C&B Tutorial on Ukraine: What’s Putin’s Plan?

25 Jan 2022

BUCK: We want to talk to you about borders here for a moment. We could start with our own border and then we’ll discuss what’s going on far, far away — a border that’s getting all the attention certainly in the media and all over the world right now, at least the Western world and its media. I want to start with ours, though, because while the Biden regime is very focused in on the situation in Ukraine — and you’re gonna see a lot more talk about what’s happening there, and there could be an invasion any day by Russia. What will the scope and scale of that invasion be?

Who knows? We’re still trying to figure all this out. But just so you know about our own border, southern border, the first three months of fiscal year ’22 there have been over a half million encounters at the southern border. That means, essentially, they’ve had either an arrest to make of someone crossing illegally or a got-away, someone coming into the country they know is illegal and then who makes a run for it. That is more than double the first three months of fiscal year 2021 and the same period of time.

CBP released its December border numbers: 178,840 encounters in December. So, getting close to 200K for the month. That is an increase over November. It is definitely a lot higher than the 73,000 encounters in December of 2020. So in December, the last month we had data from the Customs and Border Patrol, 178,000 encounters. Our border’s basically open. So let’s just talk about that for a second here because there’s no interest from the Democrat Party in doing anything about this, other than keeping it going.

They actually think that this is of benefit to them. So now let’s… I just wanted to put that out there for the context here of the enormous focus that’s now going to be spent across the apparatus of our government and the media-industrial complex for Ukraine, which — for those who like these bits of trivia — actually means “borderlands” in Slavic, in the Slavic language. That’s where the name comes from.

Ukraine has been on the borderland of what was the Russian Empire (or the Russian Federation now) for a very long time. It’s been thought of that way. The very name itself means “border,” essentially — and, Clay, now we’re being told that we have to be ready for a major crisis. Why are these crises happening under the Biden administration? Here is the deputy national security adviser saying, “You know, man, the fact that it’s all happening when Biden’s in office, it’s just all a coincidence.”

JON FINER: I know there’s a lot of temptation to connect these issues, uh, ’cause these events are taking place simultaneously. The North Korea challenge has been with us for quite some time, really going back years, uh, and — and actually decades. The United States has been very clear that it considers North Korea’s missile tests to be provocative, to be a threat to peace and stability. We have taken action with regard to sanctions just in recent days and weeks. (sputters) We’ve taken action at the Security Council, and we will continue to provide all manner of reassurance to our Asian allies, uh, in particular, uh, the South Koreans and the Japanese, uh, with regard to these tests. But I don’t see these — these issues as connected in any way other than that they took place, you know, taking place around same time.

BUCK: It’s just a coincidence, Clay. You’ve got Afghanistan debacle, China getting more aggressive, North Korea getting aggressive, Russia making moves — it’s all a coincidence under Biden.

CLAY: Yeah. They clearly don’t have any respect for Biden, and this is why — even if you are very anti-Joe Biden, as virtually everybody listening right now is — you don’t want him to be a complete, pathetic nincompoop, which is where he is right now, because our adversaries will take advantage of his weakness. And in addition to the loss of life — which was indefensible — that happened in Afghanistan, the message that that sent was, “Our foreign policy is weak, ineffective, inconsistent, and there is no recent to trust what the Americans say.”

Now the same thing might be playing out in Ukraine — and again, it directly implicates what might happen in China as it pertains to Taiwan, not to mention what Iran is gonna think about the nuclear agreement that is going on there, what North Korea is going to be believe going forward as they try to draw more attention to themselves. It’s as if many people have just stopped paying attention to North Korea over the past couple of years.

And, Buck, the United States, through Jen Psaki, just said that they believe a Ukraine overall attack is imminent, okay? An invasion is imminent. So the question that I have here is, “What is Putin waiting for? What is his…?” So we know that likely the United States response is going to be ineffectual and not particularly able to mobilize a large contingent of Europe to agree. That’s one of the challenges here.

What do you think…? Let’s flip the script, because clearly the United States is mostly responding to what Russia is doing in terms of they’re not leading this interaction in any way. What’s Putin’s time frame here? Why is he got a hundred thousand troops mobilized? What could he be waiting for? What is his “go” moment, for lack of another phrase, given the fact that the United States has been characterizing a Russia invasion of Ukraine as imminent for some time now?

BUCK: So, there’s two basic models of what they think this is going to kick off with, and depending on who you ask — and analysts come at this from different perspectives and we’re gonna find out soon who’s right. There’s the more established Russian protocol of what they call “maskirovka,” which is warfare by deception, essentially, meaning, “Oh, we’re not invading. We’re just going to help provide security at this one location where there’s been a disturbance involving some Russian nationals — Russian speakers, rather — who feel like they need greater protection.” To anyone listening to this you start rolling your eyes you’re like, “Come on. Doesn’t…”

CLAY: Justifies the action.

BUCK: It’s pretextual. So the pretextual essentially invasion by stealth, which they’ve already been doing, if you have to remember. This is essentially an escalation of that which has already been underway in Donbass. There is trench warfare going on in Donbass — has been for five, six years now. They already seized Crimea with a referendum. Maybe they’re gonna concoct some kind of storyline that requires some degree of — I say “requires” in quotes — military action to provide, Clay, greater stability and security in some region of eastern or Northeastern Ukraine.

That’s one possibility. The other is all-out blitzkrieg. Get it done. Go for it. Go big Putin style. And people are saying that is also a possibility here. That would clearly be an effort, I think, to get rid of the existing regime, install a pro-Russian government. I don’t think they’re looking really for a full-on occupation. And this is another part where a lot of analysts are already disagreeing. They just want to make sure that there is a greater…

Let’s be honest. They want a Russian puppet. They want essentially what they have in Belarus, where they have somebody who effectively takes orders from Putin, although it’s technically another country. They want that in Ukraine. They don’t want any tilt toward NATO. They don’t want any tilt toward Europe. So it might be relatively short if they go even with that big blitzkrieg, because the part of it that will get hard for them…

I don’t think anyone thinks that the Russians going in with heavy tanks and all the air power and the close air support they can bring would be something that Ukraine can really fight against. But we know from Afghanistan, from Iraq, from other places you’re gonna occupy a place that doesn’t want to be occupied, Russians aren’t gonna be able to handle that very well at all. So they need it to either be limited and controlled — or quick, a blitzkrieg strike, topple the government — throw in some puppet, essentially. I think these are the options that are on display right now. And, by the way, nobody knows except Putin — and Putin may still be deciding what he wants to do.

CLAY: And the other thing — and you kind of hinted at it — is how sustained and also in the moment is Ukrainian resistance likely to be, by which I mean how much actual fighting would occur if Russia decides to invade Ukraine? They may well get run over, but is this a situation like what we saw happen in Iraq when overwhelming majority of the United States forces swept in and most Iraqi soldiers just said, “Yeah, we’ve got no real interest in tangling with the American forces,” or are there elements of the Ukrainian military that are willing to be dug in and really kind of battle it out, and how does that change the calculus of what might take place here?”

BUCK: I think the belief is that — and, again, you have to rely on some degree… I hate consensus in foreign policy ’cause foreign policy consensus is usually wrong. But right now most people seem to be, you know, people watching from this country who follow Ukraine and Eurasia closely, that the Ukrainians will fight, and that they’re fight pretty hard in the early stages if it’s within their capability to do so. They do not have the armor and the air support, though — if this becomes a full-scale invasion — to do all that much.

It’s really in the occupation and insurgency phase where you’d see it, ’cause they’ve mobilized a lot of essentially their version of a kind of National Guard. They’ve mobilized people who have limited training. But if you want to fight for your homeland, you don’t need a lot training if you’ve got an AK-47 and a couple RPGs and you know the terrain and you know who’s who, to cause a whole lot of problems for people. So will it go into that phase and would they even want that? Here, for example, is Boris Johnson the — at least for now still — prime minister in the U.K. saying that this could be like Chechnya.

JOHNSON: Invading Ukraine, from a Russian perspective, is going to be a painful, violent, and bloody business. And I think it’s very important that people in Russia understand that this could be a new Chechnya.

BUCK: So they went into Chechnya in 1999, the Russians did, and it got very nasty. Now, Chechnya was a hotbed of Islamic radicalism, in fact at different times was even considered as a primary front for Al-Qaeda back in the day with old school Al-Qaeda. When he’s bringing that up, the Russians had a pretext to clear out militants in a small Caucasus country and they went in and it was ugly.

There were actually two Chechen wars, by the way. There have been two major military incursions into Chechnya by the Russians. I don’t think that they want that in Ukraine. And keep in mind, Chechnya is a tiny place with a small population compared to what you have if you’re gonna go into Ukraine with about 40 million people, I believe. Whole different ball game.

CLAY: I’ll tell you what, Buck. It’s kind of nice when all we had to worry about was mean tweets. I mean, for all of the… We’ll talk about this more. We got a loaded show for you, by the way. Alex Berenson in the third hour. Gordon Chang also hanging out with us. But remember when that was all the focus every day, every morning? Trump would send out a tweet, people would be all up in arms about it. I don’t remember there being a lot of fears of invasion and geopolitical tensions.

While they might have been trumped up in many ways — no pun intended there — they were nothing like what we’re dealing with right now, and that doesn’t even consider inflation, the border, the stock market’s down 500 points today and was yo-yo totally yesterday, everything associated with murder rate skyrocketing in the country. The Bidas touch really does destroy everything that it touches. It is remarkable to consider how much worse things are right now than they were in February of ’20, after three years of Trump presidency.

BUCK: You know how, Clay, in high school sometimes they’re just quick review, class, before we all go. Quick review, everybody. Biden is in obvious cognitive decline. He has never been an impressive leader. He has very little in accomplishments to actually show for over 40 years in, quote, “public life,” and ran highly unsuccessfully for president three times before this, and even Democrats laughed at him. This is what you get when you make that person president. That is my quick review for the class.

CLAY: It’s unfortunate on a seismic level.



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