tv Discussion on Russias Military Buildup Along Ukraine Border CSPAN December 19, 2021 1:02pm-2:42pm EST
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and our chairman, senator ben cardin, i would like to welcome you to this briefing on russia's printing up along ukraine's border. i am a senior policy advisor. it is great to see 70 old friends and colleagues from the hill, the executive -- it is so great to see so many old friends and colleagues from the hill. given the seriousness, it does bear repeating. the kremlin has dramatically increased its military capability in and around ukraine , leading to predictions that the russian regime may be preparing for an operation in the coming weeks or months. russian military movement has worried allies and observers and the cia director was dispatched
to telegraph concerns. secretary of state antony blinken has also described it. on december 7, president biden held a two hour phone call with russian president vladimir putin over the buildup. according -- according to open sources, the troops total a hundred thousand troops and there is heavy equipment and capabilities per the estimates do not include pre-positioned forces which could be used in a quick military action. one source suggests that as many as 170 5000 troops are being prepared for invasion -- 170 to
5000 troops are being prepared for invasion. the urgency of deterring and expanding russia's invasion to that end, i am beyond thrilled to welcome an all-star panel of experts to leave this important question. i will briefly recount their impressive biographies in their speaking order. after they speak, we will set aside for a healthy q and a. for those on the webex, enter your questions on the chat. before we kick off, i want to recognize and thank the cochairman steve: for his participation in the event. i believe he is here. i would like you to offer remarks before i turned to the panelists.
it seems he hasn't joined us just yet. so i will move on to introducing our panelists. first, i would like to welcome our frequent collaborator doctor and well in, and analyst and russian in european affairs, where he focuses on russian politics, military and intelligence, and u.s. foreign policy towards russia. he has also as of yesterday a newly minted phd, so i believe welcome and a hearty congratulations is in order. second, robert lee, a phd candidate at the war studies ryman at king's college in london and a fellow at the research institute. he is a must follow on twitter for his original open-source analysis and insights on russian military activity.
i would like to welcome my old friend, an expert on security and currently an associate fellow at the world united institute. he has from ukraine and provides both a ukrainian perspective on the own fulton crisis as well as a broader assessment based on extensive experience working in central and eastern europe. last and certainly not least is my friend, and analyst on politics -- an analyst. she is a fellow at the strategic studies institute. these representatives, she has had to leave belarus due to high risk of prosecution for her work. we thank her for her courage and participation today.
unless mr. cohen has joined us, we can vent to the panelists. -- we can move on to the panelists. dr. bolin, lead us off with a baseline. >> absolutely come and thank you for that introduction. it is pleasure to work with you and the helsinki commission. the use of a wide range of policy strategies has escalated tensions with russia's neighbors, throughout it all, in my remarks i will touch on them briefly and talk about russia's intentions, including themes related to russian perception and recent shifts in russian policymakers and potential major
areas of concern many of the issues and concerns highlighted in recent weeks, some of which i will describe our long-standing leaving commentators to question what russia is at also speculating about what russia could gain with such policies, including -- one possible framework is that russian leaders are concerned about a deteriorating strategic environment. in this scenario, you could believe that russia's current economic military and political situation is relatively advantageous, but may not continue into the future, thus weakening russia's bargaining position. to prevent a weakening bargaining position in the future, russian leaders may believe is worthwhile to conduct even more aggressive and risky policies to gain confessions or
settle issues on terms more favorable to russian now, spite penalties and costs. some analysts point to an array of considerations. russian, political and military leaders assert the increased expansion of nato in the presence of european and u.s. military forces on its border art existential security threat to russia. while policymakers explicitly identify nato membership for ukraine and georgia as redlined, you must know that russia's central concern is the western military forces and capabilities on or around russia's borders, which includes nato and u.s. military infrastructure. political and military leaders
are concerned that nato and u.s. military forces could place long wish -- long-range the souls, which could -- long-range missiles. they cite these factors to seemingly ignore the role that russian policies played. russia has improved and increased the posture on the western strategic direction, which includes ukraine and the black sea region. ashen leaders do not appear to have knowledge this change as a cause -- russian leaders do not appear to have acknowledged this change. they have increased concern on the aspiration to join nato even though the operations are new and perceived -- by ukraine by russian interpretation and
negotiate on the political status of a russian backed entity. concerns had existed for years, increasingly aggressive and concerning rhetoric from russian policymakers. increasingly, russia's leadership has cited growing aggression from nato and u.s. forces in member countries. as previously noted, russia's leaders have spoken out on the expansion of nato to countries such as ukraine and georgia, specifically, president putin as well as other russian leaders, have grown increasingly strident in their vilification of ukrainian leaders. this rhetoric is coupled with characteristics of the ukraine state and people, genocide, and russian leadership attempts to rewrite history towards a more favorable narrative to support
current policies. many analysts and policymakers are concerned that such rhetoric could be used as justification for more aggressive action. turning to the role of russian activities, they want to support allies and implement measures to deter and commit russian aggression. these measures and legislation include sanctions on russian energy, defense, and arms sales. members of congress support a range of goals, such as responding to russian military activity, addressing russia's abuse of the financial systems. they additionally encourage efforts to bolster nato, including a presence and supporting ukraine lethal and
nonlethal training. these policies aid ukraine's efforts to reform its military to not only defend its integrity and meet nato standards. ukraine, supported by partners, have improved capability since 2014 and are now more capable and professional military. i would be happy to speak more on these. ukraine's military has room for improvement. high levels of patriotism, the military culture is influenced by a legacy that does not adequately promote competency, requiring -- this contribute to high turnover of professional officers and soldiers, making attention a major concern and leading to
issues of mobilization. furthermore, ukraine has a large industrial sector which produces a wide range of anti-ships, and tanks. many are capable systems but ukraine is still an immediate need of systems. this includes more urgent assistance in logistics, and rooming command and control -- and improving command and control and medical supplies. for many in congress, supporting effective strategies to bolster ukraine's efforts to defend its territorial integrity remain a top priority. this will be a key area of focus in the days and weeks ahead. i look forward to your questions and comments. thank you. michael: thank you so much,
andrew. it is incredibly couple information and very useful analysis, alarming as it may be. turning to rob, if you could add to that from your perspective, what would you say is the situation with russian capabilities and what does that tell us about russia's strategic events? rob: thanks so much for having me. i will dive into some of the military details. it is important to emphasize that what we are seeing is a continuation of what began in the spring. large carol buildup in ukraine, ground forces, navy, and airborne forces in the same locations. despite the large buildup, russia didn't provide let's explanation or details.
this includes a number of tanks and missile systems. it is quite a unique movement that doesn't happen during normal exercises. a number of attack and short range missiles to attack ukraine. russia sent in a significant reinforcement of naval capabilities. april, large naval grouping in the black sea. they also added ships and 10 artillery boats and landing crafts. it tested and exercised at the end of that event.
airborne operations, 40 aircraft dropped two dozen paratroopers with 60 airborne armored vehicles. the inspection was announced to be a success and the units were moved back the exception of the 41st staying behind. during that exercise, it was indicated that was not the purpose. the activity began in october around the time ukraine kept the first airstrike. compared to the spring, a lot of equipment moved at nighttime and russia securing units being moved. during the spring buildup, a lot of equipment was moved to crimea , but not as much on ukraine's northern border.
the difference this time is the equipment for the 41st was moved hundred 50 miles north of ukraine's border -- 150 miles north of ukraine's order. -- ukraine's border. a lot of what we are seeing now have been near where the equipment is being moved to. they moved more to the northern border. it is somewhat less in crimea. this leaves russia greater capacity for a large-scale invasion from the northeastern borders and threaten ukraine's capital. the reason why we are seeing reinforcements is some russian units are being formed still.
they are not fully formed and units from other districts and areas are coming in. in addition to the units from the 41st, elements from the 55th. there are elements from three rifle brigades and tank division. in addition, the borders of ukraine they are moving further away. we have seed regains and the 49th and 58th combining. all that is moving closer to the ukraine borders. russian airborne forces have moved close to the border as well. in addition to these being temporary deployments, fears they are deploying more permanent units. it appears the new regiment
being formed, and equipment being moved there and the air salt brigade has been created -- air assault brigade has been created. now you have permanent units based in crimea. in addition, heavy engineering equipment, vehicles, air defense , and a lot of significant assets. if russia did intend to invade, they would bring these assets supporting. they would just invade with regular, but supporting assets. the ukraine military said they deployed troops in the spring near ukraine.
a combined arms formation with 700 to 900 personnel. typically it is waste around -- based around a tank unit with supporting attachments. tanks and tank companies and supporting assets. they are made by contract soldiers. they can apply -- deploy on short notice. intelligence found them near ukraine now and they expect up to 100 to be there. russian military is 168 in total. it is less than one third of russia's total ground power. if they go up to 100 it would be two thirds of russia's total ground power.
this is supported by reservists. a new program but unclear how it is working but appears to be new in the summer. one of the most concerning aspects is russia is moving units based far away with heavy equipment. the things that take time to move. what it means is from moscow and beyond. they are pre-position that now and the concern is that if russia decides to invade the next steps will be faster with less warning. they can move units that are later it is easier to deploy troops and heavy equipment. worship is moving military unit
two ukraine for the possibility for a large ground invasion. if russia decides to escalate, it would compel kiev to give into their demands. it would inflict pain on ukraine and make conceding the preferable option. that could be destroying soldiers and infrastructure and making the situation unsustainable. the extent to which russia -- even if they decide not to support the ground division, they can do damage to the ukraine military with artillery, rocket systems, short range
ballistic souls. -- ballistic missiles. the black sea fleet has six submarines and four missile ships. they have cruise missiles with high range. i would be happy to answer any questions you have. michael: thank you. thank you for that very interesting overview but also rather ominous one. i want to take a pause here and invite cochairman stephen: to offer his remarks before we move on to the other panelists -- cochairman stephen cohen to offer his remarks before we moved to the other panelists.
stephen: russia has more than enough forces to cause concern and ukraine, which i indeed have. mr. lee, you didn't come to -- and nobody can come to -- an extremely well informed or i guess opinions what the russian intention would be, but can you give me any thought of that from their actions? have they done something like this before, if they have, when and where. rob: so what i emphasized is that it is hard to determine if it is a probability for russian invasion. but it is almost certain that the risk of a large-scale russian escalation is greater now than any time since 2015. the capabilities are there.
they haven't done anything like that since 2015 or 2014. the russian military is more capable. in terms of assessing how likely it is, it is hard to tell. the issue is when you recognize the continuation in the spring, russia was trying to send a signal in the spring and trying to warn nato and the u.s. about actions we were taking that they considered were crossing the red lines. in the summer, from a russian perspective, they think the redline has been crossed and this this the last warning we are going to get. concerns me is they will have the capability in place for a large-scale escalation soon in the demands and rhetoric become needed in specific -- become heated and specific and it becomes more of a credibility test for the russian leadership.
all that makes me much more concerned. i don't know if i could say it is probable but i would not be surprised if it occurs and there are a number who feel it is more likely to occur than not occur. stephen: you said the last major buildup was 2014 22015 -- 2014 to 2015. rob: it mentioned that the ukraine military is much more capable than it was then so russia needs greater power to invade now than they would back then. in terms of buildups, i am not sure if there was anything since 2014, 2015 like we saw this year in the spring in october, just because they involved so much equipment at a high percentage of the russian military combat
power. so 2014 was unique but i don't think they were expecting that ahead of time. this time they had time to plan. what they have been since 2015 is to play a lot of key units to ukraine there they brought back divisions for fighting large-scale wars. they are receiving contract soldiers and equipment. it all points to ukraine being the biggest problem set of the russian military. the buildup we are seeing now is unlike anything we have seen any time this, if the company spring as part of this continuation. stephen: in 2014 and 2015, is that when they went forward? rob: it occurred in 2014 and there was involvement of russian forces over the summer but the
large came in august and and all this for the ukraine military were able to push back forces. yet russian military and other groups and they had success in july and -- they had russian military and other groups and they had success in july and essentially overt structures. stephen: how many casualties did the russians take on an action? rob: i don't have the data on me , and the russians don't acknowledge their actions. they try to hold off in publishing data figures. there were hundreds of deaths and units that took significant casualties. stephen: thank you. i want to listen to the other
panelists before we go further, but we need to do what we can to protect ukraine and let the russians know we are not going to accept their aggression and there will be sanctions in additional -- we have to support ukraine, because otherwise it is prudent and the soviet union. michael: thank you. i couldn't agree more. i think we can move on to a doctor who can provide perspective from a ukrainian view, but also as someone who has worked in and around the region extensively and also has a unique perspective working from london and among our friends there looking at the situation unfold with great interest and concern. >> thank you very much, michael. thank you for the opportunity to address the helsinki commission on this important subject today.
i posted russian military buildup next to the ukrainian border in the occupied crimea. as we have seen, this is to imitate -- intimidate ukraine or whether this is a separation for some sort of military scenario against ukraine or some kind of scenario targeting critical infrastructure. they have capabilities in place and if russia wants to invade it, it has all the necessary
military assets in place. we are all very well aware of russia's choosing to escalate and raising the stakes considerably. on russia's written proposal, i believe fight sheds light on expectations. this proposal signals that a scenario that is dependent on the progress of the security guarantees. it makes perfect sense for russia, intimidating ukraine has
been instrumental to engage the u.s. and west what russia calls a more just international security order. it implies sovereignty in the soviet space. the security guarantees that russia's demands include decisions that ukraine and georgia will become nato members and u.s. and other nato member states not a strike on states neighboring russia. this is how we see the russia's reading of the comprehensive and indivisible security.
this is contrary to what the democratic systems are based on an the principal being freedom of strategic choice of each seven nation. now the notion of a security guarantee, if rejected, russia is likely to embed the sentiment into its foreign and domestic discourse. it is to have this proposal at least partially accepted. the west will elaborate or offer some confidence building measure for russia and perhaps nobody would call it a security guarantee but russia hopes that
this will allow military cooperation with ukraine or abstain from military presence in the black sea. i believe that russian statements about the security guarantee will prove to be a crucial threshold and a reference point for the future of the interactions. it is a comprehensive outline of russian requests or even demands , and done under the circumstances of a massive military buildup, i believe it will enter into history. russia is likely to want the security guarantee within all
relevant platforms and already mentioned it is owing to advanced the idea at the next round of the u.s.-russia dialogue. it is to put pressure and yes it is preoccupied with china and blocking the nord stream 2 in the strategic stability and other crucial shoes. -- crucial issues. recently there have been -- on what the u.s. should do to address this growing russian belligerence and pressure.
those discussions are on ukraine policymaking and in civil society and the messages here. russia hearing from washington that no discussions will take place about ukraine without ukraine and that ukraine will not be pushed into some kind of confession under pressure to advance with russia. this is a very important signal that other states might have based on their historical experience of being left out of the great power conversations about their fate. it has been quite worrisome that some of the arguments heard recently are advocating not to
provoke russia. ukraine's security interest, desire not to undermine ukraine's security. the engagement and the fact that it will never meet russia's interest in ukraine. i would argue and many ukrainian see it this way that they argue that ukraine would be better off if the west disengages and stops providing military assistance. it is dangerous, because there is no evidence suggesting that as a result of any kind of bargain between russians in exchange for a confession that russia would provide security guarantees and not to mention
destabilizing ukraine. there is a perspective, this has been the craning perspective that yielding to pressure would not bring solution and de-escalation that everybody is very hopeful because there is no evidence to suggest it would provoke this massive escalation. i think that the most visible escalation would be raising the state for action and it would be dissuaded from aggression. this escalate to escalate strategy isn't option at the
moment. to sum up what is the best policy response to the proposed security guarantees and military buildup and russia's growing belligerence in general, the point is to remedy the engagement that i mentioned in ukraine, because it will invite more aggressive action. it makes the action more plausible than just abstaining and trying to not provoke russia. it outweighs the risk of engagement or bigger engagement. we have seen in the past russia has used the military. i think this lesson has to be
learned and the aim should be to -- an exit is talking about the future and what kind of scenario will russia opt for. low intensity conflict in ukraine. the main thing is veto power and it already serves russia's interest. the decision to escalate militarily or to invade ukraine will be taken only in the event that russian decision-makers assess that the chief outcome and gains would be more beneficial than the current status quo and there will be no or the costs will be --. you may think russia is quite emotional about ukraine and
canned act irrationally -- and can act irrationally. russia is acting on rational calculations and so it can be interred from military action -- can be determined from military action if there is a safety regulation in place. michael: you also have a unique view as a belarusian and seven who watches the larger space and security dynamics the region. to what extent do think belarus is involved? >> and cute, great to be here. i will try not to overshadow the discussion about ukraine with a
belarusian perspective but talk to something relevant to my home country. in august 2020 with the political crisis in belarus and i had to flee the country, i later met with the european advance that are that summer -- european ambassador and one of the top things they were concerned about is not so much the question to what extent russia would use the situation and use the vulnerability of the belarusian government to attack ukraine? if -- having this question today emphasizes how the international community views belarus. i would also emphasize that now as the lukashenko regime is clinging to power, it became
clear that was -- that it was only political support and economic support and rhetoric internationally when moscow said that any resolution of the belarusian -- when they become more prone to accept any offer coming from russia, there are now talks about whether we will see military bases appearing in belarus, and that is something even lukashenko was unwilling to discuss with russia five years ago. now we have seen the establishment of the so-called training center in the western direction and there are actual talks about what kind of capabilities could be placed there and what extent you can call this an actual training center.
then there are intel reports earlier about possible plans to attack, let alone this hybrid migration crisis. it was interesting to see how russia launched the nuclear capabilities to belarusian airspace and solidarity with the union state to belarus. i think it was it interesting way for moscow to be indirectly involved into the migration crisis to test the patience of nato, to think about how nato authorities would react to this and provocations on the border of baltic states without direct interference. and then there were calls from european leaders and some sort
of offer, dialogue and out handle lukashenko and to be intermediary in this conversation in the end gained for russian interests. i would bring in the results such as the lending of the plane which likely happened without some sort of implicit acknowledgment of russia and forces that suggest russian special services were involved. there is also evidence that russian special services infiltrated in ukraine and other cooperation of belarusian and russian special services in ukraine, russia, and elsewhere.
it brings an open question, how far this would go and how they would use this to its own advantage to play around a desperate lukashenko. and use belarus as a source of instability in the region. what i want to emphasize is that there is the ukrainian issue, which is obviously important for the security architecture, but belarus which would bring more instability in the coming months if this is prolonged and russia is an obvious stakeholder in this crisis. also we talk about the possible policy accommodations and what the belarusian 30's are talking
about -- belarusian authorities are talking about. but also as the crisis started in belarus in 2020, some sources suggest that china asked russia to interfere into the aleutian crisis to stabilize -- into the belarusian crisis to stabilize because china has interests in belarus. this goes to the russian cooperation and how it could go into places like belarus. talking about what can be done, i think it would be oversimplistic to talk about clear solutions, which fixes that could solve the crisis or somehow put an end to russian geopolitical appetite. there were some calls to let say include belarus higher up into
the agenda and conversations between moscow and washington, something similar to ukraine. this is an important puzzle of the regional security and the u.s. attention to belarus should be a little higher up, for instance what we saw in the biden-pruden -- biden-putin talks where belarus was also for other topics but also calls to put pressure on belarusian enterprises on top of the u.s. sanctions. should the alaric seen government -- should the belarusian government host. it also comes at an interesting interplay with the measures in the belarusian act and the sanctions on the u.s. which also prescribed the possibility of
sanctions on the russian individuals and companies involved in supporting lukashenko. one caveat based in serving the belarus confident u.s. -- belarus-u.s. relations. there were successful attempts of the belarusian resume -- regime to persuade that the sanctions should be postponed temporarily and exploit loopholes and vulnerabilities and bring the sanctions and make them eventually insignificant. i think i will stop here. also with the understanding that the issue is so complex that it is hard to say there is one easy fix and if we introduce this particular strategy it would work today and mitigate the
risks. michael: great, thank you so much for that really rich and textured context. it envelopes the entire region just how broad this crisis really is and that it is well beyond just ukraine. i want to move on to some us chins, but first i would like to recognize marc veasey representative -- recognize representative marc veasey , who has joined us. want to give chairman cohen the opportunity to ask some questions and then we can go to representative veasey.
>> unless they are nostradamus i don't think they can answer my questions. i yield to marcm. marc: i visited ukraine, it is hard to remember what year it was, it was around 2015, 2016 timeframe. one of the things they made it clear was that russia really didn't want to take over, at least that was the opinion people we visited with. they did not want to take over ukraine but there were strategic reasons on why they wanted to be in crime era, particularly with
the black sea and that long-term they wanted to keep things disorganized over there. i was wondering what do some of the panelists think that russia has to further gain by creating activities outside of crimea and further into the country? michael: maybe we can start with maryna. maryna: i agree that it has been keeping the veto power. after all this competition, pushing forward. it is likely to have the power to block ukraine's independent
foreign policy choice to join nato or which other policy choice ukraine can opt for. i believe this is still valid to this point. i might be mistaken, but i hope that the understanding that even though there is disparity in the military potential between the two countries, it will not be as victorious because one needs to keep the territories and it will not be the understanding of the ukrainian people to protect them. it will not be in easy military -- for russia.
the show that it will not leave ukraine alone while ukraine is shouldering primary responsibilities and this military support on the side of its partners. there are other considerations that we might ask ourselves, why now? what can possibly change in the russian decision-makers? many would argue that it could make sense because in this case that russia could use as a card against the west or it is really about the changing of the strategic landscape, gaining access to the south, where
currently ukraine has headquarters and would finalize the vote for establishing the russian domination in the black sea. it is almost clear or many would argue it is about gaining access to -- for crimea. there are so many scenarios in place can look at. i think it is to work on everything that could prevent those calculations and russian decision-makers to make this political decision. i believe this is the message that should be understood.
it is very important to have planning but more important to do everything in our power to find the message that russia should not go for that because the response will be very strong. michael: thank you very much. marc: since russia is putting so much energy to being disruptive in ukraine, what about georgia? is ukraine seen as a much easier target in ways than georgia? will it give the people in georgia a little bit more breathing room as we say in america because they know the russians will want to try to be disruptive in ukraine.
i remember in 2008 when the russians tried to go into georgia. do you have any thoughts on that? rob: the georgians in their view learned their lesson and will try to -- they saw and demonstrated. ukraine is a much larger country. it is still a goal and they continue to become stronger and the fighting is ongoing. after georgia, there wasn't much of a front line where there were ongoing hostilities. the situation is quite different. also, ukraine's role in russian culture is so significant that
the big issue is that the position where russia is in, they removed the pro-russian voting areas in ukraine and changed the map permanently. they were hoping at some point they would be smart. they would be smart. but ukraine is still a hostile place from their perspective. we are treating the ukraine as a long-term hostile problem. we want to solve the issue now whereas before they hoped things might come around. at this point has not come around. marc: if i could ask one more question to follow up on that? rob: please do. marc: does the corruption issues they have in the ukraine versus the other players in the region
like georgia make the situation even harder to get a handle on and fuel a lot of the russian aggression there in your opinion? or even if they were able to significantly clean up the corruption, do you think the russians would continue to do the things they do and a provocative way? maryna: this is a widely debated topic and there has been progress in this space. it is not 100% success story but still there has been progress. it is important i think to understand and emphasize that ukraine is conducting two struggles. the struggle against russian aggression and the second is
against the dysfunction of the state. reforms need to be carried out in those conditions and at the same time ukraine needs to be militarily capable state to resist aggression. however, it does not validate attempts to exact territory. i think it is important to resist -- succumb to the russia promoted impression that by supporting ukraine, providing military assistance to ukraine, we agree with the corrupt regime. we are actually making ukraine
more democratic and resilient to threats and not the opposite. there should be important checks and to really push for policy in ukraine. we have seen that clearly. but again, no issues like this -- [indiscernible] -- i would be happy to say russia concentrated on ukraine. unfortunately, russia is very much capable to maintain several hotspots.
marc: i appreciate that. when we were there one of the things they kept impressing upon us and we heard several times, we met with the former heavyweight boxing champion because people in the ukraine new he had made a lot of money in america. they were very hopeful that he was going to be this honest leader. i am not sure if he is still in office or not but i thought that was fascinating to hear that so often with the different groups we visited with. thank you very much, michael. michael: thank you. i appreciate the excellent questions. i believe he is still in our and
i saw a report the other day -- i believe he is still the mayor. -- we have great questions from the audience but i wanted to ask one question that has been a burning question in my mind among other things. russian demand, to the extent they have been made clear, appear to be largely fixed on the question of revising the european security architecture. this as opposed to ambiguous complaints about something like nato seems to be the defining element. i guess to the kremlin's very mild credit they have been consistent on this point. it sounds like former russian
president which is an ominous indicator. it seems to me to be a functional nonstarter because it would carve up europe into spheres of influence, sacrificing the sovereignty of states russia decides it should control in a arrangement. this strikes me not only bad for ukraine but a bid by russia to break the normative system that has undergirded decades of relative peace and prosperity in europe and the world as a whole. and thus guarantee what would be generations of future conflict. i would like to ask the panelists, what do you think about this russian demand in general and is there a way to achieve when the core arrangement seems to be focused on neocolonial policy?
russia has the power to reassert what they view as russian security interest. looking at debates about possible russian intention and messaging it seems they are messaging to possibly a variety of audiences and actors. on one level they are messaging to possibly ukraine or that ukraine needs to recognize -- they want ukraine to recognize that russia is the primary military actor in the region. they are threatening possible invasion to also signal the west will not come to ukraine's aid and ukraine will have to come to russia's understanding. they are also possibly signaling to europe and west that they
want to be included in new negotiations and understanding of european architecture. and to better include the russian security interest in these discussions and understanding. possibly in the same way many negotiations happen between the west and soviet union during the cold war. again, i think it is important to understand from the russian perspective i think what they are doing is forcefully reasserting their claim to the west's understanding of russian dominance in the sphere of influence. that is not justifying their approach but it is important to understand the framework they are using and craft the strategies to respond back to the russian claims. michael: thank you, andrew.
kat, is there an agreement for such an environment? >> i think it brings us to this whole conflict between the democracy and autocracy and what are the chances they would agree on something and that the ruler would respect the agreement? if it seems today it is safer and less expensive or less difficult to make concessions to the troublemaker one of the guarantees the same troublemaker will not come up with demands tomorrow? it also answers the violations of human rights and oppressions happening in russia against the political imposition and how much you can trust the regime
that has demonstrated for two decades a political appetite. thinking in the case of belarus, for russia, any solution of peaceful democratic transition is an acceptable option even though belarus will not build the fence with russia overnight. especially because the public opinion polls are not so much anti-russian. at the same time in the kremlin's eyes, in their worldview, this is the unacceptable victory of democratic government and they would see this as an immediate
threat and something that would be prone to the nato and western influence so to say. michael: maryna, care to offer some insight? rob? rob: one of the ones is broader security infrastructure. i think that is one area where we should engage the russians. we should look for dialogue, most of the trees we had have lapsed. there is a good opportunity to look at where can we find agreement about security measures that we can limit the tension in europe? i think that is useful. the issue is that ukraine's goals have shifted.
it used to be know ukraine is nato and now it is no nato in ukraine. it is a concern that nato's cooperation is increasing. nato armed forces are increasing, training missions are increasing, and i think what they want to do is they want to draw the line now and say no more. javelin deployments are one thing but i think what they want to do is draw the line now before we start deploying artillery, missile defense systems, or long-range missile systems that would significantly change and negate russia's advantages. that is what they are pushing at. the big question is what are the
minimum demands? what are the minimum demands that if satisfied russia will say, we will not use force? it is hard to tell. i think the main thing we have seen is there is not much appetite for main concessions regarding ukraine's sovereignty. we should look at other places will be consult security concerns without undermining ukraine. one thing we have not heard as much is russian officials are concerned about missile defense systems and long-range ammunitions being deployed near russia. an option we could take is the baltics. we have said we are not going to do that but we could say, this
is irresponsible and if we do this, it could worsen russia's security position. it might be enough to say, ok, we will offset that in the baltics. i think there are a few different things but it is hard to tell what is the minimum demand that will solve the issue right now or develop going forward. maryna: i think russians best operate on mutually exclusive strategies. russia finds itself and perceives itself as the best. it is a normal state.
[indiscernible] seeing the messaging, especially under the current circumstances of the military, is to have this messaging very well thought out. we could agree the idea is very important and that it is not some kind of privilege granted to russia but we needed at the time when the relations are at their lowest. at the same time i think we need to understand clearly that russia can and is likely to leverage this, let's say, vast proclivity and will try to find the vulnerability here. the one thing is to conduct and
find some positive agenda in the relationship with russia now. if russia pushes forward, let's put aside the ukraine, which is hopeless at the moment until the conditions are more conducive, and let's focus on other promising areas. i think we should not fall into this trap because it is very dangerous saying that, yes, let's put aside the problems and tried to focus on rewarding russia. focusing where it is necessary where it prevents military escalation rather than rewarded.
michael: excellent point. i would like to turn to audience questions. we have about 15 minutes left. we are going to try to get through these as quickly as possible. i think the first question is from my old friend alex. why should moscow decide the foreign policy other sovereign countries and why, when russia broke its own treaty with ukraine and invaded the dunmba, should they trust moscow rather than nato? katsiaryna, do you want to take a stab at this? katsiaryna: just because they could and they wanted to. i don't have a better answer to
that. michael: i guess the question is why should the west or individual countries trust russia's word when it seems to have gone back on its word in the past? and i think the implication from alex, which i think is a sharp one, is this only promotes and pushes the idea that countries should join nato rather than dissuading from them. maybe you can comment on that. katsiaryna: i think there is another limitation to how much nato wants to expand and promote this idea, which i already met several times in the past year about the experts who would claim to expand nato you would irritate russia.
therefore belarus or ukraine should, depict pragmatically, be a buffer zone not to trigger russia or russian interest. i have also seen a bunch of conclusions by the u.s. that would claim, why should we care about moscow when they are the key rival and maybe we should let russia do whatever they want to the region? i think that is a very dangerous pattern of thought because we have already seen in the 20 something years in moscow to what are the possible consequences of these inclinations. michael: great. would anyone else like to weigh in on the question quickly? maryna: i could. go ahead.
rob: when dealing internationally the moral questions of why should russia, some of them are what russia can and will do. -- andrew: it is bringing back the unfortunate reality of the situation that we have to deal with russia operating on that premise and it views certain things as national security and will take steps to advance and ensure its own security. again, understanding the framework with which policymakers may be viewing the situation and potential dialogue with russia, you engage with
adversaries and negotiate with dialogue not because you trust them. you come to agreements because you don't trust them and you make clear lines and standard understandings because you don't understand them. you want to lock them into certain agreements and codes of conduct that have clearly defined standards of accessible conduct and what will violate that. it is not trusting an adversary but engaging with them to come to that for make of understanding to hopefully standardize and de-escalate potential areas of conflict and reduce the propensity or the possibility of escalation where russia believes we are acting according to one framework and we are believing russia is
acting according to another. that is the possible intent of dialogue and i think it is an unfortunate necessity that you have to talk to the people you are not friends with. you have to have some level of dialogue. maryna: just briefly from my side on the question why russia decides the sentiment, the fact that russia feels traumatized by the current international order, that does not mean to give in and empathized with this trauma by giving in.
georgia and other nations have also been traumatized by russian policies. i believe they should be kept in mind when we talk about dialect with russia that other nations have to be present and their interests have to be taken into account. michael: i think it is important to remember sometimes too that it is ukraine's neighborhood as well, it is george's neighborhood as well. they should have a say in what happens. i think this is directed to andrew. the question states, when detail mentioned is the u.s. is ready to sanction russia in the event of an invasion.
this is typically followed by other ways to support ukraine. to your knowledge what kind of military support ukraine expect, excluding boots on the ground? in particular one of the weaknesses of the ukrainian army is anti-air missile defense systems. what assistance can ukraine expect in the event of a renewed invasion? i will start with andrew. andrew: absolutely. i will not speak to promises of aid or what it is going to happen -- what is going to happen. some other possible areas ukraine and its allies should look toward and we think about when we address security needs and areas of support, previously ukraine has received humvees,
although sorts of things. the most famous has been the antitank missile systems that are extremely capable systems. but security systems are framed in strategic levels. the way to shift that is outside the balance of possibility. when we think about security assistance to the ukrainian military often times we think about it in increasing ukraine's capabilities to defend its own integrity and filling the gaps ukraine has. ukraine already has capable anti-ship systems but it produces them domestically. a law of the resources and supplies it needs are the less
flashier aspects i would argue. support the logistics systems which include planning and advising, medical supplies. one major area ukraine needs continued assistance with because the u.s. has been supporting this is defense against russia's electronic systems. russia developed extremely capable systems and incorporated that in the doctrine. it is a major threat. when it comes to air defense systems that again is a tougher question. ukraine has outdated or early russian air defense systems. they are in need of newer and updated air defense systems. the question is, what air defense systems will best
provide ukraine defenses? when we talk security existence it is not just the latest investment equipment. we have to think about the time spent to train ukrainian personnel on the equipment, integrating that with current systems so there is a whole range of things we need to think about rather than sending them the latest advanced systems. actually the ability of those to integrate with current ukrainian military capabilities and systems. we also need to think about not just with their partners are providing but how much those cost to make payments and train and sustain. if you provide equipment to costly for the ukrainians to sustain, that will become the net negative to the defense budget.
it could be going toward other areas and aspects that would be more effective. michael: great. this has been such a complex and multivariate issue that we have gotten some great detail but i wanted to get to the final questions and i will read them one after the other impose them to the panelists to take on as they will. the first being how would a russia-ukraine military -- what is the world's response to russia moving nuclear weapons onto ukrainian territory after ukraine signed onto the nonproliferation treaty and certify the ukrainian territory would not harbor nuclear armament? i think part of the implication here is crimea or maybe also the
possibility of tactical nuclear weapons. i will let the panelists take these on. maybe on the economic question, maryna, do you have any thoughts on that? maryna: i mean, let's put it in a strategic picture. the ukraine economic relation and how this will attack those relationships. there is another correction i see in the chat about general ramifications. of course, we understand this would be a catastrophic scenario. we need to try to prevent at all cost.
we have seen already millions of ukrainians fleeing from the war not to mention the dramatic affect that will have. from the point of view of this political messaging to the autocratic regime today there is no effective response to this. not to mention the strategic security implication and it is very important what we have heard from the american administration. you ask civilians to increase the capabilities to strengthen
nato. what concerns ukraine directly? what needs to be done? i think there will be some kind of response but short of sending the american troops on the ground -- i am afraid this undermines the principle of strategic ambiguity they have tried to develop in ukraine. if ambiguity is to work, you never start by saying we don't do the military solution. we will focus on economic sanctions. my view is economic sanctions are very important and they are
uncomfortable to the ones that were introduced -- uncomparable to the ones that were introduced. there could be countries willing to send troops netted to combat in ukraine, but be present in ukraine to support the ukrainian army. but also be present as we have seen many countries do already. that will send a signal to russia for more assertive action. i think this should be looked into. michael: thank you. i had told this to some friends of the commission. if i were a mid-level russian
analyst and looked at the administration's statement on u.s. troops, it is quite qualified. it says no ground troops to deter russia right now. it leaves open a lot of implication in those gaps. not to say that we should divine particular importance from that or messaging from that but if i were a russian mid-level analyst, i would not feel great about that statement. the last question, and we are at time, but rob, if you could address this about the world's response to the potential of nuclear weapons being moved onto ukrainian soil. what would be the response? what should be the response? rob: honestly i am not sure. i am going to send this to andrew. andrew: giving me all the easy questions huh, rob?
[laughs] that would be a clear violation of every form or agreement made regarding nuclear weapons. it would be a clear violation of standards and acceptability and placement of nuclear weapons. but to relet back i amnot sure-- reel it back, i am not sure what russia would gain by putting them in crimea. i thin placing nuclear weapons in crimea on submarines -- i don't think that -- i am not sure what russia would gain. other than clearly identifying them as much more akin to a
rogue actor that is not only undermining regional security but also undermining international security by taking such aggressive action by redeploying nuclear weapons in conflict areas. michael: thank you. rob: i can think of one way this might be seen as beneficial and that is to bolster this notion they have promoted that any type of confrontation with russia is essentially tantamount to promoting a third world war. -- michael: potentially this would help promote that idea further. not to take away from anything you said. i think that is all very true. we are at time and i want to thank our panelists and the
cochairman and representative veasy and our audience for what has been a lively discussion about what is a serious situation. before we close would like to invite cochairman koman and representative veasey to offer closing statements. >> the panel was outstanding and informative. an issue that is close to my heart and i am very concerned about ukraine. i have visited several times. i appreciate the spirit of freedom you feel there. people got their freedom and they want to keep it. leopards don't change their spots and black bears don't either. at a minimum we are seeing a show of force and trying to move
on the chess set. we might see a war. it is hard to judge putin. he is very bright kgb individual. i think it will be a mistake to go to war but we may and we need to be swift to respond with sanctions. nevertheless, thank you for everybody and hope everybody has a happy holiday and we don't read about war in the coming holiday season or ever at all. michael: thank you. representative? marc: i think back to my trip to the ukraine and it was obviously close to the time when crimea was invaded and when the students were killed.
it was a very sad time to be there. you could see the expression on people's faces around town. there was a lot of talk about people being sent to the front lines and i really do hope the world can come together and make it clear to russia this is not in their best interest long-term to continue. we don't want to be in any sort of war or conflict to lead to that sort of escalation. but at the same time it is clear the region is going to continue to be destabilized and we will be pushed closer and closer to some sort of unfortunate conflict that does involve war or involves casualties at the very least.
unless the russians can come to the conclusion this is just not in their best interest and then the world will have to come together to convince them of that in my opinion. michael: thank you, sir. thank you so much cochairman cohen. my thanks again to the wonderful panelists and to you, the audience. this concludes our event but i look forward to working with you as we continue to monitor the situation and craft effective countermeasures and policy options to counter mr. putin's offenses. announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government funded by these television companies and more including charter communications. >> broadband is a force for empowerment. that is why charter has invested billions building infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities big
and small. charter is connecting us. announcer: charter communications supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. announcer: military officials and defense experts took part in a discussion on u.s. security and the strength of military alliances and partnerships. hosted by the reagan national defense forum. [indistinct chatter] >> ladies and gentlemen, in the interest of all advancing international security please welcome john aquilino, laura richardson, william bowden, and the moderator david ignatius of "the washington post." [