Politico has put together an impressive oral history of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Like, really impressive. They got pretty much everybody who was in the room, except for Biden (and Putin, of course).
My favourite quote, not included, is from Boris Johnson, who when woken up and told the news and apparently said, “That fucking cunt.”
MICHAEL CARPENTER, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Vienna: When you’ve spent your entire adult career working on Russia, there is a distinction between the plausibility of something and the shocking nature of something that is so epic in its proportions that you know it’s going to shape your career and world politics for years to come.
When I saw this information about Russia’s imminent attack for the first time, it did seem plausible, but it was also deeply, deeply shocking — it would be history changing. That was the horror of it all. Any large-scale Russian war against Ukraine was going to be a human and humanitarian tragedy
BILL BURNS, director, Central Intelligence Agency : [While I was in Moscow,] I was talking to [Putin] on a secure phone. It was a strange conversation. He was in Sochi — this was the height of yet another wave of Covid, Moscow itself was under a curfew — so he was isolating himself. The conversation was pretty straightforward. I laid out what the president had asked me to lay out to him. His response was a lot of what I had heard before from him about his convictions about Ukraine, and in many ways, his cockiness about Russia’s ability to enforce its will on Ukraine.
JOHN KIRBY, assistant to the secretary of Defense for public affairs, Pentagon: That trip went a long way to convincing us that this was a no-kidding invasion.
EMILY HORNE, spokesperson, National Security Council, White House: I am no Kremlinologist, but one thing that has struck me throughout this process — and certainly struck me throughout the fall of ’21 — is that a lot of the times Putin and Russia were saying very plainly what their intentions were and what they wanted to do. And the West often had a very difficult time understanding that and hearing that. He made the case for what ultimately transpired very clearly in that manifesto in the summer of ’21.
Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a country that was trampled over by the Soviets after WW2 and I totally hated them as a group before this. There are always good people in a large group.
"...a lot of the times Putin and Russia were saying very plainly what their intentions were and what they wanted to do. And the West often had a very difficult time understanding that and hearing that."
How do I not invoke Godwin's law, while saying that this is pretty much what happened back prior to WW2?
That was an impressive writeup. One part struck me- the disconnect most people feel when hearing about the war. This fuels a lot of the plain stupid shit I hear over here. Most don't know a damn thing about war, because they've never experienced it. 1200 KIA in a day says nothing to them, and playing Call of Duty or watching YouTube is no substitute for having someone actually try to kill you. They don't understand that the Long Peace, and the prosperity that came with it, is the product of eighty years of heartache and sacrifice by people other than themselves. The Russians and their buddies have thrown that all into the fire. They get what they get, although the 1200 daily dead in Kherson are the real victims. I suspect the Russian losses are far heavier than admitted.
Look up Martti J. Kari (easily found on YT). He is a former Colonel of Finnish Intelligence who has focused on Russia for many years. He has been interviewed at length about the Russian mentality and outlook, and what he says is truly baffling. They might as well be from another planet.