This is from a podcast interview from yesterday of Col. Macgregor by Lucas Leiroz from Brazil.
LL: Who is responsible for this?
DM: It's important to understand that in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet State system and the withdrawal of Soviet forces back to the Soviet Union, a promise was made in writing and verbally to Gorbachev that we would not advance the border of NATO to the Soviet or future Russian state. In other words, we would not take advantage of the Soviet Union's weakness by replacing Soviet forces in the various countries in Eastern Europe - Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania - with US and NATO forces.
The real problem from the very beginning was with this promise and our subsequent decisions beginning with Clinton's administration to begin incorporating former Warsaw Pact states into the new expanding NATO alliance.
This culminated in 2007, 2008 in Budapest at the conference when Putin, as the new president, made it clear that any attempt to push US or NATO-allied forces up to the Russian border was unacceptable and would potentially provoke a conflict. He was very straightforward, everyone who heard him understood exactly what he was discussing and exactly what he meant.
Nevertheless, people in Washington decided his views were irrelevant, that Russia was too weak to stop us and as a result we could press this matter all the way to Russia's border with the goal at some point, I suspect though it was never stated at the time though we've heard it since then, to democratize Russia on
the Western model, to make it a replica of Western liberal states. This made a collision inevitable.
The collision itself comes about because in 2014 after we successfully installed a government in Kiev that was unambiguously tied to Washington and NATO, we began the process of building a very large and powerful Ukrainian army and supporting armed forces in Eastern Ukraine.
We also allowed the Ukrainians to continue their war against the Russian-speaking provinces in Eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk, to the point where some 14,000 people were killed over the subsequent 8 years trying to survive constant shelling and attacks by the Ukrainian government.
Putin met with the leaders of the West in the context of the so-called Minsk accords in a last ditch effort to try and rescue the situation by compelling Ukraine to treat all of its citizens equally before the law, by making it specifically clear in law that Russians living in Ukraine who were Ukrainian citizens would be treated exactly the same way as (other) Ukrainian citizens living in
Ukraine. That they would be represented and have full and equal rights, that they would be able to speak in their language, educate their children in that language and so forth while at the same time recognizing Ukraine's sovereignty and legitimacy.
As we now know, that turned out to be a farce because Angela Merkel, former Chancellor of Germany, has admitted publicly that the entire exercise was simply designed to buy more time to build up this enormous army.
Putin made clear that in addition to this sudden army that appeared in Eastern Ukraine, what he feared was the emplacement of theater or intercontinental ballistic missiles that could target and destroy Russia's nuclear deterrent, which was unacceptable, as well as put Russia's major cities and population centers into a
target array that could result in the destruction of Russia.
Another effort was made in December 2021 and again in January 2022 to come to some reasonable understanding of what the minimal requirements were for Russian security. These were rejected out of hand and Putin was told that until the Russians withdrew from Crimea, which we continue to insist erroneously is a part of Ukraine when historically it was never part
of Ukraine - it ended up inside a Ukrainian border drawn by Khrushchev and his drunken friends in the Communist Party in the 1950s - that unless they withdrew from Crimea and the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk rejoined Ukraine, we would not do anything to support his plea for some sort of reconciliation or understanding with the West.
This provoked the Russians and they began this process on the 24th of February to try and convince the West it should try to negotiate an end conflict. That, of course, failed miserably and brought us to the current circumstances that places us on the edge of essentially all out war with Russia.
LL: Please talk about the role of the US in the context of Ukraine and how do you evaluate that role over the next several years with the return to power of the Republican Party.
DM: I'm not sure a Republican victory at this point would make a great deal of difference. The two parties are largely identical on their foreign policy outlook and views. We don't have time to go into the explanation for that but it's a long-term development and why inside the US you hear people talking about the criticality of building a third party, a new party that would consist of people on the Republican side and the Democrat side who are truly nationalists and conservatives. It will be interesting to see if that happens, it takes a lot of time, money and resources. But I don't think we can expect much change from the existing two-party structure.
Having said that I think we're in a very difficult position right now with Russia because Russia has switched their attitude from one of "fight and negotiate" to one of preparing potentially for all-out war with the West. They now recognize that they're at war not just with Washington but its vassal states in Europe. I say "vassal" deliberately because you have a group of elites in the western part of Europe and in Washington who are very much the same, many of whom have gone to the same schools, share the same attitudes and values and they are committed to this confrontation with Russia.
I don't think it's sustainable for all sorts of reasons. We have severe economic problems in the US as well as in the West and, arguably, globally. I also think that inside the US our social cohesion is at an all-time low. There are people in the US who are not just foreigners, they may be US citizens, who seem to have developed a hatred and antipathy toward the US, its government,
its Constitution, its way of life. So we have severe problems at home.
For these kinds of reasons I don't think this confrontation will last indefinitely. We simply have too much trouble and too much work to do at home to maintain this hostile posture against Russia or for that matter China.
But in the meantime the Russians are determined to put an end to the Ukrainian threat to their country. Whatever emerges at the end of this process, Ukraine will not be a member of NATO. I'm increasingly convinced that NATO itself may not survive because
just as much of the American population feels alienated from its government, large numbers of Europeans especially in France, Germany and Great Britain are feeling alienated from their governments.
So I expect to see turnover in the leadership of European states that will also object to this permanent state of conflict with Russia. There are very few people today who know anything about Russia who believe that Russia is interested in conquering Eastern Europe. That's simply nonsensical. What they want to do is do business. Russia is different from the West but that doesn't mean it's evil, and I think more and more
Europeans are coming around to that understanding.
LL: What is the condition on the battlefield today?
DM: Today there are roughly 700,000 Russian troops on the periphery of Ukraine or in southern Ukraine. They're organized into 3 giant concentrations: 180,000 to 200,000 troops in the south; another concentration to the east near Belgorod of 100,000 to 150,000 troops; and a similar concentration in Belarussia to the north. These 3 concentrations are prepared now to resume a major offensive. Precisely when and how that will happen we obviously don't know. But these are extremely well-armed, well-trained troops. They include the 300,000 reservists that were mobilized plus 80,000 volunteers who have shown up to fight. And we see a lot of evidence that mobilization is quietly being continued in Russia, which suggests they're prepared to fight a larger war in the event we try to intervene in this war.
The Russians have not taken heavy casualties by standards of the day and that's not surprising because their systems that do most of the damage - artillery, rocket and missile systems - have inflicted 75% of the damage on Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainians are capable of firing perhaps 6,000 to 6,500 rounds maximum a day. Russian forces can fire 60,000 rounds a day. Which means if you're in range of Russian forces your ability to move, your ability to survive, especially if you're static and dug in, is about nil. As a result Ukrainians have lost at least 150-160,000 soldiers, they've taken at least 400,000 casualties, there are reports there may have been as many as 200,000 Ukrainian troops killed at this point.
Ukrainians have been through 12 mobilizations. Their manpower resources are almost exhausted. They're forcing what is left into uniform to fight at the "front" in southern Ukraine. Ukrainians are doing everything they can to avoid this since they regard being sent to the front as a death sentence.
The number of Ukrainians left inside Ukraine under Zelensky's control are somewhere between 18 and 22 million. This is from an original population of 37.5 million at the start of the war. Over 10 million Ukrainians have left the country. 2 million were already
working in the EU and UK. 4 million Ukrainians who are really Russians and speak Russian are living happily under Russian administration now in southern and eastern Ukraine. The population size in Ukraine that is not under occupation is roughly the same size as The Netherlands. The 10 million who have left
Ukraine, whenever they've been interviewed in the West, all say with absolute conviction that they will not return. I would argue the Ukrainian state, the Ukrainian nation, has been effectively destroyed in this war.
Why the Russians have not already launched these offensives with the hundreds of thousands of troops at their disposal is unknown to me. I think it could happen at any moment, the temperatures are now dropping greatly so the ground is freezing, there's no problem with trafficability. Obviously, the longer this war lasts
the more likely it is for Ukraine to die as a nation and that is probably the most disturbing thing for me, that people in the West don't seem to care.
LL: what do you think is necessary to resolve the crisis in Ukraine; and is the US ready for a multipolar world?
DM: Two important questions, the second one probably the most important. To be frank, it doesn't matter whether the US is ready for it, it already lives in a multipolar world, which is a normal condition of the planet. And in a multipolar world great powers normally pursue policies designed to avoid dangerous conflicts.
If you go back over the last 50-60 years of American history, almost every president that encountered a crisis involving the Soviet Union or China worked very hard to avoid war, to come up with some sort of solution. Before WW2 and certainly before WW1 most of the great powers in Europe tried to avoid a
devastating war; they recognized there would be limited conflicts but worked rapidly to bring them to a close. That was because of the experience with Napoleon Bonaparte, which caused the deaths of millions and destroyed Europe.
I think we need to live in that kind of world again, where there's a recognition there will be disputes but they should be settled amicably if they can and if there is any fighting it needs to be limited and of short duration because it's not in anyone's interest to destroy our civilization.
Not sure we're there yet. We still have plenty of people who are convinced that we remain the sole superpower, which is nonsense. We are one of several great powers. We may be stronger than most but in many areas we're not. But this is a longer term issue and I don't think it's a problem for the American people.
Most Americans on any given day are completely disinterested in what happens outside the borders of their country because, frankly, most of what happens in the world does not affect them. We're a very large country, we're more concerned with what we're doing to ourselves right now than anything we're doing overseas. So the multipolar question is a good one, it's too soon to say but eventually we're going to have to live with it whether we like it or not.
Re: a solution to the Ukraine conflict: No one in Washington right now wants to admit they made a mistake, they miscalculated. They thought Russia was weak and that it could be isolated and bullied. They were dead wrong. Russia cannot be isolated. It's
resource-rich, it's surrounded by states and nations that are happy to do business with it, in fact Europe will eventually do business with Russia again as well.
Secondly they misunderstood the initial phase of the operation. Putin went in with a small force that was designed to create the conditions for negotiations. He was not interested in destroying Ukraine or killing large numbers of Orthodox Christian Ukrainians or Orthodox Christian Russians. Putin miscalculated, and he conveyed an impression to the West that Russia was militarily weak. It isn't. It is very powerful and that's what we're seeing right now. And now Russia is going to return, I think, for the foreseeable future to a position of great military power in Europe and Asia that it once occupied in the past because it sees no alternative to that to protect itself against us.
So how do we get past all this and put an end to this destructive war. Number one, Washington should step forward, preferably the President, and say "we want to have negotiations, talks, discussions with the Russians without pre-conditions." IOW drop all the nonsense about Russia must be humiliated, Russia must withdraw, Russia must do any of these things. That's
unrealistic nonsense, it's an excuse for no solution and that needs to stop.
If these talks go forward at some point, then we can talk about a potential ceasefire. But those two things must happen first - peace negotiations without pre-conditions and eventually a ceasefire. But if you're sitting in Russia's position right now, having been lied to by us repeatedly about a whole range of things, why would you agree to a ceasefire? Russia is dominating the battlefield, it's poised to destroy what remains of the Ukrainian armed forces, it's not going to agree to a ceasefire. So the best you can hope for right now are talks without pre-conditions.
And when I say without pre-conditions, I mean just that. There will have to be adjustments to borders. It's not the first time in the history of Europe that great powers have settled wars by adjusting borders, particularly in Ukraine where the borders have shifted dozens and dozens of times over the last several hundred years. This is how peace is made.
So clinging to this nonsensical idea that this Soviet era construct drawn by Lenin and subsequently expanded by Khrushchev has any meaning needs to be dropped.
LL: Final message for our Brazilian listeners?
DM: The key to peace right now in Eastern Europe and probably throughout most of the world is for Washington to recognize the legitimate security interests of its partners. Russia has legitimate security interests in Ukraine.
Remember that for most of its history, certainly over the last 400 years, Ukraine was part of Russia. Prior to that it was part of Polish Lithuania and occasionally part of Sweden and Austria-Hungary. The point is that Ukraine has not in its history ever been fully sovereign and independent. That should have been recognized early on.
So for the future we need to recognize the legitimate interests of all nations and not try to dictate to others what their interests are or to impose our interests on others. There's no requirement for us to do so, it's not important to us, the most important thing is for us to trade with everyone. That should be our top priority and intervention militarily should be the last thing we think about.
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