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, 19 Aug 2022 07:47
Ukrainian forces are looking to cut-off Russia's 'Land Bridge' to Crimea, with a possible large offensive being launched in the south of the country in the coming weeks. Patrick and Saul speak to Anglo-Ukrainian journalist Askold Krushelnycky, bringing up to date analysis on the geographical discrepancies in the fighting, and the considerable number of female fighters in the Ukrainian ranks.
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Welcome back to the Battlegrounds Ukraine podcast with me, Saul David and Patrick Bishop. Every week we try to give you a mix of historical context, expert analysis and the latest news. And in part two of this episode we'll discuss the week's developments on the military, political and diplomatic fronts. But first we're going to hear from a very experienced Anglo Ukrainian journalist, Askel Trutian Nitsky, an old friend of mine as it happens, who in 2006 published an orange revolution, a personal journey through Ukrainian history, highly recommended. Askel's just returned from Ukraine where he's been for the last six months. He's been in the big cities and on the front lines. And we asked him to bring us up to date with what's currently going on in terms of the geographical location of the fighting. There are two main bodies of fighting in eastern Ukraine, in the area which is called Donbass, which comprises of two Ukrainian provinces, Luhansk, most of which is now in Russian hands, and Donetsk. And the other major area of fighting is in southern Ukraine. In areas around the city of Kherson, which is the capital of the Kherson region, and also in parts of Zaparizia province and Mikolayev province. But these are all in the south. And the battle there is for control of the Black Sea coast and the vital ports that lay along that coast. So has the tempo changed much in the last couple of weeks? Or is it, are we into a kind of day facto stalemate at least for the time being? No, it has changed. In the east, where we recall that earlier this summer, the Russians were making slow but steady progress by using their enormous superiority in artillery and other weapons. But mainly in artillery. They have about eight to ten artillery pieces for every Ukrainian artillery piece and much more ammunition. And they were using very crude but horribly effective tactics, which was just pummeling these areas, just saturating them with rockets and artillery fire and destroying everything in their way. So towns such as several Donetsk, Lysia Chansk, where the Ukrainian forces did make a stand for months. The Russians eventually took them by just destroying them and just laying down huge artillery barrages. In the south of Ukraine, the battle is different. Whilst in the eastern Ukraine, it was about fighting in the cities, house to house, fighting and artillery barrages. The Russians have been trying to use their artillery superiority in numbers in southern Ukraine. But the terrain is different there rather than fighting for cities, it's been fighting for territory. And it's low lying land, it's stepland, it's whether Ukrainian wheat and other foodstuffs are grown and the terrain is more or less featureless as it goes down to the black sea. So can you describe them what the nature of battle is in that southern area? I think we can all imagine what it was like in the battles for the cities. But this sounds more like a sort of first world war, second world war stuff with long range artillery exchanges. But eventually, ground has to be taken by soldiers at rifle point grenade, praying distance. Is that how it actually works out? Well, in the end, as you say, it is down to the infantry man, woman, there has been close quarter combat. But what's happened in southern Ukraine is that the Ukrainian forces have been able to make progress because of the arrival in the last two months of western provided, chiefly by the US and Britain, sophisticated artillery, some of which uses ammunition that is smart ammunition can be guided after its fire. So this is like the M77 and the Hauatsas and the Hymas with the GMLIS munitions. So that's presumably forcing the Russians back. It's disrupting their supply lines. It's making just the basic business of supporting the battle much more difficult. It is. And what it's vitally done, the new artillery that's arrived has a longer range than the Russian artillery. So Ukrainians can attack the Russian positions, they can attack supply lines behind the Russian positions and they can move forward under cover of their own now sophisticated and very precise artillery. Also, the Russians occupied cities, which they said they had liberated and they found that most of the population opposed them. The Russians have behaved badly as we know. Well, atrociously, they've executed civilians, they've killed prisoners of war, they've raped, carried out other actions, which has made the population, but in the occupied areas, very hostile to them. And this population has been cooperating with Ukrainian special forces, which have been quite successful in entering towns and villages, striking at the Russian occupation forces. And then with drawing, they haven't attempted really to hold these areas, but they've inflicted heavy casualties in Russian men and they've also destroyed Russian munitions, depots and hardware. Is that what happened at Saki, at the Air Base in Saki in Crimea? Is that pretty well how it was in your view at an SF operation rather than the long range missile operation? I think that that is how it's emerging. It's likely to have been a combined operation where longer range missiles were used because satellite pictures seem to show three clear marks where missiles fell. But there's also signs that there were Ukrainian special forces or there's sometimes called partisans, maybe local people, who also contributed to the attack by perhaps setting explosives. Yeah, there's some speculation that the SAS, who are definitely training Ukrainian troops, might have been the inspiration for this. How are they being inserted? Are they helicopter born operations or are they going on by land? No, they're walking in. Most of it is by foot because the Russians still have superior means. In theory, they should control the skies and they have detection radar and other detection mechanisms so that using helicopters or fixed wing aircraft, which Ukrainians have done is very risky. Yeah, so just can I just bring you back to what we were talking about the nature of the battle in this earth. You mentioned men and women. So just what proportion of the ground troops are female? It's difficult to tell, but it's probably around 10 percent. Women are not conscripted, but women are free to join and they have been joining. Not just in traditional support roles. There are combat troops that are women and there are tank commanders, APC commanders, who are women. But the exact proportion is difficult to gauge. Can we expand it to the bigger picture? Because as you'll be very well aware, ask us about to go back to Ukraine next week and he's just come in the UK for a fortnight after spending an entire period of the war in and around Ukraine. So he's ideally situated to talk about both the small picture and the big picture. But as you know, there's been lots of speculation about a possible autumn big push from either side. Not just most of the talk has been about a Ukrainian attempt to having apparently held the Russians back now to start reclaiming territory, but there's been sort of counter speculation if you like that. The Russians themselves may be planning further advances or trying to break out from the stalemate they apparently have find themselves in. Now what are your views on that? Well, the Russians must be considering some sort of preemptive attack to prevent Ukraine advancing. They have been taken aback by the ability of the Ukrainian forces to use the new weapons that have been provided, the artillery pieces that you mentioned and the rocket systems, which are also very sophisticated and have a long range and are very precise. And they know that more of those are coming and they have already stepped up attempts to disrupt the supply lines where this stuff comes over from Western Europe into into Ukraine and we can expect probably more attempts to do that. But we know from various sources from American, British and Ukrainian intelligence and just by piecing together things that are said in public in Russia that they're having difficulty to recruit new troops to replace the number that been killed and or wounded in action. And the Ukrainians say it's over 40,000 and British and American sources say it's probably about two at least two thirds of that. So these are very significant casualties as well as equipment that's been destroyed. And it's probably a race but now whether the Russians can replace, can recruit and train people to replace their dead and wounded before sufficient amounts of the new weaponry provided by the West. But also sufficient numbers of Ukrainian more Ukrainian troops can be trained to use them. Come about and enable the Ukrainians to mount a significant advance or attack to try to recapture the southern areas of their country that were taken in the first few days of the war. But you do see a big pushback in prospect. That's what you're expecting this autumn that there will be a counterattack which may well the Ukrainians hope will change the direction of the war thus far. Again, British, American and Ukrainian sources keep saying that the second half of August and then September will be very very important. We'll see battlefield events and other things happening that should indicate or how long this war will last and how it will progress. But I know from speaking myself to senior Ukrainian military and politicians advises to the government that the hope is that Ukraine will be able to make some sort of very significant advance in the south and push the Russian troops back into Crimea. That would then again prevent the Russians having a direct land route from Russia to Crimea. It would be an overpowering morale boost for Ukrainians and conversely would probably lead to dismay amongst the Russian military and the population in Crimea. Well, that was fascinating Patrick and he makes a number of really interesting points and the big one, not a statistic I'd heard recently, is the massive superiority that the Russians still have in artillery. He described it as between 8 to 10 on the Russian side and just one on the Ukrainian side and of course more ammunition too. What this has allowed, as you pointed out, is for the Russians to make gains in the Donbass where they have been making their most recent gains albeit at a snail like pace by saturating areas with rocket and artillery for fire. And literally destroying everything in their way and that is of course the Russian way of warfare at least as they've shown in recent times both in Grozny and also in Syria. Yeah, I think we can get a bit mesmerized by the high tech kits on the Ukrainian side. It certainly it does change the nature of the battle and it's a huge advantage but at a certain point or even though it allows them to stand off and bombard the Russians at distance at the end you've got to take ground and then you're moving into the killing zones that the Russian artillery can very effectively create. But that's a northern battle if you like, quite different from the southern battle as we were hearing from Asgard. The artillery is much less useful and this is kind of a classic step land, the great grain growing areas. So there the battle is like you were saying it's going to come down much more to a kind of infantry battle almost kind of you know trench warfare at the end of the day I suppose. Yeah and he gave us the first really clear indication from Ukrainian sources which of course he you know he's been speaking to both a political and military people recently of the effect that high Mars the the new long range artillery system provided by the Americans in particular is making because as he puts it out, Ukrainians can now move forward under the cover. So it's not just striking long distance targets and we'll talk a little bit about that as we move through the news later on in the program but he's also giving an indication and this is you know makes a lot of sense that they're effectively using high Mars as an artillery barrage, almost like a rolling barrage under the protection of which they can advance and no doubt this is going to be absolutely crucial for the big push which we're also going to discuss in the second part of the program. Yeah also I was struck by you know his references to parties and using the old Second World War terminology and we're seeing a combination it would appear of local parties and action combined with special forces operations insertion by road or foot even he was saying not by air access to data and that seems to certainly be having an effect you know even the Russians are that we had last week that strike on the Saki air base very very significant in Crimea the picture's not completely clear still but the certainly seems to have been SF involvement and that was you know significant military blow spectacular damage done there's been in the last few days on Tuesday we hear a phenomenon supplied up or being blown up in northern Crimea now in the in the case of Saki the Russians came out with a usual kind of rather unbelievable story that this was a an ammunition fire it was just a kind of one of these things that happens but in the case of the latest explosions there's they're saying they're admitting that there is some skull duggery going on they're blaming sabotage so that sounds very much like it was another party's end slash SF op of some description now I think it's worth saying here that they these strikes as well as having military value that have great propaganda value especially in Crimea which is big holiday resort area for Russians so there was lots of stuff posted you know the people were lying on the beach are seeing plumes this moat coming up from the air base in the case of Saki and filming it and then taking their cars or clogging the roads to escape who knows what you know throwing caution to the wind so they were or rather the other way about actually deciding that their holiday come to a abrupt end so that's you know that's going to be posted all over the place on social media and of course that's going to bring the message home to people in Russia this isn't a the fiction that this is a special military operation is looking very thread bear I would have thought by now yeah absolutely right Patrick and it's fascinating to me really what's causing these you know the the exact reason I mean assholes are interesting wasn't he say he thinks it's a combination of both uh long range missiles which the Americans of course have ruled out they haven't actually given them to the Ukrainians and what actually are they're using to cover this sort of distance which is about 120 through 140 miles and it's fascinating to speculate on whether or not they have actually got kit that the Americans haven't admitted and as Asgard points out and there's been in the press this week there are signs of three large craters which would not have been caused by the sort of munitions used by special forces so is it a combination of the two as you pointed out but you know as you've also mentioned there've been more strikes this week they the ammunition or you munitions supplied that but but also an airport near Simfrapol which is in the center of Crimea and they're really beginning to ramp up the attacks on Crimea as you say it's partly propaganda but it has it is having a military effect and of course one of the announcements made by official Ukrainian sources this week is this is an indication we are sooner or later going to take back the Crimea yeah that's absolutely right that that concentration on the Crimea is an indication of a future intent to come onto that a bit later about what Ukrainian ultimate war aims are just another point 10% of Ukrainian forces are female and their um their all volunteers are not conscripted and they're not just in traditional support roles but they're in front line combat roles including I was I was very impressed to hear tank and APC commanders so that's the Ukrainian side but we haven't heard anything from the Russian side have you read any reports anywhere of Russian female soldiers in the front line no there's a long tradition of this as even I base know from the Second World War there are significant numbers of women who fought not just in support roles but in in combat roles and therefore you might have assumed that it would be the same today but I think if you if you go going back to your point about this you know this special operation which is just being carried out by our you know our professional military doesn't well our professional military with conscripts of course doesn't really fit into the idea that it's all hands to the pump and we need we even need women in in front of our own roles so maybe that's also a proper gander element that is that is counting against the Russians using anyone available on the Ukrainian side of course it is all hands to the pump it's national survival and and it's you know extraordinary and really quite impressive to think that women are fighting in the front lines as you pointed out as tank commanders I mean you know really amazing stuff there is a long tradition not just in Russian military history but also all European countries it's interesting I had a student many years ago working on women fighting during the Napoleonic Wars and they fought on on all sides and not just in support roles so there's a long tradition of this as we well know but it's really striking to hear that that percentage from the Ukrainian side yeah on the Russian side apparently it's it's 4% that compares with that's of all women serving in all arms of the of their sort of defense forces and that compares with 11% in in the UK I think it's pretty low that number 4% but I can see why given what we've heard about the kind of bullying culture that exists in the Russian armed forces it's hardly a very attractive career option I would have thought yes exactly right so a combination of culture and also you know let's not let's not panic everyone by making it seem that you know we need large enough of women to do the fighting and I think both of us conclude that the Russians must be considering some kind of preemptive attack before the counteroffensive this much wanted Ukrainian counteroffensive against Kesson so well everything is pointing to a big increase in the temper with a fighting with a Ukrainian big counteroffensive which they've made no secret of it's all part of the mind games of course that the that politicians are playing with that with their opposite numbers the Ukraine Moscow psychological tussle that's been going on and so in the second half we'll be talking about what the Russians options are they're obviously not necessarily in the place that they pretend they are in I think there's a lot of kind of underlying weaknesses in their position so not just in in questions of the rival technologies the superiority that the Ukrainians now seem to be getting which to some extent counteracts the Russian superiority in numbers etc anyway we're going to talk about all that in part two as well as a roundup all the latest news on the pirmilitary political and diplomatic fronts so we'll be back shortly welcome back well what we've seen in recent days is a clear indication from British American and Ukrainian sources indicating that the second half of August and early September is going to see significant battlefield events and that those might determine how long the war will last so we're really getting to crunch events now we know from speaking to senior Ukrainian military and politicians and advisors to government is that the hope that the Ukrainians will be able to make a significant advance in the South and push the Russian troops back into Crimea that of course is going to win the land bridge to Crimea and would be a huge morale boost to Ukraine and you know on the other hand of course dismay the Russian military and the Russian population in the Crimea yeah I mean we've said before and we've heard nothing since to contradict the reports that the morale is pretty low among Russian troops there was some reports coming out of Kyrsten actually that they no longer send dead soldiers back to Russia but are incinerating them on the spot in the special trucks that drive around behind the troops I can't imagine that does much for morale either anyway I think more significantly they seem to be maneuvering to confront a big offensive we've seen in the last week or so reports coming in that they're actually shifting significantly their posture around the Kyrsten area so very significantly I think they've there were reports which haven't been contradicted that they're moving command posts from the west bank of the Deneepro the river that really divides Ukraine and to to the east bank but leaving substantial numbers of troops on the other side on the west bank now that makes them very vulnerable the three bridges across the Deneepro in the Kyrsten area two road bridges and one rail bridge have been very severely damaged by a long range rocket artillery to the point where they're kind of impassable so actually getting supplies to these soldiers is going to be really down to getting trundling trucks across some pontoon bridges across the river which are also very vulnerable we've seen images before of those being smashed up by by Ukraine and artillery so the logic I suppose is that they're moving the command post back so that there is actually someone in charge to tell the soldiers what to do on the ground but it can't be very much fun if you were stuck there knowing that your superiors have decided to retreat beyond rocket range and that you're expected to now try and hold up what will be any day soon a huge Ukrainian attack that's right and also hints at a bigger possibility and that is that the Russians have already decided they're overstretched and given their difficulties with manpower and equipment possibly have gone as far as they can also that they know real prospect of increasing their gains and therefore are preparing to fall back to secure land they already have in the Donbass this fits of course with another plausible theory of how Putin sees the war playing out and a possible endgame that may be high on the list of the options that the Kremlin is considering yeah we touched on this last week but I think it's this is going to be an ongoing question which is very much part of Putin's calculations and that's whether public enthusiasm for the Ukrainian cause which is very strong in Britain very strong in the US but is perhaps a bit more nuanced in continental Europe will start to slacken and the main reason being suggested in some quarters for this is that the cost of living crisis which is being felt everywhere will actually start impacting on the political decisions being made in the west I mean it's all in its currently in Greece at the moment aboard his yacht which he bought with the proceeds of our last podcast on the full class what's it like there so I'm just kidding about the is it a labor of love a labor of love anyway but yeah but Greece is one of the poorest countries in in Europe and you know they're going to feel energy price rises harder than almost anyone I would have thought is that having a political effect you picked up anything like that in your travels yeah it's it's interesting I mean they haven't stepped out of line yet in terms of public opinion turning against the war for the reasons you were already pointed out but it is tough here and they rely hugely on tourism I'm trying to do my bit of course and they were hard very hard hit by by covid and therefore the rising fuel prices which everyone needs to you know to get about and supplies and economy in general is the double whammy really so yes there is a danger that places like Greece there's no obvious indication of it yet I've seen a lot of Ukrainian flags around although at the same time there are also plenty of Russian tourists which you may or may not be surprised to hear Patrick I sometimes think you know they might be sensible to keep their actual Russian identity a little bit quiet because they may not be that popular but they're proudly flying their Russian flags from their yachts but yes there's no indication that they're stepping out of line yet yeah I think the this is at this stage speculation my feeling would be that you know public anger is more likely to be directed at some the energy companies and the huge profits they're making rather than the Ukraine's Ukrainians for for the rising energy bills but I think that you know Putin's obviously calculating that once winter comes this will become an issue and will translate into political pressure on European governments to tone down support for Ukraine which will then find itself increasingly isolated that's the danger we we get a scenario where Putin can claim victory and declare a certain area of captured Ukrainian territory has been restored to a Russian sovereignty I mean that's clearly this sort of irredentist claim I mean that's clearly one of the end games he'll magnetism magnanimously announce that the operation is now at an end no more territory will be taken but of course I think we know Patrick the Ukrainians in their current mood will never accept that so they will keep on fighting and Putin maybe hope start to look like the intransigent ones so it's all going to be very interesting to watch how this aspect develops and I think if the government want to restore this development they would be wise to start presenting the crisis and opportunity that will eventually wean Western Europe off its dependency on Russian oil and gas and this certainly seems to be happening a little bit yeah but not enough in my view when I think there is a huge strategic tilt going on here which I don't think the politicians make enough of and say look you know this is okay it's a crisis but it's also an opportunity and the world but you've always got to try and accentuate the positive and any war and what good may come out of it but good may come out of this war in so far as well too things I think one is from our own kind of selfish Western perspective that we do actually end our dependency on autocratic regimes like Russia for for our energy of course there's another one in Saudi Arabia which we don't talk about but and the other one of course that the principle is is reestablished at aggression doesn't pay but these ends are a long way off and we've got a lot of fighting to do before we get to that point yeah so let's talk about some of the significant developments in the last week we've already mentioned a few but there was an announcement by Britain I'm pleased to say the defense secretary Ben Wallace saying that the UK is going to send further multiple launch rocket systems or MLRS similar to Hymas to Ukraine and also and this is important a significant number of precision guided M31A1 missiles which can strike targets up to 50 miles away and of course this is all going to help Ukraine's to defend itself against Russian heavy artillery as we pointed out they also talk about or Wallace also talks about Britain's commitment to train up to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers in infantry battlefield skills over the coming months and quite a few other countries including Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands have announced they will be supporting that program yeah that's that's quite interesting that one isn't it because you sort of wonder where the trainees will come from you know you claims a pretty militarized society by now we were hearing from Eurkalaus we've heard that the best and the brightest you know people who are university lecturers IT whizzes they're all out there on the front lines doing the fighting you know so I wonder what capacity there actually is that needs to be trained up well on top of that there's also an announcement at the Copenhagen conference last week that Britain is going to put 250 million of the recently announced one billion it's pledged into the international fund for Ukraine which is a low bureaucracy fund which will be used again to provide military equipment to another support and the fun it's really about keeping this flow of money and flow of new weaponry in that's you know one of the great fears of the Ukrainians is that as the as the enthusiasm for the war or wearing this generally sort of sets in those suppliers will start to try up so this is a kind of indication that that Ukraine's supporters are in for the long haul yeah and there's also an interesting report earlier this week by the Reuters correspondent Natalia Zinnett and she talks about the inner this really grim story about the Zaparitia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine and the call by the US Secretary General Antonio Gutereas for the establishment of a demilitarized zone now what seems to have been going on there and it's confusing Patrick because there are lots of lots of conflicting reports is that the Russians have been shelling the plant in an attempt to cut off the electricity supply to Ukraine's remaining territory thus risking a nuclear catastrophe we mentioned this last week briefly I think in in some of the calls that were happening on the on the British side to you know we really need to take note of this this is a really serious issue and the plant dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir the Denipro River with Ukrainian forces controlling the towns and cities on the opposite bank and not only have the Russians been shelling part of the plant they've also moved kit in quite close to the plant which sounds a bit of a contradiction in terms in the hope that they can fire from those positions and the Ukrainians won't fire back so it's really a scary situation at Zaparitia and the sooner something is done about that as as the US Secretary General has called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone the better but whether that's actually going to happen given Russian intransigence is another matter yeah I want the diplomatic front the Russia's isolation has of course naturally driven it closer to international pariahs like North Korea in July North Korea recognized as independent states the Russian backed breakaway so called peoples republics in Donetsk and Lukas on Monday President Putin told apparently according to North Korean state media that Putin told Kim Jong Un that the two countries would expand comprehensive and constructive ties so I think that's a I don't know that's something to cheer about if I was a Russian I wouldn't be particularly excited by that incidentive has also been an arms fair in Russia I didn't wear it is exactly but the Russians have still flogging kit to potential buyers and 70 representatives for rather representatives from 70 different countries turned up now amazed that you would actually want to buy anything off the Russians in these circumstances because they're performance of their armor everything they've thrown up Ukrainians yeah I mean it's effective in a like we were saying before and they're going to say the world war styling grads sort of way but it doesn't really sort of seem to bear much relevance to the modern world but there we are yeah well slightly more encouraging news about the grain consignments and we mentioned last time that the first one to leave had been rejected by its buyer as passed itself by date and that might have led people to conclude that well it's all going to be inedible well the latest news this week is that more convoys of left Ukraine bound for Syria and Ethiopia where the food is really needed and all we can say Patrick until we hear more updated news is that these consignments are edible and that they can help to relieve you know what is the potentially a famine situation yeah I thought stories of very interesting stories it sort of did actually give us a glimpse of how complicated these transactions are you know you think it would be a fairly straightforward process but there was sort of middlemen involved in the case of that first consignment it was a Lebanese buyer who then rejected it on the grounds of quality but it was then actually bought up elsewhere so there was actually sort of happy ending to that story but the great thing about that was it proved it could be done even with all the kind of potential dangers of shipping these consignments it got through and that encouraged other people I think to follow suit now 99 year old Henry Kissinger has been giving us the benefit of his wisdom on on the the kind of global situation lately and he seems to be arguing for a less absolutist if you like approach by the Ukrainians and saying that you know the aim should be everyone should be encouraging negotiations rather than stiffening the Ukrainians results to hold out for the recaptured of all their stolen territory what did you make of his intervention there well he drew a lot of flat for that of course because and actually it's a little bit more nuanced than that Patrick because his original argument was that he felt that the reason we're in this message because of the way Ukraine had behaved after the fall of communism it had been very you know sort of triumphalist and also did it expanded its remit of course much closer to to Russia in contravention of an alleged sort of verbal agreement at the end of the end of the Cold War and therefore making a russian war paranoid and that this in some senses as contributed to the situation we're in at the moment well that was controversial but he seems to have changed tack a little bit because he's recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal that suggests he no longer thinks that Ukrainian alignment with the West was the problem on the other hand he now thinks it's the solution so you know the long term future for Ukrainian security is I think he's arguing he now believes joining NATO. I think I've got some sympathy with their view that we didn't really seize that wonderful opportunity after the collapse of the communist system when there was it's clear you know widespread optimism in Russia that this could really be the moment when they do actually break out of their sort of historical addiction to tyranny and embrace the West. I mean I didn't say that the kind of you know I mean Russian must of course hang on to its cultural traditions it's wonderful history and identity but you know it was basically moving forward together rather than them suddenly all becoming Western European Democrats and I think we did actually bungle that opportunity and of course that window closed very quickly so I've got some sympathy with that view but you know very rapidly it became clear after Putin's take over that this was a man who didn't in any way conform to the sort of bedrock values that we share in West and democracies and that he was to be treated with huge caution and of course that didn't happen there was endless appeasement and endless attempts really just you know cynical attempts to exploit the Russian economy and it to enrich individuals and corporations and so yeah sort of capitalist greed if you were being a Marxist I think has a lot to answer for. Well we're going to end with some happier news and that is at the mayor of Kiev the former world champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko is calling on residents to return to the city as it's now far better defended than it was at the beginning of the conflict it's got in much improved air defenses and anti rocket systems etc. Klitschko said I can tell right now that everyone who's ready to come home is welcome he added that he couldn't guarantee they're saved a hundred percent but that life there was much much more secure. Okay well that's all we have time for this week but do join us next time when we'll round up the latest news and hear from Orlando Fijers one of the world's leading authorities on Russian history and he'll be telling us about the long emnesty between Russia and Ukraine who tends to go to war and the likely outcome do join us then goodbye.