For God’s sake, this man (Putin) cannot remain in power”. – Joe Biden, President of the United States speaking in Warsaw on 27 March 2022.

Stalemate is a term taken from chess. It is a rule of chess that when the King can’t move because that would put him in check, the game is over. By this time most of the pieces have been lost, this includes most or all of the pawns. It is a desperate ending to a game that results in a draw with huge losses on both sides.

12th-century Lewis chessmen in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland.

Of course there are some parallels with war but we should not forget war is not a game because many people get killed including ordinary people not directly involved in the fighting. These people are moved around like pawns as has happened in Ukraine to women, children, the old people and, it seems, to young Russian soldiers, conscripts who did not know what was to come.

The greatest stalemate in Europe was World War 1 and Lenin called on Russian soldiers to give up and return home. To acknowledge that there was no victory in war was a revolutionary act. It gave rise to the ten days that shook the world. Not this time.

The Biden problem
US President Joe Biden spoke in Warsaw Poland outlining his government’s intentions regarding NATO. Of course the President’s minders soon pulled back from the threats Biden makes in the speech in Poland (a member of NATO). American always fights from afar a preferably with other people’s troops as they did in The Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq where they fought for the stated purpose of weakening the insurgency in preparation for the planned Iraqi elections in January 2005. Yes, many Marines died in the battle but so did many Iraqi Army soldiers conscripted to fight for the Americans and the British against 500 ‘hard core militants’. This is what Biden said in Warsaw:

A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase the people’s love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia … For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power. Don’t even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory. We have sacred obligation. We have a sacred obligation under Article Five to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power.”

In the meantime the prognosis laid out by the Washington Institute for the Study of War is chilling:

“If our assessment is correct, then the West must increase efforts to supply Ukraine with all the materials it will need to survive as a country and continue fighting during conditions of stalemate and siege, which will be brutal.”

What does this mean? Does the US government want Ukrainians to fight a proxy war for regime change in Russia. And to do so for the benefit of the Westthat will never let them join NATO?! The US military is to support them until the last Ukrainian patriot dies. The US government should be suing for peace but no, Biden wants to double down.

At the same time in Ukraine, even Russian generals are getting killed; but they at least know what to expect. Or are they forced to participate in yet another pointless war in Europe? The former Yugoslavia bombed for 78 days by NATO.

Will Presidents Zelensky and Putin get killed by this war. Maybe. But it is more likely that neither will die. Nor do elites behind them die, at least not because of the war they backed and make money out of. Ukrainian and Russian people are dying in a holy war over land in the East that should have been resolved in the United Nations. But both Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs refused to come to the table preferring competition to peace. Ukraine is to be destroyed by the profiteers.

I do not accept the assumptions of this conservative article ‘What Stalemate means in Ukraine and why it matters?‘ published by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in their far off capital, Washington. Who are these people who study war? ISW gave their analysis of illegal and inhumane wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before this one. Did they lift a finger to stop either war? what about the people of Afghanistan and Iraq whom they speak of as pawns in a game? Did these pundits ever ask Iraqis what they thought of the American occupation? Do they speak out against how the United States administration deserted Afghani allies to be killed and tortured by the Taliban? Or how members of the United States Army and the CIA tortured and killed Iraqis at Abu Ghraib? How the US then fled Afghanistan without even taking the very people who had helped them fight the Taliban?

Surely we should not treat people as pawns in a game that is played by an elite in some far off country?

We should heed the words of Ross Gwyther speaking at a protest against Peter Dutton’s war mongering at the Hilton last week:

“The working people of Ukraine have the right to self-determination and sovereignty, to determine their country’s future. They suffer as pawns in a proxy war between the United States, NATO and Russia. The invasion of the Ukraine is unacceptable in international law. And equally, we need to condemn the continued military expansion of NATO which precipitated this crisis.”

Workers of all countries unite!

in solidarity,
Ian Curr
29 March 2022


  • 33 *
    is an important short essay by Frederick W. Kagan. If, like me, you think of chess when you think of stalemate (“boring but no piece gets killed”), then know that military strategists use the word very differently.

What Stalemate means in Ukraine and why it Matters

Please comment down below