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, 09 Sep 2022 01:00
A horrifying feature of the War in Ukraine has been the atrocities committed, particularly against the civilian population. Veteran war reporter Janine di Giovanni joins Patrick and Saul this week to discuss this and the work she is doing as part of the Reckoning Project.
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Hello and welcome back to another episode of Baffelgrim with me Patrick Fisher and Saul David. This week we're going to be talking about war crimes which have been a huge and horrifying feature of the Ukrainian conflict. On the very first days it was clear that this was going to be a very dirty war indeed and the atrocities go on, elevated. Well to give you some kind of rough idea, Ukrainian government figures say that as of the beginning of July about 10,000 civilians had been killed in the conflict by the Russians and more than 300 of them were children. Most died in indiscriminate attacks on apartment blocks, shopping centres and other sort of civilian areas. There have also been many well documented reports of torture, murder and the rape of civilians in Russian held areas. Such atrocities naturally generate worldwide indignation and condemnation and demands that something should be done to bring the perpetrators to justice. This week we've talked to someone who is dedicated to doing just that. Janine Di Giovanni is a veteran war reporter who has worked for the Times, the New York Times, the Guardian and Vanity Fair, which is also a human rights activist and academic, currently a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. She recently founded with Peter Pomeransov, the Reckoning Project, which is described as a transitional justice organisation that trains researchers in Ukraine to collect testimonies that can be used in court. This is what she told us. Janine, welcome to the podcast. You covered many of conflict over the years, including very brutal wars in Syria and Grozny, in which war crimes abounded. How do you characterise the current war in Ukraine in terms of the level of atrocity and the disregard for human life? Well, it's interesting that you say that because really what we're doing at the Reckoning Project is trying to gather testimonies and build patterns which we will then build into cases for international justice mechanisms. But one thing I am very aware of are the themes and the trends between the wars in Chachnaya, the Second Chachnaya War and Syria. So Putin has a very deliberate and gruesome playbook, we can say. And I think it mainly concerns the treatment of civilians. So we're seeing an absolute indiscriminate attack on civilians, completely unnecessary in the way that we saw Grozny being leveled. I was in Grozny when it fell, the end of January in 2000, and the fall of Easter Leppo in December 2016, the same kind of leveling buildings, hitting hospitals, hitting schools, in the case of the Ukraine War, hitting train stations where people are trying to flee, hitting shops that are known to be centres of activity such as the electrical shops where people gather to buy their phone chargers and things like that. That as well as absolutely horrific findings in places like Buccia where there was an occupation, they pulled out, and then we began to see horrific findings of extrajudicial killing, murder, torture, keeping people in basements in human conditions for long periods of time. And there's a whole other aspect which we, the reckoning project, my team and I are building, which are cases of ecological terrorism. And by that I mean Chernobyl, the occupation of the Chernobyl nuclear site in March for a month, not only disrupted contaminated areas like the Red Forest where Russian soldiers dug trenches and laid in into an area which I went to see government officials in Kiev on my last trip there. And they basically said those soldiers are more than likely dead already. Meanwhile, the Ukrainians who were held hostage in the Chernobyl facility were meant they can only do by law following the protocol of nuclear safety, eight hour shifts and they were held for a month. Same thing going on in Zaparizha as we see now, very, very dangerous to kind of use nuclear facilities as areas of military battles. Tell us a little bit about how the reckoning project came about, Janine, before we talk about the specifics of what it's up to. Sure. So the day after the invasion of Ukraine, Peter Pomerantsev, who is a key foreign British academic writer, expert on Russian propaganda, phoned me in English really because he just said we have to do something much more than being reporters and going to work, which of course is very noble profession, but we want it to go deeper. I just finished a three year project with the United Nations training journalists in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, not just journalists actually, first responders, doctors, firemen, how to report war crimes. So how do I identify violations of international humanitarian law, international criminal law, what constitutes a war crime, what constitutes genocide, which is a term that people use too freely, I think, what is a crime of aggression, what is a crime of peace, and how they could build this. So Peter and I basically, within very short time got funding from the US government and pulled together an extraordinary team led by Natalia Buminyuk, who is probably Ukraine's finest investigative journalist. We hired 15 researchers in the field and the difference between what we're doing and let's say other war crime investigations is that my team are Ukrainian and they're locals, they're in situ, they're in sumi, they're in hair song, they're in hardkeep, they're in cherniv, they're in chernobyl, they know everyone, it's their country and that can also be a disadvantage because of course it's incredibly damaging for them to see this happening and we have to keep an eye on their state of trauma. And basically we train them using methodology, we have a very strict methodology which adheres to international legal standards. So Patrick, you and I were journalists from many years together and the way we took notes while you know accurate would not hold up in a court of law. So our, my team's work, the templates that we use, we then build archives, we then, I have a data processor who's actually a Syrian from Yarmuk camp, we have a Syrian lawyer working with him, we then verify everything and verify to a very high degree and then we begin to build cases which will go to either universal jurisdiction or to feed into the UN Committee on Inquiry, we're working with the war crimes, prosecutor in Kiev, the office of the prosecutor general, we're working with many different outlets and in fact one of the main things we're doing now is trying to promote cooperation because there's so many people on the ground now gathering evidence that we need to adhere to best practices. So I'm really proud, my little, our little team you know started in February and we're growing and growing and we've already got 70 testimonies which is really extraordinary. How does it actually play out, though, Janine? You and I will, I think everyone knows that the chances of actually getting some broad reckoning to use the title of your project, they're slim. Now I know that's no one really realistically expects to bring every war criminal to justice but can you tell us what the optimum outcome would be of your efforts and those parallel efforts that are going on in Ukraine? No, absolutely and this is the first question people ask. Look, this is the first war that I witnessed where war crimes are being gathered whilst the war is happening. We know that Bosnia was a long road to justice and in fact it hasn't been delivered at all. The ICTY did some good work but very few people were actually brought to trial including the 20,000 women who were raped. There were 26 people that were actually tried for that. So we're getting the evidence prepared. Look, ultimately of course we want Putin in the hate but I think that's a very remote chance although Slovakia Milosovich did go to the ICC. So I mean that is one example of how we can get the top down bringing them to justice. I think but what is important though is we're working towards universal jurisdiction which let's say the Koblen's trial which my colleague Rajee worked on helping to build. So we're looking more towards getting our cases absolutely airtight prepared. They're ready and then when we do get these people it's all ready to go. There's not going to be a long process and delay once the war ends actually moving forward. So you know I do think there's frustration especially for my team who want to see very quick results. International justice doesn't work that way. It's a very long strategy and a long road and you have to basically keep your eyes on the price which is that we are documenting we're collecting evidence at a very high level and it will not be forgotten. You know what I think the greatest frustration I've witnessed and the leading cause of let's say the violence restorning whether it's Bosnia or the revision of facts in Rwanda today about the genocide or Shrevanitsa indeed there is this kind of revision of what actually happened. So having these testimonies airtight archived ready is a way of saying we're not going to forget here are the facts and we're ready to go and we're Patrick we are working with prosecutors throughout North America and Europe as well and of course Ukraine because Ukraine should take the lead the national courts should be for stop for for justice for Ukraine. Given to your team as mainly as you say Janine Ukraine in which has its advantages one potential disadvantages that they are not going to be quite as determined to dig out atrocities that are bound to have been carried out by the Ukrainian side if just in retaliation. Is there is there any indication that they are being documented at the moment? This is a really good point it was one of the first things we we looked at our mandate is from the State Department from USAID who fund this is not to look at Ukrainian war crimes that's a whole other area people are absolutely looking at them the Amnesty Report which came out about three weeks ago was caused an enormous forecast in in Ukraine because it said that Ukrainian troops are putting civilians in harm's way. Absolutely there are people that are very specifically looking at that of course the Kremlin is looking at it in a very different way but it's not our mandate and in a sense that would be a very difficult thing for me to lead a team of Ukrainians who have been bombed out of their houses who have lost family members and ask them look now we're going to investigate what what your side is doing so thankfully at the moment I don't have to do that next year when we're renewed maybe that would be added to my mandate but right now it's not part of it although I'm keeping it careful I am it I think it's really important because when I was working in Syria for many years I did you know it was really important for me to know what the first the FSA what they were doing and then the the various Gihide groups that blossomed out of the Syrian opposition it would have been foolish and naive for me to say there's only one side committing horrific atrocities both sides did it one side far worse than the others the asset side same with the Bosnian War Patrick and we know that you know the Bosnian Serbs by far committed the multitude of of human rights abuse but the Bosnian the Bosnian acts had there not as many and I don't want to you know put it in the same league but they also were guilty of some war crimes. Janine to make a personal point if you could you've had a lot of well you know almost unprecedented amount of experience of these terrible events I won't ask how it impacts on you personally but directly but what are your thoughts about why this happens I mean the whole region of progress really comes to a grinding halt doesn't it when you look at the way that recent wars have been conducted the early 20th century wars let that apart of the 21st century wars the latter part of the 20th century wars any notion that war was going to actually be waged in a more progressive way if that's not a ridiculous thing to say that's completely gone out of the window hasn't it have you got any you must brood about this a lot have you got any ideas about why this is so look I I would have thought that by now we would have progressed beyond absolute sheer brutality and savagery and part of my job is that I've got to go through these testimonies really carefully not as a not as a journalist but more thinking as a legal from a legal point of view and I go to Ukraine basically every month and I work with various researchers I'm still after more than 30 years of doing this a poll at what human beings can do to each other some of the crimes in ucha were horrific the torture methods that were used I thought I saw I thought I'd seen it all I thought that nothing would cat what alsa did in his prisons but some of the methods they're using and the sheer cruelty of it is is just hard to get our heads around and I remember many years ago being in Afghanistan with general sir David Richards who is a personal hero of mine whom I'm sure you both know who basically ended the war in Sierra Leone in 2000 and is now and then went on to be the head of the the British army essentially and he said to me and this must have been about 2000 it was the time of like the most bloody time in Hellman and British troops were in sangin and he said in the future the war will be wage wars will be waged on the internet it'll be drone warfare it'll be propaganda um but Ukraine to me is like going back to a world war even worse than a world war one take war a Bosnia the trenches the the bloodshed the young the young lives on both sides being absolutely wiped out the the villages being burnt the torture the filtration camps um we're looking at cases of children Ukrainian children being transported across the Russian border with their parents alive in filtration camps um being taken to Moscow for adoption because of the whole policy of ratification the attempt to wipe out Ukrainian identity um these are things these are the kind of themes that you and I have seen over and over and over and I'm just it is extraordinary that in you know 2022 having progressed so far in so many societal levels that we that human beings can brutalize each other in in this way and um you know I going through these testimonies I really I have to kind of gird myself for it because it's it's really heavy going um it's terrible and the cruelty is immense the hatred I mean I remember you know we would say this about the Serbs and the Bosnians but this kind of hatred and this kind of vengeance that will occur from this unless there is justice because I truly believe that wars begin again when wars end badly well that was Janine De Giovanni giving us plenty to talk about join us after the break when we'll dig into what she said and discuss the latest developments in the war welcome back well I've known Janine for many years she's a very brave and trepid woman someone who's got a burning sense of justice which I think came through very strongly there I found it very moving and hats off to her and her team for doing a very grim but very necessary job I think you know she's a realist and I think what we all know really about attempts to get some sort of reckoning um or well I won't say futile because that that would be a dreadful admission but I think everyone realistically going into it knows that the you're not going to get something like any complete holding to account I mean to give an example in Syria Syria has seen the same sort of levels of atrocity disregard for human life indeed deliberate acts of wanton violence against innocence and yet despite all the bloodshed there as far as I'm aware only two individuals have actually been brought to justice one of them is a guy called Anwar Reslan who a colon the Syrian intelligence corps of the Syrian army of the of Assad's army who relative tension central Damascus he was convicted as an accomplice in 27 murders and 4,000 cases of torture this was the he made a reference to this in her interview this happening coblence in in Germany he was given a life sentence and that was just it was just good fortune really that he was captured he got to Germany in 2014 on a visa was arrested in in 2019 but he was a very small cog in the wheel yeah and there you you you mentioned the likelihood of of people even in your crane are being brought to justice but what's different about the reckoning project is that they're collecting information almost in real time you know if you think about a crime Patrick you know you think about law and order they always say it's those first few hours after the actual act has been committed that does the vital time to gather evidence and okay it may not be a matter of hours but it's certainly a matter of days in which they are gathering materials so we'll only really know how effective the reckoning project has been when the war stops and there is a chance to get hold of some of these people you mentioned a couple of people we know that in your crane despite the fact that as of several months ago 14,000 war crimes have been documented and 600 perpetrators named and yet only a few have been put on trial I mean we shouldn't be that surprised about that because the war is still underway those people include a lowly soldier who shot a civilian and two men who were operating a battery that fired rockets and an apartment block in car keve both ordinary soldiers who used of course the classic defense second world war defense that they were only doing what they were ordered yeah what you really are through is is the directors of the violence not not the people who were carrying it out and of course that requires very special circumstances we always go back to Nuremberg Nuremberg was where the principle was established that individuals could be held responsible for starting wars waging aggressive wars one of the the two sort of core charges against the defendants and the other being crimes against humanity but of course there you had just 21 people in the dock so the sins of the entire German armed forces and if like me you believe that the German nation generally was a bore quite a lot of responsibility for what went on they were on the shoulders of the 21 men of course the main purpose some of the main perpetrators had escaped justice by committing suicide but that really requires the massive prerequisite of unconditional surrender total victory by one side or the other you know the person as Jeanine said we really want to see the dock is Vladimir Putin and in the way things are going that is a very unlikely prospect I think yeah I mean Orlando Fijus of course telling us and I've had a chat with him since then about his pessimism that not only is Putin unlikely to be brought to justice he's unlikely to be toppled from power anytime soon in Russia even in the event of a Russian defeat he will find some way to spin things but let's not get too depressed but I think the other thing that is important to bear in mind apropos my question about the acts that are obviously being committed by both sides now that's not to make a moral equivalence at all we wouldn't dream of doing that anymore than frankly you would have done in the Second World War but it is interesting of course in when when we think about that that the victors often do not bring their people to justice the Red Army of course is the classic case in the Second World War committed an enormous number of atrocities and rapes that of course were brought out in books like Stalin, Gradin, Berlin by Anthony Beaver as a result of which of course he's persona non grasser in Russia these days as I suspect will Orlando fly just after the publication of his very objective but of course not terribly attractive but from Putin's regime is concerned but the Red Army generally speaking people weren't were not generally speaking literally that people were not brought to justice and you could even go so far and I know you've written and spoken about this before Patrick to suggest that actually even the Brits in terms of the bombing campaign might have been considered to have been committing a war crime there certainly in some of the instances of area bombing yeah well I've got quite a new answer view on all that on the strategic bombing campaign I think it was justifiable but I can equally see that in other seem to otherwise it could legitimately be presented as a war crime as well. Janine referenced the Yugoslav situation and the Serbs in particular and that is a case where the leaders of what was an aggressive war were actually brought to justice in the ICT where the international criminal tribunal in Yugoslavia and the Hague and elsewhere I believe so you know the three main villains of the piece, Slobod and Milosha which Ratko Mladic he was the Milosha which was the head of the Serbian state raccoe, Mladic head of the army and rather than carriage it to head of the breakaway Republic of Serbsko which was a kind of sub region. Republic of Serbskoe was the same principle that Putin argues for everywhere that someone speaks Serbian or deems themselves to be Serbian is part of Serbia it's a kind of a pretty sort of crazy concept if we actually follow that ourselves we would be feel justified in going to war with America to bring America back into the English speaking fold but that doesn't seem to stop them propagating this I mean Putin was odd about this again earlier this week there's no shame that Russian anyone that can exhibit signs of have been exposed to Russian culture or the Russian language speaks the Russian language is therefore a a citizen of Russia it's a such a kind of retrograde ideas astonishing that it's even sort of propagated let alone believed and there's a lot of evidence that there many Russians do believe this I was reading a story the other day about how the new school curriculum in Russia teachers have given a lot of of lines to push in school which reinforce this kind of mindset but sorry just to get back to Serbia yeah that all this trio did all end up doing time but the reason for that was because Serbia hadn't been occupied but it had been pretty decisively defeated and the people in charge in Serbia realized that if they were going to ever come back into sort of polite international society with the essential economic benefits that brought then they were going to have to hand them over they didn't do it very happily but they they realized it was essential if they were going to have any kind of future at all yeah and I think the optimist among us and we'll talk about this in a second when we get when we move on to the latest news but I think the optimist among us might hope that Orlando Fijers is wrong and that at some stage the Russians who you know despite earning an awful lot of cash from their from their fossil fuels over the last six months are actually being amored in other economic terms that soon or later they realize that again they want to reenter polite international society or at least that they want the economic sanctions to be completely dropped and if they have to hand over Putin to do that you can imagine a possible scenario where that might be the case but you know call me an optimist Patrick I know that not everyone listening to this podcast is going to be as convinced I was rather heartened by the voices we heard from Gorbachev's funeral where considerable numbers of Russians lined up to pay their last respects that's something that requires a lot of boldness a lot of courage because everyone will be being photographed everyone's presence will be noted and there were considerable numbers of people that were prepared to stand up and say this guy was a forceful good we respect him we honor his memory and so there is you know we should never lose sight of this never can down the entire Russian nation and who knows one day those people may be in charge and indeed Putin will be standing in a dock somewhere and answering for his multitude of crimes on this point about about sanctions I think the the main story of the last few days that the Diaspora that is of course what's happening with Nord Stream 1 which is the main way that the Russians export their gas under the Baltic from Russia to Germany now it's effectively been shut down the Russians claim this on some sort of technical problem which will have to be it's a you know compressor unit and there's an oil leak in this compressor unit they say that unless this is dealt with then the the thing is effectively switched off they say that it's up to Ziemann's energy with German massive German company to repair it Ziemann say they haven't got any kind of contract with Gazprom which is the of course state operator of all Russian gas so it's a video it's clearly it's it's another bit of Russian theatre they're basically trying to put their foot on the windpipe of Europe prior to winter descending and behind that of course is the threat unless you lift sanctions or ease sanctions then you're going to suffer a catastrophic loss of energy this winter is that how you see it's all I mean what do you think is Putin's game there yeah I mean you could argue of course that the the actual turning off of the of the Nord Stream one gas pipe supplies and active desperation here because of course there's an element of blackmail as you've already pointed out Patrick but frankly it's unlikely to work so what is driving this well what is driving this potentially is the damage that's being done to the Russian economy which of course we're not directly aware of we'll we'll come onto a couple of points that relate to that in a second when we deal with the rest of the news but I think it's worth saying on the subject of energy prices the high energy prices I suppose you could argue are make it which of course is partly the result of the war are making it more difficult for the Ukraine to win because Russia is making so much money from oil gas and coal sales how much well an estimated 141 billion pounds that's since the start of the war compared to the cost of the war for the Russians and again these are just estimates but that's estimated at 86 billion pounds so even though Russia has cut gas supplies to Europe by 75% the inflated cost of gas means the EU is paying as much for gas as it was a year ago which is pretty scary to think about yeah I don't think there's any realistic expectation that by cutting off gas you get Putin is going to get a complete reversal of the European sanctions policy because it's for one thing it's a as it's a foreign policy decision it's taken collectively and unanimously so it would require unanimous decision to undo it and I can't see the frontline states like Poland and the Baltic states which are very much on the front line they have an existential interest in weakening and reducing the threat that they face from Russia I can't see them sort of suddenly saying okay yeah let's forget about it but I think what he's really trying to do is as usual to disrupt and to fight and so to sow division among the ranks of the Europeans which will lead he hopes to a greater willingness to allow the Ukrainians to reach a point where they are more or less forced to go to negotiations and as we've said several times for negotiations essentially mean victory for Russia and part of those negotiations will be sanctions so I think that will be thrown into the mix and it will then become an element in any kind of deal and that obviously means that the Russians will be demanding the lifting of total lifting of sanctions that may not happen but at least some amelioration of the current regime yeah and there certainly are signs that the the West is is tightening the screw a little bit the EU has stopped buying Russian coal but will not phase out admittedly oil imports entirely until the end of the year but the G7 is looking at a global price cap on Russian oil which of course we is going to reduce the amount of cash that can be brought in now that's just the G7 they've got to persuade everyone else to stick to their guns and you know we've got outliers of course like China and India who are very unlikely to be curved in that sense but we should just mention the Britain has cut its import of Russian oil and gas to zero and he did that in June so we are flying the flag and it's also worth pointing out Patrick that you know in terms of total cost of cash in terms of armaments that are going to the Ukraine well America's way out ahead but we're number two in the total amount of course as a percentage of GDP we come a little bit further down the track as of course does America but we're certainly doing our bit and I think come it is worth pointing out in terms of other news this week other important news this week which is that of course we have a new prime minister that Zelensky has been incredibly grateful to the role that Britain has played in terms of the eulogy that he was giving to Boris over the last few days and there's not many people in the UK who were not glad to see the back of Boris but Zelensky was and of course you know saying a number of very nice things about him he'd played a significant role since the start of the war both in terms of marshaling sanctions against Russia and providing Ukraine with arms he hopes and trust that Liz Trust will continue this support but he cannot be 100% confident Johnson on the other hand is saying you should be confident because I think Britain and Trust will stick by you so let's hope that is the case yeah I mean one thing that I think we can say in Boris Johnson's favour and we'll go down on his political epitaph is that he really did show leadership there and fortitude he very very staunch supporter never waved his tour when else were in the world there were wobbles and doubts America did stand for him too but Europe certainly had a much more kind of varied and checkered response to the whole thing as to Liz Trust I'm afraid although she may be talking the talk now I don't feel I've never felt that her convictions run particularly deep let's just hope that she regards as being a part of the Johnson legacy that she can't jettison only time will tell yeah okay so let's talk about other news and we mentioned of course last week the start of Ukraine's counteroffensive it's been quite tricky we've been keeping our eye on this and it's been quite tricky to get reliable information about this mainly because the Ukrainians the government and the military have imposed effectively in news blackout but that is not going to stop many people both observing whatever information they can get and pointing out that it looks like pretty encouraging frankly that Ukrainian troops are advancing in several directions in the western kerson region and have secured various areas on both sides of kesson and of course the whole point being slowly but surely they want to put kesson in a pocket which they can surround a bit like styling grad and hopefully force the Russians there to surrender and this information is backed up by several reports on social media which is the way things are going in terms of news reporting these days Patrick that's so called geo located videos videos that you you can confirm by GPS have actually been taken in the areas they say they've been taken in that Ukrainian forces have liberated territories as I say and there are also suggestions that the Russians are depleting other areas in order to shore up their defenses in kerson and that makes them vulnerable and that would seem to play into stories we've been hearing about counter attacks further north around karkiv there are stories that the Ukrainians are making significant gains there they've taken a settlement called volokiv ja a report by the Institute for the Study of War believes that this is a result of that kind of redeployment from the karkiv area of Russian troops towards kerson and including some of their best units if one can really say there is such a thing in the Russian army as it currently is in Ukraine there's something called the the guards army which apparently has been shifted south and that opened the door for this Ukrainian counter attack there were also interesting reports that Russia is running out of kit basically running out of armaments now how do we know this well the New York Times has reported that it's looking to that great producer of effective munitions north korea to supply it with both artillery shells and rockets to restock its war arsenal and this actually comes from american intelligence reports that the New York Times has got its hands on and those reports also say that Iran is supplying the Americans with military drones and beyond that apparently north korea has offered to send construction workers to occupy Ukraine to reconstruct destroyed cities like maria poll but an interesting point made by one analyst is that Russia would be doing none of this if their good friend china was willing to risk western sanctions by helping them out i mean is it is it better than nothing getting this kit for russia do you think or is this a very bad sign for their war effort well is it you know it's not a good look is it really you have to go to kimjon and to uh to get your to get your supplies i mean it may be one of those things which is you know we'd like to believe rather than it actually being a significant fact but i think there is definite evidence that the sanctions are hurting the military effort in a very specific way which is that they can't get the chips they need microchips they need for their guided munitions uh and that in that respect sanctions really is hurting the military effort in a very specific way so um all you know the general picture i think is that russia is finding it increasingly difficult and the story are the question are sanctions working i think the evidence really suggests that the answer is yes and it's only going to get worse the uh a european commission report tweet rather a tweet from the european commission said that they were actually causing colossal damage to the kremlin's ability to wage war and that this will only uh grow over time and they noted that 40 countries representing over 50 percent of the world's gross domestic product are involved in this action but that is a huge chunk of the world capacity which is turned against russia i mean of course there are significant players notably china who have them but the balance is is definitely pretty even uh and it but that doesn't really give uh russia an advantage because it's a it's a long game as junean said this was clearly going to go on for some considerable time longer and and time is i would argue on Ukraine side in this one yeah honestly lighten though we mentioned uh on one of our previous episodes that russian viewers were switching off state television because they've fed up with being so fed a constant diet of propaganda and panel shows explaining the special operation um well now we hear that the state media and by definition of course that that means the government have responded by actually putting back a lot of the favorite tv shows like the talent show uh beautifully named if rather long we sing in the kitchen the whole country uh that's a sort of singing singing drinking contest apparently which is very popular and also two popular crime dramas uh trigger and silver spoon but these are only being shown on the weekends it's it's a sign that uh people are fed up with the war who knows but they're certainly fed up with the diet of tv they've been getting yeah strangely neither of those two have made it onto Netflix yeah but who knows who knows okay we reported uh before it's been an ongoing story about what's happening in zappalisia the nuclear plant in south east ukraine uh the u.n. inspectors got there and they're going to stay uh for the time being but um there's alarming news that the the mosques as it's drawing up plans to redirect power from zappalisia to the russian grid basically stealing uh all that energy but um more worrying is that this uh switchover will raise a serious risk of a meltdown of the reactors uh while they're doing so and the head of ukraine's atomic energy company petro kutin said the cooling systems could fail if the switchover took longer than 90 minutes i mean that sounds like the uh the plot of a thriller doesn't it? yeah i mean it's it's grim stuff isn't it and you know we're concerned about the course of the war and how the military effort is going and we're keeping an eye on on things there but in a sense uh this is the big story really of the war so far isn't it the potential uh fallout literally of a nuclear disaster you know janein mentioned uh the earlier stuff that was going on up in uh churnabill whether russians were literally digging trenches uh in the old nuclear reactor area and how she suspected a lot of people um you know who'd been involved in in that russian action that had already lost their lives because of course they they must have been affected by uh nuclear fallout yeah well that was a fascinating detail uh something i hadn't heard before so that's all we got time for this week uh one of the great things we have to struggle from from time to time is the lack of accurate information on the ground uh not really that would be provided by by journalists but this war uh is being handled in a very different way from previous wars we're very lucky next week to have as our guests answering the Lloyd uh star war correspondent for many years for the times and he's going to tell us all about his experiences in Ukraine and the new policies that are shaping the way we get to hear about what's going on do join us