PODCAST: Russia Invades Ukraine

Its now been over a week since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. There are so many moving pieces to the conflict and In this podcast the geopolity attempts to dissect all the issues
7th March 202227 min

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[00:00:00] Yusuf: It’s now been over a week since Russian military strikes began in Ukraine and Russian tanks have rolled into Ukraine’s key cities. This is by far Europe’s largest war since world war two. And it’s now in full swing and many are watching in horror as million Ukrainians cross the border to safety. And as many watched the coverage of Russia’s invasion, there are a lot of different pieces in this war. And this is what we will be looking at today in this podcast. . Here to dissect this all is geopolity founder Adnan Khan, how we keeping Adnan,

[00:00:38] Adnan: I’m good Yusuf, how are you

[00:00:40] Yusuf: I’m very well, thank you.

[00:00:41] Yusuf: Now, I think before we begin, we did a podcast a couple of weeks ago on this. And your analysis was that this was a bluff and Russia will not invade and obviously they have invaded. So what’s changed. What’s the key things why Russia would invade and what did we miss last time

[00:01:00] Adnan: So thanks are starting right there, it’s probably a good place to start. I was of the opinion that Russia wouldn’t need to resort to an invasion of Ukraine to achieve its political goals. what made me believe that even more was when Russia started moving its troops to Ukraine at the end of November, near the end of December Russia called for talks, it put a position on the table, which was that Ukraine shouldn’t join NATO and NATO should stop expanding. So for me, I felt that the movement of troops really was to create the atmosphere and to create the reality that Russia needs to be taken seriousley. What also made me believe Russia wouldn’t invade. It’s just, if you look at some of the conflicts Russia been involved in, in recent years, Russia had the opportunity to deploy troops, but it didn’t, it used political actions to achieve his goals.

[00:01:56] Adnan: So just to give you an example in January, you had an uprising in Kazakhstan. The government was tetering and what Russia did was it sent peacekeeping troops in the country, which is now shored up the regime.

[00:02:08] Adnan: We see last year you had the war in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azherbaijan and Armenia. The Armenia was badly defeated in that war, who Russia was supporting, but it was Russia who mediated a peace treaty between both countries and a peace treaty included Russia having peacekeeping troops in the region. So Russia didn’t make use of a military invasion, but it used political actions.

[00:02:35] Adnan: And in the year prior to that, the leader in Belarus, he had an election, he won the election and the election was seen as widely. Um, had a lot of electrical fraud. And as a result, there was a massive uprising which turned into a revolution. The west began backing it. And in the end, the west even put sanctions on Belarus and it was Russia who helped out the Belarusian leader. They shored him up by providing him with finance.

[00:03:00] Adnan: So these three examples made me believe that Russia would use the same tactics really in Ukraine. However, I was wrong. I’m happy to say I was wrong. It seems Russia believed that all its political actions and diplomatic actions had gone a far as they could. And now war needs to be used to achieve it’s political goals.

[00:03:21] Yusuf: So why do you think they did invade? What are its objectives ultimately?

[00:03:26] Adnan: So Vladamir Putin, he has for the best part of the last 30 years he’s been writing, he has said so in many statements, in many speeches his view about NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders. As far as Putin is concerned, 1991 was the greatest geopolitical event in history. It was the collapse of the Soviet union. it was a greater event in his opinion than, than WW1 and WW2 And since then, this has been a complete humiliation for Russia. The Europeans via the EU America via NATO have been expanding one by one all the way to Russia’s borders. So that area between Berlin and Moscow, Vladimir Putin and the security class who dominate Russia now they see that as they sphere of influence, they have the ultimate right there and they need to have influence in that region as a buffer zone for Russia, because most of the invasions into Russia over the last 600 years have come from Europe.

[00:04:18] Adnan: So he’s been saying for a long time that they see NATO’s expansion as a problem. The last year or two we’ve seen NATO carry out a number of military exercises with Ukraine. So Ukraine is integrating more and more into NATO. So this has been building up. So it seems from Putin’s calculations now was the best time to physically do something about it. So if we have a look, the situation in the west, if you look at it just before the war, you had Boris Johnson who is struggling with his political career due to the revelations about what he was doing during lockdown. Joe Biden’s still, hasn’t recovered from the debacle from Afghanistan. Confidence in politicians and democracy was rock bottom. The French were reaching out to Russia and they’re talking more and more about having an independent European military force. Germany is effectively in bed with Russia with the gas pipeline, they’ve got Nord stream 2. So from that perspective, it probably was the best time to physically do something about Ukraine’s integration and movement to the west. So I think from Putin’s calculations, there’s no better time than now. The west is divided. The west appears weak, and this is the best time to physically do something about Ukraine, because everything they’ve tried to diplomatically has fallen on deaf ears. Obviously it’s not turned out that way, but I feel that’s probably what Putin’s calculations were. So it’s been just over a week now that the invasion, began. We’re hearing a lot from the west it’s not going well. We’re not really hearing anything from Russia when you’re official channels yet. So I think we do need to take with a pinch of salt, the progress of the war, but a lot of what we’re getting is from Western media outlets, who obviously do have an agenda to showcase the war as not going according to plan. From what I can see a week later, it seems they’re nearly on the verge of cutting off the Southern coast of Ukraine. They’re joining up the areas they’ve already had under control the Donbass region with Crimea all the way to Odessa, and they launched an invasion from the north, from Belarus to incircle Kiev. So this is obviously all what’s taking place. It’s obviously just a week, a week is not a long time in any war. So it will seem the objectives are really to overthrow the regime and put a client regime in. And obviously a lot can happen now. Or it could go wrong. It could go right. A lot can happen now. And obviously that’s something we’re going to be watching at geopolity.

[00:06:32] Yusuf: Yeah, it’s very interesting that you say that about what we’re seeing on the news everywhere I’m reading is, all I see is that Russia is losing the. Is facing a lot of opposition and resistance and it should have actually gone further than it has. It should have advanced this position more than it has done. What would you say about.

[00:06:51] Adnan: So, like I said, I think we gotta be careful. I mean any war, you have the fog of war at the beginning and it does take a bit of time to really confirm a lot of the facts. The narrative we’re getting from the west is that the war is going really bad. Russia’s facing a stiff resistance, and this is something that they haven’t planned for. Now it took America over month or two to conquer Afghanistan and Iraq, we only one week in. So it is very interesting the criteria being used here is Russia should’ve have already conquered it and the war must be getting really bad. That was not the criteria used when Western forces invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. So I think it’s still very early, it’s only one week and again, it depends what sort of force Russia wants to use. I mean, are you going to carry out a massacre, in order to, conquer the country or do you plan to not carry our massacre, but make sure you ultimately defeat whatever forces Ukraine has because Russia obviously has an aim to put a client regime in or rule the country and how they conquer the country will have a big impact on any resistance afterwards as well. So I think I’ll be quite careful to take all of the narrative coming out of the west because there’s a whole propaganda war going on. Nevertheless, you know, we could see some actions taking place. Obviously we could see which parts of the country Russia is trying to occupy. Obviously those areas Russia needs to resupply its troops, it needs to get fuel to them and needs to get the logistics there. But it seems there are encircling the capital Kiev now. And that’s probably going to be the last stand.

[00:08:17] Yusuf: Now this information war, like you mentioned, it’s in full swing now and if you follow social media, you find that a lot of people are highlighting the double standards, the hypocrisy, and I’ve personally never seen it at this level compared to any other previous war. Why is that Adnan?

[00:08:33] Adnan: So you absolutely right. I think what many people can see. Is the, the double standards, the hypocrisy and your prejudices. They’re just so clear, to see now. So Russia has been at war previously its gone into Syria where carried massacres. It carried out a massacre in Chechnya, going back few decades and never was Russia criticized for this or some of the action that we’ve seen. But now when they’re going into Ukraine, when it’s against Western interests, what we’re seeing that the whole books being thrown at them. We’re seeing everybody get involved now. We’re seeing the corporate world and the sports was getting involved. So the champions league final now has been canceled from Russia. Whilst next this month actually the grand Prix still going ahead in Saudi Arabia, even when they’re at war with people yemen.

[00:09:17] Adnan: Where seeing also Ukrainian refugees are viewed very differently to refugees that came from Iraq, from Afghanistan, from Libya, from Syria. In fact they were given the term economic migrants. They were not even called the refugees. And we’ve seen a number of journalists who couldn’t help themselves and their prejudices just came through when they describe Ukrainians as blue eyed and blonde people they’re are different to what they’ve seen actually before. So the whole propaganda war is in full swing and probably what makes it worse is if you take the example of the UK, the UK has had a very dirty dark relationship with the Russian business class. So Roman Abramovich, many, many oligarchs are set up here in the UK. It seems the UK can’t get enough of their money. Rosneft the third largest energy company in Russia. BP has a 20% stake in that company. And a CEO of Rosneft is under American sanctions. We also see that, Russia has carried out chemical attacks in the UK and this still wasn’t stopped. So now it seems due to public opinion, Britain being forced now to address this. So you’ve seen Roman Abramovich is selling is holdings. Some of the oligarchs are under sanctions, but really despite all the big talk against Russia all this time, you’ve even had Russian oligarchs who have donated money to the Tory party. If you look at Belgravia in central London is owned by Russian oligarchs. So people could see a lot of this hypocrisy and double standards. We’ve seen financial sanctions. We’ve seen Russia cut off from international, global finance. This wasn’t the case when they were carrying out a massacre in Syria. So for people around the world, many people can see the contradiction and hypocrisy. What you’ve fundamentally got is where national interests dictate what’s right and wrong. What’s a good war, what’s a bad war. You’re going to get these contradictions. So you care about Ukrainians because they’re being massacred in a war, but there’s a war in Palestine. There’s a war in Syria. There’s a war street, gang war in Libya. You don’t get the same coverage and you don’t even get the same response. You just had the winter Olympics in beijing, beijing has incarcerated in concentration camps 3 million Muslims, no one battered an eyelid. If they were free million Jews, would the Europeans be sending their sports men and women to go and compete there? So this is why for years, the west has dominated the propaganda war. And what you’re seeing now is they’re drowning in their own contradictions and double standards, and everyone could see.

[00:11:30] Yusuf: Now I think the big question is will NATO get involved? Will this actually lead to world war three?

[00:11:36] Adnan: So it will seem NATO really doesn’t have the stomach for a war. You’re finding, um, even Ukraine, even the leader has begged NATO get involved, NATO even have a no fly zone. And you’re finding despite presenting NATO as this great organization, this organization, that’s going to protect Western civilization. They just don’t have the stomach. They’re dragging their feet, they’re making excuses. They’re saying if we move our troops, it will be World War 3. So I think for the moment, as long as Russia doesn’t go beyond Ukraine. There’s not really a need for NATO to get involved. If they go beyond Ukraine, then they’ve got a problem. But really NATO doesn;t have the stomach. I mean, from a capability perspective, NATO’s got the equipment and the superiority, but NATO doesn’t really have the stomach they’ve been at war in Afghanistan that didn’t turn out well. Various con members of NATO have been dragging their feet when it comes to funding their military. So the real thing here is they just don’t really have the stomach. And that’s why you find they’re dragging their feet. They’re making excuses. So on one hand, they’re being really tough with Russia when it comes to actually putting their money where their mouth is, you find they start finding excuses and things like that. If NATO wants to get involved, the challenge your going to have is that will now mean the whole of Europe. It can potentially be a target for Russia now, because if were at war with NATO, well, then its all game now. So, you know, that’s where the war would really, really escalate. So it seems for the moment with the west has focused on sanctions, cutting Russia off form international, global finance, and creating public opinion where really Russia has no physical support they ressorted to that at the moment.

[00:13:07] Yusuf: Now things keep appearing to escalate. So Putin recently announced that he’s gonna, he has puts his nuclear weapons on full alert. Will he really start a nuclear war?

[00:13:18] Adnan: So a nuclear war really doesn’t serve the political goals of even NATO or Russia. Russia wants a sphere of influence. And if that of influence is under radioactive cloud, it doesn’t really help, Russia. On the other hand the west want to expand NATO’s borders. They want to expand all the way into Russia potentially. And by using nuclear weapons, you know, you’ve got a radioactive environment there, so it doesn’t really serve their agenda.

[00:13:43] Adnan: I mean it’s interesting you mentioned this because when Putin made this point, he seemed he was quite agitated. And Putin is very calm. He’s very collected. He obviously understands geopolitics and the history of what’s been going on with Russia. And it was a very flippant comment that he said and in the grand scheme of things, Russia has got lots of military assets. It could use even before it gets to nuclear weapons. So I think unless he, this was meant for his domestic audience to show that Russia serious about this and Russia is under threat. So we have to put our nuclear weapons. Obviously the west has picked this up and they’ve used it, show their public, we got a massive problem on our doorstep now, that, uh, he potentially might use nuclear weapons, but you want to occupy Ukraine, you want Ukraine to be a buffer, if there’s a nuclear radioactive fallout between Russia and the Western Europe didn’t serve anybody’s agenda. That means no energy will go from Russia to Europe. No trade would go from Russia to Europe that doesn’t really serve anyone’s political objectives. And keep in mind, Russia has lost wars in the past and not used nuclear weapons. Russia recently lost in Nagorno-Karabakh didn’t use nuclear weapons. Russia lost for a decade in Chechnya, it didn’t nuclear weapons and as Soviet union lost in Afghanistan, and it departed and it didnt use nuclear weapons.

[00:14:53] Adnan: So, you know, there’s an image being presented here that Putins a madman, firstly, that’s actually wrong. Putin is very rational and he speeches from the last 30 years are available for everyone to read and see his view on things. Secondly, Russia is just too big, the government’s too big, the military is too big for the whims of one man to dominate it all. So the Russian security class they’re interested regime survival, they want Russia to survive. So they see Ukraine through this lens and nuclear weapons doesn’t really serve that agenda.

[00:15:21] Yusuf: The US is trying to show the world that everyone is on the side of the west against Russia’s invasion. So we’ve seen two UN security council resolutions condemning Russia already, but there has been some notable abstainers, which I found quite interesting. So I don’t know if you can give some insight into that. So firstly, China and India although they’re quite close to Russia. They’re allies with Russia. They did abstain from voting in the UN security council.

[00:15:49] Adnan: So yeah, I think this all forms part of the propaganda war. You’ve had two resolution that the UN condemning Russia’s actions and notably you’ve had some very interesting abstintees.

[00:16:00] Adnan: So India and China, both didn’t even vote for Russia or against Russia. They abstained, which is probably even worse. So obviously China will supposed to be in this Alliance with Russia. They are trying to establish new world order. And when it came to Russia moment of need, they didn’t actually back them. And that really tells you where that relationship is. Obviously, the challenge China’s got is it’s number one customers are the west. It needs to maintain economic ties. On the other hand the relationship with Russia is used to show that we can’t be pushed around and we’re a power to be reckoned with. So I think the Chinese calculated, this was probably the best middle path they could take to try and keep face with both countries. What it shows you is that on many many issues, China and Russia are not on the same page. And just to give you an example, when China looks at Eurasia it sees crisscross of trade routes of economic corridors and China is the number one exporter from the Pacific to the Atlantic. That’s China’s vision.

[00:16:55] Adnan: Russia’s vision is, is Russia takes up of Eurasia, but from Moscow to Berlin, from Moscow down to the Caucuses and from Moscow down to Afghanistan, this is Russia’s sphere interest. This is where Russia has exclusive control and power. So what you can find is the vision both countries have for Eurasia is worlds apart. They’re not on the same page. So they’ve been projecting an image they are on the same page as show an image of power. But when it comes to push and shove, when it came to Russia’s moment of need, when it came to Russia’s strategic interest in Ukraine, China was nowhere to be seen and that’s very telling where that relationship is.

[00:17:32] Adnan: The other country you mentioned India. So India has got a big problem. half of your military equipment comes from Russia. You have this defense relationship with them. You also have the relationship with America that you also have to maintain there as well. So it seems what India tried to do was take some sort of middle ground, try and appease both of them. There is some talk from some senators of putting some sort of sanction in India for taking this position, but you can see now national interest in driving everybody, all the alliances and all the pacts and all the partnerships that all these countries have been talking about now that actually being tested and now you’re really going to see the truth of one or two decades of talk, about alliances and things like that

[00:18:08] Yusuf: Another alliance was Turkey and Russia, they were quite close, especially in Syria. But now it seems like they’ve decided to turn its back on Russia. What have you got to say about that?

[00:18:19] Adnan: So Turkey has been talking about the international convention that exists on, the Bosphorus and the Straits, what do you do during a war? So there is obviously a treaty which Russia and Turkey have all signed up to, which in that in a war situation, parties involved in war Turkey can stop their vessels tranversing the Bosphorus, unless they are returning to base, things like that. Now what’s interesting with Turkey is there was a lot of talk about some alliance between Turkey and Russia, but what you find is there’s actually a lot of differences amongst them in many areas of the world. What Erdogan been to be trying to, he’s been trying to box every issue into his own box, which doesn’t go into any other area. So in Syria, although Russia and Turkey, what are the same page on many areas, they also had many differences as well. In Libya, Turkey and Russia on opposing sides in Nagano Karabakh in the Azherbaijan- Armenian war, Turkey backed Azherbaijan who defeated Armenia that was armed by Russia.

[00:19:14] Adnan: And remember the Black Sea, this area that the sea, that Turkey and Russia, jointly have, as part of their respective borders. This is the area Turkey and Russia historically have been at war going back centuries. So it seems I think also because of the economic problems Turkey has at the moment, turkey seems to be trying to show the west, I’m on your side, however, it’s closed the straits of the Bosphorus now, but Russia already has his vessels in Crimea, Russia it doesn’t really make a big difference for Russia to have that Bosphorus open because the vessels are already in Crimea. And also this is a ground incursion a ground war. So when you’re talking about troops who are crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine, so the, the, the seas aren’t really going to play a major role and that’s why you see Russia invaded from the north through Belarous. It invaded from the Southeast invaded from the east where it’s going into Donbass area, this is a ground incursion, it’s an occupation. So the seas are not going to play, or the Navy is not going to play a key role. So Turkey’s trying to take a position that they’ve done something really, really important. But the reality is Turkey is actually not that involved in this particular conflict and when it also shows you is on many areas, Turkey and Russia do not actually see eye to eye. There are a lot of differences despite areas of cooperation

[00:20:24] Yusuf: One thing we saw on the news was about Germany and that it starting to rearm. What does this mean?

[00:20:30] Adnan: So that’s a very interesting development because every time Germany re arms, we have a continent wide war that turned into a world war. German rearmament in the early 1900s, German rearmament in the 1930s is what led to the world wars. So it’s interesting because up until the war, Germany and Russia had a good relationship, they built the Nord stream two, despite opposition from many European countries and America. Even America pushing sanctions before the war, Germany was dragging its feet. Germany was saying she’ll be a last resort. But what’s happened now is now that Russia invaded and the red line is being crossed. Germany has taken a strong position, is completely turned against Russia. Its saying its canceling Nord stream two. And now it’s saying it’s going to rearm as well. So in many ways Germany and France who were dragging their feet, who are probably taking position which was more closer to Russia. Now they’ve completely gone the other way. Now that Russia is actually invaded in the country. And it seems going forward now, that you know Germany rearms that it says it will, that poses a major threat in the longterm for Russia, and these are the sort of things that have led to world wars on the continent. You know, Germany is with being central Germany expansion, German rearmament. This has always been the cause of the world wars in the continent.

[00:21:40] Yusuf: This is something that might, that might have been missed by a few people, but we found Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Moscow the time when the war began. Was that just a coincidence? Was there something going on there?

[00:21:52] Adnan: So really I think that could only be two things there. One is Imran Khan has happened to be in the right place at the right time. These meetings are usually organized in advance, these visits to countries. So it could just be coincidence. He was there. The announcements from Pakistan have been they were there for just normal diplomatic talks, commercial relations, although Pakistan doesn’t have deep relations with Russia of late. They have been talking and Pakistan is looking to purchase wheat and agriculture and generally trade with Russia. The other thing, which is potentially possible is in the seventies, Pakistan’s relationship with China was used by America. For America to open up relationship with China. So Henry Kissinger in 1970 he went to Pakistan and he took a secret journey to China and eventually that led to the Sino Soviet split and America, China opened up relations via Pakistan. So I think we just have to wait and see, is this one of those moments again where Pakistan is playing a strategic role or was it just a normal diplomatic visit that in Imran Khan probably done millions of only time will tell..

[00:22:51] Yusuf: Now I think this is something which is playing on everyone’s mind is Russia back as a superpower.

[00:22:56] Adnan: So a super power is usually defined as a nation that has influence and it undertakes political actions in multiple regions of the world. Not just one region or its own reigon. So America is a superpower because it’s heavily involved in dictating what goes on in Africa, in the Middle East, in the Far East, in Latin America, multiple regions. And that’s why they called a super power because of the many regions they’re involved in. What you’ve got at the moment is a war in Ukraine. You’ve got a war on in the country next to Russia’s border. So that’s its own region. So if you put it into that context, really this is not a global power play. This is not Russia trying to get involved in multiple regions. This is not a Russia dictating or shaping multiple regions as it did during the cold war. What this really is Russia defending itself because NATO is expanding. NATO come all the way up to Russia’s borders. So this is not really an indicator of Russia being a superpower. Russia is trying to defend itself. It is possible that after reversing NATO expansion, Russia then uses that to expand, expand into multiple regions. Then, yeah, we can say that this is a global power play. This is Russia trying to be a superpower. At the moment, really for the last 30 years. Russia has stabilized domestic Russia, because Russia was in chaos in the 1990s. Russia has tried to regain back the Soviet republics and that’s where it’s having a challenge. You’ve had many of these color revolutions, and that’s where Russia is at the moment. Russia may do token actions beyond its region, but these are just token actions. They are not global power plays. So in Libya, despite Russia being involved, Russia has no say really over the future of Libya, Russia’s involved in Syria but really there was no opposition to Russia’s involvement in Syria, even by America. Russia involved in Vietnam is making sales to Egypt. These are all commercial, diplomatic relations is nothing more than that. so that’s why my opinion, no Russia is not back as a superpower. Yes russia is a power, Russia, the power in its region, Russia trying to project power in the territories adjacent to its region. But that’s it at the moment Russia lacks the capabilities really to really go where beyond that

[00:25:01] Yusuf: Now I know things are changing very quickly in Ukraine and there’s a lot of players involved, but as best as you can, how do you see things playing out from here?

[00:25:10] Adnan: So it seems from last night Russia is surrounding Kiev. It seems like the Southern coast, if they haven’t already conquered, they will probably pretty soon. So it would seem that a Russia is trying to overthrow the regime and put in some sort of client regime. I think going forward I can’t see how you Ukraine is going to remain as a country. It works for Russia. If you split the east part of Ukraine, which Russia dominates with a client state and in the Western part become the independent Ukraine as aligned into the west. NATO at the moment is not prepared to go in for the long haul is not prepared to go in for a war. So I can’t see Russia completely losing Ukraine. I’m sure that Ukrainians would put up resistance, but Russia is, in the country, its entrenched to the point where it should be able to achieve all its political goals. So I think going forward ans already you’re seeing some sort of talk that the best way forward now is probably to split the country from the Dnieper river. So the east of that goes to. And you have some sort of client state there and a regime you’ve got at the moment or what comes after that they will have a small part of Ukraine, the Western part, which is next to Poland and that would be more aligned to the west. But as you mentioned, things are evolving pretty quickly. We’ve just gone over a week, so still pretty early. so we’ll have to wait and see how a lot of these developments evolve.

[00:26:28] Yusuf: Thank you for your time today Adnan. If you want to learn more about the issues raised today please check out our website, www.thegeopolity.com. You can also learn more on other issues by accessing our website where you’ll find comprehensive insights.

[00:26:40] Yusuf: Thank you for listening.


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