Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Is Ukraine a “proxy war”?

Critics of America’s policy toward Ukraine have accused it of waging a “proxy war” against Russia. Such critics include various Western commentators, as well as Russia itself. In April, the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed, “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy”.

Yet when a reporter put this accusation to Joe Biden, he said it’s “not true”. What’s more, the Ukrainian government compiled a list of individuals who “promote narratives consonant with Russian propaganda”, and specified that such narratives include: “A proxy war between NATO and Russia is taking place on the territory of Ukraine”.

One problem with the line taken by Biden and the Ukrainian government is that it isn’t just critics of US policy that have used the term “proxy war”.

In an article claiming that “many Russian soldiers have to flee, surrender, or die” and “the more and faster the better”, the political scientist Eliot Cohen stated, “The United States and its NATO allies are engaged in a proxy war with Russia.”

Likewise, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Philip Breedlove – who has called for boots on the ground in Ukraine – stated, “I think we are in a proxy war with Russia. We are using the Ukrainians as our proxy forces.”

And in an interview calling for the US to provide “as much aid as necessary” to Ukraine, former CIA Director Leon Panetta stated, “We are engaged in a conflict here. It’s a proxy war with Russia, whether we say so or not.”

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