by Finn McRedmond
Wednesday, 14
September 2022
Audio
11:35

BBC’s Jeremy Bowen: does the West want Ukraine to win?

A stalemate might suit some countries
by Finn McRedmond


The International Editor of the BBC has suggested that some European nations do not want to see Ukraine emerge winners in the ongoing war with Russia.

Speaking on the BBC’s Global News Podcast yesterday morning, Jeremy Bowen said (5:35-6:37) it suits less hawkish nations like Italy to have a stalemate in Ukraine, as they are anxious about the tenor of the Russian reaction to a full sale Ukrainian victory:

One of the ironies of this is that the stalemate that’s been going on the battlefield for a few months now actually suits some Western governments who aren’t all that hawkish, unlike say here in Britain where the government is pretty hawkish. But take Italy for example. It quite suits them to have a stalemate because if the Ukrainians were to lose that would be awful but if the Ukrainians were to win, then that opens up a whole bigger field of questions about how would the Russians react. And that scares quite a few of them. I don’t think that Putin is the sort of person and leads the kind of regime where you can just step back and say ‘I’ve made a big mistake and I’m not nearly as strong as I thought I was and oh well, that’s life’ — he’s not that sort of guy.
- Jeremy Bowen, BBC

These comments come in the wake of the stunning volte-face in Ukrainian fortunes, as their army has been recapturing territory from Russian forces in the Kharkiv region since late last week. But these advances may result in Vladimir Putin reacting in, as former Deputy Secretary of Nato Rose Gottemoeller told the BBC, “unpredictable ways”. “I fear they will strike back now in really unpredictable ways and in ways that may even involve weapons of mass destruction,” she said. Her fears were were shared by John Bolton, former National Security Adviser under the Donal Trump administration, who added that nuclear war with Russia was “a lot closer” than previously thought.

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Jim R
Jim R
22 days ago

It’s so tempting to think in simplistic terms of ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ as if it would be the end of the matter. We might want to be careful what we wish for – if Russia is humiliated and withdraws completely there will be much celebration in the west and then we’ll move on and forget about it. But in history, proud nations that are ‘humiliated’ tend to bide their time and stew – then come back more dangerous than ever. Finding a resolution that doesn’t sew the seeds for the next war should be the goal.

Last edited 22 days ago by Jim R
Jim R
Jim R
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

Don’t look now, but Russia just threatened all of us with nuclear annihilation: Per Medvedev: “And then the Western nations will not be able to sit in their clean homes, laughing at how they carefully weaken Russia by proxy. Everything will be on fire around them. Their people will harvest their grief in full. The land will be on fire and the concrete will melt.” Somebody get Dr. Strangelove on the phone – we need to find out if we have a ‘mineshaft gap’ with the Russians to see who will ‘win’ the nuclear war . . .

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
21 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

Acceding to ‘proud nations’ bullying of other nations so brutally, like Russia has done, sounds a wee bit weak.
As a child I used to think if I let the bully slap me maybe he’ll leave me alone in future. It didn’t work, he always came back for more, with his mates.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ian Stewart
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
21 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

yes one had to demonstrate a certain capacity for worrisome rage occasionally to move a little up the pecking order….and the Ukrainians are certainly ‘raging’.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
20 days ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

Yeah you’re right. I finally discovered that fact in my twenties and took out the rage on bullies whether they hassled me or others. Probably getting revenge for childhood. It got me into a few scrapes that are now amusing in retrospect, and earned a lot of respect from colleagues too.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
22 days ago

So if Putin wins, he gets Ukraine. But he must not lose because he might have a hissy fit and start a war with somebody else or send off his nuclear missiles. Not much hope for the West really; he takes it country by country, or in one big bang. This is what we have come to?
We did it with Hitler, but alas history teaches us nothing

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
21 days ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

It’s amazing that people choose to ignore the Hitler parallel when Putin has displayed such a similar ‘blood and soil’ justification for his ‘special operation’.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
21 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Dammit where were our expensive intelligence ‘experts’ in all the build up to this – and our effective and wise leaders. Always it is Joe Lunchbox that pays the price for our incompetent leaders/advisors – if they had performance criteria to meet they would be sacked in ignominy . 2014-2022 was a Chamberlin re-run !

Aaron James
Aaron James
21 days ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

What is it with you Neo-cons? The bargaining table should have been used.

”We did it with Hitler, but alas history teaches us nothing”

Good point – take regional a war which is none of our business and make it WWIII.

Destroy all the private pensions in UK and EU – that is what this war you are so for is doing. Destroy all the savings, Real wage Loss to inflation wile necessities are so expencive there is no money for anything else????????? Well then the pubs close, the resturants, hair Dressers, just about all the economy which lives on ‘Discretionary Spending’ – because no one has any of that now, with your ilk and this war. Now they are soon out of work – OK I guess for people who work for the government who’s pay is sure and inflation proof. Not so much for the rest of people. The Treasury printing a Trillion, debasing the money you have – to pay subsidies on energy – that is not free, it is paid by the stealth tax called ‘Inflation’, a remarkable regressive tax!

Tell the old lady who’s fixed anunity is half half of what it was before the sanction’s driven inflation – tell her by being poor and cold the war between Russia and Ukraine can continue. Ask her if that is what she wants…

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
22 days ago

This isn’t new though, is it? These ideas and warnings about how Putin might react in the throes of being pushed back have been discussed quite openly almost since the very outset of the conflict.
It suits Bowen and the BBC’s “i’m a foreign correspondent so my opinion carries more weight” narrative to have this aired. I quite often find myself wondering, after watching/listening to a piece delivered from some godforsaken conflict zone, whether what we’ve just been “told” is anything that we didn’t already know and could’ve been delivered at significantly less cost. I think the days of putting foreign correspondents in harms way to provide a “scoop” are numbered with the advent of drones and real-time information management via digital media from practically anywhere on earth.
They served a purpose in previous times, and Bowen deserves credit for his part in that. We did have some pretty eye-opening pieces here on Unherd from a correspondent integrated into the Ukrainian battle zones, but that wasn’t about the geopolitical consequences so much as an insight into the morale of the citizen/troops. That had value.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
22 days ago

The other factor is dissent inside Russia and, if so, who is likely to replace him. Putin has been a disaster for Russia – away from the urban elites and his grubby cronies, living standards suck for many ordinary rural Russians. The West needs to be making friendly overtures to whomever that person(s) may be. If we do get a second chance at a rapprochement with Russia, we need to provide more assistance in countering corruption and transitioning to a meaningful democracy in Russia. That is, if Russia even is a place that can bear democracy. Perhaps there are too many cracks under the surface already.  

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
21 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I think you’re being too hopeful there. I have minimalist hopes that whoever replaces Putin wants to get on with us and keep themselves to themselves, at least for the next 20 years or so, so they can redevelop their country.
The big bonus outcome is that Russia has permanently been removed as a worthwhile ally of China, and it has also demonstrated to China how self inflicted damage can arise from a stupidly conducted war (though Biden has demonstrated that too in Afghanistan). Taiwan may be safe for another 10 years.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
21 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

A very worthwhile outcome for the hassle of chilly winters and tightened financial belts…

Jim R
Jim R
21 days ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

And those chilly winters will feel much warmer with the nukes exploding all around us. Until the nuclear winter sets in anyway. Net zero? Try zero. And ahead of schedule! Global warming? The soot will block out the sun so it won’t matter that all the carbon was vaporized!

R Wright
R Wright
22 days ago

In fairness, the continual humbling of Russia is only going to lead to it becoming more extreme, its population furious at the failings of the post-Soviet elite. In that respect these ‘doves’ they do have a point. For the Ukrainian troops on the front lines such a point is entirely moot though. It’s not like they’re going to march, Anabasis style, up to Moscow.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
21 days ago

I don’t know why it is humiliating for a Russian army of 150,000 to be defeated by an arm of a million Ukrainians. Neither do I see how a reasonably well equipped Russian army defeated by a very well NATO equipped army is humiliating. Also the Russian army is fighting ‘away’ while Ukraine is playing at home..
All this David and Goliath stuff is a bit overstated isn’t it?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
21 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

The equipment and trained (not dads army) resource comparisons at the start gave the Russians about a 4 to 1 advantage; the special operation was touted by the Russian media as a doddle; they thought they could dictate to Finland and Sweden about NATO membership; and their energy tactic failed. It’s hardly ‘away’ when it’s on your border either.

This is an abject humiliation for Russia and Putin. He’ll be ‘replaced’ soon hopefully.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ian Stewart
Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
22 days ago

So what? Life has risks. The West has kicked an own goal with sanctions because they have increased Russia’s foreign income, increased anti-west sentiment in Russia and fuelled inflation in the West. The US has radically changed the war by supplying weapons. In this very nasty business we should not be frightened, be sanctimonious or the victim of events. Instead we should negotiate on sanctions, let Putin take the credit, hope the US keeps up the supply of weapons and prevent anything going to Russia of a military nature. If Putin agrees to it we might just get a reduction in energy costs and give Putin a reason not to escalate outside of his “special operations”. That is having achieved the good news in Russia of removing sanctions he risks getting them imposed again. There would then be a chance or a “withdrawal”. Then we need to work out whether we can build world peace for a global economy or retreat into self sufficiency.

Last edited 22 days ago by Jon Hawksley
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
21 days ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Did you quote this from Pravda?

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
21 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

That seems a little harsh given the reality that the West completely failed to contain this mess when there was time available. Once ‘war’ has started there can be no simple outcomes because all ‘war’ is a complete failure of civilisation. Russia has lost this war regardless of the territorial situation and must in some manner ‘sue’ for peace – then the Ukraine will become part of ‘civilisation’ and Russia will have proved to the world that it is STILL not capable of behaving in a civilised manner for who knows how much longer ( as China et al). The US was busy annexing as much territory as it could up until, what, 150 years ago but is now reasonably ‘civilised’ in those terms ( I know, Iknow… ) – Russia et al are still ‘retarded’ in that way, but hopefully wont take 150 years to join civilisation…..

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
21 days ago

There is no humbling of Russia. There SMO aims are the destruction of the AFU and that means killing every Ukrainian soldier until there unconditional surrender, liberating the Donbass and finally the denazification of Ukraine which will take as long as it takes.