Ukraine: The Just War
Book Notes #22
Ukraine: The Just War, by Nick Kollerstrom, is an odd book to hold, before even reading it. Flipping through the pages, it seems to be printed in color. There are many full-color maps, tweets, pictures, and other reference material in the pages, with purple and blue text on some pages.
In the first chapter, a quote immediately jumps out at me, both as it is amusing and it rings true.
“Britain is a country that always starts wars, almost as a mater of habit. No nation on Earth is so good at brewing up Reasons for War as the UK. And the trouble is it never really suffers from the dreadful carnage it inflicts upon other nations. Posh toffs in the House of commons vote on bombing some new nation, eg Syria, with a totally absurd rationale – another MI5 fabricated-terror event for domestic consumption eg, and so, sure, Damascus needs to be bombed. Do the British people every really object? Not many to be sure.”
Another helps the reader sympathize with the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics points of view:
“Reader, suppose you lived out there, and you discovered that the main national government had cut off electricity, has, water, money – no pensions, no social security – only bombs that is all it was giving you – would you want to re-unite with it? Would you not rather take the view that de facto your little People’s Republic was being treated as a separate state? We will go into the international-law aspects of the issue later on. I feel that respect for international law principles is terribly important if we ever want to try and envisage a world at peace. But I will here be arguing that there is only one country in Europe that seems to be at all interested in international law principles these days and that is Russia. So feel free to call me pro-Russian.”
Although I take a bit more of a Machiavellian view of Russia’s military actions, which is not to discount that it may also have humanitarian concerns, he is right about the view from Donetsk and Luhansk. Whatever you may think of their independence attempt, it’s certainly true that their parent state cut them off and worse, routinely shell them for no reason other than spite—the countries have been subject to periodic bombardments with no apparent military objective. They are effectively just random shots into the cities.
The author also cites the government of Zaporozhye on how they want to be part of Russia, as they “have always been for centuries.” Following, he lays out a reasoning for why the war against Kiev is a “just war.”
“That is the important bit: ‘as we have always been for centuries.’ A thousand years ago, ancient Rus came into being around Kiev, and modern Belarus and Russia are the modern versions of it. That is the the Russian-speaking Slav people have an absolute right to be there and live there, and not all the power of NATO can dislodge them.
You may not have heard of the Kherson region before. It is so important that Russian troops have blown up a dam there. So the river flows again, into Crimea! The bad times are over for Crimea: all of northern Crimea had dried up as the ground became cracked and infertile. The farms had ceased to work, owing to the dam built by Ukraine that stopped their main river from flowing. hat is the fourth justification I give you as to why the Russian LMO Limited Military Operation is justifiable. Not as important and fundamental as the other three but especially for Crimeans quite important. Let’s list them.
Termination of the official, Euro-sanctioned ethnic cleansing program for the Donetsk. The neo-Nazi Kiev battalions will not succeed in their racial-purity program of exterminating the Slavs.
Uncovering of the totally diabolical bio-warfare laboratories, around thirty of them all around Ukraine. Various lethal outbreaks around these labs of eg anthrax have already taken place. This research is utterly prohibited bu the Biological Warfare Convention and so the US has tried to hide it all away in Ukraine for ‘deniability.’ They’ve been found out and all the world should be grateful to Russian troops for discovering these, and also grabbing a-hold of the vital documents in time or some of them before they were destroyed.
The Ukraine government announced around the 22.2.22 date that it wanted to re-acquire nuclear weapons. Clearly having US-controlled nukes on Russia’s doorstep is not a situation Russia can endure.”
Those fulfil conditions for a just war as defined by Thomas Aquinas in Mediaeval times.
The book is a bit polemic and all over the place in the first chapter, but it is sometimes refreshing to see such candor. You will see how much ground he covers in the quotations below, all from that chapter.
The author also promotes the “feint” theory of the attack on Kiev, which is one I tend to subscribe to, although I am sure Russia was also aiming for a quick surrender and possible capture of the capital. Many scoff at this theory, although it seems perfectly plausible based on the current information on the attack.
On the geography of Ukraine, the author writes:
“Sadly, Ukraine is a country that needs to split up. The ancient hatred are just too deep. To quote the former British politician Nick Griffin:
“the whole history of Ukrainian nationalism is based on the mass murder of ‘unclean’ and ‘sub-human’ civilians from other ethnic groups, most notably the Poles of Wolyn and Eastern Galicia, Jews, Hungarians, Romanians and, of course, Russians.””
On the eight years since the 2014 color revolution, he writes:
“For eight long years the East of Ukraine had been bombarded by the West: continual shelling of towns and villages. Most who could afford to leave going mainly into Russia had done so. And this was unreported by the western media – that is the astonishing bit. An official pro-ethnic cleansing policy endorsed by Europa -so forget everything you used to believe about European values. They’ve gone. You had to watch RT to see the stories of old grandma and grandpa still remaining, nervous about going out and about in their garden owing to unexploded shells, with schools and public buildings having big holes in them – Yes that’s where the Euro-funded shells went in - and hearing every other day the thud, thud of shells landing, somewhere near. It’s one of the most landmine-contaminated places on Earth.”
“What I found extraordinary was the way one only heard about this by watching Russia Today. Literally it had been deleted from the English-speaking media. In all the years of my sweet short life I’d never come across such absolute and abject censorship.”
The author then quotes a report on the Azov Battalion: https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/e/7/233896.pdf
“The prisoners were electrocuted, beaten cruelly and for multiple days in a row with different objects (iron bars, baseball bats, sticks, rifle butts, bayonet knives, rubber batons). Techniques widely used by the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces include waterboarding, strangling with a ‘Banderist garrotte’ and other types of strangling. In some cases prisoners, for the purposes of intimidation, were sent to minefields and run over with military vehicles, which led to their death. Other torture methods used by the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces include bone-crashing, stabbing and cutting with a knife, branding with red-hot objects, shooting different body parts with small arms. The prisoners taken captive by the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces are kept for days at freezing temperatures, with no access to food or medical assistance, and are often forced to take psychotropic substances that cause agony. An absolute majority of prisoners are put through mock firing squads and suffer death and rape threats to their families.”
The author has ample information on the cruel tactics employed by the “fascist” elements of the Ukrainian military units.
The author suggests that the Western outcry against the annexation of Crimea was too great, and this is why Russia did not annex Donetsk and Luhansk. Perhaps, but it is obvious that this point that Russia should have done so. The author frequently mentions the Minsk accords as the path to peace, and how France and Germany made no attempt to implement them. As we know, there never was any such intent: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/12/22/ffci-d22.html
Again this is one of those books that really could have used another pass at editing. It’s a bit all over the place and then we have sentences like this:
“Russia did not right away recognize the Belarus and Luhansk People’s Republics”—obviously, “Belarus” should be “Donetsk,” a pretty serious error.
On the independence of these little republics, the author writes:
“Crimea existed for a century quite separate from Ukraine and had its own government. That in some degree still existed after it became part of Ukraine, sufficient to organise a national referendum to ask its citizens if they wanted to remain a part of Ukraine given the barbaric mob who had seized control of the country; to conduct the vote in an orderly manner such that international investigators were satisfied about how it was conducted; and then to apply to the Russian Federation Parliament for permission to become a part of Russia.
One could add to this that when in 1954 Krushchev rather airily ‘gave’ Crimea to the Ukraine, the Soviet parliament was not quorate, i.e. there were not enough members present for it to be allowed to reach any decision. So the transfer was null and void in terns of Soviet legislation, it was never legitimate!
But coming back to the two tiny ‘People’s Republics,’, why could they no be likewise recognized? The answer here (I suggest) is that they had no such prior history of existing independently; also they were rather small. Legally, Russia may not have felt that was permitted. So, what changed?
The Minsk Accords were co-signed by the two mini-states or People’s Republics, together with Germany, France and Russia. So to that extent their autonomy was recognised.
They were cut off by Kiev from electricity, water, gas, money – no pensions or social security: all they got from Kiev was bombs, shell and mines. In other words de facto Kiev was treating them as a completely separate, enemy nation.
And so it was, on 19th of February Russia decided to recognize the two mini-states.”
He then goes into detail about some of the atrocities committed by Ukrainians such as the “Kraken” unit as well as fake Russian atrocities created for propaganda purposes. There is plenty of detail on these fake atrocities in the chapter.
The author cites a few examples of Ukrainian “barrier troops” in action, who prevent other Ukrainians troops from retreating, such as by blowing up bridges. It will be interesting to see whether or not this sort of thing is still in effect in Bakhmut, as the virtually inevitable retreat nears.
The author also clearly identifies the NATO strategy:
“Some say America does not as such desire war with Russia but only wants escalation dominance: that is the ability to bully and threaten with war, so it can get what it wants, i.e., be the ‘Masters of the Universe,’ without actually needed to have the war. NATO nations have to behave as if not of this were happening.”
I’ve maintained that Russia will win the war in Ukraine (that is, achieve all of its objectives) since the beginning of the war because NATO is doctrinally unprepared to fight a peer-to-peer war, and Russia is not. Most Americans, including the Pentagon plus NATO shills in other countries, only understand war as a matter of statistics. America may have enormous reserves of weapons, but they are not meant to actually be used. Unlike the Roman Empire, which existed in a constant state of warfare, the United States never goes to war with peers, and only trashes extremely weak regimes every few years. Regardless as to how impossible it seems that NATO will lose the war to those who only understand warfare as statistics, it will lose, and the author seems to comprehend this in the same way:
“In the western world the reason for the war cannot be told. It just cannot. For that reason, the condition for the war ending also cannot be discussed. The West’s comic-book narrative is all about ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ which has no real meaning in Ukraine. Or at least, it would have meaning if Russia could be defeated, but it can’t. All too well does Russia comprehend where things would go next if it were to ‘lose’ i.e., abandon the Donbass to a horrendous fate. With apologies for repetition, the aim of the ‘limited military operation’ is to enable the residents of the Donbass to be able to live there in peace and quiet without getting bombed. Likewise – and very simply – peace can break out as and when the shelling of this region ends.”
“To answer the question as regards the Russian war-aim: it has to occupy as much of Ukraine as necessary to stop the shelling of the Russian-speaking Slavs in the Donbass.”
“Buffer zones have of necessity to be created. That means further expansion. he western media will portray this as Putin greedily grabbing this and that. The ‘empire of lies’ does its stuff. Presently towns 40 km inside the Russian border are being shelled – just as a British MOD spokesperson recommends.
If missiles of say 200 km range are being supplied to the Ukrainian army, then that mandates further buffer-zones. Furthermore, once the Russian army occupies any such zones it cannot easily retreat: look at what happened in Bucha (Chapter 3). Were it to retreat the pro-Russian sympathisers would be in deadly peril. Never had one seen an army which actually tries to target civilians.”
Well… that’s not really true, as he ought to know, as the targeting of civilians was the explicit aim of the Americans and British bombers of World War II. Additionally, he suggests one of the most cringe solutions to this I’ve ever heard:
“A healing needs to take place. Perhaps women politicians are needed, who can feel the pain and bewilderment of the Other, who can work through empathy and sympathy, who can try, at least try, to explain to the men why war should not be the answer an heal the horrors of past centuries: to stop the bad karma from endlessly recycling and banish the angry ghosts of yesteryear.”
That might be the single worst recommendation to solving the conflict I’ve ever heard.