Chris Hedges Forever Wars Original

Hedges: Chronicle of a War Foretold

After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a near universal understanding among political leaders that NATO expansion would be a foolish provocation against Russia. How naive we were to think the military-industrial complex would allow such sanity to prevail.
Svyatoslav, 6, plays with his tablet in a public basement used as a bomb shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending troops and tanks from multiple directions in a move that could rewrite the world’s geopolitical landscape. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

I was in Eastern Europe in 1989, reporting on the revolutions that overthrew the ossified communist dictatorships that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was a time of hope. NATO, with the breakup of the Soviet empire, became obsolete. President Mikhail Gorbachev reached out to Washington and Europe to build a new security pact that would include Russia. Secretary of State James Baker in the Reagan administration, along with the West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, assured the Soviet leader that if Germany was unified NATO would not be extended beyond the new borders. The commitment not to expand NATO, also made by Great Britain and France, appeared to herald a new global order. We saw the peace dividend dangled before us, the promise that the massive expenditures on weapons that characterized the Cold War would be converted into expenditures on social programs and infrastructures that had long been neglected to feed the insatiable appetite of the military.

There was a near universal understanding among diplomats and political leaders at the time that any attempt to expand NATO was foolish, an unwarranted provocation against Russia that would obliterate the ties and bonds that happily emerged at the end of the Cold War. 

How naive we were. The war industry did not intend to shrink its power or its profits. It set out almost immediately to recruit the former Communist Bloc countries into the European Union and NATO. Countries that joined NATO, which now include Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia were forced to reconfigure their militaries, often through hefty loans, to become compatible with NATO military hardware.

There would be no peace dividend. The expansion of NATO swiftly became a multi-billion-dollar bonanza for the corporations that had profited from the Cold War. (Poland, for example, just agreed to spend $ 6 billion on M1 Abrams tanks and other U.S. military equipment.) If Russia would not acquiesce to again being the enemy, then Russia would be pressured into becoming the enemy. And here we are. On the brink of another Cold War, one from which only the war industry will profit while, as W. H. Auden wrote, the little children die in the streets.

The consequences of pushing NATO up to the borders with Russia — there is now a NATO missile base in Poland 100 miles from the Russian border — were well known to policy makers. Yet they did it anyway. It made no geopolitical sense. But it made commercial sense. War, after all, is a business, a very lucrative one. It is why we spent two decades in Afghanistan although there was near universal consensus after a few years of fruitless fighting that we had waded into a quagmire we could never win.

In a classified diplomatic cable obtained and released by WikiLeaks dated February 1, 2008, written from Moscow, and addressed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NATO-European Union Cooperative, National Security Council, Russia Moscow Political Collective, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, there was an unequivocal understanding that expanding NATO risked an eventual conflict with Russia, especially over Ukraine.

“Not only does Russia perceive encirclement [by NATO], and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests,” the cable reads. “Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face. . . . Dmitri Trenin, Deputy Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, expressed concern that Ukraine was, in the long-term, the most potentially destabilizing factor in U.S.-Russian relations, given the level of emotion and neuralgia triggered by its quest for NATO membership . . . Because membership remained divisive in Ukrainian domestic politics, it created an opening for Russian intervention. Trenin expressed concern that elements within the Russian establishment would be encouraged to meddle, stimulating U.S. overt encouragement of opposing political forces, and leaving the U.S. and Russia in a classic confrontational posture.”

The Obama administration, not wanting to further inflame tensions with Russia, blocked arms sales to Kiev. But this act of prudence was abandoned by the Trump and Biden administrations. Weapons from the U.S. and Great Britain are pouring into Ukraine, part of the $1.5 billion in promised military aid. The equipment includes hundreds of sophisticated Javelins and NLAW anti-tank weapons despite repeated protests by Moscow. 

The United States and its NATO allies have no intention of sending troops to Ukraine. Rather, they will flood the country with weapons, which is what it did in the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia. 

The conflict in Ukraine echoes the novel “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  In the novel it is acknowledged by the narrator that “there had never been a death more foretold” and yet no one was able or willing to stop it. All of us who reported from Eastern Europe in 1989 knew the consequences of provoking Russia, and yet few have raised their voices to halt the madness.  The methodical steps towards war took on a life of their own, moving us like sleepwalkers towards disaster. 

Once NATO expanded into Eastern Europe, the Clinton administration promised Moscow that NATO combat troops would not be stationed in Eastern Europe, the defining issue of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations. This promise again turned out to be a lie. Then in 2014 the U.S. backed a coup against the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who sought to build an economic alliance with Russia rather than the European Union. Of course, once integrated into the European Union, as seen in the rest of Eastern Europe, the next step is integration into NATO.  Russia, spooked by the coup, alarmed at the overtures by the EU and NATO, then annexed Crimea, largely populated by Russian speakers. And the death spiral that led us to the conflict currently underway in Ukraine became unstoppable. 

The war state needs enemies to sustain itself. When an enemy can’t be found, an enemy is manufactured. Putin has become, in the words of Senator Angus King, the new Hitler, out to grab Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe. The full-throated cries for war, echoed shamelessly by the press, are justified by draining the conflict of historical context, by elevating ourselves as the saviors and whoever we oppose, from Saddam Hussein to Putin, as the new Nazi leader. 

I don’t know where this will end up. We must remember, as Putin reminded us, that Russia is a nuclear power. We must remember that once you open the Pandora’s box of war it unleashes dark and murderous forces no one can control. I know this from personal experience. The match has been lit. The tragedy is that there was never any dispute about how the conflagration would start. 

Traffic jams are seen as people leave the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences you have never seen.” (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for ScheerPost. Click here to sign up for email alerts.

Chris Hedges
Chris HedgesChris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.  Author Link

Copyright 2021 Chris Hedges

119 comments

  1. Chris Hedges is the most insightful writer for geopolitics regarding the actions of the Yankee Empire.
    He is absolutely correct about American war economy and war culture.
    Mr. Hedges should also have reported that USA is deeply divided on this conflict as never before has a major political figure openly supported the foe. Trump and his Confederates shattered the unity that is needed for any war and Russia is made legitimate by Donald’s approval.

    Therfore USA has lost all meaningful arguments against Russia, especially when Trump is likely to return to the White house.

    1. You mean, it’s not Sean Penn? This was not Penn’s first trip to Ukraine. Last November, Penn traveled to the country to meet with members of the military near the front lines with Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk, Deadline reported. The Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Service shared an image of Penn from that trip, showing the actor speaking with members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

      Penn has previously been criticized for putting himself in the center of global crises.

      In October 2015, he interviewed drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán for an article for Rolling Stone. Months later, the actor admitted in an interview with CBS that the “article failed” because it didn’t spark debate about what he described as Americans’ moral complicity in the country’s drug-related street violence

    2. I admire Chris greatly. He’s courageous and gets to the heart of the matter. Why do you think right wing commentators direct such vital at him? Because he speaks truth to power.

      1. It is a crime against democracy for a lying military industrial complex in collusion with.US GOVT.in collusion with corporate media taking heads reading from pentagon central casting script sold the Americans ANOTHER ILLEGAL WAR . THIS CONFLAGRATION CAN AND WILL.LEAD TO NUCLEAR DISASTER.who will.be left.on earth to point finger at the villian.

    3. So if America goes with the establishment, we get war abroad. If America goes with a TV personality disruptor we get war domestically. Lovely options.

      1. @Jeremiah J Nordstrom
        Your characterization of Chris Hedges as “a TV personality disruptor” eliminates any credibility you might have had.

        And BTW, a civil war in the U.S. is infinitely preferable to nuclear war.

      2. With all due respect you can’t compare metaphorical war in America with actual war abroad. Americans haven’t had a war on their soil for over 150 years so it’s easy to be extremely blasé about it. War, terrible as it is, doesn’t end after the killing and dying stops. In countries that have seen decades of near non-stop fighting, e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan, it scars people and society for generations. Post WW2 America is the worlds foremost warmongering nation yet many Americans look at you as if you’re not all there if you mention this fact.

        During the 2003 Iraq invasion a high school in Texas did a kind of exchange (I think it was via video link but it might have just been via the internet) with a teenage blogger in Mosul. She talked about the war and her experiences living through it and the students in the US could ask her questions.

        The American kids had a very difficult time grasping how serious war actually is. They imagined it being something like 9-11 in terms of intensity and impact. She had multiple relatives and friends who were killed or injured and she got very frustrated over this attitude . Some of the Americans even called her “too negative” and why doesn’t she try to be happier?

        As someone who is familiar with war and its effects, it is sometimes still shocking to me how casually ignorant Americans are about it. The war lust the media is whipping up over the Ukraine invasion is just disgusting and the way most Americans and Europeans let themselves be gaslit and lied to by that media is nauseating to behold. Encouraging Ukrainian grandmas to throw Molotov cocktails at Russian soldiers and then pretending to care about civilian lives? I’m speechless. This is evil, diabolical.

        On the political side as bad as it is now, what happens when the next Mike Pompeo or John Bolton are in the corridors of power again? This are extremely grim and dangerous times.

    4. I’m glad I found Chris’s home. His views are and have always been liberal yet reality-based and grounded in deep morality. I’ll be following closely although in 2025 (maybe 2023) the fascists will be in charge and dissent may be more difficult.

      1. They’re already in charge. Where’ve you been the last two years? or for that matter, the last 21 years?

    5. Chris sold out. The Real reason for this INVASION of a sovereign country and War in Europe is PUTIN wants to control the natural resource of Ukraine; from oil offshore in Crimea to Oil reserves in Azov Sea to the pipeline going through Ukraine ( russia owes Ukraine Billions for renting that land). Chiris never mentions that.
      Also it is wrong, Russia was never promised in any written agreement that NATO would not accept FSU States. First Read the Budapest memorandum with Russia Signed. Then revisit the 2008 Bucharest summit. Both Ukraine and Georgia were promised a chance to join NATO. Putin was also invited to this summit. Research what is says. You can no longer simply take Chris Hedges at his word. He is not as trustworthy as he once was.

      1. @Steve L
        Really? And what’s the real reason that the U.S. fomented a coup in Ukraine in 2014? And that the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq and stole its oil? And that the U.S. invaded (through proxies) and occupied Syria and is still stealing its oil? And that the U.S. is now bombing Somalia? Are you a U.S. propagandist?

  2. This is the worst thing to happen to the true left. It’s going to reestablish the credibility of W. Bush and all the other idiot psychopaths. It’s going to cement the pro-war narrative of the MSM and be used as a cudgel on the independent media. It’s going to be used as one more excuse to slash social programs. I’m depressed.

    1. There is a true left? In America? I don’t think so because I see none and I’ve been looking for a long time.

      1. The voices of the left have been virtually censored out for some years, with “new media” corporations (cable TV and the Internet) re-educating the general public. The Democrat right wing (ironically, often referred to “liberals” or even “the left”) began dominating the public discussion by the late 1990s. Today, remaining Dem loyalists plug their heads into the corporate media every evening to find out what lines they’re expected to recite tomorrow.

      2. There’s only a few of us around, scattered hither and yon and totally unorganized and without any power. Glad to see you’re still around JaM, you might be the only one left who’s even more cynical than me at this point. And believe me that’s saying a lot.

      3. There is a true left. It’s called the Socialist Equality Party and the WSWS. If you read the WSWS you’ll understand our only way out of this mess is the rising up of the international working class for the end of capitalism and its divisive nationalism. The international working class is the only place where the real power for change exists.
        Don’t look to Hedges to ever tell you this. His religion blinds him to the only path away from capitalism. This is why he loves to tell you all the problems with capitalism but never gives you an answer on how to eradicate it.

    2. @Jim Gaia
      It’s the worst thing that could happen to any chance to rein in the U.S. empire and its military. And if this ends up in nuclear war, it’s the worst thing that could happen to the planet. What happens to the left is trivial compared to that, and there’s no substantial “left” in the U.S. anyway.

      1. As if ‘left’ means ‘ethical’? Technically, the left means respect for intrinsic worth but not for free will. The right means just the opposite. Neither fragment stands on its own. Zero respect for either means fascism. Total respect for both means anarchism. Obviously, anarchism is the only legitimate place on the political-economic map. It’s the top point on the diamond. So let’s start movement toward full respect for humanity’s intrinsic worth AND free will. Equality + autonomy. Full power AND control, over one’s destiny, in all the hands of humanity.

      2. Quote, “And if this ends up in nuclear war, it’s the worst thing that could happen to the planet. ” Unquote. I for one, do not share your belief. The folks who have orchestrated this war, know very well what they are doing. In fact I believe, together with their Covid bullshit, a nuclear war would be ideal in reducing the World population AND solve the climate change issue at the same time. Nothing like blowing things up and entering a new dark age for a few 10’s of years, wipe the slate clean, and then when they think it’s all good, re-emerge from their bolt holes and start all over again, with no opposition and Lord it over all the Serfs who have survived. Of course that’s only ONE, alternative. During my lifetime, I have discovered things do not ever, go the way they are planned. There’s always some pesky little thing not considered, that upsets the apple cart, and I believe, that is precisely what will happen.

      3. @Eddy
        Your response to me makes no sense. I said that nuclear war is the worst thing that could happen to the planet from this situation, and your response states some conspiracy theory about the ruling class wanting a nuclear war, then goes on to discuss provably false effects of that like the damage only lasting decades and nuclear war solving global warming/climate change. This is unresponsive to my comment, and is rather unhinged, to say the least.

        Nuclear war could very well destroy all life on Earth. Even if a nuclear war were limited — in other words, the U.S. and Russia didn’t use most or all of their weapons, which is highly unlikely — and it didn’t wipe out life on Earth, there would be very little left after all the nuclear fallout caused death, severe illness, and mutations. There’s no way that the ruling class and their generals don’t know this; the problem is their Dr. Strangelove and General Ripper attitudes, which are completely insane.

        Explain how nuclear war isn’t the worst thing that could happen to the planet from this situation. Then explain how a nuclear war could possibly solve global warming/climate change. Finally, explain how those in the ruling class would remain there after a nuclear war, when human society, if it still existed, would be in total chaos.

  3. Abby does a great job with Oliver Stone.

    Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone joins Abby to discuss his new film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, his journey into the case, the evidence of a CIA-orchestrated assassination and American foreign policy.

    https://youtu.be/cJd3Y94etd4

    And, Stone’s Ukraine —

    Ukraine, the ‘borderlands’ between Russia and ‘civilized’ Europe is on fire. For centuries, it has been at the center of a tug-of-war between powers seeking to control its rich lands and Russia’s access to the Mediterranean.

    The Maidan Massacre in early 2014 triggered a bloody uprising that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, spurred Crimeans to secede and join Russia, and sparked a civil war in Eastern Ukraine.

    Russia was portrayed by Western media as the perpetrator, and has been sanctioned and widely condemned as such. But was Russia responsible for what happened?

    Ukraine on Fire provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which led to the 2004 Orange Revolution, the 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically-elected Yanukovych.

    Covered by Western media as a ‘popular revolution’, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by ultra-nationalist groups and the US State Department.

    Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how US-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 1980s, replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.

    Executive producer Oliver Stone gained unprecedented access to the inside story through his on-camera interviews with former President Viktor Yanukovych and Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Zakharchenko, who explain how the US Ambassador and factions in Washington actively plotted for regime change.

    And, in his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stone solicits Putin’s take on the significance of Crimea, NATO and the US’s history of interference in elections and regime change in the region.

    Now, at last, the full exposé is available in the West. Though, of course, everyone is encouraged to purchase a copy to support Stone’s important work.

  4. That this is ultimately the fault of the U.S. is beyond doubt. That doesn’t let Putin off the hook — I think he’s lost his mind doing this — but as usual, the U.S. is the cause of the problem. All I can say now is that I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis and I really don’t want to live through anything like that again. Living in terror of nuclear war for 2 weeks was no fun, and even at 8 years old I barely slept, trying to figure out how to survive for the rest of our lives in a bomb shelter IF we weren’t killed by the nuclear blast. Dying is one thing, we’re all going to do it. But the threat of the entire planet being killed is a whole other thing.

    1. Oh, Jeff, the psychologist. Typical Americano — lost his mind? [edited for rudeness — mod]

      After weeks of US claims that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent, Vladimir Putin instead recognized the breakaway republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. The decision has triggered a new round of US-led sanctions while bringing attention to rebel-held areas, where, according to UN figures on the Donbas war, 80% of civilian casualties have occurred since 2018.

      Professor Richard Sakwa analyzes the factors behind Putin’s move, and its likely consequences. Putin’s decision, he says, comes after Kiev refused to implement the 2015 Minsk accords, which could have ended the conflict, and a longstanding US-driven project to expand NATO to Russia’s borders.

      Guest: Richard Sakwa. Professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent. His books include “Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands” and his latest, “Deception: Russiagate and the New Cold War.”

      https://youtu.be/TqVCMZdnb3k

      Good one here — https://consortiumnews.com/2022/02/24/what-putin-says-are-the-causes-aims-of-russias-military-action/

      Russia says it has no intentions of controlling Ukraine and its military operation is only to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine in an action taken after 30 years of the U.S. pushing Russia too far, writes Joe Lauria.

      1. @Paul+Haeder
        Yes Paul, lost his mind. And I’d say the same thing about Biden if he uses troops in Ukraine. If you read my entire comment instead of obsessing on one small portion of it that pushed some button of yours, you’d easily realize that I blame the U.S. for all this. But if you think that Putin is a good guy or that Russia is a good country, you’re as delusional as people who think that Democrats or the U.S. are good.

    2. I thought that your opinion is that there are too many humans!
      So you should thank Putin, every little step counts

    3. @Jeff
      Everything is the fault of the US, including earthquakes, solar storms and locust swarms.
      Earth would be Eden without the US!

    4. Simply spoken: Russia had to put a stop to US expansion somewhere. Last time they put a stop to an expansionist imperialist power was 80 years ago, 30 kilometres West of Moscow.

      1. @Oscar+Alx
        And for that they earned mankind’s gratitude.
        It is a pity they turned around and became an expansionist imperialist power that swallowed Eastern Europe and most of Central Europe !

      2. @Oscar+Alx
        It would have been better to do something like work with China on an economic plan to stop the U.S. than to risk nuclear war. Like infinitely better. What we have is a bunch of Dr. Strangeloves and General Rippers on both sides. Most people have no idea how close the world came to ending in 1962, only to be saved by a Soviet naval officer named Vasili Arkhipov who refused to launch a nuclear weapon. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ugly Americans!) I fully agree that NATO expansion should be stopped — in fact, it should be reversed, and NATO should be disbanded — but risking nuclear war is not an acceptable way to do that.

    5. The Kennedy, government and lap dog media play during the Cuban missile crisis held back the fact that we had recently placed tactical atom bomb weapons on Turkey’s border with Russia, causing fear and rage in Russia. We also weren’t taught that we agreed that we would remove our Turkey based nucs and then Russia would stop setting up the same type of nuclear weapons in Cuba. Russia’s projected 2021 GDP of 1.7T is about half that of California’s 2021 GDP of 3.35T. Russian mega billionaire oligarchs don’t seem to be investing in large, new businesses. Perhaps they invest in big bank CDs, and get those free toasters and other rewards.

      1. @Pete M
        I agree with that. I assume what you wrote wasn’t meant to contradict anything that I wrote.

        BTW, Russian billionaires seem to spend their money on things like hideously large yachts. All billionaires are evil, and the Russian ones are no better or worse than any of the others. Some pretend to be good and have a lot of people fooled into thinking that they are (Bill Gates is a perfect example of that), but they’re all highly unevolved people whose obsession on material things goes way beyond that of regular people, and whose lust for money and power are off the charts.

  5. Always intelligent and reasoned analysis. So grateful for your posts Mr. Hedges.

    1. The Reverend Chris Hedges is being paid by RT. In other words, he is being paid by the Putin regime. In an alternate universe in which Reverend Hedges is an honest man he would point out this obvious fact every time he writes about Russia. Religious hypocrites like Hedges are a dime a dozen.

      1. His bio is at the bottom of every column and says he does a show for RT.

        “Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.”

      2. Aye, aye.
        Typical of leftier-than-thou sorts whose hatred for the US and the west burns brightest, and who to this day cant help but bow obeisantly toward Moscow. (Stalin is dead, guys.)

        This is no different than Glenn Greenwald’s routine, minus his personal nastiness. Now Rev Hedges joins the illustrious ranks of Jill Stein, Michael Flynn, Tulsi Gabbard.

      3. To the Moderator, really: Given the heavy shilling in this piece, it would be more honest to require that the first paragraph include “(Full disclosure: the author is an employee of Russian state media.)”

      4. It is in the bio at the bottom of the article. He does not hide from the fact, and you are not the first to criticize him for it. He also took money from the NYT for 20 years — does that mean all his writing for them was as a shill for the mainstream narrative builders Chomsky described in Manufactured Consent?

        Hedges as been carefully articulating his personal political and moral beliefs and analysis in many venues for decades now, long before he had a show hosted by RT — over which he has editorial control — and hopefully will continue to do afterwards. Thanks to the Internet, you can find it all out there and judge for yourself whether he is speaking from the heart or is a propagandist for others.

        All media outlets have somebodies who pay to keep the lights on who has an agenda, even if it is just advertisers and subscribers. The tension between the published and publisher is a constant negotiation, and a crucial one — “Freedom of the press is only guaranteed to those who own one,” as AJ Liebling said.

        For our own site, ScheerPost, we try to keep our overhead to near zero and rely on small donations in order to maintain as much editorial independence as is possible. And while we allow RT and ANY OTHER SITE to repost our original content (marked as “original to ScheerPost” in the byline), only asking for credit, that original content is subject to NO other control but our own.

      5. Absurd. Unless we say that most Americans in academia, in media, everywhere, products of massive propaganda campaigns via government and mass media. A shill? Is that the word you use?

        Read, or watch and learn:

        Max Blumenthal speaks live with Alfred de Zayas, former United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and professor at Geneva University school of diplomacy. De Zayas addresses international law in the context of Russia’s recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent republics, and its military incursion in Ukraine. He also offers his unvarnished views on NATO, the EU, and the role of the human rights industry in bolstering US power. De Zayas’ most recent book is Building a Just World Order https://www.claritypress.com/product/

        https://youtu.be/21h_2RyQKRU

      6. @Tony Gerace
        You have nothing to say, so why don’t you say nothing? You didn’t respond to one issue that Hedges raised, but instead resorted to lame character assassination and name-calling.

  6. Poor Putin, such a victim let’s all cry for him. Yes, he is so afraid of Poland’s weapons, well, because Poland has such a history of aggression towards Russia, right? Yes, he is so afraid of Poland’s weapons, which is the fault of the US, so it must be the US’s fault that Putin is bombing Ukraine into oblivion. It’s also the fault of the US that Putin kills, poisons , imprisons and tortures his democratically leaning political opponents. It’s the US’s fault that Putin is the richest man in the world who keeps his citizens in poverty through a brutal cleptocracy. He’s really a great guy, but lets blame Nato that he’s such a subhuman evil peace of excrement. The Revolutionary of Dignity of 2014 still burns him, that Ukraine tried to throw off the yoke of Russia’s puppet government, and this is payback. Putin is a death camp kind of guy, but, I’m not sure that any supporters of a democtatic Ukraine will even make it to a camp alive. Zelensky is a Nazi, he must be because Putin says he is, so Putin must liberate Ukraine. The people on this site need to believe that, so they can blame the US, and be a follower of Hedges, who is literally, without exaggeration, is being paid for by Putin and must ‘service’ him.

    1. Very well said James. I am very dissapointed that Rev. Hedges is now part of Putin’s propaganda machine.

    2. Putin is the richest man in the world by looting his country. He is not a victim but an pillaging imperialist strong man who refused to give up power. Has Chris Hedges ever addressed Putin’s role in Syria. Assad is supporting Putin s is North Korea and Iran. Very telling don’t you think. Putin is a misogynistic, bigoted bully. The USA is also bully but that does not make Putin a victim. I hope this leads to eventual downfall of Putin and his right wing fanboys which are predominately christian, militia, neo nazi types in the West . We need to concentrate on solidarity as climate disasters cause more mass immigration and supply chain shortages. International solidarity is the only thing which will save us and Putin will never allow that to happen.

    3. your racism obvious—stupidity also. far less poverty, no extreme poverty in Russia—5 million families in USA. 3 million homeless inUSA; 89% Russians own their habitat, no mortgage. 50 million Americans food insecure, none in Russia. but you of course support a nazi Ukraine that murders 15,000 during the past 8 years. you are despicable!

      1. @alexandr herzen
        Congratulations, you really are the non sequitur king of the heap!
        What racism has to do with it?
        And how Ukraine, which by the way has a Jewish president , got to be a National-Socialist state?

  7. USA NATO imperialism exposed as impotent—a paper tiger, yet USA spends more to produce an incompetent military than the next 14 largest military nations combined as CIA consultant Juan Cole writes. this has been witnessed in all immoral decayed empires near collapse

      1. nonsense—-they lose all wars—Bacevich has repeatedly exposed us military incompetence

  8. This show was broadcast today on Flashpoints on KPFA.

    Francis Boyle is an expert on international law and Russian/Soviet history. He makes comparisons with the present conflict with the Cuban Missile Crisis. His explanation is clear, and succinct. Americans will not be told by corporate media and our government that the Russian invasion could likely have been avoided if the US had negotiated with Putin.

    https://kpfa.org/episode/flashpoints-february-24-2022/

  9. As soon as the Covid fear factor started to wain we get this mess in Ukraine. Coincidence??

    1. ‘Do your patriotic duty for the greatest nation on Earth’.
      ‘Get all your shots and then start shooting at the Russians, the Chinese, the aliens or whoever the hell we tell you to shoot at!’

      1. The major takeaway from this unfolding situation should be that Russia’s president does not bluff, and that the West would do well to listen closely to what he has to say. As Russian troops poured across the Ukrainian border, Western diplomats and pundits proclaimed shock and dismay. But Russia had been clear about what it wanted, and what the consequences of failing to get that would be. This war was predictable, if only the West had listened.

        The fighting rages in Ukraine. How this war will end is uncertain. The old military adage that no plan survives initial contact with the enemy applies in full. What is known is that the US and Europe are imposing a second tranche of hard-hitting sanctions designed to punish Russia.

        It is important to point out that anyone who believed this second round of sanctions would compel a change in Russian behavior will be disappointed. Russia’s course of action has incorporated the full range of sanctions planned by the West — not a difficult task, since there had been wide speculation about their scope since sanctions were first threatened in spring 2021.

        The problem isn’t the sanctions, but what follows. These sanctions exhaust the options the US, Nato and the EU have for responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They have no follow-on plan. Russia, on the other hand, has such a plan. It has been very clear about what the future holds. Again, however, the West has not been listening.

        Russia will not take this second tranche of sanctions laying down. Putin has made clear that Russia will respond in kind, using symmetrical (i.e., countersanctions) and asymmetrical (i.e., cyberattacks) actions designed to disrupt the economies of targeted nations and entities. Russia has made no secret that this is its intended course of action, but as with its “military-technical” solution for Ukraine, the West shrugged off the Russian threat. Russia, however, does not bluff.

        Russia has also made clear that its security guarantees go beyond preventing Ukraine from joining Nato and include the return of Nato’s military infrastructure to pre-1997 levels. In short, all Nato forces deployed into Eastern Europe must be returned to their home bases, and the two missile defense sites in Poland and Romania dismantled.

        This is the demand that will drive future Russian relations with the West. Rather than acceding to Russia’s demands, Nato has been doubling down on the reinforcement of its eastern flank, dispatching additional forces to Poland, Romania and the Baltics.

        In response, Russia will create an analogous situation to what transpired in Belarus, namely the forward deployment of powerful Russian military formations in what will be, for all practical purposes, a militarized buffer zone separating Nato from Russia proper, with the exception of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

        The resulting standoff will closely resemble the Cold War, where Nato and Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces faced off across the frontier separating East and West Germany. This is the new reality that the world woke up to on Feb. 24 — a Cold War that the West neither wanted, predicted nor is prepared to undertake.

        Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer whose service over a 20-plus-year career included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control agreements, serving on the staff of US Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War and later as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq from 1991-98.

  10. From what I understand, both the US and Russia have gotten part of what they want with Russia’s direct intervention in the Ukraine: the US gov’t can claim a moral high ground and the EU will be economically isolated from Russia, while Putin strengthens his domestic image by taking strong action to protect ethnic Russians in Luhansk and Donetsk. I would argue the battle lines are being drawn between a US dominated economic region (including Europe, South America) and that of Russia/China and China’s new Silk Road stretching to Europe. The US gov’t is desperate due to its increasing domestic problems and declining economic prestige, and this is one symptom of lashing out and trying to maintain power, with the people of Ukraine being used as pawns.

    1. @Cynical Rex

      The people of Ukraine are now in the streets of Kiev shooting at Russian tanks because they do not want to be anybody’s pawns!

      1. @alteyid48

        I hold the US largely responsible for the events unfolding in the Ukraine, but that does not absolve the killing of Ukrainians by the Russian army. Both the US and Russia covet the resources of Ukraine, both countries have for-profit military industries, so I do not claim the motives of either party are pure. The US helped sponsor the coup in 2014 and installed an anti-Russian gov’t, and the weapons it provided the Ukraine aided the violence against the Donbas region (1000s killed). If the Russians do not have a plan once they wipe US influence from Ukraine, it could become a quagmire for them like Afghanistan. Either way, Europe and especially Ukraine suffer most: it would be better for the EU to rid itself of American influence and kick out its military bases.

      2. Oh, DARPA is still humming with corona hell,

        The United States has great tolerance for wholesale killings. Think Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Think civilians killed in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq – in U.S. wars. Think biological weapons.

        An article appearing October 4, 2018 in Science magazine deals with a U.S. Defense Department project named “Insect Allies” which began in 2017 and runs for four years. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)is providingfour U.S. Universities with $45 million in funding to enable researchers to alter the gene make-up of plants grown as crops on farms. DARPA claims to be “addressing national security challenges in agriculture domestically and abroad.” Genes are being “edited”, says DARPA, so that plants can resist diseases, drought, floods, excessive heat, or “natural or engineered harmful biological agents,”

        Yet the five authors of the report, evolutionary biologists and lawyers at German and French Universities, see the U.S. Defense Department as probably developing offensive biological-warfare capabilities. The United States, they explain, actually may be working on an innovative mechanism of genetic modification programmed to reduce productivity rather than to maintain or increase it.

        The authors write that the “knowledge to be gained from this program appears very limited in its capacity to enhance U.S. agriculture or respond to national emergencies.” They condemn the project “as probably in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which tookeffect under United Nations auspices in 1975.

        The 182 nations ratifying the BWC as of 2018 are committed to prohibiting the “development, production, and stockpiling” of such weapons. In 1969 President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would no longer be making offensive biological weapons.

        The Science magazine report focuses on a new delivery system Defense Department researchers are using to transfer altered genetic material to crops in the field. The authors cite the BWC which says: “certain developments in science and technology have the potential for use contrary to the provisions of the Convention now or in the future. These developments include, inter alia…to develop novel means of delivering biological agents and toxins.” The idea of a “novel means” is crucial to what follows here.

        For the reader to understand why the United States may be non-compliant with the BWC, some familiarity with relevant science is necessary. We review it briefly.

        DARPA researchers are trying to insert altered genetic material into viruses, arrange for those viruses to infect certain insects, and then transfer the insects with doctored viruses to plants being grown for food. They are relying on a horizontal – or lateral – approach instead of the traditional one, which is to transfer the inheritance of genetic material vertically, from one generation of living things downward to the next. Whether taking place in the laboratory or in the field, the vertical method consumes time and money. The new, horizontal method is relatively inexpensive and is quick. It fits into one growing season.

        DARPA’sprocess rests on two biological systems. One of them, known by the acronym CRISPR, utilizes sets of DNA sequences originating fromthe genetic material of single cell organisms. These are composed of DNA fragments from viruses that had infected those organisms. Under CRISPR, the sequences are combined with certain enzymes to achieve “editing” of the genetic make-up of an entirely different organism. And CRISPR enables those altered genes to be transferred to yet another life form.

        The other system involves a virus known as a “horizontal environmental genetic alteration agent” (HEGAA). It contains genes modified as per CRISPR. That virus infects insects, specifically aphids, whiteflies or leafhoppers, and the insects are transferred to crops where they feed. Doing so, they insert the virus into the cells of plants, thus endowing them – CRISPR at work again – with new genetic material. The plants thrive or fail depending on how humans engineered such material at the beginning.

        In the Science magazine report, HEGAA technology is cast as one of the “novel means” proscribed by the BMW. The authors hold that gene modification achieved through HEGAA doesn’t fit with the intention proclaimed by DARPA, that of protecting U.S. agriculture. Any discussion of a project with such a purpose ought to have dealt with methods and arrangements pertaining to agriculture.

        If indeed the Insect Allies program had been programmed as advertised, then consideration might have been given to regulatory mechanisms applying to food produced through HEGAA and about to enter national and international markets. That didn’t happen. Nor was there discussion of the full range of practical impediments to achieving benefits for agriculture.

  11. Hey Chris, it probably would be a good idea here to disclose the fact that you literally get a paycheck from Russian state-backed media company. I’ve been a fan or yours for years, and this is not a good look at all.

  12. Proliferating perspectives with less depth and reason than this one by Hedges might be terrible for the world, but entrenching them is wonderful for the war business, and just like Trump, great for ratings.

    We have a villain, and what a relief to be assured – he is not us.

  13. Funny, isn’t it? From the time of his campaign, we talked about Biden’s relentless saber-rattling against Russia. We pointed out the ongoing war provocations of the US/UK against Russia on an almost daily basis, not to mention US violations of formal treaties and agreements. We shone a light on the buildup of US/NATO troops in Eastern Europe at least since last summer – well over 60,000 US troops alone. We watched US/NATO troops set up along Ukraine’s border, preparing to invade, and warned that this would lead to our final world war, US vs. Russia and China. Last week, we heard Biden call for sending thousands more troops to invade Ukraine, and Democrats demanded an unprecedented $767 billion war budget. Then we woke up yesterday to “shocked” Dem Party loyalist shrieking, “Putin’s invading Ukraine!” The thing about those loyalists is that they never listen, never learn.

    1. @DHFabian
      Funny, everybody except you heard Biden and all NATO leaders saying that no NATO soldier has, is or will ever step on Ukrainian ground!

  14. “The war state needs enemies to sustain itself. When an enemy can’t be found, an enemy is manufactured.”
    That perfectly describes Putin’s Russia!
    The “fascist” Ukraine was getting ready to invade Russia so Putin was really forced to invade it ( as he declared himself), he just had no choice in the matter, the Motherland survival was at stake!
    Regarding NATO expansion eastward, the ex communist countries were more than eager to get into a military alliance that will hopefully protect them from Russia, as they remember that Russian armies fostered communism on them. For many of them Russian territorial expansion has meant hundreds of years of subjugation, loss of territory and freedom! People still remember Russian tanks in Prague and Budapest, exactly as today in Kiev!
    Russia is using the last good years before its gas and oil bonanza is rendered irrelevant by the greening of energy in order to change its place into the world and gather around, by force if necessary, a bevy of vassals at its command. Meddling also in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Venezuela will also enable it to control most of hydrocarbures reserves and production and expand its influence.

    1. your CIA narrative amuses; evidence demonstrates the reverse, Russia has discovered huge gas and oil reserves in the past several years. the fake green policies have failed; the 2 EU nations that pay the most for energy are Denmark, Germany. It is the USA that requires coercion and invasion, not Russia. your despicable lies suggest you are paid by CIA

      1. @Alexandr Herzen
        Unfortunately nobody is paying me and I really don’t see the relevance of your response to the matter at hand

  15. The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia

    [Mod — use a legitimate link directly to article, please]

  16. I respect Hedges and his thoughtful commentaries and anticipate more. Chris could do better on statements such as this; “Russia annexed Crimea”.. technically true except lacking the context that the scared citizens of Crimea were first given the choice.

    About current events in Ukraine? Invasion and War are among the worst things that can happen, as has been said. Many in Washington and the ‘West’ place the sole blame for this on Russian aggression and the evil plots of Grigori Rasputin -ooops! V. Putin. 🙂 If the people saying these things believe it all? They are mental children still looking forward to the arrival of the Easter Bunny. If they don’t believe it they are dangerous liars.

    Thanks.

  17. Mr. Hedges claims to be an anti-war activist, but it seems he’s only against wars that the U.S. starts. It’s inconceivable that someone who is truly against war would write an article about the war in Ukraine and not say anything against Putin, who started it. How much is RT paying you for your silence, Mr. Hedges?

  18. Hedges definitely isn’t going to be unwelcome at RT any time soon. This is one of the most absurdly lopsided and biased assessments I have ever seen.

    Obviously the conflict didn’t come out of nowhere, but the idea that the US was a malevolent force of pure evil and Putin had no choice is borderline deranged.

    Hedges is a smart guy and his doom porn is really entertaining… but the shilling really undercuts a lot of his points.

    1. The US IS a ‘malevolent force of pure evil”. As you can glean from the ongoing theft of Syrian oil, the theft of $7bn from Afghanistan. After 20 years occupation of Afghanistan it is the most hopeless country on earth. After eight years of rule over Ukraine, this is the by far poorest country in Europe. Murderous thieves.

      1. @Oscar+Alx
        “Murderous Thieves”
        That’s exactly what the people in Poland, Baltic countries, Cech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Moldavia ,Ukraine (most of them) think about the Russians and that is why want to be in NATO!

  19. I think he’s overstating the role of NATO expansion in “provoking” Russia. Really I think NATO expansion is just an excuse that Putin uses to justify Russian aggression. Even if there were some kind of promise to keep former Soviet bloc countries from joining, Putin would just find some other excuse to invade Ukraine. For all we know, Russia could have been MORE aggressive if NATO promised not to support countries like Moldova, which are still in danger of Russian incursion. I don’t support NATO more broadly, as I think NATO involvement with those countries amounts to a marriage of convenience, but I think it’s pretty clear that they don’t pose a threat to Russian border security. NATO really doesn’t have much to do with the whole thing, but I understand the impulse of leftists like Hedges to be skeptical of US involvement in world affairs.

    I do think Hedges goes too far in framing Putin as a “manufactured enemy”; while it is in many cases overly simplistic to impute the causes of international conflict to individual actors, I really think it mostly comes down to Putin’s erratic behavior enabled by his oligarch cronies. Hedges wants to say that Russia’s fear of NATO is fundamentally a rational response (a view famously espoused by foreign policy expert John Meirsheimer), but I think this recent invasion of Ukraine shows the opposite. If Russia were only motivated by security concerns, it wouldn’t have rapidly escalated conflict even with so many pleas for diplomacy. It wouldn’t have attacked cities as far away from the Eastern conflict zone as Kyiv and even Chernobyl. (Why on earth they chose to invade a nuclear wasteland is beyond me.) And most of all, it wouldn’t threaten nuclear retaliation if anyone tries to intervene. None of this seems particularly rational, which leads me to believe Putin’s stated reasons for conflict are just a smokescreen for his imperialist ambitions.

    I’m a little confused about where the “full-throated cries for war, echoed shamelessly by the press” are coming from. He acknowledges that Biden and the democrats have 0 intentions to put boots in Ukraine. (Putin’s threat of nuclear retaliation virtually assures that US leaders won’t go further than sanctions.) Ukraine isn’t even a formal ally of the US. War is firmly off the table (at least for now, hopefully).

    But the biggest problem with this article is that it doesn’t include ANY historical account of Russian aggression on its neighbors. It’s a completely one-sided analysis that gives you the sense that EVERYTHING happening now is because of the US, which is emphatically not the case. (I should also mention there is some disagreement among historians about exactly how much was promised by Western countries to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. My understanding is that Gorbachev may have misconstrued some informal comments by the Reagan administration as an agreement to stop NATO expansion. Though I think it’s ultimately irrelevant, for the reasons I’ve stated above.)

    We can talk about the degree to which NATO and US foreign policy made conflict with Russia more or less probable (even if I think NATO’s role in this instance is minimal), but it’s very irresponsible in light of this horrific invasion not to clearly condemn Putin and his wealthy sycophants. Such a condemnation need not commit us to warmongering.

      1. @Paul+Haeder
        So you suggest that the Russian tanks are in Kiev to ensure more Russian lessons in the schools?

  20. “President Mikhail Gorbachev reached out to Washington and Europe to build a new security pact that would include Russia… The commitment not to expand NATO, also made by Great Britain and France, appeared to herald a new global order… NATO combat troops would not be stationed in Eastern Europe…”

    Perhaps World leaders would benefit from a brief look at American history… specifically how The Government made promises to the Native Americans (repeatedly) and how those promises were ignored and broken (repeatedly).

    We’ve all heard these words…

    “The Best Predictor of Future Behavior Is … Past Behavior.”

    We’ve also heard these words…

    “Your Word Your Bond.”

    Well, it’s evident that some Bonds are – worthless. And Behaviors may never change.

    The era may change. Horses gave way to electric vehicles. Smoke signals were replaced by dancing pixels in small boxes. The chair warmers at the White House change.

    But promises continue to be made – and broken.

    It’s nice to know that there are some things in Life you can always count on. The years and the players may change but the outcome is always assured.

    “I don’t know where this will end up.”

    A wild guess: Somewhere along the line, promises will be made. And broken.

    And some Native American elders will watch from afar… and not be surprised.

    And then somewhere else, new promises will be made. With smiles and hand-shakes and fist bumps and back-slaps.

    And history will be ignored, Again.

  21. C’mon, Chris. You are better than this. Blaming this imperialist war on NATO, without laying any responsibility on the kleptocrat Putin, is bad journalism.

    I knew there would come at time that your employment at RT would put pressure on you to go against your moral convictions.

    Putin’s actions have an ideological origin. It’s an imperialist move and Putin knows that Russia would benefit from acquiring such a resource rich country.

    Humans are deeply flawed, but you have disappointed me. I thought you were better than this Don’t forget that Ukrainians are the victims here. They have the right to autonomy and to not be at the mercy of a foreign state with sinister intent.

    1. Initially buying Chris’s argument, after reflection, agree with you. The game of war machines and secret police activity proliferates all over, as does media commentary and bias, which any critical thinker is loathe to buy into. The people of Ukraine are the latest pawns as the world feigns surprise. For some amount of time, all else is pushed out of the selective news industry, either to the delight or dismay of those involved.
      And to noone’s surprise, the stock market is up. Carry on.

      1. @vivi
        The problems here are that we live in the U.S., not Russia, that the U.S. is by far the biggest perpetrator of war and imperialism on the planet, and that the U.S. is responsible for the root of this problem by expanding NATO ever eastward, right up to the Russian border. Forget about Putin or what you think of him and focus on the U.S., its president, and what you can do as a U.S. citizen to stop things like this in the future.

    2. Kleptocrats? Imperialism?
      C’mon Adam, we all know which nation is the front runner in those insatiable pursuits.
      The hubris of hypocrites produces a pervasive stench.

  22. @DHFabian
    Funny, everybody except you heard Biden and all NATO leaders saying that no NATO soldier has, is or will ever step on Ukrainian ground!

    1. “A bit”, yes. A nauseating whitewash of the ousted kleptocrat. Manafort served as Yanukovych’s strategist and political advisor. Yanukovych had his own protesting citizens fired upon, it’s thought with Manafort’s encouragement. Yanukovych is wanted in Ukraine for high crimes, and hides in Russia. However, I don’t think they feature him on RT.

  23. Excellent article that clearly reveals the role of the military industrial complex in promoting war. But this is typically discussed as a faceless group of investors. Just as we learned about the Sacklers’ role in the opioid crisis, it would be good to see some focus on a few of the top individual promoters of war.

  24. Putin’s deadly, imperialistic temper tantrum in Ukraine removes any reasonable doubt of the necessity for NATO’s survival and expansion.

    The naivete in the immediate post-Soviet collapse thinking was not in hoping peace would prevail, but rather in failing to predict the inevitable rise of a megalomaniac war-mongering tyrant like Putin.

    Putin is the most ‘effective evil’ in the world today, and the desperate rush of Neo Progressive demagogues and propaganda buffs like Hedges, Taibbi, Solomon and other left-ish pundits, attempting to distract us from this simple fact is an expression of the radical, anti-liberal madness that had replaced any decent and/or reasonable sentiment that usually prevails within that political persuasion.

  25. Apparently to people like Hedges, no one has any agency in the world except the American Deep State (or East Coast elites, or whatever loaded pejorative knee-jerk contrarians use). This is an offensive war—Putin is the aggressor and there’s really no disputing it. So Putin apologists tie themselves in knots trying to rationalize something that can’t be rationalized.

    1. During the tug of war between the US and Russia, the Americans were engaged in a destabilization campaign against the Yanukovych government. The campaign culminated with the overthrow of the elected president in the Maidan Revolution—also known as the Maidan Coup—named for the Kiev square that hosted the bulk of the protests.

      As political turmoil engulfed the country in the leadup to 2014, the US was fueling anti-government sentiment through mechanisms like USAID and National Endowment for Democracy (NED), just as they had done in 2004 . In December 2013, Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a long-time regime change advocate , said that the US government had spent $5 billion promoting “democracy” in Ukraine since 1991. The money went toward supporting “senior officials in the Ukraine government…[members of] the business community as well as opposition civil society” who agree with US goals.

      The NED is a key organization in the network of American soft power that pours $170 million a year into organizations dedicated to defending or installing US-friendly regimes. The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius (9/22/91 ) once wrote that the organization functions by “doing in public what the CIA used to do in private.” The NED targets governments who oppose US military or economic policy, stirring up anti-government opposition.

      The NED board of directors includes Elliott Abrams , whose sordid record runs from the Iran/Contra affair in the ’80s to the Trump administration’s effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government. In 2013, NED president Carl Gershman wrote a piece in the Washington Post (9/26/13 ) that described Ukraine as the “biggest prize” in the East/West rivalry. After the Obama administration, Nuland joined the NED board of directors before returning to the State Department in the Biden administration as undersecretary of state for political affairs.

      One of the many recipients of NED money for projects in Ukraine was the International Republican Institute. The IRI, once chaired by Sen. John McCain, has long had a hand in US regime change operations. During the protests that eventually brought down the government, McCain and other US officials personally flew into Ukraine to encourage protesters.

      https://www.blackagendareport.com/what-you-should-really-know-about-ukraine

      1. The present president of the Ukraine has been elected by more than 70% of the vote in elections much freer and honest than the ones keeping Putin in power!

  26. It is true that the neocons, billionaires and arms industry lobbyists are turning the screws on the world yet again for power and profit. It is true the US is rotten to the core.

    It is also true that Putin is a megalomaniac and the enemy of freedom and peace and has written himself into history as a ruthless billionaire-demagogue, a false dimitri, a thug and a murderer.

    I deeply respected Chris Hedges for his moral courage to speak truth to power and literary prowess, yet this piece does not simply stay silent on the subject of power but explicitly supports Putin’s propaganda in the West.

    You are not doing the people or dissidents any favors. Mr. Hedges, this is not speaking truth to power.

    You should resign from RT before it’s too late.

  27. One of the constant and most effective propaganda purposes of ‘the news’ and our controlled perceptions of the world/reality is to direct our focus upon events as isolated and disconnected happenings, apparently without plan or ulterior motive and meaning. And no better means of marshalling and misdirecting people’s attention, and action, can be found than the spectacle and idolatry of war, which besides brokering real estate deals and fortunes for ruling elites, provides patriotic pretext for disciplining subject populations into supporting the troops and the undoubtedly just cause, even while their principal if only interest in this naked exercise of class rule is surviving the destruction designed for the benefits of the few.

    Certainly one of those benefits is to obscure and override if not render obsolete any just cause people may have had against their own rulers, or enemies, on the home front. For example, World Wars 1 and 2 very conveniently served to undermine internationally rising resistance of working classes to capital rule, redirecting revolt against the evil empire ‘over there,’ even as to a great extent with war and its end victors picked up where vanguished left off with their own expanded powers over subjects, ever revelaing more of the fascism at capitalism’s core.

    The present conflict in Ukraine has been posed by propaganda arms of those who own and control the means of mass communication as one which has the potential of developing and erupting into World War 3. As could be said of virtually all modern geopolitical games played by those who use us as cannon fodder one way or another, as economic or military units, just so we learn the lessons of divide-and-rule strategy into ‘us’ and ‘them’ in our blood and bones. There’s all too real possibility of runaway conflagration with the global stakes which in our time have been laid down for humanity in the endgames played by advanced monopoly and imperial capital.

    Unfortunately, World War 3 has already begun, almost exactly two years ago when the world was locked down in a state of siege to a false flag flu engineering populations into the new 9/11 war of bioterror, necessitating techno-tyranny for our safety and general welfare by the state-of-emergency war powers and health of the state. And conveniently, for our rulers of course, especially as rising resistance to that war was unfolding across nations, our attention is now being redirected onto this war.

    The Ukraine crisis and shock doctrine is the new fear factor for herding sheeple back into line for daring to be their own people, in defiance of the “masters of mankind” (Adam Smith). It’s been long in the making as an opportune hot spot to hold subjects in thrall to the gods of war and the military industrial complex. Following the fall of the Soviet system, when George the First declared the New World Order and the UN set our sights on Agenda 21, the former republics of the USSR have retained their historic role as both economic and military war zones with the continuing encroachment of US-EU and US-NATO imperialism upon the Russian heartland in a revised Operation Barbarossa. Made all the more provocative beginning in 2014 with (neo-Nazified) regime change coup in Kiev, ever since in violation of the Minsk agreement, realignment of Crimea, and recent uptick in proxy state terror upon the Donbass region.

    But make no strategic mistake in thinking that this is anything much more than both distraction and destruction in fulfillment of the NWO and Agenda 21 announced for peasants, plebs, and proles past, altogether now known as useless eaters. If we the people are proving to be more unruly in being steered into the Great Reset and 4IR, then our masters will call upon all means available, which at this stage include multiple fronts from blood banks of the Pharmafia to central banks of Mammon, digital IDs to microchips, 5/6G EMGs and smart cities for a prison planet to full spectrum dominance in space to the brain as the battleground of the future (James Giordano), to insure we stay on track to the final solution of class war for humanity – depopulation via all means of war of all industrial complexes, military, medical, and more, on behalf of neofeudal, algogarchical technocracy over which transhumanists will preside like gods, inheritors to the divine bloodlines of pharaohs past by justification of the scientific mythology of eugenics. Meanwhile, here come under cover of the fog of war more, and eventually universal vaccines, aka genetic engineering, and madates, aka martial law, as fronted by the European Commission, compliments of WEF’s School-of-Dictators student Ursula von der Leyen, or carried forward in the not-so-free free market via company cartels controlled by BlackRock and Vanguard (see Michael Nevradakis’ “Corporate Vaccine Mandates and Vaccine Passports — Brought to You by BlackRock and Vanguard?”).

    Now under cover of the (temporary) relaxation of restrictions, and routines of rights as privileges granted us by the same corrupt criminals as dispossesed us of them as our not-so-inalienable rights, such means and more continue to roll out as the enemy repositions the battlefields and prepares (permanent) rules of law and order to steer us further down the chutes than they already have. And if war in Ukraine, this central piece on the Grand Chessboard (Zbigniew Brzezinski), not only proceeds but grows, then that will also enable the enemy to prosper as economic warfare of disaster capitalism lays waste via increased inflation and interest rates and supply chain breakdowns and cyberterrorism.

    If not one of the Young-Global-Leaders neo-Nazi youth corps of Herr Klaus like Jim Crow Trudeau, both Biden and Putin have been graduates of grooming processes by the WEF just as surely to infiltrate and colonize state power and insure the neo-fascist Global Private-Public Partnership (G3P; Iain Davis) ascend to direct rule over digital slaves minus fronts of parliamentary democracy or any old abnormal form of governance. In both US and Russian spheres of influence, enforcement of the new abnormal has been more normalized, and will continue to be, to the mutual advantage of warring crime bosses who dispose of us as they see fit, while too many of us continue to fall for their manufactured divisions of identity according to ruling class terms like the nation-state, like the warring regions of Oceania, Eurasia, Eastasia perpetually serving permanent states of exception (Giorgio Agamben), perhaps another round of lockdown under climate crisis to implement personal carbon allowances for further Hunger-Games austerity.

    In a world where reality is stranger than fiction and psychological warfare is waged relentlessly by the biosecurity state, we will need to muster total resistance to the full totalitarian agenda rolling out to do us in. Stop fighting all their dirty wars, and rise.

  28. So far Russia has kept the casualties minimal, under 200 casualties at Ukraine’s last report in the destruction of the military equipment of an entire nation! That must be a record low, less than one percent of typical US interventions. Clearly they will avoid a quagmire like Afghanistan and back off to independent provinces as they did in Georgia.

    Russia is unlikely to go much further than broader protection of Donbass:
    1. Destruction of military equipment, command and control centers;
    2. Defeat of the Kiev government without occupation of Kiev or other major cities;
    3. Surrounding and defeat or capture of the Ukraine forces attacking Donbass;
    4. Setting up bases and structure to protect newly independent provinces.

    The question is which provinces want to be independent, and how to determine that:
    1. Odessa probably wants independence, but southern provinces between them and Luhansk/Donetsk are less Russian;
    2. Russia may want to control the coastal provinces linking Donetsk to Odessa (Mykolaiv, Kherson, Zaporizhia);
    3. So retaining forces there limits weapons and import/exports of Ukraine during referenda on independence;
    4. But if Russia knows the south coastal provinces do not want independence, it may have to forego Odessa.

  29. There are quite a few fallacies involved in trying to pin Putin’s imperialistic war on the expansion of NATO.

    First, the war itself is a proof positive that such an expansion is not only wise from the perspective of small European countries, and especially former Soviet states, but necessary.

    Second, the way NATO expansion is presented by Hedges, and practically by all Neo Progressive left-ish pundits, as if it is an official NATO policy to encircle Russia as a way to encourage conflict (parroting almost verbatim Putin’s propaganda quips), is itself a fallacy, since, for one, it is not NATO which forces potential member states to join, but rather the states themselves. NATO (or member states in it) might try to encourage states to join, but the first and last decision for membership must be submitted and ratified by the states themselves. And for another there is neither a single evidence that NATO seeks a conflict with Russia (or with any other entity, for that matter), nor that the intention of its deployment strategies is offensive rather than defensive in nature as far as the deployment in former conquered Soviet states is concerned.

    Third, while NATO is a military alliance, the process of joining it is primarily diplomatic. The idea that this process is itself aggressive, in the first place, and that conquering a country for its wish to engage in such a process is proportional, appropriate, justified and/or inevitable is fallacious, cynical, politically opportunistic and, quite frankly, pure nonsense.

    Forth, the Cold war was a bi-polar conflict, equally sustained and prolonged by actions from both sides. The uni-polarity pretense espoused here by Hedges, namely that the roots of the current extreme crisis is entirely and exclusively due to NATO expansion, is not only obviously false, but overly simplistic, delusional, and absurd to a degree not often seen from someone with Hedges’ reputation and past integrity in light of Putin’s attempt to conquer Kiev, his annexation of Crimea, war on Georgia, bombardment of Grozny, annulment of various nuclear limiting treaties, the complete renewal and revamp of nuclear weapons arsenal and technology, various attempts to create alliances that circumvent western democracies (e.g., the latest treaty with China, BRICK), and the economic dependency of Russia (under more than two decades of Putin’s anti-democratic, authoritarian, and often reminiscent of Soviet Russia totalitarianism) on its war industry.

    Both in terms of NATO’s actions since the end of the cold war, as well as with respect Putin’s own aggressive actions for more than two decades as Russia’s head-of-state, both in terms of the military and his handling of internal conflicts within Russia, Hedges’ is way (way, way, way, way, way, way…) off the mark here.

    1. All of your points are obviously false, and your twisting of fact shows that you know it:
      1. The expansion to dispute the very doorstep of Russia obviously caused the intervention;
      2. Obviously it was caused by NATO expansion, not merely its members;
      3. Obviously NATO is primarily a military alliance;
      4. Your examples of Russia defenses pretended as aggressions are juvenile debate scams.
      Eventually you will realize that no one is fooled by such nonsense.

      1. @ Joe Blunt

        “This is an offensive war—Putin is the aggressor and there’s really no disputing it. So Putin apologists tie themselves in knots trying to rationalize something that can’t be rationalized.”

      2. Dang. So white cops kill sleeping law abiding black men, who then wake up, see pigs in their midst, and pull out their legal gun and get murdered.

        Sure, so, war is war, is it not? And, well, wars are aggressive. And, darn, I’d like to see what your local townsfolk would do if your neighbor started stockpiling guns and ammo?

        Get real — Even the CIA Times, The Washington Post, reported that the US had been sending hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of military hardware to Ukraine since December 2021 – months ahead of Russia’s decision to launch its special military operation.

        Up to 50 cargo planes carrying military hardware from the US, UK, Canada, Poland, and Lithuania landed in Ukraine prior to the start of the Russian military operation there: Some 2,000 tons of modern weapons, ammunition, and protective gear were supplied to Ukraine in the first month and a half of 2022.

        Shoot, tit for tat, or, is this something else?

        https://www.mintpressnews.com/ukraine-jewish-president-zelensky-made-peace-neo-nazi-paramilitaries/279862/

        https://hoodcommunist.org/2022/03/03/an-analysis-on-ukraine-nato-conflict-with-russia/

  30. Very helpful article! I had thought Russia had invaded Ukraine to revive its former empire as Putin earlier in his career had promised. Boy was I wrong. Those tanks and 150,000 troops were all surrounding and soon invading and killing Ukrainians to stave off the military-industrial complex of NATO that Trump had ripped in that region

  31. The nuclear sub deal with Australia. More attention needs to be focused on this. It’s a worse blunder than NATO expansion and it’s happening NOW.

    End the naval arms race with China!

    Would Russia have invaded if it hadn’t deepened it’s relations with China?

    World China have deepened relations with Russia without US escalation of the naval race?

  32. While Mr. Hedges does an admirable job in documenting what has happened since 1989, it is not the complete picture. While at university in Scandinavia in the early 70s, I had several classmates from the Eastern Bloc – Russians, a Czech, a Slovak, and East Germans. Everyone understood that they would not have been allowed “out” if they were not considered “safe” to be let out. However, with the exception of an East German, who was a fanatical communist, the others were fairly open about discussing the differences in politics. Most did not understand why “the West” saw the Soviet Union as expansionist. Several years later, I worked with a “Russian” Jew who had been permitted to leave. His take was that the “old guys” like Khrushchev and Brezhnev had been through wars and seen the devastation. They weren’t interested in starting another one. The “young guys” were an unknown. Gorbachev was a “young guy”. On top of all that, you had other “old guys” in the West, who had a more realistic take on the situation, but were ignored. Here are two notable quotes by one who was ridiculed for being politically incorrect.
    “I refer to the misunderstanding of Soviet Russia as an aggressive power, militaristically and ideologically bent upon world domination ‘seeing’, to quote a recent speech of the British Prime Minister, ‘the rest of the world as its rightful fiefdom.’ How any rational person, viewing objectively the history of the last thirty-five years, could entertain this ‘international misunderstanding’ challenges, if it does not defeat, comprehension. The notion has no basis in fact… If Russia is bent on world conquest, she has been remarkably slothful and remarkably unsuccessful.”
    “Yet we slink about like whipped curs:;… our self-abasement principally takes the form of subservience to the United States:;… we are under no necessity to participate in the American nightmare of a Soviet monster barely held at bay in all quarters of the globe by an inconceivable nuclear armament and by political intervention everywhere from Poland to Cambodia. It is the Americans who need us in order to act out their crazy scenario… We simply do not need to go chasing up and down after the vagaries of the next ignoramus to become President of the United States.” ~ Enoch Powell

  33. Dear Chris, I have read many of your books, watched many of your speeches and followed your “On Contact” program all with great interest and appreciation for your perspective. You have many deep and necessary insights to share. As you, I was also there in 1989, 1990, 19991 + experiencing the end of the cold war. I faced Soviet tanks myself, and threw myself into a then successful resistance, despite being born, raised and educated in Canada. You and I even shared lunch together once in Croatia, after I moved to work for the international community to help re-build war-torn areas in the Balkans. Yet, I found this article of yours extremely disappointing. There is a perspective lacking here, and that is that without the expansion of NATO, it is likely that there would have been an attempt to re-annexed former Soviet territories far sooner. I cannot disagree that large moneyed interests helped drive the expansion, but the expansion also happened at the behest of countries formerly within the Soviet Union or sphere of influence. And, they did so for good reason. Just like Crimea, the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States during World War Two was never recognized by the international community, but nothing was done about it in order to keep the world order at peace. People suffered, had no freedom and died under that regime.Joining NATO and the EU was their way to try to retain a hard one freedom from a tyrant.

  34. Russian speakers as a justification for intervention? I am housing a family from Ukraine. Admirably, they speak Russian, Ukranian, and English. Amazing! So if a people group speaks English, other English speaking countries have a right to intervene? Hey everybody, lots of Ukranians speak English, so let’s get in our tanks and trucks and jets and go help them? (No, no, only Russians get to do that because we are exceptional.) Look how people can be led by the nose by such arguments! This rhetoric must really work because I have seen it out there for decades.

  35. I agree with what some others have expressed, that NATO isnt forcing anyone to join it, the ex soviet states want to join, and why? Bc the old USSR/Russia treated them pretty badly, and they want to be free and democratic. Whats wrong with an ex soviet state wanting to join NATO, and why is it ok for Russia to decide what a sovereign state can do? Also, in the past Russia and NATO didnt see each other as a threat (post cold war), Russia even expressed a desire to join NATO once, and i wish that happened.

    Finally, ive dont think its true that NATO promised not to expand eastward. If im wrong, please someone send me a link to a document saying this, but i think its not true.

  36. So this article makes the case that essentially there are no geopolitical issues in the world for the US, and no actions it might consider in response. Further that whatever the US says, it’s lies are just that, not tactics or an evolution in policy in response to changes in the world. And that the US’s position in the world is basically just a mater of it’s industries wagging the dog.

    Zbig defined the Ukraine as the single most important geopolitical pivot in the world. Not a powerful country itself, but the most important piece of territory over which powerful actors will be engaged.

    The US’s main strategic goal in the world is to isolateor and divide any powers that might change the calculus of power, and that has always been to isolate Eurasian powers. If you look at the US’s rather odd behaviour during both WWI, and WWII, they had nothing to do with liberating Europe and everything to do with containing German expansion and empire building, as a challenge to US power. Germany is carefully walled away in a both NATO, and the EU, and even then was developing an concerning mutuality of interests with the Soviets. That is back in the bag.

    Russia if it controls the Ukraine becomes a major Eurasian player again. And if it does not, it is a primarily Asian country with and odd European leadership, and will largely be a regional contestant with China. Maybe it is coincidence but it already looks, as it struggles in Ukraine, as though it’s relationship with China is slightly off.

    So the question is whether the commercial interests that Chris sees are driving the bus; whether they are in perfect balance with the US’s goals, or whether they are a dislocating force, but still not arching over US overall strategy.

  37. Putin is trying to rebuild a new Russian Empire, he doesn’t believe Ukraine has a right to exist as an independent nation, that is why he invaded and is committing genocide there. The whole NATO expansion thing is just a ruse. It doesn’t explain NATO-Russian cooperation in subjugating & occupying Afghanistan, including allow NATO to run operations out of Russian bases. Why didn’t Hedges mention this. Since Hedges broadcasts on RT, I fully expect him to promote Putin’s mis-information on this war. Can he even call it a war or invasion on RT?

    Vlad on Vlad: How Putin’s views on Lenin shaped his decision to invade Ukraine
    https://claysbeach.blogspot.com/2022/03/vlad-on-vlad-how-putins-views-on-lenin.html

  38. Chris hedges i read your article on the end of the American empire IN 2017 and became a fan.

    The Idiotic Pashtun imran khan was either sent or misled in to THE meeting .It would have been better for Pakistani position to have condemned this invasion in UNGA but it would have made no difference. Staying neutral is the least bad option.
    Absolute stupidity by Ukrainians. You got the 2nd biggest state in Europe great land for Agriculture/industry yet you have S****** up everything.

    The thing to note is that the Russians have sent in their surplus gear 1st, Most of their best/]Modern Equipment is not even utilised. They are keeping that in the back in case a Showdown with NATO occurs.

    Russia has the 4th largest Sovereign Wealth Fund in the world with over $631 billion dollars. It is largely a Self sufficient country and will survive the sanction.

    The Crocodile tears and Hypocrisy of the west is mind-blowing. i don’t know how much damage this will take, but The west will not win this; that’s why the desperation!

    Both NATO and EU are dead. Its not the end of the world but The end of the Anglo-Saxon West. Countries with strong relations with Russia will suffer.
    Both France and India will decline Militarily and Economically.

    The only ones that can arise to some challenge in the western bloc are Japan and Germany. Both have the Clout and the Money.

    I just Hope they don’t go Nuclear. Japan and Germany rearming has never meant well for Neighbours.

    The end of the Dollar has begun. Alternative systems have been developed or will take shape.

    While America was involved in the WOT quagmire. imperialist SAUDI-Imperialist UAE were working behind the backs of the American soldiers to set up their so called system. Riyadh is the New-“New York” while Dubai is the New “London”. Neutral Kuwait and Qatar too will benefit. Seemingly pro western Jordanian and Omani banks will get benefits. Already Russian money is pouring in.

    Its Cynical but Brilliant. I wonder who planned this? Putin or XI Jinping?/

    Ukraine is not the 2nd Afghanistan. The west can try but it will fail. And if Push comes to Shove Putin will not stop at Ukraine. Poland and Romania will bear the consequences.

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine is more akin to the US invasion of Panama in 1989 and Desert Storm 1991. What they will do with their victory will depend on them.

    Ukrainians will pay price. The Russians will win using brutal Soviet tactics or other.

    Britain and America will continue to Decline. Ukraine and Moldova will be in the Russian orbit whether as rump or something els. Russia will revive as a 2nd Super power. China will continue to rise. Multipolar.

    Except for the bonanza from US MIC. Say goodbye to Infrastructure and Healthcare Weapons do need feed mouths.

    For other countri how to get out of this ? Simple Declare Neutrality

    Because You can afford too! this is no longer “With us or against US” moment!!!……

    Spain and Italy don’t need to be part of this Propaganda drive Mediterranean countries can still save themselves. Just a small example before the NATO bombing of Libya in 2011 many of the Libyan oil contracts were held by Italian companies. After words American and French companies moved in but Libya chaos rendered it in operable. 1 of the Italian companies even went bankrupt. Spain and Italy went jogging in with the Empire. But national interests and common sense should apply. Pathetic American empire will not go down without a fight but this is a losing battle.

  39. If seems that Putin’s war plan is struggling, so are they going to bring in Central Asians just as Stalin did to defeat the Nazi??
    There are reports of Syria troops which is a return of favor from Assad.
    Everyone is spreading this war, such as missiles, old Migs, every conceivable sanctions, and of course weaponized oil and gas.
    But will we escape the nuke?? During the Cuban crisis, it was a heavenly miracle that nukes were not fired because
    Vasili Arkhipov, USSR navy, was a logical, cool headed officer.

    Now a days, we have clowns, war mongers, megalomaniacs, narcissists, and mentally unstable people in charge who have lust for war, at all costs.
    The odds of another miracle are grim.

  40. If NATO expansion was such a problem why did Russia agree the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security in 1997? In that Act Russia agreed to NATO expansion in former USSR countries? They also agreed that NATO and Russia were not rivals and agreed to co-operate with NATO and ensure the security of the area. Moreover why did Russia take part in joint exercises with NATO as late as 2009?

    Isn’t it more accurate to say that Russia had misgivings culminating in the signing of that agreement in 1997, and these misgivings subsequently disappeared for the first years of Putin’s Presidency, until the economic resurgence – which he claimed credit for – ran out of steam following the global crash in 2008/9. This led him to switch to an alternative narrative of Russo- supremacy and a return to the Tsars, by way of Satanist turned born again traditionalist Orthodox Christian Aleksandr Dugin’s post-modern neo-fascist Fourth Political Theory which had become popular in the upper echelons of the Kremlin and Russian military?

    It was in 2010 that Wikileaks, widely suspected of being a Russian intelligence front, leaked the infamous diplomatic cables that began sowing significant division in the West. They also heavily invested in their RT propaganda network around that time, which was seen as a counterweight to the state backed broadcasting reach of the BBC world service and other Western platforms.

    It was very convenient for the Kremlin to justify their aggressions with complaints of NATO expansion, however for Ukraine in 2014 this was not even the original excuse, as the main problem on that occasion was considering applying to become a member of the EU! Russia had blocked the pro-Russian President from applying to join the EU and had threatened to cut off trade and previously had also poisoned Viktor Yushchenko with the most toxic components of Agent Orange. Claims that the Maidan uprising was fomented by the US are therefore dubious, when the majority of the Heavenly Hundred were teachers, students and ordinary citizens, and only eight were affiliated with far-right Nationalist – who became involved due to the sheer levels of brutality and violence melted out by Putin’s puppet Viktor Yanukovych.

    It is strange that some are so outraged at the NATO expansion, yet it was not the Americans weaponising Russian populations in neighbouring states to justify invasion, which began in 2014, with the cruel suppression of the minority indigenous population of Crimea in favour of the Russian settlers. Westerners must imagine that everyone in the Crimea loves being ruled by Russia, yet have you not heard of the places they kidnap and torture and kill the indigenous people? Strange how the some blithely ignore the oppression of the victims of Russia whether they are in Ukraine, Syria where Putin assisted the targeting of civilians en masse in Aleppo, to Africa or illegal troops presence in Tranistria or Georgia or any of the other places he conducts his assaults on civilians as strategic policy not as error.

    And so we come to now, when Putin who claims the root of his issues with Ukraine lie not with NATO but with Lenin (and also opens the door to his expansion into Finland and a threat against Sweden). He also talks about the de-nazification of the country where far right parties achieved 2% – 3% in the general election and has a Jewish President and Prime Minister!

    Can we not see these transparent claims and grievances used by Putin as transparent justifications for his aggression? It seems fantastic to me that people can believe this man, who has shattered multiple treaties and agreements and even the UN Charter in order to pursue his Imperialist dreams. Yet some cling on in desperation, as if the criminal regime that runs Russia bears any resemblance to a government as we would understand it.

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