"Russia Centre Bakhmut, Russia MoD Disputes Prigozhin on Ammo; Biden Insults Putin Warsaw, Putin Sanctions Have Failed"
by Alexander Mercouris,
The Duran (February 22, 2023)

". . ."

47:28 Alexander Mercouris: ”I’ve read it and I’d listened to this speech, and two things stand out to me. Firstly, the extraordinarily vituperative comments made in this speech, insulting comments made about Putin, about Russia’s leader. And the speech is full of them. I’m not going to go through the speech and I’ll say why in a moment. But President Biden makes lots of claims about Putin. He calls him a dictator. He talks about this being part of some conflict between autocracies. He talks about Ukraine fighting for freedom. All of those sort of things. But extraordinary insulting language about Putin whose mind, by the way, he pretends to read. He tells us what Putin’s strategies and tactics were at the start of the conflict; about what President Putin supposedly intended to do in and around Kiev. I’m not going to get into all of that.

48:36 But, anyway, these immensely vituperative words are in stark contrast to Putin’s approach in his speech to the Federal Assembly. In that speech, President Putin didn’t mention by name a single Western leader. He didn’t mention Biden. He didn’t mention Obama. He didn’t mention Trump. He didn’t mention George W. Bush. He didn’t talk about Boris Johnson or Olaf Scholtz or Emmanuel Macron or Giorgia Meloni or Ursula Von der Leyen or Habeck or Baerbok, or any of these people. He talks about the West. He talks about the policies that the West follows. He can be extremely critical of those things. He endeavors, however, to be analytical rather than abusive. And, as I said, he is not personally insulting.”

49:42 “It’s a very strange contrast. And I have to admit here, unequivocally, that I prefer Putin’s approach. It seems to me that if one day you’re going to have to sit down and talk to people, which is possible, then it doesn’t make much sense to insult them. And I’m going to say something else. I think that around the world this contrast will be noticed and people will feel that Putin gave, overall, a dignified and measured speech that did not sink to the level of abuse and vituperation that one got from President Biden.”

50:27 “The other thing I have to say -- and I’m afraid it’s an inevitable point -- is that President Biden didn’t actually say very much. I mean, there were lots and lots of words. And there were lots and lots of words during his comments during his visit to Kiev. There was nothing really new. In fact, there wasn’t anything. I mean, it seemed at times, at least to me – others are free to disagree – but it seemed to me, as always with President Biden, as always with far too many American leaders nowadays, simply a recitation of cliches and tropes. Ukraine is valiant. It’s defending itself. It’s free. Putin is pursuing some dark strategy of aggression. This is his war. He is fighting against democracy. Ukraine is a democracy. It’s very much like this. But it didn’t actually contain any announcements. It didn’t give any explanation of what the strategy or what the planning is. President Biden did say that Ukraine would win but he really didn’t say how it would win. He said there would be lots of tragedies and victories. And he said that Ukraine was going to go through some very difficult times. But this was all said in a very sketchy way. There was no discussion or analysis of the conflict.”

52:14 “or of what’s going on. Or what his own – President Biden’s – strategy is. Or what is the strategy of the United States. Or what victory amounts to. Or what President Biden’s conception of victory is. It was nothing. There was a sound-bite, and it’s a sound-bite which I see being repeated by a lot of people. I saw it being used by Annalina Baerbok a little while back which is that if Russia pulls it troops out of Ukraine – I’m not quite clear what that means, by the way. Does it include Crimea? I presume, yes. But if Russia pulls out of Ukraine, pulls its troops out of Ukraine, the war ends. If Ukraine stops defending itself, Ukrainian ends. That’s not a strategy or a policy statement, as I said. That’s just a sound-bite. And for the record, I think it’s completely wrong. I think that if the Russians pulled all their troops out of Ukraine; if they pulled out of Crimea as well, it would not be the end of the conflict. It would just mark another stage in the conflict with the Ukrainians marching in occupying all of these areas. Probably against the resistance of the local people, many of the local people. There would be a huge exodus of people. There would be, in other words. Another wave of suffering on top of all the suffering we’ve seen up to now.

54:04 “But perhaps it’s the second sentence, the second part of this sound-bite that is the most problematic. If Ukraine stops defending itself, then Ukraine ends. Now the first thing to say about that, that looks like a formula for perpetual war. It’s not suggesting some kind of proposal. It doesn’t tell us how Ukraine can find some way of ending this war short of a total unachievable victory. But let’s put that aside. Because I actually think that the whole idea is wrong. We have had successive peace plans. We had the Minsk Agreement. We had the draft agreement that was almost agreed in Istanbul last year. All of these agreements would have enabled Ukraine to survive. Well, it might has lost, it would have lost some territory in the case of the Minsk Agreement. It would have to concede the autonomy of Donbas which is not, properly speaking, a loss of territory at all, but probably the outcome of the Istanbul Agreement would have been the loss of some territory. But that would have been limited to Crimea and Donbas. This is not a formula for ending Ukraine. So, if Ukraine had agreed to this plan and had, in effect, ceased defending itself as part of some overall peace agreement with the Russians which would, of course, have involved a cease-fire, it would not have been the end of Ukraine. It would have been a mechanism, or formula, for ensuring the survival of Ukraine.

56:09 "Whereas, perpetual war which is what this sentence implies, it seems to me, does risk the eventual destruction of Ukraine. We already see how many thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been killed. We see photographs of cemeteries. There's a huge photograph on the New York Times, I believe today, showing a Ukrainian cemetery. And by the way, the article that goes along with it saus that in order to stop this we must actually give Ukraine even more weapons which, as I said, I'm not going to start on the whole illogic of that. But we see tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers having been killed in the fighting. We see Ukraine losing territory. It has lost much more of Donbas. It has lost a significant part of Zaporosia region. It has lost the eastern part of Kherson region. And the Russians now have claims to the rest of Donetsk region -- the less, but still under Ukrainian control. They have claims to the rest of Zaporosia region. They ultimately claim and apparently intend to occupy the West Bank region of Kherson as well."

57:37 "And if the war continues beyond this, if the Rujssians are allowed to go on grinding down the Ukrainian army, killing more Ukrainians, causing more tragedies for the Ukrainian people. Of course the Russians will be able as well to push on and take more of Ukraine. And perhaps eventually all of Ukraine east of the Dnieper [river]. It is not impossible. In which case, of course, Ukraine's position becomes more difficult. And, of course, if the Russians push on even further, beyond the Dnieper, well you can eventually see a situation where Ukraine ceases to exist as a state. I don't know if that's the Russian plan. It waas certainly not the Russian plan when the conflict began. But, to reiterate again, if you persist with perpetual war, which is what President Biden is talking about, then you do generally risk the survival of Ukraine. It is surely a better way forward if the United States instead was to press for some kind of diplomatic settlement which would mean that Ukraine would survive even if it would have to give up some of its post-1991 territory."

59:13 " . . ."

[comments on Putin's facts and figures relating to the economy and education, etcetera . . .]