"Russia Encircles Ukrainian Army in Donbass, Negotiates ‘Humanitarian Convoys’ with Kiev"
The Duran News Topic 431 (March 4, 2022)

[15:29] Alexander Mercouris:"... it is precisely because the Russians for the moment do not want to storm Kiev. They want to negotiate some kind of a settlement, though they're making it very clear that it must be a settlement on their terms."

"Now, let us wind back and look at a situation very similar to this one, or at least similar in some ways to this one which is the so-called Siege of Aleppo that took place in Syria in 2016. In 2016, an area of Aleppo around half the city in territorial terms, was contolled, up to 2016, by fighters seeking the overthrow of President assad's government. And what happened is that with Russian aerial support, the Syrian military was able to gradually encircle this area of Aleppo and place it under essential siege. But note that no attempt was actually made to storm this part of the city. Instead, supplies were gradually cut off and negotiations for the withdrawal of those fighters in Aleppo took place. And there were multiple ceasefires over the course of these negotiations as these were underway."

"And in addition, and very importantly, the Russians also repeatedly agreed to what were called humanitarian corridors. Now these humanitarian corridors which were very much a feature of the battle of Aleppo, but which were also set up by the Russians in other cities and towns in Syria which were under the control of the fighters who were fighting president Assad, they were first and foremost intended to allow civilians to leave these urban areas, isolating the fighters there. And, of course, and importantly, they were also specifically set up to allow an opportunity for those fighters to negotiate and exit, retreat from those cities. And the condition, always, was that they leave most of their weapons behind, except sometimes, light weapons, but that they actually vacate these cities. So, once the fighters left the cities, the Syrian military, backed by the Russians was able to move into these settlements and take them over essentially intact."

[18:24] . . .

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[30:08] Alexander Mercouris: "done in other places. It is what they did in Syria. It's what they also did, by the way, during that long war in Chechnia and they are applying the same methods to Ukraine. And, of course, here we come to the important difference because the American way of war is extremely successful on its own terms. I mean, it did result in 2003 in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's government and in the fall of Baghdad. But achieving that left a vacuum in the country. There were no political structures set up to take it's place. The U.S. had little idea of whom to work with in the country and very quickly Iraq spiralled into chaos and the U.S. has never found it possible at any point thereafter to gain complete control.

[31:11] "Whereas the Russian way of war, operating in an extremely differnent fashion aims, on the contrary, to create political structures which are much more responsive to Russian wishes and to avoid that kind of vacuum being created at almost any cost. And you can see that also in Russian behavior in some of the cities that they have captured. And this has been true in places like Kherson. It has been true in Melitopol. Whenever they've moved in; whenever the Russians have moved in to one of these cities which have fallen under their military control, they have not removed the civilian administration. They have left mayors and the bureaucracy intact. They have allowed the bureaucrats, the civilian officials to continue to fly the Ukrainian flag. They have allowed normal processes of civilian administration to continue, because ultimately and eventually, they want to assimilate them into whatever political structure they are intending eventually to create in Ukraine. And the result is, or so the hope is, that a vacuum in Ukraine is avoided"

[32:40] "Now, I'm going to finish by making two quick observations. Explaining things doesn't mean any kind of moral or ethical endorsement. As I made very clear in the very first program that I did after the war began. I have a deep and profound horror of war. I am absolutely willing to condemn it. However, I don't see that doing so in these sorts of programs really helps understand very much what is going on. And I see my purpose in making these programs to explain my analysis and understanding of the situation, which may, of course, be wrong. It may be that I'm seeing things that aren't there or I'm misjudging what's actually happening, though I'm fairly confident that in this analysis, I'm correct. But I think that is ultimately a more useful thing to do than simply coming up with words of condemnation, of which there have been plenty and of which adding my own, to the extent that I haven't already, isn't going to achieve anything."

[34:05] "And the second point I want to make is that though this may be the Russian plan in Ukraine; it may be what they're trying to do, it doesn't mean that it is going to succeed. You can have the best of plans or you can have the most carefully thought-out plan, but as I think it was Clausewitz once said: No plan, no battle plan, ever survives first contact with the enemy. So, it doesn't mean that the Russian plan is going to work. I'm just explaining what the Russian plan is."

"I will say this, that I can't predict and won't predict the outcome, I think that this approach, certainly in a place like Ukraine, is much more likely to be successful than any other. It's certainly more likely to be successful than American-style 'shock and awe.' All that does, as I said, is that it creates a vacuum at the center of power. It causes the State and its institutions to collapse. And then the occupying force, the United States in Iraq, the Russians in Ukraine would be left with a state of chaos which is extrememly difficult to control.

"So, working in this way which preserves the civilian administration; keeps the relevant officials in place; works with the government, the actual government in being, negotiating with it over ceasefires, local ceasefires, humanitarian corridors, that sort of thing even as negotiations continue towards an overarching political settlement which may never be agreed with that particular government, by the way, but which does provide a kind of ordered framework for the negotiations. All that, it seems to me, is far more likely to be successful and effective in the end than American-style 'shock and awe'."

"That, at least, is my own perspective of this conflict and of the approach the Rusians are taking. And I would say again, that Westerners don't always understand it. They didn't understand it when it was applied in Syria. And they are completely unable to understand it when it is applied to Ukraine. I would say, just as a sequel, that the Russians [Soviets] occupied Czechoslovakia in 1968, another military act by the Russians [Soviets] which the world condemned. But note, again, that the Russians were careful to keep the Czech government in existence and to actually negotiate with it so as to achieve a settlement of the situation in what was then Czechoslovakia, which was, ultimately, in the interests of themselves."

"So, I think this is very much the way Russians approach these matters. We will see how this situation works out. I would urge people to avoid some of the overblown and rather vivid accounts in the western media. It's quite obvious to me that many of the people who write that their passionate feelings are engaged, their emotions are engaged; they look at things very much in terms of the outcome that they desire rather than the outcome that the events, themselves, point to. So, I hope that you've learned somethiing from this program. I hope I've given you, if you don't agree with this, at least some food for thought. I look forward to you joining me again.