Anyone seriously interested in the implications of and the events around the war against Ukraine, must seek out the various excellent podcasts on the subject.  The corporate news is hopeless as a source of information and is by and large a waste of time.  Coverage of the war is primarily focused on isolated day-to-day military events (how many bombs fell in Odessa, for example) and anecdotes of either personal tragedy or personal heroism.  The interest in the war, as Zelensky predicted, is waning in the US.  Most cable news networks present an upbeat understory of Ukrainian victory largely brought about by American support.  The point of the coverage is to reassure the American people that everything possible is being done and to keep them from feeling guilty as they sit and watch Ukraine be bombed back to the stone age every night. 

UKRAINE WORLD: Episode 97: Is This War About Geopolitics?

Interview with Danylo Lubkivsky, Director of Kyiv Security Forum

  • Russian propaganda is that Ukraine was dragged into this war by the West and is nothing but a pawn in a struggle between great powers. 
  • Putin has made very clear that according to Russian thinking, Ukraine is an artificially created country that does not actually exist as an independent entity.  He has also made clear a Russian cultural contempt for Ukrainians and the belief in innate Russian superiority.
  • In the lead up to the war, some “liberal” Russians argued that if Ukraine remained “loyal to Russia” Russia would never invade.
  • Even if Russia did invade, they argued, this is just “what big powers do.”
  • The suggestion and sometimes the assertion is that Ukraine should just accept its fate. 
  • This line of thinking proposes a legitimate right of “great powers, i.e., those countries that can get the world to accept them as such.
  • The proposition is that Russia says: If you countries are loyal we will not attack.  But what this means is that Russia, the great power, judges whether or not others are loyal.
  • The idea is that countries like Ukraine (and the Balkans) should simply accept occupation.  They should humble themselves and accept their fate.  (Note: Putin actually used the language of a smutty song recently to describe what Ukraine should do as being something like “lay back and enjoy it.”  The song referred to a rape.)
  • Lubkivsky argues that Russia got into this war because of a “false understanding of international politics.”  They are fighting according to the methods of WWII, an outdated approach.  In addition, they are obsessed with outdated views of how to conduct international politics. 
  • “Putin lost this war before he even started,” according to Lubkivsky.  Russia is trying to remain a great power.  Or perhaps to jump back into being a great power.  Their only instrument to accomplish this is the military. 
  • Russia tried to implement the idea of the Russian World.  They tried to maintain control over the former territories through propaganda and control of ideas.  This failed.
  • Host: The question is raised about “enlargement fatigue” on the part of the EU and NATO.  They had expanded and felt they had gone far enough and failed to include Ukraine.  2007-2008 were cited as crucial years.  Then, there was in 2008, Russia’s invasion of Georgia. 
  • One of the interesting things about the situation is that the decision about Ukraine moving decidedly toward the West was not made in Washington, or Berlin, or London.  It was made by the Ukrainian people themselves.  They made the changes, throwing out the Russian puppet government, moving on corruption, electing a total outsider as president, which ensured the direction of the society.
  • Guest: This was not really a question of provocation.  “Russia wanted to be provoked.”
  • Host: “Russia didn’t need to be provoked.”  “Russia was a victim of its own disinformation.”
  • The Russians thought Ukraine was weak.  They were preoccupied with their own greatness and false superiority, they simply didn’t understand what was going on around them.  They couldn’t accept the independence of the Ukrainian nation.  They really believe that everything is orchestrated by Biden or somebody else.
  • Guest makes Five predictions about the aftermath of the war: (1) Russia’s role will be clearly diminished. (2) A united West will make a huge difference internationally, 3) there will be a more profound role of China, (4) the result will be a reshaping of the international architecture, the UN.  Security Council, (5) There will be a new role for Ukraine.

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