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tv   Quadriga - International Debate from Berlin  LINKTV  March 27, 2022 10:30pm-11:01pm PDT

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the war in ukraine has triggered a seismic shift in politics with far reaching international repercussions, german economics minister robert harbeck whose mission was to help germany go green heads to the middle east seeking new sources of fossil fuels a u. s. president who wanted to take care of the home front travels to europe. looking to shore up a united fnt witeu and ato alliesan either deliver results that help stem the conflict and its effects were asking biden versus putin, can the us stop the war in ukraine welcome to. to the point, it is
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a great pleasure to greet our guests. soraya sahadi nelson is a talk show host at the common ground berlin podcast and former correspondent for the u. s. broadcaster npr michelle tuman is diplomatic correspondent at the german weekly die zeit. and it's a great pleasure to welcome back to the show. my colleague roman gonchar if he is a ukrainian by birth and works with dws russian language service in bonn. yeah. and i'd like to begin if i may with you soraya following the trump presidency and the disastrous us exit from afghanistan? many people doubted whether there was still any will on the part of the us to lead. is that different. now, would you say that us president biden is right when he says the
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is back? well the us maybe back or at least the will, but he certainly is not benefiting in the numbers or in the polls in terms of his the support that he's getting from the american public. i mean i think there's there's still a lot of doubt about whether he can manage this crisis. i mean, and that is what the americans are saying. and the fact that he's having that kind of difficulty in the us sort of begs the question, what is it going to be like in europe over these next days as he is meeting with leaders here and michelle as as diplomatic correspondent how would you describe biden's mission on this trip to europe? what can he accomplish? and what does he need to accomplish? well, i think he needs to come up with a with a response together with the europeans. and that is the challenge with the response to the ever more brutal war going on in ukraine. and response also to a possible war crimes to the expulsion of uh
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whole parts of big cities in ukraine. and of course they will have to deal also with the very latest challenges for european unity and american unity as far as gas and oil deliveries are concerned. so holding the whole club together, that will be the main challenge over the next 48 hours. in fact, we've seen a remarkable degree of western unity. do you think that is now waning well, i don't see it yet because we have of course peculiarities like viktor orban prime minister of hungary, who always begs to be a bit different. but then we see finally, when it comes down to the final vote he is, he falls in line. and and so i don't see the the unity crumbling yet. but it might come further down the road roman. and excuse me, i mispronounced your last name when i introduced you. but let
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me ask you this. um many observers have said from the e beginning that this conflict is really about russia versus the u. s. would you say that that is right and if so what could biden actually do to change russia's calculus? well i would disagree. i think it's a conflict between russia and the west, the west as a civilization and the worst as a system, political system and economic system. and this is how russia is has been seeing this conflict for years and years. so it's not actually knew the worst refused to see it like that the west has been looking at it as a conflict between russia and ukraine which is just a battlefield. um and i think to your question how could the u s. um maybe stop it? i think um looking back
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some weeks maybe months prior to this conflict, we've seen how the u. s. administration reacted differently. they disclosed the information that they had about this plan of this war this was new and this allowed the u. s. and its allies, the u. k. and some other nato countries to supply ukraine with weapons. and that was very very important for ukraine because it is it's those weapons that ukraine received in a couple of weeks before the war from the west that enabled ukraine to stand firm without those weapons, i'm sure russia would have seized a much bigger territory of ukraine by now. so i think the past for the coming days and weeks is to continue in that direction. and i want to take the weapons for ukraine. exactly. and i want to pick up on that point in just a moment. it's become commonplace to say that vladimir putin underestimated the west, but the reverse
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is also true. long is the list of political leaders say that vladimir putin underestimated the west, but the reverse who clung to the belief that putin would act rationally and avoid dragging russia and ukraine into a ruinous war and joe biden was amongst them. when us president joe biden and vladimir putin shook hands in geneva last june the russian president, he started passing his troops on the corner with eastern ukraine. his words from back then. now sounds like mark, the leaders of stable and prosperous people eight months later, putin invaded ukraine and by responded with sanctions. putin is the aggressor. putin chose this war and now he and his country will bear the consequences and
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let me pass that question straight on to soraya. with the additional question, do personal relationships actually matter? it's often been said that barack obama made an enormous mistake vis a vis putin? when he referred to russia for example as a regional power. but do you think it matters these words that are tossed around killer war criminal and and and so on? well, i think it definitely matters
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certainly it matters for vladimir putin. um you know, he he's in a very bad spot right now at this stage. i mean, he, i think he's surprised or shocked as perhaps we are, you know, with with what's been happening in ukraine. the fact that there's been so much pushback and he has no choice and i don't think happening in ukraine. the fact that there's been so much he would. i don't think he's gonna trust joe biden again. and i don't see how joe biden changes his tone or tune either. i mean, it is interesting in the united states that the republicans are now slowly starting to be very vehemently anti putin and they're starting to say things. but the question becomes again, if this war does end and somehow putin, he remains in power, you know, what, what is that relationship going to be like uh post this? i don't know how they come back from this. i think it's as ruinous as the ground in ukraine. the thing is though, donald trump idolized vladimir putin. he has a weakness as we know for strong men, but that didn't change anything, did it? the fact that he showed putin respect. uh it didn't accept that
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a lot of the situation that we're seeing now as a result of the us not taking this seriously and europeans not taking this seriously? i mean it's not just trump, we can go back to the spd in germany and look at the relationship of various leaders including former chancellor gerhard schroder and what impact that's had. i mean you know, russia has had a long time to to get to this point, to be able to launch this invasion. michelle weigh in on the same point if you would. as soraya just mentioned, we've also seen a lot of german leaders trying to cultivate dialogue with putin, including the current chancellor, olaf schulz did any of that help to moderate his actions? no, it's not. this policy has clearly failed and i think it's it's striking to see how right after 2014, which was basically everybody is talking about a wake up call right now. i think we have the catastrophe unfolding before our eyes, but the wake up call was definitely in 2014 but they didn't draw
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the right conclusions. and it happened right after 2014 and 15 that the social democrats in germany invented north stream two together with gazprom and he gas pipeline that brought would bring gas directly into germany from russia. exactly. and circumventing ukraine. and so and that basically was all done after after the annexation of crimea. and the problem is that they all thought and the were a lot of leaders in europe and of course you mentioned donald trump who thought we could somehow do business with vladimir putin but what we did not see and what they did not see was the steady incremental radicalization of putin's nationalism which he had adopted in 2011 12 as an ideology to keep russia under control. roman biden has long had
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quite good relations with ukraine and in fact when he was vice president in the administration of barack obama, he gave his blessing to us military training for ukrainian forces has that made a difference? is that one reason why we're seeing those forces really able to hold off or even push back the russians? well, first, if i may just a remark to what soraya has just said, i do not think that personal relations between putin and biden matter in this conflict, of course they are important. but i think there are overestimating because for russia there is so much at stake. as i've said, russia sees itself in a in a almost biblical struggle with the west so much at stake. as i've said, russia sees itself so they would have invaded ukraine no matter what's the name of the u. s. president is just to remind you, obama was very soft on putin in 2000 and
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nine. the reset policy after the war in georgia. so obama was very respectful to putin, it didn't stop the russian president from planning this war and and i'm sure this war has been planned for many, many years. so coming back to your question about biden in ukraine. yes he has a special relations to relation to ukraine. he's the first u. s. president who knows ukraine very well as a vice president during the obama years and um he was supporting ukraine militarily for the past years. but it was the trump administration that actually started to arm ukraine in 2018. we have to remember that. thank you very much. soraya during the troop build up in january and february. and we heard this mentioned earlier, biden repeatedly warned that the u. s. did believe a full scale invasion was in the offing. and in fact they provided
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intelligence information on that at the same time president biden made it clear that there would be no us boots on the ground and no u. s. planes in the air. was he right to rule that out so firmly in advance? and is the u. s. do you think doing enough to support ukraine now? well i think it's a very dangerous dance on a tightrope that that president biden that nato that the west is having to do here. i mean i think it was the correct thing to do because um i agree to disagree with with roman. but i do think that that basically the landscape was set for you know by the way by the softness of western actions for putin to do what he did. i mean i don't think he would have invaded no matter what. so i don't think that you know and you have to be careful the man has his hand on the button. i mean what if h he were to launch chemical or biological or nuclear weapons in response because he feels he has no way out. you can't
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corner him, you know, to that extent because we just don't know what he's capable of. and so i think that that was necessary for those statements to be made and for them to continue to be made. uh it's a very fine line as to how much support we can give. but i think we have seen a ratcheting up and we have seen the us starting to deliver more. um but they just have to be very careful not to cross that line. and i think it's it's really difficult for president biden to to walk that line and to continue to walk that line. let me ask you, michelle about that line, we're hearing some people would say rather hairsplitting discussions both in the us and hear about offensive versus defensive weapons and whether they could be delivered to ukraine about whether particular types of weapons and systems are possibly would be considered a provocation or whether they in fact would be a legitimate form of support does all of that makes sense? is it commensurate with modern warfare and beyond that? is it? um can we
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be sure that putin actually thinks in the same categories that we do? well, he openly said that he sees the western arms deliveries to ukraine as a kind of that we do? well, he openly said that he sees intervention by international law. it is not and russia has intervened in the same uh the same way in many other conflicts or has the u. s. and but what is i think important here is the question what what kind of weapons might stop him of, what kind of deliveries are sensible and which are not? i think the weapons ukraine is getting right now have proved very effective the anti tank and anti air missiles and weapons they got from allies, western allies and also from germany after after all, after a long time of decision making and very effective. so are the turkish drones, the bayraktar drones
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and what would be entirely ineffective is a no flight zone. for example, simply because what the russians are doing now, they are firing cruise missiles from the caspian sea they are firing from inside russia. they can actually do the same as the u. s. is doing over many hundreds of kilometers. so uh no flight zone. if you extend it to ukraine you have to extend it actually over great parts of russia. if you don't do it it's ineffective. and so if you're not ready to do that, then don't start with it roman the war is currently at a stalemate. in fact there's more and more talk of a potential victory for ukraine? what does that mean for negotiations to resolve the conflict? and do you think there is a role in talks for president biden of course there is. um i wouldn't say that we can talk of ukrainian victory at this moment. it's too
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early and russia is definitely waging a long term war so it will continue for months i think i think at least. and of course there is a role for the u. s. for the biden administration. ukraine has been asking since we have no normandy format anymore. we don't have the minsk agreement about the eastern ukraine. these formats are dead since russia has invaded ukraine. so we will have to establish a new format so far. we have seen talks direct talks between russia and ukraine. but i think when we come closer to a real solution of the problem a ceasefire and an agreement then there will be of course a place for the us at the table even more. i think without the u. s. no agreement can be reached. are we seeing any progress in any of these other diplomatic channels? whether it's the talks
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in belarus, the talks that have been held in turkey do you really see any signs of true progress? no not at all. i'm very pessimistic about those talks. it's important that they talk one thing that can come out of it are the humanitarian corridors, the so called corridors which actually do not work so far as they should be. but there are some and people's lives are saved so we should we should continue in that direction. but as far as the ceasefire is concerned, i think russia so we should we should continue in that direction. but has no interest at all to stop fighting to stop at this moment. russia is getting ready for a longer war and ukraine is desperately trying to negotiate a cease fire. but i think the chances arere very little michelle michelle weigh in on the same question, if you would please, do you think that biden could open a channel potentially directly to president putin. putin has so far refused
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to negotiate directly with the ukrainian? president zelensky? well, i think biden could, of course, i mean he has done so before and i'm i i think also putin what would speak to him, but i think to no avail because basically and here i agree with roman that indeed putin wants to bring this war to the end. i think it is his mission. it is what he deems in his historical position in on the same podesto like with peter the great and joseph stalin as the big conqueror and um that he wants to bring it to an end. and i think it's very difficult to stop him. and that is also why he doesn't want to talk to zelensky despite all the problems the russian army is having and they could definitely need a breathing some breathing space now. but putin is not willing to give
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it because simply he wants to have his personal popularity his position in history in russia is dependent on a successful end of this war. from this point of view soraya, let's come back to the question of biden's mission both ensuring up western unity and also pushing back harder against putin the us recently stopped its imports of russian oil. would you be expecting president biden to be putting pressure on eu and nato allies now to do the same? i don't think he's going to push. i mean i think what he's going to understand is more beneficial is to try and find alternatives and and to help europe's overcome their dependency on your european countries, overcome their is to try and find alternatives and and to help dependency on russian oil and gas. you can't just send the economies of the your western allies into a tailspin which is what's basically going to happen if you just
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shut everything down. and so i think that he and his, his people have talked about this as he was boarding planes. you know, i think that there is going to be some attempt to try and address the shortage that is going to ensue from moving away from uh you know, russian oil and gas. and so i think that's his mission. but i also think this is really important time for him to sort of give basically make nato more of a european function. you know, he should maybe be talking to them about making a, having a european commander for the supreme or for the forces within nato. and also, uh, basically reinforcing the idea of a european defense fund, that sort of thing. i mean he has to show that kind of support. i think that is going to work more effectively than strong arming because the us has lost so much credibility, not just because of trump, but even during obama's time. and i don't think that you come in and you strongarm again that that's really, really gonna basically get the europeans to do anything frankly at this stage, let's talk about energy
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because in fact, the conflict in ukraine is concentrating minds when it comes to energy independence. overall, the eu depends on russia for around 40% of the natural gas that warms homes and fuels power stations. weaning economies off those imports has become an urgent, albeit uncomfortable mission for politicians like germany's economics and climate minister robert harbeck. he is a green party politician dedicated to deep decarbonization, but he wound up rushing off to the middle east to negotiate the purchase of liquefied natural gas as a substitute for russian imports. one slight consolation, his new partners interest in also supplying green hydrogen, which eventually could replace fossil fuels michelle russia has just announced interesting timing that unfriendly countries as it calls them, including germany will in future have to pay rubles for gas deliveries that would directly undermine
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western sanctions against russia central bank. is this the long dreaded embargo coming in through the back door. yeah, well it's a pretty typical tactic of putin. he. so what he does is he wouldn't block oil exports. he wouldn't put a direct embargo, but he would leave the choice to the west. and it's basically then now you can choose between bad and words and it's your self inflicted wounds you're facing, they're basically what it means to pay in rubles is yes, it's undermining the sanctions. western countries would have to buy rubles with from the russian central bank, which is under sanctions. do you think they do it? or is that the point at which they say okay, we're ready to go. i don't i don't think they will do it because basically this would then what
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we talked about before, this would then actually be the final crack in all the big crack in the western unity. and i think also the german government would not it, i'd be very surprised if they bought rubles all of a sudden and this is what putin wants to this is basically the choice putin presents to them that you have to submit and buy rubles in order to get oil and gas. so, i think we are entering here a phase and first they will probably go on just because putin is clearly in breach of the contract and he shows here that all everybody who says, well the soviet union has been always been a reliable supplier putin has not and he's not been since 2000 and six and so are you bracing? i'm sorry, i'm just gonna jump in because supplier, we don't have a lot of time left on the clock. are you expecting a cut off of this? is what i'm saying. we are we are, yes, we are entering a phase and at the end of this phase there will be a cut off of russian gas deliveries to europe roman. president zelensky
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sent a remarkable video message directly to the germans saying their gas imports feed putin's war machine. is he right and is it simply time now for that door to be shut? well, yes, he's right. germany has made big mistakes importing russian gas and i think it's time for an embargo. i think it will, it will be coming in the, in the weeks ahead. we've lost the initiative to putin, but now it's time to move on. soraya could germany handle the hit to its economy to jobs to putin, but now it's time to move on. soraya we heard the chancellor warning in pretty dire terms. i think. i think so. just because there is still a reserve that allows this winter to be passed. so, but they'll just have to expedite their finding other sources for lng. thank you very much to all of you for
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