Welcome to What Happens Next. My name is Larry Bernstein.
What Happens Next is a podcast which covers economics, finance, history, politics and current events.
Today’s session will be on Putin and Ukraine.
Our speaker will be Mark Galeotti who is the author of the books We Need to Talk About Putin and The Weaponization of Everything. Mark will speak about Putin’s war objectives and his implementation strategy. A couple of months ago the Russian government banned Mark from entering the country.
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Let’s begin with Mark Galeotti and his opening presentation.
Topic: Putin and Ukraine
Bio: Author and director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence
Readings: We Need to Talk About Putin is here and The Weaponization of Everything is here
The basic thesis of my book, The Weaponization of Everything, is that good old-fashioned war, large scale conventional Shoot-y stuff, is increasingly untenable as an instrument of policy. It doesn't mean to say that it's going to go away entirely, but that it is becoming much, much less useful because it’s no longer a case in which national power and wealth could be measured necessarily by oil fields and coal mines. A lot of it is in terms of intangibles, which you can't just simply seize. The costs of war have increased so dramatically. If you take the entire RAF air fleet that defended Britain during the battle of Britain in World War II, add together the cost, convert it to modern money, you can buy six F 35 fighter jets.
But it's not just simply about the financial costs. There are the political costs that even authoritarian regimes nowadays have to worry about. There's international law. There is the fact that our economies are now interconnected and therefore when we invade other countries, we are also actually damaging our own markets.
But international tensions are not going away. Rivalries are being moved into the economy, into law, into politics, into information, into all these other kinds of spheres. And although it might seem bizarre to say that, given the book came out one month before Putin invaded Ukraine.
Before he invaded; Putin was winning in a non-kinetic struggle. Now he's invaded. At best, he can hope for a stalemate. So this is the basic future. It's less shooting but lots of conflict in other realms instead.
This Saturday’s Episode: Richard Fontaine
Topic: War Games: China Invades Taiwan
Bio: C.E.O. at the Center for a New American Security
Reading: Dangerous Straits: Wargaming a Future Conflict over Taiwan is here