The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Lost Chance For Peace In Ukraine & What It Will Cost

The great devastation of World War I for the combatants was a lost generation. A massive chunk of the fighting age men died. The established figure for France is somewhere around 1.5 million (the official figure is 1.3 million, but it is generally agreed that’s too low.)

Let’s take a look at what that meant. First the population pyramid in 1914.

Next, the population pyramid in 1920 (Both from Wikipedia.)


Similar charts for France before and after the Napoleonic wars would be even worse. Or Russia before and after WWII.

Anyway, at the beginning of the war and even before, I called for peace on the Austrian model. Well, it turns out that almost happened.

Gerhard Shroeder, the former chancellor of Germany, confirms.

At the peace negotiations in Istanbul in March 2022 with Rustem Umerov, the Ukrainians did not agree on peace because they were not allowed to. For everything they discussed, they first had to ask the Americans. I had two talks with Umerov, then a one-on-one meeting with Putin, and then with Putin’s envoy. Umerov opened the conversation with greetings from Zelensky. As a compromise for Ukraine’s security guarantees, the Austrian model or the 5+1 model was proposed. Umerow thought that was a good thing. He also showed willingness on the other points. He also said that Ukraine does not want NATO membership. He also said that Ukraine wants to reintroduce Russian in the Donbass. But in the end, nothing happened. My impression was that nothing could happen, because everything else was decided in Washington. That was fatal. Because the result will now be that Russia will be tied more closely to China, which the West should not want.

And the Europeans? They have failed. There would have been a window in March 2022. The Ukrainians were ready to talk about Crimea. This was even confirmed by the Bild newspaper at the time.

No NATO, Austrian style peace, they give up their claims on Crimea.

Instead what has happened is the loss of a generation of Ukrainian men. I suspect the overall population will turn out to be even worse than the French in WWI, especially since 6.2 million fled Ukraine out of a population of 43.79 million before the war. That’s about 14%. I’m guessing most of them won’t want to return, though some will be forced to by their host countries.

Ukraine will take generations to recover from this war. Eighty years from now it and climate change will be the major factors.

Ukraine is going to wind up without Crimea, Donbass, Luhansk, the Crimean land bridge and possibly a chunk more. It could even lose its entire coast.

The war is being determined on the battlefield. Russia is now, as best I can tell, actually taking ground faster than before. In the battle for Avdiivka the Russians have taken the local hill with the commanding view over the entire region, allowing them to interdict reinforcements and hit anything they want.

They did this quickly.

Ukraine is losing, the speed of its loss will increase, and they will wind up with less population and land than if they had just made peace two months into the war.

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  1. Curt Kastens

    I just saw this military summary channel report a few minutes ago that reported that the Russians conducted some tests of their strategic nuclear deterence recently and that the tests were successful.
    I hope that was not a bullshit report. But even if it was factually accurate there is a difference between conducting a test and actually successfully launching thousands of nuclear warheads.
    To achieve peace there needs to be 2 sides operating in good faith. But it is pretty damned obvious that the west has not been operating in good faith for decades if not centuries. So why should anyone even bother to negotiate with the west now.
    What ever the costs turns out to be it will be much lower than it would be by letting the cancer of western hegomony survive. Ok technically that is not true because we are all going to die fromme evironmental collapse before 2050 anyways. But as I said somewhere else it is certianly understandable that the leadership of Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and Palestine would want to beat the school yard bully to death, even if they have to die trying, before the final bell reigns.

  2. Purple Library Guy

    Seems the Russians have a new air-to-air missile with very long range and have been smacking what is left of the Ukrainian air force. This is particularly a problem in that the “Storm Shadow” missiles the Ukrainians have been using to fairly good effect, are launched from planes, and do not outrange the new missile. So, any time they do a sortie to launch some Storm Shadows, there is now a solid chance the planes involved will be shot down. I haven’t seen mention of any Storm Shadow strikes, like into Crimea and what, in the last little while–it is possible they’re playing it safe because of this very problem. Ukraine’s anti-air defences may also be faltering; recently there was footage of Russian helicopters firing into the defenders at Avdiivka, from right overhead.

    More generally, there has been a tendency lately that any equipment problem the Russian armed forces have, they’ve been building new stuff to overcome it. They’ve been deploying longer range artillery and a new generation of drones as well.

    I dunno. This fight could still last some time, but things may be starting to go faster.

  3. different clue

    I assume that by ” the Americans” is meant the AmeriGov Rulers and Officials. If that is what is meant, then I have to ask, what could America have done to Ukraine anyway in order to prevent the UkraGov from making that Peace Deal? Withheld any further weapons? But what need for weapons in the event of a Peace Deal?

    Could America have done something else to Ukraine? What would that something else have been?

    To me the most plausible thing America could have done to the UkraGov would be if the AmeriGov told all the UkraGov persons who would have wanted a Peace Deal that they ( the AmeriGov) would work with all its Banderazovi Nazi contacts to kill every UkraGov member and kill every member of their families if they agreed to a Peace Deal.

    I really can’t think of anything else the AmeriGov could have done or threatened which could have affected the decision-making process of the relevant UkraGov members.

    Or was the UkraGov so worshipful of America that if the AmeriGov said ” we won’t like you or play with you anymore” . . . that would have been enough to change UkraGov minds?

  4. Ian Welsh

    Without financial support from the West, Ukraine would have had a debt crisis. Ukraine was not viable.

    Of course, back in 2014 Russia offered that support, but Maidan set that ship sailing.

  5. bruce wilder

    what could America have done to Ukraine anyway in order to prevent the UkraGov from making that Peace Deal? Withheld any further weapons? But what need for weapons in the event of a Peace Deal?

    I suppose the carrots have to do with economic opportunities associated with integration into the global American system of trade and development by Western finance of direct investment, particularly the successful example of European Union. Ukraine, candidate for the poorest country in Europe alongside the misfortunate Moldova, longs to follow the path of neighbor Poland to general prosperity.

    Mired in poverty and despair amidst the drab decay of former Soviet glory, the Ukrainians want to believe the sales pitches made by various banksters and international aid officials, NGOs and diplomats. And Ukraine has deep divisions in its political society. The Russians no doubt earned the enmity with which they are regarded by some. Deep poverty and cynical authoritarianism breed corruption and a longing for dictators.

    Maybe someone like Victoria Nuland or Boris Johnson explicitly said, we will back you financially and militarily against “this gas station with nukes” and destroy your enemy economically with sanctions. Promising a flood tide of aid implicitly came alongside a prospect of being abandoned economically by the West if they chose to submit to Russia’s demands.

  6. Tallifer

    1. France and Germany both recovered from their wars and became the wonders of the world they are today. Ukraine lives in the same hope.
    2. The Ukrainians are willing to die for their freedom to prosper, to join the prosperous West, to live how they want, to have a democratic government free of the corrupting influences of their Soviet history and their bullying neighbour.
    3. Maidan was a movement for that. Russia’s offer came with bullets and a horrible price. Who would want to live in Putin’s Russia?

  7. Curt Kastens

    The context that those arguements leave out is that the prosperity of the west is based upon the economic exploitation of human beings and the unsustainable use of the earths natural resources.
    A deduction of that results from including that context is that anythng gained by the Ukrainians (or the Iranians or Syrians for that matter) if they became part of the western empire would come at the expense of someone else.
    Furthermore nothing has demonstrated the lie that is called NATO better than the Nordstream pipelinebombing. The NS bombing by the USA clearly demonstrates that NATONS that join this alliance are no longer soveriegn nations but naton colonies. The idea that NATO membership helps the people of a nation defend their independence has been demonstrated to be a farce.
    That Sweden and Finland desired to join NATO after the exceptional example of this NS bombing demonstrates the corrupt nature of at least the leadership of these societies if not the entirety of these societies.
    The uncorrupted people the world have reached a point that if they wish to live in peace and with justice before we all die of the collapse of the environment the Middle East needs to be ethnically cleansed of zionists, Europe needs to be ethnically cleansed of vichy Europeans, Asia needs to be ethnically cleansed of corprate samauri and North America needs to be ethnically cleansed of confederates.
    An impossible task I know. But one that is a worthy goal for Chinese, Russian, Iranian, Venezuelan, and Cuban leaders to devote their lives to in the remaining years that are left here on planet earth.
    Ethnic cleansing means either exterminating or shipping those named populations off to the coral islands of the Pacific. This may sould cruel but it is actually justified. Western blabber about human rights and war crimes are complete blabber. They have never lived up to these standards for even one minute why in the hell should anyone else at this point. An Israeli General is reported to have said the point of war is not to be nice it is to win, I agree one hundred percent with that sentiment. Attempts to get those opposing the imperialism of the west to follow rules fo warfare are at this point in history nothing more than attempts to weaken their efforts.
    If the challengers succeeed we may very well find out that new rulers are even worse than the old rulers. Big fragging deal I welcome the opportunity to learn from first hand experience.

  8. Feral Finster

    As long as Russia has no way, short of global nuclear war, to so much as mildly inconvenience the decisionmakers in Washington, they will keep fighting tot he last Ukrainian peasant before ordering “Send In The Poles”!

    It’s not as if Vickie Nuland has to write fat checks from her personal account to keep Kiev afloat, and Ukrainian oligarchs’ kids are still partying in the hottest nightspots in NYC and London, not getting slaughtered in confused, ill-trained, barely-led meat waves.

  9. Feral Finster

    @Different Clue:

    A member of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers was in fact summarily murdered when he broached the possibility of a peace deal.


  10. Feral Finster

    Even taking Tallifer’s statements about Ukraine as given, by his logic, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan must have been the most progressive states in history, given how fanatically their respective soldiers fought for them.

    Of course, Tallifer ignores the hundreds of videos out there of Ukrainian commissars press-ganging meat into the army. The Ukrainian Parliament has approved drafting women and 18 year olds previously exempt.

  11. Soredemos

    @Purple Library Guy

    The number of reported Storm Shadow strikes had already dropped off months ago, apparently because a large number of them were destroyed when a warehouse full of them was blown up. Also the fact that Russian air defense has been getting lots of practice at countering them played a role in their reduced effectiveness (one of the effects of this war has been that Russia gets lets of experience fighting various NATO systems, a preview of sorts, outside the context of a full-scale WW3. Incredibly foolish on the part of the West. You could try and argue the opposite has also been the case, but mostly what seems to be happening is a dawning realization by the more introspective parts of NATO of how utterly outclassed and unprepared they are).



    Meanwhile, in reality, Ukraine wasted a lucrative opportunity to become a trade hub between East and West, instead allowing Nazis to hijack the country and set it on a belligerent course to self-destruction.

  12. StewartM


    1. France and Germany both recovered from their wars and became the wonders of the world they are today. Ukraine lives in the same hope.

    That was 75 years ago, when the economic philosophy of the US and the West was not mired in neoliberal fantasy. Quite the opposite; the US government rebuilt both places with mass infusions of (horrors!!) government money and proposed a rebuilding plan for the whole European continent. However, even then, and especially with Germany, and even more so West Berlin specifically, we were determined to create a capitalist Potemkin Village to contrast to the Soviet occupied zones. Ask a country like Guatemala if that’s anything like the capitalism nirvana they experienced.

    2. The Ukrainians are willing to die for their freedom to prosper, to join the prosperous West, to live how they want, to have a democratic government free of the corrupting influences of their Soviet history and their bullying neighbour.

    Well, everyone who’s joined “the prosperous West” initially saw their wages decline. Even China! Ian has suggested people read Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang about how much the West really has “helped” them.

    And while many people here probably know this, this is actually a story about capitalism as-actually-practiced vs how it is supposed to practice in theory.

    By contrast to Western policies of today, the Warsaw Pact states and Soviet client states like Cuba, were a *drain* on Soviet resources than than assets to be sucked dry and spat out. Ukraine would have been better off staying part of the Soviet Union. As for your contentions that of what “Ukrainians want” public opinion polling of ex-Soviet republics including Ukraine say that about 60 % of the population says “we were better off as one nation”. They would like to see something like the USSR put back together again.

    How do you reconcile that data with your contention of what Ukrainians want?

  13. mago

    Um, kinda stupid here, but it’s unlikely that anything anyone says here is going to change jack shit.

  14. Purple Library Guy

    @Feral Finster — Inconvenience them in the short or long term? Historically, American foreign policy considered the “threat of a good example” extremely dangerous, sufficient to foment various coups, institute piles of sanctions and so on, on many different countries. Russia isn’t that, but if it creams Ukraine and the sanctions fail to kill its economy, it’s an example of an equally dangerous kind: An example of someone ignoring the empire’s orders and getting away with it. What’s a hegemon if there’s no need to obey its orders?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if one influence on the recent rash of anti-France, and to some degree anti-West, coups in Africa, some of them making use of the Wagner group once in power, was them watching Russia fighting, basically, NATO and laying some beat-down and thinking “Hmmm, we get some of those guys on our side maybe more stuff is possible than we might have figured.”

    So, sure, there’s no harm being done to any American soldiers, no impact on the American economy, and arguably the profit-fest for the arms manufacturers is seen as good in American elite circles (although others are a bit worried at the sheer amount of draw-down). But the very fact that Russia can fight the war, handle the sanctions, and still seems to be doing fine seriously erodes the perception of US global supremacy, which is a serious harm.

  15. Curt Kastens

    We know that. But, it beats sitting in a casino or in front of a tv both which clearly insult ouare intellegence.

  16. Feral Finster

    @Purple Library Guy:

    You make an interesting point, but so far Russia has done nothing and threatened nothing overtly or tacitly, that would cause the West to stop doubling down.

  17. Curt Kastens

    Im thinking that if a US aircraft carrier should get hit by a missle of any kind, let alone a Kimzahl missle, that the Russians should take responsibilty for whether they did it or not.
    The alternative is that the Iranians will be blamed, even though I doubt that they lack the capability to hit a US aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranian. The US will say that some Hizbollah militiaman might have pushed the button but that the missile and the order were supplied by Tehran.
    If the US only has to bomb Iran to retaliate against someone that will be a much easier target for the US meaning in the short term a lot more Iranian children will die, than Russian children would die.

  18. different clue


    We work in the dark.

    We do what we can.

  19. Carborundum

    Reporting is that the Eisenhower Strike Group will transit Suez and take up station in the NW Arabian Sea.

  20. mago

    @ ck and dc Agreed.
    We’ve got to raise a light in the nihilistic sea of darkness.

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