Pushback

US, UK sabotaged peace deal because they ‘don’t care about Ukraine’: fmr. NATO adviser

Former Swiss intelligence officer and NATO adviser Jacques Baud on the next phase of the Russia-Ukraine war and new allegations that the US and UK undermined a peace deal that could have ended it.

The West’s aim “is not the victory of Ukraine, It’s the defeat of Russia,” Baud says. “The problem is that nobody cares about Ukraine. We have just instrumentalized Ukraine for the purpose of US strategic interests — not even European interests.”

Guest: Jacques Baud. Former intelligence officer with the Swiss Strategic Intelligence Service who has served in a number of senior security and advisory positions at NATO, the United Nations, and with the Swiss military.

Corrections:

  • In his Sept. 21 speech, Putin did not make an explicit threat to use nuclear weapons. He vowed to “make use of all weapon systems available to us,” in the event of “a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people.”
  • On nuclear weapons, the US did not have a “No First Use” policy. On the 2020 campaign trail, Joe Biden said that he supported the idea of “No First Use.” He abandoned that in his presidential nuclear posture; but that was reversing his campaign stance, not official US policy.

TRANSCRIPT

AARON MATÉ:  Welcome to Pushback.  I’m Aaron Maté.

Joining me is Jacques Baud.  He is a former Swiss intelligence officer and NATO advisor.  Jacques, thank you for joining me once again.

JACQUES BAUD:  Thank you for inviting me to your show.  Thank you.

AARON MATÉ:  It’s good to see you.

So, what is your reaction to Putin’s announcement escalating the invasion, calling up some 300,000 reservist troops, threatening to use nuclear weapons if the territorial integrity of Russia, in his words, is threatened?

JACQUES BAUD:  Well, first of all, we have to be careful with the wording.  I will come on specifically on the nuclear weapons later.  But starting with the partial mobilization, actually it makes sense, and that’s more or less the logic follow-up after what has been scheduled, I would say, in the Donbass, in the southern region of Ukraine, and namely the referendums in the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts

If we admit that these referendums will accept these oblasts joining the Russian Federation, then that would mean that the Russian Federation will add almost a thousand kilometers to their border, the actual border.  So that requires new forces to ensure the security on that border, especially in Ukraine, since you have currently a war.  

So, for me it’s not a real surprise to have the need for additional manpower to the current situation.  We also have to say, and I think it’s important to say that these 300,000 mobilized soldiers will not necessarily be on the front lines, but more there to support or to help support the forces that are actually deployed in the southern part of Ukraine.  So, it’s basically to have more freedom of movement for the Russian forces in the southern part of Ukraine, but it makes perfect sense if we consider that these referendums will probably be accepted.  

The reason why they might be accepted is twofold.  The first one is that the Ukrainian government asked in—I would say ordered during the summer—ordered its population to leave these oblasts, meaning that the population that is currently in these oblasts are most probably pro-Russian individuals, meaning that they probably are a majority of individuals that will accept joining Russia.  So, the second aspect is that since 2014, the whole southern part of Ukraine basically feels like under occupation, if you want, especially because of the laws regarding the language.  But also, you have several laws that nobody talks about in the West.  The famous law on the rights of indigenous populations that was adopted in July 2021, and, according to this law, indigenous populations of Ukraine, among which you have not the Russians, have different rights.  So, it’s a law that looks…it’s not exactly the same, but it has some similarities with the infamous Nuremberg laws that you had by Nazi Germany in 1935, giving different rights to the citizens depending on their ethnic origin.  And that’s why since 2014, and especially in the last couple of years, the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine doesn’t feel like a normal citizen; they are second-class citizens.  That’s why also we haven’t really seen any resistance movement developing in zones that were occupied by Russian forces.  The population, in fact, accept rather well the arrival of the Russians.  

So, we can expect for those two reasons…there are probably others, but for those two main reasons we may expect that this referendum will probably be accepted, meaning that it’s likely that the Russian Federation will extend through the southern part of Ukraine.

Now, as to the nuclear weapons, all the Western media have stated that Putin threatened the use of nuclear weapon.  This is wrong.  If we go to the original wording and the transcript of the wording of what Putin actually said, he didn’t say that he will use nuclear weapons.  However, he mentioned that Western leaders have mentioned the use of nuclear weapons against Russia, and namely Liz Truss, the current British prime minister…

John Pienaar, Times Radio host:  You’ll be ushered into a room, very privately at Number 10, will be laid out in front of you what are called the Letters of Last Resort, your orders to our Trident boat captain on whether you, Prime Minister Liz Truss, is giving the order to unleash our nuclear weapons.  It would mean global annihilation.  I won’t ask you, would you press the button, you will say yes, but faced with that task I would feel physically sick.  How does that thought make you feel?

Liz Truss, UK Prime Minister:  I think it’s an important duty of the Prime Minister. I’m ready to do that. 

[Applause]

John Pienaar:  I asked how it would make you feel.

Liz Truss:  I’m ready to do it.

JACQUES BAUD:  …who stated end of August—if I remember, maybe the 24th of August or something like that—she said she would be ready to use nuclear weapons against Russia and that the starting nuclear war would be justified against Russia.  And, of course, this is a source of concern for the Russians.  

The Russians on the side have a No First Use policy about nuclear weapons, and nothing indicates that they will divert from that policy.  I open here a parenthesis, and remember, want to remind you that the US had a No First Use policy until April this year.  But Joe Biden, early April this year, revoked that policy, and now the US has a First Use policy…I mean, not a First Use policy.  It means that the US can use nuclear weapons in the first instance—which is totally new in the US strategy, and nobody mentioned that.  But that explains also why Vladimir Putin is so keen to insist on the risk of a nuclear war.  

As to the weapons he would use, he didn’t mention at all the use of nuclear weapons.  He mentioned other weapons, and, in fact, he was mentioning…I mean, he didn’t mention explicitly, but we know that they have hypersonic missiles that can defeat most, if not all, the anti-ballistic missile defense that the West has.  So, that’s what he threatened the use of.  So, this kind of missile…and I just want to remind you that very recently the Russians made public their new missile—the new Sarmat—which is one of the strongest and the most powerful missiles we have that can launch several independently-guided warheads that can reach almost every single point in the world.  So that’s probably not a coincidence when Putin says so, because he wants to indicate that if the West wants to go nuclear, he has the proper response, but not necessarily a nuclear response.  They have enough tools to do that without going nuclear.

AARON MATÉ:  So, on Biden’s policy, you are correct in the defense review strategy, the Nuclear Posture Review that was put out earlier this year by Biden.  It says that the US “would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the US or its allies and partners.” And that, you’re right, is walking back No First Use, which says that the US will not use nuclear weapons first.  You’re correct.

But when it comes to Putin, didn’t he say that ‘we would consider using nuclear weapons if the territorial integrity of Russia is threatened’?  I believe those were his words, and so couldn’t that be interpreted to mean that, say, if the territorial integrity which would presumably include these newly annexed regions of Ukraine are threatened, that then Russia would use nuclear weapons?

JACQUES BAUD:  Well, here, again, I come to the words that were used by Putin.  Now, you’re perfectly right indicating that.  The main consequence of these referendums, by extending, in fact, Russia’s border to Ukraine, it makes those oblasts territories of Ukraine…meaning [rather territories] of Russia.  That means that from now on—not right now but after the referendum, from that point—when Ukraine attacks a city in Kherson or near Kherson or so, it will attack a Russian city.  And if, let’s say, the US provides long-range missiles or whatever that will reach the Russian territory—which is, if I take the French terminology, this is the territory which is sanctuarized—that means that if you reach or you touch this territory, you can have a response that is of existential nature, if you want.  And although Putin didn’t mention that explicitly, the fact that the southern part of Ukraine becomes Russian in itself contains the risk of Russia using nuclear weapons.  But that’s in the doctrine, that’s in the Russian doctrine; it’s basically…Putin doesn’t need to say it now because this was part already of the doctrine last year or ten years ago, so nothing new on that.  The only difference is that now the border, the Russian territory, is larger.  

But, so of course, there is a risk of Russia using these nuclear weapons, but again, in the doctrine, the Russians don’t use, for instance, nuclear weapons at tactical level because they have other types of weapons to answer an attack, such as hypersonic missiles and things like that, or very long-range missiles, so they can give a substantive response without going nuclear.  That’s an important point.

AARON MATÉ:  Okay.

JACQUES BAUD:  So that means that even if the Russian territory or the new Russian territory is touched, Russia still has instruments to respond without going into nuclear directly.

AARON MATÉ:  Got it.  Okay.  

On the outcome of these referendums that are being held in four regions of Ukraine, is it a given that, assuming that these referendums vote to join Russia, is it a given that Russia will take these territories?  Or as Anatol Lieven, who’s a journalist and fellow at the Quincy Institute, he’s proposed that Putin actually could use these referendum votes as bargaining chips and basically say to the West that ‘if you accept what you’ve been rejecting all along which is neutrality for Ukraine, implementing the Minsk Accords, accepting that Crimea is now Russian, then I will not annex these territories.  I will not accept the outcome of these votes.’  Which there’s a precedent for because for the last eight years, Russia and Putin did not accept the breakaway Donbass regions in claiming to be independent; he was trying to get the US and Ukraine to implement the Minsk Accords.  So, is it possible that it’s not too late for Putin to just say, ‘If you accept Minsk or some form of Minsk, the peace accords, and you accept our other demands when it comes to security guarantees and Ukraine not joining NATO, then I will not annex these territories, despite the votes of the people living there.’

JACQUES BAUD:  Well, yes.  And, of course, when we talk about this referendum, we have to be more specific.  I mean, if we talk about Donetsk and Lugansk regions or oblasts, they are already independent, technically.  That means that for them the referendum is not about being independent, but it’s about joining Russia, yes or no.  

For the two other oblasts, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, formally they still belong to Ukraine, and that means that there will be different questions asked to the population.  The first one is, do you want to leave Ukraine, yes or no?  That’s the first question.  Then, if you want to leave Ukraine, do you want to be independent, yes or no?  And if you want to be independent, then do you want to join the Russian Federation, yes or no?

And there are some unknown factors also because what is not clear, and I haven’t seen the question asked to the populations, but something like, ‘What should join Russia?’—if I can put it that way.  Meaning that Zaporizhzhia, for instance, or Kherson, in the current situation only parts of those oblasts are occupied by the Russian Coalition.  There is still a big part that is under Ukrainian control.  So, if we talk about joining Russia, do they mean only the part which is currently occupied by the Russian Coalition, or do they mean the whole territory of these oblasts?  Which would mean that the war is far from over, because even after joining Russia, that means that they still have to conquer the rest of the oblast.  So, that’s a first question that is important, and I don’t know if anybody has the answer to that at this stage.

And, of course, as you said, just coming directly to your question, whether or not Russia would accept that, this is a good question.  I have the feeling that when I heard what was said by Vladimir Putin in his speech that they are ready to go along with the idea of joining.  But again, is that a tactical position in that they may use in a negotiation?  Although I am not sure that this will be in a negotiation.  I’m not sure that these regions, like Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, that they would return to Ukraine.  So, the question is whether they become independent or join Russia, but I think there is no question at this stage that this region would return to Ukraine.  And I think even the population may not want that because what we have seen recently is the fear of the local population about possible retortions—I don’t know if it’s a proper word in English [retaliations], but that kind of revenge of the Ukrainian government against the population who collaborated with the Russians.  Meaning that those areas that are currently occupied, let’s say by the Russian Coalition, I’m not sure they will return to Ukraine in some kind of form.  They will remain either independent or join Russia, that’s my feeling.

AARON MATÉ:  One aspect of Vladimir Putin’s speech that’s gotten close to no attention in the US—it’s been mentioned a couple of times, for example, by David Ignatius, who’s a columnist for The Washington Post, but otherwise it’s been ignored—and that is when Putin said, and he said he was making this public for the first time, that Ukraine and Russia were very, very close to a peace agreement back in March, but, that in his words, Ukraine was ordered to wreck any compromise by the West.

Vladimir Putin (translation):  I want to say that publicly for the first time, after the start of the special military operation, also at the Istanbul negotiations, there was a very positive reaction to our proposals concerning ensuring the security of Russia, but it was obvious that the West was not happy with the peaceful decision.  So, after reaching certain compromises, they effectively were given a direct order to undermine the negotiations.

AARON MATÉ:  Are you familiar with the details of this?  And by the way, I should say also that that Fiona Hill, who is a former White House expert, also recently corroborated this by saying in Foreign Affairs that US officials knew that there was that line of a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia.  It was basically premised on Russia returning to its pre-invasion lines and in exchange Ukraine declares neutrality and recognizes Russian control of the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine, certain ones, not all of them, obviously, and Ukraine receive security guarantees from the West.  But now, Hill left out what Putin said and what’s also been reported in Ukrainian media, that the West refused to support these agreements.

JACQUES BAUD:  Absolutely, and that’s in my book, actually.  It’s in my last book, Operation Z, and I mentioned that already in my previous book—no, that’s wrong, only in this book I mentioned that.  

The fact is that you had three attempts to have an agreement so far between Russia and Ukraine.  The first one started at the request of Zelenskyy on the 25th of February, so just one day after the start of the offensive.  And Zelenskyy asked to have negotiations with the Russians.  And you had a first round of negotiations that started at the Belarus border, and this was stopped, in fact, by the European Union.  The European Union, two days after the Zelenskyy request, the European Union came with the first package of weapons; that was a package of 450 million euros for weapons, and with the idea that it should not be negotiated with Vladimir Putin—we should just fight.  And in March you had exactly the same scenario.  Zelenskyy approached the Russians with this offer, and two days after he made his offer to the Russians, by the way, the European Union came again exactly the same thing as the first time.  Again, the European Union came with the second package of 500 million euros for weapons, and in addition to that [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson called Zelenskyy to ask him to withdraw his offer, otherwise all the support will be cut.  And Boris Johnson came to Kiev a few days later and reiterated what he just said:  that means no negotiations, otherwise we cut all offers, and he came with something like $50 million—I may be wrong on this, but I think he came with a new offer for weapons.  And that was reported by Ukrainian media.

AARON MATÉ:  Yeah.

JACQUES BAUD:  In fact, in my book I mention only Ukrainian sources, and Ukrainian sources said explicitly that Boris Johnson and the West basically prevented a peace agreement.  So that’s not an invention from some Putin partisan here the West; that’s also what the Ukrainians felt.  And you had a third occasion when that happened, that was in August, when you had this meeting between [Turkish president] Erdoğan and Zelenskyy in Lviv.  And here again, Erdoğan offered his services to mediate some negotiation with the Russians, and just a few days after that Boris Johnson came unexpectedly in Kiev, and again, in a very famous press conference he said explicitly, ‘No negotiations with the Russians.  We have to fight.  There is no room for negotiation with the Russians.’  

So, on three occasions, in fact, the West prevented any negotiation with the Russians.  And in April, as you mentioned, that was probably the most developed offer by Zelenskyy.  It was a very comprehensive offer and included neutrality of Ukraine and the stationing of troops under supervision of external powers including Russia.  So, it was a very extensive agreement, actually, and the Russians were very positive about this agreement.  But again, it’s as you just said, it didn’t move ahead.  

No, it’s clear, and I think Lindsey Graham also said in a press conference, he said that the Ukrainians have to fight to the last Ukrainian.

Senator Lindsey Graham:  Four months into this thing, I like the structural path we’re on here.  As long as we help Ukraine with the weapons they need and the economic support, they will fight to the last person.

JACQUES BAUD:  So, I think we are in the dynamic that the problem is not the victory of Ukraine; it’s the defeat of Russia.  That’s exactly what the West is aiming at.  And that’s what disturbs me, and that’s exactly what I say in my book.  The problem is that nobody cares about Ukraine, in fact.  We have just instrumentalized Ukraine for the purpose of US strategic interests, not even European interests, by the way.  So that means that even the Europeans, and we see today with the emerging energy and economic crisis, that the Europeans have absolutely no interest in that conflict.  And it serves more the US interests.  And I’m not sure it serves them very intelligently, but that’s what apparently the White House thinks.  

But that’s the problem.  We don’t care about Ukraine.  The initial aim of that conflict was to provoke Russia in order to be able to destroy its economy through sanctions.  The problem is that these sanctions didn’t work, and Ukraine didn’t expect to fight so long.  They expected to have a very short battle, that Russia would crumble almost immediately.  And that, in fact, they would get…and if you see the interview of Oleksii Arestovych of March 2019, that’s exactly what he says.  In fact…

AARON MATÉ:  And who is he, sorry? 

JACQUES BAUDOleksii Arestovych is an advisor to Zelenskyy, a very close friend of Zelenskyy, one of his closest advisors, and he made, just before Zelenskyy was elected in March 2019—you can see that interview on YouTube, if you want—and in that interview he says that Ukraine will have a war with Russia, with the aim of defeating Russia, and the defeat of Russia will be the entry ticket for Ukraine to NATO.  And he says, even, that this war against Russia would happen in 2021-2022.  So, that was absolutely clear that this was planned.  

But the idea was that Russia would crumble so fast that there would be no war.  And what we are witnessing today is that, against any expectation, Russia didn’t crumble and continued to fight—and today the victim of this miscalculation, in fact, is Ukraine.  And now we are trying to push this conflict and to weaken Russia politically more than militarily, through an extended conflict, try to have a kind of protracted conflict that leads nowhere, just to weaken Russia politically.  We have added sanctions over sanctions over sanctions without any result.  And the West is, in fact, a victim of its own miscalculation in that, so this is very unfortunate for Ukraine, in reality.

AARON MATÉ:  Yeah, there was even a rare acknowledgment in The New York Times recently, citing US officials, that they fear that the worst has yet to come for Ukraine, but, yet they’re still continuing with the same policy.  Let me read it for you.  This is what The New York Times reported:

“Some American officials expressed concern that the most dangerous moments are yet to come, even as Putin has avoided escalating the war in ways that have, at times, baffled Western officials.  He has made only limited attempts to destroy critical infrastructure or to target Ukrainian government buildings.”

So, that’s The New York Times reporting that Western officials are baffled at how Putin has so far avoided escalating the war, and they point out, as an example, that he has made very limited attempts to destroy infrastructure in Ukraine—as opposed to the US, which we know from recent history, when they go into Iraq, for example, that’s the first thing they target is infrastructure.  Water plants, bridges.  Russia didn’t do that.  But my question to you now, though, is after seven months of this, do you think now for Russia the gloves come off?  Is Russia’s invasion going to get more brutal and more destructive to Ukrainian infrastructure?

JACQUES BAUD:  No, I don’t think so.  I mean, we have to remember that the objectives of the Russians were clearly defined:  that was demilitarization and denazification.  The denazification objective was taken away in May after the taking of Mariupol; and that was said by, I don’t know, but some Russian general.  So, the main objective of the Russians is the demilitarization of the threat against the population of the Donbass.  That’s the main objective.  That means the destruction of forces that threatens populations in the Donbass.  That’s what they are doing right now in the areas of Bakhmut, Chornomorsk, and Sloviansk and this area.  That’s what they aim and that’s what they do.  

They didn’t plan to occupy Ukraine, to seize territory in Ukraine, to destroy Ukraine, to destroy or to provoke a regime change in Ukraine.  They never said that.  These are objectives that were defined with quotation marks in the West, but the Russians never said so and never made any effort to do so.  And, in fact, the Russians are very happy with Zelenskyy, or were very happy with Zelenskyy.  Remember that Zelenskyy was the one who was elected with the idea of having a negotiation and an agreement with the Russians.  So that’s why the Russians basically had nothing against Zelenskyy himself.  The problem is that you have extreme right-wing forces within Ukraine that threatened Zelenskyy physically if he would have a deal with the Russians.

And you have the collective West, as we say, that in fact pressed Zelenskyy not to negotiate with Russia, because the ultimate goal of this whole affair is, in fact, what we have [as] we can see described in those publications of the Rand Corporation of 2019.  Which is unbalancing Russia or overextending Russia or—I don’t have exactly the titles in mind, but two publications of the Rand Corporation.  And that’s exactly, by the way, if you read what you have in those publications, you have exactly the description of what is going on right now, including the problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the inclusion of Finland and Sweden into NATO, everything is there, everything is there!  So, the very idea of, let’s say, the US objective since at least 2019 is to isolate Russia, and to isolate Russia from the international community.  So that’s what they are doing.  They’re just misusing Ukraine to that aim.

AARON MATÉ:  So, looking ahead, do you see this war continuing through the wintertime, and if so, what is Europe facing?  Already there’s talk of energy rationing, people are complaining of high energy bills.  What is the long-term forecast for this war?

JACQUES BAUD:  Well, I have to confess I don’t have a crystal ball, so it will be hard for me to say exactly what will happen.  But there are several factors that may come into the answer.  

The first one is what we have mentioned before.  What do we intend under the, let’s say, independence of these oblasts?  Is that the oblasts as they are occupied now, or is that the whole oblast including the territories which are still under control of Ukraine?  Meaning that, if we’re talking about the whole oblast, that means that the Russian Coalition plans or has in mind to conquer the rest of these oblasts, and that means that there is still a lot of fighting ahead if we go that way.  

If the referendums concern only the current occupied areas of these oblasts, we may expect that at certain points the front line will stabilize at their more or less current situation, and that opens the possibility of having a kind of discussion or negotiation, I don’t know.  An important thing is, I think, that if the population of these oblasts decides to be independent or to join Russia, I think there is no way in any under any circumstances that these regions will return to Ukraine, regardless of who is in charge in Kiev, who is in charge in Moscow, or things like this.  Because these populations have suffered under the Kiev rule, and now they have the opportunity to be at least independent, maybe under Russia, meaning that they will not return to Ukraine.  And I think nobody will even try to bring those republics or oblasts into Ukraine.  So that’s a very important thing to have in mind.

The second aspect is the behavior of the collective West, as we say.  And this behavior depends very much on the social and economic situation Europe will face in the coming months.  There are already some institutes, strategic intelligence institutes, that have noted that in the last three months the number of social unrests in the West has increased by 42 percent, and that means that we may expect in the coming months even more social unrest.  

We haven’t heard much about this unrest because the media is absolutely silent.  It’s very interesting to see that in the Netherlands, for instance, you had the farmers demonstrating for months, for months in the country.  You had very strong encounters between those farmers and the police, even a live shooting against them, so it was very, very brutal.  But no mainstream media mentioned that.  I’m living in Belgium just next door of the Netherlands.  At no moment in the media here in Belgium have even mentioned once these demonstrations in the Netherlands, although they have almost blocked the whole country.  We had also such demonstrations in Italy.  And if we have now this change of government, I mean, maybe, we don’t know, the upcoming of the extreme right-wing party which is not a good sign, by the way, but that’s a consequence.  It’s also a consequence of these unrests that you had early this year, or during the summer in Italy.  And we see the problem in the UK, we have seen the problem in Estonia, we’re seeing Bulgaria.  So, there are probably very difficult times in the social area in Europe, and that may affect the way the Europeans consider their behavior in the conflict.  Although Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, recently said in a press conference that there will be no appeasement.  No appeasement.  So that means she strives to go ahead with a policy of no negotiation with Russia and a very intransigent position against Russia.  

The problem in my view of that is, whether or not we want to discuss Russia is one thing, but the problem is that the Ukrainians will pay the price for that, and in different ways.  Obviously in lives, because of course in our media we mention always the figures.  I mean, in France, Belgium, Switzerland, French-speaking media, all the information we have about Ukraine, I can say all, 100 percent of the information that comes in the mainstream media comes from Ukrainian propaganda.  I mean the figures, the number of casualties, fatalities, incidents, everything.  Although in the English-speaking world, obviously most people are also against Russia, [but] you still have a little bit more nuance in the…

AARON MATÉ:  Well, it’s more diverse.  We have not just Ukrainian propaganda, we also have US government propaganda, so we have…

JACQUES BAUD:  I know.  Exactly.  No, no, that’s true, and of course in the US, in addition to that you have the midterm elections that affects a little bit the way we want to portray the current foreign policy of the president, so that affects also the thing.  

But you just read an example in The New York Times of this peace agreement, almost this attempt to have a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia.  That is absolutely not mentioned in any mainstream media, in the French-speaking media.  So, that means that what the picture we have in Europe about the conflict is that Russia is losing, that the human losses are Russians.  But we never mention the Ukrainian losses, and that, therefore, that’s why people have no problem instrumentalizing Ukraine because we don’t feel that.  We feel that they are from victory to victory and that they have no casualties and no fatalities.  But the reality is very different.  

And in addition to this problem, you also have an economic problem because all those guys who died on the battlefield and all those guys who emigrated in Europe [who] are currently in Poland, in Russia even, or in other parts of the world, all these guys we are missing in the Ukrainian economy.  That means, how can you then have a productive economy if you don’t have your manpower, the know-how, the people to do the job?  And in addition to that, obviously Ukraine will also be affected by the overall energy crisis, the inflation, and everything.  So, meaning that the economic prospect for Ukraine is extremely sad.  

And so all that might incite the Europeans to have a softer view, and we see already some voice towards that direction, like Viktor Orbán in Hungary.  But again, as you see, Viktor Orbán suggested to have, to improve contact with Russia—not to improve contact with Russia, it’s not exactly that—he suggested to give up some sanctions and try to ease a little bit to the relationship with Russia.  But the response from the European Union was he will not receive the 7.5 billion euros he was supposed to receive for European aid to Hungary.  

So, meaning that, for now the Europeans are very reluctant to open the door to any discussion.  But probably in the coming months with the pressure of the social situation as we see even in the country where I am in Belgium, we may have a change in the near future.  But to be honest, I have no idea.  The problem is that…my feeling is that the Russians have extremely rational conduct of the whole thing.  This is rational, they have a line, they follow the line, and this is almost predictable, if we listen properly.  If we go on the Western side, especially on the European side, this is totally irrational.  We are just on the dogmatic approach to the problem, and if we hear, for instance, the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who said, ‘I don’t care what the Germans think about my policy.  My aim is to support the Ukrainians.’

Annalena Baerbock:  No matter what my German voters think, but I want to deliver to the people of Ukraine.  And this is why, for me it’s important to be always very frank and clear, and this means every measure I’m taking I have to be clear that this holds on as long as Ukraine needs me.  We are facing now wintertime, where we will be challenged as Democratic politicians.  People will go on the street and say, ‘We cannot pay our energy prices.’  And I will say, ‘Yes, I know.  So, we help you with social measures.’  But I don’t want to say, ‘Okay, then we stop the sanctions against Russia.’  We will stand with Ukraine, and this means the sanctions will stay also in wintertime, even if it gets really tough for politicians.

JACQUES BAUD:  So, this is something that as a Democrat, people with sense of the rule of law, as you say, what’s going on here?  I mean, you are elected by people, and you don’t care about what they think.  You just care about your own objectives.  And so that means we are in some kind of irrationality that allows everything, and that’s why it’s very difficult to make any substantive or solid or founded prediction.

So, that’s what I can say.  I hope that it will go better than it’s going, but to be honest, I’m a little bit disappointed and I’m a bit pessimistic about the situation, because we have people, and we see that in France, especially, they don’t want to lose face.  That means that now they have taken decisions they have seen that didn’t work, so they are almost…they are more in acceleration process rather than in the process of saying, ‘Okay.  Good.  Let’s stop.  Let’s start thinking and start rethinking the whole thing.’  It’s absolutely not that.  We are in a kind of spiral of bad decisions, in fact.

AARON MATÉ:  Jacques Baud, a former Swiss intelligence officer and NATO advisor, author of the book Operation Z, currently out in French but will be out soon, translated into English, thank you very much.  

JACQUES BAUD:  Thank you.  Thank you for having me on your show.

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