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WTF is Happening Inside Russia? (Livestream PREVIEW)

June 29, 2023
Notes
Transcript

Tim and JVL sat down with Lt Col. Alexander Vindman to breakdown the almost civil war in Russia and what it could mean for Vladimir Putin down the line. Check out The Bulwark’s YouTube channel to watch the full conversation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vVMS2rgaA0

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:00

    Hello, and welcome to the next level podcast. I’m Tim Miller. We’re here with a special bonus episode. It is a preview of a conversation that JBL and I had on YouTube with Alexander Vindman, my man, an American hero, a great patriot, who’s coming in live from Kiev to give us a really kind of succinct breakdown of what is happening inside of Russia, what is happening inside of Ukraine. If you need a primer on this, This is a great conversation.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:27

    He he reads between the lines through some of the stuff you’ve seen in the news. And just wanted to use this opportunity to try to get you folks come on join us on YouTube, we’re gonna be having more of these conversations, especially as we get into twenty twenty four over there on the YouTube page to get a little bit out of, you know, the podcast bubble, bring in some of the YouTube peeps, you know, bring in some more folks into the bulwark ecosystem. So if you haven’t yet, subscribe to the Bulwark YouTube, subscribe to the next level’s YouTube. Go watch this conversation, and that way you’ll be updated next time we go live with newsmakers. Enjoy, and we’ll see you back here on Sunday.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:01

    For a big conversation with Pablo Torre. Peace.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:06

    Hello, friends. I’m Jonathan Last from the bulwark here with my buddy, Tim Miller. Also from the Bulwark, and we are joined by amazingly enough Alexander Vindman, who is coming to us live from Kiev Alex needs no introduction. Obviously, he is the husband of Rachel Vindman, one of the premier podcast hosts of our day with the SWP show. It must be a tremendous honor to be married to somebody that amazing Alexander.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:33

    Is it?
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:33

    Yes. It is. And I have to remind her of how lucky I am very often. Otherwise, I get some of the heat that, you know, people on on Twitter and social media get if they get out of line. But, yeah, it’s lucky.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:47

    Let me do the real interest. So Alexander obviously retired lieutenant colonel from the US Army. He was director of European affairs for the NS see he is a I’m sorry. I’m gonna use the word anyway, a great patriot, and I’m a a giant fanboy even though we have just met thirty seconds ago. Also, the author of a memoir, here, write matters in American story, you should all go and do yourselves a solid, and go and buy it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:12

    I listen to it on Audible because I listened to all of my books, and it’s a it’s a fabulous fabulous book. Okay. Alex, what just happened?
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:22

    Okay, that’s a, you know, it’s interesting. There is a lot of speculation about what caused this, I think I’ve got probably about as good a analysis in summary as anybody else. Basically, this was One crazy dude, you go nuts losing his mind, that’s Progosin, who happened to be to own a private military company and having achieving unexpected catastrophic success threatened the very foundation of Putin power. That’s the sound bite. To get into it a little bit more, what’s been going on for months now, it’s actually been longer than that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:05

    Probably some of these issues had to have emerged back all the way back in twenty eighteen when Progosin’s folks, Vogner, went up against US Delta and just got shellacked, like three hundred dead outside of the city of Derrazor in western and Syria. And where they called for support from the Russian military and the Russian military was like, I don’t we don’t know who you guys are. I mean, of course, they do, you know, Putin himself recently attested to the fact that Vogner gets funded to the tune of about a billion dollars a year, it takes a lot to run a private army. And he did this, the Russians have been doing this plausible deniability for all the nefarious dealings in North Africa and sexual Africa basically supporting authoritarian leaders and coups and things of that nature. Anyway, so if that was the seeds over the course of this war, which has gone terribly for the Russians for about sixteen months, kind of probably the shock troops, the most effective troops have been Wagner PMC.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:11

    And they got some of the hard tasks. They were told to secure Bakmoot. It’s almost in a relevant city that’s taken on a huge symbolic meeting in Eastern Ukraine, and after losing tens of thousands of troops, lots of them were convicts that Wagner recruited from prisons, they managed to actually predict probably quite briefly the Ukrainian forces at a very, very heavy toll. But throughout the whole time, Progyny was complaining about how little support he was getting from the Russians and parties doing it as an excuse to say, explain why its troops weren’t able to secure it earlier, but maybe there’s a grain of truth to the fact that they weren’t getting enough air support or artillery support and things of that nature. This all kind of came to a head because Progyny’s been increasingly critical, and he basically lost his mind and called Shoygu, the head of the Russian, the Minister Defense, and the chief of the general staff Gaurasimov like traders and at which point those folks tried to roll Wabhir back into the military saying we pay your bills anyway, you guys are gonna have to be forced to sign on as members of the armed forces.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:22

    And in a play, to, you know, this was kind of internal fighting, or what in Russian, it’s called it as Borka, kind of settling out amongst mafia plans or something like that. He made a play to do a demonstration and a march on Rostov and potentially there was supposed to be a visit of the Ministry of Defense ashoigu and Grasimov, and he was gonna basically capture him and extract his concession, which is reserve and control. Instead, what ended up happening is those guys weren’t there, maybe it’s possible that FSB got word of it ahead of time, those guys weren’t there. So instead, he completely unopposed, made it to Rastaf, seized the Southern military district headquarters that’s responsible for this war, to the cheers of the population, and then because he was so successful, he’s like, oh, you know what? Let’s go just head up north.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:10

    So he split a forest and head up north. Again completely unopposed, made it to within two hundred kilometers of Moscow. Putin hopped on a plane left, oligarchs hopped on a planes left, when he wasn’t planning to topple Putin. He’s actually thought he was doing a service and doing a solid to Putin by highlighting how bad these military guys are and he’s being he was serving the good king by identifying these corrupt actors and having them removed, but he wasn’t ready to start a civil war when he was called on it, he basically buckled and turned around left. And of course there’s the nuances of Lukashenko, the strong man from Belarus coming in, how this went down, listen to Lukashenko, he was like, well, Putin called me all hysterical and like, you know, weeping.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:55

    And I was like, calm down, Putin. Calm down. Sounds familiar. Yeah. I I this is a dramatic reenactment.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:01

    So come down, Putin. I got this. Don’t worry about it. He’s like, oh, but he’s not gonna take the phone call. We can’t do it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:05

    We can’t do it. And he’s like, no. Don’t worry Putin. Lucashenko says, I got it. And you know, Lukashenko solves the whole thing.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:13

    So now, Progyny is potentially in hiding or in, you know, in exile in Belarus, Putin’s trying to do his own spin on the fact that his country almost was toppled by an actor that the government was paying and frankly an extension of the state and military didn’t come in to rescue him. And really frankly, it was a bluff or kind of calling PREosian that saved it. So Putin is obviously responsible. He could’ve put a stop to this any time. He could’ve said, nope.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:47

    Just shut up or goes in you have your job to do a do it or something like that or firing showing I mean, this is all Putin’s doing. And he looks extremely kind of damaged now. Damage in his eyes clearly of Lukashenko, who’s, like, basically talking to him like he’s like a kid brother or something like that. And probably damages in the eyes of China and every other place around the world. And he’s putting some spin trying to fake it until he makes it say, I believe with this impression that everything is under control.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:19

    He’s been doing some public appearances and bringing the military in behind. Praising him for their valiant defense, which obviously didn’t quite happen, and trying to demonstrate to himself that he’s in control as well as to elite that unriggered the Putin’s regime that he’s in control, but nevertheless damaged and we’re finding ourselves in a completely different situation than we were a week ago with regards to what Russia looks like internally, quite brittle, what perceptions are around Russia and Putin are around the world, The question is, in my view, is what the perceptions are in our own leadership. And that’s what scares me a little bit, is that our own leadership, the Biden administration may draw the wrong lessons from this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:04

    Alright. So I had a couple questions that I’m gonna let Tim Tim come in and drive to. I’m sorry, Timothy. No place. The first one, very I mean, this is honestly an academic concern, but I’m curious anyway.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:14

    Is this deal with Progosn a real deal? Or is he going to fall out of a first floor window in a month?
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:22

    You know, it can’t possibly be a real deal just because the fact is that Putin needs to settle the score. In order to look like he’s got everything under control, he needs to sell the score. He can’t have her goes in potentially with thousands of troops that may or may not be loyal to him out there in the position to potentially relaunch another coup. You need to squash them. It seems to me a little bit hard to I mean, I understand what to a certain extent why that hasn’t happened yet, because Putin needs to make sure that he kind of frankly under undermines the very foundations of of precautions
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:04

    Well, he has to digest Wagner. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:07

    Yeah, he — Digestive. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly right. He has to digest wagner, and then he could deal with a pregosin in turn.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:13

    And pregosin frankly knows this, So it doesn’t doesn’t make a huge he’s he’s not the smartest man who goes in, by the way, he’s he’s just an effective thud. So it’s unclear how this is gonna settle out. I think there are implications for Progosin, there’s implications for Wagner these implications for the Russian armed forces, the elites, and frankly, the conduct of this war in Ukraine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:39

    To hear the rest of this conversation, head over to the Bulwark YouTube channel and click on live.
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