The Financial Times is spinning Ukraine’s defeat as a victory to justify freezing the conflict
by Andrew Korybko on 27 Dec 2023 0 Comment

Their chief foreign affairs columnist’s claims that Ukraine can replicate South Korea’s economic success due to its continued access to the Black Sea, his hyping up of exaggerated reports about Russian losses, and praise for Ukraine’s continued existence as a state are meant to justify freezing the conflict by sometime next year.


The Financial Times (FT) was surprisingly candid in their latest piece about how “Ukraine and its backers need a credible path to victory”, whose title masks the fact that it’s all about spinning that country’s defeat as a victory to justify freezing the conflict. This isn’t a subjective interpretation of its intent like some skeptics might reactively claim but was explicitly stated in the piece after a former US official was quoted near the end as saying that, “We have to flip the narrative and say that Putin has failed.”


FT’s chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman spent most of his article up until that point impressively dispelling the targeted Western audience’s misperceptions about this conflict. The counteroffensive failed, Western aid is being curtailed as a result, and Ukraine is now bracing for a Russian offensive. In other words, the conflict is winding down, which led to a surge of interest in former NATO Supreme Commander Admiral James Stavirdis’ “land-for-peace” proposal from early November.


Rachman references that Korean-like armistice scenario without attribution in his piece, after which he then cites the above-mentioned former US official amidst his own efforts to spin Ukraine’s defeat as a victory in order to make that outcome more palatable for the Western public. To that end, he claims that Ukraine can replicate South Korea’s economic success due to its continued access to the Black Sea, hypes up exaggerated reports about Russian losses, and praises Ukraine’s continued existence as a state.


The combination of these three is intended to “flip the narrative and say that Putin has failed” even though it’s objectively the case that Ukraine’s counteroffensive failed and therefore ruined Zelensky’s messianic delusions of maximum victory over Russia that Time Magazine was the first to report about. The West had no Plan B for if the counteroffensive failed, which is why the “land-for-peace” scenario looks likely, unless the ever-present risk of a false flag for rekindling NATO-Russian tensions takes shape.  


Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba was recently panicking about any such peace deal and sought to desperately discredit it in his latest article for Foreign Affairs magazine by describing that scenario as “defeatist”, but a recent piece by Politico earlier in the week hints that the writing is on the wall. A senior fellow from the Atlantic Council, which is one of the US’ most influential think tanks, demanded in that popularly read Beltway publication that Zelensky form a “government of national unity”.


The walls are obviously closing in on him after his refusal to comply with the West’s reported pressure to recommence peace talks with Russia aimed at preemptively averting any potential breakthrough that could either end in Kiev’s full defeat or prompt a dangerous NATO intervention to establish “red lines”. The signal being sent by the American Establishment through that Politico piece is that he needs to gradually exit the stage in a ‘face-saving” way in order to facilitate that outcome or risk being replaced.


Even in the event that Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny comes to power for example and expresses a willingness to formally resume such negotiations, however, it can’t be taken for granted that Russia will accede. President Putin reaffirmed in his annual Q&A last week that the conflict will continue until his country’s goals of denazifying Ukraine, demilitarizing it, and ensuring its military neutrality are achieved. He’s still open to a diplomatic solution but said that Russia will resolve the conflict by force if needed.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed his boss earlier this week. According to him, “[The experts that he met with while in New York City last spring] did not hesitate to say that Ukraine needed time to improve its situation in terms of stocks, military equipment, missiles and other warfare items. That was in April. Today, Western leaders are openly talking about it, making the same proposals and making it clear that this would not be an end to the conflict but a pause.”


Esteemed Russian expert Vasily Kashin told RT in a recent interview that the West’s “primary political goal” is “Forcing Russia to agree to a truce along the existing line of contact without any obligations on Ukraine’s part, a situation that may lead to the rearmament of the Ukrainian army and Kiev’s accession to NATO. This would allow the West to continue using Ukraine to pursue its anti-Russian policy and, if necessary, to start a new war in a few years, which would be very difficult and dangerous for Russia.”


Seeing as how the political leadership, diplomatic leadership, and leading academics are all on the same page about this scenario, it’s unlikely that Russia would accept a simple “land-for-peace” deal without significant military strings attached to Ukraine in exchange. With the conflict’s dynamics having shifted back to Russia once again preparing for an offensive due to its victory over NATO in the “race of logistics” /”war of attrition”, there’s little reason for the Kremlin to accept a bad deal.


Considering this, the West’s latest spin campaign will have to go into warp speed in order to convince their targeted audience at home that any such security-related concessions to Russia that would be required by Moscow for freezing the conflict as was just explained still amount to a so-called “victory”. It’s here where the recently reported declassified US intelligence assessment that was provided to Congress and shared with CNN comes into narrative play.


That document ridiculously claimed that “Russia has lost a staggering 87 per cent of the total number of active-duty ground troops” that it had prior to launching its special operation, which is intellectually insulting to allege but might nevertheless still be believed by their targeted Western audience. In that case, they might not be all too worried about such concessions to Russia if they’re misled to believe that Biden jumped the shark when he warned the other day that it’s supposedly plotting to attack NATO.


The mixed messages coming from the American Establishment right now as evidenced by the president’s statement, that declassified US intelligence assessment, and the Atlantic Council’s national unity government demand to Zelensky that it made via Politico suggest that debates are ongoing. Even so, the writing is still on the wall in more ways than one since the West has soured on Zelensky and might agree to security concessions for a “land-for-peace” deal, though both might take some time to materialize.



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