The Ukrainian Gordian Knot

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

Most Americans understandably favor the Ukrainian resistance against Vladimir Putin’s Russian naked 2022 aggression.

Yet for Ukraine to break the current deadlock—our generation’s Verdun with perhaps 600,000 combined casualties so far— and “win” the war, it apparently must have the military wherewithal to hit targets inside Russia.

Such strategically logical attacks might nevertheless provoke a wounded and unpredictable Russia finally to carry out its boilerplate and ignored existential threats.

From the last 75 years of big-power rivalries, the operational “rules” of proxy wars are well known.

In Vietnam, Korea, and Afghanistan, Russia supplied America’s enemies—sometimes even sending Russian pilots into combat zones.

Thousands of Americans likely died due to our adversaries’ use of Russian munitions and personnel.

Likewise, Russia lost 15,000 fatalities in its decade-long misadventure in Afghanistan. In part, Moscow’s defeat may have been due to deadly American weapons, including sophisticated Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

In the bloody decades of these big-power proxy wars, many were fought on or near the borders of Russia or China.

Yet none of these surrogate conflicts of the nuclear age ever led to hot wars between the U.S. and Russia or China.

But Ukraine risks now becoming a new—and different—proxy war altogether.

Never has the U.S. squared off against Russia or China in a conventional proxy war over either’s respective historical borders (whether illegitimate or not).

Neither has Russia nor the U.S. itself ever provided weapons to a proxy belligerent that were used directly inside the respective homeland of either side. They understood superpowers react unpredictably to any third-party who fuels direct conventional attacks on their homelands.

Nobly protecting both Ukraine and Taiwan understandably holds a potential risk of big-power escalation that even Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq likely did not.

The U.S. rightly is very sensitive to intrusions of any rival big power near its own borders.

When the Soviets had supplied missiles aimed at the U.S. to its proxy communist Cuba, the Kennedy administration was willing to risk war against Moscow. Indeed, America went to DefCon 2, the second highest level of nuclear readiness.

If all the current 1916-style talk of going into Mexico—ostensibly to stop the cartels from importing drugs over an inert border that kill 100,000 Americans a year—were to be reified, would the U.S. warn Moscow not to supply Mexico or the cartels with weapons or advisors?

The U.S. in 1917 declared war in part because of German interference in our own territorial affairs.

A hacked telegram from German State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Arthur Zimmermann revealed Germany had promised a potential proxy, Mexico, some U.S. territory if it were to join the Central Powers to defeat the Allies. That provocation helped convince enraged Americans to enter World War I.

The 9/11 hit was followed by an immediate American invasion of Afghanistan on the grounds that the third-party Taliban helped terrorists strike our homeland.

Additionally, nowhere in the world has territory been more disputed than in Ukraine.

Seventy-eight years ago, Joseph Stalin’s Russia formally annexed his previously stolen western regions of currently independent Ukraine. The lands were taken mostly from Poland, but also a few parts from Hungary, Romania, and the former Czechoslovakia.

Russia also seized and occupied Crimea in 2014. The peninsula had previously been Russian from 1783-1954.

Yet Crimea was only ceded by Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine in 1954 as a political ploy of then Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev —himself born near the Ukrainian border.

Khrushchev sought to ensure that a restive Ukraine stayed an integral part of a supposedly eternal Soviet Union by ceremonially including Crimea into one of its own Soviet state’s sub-jurisdictions.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the short-lived Russian-majority, and independent Republic of Crimea (1992-95), was annexed by the newly independent Ukraine.

It then remained part of the Ukrainian nation for 19 years until the 2014 invasion.

Why Putin for a third time dared invade Ukraine is obfuscated by contemporary domestic politics.

He likely enacted his irredentist agenda of restoring the borders of the former Soviet Union in 2008, 2014, and 2021, because he gambled—correctly—that the Bush, Obama, and Biden administrations could not successfully oppose his serial annexations.

Equally forgotten were the policies of the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations regarding the 2014 Russian annexation of the Donbas and Crimea. Prior to the February 24, 2022 Russian attack on Kyiv, none of the three had ever sought to force Russia to give up either the borderlands or the Crimea.

The Obama administration’s disastrous 2009-2014 Russian “reset” appeasement policy, the 2015-16 Russian collusion hoax, and the humiliating American skedaddle from Kabul also convinced Putin that America either would not or could not oppose his 2022 invasion.

America should help Ukraine resist Russian aggression. But we should be mindful in doing so that the entire region is an historical Gordian Knot of poorly understood but ancient intertwined and competing threads—one that may risk being cut by a Russian nuclear sword.


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80 thoughts on “The Ukrainian Gordian Knot”

    1. Victor, I’m concerned that Russia has threaten “red lines” concerning Crimea. I know they haven’t escalated after the bridge bombing, dry dock and air defense attacks etc. by Ukraine. But you have to wonder just how much the nuclear option would be a response if the attacks continue. All indications are that the attacks will indeed continue in Crimea.

  1. I have great respect for your knowledge, opinions, and analysis of history yet I feel you are are not seeing Ukraine with an open perspective.

    Ukraine lost this war a year ago. The Russians knew it as well. That is why they consolidated the Russian gains behind the Dnieper River as they ahd opened the land bridge to Crimea. The Russian had captured most of the Donbass.

    If you review BBC’s (a very pro Ukrainian source) published maps of the war, it really hasn’t changed in a year. It’s time for the war to end, Russia won, and everyone needs to admit that. The current US administration offered zero resistance or deterrence. Just like Obama’s admin.

    The west is being fleeced out of billions to line corrupt politician pockets here and there.

    As for Cuba, Kennedy had to pull our missiles out of Turkey, which had prompted the whole Cuba affair in the first place. The Russians won that exchange.


      I have to agree with you. VDH is a treasure and he does see this conflict through a historical vein yet I believe he might be missing something, or, I have perhaps no idea what I am thinking. I listen to/read retired Co. Douglass MacGregor. He believes this is a lost cause for Ukraine and has been for sometime. One of his thoughts on this is that we in the west try to box the Russian war strategy into the style of war that we in the west typically prosecute. Meaning, that the defensive lines in eastern Ukraine are just what VDH describes, a Verdun like stalemate. MacGregor shares the Russian strategy of staying put is in fact intentional. It is an effort to “bleed dry” the Ukrainian population of able bodied young men to fight. He’s been quite successful doing that. Yes Russia has lost considerable manpower but from MacGregor’s sources he shares the casualties on the Russian side are more likely around 10% to 20% of what Ukraine has suffered. Other pundits (Larry Johnson & Paul Serran) are pretty close to MacGregor’s way of thinking. Col. MacGregor’s opinion is based on his years of military combat command expeirence and his decades of multi lateral consulting in these type affairs.

      My opinion could be shown to be total bunk but after reading and reading, MacGregor’s viewpoints make all he sense to me. I would LOVE to hear a VDH/MacGregor interview on the subject. But that’s just me………….


      Russia’s initial goal was to conuer the whole UkraIne, not just Donbass. If the war ends at the current stalemate it’s at best a “consolation prize” sort of victory.

      Strategically it’s probably closer to some kind of loss. Russia already got more NATO on its doorstep when Finland joined and Sweeden will add to it when it joins. Both moves are direct consequences of Russia’s attack.

      1. There is NO indication that Russia ever intended to “conquer” Ukraine. Initially their sole objective was to secure the safety of the ethnic Russians in the eastern part of the Donbas. That and protecting Crimea. Have you forgotten that the Ukrainian military killed over 14,000 ethnic Russians in the area between 2014-2020?

        1. World Commenter

          Russian initially planned on being in Kyiv in three (3) days and taking over the Ukrainian capital. If that is not “conquering” a country, then what is. Dress “parade uniforms” were found among the Russian troops indicating that they did not plan for a very long battle.

          The only Russians that were ever threatened in Ukraine were in the areas invaded by the Russians in 2014 and were impacted by the fighting between the Russian supported separatists and the Ukrainian military. The estimated total civilians and military casualties in Donbas (Luhansk and Donetsk) from 2014 till March 2022 is 14,000 people. However, this is not just ethnic Russian civilians! This includes ethnic Ukrainian civilians, Ukrainian military, Russian / Separatist military, and Russian civilians.

    3. American media, thus the American people, fail to remark that the Crimea contains Sevastopol which is Russia’s singular warm water port and access to the Atlantic via the Bosporus and Gibraltar, both historic choke points. As a World Super Power, Putin needs this avenue and has warned the Western World that it is important enough to his country to cause a conflict over it’s posesion.

      1. World Commenter

        Russia also has Rostov-on-Don and Novorossiysk as warm water ports in Russian territory. They could also build a new port anywhere along the Russian Black Sea coast. Russia had a 25 year lease on the naval facilities in Sevastopol from Ukraine that was extended for another 25 years, giving the Russians access until 2047 to the facilities that Ukraine had no use for. However, in 2014 Russia used those leased naval facilities to invade, conquer, and annex Crimea along with logistical support for the Russian invasion of Donbas, Luhansk and Donetsk Provinces of Ukraine.

  2. I’m surprised VDH wrote, “none of these surrogate conflicts of the nuclear age ever led to hot wars between the U.S. and Russia or China.”

    I am not sure if I am misreading it, but wouldn’t our war against the Chinese in the Korean War count in this definition?

    Combat ended in July of 1953, and the general estimate is of 300,000 Chinese casualties.

    Whether we are talking about the nuclear age or the Cold War proxy wars, it seems to fit the bill.

    Am I misunderstanding his point?


      Respectfully………I believe the Korean war could be classified as a proxy war. While yes, there were Chinese troops in Korea it was still a war about north vs. south Korea. I think what VDH is saying here is these conflicts have never ignited an actual war where it is purely the US vs. China or Russia…….if that helps.

    2. Communist China didn’t go nuclear until the ’60s after the Korean War.

      Additionally VDH makes the distinction border nations and historical boundary lines. While Vietnam or Korea are on the borders of China, past proxy wars by the U.S. in those countries did not threaten to cross over into China proper because they were fought by factions within those countries rather than between those entire countries and the neighboring nation (China), unlike the current war between the Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

    3. This is another NeoCon run failed objective, that I hope and pray won’t involve any of our precious US fighting men and women.
      Those reconstituted Nazi’s in Ukraine should all be impaled.

    4. The Chinese did indeed intervene in the Korean War on the North Korean (Russian) side, and we (the 16-nation UN Command led by the US) did indeed fight Chinese troops, but we did so in Korea. You must recall that when MacArthur pushed to cross the Yalu and take the war onto Chinese territory, Truman refused, and when Mac complained publicly, fired him. Truman’s vision was to accept the Chinese myth that the Chinese forces were “Chinese Peoples’ Volunteers” and not acting for or as an official arm of the Chinese government. (For much the same reason, the UN Command declined Nationalist China’s offer to provide forces for the UN Command.)

      The myth was total hogwash, of course, but by not piercing the veil Truman was able to deny China a reason to carry the war beyond the boundary of Korea itself. Since China’s territory was not threatened, China had no arguable legal basis to escalate the conflict beyond the Korean peninsula.

      So, despite its nature as an international conflict, the Korean War remained a regional dispute. The UN’s position was that the UN Command intervention was solely to restore “international peace and security” to the area in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

  3. This is never a popular opinion but here goes:

    Ukraine is as much of a 2 state solution as is Israel/Palestine. Here’s why.

    There is a long history of fairly violent ethnic nationalism on both sides. Let’s not make this an easy white hat/black hat situation with an easy solution. Both sides have long & blood stained histories and historical memories. A winner/loser outcome is not a long term solution.

    I don’t think ANY Russian leader would accept losing Crimea before full scale military defeat. Does anyone want to test this idea?

    Ukraine in NATO must be off the table. 2 reasons. Having NATO on Russia’s frontier is a disrespectful provocation. 2 with the number of [justified] Russia haters in Ukraine I can see a modern day Gleiwitz( the German false flag used to justify the invasion of Poland) to attempt to trigger an Article 5 response. Let me be clear, I do not think the government of Ukraine would be responsible for it, I do think that there are elements not under government control with the means and motivation to pull the off.

    If life was only a choice between good & bad, things would be easy, some situations are a choice between bad & worse. IMO this is one of them.

    Gordian knot eh.. sounds like a job for the Blade of Perseus.

    1. Membership in NATO states that only when a member nation is attacked will the Article 5 defense matter be initiated by other members. So if Ukraine initiated an attack on Russia, presuming this war ends with some type of treaty, NATO is not required to respond.
      Finland recently became a member of NATO, with it’s entire eastern bordering Russia’s.

      Rather than a 2 state solution Ukraine AND Russia should accept that the Donbas region and Crimea are independent as they had been generations ago.

      Unfortunately the Palestine/Israel 2 state solution is not working out so well there.

      1. Jeff,

        You may want to research “Gleiwitz” in the context of the 1939 German invasion of Poland and come to a different Article 5 conclusion.

        Finland is not Ukraine. Historically, culturally or geographically to Russia. There is nowhere near the amount of Russian blood in the soil.

        Pray tell when the Donbas & Crimea were independent. I missed it. I had always believed that Russia conquered Crimea in 1783 and held it until N.S. Khrushchev gave it away in 1954 because he thought the Soviet Union would last forever

        Yes, land for the promise of peace and the 2 state solution has not worked out all that well in the Middle East but there hasn’t been a full fledged Arab-Israeli war since 1972. Which is better than 1948, 1956, 1967 & 1972.

        Other than these small details your comment is spot on.

      2. World Commenter

        Donbas and Crimea WERE NOT INDEPENDENT generations ago, complete fallacy. Kyivan Rus Grand Prince Volodymyr, whose capital was Kyiv, was christen and married the sister of the Emperor of Constantinople in Chersonesus, Crimea, in 988 AD. So how was Crimea not part of Ukraine when the leader of that country was baptized and married in Chersonesus, Crimea?

  4. I have wondered what would have happened if Zelinsky had not demanded to join NATO, which Putin said he would not allow. This is totally a Zelinsky-EGO problem of his own creation. Now look where we are with billions spent and thousands and thousands of dead for nearly nothing but two massive egos.

      1. Ah yes, the Budapest Memorandum under which Ukraine gave up its nukes after the Soviet Union agreed not to attempt to change Ukraine’s boundaries by force or threats. While the US and UK were parties to the Memorandum, they very carefully did not agree to guarantee it; the most they would agree to do was to support Ukraine in the UN should the USSR renege.

        I’m still not sure why Ukraine would agree to such an unbalanced agreement. When Russia (as successor to the USSR) did renege — as I think everyone knew they would — there was no way to make Ukraine whole. Would they be given their nukes back? Don’t make me laugh. Would the US or the UK punish Russia in any meaningful sense (other than a strong letter to the UN), get serious.

        I have long suspected there was some serious arm-twisting by the US and the UK to get Ukraine to actually give up the nukes. Maybe someday classified documents will be released that will clarify what exactly went on behind the scenes.

        1. Correction: The Budapest Memorandum was done in 1994, so the other Party was the Russian Federation, not the USSR. Other than that, my comments remain unchanged.

  5. The historical perspective is always excellent as is the territorial aspect but not sure the conclusion warrants the same thumbs up. Help? For how long and for how much more? Putin’s not stepping down and even starting to gain in the war of words. What might be a sign that it’s time to talk peace?

  6. Bobbie Frankenfield

    You have become essential in keeping us updated. Always respect your vast knowledge and sober view. I am most grateful, too, for your patriotism to our beautiful USA.

  7. Most of us agree that Putin likely would not have gone into Ukraine if Trump was in his second term.

    I suspect Trump would have deterred Russia by keeping oil prices on the world market low, so as to starve Putin of the needed revenue to make such an invasion. Also, if necessary he would have marshaled support, through persuasion or intimidation, for international sanctions against Russian, as well.

    The logical time for these sanctions to begin was prior to the invasion when Putin had a 100,000 or so troops positioned on the Ukrainian border for a couple on months.

    President Biden though had a different strategy during this pre-invasion period. I don’t know if he gave it a name or not, but he could have aptly dubbed it, “Sitting on my hands.”.

  8. “For as long as it takes” seems to be the present and costly policy of this hapless administration on the Ukraine problem. Totally agree that this has become an EGO PROBLEM that has morphed into an American taxpayers responsibility. Another Afghanistan snafu in process, when will we address the real problem at our Southern border?

  9. Arnold Ray Bottoms

    I believe it was George Washington who said America should avoid foreign entanglements. Did we tell Ukraine if they gave up Nukes we would protect them? Did not our VP suggest Ukraine in NATO a good thing. Just asking.

  10. Russia won’t go nuclear, their soon-to-be CCP overlords won’t allow it and there will be regime change before Putin can press a button. No American boots on the ground needed, just weapons and ammo: stop publicizing the $ amount which just fuels the delusion that the Biden administration would use the money to help domestic issues. Once Russia is back behind pre-2013 borders, peace can reign. Russia delenda est.

  11. Here’s hoping – Ukraine’s surge south to Melitipol succeeds, Russia recognizes it’s hold on Crimea & everything west of Melitipol hangs on a single, damaged bridge over the Kerch Strait & comes to the table.
    Russia can’t be allowed to be perceived as winning, but they can save face. So – Russia gets Crimea. Ukraine gets all territory back to it’s original eastern border, rights to free passage past Crimea & thru Kerch Strait, all kidnapped children returned, an apology & reparations.

  12. I usually agree with what you write and say but not about Ukraine. The west should stop supporting this war and demand the Ukraine make peace with Russia. If they settle it peacefully, the West would finance most of rebuilding of Ukraine but absolutely no more military aid and Ukraine could not join NATO. There was a peace deal in March of 2022 but the US and UK told Zelensky not to sign it. How many thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have died fighting since then?

  13. Ukraine cannot win the war even with western armaments. It is too small. We need a new president with the courage to stand up to the Establishment and force Ukraine to negotiate a peace that admits that they have lost the territory held by the Russians. While that is a bigger pill, it is not in our national interest to send tens of billion to them and risk war with Russia.

  14. VDH says “Yet none of these surrogate conflicts of the nuclear age ever led to hot wars between the U.S. and Russia or China.”

    The Yalu river in Korea, DMZ in Vietnam and Pakistan border also gave us conflicts that lasted far longer than they should. Why would Ukraine follow that lead.

    The Russians are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

  15. The Korean War led to a hot war between the US and China. The People’s Liberation Army and the American military fought each other.

  16. Victor wake up! Zelinsky’s number two man was Crime Boss Joey’s contact point is firing the prosecutor that was going to shut down Dollar Hunter’s shake down.
    Joey threatened it and “SON OF A BITCH< HE GOT FIRED."
    Your position is one that supports Joey paying blackmailer with our tax money.
    I'm disappointed Victor. I guess you're just not as smart as the hype says you are.

    1. Who is perfect? Dr. Hanson has a vast range of historical knowlege, and I’ve not observed him temper emotional components in his writing. He also brings a healthy dose of common sense to his writing.
      Giving tens of billions of unaudited dollars to Ukraine for armaments and billions to support its civilian needs in government and according to a recent 60 Minute episode, helping sustain its civilian business community. While America is slowly dying from our border invasion, economic insanity, extreme wokeness and a myriad of social challenges. Are we a depraved, sick society with a set of priorities that defy all reason and which seem insoluble.
      With irreconcilable political and cultural views. It’s amazing we haven’t drifted into civil war, where violence is in our DNA as a nation.
      We are skilled at self deception and delusional thinking.
      There is widespread belief that the 2024 election will be our salvation if the progressive democrats are driven from power. Assuming an honest election where good sense militates against an honest election, assiuming the democrats don’t attempt a corrupt power grab using a pretext.
      Does anyone suggest that it may take a generation or more to return our society to a semblance of cultural normalcy? Can we calm our criminals without repressive policies, which could border on unconstitutional solutions, perhaps employing some degree of lethality? The choices ahead will, at the very least, be extraordinarily challenging.

  17. There is only one logical conclusion: the Russian flag must stop flying over Lugansk, Donetsk, Sevastapol, etc, and must forever be prevented from flying over those towns again! If it requires a global thermonuclear war to accomplish this – well… so be it.

  18. I can’t even trust Biden to step safely off a plane or tell any truth. He and his flunkies are not well-suited to making life-and-death decisions.

  19. “Naked aggression” is a simpleton’s view. Ukraine started ethnic cleansing Russians in 2014 in the east. This is the classic FOFA situation. End this war, it’s now a MIC grift.

  20. Victor Davis Hanson is brilliant and deserves nothing but the highest accolades .However, I respectfully disagree with his assessment regarding Ukraine. Our national interest are not served by supporting any aspect of this war. The political arguments in support of our involvement are unconvincing. For example, Ukraine is touted as a democracy by those who encourage continued US support yet President Zelenskyy has cancelled elections maintaining martial law. Yet in the midst of an equally brutal, divisive and bitter conflict The United States held elections in 1864.This was essentially a referendum on Lincoln’s stewardship during this painful conflict. There is no such referendum available to the Ukrainian people regarding Zelenskyy. In addition, the practical benefits of our involvement are difficult to discern. Our nation faces a $33 trillion national debt that nearly or more than doubles our GDP – a harbinger of a sovereign financial calamity by any reasoned economist requiring an immediate earnest attempt at remedying. Sending 100 billion plus unaccounted for dollars to a notoriously corrupt Ukraine hastens a financial reckoning. At the same time Biden’s failed attempt to destroy the Russian economy by removing it from the SWIFT banking system only served to unite the BRIC nations in an attempt to displace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency which if done would severely limit our ability to maintain a debt exceeding our GDP. Much more to say but hit word limit

  21. Johnny Applewhite

    Hanson jumped the shark, lost a part of my respect. I’m over 65, and I have a grasp on reality. Done try to bone me Victor.

  22. This has to be the dumbest article you have ever written. This is a war of NATO aggression, not Russian aggression, and you didn’t even mention NATO in the article.

  23. Victor I am a big fan. I also appreciate your depth of understanding history as you comment. We seem to out of sync on Ukraine and “Russia.” I was a bit astonished that the people running for President do not understand that Russia has a GDP smaller than Texas. It is not the former USSR. Reagan and Secretary Baker when working to reunify Germany, promised Gorbachev that NATO “Would not move One Inch East.” Since the fall of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991, NATO has moved 1000 miles East surrounding Russia! This war was unnecessary. Putin asked that Ukraine not join the other 17 former Republics of the USSR in NATO. NATO’s mission was to stop the USSR, that mission ended in 1991. Now NATO and Biden have chased Russia into the arms of the Chinese, who do have money and now access to intercontinental nukes. This is all unnecessary. People like Christie and Haley have yelped about “Putin going to Poland next!” Complete nonsense. The KGB thug knows the numbers and Charter 5 of NATO.

    Obama and Hillary along with their shill Victoria Nuland also played a role in bringing on this war with the overthrow of the elected President of Ukraine in 2014. The US needs to get back to minding our own business.

    Leader McConnell recently said a majority of Republicans support this Ukraine war. Are they that ignorant of history? Do they not understand this is not their “Daddy’s Soviet Union?” Ukraine and Russia are two of the most corrupt countries on the planet. Ukraine did have an economy

  24. I usually find your articles well thought out. Maybe you were in a rush. This is a war of NATO aggression, not Russian aggression, and you didn’t even mention NATO in the article.

  25. Dr Hanson, you are missing the mark with the Ukraine /Russia conflict. Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are the three Russias of the Holy Rus. This goes back to prince Vladimir of Kyiv in the 10th century. A I don’t care what anyone tells you, but they can understand each other. My dad and his family were Ukrainian from Galicia. Dad could understand and speak Russian, Ukrainian and polish as well as Belorussian. I saw him talking to various Slavs myself. My family were Ukrainian Catholics which is Russian orthodox who recognize the pope, which is why they are called Uniates. Zelensky is an evil evil man and he will destroy Ukraine, a country that was never independent except for in 1918 when the USSR overran them. I was never supportive of the war since I was taught that Russians were our cousins. When Zelensky shut down the UOC churches and imprisoned priests and monks that was the last straw for me. , for 30 years Ukraine has been a failure. They are corrupt as hades and while Putin is urging his people to go back to the Russian Orthodox Church, Zelensky is bringing in the filth from the west. Putin doesn’t want it in his country or on his border. As for the maidan revolution and Putin taking of Crimea, the CIA and Obama/Hillary Clinton had everything to do with that just as our intel people sparked the recent conflict. This war is too complicated for America to be involved. Let Europe fight this battle. It affects them. I want to see the war ended now! Slava Americanskiy.

  26. This is why the RINOs and uniparty are united for Ukraine (remember that slogan in the immediate pivot from the COVID continuous lockdown for 2 years?): the oil companies were losing billions during COVID-19, when the price of oil went negative! Yet before that under President Trump gas was $2 a gallon. Now it is back to $4 a gallon and in some places like California $7 or $8 — and rising everywhere.

    Russia can continue to fund its war machine indefinitely with oil prices this high, whereas Ukraine must up the ante with every news cycle. Whatever happened to the Biden regime’s, ‘tanks are WW III’ and no F-16s because those could strike targets within Russia itself? Turkey doesn’t have F-16s but Turkish drones are used by Ukraine to strike inside of Russia. A fighter is always superior to a drone because of a heavier payload, greater range, and direct human control.

    Meanwhile the American defense industry gets another continual war every four to five years to prop up its economy. Under President Trump: no new wars for the first time in my lifetime.

    Last piece of the puzzle is Ukraine and Russia are ethnic nations, each with its own language and people, whereas the USA is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual country. Like Alexander who never lost a battle, President Putin has never lost a war, although he has no intention of conquering all Ukraine.

  27. We need to end this stupid proxy war, IMMEDIATELY!!

    We should defend our own borders, support our own small businesses, and demand freedom for OUR people! I DGAF about Ukraine while our country is in free-fall!!

  28. We threaten nuclear war to keep Russian missiles off our door step. Now we threaten it b/c Russia objects to putting them on their doorstep. I liked VDH but I love Putin. He might be the savior of the west resisting our Borg masters. If it comes to it, I hope Putin has them in space and can take out DC before the rats scurry underground.

  29. I think the world of Professor Hanson, and I know it is difficult to frame an apologetic for a complex policy in a handful of paragraphs, but I cannot find the equivalence between Ukraine and Taiwan.

    Briefly, Ukraine in Western Europe’s Kansas, providing important agricultural support to industrialized states that have forsaken vital agricultural production. It is also a direct neighbor of Russia, the former capital territory of Russia, the home of many Russian speakers installed in the Donbas during the Soviet Era, and the sometime owner of Russia’s only warm water port at Sevastopol in the Crimea. Making Ukraine an armed member of NATO would pose an outsized threat to a Russia that has been relentlessly invaded since the 15th Century. Ukraine is also deeply corrupt and the source of great revenue to politicians and their cronies in the USA.

    Taiwan is a leading, and in some cases the only, manufacturer of electronic components vital to our modern age. It is comparatively free of corruption and strongly democratic and an ally of Western democracies. The government of Taiwan, unlike the communist government of mainland China, is legitimately elected and has been for decades. Taiwan poses no threat to mainland China. On the other hand, mainland China is teetering on economic collapse – which the US government should be promoting, not attempting to avert.

    US support of the Ukraine government is backward. Sanctions have enriched Russia and harmed Americans.

    1. Interesting, that you label Ukraine extremely corrupt, as so many do in America. Do you realize that you yourself, live in THE most corrupt country on Earth?
      Do you realize that your own government sold you and your country out to appease the “bak shish” mob on Wall St, and that every bit of dark power that Communist China holds in its duplicitous hands has been financed by American consumers who were knocked down the financial ladder by such treasonous acts of the Beltway?

      Ukraine is corrupt??? The river of corruption all flows downhill. Ukraine is but a tiny stream being fed by our own predatory oligarch class and their obedient Beltway concubines…from BOTH so-called “parties”. .

  30. I wouldn’t touch the Russia-Ukraine relationship with a ten foot pole. The duplicitous US State Department would be my biggest adversary-not Russia.

  31. The Russian Bear Isn’t Winnie the Pooh. It’s not safe with children…or adults. Russia has a long history of crossing borders and were it not for true Ukrainian resistance, the Soviet style status quo would be back again. Heroes are the ones who fight the dragons (or bears) and don’t run away.

  32. Stephen MacDonald

    I am no learned student of Russia or Ukraine history and culture. However, there are facts/points raised in that I do not believe are accurate.
    1. “Most Americans understandably favor the Ukrainian resistance against Vladimir Putin’s Russian naked 2022 aggression” This has to be the most advertised, slow motion “naked aggression” in human history. Russia made it clear, constantly from the Budapest 2008 NATO meeting, that NATO expansion would not be tolerated in Ukraine – as evidenced by the Nyet means Nyet message from our Ambassador (now CIA Director).In its submission to the US and NATO of security requirements in December 2021, followed up with a Putin-Biden phone call. In the subsequent Diplomatic meetings of January 2022, the US refused to even discuss Russian concerns. The invasion was the fulfillment of a promised action in light of Russia’s perceived existential threat.
    2. Putin’s “irredentist agenda of restoring the borders of the former Soviet Union.” I know this is the prevailing western mindset – but I have watched him for 23 years and have seen no evidence so substantiate it. I suspect it lies at the heart of our myriad mis-calculations regarding our Ukrainian adventure.
    3. Donbas was annexed after the invasion in 2022, not 2014 – and this was done after 8 years of a genocidal war, killing some 15,000 civilians, with the active support and assistance of NATO.

  33. Stephen MacDonald

    One of the fascinating questions for me, is whether the Gordian knot expands….or not. The coming elections in Taiwan seem to be truly a fork in the road. If DPP wins, does the Ukraine, destroyed state, example prevail? If KMT wins, do tensions ease and life go on – or do they revert to Hong Kong. The Taiwanese will choose and it will be really interesting to watch.

  34. I see many Republicans supporting the appeasement of the Kremlin…again. It’s mostly about Putin’s projected “likeness” to Donald Trump, the Christian patriot who fights wokeness and globalism. Putin’s been masterful at influencing American Christians.

    Going back to the 1930’s, the West knew of Stalin’s starvation genocide, yet Wall St. was salivating over the prospect of doing business with Uncle Joe and they got their way with Washington, as usual. The Holodomor has been censored from history classes for almost a century.

    Russia is still seen as some kind of American ally for its cooperation in taking on the Nazis. It seems like the word Nazi is like a Pavlovian bell in America and the west, yet the word Commie gets a yawn from most. Ask any Ukrainian over 50 what it’s been like to have the Kremlin clan as a neighbor. Ukraine’s been thrown under the bus several times by Washington and the west all in the name of business prospects for our own oligarchy. The oligarchs as we know, run the show.

    Take Red Communist China for example. Our own US government has thrown America under the same damn bus that’s run Ukraine over several times. Russia the ally became USSR the nuclear adversary, providing Wall St. and the Pentagon with a decades old cash cow Cold War.

    China is our Cold War 2.0 adversary, funded by the American population via Wall St. predators who fly NO FLAG. Global concubines. Elon Musk is a prime example.

    SO, YES…America owes Ukraine whatever it takes.

  35. Putin doesn’t want Ukraine. He is protecting Russians living in Eastern Ukraine. He will not tolerate a NATO country on his border. Zelinski is one rich former comedian living off American taxpayer dollars.

  36. This piece is so embarrassing.
    VDH completely ignores the condemnations of George Kennan regarding the violations of our agreement not to expand NATO eastward in return for U.S.S.R. removal of 400k soldiers in E. Germany.
    He ignores our disgraceful behavior regarding Minsk and at the Maidan to overthrow a democratically elected president of Ukraine. He ignores the overwhelming ethic Russian population of the Donbas and Crimea. He ignores the 15000 Donbas citizens that perished seeking to separate themselves from the U.S. installed anti-Russian regime. He ignores the fact that Putin, at Minsk, never asked to annex the Donbas. Like Elon said, let the people of the Donbas have a U.N. adminstered plebiscite – like the one the West demanded in Kosovo.

  37. No, Dr. Hanson, I think that the time for America to help Ukraine is past. Bismarck has the right idea about being involved in that part of Europe — even in the late Nineteenth century: “The Balkans aren’t worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” Certainly not worth another dime of American treasure or material.

  38. During all of 2020, partly from boredom, partly from curiosity I watched on Flightradar24 as NATO cargo C17s, mostly from the US, UK and Canada…. flew daily back and forth from airbases all over the US and other Nato countries into Ukraine. Apparently, this had been going on far longer than I had been aware.

    The data on Flightradar24 is completely open to anyone, including historical data. Your selection of the Russian attack on Ukraine as the starting point of this conflict is almost laughable.

    I find it curious how a professor of history is incapable of understanding history. Let me help you. IF you can accept the basic premise that both political right and left extremist movements on the left and right have reached their point of historical decay as ideological constructs, perhaps you can understand that Russia has already actually escaped the ideological trap posited by either “doctrine,” while the American left is avidly embracing our collapse back into Marxism.

    You rather align yourself with the transexual Neomarxists in the WH than the Orthodox Christians in Russia for what reason exactly?

    I’ve heard the “Putin is a madman dictator” meme many times already. We back a madman dictators in Pak Junghee and Chun Doohwan in SKorea and the US didn’t bat an eye. The South Koreans were waterboarding and raping students, torturing dissidents and assassinating opposition leaders. The US didn’t bat an eye. In May 1980 the US watched as the South Korean regime slaughtered at


    I find it peculiar AINO-Venezuerica finds itself on the side of the swastikas on this matter.

    One has to surmise 75 years is time enough to forget?

    In my modest opinion that would be enough to not support ukronazistan and let the Russians de-nazify it that we didn’t even do with germany at the end of WW2.

    And, by the way, the fact that we didn’t do it with germany and the rest of Europe at the end of WW2 is the reason why eurabia is today a nazi enterprise, as far as white eurabians are involved and the Davoser World Economic Forum (Weird, Evil, Fascists) and its accomplices, enablers, minions, thugs, goons and orcs are trying to perpetrate a 4th Reich that will last 10,000 years.

    On the subject of VDH, you may have a difference of opinions with him on any number of matters but calling him anything even remotely similar to a “moron” puts you on a level far away from having the intellectual authority to make such a judgment.

  40. Are you for real, VHD?!? How the hell anyone can say that this stupidity is in our interests is completely beyond me!

    F this stupid proxy war, defend our own borders!!! I DGAF about Ukraine or the US puppet Zelenskyy! The US has forced this entire stupid war! For NO GOOD REASON!!!

  41. VDH concludes that “America should help Ukraine resist Russian aggression.” Even though we “risk being cut by a Russian nuclear sword.” What happened to the VDH of the 2022 Good Fellas where his position was that the Ukrainian war was bad and that we should get out before Russia nukes Ukraine and we are involved in the potential nuclear destruction of America? I don’t think gambling on a worldwide nuclear holocaust to save Ukraine is a reasonable strategy. Welcome to neo-conservatism VDH.

  42. Michael in Helsinki

    I’ve read Victor’s take and all of these comments.

    It’s utterly American-centric. I did not say wholly inaccurate, but it’s coming from peoples of another planet.

    Though I am American , I live in Finland, have for over 30 years, speak the language and have darn good insight as to how these people and Swedes and many other Europeans view this conflict. It is different than what most of you think – for sure.

    Think for minute. What in the world would cause a nation sharing a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia and which has generally remained outside alliances such as NATO and has never had more than 30% in favor of joining suddenly change to 80% supporting NATO membership. Roughly the same as Sweden, of all countries. Enormously historic stuff. And these are peoples who know Russia better than 99.99% of Americans.

    They know … they KNOW … Putin will absolutely, positively not stop after he is done with Ukraine. Never. Ever. You just don’t get that do you.

    I see talk of Korea and China and other contributions here that supposedly tie into matter, how this isn’t the US’s business, and so forth, and basically stop full-throated support to S-T-O-P Putin. You only stop this by going all-in, or you delay the fateful match later at your own peril.

    “We should help Ukraine resist Russian aggression ‘ … the emptiest, most flippant sentence in VDH’s article. If Putin is not STOPPED DEAD COLD in Ukraine no matter what, then you will have for real your nuclear confrontation.

    1. World Commenter

      You are correct and Americans do not realize that Russia has colonized Central Asia and Siberia before the American Revolution and still keeps all these nationalities and ethnic groups under its control in the Russian Federation, while taking all the local natural resources to benefit Russia. Would these same people support Spain taking over Mexico? Or Portugal taking over Brazil? Or Great Britain taking over India? All these were once colonies that gained their independence and yet the same people cannot understand Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Chechnya and Ukraine gaining their independence.

  43. This analysis violates the apples vs oranges principal which your musings generally respect. The proxy wars you’ve mentioned did not involve countries with a shared border so Ukraine/Russia is unique in this respect. Perhaps a historian can find better parallels in the Texas/Mexico conflict in the run up to Texas joining the Union.

  44. Ohh we should pull out of Ukraine so fast the condom slips off. Get our boys home quick fast and in a hurry. From all parts foreign. The communist running this country are about to burn it down. Just as soon as they get an internal war going here, all our enemies are going to attack us. They are using Ukraine to get rich before it all comes crumbling down. So nothing helpful will be done. The war will continue. Biden will continue to deplete our oil and gas reserves. Biden will continue to take from us until he takes the one thing that really pisses us off. Then he will take no more but his Russian and Chinese friends will come over and try to take our life’s. That’s the war we must win. The only good news is. If we lose, the Russian and Chinese shit heads will 86 all our government traitors that helped them destroy america. Prepare for a fight and get right with God because it’s fixing to get pretty sporty around here.

  45. Michael, give me a break. America is 30 trillion dollars in debt, with no realistic plan to turn that around. Our cities, our infrastructure, our middle class are all crumbling. America is being invaded by more foreigners than every country in Europe other than Ukraine. Our government is filled with incompetent, corrupt socialists that will do anything to remain in power. You have a combined population higher than ours and a GDP in the same ballpark. Europe was warned to contribute more to their own defense and stop relying on Russia for its energy needs. They ignored that advice and now want us to ignore our own problems for the hypothetical idea of Russia invading all of Europe. None of your ranting included any talks of how you propose stopping the war. Just more demands in the same vain as Zelensky. Russia was pushed back and bloodied. They do not have the capabilities to conquer all of Europe, the U.S. would not be able to achieve that if we tried. Would you have us invade Russia? That always works out well. Only after you and your fellow Fins. A strong leader would show strength and then begin peace talks. Your argument is very Europe-Centric

  46. This was all about the actor in Ukraine wanting to join NATO. If he had dropped this silly notion tens of thousands would still be alive today. Zelinsky expected the rest of the world back up his bluster and it has gotten us into an unwinnable mess. HIs ego mattered more than the safety of his own people. biden owed him a favor and it has cost us money and his people their lives and country.

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