The war in Ukraine: Russia, the EU, and NATO

September 30, 2022 1:35:04
Kaltura Video

Join us for a discussion of the diplomacy between the United States, key NATO allies, and Russia surrounding the war in Ukraine with Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz, John Beyrle, and Stephen Biegun. September, 2022.


0:00:00.3 John Ciorciari: Welcome everybody. Hello. It is wonderful to see so many of you here on a Friday afternoon to be back in person for these types of events both our students and the surrounding University of Michigan Ann Arbor communities. I'm John Ciorciari, I'm the Director of the Weiser Diplomacy Center and International Policy Center here at the Ford School, where I'm a professor and associate Dean for research and policy engagement. I wanna thank all of you for attending today's event, which I'll introduce very briefly before I hand it over to my colleague Jenviev Dubrisky who is a professor at UM, and also directs UM's Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia and Copernicus Center for Polish Studies. I wanna give a special welcome today to students who have come from throughout the Midwest, here from UM and a number of other universities, to participate from Albion College from Kent State, Michigan State, The University of Chicago and Wayne State.

0:00:57.7 JC: The students I just mentioned are participating along with their UM colleagues in a two day Midwest symposium during which they're exploring US Russia Relations and Security in Eastern Europe. It's the culminating event in a program that Jenviev and I have co-led here at UM for the past few years on cultivating future leaders in US Russia relations, sponsored generously by the US Russia Foundation. I also wanted to thank and welcome some special guests who are visiting the university, who are participating in the symposium, Ambassador Mark Peckler whom students had the benefit of learning from today at a great lunch talk. We also have Ambassador Dan Shields, who is here visiting us this semester as a visiting instructor teaching on diplomacy in Asia. We have a number of visiting Ukrainian scholars at the university this year. Two of them here in front of me will be presenting to students tomorrow, Anna Taranenko and Aksenier Yutiyeva.

0:01:58.4 JC: And so we thank you all for being here. Your presence is such an important part of what makes the University of Michigan a wonderful hub to study the region and its international politics. Of course, I also wanna thank our staff, the great staff of the International Policy Center and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian studies at UM, who have organized this event together with the Ford School as well as the surrounding symposium. This afternoon, we are going to explore the diplomacy between the United States key NATO allies and Russia around the war in Ukraine. Our panelists are gonna consider key Western interests at stake, the evolution of US and NATO approaches to Russia and evident Russian aims and intentions in Ukraine and the surrounding region. We'll then look to the road ahead, considering realistic goals for diplomacy in the months and years ahead, as well as how to pursue those goals most effectively.

0:02:55.1 JC: We'll leave some time for questions toward the end of today's session. And at that point, we will encourage you to raise your hands. My colleagues, Katie and Cindy will have microphones and we'll circulate around so that everyone can hear your excellent questions. And now to welcome our outstanding panel of experts. I'll start from the furthest chair away from me former US Ambassador to Russia John Byrle, who studied here at the University of Michigan. He was elected chairman of the US Russia Foundation in October 2018. And before that role, he served as a US diplomat for three decades in a career focused on the Soviet Union and Russia, as well as Central and Eastern Europe. To his right, former US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who many of you will know, is also here as a visiting international policy maker in residence with our Weiser Diplomacy Center and teaching a class right now on US foreign policy in Grand Strategy.

0:03:53.2 JC: Secretary Biegun has more than three decades of experience, international affairs in government and in the private sector, including high level of service within the State Department, the White House and the Congress. And last but not least, closest to me, the former Polish Ambassador to Russia Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz and Ambassador Pełczyńska-Nałęcz serves as the Director of the Institute Strategies 2050, as well as having served as the first female ambassador to pull into the Russian federation since the establishment of Polish-Russia relations. So wonderful array of expertise on the panel. And with that I'll hand it over to Jenviev and get our conversation started. Thank you.

0:04:37.0 Jenviev Dubrisky: Thank you John.


0:04:43.3 JD: And welcome everyone, to this panel. And I want to start our conversation by discussing today's events. Today marks a new milestone in the war in Ukraine. A few hours ago, Putin formally but illegally, annexed four Ukrainian oblast or regions, after surreal 45 minutes speech in which he presented Russia as a savior of the regions annexed, as the defender of colonized and oppressed people around the world. And as a victim of Western and especially US imperialism afterwards, during a Euro-vision like event on the red square, some political figures went as far as calling for Russian jihad against the West. So, President Zelenskyy declared that Ukraine would not negotiate with Russia as long as Putin remain in power and reiterated his request for Ukraine to become a member of NATO. So neither the annexation nor Putin's inflamed rhetoric nor the highly choreographed celebration were surprising. We knew it was coming, but the escalation in the acts of war and the speed at which this is all happening is shocking.

0:06:14.6 JD: So to begin our conversation, I'd like to ask each of you to take stock of today's events and to reflect on the last couple, two, three weeks and share your reflections on what you see as the most critical issues and challenges this new phase is bringing about. A new phase and the challenges for Ukraine, obviously, but also for European and US security. And so one question is, am I wrong? Are we not in a new phase? Is this something new that's becoming... Beginning or more of the same? So I'd like to reflect on this and perhaps I will start with Ambassador Byrle.

0:07:02.9 John Byrle: Thank you. And thanks to all of you for being here on a Friday afternoon. This is very impressive. I guess we have a topic that some people are interested in. I think there is a strong smell of desperation in the air in Moscow. Almost everything that we have seen this week, the rushed mobilization, the call up of these 30,000 Russians, the hurried attempted, I don't call it annexation, I call it attempted annexation. And the show that was put on in the Kremlin today. All of that was a result of, and was hastened by Ukraine's Military Successes. So, Putin far from dictating what is gonna happen on his terms at the time he says he is now I think, in a almost totally reactive mode. I think the call up of the 30,000 soldiers, the conscripts...

0:08:16.9 S?: 300,000.

0:08:19.6 JB: 300, what'd I say? 

0:08:19.8 S?: 30.

0:08:19.9 JB: Oh 300,000. I think it's a case in point. If you read the intercepts of the Russian soldiers that were printed in the... Or that were carried in the New York Times yesterday, actual intercepts of them talking about how hopeless things are, how ill-led they are, how they don't have any food. They don't know why they're there. And these are people who volunteered to go. The people coming now were conscripted. They will have less training and much less of a sense of ownership of this. It reminds me of, if your campfire is going out, you don't throw a bunch of wet wood on top of it. That's in essence I think what Putin is doing to the Russian Army. And I don't think this is maybe a little too early to say it's a turning point, but it's certainly an inflection point. And Putin's speech today, I would recommend everyone here to read it. It's already been translated and it's in the New York Times or The Post. It's absolutely chilling and hair raising.

0:09:40.3 JD: Thank you.

0:09:41.9 Stephen Biegun: Well, I completely agree with John Putin is desperate and it's forcing him to do some uncharacteristic things, including improvising. He tends to be somebody who plans in head, prefers to operate in secrecy. But since the beginning of this campaign, he's been on his back foot. Since the beginning of this war, it's been going against him. And he has lost the war that he started. Whether he can afford to lose the war he's in now, remains to be seen but he has lost the war that he wanted to fight in February of this year. The so-called campaign to Denazify and Demilitarize Ukraine, any hopes or any unbelievable expectation that was possible is gone. And now he finds himself in a very tight corner. It's for sure the case that he's facing some of the most severe domestic unrest that he's seen in his 20 years, 22 years in office. He's used to occasional protests from his liberal opponents, his liberal Pro Western, perhaps even pro-democratic opponents at home. But he has suppressed, repressed, or even killed many of them. And that's not what worries him. What worries him is, he's also facing protests and complaints from his supporters, from the extreme faction of the Russian political spectrum that is angry at Putin for not being brutal enough in the campaign in Ukraine.

0:11:15.0 SB: And that's what Putin was responding to but it wasn't just that. Just a week and a half ago, he was in Samarkand, Uzbekistan for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Stylized organization of mostly Thuggish and Undemocratic States that was designed... By design a counterweight to NATO. And while he was there, he was openly criticized by the Prime Minister of India, who'd been a stalwart supporter of Russia during this fight. And also it was clear that he was being pressured by the Chinese as he acknowledged that he was eager to answer the concerns that he had heard expressed by Xi Jinping. But even that isn't his worst problem. His worst problem is his army is losing the war in Ukraine. And that is his biggest problem. And so goes that army, so goes Putin and he knows it. And that's why he took the steps today, Jenviev, he's desperate to try to change the trajectory and to gain some initiative in this fight.

0:12:20.1 Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz: Thank you. I definitely agree that Putin is totally frustrated and he's desperate to do something to change the situation. And my understanding of his, in certain sense, incredible speech today was that he sent three messages to three different audience. The first one was to his inner circle that he is still a strong man that he is still able to take the leadership that his power cannot and should not be undermined, and this is very important because the strength it's an important, it's a crucial factor in this Russian KGB political culture. Second message was sent to us, so the collective West, but I believe that it was more even addressed to Europeans than to the US, and he just demonstrated his determination, his power, he escalated and simply he said, "I am ready to do anything it takes to win the war, so you should really be afraid of me and think twice if you are ready to confront me." And Putin understands that European Union also it's been really acting in a very unified way.

0:13:57.2 KP: In the recent months, still European Union, these are 27 different countries, and they can be divided. And there is growing war fatigue in some member states, and there are also the divisions within the member states. So what he tries to say is, think twice, if you really want to continue this war and whether... Because I am absolutely done. And that was the second message, and the third message was to thee... It was global. Putin understands that there is growing gap between the US and EU and the countries of so-called Global self. So he intentionally positioned himself as someone who defends India, all countries, all nations which have suffered due to the American imperialism, and that's propaganda or the narrative, which may work in some regions, it also may work even in some sections and some member states in the EU. And of course, this is crucial question, whether this is the continuation or the new... The turning point and new phase of the war.

0:15:29.5 KP: And in certain sense, it's both. Russia wants to control Ukraine. Putin wants to defeat Zelenskyy and through Zelenskyy he wants to humiliate the EU and the US so this is the continuation. But for the Russian society, this is a completely new phase of the war. Over recent seven months, they've been explained that this is not their war, it's the special military operation, which is taking place somewhere in the Ukraine, and they can just move on, live their normal life. And then all of the sudden, they were informed that now their sons, husbands, brothers go to the war, are drafted to the war and they will be sent to the front line without any training. And that war was this annexation of four Ukrainian regions which are not fully controlled by Putin, the war was brought to Russia and Russian people, ordinary people suddenly became the part of the military conflict, so for them that is a huge change.

0:16:47.2 JD: So returning to something you just said about the danger that this... The speech highlighted about the threat of nuclear warfare, for example, or the use of nuclear weapon on the one hand, and the call for this Jihad by his supporters, for example. Now we're in the seventh month of the war, and we're starting to see that war fatigue, prices inflation is rampant and much greater in the Europe than it is in North America. There's a harsh winter coming, people are told in France and Germany to buy warm clothes because... And even being warned that there might be blackout, so electrical power might go out. So facing threats from the outside and also having their quality of life diminished, do you see that as really a major threat to an international consensus, which so far has been quite great? In support of Ukraine and against Russia, how much do you see... Well, that's for the three of you. Do you think that there's a danger now that they really... The international community will start to really show divisions about this, and that.

0:18:13.0 SB: I'll jump in Jenviev. This is definitely what Putin thinks. Putin thinks that time is on his side, he thinks that the determination of Europeans to oppose him is not for the long term, and he also thinks that here in the United States, even at some point, there will be a fatigue with this. I think President Zelenskyy's concerns could be the same, in part account for the very successful counter-offensive that really drove home the fact that the Ukrainians will be successful in this fight with the support that they're getting. But in any event that's President Putin's play and as the ambassador said, he's trying to put additional pressure and raise the stakes for European populations in order to try to achieve that, and the truth is nobody has a lot of time in this one. In a sense, he is right. There will be a fatigue in the west, I'm sure at some point, and also our ability to sustain the level of economic and military support for Ukraine may not be indefinite, but Putin also has some constraints on him. His economy is weakening, not as fast as many would have hoped, but his economy is weakening, his army is just sorely debilitated by their performance in Ukraine, and so Putin doesn't have time either. And I think in a sense, what you're seeing is a growing urgency in all parts, Ukraine, the west and Russia, as we go into the fall with this conflict.

0:19:48.1 KP: Putin is definitely good in one thing. So he knows how to integrate the West. Anytime, some divisions...

0:20:00.2 JD: Ukraine, He's good at uniting Ukraine too.

0:20:01.9 KP: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So anytime some divisions appear in Europe between the member states, Putin does something which immediately mobilize the west and mobilize the European Union. And I believe that what has just happened with Sham referendums, with this annexation and this awful theater and crumbling today, and this is just the first phase because on Monday, we will see the unanimous, I believe vote in Russian Duma and the change of Russian constitution. So, but, that does not mean that there are no serious divisions, that there are no, differences within the EU, but these divisions are not between the East and the West of the EU. Unfortunately, this is Hungary, the country which borders Ukraine, which is the only EU member state, openly pro-Russian.

0:21:19.0 KP: All the other member states are definitely anti-Russian they are pro-Ukrainian. The divisions are more between those who believe that Russia should be defeated and punished, and between those who think that we should try to achieve peace at any cost as quickly as possible. So, and of course in Polish society, there is almost total consensus that Russia should be defeated and punished. While in France, Italy, it's 50/50. It's an interesting, because in Germany, the majority believes that Russia should be defeated and punished. There is a gap between the position of the majority of population and the position of the present government, or rather even not the whole government as they have even divisions inside the government. Just one more word about economy. As economic warfare is very painful for Europe and it's much more painful for Europe than for the United States.

0:22:29.6 KP: It's the prices of oil doubled the prices of coal tripled the prices of gas increased fivefold. So this is really a shock for the government and for the society that there is no way back with the sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, which happened a couple of days ago. Everyone in Europe understands that there is no way that Europe will continue its dependency on Russian energy resources. So even these governments, which believe that they would like to cooperate in Europe, with Russia, now they understand that there is no such a way, there is no such a chance for them to reestablish this corporation. And that is true that Russian economy proved to be surprisingly resilient to this unprecedented sanctions. But, with the coming sanctions and the end of import of Russian oil, by the end of this year, Russia will be deprived of the most important revenue and the most important source of financing of Russian budget and the war. And this will happen by December. And I believe that this is one of the reasons why Putin escalates, because he believes that he should threaten this... The West now as in half a year, it will be even not only military, but also economically too late for him.

0:24:14.3 JB: I think Putin has made four fundamental miscalculations in all of this, very uncharacteristic for him. Whether they're fatal miscalculations, we'll see, and three of them are already Fed-Econ pleas, there's one that still has to solve itself. Clearly, he miscalculated the will and the capacity of the Ukrainian state and people and army to oppose him. No question about that. I think he also miscalculated the degree of political dissension in the United States. I think that he was counting based on what he had seen, that there would be a fracture at some point between the Democrats and the Republicans or maybe within each of those parties. And that hasn't happened at all. As someone who lives in Washington, I can tell you there is basically only one issue that is a bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill. [laughter] And that is Ukraine. So that's the second fundamental miscalculation.

0:25:21.3 JB: I think that he also, I'm sure that he also miscalculated the European Union's capacity to be cohesive on this. It's always been his hope that he can sort of divide and conquer. But you know, we really have to see. And the fourth, well, I would add to that the amount of coordination between the United States and the European Union is remarkable and unprecedented. And that's a Fed-Econ plea that I don't think will break as well. The fourth miscalculation, and we will see how it turns out, is the one we've been talking about. Putin is convinced that he could outlast, outweight Europe. That a cold winter would eventually begin to fracture the consensus against him. And again, we have seen the Europeans come together to prepare for this in a way, not just buying blankets. But stock-piling, making sure that there's enough, energy on tap. And I think when that hits home, if Putin is still with us at that point, that could be the last prop that gets knocked out from under him.

0:26:42.9 JD: So what do you mean if he's still with us? I mean do you [laughter]

0:26:48.9 JD: So do you expect that it's... You know you're thinking the long delay, long term, or you could imagine a change at the top, I mean, do you think that change will come from the top or bottom-up? 

0:27:05.8 JB: I think in a system like that, where there is basically no accountability to anyone, and where Putin's number one main interest is a single hyphenated word, self-preservation, he has to be on his guard constantly to make sure that the people who have been supporting him up till now, because he's been pretty good at what he's done, they may start to look at him in a different way, and I'm talking about the people at the top, change will never come from the bottom in Russia. A very good friend of mine, a Russian once said, when you think about Russia and the political climate in Russia, imagine it as a big Opera House, and onstage is Putin, Patrushev, Shoigu the inner circle around Putin. In the orchestra seats, the expensive seats are the elite and they're applauding and watching the show and going along with it, but they are also looking over their shoulders. They're looking over their shoulders into the balcony seats, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th balcony. And those are the people with the muddy boots. And when those people begin to clap and clapping in Russia means "Get off the stage." when it's done rhythmically. Then I think Putin and the people on stage and the elite will try to get out and preserve themselves as soon as possible.

0:28:42.1 JD: You want to add to this exchange or? 

0:28:47.9 SB: I agree with John, that it will not be a bottom-up change, but the reality that we have to confront is that Putin is most likely to be overthrown by the more extreme faction in his own country. It won't be kind of the pattern that we saw in the 1990s play out at the end of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's tenure, this will be Et Tu, Brute's standing on that stage, I was thinking if they're performing Julius Caesar, John and the hand on proverbial knife could be... Shoigu could be Nikolai Patrushev, it could be any number of figures who may had a futile and even worse period in relations with Russia, so we have to be mindful that that... If Putin goes. It's well it... We certainly shouldn't oppose Putin being removed from office, but if his own people get rid of them, we shouldn't assume that it means that things will get better.

0:29:54.3 JD: So in that case...

[background conversation]

0:29:57.0 JD: In that case, what should the goals of the US and its close allies in NATO and the EU be? Is there any path forward for diplomacy or we're beyond diplomacy at this point, or what do... Is there a path forward? Basically, what you're describing is basically Putin might disappear, but we'll get worse, things will get worse, and things are not going very well now, so what does that mean for security for Europe, for Ukraine, of course, we have to keep in mind that this is... The war is being fought on Ukrainian ground and Ukrainians are dying as we speak. Is there a way forward with diplomacy, or should we hear Zelenskyy and think about accepting Ukraine, NATO? Should we continue the line of "No, because this will make things worse"? We have Finland and Sweden who asked also to become members of NATO.

0:31:15.9 JB: I think in the short term, the most important thing is to keep the pressure on. The pressure that has been put on him by the sanctions, by the Ukrainian Army, trained and equipped by the West, increasingly by the international community Modi and Xi Jinping, for example. The worst mistake we could make now would be to back off because he's making nuclear threats because he said that these provinces are now part of Russia, none of that has any basis at all, in fact, and the nuclear threat, We could talk about that separately. We have to take that very, very seriously.

0:32:05.6 JB: But I don't think that we can allow that threat to make us lose our resolve as far as diplomacy goes, I think it's very important that we keep relations with Russia, that we don't break relations. I think it's extremely important that we're gonna have an American ambassador in Moscow, hopefully in a couple of months. I think it's important that Jake Sullivan can get on the phone and call his counterpart Patrushev not so much to negotiate, but to deliver messages, that's how the message was delivered about the catastrophic consequences that would ensue from any Russian use of nuclear weapons. But I think we are very, very far from any kind of diplomatic solution, which would mean concessions by either side, because what I heard from both Zelenskyy and Putin today was very far from anything that looks like a concession.

0:33:02.4 KP: I think that diplomacy it's always somehow operating. There was the war prisoners exchange. There was this grain deal between Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. So wherever there is a room for diplomacy, it's there and it's quite effective. I agree that at the moment there is no much, this room left for diplomacy. Definitely back channels are important and I very much hope that messages, which should be delivered were delivered to Russia so they know what they can expect in the case they escalate towards nuclear. There will be a nuclear escalation. But obviously at certain point diplomacy will be very useful and will be necessary. But what we should remember and what we should understand, that always when we start negotiations with Russia, it should be from the position of strength and not weakness. All kind of narrative about dialogue, understanding channels of communications, so on so forth, can be very easily misunderstood by the Russians and taken as signals of weaknesses. And if the Putin and Russian regime feels that the opponent is weak, then they just escalate. And this is the end of any effective negotiations and any effective diplomacy.

0:35:13.2 KP: And just one word about if I may add to this discussion about the role of Russian society and whether the system can be overturned or Putin somehow disappear due to the bottom-up actions. I believe that at certain points, some major protests in Russia are possible. But unfortunately, remembering the Belarusian experience when were in definitely the majority of the Belarusians were totally against Lukashenko, and the protests which took place across whole Belarus and lasted for months. And at the end of the day there was very brutal, very cruel crackdown on civil society. And that's unfortunately will happen in Russia if people do the same... If people in Russia do the same as the Belarusian, the citizens did. So unfortunately, this is the reason why the regime may change or the leadership may change only due to some coup d'état or some change in, Putin some changes in the Putin inner circle. But it is possible that once, if protests start in Russia, this can be used by some people from the inner circle to get rid of Putin.

0:37:09.5 KP: So I would see this as the most likely scenario for the leadership change. And then of course, the question arises whether leadership change in Russia will lead to regime change, or it will just mean the continuation under different leadership.

0:37:29.1 JB: Just on negotiations. I would say I agree completely with the importance of the potential for diplomacy and also the conditions not being anywhere close to what would be necessary for that to happen. But I'd add one other caveat is whatever diplomacy happens should be driven by the interest of Kyiv. The Ukrainian government. John mentioned the miscalculations, the underestimating of the Ukrainian nation, Ukrainian state Ukrainian military those miscalculations weren't just in Moscow. There were many in the west who did the same. And we certainly owe it to the Ukrainians not to do that again. Anything that happens should happen from a position of strength and it should be led by the Ukrainians.

0:38:19.1 JD: So to go back to ambassador's Byrle's your point that what drives Putin is self-preservation. What kind of constraints can we put on Russia that could actually work in deescalating at least? 

0:38:38.8 SB: Well, I've been asked many times how we... How should we react to his now explicit threats to use a nuclear weapon. And my answer is that we've been preparing that for 70 years. We have a nuclear deterrent. I'm not at all suggesting that we should be prepared for a nuclear war. That's absolute anathema. But the purpose of deterrence is to keep him from doing that. The messages that I believe were sent by the United States government to Moscow were that the United States will intervene in the conflict if he uses a weapon of mass destruction. And I think those are constraints on his choices. He may be desperate, he may even be crazy. But is he suicidal? 

0:39:28.9 JD: Well, polls have... The immediate neighbours of Russia have sometimes believed that yes, he's suicidal, that he might go till the end because he refuses to step down, to back down, to de-escalate. And Poland has a long border with Russia... With Ukraine has welcome over 3 million Ukrainian refugees, many of whom went back to Ukraine. Those who were from regions where the war is not lke in the region of Kiev and Western Ukraine. So we have to think also about the security of immediate neighbours, the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, Moldavia. So what do you feel, or what do you think is the way forward to make sure that these immediate neighbours remain safe? 

0:40:29.0 KP: For the immediate neighbours like Poland, and for us, that's been really a strategic earthquake, because three of our neighbours... It's Belarus, Russia and Ukraine are directly involved in the military conflict. And it was almost 7 million refugees who have crossed Polish borders since the beginning of this full-scale invasion. The majority of them, less than 5 million, came back to Ukraine. Some of them went further West, and around 2 million, a million and a half remained in Poland. But that is an incredible experience for Polish society. As in every school, every class there are Ukrainian kids and Russian language... Not Ukrainian, because these are mostly people from the Eastern regions of Ukraine, people for whom the first language is Russian, not Ukrainian.

0:41:42.3 KP: So Russian language is now the next after Polish, most popular and often spoken language in Poland. So it's quite a paradox of this situation. But, yes, it is very scary for Polish society. And to increase... To make us and all the countries of central Europe feel more secure. I think that three factors are crucial here, firstly is the unity of the Transatlantic Alliance, but also unity of the EU and European corporation. So it's very important for us to trust not only the US but also trust our European allies, that if the worst case scenario happens and the conflict spills over to... I mean, Poland or the Baltic state, they will respect the Article five, and they will respect the principal of all for one, one for all. That's very important. But of course, we have our homework to do to encourage this unity. And I must say that, Polish government was really very good at handling the refugee crisis and reacting properly, reacting to the invasion.

0:43:27.6 KP: There are some major problems in our European policy, which actually fits some divisions inside the EU and inside the European divisions in Europe, which is not good. So firstly, unity. Secondly it's strengthening the US and NATO presence in our region, which is what is already happening. And the third factor is to continue military, but also economic aid to Ukraine as we are deeply convinced that the Ukrainians are fighting for us. And in case of Poland, in case of the Baltic states, this is not just a theoretical assumption, but this is exactly the case. If Ukraine failed, Poland or the Baltic states... I mean if Ukraine fails, and I hope it will never happen, Poland and the Baltic states will be the next. So we absolutely believe that they are fighting for us, and therefore the military aid and budgetary aid, which is also very important, is one of the most important factors for our security.

0:45:03.0 JD: So how do you see the American response for that or what the path forward for? 

0:45:08.6 JB: Oh, I think... I mean the constraint that we can most easily put on Putin, I think is military constraint, which challenges his army. I think the sanctions are the sanctions, I don't think that they will bring the Russian economy to its knees anytime soon. And the Russian people have an almost limitless capacity to take this on board, to take one for the team, so to speak. But militarily, I think to get very...

0:45:45.6 JB: Precise about this, I think it's time for us to look at those weapon systems that we have been holding in reserve saying, we don't want to provoke Putin. We don't want to make him escalate. Well, guess what, he just escalated the war significantly, so from the American side, I would say Abram's tanks, which have sort of been a no-go up until now, German leopard tanks and sophisticated aircraft, F-16s. I think it's time to talk about that seriously, it's already being talked about in Germany, two of Schultze's coalition partners have already come out tougher than he is, and I think when Congress gets back from the mid-term elections, you're gonna hear a renewed call for a more, a higher grade of weapon, and that will have the same effect on the battle field that those high Mars Long-range missiles had.

0:46:50.5 SB: And I think there's one last thing that's very important for us to do in the Democratic West, and that is be forthcoming and honest with our own people, you know Putin's play is that he's gonna catch us in the same lie that he caught in his special military operation, but insulating his population from it. We, the democratic west, the leaders of Europe, the Leaders of the United States, need to make the tough case to their people on why this hardship is worth enduring whatever small amount of hardship we're enduring compared to the people of Ukraine today, and ensure that we remain unified in our own societies, not just between our institutions or within our institutions, but within our societies, our elections, European elections will be opportunities for Putin to exploit. He's already shown a propensity to do so certainly in both Europe and the United States, and our leaders, our political leadership needs to anchor our policies in the popular support of the people.

0:47:58.3 JD: Thank you. Did you want to add something else? 

0:48:00.5 KP: Yeah. I just wanted to comment on this is theoretically, I agree that there should be a very clear message from the elites or from the decision makers to wider public, that we have to suffer for a while in order to defeat Putin and to guarantee or to the sustainable peace in Europe, but there is always that public opinion polls show quite... I mean, it's quite significant and growing up between the decision-makers position on the Ukraine and Russia in Europe and the wider public, and this is definitely the case in Italy... This was the case in Italy. This is the case in France, in Spain, in Portugal, but it's also the case in Slovakia. The polls show that 50% of Slovakians are against... Are in favor of Ukraine, but 50%, just want peace at any cost, and even if that would mean serious territorial concessions by Ukraine and in Prague just a couple of days ago, there was second huge demonstrations of people who demanded just gas supplies from Russia, and even there were demands of leaving the EU and NATO. I know that it's not... That it does not necessarily reflect the position of the whole society...

0:49:57.2 JB: It's called inactive measures.

0:49:57.7 KP: But Euroscepticism has increased both in Slovakia and in Czech Republic. So in... I mean, in this context, polls are quite... And the Baltics are quite unique that with this very consensual approach to Russia to Ukraine and to war, and this growing gap, as I said, between the decision-makers and the public, it is a real problem in the democratic countries. I mean, in Russia Putin can totally disregard what his people think, but in democratic Europe, decision-makers just want to be re-elected, that's the normal thing in democracy, so it's not that easy for them just to go to the people and say, you are frustrated with the suffering which you already experience, but the message I would like to... And what I would like to say is, tell you is that you will suffer more, that is not the best recipe for the victorious election unfortunately.

0:51:06.5 JB: But what I would say, and I don't disagree with you on your description, the condition. If they don't do it, then Vladimir Putin will, so who do you want speaking to your democratic society? Do you want Russian propaganda, Russian disinformation? Or is it a moment in which the democratic leaders of the west need to make those tough appearances and make the case for this? We need to do it here in the United States too. We have the same conditions, perhaps less acute in the United States, but if we are... This is what Putin's calculation is. Putin's calculation is that he can outlast us and it's gonna take our democratic political leadership to ensure that we're insulated against his manipulations. So I don't think we have a choice.

0:51:51.9 KP: Yeah, but this is why I said that Putin is really master in unifying the west, because I'm not sure that...

0:52:04.3 KP: That it's better to tell people you will suffer. Some of them will believe, some of them will just support another political party. But if people see the atrocities, which are happening under Russian occupation, when they see what Russia did in Eastern Ukraine, when they see this sham referendums and this terrible theater and Kremlin, that is the message which really unifies the European Union, European public and mobilize the west to fight against Putin. And just decision makers should make sure that this pictures, this information is properly delivered to the public.

0:53:04.8 SB: Yeah, I completely agree, but that's what our leaders have to do, is they have to make clear that we understand the stakes. What's at stake, not just the hardship, but why the hardship is worth making. And it is, for all the reasons you mentioned, what he's doing has the possibility of throwing the entire continent of Europe into war. Absolutely. And we need to stop him here.

0:53:30.3 JD: On that note, unless you have something to add, I think it's time to open the floor to your questions. We have staff people with microphones, so if you can raise your hand to me and they will bring a microphone to you, here we have our Ukrainian Scholar Risk Fellow Oksana Chabanyuk.

0:54:04.7 Oksana Chabanyuk: Thank you. Yes. I'm a scholar at Risk fellow at the WCEE, Kharkiv Ukraine. I have a very short question, but I hope to receive your expertise answer. What answer would you predict Ukraine will receive from NATO after today's application? For instance, Ukraine doesn't have the sufficient air defense weapons to close the sky. And the air strikes which are against civilians in the cities are very horrible. For instance, the missile reaches from the border of Russia to Kharkiv in only 23 minutes. Thank you.

0:54:55.4 JD: Who wants the take? 

0:54:57.0 SB: So I don't think the political conditions are in place in, I wouldn't advocate for Ukraine's full entry into NATO at this moment in the midst of an active war. It would be just a response, but it would almost be the equivalent of Putin's annexation of the four Territories and placing his new border right in the middle of the conflict zone in [0:55:24.8] ____ What I would do instead is I would treat Ukraine as a de facto NATO member in providing all forms of military assistance to them in order to help their defense the making the case to get directly involved in this war right now is simply not something that you would be successful. In fact, it would very likely backfire in terms of gaining support in the West to sustain the effort against Putin. I would just make sure the Ukrainians have everything they need, including some of the equipment that Ambassador Byrle was mentioning to defend themselves.

0:55:57.6 JB: Yeah, and I would add we don't need to be involved. I think the Ukrainians are doing a pretty good job with our material, with our training de-facto NATO member, as you said as long as they keep advancing and they do seem to keep advancing. I think it's off the table really.

0:56:23.0 Speaker 7: Hello. I'm a student here at the Ford School of Public Policy and I had a question regarding the recent border clashes in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan. How do you really think that Russia has impacted those, and what do you guys see coming in the next six months a year in terms of those conflicts? I know Armenia and Azerbaijan have had longstanding tension, but it just seems to be getting worse, especially over the past couple of years.

0:56:51.6 S?: Good question. Armenia and Azerbaijan remember that was of sort of settlement that was brokered by Russia and involves the stationing of Russian troops in Armenia. I'm not really sure that Russia can afford to station a lot of troops there. So I think what you're seeing happening there in Tajikistan with Uzbekistan and possibly elsewhere, I'll get to that in a minute is what happens when there's a distraction at the top. When there's a sense that there's an opening, there's an opportunity to make some gains because Russia is not gonna be in a position to stop it. And I'll tell you what I worry about is Georgia. Saakashvili really in charge anymore. But I could imagine there discussions going on in Georgia saying, "Is this the time for us to try to take back South Ossetia, to try to take back Abkhazia, because the Russians will be in no position to counter us."

0:58:06.6 SB: It won't be this Georgian government, I'm afraid. Yeah but I just add, I'd expanded it out a little bit. What you're seeing, I think, is that a loosening of Russia's grip over these former Soviet territories. John mentioned back Uzbekistan, he mentioned Tajikistan. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan had been fighting a border clash as well at the same time. And what's happened is.

0:58:29.8 SB: Russia's attention and its influence are redirected in a different direction. It's kind of like if you're Lord of the Rings fans, the Eye of Sauron has moved off of them. And that... And what you're seeing is not a vacuum, but a vacuum being filled by China. If you... The headline for those of us who watch former Soviet politics from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting was the criticism from Prime Minister Modi and the implicit criticism from President Xi Jinping of Vladimir Putin's war. But what was really noteworthy to me was the fawning statements that all five central Asian states released after the bilateral meetings between their leaders and Xi Jinping. China's Grip on Central Asia is substantial and growing. And it's ironic because United States two decades ago tried to establish the same kind of influence in the region and faced enormous Russian resistance. There are also challenges to us because we bring normative expectations, human rights, democracy, that were unwelcome by many of the central Asian leaders. But we have largely... The United States has largely vacated Central Asia as a foreign policy interest. But China is stepping in and at some point, one has to believe this will generate concern in some corners of the Kremlin as well.

0:59:50.0 KP: I'll go even further. I would say that this is the last phase of the composition of the Soviet Empire. And Russia is losing Central Asia to China, but it's also losing Azerbaijan to Turkey. And the recent escalation between Azerbaijan and Armenia was definitely provoked by Azerbaijan who is stronger now and receives substantial political, but not only political support from Turkey. Armenia immediately asked Russia for help, but Russia remains silent, which was quite symptomatic. And the intention of Azerbaijan is to get the corridor ex-territorial or just say Azerbaijani control corridor to Nakhchivan, which is Azerbaijan exclave bordering Iran. And that would split Armenia into two pieces and make it in fact the kind of cripple remainings of what Armenia used to be. So it's a deadly threat to Armenia and Russian influence in this country, but still Putin remain silent. And as for Georgia, I would be absolutely sure that under this government they will definitely not claim neither Ossetia or Abkhazia and it's... I'm not very much in favor of this government, but they're quite clever [chuckle] in this respect.

1:01:28.3 JD: Thank you. We have... I will start making a list. You and then another student on this side. So this side and then Ambassador [1:01:41.4] ____.

1:01:43.4 S?: There's a student in the back who has a mic.

1:01:45.9 S?: Yeah.

1:01:46.3 JD: Oh, okay.

1:01:46.5 JB: They had the mics already.

1:01:50.0 JD: Okay. So we'll go with you then in the back because you have your microphone.

1:01:56.3 Speaker 8: Good evening to you all, and thank you very much for having this talk. My question is how has the level of firsthand accounts of the conflict via social media changed the calculus of American diplomacy, especially relating to the 2009 Russian military reorganization and the perceived military might of the Russian machine, and how that's being reflected in the actual conflict on the ground at this time, and what the implications are for future conflicts in the age of social media? 

1:02:25.8 JD: Thank you. Thank you.

1:02:30.4 JB: Well, the one thing that can be said is this was a terribly planned military campaign, but I think most analysts, I believe that it was actually an intelligence campaign anyway. It was planned by intelligence officials, but the military was the implementer of it, and it was catastrophic. The collective West deserves enormous credit for the resolve it's shown from the very beginning. And it was a real reversal of a trend that had started in 2008 with the Russian invasion of Georgia, and then in 2014 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. This is a demonstration, as the ambassador said that Europeans and the US could work together and that that unity has delivered an outcome. I think it's reaffirmed US faith in many of our NATO allies, and it's also energized our NATO allies. When you look at the scorecard of Putin's accomplishments, he's overturned Scandinavian neutrality. He's overturned a German pacifism and he's united the European Union and the United States in the great geopolitical challenge of our era, a pretty extraordinary track record.

1:03:50.1 JD: We have this... Can you stand up so we can see you? 

1:03:56.2 Zaire: Hello. My name is Zaire, and I'm a first year news program student. I'm from Taiwan. And I have a question about information warfare during this invasion because as we know, there are many fake news and propaganda through Internet. So I want to know if we have any concrete policies toward this invasion through the internet, and how do you think about the situation in Taiwan? 


1:04:26.1 JB: You can answer the second.

1:04:27.5 KP: So maybe I'll... On informational [chuckle] war in Taiwan.

1:04:32.0 JB: I think one of the most remarkable aspects of this war in terms of information has been...

1:04:42.1 JB: A reversal of American policy with regard to intelligence. We have, I think, the best intelligence gathering apparatus and people in the world. But those, the information that comes from that apparatus and those people has been guarded, like the crown jewels. That changed when it became very apparent what Putin was aiming to do in Ukraine. And the American government made... Had no compunction about making this public, about sharing pretty sensitive intelligence with the world and also privately talking to the Russians in a way that leaves the Russians in no doubt that we have a lot of sight, sight lines into what's happening there. And I'd give our friend and colleague Bill Burns current director of the CIA and my predecessor as Ambassador in Moscow, a lot of credit for that because he had to overcome a lot of resistance within the CIA to do that. But it was fundamentally important because it pulled the rug out from under all of Russia's efforts to put out what is fake news. And they really never recovered from that.

1:06:14.8 KP: Informational warfare is like one of the most important elements of this war next to military economic. And surprisingly, that wasn't absolutely obvious for, perhaps it was obvious to these US intelligence, but definitely it wasn't obvious to the European experts that this one, this war would be won so quickly and so easily. However, I think that the huge role was played here by the Ukrainians and by President Zelenskyy himself as he demonstrated incredible leadership and incredible charisma and ability to communicate, not only with his own people, but also with specific nations in Europe, in the US using their cultural codes. And there was lots there were huge doubts. I remember when Zelenskyy became president, whether he's capable of running such a big country, but his experience, his previous experience, I think that helped him very much in communicating in a very, very effective and professional way with the Europeans, American citizens. And of course always the Ukrainians.

1:08:00.9 KP: There is lots of hope in the Northern Poland, but in Germany, in France, that Europe will be able to develop some channels of communications with the Russian society. And here, I must say that I am very skeptical. I believe that the Russians... There are lots of independent source of information run by anti-Putin Russians and on social media, on Telegram, on YouTube, and this works. So if someone in Russia really wants to learn what's going on, everyone who is more or less skillful on the internet can get access to independent information. So if the Russians trust any not anti-regime information, it will be information coming from the Russians and not from Europeans or from American media. So that's why I think it's very difficult. Actually, it's very difficult to reach out to the Russian society, but if it happens, it will happen thanks to the Russian citizens and not thanks to our effort.

1:09:34.1 JB: The question of Taiwan comes up often in whether or not there's anything analogous in China's potential towards Taiwan that would be comparable to Russia's with Ukraine. And I would say, generally, I don't think there is much in that, that is analogous, but it is worth looking at what lessons China might be drawing from this as it thinks about its own policies towards Taiwan. It was just a couple weeks before the invasion that President Putin was in Beijing with Xi Jinping celebrating what they termed a partnership without limits. It sure looks like there's some limits on that partnership now. [laughter] First of all China at least, to my knowledge, has not provided any direct military support to China, despite, excuse me, to Russia, to Putin.

1:10:21.7 JB: Despite being obviously approached by the Russian government, for that kind of support. China has paid a substantial economic cost domestically as have all the rest of the economies in the world, from the degree to which the invasion exacerbated already challenging economic conditions. China has seen and found itself in an uncomfortable position of straddling the inviability of borders and the sovereignty of states with Putin's blatant intrusion into Ukraine and his invasion of his neighbor. And just today the president of Russia validated in his view that a national referendum could confirm independence on territory that other countries might claim. Certainly a principle that Xi Jinping would not want to see infecting the political discourse in Taiwan.

1:11:16.6 JB: The Chinese are clearly putting some distance between themselves and Russia, but we need more from China now, and this will be an opportunity. I'm not pollyannaish, but Xi Jingping is in the last few weeks of a leadership selection process which is highly predictable. He will be the leader of China for a third term after October 16th. And once he's in place, he has an opportunity to help shore up the rules based order that has benefited China so much over the past three decades. But if he will, then that means he will also have to put pressure on Putin, just as we and all other civilized nations must.

1:12:00.4 JD: Thank you.

1:12:05.3 Carlos: I have a question. My name is Carlos, first year MPP student, and this question is directed to the deputy secretary. It's like a series of questions regarding the same issue. The first one is, should in your opinion, the United States, make a preemptive strike in Russian soil or in the Ukrainian soil to shift the tides of the war. The second one is, if the Russians decide to take it further and actually go with the war, how much would it take Congress to declare it back? And the third one would is, how safe is the United States soil to handle this kind of as you said nuclear possibility? 

1:12:50.0 JB: So I would frame the, all those questions in the same context of the question about NATO membership, that at this point, the United States is gonna... There are gonna be some limits on what the United States is gonna do. And I think appropriately so including, for example, that we wouldn't launch a preemptive strike. And I don't think we should talk a lot publicly about nuclear war either. I even get uncomfortable, with my own answer about our deterrence, but it's the reality of the world we live in. That's how we keep nuclear weapons from being used, is with the tool of deterrence. And it's kept the peace for 70 years, thankfully. The only circumstances under which I would, short of a weapon, a mass destruction. The only circumstances where I would see us making direct strikes, back is if Russia violates NATO territory. President Biden has said that he will...

1:13:41.2 JB: The United States and the NATO allies will defend every inch of territory. If Poland for example, was struck by a conventional attack on an arms depot or something on the border, I think the United States should immediately respond on Ukrainian territory, and make it a very, very costly strike against Russian targets in Ukraine. I'd limit it to Ukraine. I wouldn't go into Russia proper, but I would consider Ukraine everything up to the eastern border of the Donbass and the Hans with Russia. We shouldn't initiate this, but we should be deadly serious that if any attack has launched against NATO, that there will be a response and quite frankly, an immediate response.

1:14:23.6 JD: Can you stand up please? It's easier to...

1:14:25.8 Kendrick: Sure. Can you hear me? Alright, perfect. I'm Kendrick, I'm a law student here. And this is kind of continuing on the previous point regarding, the use of nuclear weapons. You indicated previously that the US saw that as a red line beyond which a lot of intervention, perhaps a return in nuclear weapons would be necessary. But in terms of the use of smaller, like tactical nuclear weapons or other CBRN weapons, if those were to be used by Russia in Ukraine as a means to raise, to escalate the conflict without necessarily taking it fully, globally nuclear, what would be the US response and how likely do you think Putin is to engage in that kind of behavior? 

1:15:11.1 JB: Wow. I'll jump in. I don't know if you wanna jump in on this, but first of all there's no military strategic case to use those weapons in Ukraine. There's no concentration of forces. It wouldn't be effective as a battlefield weapon in, depending on the type of weapon that the Russians might use. It could also have reverberations for their own forces. I mean, you're talking about forces that are in close combat with each other, and there's no sensible military strategy that would have you use those weapons. But that doesn't mean Putin wouldn't do something for a demonstration effect, perhaps to further test the resolve the Europeans to send a message that I am crazy and I'm willing to test whether you're suicidal, but in any of these cases, and I believe this is the message the United States government has sent to the Kremlin, that that will initiate the same kind of response inside Ukraine, that I just mentioned a moment ago. In the event of an attack on NATO, we have to be absolutely clear there will be no upside for Putin for the use of weapon of mass destruction. There was a very good op-ed piece today in the Washington Post by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs staff, Mike Mullen and Sam Nunn about this issue. And one of the solutions they also propose is it's time for the United States and China to get together and go talk to Russia and tell Putin to just knock it off.

1:16:28.9 JB: One thing, if this helps you sleep better at night, I'm convinced that our American response to Russian use of, let's say a tactical nuke in Ukraine would be conventional, as someone said a strike inside by Americans inside of Ukraine. And possibly a couple of cyber attacks that could maybe shut down the Russian banking system or blackout cities, that has a demonstration effect too.

1:17:04.5 JD: We have... Who has a microphone right now? 

1:17:09.3 Svetlana: Hello. My name is Svetlana. I'm...

1:17:11.9 JD: Just one second and then we have in front here. Sorry go ahead.

1:17:17.3 Svetlana: Okay. Good afternoon. I'm very glad to see everybody and my name is Svetlana. I'm from Ukraine. I'm a Fulbright fellow here. And I'm from [1:17:27.9] ____. And my question is, so you mentioned that, not all countries are ready to support Ukraine and maybe not in the way that we really want this support, but of course we are very grateful for those countries who support us and who helped a lot. My question is that, what do you think, in what way it is possible to persuade other countries and other leaders to help more? Thank you.

1:18:00.0 KP: That is very good question.

1:18:04.8 KP: And there are two ways. One I've already mentioned that's just to show to the Europeans what's really happening in Ukraine, how... What... How Russia and Russian soldiers behaved on Ukrainian territory. And by this through sending this message, it mobilizes, European public, and European public then exerts pressure on their government. And actually, this happened in Germany, as I think that Germany is the only member states in which the government was much more reluctant, in terms of providing both military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, much more reluctant than the German public. And there were huge demonstrations in Berlin, and the pressure worked finally some military aid was delivered, but then again, Chancellor Scholz promised next weapons supplies but he didn't deliver on this promise. So again, there was pressure from experts, from the wider public and again it worked. So this is one way, and of course another way is to create like minded coalitions, and this is up to the governments like Polish government. And I think that Polish, Poland could have here a special important role to create such like-minded countries and government coalitions, which would put forward some specific proposals how to.

1:20:09.0 KP: How to increase and how to handle the long lasting and sustainable support to Ukraine, but as I mentioned, unfortunately the Polish government is like... Although Polish government was very effective with pro-Ukrainian policy and supporting the refugee, Ukrainian refugees in Poland, they are very anti-European and anti-German. In the European policy and inside Poland, that makes very difficult for a Polish Prime Minister and even for a Polish president to go to Germany, to go to France and to convince them that they should send more weapons and more money to Ukraine. And it would be... The best partners for Poland are not in central Europe, but are in between the Nordic States, there this could be Sweden, Finland, Denmark. But it happens that all these countries are also very sensitive on the issue of the rule of law, and here again, Poland has quite significant problems in this sphere.

1:21:33.4 KP: And that makes it very difficult for the government to create this Polish, Nordic, North, South coalition, countries which border Belarus, Russia and Ukraine Coalition, which will convince other European members states to increase military and financial support to Ukraine. So that would be the best strategy but for the... For these reasons, Poland unfortunately is unable to create such coalitions. And since Poland is the biggest country of central Europe, the biggest country which borders Russia and Ukraine, there is no other so much engaged and the member state, which can... Which would be able to create this coalition and to strengthen and to convince other member states to strengthen the support. And the problem in Europe now is that in fact Europe is leaderless, in this policy towards the war, or to put it frankly Europe outsource it's... Outsource leadership to the US. And this is not the best strategy for the war, which is taking place in Europe and in our neighborhood and not in your neighborhood.

1:23:07.0 JD: So we have time for one more question. Okay, now I'm torn. I can give.

1:23:15.2 Levitsky: I'll make it short.

1:23:16.8 JD: I can give the voice to you, Ambassador Levitsky, or to two Ukrainian fellows.


1:23:26.2 Levitsky: What can I say? 

1:23:27.1 JD: So.

1:23:28.9 Levitsky: Oh, yeah.

1:23:29.4 JD: If... Maybe you can be very brief, both of you, and then Mel can make a.

1:23:34.3 JB: No we can go over.

1:23:36.3 JD: Very plea, and then that will serve as a roundup.

1:23:39.6 JB: We can go over a little bit too.

1:23:41.5 JD: I defer to John on that issue.

1:23:45.0 JB: We're obviously not out of talking.

1:23:46.5 Anna Taranenko: Thank you very much. Maybe somehow our questions might coincide.

1:23:50.0 JD: Yes.

1:23:50.5 AT: And I hope so. So thank you very much. My name is Anna Taranenko, I'm a part of the Ukrainian Scholars program with our Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia. And following up on the topic of nuclear energy, regarding situation with Enerhodar this nuclear plant close to the the Parisia overtaken now. At this point, at this age of... In this circumstances, even without nuclear weapons, in such cases, if such nuclear object is overtaken, do you think that it somehow changes the energy security landscape? For instance, will countries in the future somehow change their attitude even to atomic energy, nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, for instance, like may constructing less atomic plants because on the one hand, like we are all facing climate change on the planet, and atomic nuclear energy is considered cleaner than oil as a supply. So do you think it will affect somehow or maybe not? Thank you so much.

1:24:57.0 JD: Great.

1:24:58.4 JD: Yuri, ask your question.

1:25:00.4 Yuri: Oh, thank you very much ambassadors. My name is Yuri [1:25:04.9] ____ So my question, if shortly, what I found very interesting detail in this today's speech of Putin. He spoke not only about war against collective West, but also, against ango sex. And then he told and spoke about genocides in US history. So what is mean on diplomatic level language? [chuckle] Maybe I can say more, but if shortly? 

1:25:45.7 JD: Thank you. You need a microphone? Okay.

1:25:51.1 JB: No, just a couple of comments actually, by the way. Oh.

1:25:57.2 JD: One. One one.

[overlapping conversation]

1:26:01.5 S?: I just wanna make a comment about international law and why resolving this issue is important for international law. If Putin or the Russians, I would say, 'cause it's not just Putin gets away with this it, there are so many situations around the world where bad neighbors are at each other's throats. That this I think is a real test case. It's one that is delicate and it's one that certainly the United States was... Doesn't wanna get involved in physically itself, but it's something that we have to have persistence with. And I agree with what you said about Putin. If he were the historian looking at US history, he could well think that we'd get tired of this, that we don't... And that's a danger. I don't think we will in this case, because the administration has staked out a very strong position on this. But this has to be resolved. It's a much bigger issue than just Russia, Ukraine. I think it's a big international issue. So I just wanted to point that out for some of my course-mates.

1:27:03.3 JD: Thank you very much. So you have three different questions.

1:27:07.6 JB: Well, I'll take a crack at the nuclear one. Great. I think there is a risk that this war will have an effect on the... What I see as a sort of very slow emerging international consensus, that nuclear energy needs to be looked at seriously as one of our responses to climate change. I think it's possible if there is a leak, if there is some sort of catastrophic event that happens. And that's why I think to go back to the question of diplomacy in keeping space for diplomacy open. The AIEA as far as I know, those inspectors are still in [1:27:48.1] ____. And it's very important that they continue to work with both sides to make that basically a demilitarized zone.

1:28:02.2 SB: I agree with Ambassador Levitsky that the stakes here, they can seem theoretical, but they are very real. In the historical sweep that Putin is trying covers in his revisionist history in the period that he wants to rewrite the history for. There's not a border between Russia and the United Kingdom that is in the same place it was during that period. Europe has seen a shifting borders. Putin goes back to the collapse of the Russian Empire. When the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian Hungarian Empire and even German Empire oppressions. There's not a border that could be secure. Now, we have done a lot in Western and Central Europe, Central Eastern Europe over those years, including, the very wise decision, in my view, to enlarge NATO into a large, the European Union, which overcame those borders with supernational bodies that helped cement the status quo. 'Cause imagine what would be happening in Poland today as not a NATO member with this invasion.

1:29:04.5 SB: Just think about the meltdown that would be happening in this region. That was the was the vortex for the two world wars that we fought in the 20th century. Thank goodness prudent, decisions were made to strengthen the sovereignty and security of those states. But parts of Europe still remain outside that. And it's obvious that that's the playground in which Putin is playing. It's one other thing I wanna say. I just, it's wonderful to see so many Ukrainian participants here, and I don't think I've... I tried to hide my enormous sympathy and respect for what your country and what your people are doing. It's also with a sense of loss that I sit here, like the two ambassadors on either side of me. We have spent much of our lives working in or with Russia. And there was a day when we would have an equal number of Russian participants in this session. And it really... Ever since I began my first undergraduate course here at University of Michigan as a Russian major, it has been part of my life for 37 years. And that's all gone. And John knows my mantra about Russia it said...

1:30:15.1 JB: Don't give into Putin, but don't give up on Russia.

1:30:18.2 SB: And it seems awfully hard now to hang onto that, but really we have to find a way to bring the Russian people back to not under Putin and not without a price to be paid by the authors of this brutal and terrible war. But we can't give up on the Russian people either.

1:30:38.8 KP: Thank you. When Fukushima of catastrophe happened in Japan, Germany decided to close, close all the nuclear power plants in Germany. And together was...

1:31:02.8 KP: Green energy transformation, it led Germany to a very high dependency on Russian energy, on Russian actual natural gas supplies. So at the moment, it's a total top priority for everyone in Europe to just cut off this dependency of the Russian energy, of the Russian fossil fuels, and that's why I don't think that anyone in Europe now will think about closing nuclear power plants. Actually, there is quite a significant debate in Germany how to reverse some decisions which had been already made. So, maybe in the medium, long-term perspective, we will come back to this issue, but at the moment, this is mostly about cutting off Russian oil and Russian natural gas.

1:32:13.2 KP: Putin's pointing to the UK, to the US. That's the element of his propaganda of that there is small evil, this is the EU, and there is the huge evil standing behind the EU, and we are actually the puppets in Europe. We are the puppets of this huge evil, and that is the US. So that's been always his propaganda, and of course, he continues to present it this way to his people, but also to the Europeans, as he understands that he can fuel anti-American sentiments, not only in Europe but also across the world. And in fact, I think that everyone here is aware that such sentiments exists and this is the serious problem for the US, but also for the European Union.

1:33:26.5 KP: And I just wanted to definitely very much agree with your words about Russia. It's especially important for Poland as Russia will never ever disappear. It will always be where it is, and it will be next to Poland, so it's absolutely crucial for my country that one day there will be peaceful, civilized government, and that the Russian people will again be able to travel to Europe, cooperate with us, and we will feel safe with them, and they will feel safe with us. We understand after the three decades of... Of last three decades that this will not happen overnight. It takes generations for people to change, to transform their mindset, but still, we definitely cannot give up on the Russians because they are in Europe, and even though now they believe that they can somehow become a part of Pax Chinese... Is there something like Pax Chinese? There is nothing like this, and they are just Europeans.

1:34:44.2 JB: Amen.

1:34:48.8 JD: We have to conclude. I would like to thank our distinguished guests for joining us today and to everyone here to having joined us.