Within the video above, Lex Fridman interviews Oliver Stone concerning the Russia-Ukraine battle. Stone, an award-winning movie director, was the chief producer of “Ukraine on Hearth,”1,2 a documentary that got here out in 2016.
Stone additionally interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin between 2014 and 2016. The interviews turned the documentary collection, “The Putin Interviews,” which aired in 2017. So, Stone has some perception into each nations. Fridman, in the meantime, is half-Russian, half-Ukrainian.
Ukraine on Hearth
“Ukraine on Hearth” centered on the Maidan Revolution3 that started in Kiev in 2013. After three months of peaceable protests in opposition to the Ukrainian authorities’s choice to not signal a complete free commerce settlement with the EU, favoring a suggestion from Russia as a substitute, lethal violence broke out.
Petro Poroshenko was elected president in a particular election in Could 2014. In response to the official story, Ukrainians have been dissatisfied with president Viktor Yanukovych’s “rising authoritarianism,” and his refusal to signal the EU affiliation settlement, so that they overthrew him.
Yanukovych and different high-level officers, nevertheless, declare the violent revolution was orchestrated by the U.S. for the aim of regime change. Leaked conversations revealed top-level officers discussing the way to implement a coup to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected authorities.
You possibly can learn extra about this and see the movie in my earlier article, “Ukraine on Hearth: 2016 Documentary by Oliver Stone.” The present president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comic and actor, was voted in in April 2019.
Putin, the Chief and the Man
On this interview, Fridman and Stone primarily concentrate on Putin — how and what he thinks, primarily based on Stone’s notion of the person — and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Stone presents a special aspect of Putin that many Individuals in all probability have by no means seen, and explains why Putin’s habits is, maybe surprisingly, rational.
The U.S. has an extended historical past of anti-Soviet bias. As famous by Stone, the American stance was that capitalism works and communism doesn’t. Trendy Russia is now not communist,4,5,6 but the U.S. antagonism in opposition to Russia stays, whereas the U.S. authorities, satirically, is now doing every little thing in its energy, and past, to implement communism right here.
Stone notes that Putin is “very a lot a market man,” and has been very clear that he believes nationwide sovereignty is paramount for world peace and harmonious relations. Putin insists that each one nations have to be sovereign, “and I imagine the US has by no means accepted that,” Stone says. The U.S., Stone believes, is much extra interested by maintaining nations subservient to it and its ideologies.
In response to Stone, Putin has a typically good popularity in different nations for being a person who promotes the pursuits of his nation, however not on the expense of others. Protecting the world in concord, “this has at all times been in his image,” Stone insists.
When requested if he thought energy had a corrupting affect on Putin, Stone insists that Putin would by no means final if he have been performing as a dictator. The Russian folks wouldn’t preserve him ready of energy — which he has saved, on and off, for about 20 years.
Russia is a functioning democracy, and the folks’s displeasure would reveal itself in a number of other ways. The poll field is just one avenue by which they exhibit their dissatisfaction. However, apparently, they assume Putin’s doing an excellent job at defending the nation and looking for its wants.
Fridman, alternatively, notes he senses a combination of worry and apathy towards the management when he speaks to Russian household and associates, and this issues him. Stone counters Fridman’s issues saying he noticed “much more freedom within the (Russian) press than what’s pictured within the West, and which means completely different factors of view. Russians are at all times arguing amongst themselves. I’ve by no means seen a extra contentious nation.”
Stone’s Expertise With Putin
A part of Putin’s political longevity might have one thing to do together with his means to remain unruffled. “I by no means noticed him lose his mood,” Stone says, noting that whereas most Individuals are usually emotional, Putin, in distinction, is calm, rational, balanced, mature and respectful, even below stress. And, opposite to charismatic dictators akin to former Venezuelan chief Hugo Chavez, Putin doesn’t attempt to attraction you. He’s a straight-shooter.
All of his interviews with Stone have been granted with out guidelines or restrictions. All questions have been allowable. Nothing was off the desk. Putin additionally didn’t request to see any of the work earlier than it was printed. “He trusted me,” Stone says.
In response to Stone, Putin has “no empire intentions,” and repeatedly expressed his need to have pleasant relations with the U.S. Sadly, Putin’s popularity has been tarnished by U.S. media, folks performing from a political agenda, those that by no means met him, by no means went to Russia and don’t know Russian historical past. This U.S.-fabricated persona of Putin as an enemy of each his personal folks and the remainder of the world has made such relations tough.
Stone’s Preliminary Tackle Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Stone had a harsher critique in opposition to Putin in a March 2022 Fb submit, by which he had the next to say about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:7
“Though the US has many wars of aggression on its conscience, it doesn’t justify Mr. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. A dozen wrongs don’t make a proper. Russia was improper to invade. It has made too many errors:
1) underestimating Ukrainian resistance
2) overestimating the army’s means to realize its goal
3) underestimating Europe’s response, particularly Germany upping its army contribution to NATO, which they’ve resisted for some 20 years; even Switzerland has joined the trigger. Russia might be extra remoted than ever from the West
4) underestimating the improved energy of NATO, which is able to now put extra stress on Russia’s borders
5) in all probability placing Ukraine into NATO
6) underestimating the harm to its personal financial system and positively creating extra inner resistance in Russia
7) creating a significant readjustment of energy in its oligarch class
8) placing cluster and vacuum bombs into play
9) and underestimating the facility of social media worldwide
However we should marvel, how may Putin have saved the Russian-speaking folks of Donetsk and Luhansk?
Little doubt his Authorities may’ve completed a greater job of displaying the world the eight years of struggling of these folks and their refugees — in addition to highlighting the Ukrainian buildup of 110,000 troopers on the Donetsk-Luhansk borders, which was occurring basically earlier than the Russian buildup. However the West has far stronger public relations than the Russians.
Or maybe Putin ought to’ve surrendered the 2 holdout provinces and supplied 1-3 million folks assist to relocate in Russia. The world would possibly’ve understood higher the aggression of the Ukrainian Authorities. However then once more, I’m undecided.
However now, it’s too late. Putin has allowed himself to be baited and fallen into the lure set by the U.S. and has dedicated his army, empowering the worst conclusions the West could make. He in all probability, I feel, has given up on the West, and this brings us nearer than ever to a Ultimate Confrontation. There appears to be no street again.
The one ones pleased about this are Russian nationalists and the legion of Russian haters, who lastly received what they’ve been dreaming of for years, i.e. Biden, Pentagon, CIA, EU, NATO, mainstream media — and don’t overlook Nuland and her sinister neocon gang in D.C. It will considerably vindicate the uber hawks in public eyes.
Mentioning the toxicity of their insurance policies (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, NATO growth, breaking nuclear treaties, censoring and omitting essential info from the information, and so forth.) might be subsequent to not possible. Mentioning Western double requirements, together with Kyiv and Zelenskyy’s unhealthy habits, will likewise fall on deaf ears as we once more draw the improper conclusions.
It’s simpler now to smear these of us who tried to know the Russian place by these final twenty years. We tried. However now could be the time, as JFK and Khrushchev confronted down the perilous state of affairs in Cuba in October 1962, for the 2 nuclear powers to stroll this again from the abyss. Either side want to avoid wasting face.
This isn’t a second for the U.S. to brag. As a Vietnam Battle veteran and as a person who’s witnessed the countless antagonism of the Chilly Battle, demonizing and humiliating overseas leaders will not be a coverage that may succeed. It solely makes the state of affairs worse. Again-channel negotiations are essential, as a result of no matter occurs within the subsequent few days or even weeks, the specter of a last warfare have to be realistically accepted and brokered.
Who can try this? Are there actual statesmen amongst us? Maybe, I pray, Macron. Carry us the likes of Metternich, Talleyrand, Averell Harriman, George Shultz, James Baker, and Mikhail Gorbachev.
The good unseen tragedy on the coronary heart of this historical past of our instances is the lack of a real peaceable partnership between Russia and the U.S. — with, sure, doubtlessly China, no purpose why not besides America’s need for dominance.
The idiots who saved upsetting Russia after the Chilly Battle led to 1991 have dedicated a horrible crime in opposition to humanity and the long run. Collectively, our nations may’ve been pure allies within the greatest battle of all in opposition to local weather change.
In its technical achievements alone, in massive scale science, in its rocketry, heavy industries, and its most trendy, clear nuclear vitality reactors, Russia has been an incredible pal to man. Alas, in our century thus far, man has did not see or attain for the celebrities.”
How Does He See It Now?
Now, two months later, how does he really feel concerning the state of affairs? “It’s very onerous to be sincere about this as a result of the West has introduced down a curtain. Anybody who questions the invasion of Ukraine and its penalties is an enemy of the folks,” Stone replies. “I’ve by no means in my lifetime seen such a WALL of propaganda as I’ve seen within the West.”
And, the way in which European nations are leaping in with NATO suggests they don’t, actually, have sovereignty over their very own nations, Stone says. Why hasn’t NATO objected to the massacres happening within the Donbas area of Ukraine ever since 2014, when Ukraine below Poroshenko took an anti-Russian place as an ally of the US?
There have been demise squads, native management have been being murdered, as have been journalists. An estimated 14,000 Ukrainian Russians have been killed between 2014 and early 2022 by the Ukrainian army and Nazi battalions,8 and the U.S. has supported it, and continues to take action.
Stone claims the logs of the Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Particular Monitoring Mission in Ukraine present that earlier than Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, February 24, 2022, there was heavy artillery coming into the Donbas from the Ukrainian aspect. In response to Russia’s Overseas Ministry, Moscow’s motion in opposition to Ukraine was a “particular army operation” to finish the “systematic extermination of the Donbas inhabitants.”
Ukrainian forces had constructed up on the border, and Stone believes Ukraine was really planning to invade Donbas. Russia then responded by sending forces to the border, however this buildup on either side has been largely ignored by Western media, which portrayed it as a sudden and unprovoked invasion by Russia.
In different phrases, we can not analyze the Russian invasion of Ukraine with out taking the Donbas battle, which has been ongoing since 2014, under consideration. Stone is satisfied that Poroshenko was instructed, from the beginning of his presidency, to refuse negotiations with Russia, and to keep up a hostile stance.
“That is very, very harmful,” Stone says. Zelensky, additionally, has maintained this stance since 2019. “The entire world is being damage by this, and nobody is asking it out.”
Stone believes Putin realized that the U.S. is intent on regime change in Russia, and are keen to destroy Ukraine to do it. So, he took motion. Fridman suggests the Ukraine battle might in actuality be a proxy warfare between Russia and the U.S., and Stone appears to agree with this idea. However that also doesn’t give us any higher perception into this warfare. Putin may have surrendered the Donbas and supplied secure harbor for the refugees. He selected to not, however why we don’t know.
Regardless of the purpose, Stone is satisfied that it was a calculated transfer — and never one primarily based on the misuse of energy. He additionally factors out that Zelensky had talked about bringing in nuclear weapons into Ukraine shortly earlier than Russia’s invasion, which may have set off alarms and influenced Putin’s selections.
Stone additionally warns that the U.S. is greater than able to a nuclear and/or chemical false flag. A small nuclear machine may very well be set off within the Donbas, and even when it didn’t make sense, the propaganda machine would mechanically blame it on Russia. After all, Russia additionally has a big nuclear arsenal, which may very well be dropped at the fore.
“Can we stroll again from the brink of nuclear warfare?” Fridman asks. “Sure,” Stone replies. “What do we have to stroll it again?” Stone replies:
“Purpose. Purpose, after which diplomacy. Speak to the man. Mr. Biden, why don’t you settle down and go speak to Mr. Putin in Moscow. And attempt to have a dialogue with out falling into ideologies.”