Battleground: Ukraine

A history podcast that explores the narratives, turning points and characters that shape conflicts, encompassing a blend of social and military history. Following on from the series on the Falklands War, best-selling military historians Patrick Bishop, and Saul David turn their attention to the war in Ukraine.

Goalhanger Podcasts

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

24. Tanks, Missiles, and Generals

24. Tanks, Missiles, and Generals

Fri, 20 Jan 2023 01:00

With Britain now sending Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, Patrick and Saul discuss what impact this decision could have, and ask why other military equipment such as German made Leopard tanks have been held back. They also speak to Ukrainian historian and writer Dr Olesya Khromeychuk - author of The Death of a Soldier, Told by His Sister, who shares her experiences and gives her thoughts on the reaction of the western world to this conflict.

Any questions? - send them to

Producer: James Hodgson

Twitter: @PodBattleground

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

Listen to Episode

Copyright © Goalhanger Podcasts

Read Episode Transcript

Acast powers the world's best podcast. Here's a show that we recommend. Carrie people are always saying to me, Quinn, can you please stop talking about this gruesome murder? It's my toddler's birthday party, you reckon the vibe. Yeah, others say something like stop talking about fetal abduction. This is my baby shower. I mean, what's wrong with these people? We tell great stories. I know, but what if they couldn't tell us to stop? Like we were gonna stop anyway. I'm Clinton Bosner. And I'm Carrie at the month. Crime of a lifetime tells true crime stories in vivid detail. And features badass women. Well, sometimes just bad women. From heists and con artists to classic Who-Denton murders, we are bringing you incredible crime stories each week. You can hear us every Tuesday, wherever you get your podcasts. And there's nothing you can do to stop us. Ecast. Ecast. Ecast. Ecast. Recommends. Ecast. Ecast. Ecast. Ecast. Recommends. Hello and welcome back to another episode of Battleground Ukraine with me, Saul David and Patrick Bishop. There's been some fascinating news these last few days with the announcement that Russian troops have yet another commander. Out goes General Sergei Sirovkin, aka General Armageddon, an incomes general Valerie Garassimov, who is leaving his desk as chief of the General Staff to take charge of the battle. We'll be digging into this intriguing development and asking what it all means. And there's some shocking news on the domestic front in Ukraine. After a two-week lull, Russia's resumed its bombardment of civilian infrastructure, resulting in horrific casualties in the city of Dniegbro, where a missile destroyed an apartment block killing 44 men, women and children. We've also just heard of the tragic death of the Ukrainian interior minister, Dennis Monastelsky, near a kindergarten and east key of. It seems that 16 people are dead, including children. It's not clear right now what caused the crash. Well, it's hard for us sitting here to imagine what life is like in Ukraine right now. But we've been talking to someone who's in a very good place to tell us. That's Dr. Alesia Kromachuk, who lost her brother in the conflict. We'll be hearing her very powerful and moving testimony later. But first, saw what about these changes at the top? Well, very interesting, aren't they, Patrick? I mean, General Armageddon has only been in post for a few months. He was the guy who was supposedly one or at least changed the war in Syria. And great hopes were vested in him. I think if he's done anything, he's been the architect of this attack on civilian infrastructure. In particular, the power supplies and attempts really to freeze the Ukrainians into submission. That clearly hasn't worked. And so they're trying something different. And they're bringing in garasimov. Well, will it make any difference? That's the question. He doesn't have any combat experience on the ground in Ukraine thus far, of course. He's really been directing things from afar. He does have some experience of commanding troops in the Second Chechen War. And also interestingly, he's really considered to be the thinker in the Russian General Staff. He was alleged to have conceived the so-called garasimov doctrine, which combines military, technological information, diplomatic, economic, cultural, and other tactics for the purposes of achieving strategic goals. This is the idea of asymmetric warfare. You're not just fighting on the battlefield, you're fighting with cyber and everything else. But if that is the case, as we've already discussed, as far as the cyber war is concerned, we're not terribly convinced that his work has been having much effect. So yes, he gives the impression of being more thoughtful than Sirovakin and the other generals. But let's not forget, he's still a hardliner who planned the existing war, even though he was probably forced to do so by Putin. So this huge underlying problem is still there. I mean, changing the general doesn't really change the situation on the battlefield, the basic reality of this situation. So he's still got this huge problem of training up the mobniks, as they call them. These are the people who've been dragged into the battle to boost the numbers. The number of the army has been around 300,000, is the figure that's bandied around, to get them up to some level of basic military competence. A major problem I would have thought was he's got to impose the army's primacy over the Wagner group and pre-Gojin. We keep hearing the news in the battle of your kind of filtered through what Wagner is doing rather than what the army are doing. So he's got a stamp his authority on that. A plan for the big spring offensive, which Putin's future really hangs on the outcome of that. Sometimes when we're talking about the offensive sort, it feels like we're treading water a bit. I'm reminded of the old British war movies when someone always says, it's the waiting I can't stand. That's where we are. But I would don't you agree that it doesn't actually bowed well, Gerasimov's appointment. For the Russians, I mean. I don't think it does. I think it's a poison chalice, you know, for the reasons we've already been discussing. I mean, what's the best he can do? Turn this war around massively successful spring offensive. But we've been running through and we'll be going through some more during the course of this episode. All the reasons why we don't think that's likely to happen. If anyone's going to be making advances on the battlefield, it's going to be Ukraine. And therefore, Gerasimov's star is slowly going to wane. That's our suspicion. Of course, anything can happen in more week. We have to accept that. But that's the likelihood. I think the broader point here is the endless changing of generals desperately searching for a solution is not the way things work. My due church was pretty brutal firing his generals. If they didn't come up to scratch, wasn't he, Saul? I remember a story dating from April 1941 when church was at dinner with a major general. Major general John Kennedy, who is the British Army's director of military operations at the time. And he was giving his opinion that he thought that actually the loss of Egypt wouldn't be such a terrible thing. And that the real focus should be on actually protecting United Kingdom. And the church who got absolutely furious. And he said, Wavel, who was the general in charge of North Africa at that time. Wavel's got 400,000 men. He said, if they lose Egypt, blood will flow. I will have firing parties to shoot the generals. Now that was typical, the Chilean sort of bombass. But as it turned out, Wavel did get the chop. So to dig out ironside and dill, all generals when church took over. But church, he didn't mind disagreements with his generals. But he did object to pessimism and timidity. So I think, a massive puppet of ways, this similar situation. He doesn't have many options. His orders are surely to get some sort of victory. And I think that can be presented as a victory. So is the options a pretty limited? He's really got to attack, hasn't he? Yeah. And of course, if he attacks or when he attacks, because I think it is inevitable that he's going to have to do something. Rather depends on what sort of scale he does it on. But if he does attack, Ukraine is going to be in a strong position. I suspect that's what they're hoping for. They'll let them come and then smash them to pieces on the defenses in depth. They've been preparing for a while before counter-attacking with all the new kids coming from the West. Now, on that subject of the new kid, I mean, that's really another burning issue of the day, isn't it? The more time passes, the more I think that we've made a big error. You're not getting the latest kits that you create in sooner. I can understand the arguments about provocation, but I think we've got way past that point. Once the Ukraine has started to take the initiative, if we've moved in then, you might be in a better place than we are now. Now, the big question mark now is about the Germans and their leopards. Why are they not rushing them to the Ukrainian front lines? This is really quite an extraordinary situation we've got here with the Poles who do have leopards in a port from the Germans. Being told by the Germans, you can't send them to Ukraine. The Poles are very willing to do that. They've got 14 of their own, which they've prepared to hand over. But the Germans are saying no hold on. We'll probably get something later today. We're speaking on Wednesday. Olive Schoetzel, the chancellor, is making a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum at their annual Davos Shindig. Some good news is expected. What are you hearing about what's going on in the German mind at the moment? It's interesting, isn't it? We should confirm, of course, that the news this week, we mentioned last week that Britain might be about 1014 Challenger main battle tanks to Ukraine. It definitely is. We had an announcement by then Wallace the Defence Minister not only mentioning the main battle tanks, but also, and this is quite significant, actually, it seems to have slipped through the gaps of most of the news reports. 30 AS90 self-propelled artillery weapons. These are incredibly sophisticated and accurate pieces of kit. Also hundreds more armored vehicles, including bulldogs, and significantly a hundred thousand artillery rounds. Zelenski's response to all of this was that the package of lethal aid was exactly what Ukraine needs to restore its territorial integrity, and he thanked the UK for its powerful contribution to our common victory over tyranny. Britain's doing its part, and why isn't Germany responding? As you say, it's not as though Germany actually has to hand over the kit itself. The end result of this, of course, is the recent result of this, is a political rar in Germany, because the Defence Minister, who's under a lot of pressure to do the right thing, the latest Defence Minister, is just resigned. Yeah, that's like Christine Lembrecht, who was pretty hopeless, it would seem. But the replacement, just in the first sight, seemed to arouse much enthusiasm from people wanting Germany to do more. He's called Boris Pistorius, no relation to Oscar, I hope. And he's got no real background in security or military matters as far as I can see. He was the SPD stalwart, like his boss. And he was previously minister for the interior and sport for lower Saxony, so not terribly inspiring. On the other hand, he has actually taken a harder line than his many of his SPD colleagues on what Germany should be doing. But why is Germany so reluctant? It seems to me that it's obvious to them this isn't an epochal event. Maybe that's one of the reasons why they're reluctant to actually take the plunge. I think the shadow of World War II still hangs over the place. And you've also got to remember that a lot of people there actually have lived in a Soviet-dominated state, including Angelo Merkel, who was Chancellor for 16 years in the vital period from 2005 to 2021. She grew up in East Germany, she speaks Russian, as well as she speaks German. So people like her have a human understanding that makes it more difficult, I think, to see Russia in the wholly negative way that we're beginning to regard it. Yeah, that's right. And it's probably down to the nature of the German political system, too, I think Patrick. I mean, when you've, you know, with proportional representation, be careful what you wish for, because you'll almost always end up with a coalition government. Usually over a broad span of sort of a broad political spectrum like we see in Germany today. And certainly the left in Germany, as you're suggesting Patrick, is not just the people who used to live in East Germany, it's that the left seems to have this sort of, you know, long term kind of sympathy for Russia. We see it also in the UK as well. And they're finding it difficult, aren't they, to do anything that might provoke retaliation against Germany and NATO, even though as you and I both agree, Patrick, we're way beyond that point where we should really be concerned. Looking at the actual kit itself, so yeah, it's great to have the tanks, but I do wonder why we're not rushing in more on the kind of missile fund, as many high miles as we can get in as possible, but also the ATM S, this American system, Army tactical missile system, big rockets, which have got a range of 180 miles or more, they're very mobile, they can be fired from the back of a tractor, a wheeled heavy vehicle, indeed the same ones that fire the high miles. So they're relatively quick and easy to deploy and they'd make a real difference, I think, on the battlefield at this point. You know, for a start, they can really disrupt the buildup that will be taking place for the big push, hitting troop concentrations, ammo, dumps, etc. way behind the lines. Have you got any kind of thoughts about, you know, why is the US is really, which is really done more than anyone, by, you know, some margin to support Ukraine is why are they dragging their feet over ATM S? Well, this does still seem to be this red line among US strategists and probably NATO more generally about giving the Ukrainians the Ukrainians could actually be used against Russia proper. The ATMS systems could certainly get into Russia and would probably almost certainly be used to knock out, we know that of course ammunition dumps and airfields have been targeted probably by special operations or by drones. But I think we also know that they would almost certainly use these long-range missile systems and that does seem to be strangely a red line that the Americans don't want to cross. And yet at the same time, of course, we've got these horrific incidents in Ukraine in which missiles are being fired from extraordinarily long range and they're actually being fired against civilian targets. So what clearly we can see from that terrible example against the apartment block is the need for better air defenses. And that's what Alessia talks about very powerfully in the interview we're about to hear. Well, it seems that the missile that hit the apartment block was a KH-22 anti-ship missile, probably Fardmer, two-blown bomber. But these were designed to hit huge targets at sea, an aircraft carrier or such like. So over an urban area, they're going to be highly inaccurate. So even though they may not have been tended to hit the apartment block, I think 1700 people lived in it. It was completely demolished. It was an extremely murderously irresponsible thing to do. They have fired a lot of them off, actually, during the summer. And they're very hard to knock down the supersonic. Unfortunately, this Ukrainian spokesman, Alexei Arrestovich, suggested that it wasn't as simple as it looked or straightforward as it looked. And actually the missile had been knocked down by Ukrainian fire. Now this is a gift to Russian propagandists. So a very bad sort of mist at there. But it's worth reflecting that Arrestovich is just as media disgraced. Whereas if it'd been a Russian spokesperson, we could expect to hear in a week or two that he died of a heart attack, we'd fall from a high window. So we've got to remember very much the kind of moral underpinnings of this conflict. Now just a quick one here, I'm hearing from people in Kiev that they're expecting more of this sort of stuff and they're bracing for an escalation in the missile war. But this time, instead of just targeting infrastructure, they're going to be trying to hit government buildings, which up to now have been more or less left alone and international organizations with a presence there have been warned of the increased danger. Now this seems to me to smack a bit of desperation. It also could be very counterproductive. So remember the Chinese embassy got bombed back in 1999. It billed grey during the NATO campaign in Kosovo. And that had enormous political repercussions. So the Russians have got to be extremely carefully if they are in fact going down that road. Yeah, exactly right. Okay, well that's enough for us for now. Now going to hear from Dr. Alessia Kramichuk, who is a historian and writer and author of The Death of a Soldier, told by his sister, which we thoroughly recommend. This is what she told us. Alessia, welcome to the podcast. I found the book you wrote about your brother, Volodya's life and death hugely moving and also very inspiring actually. I hope that was the intention. I should explain to the listeners of the podcast at the outset that Volodya was 42 years old when he died on the front line in the Donbass in 2017, which of course is five years before the recent Russian invasion having returned to Ukraine to volunteer for military service. Can you just say a little bit about Volodya and why he felt compelled to return to defend his homeland? Yes, of course. Thank you so much for having me on this podcast. First of all, and for discussing Ukraine, it's really important that we continue to discuss Russia's war in Ukraine and that it doesn't slip away from our attention, especially now that we see the Kremlin escalating it more and more. So, about my brother, yes, my brother, Volodya, he was a civilian. He was a very regular guy. He lived abroad in Western Europe and in the Netherlands for a long time. And then he actually didn't return to volunteer. He came back to Ukraine a few years before that. And then he returned because he just, I suppose he just didn't want to continue living as an immigrant. He wanted to move back home. And he waited for his draft notice to arrive. He had served as a conscript in the 90s. So he assumed that he'd be called up when the war started in 2014. But somehow he's dropped notice that he arrived. So he volunteered in 2015. I guess I'll never know exactly why he decided to join the Ukrainian armed forces. He never really made it explicit in the conversations that we've had. But I suppose it must have been watching others come back injured or indeed killed from the from the war zone must have had an impact on him. And also understanding that the war was only just beginning then essentially. I mean, he was when he was already serving and I spoke to him from the front line essentially he finished his first deployment and he was returning back to the front immediately. And I asked him why he why he decided to go back why he didn't want to become a civilian again. And he said that that was a European war that just happened to start in Eastern Ukraine. He could he could see it escalating in the future. And I suppose that also was an additional motivation. And to be honest, I understand his decision better now that I see so many of my friends and acquaintances civilians like myself make that decision to join the armed forces or to join the territorial defense. They see it as an investment into their future and into the future of their country because it's vital to protect Ukrainian statehood if we if we want to have a future. Yeah, now obviously, Vlody is death. He dies, I should say. I think from a mortar strike, he's in a frontline trench in Eastern Ukraine in the Donbass news of his death. Of course, it's usually traumatic for you and your family. That's one thing that your next step or at least eventually your next steps were to move the story on, I suppose, or at least to put a mark a down for Vlody's life by not writing a play about his life and death, but also writing the book. Why did you do that? I suppose there's two answers to that question. One is private answer and the other one is more of a by suppose professional or social. The private answer is to make sense of that to process that trauma is to make sense of that loss. The came a moment when I simply couldn't not talk about my brothers death and the way I decided to talk about it is to write about it. So I started to process that tragedy, the family tragedy by writing my experiences and then taking it to the rehearsal room and trying to to see if we can if we can do a documentary piece out of it and that's exactly what happened. So on a more political, I suppose, in professional level, that was already a forgotten war by 2017. It was a completely forgotten war in Western Europe. Nobody remembered that the war in Donbass was ongoing and I wanted to draw people's attention to it in any way I could. And of course, I did that professionally as a historian writing academic pieces, speaking of conferences and so on, but I thought this was another way of I suppose waking us up here from the kind of slumber that we seem to have fallen into and telling a very human story of loss of grief, something that people can identify with and through that story explain that lots and lots of people are being affected by this war that seems to be so far away from peaceful London, but actually isn't. Because a family that lives in London can be so profoundly affected by it. And I knew that I have that privilege of speaking to audiences in the West, the sort of privilege that so many grieving families did not have in Ukraine, so I wanted to use it. Following on from that, I mean, you write in the preface, you know, a really, really sort of striking, but very important point, which is that Russia's war in Ukraine did not start on the 24th of February, 2022. It actually started in 2014 with the occupation of Crimea and parts of the Donbass. Is it then, unless you believe that the 2022 invasion would never have happened if the international community had responded more robustly in 2014 instead of, as you put it in the book, showing little more than deep concern? Well, look, I think we know for sure that by not responding appropriately to violation of international law, by turning a blind eye to the occupation of parts of the city, the occupation of parts of a sovereign state, Crimea, and then parts of Eastern Ukraine, and turning a blind eye to the imposition of absolutely horrendous regime in those occupied areas with, you know, people being abducted, kidnapped, tortured with the concentration camp being run by thugs in the Netsk. And also by funding this war through doing business with Russia, buying oil and gas and so on, we absolutely normalized it. We didn't just normalize it, we also allowed the Kremlin to escalate it eventually. We gave Putin the green light, you know, he kept testing, well, you know, I'll grab Crimea, see what happens, nothing happens, excellent. So I'll start aggression in the Eastern Ukraine. Again, not very much happens. And I think the media also sort of succumb to some of the narratives that came out of Moscow, such as presenting the war in Eastern Ukraine as a local conflict, you know, pretending that somehow believing Russia pretending that it wasn't part of this war, talking about some kind of negotiations and peace talks as if they were actually peace talks and not talks within the grass, the pretends to be a neutral party and so on. And talking about, say, rebels and separatists as opposed to Russian proxies, so not calling us paid us paid. And to be honest, I think it would do us all good to do some soul searching and see how we all responded to this, the first eight years of this war. And whether we have a part to play in the fact that it escalated in February the way it did. Well, that was fascinating. Join us in part two to hear the rest of what Alessia told us. Welcome back. Well, Alessia was in Britain when the news of the war broke. I asked her what a reaction was and what she went on to do to make her contribution to the Ukrainian war effort. You've lived and worked in Britain for many years, teaching the history of East Central Europe, various universities, including Cambridge and University College London. Can you explain how you reacted to news of the 2022 invasion and what practical steps you've taken since both to help refugees of the war and to keep Ukraine at the center of the news agenda. Sure. In that night, I remember it very vividly and I'm sure I'll never forget it as many Ukrainians weren't it was basically my worst nightmare happening in front of my eyes. I was up writing an article that I promised to write for a paper by the morning. So that's why I was up at three o'clock in the morning and I could basically see the attack on Kiev and other cities in Ukraine, sort of unfolding live on Twitter as I was scrolling through it. So the first thing I did, I woke up my friend, just gone to Ukraine a few weeks before that because she could sense some kind of escalation was inevitable and she wanted to be in the country at the time. And I woke her up and I told her that she needs to wake up her parents who were in Zapurija and tell them that it started. You know, the sort of the phrase that Ukrainians have used then it started and then I woke up my friends in London, those who have families in Kiev and elsewhere in Ukraine so they can get in touch with their families and so on. And then then there was sort of a moment of complete breakdown. I describe it in the book in one of the chapters where I simply collapsed on the floor of my living room. And yeah, I found it very difficult to accept that this worst nightmare was unfolding in front of my eyes. But very, very quickly composed myself and the word that kept me going for now almost the year is if it's been efficiency is being effective is essentially doing everything in my power because I am in safety. I am not threatened by the violence of the Russian troops. And so I have to be as efficient as I can be to do everything in my power to to help Ukraine right now. And I guess I do what I can. I mean, as a scholar, I give talks and I speak a conferences and I do briefings with various politicians, a journalist and so on. As the director of the Ukrainian Institute, we run a program of events that give accurate and reliable and nuanced information about Ukraine to the general public here in the UK. We run projects that familiarize people with Ukraine because let's face it, most people had no idea what Ukraine was actually like. They are just beginning to discover it now. Most people's perception of Ukraine was that it is a small country somewhere in Russia's fear of influence without clear identity when in fact they are beginning to learn about defiance about the culture of resistance in Ukraine. Yeah, discovering it now. So we we're doing our best to give that kind of information to people. And we've also set up language classes for Ukrainians displaced by the swore English language classes in London as part of our work at the Institute. So we, you know, we do what we can to educate our audiences about Ukraine and ensure that this crash course in Ukrainian studies can be transformed into lasting lasting change. Can you also say something about the flat in Kiev, which of course is connected to your brother's death? You didn't expect it, but the Ukrainian state I think made available a flat, but that's actually been used for refugees, hasn't it? Yes, it's in Liviv in my hometown in Liviv. So when my brother died, the Ukrainian state offered us a small flat and in an old formerly Soviet hostel for workers. He used to be a so called red corner where socialist literature was being kept and probably getting very dusty because nobody looked at it. And yeah, and we accepted it. You know, we had no flat in my hometown. Before that, we always stayed in hotels or rented accommodation whenever we came to visit. So yeah, we were very pleased to be able to actually have a home in my hometown again. But of course, since the start of the full scale invasion, we made it available to this place, internally displaced people. Let's remember the most war refugees are internally displaced. You know, they try to go to the safest point immediately, you know, next to the affected areas. And it's it's had so many it's seen so many people and pets since the start of full scale invasion at one point, I think seven people and two cats and a dog lived in a tiny one bedroom flat. And at the moment, this is a family from the Parisian region that lives there for generations. The youngest was born immediately after the full scale invasion in March, I believe, and the oldest is in in her seventies. But they're in safety and that's well relative safety, of course, because nowhere is safe in Ukraine at the moment. But the fact that they are in relative safety is the most important thing and the fact that we are able to help someone this way is very meaningful, of course, to my family. Lessia, in one of the most moving chapters of the book, it's entitled The Enemy. You write the following and I'm going to read out the quote in full because I think it's it's quite important that listeners hear it. I don't hate them, you write, I don't hate the Russians as a nation, I wish I could because it would provide an outlet for my pain, grief and rage. I sometimes envy my friends who can spit out abuse towards the enemy like you'd spit out rotten fruit. This hateful rejection of an entire people seems to liberate them, but I can't do it. What then is my question are your feelings towards the Russians because they're obviously incredibly nuanced, aren't they? Thank you for asking me that question, it's not easy to answer. My feelings are complicated, but I'd like to first of all point out that it's very important for us to understand that the feeling of hatred is perfectly understandable in the situation. And the Ukrainians should not be expected not to feel the most natural feelings of rage and hatred when their entire nation is being attacked. I have noticed that often interlocutors find it uncomfortable when Ukrainians express such strong negative emotions. Somehow it doesn't seem to fit an image of a victim. But I think it's really important to understand that it's it's perfectly normal to feel this way. Now a while ago after my brother's death, I decided that for me personally, I can only speak for my personal experience here because it's highly individual, how people respond to this sort of violence. But I decided that the hatred that I could feel was consuming me from inside. Unless I was channeling it in a direction of being effective in helping Ukraine, essentially. So that was my decision. But of course, different people will be going through this process differently and it'll take different time for different people. With regards to the Russians, what can I feel when even my family that lives in Russia, parts of my family live in Russia, they themselves choose to believe that somehow this is not a criminal war and the actions of their leaders are justified. The communication broke down there with most of the family in 2014 and the remains of the family in 2022. I suppose I would very much like to see one day realization of complicity. The Russian society accepts that it's complicit in what's happening at the moment and it has to take responsibility for this criminal war. And to be honest, is the Russians who need to do this? They need to go through this reckoning if they want to see some kind of future for themselves. You know, Ukrainians have enough on their plate at the moment. It's up to the Russians to understand their role as a society and as individuals in the fact that this genocidal war is happening and has taken so many lives and has caused so much destruction in their name. I think I should just clarify, Alessia, that when I asked the last question, it was, I think, phrase or at least intended to be phrase that your reaction is remarkable, not that you're the majority of Ukrainians feel hatred. I mean, it seems to me completely natural response. I think your reaction is remarkable. But it's also very constructive in the ways that you've explained. Now moving on, you note in the book that Russia's war was intended to destroy Ukraine without doubt, but also, and here's the important bit, to test the rest of the democratic world's commitment to opposing imperialism and oppression. Do you think that after a slow start, a very slow start, I suppose you could say, the West has woken up to the existential threat that Russia poses, particularly those other nations in Eastern Europe, and is determined to ensure its defeat by giving Ukraine the weapons it needs. I mean, of course, only this week we've heard confirmation that the British government is sending challenger tanks and also pretty powerful cell propelled artillery. This we feel on the podcast could be a big game changer. What's your broader feeling about the West commitment? Well, the democratic world was united in February 2022, and I think that did surprise the Kremlin. I think Putin was very much relying on this unity in Europe and among the Allies more generally, and it was really encouraging to see such unity and solidarity. But I'd like to see that unity last, and I think the only way for it to last is for us all to realize that it's in our interest throughout the world to make it last. I'd like to remind us of a quotation from President Zelensky's speech when he spoke in Washington not so long ago. He said, your money is not charity, it's an investment in the global security and democracy. So in other words, if we want to preserve the rule of law in our countries and internationally, if we want to preserve the democratic order that we choose for our states, then we have to be fully invested in Ukraine's victory. And it's good to see that the countries continue to support Ukraine, but it is very painful. And I know Ukrainians are very grateful for this support, of course, but it's very painful to see the delays because all the delays, all hesitation causes unnecessary destruction of life in Ukraine. It's painful to see that nearly a year into this full scale war, Ukrainians are still struggling to protect the sky. We still don't have appropriate air defense, we still keep asking for it. We've been asking for it since day one, we continue to ask for it, we continue to ask very similar things. And that makes me wonder why there is this hesitation, because I mean, Ukrainians have proved themselves beyond doubt capable of protecting their homeland. And right at the start, there was this assumption that the Ukrainian state would fall in three days, there was profound lack of trust in the Ukrainian ability to stand their ground to defend their homeland. I mean, now both the Army and the civilians, society as a whole, have shown that they will do everything to ensure that their country survives. So if we show such determination, why can't the rest of the world? I think the excuse that's always been given, the explanation maybe, Lesia that's always been given as this caution over escalation, but we had on a couple of weeks ago, Professor C. Hughes drawn a very respected military historian and analyst in the UK who said there is no genuine, unjustifiable fear of escalation because the West has, as he puts it escalation dominance. Yeah, can I just jump in there? The fear of escalation was partly what, and also certain pragmatism was partly what kept us so passive for the first eight years, and we see the result now of that strategy, not a good result. And speaking as a historian, this desire to appease Moscow, one way or another has never paid off. It's always allowed the Kremlin to escalate. So by avoiding escalation or explaining this as a, as avoiding escalation, we actually allow the Kremlin to regroup and escalate. Yeah, we, we feel exactly the same, Lesia, we've mentioned many times on the podcast, the parallels with World War II and the origins of World War II and the pandering to the Germans in the 1930s seem to me very similar historical parallel. We don't like to overdo historical parallels for obvious reasons, but the two seem to be some really obvious connections there. So just to finish off, then we hope obviously sooner rather than later, Lesia, this war will come to an end, but it has to come to an end. I'm sure at least as far as the Ukrainians are concerned, not at any price. It's not peace at any price. So what are the minimum terms that you believe Ukraine should insist on before it's prepared to negotiate a peace? Well, I think the Ukrainian government, the president have made it very clear what their terms are and it's very important to respect those. It's restoration of territorial integrity, first of all, and ensuring justice. Without justice, there will be no lasting peace. And it's very important to ensure that any peace is lasting. Otherwise, we're just going to prolong this war for another several years, if not decades. And we need to discuss security guarantees for Ukraine and not for Russia. So often when I listen to these conversations about potential peace negotiations, at the center of those discussions are security guarantees for Russia, and that seems to be highly perverse to talk about the security guarantees for the aggressor and not the country that's been attacked. And I just like to also say that those who propose to Ukraine to surrender parts of the territory in order to secure some kind of peace, should really ask themselves if they are prepared to take responsibility for the fate of those people who will be living on occupation. We know very well now what occupation means. We've seen liberated territories liberated by Ukrainian armed forces. We've seen the mass graves, we've seen torture chambers and so on. Can we really make peace with that decision if we push Ukraine towards any concessions of that kind? I certainly can't. I know the Ukrainians can't. But maybe we should ask ourselves here whether we can. So suddenly territorial integrity and ensuring peace are the two priorities. Okay, and presumably given the terrible atrocities that we know been committed in Ukraine by Russian troops complicit with their leaders have allowed it to happen possibly even encouraged it. Do you think there needs to be a actual personal reckoning on some of the war criminals going all the way to the top of the Russian government? Yes, of course, absolutely. War criminals need to be brought to justice. And also, you know, reparations have to be paid to Ukraine. The country has been destroyed on a daily basis. We see critical infrastructure being destroyed. It'll take so long to restore the country, the cities, the towns that are being destroyed. Not to mention obviously the lives that have been destroyed. So, yes, justice is key. Well, that was really something. What struck me so straight away was her determination that this story doesn't slip from our consciousness. Well, we're doing our best here to prevent that happening. And it seems to me that is actually holding up its place in the news cycle at the moment. Nonetheless, we've got to remember that the well in my career as a journalist since my days of reporting it seems to me that the news media attention span has got considerably shorter. Back in the old days, stories like Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, they were reported as seriously for a year in a year out even though there wasn't actually much changing in the fundamentals of the conflict. So, as I said earlier, epoch or struggle this is and that our attention remains focused on something which has enormous consequences as a lesser points up for Ukraine alone but for all of us. Yes, and she made the very relevant point that this war did not begin in February 2022. It began, of course, in 2014. And she includes a lot of well-deserved criticism, frankly, of politicians and also the media in Europe and America who turned a blind eye for years as Putin was literally biting great chunks out of Ukrainian territory in a blatant violation of international law. And what's more, they were actually paying for the war by doing business wholeheartedly with Russia throughout that period. Will there be a reputational reckoning after all this is over? I don't know. It's still going on. I was talking to some of the other day who was telling me about the tanker market. Now there's a kind of tanker called the ice class tanker which is able to bust through frozen waters and that market is going crazy. I mean, the prices have kind of gone up by a factor of 10 because people are buying up these tankers to get through to those northern Russian ports, particularly Ust-Luga, which is west of St. Petersburg in order to take on cargo as of Russian crude to be carried to China and India for refinement. The sanctions regime such as it is is full of holes. So this is all perfectly legal and whether it's a buck to be made that will always be people prepared to step in and make it even if it's whether Pariah state like Russia. Yeah, and she makes the point that Ukraine needs to stick to its war aims and its war aims are to recover all its territory and also she hopes a reckoning for the guilty. We hope to, frankly, because otherwise, and this is a really important point here, Putin and Russia will never learn their lesson. Okay, well, on to questions and comments now we've got a flood of emails coming in lots of nice positive things about the part which is always great to hear. Interesting one here from Ken Furnell in the St. Paul Minnesota who says gentlemen, President Yevgeny Pregozhian of Russia in 2023, you all thought what are your thoughts all. Well, it's possible, isn't it? He wouldn't rule much out at the moment. He is, of course, the leader of the Wagner group, which is supposed to have made such great strides as we were reporting last week in solidar. Actually, the battle for solidar is still not being concluded or at least I haven't heard absolute definite information that the Russians have taken it. But of course that was being led by the Wagner group. Interestingly, there was a comment put out this week by the Russian official comment that there was no issue with the Wagner group and they're all getting on terribly well. But clearly that isn't the case and he could be one of those people in line to take over from Putin if Putin is toppled. So that's not a ridiculous question Ken. Yeah, I don't think that's that like the scenario. So I think that I mean, Putin is not he's not sort of shy about working people who pose any kind of threat to him. And I think the moment will come when Pregozhian's usefulness outlives his time on this earth. So I think that watch this space. But I think he could well be taken off the board as Prince Harry would say in the not to distant future. Okay, Dallas Campbell says fantastic. It doesn't say we're coming from Dallas Campbell. Anyway, fantastic podcast really excellent. There's so much weapons and ammunition being poured into Ukraine. How closely is there whereabouts being monitored? Is there a danger of weapons going missing and falling into the hands of criminals terrorists who might commit some act that could fuel escalation. Yeah, that is a danger and some sort of black flag operation that could change the picture. Well, actually, we thought about this before this, but our view was that it was kind of more likely the Russians would be doing this and some sort of freelance outfit. Any thoughts on that. Yeah, no, I think the implication by the question from Dallas is that the Ukrainian military are almost as corrupt as the Russians. That seems to be what Dallas is implying because the idea is a lot of it's just going to go missing and it could get into the wrong hands. I don't really think that is the case. The Ukrainian military as we've heard from various sources over the course of the pod has really changed its whole ethos and his professionalism. So no, I don't think that's a serious danger, frankly. And if it was, of course, it could be used by people arguing that they shouldn't be given more and better kit. And I simply don't think that's the case. So no, I don't think it's a danger and the stuff they've got so far. Well, the really interesting thing about Ukraine is just how quickly they're learning to use this kit. I mean, people have been talking about the tanks and saying, well, what's the point of giving them tanks sophisticated tanks like the Challenger because it's going to take them a long time to learn how to use them. But in reality, if their tankies to begin with, in other words, they're used to armor. We now believe they can get up to speed relatively quickly. Yeah, on the on the tank issue, one here from Jerry Smith, it's a specific point he raises about the armor. He said last, this is the last of his points. Sorry to cut you down, Jerry, but this is an interesting one as of the rest of your points, but this one in particular last last question. Do you think the UK will send its chopper armor to Ukraine? It's top secret, but we surely add survivability to the Challenger 2. Well, that's certainly the case. My feeling is that they will. There's not actually much point having the Challenger in place unless it's got, you know, thorough all around protection for those who don't know what chopper armor is. It's been around for a long time, actually. It's been, it was developed in the UK back in the 60s. It's used on the Abrams main battle tank, the US have got it from us. It's basically kind of ceramic. It's a kind of layered ceramic system, which doesn't sound terribly exciting, but what it does is when a, when a projectile hits it, it kind of turns the energy, the kinetic energy in the projectile back on itself, so it effectively sort of blows it up. So it's, it's a remarkable asset to have the reason I'm fairly confident they're going to send the Challenger 2's with Chauvin is because way back in the in the Iraq war in 2003, I remember being in Basra and the British there were equipped with a Challenger 2's and they all had Chauvin armor. So I think if they're, they must have calculated well, there was a chance if a tank was captured by the Iraq is it would find its way into enemy hands or hostile hands. And they were prepared to take that risk then. So I'm pretty sure they'll be prepared to take it now. Yeah, I agree with you Patrick. The chopper armor will almost certainly go. Someone made an interesting point that of course, this could be, I, in the, the sound cynical I know, but this could be a show ground for British military kits and that actually if the challenger does well and survives most of the battles, of course, the orders may be flooding in for it from around the world, but we'll see. Okay, here's one from John Henneken. He's from Madison, Mississippi in the United States. Guys, I love the show. My question is about the availability of artillery ammunition for the Ukrainians. He's watched many interviews on social media of Ukrainian soldiers who are almost always requesting more artillery shells. Is this simply a common perception amongst infantry of all wars or is this based in reality? Well, it almost certainly is based in reality. Although it's a good point, John. Soldiers on the front line always complain that they don't have enough of everything. We think back to the first world war, of course, with the great artillery shell crisis that was, you know, only finally sold when Britain just basically put all its industry into producing ammunition for the battlefield. You know, as I mentioned earlier in the port, Britain's just committed another 100,000 shells. So I think more is going to be pouring in, but they're using an awful lot of shells too. I mean, that's the problem. Really interesting point here from Colomodriskel who says that following our recent cyber warfare episode, he noticed a spate of IT glitches around the world. Aircraft landing in the US issues on their computers issues with the Royal Mail all in the week that various Western governments announced they were sending this extra kit to Ukraine. Is there a link? Well, it sounds like there might be, doesn't it? Well done for spotting that one. Colomodriskel makes another point. He says, have we got any intention to cover other wars the Gulf War or the Balkans, for instance, what we have been discussing this and that's a real possibility. So watch this space. Yeah, and just to add to your point, I think there is a connection, but frankly, if that's the worst they can do down aircraft for a while, stop a bit of post going out. It's not terribly effective, is it? Frankly, bringing the whole of the UK government to a whole that might be a bit more interesting, but they don't seem to have the capability to do that. Okay, here's one from Michael. He's in Berlin and he's got a question regarding the effectiveness of sending tanks and other armoured vehicles. And the reason he asked the question is because he noted at the beginning of the war, a lot of Russia's tanks were knocked out by pretty effective anti-tank missiles that were supplied by Ukraine's partners. He's of course talking about the stingers, the N-laws, javelins, etc. His point is, will Russia be able to do the same thing when it is faced with these sophisticated Western tanks? What Patrick, what's your feeling? Well, I mean, I was going to actually back on back to you, because it is, he does make a very interesting point, Michael, doesn't he? Because there is a tendency for conventional wisdom to flow in one direction, then suddenly switch course and flow in another, so he's absolutely right at the beginning. People were saying, is the era of the tank over? And now we're saying, actually, the tanks are going to be absolutely vital in changing battle-field reality. To be honest, I don't know. I would have thought it depends on the quality of the Russian anti-tank weaponry, whether it's as sophisticated as what our degree of protection is from it, and all the rest of it. And I'm afraid there's not much information out there that you can use to come to a definite conclusion on this. I thought that we were actually at the advantage in the old days, and we're now in a better position vis-a-vis going on the attack against the Russians and the Russians were attacking us. So I hope that's the case. What about you, Zor, you probably know greatly, well, you're a better kit man than I am. Well, I'm pretty convinced, Patrick, that the Russian anti-tank kit is not as effective. That's one point as the Western kit. And secondly, our tanks are much less vulnerable to anti-tank weapons, too. So you've got two factors that I think that is going to make a big difference for the Ukrainians. Of course, it really depends on how many of these main battle tanks they get hold up, because all the other kits are very useful, the armoured fighting vehicles. But they're very useful for bringing up infantry to support tanks. And that's another key point here. I think by the Russians at the beginning of the war weren't using infantry effectively with tanks. They were sending their tanks out in front, thinking they were just going to, you know, create big holes, a bit like the Germans in 1940. But tanks are only as effective as the support around them. So you need to support them with ground troops, and also where are possible. And another interesting development is the announcement by Britain. Now, this is also slightly slip between the cracks that we're sending a couple of Apache ground attack helicopters. And these are just the sort of kit you need to use in collaboration with tanks. But again, they need more of them. Well, that's all we've got time for this week. Do keep sending in your thoughts to us at And join us next week when we'll be talking to Julius Strauss, who's an old friend of ours, a Russian expert who knows Ukraine very well. So he's a man of many parts. Now, he's heading to Kassan, even as we speak. And he'll be giving us his report. He'll be great to have some real eyes on Intel from the front line. So don't miss that. Goodbye.