Espreso. Global
Interview

Worst period in war is over, final stage is beginning — political scientist Czech

2 June, 2024 Sunday
21:58

Mirosław Czech, a public figure and historian, who previously served as a member in the Polish Sejm, discussed significant changes in international support for Ukraine on Espreso TV

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The signals authorizing the use of Western weapons to deter the Russian enemy are extremely promising. We are awaiting U.S. authorization, which may not be publicly disclosed. As Daniel Fried, the former State Department coordinator for sanctions policy, mentioned to me last week, it could be a solution similar to the ATACMS: we grant authorization, and then the Russians become aware of it at their military airfields, from where their planes take off to bomb Kharkiv.

Yes, this is the culmination of the process. We have received authorization from the UK. There have been reports circulating that Storm Shadow missiles were used to target the Krasnodar region, and the Russians sensed it and realized what had happened. The French are following a similar approach: President Macron stated that he authorized strikes on military targets in the presence of German Chancellor Scholz. Now, we are awaiting the decision of President Biden and the Democratic administration. But I believe that if it hasn't happened yet, it will soon. We'll know once the Russians feel the impact, and then we'll know for sure.

Let's be honest: why did it take so long for the Americans to decide on ATACMS? It wasn't because ATACMS is such a terrible weapon. The delay was due to a different understanding—that by transferring ATACMS, it would imply they could be used against targets within the territory of the Russian Federation.

The same applies to the F16s. Why would Ukraine need F16s if they aren't going to strike targets in Russia? They would merely be intercepting missiles that are already present in Ukraine, rendering them pointless. So, why send such expensive systems here?

The F-16 is a weapon that is supposed to drive Russian aircraft hundreds of kilometers away from the front line, if not deeper.

However, from what I gather, this move will signify the start of a new phase of the war, or at least that's how Russia is attempting to portray it. They are once again repeating their mantra about the nuclear threat, preparing to conduct another nuclear test, saying that as soon as the West does this, the West will be directly on the front line, and so on. The West has gone along with this, which means that there is already an understanding that Russia needs to be restrained by force.

I am extremely pleased that I can quote the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski, who supported President Macron, who said in February that we need strategic uncertainty. That is, NATO troops and French troops could be present on Russian territory. And Minister Sikorsky went further.

On the territory of Ukraine. Or is it still Russia? Is there something we don't know? Is Kaluga under threat?

Not yet. But God knows world history takes strange turns. As we know, there have been different stories.

Some miserable 400 years ago, it was the case that Kaluga was ours.

I am most concerned about the Victory Parade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Sevastopol, the construction of a wall on the Russian-Ukrainian border, and Ukraine in the EU and NATO. As for what will happen beyond the border, let those 140 million people figure it out.

Let the Chinese sort it out. 

I don't know whether they'll be called Chinese or Russians; it doesn't matter to me. Returning to something a bit more serious—about instructors and more: Minister Sikorsky made a very strong statement, which was met with nervousness in Russia.

The Russians know the price the Americans have set for them: if they attempt to use nuclear weapons, their entire army, whether stationed in Ukraine or beyond, will be destroyed.

The Americans made this statement, as Victoria Nuland, who served as Assistant Secretary of State until March of this year, conveyed it to the Russians back in 2022.

So, in terms of the strategic landscape of the war in Ukraine, it's more or less established. When it comes to the presence of NATO troops or instructors in Ukraine or NATO-affiliated countries, I would pay close attention to this. Because they will be there, and perhaps there are already instructors on the ground.

The Americans assert strongly that Russia has been able to sustain this aggressive war for so long thanks to China. They claim that without Chinese support in terms of equipment, finance, and various electronics and military-industrial complex devices, Russia would not have had the resources to continue the war. The Americans are making this point very clear and are striving to convince Europeans to adopt a similar stance.

So, there is now an understanding that the decision regarding the war in Ukraine and Russian aggression against Ukraine is not made in Moscow, but rather in Beijing. The relevant messages are being conveyed.

And the message is that Russia cannot win a war against Ukrainians for sure, and we will do everything to ensure that Ukraine wins this war.

The number of instructors may be uncertain - why are we talking about 100 or 1,000 people, it could be 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 ? The main thing is a political and military decision. If there are contingents of instructors who will be in charge of, for example, military airfields or military logistics, there may be casualties. After all, Russia does not stop shelling not only military targets, but also civilian objects. The killing of our people in Kharkiv in a supermarket is a demonstration of not only atrocity, but also of a wild Russian plan. But if Russia goes to the extent of killing several Western soldiers, it will require a clear response, possibly a military one.

So far, the response to the alleged murders of Western instructors, the greatest grief that exists, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the killing of civilian Ukrainians, particularly in Kharkiv, is predictable. In fact, this is the most painful thing that can happen, because everyone who understands the nature of this war, the nature of the Putin regime and today's Russia, realizes that the Ukrainian people are paying the highest price. And these victims could have been avoided if everything had been put in place earlier.

Are we talking about air defense systems?

Not only. I read an article in Foreign Affairs by Andriy Zahorodnyuk, former Minister of Defense of Ukraine, and Elton Cohen, a staff member of the George W. Bush administration, who is one of the leading teachers of military history in America, a very authoritative person.

They wrote directly, in fact, the same thing Timothy Snyder says: the war could have ended in 2022.

After the successes of the Ukrainian army near Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson, there were 140,000 Russian troops in October 2022. The Ukrainian army then numbered 800,000, with the defense sector at a million and a hundred thousand. If you gave them weapons, they would have been all over the place.

And the same thing is happening today. Fortunately, it seems that the consciousness is a little different-that this war can be ended and that casualties should be limited. And why President Macron's statements are so important, and what he said... General Syrsky, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, said that everything had already been signed, and Macron said: wait, I'll tell you everything here with Zelensky, so Syrsky won't tell me. He said: we will talk about everything on June 6, when President Zelensky will go to the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

Then Macron, as the host of this, will announce to the whole world how we will end this war.


And now, back to the instructors, security, and so on. I remember very well the year 2021 and the discussions about whether or not Russian troops would come in. American and British instructors were on the territory of Ukraine, and it was decided that Washington and London would first withdraw their instructors, then their embassies, as you know. And then there was a realization that the West did not really believe in Ukraine, and the scenario that was to be played out with the Javelins, the Enlawas, and so on, was the West repeating the scenario from Afghanistan or Syria: the destruction of cities and so on, extraordinary casualties. I remember my enormous indignation, I think in politics you can't do that irresponsibly. But that was my understanding of the situation.

Today we have a different understanding. Why are instructors important? You're absolutely right: it doesn't matter how many of them there are, a hundred or so. What is important today is that the Western powers are not sending them or will not send them to die on the frontlines in Ukraine - this is obvious.

This means covering the Ukrainian sky to keep them safe, because they will be the first targets.

In order to influence Western opinion, Le Pen has already said: see! Macron is already preparing us to take part in the war. Populists and various friends of Putin are pursuing this policy. Orban even said: what is this! What do they think they are doing! They are irresponsible! And so on.

We understand everything. We are recording it. You said in your program: the West's understanding of these decisions begins, and the totality of these decisions, which we discussed, should begin the final stage of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Will Duda, Tusk, Polish politicians, and the Polish military be ready to sign the documents that would allow Polish instructors to join this international contingent?

Of course, Polish instructors and others should be present, given the history, friendship, and everything else. But today, let's put it this way, Poland is facing the prospect of what we call a hybrid attack by Russia and Belarus against Ukraine, involving thousands of refugees, migrants from the Middle East, all of whom, or 90%, have Russian visas. That is, people selected by the Russians to attack the Polish border from Belarus.

Hezbollah and the Taliban are, so to speak, in Belarusian Polesie.

In Polesie, or in the Krulevets or Kaliningrad section of the border between Russia and Poland.

In other words, Poland today should be focused on protecting a common front against Russia and its ally, Lukashenko's Belarus, on the Suwalki Isthmus.

The Russian plans, which were already announced in 2009, that we would attack through this isthmus and reach Berlin, have not disavowed. They want to realize this in Moscow, and Poland is now focused on this.

Willingness and ability are two big differences. The key story is the readiness to deploy troops quickly, to react quickly and to prevent it. But I will not dismiss this danger either, because Putin went to Lukashenko. He took with him the new leadership of the Defense Ministry, and they held their meetings for two days or more. Of course, they were not talking about potatoes.

They were talking about human potatoes, in their understanding. I'm sorry to say this, but this is how they treat people. You and I, Anton, are not people to them, but those who are to be destroyed, like trash. That's how they think about people. And of course, Poland has to be focused. Like Lithuania, which is digging trenches, Estonia, Latvia. The Germans will deploy their own brigade in Lithuania. That is, to meet Putin or Lukashenko's attempts to move against Lithuania. Because three or four months ago Lukashenko was at the border, but with Lithuania, and he said: “How long is the Suwalki Isthmus-40 kilometers? Not that much”.

That is, we understand that they want to strike at NATO and show that NATO is powerless, because of the various efforts they are making, as they think, and the plans they have in Ukraine. And now we are asking whether Poland can still join those instructors. Both the Ukrainian government and various experts have asked us to close the skies over western Ukraine with our own resources. And it can be done. And when it is justified not by the fact that they are protecting the conventional gas transportation system of Ukraine, or the suburbs of Lviv and the city of Lviv itself, or other cities in western Ukraine, but by the French and British instructors, the training grounds where they are, then we are simply fine with it. If the skies are protected from Poland, and Russian missiles are flying in from the other side, it's the same as it was. Then we will feel more secure, and those Ukrainian air defense systems will move closer to the front.

Is there enough chemistry between the political elites? Because somehow it is now moving after that “we love, we dislike, we are offended," but there must be private decisions on the part of the political elites of Poland and Ukraine.

We have come very close, and I can happily communicate this with pleasure, to starting work on the so-called security agreement between Poland and Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Tusk talked for an hour about the situation in the Kharkiv sector. That is, Poland understands why, among other things, there is a threat on the Suwalki Isthmus, but, on the other hand, if Kharkiv were to fall or be surrounded, which means a million people, waves of refugees would pour into Poland again.

What would we do with them? This will not happen, but the military and politicians have to calculate everything, really.

There is something to talk about. And President Zelensky said: It's great that we are removing various sharp corners in our relations and returning to a clear trajectory of bilateral relations, but I have a big request - to close the sky. I know, I read, I know that appropriate measures are being taken, military developments and legal issues are also being calculated in cooperation with NATO. Because, for example, there was a conference in Warsaw about three weeks ago, and a representative of NATO headquarters in Belgium said: “We would like to ask Poland to share its petriots with Ukraine.

But the use of Polish Patriots to protect Ukrainian skies can also work.

Protecting French instructors and allies of British instructors. And Belgian instructors, and so on.

At the beginning of our conversation, you said that there is a feeling that different formulas are being sought - there is a public part and a non-public part. In Switzerland, a forum is being prepared on the peace formula, and there will be a public verification and a non-public verification of intentions, capabilities, etc. It is still unknown whether representatives will come-not from the United States, they will be there, whether Biden is there or not, I think American diplomacy has worked out these points very well. The question is about China and who will go from it. Because China, together with Brazil, has recently issued a revised communiqué, compared to the “Chinese plan,” which was about everything and nothing-China is for everything beautiful and for a peaceful solution, although at the same time it is preparing its navy for aggression against Taiwan.

Let me start with the latter: there is no need to exaggerate about the navy. Every time the president of Taiwan takes office, 5-7 days later, China conducts large military exercises off the coast in the Taiwan Strait, many kilometers from the Chinese mainland. And they say, “Guys, if you don't realize who is the boss here, who is the first, you will not be happy.

It's a good old Chinese ritual.

Absolutely, it is a ritual. Not to minimize the threat, of course, but it is a ritual.

Secondly, I believe that whether or not there will be a Chinese representative in Switzerland does not play a big role. So what will be negotiated in Switzerland, what is the agenda?

Is this a question for me? How to force Russia to stop its aggression, how much money Russia will have to pay.

There will be no such topics at all. There will be no discussion, no joint communiqué on Zelensky's peace plan. Out of the 10 or 12 points, only three will be discussed, and this should be in the final document: nuclear safety, shipping safety, and the exchange of prisoners - everything.

Well, this is the public part. And maybe there will be a non-public part. Or are all the decisions already made?

No, there will be no decisions. Chancellor Scholz said that there will be no decisions on peace in Ukraine. It's about something else. I liked this initiative very much, I think that Ukrainian diplomacy has done a great job with this. They need to show that the Global South does not stand on the positions of China and Russia.

Narendra Modi.

That's right. Most of the countries of the Global South are interested in being present on the platform offered by Ukraine together with its Western allies.

And the main event took place there, and I hope that it will not change: a representative of India will be present. And India plays a major role on this global chessboard in all respects, economic, military, and so on.

India is ready to replace China. In particular, in what is called human resources, the “factory” of the world. India is ready, but it needs to work on itself. And the Russian aggression against Ukraine will be a litmus test.

“It is not a litmus test to the end. We remember that India, unfortunately, also helps Russia by buying huge amounts of oil from it. Even though it tells us to pay in rupees, which should be invested in India. This is an Indian trick. I would say that it is even so. I read Western observers and Indians in the same way, and they are still holding elections, both for prime minister and parliamentary elections. Accordingly, Prime Minister Modi will be re-elected, everyone is pointing to this, and so it will happen.

This is not the case. The decision that India should compete with China economically has already been made. Western firms are moving from China to India, India is developing its advanced manufacturing, it is present in the semiconductor market. And according to all demographic forecasts, India's population has now exceeded that of China.

Not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality - the Chinese population is much older than the Indian population.

Then let's call it not quality, but demographic age composition. It is true that the Chinese population is very old and cannot recover. But the Indian population is growing exponentially.

If only those three blocks, including nuclear safety, are discussed at the summit in Switzerland, it means that all other decisions have already been made, right?

They will probably be discussed. I understand this because President Zelensky says so. They will not be mentioned in the final document, but these three aspects will be mentioned. As I understand what President Zelensky says, after this final document, work will continue on their implementation. That is, freedom of navigation: The Ukrainian Armed Forces have almost driven the Russian fleet away.

Drowned, so to speak. They are afraid to come out.

Yes, much of it successfully. Freedom of navigation - does China guarantee that this will be realized? Does it guarantee that there will be no use of nuclear weapons? And now think about it: Putin and his comrades have to sign a pledge that they will never use nuclear weapons.

He signed a memorandum in Budapest. And the nuclear doctrine of the Russian Federation, where they spelled out specific answers.

The idea is different - that Comrade Xi will slip him this paper today. And he will no longer joke and say that it is not written that way and that he does not understand this document, that you have misinterpreted it. Russia will not joke with Comrade Xi like that, that's for sure. It has changed.

How much has it changed?

Very much. It's not a situation where Putin, greedy for petrodollars, thinks that Europe is weak, America is weak, we can challenge them - we have China behind us. So he has to describe everything to China in its hieroglyphics, not in understandable English. That is, these are different games - oriental games.

The Eastern games are understandable for Putin. But it means that the Swiss summit will not be fully devoted to the formula for peace.

It will be dedicated. We are talking about the final document and what will happen next.

In what format will the negotiations continue? Or will it be quiet?

In diplomacy, of course, everything that is publicly visible develops quietly. A certain number of states will be formed that support these three points according to the Ukrainian formula. And then there are other meetings at other venues to discuss what this means.

Before or after the American elections?

It doesn't matter whether it's before or after the American elections. America's position on Ukraine will be announced in the so-called security agreement. The vote to provide aid to Ukraine (bipartisan in the House of Representatives, I think, on April 21) and what Mike Jones did, allowing the vote and passing it together with other Mike's, the chairmen of the Intelligence and Defense Committees, opened the way for America to sign a 10-year security agreement with Ukraine.

America will sign its commitments, which must be adhered to not only by today's American president, but also by his successor, the next American president, and for another 10 years.

That is, we are entering a completely different situation. Because the Americans will no longer say, “No, you guys were wrong, those were not guarantees, they were doom.

But the question is what will be the content of this agreement. We understand that a lot can depend on one comma, not to mention quantitative indicators.

No, there will be quantitative indicators plus what America is committed to. We all say that this is not a security agreement. It is not a security agreement. In the case of a security agreement with Ukraine, one must always answer one question: what will happen if the aggressor threatens to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine? If this clause is not included, it is not a security agreement, it is about supporting Ukraine. Let's call it support for Ukraine - political, military, and economic. And there are very clear indicators that in the agreement with Germany, France, and the UK, they have committed themselves. Norway has committed itself on the basis of its legislation, and the same will happen in America. This document should not be underestimated.

Just as we should not underestimate the NATO summit in Washington, which will take place in the middle of July, where, unfortunately, Ukraine will not be invited to join NATO, as we know. It will be something else, a confirmation that Ukraine will be a member. Well, we know this, it has been confirmed several times since the Bucharest NATO summit in 2008. But there will be a roadmap, so to speak, to membership. And certain deadlines have been set. That is, it will be a leap forward.

My point is that the worst time for Ukraine has passed, from October last year to the end of April this year. And the time of this stage is approaching, which will be, God willing, the final stage of the war, because that's how everything is designed. And the end of this war is not far off - this is how everything is built, this is how the world structure is being built. Plus security, plus, most importantly, assistance with military weapons and economic aid. No one will let Ukraine fall.

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