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The Ukraine Peace Talk Trial Balloon


A trial balloon has gone up on the NBCnews website. It is testing the public reaction to the upcoming US and NATO acknowledgment of their defeat in Ukraine:"

US, European officials broach topic of peace negotiations with Ukraine, sources say - NBCnews - Nov 03 2023

"WASHINGTON — US and European officials have begun quietly talking to the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail to end the war, according to one current senior US official and one former senior US official familiar with the discussions."

This comes the same week that saw a Time piece about Zelenski's unwillingness to consider the real situation on Ukraine and to admit defeat. The same week the Economist interviewed General Zaluzny who optimistically spoke of a stalemate at the front even while his army is on the cusp of disintegration.

Taken together the three pieces might well be part of a US administration campaign to concede its defeat in Ukraine while blaming its Ukrainian proxy forces for the results of its blunder.
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West's Pro-Israel Position Accelerates Its Loss Of Power


Western media start to note how their politicians' unwavering support for Israel and Ukraine is diminishing their countries' global standing.

At Naked Capitalism Yves Smith notes the devastating political effects of the Gaza bombing on Biden's foreign policies:

"Biden Gets Zelensky Treatment in Middle East as Israel Tries to Escalate

"The US, in a continued demonstration of the degree of enbubblement of what passes for its leadership, seems to believe it still has the force and soft power to be able to bully talk its way out of its geopolitical messes. Yet this week we have stunning examples of how critical players in the rest to the world no longer buy what the US is selling. The gap between the American establishment’s connection to reality and facts on the ground has opened up to a yawning chasm as the Arab world, as Jordan cancelled a Biden summit with its King Abduallah II plus PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in response to Israel’s shelling of Al-Ahli Arab hospital. Not only are they rejecting the attempt to shift blame for the attack to Hamas (we’ll soon address the “rogue shell” claim), but also the bigger pretense behind that, that the US is incapable of, as opposed to unwilling to, applying the choke chain to Israel."
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US Sanctions Syrian 'Moderate Rebels' It Had Previously Armed


In 2013 the CIA was handing out TOW anti-tank missiles to 'moderate rebel' groups who were fighting the government in Syria. These groups were allegedly 'vetted' before they receive money and weapons. Unfortunately 'vetting' was something the CIA had never been good at.

One of the groups that received such support was the Hamza Division:

"Hamza Division (Forqat al-Hamza – فرقة الحمزة): An FSA-banner group composed of six substituent brigades that operate mostly in the environs of Inkhil, Daraa. The Hamza Division has received TOW ATGMs and it works under the supervision of the Daraa Military Council. They receives foreign support from Western and Arab state backers and are a member of the Southern Front coalition. The Southern Front has stated their commitment to a civil state, and have released a comprehensive political program in support of democratic reform. The Division came together with the Syria Revolutionaries Front and the 1st Artillery Regiment to create the 1st Army, which later disbanded. The Hamza Division continues using the 1st Army imagery alongside its own while the other former substituents do not. Social Media: YouTubeYouTube (older channel)"

Hamza was later also supported by the Pentagon. Without such support the group would never have become a viable entity. Things got a bit complicated when militias armed by the Pentagon started to fight those armed by the CIA.
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Who Can Give Security Guarantees To Ukraine?


A main question for Ukraine since it became an independent state was who or what could potentially guarantee its security.

In the first years after 1991 the Ukrainian government thought that it could secure itself. It had inherited some Soviet nuclear weapons and it tried to bring those to use. But it failed to circumvent the security locks the Russian engineers had integrated into the nuclear warheads.

There was also pressure from the US to get rid of those devices as the Ukraine at that time was prolific in selling its Soviet era weapons to various shady actors around the world.

Ukraine, together with Belarus and Kazakhstan, was pressed to enter the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In exchange it got the Budapest Memorandum, a weak promise of non-interference:

"The memoranda, signed in Patria Hall at the Budapest Convention Center with US Ambassador Donald M. Blinken amongst others in attendance, prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, 'except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.' As a result of other agreements and the memorandum, between 1993 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons."
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More Weapons Go To Ukraine But What Will It Do With Those?


Ukraine's counter-offensive has failed and it has no chance of a victory in the war.

Its best possibility to still sustain for a while is to now build several new defense lines and to pull back to those. Instead it is continuing to attack on too many fronts with little gains and large losses.

Yesterday the Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation with his Security Council.

Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of the Council, reported on Ukrainian losses:

"As of today, we have the following statistics. From June 4 to 21, we destroyed 246 tanks, including 13 Western tanks, as well as 595 armoured combat vehicles and armoured cars. Of this number, we have destroyed 152 infantry fighting vehicles, including 59 Western models, as well as 443 other armoured combat vehicles. We have destroyed 279 field artillery systems and mortars, including 48 Western systems. We have also destroyed 42 multiple launch rocket systems, 2 surface-to-air missile systems, 10 tactical fighters, 4 helicopters, 264 drones and 424 motor vehicles."

Those numbers are a bit below the sums in my spreadsheet as given by the daily report of the Russian Ministry of Defense. I believe that Patrushev's sums are probably four or five days old. Patrushev gives the number of dead Ukrainians as 13,000 along all fronts. That is again a bit below my sums and likely behind in time.
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On The Failure Of The Ukrainian Counterattack


On June 4/5 the Ukrainian military launched its long announced counteroffensive in southeast Ukraine. Ten days later there is no significant progress.

This is not the outcome the war propagandists expected:

"[General Petreus] spoke about the situation in Ukraine to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

"On the counteroffensive, he said:

"'I think that this counteroffensive is going to be very impressive.

"'My sense is that they will achieve combined arms effects in other words, they will successfully carry out combined arms operations where you have engineers that are breaching the obstacles and diffusing the minefields and so forth; armour following right on through protected by infantry against anti-tank missiles; air defence keeping the Russians aircraft off them; electronic warfare jamming their radio networks; logistics right up behind them; artillery and mortars right out in front of them.

"'And most important of all … is that as the lead elements inevitably culminate after 72-96 hours, physically that’s about as far as you can go, and they’ll have taken losses … you have follow-on units that will push right on through and capitalise on the progress and maintain the momentum and I think that can get the entire Russian defence in that area moving, then I think you have other opportunities that will open up on the flanks as well.'"
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Ukraine - The Big Push To End The War


Over Christmas I had a short talk with a relative about the war in Ukraine. He asked me who would win and was astonished when I said: "Ukraine has zero chance to win." That person reads some German mainstream news sites and watches the public TV networks. With those sources of 'information' he was made to believe that Ukraine was winning the war.
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Are There Any US Red Lines?


The Biden administration has so far refrained from sending longer range missile to Ukraine. It fears a severe Russian reaction should it change that policy. Some warmongers dislike such sensible restrain.

In today's New York Times some former British diplomat, now working for a pro-war think tank, is arguing for the delivery of longer range weapons to Ukraine.

"Putin Has No Red Lines

What are Putin’s red lines?”

"This question, asked with growing urgency as Russia loses its war in Ukraine but does not relent in its aggressions, is intended to offer analytical clarity and to guide policy. In reality, it is the wrong question, because “red line” is a bad metaphor. Red lines are red herrings. There are better ways to think about strategy."

Red lines, where a consequence is threatened when an opponent does a specified escalating move, do not really exists, says the author. Red lines are movable, responding to a red line violation is a cost to the one who drew the line and red lines invite deceptions - says the author.
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Death Of Nuclear Deal With Iran Adds To Biden's Failures In U.S. Foreign Policy


When the Biden administration came into office it had promised to reenter into the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran. Under Trump the US had left the deal and had reissued sanctions against Iran. Tehran followed up by increasing its enrichment capabilities and by accumulating more enriched Uranium.

It would have been easy for Biden to immediately eliminate the sanctions and to rejoin the deal. Iran would surely have followed up by returning to the enrichment levels the deal allows for.

But Biden bungled the issue. For months nothing happened. Then he send negotiators to Iran who demanded additional concessions by Iran while offering less sanction relief. Iran rejected that. It demanded that Biden guarantees that the US would stick to the deal under future administrations. The negotiations were drawn out and made little progress.

The European Union, which is part of the JCPOA deal, finally wrote a compromise draft agreement which was submitted to the Iranian negotiators in Vienna. Iran made some small changes to the draft and send it back. The EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell publicly said that Iran's changes were "reasonable" and that he hoped for a quick US agreement to the draft. But the Biden administration, which worried about the midterm elections, called the Iranian changes "not constructive" and rejected the draft agreement.
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EU Pushes For More Sanctions Which Will Come Back To Bite It


On February 22, two days before Russian troops entered the Ukraine, the US and the EU put reams of sanctions onto Russia. They also confiscated some $300 billion of Russia's reserves that were invested in the 'west'. The sanctions had been negotiated between the EU and the US and prepared for over several months.

The idea was to bankrupt Russia within a few weeks. The deluded people behind those sanctions had no idea how big and sanctions proved Russia's economy really is. The sanctions failed to influence Russia in any way but their consequences led to a shortfall of energy in Europe and increased the already high inflation rates. Inflation in Russia is sinking and its general economic numbers are good. The now higher energy prices generate sufficient additional income to completely finance its war efforts.

A sane actor would conclude that the sanctions were a mistake and that lifting them would help Europe more than it would help Russia. But no, the US and European pseudo elites are no longer able to act in a sane manner. They are instead doubling down with the most crazy sanction scheme one has ever heard of...
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