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tv   Quadriga - International Debate from Berlin  LINKTV  May 15, 2022 10:30pm-11:01pm PDT

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at the recent annual parade to mark russia's wartime victory over nazi germany vladimir putin looked like a man pushed close to the limits s of his forces and indeed he faces serious setbacks. the russian invasion of ukraine which he ordered has lost nearly all of its momentum. with the ukrainian side putting up tough resistance. a russian victory like the one in world war two appears far from likely so on. to the point we ask parade without victory the one in world war two appears far from likely is puttin leading russia into disaster. well, thanks very much
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indeed for joining us on the show. and with me in the studio is journalist angelina davydova, who recently fled from st petersburg and is currently a fellow with the german based program media in cooperation and transition. also with us is tyson barker from the german council on foreign relations and roman goncharenko from d w s russia, ukraine eastern europe department in bomb. thank you all three for being with me today once again. and i'd like to begin with, you know angelina, your decision to flee your home country, your homeland. why did you leave? it was not an easy decision, but it was also something which build up in the next few days after the war has been declared. and even though you are not allowed to call it a war in russia, you are supposed to be coordinated special military operation. and this is just one of the very many limitations which are out there
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for journalists at the moment. um the general situation in the last few years has also been not very positive i mean the war, a lot of cases of direct or indirect censorship. many media outlets have been closed. many journalists have been charged, many journalists have left the country but now everything that we experience ever since the beginning of the war on february 24 makes a situation almost but now everything that we experience ever since the beginning impossible to work. when you decided that it was finally time to leave you. you have been quoted as saying that you felt as though you had three options. what were those three options? so the three options war either to stay in the country and be silent. um, say nothing about the war, right? othing about the war. even social media, because i already have a few personal friends of mine who have been prosecuted for the posts in social media platforms. option number two was to stay in of mine who have been prosecuted for the posts in russia remained vocal but also have fear that something might happen to me. option number three was to lee and
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i decided to go for the third option. okay. and then in a word, when you look at the country you have left, what what what what what word, what description would you use for vladimir putin's russia today. i think everything which russia's government is doing at the moment is leading russia to a disaster and it's taken russia's future away from the country and from its people. okay thank you for that. now, the the question we're asking today is whether vladimir putin is where he's leading his country possibly into chaos or demise. let's take a closer look at the impression that president putin made at the recent victory parade and then we'll bring in roman and tyson, the russian president looked tired during his speech at the traditional military parade. he could not announce any big military victories as ukrainian forces have been fiercely resisting. instead he blamed nato for the war armed, our neighboring country military victories as ukrainian forces have been fiercely resisting. instead
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deliberately directed against us went on to claim that russia preemptively reacted to that threat. it was, in his words deliberately directed against us went on to claim that russia the only right decision addressing russian soldiers fighting in the world will putin have to let go of his military aims. that's a very important question. tyson, can you imagine vladimir putin being forced to abandon his objectives in any way his military objectives? i think in some ways the objectives are evolving, at least the short term objectives are evolving. you know, he has these kind of things like
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detoxification or you know, or freeing the country from butchers or, you know, these kind of things, but they're not very well defined, but in some ways they've they've remained the same for for many years and that is that he has a certain idea of russia and the post soviet space that russia needs to be restored. there's a restorative process that needs to take place to become a great power in his terms. he sees enemies adversaries everywhere because he projects onto others, his personal intentions. um, so he sees aggression. he sees intrigue, he sees deception because that's how he governs. um, and in that way he is, he's always just kind of posturing and of course he cares a lot about historical symbolism. absolutely. it was a very short address and i just want to pick up at one point, many observers had assumed that president putin would announce a wider and a broader and possibly more threatening mobilization. it didn't happen. why not? why do
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you, why do you think? well, others at this table are are probably better positioned to answer that than i am. but one thing i will say is that, you know, even if he wasn't announcing future action, he could have at least consolidated the victories that have occurred until now. and because they have been virtually non existent in this first phase of this intense war, uh, that started on in late february. um really, he had nothing to deliver to to his people in this in this moment that's interesting. do you e it that way, roman bondarenko in bond you, president putin had nothing to deliver. um he didn't, he didn't present a new plans for mobilization what's your angle on why that that didn't come through as many had expected? well, i think the expectations in western media were very much exaggerated. so it's not put in style to to to make big announcements on, on
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the, during the parade or in his speech on this day, nine may, which is a very important day in russia. so i think he was trying to convey the message. things are going well, everything is going according to the plan and um well we are just at the very beginning of the, of this war, it's just too early to say that he failed. of course, he failed in the beginning in his attempt to conquer kiev and and push push away ukrainian forces from kiev maybe to topple the government. that objective failed. but he still moving forward in the east and in the house. so he increased the territory controlled by russian forces. he nearly doubled it since the beginning of the war. why he didn't say that there will be a mobilization. i think there are several reasons. so he likes to be unpredictable and things like this war. um it's it's something which is which is um, which is difficult. you know, russian people
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i don't think most of them want this war and like this war. so he wants to keep it um on a low flame. so to say something comparable maybe to the soviets in afghanistan when they have, when they had a limited contingent of forces. and this is exactly very similar here. and i think that the russian president is still keeping much of his reserves um and maybe preparing them for a bigger war maybe for a war which will take more time, maybe years. so i'm rather skeptical about. um, so i wouldn't go as far as to say that he has lost this war and he's losing. and ukraine is winging the situation is very dynamic and we still have to wait a few weeks. the coming weeks and months will be, will be very important can i, can i put in one point of contrast between this speech, this may nine speech and the one that putin had in 2014, just to give a sense
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of how he sees this moment. uh, that year, he gave this speech in moscow and then immediately traveled to crimea for the first time to basically celebrate the return of crimea to russia. so these historical hinge points are quite important. and again, there he wanted to of course crow about crimea's illegitimate return to russia. um, i think if he had that moment now he would have taken it. and the fact that he doesn't is very telling angelina tre was an indicator may respond to them just just a quick response to that. um, a lot of observers and experts have been expecting putin and maybe the president of belarus lukashenko to travel to crimea. he didn't do it. he's not traveling because he thinks he thinks that it is not safe for him to go there i think he would like to, but it is not safe. so he has very much limited his travel plans but i think we shouldn't overestimate it, angelina, is it is it is it right to say that they're the but i think we shouldn't overestimate it, angelina, is it
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in the west observers in the west. the journalists like but i think we shouldn't overestimate it, angelina, is it us have misunderstood the situation among the russian people that they are, they are not as downcast maybe about the prospects of now a long war taking place. there's more backing than we might have expected for putin at this stage. i would say it was not only the western journalists who have misunderstood a but also very great majority of russian critical journalists have also made the standards of the situation completely. and right now, it's obviously not very easy to say what the public opinions really are because you can hardly trust official state polls or many people also refused to speak about that. many people also say what is expected of them. um, i think a really important factor is that if you ask the majority of people before the war whether they would be supporting it the answer would probably be no. now, since the beginning people before the war whether they would be supporting it of the war and um, along the lines of massive
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state propaganda, the support of the war, is there some people supported actively? some people supported passively saying that we don't know what's happening with that fake news on all kind of side. we just want to deal with their own life and go forward. and there are maybe, i would say between 15 and 25% of people who were against the war. it was interesting, i read one observer in, in, in the western media this week likening russia to the fairy story, the emperor with no clothes and the the emperor going out naked and nobody telling him is there is russia, a country that is, that is terrified of the truth. um, speaking truth and processing truth is obviously not a very easy task for many people living in russia. and also acknowledging the fact that russian army is doing what it's doing in ukraine is also very challenging task for many russians. there are numerous cases or when ukrainian relatives called the russian relatives and tell
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everything what is actually happening now in ukraine, they don't believe them. they believe state television. they don't believe their own relatives. and there are many families who are, who have roots in both countries. and it might take years to realize what is happening. it might take years for people to come to understanding what russia is doing now and what consequences are out there for ukraine, but also for russia, there's a, there's a sense of around russia that there's a the history is constantly being rewritten and recreated and reimagined. and at this point in time, a lot of that recreation surrounds nazis, neo nazis and jews why is there that mixture, that toxic mixture. um, i think tyson has already addressed it in what he was saying earlier, um, that there's a lot of sentiment and there's a lot of um sad feelings about soviet empire
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collapsing in the 90s. and uh, i think a lot of today's propaganda has been built on that, to strengthen up this feeling, to make people think we can build the empire again, even though we have to go through economic difficulties, even though we have to experience hardships will make it. um, but then the second world war was in the last, i would say 10-12 years has been positioned as, and the victory in the second world war of russia has been positioned as one of the major achievements of russian history ever. and um, there was a lot of this backward looking attitude that this is the main cornerstone of our identity. this is something which we build on our today's life. it was so much looking back into history and instrumental izing this history and turning it into an instrument of today's propaganda. and today's rhetoric that russia needs to be great again and we need it into an instrument of today's propaganda. and today's rhetoric to rebuild this empire. and personally, for me, that was
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a very sad story because i felt like with so much interest and so much attention onto the history, something which happened many years ago, even though it was obviously a very tragic event, and it was a very important event in world history in russia's history. so little attention is being paid to what's happening now and so much legal attention is being paid to what will be happening in the future in a way that image that we build everything we have on the past is not sustainable it's not something which will give us new future. nevertheless tyson, there are many who see parallels between putin's denial of the existence of ukraine as a separate nation and hitler's denial of the right to life in the nazi period. is that is that a comparison we can make i i wouldn't make that comparison. we're talking about a completely different situation, a completely different era and a completely different international system today than we were almost 80 years
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ago. um, what i would say is that putin is he he styles himself as a student of history, but he has a selective interpretation of moments of history. and if you look at the way he instrumental ises and sometimes militarize is history and its symbolism. there are kind of three areas that he pulls out. one is russia's grandeur, it has this destiny on the global stage and that destiny runs right through ukraine. the second is this sense of sacrifice. and there he does look to the experience, for example, in saint petersburg, you know, the siege of st petersburg and what the people were able and willing to sacrifice. they had to sacrifice in the soviet union under siege. and he says, you know, we can do the same thing whether the people want it or not. and the third is a pathological sense of victimhood everybody else is responsible for russia's declined since since the not. and the third is a pathological sense of victimhood 90s. it's nato expansion. it's nazis around every corner. it's pluralism, its gaze, it's a minorities. uh, it's never the
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fault of the corrupt system that has eaten away at russia itself. interesting observations now in our short report that we heard at the top of the show, president putin railed against the neo nazis and what he sees as their henchmen in ukraine. so now here is president zelensky talking about the influence of world war two on what is happening today. mm hmm. well, roman president zelensky there he has managed to establish a reputation for himself, a
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kudos, for himself, an aura for himself as being dynamic communicative egalitarian open. is there a downside to all that well, some his critics see him see him maybe as two dynamic or criticize him for for trying to use his his experience as an actor too much. but actually that's a minority. most people in ukraine, um, like it so he seems to be the right person in the right place as a president. so he stayed in kiev in the first weeks, he didn't run away, which some expected and putin expected probably as well. and so he helped to consolidate the country in its darkest hour. so expected and putin expected probably as well. and so he i think, um, um, it's it's very important that he is the president at this time and he is supporting the ukrainian people. he's doing all he can using, of
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course, his experience as an actor. and um i think in that video, we also saw it how he can also project um that experience and and and persuade also people in the west watching those videos. because i i hear i hear and and and read a lot of positive remarks from western journalists, western politicians about the zelensky hear i hear and and and read a lot of and how he conveys his message is how he communicates because the contrast between him and president putin is very striking, interesting. you you robot obviously are a reporter, a correspondent, a journalist and that's at the same time, you are a person who has emotions, who is emotional about what is happening in the world. tell us about how what is going on inside you at this point in time, as this story around ukraine and russia evolves. well it's very difficult for me as for all ukrainians to digest what is happening to somehow sort it out and
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it's very difficult for me as for all ukrainians to just start to analyze and do what we have to do. because this is so immense, so big, we saw it coming. although many of us saw this war coming uh starting maybe 2014 or maybe earlier. but still most of us believe that this is this is madness and this madness. it's very painful to watch what is happening every day. and as a journalist, it's it's especially difficult for me because i have to follow the events i wake up in the morning and start reading the twitter news and several news outlets and the news are not good and they will not be good for a long time. you have told me that you believe that the worst is yet still to come. yes, regretfully, the worst is yet to come. and so you have to have a very long breath and have a lot have a lolot of mental strength to cope with that. i'm doing
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better now than in the first days of this war because it was also a surprise for me because many of us, as i've just said, we thought this would be madness for putin to do because this will destroy russia. why should he do it? but he still has done it. so we are moving towards a catastrophe for russia. and for ukraine, we have a catastrophe already. so putin's intention intention was to hurt ukraine. and and and regretfully he succeeds in that. but ukrainians are fighting back and this is something which gives also hope to ukrainians a quick word. thank you for that roman and a quick word. tyson on the, on the american perspective, you are an american. and there have been voices from, from washington suggesting that people believe that there is perhaps a window of opportunity to, as the wording has been to washington suggesting that people believe that there is perhaps a somehow move president putin off center stage globally. is that is that is that a credible approach? is that a
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wise approach? i think that if you, if you listen to the biden administration's uh, you know, rhetoric and look at their plansns and then see how they're being getting you know, top cover from, from congress, which is even more pro ukrainian than the administration, which is incredibly pro ukrainian. um, there are three objectives. one is to support ukraine originally, you know, financially then with defensive, lethal assistance now with heavy weaponry and have just passed a congress just psed a $40 billion packageo do so, um th's seven billion more than the administration actually asked for so every time they're topping it out because thatupport is so strong, then hardening nato, making sure that nato is the trip wire which really leads to an escalation that it wouldn't even be attempted. and the third is costs for russia. and in the past, i will say i worked in the obama administration in 2014, there was 1/4 pillar which was offering an off ramp for putin
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making sure that there was always but that is not a primary objective right now, this is the face saving option. right? because right now the primary objectives are these three objectives support ukraine hardened nato costs for russia because as was said, you know, the rational calculation for russia's three objectives support ukraine hardened nato costs for russia because own standing in the world and prosperity of its people is not to engage in this war. and until there is a constellation where an off ramp actually could yield something that would preserve those first three primary objectives. it's not really on the table. okay angelina on a slightly different note, you are a journalist. you describe yourself as a journalist but you also describe yourself i noted as a change maker. what is a change maker and how can you make change happen at this point in time that's a very tough question. and that's also a question which i keep asking myself ever since february 24 for
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many years. i've been working in russia as you mentioned as a journalist but also someone who is trying to establish for example, people took people international connections, people to people diplomacy to many european countries, but also like the west in general. and i've been working in very close connections with the civil society groups also in the area of environment and climate change. and even though political pressure was growing, even though state pressure in various forms was increasing on ngo groups on journalists that was still possible to do something in particular areas. and many people like me, we was thinking okay through this very little changes through this international cooperation programs but also maybe open journalism opening critical journalism. we can change the country. and i saw these changes happening with many local groups with people caring so much about their immediate environment or their cities or many social initiatives appearing we thought that would change the country. but what happened on february 24 is that
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the force of power just destroyed everything. also destroyed a lot of what people like we were doing. and this is why so many people have left the country ever since. and this is also why we keep asking these questions to ask, what is it that we can do now? what what is possible now? yeah. and we began with this very personal decision that you made to leave to leave your home country, a country that you were you told me you were very, very fond of in your youth and and and in later years, what what how would you describe your mood now? if i if i might ask, is it more a sort of a mood of despair or a mood of hope? or is it a mixture of the two? it comes in waves one day when i'm being active, when i do something and i'm i have a feeling i do something reasonable i help other people. i feel better. but then sometimes despair also comes. especially when i i don't see any any picture of the future i would like to see
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i also feel sad. i feel that as i said in the beginning, um the future. i mean not only of russia, but also of the world is very unclear now. i feel worried about many friends and colleagues who are still in russia and who are critical about the war and who have been detained or who are being threatened. um yeah, all these, all these feelings at once a quick answer is russia heading for disaster. i think in its current path. yes, it's already in a state of disaster. yes, russia is heading for disaster very fast okay, well, on that gloomy and grim note, it's time to say bye bye. thanks very much for joining us
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