Caitlin Johnstone Media Ukraine

Caitlin Johnstone: WaPo’s Glimpse of the Battlefield

Contrary to widespread triumphant Western narratives, this reporting describes Ukrainian troops surviving on one potato per day and deserting their posts.
Washington Post’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Ser Amantio di Nicolao, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons) 

By Caitlin Johnstone / Caitlin

The Washington Post has published an acknowledgement that Ukraine’s war against Russia has not been nearly the cakewalk that much of the public has been led to believe.

In “Ukrainian volunteer fighters in the east feel abandoned,” WaPo reports that contrary to the triumphant narratives the Western world is being spoon fed, many troops in eastern Ukraine have been surviving on one potato per day and deserting their posts because they feel their leaders have turned their backs on them and they’re being sent to certain death.

“Stuck in their trenches, the Ukrainian volunteers lived off a potato per day as Russian forces pounded them with artillery and Grad rockets on a key eastern front line. Outnumbered, untrained and clutching only light weapons, the men prayed for the barrage to end,” The Washington Post reports, citing multiple named sources.

“Ukrainian leaders have projected and nurtured a public image of military invulnerability — of their volunteer and professional forces triumphantly standing up to the Russian onslaught,” the article reads.

“But the experience of Lapko and his group of volunteers offers a rare and more realistic portrait of the conflict and Ukraine’s struggle to halt the Russian advance in parts of Donbas. Ukraine, like Russia, has provided scant information about deaths, injuries or losses of military equipment. But after three months of war, this company of 120 men is down to 54 because of deaths, injuries and desertions.”

WaPo reports that volunteer troops in that part of the country “quickly found themselves in the crosshairs of war, feeling abandoned by their military superiors and struggling to survive.”

“We are being sent to certain death,” said one volunteer. “We are not alone like this, we are many.”

“Hours after The Post interviewed Lapko and Khrus, members of Ukraine’s military security service arrived at their hotel and detained some of their men, accusing them of desertion,” WaPo reports. “The men contend that they were the ones who were deserted.”

Some commentators have remarked on how, at long last, we’re seeing some realistic coverage of this war in the mainstream press.

“First major US media I’ve seen to report catastrophic condition of Ukrainian forces, collapsing Ukrainian morale on the front. Seems obvious we should know the truth about a war our government is so deeply invested in,” tweeted journalist Mark Ames, a frequent critic of the mass media blackout on conditions in the Ukrainian military.

“This might be the first article in a mainstream publication that punctures the PR spin and secrecy of the foreign military that the US is subsidizing. Two commanders were arrested after they spoke to the Washington Post, painting an extremely grim picture,” tweeted journalist Michael Tracey.

This is indeed a major break from standard mainstream reporting on this conflict, which is normally more in line with this recent Newsweek article, headlined “Putin’s Elite Soldiers Getting Wiped Out as Russia Makes Mistakes—U.K.,” sourced entirely in unevidenced claims by the British government and the military industrial complex-funded neocon think tank Institute for the Study of War.

So anyway, there it is. That’s the reality on the front lines of this conflict that Westerners have been cheering on from their comfortable homes while calling anyone who advocates a negotiated peace settlement a Putin apologist and a Kremlin troll.

These big brave sofa warriors have been on social media demanding that Ukrainians keep fighting in this way until they’ve secured total victory over Russia and reclaimed Crimea and the Donbas, tweeting “Slava Ukraini” with their little blue-and-yellow flag emojis during the commercial breaks of their favorite TV show in between mouthfuls of Funyuns.

Westerners would be a lot less cavalier about demanding a foreign population keep fighting until total victory if they truly understood the horrors of war. Unfortunately, there’s a propaganda machine of unprecedented sophistication that has spent generations preventing them from obtaining that very understanding.

That’s why they’re so happy to throw endless Ukrainian lives into the gears of the imperial war machine, and that’s why the WaPo article we are discussing here is receiving very little mainstream attention online as of this writing. It will be dismissed and ignored by empire managers and their brainwashed flock with a “Hmm, you just can’t hire good cannon fodder these days.”

There’s no real reckoning with exactly what’s happening and exactly what these people are being called on to put themselves through. In the children’s crayon drawing version of this war that lives in the heads of Western so-called centrists, this is a team of heroic Good Guys righteously beating the tar out of hordes of Bad Guys because that’s what happens in the movies and on TV.

But this is not the movies, and this is not TV. People are dying in a U.S. proxy war that was deliberately provoked by the U.S.-centralized empire, and behind all the narratives and spin they are ultimately doing so for nothing more noble than the agenda to secure U.S. unipolar hegemony.

Many of the blue-and-yellow flag wavers are well-intentioned, and really do think they are advocating for Ukrainian freedom and sovereignty. But in reality, they’ve been cheering for Ukrainian subservience and enslavement to the empire, Ukrainian death, Ukrainian suffering and the continuation of a dangerous proxy war between nuclear superpowers that threatens the life of everyone on earth.

Caitlin Johnstone

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar onPatreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative MatrixRogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.


  1. We talk of Ukrainian deaths. I think it’s also good to keep in mind that we are killing Russian troops. Their bodies are sent back to their grieving mothers, fathers, and wives who know that they were killed with American bullets. So many times we act like our enemy-of-the-day soldiers are just Storm Trooper extras.

  2. Excellent article. I wish all American would read your writings. but as you say the majority of Americans are sitting on our asses “eating pop tarts” and completely brainwashed!!!

  3. If the US media starts showing Americans that Ukraine is losing the war, won’t it just fire up public opinion? And wouldn’t that be followed by the US needing to intervene even more?

  4. I do love the work of Johnstone for her rough handling of various public enemies, but this piece is a cup of weak tea. There is no revelation in that some soldiers are out front and getting destroyed, that happens in any war not waged on your own terms. The purpose of having them out there in Donbas scared to death on the verge of annihilation is that just being there holds that ground and induces the enemy to commit resources. They buy time, time is training & new weapons to carry on the fight with other enlistees and conscripts. A command structure understands that losing guys is part of the process, the examples in history are endless. They keep it quiet for all the logical agitprop reasons. Nothing to see here please move along.
    Readers interested in
    military history should review the short entry for the odd but ancient military unit referred to as the, “Forlorn Hope,” ie the direct use of volunteers in dead-end operations, in exchange for various rewards:

    Back to my claim of, “weak tea,” we have the close of this article. The obligatory paragraph on nukes invoking that, “The End is Near” is filler against the lack of gravitas in the main story. I really wish writers would find something more substantive to end a story on this conflict. I would note that as the theory goes, Ukraine is supposed to be “demilitarized.” The Russians seem quite determined, and this process is so unusual vs a country full of nationalist machismo that even wild conjecture about it would be more interesting than a blind-squirrel-finds-nut story about one chink in the agitprop armor of the WP.

  5. More accurately, this is Russia’s push-back against Ukraine/NATO forces. I get it, “Russia’s war” is the new “Iraq’s stockpiles of WMD.” Multi-millionaire Zelensky has been a delightfully useful tool for the US (even dresses in camo on occasion). But the US/UK is playing an insanely reckless, dangerous game.

  6. I’m glad you posted this piece by Caitlin Johnstone – keep them coming — she gets it right again and again with very few words = less words than some frequent commentors on this site.

  7. Now they’re changing wolfsangel & black sun logos into adorable fluffy kittens, Have A Nice Day? Retouching Hitler tattoos into Chaplin? Just happened across Prop Or Not’s Twitter account (speaking of Ukranian Nazis, Bezos, CFR, Canary Mission and Atlantic Council having Bellingcat tell us what we believe? I’m one of tens of millions with PASC & VITT being told that my perfectly competent doctors, diagnostics techs, imaging & lab work are irrelevant. That CDC can’t HANDLE the truth. So, like Putin, tag-team kleptrocracy, cop murders COVID and Ukrainian oilgarchs: none of this is PERMITTED! Live with it!

  8. The reality sets in. House of propaganda cards collapses. Zelensky admitted this, resigned to lose Donbas.

    After final defeat of mediocre counteroffensive near Kherson that ended in two hours with 200+ dead all armor destroyed, gruesome reality made Zelensky to officially stop any counteroffensives to.. guess what save “lives” of soldiers until western weapons are shipped. Which won’t be for next 6-12 months as soldiers need extensive training.

    BBC and Sky News suddenly discovered reality of war, the gruesome reality of huge Ukrainian loss.

    In fact what Kiev regime faces is imminent collapse of entire Donbas front and that includes cities of first great battles of 2014-15 Donbas war namely Krasny Liman, Slavyansk and Kramatorsk where first time Donbas militia, having no long rage artillery was forced to withdraw to Donetsk and Gorlovka for humanitarian reasons as AFU shelled Ukrainian civilians miles behind the frontlines killing hundreds. The liberation of those cities is accomplished like in Krasny Liman or is nearly accomplished after over eight years of Donbass occupation by Kiev regime.

    Why Zelensky who sent tens of thousands to near certain death suddenly cares? It is because of mass mutinies, surrender and desertions among AFU.

    At this point up to 16,000 of Ukrainian POWs are being held in LDPR camps, many including high ranking officers of AFU moved to Russia because of lack of space (separate camps are required for officers) and political sensitivities.

    The harsh reality of war including military deaths started to leak into MSM although in a qualified manner.

    Just in two days Ukrainian military from the 101st and 115th Theroborona brigades complained about lack of food, weapons and ammunition but most of all about abandonment by command who fled in civilian cars and clothes and left them to’ die.

    The servicemen of the 71st Jaeger brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine joined them. “there is nothing. How can we fight for a country that doesn’t care about us?”, – complains one of the fighters.

    Tens of Thousands of tons of NATO weapons apparently went into black hole nowhere to be found on Donbas frontlines even admittedly by Pentagon. Many were illegally exported likely in hands of terrorists , many fell into Russian hands many were sold to LDPR on cheap.

    A French reporter few weeks ago described AFU unit in Izyum area he accompanied as 70% dead and wounded, all shell shocked.. He reportedly was just killed in suspicious circumstances on the way back from besieged city of Severodonets reporting of complete chaos there. Today British media stated the Severodonets fell while Russian sources confirmed only 80% control over city.

    Recently WaPo published similar report about other unit of Territorial defense in reality untrained civilians who thought they would be defending their homes in Western Ukraine where they live. Instead they were sent to Donbas and starved, decimated (45% losses), abandoned by command often not knowing where frontlines were. Never saw Russians.

    Day after day new western reports are coming from AFU contract, conscripts or Territorial Defense and mercenaries about complete chaos and panic among also untrained AFU command officers holding often two ranks lower then required commanding thousands of troops as previous COs fled or were killed or injured.

    Not only in US but in Europe voices of reality started slowly permeating MSM. For example Sky News reporter was allowed to visit surrounded city of Severodonetsk just few days ago, on Donbas frontline. The city she found was in state of panic, empty streets as AFU frantically looting citizens and fleeing in civilian cars while people are hiding in basements.

    What reporter found in basements apparently shocked her even more as civilians hiding there were predominantly ethnic Russians who refused to leave and criticized even condemned Ukrainian authorities who abandoned them in last two months and military who called them “separatists who don’t have to eat”.

    Almost all of them wanted Russians to finally come and, to quote, “liberate them” so they can return to normal life.

    So what happens with western media. No more virtual victories reported daily. No more weapons from the west. Soviet Tanks sent from Poland, that now wants to be paid, broke before getting to frontlines and were sent back while rest is out of fuel, while promised replacement tanks for Poland, Leopard 2 as Schulz just said, won’t materialize either. That is what leaks into MSM.

    The EUnion or rather EDisunion just today proclaimed unified front against Russia about oil sanctions. Decision was “unanimous” with exception of Hungary, Czech, Bulgaria and Austria. Ursula van der Leyen proclaimed in February that EU unanimously rejected demand to pay for mat gas in Rubles. Today most of EU pay in Rubles and as of today Germany joined the Ruble payers club. Central bank of Russia warns about too strong Ruble as whole world, dumps dollar and Euro buying Ruble as best performing financial asset in the word according to Bloomberg.

    The supposedly harmful sanctions only made Russia richer as van Dey Leyen admitted herself in interview with NBC. Russia crude oil export to India increased 25 times this year. Attempts to force technical default on Russian sovereign bonds failed, attempts to seize US and EU located frozen Russian assets failed.

    Swiss court ruled that most of Russian frozen assets in Swiss banks must be returned to Russians immediately. The rest after proper investigation of potential criminal involvement. Court stated that there is no basis in law to freeze and confiscate Russian state sovereign funds.. legal stand confirmed by Yelen in US. Ukraine national debt rose from 40% to 70% of GDP and no way to pay it. Most EU members oppose Ukraine membership. Turkey blocked entrance of Finland and Sweden to NATO until they hand over PPK terrorists they shelter while there is mass opposition to NATO at home by political forces of political neutrality.

    Situation is clear no need to go on. The only question is whether or not all those neocons and their Nazi pals from Kiev regime who rejected Minsk peace agreements and provoked this senseless war will pay price adequate to the war crime they committed.

  9. I always appreciate Caitlin’s artcles. I would have included the fact that Putin meant when he said Russia wanted to protect Donbas (where, because of the 2014 US coup followed by the murder of 14,000 Russian-speakers by Nazis) and denazify the area. He said it. He meant it. He’s doing it.

  10. Caitlin, excellent reporting as usual, thanks.
    ” you can Fool Some of the people all the time”…. Seems to apply to Western MSM.
    ” you cannot fool all the people……” seems to apply to non white, non Nato countries.
    The rest of the world instantly considers western MSM as unreliable fake news until proven otherwise, after decades of lies, propaganda, and deceits.
    The rest of the world have millions of peoples killed, injured, damaged, or forced to migrate, from Anglo-American wars ( after WW2) and entire countries bombed to rubble.
    The MSM is more powerful than the American military, MSM has never lost a war or battle, MSM is very creative and uses the old adage ” you can Fool Some of the people all the time”.
    Some people deliberately believe MSM knowing it is false because it fits their faith, not facts. Example, the election was rigged and stolen fits a belief even in the face of overwhelming evidence and not surprising as some even believe our school shootings are faked.
    We are cursed into Forever Wars but blessed for its huge profits.

  11. recent analyses conclude full Russian victory inevitable. col Reisner observes ukrop casualty rate 65+%, Russian 5-10%. the longer the conflict the more permenent territory and population lost…of the estimated 30-33 million population 10+ million have fled in the past 4 months. when will ukrops ignore their de facto rules the USA?

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