The “Made-in-the-USA” Offensive in the Ukraine Proxy War

Ukrainian soldiers prepare to fire U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer, July 2022.

 

Ukrainian soldiers prepare to fire U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Kharkiv, July 2022.    Photo: AP

Last week, an offensive by the Ukrainian military resulted in the defeat of Russian forces holding the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine. This rapid offensive, which was launched in early September and gathered momentum a week or so later has reportedly resulted in Ukraine retaking of some 3,000 square miles of territory, including many villages and a number of important cities and towns, which Russia had occupied for months.

According to the New York Times, “As Ukrainian soldiers moved into areas in the northeast over the weekend, Russian forces crumbled. In some places around Kharkiv, Russian troops just walked away from the battle, leaving behind equipment and ammunition, according to U.S. defense officials.”1

A “Made-in-America” Offensive

On the ground this offensive may have been carried out by Ukrainian soldiers, but according to reports it was not only armed, but largely organized and directed by the U.S. imperialists—very closely and to devastating effect. It was a stark demonstration, not of the power of Ukraine’s military, but that this is a very dangerous proxy war between the U.S. imperialists and their allies on one side and Russian imperialism on the other.

Since the war began, the U.S. has given Ukraine some $15.8 billion in military aid, with another $2.7 billion pledged this month and yet another $600 million just this week! 2

This aid has come in the form of advanced weaponry that has been decisive in stalemating Russian forces and now defeating a section of them. The U.S.-supplied weapons include Javelin antitank missiles, Stinger surface-to-air missiles, radar-seeking missiles, 126 advanced howitzers and over 800,000 artillery shells, as well as mobile rocket launchers.

“Specific weapons, like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, are having an outsize effect on the battlefield,” the New York Times reports. “The satellite-guided rockets fired by these launch vehicles, called GMLRS [a form of cluster munitions], each contain a warhead with 200 pounds of explosives and have been used in recent weeks by Ukrainian forces to destroy more than 400 Russian arms depots, command posts and other targets, American officials said.”3

Throughout the war, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with real-time intelligence on command posts, ammunition depots, and key links in Russian military lines, enabling the Ukrainians “to target Russian forces, kill senior generals and force ammunition supplies to be moved farther from the Russian front lines.”4

According to one report, U.S. weapons, intelligence, and battlefield guidance “helped Kyiv inflict sky-high casualties—perhaps tens of thousands killed in action—on Moscow’s forces.”5

Direct U.S. Involvement In Intelligence Sharing, Strategic View And “Offering Advice” to the Ukrainians

All this U.S. arming, intelligence sharing, and direct planning was significantly stepped up over this summer as Ukraine and its backers felt the need for a dramatic advance to counter Russia’s moves and to ensure continued international support for the war.

U.S.-supplied Matrice drones for surveillance for the Ukrainian army in Kyiv region, Ukraine, August 2, 2022.

 

U.S.-supplied Matrice drones for the Ukrainian army to use for surveillance in Kyiv, August 2, 2022.    Photo: AP

According to reporting in the New York Times, the Ukrainians reportedly planned an offensive in the south, but the U.S. military war-gamed this out and summed up it would end up in defeat, and proposed an alternative toward the northeast that it assessed could succeed. During this period there were close, in some cases daily, discussions and strategy meetings between U.S. and Ukrainian officials and military personnel. “The plan that emerged from the midsummer discussions relied heavily on U.S. intelligence and high-tech weaponry.”6

A Washington Post commentator bluntly summed up the imperialist view of the war:

Ukraine is the best tool the US has for battering and bogging down the Russian military so it cannot pursue aggression elsewhere and, perhaps, for dealing Putin a defeat from which he will not soon recover.

“We’re paying another country to fight a horrible war on its own soil so that we won’t have to fight a worse one on the soil of a NATO ally,” Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute told me. “It’s rather cold-blooded put that way, don’t you think?”7

The Escalatory Dangers of Ukraine’s “Victory”

The New York Times called this turn of events “the most devastating blow to Russia since its humiliating retreat from Kyiv,” but its ultimate impact on the war is far from clear.8 The Kharkiv region makes up about five percent of Ukrainian territory. Russia still occupies around a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, including most of eastern and southern Ukraine. Fighting is continuing, and a Russian spokesperson has declared it will continue fighting “until Russia’s goals had all been achieved.”9

What is clear is that this development has posed new contradictions for all involved—and a new danger of further escalation of this already very dangerous war. And some influential commentators in the U.S. are calling for such an escalation.

A September 13 column by Bret Stephens of the New York Times10 is a chilling—and outrageous—example. Stephens hails Ukraine’s advance, not as an end in itself or creating a window for negotiating an end to the conflict,11 but for “creating a unique window for further decisive gains.”

Stephens argues that achieving these “decisive gains” will require even more aggressive arming of Ukraine, including with “advanced jet fighters, large combat drones, transport helicopters that can move special forces to strike behind Russian lines—as well as rockets and missiles that can strike at longer ranges,” possibly inside Russia.

Stephens argues for a full roll-back of Russian forces: “It would be immoral and shortsighted to allow Putin to keep any territories he’s gained since the war began.” And he approvingly quotes retired general Stanley McChrystal: “‘We shouldn’t let Russia walk out of this with anything that feels like a win.’”

Stephens acknowledges the danger of pushing Russia into a corner “in which the Kremlin deploys battlefield nuclear weapons to stave off defeat and terrorize the rest of the world.” And his answer is a combination of counseling Biden to start warning Russia of the severe escalatory consequences of doing so,12 but overall concluding: “As the war enters a new phase, it will inevitably bring new dangers. No danger is graver than failing to prevail. Full credit to Biden for getting, and acting on, the point.”

World War 3 and Dangerous Idiocy

This is exactly the kind of deadly, lunatic dynamic the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian warned of in his April 28, 2022 analysis, WORLD WAR 3 AND DANGEROUS IDIOCY:

But here is a crucial reality in relation to all this: In this war—where the Russian imperialists have invaded Ukraine, and on the other hand the U.S. imperialists (and their NATO “allies”) are backing and heavily arming Ukraine—both sides are deeply committed to a “win” in this situation. On the part of the U.S. imperialists, their aim, and what for them constitutes a necessary “win,” is to bring about a defeat of Russia in Ukraine and thereby significantly weaken Russia and its ability to challenge the dominant position of U.S. imperialism in the world. For the Russian imperialists, their objective is precisely to challenge that U.S. dominance, and a key and immediate aim is preventing Ukraine from joining NATO and ensuring that Ukraine does not become part of the U.S./NATO “encirclement” of Russia, which is already very far along (with a number of countries close to, or actually bordering on, Russia already members of NATO). With each side seriously committed to its objectives, and having become seriously involved in war in pursuit of these objectives (with Russia directly at war in Ukraine and the U.S./NATO now indirectly but deeply involved), this means that, so long as the terms are set by these contending imperialists, neither side can easily back down. (Again, so long as the terms are set by these contending imperialists, and the people, on all sides, do not effectively act, in their masses, in such a way as to force things onto different terms, which are in their interestsin opposition to those of the imperialists on either side.)

If Neither Side Backs Down—What Then?!

If neither side in this conflict between imperialists is likely to back down and accept defeat, what will this mean—and, specifically, what would it mean if in fact the U.S./NATO were to become directly involved in warfare with Russia, and if this were to result in Russia suffering serious setbacks? Would Putin/the Russian imperialists simply say, “Okay, you win, we give up, we will turn tail and retreat in defeat back to Russia?” Does any serious, thinking person really believe that is at all likely?! No, in that situation the far, far more likely response of Putin/the Russian imperialists would be to escalate the war, very possibly by using nuclear weapons, most likely not (at first) the most powerful nuclear bombs, but “tactical nuclear weapons,” which they might use not only in Ukraine but also in the territory of NATO countries that had become involved in the war (possibly including not only countries close to Ukraine but countries in western Europe as well, such as France, Germany and the UK).

As Bob Avakian concludes:

All this emphasizes why it is vitally important for the masses of people, in this country, and other countries aligned with it, as well as in Russia—for people everywhere—to finally and fully wake up now, recognize the real, and profoundly heavy, stakes involved, and act in accordance with our actual interests—the interests of all of humanity: demanding that this war in Ukraine, and the involvement (direct and indirect) of the imperialists on both sides in this war, be STOPPED, before it not only causes even greater suffering for the people of Ukraine but possibly escalates into a far more terrible conflict which causes massive destruction and death, on a whole other level, and even possibly poses a threat to the very existence of humanity itself.

Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

 

For how the New Socialist Republic in North America would deal with the questions discussed in this article, see the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian. In particular, see these parts:

Article I, Section 2

C. Defense and Security 

3. The New Socialist Republic in North America will not develop, and will not use, nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. It will wage a determined and many-sided struggle to rid the world of all such weapons–and it will do this as part of the larger, overall struggle to defeat and dismantle all imperialist and reactionary states and forces and to advance toward the achievement of communism, throughout the world, which will finally make it possible for the desires and dreams of countless human beings throughout history, and the fundamental interests of humanity, for a world without war, to at long last be realized.

E. International Relations

_______________

FOOTNOTES:

1. The Critical Moment Behind Ukraine’s Rapid AdvanceNew York Times, September 13, 2022 [back]

2. US Set to Give Ukraine Another $600 Million in Military AidBloomberg, September 15, 2022 [back]

3. The Critical Moment Behind Ukraine’s Rapid AdvanceNew York Times, September 13, 2022. [back]

4. Ukrainian Officials Drew on U.S. Intelligence to Plan CounteroffensiveNew York Times, September 10, 2022 [back]

5. Hal Brands, Ukraine May Become More Successful Than Biden WantsWashington Post, September. 14, 2022 [back]

6. The Critical Moment Behind Ukraine’s Rapid AdvanceNew York Times, September 13, 2022 [back]

7. Hal Brands, Ukraine May Become More Successful Than Biden Wants, Washington Post, September 14, 2022 [back]

8. Ukrainian Offensive Seen as Reshaping the War’s Contours, New York Times, September 10, 2022 [back]

9. Ukraine Retakes 6,000 Square Kilometers from Russia, Asks for More Weapons, Democracy Now!, September 13, 2022 [back]

10. Bret Stephens, Ukraine’s Achievement Is Biden’s, TooNew York Times, September 13, 2022. [back]

11. For a thought-provoking assessment of how the U.S. and the UK may have torpedoed negotiations at the start of the war, see Peace Talks Essential as War Rages on in Ukraine, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies, Common Dreams, September 5, 2022. [back]

12. Stephens’ list includes: “Rapid Ukrainian accession to NATO. Seizure of all Russian reserves held abroad. A plan to again deploy nuclear-armed cruise missiles to our ships and submarines. A NATO no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace. The provision to Ukraine of weapons that can strike deep into Russia.” [back]

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