Scott Ritter & Ray: Are Geneva Talks Doomed or Is There Hope?

By Ray McGovern, Jan. 7, 2022

A mini-debate on U.S./Russia/Ukraine, marked by the professional respect Scott Ritter and I have for each other, was hosted on Friday by The Critical Hour.  Scott has had considerable experience with Russia. Like me, he is (advisedly) dismissive of the experience/expertise of President Biden’s advisers on Russia.

That Biden brought in the clowns is, actually, a scandal — and a dangerous one, colored, as it is, by a tinge of insanity as well as hubris.

As for me, the “current intelligence” mindset that I will never shake (nor would I want to) inclines me strongly toward weighing most recent events/ pronouncements against what I believe to be key traits of President Putin — not only his restraint and statesmanship but his clear concern to protect Russia from yet another calamity. The way I usually do analysis is reflected in the piece I posted early this morning, which became the jumping-off place for our mini-debate. ( See: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2022/01/06/putins-quid-no-offensive-missiles-in-abm-sites/  )

Neither Scott nor I claim clairvoyance. Scott said he hoped my more reassuring forecast — based mainly on recent straws in the wind and my assessment of Putin — turns out to have been closer to the mark. Otherwise, Good-bye, Ukraine; and Hello, decades of troubled times.

What Putin is saying. Probably…

My best guess is that Putin said something like this to Biden today: I strongly suggest that you and I personally lead the negotiations starting Jan 10. Agreements made at lower levels (like the 2016 Syria ceasefire that was sabotaged by USAF in 1 week) don’t hold. Things are too serious now; let’s accept personal responsibility.

Media Still At Sea Without Official ‘Guidance’ on Russians Leaving Areas near Ukraine

Ray on Critical Hour 12/27/2021, 14 mins

Can Moscow’s pull-out of over 10,000 troops, announced Christmas morning, be seen as a gesture to help get U.S.-Russia talks off on the right foot on Jan. 10? By now it is clear that none of the usual suspects in the corporate media will hazard such a guess without an OK from Washington.  ( See: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2021/12/26/what-no-russian-invasion-of-ukraine/  )

Better to keep ringing changes on the main theme — the likelihood of a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine. Also, it might prove difficult to figure out how to spin a report of so many Russian troops going the wrong way.

This would be funny, were it not so important. Still, my short interview with “The Critical Hour” Monday evening started off on a somewhat jocular tone regarding those “Wrong-Way-Corrigan” Russian troops.

Not funny? Yes, really not funny. Moscow’s top civilian and military leaders are dead serious this time.

When U.S. and Russian representatives get together on Jan. 10, there will have to be new flexibility in Washington’s positions to address Moscow’s core interests. Otherwise, Europe will quickly become a much more dangerous place.

An element of flexibility can be seen in the Biden administration’s bow to Russia’s insistence that negotiations begin without delay — in less than two weeks at this point.  A small concession, but not insignificant. 

Another straw in the wind came yesterday when a White House spokesman said that the U.S. believes diplomacy is the most responsible path forward “even if we don’t get everything we want”.  (See: https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/28/politics/us-russia-security-talks/index.html  )

What remains a bit puzzling is why corporate media have felt required, so far, to describe the motive behind Russia’s 10,000-plus troop withdrawal as “unclear”. In any case, this episode is proof positive of how tightly the media is controlled and thus how discombobulated they feel when “The Memo to Media” is late in coming.  ( See: https://twitter.com/raymcgovern/status/1476002207870984192  )