Ukraine in Vain: Fuck Putin but Let the Donbass Go

For all intents and purposes, in every way that counts, Ukraine has already defeated Russia. Hell, let’s face it, they kicked their fucking ass. Putin’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine has been a massive failure of unprecedented proportions. Never, in my memory at least, has an army that big fallen that fast. The first six weeks of that disaster were like a six-week reenactment of the Tet Offensive with Putin playing Robert McNamara, the ruthless and supposedly brilliant failure, forced by peasants to quietly concede defeat under his breath.

It’s tempting to chock this upset up to the fact that Ukraine is the heavily armed quisling state of a massive empire but if Afghanistan taught us a goddamn thing it’s that all the money in the universe can’t buy you a victory in someone else’s country. Kabul collapsed like a trillion-dollar lawn chair because the people there wanted the Taliban to stay and Kyiv withstood a brutal siege from one of the biggest armies on earth because the people there wanted Putin to go fuck himself, and good on them for that.

I despise Volodymyr Zelensky and his grotesque coalition of neoliberal gangsters and barely closeted neo-fascists, but they didn’t kick Russia’s ass until it broke. This war wasn’t won by NATO, it was won by some working-class, Russian-speaking, Vlad Jerkoff lobbing Stinger missiles at T-72s for running over his fucking mailbox. Saddam Hussein was a gutless dirtbag too but that didn’t make the rooftop Sadrists who spoiled Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” any less legit. Provoked or not, Putin invaded somebody else’s neighborhood and somebody else made him pay a heavy price for his hubris, leaving Vlad with no other choice but to limp from the front lines back to Donbas and declare his retreat Phase Two as if he had planned it all along.

I say fucking let him. Enough people have died in this stupid fucking thing. Let the Donbas go and make a goddamn peace deal already. But the American war pigs don’t want peace. They didn’t use the red flag of NATO to provoke the Russian bull so they could teach him a lesson. They want that beast dead and dismembered, and they’ll gladly feed another three thousand Ukrainian matadors to its horns to make that happen. The Secretary of Raytheon, Lloyd Austin, has pledged to “move heaven and earth” not to see Ukraine victorious but to see Russia “weakened” and the warring partisan Philistines on Capitol Hill are finally united in perfect harmony on robbing their constituents blind to make this dangerously vague mission accomplished.

We’ve already hurled $13.6 billion into the Ukrainian pit since Biden crammed his walker through the White House door. Now that geriatric war criminal wants another $33 billion on the edge of a goddamn recession and the supposed fiscal conservatives in the GOP seem willing to double it as long as a dime doesn’t go to teaching the Azov Battalion Critical Race Theory. All of this with a wounded and mind you still very much nuclear-armed Russian bear in retreat. For his part, the once quasi-peace savvy Volodymyr Zelensky seems to be more than game to parlay his unexpected victory into an unwinnable forever war for his patrons and perhaps the sickest and saddest thing of all is that he’s willing to turn Ukraine back into the aggressor to achieve this.

The Donbas isn’t Ukraine. It never was and it never will be. As despicable as Putin’s war is, it isn’t original. It’s basically just a rapid wide scale carbon copy of what Ukraine has been doing to the people of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk for the last eight years with America’s aid and blessing. When the United States of Amnesia used known neo-Nazi thugs to overthrow the crook that the Russian-speaking half of Ukraine legally elected president in 2014, these disenfranchised voters responded with their own violent uprising. When that same aforementioned neo-Nazis responded to that uprising with a wave of state-sanctioned terrorism, including the immolation massacre of 48 peaceful federalists at Odessa’s House of Trade Unions Building, the terrified people of Donetsk and Luhansk seceded from a nation they never asked the Soviet Union to staple them to in the first place and Putin didn’t exactly do their sovereignty any favors either.

He recognized the legitimacy of that Francoist chocolatier, Petro Poroshenko, before he recognized the independence of two nations who had begged him for the salvation that he had afforded the more strategically useful Crimean Peninsula. They received nothing but a handful of corrupt monarchist mercenaries instead. The Donbas did nothing more radical than what Ukraine did with their own hasty declaration of independence in 1992 and for that Washington’s puppets in Kyiv treated them to nearly a decade of pure hell at the hands of the only neo-Nazi militias evil enough to slaughter their own people.

The Donbas has endured everything that Ukraine has over the last two months for the last ninety-six, relentless indiscriminate shelling, cluster bombs, grad missiles, rape, torture, abuse, you name it. 14,000 dead with 80% of the civilian casualties ethnic Russians, most of them slaughtered by confirmed fascists who did indeed seek their ethnic cleansing, all without a peep from the bleeding hearts in the Western press. Nobody but Russia cried even crocodile tears for their plight. And if this war is encouraged to continue, things will only get worse if they ever get better.

Putin’s excuses for invading Ukraine were largely legitimate even if his actions and aims were far from it. Neo-Nazi death squads like the Azov and Aidar Battalions have been deeply embedded into the upper echelons of Ukraine’s American-trained Armed Forces and they have largely made up the frontlines of the nation’s campaign to ‘Ukrainize’ the uncooperative Russians of Donetsk and Luhansk. But that doesn’t mean that Putin’s Phase Two is set to be any kind of liberation. Judging by the smoldering ruins of Mariupol, it will more likely amount to a repeat of their savage campaign to “liberate” Syria in more ways than one.

The Azov Battalion’s unsolicited stay in Mariupol is disturbingly similar to Al-Nusra’s occupation of Aleppo. These men are violent jihadists who took that city by force from local rebels in 2014 and have held the people that failed to flee their homes there hostage ever since, using them like human shields in a Sam Peckinpah flick. Putin’s response to this humanitarian crisis has been to do what he did in Aleppo, which is essentially what Rockerfeller did at Attica, kill ’em all and sort the bodies out later. This is how Phase Two will be waged.

The ethnic Russian villages will probably fall like dominos, but the cities occupied by heavily armed Aryan Mujahedin will be surrounded, starved, and mercilessly bombarded. They will fall for the same reasons Russia’s occupation of the suburbs of Kyiv and Kharkov fell, because they are illegally occupied territory, but they will fall hard, and it will be the ethnic Russians that Putin pretends to be fighting for who will suffer most. Then Ukraine will find themselves on the offensive, leading an endless siege of a region they have about as much of a right to as Putin did to Bucha.

This has long been the tragic plight of the people of the Donbas, and this is why they deserve the world’s sympathy every bit as much as Ukraine does. The People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk aren’t any less corrupt than Kyiv. They are blister-pocked fiefdoms of second-rate oligarchs and trigger-happy Russian mercenaries, but that doesn’t make them any less deserving of sovereignty. Your average rebel in the Donbas is a coal mining communist who has spent his life being fucked by one foreign tyrant after another. What I wish for these people is the same thing I wish for the people of the West Bank. I hope they win their god given right to independence and then I hope they overthrow the crooks in their own government, but first I hope they win their god given right to goddamn independence.

Sadly, Putin is very unlikely to give this to them, no matter how hard they fight for an inevitable Russian victory in Ukraine’s far east. He will probably turn Donetsk and Luhansk into glorified Kremlin colonies run by his own crooked oligarchs. The working-class Donbas dream of the last little soviet that could will die a slow and painful death at the cold hands of the very nation they begged to liberate them, much the way their neighbors in Ukraine will beneath the tutelage of America’s empire of empty promises. Ironically, the greatest hope for both Ukraine and the Donbas is likely each other and both Putin and NATO know it.

Once upon a time, Volodymyr Zelensky ran for Ukraine’s presidency on a campaign to bring peace to the Donbas and it was one of the few campaign promises that he initially appeared to be prepared to honor. In 2019, the Russian-speaking Jewish comedian came to the tiny Luhansk village of Zolote on the frontlines and demanded that the Azov Nazis who occupied it put down their arms in the name of detente. Footage of the heated exchange that followed went viral and Zelensky was roundly mocked by people on both sides of the conflict but I for one saw some glimmer of heroism in that clip. I saw a pissed off political outsider in over his head telling the ancestors of the men who put his ancestors in ovens to go fuck themselves. Unfortunately, the oligarchs who got him elected saw it too, and they had him savaged on their TV channels while the fascists who ran his own National Guard threatened him with violence. He backed down and his approval ratings crashed until Putin invaded and Zelensky donned his Churchill costume.

Zelensky could still make things right if he were so inclined. He could offer Putin a peace deal that grants the Donbas autonomy not just from Kyiv but Moscow as well, making the tiny nation the neutral Bolshevik buffer that it has always been in its finer hours. This could be Zelensky’s revenge, not just against the fascists in Zolote but against the fascists in Washington who have used him and his nation to bait Russia into a quagmire in order to revive the legitimacy of a NATO alliance who played them all for suckers to the tune of a score of mass graves. With Zelensky’s colossal Western manufactured cult of personality, even his deep state oligarchs probably couldn’t afford to stop him. But I fear that they already have by convincing him that war is peace and that the only way to fuck Putin is to fuck his pawns in the Donbas. Another epic Russian tragedy for the Nuclear Era that could blow us all to kingdom come.

Once again, pray for the dead, dearest motherfuckers, and pray that the governments that stand on their graves collapse beneath the weight of their own bombs before we’re all damned to join them in hell for their hubris. Sadly, a miracle may be our only hope.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.