Is There a Way Out of the Russia-Ukraine War?
In the video above, Lex Fridman interviews Oliver Stone about the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Stone, an award-winning film director, was the executive producer of “Ukraine on Fire,”1,2 a documentary that came out in 2016.
Stone also interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin between 2014 and 2016. The interviews became the documentary series, “The Putin Interviews,” which aired in 2017. So, Stone has some insight into both countries. Fridman, meanwhile, is half-Russian, half-Ukrainian.
Ukraine on Fire
“Ukraine on Fire” focused on the Maidan Revolution3 that began in Kiev in 2013. After three months of peaceful protests against the Ukrainian government’s decision to not sign a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, favoring an offer from Russia instead, deadly violence broke out.
Petro Poroshenko was elected president in a special election in May 2014. According to the official story, Ukrainians were dissatisfied with president Viktor Yanukovych’s “growing authoritarianism,” and his refusal to sign the EU association agreement, so they overthrew him.
Yanukovych and other high-level officials, however, claim the violent revolution was orchestrated by the U.S. for the purpose of regime change. Leaked conversations revealed top-level officials discussing how to implement a coup to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
You can read more about this and see the film in my previous article, “Ukraine on Fire: 2016 Documentary by Oliver Stone.” The current president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian and actor, was voted in in April 2019.
Putin, the Leader and the Man
In this interview, Fridman and Stone primarily focus on Putin — how and what he thinks, based on Stone’s perception of the man — and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Stone presents a different side of Putin that many Americans probably have never seen, and explains why Putin’s behavior is, perhaps surprisingly, rational.
The U.S. has a long history of anti-Soviet bias. As noted by Stone, the American stance was that capitalism works and communism doesn’t. Modern Russia is no longer communist,4,5,6 yet the U.S. antagonism against Russia remains, while the U.S. government, ironically, is now doing everything in its power, and beyond, to implement communism here.
Stone notes that Putin is “very much a market man,” and has been very clear that he believes national sovereignty is paramount for world peace and harmonious relations. Putin insists that all nations must be sovereign, “and I believe the United States has never accepted that,” Stone says. The U.S., Stone believes, is far more interested in keeping nations subservient to it and its ideologies.
According to Stone, Putin has a generally good reputation in other countries for being a man who promotes the interests of his country, but not at the expense of others. Keeping the world in harmony, “this has always been in his picture,” Stone insists.
When asked if he thought power had a corrupting influence on Putin, Stone insists that Putin would never last if he were acting as a dictator. The Russian people would not keep him in a position of power — which he has kept, on and off, for about 20 years.
Russia is a functioning democracy, and the people’s displeasure would reveal itself in several different ways. The ballot box is only one avenue by which they exhibit their dissatisfaction. But, apparently, they think Putin’s doing a good job at protecting the country and looking out for its needs.
Fridman, on the other hand, notes he senses a mixture of fear and apathy toward the leadership when he speaks to Russian family and friends, and this concerns him. Stone counters Fridman’s concerns saying he saw “far more freedom in the (Russian) press than what is pictured in the West, and that means different points of view. Russians are always arguing among themselves. I’ve never seen a more contentious country.”
Article from LewRockwell