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It’s time to get real. It’s been time to get real. Russia has won its war against Ukraine.

This outcome comes as no surprise. Anyone with access to a map could see that the chances of Ukraine prevailing against Russia were slim to none.

The only way Ukraine could have emerged victorious — which would, according to the Ukrainians themselves, mean pushing it out of Crimea and deposing the separatist pro-Russian republics of Donetsk and Luhansk — would have been if the United States and its Western allies had been willing to launch nuclear weapons, which would have led to global annihilation. Once the decision was made not to start World War III, Ukraine’s defeat became inevitable. This, everyone sane knows, is for the best.

Determinative to this conclusion was an unusual pair of motivations. Normally, when a war is fought on one country’s territory, the invaded country fights harder than the invading forces. Paradoxically, despite suffering damaged infrastructure, the invaded state enjoys the home advantages of complete knowledge of the battlefield and much shorter supply lines. Aside from sporadic cross-border missile strikes, this war has been fought entirely on Ukrainian territory.

This conflict is different because Russia has to win; it cannot walk away. Ukraine has a 1,200-mile border with Russia, it wants to join an anti-Russia military alliance and its government was openly hostile to Russia before the war. And when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, its armies came through Ukraine, where the Nazis were greeted as liberators. Unlike America, which could bring its troops home after losing on the other side of the world in Afghanistan and Iraq and shrug off its imperialist misadventures and could leave Vietnam after pretending that more political will on the home front would have resulted in victory, Russia sees its military operation as existential. Ukraine isn’t a misbegotten side project. It’s as essential in the same way the United States would respond to a Canada that turned hostile to the U.S.

Unfortunately, and dangerously, American media consumers are being pounded with an endless deluge of propaganda promoting the ludicrous idea that Ukraine is winning and/or will ultimately prevail militarily. This fantastical assertion props up political support for shipping \$60 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine, with more on the way — never mind the 70% that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wildly corrupt government sells on the black market and the Javelin missile systems that wind up for sale on the dark web. (Christmas is coming! Don’t forget your favorite political cartoonist and columnist.) By way of comparison, the U.S. Department of Health of Human Services estimates that we could abolish homelessness here for \$20 billion.


We’re also being told that Russia is crumbling under the crushing blow of vicious Western sanctions deployed as part of the White House’s openly stated war aim that it wants “to see Russia weakened.” The Russian economy, it is said, is collapsing. Russian elites, they say, will soon overthrow President Vladimir Putin.

Let me tell you firsthand: There is zero sign of economic distress in Russia.

I’ve spent the last two weeks in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia’s two biggest cities. Stores are bustling; people are spending; unemployment is low and still falling; there are lines at ATMs and whatever else is happening, the economy is anything but bad. The Galeria Mall across the busy street from my hotel in Saint Petersburg has a few closed stores shut down by Western chains, but the majority remain, and consumers are shopping like mad. European and American tourists are few and far between, but it’s exactly the same here in sanctions-free Istanbul where I’m writing this. Westerners stopped coming at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown two years ago and still haven’t returned. If Russians are unhappy with Putin — and they’re not — it’s not because of the economy.

I know from bad economies; where I live in New York, crime is out of control, homeless people go untreated for an array of mental illnesses and some are killing people, and being killed, and many storefronts have been empty and boarded up since the beginning of the pandemic. Any New Yorker would or should happily trade places with their Muscovite counterpart, who lives in a city with clean streets and subways that don’t serve as rolling homeless shelters and where life feels as if COVID-19 was never a thing. News stories that claim Russia is on the ropes are a giant magnificent pile of lies so over-the-top that I can’t help but be impressed by their glorious audacity and easily debunked mendacity. All you have to do is go to Russia, as I did, and see for yourself that it’s all bull — but hey, that’s a lot of trouble — because of sanctions that seem to be hurting us more than them.

Self-delusion is more fun. Who, after all, should you trust? The same U.S. state media that told you Saddam Hussein had WMDs? Or some cartoonist-columnist who told you, well in advance, that the U.S. didn’t stand a chance in Afghanistan, Trump would win in 2016 and that he would attempt a coup d’etat to remain in power?

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis

• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: American Media, Russia, Ukraine 
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  1. BubbaTuff says:

    Excellent and interesting article. Go, Team Russia!

  2. Anon[271] • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks for the information from Russia Ted Rall.

    The British media has been more misleading than the American media in this matter. Even beltway insiders must be questioning how dishonest Western media is at this point. What else have they been lying about?

  3. In all honesty, it did surprise me to see the Europeans behave like redneck Americans regarding Russia and this operation. I thought they were more intelligent. Under other circumstances, I’d be sad to watch Europe fall into economic and existential stress but given the their high level of idiocy displayed, I am afraid I will quietly enjoy their current and upcoming woes.

  4. meamjojo says:

    Yes, time to get REAL Ted. Here’s a dose for you. Don’t get caught reading it if you are still in Russia.
    Russia’s economy contracts sharply as war and sanctions take hold.
    The country’s gross domestic product from April through June declined 4 percent over last year, new government data shows.

    Aug. 12, 2022

    The Russian economy contracted steeply in the second quarter as the country felt the brunt of the economic consequences of its war in Ukraine, in what experts believe to be the start of a yearslong downturn.

    The economy shrank 4 percent from April through June compared with a year ago, the Russian statistics agency said on Friday. It is the first quarterly gross domestic product report to fully capture the change in the economy since the invasion of Ukraine in February. It was a sharp reversal from the first quarter, when the economy rose 3.5 percent.

    Western sanctions, which cut off Russia from about half of its \$600 billion emergency stash of foreign currency and gold reserves, imposed steep restrictions on dealings with Russian banks, and cut access to American technology, prompted hundreds of major Western corporations to pull out of the country.

    • Replies: @Dirk Gently
    , @Roger
  5. Renoman says:

    Well said, thank you.

  6. Voltarde says:

    It’s time to get real. It’s been time to get real. Russia has won its war against Ukraine.

    The “borders” of the 1922-1991 Ukrainian “state” were imposed by the Bolsheviks and their idealogical successors. Yes, Russia is winning, but the armed conflict that Ukrainian neo-Nazis (not Russia) started in 2014 also has the character of a civil war between inhabitants of an artificially constructed pseudo-state. The leadership of the Ukraine chose its war against its own citizens (admittedly at the behest of the U.S. government); Russia is going to succeed in ending it.

    The leadership of the Ukraine knows that the economically important eastern and southern parts of the country will soon be irrevocably lost. Their rage about the resulting financial losses have led them to adopt their version of Hitler’s Nero Decree:

    On their way down to defeat, the Ukraine’s oligarchs want to destroy as much of the eastern and southern parts of the country as possible. They have intensified their longstanding policy of intimidating the local population and murdering “separatists” in the areas that they still control. In addition to their many other documented war crimes, the Ukrainian military is carpet-bombing the liberated areas of the Donbas with banned anti-personnel “petal” mines to maim and kill civilians.

    The U.S. government and its EU client regimes have condoned the war crimes committed by the Ukraine and parroted the most outrageous Ukrainian lies about them. This situation has now reached a critical stage due to Ukrainian shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (NPP) in southern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has launched deliberate, repeated artillery attacks on the Zaporozhye NPP, and is hoping to blame the Russians for the resulting nuclear catastrophe. They want to turn the Zaporozhye region into an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland to punish its civilian population for their willingness to vote in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

    How in the world does U.S. funding and logistical support of the Nero Decree of the Ukraine’s oligarchs contribute to the defense of the United States of America? It is time for senior leaders of the U.S. military and defense establishment civilians to speak out about the campaign of nuclear terrorism launched by the Ukrainian military.

  7. Rall writes.
    Determinative to this conclusion was an unusual pair of motivations. Normally, when a war is fought on one country’s territory, the invaded country fights harder than the invading forces. Paradoxically, despite suffering damaged infrastructure, the invaded state enjoys the home advantages of complete knowledge of the battlefield and much shorter supply lines.

    Nearly 25% of the population of Ukraine are ethnic Russians or speak Russian primarily. They are concentrated in the east and south of Ukraine, which the Russians have, for the most part, occupied since March. Rall seems unable to grasp this.
    The Ukrainians are not for the most part fighting on home turf. They are, understandably, getting little help from the locals. Much of the heavy infantry fighting is not being undertaken by regular Russian forces, but by members of the Donbas militias, who are locals and know many of the battle areas well.

    So , no, Ted, in this instance the invaded state does not enjoy the home advantage of complete knowledge of the battlefield. Indeed, quite the opposite.

    The same is true regarding supply lines. Ukraine now has to move men and materiel from Western and Central Ukraine to the frontline. Russian planes have been continuously bombing oil refineries, and petrol and diesel are now scarce. Most heavy stuff has to go via the ( electrified ) rail system. Most traction substations, which power the trains, have been destroyed, which adds to the difficulties.

    By contrast, the rail and road system from Kherson and Crimea has been integrated with those of Russia via the Donbas. All the traction substations are running, and the Russian and Ukrainian railway guages are the same, so you can take a train direct from Moscow to the Crimea with little difficulty.

    Rall writes
    Self-delusion is more fun. Who, after all, should you trust? The same U.S. state media that told you Saddam Hussein had WMDs? Or some cartoonist-columnist who told you, well in advance, that the U.S. didn’t stand a chance in Afghanistan, Trump would win in 2016 and that he would attempt a coup d’etat to remain in power?

    Still pushing the January 6 “insurrection” lie, I see.
    A couple of hundred unbarmed civilians are let into the Capitol building by the police. They wander round the chamber taking phographs. No damage is done to the chamber and a short while later they all walk out again. Out of sheer malice, a Capitol policeman shoots an unarmed woman.
    Meanwhile, President Trump is speaking at a rally a mile and a half away.
    And this constitutes a coup d’etat ? Only to an idiot like Rall.

  8. Why has Russia spent six months (so far) on an operation that should have taken six days?

    • Agree: meamjojo
  9. Wow. So, the endless corporate state US empire “news” is complete BS? More USian psy ops and propaganda sticking to a certain dominant narrative without any equal and complete robust airing of other arguments, contrarian viewpoints backed by evidence, etc..etc.?!

    Gee golly gee ! Quelle surprise…next, thing the EU vassals (inc. Japan-land and “South Korea”- US colonies/puppets) will be mirroring the US empire. Oh.

  10. SafeNow says:

    launch nuclear weapons, which would have led to global annihilation. Once the decision was made not to start World War III, …

    WWIII / armageddon would very unlikely occur as a matter of “decision.” Rather, it would result from incompetence, systems-error, and unconscious motivations.

  11. Azrec says:

    Strange that the writer compares NYC with Moscow. You may have noticed that no one wants to go to Russia to live, and as soon as Russians have money they go to the West. No one wants what Mr Putin has to offer.

    • Agree: meamjojo
    • Replies: @Dirk Gently
  12. @meamjojo

    More lies from meme-jewjew.

    Are you, too, a convicted pedophile like that other jojo, the one who got shot and killed which attacking Kyle Rittenhouse/

    • Agree: Iris
    • LOL: meamjojo
  13. @A little boy in the crowd

    Show us a workable, usable plan using assets that actually exist on how to take Ukraine in 6 days.

  14. @Azrec

    I was in Russia a few times in the late 1990’s. If I could move there now, I would do so in a heartbeat.

    Regarding NYC and Moscow. St. Petersburg is what NYC wishes it could be (a national cultural center/leader that is loved by the rest of the country, not despised as NYC is). As for Moscow… the only thing I didn’t like about Moscow is that it’s too big.

    Regarding Russians moving to the west: That’s come to a complete halt.

    I served in the U.S. Army for 33 years. Just retired a couple weeks ago due to the unrelenting BS in the covid shot mandate, and that for the first time, I had the unrelenting feeling that the entire chain of command down to company commanders are against the wellbeing and welfare of the troops and the army itself.

    • Replies: @meamjojo
  15. Jett Rucker says: • Website
    @A little boy in the crowd

    I suspect Russia may have an “attrition” policy in the works here, quite as the US thinks it can work an “attrition” policy against Russia.
    Russia might prevail in these counter-attritions, and one reason I imagine so is that I think the brain(s) in Russia are better, in aggregate, than the brains that oppose it.
    Just a hunch – nothing more.

  16. meamjojo says:
    @Dirk Gently

    “I was in Russia a few times in the late 1990’s. If I could move there now, I would do so in a heartbeat.”

    What’s stopping you? With 33 years of Army experience (unless it was as something like a mess cook), Putin would make you General and send you to the front lines in Ukraine. Perhaps we could read of your death at the hands of Ukraine, as has occurred to so many other Russian officers.

    • Troll: Tallest Skil
    • Replies: @SafeNow
  17. meamjojo says:

    Rall, is this in the Russian news yet? More to come!
    Latvia Designates Russia As Terrorist State, Urges Europe To Follow
    Saturday, Aug 13, 2022 – 11:35 AM

    Latvia on Thursday became among the first European countries to designate Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism” after nearby Lithuania was the first to do so back in May. Latvia’s Parliament made the declaration while alleging that Russian forces are targeting civilians in the ongoing Ukraine invasion, and urged other countries to implement their own formal designations.

    • Replies: @WorkingClass
  18. Roger says:

    And why should we believe anything that the New York Times has to say about Russia?

    • Replies: @meamjojo
  19. TG says:

    Hmm. Well, so far it looks to me that in Ukraine Russia has gotten stuck to a “tar baby” that it cannot disengage from and that will bleed it dry.

    But as far as sanctions etc: love him or hate him, Putin has not declared war on the working class. He has not thrown open the border to the overpopulated third world to flood that market for labor, driving wages and living standards down, so the elites can have higher rents and profits.

    Sure, Russia may not be paradise – and maybe over time sanctions will bite more. But increasingly in the west, the average person is having trouble affording a place to live, energy to heat their homes, food, medical care…. Laugh at Russia all you like. 20 years from now you may wish you could move there.

    I read an article somewhere that thanks to sanctions now Russians can only buy cars that don’t have anti-lock brakes. Whereas the cars that more and more Americans can’t afford to buy at all, they do have made-in-China anti-lock brakes! And Americans may be living in tent cities or their parents basements, but the apartments and houses that Russians live in only have 4G cellphone service! USA! USA!

  20. meamjojo says:

    And why should anyone care what random internet dog Roger thinks about the New York Times?

    • Troll: Iris
  21. anon[653] • Disclaimer says:

    “Latvia Designates Russia As Terrorist State, Urges Europe To Follow”

    I guess the Russians had better head for their bunkers. Latvia’s pissed.

    • LOL: Ann Nonny Mouse
  22. Thanks Ted for differentiating between “actual” Russia and the anger dream narrative coming out of Imperial Washington.

    Sometimes I wonder how you mange to remain a Democrat. Not that you should become a Republican. Heaven forfend! I was a Democrat myself when Labor (the people) was a part of their governing coalition. Today they hate my guts because I’m a white man. Bill Clinton kicked the real Democrats to the curb in favor of corporate bucks. Money changes everything. Get with the times Ted.

  23. @meamjojo

    Latvia Designates Russia As Terrorist State…

    Latvia was probably paid hundreds of dollars for said designation.

  24. There is one piquant nuance in understanding the impact of Western sanctions on Russia, which is not mentioned anywhere in the Western world. I talked to the director of a large company where I work and he said that Mentor Graphics refused to support their software, which we purchased. But.. they said that we can now use pirated copies without any problems, and they have no complaints. On the other hand, it is now extremely problematic in Russia to prove any rights to Western intellectual property. And most importantly, specialists who can throw down the gauntlet to Western companies are becoming terribly in demand in Russia now. Four months ago, we were all in a bit of shock here and I was given the task of making a replacement development to replace the license of an important American company. And now there is something to demonstrate.

    • Replies: @Iris
  25. George says:

    This article talks about consumer spending, but that is not the problem. The claim is the Russian industrial economy is collapsing. Of course, the most recent data is May and June so it will be informative to see what August numbers turn out to be.

    Yale’s Sonnenfeld breaks down myths surrounding the strength of Russia’s economy

    Youtuber Joe Blogs covers the economic fallout in various countries:

    • Thanks: meamjojo
    • Replies: @Iris
  26. Iris says:

    And most importantly, specialists who can throw down the gauntlet to Western companies are becoming terribly in demand in Russia now.

    And very soon within months, when global recession bites very hard and sources of incomes dry out, there’ll be big change of tune. Those gutless swing countries, which are not strictly involved in the sanctions but still apply them for fear of the US, such as south Korea and Singapour, will be begging to sell their products and technology to Russia.

    Russia does not give two hoots about the sanctions.
    Russia has been around for much longer than the ZOG’s empire and will still be around long after it disappears.

  27. Iris says:

    The claim is the Russian industrial economy is collapsing.

    This is not true, and even admitting it were, how can it matter in a country which is entirely self-sufficient for all of its people’s all basic needs?

    Russia produces internally everything that Russians need to survive. If they lose their job because of the sanctions, they won’t be foreclosed, they’ll keep their homes and a basic government unemployment income until better times arrive.

    The only hope the West has is an internal rebellion against President Putin. This will never happen.

    The Russians are not Putin-sheep, they are just, fundamentally, extremely patriotic people who will never turn against their motherland and their military, no matter how they feel about the Ukraine operation.

    • Replies: @meamjojo
  28. meamjojo says:

    “Russia produces internally everything that Russians need to survive”

    It doesn’t take much for an individual to “survive”. This is easily seen in the numerous TV shows about survivalists and homesteading.

    But what works for an individual, doesn’t work for the state, especially if they are intent on conducting war (or “Special Operation”, as Putin terms it [lol]). For example:
    August 8, 2022
    Exclusive: Russian weapons in Ukraine powered by hundreds of Western parts, report says

    LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) – More than 450 foreign-made components have been found in Russian weapons recovered in Ukraine, evidence that Moscow acquired critical technology from companies in the United States, Europe and Asia in the years before the invasion, according to a new report by Royal United Services Institute defence think tank.

    Since the start of the war five months ago, the Ukrainian military has captured or recovered from the battlefield intact or partially damaged Russian weapons. When disassembled, 27 of these weapons and military systems, ranging from cruise missiles to air defence systems, were found to rely predominantly on Western components, according to the research shared with Reuters.

    It is the most detailed published assessment to date of the part played by Western components in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

    About two-thirds of the components were manufactured by U.S.-based companies, RUSI found, based on the weapons recovered from Ukraine. Products manufactured by the U.S.-based Analog Devices and Texas Instruments accounted for nearly a quarter of all the Western components in the weapons.

    Other components came from companies in countries including Japan, South Korea, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

  29. @A little boy in the crowd

    Putin is playing the slow game and wants all or most of Ukraine, minus Lvov. They’re super cunts in Western Ukraine that hate everyone and were never a part of the Russian empire until the USSR. The longer he waits and the slower he takes it the more sympathetic Ukrainians will become towards Russia as they turn against Zelensky. I’m in Moscow and I know Ukrainians who are coming here from Kiev; not the east. Obviously people from Donbass are coming here too and have been for many years. Ukraine is becoming a failed state.

    • Replies: @Quartermaster
  30. @brostoevsky

    Putin can’t afford the slow game. He also needs all of Ukraine to reach his goals. Lviv is included in that as is Moldova and parts of Romania and Poland.

  31. SafeNow says:

    Perhaps we could read of your death

    You had a very valid point to make. I wish it had been made without being harsh. We are all kindred spirits here, up against a nasty, crazy opposition. We should be respectful to one another. I have written more than my share of things needing amending, and when people corrected me, they have almost always done so politely.

    As for you, Dirk, thank you, and I wish you “fair winds and following seas” in your retirement from the military.

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