Ukraine Can Win The War - If It Acts Now and Acts Fast

by Laurie Meadows

9 January 2023  2412 UTC
(Updated 10 January 2023 0223 UTC)

The loss of Ukrainian men in the war is massive, growing, and unacceptable. The numbers are being played down for political reasons, which is understandable - up to a point. That point has been reached. When the true scale becomes known, Ukrainian people's anger will be turned against the government. This is normal and inevitable. Those Ukrainians who ran to Europe - and the rich and corrupt who buy their way out of conscription - will be despised. Ukraine is in danger of becoming an inward-looking house divided against itself. This must be avoided. And it can be avoided. But only if the government acts now, and acts fast to win the real war, the economic war.

Ukraine's current slide into destitution must be slowed down, finally stopped, and then reversed. The Ukrainian economy in 2014 was smaller even than when the Soviet Union broke up. The hryvnia devalued to 10 to the US dollar. As at early January 2023, there are about 36 hryvnia to the US dollar. Ukraine is now massively in debt to pay the foreign governments for weapons - many of them old and outdated - to pay for the West's war on Russia. But on the other hand, war that has been a very profitable investment for the West.

The West's old war material has been 'written off', and brand new weapons are being commissioned and manufactured by Western industries to modernise and expand the military of the major Western countries. The Afghanistan 'profit center' has recently gone, but here we are, business has picked up, Western arms industries are once again making profits for the Western shareholders, with no Western blood shed. What a coincidence! What a bargain!  Of course, these arms companies donate 'campaign funds' to various  Western politicians, who in turn promote war... And they say Ukraine is corrupt!

In April 2022 the USA stepped in and stopped Ukraine's President from signing a peace agreement. Instead, the West promised Ukraine could defeat Russia with the West's weapons - but it turns out they cannot (or will not) deliver enough, and there are not enough properly trained fighting men left to use them anyway. For example, some of the tanks are too heavy for local bridges, some of the equipment is too demanding of upkeep, without sufficient spares and without sufficient trained repair crews. Rockets, even modified to reach Crimea, will achieve only transitory 'made for TV' victories. The response is always devastating. A negotiated settlement is in everyone's interest - except the USA Government. With the Americans blocking peace at every turn, Russia is left with only one card in its hand - the military card.

A truly massive Russian combined arms force is now ready to launch, armed with the most modern equipment, made for local conditions. All backed up with unlimited supplies and fully developed supply lines.

Ukraine's leaders know bravery and commitment by themselves are not enough. Like it or not, clearly, on the facts of men, materiel, force size, force configuration, and ability to manoeuvre, the Russian combined forces must succeed. The American Government, with their sophisticated intelligence assets, have been aware of this from the very start. They knew that Russia must ultimately prevail, but didn't know how long it would take. The longer it takes, the more money the Americans make. The fact that they are also 'spending' Ukrainian lives is incidental to them. The proof of that was delivered in April 2022, when the American Government could have stopped this conflict and saved the lives of thousands of Ukrainian men. They chose not to. Think about that.

To them, Ukraine is no more than a handy tool. When they misuse the tool and break it, they will put it down and walk away without a second thought.

Now it is desperately urgent to end America's proxy war on Russia - for that is what it is. Ukraine's defense Minister pointed out that Ukraine has been placed in the position of fighting the West's war against Russia. As he said on Ukrainian TV:

"Today, Ukraine is addressing that threat. We’re carrying out NATO’s mission today, without shedding their blood..."
Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov 5 January 2023

Russia is not 'against' the ordinary people of Ukraine - far from it. Russian Government officials agree that the conflict is instigated by the US and UK (primarily) as part of a long-standing plan to dominate Russia economically and culturally.

"The events in Ukraine aren’t a clash between Moscow and Kiev. It’s a military confrontation of NATO, first of all the US and Britain, with Russia. Fearing a direct engagement, NATO instructors push Ukrainian men to certain death...[the SMO will] put an end to the West’s bloody experiment to destroy the fraternal people of Ukraine...

...We are not at war with Ukraine because we can’t have hatred for ordinary Ukrainians by default...the Ukrainian language is one of the official languages in Crimea. Ukrainian cultural centers, Ukrainian folk song and dance groups continue to exist in many cities. A considerable number of people in the south of the Far East regard Ukrainian culture as their own, given a large proportion of migrants from the times of Stolypin...

...The sooner the people of Ukraine realize that the West is using them to wage a war on Russia, the more lives will be saved. Many have realized that long ago, but they are afraid to say that publicly out of fear of reprisals.

It’s not a part of the West’s plans to save someone’s life to the detriment of its enrichment and other ambitions...The West, to serve its ambitions, is practically decimating the Ukrainian people, forcing the vigorous generation to die at the battlefield and bringing the rest of the people to poverty."
Nikolay Patrushev, Russian Security Council Secretary 09 January 2023

Time is running out - very fast. When the ground has been frozen for 2 weeks, the Russian blitzkrieg will be able to launch. Will it be winter? Or will it be Spring? Either way, it must be pre-empted. Here is how.

1. First, Ukraine's immense potential will best be realised as a balancing nation between the rich Europeans in the West and the vast and increasingly wealthy world market opening up in the East. A strong, bold, and visionary leader who can exploit both economic blocs must be found and pushed forward. Someone who can tell the unembellished truth as it is now and will be in the next few years, but still outline a realistic plan for better life in the longer run. Someone able to look people in the eyes and tell it how it is. Not hide anything, not sugar coat anything. Just the stark truth. Someone who talks normally, not talk in the valueless language of slogans and hollow rhetoric. Someone who openly admits the road to achieving normality will be difficult and painful. Someone who can effectively argue the case for a better long-term outcome as a 'balancing nation' between two world 'blocs' than the current bleak future as a captive of one. Someone who can swing the Rada behind him or herself and act quickly and decisively.

2. Second, the leadership must boldly seize the initiative and act to guarantee Ukraine's security, not just now, but looking far ahead. How? By negotiating a bilateral security treaty with Russia. As it happens, a very good template was worked out a long time ago, but has been all but forgotten. The details are here. Ukraine could benefit by being the first to pioneer this system of settling conflicts. Importantly, if Ukraine commits to 'doing' this Treaty, if both sides stop all hostilities and weapons flows, the Russians would have to put their blitzkreig on 'freeze'. But there is no time to lose. Russia will no longer tolerate stalling tactics or duplicitous games. And the West must not be involved. First, they are untrustworthy, they go back on promises, they deceive, they have an ulterior motive (control of Ukrainian resources). Second, they are poison to settlements, incapable of agreement. It goes without saying that those who swallowed the Western bait and signed agreements with Russia in the past with the intention of not fulfilling them are utterly inadequate to this new and rigorous task. Such people must be excluded.

3. Once peace is secured and Ukraine's security guaranteed, Ukraine could join the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), and take a place on the Collective Security Council. It is fully compatible with the 2008 treaty outlined above, and has already proven capable of helping governments end foreign-backed coups, moving in, settling it quickly and effectively, and moving out again just as quickly (unlike the Americans, who, once they come in, never leave). The CSTO doesn't require any country to give up bilateral treaties with any other country, so long as those treaties are not aimed at destroying the security of a third country. The Ukrainian military forces can be configured as defensive highly trained co-expeditionary CSTO (or other bilateral) forces involved in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, perhaps with other countries assets paying the cost of doing all the heavy lifting. NATO is then irrelevant. In fact it is a liability. The money saved can be diverted to re-building the Ukrainian economy and helping with Ukrainian peoples day to day problems.

4. Ukraine is massively in debt to foreigners. Most likely the foreigners have included requirements to be paid in currencies such as euros, dollars, or pounds. Pass a law saying payment of debt at the current rate at a current date is regarded as payment in full for debt. Print more money, specifically to pay down debt in a devalued currency. Make it a fait accompli. Quickly print, pay down the debt at the current exchange rate, paying it into the prescribed clearing house, and then when the outraged West refuses to pick it up at that rate, shrug, and say "it's there, it's paid. it's up to you."  They will, of course sanction Ukraine - but under this plan that is inevitable anyway. But the Europeans need Ukrainian transit gas, and most of all, they need Ukrainian grains and oilseed products, as well as Ukrainian electricity. The Europeans don't want to lose their business investments, especially in agriculture. European sanctions won't last long.

5. Tax revenue has fallen by 80%. Unemployment is 35%, 5 million healthy Ukrainians have fled overseas to avoid the war, several millions more fled to Russia, the Government is printing money in great excess and so crippling purchasing power, industries have been destroyed  - the list goes on. Time to act fast. Learn from the Russian experience. Pass laws requiring all strategic industries (especially agriculture and minerals) to be majority Ukrainian government owned. (Make sure actual control flows with it.)  Use some excess profits as infrastructure project stimulus, and some to buffer exchange the rate. When sanctions are placed on Ukraine, make sure businesses exiting Ukraine have it's assets bought by the Government at half the market price. Re-brand and re-staff with locals. Develop free trade agreements with both West and East. Do barter deals around the world. Trade in any currency.

6. Borrow from friendly countries such as China, but mainly for productive work and long term job-creating projects, such as rebuilding and civil engineering works. Make sure there is the most intense scrutiny of spending, putting an immediate end to any attempt at corrupt practice. Try to get existing government debt written off, or at least re-issued at more reasonable rates.

7. Keep most government spending cuts in place, and shift focus to social spending, especially for young families, and those traumatised by war. The needs will be great. Give preferential loans to families wanting to own their own house, and increase income support for working families.

8. Focus on long term revenue and a balanced budget. Steal Russia's ideas in this area. Pass laws requiring requiring all foreign companies involved in strategic industries - such as agriculture and mining - to register in Ukraine. Cheap energy means businesses can afford to pay reasonable taxes. Unlike USA and France, Ukraine cannot afford to subsidise businesses to lure them into setting up. Ukraine must be able to offer something else - reliability, convenience, low cost. Cheap energy will be key. China is luring German industry to itself - even BASF - on cheap energy and stability. Yet China's energy is imported from the Middle East and Russia. The subsidy must be large. If China can do this using relatively expensive energy, than Ukraine, once stabilised, could do this much better using excess nuclear electricity and with cheaper Russian contract gas. It would be win-win. Reliability and ease of doing business will be key, as will absence of corruption.

Work with Russia for an inter-operable grid so electricity can be both exported and load balanced. Form a gas hub for sale of Russian gas to anyone in the region who wants it, in any currency. Europe would welcome this. So would Russia, as it could once again have an internal gas delivery system for Arctic gas. Reach a deal for long term pipeline gas from Russia. Pick up the offer to repair the old pipelines and maybe even expand the capacity. Offer German industry a convenient low-wage high tech-skill, well educated population to build things in Europe's back yard. With cheap energy (once again).

Assuming Odessa is a jointly run port, make Odessa a tourist port once more, as well as a grain export hub.

Work hard to build business and economic links with Germany. Work to link Germany and Ukraine with the Chinese 'Belt and Road' initiative, as well as regional routes via the Turkiye trade hub and the Caspian-Iran-India transit link.

Ukraine is the critical link in the pan-Eurasian continental trade flow from western German shores to the Russian and Chinese Pacific Ocean shores. From sea to shining sea. In other words, the USA's worst nightmare come true. And a large part of the reason they want to destroy Russia - handily taking down US economic competitors (Ukraine and Germany) with it.

9. Form a federation and let the Ultra-nationalists in Lyviv have their white supremicist ideology and national hero there. Give them full autonomy - except for defense and foreign affairs. Chose another national hero as the founder of the Ukrainian nature. Lyviv will provide a homeland for the more extreme elements of the national identity to feel comfortable in. Why do this? Because there is a building outrage in Europe at the unacceptable white supremacist attitudes of part of the Ukrainian diaspora. These elements are bound to be ejected, sooner or later. Let then be received in Lviv. Bribe their leaders to stay there. Vigorously suppress intimidation of normal politicians by anyone.

10. The businesses now lost as Russian territory are still Ukrainian owned businesses. Make sure they are taxed, and that the tax comes back to Ukraine in some useful foreign currency, or in gold. Encourage those who are wounded or ill to move to the Eastern regions of Russia, as medical care is free there. Make an agreement with the Russians that they will will not take Ukrainian tradesmen as guest workers' for their current building boom - they will be needed in Ukraine. In other words, retain the economic benefits of the Ukrainian businesses stranded in Russia, and as much as possible, export Ukrainian social costs to Russia. Putting indignation aside, it is not a bad deal.

Outlook
The world Bank expects poverty in Ukraine to reach 55% by the end of 2023. There is no majic formula to prevent that. But the above is a formula to prevent the situation from becoming much worse. Moreover, it is a formula that puts Ukraine back on it's rightful path as one of the key geographically strategic economies of the greater Eurasian continental trade flows. This path is a path of hope for blue skies in future, and with good reason.

This is how a bold and unexpected strategy can leave Ukraine as the winner of the American Government's proxy war on Ukraine.

But there is no time for weakness or indecision.

Come the day...?



Laurie Meadows articles on Security