Since the last edition of the podcast, Vladimir Putin has carried out actions in Ukraine that go against all forms of decency and civil behaviour.
One month later, Marcus Stead and Greg Lance-Watkins try to make sense of the situation.
All decent people are disgusted and appalled with Putin’s deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, and he has no role to play in any lasting discussions on a peace settlement.
However, this has been a horrendous military campaign by Russia. They are facing a humiliating defeat, but the big question is – where does Ukraine go from here?
This conflict has been going on since the Meidan Revolution of 2014, when the democratically-elected pro-Russian President Yanukovych was overthrown by a US and EU-backed mob, which included Nazi-sympathising elements such as the Azov Battalion and the Right Sector.
The rights of the ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking peoples of Donbas were signed away at gunpoint, and an eight-year conflict began, in which 14,000 innocent civilians have died in the region.
The Minsk II agreement, brokered with the help of Germany, France and Poland, would have seen Donbas giving autonomy within the Ukrainian state, but this was never implemented. While this in no way excuses Putin’s actions, it nevertheless played into his hands.
The current Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is also no saint, as the Pandora Papers reveal huge corruption and offshore accounts linked directly to him.
One of the great tragedies of this conflict is that Ukraine has the potential to become a rich, prosperous country. It has a great deal of natural resources, and its ports are located in superb positions in terms of trade. But a lasting peace will require compromise and for the language and civil rights of all peoples to be respected.
The lack of leadership from the West is also deeply concerning. President Biden, once a steady, likeable if unspectacular Senator and Vice President, is very clearly in cognitive decline. The British army is now so small in size, it would fit comfortably into Wembley Stadium, and the Royal Navy so small that recapturing the Falkland Islands, as happened in 1982, would now be impossible.
A key ‘piece of the jigsaw’ is Russia’s relationship with China, which will soon become the world’s largest economy, which will have serious consequences for us all. The days of China being ordered about by Western countries are over.
As for Russia itself, it appears as though Putin has surrounded himself with sycophants, or at the very least people who are terrified of telling him the truth about how badly this military campaign is going.
What does all this mean for Russia? Putin does not look well. If he is overthrown, will Russia survive as a nation state?
This podcast does not claim to have all the answers, but it does provide an interesting discussion.
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