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Frustrated in Syria, US turns to Ukraine (again) for its next Russian proxy war gambit

With Ukraine rolling out a murderous ethnic cleansing campaign in its Donbass region on the Russian border, the Russian government has responded with restraint. The new provision of arms to Ukraine by the U.S. will likely change that — and start a proxy war more dangerous than Syria’.

by Whitney Webb

Part 3 - Syria to Ukraine: trading a botched proxy war for a “better” one

The Pentagon’s decision to arm the Ukrainian government is well-timed, given that it coincides with the Trump administration’s decision to stop arming the radical Wahhabists that comprise the “moderate opposition” in Syria seeking to oust its democratically-elected president, Bashar al-Assad.

Given the Syrian government’s ability to make major gains against these “rebels” and Daesh (ISIS), as well as the West’s repeated failures to justify a foreign military intervention, the U.S. has been all but forced to give up its dreams of provoking Russia via the six-year-long proxy war fought in Syria over regional oil and gas interests. High-ranking officials in the Syrian government have recently declared the war in Syria “effectively over.”

With the curtain closing in Syria, Washington needs a new proxy war. Given that containing Russia is the ultimate goal – as it is with China – what better way to step up the pressure than by sending lethal arms to a rabidly anti-Russian, U.S.-backed government in Kiev that is determined to ethnically cleanse Russians? Ukraine, after all, is right on Russia’s border; and the Crimea region, which Poroshenko is determined to return to his control, is now a part of Russia.

However, choosing Ukraine for a new proxy war is more than just convenient. The Washington establishment knows exactly what they are getting into as this has nearly happened once before. In 2015, several U.S. senators — led by John McCain — along with then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, pushed to arm the Ukrainian government with lethal weapons.

Russia’s response at the time paints a very clear picture of what could be expected if the U.S. plan to give Ukraine lethal weapons comes to pass. Following the push for sending weapons to Ukraine, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, told Interfax news agency that U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine would result in a “dramatic outcome” that Russia “will not ignore.” He also stated that Russia would not be able to “stay aside” in the conflict if the U.S. followed through with its promise of providing lethal aid to Kiev.

In terms of what this “dramatic outcome” could entail, the events of 2015 offered two possibilities. Western analysts asserted that the U.S.’ arming of the Ukrainian government would be ”matched by Russian arms to rebels,” creating the pretext for another long-running proxy war with opposing sides armed by either the U.S. or Russia.

However, Russian legislators struck a different tone, with one MP arguing that a move to arm Kiev by the U.S. should be met with Russia sending troops or “using military force” to keep the situation from becoming “too dangerous” to Russia. In addition, The Moscow Times cited Russian defense analysts, including current members of the Ministry of Defense, who asserted that Washington’s attempts to arm Ukraine would be seen as a “declaration of war.”

Having failed in Syria, the elements of the U.S. political establishment hell-bent on provoking Russia by any means necessary have decided to take their proxy war straight to Russia’s doorstep. Unfortunately, a proxy-war conflict in Ukraine will likely garner greater support for U.S. intervention than Syria ever did. Years of fear-mongering by NATO and the Western media about a “Russia invasion” of Ukraine, the “annexation” of Crimea, and the current Russiagate election-meddling “scandal” have certainly greased the wheels for a new proxy war theater — one significantly easier to sell to the U.S. public than was the effort to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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