This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Friday, March 18, 2022




The unfolding tragedy of the war in Ukraine has unleashed a torrent of anger among Americans. That's hardly surprising, given the images of dead and injured civilians, especially children, that are streaming into our homes 24 hours a day. The intense emotions aroused have led to a strong urge to act to stop the violence. Demonstrations of solidarity are inspiring, but they aren't going to affect Putin's plans for Ukraine. The question thus is, how do we most effectively stand with Ukraine?

Examples of what not to do abound. Consider:

Most people support the sanctions, despite abundant evidence showing that they typically don't work and at best achieve only limited success. The logic is to punish the citizens of the sanctioned country, in the hope they will rise up and topple their governments or at least submit to Western demands. It should come as no surprise that this is not a realistic objective in authoritarian societies. The main effect of sanctions is to increase the suffering of the citizens of the targeted country. Madelaine Albright famously admitted that US sanctions on Iraq after the first Gulf War cost the lives of 500,000 children, commenting that "We think it was worth it." This begs the question of who is this "we?" I certainly hope that it is not the opinion of the majority of Americans. In the present case, why would we want to punish the citizens of Russia for Putin's actions, especially when they are protesting by the tens of thousands on the streets of Russia, putting to shame the pitiful response of Americans to US-led wars.

Most people seem to support the arming of Ukraine, even though many analysts point out that there is ultimately little hope that they can hold up against a determined Russian military whose goal does not appear to be occupation. We're told daily about Putin's willingness to use brutal tactics to achieve his objectives, but we are being assured that the vastly inferior forces of Ukraine are really winning. As a result, people who want to support Ukraine are applauding the brave citizens who are taking up arms and putting their bodies on the line confronting trained soldiers, without apparently realizing that this will not likely change the outcome but will certainly lead to more Ukrainian deaths. There has even been serious consideration of the US providing incentives to NATO countries to send war planes to Ukraine, an act of war against Russia that could lead to the US being forced to directly confront the only other nuclear superpower. More and more, we are hearing arguments for why we can't rule out direct US involvement despite the fact that it could quickly lead to nuclear war.

Anyone who still thinks a no-fly zone is a reasonable option simply isn't listening to reason. As Biden and many others have pointed out, this requires being willing to shoot Russian planes down, which would likely lead to WWIII. Anyone who wants to disregard that risk does not deserve to be taken seriously.

There's a reason that "experts" continue to push policies that are at best futile and at worst, catastrophic. The only realistic alternatives would involve allowing Russia to achieve some of its stated goals. That would lead to the career-killing charge of "appeasement." Career politicians and professional pundits in the West cower at this thought, so much so that the idea would never occur to them. Fortunately, diplomats in both Ukraine and Russia are willing to consider what would be unthinkable for these cheerleaders of imperialism.

According to this article, progress is being made on a 15-point plan that would recognize legitimate Russian security interests the West ignored in the runup to the war, despite clear warnings from Russia. Among other provisions, Ukraine would alter its constitution to guarantee that it would never join NATO. Had the US simply declared that it would never allow Ukraine to join, the invasion might have been avoided. That the US refused speaks volumes about the intent of the US in its dealings with Russia with regard to Ukraine. Unfortunately, few are listening.

Russia is also insisting on an agreement that Ukraine will not host foreign military bases. Negotiations continue on what kind of security guarantees that Ukraine might get from NATO countries would be acceptable to Russia, while the article does not mention what kind of security guarantees Ukraine would offer the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been subjected to continuous assault since the 2014 coup that put the current government in power. The article also does not mention the status of the Russian demand that Ukraine recognize Russia's sovereignty over Crimea, which it has asserted since the region voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia in 2014.

Meanwhile, the battles rage, with increasing loss of life on both sides. If you want to stand for Ukraine, stand for the interests of Ukrainians and common Russians alike and demand that your government stop inflaming the situation with weapons and sanctions and allow real diplomacy to end the killing.

Monday, March 14, 2022



Having written recently that it may be a bad idea at his time to keep trying to explain why invading Ukraine should be understood in context, it is with trepidation that I’m now going to do just that. The reason is that there are documents that just came to light which, if verified, prove that those who believed that Russia was trying to prevent a genocide were correct. Of course, if you are in the habit of assuming that any statements released by Russia are by definition false, don't bother reading further. 

Although you’ve probably never heard since it is never reported in American media, Russia reported that there were as many as 125,000 Ukrainian troops inside the ethnically Russian Donbass region of Ukraine by December of 2021, when the 8-year old conflict between Ukraine and the breakaway Republics was heating up again. These troops had been trained and heavily armed by the US, which had been encouraging Ukraine to forcibly take back. On February 24th, the day the invasion began, Ukraine was clearly poised to invade the self-declared independent Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The newly revealed records confirm what many of us suspected, that the Ukrainian invasion was scheduled to occur within days.

It is very likely that this was apparent to Russian military intelligence, which would provide a totally different explanation for why the invasion occurred even as Russia was negotiating with Ukraine than the idea that Putin was simply “mad” and “wanted to restore the long-lost Russian Empire.” The claim that Putin was lying about not wanting to invade was based on the fact that he was conducting a troop buildup while negotiating, and in the end he did invade. However, taking literally Putin’s statement that Russia had “no plans to invade” is disingenuous. Obviously, the Russian military buildup meant that they had a plan, but he said repeatedly that whether there would be war depended entirely on Ukraine’s actions. It is entirely possible that he would have preferred to not invade, as he repeatedly indicated. Unless, of course, you start with the assumption that he is mad.

Unlike those who believe the US wanted to avoid war, Zelensky understood what Putin was saying. He called for a halt to inflammatory rhetoric coming from the US and asked Biden to come to Ukraine underscore the fact that there need be no war. In the end, Zelensky was put in a position where he had no choice but to refuse to deescalate the situation by removing troops from Donbass. The video in this article shows why: When he had tried order troops out of Donbass in 2019, neo-Nazis with much greater power over the government and military than their numbers would indicate laughed in his face and sent him away. That’s how a Jewish president came to realize that he had better go along with what these US-backed fascists had in mind.

So go ahead and hate Putin if it makes you feel better. War is always a choice, and it is always brutal. Civilians are always killed, even though dead children make excellent propaganda for those who want to paint a war as one-sided. But if you want to prevent the next war, for God’s sake try to understand the logic of both sides of this conflict. More specifically, do whatever you can do to try and get your government to stop constantly provoking a nuclear power, while denying its legitimate security interests.

Below is a transcript of the official Russian Defense Ministry announcement. The cited documents can be seen here.
       -Translation supplied by Konstantin Scheglikov.

"During a special military operation, secret documents of the command of the National Guard of Ukraine came into the possession of Russian military personnel. These documents confirm the covert preparation by the Kiev regime of an offensive operation in the Donbass in March 2022.

The Russian Defense Ministry publishes the original secret order of the commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Colonel General Nikolay Balan, dated January 22, 2022.

The order "On the organization of training of the battalion tactical group of the 4th Operational Brigade to perform combat (special) tasks in the operation of the united forces as part of the brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine".

The document is addressed to the heads of the northern Kiev, southern Odessa and western territorial administrations of the National Guard of Ukraine.

The order, brought to the command of the National Guard of Ukraine, details a plan for the preparation of one of the strike groups for offensive actions in the zone of the so-called "operation of the united forces" in the Donbass.

The document approves the organizational and staff structure of the battalion-tactical group of the 4th operational brigade of the National Guard, the organization of its comprehensive support and reassignment to the 80th separate airborne assault Brigade of Ukraine.

I would like to emphasize that this brigade from the airborne assault forces of Ukraine has been trained by American and British instructors in training programs of the "NATO standard" in Lviv since 2016.

In accordance with the order, the Deputy Commander of the National Guard was tasked with organizing combat coordination of the battalion tactical group of the National Guard as part of the 80th separate airborne assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from February 7 to February 28, 2022.

I draw your attention - as many as five paragraphs of paragraph 4 are devoted to the issues of careful selection of personnel, examination of all psychologists and ensuring their high motivation.

To do this, the National Guard is ordered to provide "visual agitation, information and propaganda materials, flags, and printing products."

The Deputy commander of the National Guard for Personnel was ordered to organize "an effective system of informational, moral and psychological support for the battalion-tactical group of the 4th brigade of operational purpose, internal communication of commanders with subordinates."

At the same time, it is important to provide "an explanation to the personnel of management decisions and the importance of performing upcoming tasks."

I draw special attention to the fact that paragraph 12 of the order prohibits sending to the area of combat coordination and to the place of execution of "combat special tasks" of the National guardsmen who showed "unsatisfactory" results of psychological testing according to the criterion of "readiness for risk".

All measures of the nationalists' combat coordination are ordered to be completed by February 28 in order to further ensure the fulfillment of combat tasks as part of the Ukrainian "joint forces operation" in the Donbass.

The document contains the original signatures of the officials responsible for the tasks of the command of the National Guard of Ukraine.

We well remember the statements of the leadership of the Kiev regime, replicated in February by the Western media, about the alleged absence of any plans for the armed seizure of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics. Their desire to solve all issues allegedly "by political and diplomatic means".

However, the originals of the secret combat documents of the National Guard of Ukraine unequivocally prove the falsity of these statements.

A special military operation conducted by the Russian Armed Forces since February 24 has forestalled and thwarted a large-scale offensive by shock groups of Ukrainian troops on,uncontrolled to Kiev, the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republic in March of this year.

Thus, only one question remains unclear so far: how deeply the leadership of the United States and its NATO allies were involved in the planning and preparation of the operation to storm the Donbass by the Ukrainian interspecific group of troops in early March. All those who care so much about peace in Ukraine today."

The Russian Defense Ministry publishes the originals of the National Guard's combat order proving that Ukraine is preparing an offensive on Donbass in March this year."