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.
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Fri, 24 Feb 2023 01:00
Marking a grim anniversary - one year since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Saul and Patrick reflect over what has happened in the past 12 months, and assess how the war and the commentary around it has evolved. Additionally, Lieutenant Colonel Pavlo Khazan makes a return to the podcast, speaking from his base on the frontlines around Zaporizhzhia.
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Producer: James Hodgson
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This episode is brought to you by Progressive. Most of you aren't just listening right now. You're driving, cleaning, and even exercising. But what if you could be saving money by switching to Progressive? Drivers who save by switching save nearly $700 on average and auto-customers qualify for an average of 7 discounts. Multitask right now. QuoteToday at Progressive.com Progressive casualty insurance company and affiliates. National average loved one savings of $698 by New Customer Survey who saved with Progressive between June 2021 and May 2022. Potential savings will vary. Disgowns are not available in all states and situations. Hello and welcome back to another episode of Battleground you're Craying with me Patrick Bishop and Saul David. A grim landmark this week one year since the war began. It's time to take stock, remind ourselves of just how momentous this event is in 21st century history. We'll be discussing how the war is reshaping the world and what to expect as the conflict enters its second year. To help us we've also been talking to an old friend of the podcast Colonel Pavlo Kazan, the ecological scientist turned warrior who now commands a 4C unit. That's command control communications and computer activities on the eastern front. He's got some fascinating insights into those questions as well as giving us a feel for the latest developments on the battlefield. But to start off the world really is a very different place to where it was 12 months ago isn't it Patrick? I think it's good to remind ourselves of the enormity of the situation. Saul 200,000 dead on both sides. Ukrainian cities bombarded from the air, homes, schools, hospitals, flat and many innocent men, women and children killed, invading troops, murdering, raping, torturing civilians. A totalitarian regime on one side pitched against a democracy on the other. I mean we all thought just every year ago didn't we that such a scenario belonged to history and that with the conclusion of the Second World War we were never going to see anything like it on European soil again. Yet here we are. I think it would be useful to look back over the fundamentals of the situation and examine what we thought would happen, what the big issues that we decide events would be and how things actually played out in reality. Yes indeed. Well the first big thing obviously was that the Russians didn't win and the way they expected to. And what was meant to be a decapitation operation turned into a protracted war, one that shows no sign of ending soon. But let's leave that aside and dig into the factors that we determined quite quickly were crucial in setting the course of the war. And the first I would say is the level and depth of Western support. That's been absolutely essential hasn't it? Because simply without it Ukraine couldn't have stayed in the fight. Yeah that's absolutely right to all I and we've seen so much signaling in the last couple of days around the anniversary to show that that is as resolute and strong as before led by Joe Biden's visit to Ukraine and to Poland when you know good old Joe I mean there's a lot of kind of mockery that goes on around him but when he's on forbid he is outstanding isn't he? And he couldn't really have been more convincing in delivering this message that America is right behind you. Ukraine is going to stay behind you. Ukraine the basic structure of their support and how they see the war hasn't changed at all and it's not going to change. So I think this was a really convincing display and one that Ukraine will take great heart from standing behind Biden in the US. There's a very strong stalwart support coming from Britain, Poland etc. A bit more nuanced elsewhere though isn't it? This was Germany and France. Yeah I mean it's... What we like to think of we've been mentioning on the podcast in recent weeks that actually the Western nations are pretty much coming into line but it's only going so far isn't it because we also know that public opinion in places like France and Germany is also a bit twitchy. It's not absolutely on board. The good news is that the politicians by and large are all saying the same message and that is that the Ukrainians need to be given the kit they need to win this war. Now other elements of course are also important which are sanctions that apparently we're about to hear another round of sanctions and of course we would like to have thought that the sanctions would have bit even more deeply into the Russian economy and the Russian ability to wage war than it has. I think it probably has had quite an effect Patrick. It's not just a question as we've mentioned before about looking at GDP and the shrinking of the Russian economy which has not been ending like as big as it could have been. It's also about their ability to build new effective weapons. We've spoken before about the microchips that they need. They undoubtedly aren't getting as many as they require. Putin in his speech and I think we'll come onto that in a minute is talking about a kind of rejigging of the Russian economy so it doesn't have to rely on the West but you can't do that overnight. The options for Russia frankly when the West is lined up as firmly as it is I would say are very limited indeed. Yes I think in the medium term that they're probably actually patching things together pretty successfully but the long-term picture is not good and really it depends on them. Their medium long-term survival depends on having big powerful friends beyond their borders and so far even though a lot of people aren't actually going along with the sanctions regime the only two non-abidance if you like that matter are India and above all China. There's been quite a lot of noise around China hasn't there in the last couple of days the last week. We've got strange thing going on in South Africa with this bizarre decision to hold naval exercises with Russia and China. What do you make of that? Well it's weird isn't it? My brother lives in South Africa so have you getting a little bit of feedback from him about this but we have to remember that South Africa or at least the ANC has a long connection with Russia going back to the Soviet Union support of the ANC when there was of course white rule in South Africa. So these are historical traditions that are also present among the left in the UK that means that there's a kind of natural sympathy and alignment alongside Russia even when you get the absolutely bizarre scenario that we have at the moment where Russia's launched an aggressive war and South Africa's agreed to continue to hold naval exercises with both Russia and China. I mean it's a very bad look frankly and there may be consequences for South Africa as a result of this but the China situation is much more serious. We're hoping to get people to talk on the pod in future episodes with more detail about China but Patrick what do you think of this statement by Blinken the the Secretary of State in the US who is at least alleged that China is planning to send weapons to Russia. On the surface it sounds quite alarming but are you alarmed? I don't think so. No it's a bit of an old one isn't it? I mean it sort of came out of left field and it's been hotly denied by China. Just a fun fact about Anthony Blinken before we go on apparently he's a keen guitar player and performs under the name A Blinken. A Blinken, get it? And he's got a couple of tunes on Spotify if you're very bored one day or but to get back to the point I don't know where that came from. Blinken seems to be misinformed I think on that one and I think if anything China sees itself as a peace broker and all this it would like to assert itself in insert itself into the story as being the emerging major diplomatic player in big world events like this and would like to be able to claim credit for finally bringing an end to the conflict. I think that probably won't be very good news for Ukraine because attitude will be very much that there will have to be concessions on both sides and probably more from Ukraine and from Russia and the US has sort of knocked that back saying that it's very much not the case that they are putting pressure or will be putting pressure on Ukraine to come to some sort of the territorial deal with the Russians so they're not going to be leaning on Zelensky to trade land for peace. I think we can conclude from all this so that Ukraine is in a pretty good place on this front of international solidarity or that all the big players that count and although they'll carry on clamoring for arms and will continue to give them that it'll never be quite enough but I think that fundamentally that support is there and the other thing that people have been worrying about war, we're in a some of the electorates is not as far as I can see a factor at the moment of course that could change. Yes well the second big element in all of this is how domestic politics and public opinion in Russia have been impacted by the war and it's of course very hard to read because we're not getting that much reliable information out of Russia. We expect to the war to have had much more effect on the ordinary people than it seems to have had. There was a fascinating documentary on the BBC this week Patrick that actually looked into some of the bolder characters in Russia who've actually said no one one legislator or a local town official who when are the record I think this was reported at the time publicly saying no it's an absolute disgrace what Russia was doing there was no justification for the war but she has since left Russia we know of course of the number of refusenics people who refused the mobilization another of those was featured in the film and there were some anarchists from Siberia well I say anarchists there were some some activists from Siberia who are you know risking their freedom and possibly their lives by door being various anti-war slogans in and around the town and interestingly it was the town of course that's gone down in history as the death place of the Tsar and his family so where am I talking about Patrick in uh Katerina Berk it was a great film it was a wonderful film and it did give you some hope but I you know unfortunately we have to come to the conclusion from what we've heard from other sources that those sort of attitudes are incredibly moving and laudable and brave as they are are still in a minority yeah it's great great for me I urge you urge everyone to to watch it on i-players called inside Russia traitors and heroes and it really does provide the glimpse of what's going on I mean I think you're absolutely right about the fantastic courage that was shown by these individuals but what I think one got from it was was that there's a lot of basic despair I would say among people who know the war isn't a good thing but they just feel powerless they that there's nothing they can do they raise their voices if they go out in the streets they're just going to be thrown into prison and repression is very finely tuned now there's no in Russia so they don't have to actually murder people and torture people in large numbers just the threat of a jail sentence which is probably going to ruin your you know employment prospects all the rest of it it's really going to mess up your life if you go to jail for a couple of months um you know that that's all they need to do really to cow the population but like you say that there is still evidence from this film uh of a large measure of self delusion among ordinary people I mean this lady you referred to Nina the the counselor from Bornege in her speech to the council she sort of basically says how stupid can you be how can you really believe that so-called neo nazis in Ukraine would elect a Jew as their leader and you know the the answer is that I suppose that they've been conditioned by years and years and not just in the Putin regime but in many decades before that to believe the unbelievable you know for this to work so don't you think there's got to be full government propaganda to be as effective as it is there has to be a sort of base of kind of lies that you build on that are already there yeah and you could say this you know as you point out Patrick this is a long time in the making the Soviet Union was very adapted you know at at building on this type of anti-western uh propaganda it's been going on for an awful long time now and the parallels are obvious because the preparation for getting the German people to support a war of aggression in the Second World War the Nazis uh of course doing that was a long time in the making and it built on a lot of anti-Semitism and anti sort of Slavic feeling that there was in the German nation anyway so you you pick up on these long tropes you you misuse history and before you know it you've got a whole nation or if not a whole nation is we've been pointing out the documentary showed us that there were still some right thinking people in Russia but not all for a lot of people in Russia we gather are still basically in support of the war and the war has its way you know we talk about body bags and the fact that you know 15,000 dead came back from Afghanistan and this was a big game changer this eventually led to the withdrawal from Afghanistan but what's different about Ukraine is that they can frame it as a existential war against the West but also you know the cradle of Russian civilization and they certainly wouldn't have felt that against Afghanistan so it's much easier to spin this war as a war of necessity and of course you know freedom of information simply isn't there in Russia so Putin's got a lot of advantages and what was fascinating about his speech and we don't want to give it too much air time because he he just banged on about the usual tropes you know the Nazis the West had had basically provoked the war nothing to do with us is a war of self-defense I mean you know this is a complete inversion as we know of the truth but what is scary about his speeches that it made no attempt to sort of suggest strategic goals and where the war may be going next it was really just a you know we need to dig in for the long haul and that frankly Patrick is his only hope his only hope is if the West support for Ukraine fractures which is why I feel instinctively the weapons issue is crucial we need to get as many weapons to Ukraine as possible so that can win this war in the foreseeable future and we don't allow even if it was you know unlikely to happen we don't allow Western support to dissipate just going back to that issue of casualties one of the characters in the film was a father who lost his son I think in the fighting around Mary Uple and he was just refusing to accept that maybe his son had died in vain and I think this is a big issue which is going to actually in a funny way at least in the medium term help prudent that you know people who've lost a child in this war want to make some sense to it and they instead of saying the war was wrong they want to give some meaning to their loss and say well maybe the war was right and they're in a way more inclined to believe the lies they're being told so I think in the case of Afghanistan this was a far away country of which many Russians most Russians knew little and probably cared less so in a funny way that the poiteness of that struggle meant that the casualties had much more of a political effect than they're having now in Ukraine which as you say can be framed no matter how distorted that interpretation may be as some kind of existential struggle now to go into the speech you know it was the same old same old really wasn't it and apparently you know the big threat with some okay we're going to withdraw from the SDA RT nuclear arms limitation or rather reduction treaty that I don't think that caused many ripples did it and the foreign ministry went on very quickly to say well this is this any of suspension and it is reversible reversible like the missile Lord did you hear about this there was meant to be another test launch of the Satan to missile just before the speech but apparently this took off from their their testing site up near our canjol and got a few thousand feet in the air and then reversed track and so it went up in the front and spoke so it's a bit of a metaphor therefore with a speech I think yeah and the other element of course is you know again we've been speculating long and hard on this Patrick is that the extent to which Putin might be overthrown from pressure from below I mean it's interesting even more Chad from the Wagner group this week Gregorgin of course the leader of the Wagner group that they're not getting the kit they need he's kind of hinting at sort of traitorous behavior by the Russian senior command so it's interesting we thought that there'd been an attempt to put Gregorgin back in his box but he's definitely out of his box again and also at the same time mill bloggers of course who you know tend to be far right heavily nationalist in their views are saying where was all the chat in in Putin's speech about where we're going next and how we're going to win this war so there is trouble a foot Patrick and it is possible of course that there will be moves made I mean what's your your feeling about that well I've been talking to a friend of mine who's got a way into Moscow I'll say no more than that and he's in the past we often had these conversations and he said oh well we don't you know there's no real sign of any movement in the inner circle against Putin but he says he's now picking up that is changing and there is more and more kind of outspoken mention of the dissatisfaction not with a war they're not really complaining about the war the company but how the war has been led how the war has been conducted so it's really a a chattet at the beginning to challenge Putin's competence in a in a very serious way and of course it's always comes back to their own self-interest so how that will play out he's not says that no one really knows you know that it when it happens if it happens we'll let you know about it after the event you know there won't it won't be sort of flagged up in any way but he was taking hard from the fact that for the first time this long disgust of Palace coup may actually be turning into a real thing now the third elements of the war that we need to discuss of course is events on the battlefield the big surprise of last year was the stunning Ukrainian successes of the autumn in the Kakeva blast and the retaking of Kasson but that seems a long time ago now doesn't it however the fundamental fact remains that Russia can't win in any meaningful sense that's our interpretation even with all the hyped up mobilizations it hasn't got the train troops or weaponry to achieve anything like their original aims and this view of course is coming to us from US and British intelligence yeah so short of escalating to a nuclear conflict they can't really take the war to a better place from their perspective I mean there's just been another report from the Institute of the study of war in in DC which says that Russia's lost half its armor so it simply hasn't got the capability for a strategic breakthrough another thing I noticed in the Putin speech so there was no mention of any more mobilizations or call-ups or anything like that that struck me as being quite significant potentially perhaps Putin's made the calculation that politically he just can't do that or militarily but even if he did do it it wouldn't actually make much of a difference now only on the actual battlefield we're barely touched on that this we can maybe this is not what we to do as there's not a huge amount going on but we all agree now that the offensive has started and we've seen this massing of fighter jets and helicopters well later on we'll be hearing from Colonel Kazan that the Ukrainians aren't actually quaking in their boots at the moment of the prospects of what the Russians are going to do next and they really expect more of the same so let's hear from him now he's speaking to us from his headquarters in the east of Ukraine on the Zaporizia section of the front very very important part of the battlefield and this is what he said good morning it's a big pleasure having me at your podcast and the situation you know is stable we are on the task force the Parisian and we're looking a little bit moving of Russian troops but it's now it's it's a stable and it's not the very you know very strategic territories which was conquered by Russia but the in general the situation is stable on on our territory but you're not expecting it to stay that way all the talk is of a big Russian offensive coming soon how do you see that playing out you know that the Russian offensive is going now and talking if this offensive will be higher or they will the increasing activities on some direction I'm not sure that they will do the same what they did last year because we have a lot of information this our information the information from our partners about the activities of them also my unit is also work very much with the radio intelligence and yes we are looking on some increasing of quantity of personnel but I don't think that it will be like a critical increasing to have the big offensive campaign from from different directions panel we last spoke to you in October can you tell us what you and your forcey unit have been doing since then and what challenges you face now first of all what we did and what we're doing is artillery fire correction and we are walking this close collaboration with our artillery brigades and we have pilots very good pilots which doing this kind of service for artillery brigades and also we have because we are C4, ISAR we have our intelligence civilians and reconnaissance component so we receive information its science intelligence and its RTR so called RTR and we receive information from our radio complexes on the on the zero line so there is no something very very much changed so we we're doing our work and I have the part of my unit as I talk on on the zaparigia direction and also maybe our next missions will be on other directions because we already walked on hierarchy direction we've been walking on here some direction or on artillery fire correction and reconnaissance you say kind of that you don't expect another multi-pronged Russian offensive so how do you see it developing do you think it's just a comfort one direction and what do you think the aims of the offensive will actually be from the Russians side first of all I think that they will try to do more offensive activities on the zaparigia direction and of course they will do on Vuhl-Edar and Bahmoud direction they our enemies spend a lot of resources enormous resources on on the net scrygian in the net scrygian on Bahmoud and Vuhl-Edar and I think I believe that they will continue to do it because I think it is very principle for them especially for their leaders because they declared and they wanted very much to go on the administrative borders of the net scrygian and they spent a normal amount of resources to do it and maybe to prove their citizens that they have success in the net scrygian because I think that for them the net scrygian as well as a lugansk region it's like a political issue and very important to have offensive campaign there nevertheless I think they will try to do on harkiv direction as well and on the zaparigia and her son direction but for them I think for them it will be more difficult to do it's very interesting what you're saying Colonel you seem to be confirming our suspicion that we mentioned in the podcast last week one that the so-called big Russian offensive is already underway and secondly that its main intention is to try and get put in and the leaders out of this war with with what they might be able to sell to the Russian people of some kind of victory which would mean as you put it securing some of their territory in the east of Ukraine in other words that they've drawn well back from their initial aim of taking over the whole of Ukraine is that is that sort of a fair assessment? you know it's I think there is no real correlation between their successes but not successes in fact not successes in the war and what they are messaging the very citizens in Russia because it's unfortunately it's absolutely an real world of Russian media and this is this is indeed they're very good material for scientists how Russian propaganda and how Russian government can so much influence on Russian people but actually not only on Russian people because Russian propaganda is everywhere it's in Western countries it's in Ukraine and this is actually very I think it's it's very important and very dangerous like different YouTube channels like Ukrainian YouTube channels speaking Ukrainian with the Ukrainian journalist but sometimes using Russian the rhetorics or they are using some Russian Russian messages and you know in this condition for Russian government I think for them it doesn't matter what they what's their results in the war against Ukraine because they will do their propaganda as they did and we can see in Russia the continuum of support of the government well that was fascinating do join us after the break to hear the rest of the interview this episode is brought to you by Progressive most of you are just listening right now you're driving cleaning and even exercising but what if you could be saving money by switching to Progressive drivers who say by switching saved nearly 700 dollars on average an auto-customer is qualified for an average of seven discounts multitask right now quote today at Progressive.com Progressive casualty insurance company and affiliates National average 12 month savings of $698 by new customer surveyed who saved with progressive between June 2021 and May 2022 potential savings will vary discounts not available in all states and situations. Welcome back to the second half of our talk with Colonel Kazan we wanted to know what he thought about the reaction of the Russian population to the war and this is what he said. That's what I was going to come on to Colonel because at the beginning of this conflict a year ago now as it progressed we were thinking once the Russians failed to gain a swift victory there were three things that were likely to happen to bring a quick edge of the war one was that there'd be public unrest in Russia against the war secondly there might be a battlefield collapse where the soldiers just simply decided they didn't want to carry on fighting and thirdly that there might be some sort of a palace coup in the Kremlin against Putin none of those things today seem any more likely than they were back then is that how you see it we would like to have some brothers in Russia but I'm not sure that this is really possible in modern Russia and we cannot see any protests very few people which protested and mostly people who been against Russian policy and against this barbaric war against Ukraine they tried to live Russia and some you know some some scientists or some public actors they lived Russia and I think the only way to have a victory is the way to win this war with military tools of course because we need to go on our administrative borders we need to release all our territories with weapon and I'm not sure that will be any protests and some kind maybe when there will be very huge Ukrainian offensive Russian government and people around Putin will understand that they and will be very very soon it could be some different movements in Russia but nevertheless we understand that they have a lot of resources and they have many people they have many many people which are mobilizing and the process of mobilization is continuing now they they they not stopped they they mobilizing and mobilizing new and new soldiers just to follow up on that colonel are you surprised given the huge losses that the Russians have been suffering particularly in recent weeks that we haven't seen more sign of unrest from Russian soldiers particularly from these mobniics these barely trained men have just been cooled up yes but you know I'm completely not surprising because for for Russians soldiers like a resource but very cheap this is like an ammunition but the ammunition for tanks or for cannon cost much higher than the lives of their soldiers so they looked on soldiers like ammunition but cheaper than ammunition for for the weapon cannot come he moved to the Ukrainian side for a second we we of course have been following very closely the announcements in the west we've been encouraging on the podcast for many many weeks that Ukraine needs to be given all the weapons that it asked for that it needs to win an overall victory more weapons are coming through we've had the battle tank announcements recently it's possible fighter jets will be coming through soon without you giving us any you know specific details can you assure us that a lot of this material is being built up for a counter punch that might take place in the spring and that might be decisive in this war I absolutely sure that this is important and this is the only way what we can together do and fortunately our western partners understood that this is the only way to give you Ukraine the all available weapon and there is no room for discussion and there is no room to have these balances or counter balances in Europe to discuss if Ukrainian will use this weapon not only for defensive purpose but maybe for offensive but it's necessary to understand that even offensive activity of Ukraine in general as is on the strategic level all defensive because we are on our territory and we have to go further to have our territory out of enemy and this is very important for us to it's it's still some discussion I understand it's still some discussion there is not only technical issues how we will use this weapon but I absolutely believe that our tank troops or our artillery very effectively it's proved that for example if we're talking about triple seven I'm very much familiar because we have been walking with the artillery with triple seven and how our artillery easily learned everything everything how to use it how to maintain it how to support it and I believe that it will be with the other other weapon like tanks or jets or other weapon we're receiving from from NATO countries and I remember you know it's it's a very good word from a book I like this book very much by Timothy Snyder and this is his new book called on tyranny just read it and what till a Timothy Snyder said if none of us is prepared to die for freedom then all of us will die on the tyranny and this is this sentence we are feel it and we very much understand it because we are in the war and I like to have this sentence like a motto for our western partners because there is only one way there is only way we will fight against tyranny we will because this is not just war against Ukraine but this is the war against the all civilized war this is the the war of terroristic states and this is our war against tyranny and this is our common war with other partners that is why it's absolutely crucial and in my understanding that all possible weapon which is available in in NATO countries should be used to fight this enemy. Now is there a feeling amongst your fellow soldiers that things are approaching at climax and that we might see a decision in this war sooner rather than later. You know it's it's not very easy question indeed because on different part of the war we have the different situation we have absolutely difficult situation on the Bachmuth and Vulgledar and this is enormous resources of our soldiers and they are I don't even I don't know exactly how it's possible be in this situation for so long time we have other part of the war which is a bit easier if it's possible to say but the general mood of soldiers we have to fight and even we have we very much tired from the war indeed everybody who who involved in the war everybody who participated in the war but everybody understand that this is their only way for us because this is the this is the war if Ukraine will not fight now Ukraine will not exist and this is the very strong and very deep understanding of all soldiers fighting now. It's taken a long time Colonel for I think Western leaders to come to the same conclusion but there are indications from our own Prime Minister Ritchie Sunak and even from the German Defence Minister recently and certainly from the head of NATO that actually that is the point that Ukraine does need to get all the weapons it needs and so we hope that in the weeks and months to come it will make a decisive difference on the battlefield but your point is we will never know we have to wait and see but there are indications finally that the Westerns are working up to this this existential problem in the east of Europe. As I see very thorics of Western politicians very much changed from last February actually it's not it's not very much changed from the British and American government because they are both wars and now are very much stable and sustainable in their vision that we have to fight this enemy but talking about other Western politicians yes and I can compare especially it's very bright example the messages which was a Munich Security Conference last year when I've been participated there and I looked on outputs and also I've been looking on some videos from the Munich Security Conference this year and this is absolutely different messages it's absolutely different rather than the thorics of Western leaders that everybody been talking that this is not the war between Ukraine and Russia and we have not only support to Ukraine but we have to optimize all our sources and to run or possible all possible solutions with military industry and to produce much more weapon and to push all leaders to spend much more percentage of the national budget for weapon and for ammunition and to send it to Ukraine as soon as possible and of course I'm very glad the situation changed very much but nevertheless it's still some talking not just about Ukraine and about that Ukraine should win in this war and civilized society should fight this enemy but it's also been talking about some balances and about that Ukraine will decide how Ukraine will fight in this war it's also a little bit dangerous that on the one hand we have this very huge support from our partners but on the other hand Ukraine should decide and Ukraine will fight in this war and I understand of course that the NATO rules because we are on the territory with the war conflict and it is impossible to Ukraine to join in NATO but in my understanding it necessary to change procedures and this is the absolutely crucial for Ukraine to join in NATO as soon as possible and to change these procedures NATO procedures to welcome Ukraine to NATO. Okay, kind of a real privilege as I say to talk to you and very best of luck we're all right behind you and let's hope things improve the better in the next couple of weeks and months. Thanks so much Colonel it's great to be able to talk to you every two or three months and two you let let's hope that before the next time as Patrick says things work very much in Ukraine's favor but whether they do or not good luck we're right behind you and we'd love to talk to you again at some point. Thank you very much indeed Patrick thank you very much Sol it's a big pleasure to talk to you in a podcast and you know that your podcast the most interesting podcast about this war and listening every episodes and sharing to my colleagues and my soldiers and officers also listening your episodes every Friday. Oh that's really good to hear we're we're going to share that information with our listeners because they you know it's really interesting isn't it to think that we can play a tiny little very tiny little part in this but anyway it's very nice to hear that thank you. Well that was great stuff from the Colonel once again and you know and very kind of a motive language from him it's so fascinating isn't it to talk to people Patrick who are active in this war I think it's so important for us in the West to get a sense of what it all means to the Ukrainians but he said a number of really interesting things and one of them was the limited nature Russian war aims I mean he's really coming out with the same feeling that I you know I've been arguing for weeks which is that the offensive's already begun and the aims of the Russians are now because they simply don't have the capability are relatively limited and they are chiefly to take Donetsk and Luhans the other territories that they've annexed if they can but that's probably way beyond their capabilities so those two regions to start off with and you know they can then present that to their people as a limited victory. Yeah and it's interesting that even after all this time he's still kind of rather shocked by the preparedness of the Russians to squander lives which he described as meaning no more to the commanders really than just shells you know they said they're a cheaper resource than ammunition rather kind of chilling observation to make also we'd forgotten about the old triple sevens hadn't we we which we used to talk about quite a lot in the middle of the conflict but interesting to hear that they're really a very still proving very effective and presumably will become even more so if we get more of these mass attacks has had been seen around places like Volidar a bit of British kit of course we should remember made by B.A.E. in Barrow Infernice. Yes Patrick and he's got no more faith than we have that the Russian people can play a role in bringing the war to an end it has to be decided on the battlefield and it underlines of course you know he made it absolutely clear that the while he's delighted with the way things have gone and the very different sort of tone coming from the West them from the beginning of the war we have to keep it up and we have to keep supplies of all the weapons the Ukrainians need they're going to get them sooner or later so why not give them to them now yeah and he was reassured by the rhetoric of Western leaders and that the message has got across that this is not just about Ukraine and Russia it's a battle for civilization but he did make the point that NATO rules should be changed in order to allow Ukraine to join a present if there's any kind of territorial dispute on a a candidate country's territory then that kind of rules out their membership claim but he he says that's going to have to change and I think a lot of people would probably agree with that now okay well that's enough from us on to listen as questions once again we've got a big post bag we're sort of the one to Nick from California who asks how is it that all foreign aid has been able to enter Ukraine seemingly so easily well the answer that is the Scotts sort of friendly borders around it but he goes on to say with all his high tech armament coming in why aren't we hearing more about destruction from the Russians' attempts to destroy convoyes before they actually get into the country well I think the answer to that is very very quickly you know Russia has set its own limits in the war for example people have been surprised at the limited cyber activity that's been going on but it's also obviously wary of sparking a conflict with NATO by any operations inside NATO territory having said that it has actually tried to hit convoyes inside Ukraine there was an instant the other day they fired off some rockets which were meant to be aimed at convoy bringing in military aid I don't think they actually hit the commas I think they hit some other targets but the fact is that they they feel free to do that and I'll try and do so I think it's more question of capability than anything else to be truthful Patrick I mean talking of cyber we've had an update from our cyber advisor David Alexander who came on the pod a little while ago and he's made the point among a number of interesting points he made to us we don't have time to to go through all of them but one point was that they definitely has been an uptick in Russian cyber attempts and not least on the German airlines I mean recently a number of planes were grounded in in Germany as indeed of course they were in in America now the American ground is apparently due to genuine glitches on their part rather than Russian interference but it does look like the Russians were involved these are hackers of course who were working for the Russian government as was explained to us by David you know that that race sort of dodgy connection between these guys and the Russian state and so they are attempting things it's just that they're not proving to be that effective as far as targeting the incoming supplies yes as you say Patrick they'd love to do more of that it's just I just don't think they have the capability and a key element in capability is intelligence having the ability to see what's coming and when and then target your munitions and this is where Ukraine has a massive advantage because it can see not just the battlefield but behind the battlefield in real time because of Western intelligence capabilities and those of course of chiefly the ability to look down from satellites and see pinpoint things on the ground okay on to Kevin from plimuthin minnesota he basically asks about how the civilian population of Ukraine is dealing with all the trauma that it's having to face well we're not going to answer that this week Kevin but we have got an expert on reconstruction lined up to talk to us in the next couple of weeks so you'll be hearing a very detailed response to your question then well actually Patrick interesting enough there's a BBC News Night investigation that's just looked into that very question now it hasn't been broadcast yet so we don't know specifically what it says but I've heard some clips from it that are really talking about the effect the war is having on children in Ukraine and you can imagine can't you you know just think back to the second while war the air raids that were going on the disruption to education the the sort of psychological damage that is being done to children without question a whole generation are being affected by this and let's not also forget this is not happening to Russian school children at the same time for the very good reason the fighting's taken place in Ukraine and the west is determined that you know Russia is not going to suffer there aren't air raids over Moscow which would be a sort of reciprocal second world war type arrangement this is very one-sided and there's anyone has any doubts about the justification of Ukraine fighting to defend its borders it should look at the consequences for civilians they are severe they are long-lasting it's a brilliant question Kevin and please have a look at that News Night report because it'll give you some of the answers you're looking for okay here's an interesting one from Nick and singer poor he asked can you speak more about the role of women in active duty combat on the Ukraine inside is this another revolutionary aspect of war in Ukraine's adaptability or in reality are women taking more traditional rear guard or logistics roles well we spoke about the the spy handler of course on the film a few weeks ago you know the people's war fascinating chat with Oli but actually there's been an interesting interview with another friend of the podcast Anthony Lloyd who was speaking to a female drone operator who literally was in the front line credibly dangerous she was an IT expert who of course is converted to operating drones fascinating work that she's doing incredibly dangerous so the answer is yes it is revolutionizing the way women are operating in combat zones and they are in the case of this drone operator in some cases operating right at the front now does every combat unit have it you know a large number of female fighters probably not but they are doing their bit Nick without question okay there's a couple here about POWs which is an interesting aspect of the war one is from somebody just comes off JP and he asks would Ukraine be using biometric ID database kits the same ones that US troops are used in Afghanistan to identify terrorists and distinguish them from locals will they be using those on Russian prisoners of war to find out whether they were potentially involved in any war crimes and there's another one I'll roll it in with another one from a lady called Claire who says I wonder what we know about how many Russian soldiers the Ukrainians have captured and where and how they're being managed well on that first question of the biometric identification I don't see why they shouldn't be doing that or wouldn't be doing that there's nothing in the Geneva conventions against it and on the question of war crimes they've reached amazing proportions the an EU report the other day has said that the number of documented reports of war crimes has climbed to 65,000 that's the highest ever recorded on the question of numbers on the Ukrainian side the Ukrainians as always have been pretty tight lipped about how many they've actually captured there are a lot of facilities mostly in western Ukraine how they're being treated the UN has been trying to keep track of all this sort of stuff report came out back in November which said they've been beating us and mistreatment on both sides so heavily weighted the blame really on the Russian side there have been reports of mishandling of prisoners by the Ukrainians but usually in the kind of initial stages when in it to be frank in wartime you kind of expect that kind of thing subsequently once they go on to proper custody then it's much more regulated the other day the Ukrainians allow the cameras of Belgian TV company in to one of the big camps and it looked pretty sort of civilized and they've got to maintain this narrative haven't they saw I mean something that we we've heard recently when Melania was on last week was you know the information aspect of the war requires Ukrainians to convincingly portray themselves as the civilized warriors in this conflict and I think they take that extremely seriously yeah and not just for the short term they're looking for the long term they're looking for membership of the EU and NATO and they need to be you know at spotless in in this regard if if that's going to go well for them I mean an interesting question are also a POW question asked by Charles who's in France who says have you craining criminals been given a chance to fight similar to the way that Russian criminals have been thrown into combat well we don't know for sure but almost certainly not for the for the reasons you've just given Patrick this is not a you know there's there's a kind of desperate attempt by Wagner and other groups to get cannon fodder that's not how the Ukrainians fight I mean really chilling passage actually also came out of the Anthony Lloyd report when he was talking to the drone operator and she said she could see from her drone that they're knocked out a you know a position in which five Russians have been killed in a in a deserted house a new group came through and literally just walked past that position no one went in to see if anyone was wounded if anyone was still alive they just ignored it they were totally expendable they had their own little mission and they weren't interested now if you think that an army can fight on that sort of attitude you are very wrong morale is absolutely key as we know from our study of military history Patrick and you can't have good morale in an army if you're not looking after your own it was utterly shocking to read about that and of course from from the drone operation perspective is like you know this is same old same old she didn't seem to be that surprised there's also a Wagner related question here from George in Canberra who says how a Wagner so disidentified on the battlefield they were all used different kit and operate under different officers like the Vermeacht and the SS in front of what to say it's been quite an aposite comparison there where you know the arts of this one that you saw yeah well I did a quick bit of digging as to you know insignia the sort of insignia they're wearing on the battlefield where they've got their official insignia which is basically crossed daggers with a with what very much looks like the old Soviet red star in the center which probably says more than it should that's the official one the unofficial one is PMC Wagner group it's basically a skull with the snipers kind of crosshairs over the top of it now these bad both these badges will be being worn by Wagner fighters and there doesn't seem to be any doubt as to who they are and also the way they're fighting and that that description I just gave you the drone operator that was almost certainly a Wagner fighting in and around back moot and that is their sort of modus operandi the trouble they've got is they're running out of fighters and they're also as we know from regoians recent comments running out of supplies too that's all we've got time for so do keep sending your questions into our email addresses battleground you crane at gmail.com and do join us next week when we're going to be doing a deep dive into russia and putin with historian Simon seabag Montefuri and bringing you the latest news goodbye this episode is brought to you by progressive most of you are just listening right 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