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All right, Alexander, let's talk about the Defense Ministry meeting that took place a couple of days ago. In attendance was the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei, Shoigu, and Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Shoigu said some very interesting things, came out with some very interesting numbers, the casualty numbers, as well as talking about NATO's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. And then we have the statements from Russian President Putin. And the one statement that caught a lot of people's attention was the statement he made about the West of Ukraine, the history of the area, to be fair, Putin talked about the history of the area post World War II. He talked about Poland's connection to this land. He talked about Hungary and Romania's connection to this land, the actions of Stalin. And basically, it led up to Putin saying that Russia... Effectively, he said Russia isn't interested in the West of Ukraine should these countries decide to press their claims for territory in Ukraine. But Russia will pursue its own interests and its interests in lands which are historically connected to Russia. That's pretty much what he said. Everyone took it as a statement from Putin, green lighting the West of Ukraine to be incorporated by, say, Poland, Hungary, Romania, whatever.


That's basically how people saw it. What was your take on these comments from Putin?


Can I say overall, it was one of the most fascinating speeches he's given? I mean, he's been giving one speech after another this year. All of them have been very interesting, but this was also a particularly interesting speech in all sorts of ways. I just want to touch on one particular thing. Firstly, Putin made it completely clear, crystal clear, unambiguously clear that there is no possibility that Russia will ever agree to Ukraine entering NATO. Remember, we were reading a few days ago, about a week ago, about this supposed discussion between Gerassimov, the chief of the general staff, the Russian general staff, and Zaluzny about Ukraine accepting that the Russians will control all these regions that they occupy, but they won't object if Ukraine joins NATO. Well, Putin completely demolished that notion. He also made it absolutely clear that his mistrust of the West now has become so strong that I don't think he's interested in discussing Ukraine with the West any longer. He went through the whole story, the Minzk Agreement, all that happened all the way back to 1991 and beyond, and it was all there. He was very, very angry about it. The person he was most angry with, by the way, was himself.


That was pretty clear from his words, the fact that he trusted and believed the West for so long. He openly admitted that he had been outplayed by the West in Ukraine. A pretty astonishing admission, actually. There is no conceivable way, in my opinion, that he's going to go back and sit down with the Americans or the Europeans and talk about the situation in Ukraine anymore. He simply doesn't trust them. He's going to win his victory in Ukraine, about which he's now completely sure that he will. And then he will decide what to do. And after that, that's the point where he may decide that he's going to talk with the West. And alongside Putin's interview, there was an interview that Sir Gayy Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister gave, who also said, There's no discussions between us and the West going along. And he finally addressed this question of what Richard Haas and the people from the Council of Foreign Relations are up to. And he said, We were in Moscow. I did indeed meet with these people in New York in April. And then we were all incredibly to learn that we had some back channel negotiation going on.


I don't know what Richard Haas. I mean, this is effectively what Lavrox was saying. I don't know what Richard has and people like him are talking about. And to make it absolutely clear so that there's no ambiguity, there's not going to be a freeze of the conflict or anything like that. Putin was completely clear about all of this. No negotiations, no discussions. They're not going to sit down, discuss Ukraine, Ukraine membership, NATO membership, once and for all and forever off the table. The Russians have had enough, they're fed up, they're going to see this thing through. That was an unambiguous clear message from what Putin was saying. I think that needs to be made very clear. That's the first thing to say. But then he did discuss Ukraine's history and he talked about the Western regions of Ukraine. He didn't talk about Kyiv, he didn't talk about the central parts of Ukraine. He did talk about Odessa. He again said, Odessa is a Russian city. He made it again as well as I could see. All but clear that Odessa, the Black Sea Coast, Kharkov probably as well will become part of Russia, that the Russians will take back what is theirs.


That's how he put it. But what he said was, Look, what happens elsewhere really isn't our business. We're not going to occupy or take over Galizia. This is not historic Russian land. Western Ukraine is not historic Russian land. They can do what they want there. And if the Poles, the Hungarian, and the Romanians decide to take back their territories, which some people in these territories would welcome if it happened. Well, if that does happen, then so be it. We're not concerned with it. I don't think it was so much a green light as a washing of hands. He said that in the past, it had been Russia that had defended Ukraine's territorial integrity, including Ukraine's Western borders. He said, as you absolutely rightly said, that Ukraine's Western borders are entirely a creation of Joseph Stalin, that he gave to Ukraine, Galicia, and these other regions that he took from Hungary and Romania. He said, We've supported all of that up to now. We're not bothering any longer. The Ukrainians have acted in such a way that they cannot seriously expect us to defend Ukraine's territorial integrity in the West. If the Poles and the Romanians and the Hungarian come and want these territories, well, that's for them to sort out with the Ukrainians and we're not going to get involved.


That was how I interpreted it.


Right. Which leads you to believe that Russia is going to, if you go off of Putin statements, Russia will, for lack of a better word, take back. I don't know if it's annexation. I don't know if a different republic is created, but let's just say, let's just use the word take back, territory that Putin considers historically Russian.




Which would leave you then with Russia that stretches to a certain point of what was once Ukraine with a part of territory, which is in limbo?


Yeah, well, this is it.


Is that where you get to? If you go off of Putin's words, if you.


Go off of Putin's words. Yes, this is it. He didn't discuss what will happen in Kiev. He was very careful not to talk about it. But I think that I personally find it impossible to interpret Putin's words in any other way than him saying that everything east of the Dnieper, all the Russian-speaking areas, Kharkiv, Zaporoiv, Logie, obviously the Donbas, all of that is Russian. It will go back to Russia. Will the Black Seacoast, Odessa, Nikolai, Ismail, all of these places. They will go back to Russia as well. These are historic Russian lands. They have nothing to do with historic Ukraine. They were inappropriately, wrongly given to Ukraine by Lenin and Stalin. Ukraine was fortunate enough to become independent with all of these territories, but it turned its back on Russia and now it's going to lose them. I personally cannot see how that can be resolved in any form other than outright annexation. About what plans he and the Russians may have for the rest of Ukraine, he didn't make it clear. The one thing hes he made clear is that the Russians are not going to Galicia. They're not going to Western Ukraine. I think that's the one thing we could say categorically, that they're saying, Look, this is not our historic territory.


We are not interested in it. The people there don't want us, so we are not going. We are going to look after our own. We are not going to look after those people. What happens in terms of the rest of Ukraine? It's not our concern. Now, how this shapes out, what happens in places like Kyiv, Zhytmyr, Cherniov? We've had all kinds of very interesting, ambiguous, elliptical statements from all kinds of Russian officials. Maybe there will be some annexation, maybe there will be some rump state as well. But I suspect this is my own view that there's been no final decision yet. I suspect that there's discussions about this in Moscow. Anyway, they don't yet know how it will all play out because, of course, we've still got a war going on. And as he made very clear over the course of his speech to the Defense Ministry Board and as Schoiger himself made clear, the war at the moment remains the priority.


Yeah. A lot of this is speculation and no one knows what's going to happen six months or a year down the line. But there are a lot of analysts from Poland who are saying that the people in Poland don't want, if this was, if Putin's words actually manifested to become reality, Well, there are a lot of people in Poland who are not interested in jumping on this territory. They don't want to touch it either, even though there are, I imagine there are forces in Poland as well.


That would.


Like to incorporate this territory. My personal opinion is that Duda is very interested in this land. But it seems like that the Polish people, the sense that I'm getting is that the Polish people, they don't want to touch.




Territory. I think.


That is unambiguously right. I think that you're completely correct. I think people like Duda, the President and the former the leader of Law and Justice, Jarislav Kucinsky, or the effective leader of Law and Justice, Jarislav Kucinsky, they are obsessed with this. They want to recreate the Polish state, reincorporating all its lost territories in the east, Lovov as well. I think that the vast majority of people in Poland, and I really do mean the vast majority, are unambiguously opposed to this thing. They didn't understand right at the outset that this was something that their leaders were contemplating. I think that when they did begin to understand it over the course of last year, Well, we saw the sharp shift in Polish opinion about the whole war in Ukraine. There are still, despite the new Prime Minister, Donald Tusks, attempts to unblock the borders with Ukraine, there are still blockades going on. It's still very difficult to get traffic to move from Poland to Ukraine. This is in grassroots opposition in Poland. I think that most Poles very wisely and sensibly are saying, We don't want to go back there. This wasn't happy place for us. We had all those problems with the Ukrainian nationalists in the past.


Why should we go there? This is a hornet's nest. We're only making trouble for ourselves. Besides this legend that's been created of some tremendous love of Poles and Ukrainians, well, in terms of Ukrainian nationalists, that is simply not true. You're absolutely right. More and more commentators are saying this. I got an email today from someone in Poland, quite a prominent analyst there. He told me exactly the point that you've just made, that this is not what most people in Poland want at all. I go further. I think that was why the previous government in the end lost the election, because even though they remain Poland's most popular party, they overcommitted to Ukraine. We discussed this in the program. They were floating all these dangerous ideas about reoccupying Western Ukraine. I think the moment most Poles figured that out, there was a dramatic loss of support. I think the previous Polish government suddenly realized that at the start of the autumn and they swerved policy. But by then it was too late. I don't think it's going to happen. I don't think there's any possibility that the Polish Army is now going to go into Poland, into Ukraine to fight the Russians.


In fact, I've actually seen an opinion poll in Poland which conclusionsively says this, and I don't think most Poles have any intention or any desire to see their country move back into Western Ukraine and into Lov and all of those places. And it's important to remember, as Putin pointed out, that of course, Poland was richly compensated for the loss of these poor regions in the east, Galitzia and Lov and all the rest. It received huge territories at the expense of Germany, again, largely thanks to no lesser persons than Joseph Stalin. He basically moved Poland westwards. The Poles took Danzik, which was already to a great extent to Poland City, by the way, and the Danzik corridor, but actually lots of other places too. Wrochow before the war was the city of Breslaw in Germany, for example. Again, most Poles understand they don't want to go into Eastern regions again and potentially reopen the whole question of Poland's own Western borders. If you start changing boundaries, well, other people might say, Well, maybe other boundaries also need to be changed. I don't think it's going to happen. I think this is something that Putin perhaps hasn't quite understood himself.


I think the Russians have been really focused on this. But I think mood in Poland has shifted decisively against it. Yeah.


I mean, just the final point. I think maybe it's Putin's way you said he's washing his hands of this West Ukraine issue. I mean, it could be Putin's way of saying, The problem with Ukraine all along this state that Stalin... I guess it's fair to say that Stalin cobbled it together, right? Yeah. I mean, that's a fair statement. Okay. It's his way of saying this state that Stalin cobbled together. The problem has never been any of the other regions. So it's always been these Bandara forces in the West. So we're done with them. Let the people that funded this Bandara ideology, let them deal with them.


Exactly. It's exactly what it was. I think what he was signaling in the clearest possible way is that the Russians are not going to go to Galitia. I think that there's been lots of discussion about where the Russians intend to stop. I still don't know exactly where the Russians plan to stop, but I think we can say that there are some places where they are not going to stop. They're not going to stop before Odessa, for example, is back under their control. There are other places which they're never going to go to. They're not going to go to the world. I think this is now unambiguously, unquestionably clear. Putin has said that. He also said, as to repeat again, if people in Poland and Hungary and Romania want to go there, well, they're welcome to it, but it's nothing to do with me, nothing to do with Russia. Yeah.


All right, we'll leave it there. Vitorand. Locals. Com, we are on Rumble, Odyssey, Pitchy, Telegram, Rockfinn, and TwitterX and go to the Duran' Shop. 20 % off, use the code. Christmas 20.


Christmas 20.


I'll remember that. 20% off. Use the code. Christmas 20. Take care.