Fiona Hill - Rather than a Real Threat NATO was an Irritating Barrier to Putin's Imperial Ambitions.
from 2007 to 8 Putin came to believe that the West Was in Decline degenerate and weak it's at that moment he pronounced a more assertive Russia and started to act accordingly on the world stage and in relations to neighboring countries with the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014. NATO provocation is one excuse given for Russian aggression and is prominent in domestic Russian propaganda but it's unlikely he saw NATO as a threat and must have known that they had neither the intent nor the capability to directly threaten Russian territory after all why would they when Europe's economy depended on Russian gas and oil rather he may have seen NATO as an irritating barrier to his new Imperial Ambitions to unite the russian-speaking world and former Colonial territories welcome to the Silicon curtain podcast please like And subscribe if you like the content we produce it will really help to increase the popularity of our content in YouTube's algorithm and help new people to discover our amazing guests Dr Fiona Hill is a British American Foreign Affairs specialist and author she is a former official at the U.S National Security Council specializing in Russian and European Affairs and was a witness in the November 2019 house hearings during the first impeachment of Donald Trump she earned a PhD in history from Harvard University in 1998. she currently serves as senior fellow at the Brookings institution in Washington and will take up office as Chancellor of Durham university in England in summer of this year she recently served as Deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian Affairs on the National Security Council from 2017 to 2019. from 2006 2009 she served as
National Intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council she is author of there is nothing for you here finding opportunity in the 21st century and co-author of Mr Putin operative in the Kremlin Brookings institutional press 2015. Hill has researched and published extensively on issues related to Russia the Caucasus Central Asia Regional conflicts energy and strategic issues so Dr hillfiona it's a huge pleasure to have you on the channel and we're going to jump straight into the questions and I've watched obviously a lot of your interviews I'm going to try and ask some questions which hopefully are a little bit different um and let's start with Putin because I know you have studied him over the years you've been closer to events and his thinking than perhaps anyone else in the world in in some ways um do you get a sense that what we're seeing playing out here has something to do with Putin's sense of his own Manifest Destiny it's almost sort of Shakespeare in some ways in the person of Putin and the state and the fate of the Russian State seem to have merged in his own mind I think that's absolutely right Jonathan and you know it's something that's you know very troubling to observe um you know in some respects there's been an evolution and a hardening of Putin in that context as well I mean he certainly had views when he came in because everybody does there was a particular context in which he'd grown up in the uh post World War II Soviet period kind of the peak in many respects of uh of Soviet power Johnny the KGB in the 1970s at a time when one would have uh you know bested on all kinds of different indices of thought that the the Soviet Union was performing pretty well but it's really the kind of the height of the Cold War and that definitely ships his his viewpoints and he also um has been very much uh shaped not just by his interpretations and his um own lessons that he's taken from Russian history as it was taught in um the Soviet educational system but also from his own experience of the Soviet Union it's very hard for Putin to think of Ukraine and any other uh former Soviet Republic as not being part of Russia and the kind of the map the geographic map of his own mind he certainly thinks of Russia as including Ukraine and Belarus in that kind of larger uh prospects perhaps not all of Central Asia and maybe the Caucasus but it's certainly in his mental map of what it meant to him as somebody who thought himself as a Russian in a Soviet context going to Ukraine Crimea traveling through Belarus you know for example that Slavic World a large a russian-speaking world and as we've seen over the last several years particularly since he returned to the presidency having been prime minister his gaze has become a more are not focused and fixated on Ukraine and when I say the hardening of these views I actually think that covid had a lot to do with this a lot of other people are talking about this as well but you know Vladimir Putin spent a good period of covert like Olivers did and under kind of um house confinement his house is a bit different for most of ours I spent a lot of time in this little box that you can kind of see you know here which is a kind of a small office on the edge of my house uh he had offices in the Kremlin various statues out in uh you know valdi and down on the Black Sea but nonetheless he was left in many respects he was on devices the circle around him shrank and he became much more focused on his view of the world and on his legacy and I think that's kind of you know what you're really asking about here and the nature of the Russian system has become such that over the last 23 years he's been with us for 23 years now that vertical of power has really become sharper and sharper more of a vertical more of a kind of a very tight cohort of people around him more into groupthink and more into um really focusing on that view that for him you know now in this phase bringing these territories back into Russia's orbit is the imperative along the line he decided to move on into Ukraine and just to take it back by force if he couldn't get it through negotiation because in the period where and I know um you have uh you know not just started From Afar I know you you've actually been um in the same room as him and got to observe At Close Quarters um how that Machinery around him uh Works um but it does seem to be a very different Putin now than the one perhaps we saw uh Pride 2007 of the Munich speech um and over the years he seems to have gained a a pawnshop for history or mythologized history I think as opposed to objective history but his move from being perhaps a chancer um as you've described very eloquent in your book a sort of more of an operative someone looking for sort of opportunities to push Russian interests forward to perhaps being more ideologically driven yeah something if we could describe it as an ideology but certainly it's a world view right driven by a specific worldview um you know I'm not sure if everything kind of really hangs together with you know any coherence uh you know to make it more of an ideology although it's you know very much one rooted in in a kind of historic Russian cultural patterns of a very centralized uh government and you know with one person really at the at the heart of all of this and then you know picking up on all kinds of perspectives of Russian values that overlap with you know a lot of the so-called culture wars that we see you know kind of Elsewhere in in the Western in Europe and especially you know here in the United States and it's kind of a mishmash of things kind of a synthesis of all kinds of uh different viewpoints there's a you know very heavy emphasis on uh the old Russian Empire and the kind of Heartland of the heart of the Imperial culture and that Russian imperial Heartland with a kind of a smattering then of kind of Soviet uh viewpoints in there as well but it's certainly one in which he is at the very center of it all and as you're saying this kind of pathologizing and this redefining of uh of Russian history and if you go back to the campaign book that was put together when he first becomes president in in the first person at Pierre velitzel you do see some references there to his interest in history uh one of the classes that he was you know kind of good at in school and in 2011 I was at one of those AI discussion clubs that the Kremlin has put together was actually the last one that I attended as well and there was a big emphasis on Putin's interest in history uh being made by Dimitri peskov the Press spokesman and ever since that period of the last 10 11 coming on 12 years Putin has become what Clifford Gaddy and I described in our book Mr Putin operative in the Kremlin the history man and I would never have really kind of thought when we were putting that book together that would become the most defining feature of Putin that he becomes the Russian history man it's how he defines history and the people around him Define history that is meant to put the stump on everything and it's that orwellian sense of he who you know is controlling the past can also control the present and controlling that Narrative of the past and also try to shape the future and that's basically what Putin is trying to do right now is trying to use his interpretations as the past to define the present and actually basically dictate what the future is going to be for Ukraine and then manuscripts the rest of Europe he still thinks in terms of spheres of influence and you know many of the reactions that we get to the war and Ukraine that kind of the blame that's kind of apportioned to the Western to Europe is for not accepting Russia's sphere of influence and you know the kind of Imperial thinking of Russia are not accepting you know frankly that Ukraine now for 30 years has been recognized as an independent state within certain territorial borders including by Russia itself dissolution of the Soviet Union and then you know various points since then and isn't a failure as well to really get inside um well as you say Putin's worldview it harks back to a previous age um but also the value he places on on certain victories or certain assets is different isn't it it's it's it's land it's every 19th century even 18th century view of what is a a valuable asset for the state to con to to obtain so it's it's territorial ambition whereas the world to extent has moved on it's become more digital it's become more about ideas that's where the real sort of economic value lies so in a way we fail to really understand his worldview and what he places value on now look I think that is where we are to blame um you know it's because we fail to fully recognize just as you point out the the world view and the perspective and where he and the people around him were coming from because so many Russians weren't coming from that Vantage Point either I mean all the people that everybody knows and interacted with and we've all got Russian friends and you know while some of them might have been you know somewhat interested in that history they were really living real lives in the real world and this is the tragedy and the catastrophe of all of us for Russia as well as for Ukraine and for all the rest of us is that you know people like Putin and the people around Putin have pulled us all back into a different era and a different age in many respects is not just the 20th century and you know here we are again in another great power conflict like Germany did twice over World War one and World War II we're also getting pulled back to the periods of the 19th century thinking about the Crimean War of the 1850s or even further back I mean Putin keeps dragging us back to earlier eras and kind of Demands you know for Russia's Primacy and dominance of a particular region and and we were kind of failing to address this we didn't we didn't you know kind of push back on it we didn't try to counter it oh we didn't try to think of other arrangements you know to kind of bring Russia into a kind of a broader European uh perspective and give them a stick I mean there were various different efforts made but they weren't very consistent and ultimately they didn't really kind of factor this in very strong pit group of people still thinking this when it goes back to the early 1990s there's been a declassification actually of um whole host of early documents um pertaining to exchanges between Boris Yeltsin and George Herbert Walker Bush the the first uh bush in the 1990s um by the state department it's really interesting I was reading some of this yesterday going back to a lot of these exchanges initially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and yelts in assuring Bush that he wasn't an imperialist and saying that there was a lot of tensions in Russia and Ukraine because the Ukrainian nationalists who really wanted to pull far away from Russia just a little Russian nationalists that wanted to pull Ukraine back again and that those tensions were there but they have Jager gaida somebody who I knew very well and you know you and many others knew as well that Deputy Prime Minister saying that there would never be a yugoslives type uh War um between Russia and Ukraine well 30 years on there is this is the wars of the Soviet succession and it's taken 30 years to fully manifest itself although one could argue it was you know 20 years with the annexation of of Crimea even solavio if you've seen that extraordinary video of uh salavio from about I think it's 2012. um essentially saying that a war with Ukraine is is inconceivable and it would be the worst crime in in history if the Russian people were to do that it's extraordinary what difference sort of 10 10 years makes um yeah another thing is that the Russian people it's you know Putin made this decision you know it's kind of he made the decision to do this when people say oh Russia was provoked no Putin provoked himself I mean he got himself so worked up about this um idea clearly and the people around him and there was always a kind of a testing you know when I was in the government and we would meet with senior Russian officials they'd say what is Ukraine to you we'd be like well what do you mean what is it to us you can you see this was a kind of our own misreading I mean you know various different levels I of course understood this but we kept trying to say look we don't want you crying it's an aqua sphere of influence we're not you know trying to kind of carve the world up but there was still a very strong perception and the group around Putin which we never really try could properly explain um you know to them you know how we were seeing things in a different light because they kept still thinking that we also believed in geopolitics and spheres of influence because of course you know the United States invaded Iraq the United States moved into Afghanistan you know the United States would Flex its muscle in other places as well but in terms of Europe and Europeans you know with the exception of Turkey um moving into Cyprus Northern Cyprus the European countries weren't going around you know basically annexing the territory of their neighbors I mean there was cost Britain's fight with Argentina over the Falkland Islands but Europe had got out of the business of sphere of influences but Putin believes that the United States is still an occupying force in Europe he even restated that this week yeah stir to this and so we were kind of stuck in this you know Clash of Empires and what the rest of the world believes this as well to be honest I mean a lot of people who you know push back against is because of their view too that the United States is still an occupying force in Europe and that you know Europe has no agency and other countries do not and that you know NATO is a some kind of entity completely controlled by the United States that expands out what we actually can see in real time if people are looking properly at this that you know the United States doesn't control everything in Airtel turkey is blocking the entry of Sweden Finland and could possibly continue to do that indefinitely and the United States can do very little about it it's just that we're all kind of stuck in these old patterns of looking at things and you know it's very hard to see otherwise and honestly I think for most of us like you and I who you know did start studying Russian and you know visiting uh the Soviet Union you know back in the day and spent all of our time as you have said as well you know at different points studying this it's inconceivable also to be in this position it's inconceivable to see Russia as an aggressor in this kind of way and an Invader you know of territory that is kind of closely linked it would be like you know but it was in the past of course England invading Scotland well you know different points we did I think we did invest and also Ireland and Wales you know so Britain is still an Empire actually just a mini one a mini version of its Imperial self and we've had uh troubles in Northern Ireland and you know British troops you know kind of sent over there but it seems to be inconceivable to think of things on this kind of scale I think most ukrainians of course have been or an issue we're in a State of Shock as Russians have been as well absolutely and we're talking just before we we hit the record button about the fact that this is this is viewed it seems to be certainly by the propagandists and and by those who are pulling the strings in Russia as you know they're playing a zero-sum game um and the problem is that you know when you're outside of that and you're not playing that game you've got no answer to that simplistic way of looking at the world the sort of win-lose scenario seems to be how they interpret the world they also and and you know you you know there's far better than I from studying Putin coming from that KGB operative background he doesn't seem to have the belief uh in organic social movements organic political movements everything is some kind of technology or like or a color Revolution so right he probably genuinely sees the CIA behind maidan and the orange Revolution he probably does not believe that there's any such thing as unorganic civil society movement in Ukraine no that's true and look there's an awful lot of people who you know would say absolutely there's all this what about ISM I mean I find that many times when you're talking about all of this and you know you have various interlocutors who were kind of pushing back it's often positive on their view of the United States and its behavior and you know which is appalling and atrocious in many of these cases they all like outlining here the CIA interventions taking people out assassinations but the United States has actually you know moved a lot further on from a lot of this you know some cases notwithstanding in the case of solomoni and Iran you know for example but we're in a different world but absolutely Putin continues to see what he always saw all the way along from the 1970s onwards of the United States is the main uh opponent and that the United States behaved in the same way this is a clash with the United States you know so I think you know at some level although this really is all about Russia and Ukraine it also is for Putin as he's said all the way along for him this kind of the final showdown on the bridge you know with the United States and it's you know kind of if Russia had been forced to pull out of Europe and it's an Eastern Bloc as the successes did to the Soviet Union in the 1990s why did the US not and pull out so this is it because of course the nature of the transatlantic relationship evolved and changed as well and of course we keep seeing that the United States gets pulled back into Europe you know just against his will to an extent I mean that's you know the kind of thing that you know I get a lot of pushback from people who are not sitting here there's a huge debate again going on in the United States just like there was at the beginning of World War II I mean remember the United States didn't have to help Britain in the early 1940s and there was a lot of reluctance to step up and help the United Kingdom initially in the war on the second world war in the world war one the United States didn't want to come in either and there's always those Tendencies of isolationism in the United States and pulling back and there's assault was an assumption that the only way to engage the United States is militarily and we are going to have to think about the future here about the future of the relationship between the United States in Europe and other countries and the whole perspective of European security but most Europeans all of them you know included whether you're in the EU or NATO or kind of separate from those institutions saying we don't want to be back in that 20th century period of conflict over territory and the the possible changes of boulders and that's why they can stop getting articulated in a clear way and the lots of countries in Europe just to you know kind of just refine that point a little bit further that are new I mean Germany's only reunified again uh you know after 1870s and then being you know basically divided every every European country with just a handful of exceptions has had an experience like Ukraine of having Independence and then having to kind of like fight off are basically aggresses and coming back to to the problem I mean it's very easy isn't it and especially as you know you get millions of messages to see the world in these big geopolitical sort of abstract ideological points of view but if we follow the logic that NATO was not a physical threat to Russia that it genuinely would have known that NATO did not have the forces to or the inclination to take any Uh Russian territory then the crisis comes back to something far simpler and again back to The Shakespearean analogy it's the lack of a succession mechanism in Russia it's the fact that you've got an incredibly complex post-industrial power that has the political sophistication of a Viking fiefdom basically um and they don't seem to have moved beyond that level in fact the Soviet Union far more sophisticated politically than the monocracy that Putin has created you've put that really well Jonathan and I think that's kind of something that seems to be missing in these you know debates you know we have people getting labeled you know realists neocons you know this is if there's kind of like you know one side it's just a kind of an intellectual debate here it really isn't and it really does come down to the fact that Russia unfortunately over the last 23 years has evolved into a system where only one man counts and it's gone back to kind of as you're saying the period of the tsars where we're now in a kind of succession crisis every single question is about what's in Vladimir Putin's head what if is he sick uh does he have a succession who will succeed him and how can we be in that position I mean this was you know in the 1990s of course you know someone kind of chaotic but a very sophisticated country and it still is a sophisticated country with a lot of amazing people here but the whole system is now crushing everyone and there are real risks that we can see in our own systems of going down you know some of that path as well uh by you know having the fetishization of uh the presidency in the United States for example you know something that I've been very concerned about from my vantage point here you know removing checks and balances in other systems because people find them frustrating or that you know kind of the constraints on things that they want to see move forward I mean what has Russia has been hollowed out in many respects over the last uh 23 years and you know our own failure to recognize that and to you know to deal with it there were other ways of us engaging you know with with Russia that could have maybe emphasized in a different different Pathways in fact if we go back to the 1990s when Boris Yeltsin shelled the Russian White House the the Russian Parliament at the time we could have dealt with that differently I mean that was exactly the period where I you know started studying Russians and my first trip to Russia was in between 91 and the Gorbachev perch and 92 and you know that that first trip to Saint Petersburg they actually had the the metal barriers you know piled up on the sides of the streets almost like a maidan movement um years before maidan um so that sort of popular protest you know you can see that there are periods in Russia's history where the people have had a chance to express their voice um but with the accession of Putin um it's an extraordinary moment isn't it because it's a moment of chance it's almost like an accident of yeltsin's pen uh Conjuring into existence a kind of parochikisher kind of nobody and and even zielinski last week as an insult uh referred to Putin as a nobody he's he's The Accidental czar well he's become very much as somebody you know over the last 23 years in fact you know that book the um accidentals I've actually got this here like a colleague the next star from Brookings at Carnegie and Andrew Weiss has just you know created um I think we're referencing to this a graphic version I've interviewed him about that yeah exactly excellent interview it's a fascinating you know kind of way of depicting you know what's happened and you know there was a bit debate about this just the last couple of days that I was chairing and people saying to how do you you know Square all these contradictions you're kind of saying that he was and as a lens is saying he's a nobody but he's absolutely as somebody now he is the somebody the somebody who decides everything including life or death literally and invading another country and creating this enormous tragedy how do you square all of this on it's you know partly the nature of the system and you know it's something that should be a real cautionary tale for all of us and I think we are going to have to start to think about look what lessons can we take away from everything you know that we've been thinking about over the last you know 30 plus years of uh in a kind of a standalone independent Russia was it a great idea to make Russia the successes to the Soviet Union you know how did we you know continue then to think about everything everything was initially done through the lens of Moscow and you know with other um Empires you know when the austro-hungarian Empire came apart there was Hungary and there was Austria we didn't you know kind of you know basically look at everything through Vienna you know completely and I think this has been you know part of the issue and we've all been guilty of it former Soviet Union the near abroad the Commonwealth of independent states I mean these were all kind of mechanisms you know that were created it would it it it it gets to the kind of question about is it still you know valid to look at India Pakistan and Canada and New Zealand and Australia through the lens of London that's it kind of overseas yes I mean and still you know you've got the detentions in Britain between Scotland and and England because Scotland was an independent state completely until 1707 and still has you know its own independent perspective within the United Kingdom and in Wales and you know in Ireland the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland I mean we deal with this every single day in different context but our own mental Maps of you know Russia Ukraine Belarus all kind of still puts everything in Russia's orbit as well having lived in Scotland and we both have I mean we don't rather the English side of the country doesn't necessarily deal with it in the most sensitive and uh and best manner either um and there's also you know Regional differentiation coming from the northeast of England I mean there's a sort of a separate history there too and I think you know when you when you go around to different parts of Europe people you know really have internalizes and understand it I mean it's just when you put the US in the mix and think that this is a tussle between you know the United States and Russia and the you know where to blame you know for all of this as well I mean yeah we've been inconsistent in the way that we've looked at things we haven't been very good at articulating and I think we haven't fully understood you know what we were dealing with we were living in different time um frames not just you know different outlooks on the world Putin's living in a different time sequence to the rest of us kind of moved on in different ways and parts of Russia had moved on I mean Moscow is that you know incredibly complex locus of all of the most Progressive in the kind of technological you know social scientific cultural sense of everything that was happening in Russia and at the same time you know kind of the the sort of deeper history going back to the Medieval era and we ascribed him far more perhaps strategic skill and foresight than he actually possesses and it may well turn out when when history you know um Roots through the sort of Dustbin of this period um that that actually you know his decisions were made not on some Grand strategic plan or extraordinary information but we're based on a sort of opportunistic uh sort of hunch which has gone horribly wrong and and that local factors and uh you know local more individual thinking uh is is far more important than these geopolitical factors yeah I think he had these larger strategic goals I mean literally of making Russia Great again as a great power he certainly had the idea of the kind of Imperial thinking of Russia you know being a modern version of the Empire having dominance in this region again still seeing the United States as the main adversary the main Imperial you know opponent here but I also had a you know as you said there was kind of saw an opportunity uh to act on this he completely misread Ukraine and ukrainians and zelensky and everybody else as well and didn't realize how people would react he assumed that there would be an immediate capitulation of Ukraine and that there would be an immediate you know dashes that had been in 2014 to try to kind of resolve things and come up with some kind of peace process which would have put Ukraine back into you know Russia's orbits as a dependency a dependency and I mean that hasn't happened I mean I think what he was gunning for literally was a new Union of a Slavic Union with Russia Belarus and Ukraine and possibly Kazakhstan and Northern Kazakhstan kazakhst worry about that and then his own chosen presidents of each of these maybe even of Russia you know so you'd evolved down to and him being the you know the kind of the leader of that new Union said transden Easter and and you know fermenting further upsets on the board I mean who who kind of knows that but it's really that kind of drive that we've we've seen and you know some circles in Russia since the early 1990s to kind of bring everything back together again and then if you go back to these documents Yeltsin saying I would never do this I'm not an imperialist but then we remember in 1992 Andre kosov the foreign minister of Russia at the time made a speech of the organization security and cooperation um movement meeting in Stockholm in Sweden and he says he lays out this kind of in neo-imperial view of you know Back in the USSR bring all the everything back together again and then Letty says well that's the Hardline speech they're all back and those are the people who you know stunned behind Putin now yupsin was of a different persuasion also I mean being realistic he knew that Russia didn't have the wherewithal at that point but when Putin starts to be more assertive you know beginning in 2007 onwards you know Russia starts to have the wherewithal and I think you know getting back to your point about opportunism he thought in 2022 that this was the moment Chancellor merkel's gone the United States has this shambolic awful withdrawal from Afghanistan that was on the cards of the previous administration but this Administration did it Britain's divided Britain's Divine having fights with France and he's you know basically also you know constantly been asking us what do you what's Ukraine to you we've had you know Donald Trump trying to force uh Vladimir zielinsky into doing things for him it's clear we don't care about your career and I think Boris Johnson's just been saying you know recently we'd offer new Queen much but being prepared to give it little and that was kind of as far as filner's concerned the time was the most propitious it was ever going to be if you want to basically take this back so off he went and in truth if he had rolled over and taken Kiev in in two weeks then we wouldn't have done anything about it it would have been another case of uh you know we would have cried into our hankies about it like Czech Slovakia in 68 Etc but we would have died I would have set up some you know kind of new um but that's what he was banking on new institutional Arrangement we'd put on sanctions as we have and you know I mean Rush has always got ways of adapting to sanctions like we've seen now we are out and then and that's basically what Putin was saying look you can still end this war you you know the kind of the western Ukraine you can just give it up you can accept the new realities and he says you have to accept the Russia was expanding its borders and you know if you don't there'll be nuclear Armageddon there'll be all these various different things but you know kind of we can stop this now and then you know we could have had we can have now um you know what you could have had at the beginning but without all this Carnage and bloodshed that's kind of basically what the offer that he's giving to everybody for any of us you know anybody who's worried about you know more people dying you know get emails you know from people all the time how can you be basically having this you know kind of perspective on you know the war while people are dying you know we should just stop it now but I think you know what the ukrainians and others have internalized is that it wouldn't stop I mean the Bloodshed you know might but the pressure would not stop and the opportunity to kind of take more so he takes dunbas zapere in her son then most and he still wants to take Kiev no if you like it wouldn't be any further um you know basically offensives I don't even like chechnya I mean if there was a frozen War he'd come back in five years time if you're still around or he's like what happened I was actually involved you know as a much younger person with the negotiations for hassaviot Accord back in 1997 there was a whole group of people that um you know working with the Russian government on this and I was one of the you know the Junior people in this whole Endeavor and there was an agreement with chechnyan less than a year later it was completely overturned and Russia was right back at it again yeah that's right and then you know look at all of the other efforts you know where there have been you know interventions diplomatically and otherwise I still do believe that diplomacy is crucial and constraining this I mean I'm I mean how can anybody be you know supportive of this Mass Carnage well there's sometimes is you know one Ukrainian uh said to me sometimes a war has to be fought whether you like it or not and many of the Finns have told the ukrainians look you know we had to fight in 1941 we didn't want to in the winter war and it's the only way you get their attention which is you know a terrible thing to you know have to basically say here and that works you know pushing back the force that the fins applied um it actually worked and brought style into the negotiating team yeah I mean they actually lost of course I mean they lost a lot of corellia and you know huge spares of territory around Saint Petersburg but they also won I mean they won their independence and that's you know why Finland wants to join NATO now is because they see that the calculation is changing they were okay with being independent and non-aligned but you know taking care of their own security not being demilitarized and not being you know neutral in that sense of neutered uh but now they feel that Russia's rapacious again and who's got the longest border with Russia Finland you know after you think about you know Ukraine and you know Belarus and so I mean their strategic and security calculations have changed completely and the nuclear server rattling Finland and Sweden will completely oppose nuclear weapons and now they see that what Putin is doing necessity it's been within the Strategic nuclear umbrella of NATO I mean the whole thing is on its head and it's you know I think it it's something that all of us are now going to have to kind of grapple with about I mean I certainly don't feel you know any um satisfaction at all in looking at where there's things have have moved and and what we're having to do I feel just the way to this terrible tragedy yeah is this what we thought it would be like I mean when I was you know studying the Soviet Union the late 1980s when things were opening up or working there in the 1990s and going backwards and forwards and you know doing my PhD research did I think this is where we ended up I was worried that we might be end up in this way I wrote a report when I was at the Kennedy School in uh late 1993 called Back in the USSR really worrying after this the cause of speech I was working with a group of Russians who were also really worried that this was a tendency and then you know we kind of became complacent after because it didn't happen in the early 1990s and there was chechnya and that was kind of a it seemed that that Carnage got people's attention and just like you know guy died and yelts and others so they couldn't conceive of this conflict and people were shocked by what happened in transnistria for example in the going to karabakh but here we are you know I mean it's basically 20 years on there's the taking of Crimea and then here we are in a full-blown War another great power conflict on the European land mass now for the third time in a century over the same things disputes about what board where borders belong where you know Europe was trying to move to a borderless you know trade you know Mobility emphasizing institutional arrangement it's about more though isn't it it's about Ukraine which has provided a template out of the post-soviet mire of corruption and nepotism and I know you're pushed for time and it's probably a topic we'll have to explore on another occasion um corruptionism as well obviously empty you know it's a deep barrel of conversation there um but it makes me wonder whether we're also making the same mistake in that we're focusing on navali we're focusing on um his team and certain liberal figures we're pinning our hopes on individuals whereas what we should be focusing on is institution building because Ukraine has shown that that is their way out of the post-soviet and they've got to do a lot of cleaning up as we know I mean Ukraine had a terrible reputation for corruption and rightly so uh and that's still a big question as whether Ukraine can bring that in and we see you know now in this last few weeks uh zilinski and people around him actually trying to do something to root out the corruption that inevitably emerges during wartime I mean if you look back to World War II in the United Kingdom there's plenty of people you know black market and profiteering and all kinds of discussions going on the same way when you know this is this is suddenly a very you know pertinent fact that of life and reality during you know kind of wartime that somebody's going to make money out of it just like they do in in peace time and we've got to address that for the future and certainly in reconstruction of Ukraine people won't want to see that money uh wasted but the template of Ukraine finding a way out to a different path this is where NATO the European Union and everything else come in associations with the United States something else Russia didn't want Ukraine to have any kind of alternative and when it talked about neutralization of Ukraine it meant to you know a Ukraine that had nowhere to go other than still dependency on Russia and you know even it's touting Austria and you know other kind of countries and neutrality Switzerland you know whatever the whole idea was that this wouldn't be a kind of a country that would be asserting itself in any kind of major way and a lot of ukrainians going back to the early 1990s had different ideas and it wasn't about language and other identity although there were you know obviously lots of Ukrainian nationalists who wanted to have that expression you know as we know in many settings in Europe language isn't the only bearer of identity including in Scotland for example where vast majority of people speak English Scots variants of English but you know English nonetheless some of the United States and Canada and Australia and New Zealand all these identities are not driven by language but of a sense of wanting something different of a different you know kind of Civic or political uh configuration and that's that's where Ukraine is and that's exactly right Ukraine was showing a template for going in a different direction just like Finland has done and Poland is done from uh having freed themselves from the Russian Empire earlier or the Baltic states which of course possible back in the Soviet Union as well and got their independence too in 1991 having you know first been independent after the dissolution of the Russian Empire the just incredibly complex and very difficult and you know there's sort of too much sort of simplification of this issue I mean we really are in an enormous catastrophe and tragedy at this particular juncture but it won't be solved by you know kind of Simply you know writing off large squares of Ukrainian territory and not really addressing another kind of problems that have emerged in Russia this is not the Russia in 2023 of 1993 or 2003 or 2013. you know this is a Russia that has evolved into Putin into something you know much darker and you know Grimmer in all kinds of respects and we would have envisaged before and if we push that can down the road it's potentially going to be even more horrific to try and solve that problem in five years time eight ten years time that's that's the problem of it all but you know again I mean we should never forget just the scale of uh the suffering and tragedy and the deaths here and I mean I don't think anybody takes any comfort I mean some people spout off about this but they shouldn't you know about the idea of you know Russian casualties and you know teaching the Russians a lesson because look that's the way Putin's thinking about how to teach ukrainians a lesson and everybody else and we can't go down that pathway um and again Europe has got to remember and keep channeling that horror and revulsion of World War One and World War II we said never again but we also know that you know just kind of handing over Ukraine to Russia that's not never again yeah that's just also perpetuating the problems and that's why the polls and the bolts and the fins and others are reacting to this as well well I know your uh push for time and I've actually had more of your time than I expected uh which is a huge privilege um I think we got through about 25 of the questions so oh good yeah yeah I might suggest a a sequel which are very cheeky uh suggestion there but it has been a huge pleasure to to get your insights uh into the situation and I do recommend people check out your books we'll put links in the description of the video and the incredible interviews of course they can find on YouTube uh which You featuring thank you so much Jonathan it's really nice to talk to you and I'm really glad we got this opportunity that's a huge pleasure Dr Hill thank you so much thanks