Biden to Ukraine: “Unwavering Support for Euro-Atlantic Aspirations”

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

Last Friday Joe Biden had his first call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky Friday. Afterward, Zelensky stated, “We discussed the situation in Donbas in detail. President Biden assured me that Ukraine will never be left alone against Russia’s aggression.” In the White House readout of the call, Biden “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called his counterpart in Kyiv. According to the Pentagon readout, “Secretary Austin reaffirmed unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”

(See for reference Victoria Nuland’s description of the U.S.’ $ 5 billion investment in regime change in Ukraine as of 2014 as one in its “European aspirations.” The talking point term remains “aspirations.” But no reference to Pentagon aspirations to throttle Russia.)

“Euro-Atlantic aspirations” means membership in NATO and the EU (that’s the usual sequence), the expansion of the Russia-NATO border by 1400 miles, and NATO’s virtual encirclement of Russia. What would go wrong with such a noble plan?

The NATO plan to incorporate both Ukraine and Georgia (border with Russia 550 miles) was announced in 2008, the same year that the U.S. recognized Kosovo (carved out of Serbia by NATO aggression in 1999, and converted into a massive U.S. army base) as an independent country. In the same year, Russia invaded Georgia and recognized the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries.

It was a statement to the U.S. that it could not willy-nilly draw a noose around Russia in the name of preserving “peace and stability in Europe.” The message went unheard. In the U.S. State Department Victoria Nuland (back under Biden in a position of power) headed the project to achieve regime change in Ukraine, where the democratically-elected president opposed NATO membership. The Feb. 2014 putsch in Kyiv brought pro-NATO forces to power, provided immediate lucrative employment to a son of the U.S. vice president, and of course, led to the immediate loss of Crimea.

Crimea that had been Russian from 1774 to 1954, transferred from the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the latter year when both countries were part of a single state. When the USSR dissolved newly independent Ukraine and Russia signed a long-term agreement for Russian military administration of the peninsula. A key U.S. objective has been to convert the Black Sea into a NATO lake and use Crimea as a NATO base. Thus after the Feb. 2014 coup Moscow in short order reestablished sovereignty over Crimea. (If you’re keeping count, Crimea has been Russian about 76% of the time during the last 250 years.)

Look at the map. Notice how the massive country of Russia has few warm-water naval ports. It has one functioning overseas naval base—in Syria, operative since the 1970s. (U.S. policy has been to assert its own right to achieve regime change in Syria, denounce Russia for “interference” in Washington’s regime-change plan, and unite with terrorists to engage pro-regime forces in the country.) And the U.S. in its arrogance and hubris thinks it can deny Russia its Crimea base (posing as the righteous defender of Ukrainian rights). It thinks it can acquire control over Sevastopol established before the American Revolution.

Or at least Biden imagines as much. Does he not realize the world has changed and that he cannot provoke Russia as Clinton, or either Bush or Obama did?

U.S.-Soviet superpower contention threatening the prospect of world war petered out in the 1980s and died between 1989 and 1991. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991, along with the USSR itself. A decade of Russian deference to triumphant U.S. imperialism followed under Boris Yeltsin. There was no “new Cold War.” That followed after 1999 when Bill Clinton expanded NATO in violation of George H. W. Bush’s promise to Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch” east after 1989.

We talk about Big Lies under the odious Trump administration. There were Big Lies behind the Obama destruction of Libya, the Bush-Cheney war on Iraq, Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam War, the Spanish-American War. Those are lies to the people of this country. Bush’s promise was a Big Lie to the Russians, but people in this country should resent it with everyone in the world.

The Cold War ended because the Soviets agreed in 1989 to the reunification of Germany in exchange for a promise that after NATO’s expansion to include East Germany the alliance would not expand further east. But NATO has expanded relentlessly to encircle Russia, while the U.S. media ignores the issue, sees no problem worth examining, and fails to recognize the obvious: NATO expansion is the single truly significant issue between the countries. (Instead the media echoes State Department talking points about Putin’s alleged crimes and corruption, Russian hacking, Afghan bounties, etc.—a mix of the hypocritical, irrelevant and implausible; you’d never get the impression Russians are reasonably concerned about the prospect of national strangulation.)

Biden’s “unwavering support for Ukraine” is in fact unwavering support for U.S. imperialism and its key global alliance, the most terrifying military alliance in world history. One would hope AOL at least would speak up and say we need to stop this shit.

But I fear that those being called “progressives” will prove inadequate anti-imperialists in these slightly new times and that Cold War era-style Russophobia that flourished under Trump (among his critics) will flower even more fully under Biden. First the disinformation campaign, the careful shaping of public opinion, then the war. The aspiration is: quick victory (without a nuclear exchange, or just a limited one), more NATO expansion, destruction of Russia as a competitor, greater military hegemony over Europe, stimuli for the declining U.S. economy.

But perhaps it cannot be achieved in Biden’s time. Wars require some prep-time as the “intelligence” is cherry-picked conscientiously and suitably packaged to infect the public mind.

It may be left for Kamala Harris, daughter of a Marxist professor, to make the aspiration real. Unless of course, President Harris at some point announces that the U.S. has decided to withdraw from and advocate the dissolution of the 1949 pact, as antiquated, irrelevant, expensive and dangerous.


Just appearing now on the website Anti-Bellum, in a piece by Rick Rozoff:

“On February 8, President Zelensky approved a plan to admit foreign troops into Ukraine in 2021 to take part in several multinational military exercises led by the U.S. and other NATO nations, including the U.S.-led exercises Rapid Trident 2021 and Sea Breeze 2021, the British-Ukrainian Cossack Mace 2021 and Warrior Watcher 2021 exercises, the Romanian-Ukrainian Riverine 2021 exercise, and the Polish-Ukrainian Three Swords 2021 and Silver Sabre 2021 war games.

“He also recently approved Ukraine’s new military strategy, which not surprisingly emphasizes the subjugation of Donetsk and Lugansk and even Crimea. All-out assaults against the first two would probably provoke a war with Russia; an attack on the third would make it inevitable.

“NATO is mentioned 19 times in the document, which speaks of an impending war with Donetsk and Lugansk, and by inference with Russia, in which Ukraine would be provided “the help of the international community on terms favorable to Ukraine”….

“The new military strategy also speaks of Ukraine becoming involved in a war between NATO and Russia in which Ukraine ‘will be drawn into an international armed conflict, especially between nuclear-armed states.’

“The Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine advocated by Biden and Austin would make Ukraine’s participation in a war between the world’s two major nuclear powers inevitable. It might also make Ukraine the main battleground in such a war.” End of comforting quote.


So welcome back to normal, folks, after the aberrant Trump period. Welcome back to the cause of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama: NATO expansion to destroy Russia and make sure Total Spectrum Dominance will not end on decent, compassionate Joe Biden’s watch.

Note that it’s become de rigeur for mainstream news announcers like the Chris Cuomos, Joe Scarboroughs, Mika Brzezinskys, Brooke Baldwins, Nicolle Wallaces, Brian Williamses etc. to pledge recognition of the fact of “structural racism” (without reflecting for a moment on why it’s taken so long for the news director to order this change) while maintaining the state-religious insistence on the heroism of the troops.

It is easy to concede the obvious when the troops are at the gates. The people of this country are mobilizing against institutional-structural, deeply historically rooted racism and national oppression as never before. The capitalist ruling class needs to make concessions to movements for racial equality, calculating all the while that while there are benefits to pitting ethnicities against one another (see Hawaii sugar industry, 1850-1955) there are also benefits to things like corporate “affirmative action.” In any case, it is possible for capitalism to adapt to more racial equality over time. It is not possible for Wall Street to back off its commitments to the military-industrial complex and to future wars.

Biden can read from the teleprompter nicely crafted testimonies to racial equality and diversity. He cannot denounce imperialism because it is part and parcel of capitalism, which he firmly advocates and which indeed created him. He cannot say the war in which his sainted son Beau fought (in Iraq, 2008-9, at
the height of the crime) was indeed a criminal war-based-on-lines (lies in which he was actively complicit).

Any traditional, tainted politician who endorses Black Lives Matter while God-blessing “our” imperialist troops is as dangerous as the one who trashes BLM as communists. The war for “racial” equality is advancing, for various reasons including demographic change and the evolution of the culture of our multiethnic youth. No thanks to Biden, surely.

The struggle against imperialism, and for a non-racist understanding of what’s called “U.S. foreign policy,” proceeds less effectively. Talking points should be: relentless NATO expansion, for no good reason; rational Russian defensiveness in the face of encirclement; absolute lack of any U.S. moral authority to impose “democracy” anywhere; capitalist-competitive nature of Sino-American conflict (having nothing to do with “values” or “human rights”); a history of murderous interventions around the world more heinous—if you can imagine it—than the record on native displacement and slavery in this country.

Biden, obliged to shift slightly left to secure the African-American vote and active aid from the progressive camp, is nowhere near abjuring the system that made him. He is an imperialist in the Hillary mode, focused on Ukraine, hoping to bring his followers along into a long righteous slog in Donetsk.

No, it’s not possible, you say? Surely they’ve learned? No, they haven’t learned. That’s why they chose non-socialist, definitely capitalist Biden to continue the cause!—from the South China to the East China to the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Gary Leupp is Emeritus Professor of History at Tufts University, and is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900 and coeditor of The Tokugawa World (Routledge, 2021). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: