US Colonel Douglas MacGregor in an interview with Roger Köppel
After the owner and editor-in-chief of "Weltwoche" reported enthusiastically from Moscow in the spring, he continues to pursue his line in another "Daily Special" on 5 September, among other things, for which he receives much enthusiastic approval.
The interview in April with an "honorary consul" of Swiss origin took place in front of the "Lubyanka", the headquarters of the former KGB and now FSB, Russia's secret service. Roger Köppel does not say a word about this. Thousands and thousands of alleged or real enemies of the Soviet Union were interrogated, tortured and even killed in this house.
The keyword "KGB" also leads us to Putin, who served as an officer of the KGB in the then GDR, in Dresden. When the Berlin Wall fell on 7 November 1989, without the Soviet Union intervening, it was a huge liberation for us and especially for the Eastern European countries. We believed then that a better and more peaceful world was now possible.
Vladimir Putin could not have been happy about that. What followed, the dissolution of the Soviet empire and with it the withdrawal of the Red Army from Eastern Europe, was a traumatic experience for him. In 2005, in a speech to the nation, he described it as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century". For him it was clear: for the other side in the "cold war" it was the victory of the Western system over communism.
Putin understands his personal mission as the restoration of a bipolar world in which a renewed Russian empire takes the lead. He has also never regretted his work for the KGB at the time; on the contrary, he took over the later FSB under his leadership. Coupled with this is his rich experience of the secret service's modus operandi, which spares no means, up to and including the assassination of numerous Russian oligarchs who disagree with him.
Putin first tried to win back the lost parts of the Soviet Union - not by uniting them with Russia, but by bringing them back into his sphere of influence. He failed in the case of the Baltic states and Moldova, and also in Georgia, which he invaded in a blitzkrieg and led to the loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia for the country, which today, with few exceptions, are not recognised internationally as separatist territories.
He was particularly pained by the loss of the largest Soviet republic next to Russia, Ukraine. It already separated from Russia in a referendum on 1 December 1991, which succeeded with a high majority of 81% of the votes, even in the parts of Ukraine with a large Russian population, in the Donbas in the east, the southern regions east of the Dnipro to the Sea of Azov. Even in Crimea, with a slightly more than 50% Russian population, the referendum was approved, albeit with fewer votes.
Putin tried to get the Ukrainian government on his side after coming to power in 1999, which he initially succeeded in doing. But when the people protested for the first time on the Maidan after a rigged election in 2006 ("Orange Revolution") and eventually the election had to be repeated, leading to a different result, his claim to power initially slipped away. But he did not give up. When the new Ukrainian president was later supposed to sign the will of the people, the agreement on entry negotiations with the EU, Putin quoted him to Moscow and promised him support of 15 billion dollars if he refused to sign, which he then did. Ukraine, in financial distress, would indeed have desperately needed this money. This refusal led to the "Revolution of Dignity" in 2013/14, which lasted for many weeks, with hundreds of thousands uniting and many even sleeping in tents in extremely freezing temperatures.
As the Ukrainian police refused to shoot at their own people, Russian special forces who appeared undercover took over this task, resulting in numerous deaths.... The president eventually fled and was abducted to Russia in the process.
During this time, the Winter Olympics were being celebrated in Sochi, and Putin showed himself to be a great host to the world. Immediately the day after the conclusion, on 24 February 2014, "green men" appeared in Crimea, soldiers without insignia, who stormed the government buildings, making it look as if it was popular uprising against Ukraine. Soon after, there was a vote on annexation to Russia, which led to a result of 98%, but in which by no means everyone participated. The result was falsified and people were also forced to vote. Immediately, Putin also made sure that the Russian parliament accepted Crimea as part of Russia.
Ukraine was then in an "interregnum". The old president had fled and a new one could only be elected in the Mail. Putin exploited this weakness to occupy the areas around Donetsk and Luhanzk in the Donbas, after they had already been infiltrated by Russian volunteers. The Ukrainian army was very small and disoriented at the time. Only thanks to funds from large sponsors in Ukraine and with additional volunteers who procured uniforms and weapons themselves, was it possible to reclaim individual parts of the country. The situation was finally monitored by the OSCE under Swiss leadership. There were negotiations in Minsk between Russia and Ukraine that ended with the Minsk I and II agreements, which Russia soon broke. Thus the conflict continued to swell until the outbreak of the great war on 24 February 2024, exactly 8 years after the occupation of Crimea.
Putin carefully prepared everything, including the ideological side with his historical lessons to the people, in which he spoke of determining Russia's greatness and superiority and called Ukraine a compelling part of Russia. From his point of view, the Ukrainians are not a separate people - they are "Little Russians", but they have been "nazified" by their government through Western influence under the leadership of the USA. They must be liberated and transferred to their true homeland, Russia - and thus "denazified". A Russian document also points out what it means: the Ukrainian government must be punished by death for its treason and other important decision-makers must be re-educated in penal camps. And the whole people and youth must learn and adopt the Russian version of history, its language and culture.
The ideological basis for Putin is the philosophy of Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin (born on 9 April 1883 in Moscow, died on 21 December 1954 in Zollikon near Zurich). In his work "On Violent Resistance to Evil", he called for the courage to "arrest, condemn and shoot", which Maxim Gorky called a "gospel of revenge" and Nikolai Berdyayev compared to a "Cheka of God" against the Bolshevik Cheka. In 2005, Ilyin's remains were exhumed, transferred to Moscow and buried in Putin's presence. Ilyin's works were republished when Putin took power in Russia and became compulsory reading in higher army circles, for example (source: Wikipedia).
Another philosopher is Alexander Gelyevich Dugin, born on 7 January 1962 in Moscow. He is a Russian ultra-nationalist politician, political scientist, political philosopher and publicist. He was co-chair of the National Bolshevik Party of Russia (NBP), which was banned in 2005, from 1994 to 1998; from 2010 to 2014 he held the chair of Sociology of International Relations at the Sociology Faculty of Lomonosov University in Moscow. Dugin is the idea generator of an extreme, intellectualised New Right in Russia and is regarded by observers as a neo-fascist and representative of Eurasian imperialism.
His influence extends far beyond Russia, for example to the USA. There are contacts with the American extreme right with the multiplier Steve Bannon and also with Donald Trump. In Germany, this concerns the AfD, among others. Alexander Gauland travelled to St. Petersburg in 2015 and met Konstantin Malofeyev as well as Dugin, whose Eurasian ideas he described as "intellectually interesting". Alexander Umland's assessment of Alexander Dugin is that "'Neo-Eurasism' in Dugin is little more than an ideologically and geographically flexible cipher for radical collectivism, megalomaniac neo-imperialism, outspoken Bellicism, fanatical revolutionarism and fundamental anti-Americanism." (Source: Wikipedia)
Another level is the Russian propaganda campaign that had been going on long before: the introduction of the Russian state channel "rt" in different languages and the networking of the extreme right in Europe and the USA, the support of conspiracy-theoretical circles in the Corona crisis with the talk of a great "reset" and exchange of nations planned by the left-wing Western and ( often also called Jewish) intellectual elite. Particularly addressed are all those in the West who are dissatisfied with their government, reject abortions and "marriage for all", gender doctrine or climate change. Cyber attacks on state and private sector structures are also important.
The aim is to weaken and divide the West until it crumbles. What is striking is that in Western very left and right circles there is very often a pro-Russia stance, an often fervent anti-Americanism and rejection of all sanctions and support for Ukraine.
Roger Köppel's conversation with US Colonel Douglas MacGregor and Selenksji's Offensive and Europe's Role for Peace is set in this environment.
- Numerous numbers of the scholarly german publication "Eastern Europe".
- Timothy Snyder: The Road to Bondage - Russia, Europe, America
- Serhhii Plokhy: The Attack - Russia's War on Ukraine and its Consequences for the World
US Colonel MacGregor
Douglas Abbott MacGregor (born 4 January 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a retired United States Army Colonel, political scientist, military theorist, author and consultant. On 29 July 2020, President Donald Trump nominated Macgregor to succeed Richard Grenell as United States Ambassador to Germany. However, he was not confirmed by the Senate.
After the Russian invasion of the Donbas and Crimea in 2014, he declared on the Russian state broadcaster RT that Eastern Ukrainians were Russians and should be allowed to join Russia. In 2022, when Russia had invaded more areas of Ukraine, annexed several Ukrainian provinces, and the United States, along with NATO partners, provided massive weapons assistance to Ukraine to fight the invaders, MacGregor described the conflict as a proxy war in which "Washington" was failing because it underestimated the social cohesion of the Russian population, Russia's latent military potential, and its relative immunity to Western sanctions. (Wikepedia)
Interview Roger Köppel with MacGregor
Köppel welcomes "independent christian, critical and confident - the other view" from the Colonel. What they discuss has validity beyond the day. For him, the Colonel is one of the most important experts on the Ukraine war. He is not only a gifted military man, he is also a historian and philosopher. He has held positions in NATO and was an advisor in the Trump administration. His opinion is in short supply in the German-language media landscape.
The media report that the Ukrainians have broken the Russians' defensive line. Are they now striving forward?
No. We have heard this nonsense many times before. Pulverising the whole area - there is no significant progress there. They take some nice pictures of victory and then retreat because they have suffered so many losses. Breaking through the defensive line has so far resulted in 60,000 deaths during the offensive. When they reach the second line of defence, they are easily destroyed. They have neither the wherewithal nor the skills to win. The Russians are totally monitoring them. The Ukrainians also don't have the equipment and ammunition. The Western material is good, but the Ukrainians can't handle it. They don't have artillery defence either. They can't change anything with it. The Russians have 300,000 reservists. They will eventually surround Kharkov, which will lead to great sacrifices by the Ukrainians.
The media in our country always give these victory stories. How high do you estimate the Ukrainian casualties so far?
My information is, from reports from people at the front and looking at obituaries, that the Ukrainian army have already lost 400,000 people. The Americans never had such high casualties in WW2. I also read about this exact figure in Ukrainian reports. But no sooner was it published than it was removed. The Ukrainian leadership stopped it (MH: or was it a Russian fake news?) Many are losing their minds because they believe so many lies of the West. The West believes Ukraine's disinformation. To be honest, the Russians don't. I don't know how many more deaths it will take before we are horrified by this.
Putin has always spoken out against measures that are unnecessary. He doesn't want to destroy Ukrainians unnecessarily. That is why he has hesitated to launch the offensive. In western Ukraine, however, everyone they can find who cannot serve with weapons or who has fled to Poland to avoid taking part in the war is being arrested. As long as we supply weapons, this will continue. In the Carpathians, the labour force is being plundered. Ukrainians are doing this in rural areas, not in the cities. So many Ukrainians have already fled to the West, now they are trying to seal the border so that no more able-bodied men between 16 and 60 can leave.
The Russians are scraping the bottom of the barrel, they have already emptied the prisons and also drafted people with mental problems. They no longer have moral standards. This is the tragedy we don't know in the West. If we knew it, we would demand the end of the war.
Isn't that irresponsible of a leader like Selenskji, who is celebrated like a saint in the Swiss parliament? Isn't it completely irresponsible to fight a war that the Ukrainians can't win because the Russians are too strong?
Of course Selenskji's is irresponsible. Stalin had sacrificed millions and millions in senseless operations, a million soldiers for the Donbas in the fight against the Germans. There is not much difference between Selenskji and him. This is criminal, we haven't seen it since Pol Pot. Selenskji was pushed by an oligarch whom he now allegedly had arrested for corruption. Selenskji campaigned on a platform of peace, and is now turning the other way. Selenskji is doing what the people in Washington and London and probably Paris want him to do. He needs to be watched 24 hours a day. There is a lot of discussion in the Ukrainian armed forces to get rid of him.
How do you judge the mainstream media, which is so far from what you are telling?
The people who control the media and the financial system in the US and who are at the top of the government, where do they come from? The Republicans and the people who listen to them are controlled. The people in Eastern Europe understand what is happening in our country (surveillance of the population as in communism). In our country there are not only national and regional oligarchs who have millions of dollars, there are also international figures. In the last 20 years, such a political class has been built. It is the most left-wing elite we have ever had. They are committed to their own values. People in Washington are reluctant to tell the truth because they are afraid. The same thing is happening in Europe.
People think the Russians' war is wrong, we must destroy Russia. Nobody knows why, Russia is just evil. Russia is not communist. If you say something like that, you have to be censored. In England they are talking about putting such people in prison. Where is the freedom of expression there?
The American government since Biden is totally irresponsible. They have the money and control everything. Many American and British ex-military people support Ukraine, but the longer the more they doubt. The Germans, and less so the Austrians, disappoint me. And I don't understand why the Swiss question their neutrality.
Why are the Americans supplying the weapons? Even cruise missiles, which Selenskji promises not to use against the territory of Russia?
There are two opinions in the Ukrainian government. One is completely irresponsible and will not comply. I don't think they are in the majority at the moment. I hope they don't, because then Russia will have no choice but to march west to occupy Eastern Europe. But Putin has overestimated the strength of his army. He has also misjudged the gross hatred that exists in Washington and London. Putin is currently watching the Western financial system, which is very fragile. It is actually on the verge of collapse. Putin knows the economy and knows it well. Putin says to himself, I can wait until Europe collapses, for example in the winter with the energy supply. And he will say to himself: we have no other choice. Ukraine is to him what Mexico is to us. Would we tolerate Chinese or Russian influence in Mexico until they attack us? The Russians would be more restrained than we are.
The Russians will not use nuclear weapons because they know well what that will destroy for them too. We Americans have tyrannised humanity for so long with our financial system and wars.
What happens if Ukraine really loses? Will NATO then intervene?
Poland is voting in October. And I think that will show that Poland does not want to actively intervene in Ukraine and wage a war against Russia. The economy will get worse in Western Europe, the oil and gas problem, the energy problem. But if in Europe people vote differently, this will stop, but not in Washington. We have misjudged Russia, Russia is a rich and powerful state, has the best resources and technology, excellent weapons, good armed forces, the people are firmly behind the government. Russia is now number one, China is the problem.
After 30 minutes I stop here, the whole thing lasts 75 minutes. I don't want to overwhelm you, the reader, and I don't want to overwhelm myself to be able to react. Because it continues in the same style.
How did you feel when you read this summary? Take some time to reflect before reading my assessment.
Even at the beginning I could not believe my ears, I had to listen again to see if I had really understood correctly. Köppel begins with a steep claim to his work. Independent, Christian, critical, confident. The colonel is a gifted man.
An almost messianic claim. I recognise in it neither independent, nor Christian, critical and confident. With Köppel and MacGregor, I encounter Russian propaganda in a euphoria that not even the Russian state broadcaster "rt deutsch" spreads. Therefore, it is not surprising that both have already had their say on this channel.
Christian: What is Christian about it? The lie is turned into truth. Not a word about Russia's war crimes (Butscha, Irpin, Mariupol, abduction of children to Russia, constant bombing of civilian facilities), not a word about the elimination of Russia's internal enemies, the numerous murders, not only of Prigozhin. Not a word about the dissolution of the organisation "Memorial" for exposing the crimes of the communists or the dissolution of the free press like "Novaya Gazeta". Not a word concerning the blowing up of the dam or the gas pipeline, which in the meantime can clearly be traced back to Russia.
Critical: Yes, but only towards the West and their governments - and towards Selensky, who is even compared to Stalin, who let thousands and thousands die senselessly.
Confident: Where? When I am told that the Western financial system will collapse and with it Europe? When what Putin promises happens?
No. And no again.
It is true: the big breakthrough of the Ukrainian army that we hope for has not happened yet, only small steps. It is not true that the few villages that were recaptured were lost again because the soldiers retreated in fear. Ukraine has also been able to recapture the important city of Kherson and hold Kharkov so far. The Ukrainian soldiers are not simply incompetent; on the contrary, they are extremely motivated and supported by the population. They are much more agile and quite capable of learning quickly how to handle different and modern weapons than the colonel gives them credit for. Ukraine has an excellent drone industry and some very bright and innovative minds. True, they are waiting for more equipment and ammunition. But that is what MacGregor wants to deny them. The West's hesitation has led to the Russians expanding their front with three lines of mines and trenches. There is also a lack of aircraft, which Ukraine needs to move forward. Now pilots are in training in Denmark.
Where does this man actually get the information that makes him claim that Ukraine has lost 400,000 soldiers so far? He cites his sources, but are they accurate? There are large military cemeteries, there are many dead. But even in Ukraine, such a large scale would cause horror and be known to us. Unlike in Russia, war reporters from many countries are close to the action in Ukraine. This is also the case with the war photographer Dominic Nahr from the NZZ, whom I met in person and from whom I know that he is very close to the people, even on the front lines, and takes great risks himself. He wants to create testimonies with his pictures that cannot be denied later.
Putin is said to have always spoken out against measures that are unnecessary. Why then did he start the war? Did Ukraine and the West ever plan to invade Russia? To avoid unnecessary victims? Why was the theatre in Mariupol destroyed, on which it was visibly written: "Children" - and there really were children there? Does the Colonel have the slightest idea how the KGB, where Putin worked and whose successor FSB he presides over, works? With lies, setting traps, slander, staged scenes, mock trials, torture, wiretapping, etc. Can a man like Putin with this past be believed?
It is clear that all the men in Ukraine who are fit for military service must remain in the country so that they can be called up. But it is not from 16 to 60, from 18 to 60, which is a big difference. Some men fled at the beginning of the war, but not on a large scale. On a large scale, this was the case in Russia. In contradiction to later, when MacGregor describes the Russian work as large and professional, he suddenly says earlier what is true: the Russians are scraping the bottom, have emptied the prisons. Has he misspoken or is he fibbing?
His judgement of Selenskji is scathing. He is compared, completely untenably and incredibly cynically, to Stalin, who sacrificed thousands and thousands of soldiers in senseless missions. This is more than defamatory. That Selenskji was supported in the election by an oligarch is true. But he really dismissed him for corruption because he not only has to wage a war against the outside, but also against the inside in terms of corrupt structures. Of course, Selenskji ran as a president who wanted to end the war in the East and promised peace. But he had to realise that this meant letting Russia run free. At the beginning of the war, he did not just run away, he stood in front of his people, he constantly spoke out and, as president, he also became a soldier defending his country. Nor is he merely a pleasing puppet to the West - on the contrary, he is sometimes annoying when he comes back again and again asking for the necessary weapons.
MacGregor assumes that Ukraine cannot bring about victory. But he does not know the tenacity and unconditional will of the majority of Ukrainians, who say to themselves: "Better die than Russia again". Ukrainians suffered too often under Russia, especially in the 20th century. They were always considered inferior, even denied their ethnicity and language, and from no part of the Soviet Union were so many punished with penal camps for political reasons. In addition, Stalin deliberately let millions of peasants starve to death and forcibly stole their grain ("Holodomor") in order to obtain foreign currency in the West.
The term "mainstream media" comes up again and again - and many people talk about the "lying press". Is it really the case that our media are radically left-wing and do not know any serious and balanced reporting? Certainly, there are tendencies here and there in which it becomes apparent that journalists themselves favour the left spectrum. Nevertheless, journalism works seriously in the majority, and there are ombudsman offices that take complaints and are sometimes agreed to.
Köppel claims for himself the "truth", the concealed or suppressed view. But what he is spreading with this interview is more than questionable. It is dangerous because it divides and weakens the West. As we know freedom of the press, this cannot be prevented. Unless it would be a call for a government coup, as happened after a speech by Trump when a mob occupied the Capitol because they believed in the "stolen election".
I have never heard so far in the West that Russia must be destroyed and militarily occupied. NATO wants to prevent that at all costs so that it doesn't come to World War 3. What would be desirable, however, is that this Russia experiences a crushing defeat in the current war and has to withdraw completely from Ukraine. However, it is more likely that negotiations will take place and perhaps the territories previously occupied by Russia will become internationally unrecognised republics and the war will be "frozen".
The influence of the US financial system and in politics: It is indeed enormous. But it by no means only affects the Democrats. Since the financial system does not appreciate restrictions and higher taxes, very many Republicans support the economic elite (how big it is in the parties would have to be elicited). Donald Trump also became president as a supposedly very successful businessman and does not come from poor backgrounds at all.
MacGregor has a completely naive understanding of Russia. Russia is no longer communist, but its structures and behaviour are currently experiencing a renaissance: the claim to great imperial power, superiority (sometimes openly fascist), the control of the population by the secret service, the gulag, the prevention of any criticism of the Russian "leader" with his self-congratulation, his lies to the West, his wars (Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine) or participation in wars: Syria, Libya, newly with "private armies" in numerous countries in Africa, the constant propaganda in the state media, which are without alternative, the rewriting of history and its "history lessons", early military education in childhood....
Also untrue is the assertion that there is a gross hatred of Russia in the USA and England. Where then is such incitement to hatred supposed to happen? Conversely, Russian television viewers encounter exactly such hatred of the West. And in the West, there is a partly traditional hatred of the USA on the extreme right and left. Anti-Americanism is becoming increasingly widespread.
The interviewee sees the West facing financial and economic collapse. The danger is probably always there, but there is a great interest in preventing it. Moreover, the West is more united today than it was before as a result of the war. MacGregor is completely naive in his economic assessment of Russia. The country has great resources, but it is precisely in technology that it lacks and cannot do without the West. Moreover, the economy has never been diversified. There is great poverty and alcoholism in large parts of the population.
Consciously or not, Roger Köppel and Gregor MacDonald are making themselves highly welcome agents of Putin's ideology and the associated war against Ukraine and the West. Since both are highly visible with their contributions and many believe them, they are a factor in damaging the West's willingness to continue to support Ukraine. This will become tragic if Donald Trump is re-elected with and US support lapses. If possible, Ukraine must achieve at least partial victory by the end of 2024 and a negotiated settlement must be found that stops the war if only temporarily. A hard job is to overcome the extreme polarisation in the West, which is the task of all. It is imperative to have mediating and reasonable forces against, avoiding extreme positions on both sides and overcoming hard ideologies.
My research and contributions in the blog are a voluntary engagement without any compensation, which is possible for me due to my retirement. Nevertheless, the author is happy to receive a "wage": A shorter or longer comment that lets us know what was received, where criticism was needed, or what was missing.