War Crimes Investigator: Violence and Misinfomation Are Putin’s Playbook

David Falt, founder of Preventive Diplomacy, joins “The Trish Regan Show” to discuss the current situation in Ukraine and Russia. According to Falt, the violence and misinformation the world is seeing is “all part of Putin’s playbook” and should be familiar to the world given Putin’s actions in Syria and Chechyna.

As someone who has investigated Russia’s dealings in Syria–and is assisting with intelligence gathering in Mariupol–Falt has unique insight into Russia’s strategy. “Putin,” he tells Trish, “firmly believes that the inner Russian territory is his and he wants it back.” The current sanctions, meanwhile, are “toothless” and much more needs to be done if the West hopes to see an internal rising up against Vladimir Putin.

Below is a transcript of the interview, as well as the entire episode. (The interview begins at roughly 6 minutes into the show. Play and follow along with transcript below.)

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Trish Regan: Amid new word of sanctions coming from the US, along with the Europeans looking to do something quite similar, I am joined today by David Fault, founder and head of Preventive Diplomacy, which is an organization that works around the world in some pretty dicey places to see some conflict resolution. He specifically has been working at gathering evidence on war crimes there in Ukraine and joins us now. David, welcome. Good to have you here.

David Falt: Thank you very much, Trish.

Trish Regan: So, OK, let’s start with what we saw coming out over the weekend. I mean, it’s pretty horrific. You have observers there. Walk us through what what you guys are seeing and where you think this is heading in terms of some of the war crimes and the evidence that you’ve been able to gather.

David Falt: So we deployed very early on in the first in the first days of the of the conflict starting and our assumption was that they were. We didn’t think they were going to be able to take Kyiv, and we estimated or our guess was that he put his real interest lies in the Black Sea area so that he can connect, you know, the Crimean Peninsula with Mariupol, Donbas in that region and maybe extend his slice of the country, so to speak, into maybe extend it as far as to Odessa, which is a strategic port facility. The basis for that reasoning was pretty simple. We looked at how he behaved in Syria when he joined that conflict, and it was pretty obvious that, you know, the he backed the Assad regime mainly to secure his military or naval facilities in the Latakia area. So south of the Tartus mountains. So working from backwards from that, you know, we figured, yeah, the aerial onslaught there is going to happen down in the strategic Black Sea port areas. So we wanted to go in early. So we went in in the first couple of days to see what the status of those areas were and what type of reconnaissance team and amphibious activities was going on there. We obviously had to pull out of Mariupol after nine days of the conflict. This is an independent of effort. Many groups like Human Rights Watch and others have observers and taking testimonies and statements, et cetera, et cetera. Yes, that was our, you know, bases.

Trish Regan: You’ve seen some some pretty horrible stuff, I mean, there’s a lot of misinformation disinformation out there. Don’t forget, I mean, Russia was sort of the original fake news, right? I mean, they’ve got a history of this and and they specialize in this. Right now, they continue to deny what’s going on. But we’ve seen satellite images. I know that you have sources there on the ground. I mean, what do you what do you say in response to to Russia saying, “no, no, no, this is not true.”

David Falt: Well, in his opinion, this is their playbook. I think we in the West were making a few assumptions, mistakes. We’re making the assumption that Putin is irrational. I think there is absolutely nothing irrational behind his behavior. I think this is just the way they operate. The reason we think is irrational is that he doesn’t play according to the same rules as normal functioning countries does. He’s he has taken his country down a trajectory that is, you know, it’s very, very different from from any type of normal governance.

The misinformation seems to be directed in three different ways and basically starting outright disinformation as active measures as a tool of warfare and then misdirection. So you’re basically getting troll farms to incite discord and social unrest in people opposing an opposing Russia, especially the US. And then he’s doing it. He has an internal play with censorship. So those three strains or nodes of misinformation is what is his kind of information warfare toolkit is currently consisting of. That doesn’t mean he can’t expand that into outright, you know, cyber attacks on Western interests, which is maybe something we will see later on in the conflict.

Trish Regan: There’s a lot here here to talk about. I hear you on sort of there their attempt to manipulate the message via troll farms online via via what they’re able to control within their own country. I it’s not working, though, right? I mean, like even you look at the polls here in the US, and while you see some some dissonance out there with people saying, OK, well, you know, maybe this isn’t all. What would we think it is? I think for the most part, most Americans are pretty horrified and want to help, however possible. I think that there’s a lot of support for sure for Ukraine across party lines. And then when you look at what’s going on in Russia, I mean, sources have told me a lot of people within Russia are very, very against this as well. So I guess I would ask you with the number of deaths that have happened thus far to Russian soldiers, which is estimated is is more than we saw in the entire ten years they were in Afghanistan. And with the the images that are now coming out for the horrors that have been committed there in Ukraine, will he start to feel the world closing in around him, in other words, not having the support of the world, not having the support of his country?

David Falt: I think there’s the support of the world is of secondary concern to him. I think that he [Putin] feels disenfranchized already and I think that that has been something that’s been in the making for a very long time. And I think what pivoted him into to real aggressions, I would say, and starting to the build up for for his own type of control over world events, was that the fact that he was totally cut out of the of the coalition that even in know our bombarded Libya and took out Gadhafi? I think that started his grievance, that he wasn’t in the fold, that it wasn’t ready in and part of it in any way, shape or form. And so, you know, his next play was was, you know, to start backing Assad in a more direct military way with our bombardment and barrel bombs and. And he had a perfect, you know, benchmark from Grozny, which he made basically made a parking lot out of. And that’s what we’ve seen in Aleppo and other places where we were also present from 2012 and forward. And Assad obviously gratefully took the took the support. But it’s a little bit puzzling as to why he did so much militarily on Syria because they have the natural resources that are insignificant. So the only rational reason for him to get into the in the middle of that was, I think, to put down a marker to the international community to say that I can deploy my military successfully and change the trajectory of a conflict if I want to. And that’s what he did. And he subsequently went in mainly with the Wagner Group in Libya, but he’s also been active in Central African Republic. There is reports coming out this week of Wagner and Mali’s armed forces slaughtering 300 civilians in Mali. So, yeah, I think this is is his way of showing that the war the international community can’t act unilaterally, unilaterally without him, and now he has put everybody on notice. 

Trish Regan: Do the sanctions change that. I mean, so so we’ve got word this week the US is coming out with multiple rounds of sanctions. They they refuse to allow Russia to pay its interest on its debts with US dollars it held in US accounts. It had already frozen, of course, all its accounts, but this was like one step more because they were still allowing debt repayments in dollars from US accounts. That’s no longer plus additional sanctions are being announced against members of Putin’s family. Two of his daughters and two major Russian banks. How does that change the equation?

David Falt: Very little. You have to assume that he anticipated a pretty hefty sanctions regime being launched against him, so he’s probably prepared to some extent for that. I think our past experience with sanctions in order to change events on the ground tells us that they are pretty toothless. I mean, when Venezuela is a great example where a very comprehensive sanctions regime was put in place, the whole, you know, effect regime change. And yet Maduro was not ousted, and that had nothing happened. With that, they completely died out and they have outlived their purpose. The same with Cuba, et cetera, et cetera. And sanctions in this type of situation, when he’s, you know, bombarding a country, it’s it’s not affecting his daughters, it’s not affecting him that much as I don’t think it will change the trajectory of the conflict. It’s also a coordination problem. The EU has sanctioned a bunch of oligarchs where the U.S. is dragging their feet. Abramovich is one example. And all of that, you know, the lack of coordination. It’s basically it takes a bit of the bite of sanctions. The greater international cooperation would be needed. 

Trish Regan: Unfortunately, you’re right, like, you know, I’ve been looking back sort of historically, you can go all the way back to the 1700s and you know, the Bordeaux wine trade was quite popular where they used to ship it to to Spain and just, you know, relabel it so it could go to the UK. It was. It was a workaround, with sanctions similar what probably you see in Venezuela, where the ships, you know, it’s it’s not as convenient because they get to change flags and change paperwork in the Caribbean and then in Singapore before getting to China. But in other words, this stuff is still getting there, so work around. They are a problem, and so I need vigilance to to enforce them. I look, David, I love the idea of being able to use sanctions. Well, I think that it could be very promising and I say that because of my financial background. But I hear what you’re saying like, we try. And there’s no coordination.

David Falt: No, if you want bite the sanctions regime, I think you need to move into secretarial sanctions, so you really hurt the economy. You need to move into secondary sanctions. So you see a cut of every type of support personnel or advisors or consultants or whatever you know you want, and then start revoking or prohibiting payments to universities, schools, etc., etc. So all these kind of mid-level, not the oligarchs, all the the vast mid-level of millionaires and billionaires can’t have their kids in European or American schools. Then you get the need to get sent home, have their student visas revoked, et cetera, et cetera. Then maybe you could get a bit of bite in it.

Trish Regan: They do that with Venezuela. I mean, when I think about that, we put in a pretty tough sanctions. The sanctions in Venezuela, if I compare and contrast that with Russia, it doesn’t feel like it doesn’t feel like we’re doing as much on Russia.

David Falt: No, I think Venezuela is under a much, much stricter sanctions regime than than Russia is, and even if it’s only four weeks in — it’s it’s basically it’s a slap in the face the sanctions, but are not actually that hard yet. Venezuela isn’t committing atrocities against other people, and they’re not committing atrocities in Venezuela, either. And yet they are under a much, much tougher sanctions regime. They’re not even comparable. So the notion that that these sanctions announced today and in the previous week, and even if the EU and America would get 100 percent coordinated on these, I still have serious doubt that they would have any real impact on it. You would need to get the European Union to cut off all purchases of gas and oil for these two hours away.

Trish Regan: Like, I mean, for goodness sakes. You see what’s going on and you say: Well, how is it possible? What went wrong? I mean, why would why would Germany have been willing to do that deal for Nordstrom Stream for Nordstrom in the first place? Why? Why did they? Were they delusional about about Putin? Or did they think that somehow that dependance on each other would actually result in more peace?

David Falt: Yeah, it’s a very good question. I met the Swiss professor in economics back when the when Nord Stream was discussed and I, we met at an event and I said I was Swedish and we started talking is and should go back to your minister of foreign affairs and tell them to shut down to Nord Stream thing ASAP because that is going to create havoc in Europe at some point. I didn’t really pay much attention to it back in the day, but the Germans have obviously made a massive miscalculation here. And then and maybe as you say, you know, they they were hopeful that they could rein in Russia in that. But if you if you are at the same time, shut them out of significant other world events, at some point you’re going to you’re going to have him disenfranchized and furious in the way we now. Now see, this is just the result, I think, over something that’s been building up for the last 20 years.

Trish Regan: What about his [Putin’s] intelligence? I mean, how did he so miscalculate this? Because I know that he was he was visited by officials from the US, from France, from Germany, or at least his team was there in Moscow. And, you know, he was warned, and yet he proceeded with this anyway.

David Falt: We can only speculate as to why or what his intelligence capabilities are, but I mean, they’re obviously, you know, they’re obviously they obviously have a significant intelligence apparatus still in these type of dictatorships where you have a very isolated individual tend to receive information that his lieutenants and think he wants to hear. And that’s probably one part of the problem. I think also arrogance the fact also that he could operate with impunity. No one has really objected to his proxy involvement in Syria and Libya made him think that it would be that, you know, Ukraine will be a pushover.

Trish Regan:  Right. And don’t forget, I mean, Crimea. You know, we didn’t see anything like this. It was exactly able to go in and do that pretty swiftly. You mentioned Syria, you mentioned Libya. I mean, some of the stuff gets really complicated, right? Or even I think about Iran and the fact that as this was all coming down, we were still working with the Russians to negotiate with Iran. And I start questioning, you know, how murky it all gets, right? So it’s so interconnected. I mean, there are there reasons. You know, the international community, maybe they don’t have a choice now, right? Given what we have seen coming out over the weekend, just horrific stuff. So so now finally, people are saying, OK, enough is enough. But are there alliances in other parts of the world where, you know, the Western world is working with Russia for some other purpose and it complicates everything?

David Falt: Yes, it does. I think Libya is a good example where, you know, the European Union is backing the Tripoli part of Libya and and Russia, Israel, Egypt and France to some extent is backing Haftar in the East, where all the oil and resources and port facilities are. You also have the Emiratis there. So yeah, there are in France in that cases is freelancing outside or outside of their duty as an EU member to back to Tripoli crowd. It’s obviously a bit of a it’s been a public. It was it was. It got so toxic, toxic at some point that the Italians and the French called home their ambassadors over disputes of how to handle and manage kind of the aftermath of the of the Libyan crisis. The reason the Israelis and I would say that even the U.S. is divided on Libya, I would say that State Department and the civil servant type of crowd is backing the Tripoli initiative or government. But I think agencies in the U.S. intelligence agencies are actually more interested in backing or supporting Haftar in order to control the Islamists kind of extremist elements. Because their calculation and Israeli calculation seem to be that he is the only one that can keep them at bay. So, yeah, there’s you have as many dynamics at play at the same time.

Trish Regan: But I wonder if this is what sort of breaks all that. I mean, Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan, came out with a letter to shareholders this week where he basically pointed to how the world was really changing as we know it, and we all hope that this is going to be OK. But there’s the risk that that it’s not. I mean, it’s it’s sort of this domino effect, right? Because Ukraine is kind of changed everything. And I think that some of these countries are going to have to take a position. I mean, China, for example, India even came out and criticized what was going on. It’s once you see this and you know this because you’ve been investigating these war crimes. But once you see this, it makes it very hard, I think, for for the rest of the world to stand by and say, OK, this can be tolerated because it can.

David Falt: Exactly. And then you 100 percent correct at the same time, it’s kind it is tolerated because what we what we have seen now coming out in these pictures over the weekend and Monday, Tuesday, it’s a lie. It’s basically, I mean, and it’s Grozny light is not gone. Full is not gone. Full blast yet. And I think that’s still yet to come. Sadly, I think it’s going to get it’s going to get worse before it can get better.

Trish Regan: Gosh. And so let me ask you this. I mean, what? What can the US? What can the EU be doing or should be doing? I get frustrated going back to sanctions for a moment when I when I learned that, you know, the sanctions are tougher on Venezuela than they are on Russia because it seems like a no brainer. You want to do everything you can in conjunction with the EU. And by the way, you know, let’s get as many other players and countries involved as well to put that economic pressure. I realize you’re saying it may not change the ground game, but it feels like we got to do something right as well as is much we can can do in the way of weapons support, et cetera. I mean, you can’t we don’t want another Aleppo, and I think it’s it’s pretty sad that that that was allowed to happen as well as Chechnya and kind of the world to sort of look the other way. What’s different? Yeah, do you think?

David Falt: I think what’s different now is that you take a city like Krakow and Kyiv. four hours on a highway from each other. If you drive so suddenly, this is happening right next to us. Syria was  a complicated and complex conflict with lots of, you know, tribal and Islamic interests at stake, where the Qataris had their agenda, the Saudis had their agenda, et cetera, et cetera. But suddenly here it’s completely normal. I’m completely normal. Basically, a European country… very, very, extremely westernized. And you see that from all the interviews on TV, everybody in Ukraine speaks English. They have a fantastic education system. And suddenly, I think the world and especially Europeans and the and the former eastern states of Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, I mean, all of these countries, Lithuania, Estonia, they they have lived with this in the past. They know what they are capable of and they suddenly realize that, yeah, he might. Nobody knows where the buck stops right now. Um, but it’s different. You know, he’s you know, to be frank with you now it’s white people that looks exactly like you and me and our kids that are getting slaughtered. And it’s just, you know, it’s basically four hours drive away from a major EU NATO country or a capacity historical track of is a very important Polish historical city and which is very much a mirror of Leviev.

Trish Regan:  And you know, that resonates more with people because they yeah, now I I understand that in terms of what his ultimate goals are. And you mentioned some of those countries like Lithuania, Romania, being concerned about how far he wants to take this. I mean, I, you know, Poland is part of NATO’s, but still they’ve got to be worried too.

David Falt:  Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, I think there are also many NATO members. I mean, but he knows that it’s impossible to defend them because it’s the Baltic Sea, and he has Kaliningrad and and the Baltic. You know, having a naval battle, it’s not going to happen is no way. NATO’s and Stoltenberg have said that the himself is going to be impossible to kind of defend these countries from a native perspective. I don’t, you know, I don’t want to be an alarmist. I don’t think is aiming to take those back. But I think that he firmly wants to control, have a Black Sea kind of corridor, and he firmly believes that that’s the inner Russian territory and he wants it back. He feels like it’s been stolen from him and now he wants it back. And I think this not about NATO positioning weapons to close his border. That’s bull—t. I don’t buy that for a second. I think he has used the long term years strategic interests in this, the same as he did some posturing about, you know, trying to say that he would deploy weapons into Venezuela. I mean, I know the Venezuelans well, I don’t think I don’t believe in that for a split second. I think that’s his, you know, unilateral, you know, ventilating and it’s a scare. And you maybe interesting to see what he you know what he does next in terms of, you know that trying to. Go there, the world with what he can do in the Western Hemisphere, which is, you know, three hours from Miami.

Trish Regan: Well, I mean, look, it’s been a big cause of mine always to ensure that we have little Monroe Doctrine in place in the Western Hemisphere and that we really don’t want the Russians hanging out down there in Venezuela or elsewhere Cuba. And I do think that should be a priority. I want to get to that. But before I do, let me ask you about Putin and whether whether he continues on. We got to this a little bit in the beginning, but I want to explore it some more because he’s got this inner circle that’s super, super tight. You know, people say, Well, you know why if he’s the I mean, is he the problem? Do you think he’s entirely the problem or is it the entire sort of system around him? That’s the problem, because if if he were to go, what happens next? I mean, it would Dmitri Medvedev say, be a better leader for Russia? And would this all stop? I mean, I guess that that’s one of the questions that people keep asking, like, is it all Putin? And you know, is there a way for for Putin to go to Siberia, shall we say, on a long vacation? [00:26:02][66.7]

David Falt: I mean, I’m no Russia expert per se. I haven’t followed it. I have lived in Russia. I know a little bit about it. But if you look at how he has structured it or rather how he has dismantled all infrastructure around it, around policy making, I would say that, you know, the problem is isolated to him because in the past you would have a politburo. There would be some institutional friction within the system that doesn’t exist anymore. Everything starts and stops with him and everybody else is hired to do his bidding or amplify his message. But I mean, what is that? I mean, I don’t think anyone knows what the Russian government actually constitutes. It’s him. You have Lavrov, but he’s basically a spokesperson, a very loyal one. And then the defense minister is an interesting character who survived all the kind of Kremlin infighting since ’91, if I’m not mistaken. So he’s obviously a factor into all of this. But ultimately, I think, yeah, I think we have to look at this as an isolated it’s isolated to him. His ambitions are to restore Russia to what he perceives is its rightful place in the world. 

Trish Regan:  horrible, though, David. You’re talking about one man, right? One man that is destroying so much because of his own, frankly, egotistical ambitions. And you know it, you know, great right there sanctioning his daughters. They still haven’t sanctioned him. As far as I as far as I know, and I just think, you know, it’s horrible if it’s just it’s really down to one person, that’s that’s causing all this.

David Falt: Yeah. And I think the only way I mean, the only way to unsettle him, well, you know, to try to try and peel some of his lieutenants off by offering, you know, some type of amnesty or immunity for it, for defecting from Russia. If you get Lavrov, someone like Igor Sechin, who I think in the end is more or less the de facto vice president of the country due to defect type, you know, a vast majority of the real gained assets, et cetera, et cetera.

Yeah, maybe you could get an internal uprising because I think we we shouldn’t underestimate how many people around Putin that has become very comfortable.

I mean, not only the oligarchs layer, you know, you can go you’ll go a couple of layers under there in the FSB. You know, they have apartments in Marbella or southern France, etc., etc. They might not have super yachts and mansions, but they used to go to vacations all over Europe. They have second homes. The kids are not, you know, are getting educated all over Europe and in the US. You need to heard that, frankly. I mean, it’s sad to say, but yeah, you going after kids and wives and family and extended family. It’s probably more efficient than sanctioning his daughter in him. I mean, I can’t really see that that has any impact on anything. And then again, as you say, there’s so many ways to circumnavigate sanctions. So it’s it’s tricky to get an immediate effect, but I think if you want an immediate effect, you need to start floating some kind of amnesty program for the top tier of the what constitutes his power base in Russia. To defect, to basically leave the country.

Trish Regan: You mentioned you think this is going to go on for a while. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. What kind of realignments do you think might come from this? I mean, does this force say China’s hand to maybe squash some of its allegiance with Russia and and get closer to the western world? Will it, in your view, cause us to say, OK, we do need to shore up our western hemisphere because we don’t want Russians having influence in in places like Venezuela, which, by the way, is culturally probably a lot more similar to us than than to Russia. I mean, how does this change the landscape of the world in your view?

David Falt: I think it’s premature to come out with with some kind of hot take that’s relevant here. I think it’s way to see. But when it comes to China’s relation to all of these, I think that they are. China is extremely savvy diplomatically, so I think they will manage to balance this keeping in a healthy distance from all of this in order to not get tainted and stained by this too much. And at the same time, because, you know, I think they are focusing on the own closer to home for them and on Africa and all their interests there, and they don’t want to jeopardize all of that that they have spent, you know, building up. But it’s hard as they’re not going to come in and tell him to stop. But I don’t think that they are going to in any significant way help him either.

Trish Regan: Can the world put pressure on China, though, to, you know, I mean, we again getting back to the sanctions?

David Falt: eah. The question is to who needs, do we need China more than China needs us?

Trish Regan: Right. That’s the question, I mean, I would argue at this point, I mean, it could change in time at this point in time. We actually do have a little bit of the upper hand only because they haven’t developed their domestic economy as much as they’d wanted to and and thus are pretty reliant right on on us importing all of their stuff. But, you know, I hear all of this would be painful, by the way, the sanctions. Let’s be clear, are being put on Russia and the stoppage, which should hopefully happen sooner rather than later of buying of natural gas from Russia. All of this is painful for everyone. I mean, it’s painful for the Europeans who I think are going to see a ton of inflation as a result of this and energy prices, we built filters through to everything else and could very well be poised for an economic recession as a result. The US. Yeah. I mean, if we suddenly said we can’t import anything from China, that would have massive consequences. So all of this is it’s a domino effect.

David Falt: And I think it’s time for the world to start thinking in more pragmatic terms of it. And when they look at advisories and and make judgments, you know who is a real advisory and who are we punishing for for simply for political reasons, actually without constituting any actual threat to the world? So, you know, going back to Venezuela and Cuba, I mean, do they pose a threat to anyone? Not really. Cubans make fantastic cigars. It’s a small, tiny island. They have been designated a state sponsor of terrorism. You know, the notion that you know that I think that’s a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly. And that’s something that should be lifted.

Trish Regan: But what about havanan syndrome. I mean, remember a lot of US State Department employees who who came down with Havana Syndrome, it originally started in Cuba.

David Falt: No, of course. But the notion that they [Cubans] would pose a threat to someone some neighboring island or country’s existence or that they would carry out terrorist attacks in other places is just, you know, it’s a bit of a stretch. And then the same goes for Venezuela. I mean, the Venezuelans might not have the do everything you know as we want them to do it. And and I think they’re working hard on and aligning their economic interests with the U.S. and fundamentally, most Venezuelans that I know and the governmental officials that I am interacting with there are very keen to reset relations with the U as they want to be a trading partner to the U.S. They don’t like China, Russia, India, Iran and others that have been forced to do business with and from an economic point of view. You know, Wall Street and the U.S. has a massive interest in resetting their relations with Venezuela. First of all, because it’s a couple of hours away. Secondly, because you have refineries that could take Venezuelan crude and as soon as Europe and Sweden, there is a refinery called Nunez that is custom built to take Venezuela PDVSA crude. That could offset some of these dependencies that are very unhealthy in that we finally now see that we can’t just rely on on Russia. So we need to start looking at the who’s the real enemy, who’s a real bad guy and and and and reset some of these, you know, old school type of policies.

Trish Regan: They’ve kinda outlived themselves, right? I mean, those kind of alliances. I think this this is this is sort of the wake up call. I’ve been saying this. This is the Ukraine is the wake up call to the threat that Russia really is in. To your point, we knew about it and I know you did work in Syria. You saw it. We we knew about this and we we yet allowed him to to effectively, you know, continue building up all that he’s built in. So, you know, I think that this is perhaps the final straw, though, that the, you know, things do need to change and we need to rethink how we align ourselves and don’t align ourselves. So, you know, I hope. I hope. I hope I just hope that it resolves itself, you know, soon. I guess that’s the one discouraging thing in all this that it’s it’s probably not going to.

David Falt: I think that’s, you know, that’s overly optimistic. First of all, because the talks aren’t really yielding any significant results. I’m not even sure that the right people are in the talks. If you look at who’s head of the Russian delegation, it’s someone that has is a history I think is a history professor or something. As a former minister of education or culture, something who’s he has been, you know, peddling a Putin’s view of Russia’s place in the world. I mean, if yeah, if, if, if Igor Sechin was head of the delegation or Lavrov or something like that, then yeah, maybe I would take those talks a little bit more serious. I think Turkey is doing a fantastic job in keeping this going. But at the same time, you know, you also need to be critical about it and say, how much is this stalling for time to regroup, resupply, reload and make a significant push down in Donbass, Donetsk and secure Mariupol and maybe advance towards Odessa? I mean, who?

Trish Regan: Why do you think it happened now? What is it that changed in the world that made him think this was the opportunity? You know, if you listen to the previous president, he’d say it’s because I’m not there, but I think it’s a heck of a lot more complicated than that. In fact, I actually blame numerous administrations going perhaps all the way back to George Bush because, you know, if you go all the way back to, you know, when Putin was first in power, we miscalculated this. I think our intelligence community knew what he was capable of, and I certainly heard a lot of things over the years, but nobody really thought it was going to happen, certainly to a western country like Ukraine. So but why did it happen now?

David Falt: Again, you can only speculate but something if you look at it from a from a European perspective and you know, I’m Swedish, so I look at it from from a European angle. You have elections, presidential elections in France happening right now. You have a new administration in Germany who is a socialist kind of administration. And I think his calculation was that they will never change their policy and they have they are really the country that has made the biggest quantum leap in terms of changing their foreign policy and defense policy, starting to arm themselves again. So I think [Putin] saw an opportunity, you know, in Europe where France would be weak going into presidential election, Germany would be inexperienced. And those are the two power epicenters of Europe, UK with Boris Johnson and Brexit. They have there so much on their plate already. So maybe he has played it opportunistically and didn’t see that this would, you know, strengthen everybody’s resolve willing to go against him. I think [Putin] bet on the divide. And you know, yeah, frankly, seeing what Germany has done in the last couple of weeks is mind boggling. If you look historically, it sure is.

Trish Regan: yeah, but it shows you what it shows you when people are up against it, what they’re they’re willing to do. And I think Europe is up against it right now. The US is horrified by everything that’s happened and you know, the world can’t, can’t sit by. Well, we’re coming up on time, David, but I so appreciate you joining and I know how much the listeners will love hearing your information. We hope you come back. We’ve been talking, of course, with David Falt from Preventive Diplomacy. David, appreciate your time today. Thank you.

David Falt:  Thank you very much. It’s been my pleasure.


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