"CrossTalk, HOME EDITION: ‘Demilitarize’ and ‘denazify’"
RT.com (February 28, 2022)
We are told Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine is to ‘demilitarize’ and ‘denazify’ the country. Negotiations are likely to start soon. What kind of Ukraine can we expect after the special military operation has come to an end?
CrossTalking with Patrick Henningsen and George Szamuely.
Peter Lavelle: "... lets discuss this de-nazification because I have seen no discussion of this anywhere in the media. First demilitarization and then de-nazification."
Patrick Henningsen: "We can't leave out, also, the humanitarian aspect of it and securing Donetzk and Lugansk which they've recognized. To the point of demilitarization. You have to look at this and frame it properly. This is a proxy war. This is Russia versus NATO and the NATO states are using Ukraine as a proxy. They're pumping weapons into it. We've seen this before. I personally witnessed this myself, in Syria on the ground. I know exactly what happens when that takes place. So, it's a proxy war. And the weapons shipments are being amped up right now. Germany is now going to be sending lethal aid. Other countries as well. Australia, I believe, as well. And we know how this is going to work out over time if this is a protracted affair."
[02:37] "But the de-nazification element is really important. That is completely omitted from the Western narrative. And it has been for a long time. The West always backs radicals. They back radicals in the middle east, they back radicals in Ukraine, unfortunately, from World War II to the present. And this is a very complex political analysis that no one will undertake in the mainstream media or ever mention it. No politician will ever mention it as well. And the United States knew exactly where those fault lines were and they aggravated those again in order to manipulate the political situation in Ukrain. And most notably when Victoria Nuland and her team were over there during the Obama administration, this is when it really [became] inflamed. They really went in for the kill, in terms of backing a violent coup in 2014."
"And at that point Ukrain ceased to be a liberal democracy, because a liberal democracy means you can have people from different ethnic groups and they have equal representation under the law. So at that point you could argue that from the 2014 Maidan coup -- backed by the United States, and the EU as well, and NATO member states -- then Ukraine becomes a failed state at that point. When you deploy the military basically to attempt to ethnically cleanse, or to put down a rebellion based on race or ethnic origin, at that point, and then you lose control of parts of your country for political reasons like in the Crimea, you're a failed state, practically, at that point. And it's only a matter of time before you come apart at the seams domestically, or your neighbors will help in that process as well. This is not exclusive to Ukraine and Russia in this sense. This is really all over the world throughout history, at least since the post-Westphalian nation state era.
"So I don't see this as a surprise. But there is no context: the background, the coup, none of it. And the fact that the Minsk accords were completely sabotaged for seven-eight years is ever mentioned. No context. No background. No history. Nothing. All you get is 'Vladimir Putin and he's the next Hitler.' This is the Sudetenland. That's all you get right now in the Western media and the bi-politicians. And its all incredibly arrogant and incredibly manipulative, and I would say very shameful this is getting, especially from Western politicians who are sort of grandstanding right now. Pointing the finger. Wagging the finger. And the media will not allow any context."
Peter Lavelle: "George, Patrick said a lot. Do you want to add to it? Go ahead."
[5:30] George Szamuely: "Patrick has summed it up excellently. What I would add, is that this is essentially the Obama-Biden team and it may have triggered the Russians into thinking, 'We need to act now because in two to three years, it may be too late.' And in terms of your question: What do the Russians want? the Russians will not tolerate -- and they've made it clear -- they will not tolerate an essentially armed anti-Russia on their borders. This whole state is just being created as a NATO proxy armed animus towards Russia."
Peter Lavelle: " . . . this Galacian mind-set . . . they confined political discourse and participation and of course people in the Donbass were excluded. They were disenfranchised, actually blockaded, and the government under Poroshenko killed up to fifteen thousand of them. Again, not much coverage in the media" "
[9:21] Patrick Henningsen: "When you watch the UN General Assembly address by the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, it's all completely twisted, and actual outright lies being told on the floor of the UN. We see this from Western officials. So everything you said is important. I would argue, as well, I think the radical neo-nazi element is a minority but it's a very powerful minority. And being able to have street politics, as it were, being able to enforce politics on the street. Standing outside Parliament, throwing politicians into bins -- all of this happened -- and then the legalized discrimination of certain people, ethnic groups, outlawing the Russian language. In case of a democracy, Ukraine, you can't really compare it to a liberal Western democracy by any stretch of the imagination."
"They have a wild corruption problem and the United States, by the way, some of its politicians did very well out of that corrupt atmosphere, including the current President, Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, made an absolute fortune and took advantage of that corruption and its unbelievable how that is not even allowed to be spoken of in the Western media in political circles. So you can see this whole conversation is completely tilted in one direction. The information landscapses in the West and Russia are so different. And its not surprising why the two sides will not be able to understand each other in terms of the public. "Mayb some politicians understand, but I will tell you even some members of Congress and the Senate are completely clueless about geography, about history, even about what happened in February of 2014. They have no idea. Because they get their history from CNN, from MSNBC, from the New York Times, from people like [Thomas] Friedman and these sorts of columnists. So this is very dangerous. Because you're not going to be able to come to any sober negotiation position. We're gaslit, even at the highest levels of the U.S. political establishment. In Britain, as well. In that sense, it is very very dangerous. And the media plays an absolutely central role in making sure that this chaos continues, because they will not speak of, or publish, or report about what is really happening on the ground and put it in context, as I said before."
Peter Lavelle: "George, all of this was quite predictable, sadly and tragically. All you had to do was go back to 2007 at the Munich security conference and Putin's famous speech there. I mean, again, those of us who have been watching what is going on in Ukraine know about these things. But a cursory review of Western media and its as if it never happened. But if you go back and read that speech you can understand what's happening today."
[12:19] George Szamuely: "Well, this is the thing. Ever since the Cold War ended, the Russians have had the better arguments: You invaded Iraq. That was illegal. You violated the UN charter. You violated UN Security Council resolutions. You bombed Yugoslavia, a violation of the UN Charter. You even violated the NATO charter. Julian Assange: you're imprisoning someone who believes in freedom of speech and who is providing information about government war crimes. Very good arguments. Excellent arguments. And NATO simply says: OK, well, who cares? We have the guns. We have the power. Fine, you can make your good arguments."
"And I think that what suddenly has happened, is that Russia has taken a leaf out of the United States and NATO's playbook. 'Fine. We're not going to argue anymore. You can make all your legal arguments about international law and the UN Charter. And we're just going to do what's in our national interest.
[14:04] "Russia really had to get out of the prison that it was getting itself locked into with, essentially, NATO's expansion into eastern Europe, and then into the Caucasus, into the Far East. And this was an ongoing thing. It was never going to stop. And again, Russia would make all these points: 'You promised Mr Gorbachov not one inch. You talk about the rules-based order. You're violating international law.' Fine. Excellent arguments. Nobody cares. Because you don't have the power."
"For Russia to re-emerge as a great power, to bring to an end the imprisonment that NATO planned for it, it had to do something drastic. There's pain involved. But Russia has just made its mark on the world. Russia has now pushed NATO out of its corner. And the NATO powers they can go to the United Nations and make all these speeches about how 'You violated the UN Charter. This is international law. You are threatening small countries' Great speeches. All the speeches the Russians have been making over the years. But there is nothing you can do about it. And that's why the Western powers are so aggrieved that they are now suddenly in the position that the Russians have been in for the past thirty years."
[15:31] Peter Lavelle: "What's kind of interesting, George, is that you always hear that 'Russia only understands force'. Well, NATO understands force now, doesn't it? And, of course, everyone, two or three days later, all these sanctions. So much courage out there. It's really embarrassing. It shows that NATO is a paper tiger. That's all it is, really. 'Sending arms'? NATO doesn't have any arms. Member state countries do. NATO doesn't have anything except a lot of paper clips."
"Patrick, former president Dmitry Medvedev came out on the last news cycle, and I really think it's something quite remarkable, again, not getting any kind of traction. I'm quoting from the RT website: 'Final review of Russia's relations with the West now possible.' I think that's really fundamentally important. And this kind of dovetails with what George had to say. You want everyone to play in your organization, play by your rules, and it always works to your disadvantage. So why play in these organizations? I have said this for a very long time. It's a very radical proposition, even among some Russians. But if you're always going to be a second class citizen in someone else's organization, their 'values,' whatever they are (which I've never been able to figure out)
"It's time for a clean break. I don't like how we got here. I'm very distressed by what is going on. But there seems to be a certain inevitability if Russia wants to maintain its sovereign destiny."
[17:03] Patrick Henningsen: "This is the difficult part and it's kind of the paradox in the World order, is that it has been a uni-polar world order with the United States clearly the most powerful country militarily, economically, and politically, especially since the end of the Cold War, the fall of the iron curtain. But the irony is that the weaker countries, even the second teir below that: Russia, or even China in a sense, still work through the multi-lateral institutions like the UN, because they have no other option. They have to work together to gain consensus with other sountries. And Russia has always been very diligent about working through these organizations. They have been. You can hear the rhetoric from Sergei Lavrov. It is very normative behavior. Russia is very predictable in that sense. There are no secrets. They are very clear about what their intentions are. But that set of rules doesn't apply, obviously to the U.S. and it's allies, especially when unilateral action has been taken by the U.S. and its allies just basically barrel in behind them, whether its through NATO, or with Britain, in Iraq, and things like this."
[18:19] "So, that's the problem. The Russians really believe, and their diplomats are very good. I do believe that they believe in these institutions. But will these institutions love them back if they play by the rules. And will international law be upheld. And international law, let's face it, is a relative concept, especially for the United States. It only believes in international law so long as it is convenient to whatever ends it is pursuing.
Donbass is a perfect example. If you go by the letter of the UN Charter, they have fulfilled most of the requirements for declaring independence. And it is not against international law to recognize them or for the members of the Russian parliament to vote to recognize them. And the West made a huge blunder. They sanctioned Russia and Russian parliamentarians and everybody else just for recognizing Donetsk and Lugansk. That's not a breach of interrnational law. They're allowed to recognize whom they like. But the real question is do they qualify for "statehood," as it were, or at least some interim independent status. And they absolutely do, especially if you look at what has happened over the past eight years. That has completely been brushed under the rug. The people of the Donbas have been cancelled by the West. Four million people have been cancelled. They don't exist. They've been de-platformed. They're de-humanized. They don't exist. I think that is the argument that Ambassador Nebenzia has been trying to make on the floor of the UN in recent days. So how are we going to get past this situation is very very difficult."
[20:03] Peter Lavelle: "You know, George, as much as Russia has been maligned due to its operations in Kiev, I would say the larger picture, to take a step back, the post-Cold War secrity architecture collapsed, and this is what we get from it. It was ill-conceived. It was poorly implemented. And it had only select members of the international community, their security at stake, and no one else's. The results are what we see right now. The collapse of a system that the U.S. forced upon the rest of the world. It has collapsed and we are in a new epoch. I don't know what to call it. You and I have talked about this before. We're in a new era.
[20:54] George Szamuely: "We are in a new era. The rubble that we see in Kiev, this is the rubble of NATO infrastructure. And now the Russians have also made clear that if you now respond by building up your NATO infrastructure on our borders, the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, we're going to render that rubble, as well. We're just not going to tolerate you building up essentially our neighborhood as a launching pad for an invasion of us."
Peter Lavelle: "As we speak right now, what does Russia have to lose in doing that?
George Szamuely: "Nothing. Sot that's absolutely the worst, the most disastrous response that the West could make. But going to the larger point, there is no question that, not only does the West enjoy enormous military power, but also enormous economic and financial power. With all the talk about SWIFT, we're going to throw the Russians off SWIFT. Well, it's not a very good system when one group of countries can simpoy throw other countries from the system, which prevents them from making a living. And I think that the alternatives to SWIFT that are already in preparation, however extensive they are, and they may already be quite extensive, other countries will be happy to use."
[22:22] "We've seen how the United States has used its economic power -- again, in violation of all the United Nations resoulutions -- to coerce all the weaker countries to comply with its political designs. So, for all the talk that Russia is isolated, Russia is isolated as far as the West is concerned. As far as much of the rest of the world is concerned, they think, first of all, Russia has reasonable security interests. They think it is absolue madness for NATO to try and surround it in the way that they did. Russia was bound to resond."
But they also think this very good that an alternative global financial system is being created that give us much more leverage than we had before. Which is why India did not condemn Russia. So we now have India and China, the two most populous countries in the world, they did not condemn Russia. You have countries in Latin America who are sympathetic to Russia. Many countries in the world are sympathetic because they got the short end of the stick during the post-Cold War era of Western dominance."
[23:38] Peter Lavelle: "Speaking of SWIFT, Patrick, it's intersting that the more they fiddle with SWIFT, the more they fiddle with the dominance of the US Dollar. Self inflicting wounds, because once you have an alternative system -- and George is absolutely right, I've heard various things coming out of China: 50%, 90% finished -- it does, in fact, exist. And now there is a reason for people to be interested in doing that. Because if SWIFT is going to be a politicized organization, if the dollar is going to be politicized, people will walk away from it. It's a headache. The most powerful thing you can do right now is sanction somebody. When there is a fear of sanctions, people will find an alternative As far as the SWIFT system and throwing Russia out of it, the biggest losers will be Europe. And all the 'Victory' right now, and breast beating, industry still needs industry. And if you can't pay the bill, you're not going to get it."
[24:35] Patrick Henningsen: "If you listen to U.S. pundits right now, it's amazing. On all the networks we need to cut off Europe from Russian gas and oil. So we need to stick it to the Germans. They need to get into line. They need to buy gas from us. Like they can ship LNG over and meet the German base load for power and heating when 40% of it comes by the Yamal pipeline and also Nordstream 1. And so they -- it's kind of a ridiculous world view in America. They are so detatched from reality. What happens if Russia turns off the gas to Europe? Then they're going to want World War III."
[25:22] Peter Lavelle: "What happens if Russia isn't allowed to process its payments?
Patrick Henningsen: "What happens when you can't do commerce on the high seas? They seized a ship in the English channel yesterday that they believe was under sanctions. This is very dangerous. Because if you look at the series of events in history that have preceded wars. Like World War II. Look what Japan was pushed into a corner in much the same way with sanctions and all the rest of it, couldn't buy or sell, couldn't get access to markets or fuel. And then Pearl Harbor happened after that. I'm not saying that will happen in this case, but these are all the telltale signs for a prelude to a wider war. I think there are people in the West who are so reckless, they don't care where this ends up."