Ukraine: Russian Crimes, American Hypocrisy - Wilkerson and Jay

The billionaires of the U.S., Russia and Ukraine are all willing to sacrifice the sons and daughters of working families in wars for profit and hegemony. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson joins Paul Jay on

Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay. Welcome to We’ll be back in just a few seconds with Larry Wilkerson to talk about the situation in Ukraine. Please don’t forget there’s a donate button, subscribe and share all the buttons.


The billionaires, oligarchs of Russia, who have a very large military-industrial complex and of course a large fossil fuel industry, and the State that represents them, guided by [Vladimir] Putin, has invaded Ukraine and is fighting against the Ukrainian oligarchs and state. Of course, it will be the kids of Russian working-class families and particularly Ukrainian working-class families that will pay with their lives.

Standing behind this Ukrainian oligarchy is, of course, the American oligarchy with a military-industrial complex that dwarfs all others. In terms of its global footprint, a history of war crimes that dwarfs all others. So any suggestion of a moral high ground here that one hears from the [Joe] Biden administration and the nauseating American media is beyond words to describe it’s so obvious, actually. But none of that actually forgives or accepts the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is clearly a violation of international law. There are ways to deal with the Ukrainian threat to Donbas and potential, and I say very potential NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] threat through Ukraine. In my opinion, it’s certainly not just my opinion; there’s no way on earth Ukraine was ever going to be accepted into NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization].

Still, the Ukrainian military-industrial complex is not small. Ukraine was in the top ten arms exporters in the world. The only reason they started to drop out of the top ten arms exporters is that over the last three or four years, they started spending so much money building up the Ukrainian military instead of exporting. So the threat to Donbas was real, but the threat to Russia from Ukraine, I don’t see was real. This all could have been handled without a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Let me back up one step again to the beginning of this rant. Nothing the Russians have done in Ukraine compares with what the U.S. did in Iraq and many other places. There’s not a moral equivalency here. The war crimes of the United States far surpass Russia or any other country. That doesn’t mean what Russia has done in Ukraine is acceptable, forgivable or justified.

At any rate, that’s my rant. Now I’m going to introduce the person who you probably came here to actually listen to, and that’s Larry Wilkerson. Larry was the Chief of Staff for Colin Powell at the State Department and also worked with Powell at the Joint Chiefs. Thank you very much for joining us, Larry.

Larry Wilkerson

Thanks for having me, Paul.

Paul Jay

All right, your turn, your rant. What do you make of this current situation?

Larry Wilkerson

The first thing I would observe as a military professional is what [Carl von] Clausewitz said in book eight, I think, we are at a vividness of transient events. This is a transient event. What does that mean? Well, let’s put it in the context of [Ulysses S.] Grant in Virginia when he finally takes over the bulk of the Union forces, and he’s pursuing [Robert E.] Lee relentlessly through Virginia. He’s asleep one night in his tent, and an aide runs in all breathless and says, General, wake up, Lee’s on your flank. Grant thinks for a second, looks at the aide, thanks him and rolls over and goes back to sleep. That’s what a transient event is. That’s what we should be doing, rolling over and going back to sleep, as it were. At worst, Putin is probably going to consolidate his hold on the two westernmost oblast, which he pretty much already owned anyway.

Paul Jay

Eastern. You said Western. You meant Eastern?

Larry Wilkerson

Eastern oblast. Probably, if I were him anyway, militarily, I’m speaking now, I would carve out a 50 kilometer wide charter down to Odesa. Odesa is a more important Port than any Port in Crimea. That’s what Russia’s Navy and Russia’s military, in general, is probably salivating over.

So why does that affect the security of the United States? It’s a fundamental question. Ukraine was in the Soviet Union for 70 freaking years during the Cold War, and they did not threaten the United States of America. Nor did they threaten NATO. Russia did. Moscow did. In fact, the nuclear weapons in Ukraine could not have been shot by anyone in Kyiv or anywhere else in Ukraine. The codes and the firing commands came from Moscow. Ukraine is not a threat now to the United States.

So why are we even paying any attention to this? Well, the reason is, as I learned last night as I watched on Ari Melber’s 6:00 P.M. show on MSNBC. Listen to all these pontificators, pontificate. The reason is, get this now; we have found the issue that has brought bi-partisanship back to the Congress of the United States. War! Rumours of war bring bi-partisanship back to the Congress of the United States. Are you falling over in shock yet?

This is what we’re all about today. We are a national security state. We are a military-industrial complex supporting that State. And that’s how you bring Americans, sad to say, and their congressional leaders together. It’s through rumours of war and threats of war. One of the things I wanted to ask all those commentators last night who were advocating for the United States to take maximum action was, where’s your rifle and bayonet? And when will you be in the front lines, you son of a bitch.

Paul Jay

The profit-making of all the military-industrial complexes— and I have to say you’re completely right as an American to focus on the American military-industrial complex, which is certainly driving this. It’s more than driving this. The government in Ukraine, this lineage of this government, really began in 2014 in a coup, more or less orchestrated by the United States. Biden himself actually had a hand in what happened in the coup and the events afterwards. And when Putin talks about the de-Nazification of Ukraine, American media kind of ridicules him when he says that. But it’s actually very true. There were a lot of Nazis in that regime.

Larry Wilkerson

That’s very true. The CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] was funnelling arms, training and helping those neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Just like they have done to people like them all over the globe. Just like they did in Venezuela. Just like they did in Syria. Just like they were doing in Iraq. The CIA doesn’t care if you’re a neo-Nazi. They’re going to fund you if you’re on their side for a moment or two. That’s the way they do things. They were actually working with Al Qaeda in Syria. Working with Al Qaeda! We actually had a firefight in Syria where the military was shooting at what they thought was Al Qaeda. They had to cease and desist because they were shooting at the CIA, helping Al Qaeda. That’s how dastardly we do things in the world today.

The hypocrisy here, you didn’t even touch it, Paul. You didn’t even touch it. We have gone to war in Iraq. We have gone to war in Syria. We have gone to war in Libya. We have stayed in Afghanistan well beyond our writ. We tried to overthrow [Nicolás] Maduro in Venezuela and Hugo Chavez before him. We have had an embargo for 60 years now on Cuba. We violate international law at our will. It’s almost a daily thing now. So if you want to look at some hypocrites, the hypocrites live in Washington.

Paul Jay

No doubt. But I do want to say and ask. It seems to me that the real issue here was Donbas. The Eastern region of Ukraine, which is primarily populated by Russian-speaking people, which, as far as we know, want to be independent of the Ukrainian, Western Ukrainian State, which is very much an extension of U.S. power and populated by—

Larry Wilkerson

I think you’re right about most of them in the easternmost oblast. I think it’s a toss-up in the other oblast, but it’s a majority of Russian speakers and people with Russian affinity. Were Putin to say, as I just said, if this truly is a transient event, we shouldn’t pay much attention to— if he’s going to do what he said he’s going to do and just solidify his control there and then stop, then we’ve got a whole different situation. We need to spin out whatever comes out of that into talks on more important things, things that are serious threats, like nuclear weapons, like the climate crisis.

We need to start talking about some very serious issues in this world that only Russia, especially with regards to nuclear weapons because she’s the largest holder of nuclear weapons in the world outside of us (about 8 to 9000 apiece now). China, for example, has 3 or 400. No one comes close to Russia. No one comes close to us. This is a real existential threat that we’re looking at. This new lease on life that nuclear weapons have, largely because we’ve destroyed the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty] Treaty, the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty. You name the treaty that was good for nuclear arms control, and we’ve destroyed it. We almost destroyed, under [Donald] Trump, New Start. Thank God we didn’t do that, and we didn’t go all the way. We still have that. And thank God Putin was willing to do it. Those are the serious issues that really threaten American security. We need to get out of this focus on these transient events and get into the real issues.

Paul Jay

But that’s not where the money is.

Larry Wilkerson

No, you’re right. You’ve got to keep rumors of war and war to keep Lockheed Martin, Grumman, Boeing, United Technologies, all these people feasting on the monstrous cash that comes from war. I look back on Halliburton and my two real close experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Halliburton made $44 billion off Iraq and Afghanistan. I think Pfizer only made $26 billion off its COVID vaccine.

Paul Jay

There are no good players in this situation. The number one creator of the Ukraine crisis is the United States, most recently the 2014 coup. But also, the United States could have taken NATO off the table, and so could the rest of Europe. The whole thing is ridiculous because everybody knows they will never get a consensus in NATO for the inclusion of Ukraine.

Larry Wilkerson

Well, think about this, Paul. You’ve got a good point there. But think about this, there are 30 nations now. But think about this. You go out across the Mississippi toward the west, go up into Minnesota, go down into Texas, come back into Alabama, Mississippi, and ask people where these countries are. They can’t find them on a map. Then you tell them, do you realize you signed up for nuclear war for Montenegro? Do you know where Montenegro is? You know Montenegro is probably the biggest automobile theft center in the world. None of these countries should have gotten into NATO, strictly based on the requirements to be a NATO member. But we sort of massage those. The corruption is so high. The crime is so high. They shouldn’t have gotten in. But these countries are now part of Article five. An attack on one is an attack on all. If someone were to attack Montenegro, we would have to risk nuclear war for that country. What American is going to sign up for that? Now people say to me, and they have a point. Who’s going to attack Montenegro? Who’s going to attack Ukraine? Who’s going to attack Georgia?

My President went to Tbilisi with [Mikheil] Saakashvili by his side. The young Georgian President, at the time, declared that Georgia would be a member of NATO. Putin took two oblast there, too. Don’t blame him a bit from his perspective. That’s how stupid we are. That’s how strategically inept we are. We have made Putin politically, domestically. We’ve given him the poll ratings to stay in power, and we’ve given him the big mistakes which he can exploit, even though he’s playing with two aces and we have a hand with seven aces in it. We just don’t know how to play.

Paul Jay

You mentioned Saakashvili from Georgia, who was one of the most corrupt leaders Georgia has ever had. He was eventually run out of the country, escaping charges of corruption after he collaborated with John McCain to create this crisis with Russia. Where does he go?

Saakashvili winds up in Ukraine, gives up his Georgian citizenship, and then when Odesa has an uprising against this right-wing fascist Ukrainian government, the Russian speaking, mostly Odesa. This guy, Saakashvili, is appointed Governor of Odesa, paid $200,000 a year to govern and gives up his Georgian citizenship. The guy’s got to be a CIA asset.

Larry Wilkerson

The only thing I would say to that is I’m surprised that he isn’t a U.S. citizen and a graduate of West Point. He’s got friends in the army who occupy the Ministry of Defence in Georgia now.

Paul Jay

The thing is, most of what the Russians say about the Ukrainians is true. But much of what the Ukrainians and Americans also say about the Russians is true. Putin didn’t have to do this. You and I were talking in the lead up to all this, and we were both saying, well, I can’t see him doing it. It just doesn’t make sense strategically for Russia to have an all-out invasion of Ukraine. Even if his objectives are limited— like right now, it seems his objectives are. And now I’m quoting a Chinese Military Analyst in the Chinese/English press, who says Putin’s objectives are to destroy the Ukrainian armed forces. Well, that requires killing a lot of Ukrainian soldiers, which are ordinary Ukrainian workers. He didn’t have to do this. He didn’t have to create such a severance with Europe and much of the world. Why didn’t you just fill up Donbas with Russian troops and leave it at that?

Larry Wilkerson

Well, this may be disinformation, too. It could be coming through the Chinese innocently or on purpose. But I would say this to that. Were I the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I am in the Oval Office alone with the President of the United States, and he asked me for my military advice on this, my first comment would be about the transient event. Then I would say, Mr. President, now here’s my serious advice; if it’s not a transient event, if Putin really does have something truly heinous in mind for Ukraine, not just solidifying his control over the oblast he already pretty much controls, but really something serious, let him do it. In two years, he’ll be out of power. The Russian armed forces will look worse than they looked when they came out of Afghanistan. After ten years, the Russian State will be collapsing. It will be five times worse than when the Soviet Union collapsed because they have nothing but gas stations. They have no economy. And what we’ve got, even though we’ve ruined many aspects of it over the last 20 years, $30 trillion in debt we’re headed towards by 2030. We still have so much strategic depth, economically, financially and otherwise, than he does. Just wait him out.

Ukraine will be his graveyard as Afghanistan looked like it was going to be for us. Wait him out. It won’t take 20 years. It won’t take ten. It’ll be finished in two. Forty Vermont divisions got caught in the Balkans and got run over by people like Tito and others, whom I’m sure there are a few of in Ukraine and will wind up with a real mess. But the mess will be predominantly for Putin and Russia. That’s a cold assessment of the situation, I’d say.

Paul Jay

You’re saying if he actually tries to install a pro-Russian government in Kyiv.

Larry Wilkerson


Paul Jay

Because how does he defend it?

 Larry Wilkerson

Well, that’s my point. That’s my point. He turns himself. He had interior lines. He could surround Ukraine virtually. The only place he couldn’t get was the other side, but he was on the top. He can come in from the Black Sea on the bottom. He’s got them surrounded on three sides. But if he goes in there and he fights a long-term insurgency inside Ukraine, he’s finished. He’s toast.

Paul Jay

Which then one would conclude that’s not the plan. But if the plan is—

Larry Wilkerson

He’s a smart man; much as I detest him, he kills people with nuclear pellets. I detest him. But he’s a smart man. And everything he’s done up to this point, exploiting our mistakes in Syria and Libya and everywhere we’ve made a mistake. He’s exploited Georgia, now Ukraine. I can’t believe he’s going to be stupid now. He could be. But I have a hard time following that track record of strategic adeptness and suddenly seeing him doing something like that.

Paul Jay

Yeah. Well, then one could —

Larry Wilkerson

My only advice is if he does do it, let him do it.

Paul Jay

Well, I’m beyond making any predictions right now because I don’t understand why he did what he just did. Because he could have defended the Donbas region without trying to destroy the entire Ukrainian military, and he didn’t have to move towards Kyiv.

Larry Wilkerson

I hope I’m wrong, but it’s looking a lot like what Clausewitz also says about passion. War is an extension of policy with a mixture of violence or with other means. However you want to translate to German, that’s Clausewitz’s famous definition of war. What people forget is what he said about what it isn’t when it’s outside that realm when there isn’t any sanity to the objective, there isn’t a political objective, and the political objective is reachable and so forth. Then it becomes absurd. That’s Clausewitz’s term, absurd. It becomes absurd. That’s what we’re talking about. If Putin is doing what you and I just described, it’s absurd, and he’s going to lose. He’s going to lose big time.

Paul Jay

I agree, but I also think what he’s doing now is absurd because if the real issue is the defence of Donbas, which I believe it is because I think this NATO thing is a red herring because Ukraine was never going to get into NATO. So if I’m right about that, the real issue is Donbas, and that’s a real issue, and it’s an issue that’s very dear to the heart of most Russians. So the defence of Donbas, he would have had popular support. But this move beyond Donbas does not have popular support in Russia. If it was legal to have protests against this war, people I talked to in Russia say there would be massive protests against what’s taken place right now.

Larry Wilkerson

Well, there already have been.

Paul Jay

I mean, massive. These people that are doing it are very brave because they are getting arrested.

Larry Wilkerson

Yes, they are. The other aspect of it that probably a lot of Russians don’t understand, other than the Navy and maybe a few people in the what is the equivalent of their national security Council. East Crimea and Odesa are almost the Sine qua non of a Southern naval strategy. You almost have to have that because if you don’t, it’s like China in the South China Sea. People want to know why the dash nine line. Why does China make all these claims? Well, you can’t race your fleet into action. You can’t get out. You can’t fight. You’re destroyed before you even get out of Port or out of the water surrounding your Port. That’s what China is facing. So you’ve got to have this buttress. They can’t have Turkey closing the Strait, for example. They’re going to force the Strait. Well, maybe they could, but then they’ve got war with the Turks, and I’m sure they don’t want that. So you need the space to unlimber your fleet, so to speak, and to get it out into action. That’s their Southern access, the Black Sea, Odesa, Crimea and so forth. So I can understand why some Admirals would be really pushing Putin, I got to have this, I got to have this, I got to have this.

Paul Jay

Let’s assume the strategy of Putin is to destroy the Ukrainian military, pull back, take the entire region of Donbas as he has now recognized both in Donetsk and Lugansk and beyond the entire region and allow that to be independent, as he’s already recognized and defended that. He’s now disabled the Ukrainian military in theory so that they can no longer threaten Donbas.


Why was it worth it? There were certainly lots of voices in Europe and elsewhere that NATO was pointless. Why is there a NATO? There were divisions in NATO. In a previous interview, you and I were talking about how almost war was dividing it; NATO. But actual war is uniting NATO, and it is so where the hell is the strategic victory for him in this? I don’t get it.

Larry Wilkerson

It would have been a strategic victory in my mind had he done what we were saying in the beginning. If he had taken those two sections, maybe assured his access a little bit further West in terms of the Black Sea and stop and just presented that as a fait accompli and then gone into negotiations and held onto as much as he could before he makes some kind of deal or whatever, like the Minsk agreement. I don’t understand this if he goes further. Now, he hadn’t yet.


You have to remember, as I was listening last night, as we were participating in Ari’s show, a lot of these people are pontificating. A lot of these people don’t know what they’re talking about. They throw a map up, and they say here and there and everywhere. You’ve got to have somebody tell me what’s going on on the ground, what is actually happening. Where is the front of the tank? Where is the front of the fuel loader? Where are the aircraft dropping their bombs and so forth? I’ve got a little bit of that picture now, but I don’t see this full onslaught on the entire tapestry of Ukraine yet.

Paul Jay

No, we’re doing this interview Friday afternoon, February 25. I think it is, right? The 25th, and so far, we haven’t seen that. Now, if you listen to Putin’s words, de-militarization, from what I can make out and what this Chinese analyst says means just like it sounds, destroys a lot of the, if not most, of the Ukrainian military, which means Army, Navy and Air Force. But he went further de-Nazification and holding criminals accountable for crimes committed, which I think to a large extent means the crimes committed in Odesa and in DaVos region during and after 2014. And there were crimes. And there are Nazis to be de-Nazified, but that means you got to capture these people. De-Nazification means run them out of the country or capture them and put them on trial.

Larry Wilkerson

And what’s new about Odesa? Odesa has been a centre of crime for how many years? How many millennia? Read Alan Furst. He’s writing about what, 80 years ago, 90 years ago, years before World War II, the years of World War II. Odesa is the place where you go if you want to be a criminal. It’s kind of like Cosa Nostra in Sicily. So what is this newfound desire to purify Odesa and the regions around it. It’s kind of like Marseille in France. People used to tell me when I was down in France, don’t go to Marseille that’s bad, that’s a bad place. I went there. It wasn’t so bad. But I do understand that there’s a lot of crime there, and I do understand there’s a lot of crime in Odesa, and some of the smartest criminals on the face of the Earth live in the families in Odesa. So what’s this deal that you got to go clean Odesa up now? That sounds to me like rhetoric.

Paul Jay

Anyway, there’s a lot of this I don’t get, and I don’t get Putin’s strategy here. It seems to me there was a much wiser course, but I do, at least, condemn Russia for what they’re doing. I condemn any war where working-class kids fight working-class kids so oligarchs can get richer. And first and foremost, I condemn the American oligarchy who do that more than anybody.

Larry Wilkerson

Period. I’m with you on all of that.

Paul Jay

But where this all ends up, I don’t know.

Larry Wilkerson

I got a thing down on my panel down there that Kate Gould from the Friends Committee for National Legislation gave me, and I look at it every day as I go down to my washing machine. Now that I don’t have a wife, I have to wash my own clothes. It says war is not the answer, and then there’s a little arrow, and it says war is still not the answer. It is not the answer today more than it has ever not been the answer in the last five millennia. Today, we will disappear from this planet in less than two generations if we don’t do something really fast and effective.

Paul Jay

About climate.

Larry Wilkerson

Yes. So this business of going to war when we should be going to war, metaphorically speaking against the changing climate, to ameliorate it adapt and ameliorate. This report that’s coming out on 28th February, I think it’s 300 page summary. It’s the only part of the report that’s approved by every country. Every country signs up to it. The technical section in the major body of the report essentially says, and it’s reflected in the summary, but they don’t get as dramatic.


It essentially says you do not really want to live in a 1.5-degree world. You can’t live in a two-plus degree world. And guess what? We’re headed for three or four.

Paul Jay

And no one’s talking about it at all. Now it’s all Ukraine.

Larry Wilkerson

That’s the other thing war does. It gets everyone’s attention to look at this bipartisan. Mitch McConnell was up talking positively about Biden and about doing something about Ukraine.

Paul Jay

When in trouble, be a wartime President.

Larry Wilkerson

That’s it. You want to get reelected, George? Go out and get yourself a war. Oh, I think I’ll go to Iraq. I’ll get reelected. Daddy didn’t get reelected, but I will. Watch me get reelected. I’ll time my war right.

Paul Jay

Okay, final question. I want to go back to something you said earlier. Both countries, Russia and the United States have essentially doomsday machines. Both countries have a nuclear war strategy. If I understand it correctly, if conventional war broke out directly between us and Russian troops and one side looks like it could be losing, both sides have a strategy of using nuclear weapons. So explain to us what is this doomsday machine that both countries have and how dangerous is that?

 Larry Wilkerson

Your favourite topic from the past is the doomsday machine. In my mind, submarines. If I’m being informed correctly, the submarines that are out there are soon to have tactical nuclear weapons on them. That is to say, a Boomer will be sailing around with all these strategic missiles on it. It’ll have a few smaller ones that it can shoot at a Soviet incursion in NATO or whatever. The way the Soviets now, not Soviets, but the Russians, the way their official doctrine, since about 2014 in writing says if NATO penetrates, they’ll hit the head of the penetration and the flanks of the penetration with tactical nuclear weapons. So they have expressed that in the doctrine that they will hit them.

So we had to come back, and we had to say we’re going to develop a weapon that will be the same thing. That’s the reason we had to cancel the INF treaty so we could build this weapon. So look at what we’re doing. Now, I have a real problem, and I know something about submarines. I wrote my master’s thesis on attack submarines for the battle group at the Naval War College.

I’m having a little problem with how can someone in Moscow identify when that door opens, and that missile comes out of that ballistic missile submarine, that it’s not a strategic missile, then it’s just a tactical missile and unleash hell because you don’t have much time. You’ve got to make a decision pretty fast. This is nothing. We’ve let it devolve to where now the leaders of these countries, the two most dangerous, Moscow and Washington, of course, they can make a decision on a split second when they know they’ve only got maybe 28 minutes to make that decision. There’s no time to see if everything’s right. We’ve made so many mistakes in the past. This is not a place where we want to be. This is not a place where anybody wants to be, where you only got a few seconds, and you’re going to die, and your whole nation is wiped out if you don’t make the right decision. And if you make the right decision, you’re going to die, and the whole nation is going to be wiped out. I mean, that’s what we’re doing. We’re insane, Paul. We’re absolutely insane.

Paul Jay

And part of that insanity is thinking that one side could use a tactical nuclear weapon and hope it doesn’t spiral into nuclear war. Like it’s impossible. Whoever’s losing that exchange has to go to another stage of nuclear weapons. No one’s going to accept losing.

Larry Wilkerson

When we were briefed on this the very first time, it was some time ago, it was right after their 2012 maneuvers, I think they were core size maneuvers, the Finns and the Swedes that have been observers, and they were the centre for Naval Analysis in Washington. They were briefing us on what they’d seen. They were predicting that it would be the next year it would go into actual published doctrine. That was the reaction of everybody in the room. Where did we lose this knowledge we gained during the Cold War, that if you use them, you’re going to go all the way. You don’t do a [Robert] McNamara gradual escalation with nuclear weapons. You shoot one. They’re gone. You’re going to wind your way all the way down to the end, and it is going to be truly the end. We’ve lost that knowledge. We’ve lost that kind of— I’ve got my feet in the Cold War, and I understand the nuclear theory, especially installation theory.

We had to lecture Delhi and Islamabad on that in 2002 because they didn’t know. They hadn’t been through a Cold War. They didn’t know the kind of thinking that we had gestated over those years from very smart people about how a nuclear exchange would wind up ultimately. I think it’s sobered [Pervez] Musharraf, and it’s sobered Delhi too, especially the civilians, I think. Maybe not so much the military, but they had not thought this through. They didn’t understand. If I shoot 20, he’s going to shoot 40, I’m going to shoot 100, and then the stockpiles are gone, and we’re all burning, and by the way, we wiped out all the agriculture from Washington to California, too, with the nuclear winter that comes from that. You’ve seen the studies of what would happen if Pakistan and India—

Paul Jay

Well, if just Pakistan and India wipe out much of the world’s agriculture, but an American and Russian nuclear war not only wipes out the Northern Hemisphere with radiation, but it wipes out agriculture across the entire world. It’s essentially the end of human life.

Larry Wilkerson

You’re mentioning— that brings to mind something I read this morning. I hope it’s not true. Why in the world would he be bombing the radioactive waste around Chernobyl?

Paul Jay

No, he wasn’t bombing it. They captured it. I was going to ask you about that. Apparently, the reasoning was to capture Chernobyl because they were afraid someone; I don’t know if it’s Ukrainian armed forces or some fascist forces, might try to use the Chernobyl waste to try to weaponize what’s in Chernobyl.

Larry Wilkerson

That makes sense. That was one of our greatest concerns right after 9/11, wasn’t so much that they would have a small yield nuclear weapon and explode it in a major American city; it was that they would have a dirty bomb because the dirty bomb is not that inconceivable.

Paul Jay

And I just have to say, and you’ve said it, and I’ve said it, but I’m going to say it again. They’re risking apocalypse for the sake of making money. That’s the most insane thing of it all. Although, there’s a crazy rationality to it.

Larry Wilkerson

There is if you’re one of these short-term dudes who is a billionaire and just sucking down the good life every minute of every hour and have no vision for the future at all and don’t give a damn about grandchildren—the future of our posterity. One of the things that just stuns me, Paul, is how far we’ve come from people who are willing to risk their lives, fortune, and sacred honour. Now we don’t even think about our posterity. It’s not even in our thoughts. COVID has proven it to me. COVID has proven it to me. No one cares about other people anymore.

Paul Jay

All right. Thanks very much, Larry.

Larry Wilkerson

Thanks for having me.

Paul Jay

Thank you for joining me on Please don’t forget there’s a donate button, subscribe, share. If you’re watching on YouTube, hit that little bell up there, which in theory is supposed to tell you when a new story goes up. Although I’m hearing from subscribers who have rung the bell that YouTube is not letting them know when our stories go up. So the most important thing is to go to the website, get on our email list and then you actually will know when our stories go up. Thanks again, Larry, and thank you for joining us on


Select one or choose any amount to donate whatever you like

Never miss another story

Subscribe to – Newsletter



Similar Posts


  1. It seems like Oliver Stone, who did both relevant documentaries, “Ukraine On Fire”, and “The Putin Interviews” would want to talk at length of his perceptions and the history of this that he has laid out so well. Can you get Oliver Stone on?

    I had not seem “Ukraine On Fire” before tonight, and god damn, Putin was right, there are Nazis all throughout Western Ukraine, and the West has a ton of agents and operatives in Ukraine with a lot of money. Our guy Yankovich … I think … the guy who was poisoned … and married to a US State Dept. Official gave the Medal of Honor to a WWII White Nationalist Nazi. I didn’t realize just how complex this history is, and how well it seems to be documented.

    I can see why Putin felt he needed to go big in this invasion, but it did not make him any friends in the world, and I doubt he is supported domestically as much has he was a few months ago. But Putin has been talking and telling the world his hard stops, and no one is listening, and Russia is insulted and humiliated with these raps on the hand for doing half of what the US does – logic and proportion are out the window …. what’s a poor dictator to do? What’s a rich oligarch dictator to do?

    This is a terrible time for the world, and I half expect to wake up to a flash of light and a nuclear blast any day as the stupid West seems eager for a nuclear showdown. The only option they are leaving to Putin to do is to go off the map … and that is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.

    Get Stone on if you can.

  2. Meanwhile, like everyone else, this Gleaming Democracy and Last, Best Hope of Mankind with a Sterling First Amendment guaranteeing Freedom of the Press has now censored my personal access to RT — which despite its deficiencies, I have found to be far more even handed and credible about covering Ukraine than ***ANY*** US or Western propaganda site whether bbc, cnn, the gaurdian, wapo, nyt, cbs, msDNC, Fox, pbs, abc, npr, the works.

  3. Paul, this Russian police action is NOT war against the Ukrainian people.

    The war against the Ukrainian people started in 2014 with the US Obama Hillary Kerry Biden Nuland COUP against the Ukrainian people, rendering the Ukraine corrupt, bankrupt, a failed state.

    Putin has been both strategically and tactically prudent, not launching a scorched Earth campaign against the people and fertile lands of the Ukraine but launched at the military assets of Ukraine.

  4. Paul the issue is NOT Nato membership.

    The issue is US nuclear and conventional weapons “90 miles from Russia’s border.” The Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse.

    If the US wouldn’t stand for Soviet nukes in Cuba, and the Soviets wouldn’t stand for US nukes in Turkey, then ***WHY*** would Putin go ahead and accept US nukes “90 miles from Russia’s border” when the US wouldn’t stand for Soviet nukes “90 miles from our shores” — presumably the strategic fortress/hamlet of Key West.

    Indeed, I am amazed at Putin’s patience. Indeed, why the patience? What strategic value was there in his patience?

    He once joked to some westerner about the time of Maidan that he could “be in Kiev in two weeks” and western snarks contradicted Putin, saying he could be there in two days.

    Well Putin got there in two days; encircled it, destroyed Ukrainian military assets nationwide in two days.

    Donbass was a useful pretext for destruction of Kiev military assets and denazification along with neutralization.

    On Eastern Europe, despite the fact that many partisans WERE Communist and that there WERE communist movements in Eastern Europe (the ones in France and Italy are not relevant to this conversation), ***NO*** Russian Tsar, Soviet leader, or post Soviet leader except maybe Yeltsin would countenance maintaining an easy invasion route from the West to the heart of Russia.

    Following multiple invasions by Sweden (two), Napoleon, the Kaisar and Hitler, ***NO*** ORDINARY WESTERN RUSSIANS would put up with a government that left the door open YET AGAIN to another scorched Earth invasion from the West.

    Indeed, I am surprised there wasn’t more internal pressure on Putin to intervene at the time of Maidan for this very reason. Paul, you and Larry ought to be grateful that Putin didn’t do so then, that Putin had patience. I sure am. Nuclear war then — and at the time of the Ukrainian downing of the Malaysian passenger aircraft which VP Biden at the time blamed on Russia with ***NO*** evidence at all, a FAITH-BASED ASSERTION sort of like Russiagate and the vaccines-will-work, etc., anyway I thought we were closer to all out nuclear war in 2014 than we are now.

    Yes nukular war and the climate crisis are far more than transitory matters, But the profit driven fossil-fueled western global capitalist, empire or GloboCap as CJ Hopkins calls it, ain’t gonna do nuthin’ about it.

    Regime Change needs to happen in Western and central Europe and in the Anglosphere as Chomsky calls it: UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the good ole USA, the source of all malevolence and hypocrisy and anti-Democracy in the world today. I am hoping the Yellow Vests and Trucker Convoys herald new grassroots activist in the West — which is sure to pick up now tat gasoline prices are $2 higher than two years ago at $4.00 here in Houston, the “Petro Metro.” How much higher are they in the West and the heartland and New England?

    I’m against War, Period and YES, Putin shouldn’t have invaded etc. But should Kennedy have quarantined the seas around Cuba to force Soviet Missiles out? Could Putin have “quarantined” Europe and the Anglosphere to get USA missiles and assets out?

    An interesting but not altogether helpful episode. Seems to just contribute to the USA Uber Alles anti-Russian, anti-Putin sentiment on the rise.

    P.S. Which Western nation has ever had a leader who possessed an actual, earned Doctorate in Economics? Maybe that is why he is so patient?

  5. I strongly suggest a close reading of today’s Alexander Mercouris discussion of the consequences of economic sanctions.
    Before, during, and after the Great Recession. I wrote a great deal about its economic causes. Beginning in 1971 the U.S. has run a trade deficit. Its present deficit is astonishing. The chief beneficiary is China. China makes enough from U.S. debt to easily finance its military budget. Surprisingly, following the Great Recession, China had top priority in the payment on U.S. debt.

  6. They’re not Asian. They’re not European. They are Eurasian. The Russians have descended into a world where the past is explained by the one simple word. Eurasian! Too bad now it appears they’re taking Eurasia and expanding a bit of breathing room.

  7. Paul,
    I listened to your rant. You assert that Ukraine would never become a member of NATO. On what basis? Russia ask for assurances on this matter and it was never, NEVER given. You may comfortably assert this, but did France or Germany say it? NOPE. Why not? Put it in writing! Cat got your pen?

    You do recognize the U.S. Ukrainian coup. Apologies there. What was its purpose? Just for kicks?
    Why do it? You do not think that Russia might be concerned? Why encircle Russia. Look at the map. What if Russia orchestrated a coup in Mexico. Concerned?

    I do apologize for not hearing your and the Colonel’s acknowledgment of the nazi element, but I did not hear any insistence that the Minsk accords be implemented.

    Initially Donetsk and Luhansk were NOT asking for independence….Russia wanted the Minsk accords applied. I suggest you look at the Minsk accords: “Decentralization of power, including through the adoption of the Ukrainian law…” No one except Russia insisted on the Minsk accords. “France and Germany, while not signatories did oversee its creation. They said not a word.
    Russia wanted stuff in writing….out front. Not the idiocy like there was no promise not to expand NATO. There was a promise. And in fact, in writing. Der Spiegel published. Gorby said it repeatedly.
    You and the Colonel are too comfortable with American power and exceptionalism. “Oh, yes, we use people like the nazis and Isis. No biggie.” But American did not loose 25 million people to nazi Germany. Nor was America ever invaded. We are the sloppy rich, those who do not care about others or their concerns. We dismiss them oh so casually.

  8. Paul, the claim about Russian oligarchs being a force behind this war is off the mark. While oligarchs are responsible for a lot of bad things, in this particular case, in Russia, the consensus seems to be that they are mostly against this war. It is bad for business, and very bad for their net worth. Over the past years, the oligarchs have been sidelined by the security types, who are motivated more by geopolitical and ideological concerns than money. I commend to you Adam Tooze’s podcast, How Biden’s Sanctions Against Russia Fall Short, Feb. 25, , where he speaks to this point.

  9. Saakashvili is a loser because he didn’t get both a Miami and Washington DC mansion from the CIA, like Karzai or Guaido!

    The real point of this whole exercise, jacking up energy costs and wrecking the EU system, is delay the integration of EU into the greater Eurasian market. China-Russia makes Washington sweat a little, but it has potential to sell more weapons so more of a blessing than a curse. China-EU(really Germany)-Russia is just another way of saying the gig is up. However if they can throw a wrench into this for another 30 years or so, it’s all moot as climate change will seal everyone’s fate. What do the oligarchy care, they will be dead in 30 years.

    Paul, you like to film documentaries, there are a few on how Ukraine has been carrying out ethnic cleansing (just look at the population drop, it’s far worse than population drop during Holodomor the Nazis are always going on about). The mass murder of school children is sickening. Sad to hear Larry, who’s boss hid war crimes so many times, brush off more war crimes by USA clients.

  10. exceptionally helpful and sobering from Col. Wilkerson.
    any chance of an interview with Gen. Stanley McChrystal?
    he’s civilian now and published; profiled in Oct 25, ’21 issue of Time.
    -authoritative sources of sanity- need all we can get?

    also, “we’ve got 7 aces.” is there a hegemony part 2?

  11. China just post on RT who is the real criminal, what country has committed attacked more countries in the last 40 years than any other. One guess: the U.S. has engaged in over 80% of all wars in the last 40 years. It even destroyed–on its own–quite a few of them. And was proud of it: Yugoslavia–totally destroyed Belgrade–Not U.N. sanction.. Of course Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan. Somalia, to name only a few. Meanwhile, Israel bombs Syria, annexes the Golan Heights and sells of drilling rights AND moves it capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which was a international city. NOT a peep from the Colonel. Here is the inconvenient truth CHINA posted on RT, a site that under a DDOS attack. Colonel likes this? I would real like a reasoned response from Jay, the Colonel on exactly why Russian is NOT justified to finally respond to NATO’s insanity. Neo-nazi in Ukraine. Victoria Nuland? Hunter Biden? Coup ousting a democratically elected president. Celebration of Bandera supporters? Even the Times of Israel complained about that one. Is this site nuts? The U.S. outspends the total of the next 8 countries. RUSSIA’s outlay is EIGHT Per Cent of the U.S. You are slyly making a idiotic comparison. And you know it.

    1. You couldn’t have watched the interview. You don’t make any significant points we didn’t make. I would add, of course the US outspends everyone else, and as I said in the interview its war crimes dwarfs all others, but the arms sector is very important to the Russian economy. 20% of industrial jobs by the estimates I can find.

  12. AnnoLoki et al.: You wrote: “Just like (Russia’s) kleptocrats, stealing the country’s wealth through (their) banking system….” The USA’s kleptocrats are far more accomplished. I have lost 20% of my life’s savings in the past few months to them. Who are they? They are the leaders of congress on the House and Senate Banking and Finance committees, the armed forces committees, budget committees, and even the freshmen “progressives” who replaced the veteran conservatives and promised to work for change. They and the White House, with the help of the Federal Reserve Bank of the US, have taken from my savings and pensions and those of other US citizens, and printed it all away to benefit favored corporations that bought back their companies’ shares.
    They took 20% (and the taking continues. They gave me $1,400. !

  13. NATO is symbolic. For the past 11 years, the anti-Russian propaganda in The West(tm) has been so extreme, dehumanising and demonising, outright lies, that Western leaders won’t even give Russia an agreement to not do something that we all know isn’t going to happen anyway. So saying “Ukraine won’t join NATO” is FREE. It’s not a change of policy. Yet we are so unwilling to cooperate on anything, that they can’t even get that. It’s nationalist narcissism. Abusive behaviour that leaves the victim with no way to do anything BUT by using force. Yes, I know, the people who will pay the price are people who don’t deserve it, but the war did not just start. It started in Ukraine, by people who want to kill Russians for being Russians, and the Western leaders who are enabling the killing won’t even agree that the sky is blue if that will help it stop. My guess is, Putin is going all in, not because he thinks it is the way to achieve everything, but because he no longer thinks anything else will achieve anything. People here in the UK, over there in the US & Canada… if there’s anyone else in Ukraine that we can work with to kill Russians, we will not stop. Putin tried harder to stop the war than any Western leader did. That doesn’t make it right. None of this is right. But I can understand it.

    West: “Evidence of hacking, coming from Russia!”
    Russia: “Please, share with our law enforcement the information. If the crimes are coming from our country, we will arrest those responsible”
    West: “Ha, f**k that! We’re not telling you anything! We’re sanctioning you!”

    Just like their kleptocrats, stealing the country’s wealth through our banking system, refusing to cooperate with Russian law enforcement in any way that would reduce the theft. We punish them for things we refuse to help them stop, and then judge them and blame them for failing. Putin is pissed off. None of this had to happen.

  14. I find Alexander Mercouris, the British journalist, attorney and contemporary historian, to be an imperative to my understanding what is proceeding politically in Ukraine and Russia. His videos are available at “theduran dot com” and on “youtube dot com”.

  15. Thank you for a very thoughtful discussion. One thing that wasn’t mentioned was the part of the Obama Legacy, his authorization for a multiyear program, with the goal of producing a new generation of miniaturized, tactical, nuclear weapons. This ten year program, projected to cost in excess of a trillion dollars, apparently continues, as neither successor to Barry O was other than a neo-con in foreign policy matters. As a person in his mid-70’s, I lived through the duck-and-cover exercises in elementary school, where we young citizens learned that getting under our desks would protect us from the consequences of a nuclear attack. That subtle, visceral, fear we knew then is lost on the majority of people today. Homo sapiens should be placed on the Endangered List; we’re the only species there, committing suicide.

    1. Homo Sapiens { aka – “Wise Man”} ?? NOT…!
      At Best we humans are clever tool makers….{Homo Habilis — “Man the Tool Maker”..}

      OK, maybe a tiny percentage of us are good musicians, like Chopin or Beethoven… but even humanity’s greatest artists certainly do not typify the human species, and even those great artists are mostly emotional basket cases …..

      FWIW: Of course the philosopher Artur Schopenhauer probably deserved the appellation “Wise…”

  16. Interesting. But let’s not forget about the Monroe Doctrine. In 1989 the US invoked the MD to take over Panama by force. Consider the Cuban Missle Crisis where we invoked the MD to threaten nuclear war to force the USSR to not install defensive rockets in Cuba.

    By our actions, we claim that anything that is perceived as a threat to ourselves or our interests is ripe for military intervention. It isn’t unreasonable to suppose that Russia is also entitled to pursue the same or similar strategy for the same or similar means.

  17. Hi Paul, I listened through your interview with Larry, and thank you both for tackling such difficult subjects and your candidness. I wanted to add some perspective that was either not discussed or touched on lightly:

    * The Russian invasion helps distract both the US and Russian citizens from other issues, and helps the image of both leaders. In the case of Biden, even soaked in hypocrisy, the US can claim a moral high ground and it averts the public’s gaze from failures in handling Covid, Afghanistan withdrawal, etc., and in Putin’s case the invasion can make him appear strong in protecting the Donbas region of Ukraine.
    *The US has successfully divided Russia and the EU: it is likely a long time before a project like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be supported. Just like in the past, the US wanted to keep the Soviet Union and China from a partnership, keeping the EU off balance means it stays politically and economically within America’s orbit.
    *The European Union is the biggest loser in this conflict. They lose economically by being shutoff (however long) from Russia, and by bowing to American military leadership in Europe rather than removing American bases from their soil, which has allowed the US to override the spirit of the Minsk agreement, and goad Russia into invading Ukraine.


    I couldn’t agree more with your comments about Climate Change and the terrible decision to invest in nuclear weapons, when our own consumer culture is making the Earth unlivable for our descendants. I think it’s fair to say that by having a culture that allows, if not psychopaths, then psychopathic behavior by corporate leaders, that this kind of selfishness, if not an evolutionary dead end for the individual, is a dead end for our race as a whole.

    I’ve asked before for the following topic, and it may not directly follow from political topics you discuss, but I believe it is worth strongly considering:

    *Technology: this isn’t a technology site, but talking to experts about where we are at in terms of A.I., robotics, genetics, etc can help us understand how it is or will be, applied to broader problems now and in the future. How close are we to human-level machine intelligence? What does it mean to have an autonomous system that can run for hundreds, if not thousands of years, without human interference? What does it mean that robots or androids would be unaffected by climate change or have our short lifespans?

  18. Certainly, Paul Jay’s introduction is on the mark: wars are for the advantage of the ruling-class, particularly for the winner – if there is a winner. When there are villains-in-chief, as there are in the USA’s ruling-class, political-class, and media, then I am inclined to support those of lesser villainy and their leaders, in particular, Pres Putin. In understanding his decision, I share Mr Jay’s sadness about the price being paid by working-class families, a price paid in all wars. Putin did try hard to make his case to the West about the threat that has been brought to Russia’s doorstep by the West since 1991. He received the leaders of the West, on the telephone and in person, Pres. Biden, Macron, Chanc. Scholtz, all to no avail. They no showed understanding and no backbone. He realized he was talking to the deaf. From his political vantage, with increasing artillery pressure on the Donbass by Kiev and with the Russian Security Council breathing down his neck, he had to act. He did, and from reports he did so with as soft an impact as an advancing army could have. I don’t find any leaders in the West as careful and judicious as Putin, Lavrov, Xi Xinping and Wang Yi. Even among oligarchs, there are differences that have to be noted, for example, love of country. I don’t find love of country a characteristic of USA’s oligarch’s; only love of power and money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *