Little has enraged the pro-Ukrainian community more than The New York Times (NYT) with its Dec. 27 article "Ukraine Doesn’t Need All Its Territory to Defeat Putin." It was written by the hereditary Russian nobleman Serge Schmemann, a member of its editorial board.

Let me take it apart.

The issue is not "territory," as President Volodymyr Zelensky persistently emphasizes, but PEOPLE. Ukrainians in territories occupied by ruthless Russian soldiers are being killed, tortured and deported. Even a great Russian imperialist such as Schmemann must have heard about it.

Schmemann starts with caveats (presumably imposed by other NYT editors): Putin "is not trustworthy" and "he may be stalling in the hope that Donald Trump... will return to the White House and stiff Ukraine." The fact is that there is no reason to talk to Putin since he violates all agreements that he or his predecessors have concluded.


Even so, Schmemann makes the opposite point on no basis whatsoever and it permeates the rest of his article: "But if Mr. Putin turns out to be serious, Ukraine should not pass up an opportunity to end the bloodshed. Recovered territory is not the only measure of victory in this war."

As a great Russian imperialist, Schmemann disregards people – just like Putin – and thinks only about territory. Millions of Ukrainians live on occupied territory, and unlike other Ukrainian citizens, they suffer under Putin's ruthless repression. But then why would Schmemann and the NYT care about people?

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Schmemann's next point is equally absurd, referring to "draining Ukrainian resources and lives without much prospect for change in the foreseeable future." We don't know, but presumably Russia has lost three times as many soldiers. Shouldn't Putin think of that? No, says our imperialist narrator.

"But regaining territory is the wrong way to imagine the best outcome. True victory for Ukraine is to rise from the hell of the war as a strong, independent, prosperous and secure state, firmly planted in the West." Schmemann gets this half right, but again he forgets the people, because he never thinks of them.


Next Schmemann turns suitably incomprehensible: "Those people who are resisting continued aid to Ukraine, whether some Republicans in Congress or Viktor Orban in Hungary, must not be allowed to abandon the Ukrainians now." Why? Are you challenging their position? Presumably, your editors complained.

"If Mr. Putin is seriously looking for a cease-fire, he is doing so on the presumption that the alternative is a continued slaughter of his soldiers..." Now Schmemann turns really dumb. As a true Russian imperialist, he knows that neither he nor Putin care about the Russian people, only about the Russian empire.

Schmemann proceeds to confirm his stupidity: "And stopping the fight is not to grant Mr. Putin a victory... Ukraine and much of the world will not accept his annexation of any Ukrainian territory." Wasn't that the essence of his argument?

As you would expect from Schmemann, he proceeds with another apparent lie: "In the European Union, Mr. Orban, the Hungarian prime minister and an admirer of Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump, has tied up approval of another 50 billion euros for Ukraine." Don’t we all know that is not true? Why does anybody write things that are obviously untrue? Doesn’t the NYT have any standards of truth?


After having got all the facts and all the arguments wrong, you would trust Schmemann to get the conclusion wrong, and he surely does: "But the only way to find out if Mr. Putin is serious about a cease-fire, and whether one can be worked out, is to give it a try." Trust Putin! Not the West! That’s evidently the conclusion.


Serge Schmemann has worked for the NYT since 1980. I have probably known him for three decades. He has always been a Russian aristocratic imperialist, apparently acceptable to the NYT editorial board, which celebrated their Stalinist Moscow bureau chief Walter Duranty in the 1930s. Admittedly, Schmemann is not celebrating the Holodomor like Duranty, but is he on the right side of history? No.

The unprofessionalism of the NYT is revealed in its correction: "A correction was made on Dec. 27, 2023: An earlier version of this essay misstated on which border Russia is opposed to having a full NATO member. It is on its western border, not eastern." How bad can you get?

Thinking more broadly about this awful article by Schmemann, the main positive surprise is probably that he as a Russian imperialist – unlike Putin – seems to recognize that Ukraine is a country and a nation, although he does not state that very clearly.


The ultimate question remains: Why does the NYT, which is apparently still considered a serious newspaper, allow such Russian imperialist views to be expressed on its opinion page by a member of its editorial board? Why doesn't it retire the 78-year-old Schmemann?

If Schmemann had been serious about peace (which he as a Russian imperialist is not), he would have called on Putin to withdraw from Ukraine, thus reestablishing peace. Putin has in no way offered any reasonable peace contrary to what the substandard NYT has reported.

The question remains, why is the NYT opposed to peace in Ukraine?

Anders Åslund is the author of “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy.”

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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Comments (3)
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@jack Griffen. Thanks for giving me a new topic to post a Ukraine supportive comment about.

The Finlanders held an astounding 10 to 1 kill ratio advantage over the russains in the Winter War. Absolutely amazing given the technology of that era and the fact they were doing this on their own.

Ukraine continues to improve its kill ratio to similar levels which is great news for russian Christmas gift shoppers now low on spending cash.

Oh by the way, after putin has collapse the lastest iteration of the ever shrinking russian empire, Finland would like the 11% of their former land mass which russia stole from them in that war. After their lost productivity and sales from that stolen land are adjusted for inflation, I estimate that puts the new Finnish border somewhere just west of St. Petersburg.

...and putins' MAGA troll jack says what?
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

@Maddy, No one would deny that Ukrainians have a right to exist or to and defend themselves when attacked by murderous Russians.

 Also putin's already sent a few convicted russian cannibals to invade Ukraine so what you propose will not work at least in Russias' regard.

I could be wrong, but what might work better to stop putins’ attack of Ukraine, is if every invading russian soldier, and all their putin supporting leadership were required to eat their own excrement.

Maddy do you think that would work? Could you ask putin during the next troll coffee break he appears at?
Joseph Swanson
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Seems there is some internal fighting going on at Kyiv Post.  Serge Schmemann used to write articles at KP.  He is an old rotting communist thug.
Anyway, to answer Anders Aslund question of why.  I will start by advising to connect the dots.
NYT is communist controlled and operated.NYT wrote a very favorable article about communist garbage mao a few years back.
NYT reporter back in the 1920's and 1930's walter duranty was a pro communist and covered up the mass murders / genocides / atrocities of the communist dictatorial regime of the ussr.  Many years later, duranty admitted to doing so.
The pulitzer board refused to revoke duranty's award.  The board consists of nyt's people, columbia university alumni and others.  columbia university played a role in helping three hundred plus communists from the lower east side of manhattan ny USA in / around 1917 to go back to russia and overthrew their government and replaced it with a communist one.
What is currently happening in eastern europe is an attempt for communists and their western supporters ( trump, his supporters, and republican party) to come back into power officially.  We are witnessing the active restoration of the ussr courtesy of putin, orban, and fico.