter mcloughlin says:

    As Jonas Savimbi’s fate shows: there are no true friends in global politics, only potential enemies. Nations modify their principles to suit their interests. Interests are the reasons they go to war. Throughout history – and also today, with the current drift towards WW III – every empire eventually has faced the war it was trying to avoid; of course, everyone wants to avoid WW III; therefore nuclear apocalypse will be our fate. Paradoxically, the only way of avoiding it is to accept it.

  3. Good background review.

  4. chessandonions says:

    Thank you for publicly acknowledging that this is a civil war. And those are always the dirtiest wars. And only fools dare to take sides.

  5. valadimir says:

    I have followed mr margolis since the late nineties.
    Love his astute analysis of geopolitical events.
    He has many a great tru story to tell.

  6. When Trump was president I rewrote Calvin and Hobbes cartoon with “Remember back when we didn’t start ourday by checking to see if America’s damn fool President didn’t start WWII?”
    The fact that meme applies more to Biden is terrifying .

  7. Interesting choice to call the conflict a civil war.

    Is the general Russian view hold that this is a civil war, meaning Ukraine is not a sovereign state?

    Obviously the Ukrainian view would not hold this to be a civil war. In fact Ukraine declared independence more than 30 years ago and in the referendum on the matter, 92 percent of Ukrainians voted in support of independence from Russia. It has a seat at the UN and diplomatic relations with most countries.

    If Russia invaded Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia, would these also be civil wars? Perhaps invading Finland would be a civil war? Poland? All were once fully or partly part of the Russian empire, yet I doubt a Russian invasion of any of these countries would be considered a civil war.

    Naming the Ukraine-Russia war a civil war matters because it implies that the conflict is an internal matter in which other countries should not interfere. Note that like Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all likewise declared independence in 1991.

  8. My God has a nice warm place reserved for JFK. He was prepared to take the world to World War III over the Cuban missile crisis back in the early 1960s. Russia was encroaching on the continental United States. This was an existential threat.
    This was for the same reason the Putin annexed Crtimea. Nato was encroaching on mother Russia and posing a real threat.
    NATO had given assurances in 1991 that they would not encroach on Russia. This was one of the conditions that Gorbachev required for the ‘break up’ of the USSR. I had heard that ‘der Spiegel had obtained the correspondence, but I was unable to confirm this. After a lengthy search, I came across the following:
    Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (
    Henry Kissinger, the ‘good guy’ war criminal, put it succinctly, “It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.” Truer words were never spoken.

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