BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

Russia Nerve Agents - an emboldened more repressive Putin

September 14, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 2 Episode 7
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
Russia Nerve Agents - an emboldened more repressive Putin
Chapters
00:02:26
Andrew Weber
00:21:12
Maria Snegovaya
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
Russia Nerve Agents - an emboldened more repressive Putin
Sep 14, 2020 Season 2 Episode 7
Dana Lewis

Russia's use of Novichok nerve agent was against it's own citizen.  And it was a only by accident it was discovered by a Germany Military lab.   The poisoning of Alexei Navalny is a violation of International law, because Russia is a signatory to the chemical weapons convention. 

In this Back Story Dana Lewis talks with the U.S. former Deputy Sec. of Defense Andy Weber who says there is no doubt the poisoning had to be approved by the Kremlin and President Putin.

And, Russia expert Maria Snegovaya says this is not another chapter in Russia misdeeds, but Putin has become emboldened by his recent change of constitutional laws. He fears no one because his power seems absolute, and he has become more dangerous to The West than ever before. 

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Russia's use of Novichok nerve agent was against it's own citizen.  And it was a only by accident it was discovered by a Germany Military lab.   The poisoning of Alexei Navalny is a violation of International law, because Russia is a signatory to the chemical weapons convention. 

In this Back Story Dana Lewis talks with the U.S. former Deputy Sec. of Defense Andy Weber who says there is no doubt the poisoning had to be approved by the Kremlin and President Putin.

And, Russia expert Maria Snegovaya says this is not another chapter in Russia misdeeds, but Putin has become emboldened by his recent change of constitutional laws. He fears no one because his power seems absolute, and he has become more dangerous to The West than ever before. 

Speaker 1:

Are the Russians being framed for something they didn't do because that's what they say is happening. No , that's outrageous. That's just typical denial deception. We know the facts. The fact is that a laboratory in Germany, very sophisticated , uh , military laboratory was able to confirm not just that chemical weapons were used in this heinous attack against the opposition figure, but a very specific, special kind of chemical weapon called Nova check that is only available in illegally , uh , available in a very tightly secured Russian military supported laboratory. Hi everyone, and welcome to backstory. And I'm Dana Lewis in London, the host and creator of this podcast. And on this backstory, Russia, the poison and the consequences. You probably don't know why president Ronald Reagan once called the Soviets the evil empire, but it was because of massive biological and chemical weapons programs aimed at the West. The military doctrine included bombing America and Western Europe with things like anthrax and tularemia and smallpox after a nuclear exchange, even had a weaponized agricultural program to wipe out crops in the West.

Dana Lewis - Host:

So no food would grow when the Soviet union collapsed. Much of that. Heinous arsenal was exposed and destroyed, but not all of it. And that's why the 2018 deployment of a nerve agent in Salisbury, England against a former Russian military intelligence agent Sergei scribble , and now the use of the same nerve agent against an opposition figure in Russia has alarmed the West as never before the nerve agent is called Nova chalk in Russia. Won't get away with denials this time. Here's NATO's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg Rashawn now has serious questions. It must answer the Russian government must fully cooperate with the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons on an impartial international investigation. Those who are responsible for this attack must be held accountable. I'm brought to justice use of chemical nerve agents by a state crosses too many red lines for too many people. In this backstory. We speak with one of the foremost American experts on chemical biological programs created during the Soviet union secret steel kept by Russia. And later in an interview with a Russia expert, who says the Kremlin is now more dangerous and more aggressive. We are. She says in a new phase of Russian operations that have to be met head on by Western nations. Andy Weber was the assistant secretary of defense whose area of responsibility are U S nuclear, chemical and biologic Juggle defense programs. And I'm smiling when I say this because it is a huge amount of responsibility. I mean, just one of those portfolios would be enough. Well, I used to say we had the luxury of just focusing on , on three things, only a nuclear chemical and biological, and that was a great privilege to serve in that job under president Obama's administration, does the U S

Speaker 1:

70 chemical weapons or nerve agents left?

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Well, we're at the very tail end of destroying our entire cold war arsenal in a safe manner under organisation and prohibition of chemical weapons supervision. Why is that? Why is that so important? I mean, these things were meant to kind of

Speaker 1:

The enemy. And then at a certain point, there was a shift in thinking where people said strategically, you know,

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

You want these in our arsenals at all, what happened? Well, the cold war ended in short. I mean the horror of world war one and the use of chemical weapons led to a , the Geneva convention. And then as the Soviet union was collapsing , um , we negotiated and finalized the chemical weapons convention, which banned all chemical weapons and had a very specific series of steps for countries that had chemical weapons to destroy them in a verifiable permanent way. So , uh, it's been very, very successful , uh, until recently , uh , when we saw a massive violations by the Syrian regime and then these two recent , uh , attacks in 2018 and , uh , last week , uh, the use of a very sophisticated , uh , military chemical weapon , uh , called the Nova Chuck , uh, agents in assassinations. So let's talk

Dana Lewis - Host:

Novachok it's been identified as the substance given to the opposition figure, Alexei Navalny are the Russians being framed for something they didn't do because that's what they say.

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

No, that's outrageous. That's just typical denial deception. We know the facts. Um, the fact is that a laboratory in Germany very sophisticated , uh , military laboratory was able to confirm not just that chemical weapons were used in this , the heinous attack against the opposition figure , uh , Navalny, but a very specific, special kind of chemical weapon called Novacek that is only available in night illegally , uh, available in a very tightly secured Russian military supported , uh , laboratory. Are they supposed to have it at all? No, they're definitely not supposed to have it. This is a banned chemical weapon and the fact that they have it is very worrisome because they could use it not just to kill one person, but they could use it in a much larger , uh , mass attack. For example, that little perfume bottle that was found in the dumpster and Salisbury that was used in the assassination attempt against segregates free. Paul had over 10,000 lethal doses. So those two covert agents, somewhat hapless covert Asians from the GRU who mounted that attack in Salisbury could have killed thousands of people.

Dana Lewis - Host:

And just as a footnote to that, Andy, a lot of people don't realize that after the Skripals were poisoned and a lady came along and found the perfume bottle and took some of the Novachok out, not realizing what it was and she died. So she was an innocent victim and yeah ,

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Apparently to her, her husband was a dumpster diver and gave it to her as a gift and she sprayed it on her wrists and killed herself.

Dana Lewis - Host:

So why shouldn't the, the , um, organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, the OPCW have the right to see the Russian program and inspect it because Russia is a signatory to the chemical weapons.

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Well, they did oversee the destruction of 40,000 tons of Russia's declared chemical weapons, stockpile. And that was very, very successful. That effort was supported by the United States through the non Lugar program. Um , we invested over a billion dollars to help the Russians destroy that massive cold war stockpile, but these smaller covert, illegal stocks are not declared as they should be by the Russian Federation government. So there's really nothing. Um , the OPCW can do about that unless they're invited in, by the, a member state, in this case, the Russian Federation to launch an investigation of this use illegal use of chemical weapons last week,

Dana Lewis - Host:

Russia's never going to admit this I'm among others, because if they admit that they have no chalk , then that's it. They're going to have to open the door to international inspector .

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Yeah. They'll never in a million years, admit it. And I'm convinced that they were certain that they would not get caught, especially doing this inside of Russia. Why are you certain

Speaker 1:

Novachok can be identified by, you know , the Brits use Porton down there , military lab, the Germans have their own labs. Why do you, why do you think that they just never thought that Nevani would leave the country, but in the end, the criminal let him

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Yeah, no, they screwed it up. They thought they would quickly kill him. And he would, he would be buried in Russia and , and the world would never be wiser, but because of the pressure to release him, their failure to kill him , uh, and release to a hospital in Berlin that allowed the Germans to bring samples to a very, very sophisticated laboratory that was able to determine the precise cause of his , uh , grave illness.

Dana Lewis - Host:

You alluded to it a couple of minutes ago, but people don't realize the work that you've spent your life doing. And others in the thread reduction programs that the former Soviet union had ridiculous amounts of biological and chemical weapons. And after the collapse of the Soviet union, then they started to open their program . Um, you, you have , you helped spearhead some of the programs where scientists were even retrained so that they wouldn't go and sell their evil ways to terrorist organizations. It'd be people don't realize that history, even though it's not, it's not very far behind,

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Well, you don't get credit for preventing a catastrophe. It's what didn't happen. That's important in this case, thanks to the vision of Senator, none delayed Senator Lugar , um, the United States through the department of defense cooperative threat reduction program invested heavily along with its European partners in helping Russia and the other former Soviet States, the newly independent States in the nineties get rid of the legacy of their weapons of mass destruction. This was a decades long effort that costs billions of dollars. And it was very, very successful because those weapons and materials and expertise did not fall into the hands of terrorists and rogue States like North Korea.

Speaker 1:

It was chemical, biological warfare programs , a thing of the past

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Or of the future. Well, I worry very much. They need to be a thing of the past. As president Obama said, when he was in office, we can't let the , uh, the worst weapons of the 20th century dark in the 21st century. We have , uh , uh, a global prohibition on , on chemical weapons , uh , the chemical weapons convention. And unfortunately it's weakening the norm of use the taboo against use of chemical weapons seems to be breaking down as countries like Russia and North Korea have flagrantly violated in these three assassinations and fascination and attempts. The , um, the world needs to redouble our efforts to get rid of all chemical weapons and similar biological weapons.

Dana Lewis - Host:

I mean, how do you deal with Russia when they have essentially this propaganda line, every single time look surprised, act concern and denial ?

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Well, we use the truth. We use the truth. We use a neutral OPCW laboratories to make these judgements , and we play it to the Russian public. And over time they should be ashamed and they won't support a regime that continues to violate these critical international norms of which Russia is one of the founding partners. And yet your president has just come out on the weekend and said, he didn't see any proof that Alexei Navalny was poisoned. Um, he said it was tragic, but you know, he said, we should be worried about China, forget about Russia. Well, this fits a pattern. He's been consistently a shameful apologists for the worst , uh, excesses of the Putin regime. We live in a time of COVID-19 so-called natural outbreak of a virus, but clearly there are some lessons to be learned about preparing for the moment that someone deploys chemical or biological weapons against a Western nation or a city.

Dana Lewis - Host:

Well, as bad as this pandemic is. And it's horrible. And you know, here in the United States, we're suffering terribly because of poor leadership, but the truth is a, an attack where biological weapons couldn't be much worse than what we're experiencing today. So I worry that the impact of this naturally occurring virus is sending a message to our adversaries, that if we want to hurt the United States and its allies, we should pursue illegal ban biological weapons. But what's the counter message because if you want to cripple the American economy, if you want to even hurt the military of the United States, you deploy a chemical or biological weapon, and these weapons are far more lethal than COVID-19. Um, what , what's the message back? How do you fight? How do you identify even who deployed? What we need is a, is a global effort , um , led by the United States.

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Remember us leadership. Um, I was in , I was involved in the Ebola response when president Obama mobilized over 70 countries to contribute to that effort, a very successful effort to stamp out of Bola and West Africa, 2014 and 15. So what we need is, and the council on strategic risks, where I served as a senior fellow has been working for over a year on an effort to make bio weapons obsolete. We are confident that with the breakthrough in technologies and the revolution in biology with a sustained high level effort led by the president of United States, we can make this whole class of, of biological weapons obsolete. And how do you do that ? Sorry, forgive me. But what we need is a, is a global, early warning system for early detection of outbreaks. As early as the first patient who is exposed, we can sequence the viruses and bacteria, the pathogens that circulate around the world and actually map them real time. Now we have technology to do that. And then what we're seeing deployed today are these rapid reaction medical countermeasures that were developed by the U S military. The sequence was posted by China on the 11th of January of the coronavirus. And within days we had a prototype vaccine and a prototype treatment for COVID-19. So while it's taking a little more time, because this is the first experience we have actually using these modern nucleic acid vaccines and antibodies , um, uh, in people once they're proven safe and effective, and we're, we're just weeks away from that. Um, it will give us a rapid reaction capability that I'm convinced will convince our adversaries, that it's not worth using biological weapons because they won't be effective, but it's gonna take a sustained effort, a public private partnership to really invest in the defenses against all biological weapons and naturally occurring infectious disease. So we don't have pandemics in the future.

Speaker 1:

Didn't we just see a defense program cut to the biological program.

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

Yeah. Inexplicably president Trump and secretary of defense, Mark Esper in their budget requests this year cut the department of defense, chemical and biological defense program nearly 10%. Now, of course, they did this in February, just as the coronavirus was taking hold in the world. It was a stupid move. And , uh, my hope is that the next administration will vastly increase our efforts in chemical and biological defenses.

Speaker 1:

Well, the next administration may be the same administration. And , uh, you know, do you think that they'll rethink that budget cut now that they're far into this pandemic and they're seeing just how devastating it is to especially, right .

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

I can't imagine that they would not rethink that boneheaded decision. Clearly anybody who's experiencing this terrible loss of life is going to realize that we need to increase our investments in the medical counter measures against bio biological threats, whether they are engineered by a state biological weapons program or naturally occurring.

Speaker 1:

I just want to circle back to the question I asked you before. Cause I was a little unclear about the answer, but Russia will deny , um , and they'll continue to deny and there'll be mounting evidence in the investigation that, you know, I think we're already

Andy Weber / Fmr. Ass. Sec. Defense U.S.:

There anyway, that there's no Chuck doesn't roll around. You can't buy it at the pharmacy in Russia. The only people that would have it are state agencies and state actors and , and you know , uh , FSB or the GRU. Um, so what happens, I mean, do we, do we do sanctions, do, do we get tougher with Russia? Or, I mean, how do we stop this from happening again? Because this is one in a series now, well, Russia will deny, confuse an office skate and come up with all kinds of crazy stories, explaining this , uh , simple , uh, attack and what you described because this is a very tightly guarded chemical weapons agent, only in the hands of the Russian state. We now have what we hold revertible . We hope, well, I'm confident that this is not , uh , something that's floating around on the black market. Um , the conditions you need to store it and handle it. Property are very sophisticated. And there's no reason that the Russians wouldn't place the highest , uh , security around , uh , any small stockpile disks , a very dangerous chemical weaponization. So it's so damning because it can only come from the Russian government. So this was an attack by Russian security service personnel against one of its own citizens. And that's the only plausible explanation. So we need to continue to investigate as we can. I mean, there were people on the airplane at the airport and hopefully the story will get out over time. But the most damning evidence of all is in Nevada, mommy's blood and his system. And the analysis of, of the chemistry of those samples proved with high confidence that I know which a chemical weapon was used in this case. What's the penalty for doing, for deploying in peace time in war time. It doesn't matter.

Speaker 2:

I was going to say in peacetime , but what should be, what should be the , the, the check that should come do for doing something that everybody thought was unthinkable Germany at our NATO allies, the United States need to band together and make Russia pay a price for this. We can't let them get away again with impunity. And whether it's canceling the Northeast a pipeline, which is almost completed, or some other sanction, we need to send the message because Putin will continue to do this. As you know, he has, unless he has to pay a cost , unless he's convinced that the West will stand up to this and that the costs of such outrageous actions will be greater than

Dana Lewis - Host:

The risks of not engaging in these terrible, terrible attacks. In this case against an opposition Fincher , Andy Weber , his former assistant secretary for defense, nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs. It's always an honor to talk to you. Thanks, Andy. Thank you, Dana.

:

Maria Snegovaya from the center for European policy analysis. And she's also at Virginia tech joins us now from Washington. Hi, Maria. Maria is a brilliant analyst and I think you've just written really terrific, insightful piece for Newsweek. Congratulations. It's very interesting because a lot of the take on Alexei Navalny and the poisoning has been well , Russia has done it before. They've done it again. And you say that Putin's regime quote, cause I'm stealing your words now is transforming into a new, more repressive type of dictator ship than before that this transformation has manifested an intensified wave of repression against opposition, politicians, and opinion leaders unprecedented, even by Russia's own standards. Why is it unprecedented? In what way

maria Snegovaya:

The constitutional amendments have been passed this July? The machine really seems to have , um , embraced some sense of impunity. There was essentially a point has extended his staying power for at least 12 more years. Did Euro , uh , defacto almost indefinitely now , uh , because the amendments were passed , uh , complete violations of annual , uh , rules and rules , whatever, right .

Speaker 1:

You know , what people were dealing with depen demic in a , in , uh , in COVID-19 in Europe and in America, there was a referendum and he's now extended his term until 2036. And there were all sorts of voting irregularities on a massive, massive scale.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, absolutely . It's understandable why this happens . So , uh, the, the moment it was chosen right correctly and the regime , uh , and putting himself quite good and picking moments , for example, he started , uh , the 2008 , uh , war in Georgia. Uh , we'll start by the Kremlin , uh, during the Olympic games, right. Again, to disrupt that tension. And similarly something similar has happened in Ukraine as well. Uh, so in this sense , uh, um, the, the way these amendments have been passed and the very literal response and resistance, they have this changes of received from Russia population domestically and from the international community , uh , seems to have shifted something in the perception of the relative by the ground. And he has, of course, it's not the first time

Speaker 1:

Shifted something in the re in the perception of reality by the Kremlin. What does that mean?

maria Snegovaya:

Uh , they just think, they're not convinced that , uh, at least up until the post in the Balmain , it says that , um, uh, they become convinced that they can do anything with very little repercussions and consequences. Uh, and it's true, as I said, essentially, they're knowing power forever. So who is to stop them to stop them from doing what they want you . Right. Is it the worst that's divided, polarized and weakened by its own internal , uh , fractures? Or is it a domestic cross population that's repressed a few full also, by the way, heavily prosecutors were the fines , uh, Nevada , for example, still retain the fines they've been charged with last year when they , uh, large , um, mass protests erupted in Moscow , um , uh , last time. So in this sense , uh , yeah, they seem to be feeling , uh , the same and of course is with Amy thug, if a thought goes on punished , uh , you know, for a while , or then a thought becomes embolded . And unfortunately the current criminal elites, they do have this faggot thuggish mentality. They it's been said before. So what's new about Nirvana , just to answer your question, right. It's true that unfortunately, the gremlins critics and opponents have been killed before. Uh, the most notorious example is the shooting on board is names of in 2015, one of their position letters as well. Uh , but yeah ,

Speaker 1:

Of course Nemtsov and for people that don't know bores Nemtsov, he was a , he was an amazing man. He was deputy prime minister at one point , uh, in Russia, under Yeltsin. And then he became an opposition leader because he felt democracy was crumbling in Russia. And he ran , he ran for mayor in Sochi. He did many, many different things, but, and he , he opposed the invasion of Ukraine and Russia's seizure of Crimea, but he was shot multiple times in front of the Kremlin in front of video cameras that just were conveniently switched off by the crumble now .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. What an accident, right. All the cameras switched off. Um, and it's true. And the great thing, by the way about Boris, who I also knew is a , essentially he was , uh , he had power, he had access, right. He potentially had the possibility to live quite nicely on to this regime because he had connections on the very top. And he, he decided , uh, willfully to abandon all of that for the sake of, you know, future democratic rushes. He imagined it to be , uh , that is something that very few people , uh, able to do, unfortunately in Russia. Um, Nevada is another example of their , um , um , courageous, brave man . Uh, but the difference here, at least the way it's perceived in Russia is that at least with Nimsoft murder, there was certain , uh, confusion about who exactly what did it. Um, I was suspect that the connections go up to [inaudible] Republic. Uh, but to what extent, putting himself like personal wanted that is a little bit questionable. There was all kinds of theories

Speaker 1:

Drawn parallels with that they've said, you know, in Putin's Russia now , um, people sometimes will act in Putin's interest, not necessarily with Putin's blessing, but you think in this case of Nevalny absolutely he would have had to verbally pull the trigger and say yes.

maria Snegovaya:

And the reason is , uh , the reason is , um, uh, the, the proof in my eyes is the fact that Nevalny has remained relatively in June, relatively. It's important to highlight for educate , right? He's been quite a dangerous and annoying , uh , to the criminal for quite a while on the volume is probably the most effective political leader in Russia. Uh, over Russia's recent history, he's been able to create the whole chain of , um, his , uh , offices throughout Russia without being officially allowed in the Russian political system, which is absolutely amazing. His corruption investigation extremely popular. His major media resource is one of the , uh, highest among brushes , public figures, personalities. And , uh , of course his smart voting campaign , uh , uh , but it was very successful as back in 2011 , uh, right now. Uh, but why now? Why was he not ? Yeah. And by the way, last thing that [inaudible] , this is the sort of substance that can only be elaborated at the very top level with access , uh , very few , uh , officials about system .

Speaker 3:

So why now? Um, I think that's precisely the constitutional amendments and the overall set of apathy that has spread in the rest of society. Notice how even Nevada is poisoning again, quite unprecedented by Russia's own standards has not OLED Russians in the streets. And so there's, it's important to keep in mind that the criminal bent must broadest under the pretext of the pandemic and public health. And there's also huge fines , um , that follow , um , if , uh , people violate , um , uh , dysregulation , as I'm , as I mentioned before, back in 2019, they find for huge and a lot of opposition leaders still have to repeat those. And , uh , so I think they realize that there's a perfect moment in the rest of society seems to, again, become less interested in politics engage . And , um, uh , there was , uh , is also disrupted. And of course it's also fear of something like Belarus are happening in Russia because of course the Russians watch Belarus billers .

Dana Lewis - Host:

I was going to ask you, I mean , clearly a lot of people are saying that the street is on fire and Belarus against LukaShenko the Kremlin shutters worrying about that spreading and, and Alexia in Nevada would be potentially the one to , to set the match and, and get it going in Russia .

maria Snegovaya:

And the family has developed a smart voting strategy that worked really nice for the last year in Moscow Domo election. Uh , the idea is that , uh, to get the protest vote United against the strongest candidate who runs against the Kremlin candidate and , uh , in 2019 Moscow , uh , elections last year, even if maybe independent candidates were not allowed to run , uh , by the Kremlin , still the position, thanks to Nirvana managed to unite [inaudible] alternative candidates. And they almost these alternative candidates backed by Nevadans campaign to almost half of Moscow Duma. This has not happened in the past. And it was a really big blow to Putin and the crown, because a lot of Kremlin backed very important people negotiated on the very top failed to made it into the dome to make it interesting . So the elections are not free and fair by the most yeah , the most core problems , although the Moscow level or the multiple region . Uh, so in this, this year on September 13th , Russia holds another round of elections. Countrywide and Nevada team has been working very actively to spread this most success in other regions, especially in the [inaudible] , which is the third most important. So the third largest city in Moscow, but Nevada is still mates . Like [inaudible] say that what even more important is that right now I've only has been really testing the strategy ahead of Moscow, do my election. This is the federal , uh, level of parliamentary elections that are scheduled to take place in 2021. Maybe they will be a scheduled delivered earlier. And the Kremlin is really afraid that if Nevada is successfully able to mobilize people into regions and here ratings show that he's successful in Moscow, this can turn out very bad for the crema . So given that this is a perfect moment where the population is , uh , quite, as I said, disengaged, politically everyone's repressed and afraid of fines and the constitution amendments essentially now allow food and to stay in power.

Speaker 3:

And definitely this is a perfect for text , you know, to supplemental kind of , uh , uh, bad regressions against , uh, the grandma's political bonds Nevada, by the way, is not just on a person for who is currently, who has suffered under this way for progressions. This is just the most tourist example, but there's also number of Novalis teammates who are beaten , beaten up and , uh , um, attacked in Russia's regions. Uh , today there was a news about an a D and a duck on independent candidates for run , um, in municipal elections as well. There's also increased charges. Some of the opposition candidates face criminal charges for organizing an independent position rallies. So it's just the wave of progressions has definitely escalated in August. It's very busy

Speaker 1:

If you're a repressive regime and you have this great psychological sense of invincibility, now that you , you talk about why doesn't this work and why not just continue in and do more, and it will grow unless what,

Speaker 3:

Well, I think what is very encouraging, the small , uh , you know, beam of light in this deafness is the response of the international community. Somehow the response has been less pronounced in case of Bella Rose than I hoped, but Novalis poisoning seems to kind of hit some kind of trigger. And we are really right now , uh, here in unprecedented statement , uh , by , uh , Wolf glued us like Angela Merkel, just seven , uh, just earlier today really should a very powerful announcement even , uh , front some across the try to differences putting now has to refrain . And it seems to be that it seems that certain type of which national joint action is inevitable in this sense. So that's ,

Speaker 1:

And then maybe sanctions, but you know what my next question is going to be?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, it's actually, no don't work do there .

Speaker 1:

My next question is going to be with all this condemnation, condemnation, president Trump, most powerful country, it's been completely absent from this and he is refused to condemn Putin. Um , and a lot of people think that it's just unbelievable that, I mean, there have been some statements from other people in the U S uh, administration, but president Trump has not come out and condemn the poisoning of Nevada County and demanded really much of anything from president poop . He said, we should be more worried about China right now .

Speaker 3:

Unfortunately it's typical for president Trump. He always sort of , uh , switches his record structure, the rhetoric away from Russia onto China,

Speaker 1:

Because he's going to an election and he needs Russia's help in the election.

Speaker 3:

So a lot of people, of course, has been pointing out this possible was kind of affinity of Trump's to potent with Oracle. It certainly looks this way because Trump really has been amazingly reluctant to in any way condemn Putin's regime. Uh , but I have to say that , uh, first of all, compelled you to come out with a sort of a statement, right? Second of all , um , if you look at the policies by Trump administration, maybe that's not his own credit, but the policies against Putin has been more or less , um , unified with the eager response. In recent years, I have looked at that , uh , in depth , uh , the war , uh, have , uh, consequences of the script , uh , was poisoned. For example, they will have its functions on Deripaska. Remember which actual crushed the rest of the market , uh, which will lead it lifted, unfortunately, but at the time , uh , they were quite a significant , uh,

Speaker 1:

Magnitsky bill Browder's Magnitsky act was passed in the U S it was passed in Canada. It's been passed now by Britain. Browder is saying, okay, this is the moment that the EU has to pass it now, because if you don't increase sanctions against Russia, then quote unquote, is Browder, put it in a tweet that Putin thinks he has a license to kill.

Speaker 3:

I told the truth . And just to finally finish my discussion, I think that , uh , well , Trump actually follows somewhat , uh , the sanctions policy. That's also , um, impulsed by the EU. Therefore there is actually to try, probably to steal the hope to probably to negotiate with Russia against China. They probably afraid to push a Putin , um, um, you know, too much into Chinese sense. I think it's a little bit too late for it. I think , uh , Putin and the ground is right now , uh, definitely , uh, negotiating with China because they understand that they're not going to be able to survive in power without certain diapers for Chinese , uh , health , uh , long term . So that's a , that's done , um, other deal or now the individual sanctions list. Yes, that's also true. It's uh, bill Browder is absolutely correct. We need more sections and there was an old bed , um, in , um , New York times recently that actually was suggested to do something by like Novalis list , uh, similar to my Minsky's list. They'll bet written by bread's students. That's all great. But I have to say that individual sanctions are important, but they're not. What's going to fundamentally damage putting insertion .

Speaker 1:

It's fundamentally going to damage the damage of the regime if that's the goal.

Speaker 3:

Well, if that's the goal, of course, we need to end , by the way, that's the reason why the sanctions have not been done at that effective in the first place up until now, right? Because they were never very strong . Uh, the sanctions that one pulls in Russia were relatively soft with certain exceptions, which didn't last for long. What we need is strong , uh , sectorial assumptions and broader, more , um , strong assumptions of uranium type a . So this is some kind of developments on the German side . Uh , I and statements by Merkel and her closest officials that say that this might mean Dan of nostril to this is going to be painful.

Speaker 1:

Nordstrom is a very long pipeline that is supposed to is 90% complete between Russia and Germany

Speaker 3:

And does it in frozen by around the assumptions, by the way, in December, 2019. Uh, and, but it's not , uh , uh , yet in late , late Germany, that always been very supportive of this project. Suddenly even German officials started saying that maybe , uh , Nevani poisoning is what's going to end . If it's not investigated. If there's no separation on the grandma's side, maybe it will be the end of this project. This will be more painful. So individual sanctions are needed, but it's not at all what's needed. But then again,

Speaker 1:

I know I don't have unlimited time with you. And I do want to ask you about Bellaruse . Um, the , the, some of this, do you think we've already talked about the fact that Putin may have done this because he's worried about the problems in Russia , in Belarus , uh, spreading to , to Russia , uh , and that the protest could spread in Nevada and he could be the driver of some of that. Um, I have to say, look, we are weeks and weeks into, you know, more than a month into Lucas , GenCos fraudulent , uh, election, and then his locking up and beating of people and torturing and people. It just seems to go from bad to worse. And now you have this Maria Casell cava . You can correct my pronunciation, but she's one of the main opposition leaders. She disappeared. She was snatched off the street. I mean, he's snatching people off the street, easeful demonstrators. She has now been charged by the KGB after she wouldn't go to Ukraine, she wouldn't run from the country. She ripped up her passport. She has now been charged with trying to overthrow the government. I mean, it goes from bad to worse .

Speaker 3:

Well, that's also true. Unfortunately, a question cause regime is even more brutal and repressive than the current regime in Russia. The , this sort of a person's have been in place before. And which, if anything, on the more highlights, the incredible courage and commitment of Belorussian, people who are staying in the streets who continue right to protest, despite all this verbal oppressions and the risks that they're facing are mortal risks. And honestly, in my mind, I'm not a , I'm convinced it will not stop at anything like , like food. And he understands that to him live in his throne. Is it a direct path to Gog , to hae , right? To, to essentially to criminal justice , uh, and to , to also include to jail and this literacy , therefore , uh, will stay anything, do anything in the power to , um, to say no to stay , uh , because the risks are really,

Speaker 1:

Did you see his , his recent interview with Russian media all very nicely staged, but , um, he said that Bella Russia, Belarus has strengthened the protection of state border in all directions, except for Russia, because of course he's courting Putin right now, men hide behind women and children like 75 years ago when the Nazis led women go ahead, protests are controlled by USA, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Lithuania. Is that just good propaganda or, or is he mad ?

Speaker 3:

And he's also, he is saying anything in his power, right? Uh , we are on Russia's Twitter. There is a bet being made. Who's going to accuse next. Everyone's waiting for Soros . It's a PIP used at some point, you know, source is this famous , uh , um, uh , uh , person who has funded a lot of great initiatives in Europe and this year, but also treated, treated by local autocrats as the big , uh, big conspiracy figure behind any protests . Uh, and yeah . Is off the rail. At this point, he has nothing to lose. He definitely tried to side with Putin . Uh , he also tries to please put him with all his might remember his so called leak conversation between Mike and Nick , uh, allegedly American security service officers who describe how to best it , the bad protestors in the Belarus and against

Speaker 1:

You're suggesting this is all controlled from the outside. And the protesters are

Speaker 3:

Typical narratives, typically a lot of narratives about the scholar revolution , uh , allegedly inspired . Yeah .

Speaker 1:

People don't seem to be buying it though. Maria in Valerie , they don't seem to be buying it. I mean, they're out in big numbers every single weekend and they are not being intimidated by him. It seems like, I mean, it seems like they understand they were ripped off in the election and that's it they're done with him. So how does that happen ?

Speaker 3:

This is a very good question. And first of all, I have to say that the reason why our location is so bolded and why is his own constraint? And I hate it is I , as I said before, the very weak response of the Western community. Unfortunately, the West is in a trap somewhat. They are very much afraid to provoke food in a way that happened in Ukraine. So if they were to help protesters , they're afraid this actually is going to, if anything, trigger food into , um, uh , military into developers. Uh, but at the same time, it's also hard to stay and watch it, this , the factor genocide abortion location, cause uh , implementing gets his own people. And uh,

Speaker 1:

But genocide , it's a pretty tough word.

Speaker 3:

It's our support. But again, people were brutally killed and murdered, right? There's people who were disappeared, who disappeared. And there's no question that once feels more confident. They are there . They have a huge repercussions are going to follow against the Belarus of people. And the response of the Jewish community has been a remarkable week , uh , even refrained from sanction and location, kick himself under the protests that they still need to negotiate , uh , with him. Uh , so at least sanctions need to be

Speaker 1:

You. And I'm sort of jumping again. If the U does not get tough on this guy, they have lost the plot. Surely

Speaker 3:

The , uh , asking , uh , or to your question what's going to happen. Yeah, I think right now our is going to back off , look at Shanka . Putting is also worry of a possible example that any removal of cushion right now may give to Russian people , uh , who , uh , as we have discussed also Christian , not happy with Russia domestically. There's also protest spreading in Russia. For example, there's a huge Protestant going for women to Kobata region. In this sense, I think right now, replacing Lukashenko , uh, we just give servant examples that approach democratic process can succeed. Fudan is definitely not ready to do anything like that in the long term. However, I think the last and popularity of location for me here , uh, may incentivize it may essentially give food until it's some incentive to replace human with a Mo with a more acceptable, but overall the main , uh , however , they might not come for food right now is definitely a success. Uh , but we'll use this as a protector to deepen the Belarus Russian union, which also allegedly will allow to stay in power in a more nuanced , uh , less , uh, less direct way, not because of the constitution amendment , but as a new leader of this union state , uh , w witness we know has been pushing them for quite some. Yeah . A lot of people,

Speaker 1:

A lot of people are going to get lost in that sentence. But even as far back as Yeltsin, they were talking about merge Belarus with Russia, have a new constitution. And that's how you get around this two term limit, which there is no two-term limit in Russia now anyway, but that's how you get around a two term limit because you have a new constitution. Therefore, the president can sit for another two terms, but what does Putin need that for? He's just got, as he just ran through a referendum where he can stay there to 20, 36,

Speaker 3:

But the referendum has not been popular. I'm aggressions. You know, when we know that , uh , uh , by so official, of course here, they put out the numbers that they wanted to, but unofficially the electoral statistician service to me did that up to one third of Russians have actually voted against this constitution amendments . They don't want to stay in indefinitely. They still think Russia is a Europe. It needs to be at least somewhat , uh , democratic. So it's a very direct, brutal approach to stay in power. That's evident even to Russians as a very , uh , very unclassy manipulation of their electoral legislation , uh, in this sense , uh , becoming the leader they had of the union state, however, will provide student with a more legitimacy. Now can portrayed himself as a person who, you know, re repairs is a historical injustice that's been done to the Soviet union, sort of recreate this , uh , um , big Russian state play on the imperialistic sentiments of many Russians. And again , uh, Lee stopped being the presence of friendship. It's now become this , uh , higher level , uh, looter

Speaker 1:

Vacuum up the near or far from , uh, whether it be in Ukraine or whether it'd be Belarus or, and of course the Baltics , uh, you know, wide-eyed, and of course urging the EU because they're part of the EU that look, you don't understand Russia very well. If you don't get tough with Putin now. So Maria snuggle by , uh , from the center of European policy analysis, I really appreciate your time. And if anybody, you know , you know, wants to understand what's going on in Eastern Europe, Maria sneak of, I think is the best read. There is. So thank you so much, Maria. Thank you so much. When I was a correspondent in Russia, I visited a factory in Kazakhstan that's part of the former Soviet union. That factory was two football fields, long, seven stories, high, it produced deadly anthrax. There was another section where the anthrax was blowing into nuclear proof, bunkers where SS 18 Satan missiles were loaded with the biological weapon missiles pointed at places like New York and LA and Washington and London and other capitals .

Andrew Weber
Maria Snegovaya