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Welcome back to Political Misfits on Radio Sputnik, where we bring you news, politics and culture – without the red and blue treatment. I am John Kiriakou here with Michelle Witte.
Mark Sleboda is an international affairs and security analyst.
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Update us on the fight for Bakhmut, the city that is either incredibly strategically important, not strategically important but symbolically and politically important, or not important at all, depending on what month of reporting you are looking at from CNN. I see reports that Ukraine has lost the city, but also that Ukraine is tactically encircling the city. What’s your sense of what is happening there?
Here’s a headline from Haaretz – “Russia Took Bakhmut, but Ukraine Is the Real Winner This Week.” The idea here is that Ukraine inflicted huge losses on Russia without suffering as much itself – a claim we hear often – and also that Ukraine is significantly closer to getting F-16s, after the US said it would not block European countries from transferring their F16s to Ukraine, and that it would support training Ukrainian pilots on the planes. Joe Biden also said he received a “flat assurance” from the Ukrainian president that the planes would not be used to attack Russian territory. How big a win is this for Ukraine, and does it balance out this apparent loss in Bakhmut?
Talk to us about Zelensky’s appearance at the G7. Unsurprisingly, he asked for more aid. He met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – he did not meet with Brazilian President Lula. Anything notable about this appearance?
What about his appearance at the Arab League, which was a little more surprising to me, considering the focus there had been on Syria. Why do you think that visit was arranged?
I wanted to ask you about the way the war is being waged. Max Boot writes in the Washington Post today that he was just “In Kiev, Under Fire” and that’s why he believes Ukraine can win. He says “Ukrainians have taken the worst that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has dished out, and they have not only survived but also thrived. Kyiv does not feel like a city under siege. It is a bustling, vibrant metropolis with traffic jams and crowded bars and restaurants. Mayor Vitali Klitschko told us that its population, which had been 3.8 million before the war, is now back to 3.6 million — albeit including 300,000 refugees from war-torn parts of Ukraine.”
This to me speaks to something of a misunderstanding of how this war is being fought. I mean, first … I didn’t think Kiev was a city under siege. I’m curious whether you think Russia ever intended to take Kiev, or if its early moves were just a feint. And I have to mention – I have a buddy, a former Marine, who fought in Iraq, who has no particular love of Russia or dog in this fight, and every time we talk, he says from his point of view, the way Russia is fighting demonstrates an effort to avoid civilian casualties. Now, I know we’re on Russian media, and I’m not trying to set up a conversation where we just blow sunshine here, but I think this goes to some perhaps misconceptions about the war. The worst that Russia has chosen to do is not to say the worst that the country could do. Because Russia isn’t doing what we did in Iraq doesn’t mean it’s not capable of that. I’m not trying to say “congratulations for not being monsters,” but … do you think this idea that Kiev is thriving despite a Russian “siege” or that Ukraine can win because they’ve taken the worst Russia can do … does this result from a misunderstanding of Russia’s intentions?
Source: (1) Bakhmut Liberated & Becomes Artyomovsk Again, Kiev and Western MSM Hit Hard on the Copium, Max Boot’s Neocon Alternate Reality, Zelenskiy’s Nomadic Panhandling Global Tour, and more…. (substack.com)