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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  December 9, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PST

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our fullest support. ♪ emily: this is al jazeera. some of the stories we are following this hour, britain's prime minister announced a return to tighter coronavirus restrictions to stem the spread of the omicron variant. boris johnson is urging people in england to work from home and mandating covid-19 passes for entrance into public venues. this comes hours after he had to apologize for a video showing his staff joking about holding a christmas party during last year's lockdown.
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>> i think overwhelmingly the public see the importance of the messages that they are getting by this medium. is not perfect. we do what we can to explain what we think is necessary. i know it is contentious and difficult. i know that sometimes, the messages are confusing. we do our absolute best to make this as clear as possible, and we do everything we can to protect public health, where we are driven by. emily: the prime minister has apologized for going to a club after one of her close contact tested positive for covid. she went on a night out hours after her foreign minister confirmed a positive test. is sheet sent a text message advising her to isolate was sent to her work phone that she left at home. burkina faso's president has dismissed the prime minister and
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government, following a wave of protests last month over rising insecurity in the country. the u.s. president says sending troops to defend ukraine from russia is not on the cards. vladimir putin and joe biden spoke virtually tuesday as concerns mount over moscow's troop up on the border with ukraine. u.s. warned moscow would face sanctions if it invades. the highest ranking military official in india is among at least 13 killed in a helicopter crash. it came down in the southern state. those are the headlines. stay tuned for inside story -- "inside story". ♪
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♪ >> do not invade ukraine, the u.s. president warned russia and threatened further sanctions. joe biden's virtual sonnet with vladimir putin entered without a breakthrough. did it do enough to prevent a new conflict in europe? this is "inside story". ♪ >> welcome to the program. fears are growing over possible russian invasion of ukraine. tens of thousands of soldiers have amassed along ukraine's border along with russian military hardware. u.s. intelligence agencies say a multi-front offensive could happen early next year. president biden used a virtual meeting with russian president
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vladimir putin to issue a warning, threatening economic sanctions if russia were to invade. he caught it nato's presence in ukraine a redline that threatened russian security and ask for guarantees of no further nato expansion. he will bring in our guest in a moment but this report from our white house correspondent. kimberly: with a massive buildup of russian troops near ukraine's shared border, and u.s. intelligence indicating an invasion of ukraine could happen early next year, u.s. president biden met virtually with russian president vladimir putin. pres. martin: good to see you again. kimberly: they spoke for two hours. putin denies russia intends to invade ukraine, calling it fear mongering, but the u.s. president made clear today that if russia did, top economic sanctions would follow. >> i will look you and i and tell you as president biden told
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president putin today that things we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now. kimberly: that reference is to the russian annexation of crimea from ukraine that prompted u.s. sanctions. president biden also told president putin the u.s. was prepared to assist militarily. >> we would provide defensive materiel to the ukrainians beyond what we are providing and fortify our nato allies on the eastern flank. kimberly: russia is seeking assurances from the west that ukraine will not become a member of the nato, something the ukrainians have pursued for years. the u.s. national security advisor reiterated ukraine can associate with whoever it wants. an analyst believes joining nato is unrealistic. >> we ought to be clear to them that we are not coming to the rescue, so you will have to live with russia and u.s. security guarantee.
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kimberly: there were also questions about the controversial nord stream 2 pipeline that runs from germany to russia and whether it could be used as leverage in discussions over ukraine. the white house says it will pressure the german government to stop it if russia invades. the biden administration will continue to work with its european partners, promising a coordinated response, should russia ignore the warnings. president biden will peak with president zelensky of ukraine thursday. al jazeera, the white house. ♪ hibatallah: let's bring in our guest to talk about this in belgrade. we have victor, lead expert at the center for actual politics. in silver spring, maryland, melinda herring, deputy director at the council's eurasia center. elects a heron, professor of comparative politics of tf.
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welcome to each of you. let me start with you. no breakthroughs for this virtual meeting but cards were laid out on the table from both sides, or were they. melinda: the word i would use his impasse. some analysts are saying it the crisis is resolved temporarily. i think that is flat out wrong. when you read the statements and parse them from the white house and from the kremlin, you get very different portraits of what happened yesterday. we know president biden did three things. he said the u.s. would impose strong economic measures in tandem with its allies if russia were to invade ukraine. the u.s. would send more defensive materiel in the u.s. would fortify nato allies on the eastern flank. it also looks like the u.s. will join the minsk agreement's, bastad peace accords. the u.s. has not been party to this agreement and i think
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russia really wants the u.s. to join. it would be an opportunity to revitalize the discussions. when you read those statements, moscow and the united states want different things. the point that jumps out to me the most is that moscow is saying --they are engaging in what about is him -- whatabou tism. they are not taking responsibility. this crisis is far from resolved. hibatallah: i've --i'm sure you want to respond but russia has said the fears of russian invasion are unfounded. if that is the case, what are president putin's intentions over ukraine and what is behind the troop buildup near its border? victor: a massive, full-scale invasion of ukraine is not in russia's national interest. first of all, russia does not have the resources to maintain massive swaths of territory and
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people in ukraine for a long period of time. secondly, russia is not interested in massive, new, political and economic sanctions by the united states, by america's transatlantic allies, and other national partners -- international partners. russia's economy is not in great shape as it is. an economic threat of that magnitude is not in russia's national interest. thirdly, unlike crimea, which has a predominantly ethnically russian population, and where people supported russia all along, unlike crimea, most other territories of ukraine are not as enthusiastic about the russian state. russia would find more opposition thereto its presence. all of that being said, the
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kremlin understands that full well. what moscow is concerned about is the increase in western military presence, an increase in military collaboration between ukraine and the united states on one hand and ukraine and various european capitals on the other hand. moscow is also concerned about the use of new military systems and technologies such as the drones that have been in use in ukraine in recent months. russia is also concerned that its policy toward ukraine, designed to get ukraine, you know, in one form or another back into russia's fear has not been working --sphere has not been working. by making these moves and by toughening up its rhetoric,
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moscow is trying to squeeze out concessions from the west, especially from the biden white house. it is hoping that the biden white house will give in, at least on some points. moscow understands full well nobody is going to give it written guarantees that no new nato members will be accepted. russia at least once some concessions, as far as military and the possible construction of military bases. russia sees american and british in ukraine as a redline and would like to limit cooperation between ukraine and western partners. hibatallah: we can get into that later but i want to get a ukrainian perspective on this. this summit was generally seen as constructive i the united states and russia. ultimately, nothing was resolved,, and ukraine's fate hangs in the balance.
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how are they likely to view this in tf -- kiev? alexei: i think, first of all, there was a strong statement from the u.s. president, and this is very important. the president and his advisers --the u.s. and its european partners, they have seen t ogether there would be increased economic sanctions against russia and this is very important moment for mr. putin. in all this talk, basically that is what he would like to hear. again, i would like to remind to your viewers that in 2014, nobody expected russian attack, because ukraine, at the time it, was no allied states, and we
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were hoping -- we would never imagine that putin would annex crimea, start a war, and annex. he violates the freedom of navigations. nobody expected that putin would send troops to ukraine, regular troops, but it happened. it happened without any nato involvement. putin attacked unknown ally in ukriaine. that is why we have fears. at this point, we want to stress there is no military bases from nato, no nato soldiers, no nato missiles, so basically, putin is trying to undermine ukraine, to split ukraine, to split european allies from the united states. that's what we are afraid of. we hope it will not happen.
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basically, president biden sent a good signal. hibatallah: it was mentioned in our report from kimberly about economic sanctions. you mentioned some of that, as well. one of the things mentioned was the nord stream 2 pipeline that is running between russia and germany, which can be used as leverage. jake sullivan, the u.s. national security advisor, mentioned that. he said is it -- it is leverage for the rest because if vladimir putin wants to see gas flow through the pipeline, he may not want to risk invading ukraine. if things were to come to that, the nord stream 2 pipeline would be suspended, wouldn't it? is that something that is obviously worked into the u.s. calculations on this? taz annette? -- hasn't it? just respond to that if you can.
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melinda: absolutely. nord stream 2 is definitely on the table, with a couple of different options when you read the sullivan statement. he refuses to go into what was discussed. but we know that the germans will cancel nord stream 2 if russia invades. the statement that came out was interesting. it says over and over again that the u.s. and its allies are willing to consider options that they have not considered before. that means sanctions against big russian state banks, investment agencies, and a broadening of sanctions to potentially areas like mining, metals, and shipping and state owned companies could be in their. it could possibly mean cutting off access to this with banking system. that is the nuclear option. nord stream 2 is a big deal. it is one that was definitely discussed yesterday. according to the ukrainians, there are 94,300 russian troops near ukraine's border, in the
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northeast, the east, and crimea. we saw on friday u.s. intelligence declassified estimates. we think the u.s. government thinks that russia will increase its troop numbers to 175,000. an invasion could, as likely as january 2020. i disagree with victor, who made a powerful case that invading ukraine is not in russia's natural --natural--national interests. there is a case to me made it is serious this time. we do not know if putin has made up his mind. this may be an elaborate ruse. he may be putting huge pressure on ukraine and the united states to give in at the negotiating table. that is possible but vladimir putin might be thinking about this decision in a different way. he may decide the benefits outweigh the costs and he may invade. this time, if he does, it will be different than in 2014 and
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2015, using russian soldiers that would be in russian regalia, and he would use the russian air force. i see four reasons putin. might go in. first is that putin is an aging autocrat, thinking about his legacy. seizing ukraine would bolster his image as a great leader. when you look at the rhetoric out of the kremlin, they are talking about stalin and ivan the great. that is how he things of themselves and to be a great russian leader means to take territory. second, putin looks at the map of the world and he sees an opportunity. 2021 was a good year for him. gas prices are up. there is no one to stop him. he sees weakness everywhere and this is his chance to take ukraine if he wants to. hibatallah: let's put some of that back to victor in belgrade. putin has made no secret of the fact, hasn't he, that he has always seen this as a historical wrong that ukraine became an independent state back in 1991
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with the collapse of the soviet union and that ukraine must be, in his mind, if not part of the russian state them part of russia's sphere of influence. a manufactured crisis has been entirely engineered by vladimir putin. what do you say to that? victor: putin may believe that, but we have seen that throughout the last two decades of his rule, russia has not been able to change the geopolitical calculus, the geopolitical balance of ukraine in its favor. just a brief go back to history, 2004, the first ukrainian -- with russia was interested in one hour, and western states were interested in another outcome of the election -- presidential elections of that
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time. russia was unable to sustain -- to get its candidate elected. he was a pro-western candidate. at 10 years later, russia had 10 years to do something about that situation and in 2014, when a new crisis emerged with western powers being on one side of the equation and pressure on the other, russia again lost ukraine. it was in reaction to that loss in the factor of the ukrainian president being deposed by a pro-western government, it was in response to that that russia annexed the crimea, because russia, justifiably, believed that he had not taken those steps in crimea. what is so central and strategic
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to russia's military plans in the black sea area would have been asked to leave. then, russia hears that western ladies would be invited to be based there. for russia, knowing it had lost ukraine in 2014, it was a way to at least save crimea as a host of its black sea fleet and also to save face in moscow itself, because had russia abandoned crimea, it would have serious domestic fallout, both among putin's loyalists in russia and in russians military rents. crimea is seen as a strategic outpost. after that, after 2014, 7 years have passed. pressure, despite its efforts, has not been able to change the
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calculus and the equation in its favor in ukraine. it is closer and closer to the west. what we saw in april, a similar situation when western intelligence reported russia amassed along ukraine borders, sounding alarms and nothing happened after that geneva talks between biden and putin in switzerland. couldn't is using these pressure points to get some concessions. he is not interested in a full-scale war in ukraine, which would be catastrophic for russia. hibatallah: let's put some about to alexei. russia lost ukraine in 2014. your response to that. alexei: it also lost ukraine white? -- why? neutral ukraine was attacked. before 2014, a majority of
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ukrainians -- putin decides to annexed crimea. that is what happene basically. it is preparation for what saddam hussein did. putin is saying ukraine is ours. by the way, there were mostly natives to crimea totally ignored by russia. it yes, as a result of russians actions, putin lost ukraine. that's true. what we are afraid of now is a large military offensive. we are also afraid of a so-called limitary military offensive. putin may try to seeds strategically important --seeds strategically important cities
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in ukraine in the east like when he did in 2014 and 2014 despite the cease-fire, russia continued -- hibatallah: if i could jump in for a moment, what kind of assistance would you want from the u.s. and the west? if it is not in the form --if russia were to invade ukraine as you believe, if it is not in the form of direct military assistance, it would be troops because ukraine is not a nato member. what other assistance would you expect? alexei: well, i think that economic sanctions, increased economic sanctions, which should be applied, not only in the case of large military offensive but also if putin would start a militant -- limited military offensive. we need defensive weapons.
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we need defensive weapons. help also to reform the ukrainian army. that is important. it is a longtime strategy. for us. . . we understand nato is not going to fight for us. support of armaments and increased economic supply of armaments and increased economic sanctions would be very important. finally, i would like to stress again there is no freedom of navigation. ukrainian ships cannot move to the sea, which is shared with russia. there is a russian-ukrainian treaty but russia violates it as well so ukrainian ships may not enter deceit now-- the sea now. i think it should be unblocked as well. hibatallah: melinda, let's turn back to you on this. go ahead. melinda: i was going to say i agree, but it is not strong enough.
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i don't think the package that president biden laid out yesterday, we are not privy to the details but i don't think the details we know is enough to deter putin. i don't see why the united states is not fortifying nato allies on the eastern flank. there is no reason we should not do that. i think the united states -- yesterday, sullivan said we have a pipeline to the ukrainians and we are sending weapons to the pipeline. if these estimates are right and the russians are considering an invasion, partial or full in january or february, once the weather permits it and tanks can move freely, we have to get stuff there now. getting expensive weapons systems there now is difficult. there is a military theorist who has interesting ideas. he says ukraine should use autonomous drone storms and think about ied's and minds, lining the northern border to
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prevent an invasion and make it is difficult for russia as possible and get ready for guerrilla warfare. it is an interesting article on the atlantic council website. hibatallah: i think we have a minute or so left and what will be the last word. victor: look, the situation with the falklands war in the early 1980's is very well known around the world, including in russia. an admiral in argentina was a dictator at the time. he decided to invade the falklands, in the hopes of raising his ratings in argentina. the result of that was not only the collapse eventually of the invasion of the falklands, but also gauthier's fall in argentina. that is also well known in russia, too.
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russia understands nato, the united states, and its allies are not ready to go head-to-head with russian forces in ukraine, but also understands the economic damage political and economic sanctions by europe, the united states, and partners would be catastrophic for russia. hibatallah: we will have to leave it there. thank you very much. we are out of time. good to have you with us. thank you for being on inside story. thank you for watching. you can see the program again any time on our website, aljazeera.com. for further discussion, go to facebook.com/ajinsidestory. on twitter, our handle is @ ajinsidestory. bye for now. ♪
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