President Vladimir Putin took both Glenn and his head researcher, Jason Buttrill, ‘by surprise’ when he invaded Ukraine on Thursday — just as U.S. intelligence had predicted. So, where do we go from here? What kind of US sanctions on Russia should we expect from President Biden? What is Ukraine’s strategy militarily, will this escalate into a full ground war, and WHAT could Putin possibly gain from this? Jason and Glenn break down Putin’s possible, long-term goal & more…
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
I want to bring in Jason Buttrill who is with us now.
JASON: Hi, Glenn.
GLENN: You and I have been talking about this for a long time.
We have spent a year on Ukraine. And this takes both of us by surprise. I have to hand it to the intelligence community. Although, I don't feel comfortable. Something is not right here.
But the intelligence community and the Biden administration said, this is what he was going to do.
And he's done it.
JASON: Yeah. I agree.
It's really crazy. Because when you study geopolitics. You learn to analyze and look at these things from that lens.
You're taught that, you know, geopolitics is a study of maps. Its demographic numbers. You know, it's interest. Hard-lined interest.
When someone starts acting emotionally, like Putin has been doing for the past year plus, you learn to put that away. And you say, okay. Well, he's obviously after something else.
Which I still think there's something else involved, just like you said. So when the Biden administration was kind of saying, this is happening. Full-scale invasion. All of that.
I didn't think anything was happening. I didn't. I was looking for something behind what was going on. Because this all seemed so irrational. But I think the intelligence community was spot-on.
I've seen reports they can't be it actually, the intelligence community coming out that false flag attacks would happen. That would be the preempt to them doing a full-on invasion.
They were exactly right. And the reports that said it delayed Putin's invasion by possibly a week. Like, they wanted to do this last week, not this week.
So the intelligence community and Biden administration were exactly right on this. Now, there's ways to criticize other things, which we can get through later. What they've done.
Just a quick recap. The media sort of reporting last night, that the invasion was going to commence around 4:00 a.m. Kyiv time.
And pretty much, that was spot-on. It happened around 4:10, 4:15 Kyiv time.
And it's very, very conventional from what I've been noticing all night. This is not like Crimea in 2014 with unconventional warfare. This is a very conventional invasion. What we saw commencing around 4:00 a.m. Kyiv time.
Was airstrikes that tried to command systems. That went as far as Kyiv. And it's a three-pronged attack, coming from Belarus. Coming from Crimea in the South, and from mainland Russia in the East.
Now, we do not bank how far they want to push this, but it is a conventional invasion. It looks as if they will probably go further than eastern Ukraine. Question in you is how far they will go. And how far tensions will rise, especially with NATO gathering troops all along the border with Ukraine.
GLENN: Okay. So let's -- it looks as though he was using conventional warfare.
To cut off the troops, as they were kind of gathered, at the borders of -- of the two districts, that President Putin said he was going to take. They went behind those lines. And kind of cut them off. So they can't fall back. To -- to defend could he have. Correct? is
JASON: Yes, that's correct. Because they know Ukraine's strategy here is they will get overwhelmed. Their main strategy is in the east, guarding those two territories, as you said.
Their strategy is to do a tactical retreat back into the urban areas of Ukraine. Then it turns into both a hybrid guerilla warfare, and heavy urban warfare in the large Ukrainian cities. That is very, very bloody. That is very, very dangerous to the Russian military. As well as civilians. Russia is does not want to kill too many Ukrainian civilians.
Because that will be very, very unpopular in mainland Russia. Ukraine strategy here, as I said, is get into the cities, and to turn it into an urban conference, draw it out for as long as possible. Russia wants to stop that. That explains why they dropped in behind the troops there.
GLENN: Can they take the whole country just by air, and cutting it all off?
JASON: They absolutely can take the whole country in the short-term. It depends on how effective their air assets are, and that's what we're seeing right now is the bomb from the air.
We're seeing cruise missile strikes. So cutting off command and control, all over the country, and crippling Ukraine. So they can eventually roll into the capitol.
That will happen, is my guess. Unless somebody else intervenes. Which I kind of highly doubt.
But a short-term victory is really all Russia can hope for here. And that's a really puzzling thing.
Because I can't imagine they will win in the long-term.
In the long-term, it will be too damaging politically for Russia. It's catastrophic in the short-term.
In the long-term, I don't see how they win in this, unless there's some other grander strategy, that we just don't even know about. Which would be scarier, actually
GLENN: Yeah, I think so too.
All right. Let me take a one-minute break. And then we will come back and discuss this.
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So we have some -- some puzzling things. First of all, Putin said, he wants to de-Nazify Ukraine.
Any idea what's that about?
JASON: Same writer since he's been using since 2014. And it's directed more to the people of Russia, not anyone else in the world, or Ukraine.
But he's been using that World War II sentiment. To get public support, to do what he's now doing.
But that will continue. And no doubt, he will provide some air quote evidence, you know, that they're taking out some Nazi -- but he's drawing on World War II nationalism.
GLENN: Well, he said that there's been an ongoing genocide in Ukraine.
That he's trying to stop.
I mean, this is crazy.
JASON: And that's what makes it so hard for me, when I was looking at this before. To really think that he was going to go through with it. Putin is not a crazy guy. He may be now, but in the past, he's not been.
He's been very cold and calculating. Geopolitical and interests has always been forefront in his mind.
GLENN: He's not a -- he's not a psychopath. I mean, well, he might be. But he doesn't -- he's not somebody driven by rage.
He is cold and calculating.
GLENN: And when -- I mean, he's out and out evil. He is a bloodthirsty killer, who has spent a lifetime killing people.
But he's logical in it. He's very calculated in it.
And the rhetoric, I mean, I think the Nazi stuff, the religious stuff. That's all -- that's -- that's Dugin kind of language.
JASON: Yeah. And that's a very, very powerful weapon for Russians. Because they're very much willing to suffer, and to -- you know, to -- to basically take it, on the chin.
If they have to. If that means that their country, you know, will eventually reign supreme.
It's interesting, if you go and take a tour of the Kremlin, the red tour in Russia, which I've done many times. You'll be very surprised, to see that the former Soviet Union, the capital, in their red square. Probably 80 percent churches. There's multiple churches.
There weren't religious during the Soviet Union. But historically, during the Russian empire, they were very religious. Orthodoxy is very, very pivotal to Russian nationalism.
And even the Soviets would turn that up, when they needed to. But that's exactly what Putin has done under Dugin, especially in that speech he gave last week. That was very, very telling, to a lot of us that had been looking at this. People like you and me, Glenn.
That okay. Now we know exactly what he's doing.
He's turning up that dial of nationalism, to justify doing, you know, what he's doing. And possibly even more. Which is scary.
GLENN: Okay. Would you agree with me -- and I would like you to explore this a minute.
There is no real obvious win for Putin. His stock market has crashed. This is going to be horrible. They are in the oil business.
They just made a deal with China. But that's years down the road. They're going to shut down all the oil exports into any western country. Because of this.
So his oil is going to crash, which funds his government, and his country. The stock market is down. Business is going to be cut off.
It's already in shambles, in Russia.
What does he have to gain here? Can you think of anything, that he has to gain?
JASON: I've always thought from the beginning of this, especially when I didn't think invasion would happen. I thought he was playing a game, to divide and conquer NATO. That's what I thought. And I still think that's a major part of his plan. Taking Ukraine is also very, very important, strategically for Russia. To get a strategic death.
It's always been their plan, was to have some buffer, so they could have their capital in Moscow.
GLENN: Yeah, but also the warm water port.
JASON: Exactly. When he's talking about heart of Russia, that's true. I don't think that really guides him. I think that's the excuse he uses to get support from home.
JASON: But I think -- and it's very irritating I think that -- we're talked about, Putin is not a psychopath. I think he's very spiteful. I think that the Russian election interference, which I don't think did anything. I don't want to say it did. But their election interference thing is a direct response to Hillary Clinton, and what they did to his election.
I think that a lot of what we're doing now, is a direct response to how the Obama administration and all his foreign policy elites handled 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
I think he responded to these people, directly in kind. That's also the reason why he was willing to back off of this when Trump was there. He knew that's not how they operated. And they weren't the ones directly responsible for what happened. And I think it's ridiculous, that NATO wouldn't respond. Wouldn't say, hey, we will not admit Ukraine into NATO. Why couldn't they say that?
NATO was irrelevant. And the irony of this is now that Putin is responding to that, it's making NATO relevant again. I think eventually his goal is to play the long game.
Eventually, there will be NATO countries. Like Germany will not want to attack. They won't want to send troops. That will cause a divide in NATO. That's going to cause a divide between the UK and France. They won't want to attack either.
And, eventually, this will play out, where NATO will do what he wanted. He wanted NATO to do a draw. That benefits China and everybody else on Russia's side.
His ultimate goal is the long game. Divide NATO. Possibly the end of NATO. And get strategic deaths with Ukraine.
GLENN: Okay. Thank you very much, Jason. I appreciate it.
I will give you another perspective, when we come back.
Because I -- I just don't think -- I mean, I agreed with, he's trying to break up NATO. But not anymore.
This is costing him too high of a price at home.
What could he be angling for?
I'll throw a couple of ideas your way, next.