Ukraine: the story of two Victorias
Ukraine: the story of two Victorias
By G. Murphy Donovan
“When you play Game of Thrones, you win or die… Winter is coming.”
We could now call the proxy war in Ukraine the tale of two Victorias; a contest between the worldviews of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Indiana Congresswoman Victoria Spartz.
Nuland magically disappeared from the headlines after the post-coup phase of the decade-old Ukrainian fiasco. Recall that Nuland, an abrasive neo-conservative, was instrumental during the 2016 Maidan coup that toppled Viktor Yanukovych and a Ukrainian regime that dared to look to Moscow as a potential ally.
Also remember that when Ms Nuland was asked about European concerns, she answered; “Fuck the EU.”
So much for the putative allied solidarity.
Indeed, Nuland was highly visible in the Maidan regime change machinations as she supported kyiv’s “right sector” fanatics, a threat neutralized by Russia in detail in Mariupol last month. The infamous AZOV battalion and an assortment of volunteer anarchists were moved east after 2016 to confront pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region. Most so-called neo-Nazis in Ukraine are lineal descendants of Anton Bandera, an infamous collaborator of Schutzstaffel (SS) famous in Kyiv. Bandara was another unindicted participant in the European Holocaust.
Much of the Ukrainian Nazi iconography, the SS crests and flags for example, have disappeared since Ukraine’s drive to join NATO took center stage. Stephan Bandara, however, is still thriving as a national Touchstone.
With remnants of AZOV now in Russian prison camps, Vladmir Putin’s strategic goal of denazification appears to be an operational victory for the Kremlin – and Kyiv. The right sector has always posed a greater threat to Kyiv than it was to Moscow. When the Russian army takes what remains of Donbass, the Kremlin will have achieved a second strategic objective, a defensible buffer between NATO and the Russian homeland.
Like Crimea, Moscow is unlikely to give up strategic real estate, especially a stamp bought with Russian blood.
Now comes Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana), a feisty outspoken Ukrainian girl who is experiencing a puppet when she sees one. Sparta sees Cyrillic on the wall in kyiv. A brave lonely lady now dares to criticize Zelensky and his puppets, illuminating two of the Kyiv team’s fatal strategic flaws, corruption and collusion.
The Corruption problem has been a no-go zone for almost a decade now because too many son bring back Joe Biden’s tenure as Ukraine’s point man in the Obama era. Clearly, Vice President Biden, his brother and son were enjoying the 2014-16 free fall in Kyiv. At the time, the Biden family probably thought VP was as good as Joe Robinette could get and decided to scrounge up a nest egg while the Air Force II was still a free ride. The problem of corruption in Ukraine, like in Afghanistan and Vietnam, has always been a joint venture with Washington.
Alas, the problem of collusion in Ukraine is a donkey of another color, darker darker; indeed, almost invisible. The fall of Kherson should have been a great revealer; were Washington, Brussels and the legacy press not too busy canonizing Zelensky. As the Russians approached Kherson, the river bridges were mined, but never blown, giving the Russians the delta without too much of a fight – and now a clear shot at Mykolaiv and Odessa.
Clearly, as Victoria Spartz suggests, Ukrainian Russian sympathizers played a role big role at the fall of the Dnieper delta. In an open campaign to solidify its fifth column, Moscow is now cautiously offering Russian passports to all who arrive in conquered/occupied territories.
Victoria Spartz, as a native girl, is honest enough to realize that the problem of collusion is not limited to Kherson. Also note that Odessa is a traditional Soviet resort town with strong ties to Russian elites. If and when Odessa falls, it can go, like Kherson, with a Fifth Column moan, not a fight.
And then maybe the game is over for Ukraine.
Two events should be decisive in the short term; the US Congressional election in November and the subsequent Ukrainian winter. Clearly, Brussels and Washington are trying to put lipstick on the Ukrainian pig as November approaches. Just as clearly, Russia is going to have a better winter than Ukraine, Europe and America, all of which are about to be strangled by a political and economic blizzard of epic, if not unknown, dimensions.
With a cold moon rising over Washington and Brussels, ‘Putin’s war’ could become Biden’s albatross, like Afghanistan, another self-inflicted humiliation. If we know anything about the Kremlin, we know two things. They can absorb losses and endure the steppe winter. There is no history, or contemporary evidence, to suggest that Europe or America, individually or collectively, will endure or enjoy similar malaises – let alone resist an impending economic blight. Signs of boredom are everywhere, the usual suspects in the press have moved on, Ukraine is no longer covered above the fold in America.
So far the Russians are winning and they haven’t gotten their snowshoes, parkas and skis out yet.
Indeed, no one makes war and winter like a Russian.
The author writes on national security policy. Colonel Donovan was the former Director of Russian (Soviet) Research and Studies for USAF Intelligence.