The last weeks of February were fertile with developments concerning the war between the US/NATO and Russia in Ukraine. The dangers facing the world, and in particular Europe, are materializing and becoming more threatening. From the hodgepodge of disparate and disorderly events, there nevertheless emerge quite clear prospects of a direct collision between NATO and Russia, that is to say of the transition from the current indirect war by proxy to direct war carried out by NATO soldiers and civilians against Russian soldiers and civilians. Both sides have nuclear weapons. The rise to the extremes, that is to say, their use against armies and civilians, leaves the domain of theory and military doctrines to enter the sphere of concrete application. It is this apocalyptic peril that the populations of many countries will face in the coming months. This requires awareness, positioning, and actions to prevent a looming disaster. Let’s first try to understand the reasons for the worry and the source of the danger.

The US/NATO alliance has lost in Ukraine

The hybrid, indirect, proxy war organized and led by the US/NATO alliance since 2014 against Russia in Ukraine is a clear failure impossible to hide. Far from defeating Russia as planned, the use of Ukraine as a proxy or combat instrument has produced the exact opposite effect: the strengthening of Russia, the destruction of Ukraine and the defeat of the US/ NATO alliance. Russian forces go from success to success on the battlefields, Russian weapons demonstrate their superiority over those of US/NATO, and the Russian economy is doing so well that it is now the first in Europe, while the European economies are bogged down by the boomerang effect of the “sanctions” imposed upon Russia. Such a result is not surprising for any observer who is the least bit aware of the balance of power or economic facts and who has not lost his mental faculties.

This was not the case for the leaders of the US/NATO alliance, followers of US imperialism laced with neoconservative warmongering. Intoxicated with their power, taking their desires for reality, and suffering from Russophobia, they shifted their propaganda apparatus into high gear, outdoing themselves with stories about the ease of victory against Russia. Western populations were subjected to an unprecedented surge of delirious outbursts from their political leaders, media, on-set commentators, and accommodating “experts”, while any analysis or reflection was ignored, proscribed, ostracized, or stigmatized under boos of insults and slander. And for good reason: lies are houses of cards that collapse when they come into contact with reality. The goal of this campaign of collective hysteria was to cretinize public opinion and make it accept the crazy adventure of a proxy war against Russia. Self-intoxicated, Western militarists believed in rapidly bringing Russia to its knees. Economic collapse and a “color revolution” would destroy the Russian state, returning Russia to the chaotic Yeltsin era, dismembering the vast country, and handing over its resources to Western capital. Such a great feat was justification enough for the deception and manipulation of their populations. Had not the neocons converted to postmodernism, and tried to create their reality by convincing themselves that, ultimately, the only things that mattered were “alternative facts” and perceptions?

Reality breaks through

Unforeseen was the interference of reality in this crackpot scenario. The advance of Russian forces against those of Kiev, two or three times more numerous, the major battles lost at Mariupol in May 2022 and at Bakhmut in May 2023, the irresponsible sacrifice of men and equipment by Kiev, the financial cost of supporting Ukraine, did not shake the faith of the Western sponsors of the Zelensky regime. Enthusiastic “narratives” and optimistic daydreams followed one another in anticipation of the much-ballyhooed “counter-offensive” which, with the help of Western miracle weapons, would inflict on Russia the bitter military defeat that was not much desired. It was a wasted effort. The great maneuver ended up with a NATO-Kievian debacle, stillborn as soon as it was launched in June 2023. The Russian lines were not even reached, although Ukraine had sent its best troops, recently trained and armed for this purpose by NATO.

Disbelief, misunderstanding, and silence settled on the US/NATO side. Technicolor fiction had just hit the wall of reality. After a few attempts at self-delusion (“It’s a stalemate for both sides. It’s a tie.”), failure was recognized, albeit reluctantly. Westerners had emptied their arsenals; they were now down to the bone with nothing left to give. Kiev is struggling to find new cannon fodder: young people are kidnapped from the streets to be put in uniform; expatriates are invited to return; mercenaries are sent to the front lines; Banderist groups are used to plug holes into the lines. Meanwhile, donors now realize they made a bad investment. In the US House of Representatives, elected officials are reluctant to continue wasting their country’s resources. Little by little, and despite denials, the realization that Ukraine cannot prevail against Russia is gaining ground. It was obvious from the beginning but not for warmongers indulged in the fantasy of breaking Russia.

The aftermath of defeat

Defeats are like orphans. Each actor tries to dissociate himself from it, pointing the finger at someone else. Self-justifications and recriminations are common. First, the US/NATO alliance tried to blame Zelensky: for his bad strategy, his stubbornness, and his squandering of human and material resources. As his repetitive calls for more donations became tiresome, talk filtered through about the corruption that plagued his country.

All that was hypocritical because the war plans in Ukraine were developed in concert with the US/NATO alliance. They were responsible for the obsession of the repeated offensives that threw tens of thousands of troops into the Russian “meat grinder” in the hope of killing Russians (bleeding Russia was indeed the goal of the US/NATO warmongers), as well as the hopeless “counter-offensive” itself. Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny tried to absolve himself of responsibility for the disaster by distancing himself from Zelensky while putting himself forward as an alternative. This episode ended with his dismissal on February 8, 2024. The West was not yet ready to dump Zelensky.

On the military front, the situation deteriorated even further. On February 17, the Russians took the town of Avdiivka, an even greater success than the capture of Bakhmut. The operation was a small masterpiece of military art, ending with the routed adversary fleeing by foot, with the Banderist fighters from the Azov group in the lead. Avdiivka was one of the places most fortified by NATO since 2014: a promontory from which Kiev forces bombarded Donetsk civilians. The outcome of the war in Ukraine can no longer be doubted and Kyiv’s defeat is now inevitable.

Continuing the war despite defeat

A proxy war is lost when the proxy charged with fighting for the sponsors fails to win. In such circumstances, there are four possibilities:

(i) continue the indirect war;

(ii) accept defeat (the United States evacuated Afghanistan in 2021),

(iii) throw away the masks and have the sponsors wage war themselves, i.e. direct war without auxiliaries,

(iv) find other proxies to continue the war in one way or another (in Syria, the US replaced defeated jihadists with Kurds).

The first two possibilities are unlikely to be accepted. Zelensky may want to continue the war by proxy but the promises of Western weapons cannot materialize because there are no more weapons available (Ukraine only received 30% of the promised shells) and the requested sums that would keep Ukraine afloat are increasingly difficult to find in the anemic Western economies which are on the threshold of austerity. Spending billions on a war in Ukraine borders on indecency when prices are soaring, agriculture is devastated by the overflow of Ukrainian, living standards are sinking, state budgets are buckling under deficits and national debts exceed the GDP. The big “Summit” convened by Macron in Paris on February 16, 2024, to increase European aid to Kiev led to nothing. In January-February 2024, Great Britain, Germany, and France signed bilateral aid and military cooperation treaties with Ukraine for 10 years, but whether they can be implemented is unclear. As for the option of accepting defeat, it is more than improbable because the war is not waged with Ukraine in mind but rather to bring down Russia. Regardless of the fate of Ukraine, putting Russia out of action has to be achieved at all costs because the sustainability of US imperialism depends on it. Macron is only reflecting this US need by insisting that Russia must not emerge victorious.

Moving from a (lost) proxy war to direct war?

This leaves only the formulas of direct collision and substitute proxy. The two intersect each other and are at the heart of the news of the past two weeks. In 2024, mindless alarmism has replaced the ignorant exaltation of 2022-2023. Western governments have taken to scaring themselves: Russia cannot be allowed to prevail in Ukraine because it is straining at the leash to invade Europe; Russian tanks have to stopped in Ukraine to avoid having them parade on the Champs-Élysées. Occurring within just one year, such a change is a case of geopolitical bipolarity.

On February 19 2024, a French politician, an ultra-Atlantist on all issues and a war hawk against Russia called on France “to go int a war economy.” On February 26, Macron declared that sending Western troops on the ground to confront Russia should not be excluded. How is this to be interpreted? Macron has the habit of governing by tossing out phrases, now here now there, in the hope of satisfying this group or that current, while misleading everyone on what he is really up to, or in order to divert attention from his domestic woes (all economic, social and political warning lights in France are showing red). Usually this tactic is just a smokescreen to create an illusion.

In this case, there is also France’s desire to distinguish itself in international relations, which, in principle, is something to be welcomed. It is well remembered how de Gaulle made France influential. But it is not given to everyone to be a de Gaulle. A silk purse cannot be made out of a sow’s ear. De Gaulle advocated independence for France against hegemonism; Macron is trying to outbid his European allies on the scale of alignment on NATO and support for US hegemony. In his desire to play a leading role, he is only distinguishing himself by bluster and bellicosity when compared to his allies. As he tried to flex muscles to impress Russia, Putin reminded him on February 29 of the existence of atomic weapons that can reach his country. Macron was immediately disowned by the other Western leaders, including those of the US. It was pointed out that France, so generous in grandiloquent speeches, gave less to Ukraine than Germany or Great Britain. Still, Macron put the issue on the table. He did this in concert with Biden to whom he spoke beforehand. At this point, the idea is to prepare minds. That is the intention behind the declaration.

A collective suicide

A direct military intervention by any NATO country or by all of NATO is an abstraction in the short term and under current conditions. NATO has neither the troops nor the weapons for a war against Russia. No NATO country can send more than a few thousand troops into combat. All countries would have to decree compulsory military service and conscription, while converting to war economies. It is easy to imagine how such measures would go down with public opinion. For the moment, they (Germany in particular) are in the process of implementing rearmament programs and increases in their military budgets.

During the three decades of unilateralism and US supremacy (“the end of history”), the West forgot large-scale conflicts and concentrated instead on “endless” wars. These were asymmetrical quasi-colonial interventions that were meant to suppress recalcitrance towards US rule from weaker countries and irregular forces “in sandals”. Everything was staked on proxies and high tech means, conventional warfare having become obsolete. National armies were replaced by much smaller professional militaries. Military forces became expeditionary corps, special forces and operators of remote weapon systems, rather than armies. They now have trouble recruiting and their prescribed strength is not attained. Several pieces of equipment are out of service or no longer manufactured, and production lines are dismantled.

No NATO country has the experience of waging war against an adversary the size of the Russian army, a “peer”. It, in addition, is the most battle-hardened army in the world, in high tech as well as in conventional warfare requiring large deployments of troops. It is superior in size and capable of expanding rapidly. Since September 2022, mobilizing up to 1.25 million men, Russia has been preparing for a possible transition to a confrontation with NATO. Its conventional weapons have proven their superiority on the battlefield in Ukraine and its military industry can rapidly increase its production rate. To repel NATO, it would not even need its nuclear arsenal which, by the way, is the first in the world. Regardless, in the event of a confrontation, the use of nuclear weapons by both sides is a distinct possibility. If waging a proxy war against Russia was foolish, a direct war would amount to performing collective suicide.

What is taking shape seems to be the result of a fusion between scenarios iii and iv: Europe would be the new proxy for the US and would enter into a confrontation with Russia.

What about the United States? 

As leader of the Western coalition and mastermind of the proxy war strategy, the US would have been the beneficiary of Russia’s defeat. Its global hegemony would have been consolidated. But the war was counterproductive and the country is mired in formidable domestic problems. What does the U.S. do when an external adventure turns sour? It cuts its losses, returns home, and, in midstream, leaves the associates that it used to fend for themselves (Vietnam, Afghanistan). Currently, all signs point to their looking for a way out of Ukraine, regardless of what a re-elected Trump would do. The 2022-2023 firebrands are now Kiev’s least reliable supporters.

It must be remembered that the US has two enemies: Russia and China, and that it must separate them to defeat them one by one. For the US, Russia was seen only as a less important obstacle to be quickly overcome to move on to the main objective: a conflict with China. After an anticipated Russian defeat, the US would have shifted its attention to China. It would have left European NATO with the responsibility of continuing the confrontation with Russia, to draw it away from China during the US-China standoff. The present agitation in Europe to transition to a de facto direct war against Russia and the creation of a “European defense” is in line with this original plan. This means that the role assigned to Europe is to be the substitute proxy for the US, following the exhaustion of the Ukrainian proxy. In the event of passage to direct war against Russia, European territory would replace Ukrainian territory. The war would be waged in Europe.

These US intentions can be seen in the March 5 dismissal of Victoria Nuland, a dyed-in-the-wool Russophobe and a leading figure of the neoconservative sphere. Her dismissal is a significant event, finally marking the end of chimeral thinking in Washington about the Ukraine War and recognition of the Ukrainian defeat. It also signals the failure of the entire strategy based on the Ukrainian proxy which Nuland had been advocating at least since 2014. This sanction is an unusual and spectacular admission that the country’s foreign policy is flawed. The Ukrainian proxy is unrecoverable. The US can no longer remain as “engaged” in Ukraine as Nuland wants; her presence became inconvenient. Furthermore, the US government has a lot on its plate in Palestine, in the Middle East, and the South, given that its association with Israel discredits it as it seeks support for maintaining its hegemony and a unipolar world. True to its behavior after a failed imperial adventure, it looks elsewhere, towards China, where it hopes for more success than against Russia. It did not escape attention that the diplomat appointed to the post that Nuland coveted was a China hand.

What of the danger of a war in Europe?

For the moment, all the pundits on French television panels have seized with relish Macron’s declaration. Quite apart from the debate concerning those who are For and those who are Against Macron, they all seem to share a certain enthusiasm. They appear to feel invested in a new mission, enjoying the capacity to influence the strategic course of action. The possible election of Donald Trump and his distancing himself from NATO allow for the moment illusions about France’s capacity to assume a certain replacement leadership. Having always dreamed about playing a dominant political role within the European Union, France now hopes to be able to play a determining political role within NATO. Panel pundits and strategists can, for their part, hope to gain status and possible influence around Macron.

This French enthusiasm, however, risks being short-lived, because it is a misguided and perverted version of the policy envisaged by General de Gaulle. Despite appearances, Macron’s bold words are only the expression of a belligerent voluntarism that perfectly well suits Washington. It is as if Macron had made his bold statement looking out for approval from the American Commander-in-Chief . Despite the official rebuff coming from Washington, the French president has the green light from the US. If Europe ever engages directly in a warlike confrontation with Moscow without this being an initiative of the US, the American president whoever it may be, but all the more if it is Trump, will quickly distance himself from Article 5. Contracts signed, even with allies, can easily be torn up if the interests of the US change. Europe would then be left on its own. It is in the American interest to let Europe take charge of confronting Russia itself. This new political independence of Europe from Washington would in reality be nothing but the resumption of a new form of an old dependence: a “new skin for the old ceremony”. A new European proxy, even as a losing combatant, could at the very least perhaps serve to bog down Russia, if only by forcing it to mobilize its troops to confront Europe, while the US turns towards China to confront it with its regional proxies (Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand). For Europeans and Russians to weaken each other is a net benefit for US imperialism.


After Ukraine, Europe is the US’s next proxy for war against Russia. The first concerned, the Europeans, would do well to sound the alarm as quickly as possible, before the spiral of war drags them into the abyss. There is no guarantee that Macronian boasting about a direct war against Russia will not turn into a sinister reality. Ukrainian cannon fodder would be replaced by European cannon fodder, and Ukrainian guinea pigs by European guinea pigs.

The ideological battle must be waged simultaneously on two fronts. It is necessary to highlight the contradictory nature of the two positions adopted about Russia. As Noam Chomsky and many others have already noted, NATO leaders have, on the one hand, so far downplayed Russia’s capabilities in the Ukrainian war but, on the other hand, have at the same time stirred up public opinion about the danger of a possible Russian invasion of European territory. Very weak on Ukrainian terrain, Russia would be strong enough to entertain the ambition of invading Europe. To escape from this contradictory, irrational, and Manichean vision, it is perhaps no longer necessary to dwell at length on the Russian capabilities that have been deployed in Ukraine. Their military power is visible to the naked eye. This demonstration no longer needs to be made. But it remains important to convince people that Russia has neither the ambition nor the need to conquer new territories. It already occupies an immense national territory. The special military operation which led to the annexation of the Donbass was only motivated by security concerns. It is instead time to be a little more wary of the US, which has always sought to provoke Russia into taking defensive measures. It is these defensive measures that paranoid European leaders hasten to interpret following their stereotypical image of Russia.

It is not too early for all anti-war organizations and individuals to speak out and unite to alert European public opinion about the danger of Europe becoming like Ukraine, or even in worse shambles if nuclear weapons are used. The “No to war” must be resounding and must paint the consequences of European belligerence in the most explicit terms. A strong movement would not leave decision-makers indifferent. The interruption of this infernal march must not wait for the outbreak of hostilities, because then it would then be too late.