tv Cross Talk RT April 7, 2021 10:30am-11:01am EDT
hello and welcome to cross talk we're all things are considered i'm peter lavelle russian officials have borne care of a renewed military assault on the country's east could lead to the end of ukraine itself this is how serious the situation is washington and its nato allies blame moscow for the escalation of tensions will the west back ukraine if kim starts a war. crosstalk in ukraine i'm joined by my guest mary the chefs in london she's a columnist for the independent on foreign affairs in washington we are all rescues and he is the executive vice president of the eurasia center and here in moscow we
have gabriel gavin he is a moscow based journalist covering central and eastern europe for a number of outlets including our team our cross talk rules in effect that means he can jump in anytime he wants i always appreciate mary let me go to you 1st here this is a very ominous situation that we're facing right now we have 10 tensions are escalating the rhetoric from kiev is quite harsh moscow is react. thing and nato allies are reacting as well here what's going on here i mean who's driving this is this is it washington is an accommodation of both and what about the timing the early days of the biden ministration because the b. team that's running american foreign policy was the b. team over the obama administration same figures same people same names same agenda go ahead mary. well it would very very complicated for me to figure out what on earth is going 'd on because frankly as seen from london the whole.
hue and cry about what was going on between russia and ukraine has been building rather slowly and i only sort of woke up to it last week that what we were looking at was every day practically every hour we're seeing accusations from london and from washington and from nato russia has embarked on this gigantic arms buildup on the russian side of the ukrainian border and is just waiting to launch a war. to shore up the supposed russian presence in the east of ukraine either to help the rebels or even to seize territory and possibly even to consolidate some sort of fan further land bridge into crimea now one of the reasons that i wasn't sort of paying sufficient attention to this is
that i couldn't take this seriously that russia would actually want to wage or to embark on military action that would result in any sort of military confrontation in the east of ukraine or anywhere in europe i mean it just seems completely crazy to me yeah but that's because the view that you're getting from the for western capitals yes we're not getting the other side of it which is that. nato has been holding maneuvers in it remain your lead maneuvers in in the black sea when not getting reports of what nato may be doing in the baltic we're not getting reports from. with the other side when you see if you're really getting any reports of what's going on in kiev we're just seeing reports which is saying russia is preparing for offensive eastern
ukraine yeah and russia has criticized for having military exercises within its borders that's interesting earl let me go to you another thing that's hardly reported is that on the 24th of this of march of this year president of ukraine he signed a presidential directive one $17.00 slash 2021 it is policy that that ukraine will take will pursue a policy of taking you cry me a back and that would the only way that would be would be through military and here i mean these are these are fighting words as some people have said this is a declaration of war it's no wonder russia may have military exercises on the border no surprise there earl go ahead i've read about that recently and it's very disturbing and very provocative i think the in addition what we haven't heard. whole. along the eastern areas well along
on many conflicts you know why would show which basically this was a clear signal and i can't imagine such a direct were written without some type of consultation to exactly allies but but it goes down to a very dangerous very dangerous past. and you know really pushes the limit a potential military explosion a military conflict would be devastating i think for the. for the region for the country really should go around ok well gabriel let me go to you here also in moscow i mean where is this being driven you know every since 2008 the united states has one it is said that ukraine in georgia will become part of the need and we had. tony blinken people like that in the obama administration that were very much involved in the ukraine portfolio under vice president biden at the time
he's back in power ok i mean victoria nuland is number 3 in the state department jake sullivan is also there i mean it looks to me that this is unfinished business for them and who knows who is running foreign policy we have no idea if it's the president himself go ahead gabriel weigh in well i think in this in this context it would feel the there isn't a clear strategy from washington so i know some people are talking about this idea of ukraine being this engineered battleground for east versus west an opportunity to draw russia into a conflict that would make it a pariah in europe i think the reality is that there isn't such a grand scheme of play that simply hasn't been that amount of foreign policy development put into place i think instead it's really important to try and divide the rhetoric from the reality i don't think and i haven't seen any evidence to suggest that anyone in washington and certainly not in moscow want to fold a full blown conflict in the donbass or in crimea or anywhere else in eastern europe it simply doesn't no one stands to gain out of the situation and but instead
i think what's where this. this kind of growing crisis actually is much more useful for various state actors is that it is a threat rather than a reality. the sounding the alarm about potential russian aggression forces supposedly massing on the borders is a really powerful tool to bring ukraine and the us together and to have discussions around for example the really substantial military aid that washington gives care of each and every year to make ukraine a relevant country on the world stage to kind of. put it another step on its path to nato membership if that is the direction that it decides to eventually go we know that certainly its intention at present. but i think the reality is unfortunately while it might be very very useful and keep ukraine in the news keep ukraine certainly within the sphere of this kind of american protective swear this nato perspective but it's very dangerous very dangerous is very very dangerous because because we've seen this week for example that ukraine has invited nato to
fly warplanes the russians aspace and it's very very easy to see how miscalculation madness or sheer accident leads that into a situation that rapidly spirals out of control in a way that washington nor moscow can at the moment predict mary in a big if we can add this extra layer of the russia hoax that played out during the trumpet ministration here i mean again the characters that i name that are in power now they're all russia gators ok they have a visceral hatred for russia and would really bothers me is that you can have an attitude towards a country or a people but when you have i don't do that a lot of power i think i'm terrified a bit here because just as gabriel said you know this can bleed into actions that may be unintended and once you make the false step then everybody is always in ok and i think that's what makes it really dangerous obviously in gabriels mentioned something i want to talk about later this is a way to cut off russia from europe for ever and this is the aim and ukraine is the
key go ahead mary. i'm not sure that thinking is that far developed in washington i think there's a lot of firm feeling their way both from moscow and from washington and from here if you've got a new administration in washington and for some there were hopes that maybe the the really miss the mistake can somehow relationship between between trump and russia which promised so much in the in the early days that was completely thwarted. by washington that somehow they could be a turn for the better under biden despite as as you point out as all the as all the equipment is were announced you realize that what you were getting was you know as you put it as the sort of 2nd team from the obama administration and
everything that joe biden said since he took office has been to adopt an official stance towards moscow which is even more hawkish than the current congressional starts to awards moscow under a trump and it's very hard to read it because it's so early in the administration for her to marry how serious and said words and words are important me that are all here you know it's a very important to them is a dangerous yeah because president biden said that putin is a killer and he has no soul i mean this is part of the game plan earl if you know. to. to denigrate your your enemy ok and to admonish people i mean this this adds this extra layer i mean it's difficult for the president the united states now after saying that it's a i'm going to meet putin i mean how when he's a killer he has no soul you see how this rhetoric does goes into that direction where it makes pulling back very hard to me where our last minute before we go to
the breaker or go ahead. yeah peter i i i would agree with mary i don't necessarily think that strategy got separate. you know ukraine completely or russia complete with new york but all the members of the same this is unfinished business i think we've got a new administration trying to build relations with biden or you know you can buy it at the same and get attention from the u.s. and at the same time we've got another push. into. the distribution in europe and to drive economic severance between europe and russia even more so there is there is a game plan maybe it's not always strategize all out but there's definitely unfinished business here and there is a russia russia russia russia and you're going to see. yeah and i want we all have to wonder on this on this program where that's going to lead what does mean what
does it mean a successful policy that's a big question you know i am going to jump in here we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on ukraine state with our. i mean this is what i get a call to this is do. you do this for the 1st one of the last we just can stumble from. what is. actually seriously don't. you think it was national capital. petroleum i thought. the plane into. the. sunlight it was a difficult. nope i will support school board if he's going to clean
up the school is a good thing because the. change in the life of the smear. job of. post someone. is a tough sell if you believe it. was a pandemic no certainly no borders and is blind to nationalities. as america we don't live with the we don't look like seeing the whole world needs to be. judged. come in every crisis with this system to. we can do better we should.
everyone is contributing way but we also know that this crisis will not go on forever the challenges grateful to response has been must so many good people are helping us. it makes us feel very proud that we are in it together. welcome to cross talk where all things considered i'm peter lavelle to remind you we're discussing ukraine. go back to gabriel here in moscow gabriel i find it rather odd in many ways is that if you indeed ukraine is pushing there's a landscape which essentially was elected as a. compromise figure
a pretty good they could reach out to russian speakers in the east of the country and even maybe some kind of negotiated settlement with russia amazing how things have changed haven't they and now you know he signs this presidential directive that i just pointed out in the beginning of our program and. he seems to be a war hawk right now the thing is is that his country is the battleground ok i mean it's all vices say we want to be in the in the nato club we want to have arms deliveries all of this we want to be in the news we want to be liked but you're the battlefield ok and ukraine is a very fragile country i cannot impress. enough on our viewers here because the illegal overthrow of the government in 2014 it is felt to this day that's why crimea is part of russia right now that is why the donbass wants to keep its arm's length from kiev because up to 14000 people were killed by the ukrainian military and now it's a linsky is setting us up for another round i tend to agree ukraine will end badly
in all of this what's his logic go ahead but i think he finds himself in a really difficult position he's trying to keep his government together through a series of really tough constitutional reforms that are needed to keep the money flowing from need to demonstrate that corruption. croft and sleaze are a thing of the past he's been fighting pitched battles at home he's been under a lot of criticism for his response to the kind of 19. demick which by the way is involved for example putting a total ban on any imports of any russian vaccine so i think it's really clear that he finds himself with a tough domestic political situation and in ukraine you can either do one of 2 things you can try and be a consensus an appeal candidate which is where he started and is obviously not succeeded necessarily holding the country together behind him or you can throw meat to the hard liners you can kind of blow the nationalist trumpet and say we're going to reclaim crimea we're going to put a lasting and potentially very violent settlement in place in the donbass and these
things are you know there are checks that he can't cash there are effectively things that can only be done with support from the u.s. but i think he's been able to position himself as. someone who has more influence with the u.s. and with washington that otherwise might be the case. up until now but since taking office joe biden waited 3 months to call the lecky and we know that joe biden feels in some way compromised by his potential past links with the past links of his family members to ukraine so it's a tough issue for him. but actually after the most recent round of worrying escalations in the east of the country you have biden called selenski this weekend for the 1st time so it's clear that i think this is a lever he believes he can poll in order to maintain his relevance in order to maintain his position as a as a world leader of portland's and at the same time can kind of throw meat to his hardliners and encourage as much support as possible in this kind of war effort and i think ukraine does still very much see itself as
a country at war i speak to ukrainian friends about this all the time and they say whatever our assault on for example russian language might be whatever our compromises are on basic human rights because we are fighting a war and that psychological element that has kind of persisted since 2014 has never gone away in my view mary i mean ok this is a very delicate delicate balancing act but you can't do it forever ok you can't you know prepare for a war rhetorical and even in. in a material way you can't keep up that tempo for long or else you look like a loser you you don't look like a leader and then why should people have confidence in you i mean i find this to be a very dangerous and crazy approach to make yourself relevant ok because it's a matter of war and peace ok it's not like you know inflation 2 percent 3 percent this is very important stuff go ahead mary is well i don't disagree with that and i agree with a lot of what gabriel is saying from for moscow i think in some ways it's
a tragic progression that we've seen from zillion skee when he when he was elected he was elected exactly that on a platform of trying to reach some agreement over the east of ukraine and initially things looked quite promising a zillion skee had very widespread support and he also had a mood of the country which was the teet by war and several things have happened to to weaken that one of them has been the pandemic and it's a fact another has been the way the the nationalist orcs in in ukraine have been trying to undermine the syrian ski and i think it's very unfortunate in a way that so much of the western world has been has been climbing on to that's the same bandwagon of at one time both trying to undermine zillion ski's initial instinct says that he was going to be
a peacemaker and on the on other hand bowstring his image as the leader of ukraine keeping in crane somehow in the center of european if not global attention by bowstring from washington i just think it's extraordinary unfortunate and as everybody is saying it's very very dangerous because we've seen in some ways this how the same playbook. came to pass in in 2008 you had to leadership which felt that it was hugely. civic washington and that if it embarks on some rash action it would be and that. what you saw were so what was a standoff and actually military action by russia. and you sort of hope that maybe people would learn from what happened in 2008 the ukraine would learn that
washington would learn and everybody and you know i just hope they have well mary if i can stay with you i mean again one of the big kill your things about all of this is that i can see how the status quo isn't satisfied for any actor in all of this but the status quo of what we have is better than a military conflict because once that 1st. bullet is fired then the fog of war is in play and then you really have unintended consequences you don't know what's going to happen again up to 14000 people in donbass were killed i mean having this kind of rhetoric right now there people are on edge very much on edge here earl if i can go to you now in washington i mean do you get the sense that certain skills kind of given up on the domestic reform thing i mean to keep themselves relevant you know and put on a uniform and talk tough and hope that your american friends will bail you out because the economy is in bad shape the cove it is been very very bad there the
the. western basters in care of the made it explicitly clear that ukraine cannot have the sputnik 5 vaccine which the russians would readily make available and so do you think that selenski is you know throwing in the towel and you know this is the his last shot at it too may remain relevant in the leader of his country because his public opinion numbers are drastically down go ahead are all. and mary mentioned that once the reason he won by so much of a hard time i think primarily because he advocated finding a true peace in resolving a negotiating any kind of flip flop or cleanly on that is that the hard right that is pushing this the us obviously expection of the current players and probably pushing out if you listen to the rhetoric coming out of the us really kind of gives mixed signals and more towards were wholly behind. ukraine madness and
re-establishing control of the donbass and and taking back crimea so it sends a signal. so the lenski that perhaps similar to what happened in georgia maybe has more support than what many actually does maybe microland and merkel or you you don't hear that same type rhetoric it's basically more. yes. so. dangerous direction and i think he thinks the us whatever is going to go with. the members. unfortunately it's going to be. ok gabriel we were all mentioned crimea ok let's make it very clear to everyone watching us here that is part of russia right now and russia treats it is a part of its sovereignty any military action against crimea russia will
unapologetically use all the means available to protect its sovereignty it's not going to be. negotiations and talk it's going to be action and lethal action at that and i think that western audiences do not understand that they don't understand the implications of the illegal overthrow of the democratic elected government in 2014 that is the consequence crimea is one of them and it is irreversible ok and we have to make it clear that that is the ultimate red line in all of this russia has had to put up with the status quo has the people in crimea have the that is worth they will fight for that and i think we have to make everyone understand that that's the reality that we live in go ahead gabriel well i think it's really important to be clear on the difference in status between crimea and the donbass region right so russia as you say regards crimea as. part of its
territory last year the country passed a series of constitutional changes including one that affected makes it illegal to even talk about giving away seriously kind of consider having a way sovereignty over any part of russian territory and that includes crimea ukraine obviously consistently argues that that's an illegal occupation and. took place after a referendum that it doesn't recognize is valid so it's essentially sees it still as it is its sovereign territory the net and lugansk in the past. are controlled by separatist rebels as we said earlier and i think it's really important to note that russia at this stage at this stage its policy is that lasting settlement needs to be put in place to enable them to either continue as autonomous entities or to rejoin into a kind of ukrainian state that is more welcoming to them and i think it's as you say there is a real risk of escalation in crimea to be attacked but at the same time any kind of offensive in the donbass region does open up the prospect of russia feeling it
needs to intervene militarily in order to effectively have the backs of the separatist militias that have been affected he declared that they declared autonomy over the region but i think if i'm entirely honest with you i think the prospect of an out and out of ukrainian military assault without western support is frankly ludicrous in either crimea all the donbass i think unfortunately we're stuck in this stalemate where you effectively have people taking pot shots at each other you have shelling you have this kind of progressive escalation and it's not clear that any side so not russia but equal at this stage not the west wants to turn that into a very good good point to end on many thanks to my guest in london washington and in moscow and thanks to our viewers for watching us years artie's see you next time and remember.
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