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, 02 Sep 2022 01:00
Environmental engineer and serving Ukrainian Lieutenant Colonel - Pavlo Khazan, joins Patrick and Saul to talk about his role in commanding C4 operations on the frontline of the Russian invasion; giving insight into a new age of warfare, Ukrainian morale and the impact of Western aid.
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Hello and welcome to the Battleground Ukraine podcast with me Saul David and Patrick Bishop. This week we'll be hearing from a remarkable man. Pavlo Kazan is an environmental scientist from the Dineepro region of eastern Ukraine, but he's also a reserve officer, a Lieutenant Colonel who was in the thick of the current conflict, commanding C4 operations. That is command, control, communications and computer activities. Well that's obviously a very important area of the conflict and Pavlo has received multiple decorations for his service. He's in a great position to provide some real insights into what's going on as Ukraine gears up to start clawing back some of the territory. He's lost to Russia. So this is what he had to say when Saul and I spoke to him at Dineepro where he was enjoying a few days leave from the front line. What were you doing in civilian life before the war broke out in 2014? My civilian life was mostly connected with the environment. Being an environmental engineer, I've been organizing many different projects. I also do some environmental science on renewable energy, sustainable development and some other environmental projects. Also work in a science and I'm an electrical engineer by training with a PG and statistics. I also use my time per science. So I didn't expect that I would go to the war. No. Okay, so in 2014, what was your military role when the war began or at least when you got involved in it? When the war began, I came to the war in June of 2014 and because I graduated from the university, I had officers rank. I was left tenant. And I came to the war as an expert on communications as a signal corps officer and my first job there was installing of radio communications. We have been installing cryptid digital radio for Ukraine and army because at the beginning of the war, our army was in the very, very poor conditions. And it was a really, really big problem that we used the old fashioned another radio. And it caused a lot of problems because our enemies have been listening to our voices. And that is why we needed to organize this cryptid digital communication. Have you been demobilized at any time? Did you go back to civilian life kernel or have you been in uniform? You did. And the war in 2014 until 2015, then I served from 2017 and to 2020. And I demobilized in 2020 as a commander of C4 SR group in Antitourist Corporation and joined forces operation. And I didn't expect that I will come back to army. Yeah. And then I mobilized in February on the day after the big invasion. I wasn't key if I came to Nipro back home. And on the next day, I came to mobilization point and I've been mobilized. Yeah, a reserve major. So it was my duty and it was no any discussion if I need to be mobilized and be communicated with my friends and we mobilized with my very close friend Max and joined to Armageddon. Okay. And could you tell us a little bit about your role and how it's changed over the last few months if it has changed? My role is I'm C4 SR group commander and I have unit which doing different kind of communication. The part of C4 means command control computing communications and also the different part of intelligence intelligence, civilized and reconnaissance. And we use in UAVs for our work. We're using different tools for electronic warfare and to support to have this electronic support to our UAV and these kind of intelligence. And we're using also different equipment, high technological equipment for doing investigation and to optimize the Army management, the different programs who optimize the Army management and who give us the clear and online picture on the frontline. Yeah. If I understand this correctly, you're doing two things really. So maximizing your own communication security, but you're also breaking in to Russian communications and building up a rich intelligence picture of what they're up to. Is that correct? Yes. Yes. You're right. And also our role is the correction of artillery fire because we have very good high technological UAVs. And one of my units doing this correction of artillery fire. So you're basically artillery spotting using high tech devices to actually map the fall of fire. Is that it? And if that's so, how do you actually do that? How do you actually monitor where the shells are falling? We're using UAVs. We have good culture. Can you explain what that is for our listeners? UAVs is a drones. It's the planes without pilot. And the armadereal on that. Yes. Yes. Yes. And we're using them on a frontline going to the territory which controlled by our enemies. Ukrainian territory, but unfortunately controlled by our enemies. And we are investigating their equipment and we communicate in close collaboration with artillery units and we're making this correction of artillery fire. It's very effective for them because we need these eyes in a sky. Even if they have very precise instruments, they need to correct this fire and they need to understand if they target it. Yeah. I mean, we've been hearing a lot about the importance of artillery fire in this conflict, obviously on both sides. We've also been reading and have seen a lot of reports about how the West is providing increasingly sophisticated equipment to Ukraine. How much difference is that made to the war effort? Yes, indeed. It's really very big support with artillery tools. And it's really changed the scenario of this war because first of all, it's 37. Long range artillery. Yes. Yeah. Long range artillery. 155 millimeter I think, is it? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. You're right. And this 37 can also be very effective. The only problem with this equipment that we didn't receive computers for them. So up to now, our colleagues regulate and tune these cannons with help of, it's like a hand regulators. Is that the way? Is the computer backup on the way now? The software coming for YouTube to make it even more. Oh, we do. But I don't know exactly. So this is on the problem. But for other tools, it is really very good artillery. And our artillery units, our officers and soldiers, very quickly trained and they using them very, very good. And I very much appreciate it to them because we have very good collaboration. And also this other units like Susanna and some units with the same caliber, they also very good. And this is what we need. We need much more. And it sounds to me as if you got that in terms of the actual quality of the soldiers on the Ukrainian side, you got highly skilled, highly trained people to draw on whose expertise can be applied in a military way. In a, where as the Russians perhaps have not got that degree of competence, would you say that was a fair assessment? Yes. Yes. Yes. I'd rather fair bit about the multiple rocket systems that have been coming over to Ukraine at high mars, ATAC, MS version of the rocket, which can apparently fire up to 300 kilometers. This sounds to us on the sidelines to be a real big game changer for Ukrainian capability. Talking about hymers, it's really very huge tool. And again, we need many more of hymers. This is only I can say because this is for now, this is the, I think, this is the best tool, which artillery tool, what we have in the war. And what we can see, they, they target it very precise and very effective. We have as many as the hymers, I think we will very much change this scenario of the war. Okay. Talking about a lot of strikes quite deep into Russian territory, or at least Russian hell territory, I should say, Colonel, in particular in the Crimea, there's a lot of speculation in the West as to what is causing those strikes. Is it special forces? Is it partisan? Is it long range rocket fire? Can you give us any insight into what might be doing that? We don't exactly, of course. But of course, our armed forces working on the very high level of professionalism and sometimes it's rocket, sometimes it's some special operations on the territories which is now currently controlled by Russians. And of course, this news very much inspire us because we would like to release our territories as soon as possible. But we understand that our enemy Russians, they have a lot of equipment, a lot of of weapon. And that is why we even didn't, don't know how much capacity they have. Even I think that intelligence of NATO doesn't know how many cannons or tanks or aircrafts, Russians have. But I do believe that the high level of technology and our collaboration with NATO give us this victory as soon as possible. We're reading a lot of reports and it's coming out from the Ukrainian government that there might be a big counteroffensive possibly in the Kerson area in the immediate future. Is that the sort of indication you're getting? Okay, we have the three main directions. It's a Kerson, the Parisian and Harkiv. And of course, it is very difficult to say what direction is most important for Ukraine because it's the all territories of Ukraine and we need to release them. At the same time, we understand that the territory of Kerson area is the territory of the sea territory. And this is important strategic area for Russians because they plan to invade this territory and up to Odessa to invade the all territory close to the sea. Because of that, of course, we need to look on Kerson direction as the very important priority. And at the same time, Russians now increasing their forces and Kerson territory. And what we can see that they increasing electronic warfare forces. And this is very, very bright indicator that they increase in other forces. Like for example, in on Karkiv direction is the very difficult direction concerning this electronic warfare. That is why, of course, yes, I also looked on media and our government says about this Ukrainian activity on this direction. But we will see. I do believe that it's possible, but when and how I don't know. I can see from your biography, Colonel, that you have been decorated a number of times. You've been honoured with various awards, including the Order of Merit Third Class, the Joint Forces Cross First Class and the Armed Forces Badge of Honor. Can you tell us what those awards were for? It was just our job, just our job on the war. This is what we have to do, but because, of course, this is the team war. Okay, you're being very modest, I can see. But like any good commander, you're sharing the credit around your whole team. Do you believe, Colonel, that Ukraine will eventually win the war in the sense that we'll recover all its lost territory? And if so, when might that happen? Of course, we do believe that we win war. Otherwise, it is impossible to fight. And I believe that this is the only way for us, and this is the only way for us as the civilised society. Because this war is not just the war between Russia and Ukraine. And I don't like to say that Russian Ukrainian war. Because this is Russian war on Ukrainian territory. In this Russian war against all countries, all European countries, all civilised war. And that is why it is really pivotal moment of the democracy as at all. Because it is a very good test for democracy. It is a very good indicator which countries, which politicians, what people and how people do as a respond on this invasion, as a respond on invasion of Ukraine, but in fact, is an invasion of the human lives, the world system, which was organised since Second World War and destroying territories, destroying everything, killing people. And that is why I believe that this is the only way to win. And to win in close collaboration with our partners from other countries. And when we win, it is a very good question. I think this active phase of the war will be during the year, I guess. When we have this point of very fast change in scenario, I think when Russia and Russian government will understand that we will win and we will try to go to some negotiations. But I think it is no negotiations with terrorists. And Russia now is a terrorist country. And it is also important to say that this is not only a responsibility of Putin or Russian government, this is also a responsibility of Russian wider public, of Russian citizens. And that is why it is important to send messages to citizens. Like some countries say that Russian citizens will not come or they proposed to close European Union for them. And of course, it's very important to send messages to Russian people because they are responsible for this war. On that subject, Colonel, your Jewish, what does it feel like to be told that you are part of a Nazi regime? It must be very, very strange to have this propaganda directed at, well, you personally. Of course, I am from Jewish family and my grandfather Boris was an officer on the Second World War and another grandfather, Gregory was an officer during the Second World War. So, and for my family, it is absolutely normal that myself came to the war. I have all the son who also now in an army. And talking about this propaganda, of course, the Russian propaganda, it's really huge. And they have a very huge and very long tradition of propaganda in Russia and Soviet Union. And they are very professional. They are very high level in this brutal and black propaganda. And that is why it's, this propaganda could be about everything. And also, this part of propaganda about nationalism or nationalism or fascism or something else. And this is, I think this is because they make this propaganda as stupid as possible, as unbelievable as possible. And because of these tools, they try to manage and to influence on a brains of people. And unfortunately, this propaganda works. And not only in Ukraine, in different countries, because Russia has very big resources, very huge media resources and not only media, but also networks, peoples, politicians, organizations. And that is why it's also very important for our Western society to respond to this propaganda. And to respond professional, to respond on different levels, not only on political levels, but this propaganda also, they're using in different sphere of life, in music, in literature, in non governmental, in public activity. And that is why it is important to define what propaganda is and if it is propaganda against Ukrainians or other nations. And to stop this propaganda, to filter it. You're a scientist. Can you tell us what are the environmental consequences of the ongoing war, but particularly with regard to the separation of nuclear power station? This is very important question, especially for me, because I am an organizer and creator of the environmental monitoring system for my region. And we didn't investigate it a lot on the consequences of the war. And especially now, after the big invasion to Ukraine, we already have very bad consequences on landscapes. And we have also a lot of chemicals, the chemical influence on our lands. But the most dangerous, what could be, is the NPP, the Parisian NPP nuclear power plant. And this is a really hot spot of Ukrainian war. And it is very important to defend it, to keep it, because otherwise it will be the hugest and even impossible consequences, not only for Ukraine, but for Europe as all. And I think we will need a lot of resources and a lot of support to clean our territory. And even to analyze these consequences, to monitor these consequences. Because we had such a huge war for a very long time on our territories. And we need to optimize a lot of scientific resources to analyze them. But before the war, Ukraine has many environmental challenges. And having this heavy, interesting, metallurgical, cocoven, chemical, industries and machinery, we have a lot of pollution, the air pollution of water pollution. And this is what we have been investigating during a very long time. And after the war, it will be a lot of investigation, I guess. You've spoken very eloquently, Colonel, about the consequences of the war for Europe as a whole and not just Ukraine. Do you have a message for those listeners in the West who might argue, as some we suspect will, as winter approaches and the high gas and electricity prices mean that everyone is feeling a bit of pain, nothing, of course, compared to what's going on in Ukraine. Do you have any message for those people who would suggest that it's better to end this war sooner rather than later buy a negotiated piece that would not result in our estimation and in yours, in a victory for Ukraine? Yes, sure. I have a message. And first of all, we need to understand that these were not just against Ukrainians. And this war, not just the war on East Ukraine, this is the very important to understand for European people that we are the ones society and the price of this war and the price of this fuel or electricity, human lives and how many children, women, people, soldiers been killed by Russia in Ukraine and how many homes been destroyed, some cities like Mariupol completely destroyed by Russia. We have partly destroyed Harkiv and other cities. And this is important that it's of course, I believe it's difficult to understand maybe for people living somewhere in Western Europe, but it's necessary to look on these pictures, to look on video and to understand that we will pay very high price and the price will be much more fire if they will not win and if we will go on some peaceful negotiations. Because the enemy, Russia is the enemy of the world, Russia is the enemy of civilized war, of civilized system what we have now. And of course Western society have enough resources and it is very important to cover these resources, to use these resources for the victory because this is a milestone of democracy. And now we will test if we can protect democracy, if we can protect human lives, rule of law, social justice, but otherwise we don't need our constitutions and international law and all rules which we developed since Second World War. Well that was an incredibly moving and revealing interview. We'll be back in a few minutes after the break to unpick some of the colonel's many fascinating points. Talk to you then. Welcome back. Well we promised when we launched this podcast to bring voices and expertise from the front line and colonel Kazan has certainly provided us with that. What struck me immediately was his confidence so despite what a lot of commentators are saying, including our guest last week, Professor Orlando Fijers who is quite pessimistic about the outcome. He believes that the war can and will be won in the sense of driving all Russian forces from occupied territory but provided that Ukraine gets the help it needs from the West. Yes, he did say that. He made the point that what would be the reason, what would be the motivation for Ukrainians like him fighting for civilians turn soldiers like him fighting if they didn't believe in ultimate victory. He made it clear I have thought particularly towards the end in the most eloquent way, just what is it to stake here, not just a war between Russia and Ukraine but a war between Russia and the civilized world that is being fought on Ukrainian territory, almost a proxy war that we all should have an interest in. Yes, I think that was very succinctly a well and that underpins the view that he expressed that there can't be a negotiated settlement. Any negotiation would be effectively a victory for Putin and for Russia. Then we got a parallel with the Second World War where it was decided at the summit at Kassablanca that the outcome had to be absolute, the terms were unconditional surrender, no negotiating with Hitler and his regime, no compromises, no trade offs, nothing had to end in utter defeat. Clearly that's not the view among the NATO powers. That's a huge kind of mismatch between Western war aims, allied war aims and Ukrainian war aims. Yes, he made the point very strongly I thought that of course if you don't show Russia the error of his ways, in other words it has to lose this war, it has to feel the pain of this type of aggression, then of course it can be repeated. He feels that Ukraine's ultimate victory is vital and at least the indications we're getting not just from him but of course from the statements from right up to the top of government presidents of Lenskis that there aren't any signs of internal dissent from this, that the Ukrainian people or at least the pro government Ukrainians are absolutely in line and determined to keep going until they've got back what they say is rightfully theirs and that's all the territory that was Ukrainian before 2014. Yeah, I think that sort of really holds President Zelensky and his government to that pledge. I think having convinced the people that that is what they should be aiming at, I think it would be very, very hard for him and his government to deviate from that line now. So they're set on a course which is, despite the optimism, more or less engaged people like Fijas last week are pointing out all the difficulties and actually achieving that end. Something else has struck me in what he said was again another parallel with World War 2. He was pretty explicit about holding the whole Russian people responsible for what's going and not just the Putin regime, just as the Germans at large were held responsible for Nazism and that enabled the British war leadership to sell the bombing of German cities, the strategic bombing campaign as morally defensible, I mean the fiction was created that they were aiming at military targets at German war industry, etc. But I think pretty soon everyone could guess what the reality was. I was struck, what we're really struggling to do saw everyone that is, is to find out what's going on in the mind of your ordinary Russian. But I did see something fascinating clip of an old woman. We know a bit about what intelligence here and Petersburg and Moscow might be thinking or not. But what we don't know is what the great mass of the population are thinking. So we got a little insight of that in a clip that was aired last week of an old woman in an unnamed village somewhere in Russia in sort of deep rural Russia. And it could have come straight out of a Turgenev novel, the wooden houses with these sort of wonderful simple ornamentation chickens running around. Now she spoke simply but eloquent again about what was going on. She didn't blame Putin for the war but the West, not Ukrainians, but the West who she said were always grinding this under their heels. But nonetheless she wasn't happy about the war and she kept shaking her head as she sort of talked about all the young men, the husbands and sons of the village and surrounding villages who were disappearing to go off and fight this war. Yes. And of course so powerful is Russian propaganda, particularly control of state television that even people in these far flung villages are getting fed a line that they will probably only begin to roll back from Patrick when they see the actual evidence of the war, the effect it's going to have, these young men either not coming back or coming back in body bag. People have to wait and see the extent to which Russian public opinion is will gradually change as the effects of the war begin to be felt by the whole population. I was fascinated with one particular area where we both felt the kernel was less forthcoming, was on the progress of the much heralded big push, the counteroffensive and of course it was quite understandable when he spoke to us that he didn't want to give the game away. He took me back to some of our Falkens podcast Patrick where of course the press were giving out information that was actually of British attacks. It was very useful to the Argentinians so he was very careful not to do that and yet he must have known given his position of responsibility that actually what's now happened this week was literally about to begin within a few hours actually of us speaking to him and that of course is the push particularly around the city of Curzon area. On that going back to the Falkens thing of course when the Argentinians heard on the BBC that the parrots were about to attack Goose Green they automatically assumed it was disinformation. Here's the cuts both ways but there we are. One thing he did sort of say was clearly the focus is on Curzon for the reason that it has immense strategic value to the Russian war aim of occupying the entire Black Sea coast down to Odessa. Something clearly has started and there was a bit of a kind of announcement that what we've been predicting for so long is now underway. A spokesman in the Curzon area Ukrainian government spokesman Sergey Klan said that what he called the deocupation of the Curzon area had begun starting with full scale artillery barriages of the entire Curzon area and he mentioned that troops were falling back. Not Russian army troops per se but Ukrainian separatist units had been fighting alongside them. It's a very fast moving situation. We know that the preparation was quite long and methodical for this using their new long range artillery. The Ukrainians were destroying bridges at the back of these Russian and Russian separatist troops that is the Deneepro river and of course this means in effect they're cut off from supplies, from resupply in particular in the city of Curzon. If for any reason there is a major breakthrough then we'll talk a little bit about the early advances of the Ukrainians in a second. It's going to mean that these Russian troops have got two options as is being pointed out to them by the way by Zelensky and others. That is to surrender or try and swim the Deneepro river and that is not a happy circumstance in any war. Interestingly enough we've talked a bit about Stalin grad before. It reminds me very much of the situation in Stalin grad where then Russians who of course were defending Stalin grad were using the river as a no plough ultra line. We cannot withdraw back from this. In some senses that is a Russian tactic, isn't it? You allow your troops to realize there is no retreat from here. It would be a very Russian way of doing things. One does wonder about the effect on morale. We reported previously that the Commander control centres had retreated east of the Deneepro bank. That cannot actually boost morale if the troops left behind. It might stiffen your resolve but it doesn't actually make you feel very fondly about the people who are issuing the orders. Of course the situation is getting worse and worse. There are three bridges and three key bridges across the Deneepro. They have already been damaged at the point where they couldn't carry heavy traffic. Pondtune bridges were thrown across. The river they come under artillery fire. Even the kit, the ammunition and everything that is getting to them is depleted because apparently there has been a very effective artillery strikes on we hear ten ammunition dumps in the area of major ammunition dumps have been struck. They are fascinating reports of actual fighting in the city of Kosovo. You can probably assume that is not regular Ukrainian troops but it is almost certainly either special forces and or partisans who are operating behind the lines as we talked about last week. There is increased evidence of this. They are attacking the Russians effectively from the rear. It is one of the nightmare scenarios. You have got in any military conflict where you have got the enemy effectively on your doorstep which is what they seem to have in Kosovo at the moment. At the same time four villages on the outskirts of Kosovo seem to have been taken by Ukrainian forces. And President Zelensky in particular ominous tones has worn rations in the region to either flee or surrender if they want to live. The actual quote was, go home and if you are afraid to go home to Russia then such occupiers should give themselves up. It is interesting that point about being afraid because of course the consequences of fighting in a authoritarian army such as the Russian army is at the moment not doing your job surrendering, giving yourself retreating are probably quite severe. They certainly were in the Second World War and you suspect they will still be still today. Yes, that is very good messaging as always from Zelensky. He sows these seeds which paint the picture much more effectively in what life is like in Russia and what is the nature of the regime they are fighting than more obvious and so bombastic rhetoric. So as always he is playing a blinder. But it is interesting that given that media are still in Russia. There are still lots of Western media operations there. We still, we come back to this thing, we don't really know what is going on. We are hearing reports that there are difficult. You always have to take them with a pinch of salt. But I think a lot of it is credible because of the common sense. And we are getting reports of difficulties raising fresh troops that are now having to offer bonuses to people to sign on. There are even stories of prisoners, even murderers being offered parole if they go off to the front lines. And again in this rather kind of you know has a strong clutching way. Any images of Putin are subjected to close scrutiny and there was another one the other day looking for signs of his health or ill health. There was a weird one the other day of Putin talking to the commander of the Russian national guard, the Ruskvardia. That is the internal security force set up by Putin to ensure the safety of the regime from its internal enemies, its own people potentially. And it is meant to be separate from the army. But some of the men there are about 340,000 in the whole unit. Some of them have been sent off to Ukraine whether fighting and dying. Incidentally they are the ones that were occupying the Zapolizia nuclear power plant which we will be talking about a bit later. Anyway in this clip you have got the commander who is called Viktor Solotov who bears noncanny resemblance. I couldn't help noticing to pour white out. And he is sitting there talking to Putin and explaining to him the duties of the Ruskvardia, which is strange given that Putin actually set the thing up himself. And he is telling this reassuring the president that the Ukrainians have welcomed his men with open arms and Putin seemed gripping the side of the desk. According to I think the rather optimistic analysis that he started to control shaking, uncontrollable shaking, resulting from Parkinson's disease. I don't know what to make of that, wishful thinking I think. Yeah, wishful thinking. But it is absolutely remarkable that Russian propaganda. I mean it's almost as if they've said you know this is white and we're going to tell you it's black and it's this sort of attempt to to cast out on almost any information you're getting. Therefore nothing's entirely believable. I thought it was very interesting, Colonel Kazan's observation that Russian propaganda is deliberately stupid and as unbelievable as possible. It's not intended to convince but to undermine as I've suggested the notion of objective truth. Well that's the whole point of a podcast like this. It's our job to try and correct that balance. Okay, we'll Roger that. Now let's talk about something very much of the news as a Parisier. This new clear watchdog team is on its way to inspect the plant. It might even get here today on the day that we're making our podcast. It's not there yet as of this morning and the reports that it's being deliberately held up by the Russians who are shelling its route. They've kind of apparently trying to force the team to travel through Russian controlled territory and Crimea and the Donbass region. When they get there they're going to make the first independent assessment of how dangerous the situation really is and perhaps start the what it does seem you know all the information we're getting a satellite in the region or rest of it. Well I suggest it's a very very perilous situation. There at the moment the fires are raging from brush fires that have been caused by the shelling. There are clear signs of damage to the plant itself from the shelling. So what happens next will be a very nail biting passage I think. Yeah, incredibly concerning and again, Colonel Kazan talked about the potential environmental catastrophe of the war. Not just a potential nuclear catastrophe but just the sheer effect this war is having on Ukraine. The enormous amount of money and of course time it's going to take to clear the whole thing up and that's if it stopped today and of course it you know we suspect it will drag on for a fair bit longer. We'll have to wait and see how this counteroffensive goes but it's absolutely heartbreaking to see the situation there, to see the amount of ordinance that's being dropped over the country of Ukraine to see the destruction of property and of course lives. You know let's not forget Patrick at least 5,000 Ukrainian civilians have lost their lives and up to a thousand children. Just think about that for a moment. And Colonel Kazan made the point very moving and powerful points I felt that what we're paying in increased energy prices in the West they're paying with blood and just imagine your own family, your own children being caught up in that. Yeah, it doesn't really is heartbreaking. And I think the longer it goes on the further we move away from that central truth and I think it's very important that we always bear that in mind. He said, you know he's killing, it's about killing essentially and okay you know the environment's getting wrecked and you know entire cities like he said like the Melu process has been wiped from the face of the earth but actually apart from what he's a pile of smoke and rubble. At the end of the day it says those human lives and those innocent lives that really break your heart. Now on another subject, these parties and operations that we've been going on about they seem to have been carrying on with a lot of success taking various collaborators and now being targeted and taken out. What do you make of that? Yeah, it's absolutely fascinating isn't it? You know I mentioned the danger of course to regular forces that partisans represent. Germans had a lot of trouble with the partisans in the Second World War and they dealt with them or at least attempted to deal with them in utterly ruthless fashion. But what we're seeing in Ukraine is a series of spectacular hits as you've suggested the taking out of collaborators. I mean it's interesting it gives us a big reaction in France at the end of the Second World War against collaborators but not generally speaking while the war was underway and it's incredibly brave thing to do to come out of hiding as a civilian and actually tackle one of the people that you think are sureing up the occupying regime. And what we've had in recent times are a number of successes and the latest is or Lexi Kovalova who sounds to me like an ethnic Russian who was a senior agricultural official in the Kesson area who was shot dead with a pump action shotgun at his home on Sunday and his wife, or girlfriend, the reports conflict was also killed. She was stabbed and later died of her wounds. I mean we're not celebrating in any way these murders but you do have to applaud the effectiveness of these partisans in carrying out these sort of behind the lines actions. Yeah, there was another, you know, from their point of view of big success the other day I think it was 11th of August when Asgar Leyschev who's an intelligence chief, he's you formally with the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, but he defected to the Russian sometime ago and he was caught in a car bomb which exploded while he was driving along the street. It was all captured on CCTV footage. You can look it up on YouTube. It is quite amazing. It's just driving along then wham that the thing goes up and afire ball. You can see people scattering, people just, you know, strolling along the pavement suddenly realizing what's going on scattering. And amazingly he actually savoured that attack and died in hospital a little later on. But it's impressive, you know, not just for the fact that it's happening that they've got the will to carry out these attacks but it's also, these people have very, one would imagine have very high levels of security. People, you know, detailed to protect them and yet they're still getting killed. Now you mentioned France and, you know, if you think about it, the French were under the jack boot but it took them a long, long time before they actually started turning on their own people who were collaborating with the occupiers. And it wasn't really until the war was almost over and the war in France was almost over until they started seeking to extract any sort of revenge. And even then a lot of the collaborators made it into peacetime and had flourishing careers thereafter. Yeah, but what we're beginning to see, particularly in Kesson itself, is the consequence of this partisan activity. I mean, there's a lovely bit on social media recently of Kyrgyzstan, who's the Russian installed deputy leader of Kesson. Actually, broadcasting from Veranozh in Russia, that's 120 miles from the Ukrainian border. Now, he didn't admit he was broadcasting from there doing his little pep talk videos. But social media followers noticed that in the background there was definitely the very distinctive cathedral in Veranozh. What conclusion can you draw from that? Well, he's in fear of his own life. So while on the one hand, he's telling the Russian news agency TAS that everything is under control, he clearly doesn't believe that. Otherwise, why would he have left Kesson? Yeah, again, it falls into that category of telling New Black is white. Now, the Russian responds to the counteroffensive. It gets very hard to read. They've been launching Missile Strikes on Kyrgyz, which have killed at least nine people one of the missiles, hit an empty nursery school. So clearly, this is not really a serious military operation. It's a terror operation. It's meant to just make people feel insecure, disrupt the life of the city, et cetera. So far, this hasn't worked anywhere. It's been tried in terms of firing back into Ukrainian territory proper in a way that's not part of a sort of attempt to actually capture that territory. So it seems to be more a kind of act of frustration rather than a serious operation of war. We also know, Patrick, don't we, from the Second World War, that an attempt to terrorize a civilian population with the use of ordnance in the case of the Second World, that's a former command, doesn't actually work. It was most effective when it was targeting military installations and industrial complexes. And as soon as it went into the area bombing idea that you can break German morale, that clearly didn't happen. So not only is it lashing out in a kind of blind and brutal way, it's also ineffective, but clearly the lessons of history don't seem to have been learned. No, absolutely. So I don't think that will stop the Russians, I think we'll see this from time to time. Now let's get back into something we haven't gone into too much, but I've mentioned from the time, so let's sanction what. In fact, they are having on Russia. There's been completely contradictory interpretations. I think one is a kind of rather pessimistic view that the sanctions are doing nothing at the time. And the problem is that Russia is actually making more money from its oil and gas sales, and it was before the war because of the price hike and its found new customers in China and India, etc. But then you get a completely opposite view, which I think is probably on the balance, but more credible. Well, sure, they may be making this money, but it's not the whole picture by any means. The Russian economy is going to shrink by over 11% this year as trade declines and inflation of sores on its way to 22% at the moment. And of course, down the road, looking at a hair to year or two, there are lots of questions about how the energy manufacturing sectors will survive. So the picture seems to be sanctions may be taking their time, but they are working. Yes, and we like to end on a slightly happier note if we can. So just it's worth pointing out that the first grain convoy, we spoke about them in previous episodes, but the first grain convoy from Ukraine onboard the MV Brave Commander, which is carrying 23,000 tons of wheat, has finally reached Djibouti in East Africa. And it's going to continue on to Ethiopia where famine is looming and where, of course, that grain is desperately needed. So that's a nice bit of good news to give you at the end of this episode. Yeah, and a bit of sad news, which is, of course, the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, who's performs led to the fall of the Soviet Union, will both remember very clearly. So all he was seen by in the West as a sort of savior, this man who kind of, you know, he'd been brought up in the communist system, he'd worked his way up the party, et cetera. And he did this him very likely person to usher Russia or the former Soviet Union into the realm of democracy and freedom, but there he was and he did it. And he was greatly revered in the West, but of course a profit without honor in his own country. Yeah, I think opinions divided even in Putin's Russia. I heard one commentator who was a former Prime Minister of Russia is now a critic of the Putin regime saying that he considers Gorbachev to be a great hero. He changed things for the better, not just for the Soviet Union or all the countries with them, part of the Soviet Union and its greater empire that is, of course, Eastern Europe, but also the Western world as well. And so when he was asked, well, of course, that's probably a minority opinion. He said it might be a minority opinion, but we're still talking about at least 30 to 40% of Russia's revering Gorbachev rather than reviling him. So yes, there are people like Putin who say that the end of the Soviet Union and that is the whole point of what's going on now was the biggest catastrophe to ever hit mankind. I'm not sure. Many people outside the old sort of communist cardraurs entirely believed that, but of course the propaganda in Russia now has convinced a sizable chunk of the population, particularly the older god that they have a right to take back some of the territory that they've lost. This return to Emperor, we discussed it last week. It's utterly ludicrous to think that you can throw your weight around in that way. And that is why the course and a result of this war is so vital. Great. Okay. Well, that's all we've got time for this week. So please do join us next week when we're talking to another key analyst or participant in the war and discussing the latest news. Goodbye.