Background Briefing: May 22, 2023
Ukrainian Sabotage Operations Inside Russia as Part of the Upcoming Counteroffensive
We begin and go to the UK to speak with Alec Bertina, a freelance journalist and researcher of non-traditional security actors with a focus on Russian private military contractors and paramilitary groups. He is an all source analyst for Grey Dynamics and a conflict analyst for Militant Wire. We assess claims by Prigozhin that his Wagner mercenaries have captured Bakhmut and look into reports that a Ukrainian “sabotage group” have blown up military installations inside Russian territory bordering on Ukraine with sources citing Ukrainian military intelligence saying two armed Russian opposition groups, the Liberty of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), both consisting of Russian citizens, were responsible for carrying out the attack. We explore how much this is part of a broader strategy to divert Russian resources and undermine morale leading up to an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Europe Can Provide More Military and Economic Assistance to Ukraine
Then we assess the extent to which NATO countries can provide more of the military and economic assistance going to Ukraine since, according to the World Bank, the European Union had a GDP more than nine times larger than that of Russia in 2021, and the war in Ukraine has widened the gap still further. Even the much-maligned military spending of EU members is already almost four times greater than Russia’s, and the EU has roughly three times the population of Russia. Joining us is Joshua Shifrinson, a Professor at the Center for International Security Studies at The University of Maryland. His research focuses on U.S. grand strategy, the durability of NATO, U.S. relations with its allies during and after the Cold War, and the rise of China. He is the author of Rising Titans, Falling Giants: How Great Powers Exploit Power Shifts and we discuss his article at Foreign Affairs, “Does America Still Need Europe?”
Free Trade Zones as Capitalist Nirvanas to Unleash the Market From the Tyranny of Government and Bureaucracy
Then finally we explore the belief among free-market radicals that democracy and freedom are incompatible with capitalism and that countries like Singapore and Dubai are the models to follow with free trade zones as capitalist nirvanas that will unleash the market from the tyranny of government and bureaucracy. Joining us is Quinn Slobodian, a Professor of History at Wellesley College where he teaches histories of modern Europe, international history, social movements and the intellectual history of neoliberalism. A frequent contributor to The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Dissent, The Nation and The New Statesman, he is the author of Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany and Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, and we discuss his latest book, Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World Without Democracy.