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.

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29. One Year of War

29. One Year of War

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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Twitter: @PodBattleground

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A cast powers the world's best podcast. Here's a show that we recommend. What would you say if I told you there's a book that can teach you how to win the Bachelor? What would you say if I told you producers caught multiple finalists reading that book in this season that's currently airing? What would you say if I told you the producers don't want anyone to know that their show has been compromised? How do we know all this? We wrote that book. I'm Lizzie Pace. And I'm Chad Kultchen. We're the authors of How To Win the Bachelor and the hosts of the Game of Roses Podcast. A bi-weekly podcast where we break down all the biggest plays, errors, and MVPs in the Game of Reality television. Listen to Game of Roses wherever you get your podcasts and go to to get our book. A cast helps creators launch, grow, and monetize their podcasts everywhere. A Hello and welcome back to another episode of Battleground You Crane 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 commands, control, communications, and computer activities on the Eastern Front. He's got some fascinating insights into those questions as well as giving us a field 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, homeschools, 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 over a 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. And we've seen so much signaling in the last couple of days around the anniversary to show that, but 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 forb, he really 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. The basic structure of their support and of 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 you, Ukraine, will take great heart from, standing behind Biden in the US, there's very strong stalwart support coming from Britain, Poland, et cetera. A bit more nuanced elsewhere, though, isn't it, with sort of Germany and France? Yeah, I mean, it's, we like to think, and 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 made anything like us because 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. And so 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, they're probably actually patching things together pretty successfully, but the long-term picture is not good. And really, it depends on them. They're kind of 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 been 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's 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 on the 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 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 odd one, isn't it? I mean, it sort of came out of left field and it's been hotly denied by China. But 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, 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, and 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 that 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 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. But although they'll carry on clamoring for arms and will continue to give them, but 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, weiriness among 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 legislator or a local town official who went on 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 mobilisation, another of those was featured in the film. And there were some anarchists from Siberia, well, I say anarchists, there were some activists from Siberia who are 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? Catherine Berk, yeah, Catherine 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, incredibly moving and laudable and brave as they are are still in a minority. Yeah, it's great, great film. Urge everyone to watch it on, I play, it's called, Inside Russia, Traitors and Heroes. And it really does provide a 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 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 say 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, isn't it, 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. You know, that's all they need to do really to cow the population. But like you say, there is still evidence from this film of a large measure of self-delusion among ordinary people. I mean, this lady you referred to, Nina, the counselor from Boronege, 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? You know, the answer is that I suppose that they've been conditioned by years and years and years, not just in the Putin regime, but in many decades before that, to believe the unbelievable. You know, for this to work sort of, don't you think there's got to be full government proper gala 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 building on this type of anti-Western 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, 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 pick up on these long tropes, you misuse history. And before you know it, you've got a whole nation. Or if not a whole nation, as we've been pointing out, the documentary showed us that there were still some right-thinking people in Russia, but an awful 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 an 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 just banged on about the usual tropes, you know, the Nazis, the West 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, you know, we need to dig in for the long haul. And that, frankly, Patrick, is 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 West and support to dissipate. Just going back to that issue of casualties, one of the characters in the film was a father who had lost his son, I think, in the fighting around Marie-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 of it. And 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, the poickness 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. And I'd go into the speech, you know, it was the same old, same old, really, wasn't it? And apparently, you know, the big threat was, okay, we're going to withdraw from the SDART 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 just any suspension. And it is reversible, reversible, like the missile launch. 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 testing site up near Arcane Jolve and got a few thousand feet in the air and then reversed track and sort of went up and found smoke. So there's a bit of a metaphor there for the 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, but they're not getting the kit they need. He's kind of hinting at sort of traitorous behavior by the Russian senior. Come on. 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 Putin's speech about where we're going next and how we're going to win this war? So there is trouble of 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. But 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 that is changing. And there is more and more kind of outspoken mention of the dissatisfaction, not with the 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 the beginning to challenge Putin's competence 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 when it happens, if it happens, we'll only know about it after the event, you know, there 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, a palace coup may actually be turning into a real thing. Now the third element 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 Kukiva blast and the retaking of Kesson. 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 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 was no mention of any more mobilizations or call-ups or anything like that. That struck me as being quite significant potentially. Perhaps Putin has 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 have barely touched on that this week and maybe this is not the week 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 of the Parisian. And we're looking a little bit moving of Russian troops, but it's now it's a stable. And it's not the very strategic territories, which was conquered by Russia. But in general, the situation is stable 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 increase in 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 part. 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 different directions. We last spoke to you in October. Can you tell us what you and your foresee 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 working with 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, SR, we have our intelligence, civilians and reconnaissance component. So we receive information, it's science intelligence and it's RTR, it's so called RTR. And we receive information from our radio complexes on the zero line. So there is no something very, very much changed. So we're doing our work and I have the part of my unit as I talk on Zaparija direction. And also maybe our next missions will be on other directions. Because we already worked on hierarchy direction. We've been working on here some direction on artillery fire correction and reconnaissance. You say, Colonel, that you don't expect another multi-pronged Russian offensive. So how do you see it developing? Do you think it's just a come from one direction? And what do you think the aims of the offensive will actually be from the Russian side? First of all, I think that they will try to do more offensive activities on Zaparija direction. And of course they will do on Vuhledar and Bahmut direction. They, our enemies, spend a lot of resources, enormous resources on the net's region, in the net's region on Bahmut and Vuhledar. 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's region. And they spent enormous amount of resources to do it and maybe to prove their citizens that they have success in the net's region. Because I think that for them, the net's region, as well as the 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 the hard-gift direction as well and on Zaparija and Herzogov's 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 Putin and the leaders out of this war with what they might be able to sell to the Russian people to some kind of victory, which would mean, as you put it, securing some of their territory in the east of Ukraine. In other words, they've drawn well back from their initial aim of taking over the whole of Ukraine. Is that sort of a fair assessment? You know, 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 word of Russian-Masmedia. And this is indeed a 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. This in Western countries is in Ukraine. And this is actually very, I think it's very important and very dangerous, like different YouTube channels, like Ukrainian YouTube channels, speaking Ukrainian with Ukrainian journalists, but sometimes using Russian authorities, 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 the 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 their government. Well that was fascinating. Do join us after the break to hear the rest of the interview. 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 its swift victory. There were three things that were likely to happen to bring a quick end to the war. One was that there would 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, there might be some sort of 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 protests in Russia, but I'm not sure that this is really possible in modern Russia. And we cannot see any protests. It's 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 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 there 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're not stopped. They're mobilizing and mobilizing 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 who've just been called up? Yes, but you know, I'm completely not surprising. Because 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 the weapon. Colonel, can we move to the Ukrainian side for a second? 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 out 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 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 coupons but maybe for offensive, but it's necessary to understand that even offensive activity of Ukraine in general as is on the strategic level or 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 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 is 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 weapon like tanks or jets or other weapon we're receiving from NATO countries. And I remember 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 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 fillet 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 because this is not just war against Ukraine but this is the war against the all civilized war, this is 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 weapons which is available 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 not a very easy question indeed because on different parts of the war we have the different situation, we have absolutely difficult situation on the Bachmuth and Fulhledar and this is enormous resources of our soldiers and they are I don't even I don't know exactly how it's possible to 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 very much tired from the war. Indeed everybody 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 war if Ukraine will not fight now Ukraine will not exist and this is a very strong and very deep understanding of all soldiers fighting now. It's taken a long time for I think Western leaders to come to the same conclusion but there are indications from our own Prime Minister Ritchie Sunach 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 West has woken up to this existential problem in the east of Europe. As I see the rhetorics of Western politicians very much changed from last February. Actually it's not very much changed from the British and American government because they are both wars and 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 rhetorics 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 solution 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, Colonel, 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 for 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 let's hope that for 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. So 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 going to share that information with our listeners because 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 of 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 there really are very still proving very effective and presumably will become even more so if we get more of these mass attacks as had been seen around places like Volidar, a bit of British kit, of course, we should remember made by B.A.E. in Barrow Inferno's. 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 and 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? Yes, 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 candidate country's territory but then that kind of rules out their membership claim but 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 listeners' questions, once again we've got a big post bag. We're sort of off the one from Nick from California who asks how is it that all foreign aid has been able to enter Ukraine seemingly so easily. Well, the answer is that it's got 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 convoy's before they actually get into the country? Well, I think the answer to that very, very quickly, 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 spotting a conflict with NATO by any operations inside NATO territory. Having said that, it has actually tried to hit convoy's inside Ukraine. There was an incident the other day that fired off some rockets which were meant to be aimed at, convoy, bringing in military aid. I don't think they actually hit the convoy's. I think they hit some other targets but the fact is that they feel free to do that and I'll try to do so. I think it's more question of capability than anything else to be truthful, Patrick. Talking of cyber, we've had an update from our cyber adviser, David Alexander, who came on the pod a little while ago and he's made the point of anger. A number of interesting points he made to us. We don't have time to go through all of them. But one point was that there 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 Germany as indeed. Of course, they were in America. Now the American groundings 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 very 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. 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. OK. On to Kevin from Plymouth in 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, just think back to the Second World War, the air raids that were going on, the disruption to education, 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 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. OK, 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 spy handler, of course, on the film a few weeks ago. The people's war fascinating chat with Oli. But actually there's been an interesting interview with another friend of the podcast, Antony Lloyd, who was speaking to a female drone operator who literally was in the front line, incredibly 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 revolutionising 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 a large number of female fighters, probably not, but they are doing their bit, Nick, without question? OK, there's a couple here about POWs, which is an interesting aspect of the war. One is from somebody just called himself JP, and he asks, would Ukraine be using biometric ID database kits? The same was that US troops 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. 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 EU report the other day has said that the number of documented reports of war crimes that has climbed to 65,000, that's the highest ever recorded. On the question of numbers, on the Ukrainian side, 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 there'd been beatings 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, you know, 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, Saul? I mean, something that 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, spotless in this regard 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 Ukrainian 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 reasons you've just given Patrick. This is not a, you know, 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 Antony Lloyd report when he was talking to the drone operator. And she said she could see from her drone that they'd 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 the drone operation perspective, 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 sold his identified on the battlefield, do they wear or use different kits and operate under different officers like the Vermeacht and the SS in front of what. So, well, that's right. It's been quite an aposite comparison there. What you know, the arts of this one, that is all. 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 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 a sniper's kind of crosshairs over the top of it. Now, 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 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 Red Gosians 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 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. Hello there. It's Anita Arnan from the Empire podcast. This week we're releasing something of a blockbuster episode on the fighting at Gallipoli during the First World War. Here's my co-host, William Dowrymple and our guest Eugene Rogan discussing the bloody Allied landings on the beaches of Gallipoli. How are bloodstained the sand and the water and how in that hell they call Sulabay we were butchered like lambs to the slaughter. Johnny Turk, he was waiting, he primed himself well, he's showered us with bullets and he rained us with shell in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell, nearly blew us right back to Australia. So that was the great Shane McGahn of the Pogs singing and the band played Waltzing Matilda Eugene. Do you want to describe those landings? Those images of the cobalt waters of the straits turning absolutely crimson with the blood of the fallen was something that Ottoman witnesses captured in their diaries as well as survivors from the British side and we know that because the Ottomans had the opportunity to put the barbed wire in place dig their trenches and have their machine gun emplacements and they rather like the American colonists in Lexington they waited until they could see the whites of the landing troops eyes and then they opened fire and inflicted absolute maximum damage. If you want to hear the rest of the episode you can hear it now by searching Empire wherever you get your podcasts.