CD248: Understanding the Enemy

CD248: Understanding the Enemy

Feb 27, 2022

Executive Producers (2): Alexander Bilotta, Sage Felker

Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched an illegal, unjustified war against Ukraine and Putin himself is the only person who can stop the war immediately. In this episode, we seek to understand why President Putin has launched this horrific war in order to judge our country’s ability to bring the war to a quicker end.

Executive Producer: Alex Bilotta

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD244: Keeping Ukraine

CD186: National Endowment for Democracy

CD168: Nuclear Desperation

Ukraine Civil War

Alan MacLeod. Feb 22, 2022. “Documents Reveal US Spent $22 Million Promoting Anti-Russia Narrative in Ukraine & Abroad.” The Washington Standard.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Oct 8, 2021. “Conflict-related civilian casualties in Ukraine.” United Nations.

Andrew Higgins and Peter Baker. Feb 6, 2014. “Russia Claims U.S. Is Meddling Over Ukraine.” The New York Times.

NATO Expansion

Becky Sullivan. Updated Feb 24, 2022. “How NATO’s expansion helped drive Putin to invade Ukraine.” NPR.

Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov. Dec 17, 2021. “Russia Demands NATO Pullback in Security Talks With U.S.” Bloomberg.

Joe Dyke. Mar 20, 2021. “NATO Killed Civilians in Libya. It’s Time to Admit It.” Foreign Policy.

NATO. Updated May 5, 2020. “Enlargement.”

NATO. 2020. “The Secretary General’s Annual Report.”

National Security Archive. December 12, 2017. “NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard.”

Arms Control Association. “The Debate Over NATO Expansion: A Critique of the Clinton Administration’s Responses to Key Questions.”

“Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow. (Excerpts.)” February 9, 1990. National Security Archive.

“Ukraine: The Orange Revolution and the Yushchenko Presidency.” In The Encyclopedia Britannica.

NATO in Ukraine

Xinhua. Nov 14, 2021. “Ukraine, NATO countries hold naval drills in Black Sea.” Chad Menegay and Aimee Valles. Sept 22, 2021. “US, NATO, Ukraine enhance interoperability with Rapid Trident exercise.”

Reuters. April 3, 2021. “Ukraine and Britain to Hold Joint Military Drills.” U.S. News and World Report.

NATO Allied Maritime Command. Mar 17, 2021. “NATO forces train with the Ukrainian Navy.”

European Deterrence Initiative

Paul Belkin and Hibbah Kaileh. Updated July 1, 2021. “The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary Overview” [IF10946.] Congressional Research Service.

Weapons Treaties

TASS. Feb 21, 2022. “Europe won’t understand Kiev talking of regaining nuclear weapons — Russian diplomat.”

Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation. Updated March 2021. “Fact Sheet: Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.”

Arms Control Association. Last reviewed August 2019. “The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a Glance.”

General Dynamics

General Dynamics. “Corporate Governance: Board of Directors.”

Russia-China Alliance

Chen Aizhu. Feb 4, 2022. “Russia, China agree 30-year gas deal via new pipeline, to settle in euros.” Reuters.

Robin Brant. Feb 4, 2022. “China joins Russia in opposing Nato expansion.” BBC News.


Matina Stevis-Gridneff. Feb 25, 2022. “European Leaders Agree to a Second Wave of Russia Sanctions.” The New York Times.

Congressional Response

Joe Gould. Feb 22, 2022. “Emergency funding proposal for Ukraine gets bipartisan backing in Congress.” Defense News.

Reuters. Feb 25, 2022. “U.S. providing $600 mln for Ukraine defensive weapons -House Speaker Pelosi.” Reuters.


Audio Sources

House Speaker Weekly Briefing

February 23, 2022

YouTube Version

Overview: At her weekly briefing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), along with several of her Democratic colleagues, talked about the situation in Ukraine and President Biden’s sanctions after Russia recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region.


  • 10:25 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Putin is terrified by the prospect of a democracy at his border. A democracy, giving an example to the Russian people of the kind of life and economy they might enjoy if they cast aside their own autocrat. This is, I think, one of the preeminent motivations of Vladimir Putin.
  • 15:32 Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): I chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign operations, which oversees many of the resources to assist the Ukrainian people through this crisis. This includes our economic assistance to Ukraine, including loan guarantees. Economic assistance would come through the economic support accounts for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia, those of the accounts that would come through. Without getting in too many of the weeds, I wanted to just mention that because it’s an effort that we’re looking at now in terms of our funding. It also includes humanitarian plans, including funding for refugees, God forbid, and for those internally displaced by conflict. The administration has committed to us that in the event of conflict, there is a need over the next 12 months of at least $1 billion for humanitarian needs. So I support the efforts of the administration also to bolster Ukraine’s economy, including the proposed $1 billion in loan guarantees to continue with Ukraine’s economic reforms.
  • 22:08 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): I will just close by saying this: I had the privilege of going with President Clinton, who invited four members of Congress House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, the Senate Democrat was Senator Joe Biden. And we went to the expansion of NATO meeting in Paris. And it was all the heads of state of the then NATO countries who spoke and it was so beautiful because they all spoke in such a positive way about NATO. We thought like we were NATO and they were also NATO, they had ownership and agency in possession of the NATO possibilities. The representative of Russia who was there was Boris Yeltsin. And he was very ebullient, but he was welcoming to what was called was the expansion we had supported in our own country, the Baltic States, Poland, others countries becoming what was called the Partnership for Peace and it included many countries. Now Putin is saying push it back to pre-1997. Don’t ever try to add another country and remove weapons out of Eastern Europe. That’s what he wanted. No, that was not going to happen.
  • 33:35 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): What is this about? The people of Hung — many of us have visited Ukraine and have seen that they love democracy. They do not want to live under Vladimir Putin. He does not want the Russian people to see what democracy looks like. And therefore he wants to bring them under his domain.
  • 35:15 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): When we talk about the president, he’s doing the sanctions. He has a full picture of all this. As I said, he was present there the day of the expansion of NATO. I saw the respect he commanded then, and that was 1997, by the heads of state of all those countries, and of course, that has only grown over time, by his leadership, but also the expansion of NATO. I think we’re very well served, I respect his judgement. And again, it’s not just about when you do the sanctions, or how you support the people. It’s about how the world views what Putin is doing. This is a very evil move on the part of Vladimir Putin.

President Biden Remarks on Russia and Ukraine

February 22, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: During an address, President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia in response to President Vladimir Putin sending Russian troops into separatist regions of Ukraine.


  • 1:57 President Biden So, today, I’m announcing the first tranche of sanctions to impose costs on Russia in response to their actions yesterday. These have been closely coordinated with our Allies and partners, and we’ll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates. We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions: V.E.B. and their military bank. We’re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt. That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either. Starting tomorrow [today] and continuing in the days ahead, we will also impose sanctions on Russia’s elites and their family members. They share in the corrupt gains of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well. And because of Russia’s actions, we’ve worked with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 will not — as I promised — will not move forward.
  • 3:23 President Biden: Today, in response to Russia’s admission that it will not withdraw its forces from Belarus, I have authorized additional movements of U.S. forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic Allies — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Let me be clear: These are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia. We want to send an unmistakable message, though, that the United States, together with our Allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.
  • 4:22 President Biden: Russian forces remain positioned in Belarus to attack Ukraine from the north, including war planes and offensive missile systems. Russia has moved troops closer to Ukraine’s border with Russia. Russia’s naval vessels are maneuvering in the Black Sea to Ukraine’s south, including amphibious assault ships, missile cruisers, and submarines. Russia has moved supplies of blood and medical equipment into position on their border. You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war.
  • 6:25 President Biden: I’m going to take robust action and make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours. We are closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption. We’re executing a plan in coordination with major oil-producing consumers and producers toward a collective investment to secure stability and global energy supplies. This will be — this will blunt gas prices. I want to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump. This is critical to me.
  • 7:37 President Biden: Yesterday, the world heard clearly the full extent of Vladimir Putin’s twisted rewrite of history, going back more than a century, as he waxed eloquently, noting that — well, I’m not going to go into it, but nothing in Putin’s lengthy remarks indicated any interest in pursuing real dialogue on European security in the year 2022.
  • 8:04 President Biden: He directly attacked Ukraine’s right to exist. He indirectly threatened territory formerly held by Russia, including nations that today are thriving democracies and members of NATO. He explicitly threatened war unless his extreme demands were met. And there is no question that Russia is the aggressor.

Russian President Putin Statement on Ukraine

February 21, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced after a Security Council meeting that Russia would recognize the independence of the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s Donbas region.


  • 00:15 President Putin: I would like to emphasise again that Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space. These are our comrades, those dearest to us – not only colleagues, friends and people who once served together, but also relatives, people bound by blood, by family ties.
  • 1:22 President Putin: I would like to start by saying that the modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia. To be more exact, Bolshevist, partially communist Russia. This process started almost immediately after the 1917 revolutions, leading and planning and his group of supporters did it in a rough way. If we talk about Russia, they were alienating parts of historical territories of Russia. And millions of people who live there, obviously no one asked anything. Then before the Great Patriotic War, Stalin added to the USSR and handed over some lands that belonged to Poland and Hungary, and as a compensation gave some ancient German lands to Poland. And the 1960s crucial decision to take Crimea away from Russia and also gave it to Ukraine. That’s how the territory of Soviet Ukraine was formed.
  • 3:05 President Putin: We cannot help but react to this real threat, especially since I would like to reiterate that Western backers they can help Ukraine with getting this weapon to create yet another threat for our country because we can see how consistently they are pumping Ukraine with weapons. The United States alone starting from 2014 transferred billions of dollars including the arm supply training personnel. In recent months, Western weapons are sent to Ukraine given ceaselessly in front of the eyes of the entire world
  • 7:05 President Putin: Actually, as I have already said, Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy and can be rightfully called “Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine.” He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents, including Lenin’s harsh instructions regarding Donbass, which was actually shoved into Ukraine. And today the “grateful progeny” has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization. You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.
  • 9:31 President Putin: Everything seemed to be working well in conditions of the totalitarian regime, and outwardly it looked wonderful, attractive and even super-democratic. And yet, it is a great pity that the fundamental and formally legal foundations of our state were not promptly cleansed of the odious and utopian fantasies inspired by the revolution, which are absolutely destructive for any normal state.
  • 10:05 President Putin: It seems that the Communist Party leaders were convinced that they had created a solid system of government and that their policies had settled the ethnic issue for good. But falsification, misconception, and tampering with public opinion have a high cost. The virus of nationalist ambitions is still with us, and the mine laid at the initial stage to destroy state immunity to the disease of nationalism was ticking. As I have already said, the mine was the right of secession from the Soviet Union.
  • 13:55 President Putin: Even two years before the collapse of the USSR, its fate was actually predetermined. It is now that radicals and nationalists, including and primarily those in Ukraine, are taking credit for having gained independence. As we can see, this is absolutely wrong. The disintegration of our united country was brought about by the historic, strategic mistakes on the part of the Bolshevik leaders and the CPSU leadership, mistakes committed at different times in state-building and in economic and ethnic policies. The collapse of the historical Russia known as the USSR is on their conscience.
  • 14:39 President Putin: It was our people who accepted the new geopolitical reality that took shape after the dissolution of the USSR, and recognised the new independent states. Not only did Russia recognise these countries, but helped its CIS partners, even though it faced a very dire situation itself. This included our Ukrainian colleagues, who turned to us for financial support many times from the very moment they declared independence. Our country provided this assistance while respecting Ukraine’s dignity and sovereignty. According to expert assessments, confirmed by a simple calculation of our energy prices, the subsidised loans Russia provided to Ukraine along with economic and trade preferences, the overall benefit for the Ukrainian budget in the period from 1991 to 2013 amounted to $250 billion.
  • 21:24 President Putin: A stable statehood has never developed in Ukraine; its electoral and other political procedures just serve as a cover, a screen for the redistribution of power and property between various oligarchic clans. Corruption, which is certainly a challenge and a problem for many countries, including Russia, has gone beyond the usual scope in Ukraine. It has literally permeated and corroded Ukrainian statehood, the entire system, and all branches of power. Radical nationalists took advantage of the justified public discontent and saddled the Maidan protest, escalating it to a coup d’état in 2014. They also had direct assistance from foreign states. According to reports, the US Embassy provided $1 million a day to support the so-called protest camp on Independence Square in Kiev. In addition, large amounts were impudently transferred directly to the opposition leaders’ bank accounts, tens of millions of dollars.
  • 23:37 President Putin: Maidan did not bring Ukraine any closer to democracy and progress. Having accomplished a coup d’état, the nationalists and those political forces that supported them eventually led Ukraine into an impasse, pushed the country into the abyss of civil war.
  • 26:30 President Putin: In fact, it all came down to the fact that the collapse of the Ukrainian economy was accompanied by outright robbery of the citizens of the country, and Ukraine itself was simply driven under external control. It is carried out not only at the behest of Western capitals, but also, as they say, directly on the spot through a whole network of foreign advisers, NGOs and other institutions deployed in Ukraine. They have a direct impact on all the most important personnel decisions, on all branches and levels of government: from the central and even to the municipal, on the main state-owned companies and corporations, including Naftogaz, Ukrenergo, Ukrainian Railways, Ukroboronprom, Ukrposhta , Administration of Sea Ports of Ukraine. There is simply no independent court in Ukraine. At the request of the West, the Kiev authorities gave representatives of international organizations the pre-emptive right to select members of the highest judicial bodies – the Council of Justice and the Qualification Commission of Judges. In addition, the US Embassy directly controls the National Corruption Prevention Agency, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, and the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. All this is done under a plausible pretext to increase the effectiveness of the fight against corruption. Okay, but where are the results? Corruption has blossomed as luxuriantly, and blooms, more than ever. Are the Ukrainians themselves aware of all these managerial methods? Do they understand that their country is not even under a political and economic protectorate, but reduced to the level of a colony with a puppet regime? The privatization of the state has led to the fact that the government, which calls itself the “power of patriots”, has lost its national character and is consistently leading the matter towards the complete desovereignization of the country.
  • 31:04 President Putin: In March 2021, a new Military Strategy was adopted in Ukraine. This document is almost entirely dedicated to confrontation with Russia and sets the goal of involving foreign states in a conflict with our country. The strategy stipulates the organisation of what can be described as a terrorist underground movement in Russia’s Crimea and in Donbass. It also sets out the contours of a potential war, which should end, according to the Kiev strategists, “with the assistance of the international community on favourable terms for Ukraine.”
  • 32:05 President Putin: As we know, it has already been stated today that Ukraine intends to create its own nuclear weapons, and this is not just bragging. Ukraine has the nuclear technologies created back in the Soviet times and delivery vehicles for such weapons, including aircraft, as well as the Soviet-designed Tochka-U precision tactical missiles with a range of over 100 kilometres. But they can do more; it is only a matter of time. They have had the groundwork for this since the Soviet era. In other words, acquiring tactical nuclear weapons will be much easier for Ukraine than for some other states I am not going to mention here, which are conducting such research, especially if Kiev receives foreign technological support.
  • 33:47 President Putin: Foreign advisors supervise the activities of Ukraine’s armed forces and special services and we are well aware of this. Over the past few years, military contingents of NATO countries have been almost constantly present on Ukrainian territory under the pretext of exercises. The Ukrainian troop control system has already been integrated into NATO. This means that NATO headquarters can issue direct commands to the Ukrainian armed forces, even to their separate units and squads. The United States and NATO have started an impudent development of Ukrainian territory as a theatre of potential military operations. Their regular joint exercises are obviously anti-Russian. Last year alone, over 23,000 troops and more than a thousand units of hardware were involved. A law has already been adopted that allows foreign troops to come to Ukraine in 2022 to take part in multinational drills. Understandably, these are primarily NATO troops. This year, at least ten of these joint drills are planned. Obviously, such undertakings are designed to be a cover-up for a rapid buildup of the NATO military group on Ukrainian territory. This is all the more so since the network of airfields upgraded with US help in Borispol, Ivano-Frankovsk, Chuguyev and Odessa, to name a few, is capable of transferring army units in a very short time. Ukraine’s airspace is open to flights by US strategic and reconnaissance aircraft and drones that conduct surveillance over Russian territory. I will add that the US-built Maritime Operations Centre in Ochakov makes it possible to support activity by NATO warships, including the use of precision weapons, against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and our infrastructure on the entire Black Sea Coast.
  • 36:54 President Putin: Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that deploying foreign military bases on its territory is illegal. However, as it turns out, this is just a conventionality that can be easily circumvented. Ukraine is home to NATO training missions which are, in fact, foreign military bases. They just called a base a mission and were done with it.
  • 37:16 President Putin: Kiev has long proclaimed a strategic course on joining NATO. Indeed, each country is entitled to pick its own security system and enter into military alliances. There would be no problem with that, if it were not for one “but.” International documents expressly stipulate the principle of equal and indivisible security, which includes obligations not to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of the security of other states. This is stated in the 1999 OSCE Charter for European Security adopted in Istanbul and the 2010 OSCE Astana Declaration. In other words, the choice of pathways towards ensuring security should not pose a threat to other states, whereas Ukraine joining NATO is a direct threat to Russia’s security
  • 38:10 President Putin: Let me remind you that at the Bucharest NATO summit held in April 2008, the United States pushed through a decision to the effect that Ukraine and, by the way, Georgia would become NATO members. Many European allies of the United States were well aware of the risks associated with this prospect already then, but were forced to put up with the will of their senior partner. The Americans simply used them to carry out a clearly anti-Russian policy.
  • 38:41 President Putin: A number of NATO member states are still very sceptical about Ukraine joining NATO. We are getting signals from some European capitals telling us not to worry since it will not happen literally overnight. In fact, our US partners are saying the same thing as well. “All right, then” we respond, “if it does not happen tomorrow, then it will happen the day after tomorrow. What does it change from the historical perspective? Nothing at all.” Furthermore, we are aware of the US leadership’s position and words that active hostilities in eastern Ukraine do not rule out the possibility of that country joining NATO if it meets NATO criteria and overcomes corruption. All the while, they are trying to convince us over and over again that NATO is a peace-loving and purely defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia. Again, they want us to take their word for it. But we are well aware of the real value of these words. In 1990, when German unification was discussed, the United States promised the Soviet leadership that NATO jurisdiction or military presence will not expand one inch to the east and that the unification of Germany will not lead to the spread of NATO’s military organisation to the east. This is a quote. They issued lots of verbal assurances, all of which turned out to be empty phrases. Later, they began to assure us that the accession to NATO by Central and Eastern European countries would only improve relations with Moscow, relieve these countries of the fears steeped in their bitter historical legacy, and even create a belt of countries that are friendly towards Russia. However, the exact opposite happened. The governments of certain Eastern European countries, speculating on Russophobia, brought their complexes and stereotypes about the Russian threat to the Alliance and insisted on building up the collective defence potentials and deploying them primarily against Russia. Worse still, that happened in the 1990s and the early 2000s when, thanks to our openness and goodwill, relations between Russia and the West had reached a high level. Russia has fulfilled all of its obligations, including the pullout from Germany, from Central and Eastern Europe, making an immense contribution to overcoming the legacy of the Cold War. We have consistently proposed various cooperation options, including in the NATO-Russia Council and the OSCE formats. Moreover, I will say something I have never said publicly, I will say it now for the first time. When then outgoing US President Bill Clinton visited Moscow in 2000, I asked him how America would feel about admitting Russia to NATO. I will not reveal all the details of that conversation, but the reaction to my question was, let us say, quite restrained, and the Americans’ true attitude to that possibility can actually be seen from their subsequent steps with regard to our country. I am referring to the overt support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, the disregard for our security demands and concerns, NATO’s continued expansion, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and so on.
  • 43:05 President Putin: Today, one glance at the map is enough to see to what extent Western countries have kept their promise to refrain from NATO’s eastward expansion. They just cheated. We have seen five waves of NATO expansion, one after another – Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were admitted in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009; Montenegro in 2017; and North Macedonia in 2020. As a result, the Alliance, its military infrastructure has reached Russia’s borders. This is one of the key causes of the European security crisis; it has had the most negative impact on the entire system of international relations and led to the loss of mutual trust. The situation continues to deteriorate, including in the strategic area. Thus, positioning areas for interceptor missiles are being established in Romania and Poland as part of the US project to create a global missile defence system. It is common knowledge that the launchers deployed there can be used for Tomahawk cruise missiles – offensive strike systems. In addition, the United States is developing its all-purpose Standard Missile-6, which can provide air and missile defence, as well as strike ground and surface targets. In other words, the allegedly defensive US missile defence system is developing and expanding its new offensive capabilities. The information we have gives us good reason to believe that Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the subsequent deployment of NATO facilities has already been decided and is only a matter of time. We clearly understand that given this scenario, the level of military threats to Russia will increase dramatically, several times over.
  • 45:07 President Putin: I will explain that American strategic planning documents confirm the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike at enemy missile systems. We also know the main adversary of the United States and NATO. It is Russia. NATO documents officially declare our country to be the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security. Ukraine will serve as an advanced bridgehead for such a strike.
  • 46:00 President Putin: Many Ukrainian airfields are located not far from our borders. NATO’s tactical aviation deployed there, including precision weapon carriers, will be capable of striking at our territory to the depth of the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of reconnaissance radars on Ukrainian territory will allow NATO to tightly control Russia’s airspace up to the Urals. Finally, after the US destroyed the INF Treaty, the Pentagon has been openly developing many land-based attack weapons, including ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 5,500 km. If deployed in Ukraine, such systems will be able to hit targets in Russia’s entire European part. The flying time of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Moscow will be less than 35 minutes; ballistic missiles from Kharkov will take seven to eight minutes; and hypersonic assault weapons, four to five minutes. It is like a knife to the throat. I have no doubt that they hope to carry out these plans, as they did many times in the past, expanding NATO eastward, moving their military infrastructure to Russian borders and fully ignoring our concerns, protests and warnings. Excuse me, but they simply did not care at all about such things and did whatever they deemed necessary. Of course, they are going to behave in the same way in the future.
  • 47:46 President Putin: Russia has always advocated the resolution of the most complicated problems by political and diplomatic means, at the negotiating table. We are well aware of our enormous responsibility when it comes to regional and global stability. Back in 2008, Russia put forth an initiative to conclude a European Security Treaty under which not a single Euro-Atlantic state or international organisation could strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. However, our proposal was rejected right off the bat on the pretext that Russia should not be allowed to put limits on NATO activities. Furthermore, it was made explicitly clear to us that only NATO members can have legally binding security guarantees.
  • 48:35 President Putin: Last December, we handed over to our Western partners a draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, as well as a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and NATO member states. The United States and NATO responded with general statements. There were kernels of rationality in them as well, but they concerned matters of secondary importance and it all looked like an attempt to drag the issue out and to lead the discussion astray. We responded to this accordingly and pointed out that we were ready to follow the path of negotiations, provided, however, that all issues are considered as a package that includes Russia’s core proposals which contain three key points. First, to prevent further NATO expansion. Second, to have the Alliance refrain from deploying assault weapon systems on Russian borders. And finally, rolling back the bloc’s military capability and infrastructure in Europe to where they were in 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed. These principled proposals of ours have been ignored.
  • 50:21 President Putin: They are again trying to blackmail us and are threatening us with sanctions, which, by the way, they will introduce no matter what as Russia continues to strengthen its sovereignty and its Armed Forces. To be sure, they will never think twice before coming up with or just fabricating a pretext for yet another sanction attack regardless of the developments in Ukraine. Their one and only goal is to hold back the development of Russia.
  • 51:06 President Putin: I would like to be clear and straightforward: in the current circumstances, when our proposals for an equal dialogue on fundamental issues have actually remained unanswered by the United States and NATO, when the level of threats to our country has increased significantly, Russia has every right to respond in order to ensure its security. That is exactly what we will do.
  • 51:33 President Putin: With regard to the state of affairs in Donbass, we see that the ruling Kiev elites never stop publicly making clear their unwillingness to comply with the Minsk Package of Measures to settle the conflict and are not interested in a peaceful settlement. On the contrary, they are trying to orchestrate a blitzkrieg in Donbass as was the case in 2014 and 2015. We all know how these reckless schemes ended. Not a single day goes by without Donbass communities coming under shelling attacks. The recently formed large military force makes use of attack drones, heavy equipment, missiles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers. The killing of civilians, the blockade, the abuse of people, including children, women and the elderly, continues unabated. As we say, there is no end in sight to this. Meanwhile, the so-called civilised world, which our Western colleagues proclaimed themselves the only representatives of, prefers not to see this, as if this horror and genocide, which almost 4 million people are facing, do not exist. But they do exist and only because these people did not agree with the West-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014 and opposed the transition towards the Neanderthal and aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism which have been elevated in Ukraine to the rank of national policy. They are fighting for their elementary right to live on their own land, to speak their own language, and to preserve their culture and traditions. How long can this tragedy continue? How much longer can one put up with this? Russia has done everything to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity. All these years, it has persistently and patiently pushed for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 of February 17, 2015, which consolidated the Minsk Package of Measures of February 12, 2015, to settle the situation in Donbass. Everything was in vain. Presidents and Rada deputies come and go, but deep down the aggressive and nationalistic regime that seized power in Kiev remains unchanged. It is entirely a product of the 2014 coup, and those who then embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed and lawlessness did not recognise then and do not recognise now any solution to the Donbass issue other than a military one. In this regard, I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision and to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. I would like to ask the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to support this decision and then ratify the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with both republics. These two documents will be prepared and signed shortly.
  • 54:52 President Putin: We want those who seized and continue to hold power in Kiev to immediately stop hostilities. Otherwise, the responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will lie entirely on the conscience of Ukraine’s ruling regime.

Ukraine is ‘longing for peace’ says Zelensky at Munich Security Conference

February 19, 2022


Overview: Western powers should drop their policy of “appeasement” toward Moscow, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky told a security forum Saturday, as fears mount of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.


  • 13:37 Vladimir Zelensky: Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability. We don’t have that weapon. We also have no security.
  • 14:37 Vladimir Zelensky: Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. Three times without success. Today Ukraine will do it for the fourth time. I, as President, will do this for the first time. But both Ukraine and I are doing this for the last time. I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was commissioned to convene them. If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.

President Biden Remarks on Russia-Ukraine Situation

February 18, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: Following talks with NATO allies, President Biden provided an update on Russia-Ukraine tensions and international efforts to resolve the crisis.


  • 3:04 President Biden: You know, look, we have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week — in the coming days. We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.War posturing – Biden US provided record security assistance to Ukraine
  • 4:00 President Biden: This past year, the United States provided a record amount of security assistance to Ukraine to bolster its defensive — $650 million, from Javelin missiles to ammunition. And we also previously provided $500 million in Ukrai- — in humanitarian aid and economic support for Ukraine. And earlier this week, we also announced an additional sovereign loan guarantee of up to $1 billion to strengthen Ukraine’s economic resilience.
  • 7:24 President Biden: Well, I don’t think he is remotely contemplating nuclear — using nuclear weapons. But I do think it’s — I think he is focused on trying to convince the world that he has the ability to change the dynamics in Europe in a way that he cannot.

President Biden Remarks on Russia and Ukraine

February 15, 2022

YouTube Version


Overview: President Biden gave an update on tensions between Russia and Ukraine, calling for diplomacy to resolve tensions.


  • 1:47 President Biden: The United States has put on the table concrete ideas to establish a security environment in Europe. We’re proposing new arms control measures, new transparency measures, new strategic stability measures. These measures would apply to all parties — NATO and Russia alike.
  • 2:14 President Biden: We will not sacrifice basic principles, though. Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate.
  • 3:17 President Biden: And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border. An invasion remains distinctly possible. That’s why I’ve asked several times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now before it’s too late to leave safely. It is why we have temporarily relocated our embassy from Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, approaching the Polish border.
  • 4:12 President Biden: The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not threatening Russia. Neither the U.S. nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not — do not have plans to put them there as well.
  • 4:26 President Biden: To the citizens of Russia: You are not our enemy. And I do not believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine — a country and a people with whom you share such deep ties of family, history, and culture.
  • 5:52 President Biden: Today, our NATO Allies and the Alliance is as unified and determined as it has ever been. And the source of our unbreakable strength continues to be the power, resilience, and universal appeal of our shared democratic values. Because this is about more than just Russia and Ukraine. It’s about standing for what we believe in, for the future we want for our world.
  • 7:25 President Biden: And when it comes to Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany, if Russia further invades Ukraine, it will not happen.
  • 7:35 President Biden: While I will not send American servicemen to fight Russia in Ukraine, we have supplied the Ukrainian military with equipment to help them defend themselves. We have provided training and advice and intelligence for the same purpose.
  • 7:50 President Biden: And make no mistake: The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us. And the United States commitment to Article 5 is sacrosanct. Already, in response to Russia’s build-up of troops, I have sent additional U.S. forces to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. Several of our Allies have also announced they’ll add forces and capabilities to ensure deterrence and defense along NATO’s eastern flank. We will also continue to conduct military exercises with our Allies and partners to enhance defensive readiness. And if Russia invades, we will take further steps to reinforce our presence in NATO, reassure our Allies, and deter further aggression.
  • 9:12 President Biden: I will not pretend this will be painless. There could be impact on our energy prices, so we are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on our own energy markets and offset rising prices. We’re coordinating with major enersy [sic] — energy consumers and producers. We’re prepared to deploy all the tools and authority at our disposal to provide relief at the gas pump. And I will work with Congress on additional measures to help protect consumers and address the impact of prices at the pump.

Hearing on U.S. Policy Toward Russia

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
December 7, 2021

Overview: Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy toward Russia. She addressed President Biden’s earlier call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that Russia would suffer severe consequences if it attacked Ukraine. Other topics included the use of sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, the cooperation of NATO and U.S. allies, Russia’s use of energy during conflict, and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline


  • 10:42 Victoria Nuland: Since 2014 The United States has provided Ukraine with $2.4 billion in security assistance including $450 million this year alone.
  • 30:55 Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov have repeatedly indicated that they seek to deny any potential path to NATO membership for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. Does the administration view this demand is a valid issue for negotiation? Victoria Nuland: No we do not and President Biden made that point crystal clear to President Putin today that the issue of who joins NATO is an issue for NATO to decide it’s an issue for applicant countries to decide that no other outside power will or may have a veto or a vote in those decisions.

Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden

January 23, 2018


  • 24:30 Former Vice President Biden: I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Cover Art

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Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

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