On March 1st 2022 VIPAC journalists Sascha Stipsits and Mag. Christian Janisch interviewed political science professor Gerhard Mangott, one of the leading Austrian policy experts on Russia and international affairs, on Russia´s war against Ukraine. They discuss the current political & military situation and possible outcomes for this major international crisis.
As you know in the early hours on February 24th 2022 – shortly after a prerecorded speech by Russian President Putin was aired on Russian television in which President Putin had explained his reasons for going to war against Ukraine – the Russian military started it´s invasion of Ukraine.
Asked by Mr. Janisch to explain what has happened in the days leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine Prof. Mangott admits that he – like so many other well informed and respected political experts – had not anticipated the decision by the Kremlin to start war against Ukraine and he explains Putin´s calculations why he chose to attack Ukraine, Europe´s second largest country.
Mr. Stipsits asks about the physical and mental well being of President Putin, because his somehow erratic public appearances leading up to his decision to go to war against Ukraine have raised concerns if he is still thinking and planning strategically ahead.
Prof. Mangott replies that Mr. Putin has fully isolated himself due to the Coronavirus pandemic and therefor is nowadays only sorrounded by a small group of loyal ministers, secret service officers and military comrades he has been friends with for years and that it is quite unlikely that anyone from within his inner cirle dares to oppose him nowadays. The idea that Putin may be somehow removed by a coup from within the Kremlin is therefore quite unlikely.
On the question of Europe´s defence capabilities Prof. Mangott explains that it´s obvious that without NATO´s presence in the Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and the outspoken commitment by US President Biden that NATO and therefor the USA will defend every inch of NATO territory (NATO treaty: article 5 on collective defence) European countries on it´s own – with the exception of nuclear France and UK – would not be able to fully defend themselfes against an invasion by Russia, but Prof. Mangott rules out an attack of Russia against NATO countries because such a military escalation would immediately and directly draw in the USA, who still maintains the strongest army in the world, into such a war. Such a development could easily lead to World War 3, a development no one wants.
The recent request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Ukraine should become a EU memberstate is understandable from his perspective, but integrating Ukraine into EU is a very difficult task Prof. Mangott argues, so he was quite suprised that Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, replied to Zelensky´s request with a statement almost endorsing Ukraine´s EU membership.
Furthermore the role of Germany, neutral countries in Europe, political allies of Putin in the West (so called “Putinversteher”), Putin´s official reasoning for the war against Ukraine including his argument that Ukraine needs to be ´denazified´ and ´demilitarized´, free media and opposition in Russia to Putin and the war in Ukraine, a neutral status for Ukraine as a possible way out of this senseless war, the influence of oligarchs and Russian society on shaping Putin´s political decisions, China´s role in this war and the Taiwan question, Western values, European integration and possible EU defence and military capabilities are discussed and Prof. Mangott explains why Putin´s war against Ukraine is a massive mistake and why it will cost Russia dearly in the years to come.
Important notes: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gerhard Mangott is a political scientist and professor of international relations at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Alexander Stipsits ia an international journalist, author and filmmaker living in Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic).
Mag. Christian Janisch, MBA, works as an international journalist for the independent media platform Idealism Prevails in Vienna (Austria).
This interview was first published by our partner VIPAC (Vienna International political analysis and commentary)
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