"Day Two of the NATO Summit in Vilnius - interview on WION television (India)"
Gilbert Doctorow (June 26, 2023)

It was quite stunning to watch the mainstream news coverage of today’s second and final day of summitry in Vilnius, when the failure to agree on a timeline for Ukraine’s possible admission to NATO was covered up by fine words about the creation of a NATO-Ukraine Council and readiness to admit Ukraine when all unspecified requirements for membership are met. In parallel, we heard about how G7 countries are offering to provide security guaranties to Ukraine on a bilateral basis, though it was unclear whether such ‘guaranties’ mean boots on the ground, if necessary, or just continuing supplies of war materiel.

I was delighted to be offered an opportunity by India’s leading English-language global television channel WION to cut through the double-talk and highlight the reality that Ukraine is now likely to be pushed into negotiations with Russia by its sponsors in Washington just as it was pushed into the launch of its counter-offensive while lacking air cover that is essential to all such operations.

The only consideration behind the shifting U.S. policy on Ukraine is domestic politics ahead of the next presidential race that begins in the early autumn. See: Ukraine President’s efforts in Lithuania fail to secure NATO membership

--- The Interview with Gilbert Doctorow ---

Susan Taharani (Direct from New York): "... the Alliance has not extended an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO as of yet. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski spoke at a joint press conference with NATO Chief Jen Stoltenberg. The latter announced a package which will bring Ukraine closer to the Alliance. ... as close as possible without actually joining. ... without a timetable for joining the Alliance now. ... when allies agree and conditions are met. ... The United States and Germany are wary of any move that might take the Alliance closer to war with Russia. ..."

[3:40] "It seems a little premature for Ukraine to ask to join NATO when it's in the middle of a war with Russia. What are your thoughts?"

[3:47] Gilbert Doctorow (St Petersberg): "It's not in the middle of a war with Russia. It's close to the end of a war with Russia, a war that it is losing. Today's announcements by Stoltenberg and by others at the NATO meeting in Vilnius may fool some commentators at CNN or Euro News, but they shouldn't fool your audience. The fact is that the counter-offensive that received massive support in equipment and training from NATO countries, that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has failed miserably. The latest figures that we have is 26,000 Ukrainian soldiers and officers who were killed or taken out of action on the counter-offensive against Russia in the last 30 days. They have lost hundreds of tanks. They have lost most of the advanced military equipment supplied to them by NATO in the precedintg weeks."

Mr Zelenski may have used his opportunity as a speaker in the NATO meeting to berate NATO for not taking him in, but the fact is, a precondition for any admittance to NATO was that he would have a successful counter-offensive using the vast resources he had been given to effect. He didn't. In fact, as of yesterday, the Russians have now gone on a counter-counter-offensive. And they have, on one of the fronts, one-and-a-half kilometers of territory that was held by Mr Zelenski's forces. This, despite the fact that in the preceding 30 days of Ukraine's counter-offensive, they moved a few meters here and there forward. So, the result is a disastrous counter-offensive and the start of a new offensive by the Russians. And the Ukrainian manpower reserves are depleted. The West can supply all of the equipment it wishes to Ukraine, but Ukraine no longer has the manpower to use it and wage a successful war."

[6:06] "In recent days we understand that the United States is giving little signals that it is going to push Ukraine into negotiations with Russia to end the war. The signals came from Jake Sullivan speaking to reporters when he accompanied Biden on his way to Europe for the meeting in Vilnius. It was unequivocal. For the first time in months, Russia was not spoken of in hostile terms. President Putin was not reviled and cursed. They were taking very neutral language about Russia which is the purest, most obvious signal that the United States is ready to negotiate.

[6:46] And that is the end of the whole issue. Negotiations, as far as Russia is concerned, mean one thing. Territorial boundaries are not the important issue. Ukraine becoming neutral, it's no longer not only to have no NATO Alliance, but its own inability to maintain any foreign troops or institutions on its territory. That will be the non-negotiable Russian demand for any peace. And with that, NATO goes out the window."

Susan Taharani: "... We never hear NATO or the United States talk about Ukraine's victory moving forward. They usually talk about how even providing weapons ultimately is so Ukraine would have the upper hand in negotiations with Russia. And now we hear that the United States wants to provide cluster munitions and then there is that deal with the F-16s. We'll see where that goes. Can you talk about that? Do you think that with everything that Ukraine has, it will be in a better position to negotiate with Russia? Not to mention the fact that Ukraine says that Russia needs to pull out all of its troops from Ukraine, including Crimea."

[8:12] Gilbert Doctorow: "Well, the Ukraine entered into the counter-attack under massive pressure from the United States and other NATO countries to prove that their investment in Ukraine was justified. For that reason, they proceeded prematurely in a counter-offensive so to speak when they had no air cover. According to all normal military doctrine, that was fated to fail. To get to do what they want you to do, you have to have air cover. They didn't have it. And to say that they're going to get F-16s in early next year, there won't be a Ukraine to talk about early next year if this war continues."

[8:54] "The Russians will continue moving until they reach the Polish border unless the Ukrainians agree to be a neutral country without NATO. But let's turn to one other question that came up in your introduction to this interview. And that was Mr Zelensky speaking with great gratitude that various NATO members are going to give bilateral security agreements to protect Ukraine. This is a substitute for NATO. Let's be clear about one thing. The United States cannot do that. The United States Congress will not approve giving security guarantees to Ukraine. And without the United States giving the security guarantee, all of the other member countries of NATO or outside of NATO in the G-7 who may want to give security guarantees to Ukraine, they're worthless. It's only the American guarantee that has any validity. And the United States absolutely will not and cannot give such a guarantee."