Aaron Maté, “U.S., EU sacrificing Ukraine to ‘weaken Russia’: fmr. NATO adviser” (The Grayzone Project, 15 April 2022)
Here is an excellent interview by US journalist Aaron Maté (for his Pushback series on The Grayzone Project) of Swiss intelligence analyst / former NATO military official Jacques Baud whose article “The Military Situation in The Ukraine” I highlighted elsewhere at Under Southern Eyes. Maté uses Baud’s article as the launchpad for his interview, starting with the immediate causes of Russia’s decision to intervene in Ukraine that Baud wrote at length on. Baud points out two triggers for the intervention: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to reconquer Crimea by force in March 2021 and the increased shelling of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine by Ukrainian army units in February 2022, as observed by the Border Observer Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. From then on, the Russian government moved very quickly to recognise the independence of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the Donbass. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a friendship and assistance agreement with the two rebel republics so they could ask for military assistance under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The bulk of the interview however focuses on those factors that made the Russia-Ukraine conflict inevitable and its resolution difficult to achieve if not impossible. Throughout the conflict Russia offered diplomacy and negotiations yet Ukraine has consistently refused Russia’s offers or treated them with disdain. Baud sees two factors influencing Ukraine’s irrational behaviour: the country’s Western backers (the US, the UK, France, Germany) do not desire peace and diplomacy between Ukraine and Russia; and President Zelensky’s ability to decide and to act is severely constrained by powerful neo-Nazi forces in the Verkhovna Rada and Ukraine’s security agencies including the SBU. This leads to some discussion between Maté and Baud on the broader Western aims to weaken Russia by drawing that nation into a war with Ukraine, as spelt out by a 2019 study by US thinktank Rand Corporation. As Baud sees it, the penetration of Ukraine’s military and security agencies by neo-Nazis, and Ukraine’s reliance on foreign mercenaries to help resist Russian intervention are due to a high rate of defection within Ukraine’s armed forces to the Donbass side and a reluctance among men and women of military draft age to join the Ukrainian army to the extent that they prefer to leave the country altogether rather than be press-ganged into the army. This surely suggests that most ordinary Ukrainians feel no loyalty towards their government and that attitude itself says something about what Ukrainians think of Kiev’s conduct towards them over the last few years since the 2014 Maidan uprising that toppled the then President Viktor Yanukovych.
The interview concludes with Baud’s analysis of two incidents that horrified the world: a reported mass killing of civilians in Bucha, a Kiev suburb, in early April a couple of days after Russian forces left Bucha; and a missile attack on a train station in Kramatorsk that killed 59 people and left 109 wounded. Kiev was quick to blame both incidents on Russian armed forces and the West accepted Kiev’s pronouncements as gospel. Baud concludes from information he has about the incidents that the Russians are not responsible for either incident and that evidence points to the Ukrainians themselves as perpetrators. What troubles Baud is that Western governments and news media have not only blamed Russia for these and other attacks but have made decisions and reacted on the basis of their assumptions without waiting for more information and then analysing that information … and only then making pronouncements and policies. Unfortunately at that point in the interview, Maté had to finish it off and so this part of the interview is not dissected further. The most significant aspect of this section of the interview is that European leadership as well as US leadership is woefully incompetent and perhaps even worse than US leadership in jumping to conclusions based on incomplete information or even on lies and fantasies.
A transcript of the interview is available at the link in the first paragraph for those who find the interview a bit confusing or hard going. Reading Baud’s article will provide some background to understanding what Maté and Baud cover.