Peter B. Zwack is a retired U.S. brigadier general. He served in the U.S. Army for 34 years and served as the U.S. Attaché in Moscow from 2012 to 2014. He is one of the leading international experts on security issues in Russia and Eurasia, and was a direct witness to events in Crimea and the eastern Ukraine-Donbas war in 2014.
No one can talk more about the current state of the war and conflict in Ukraine than him. Peter B. Zwack is currently a researcher and speaker in various institutions and think tanks. Among them are the Kennan Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center.He is an analyst for different media including TV channels MSNBC or prestigious CNN.
In addition, he is the author of several books on geopolitics, analyzing the situation in Afghanistan and Russia.His most recent work is Swim across the Volga, where he recounted his experience serving as a general in Russia before Putin became the all-powerful leader he is today. This Sunday, he took part in an interview with EL ESPAÑOL during a 40-minute video call.
Eight years ago, Joe Biden was vice president during Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014. I was the U.S. Defense Attaché in Moscow at the time, and I had a relationship with the Spanish Military Attaché delegation, and we all saw what happened. The misinformation at the time was insane, and we’re here eight years later.
If we maintain a united front, it will be difficult for the United States, European countries and Spain, because it will cost a lot, but if we overcome this, we will not end up in war, Ukraine as an independent and democratic The country can survive and if the Russians manage to solve their internal problems, we are already in a better world because there is now a community of like-minded countries (not just America and Europe) coming together in a crisis in ways that we haven’t It hasn’t been done so far since the Cold War, and somehow we all got hurt three or four years ago, partly because of American policy.
Russia has the backing of China, and China protects Russia. But if Russia fails, which is what is happening, China will have to be more careful around the world and in the Pacific because it cannot count on Russia. This crisis has many consequences, but we can emerge stronger and find our world a better place.
I think Russia and Ukraine can negotiate and talk as long as necessary. But I also think the Russians just want to show the world that they are negotiating. We already know we can’t trust them. My conclusion is that Russia invaded Ukraine a month ago and killed thousands. They turned Mariupol into Guernica. It was in many ways a war between brothers, just like the Spanish Civil War. Russians underestimate Ukrainians.
What worries me is that if the Russians pull out of the talks and the situation in Moscow doesn’t change, the Russians might get mad at them for pulling out of the talks. A possible peace deal, Putin would immediately think: Let’s rebuild our military, learn from these mistakes, and try again in four years. I believe this is possible if peace is achieved at the international level. Peace must first be between Moscow and Kyiv, not necessarily led by the US and NATO.
And I don’t think a lot of us right now can’t believe the Russians would do this. hard to believe. We can think they’re going to have a minor surgery in Donbass, but I think a lot of us, especially me, who’ve been working on this for a long time, I think part of me thinks they can’t do it This, because it’s such a monster, it’s beyond the world, beyond Europe, it’s unimaginable. But all the signs are there, the Russians… Putin, Sergey Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister) and Putin’s other ministers said that their troops will leave Belarus after completing the military exercises for just a few exercises.
We all panicked. At the Beijing Olympics, Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Putin told him he would withdraw troops. And Jin Pinglai told him not to cause trouble. I think Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a very uncomfortable thing for China, and I don’t think we, nor Europe, want to believe it. We want to believe Putin, we want to believe what the diplomats tell us: it’s all about military exercises, that’s all.
They put us on a global scale in a huge way. I think that’s what happened. Biden is not alone in distrusting Putin. There are a lot of people who don’t believe him, there are a lot of people in Europe, not just NATO. It’s not that I don’t believe Putin, it’s that I don’t want to believe that something like this happens, because I insist that all the signs are there.
Biden spoke after his contacts with Ukrainian refugees, he was in Poland, he met with NATO and the Spanish ambassador to Poland, and he spoke with representatives of the European Union (EU). He did not say that ordering regime change was American policy. What Biden has done is express a desire that Putin should leave, and I think what he said is probably two-thirds of the world’s population agrees. But it’s uncomfortable, to put it bluntly, because people are afraid of Putin. He said it was not a principle or policy of the U.S. government, but spoke on a personal level. I think within this framework, we all agree. I think he puts a lot of emphasis on connecting with the Russian people, who are the ones who have to deal with Putin. Because he invaded an innocent country like Poland in 1939 and took Russia and the Russian people to a dark place.
I think we all have to keep that background in mind. Putin tried to change the regime in Ukraine in the early weeks of the invasion. How dare the Russians talk about regime change when they themselves are trying to change the regime in Ukraine? It’s not US, NATO or international policy to oust Putin, it’s fair game for sure support of press freedom and economic sanctions that keep Putin from ruling Russia.
Maybe Biden should use a different word, but I sincerely believe that what Biden said was what everyone in the room was thinking. He’s talking about what he’s advocating on a personal level, not U.S. policy, and I think that’s an important distinction. Maybe he could express himself differently, but I don’t think Biden made a mistake. He said from the bottom of his heart that Biden was referring to a tyrant, and Europe knows what a tyrant is. When we speak of a criminal, there is no innocent, we mean an evil regime. On a humanitarian level, I admire the Russian people and the Russian culture, but the regime is dangerous and we are talking about a country that is against the law.
Europe is clearly very nervous because Russian aggression is going on within its borders. This is not a NATO problem, the US is a European problem affecting neutral countries. This is a global issue affecting related countries that are resisting authoritarianism. This is a protracted battle.