Ukraine: what did the government know and when?

Dec 20, 2023
Ukraine map is marking with Ukraine and Russia flags.

As Australia’s expands its support to the NATO proxy war against Russia it is critical that the Parliament plays a role in determining when we become involved in overseas conflicts.

In January of this year, I posed the question is Australia currently at war? The evidence available at that time led to the conclusion that Australia is indeed a party to the proxy war being fought against Russia in Ukraine. Despite being party to a deadly and disastrous conflict, there has essentially been no public debate in the media or the Parliament as to Australia’s role for months.

Thus, it was not surprising when the recent announcement of an expansion to Australia’s support to Ukraine barely rated a mention in the media, let alone amongst our elected representatives.

The announcement sees the size of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) training team being deployed to the United Kingdom increasing from 70 to 90 personnel, on a rotational basis, as part of an $186 million expansion and extension of ‘Operation Kudu.’ This takes the Australian Governments total support to Ukraine to $910 million – nearly a billion dollars.

Whilst both the Defence and Foreign Minister provided statements about Australia’s ongoing support to Ukraine, what was missing was any analysis of the effectiveness of Australia’s support so far, the progress of the war, or Ukraine’s future prospects.

For the war is going terribly for Ukraine and its Western sponsors.

With the catastrophic failure of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, the war is effectively lost for Ukraine. True, the fighting may continue for many more months, or even years, but the final outcome will be on terms dictated by Russia. Whereas a year ago such a conclusion would draw accusations of being a “Putin apologist” or a “Russian stooge”, now a growing chorus of headlines published in major Western media outlets increasingly supports such a view. As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal put it, it’s time to end the magical thinking about Russia’s defeat.

With defeat on the horizon, the unravelling of the Ukrainian project, the first signs of which were clearly evident as early as January of this year, is rapidly accelerating. The power rivalry between President Zelensky and General Zaluzhny is growing every day whilst the Biden administration’s priority appears to be to keep the war going until after the November 2024 elections, implying many more Ukrainian’s (and Russian’s) must die for US domestic politics.

The ultimate tragedy is that all of this death and destruction could of and should have been avoided. Multiple sources including, the NATO Secretary General, the ABC’s John Lyons, and most recently Ukrainian politician David Arakhamia (and lead negotiator) make it clear that the primary factor leading to the Russian invasion was to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. Further and most damning of all is that it is now all but certain that a negotiated outcome between Russia and Ukraine was torpedoed in March 2022 by NATO, and in particular Australia’s AUKUS allies the United States and United Kingdom.

This assessment is further strengthened by three eminent Germans (including a former UN Assistant Secretary-General and a senior retired Bundeswehr General) who have written a detailed account of the Ukrainian-Russian peace negotiations in March 2022. The authors conclude that within one month of the Russian invasion, Ukraine and Russia had come very close to a comprehensive peace solution that would have resulted in Ukrainian neutrality and Ukraine retaining all of its territory less Crimea. But it was resistance from NATO that led to the failure of the negotiations, as an end to NATO’s eastward expansion would end the dream of a United States dominated unipolar world.

Now hundreds of thousands lie dead, many more lives and livelihoods have been destroyed and a nation lies in tatters, in what we may refer to as suicide by NATO. The unnecessary destruction of a nation in which Australia is deeply complicit.

These revelations, which have been all but ignored in Australia, beg the question of what did the Government know and when?

Given the alliance and close relationships with both the United States and NATO, it is very difficult to believe that the Australian Government and intelligence community were oblivious to NATO’s underlying intentions.

This being the case it implies duplicitous behaviour from the Government. Crying crocodile tears for the people of Ukraine publicly, whilst knowingly supporting the use of them as sacrificial pawns to weaken Russia, an attempt that has not only failed but backfired.

In July 2022, Prime Minister Albanese stated that “The road ahead is hard but I am confident Ukraine will prevail.” This statement is perhaps indicative that the Government’s calculus was that Russia would be weakened/defeated through Western support to Ukraine. Perhaps the Government’s calculus also considered that the defeat of Russia, one of the two major powers upon which the emerging multi-polar war hinges, would make the containment of China that much easier to achieve?

But if the Government was oblivious to the underlying motivations driving NATO support for a proxy war against Russia this is even more concerning. For it highlights a conditioned reflexivity in our decision making to the whims of the United States rather than any rational independent analysis grounded in reality, the national interest or Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Charter. In short Australia can be trusted to play the fool when it comes to the military misadventures of Uncle Sam.

Korea. South Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. And now Ukraine. When it comes to involvement in conflicts that have at best tangential linkages to our own national security, Australia has developed an institutionally ingrained inability to reflect upon how we became involved in these disasters, such that as each new conflict arises, we repeat the same mistakes.

To date, other than for a small proportion of the population, the cost in both blood and treasure of Australia’s recent and current military misadventures has been relatively small. But with the ever-darkening storm clouds on the horizon of a regional war in the Middle East and conflict with China, it is critically important that we break the mould before the lucky country’s luck finally runs out.

Maybe it is time for our elected representatives, the Parliament, to play an active role in deciding when and where Australia becomes involved in overseas conflict, rather than passively accepting the opaque decision making of Executive Government? Questioning Australia’s ongoing and expanded support to the failing proxy war in Ukraine against Russia would be a good place to start.

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