By Patricia Adams and Lawrence Solomon, originally published by The Epoch Times
The West’s wishful thinking that it could win a war against Russia using Ukraine as its proxy is coming to a close.
Western sanctions against Russia—initially predicted to bring the Russian economy to its knees—have backfired. Absent Russian resources, European economies are reeling while Russia’s economy, according to the International Monetary Fund, has rebounded and is now growing faster than those of Germany or the UK.
The military end game is also in sight, the Rand Corp. concluded in a recent report, despite the “extent of NATO allies’ indirect involvement in the war [which] is breathtaking in scope.”
“Support includes tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and … billions of dollars monthly in direct budgetary support to Kyiv,” the report reads.
Yet it may all come to naught, since Russia has “a high level of resolve,” Rand noted. Russia “rectified the manpower deficit that enabled Ukraine’s success in the Kharkiv counteroffensive” and Ukraine’s “cities have been flattened; their economy has been decimated.”
Rand concluded that the United States should prepare its departure, since the war harms U.S. interests:
“Avoiding a long war is also a higher priority for the United States than facilitating significantly more Ukrainian territorial control.”
Without the West’s military aid, which the new Republican House of Representatives may soon reduce, Ukraine’s military efforts would collapse. It can provide little to its own defense but personnel, and even that is running low—so many Ukrainians have died opposing Russia’s relentless military that Ukraine is now reportedly sending men older than the age of 60 to the front.
Ukraine’s economy, which was burdened with an external pre-war debt of $135 billion and has since lost $5 billion per month, would also collapse. Ukraine would be a spent force and utterly bankrupt, with Wall Street lenders such as BlackRock and vulture capitalists circling to claim whatever assets remain. Having lost at least one-third of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 and as much as one-quarter of its pre-war 40 million population, its destitute government would be unable to provide pensions and welfare, let alone employment.
Once Ukraine loses its ability to militarily wear down Russia, the West would have little reason to continue bailing out its economy, especially since Wall Street lenders would claim a lion’s share of the bailouts, and China would especially benefit—state-owned Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a paramilitary company colonizing the vast lands of the Uyghurs, has a 50-year lease on 9 percent of Ukraine’s arable farmland, equivalent to 5 percent of its entire land mass.
In the chaos that defeat would bring, the various militias and factions operating within Ukraine’s borders, which had temporarily united to make common cause against the Russian invaders, would then have free rein to reassert themselves, carving out their own fiefdoms and making Ukraine the posterchild of a failed state.
Ukraine has never been a coherent country. The land mass that became Ukraine wasn’t a country before the 1920s—it was a patchwork of warring factions whose ethnicities and nationalities included, among others, all or parts of Galicia, Volhynia, Ruthenia, Bukovina, Bessarabia, Severia, Romania, Poland, Russia, and Lithuania. After World War II, Ukraine acquired part of Poland and Romania, and then in 1954, it was gifted Crimea by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, whose influential lover and later wife was Ukrainian.
Following the collapse of the Soviet empire, Ukraine gained independence in 1991, only to squander its potential as corrupt officials borrowed to the hilt and raided its resources for personal gain, then cried poverty in seeking foreign bailouts. Although Ukraine was the largest country, next to Russia, in the Eastern Bloc, blessed with fertile land and advanced industries, it soon became Europe’s poorest country, with a GDP one-fourth the size of Poland’s.
Once Ukraine becomes a failed state, its neighbors are likely to resurrect historical claims. Ukrainian officials have already said as much. Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council have separately claimed that Hungary intended to reclaim Transcarpathia, a region that it lost to Ukraine after World War II. Transcarpathia’s 157,000 ethnic Hungarians are both impoverished and resentful of Ukraine’s Education Act, which limits their exercise of the Hungarian language and culture.
According to former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland, which once owned much of what’s now western Ukraine, considered partitioning Ukraine in the first weeks of the military conflict between Kyiv and Moscow. Although Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki denied that account, last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an end-state for Ukraine seemed top of mind.
“I am afraid that now, maybe in a few months, maybe weeks, there will be a decisive moment of this war. And this moment is the answer to the question: if Ukraine will survive or not,” said Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda.
In July 2022, Russia’s former president and current head of its national security council, Dmitry Medvedev, published a map showing a rump Ukraine reduced to Kyiv and its environs, with Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania carving up the rest. At the time, that map of a dismembered Ukraine would have seemed fanciful to most. Today, it seems increasingly plausible.
Patricia Adams is an economist and the President of the Energy Probe Research Foundation and Probe International, an independent think tank in Canada and around the world. She is the publisher of internet news services Three Gorges Probe and Odious Debts Online and the author or editor of numerous books. Her books and articles have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Bengali, Japanese, and Bahasa Indonesia.
Lawrence Solomon is an Epoch Times columnist, author of 7 books, and executive director of the Toronto-based Consumer Policy Institute.