May 26, 2023

Discussing Putin’s Options With Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army Retired)

As we head into Memorial Day Weekend, we are excited to share this Special Edition with Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army Retired). During his service with the Army, Kevin served in air and missile defense, intelligence, and political-military policy areas in Europe, Korea, and Iraq. Kevin was formerly head of the Moscow office of the POW/MIA Commission and served as Senior Regional Director for Slavic States in the Office of Secretary of Defense and as Defense Attaché to Russia. He is currently an Associate Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and recently wrote an article entitled “ Why Putin Will Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine.” With Kevin’s background and experience, we were very interested in visiting with him to discuss Russia broadly.

In our conversation, Kevin first provides background on the current dynamics between Russia and Ukraine. After a year of war, Russia currently occupies about 20% of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. As Ukraine pushes back, Kevin suggests that if conventional escalation fails to stop Ukraine’s success, Russia may turn to other weapons, with nuclear weapons being the most likely choice. We discuss the potential methods Putin could employ, including a demonstration or the use of tactical nuclear weapons, and Putin’s efforts to convince the Russian people of the significance of the threat against Russia and the broader narrative he is constructing. While using a nuclear weapon would be unthinkable, Kevin argues that from a Russian perspective, it would be seen as a means for Putin to change the perception of Russia’s military strength and create fear in the rest of the world. You will also hear Kevin discuss Putin beginning to make the “Truman argument” for using nuclear weapons with his own people. In terms of proactive measures the United States and other nations can take, Kevin reiterates the importance of making it clear to Russia the catastrophic consequences of using nuclear weapons, preparations for addressing the medical and decontamination issues, and the possibility of providing Putin with an exit strategy to avoid the repercussions of his actions. While the use of a nuclear weapon is a hypothetical scenario, it is certainly extremely serious. We also discuss Putin’s motivations and the dynamics within the Kremlin, Putin’s platform of restoring Russian pride and the implications of his potential failure in the conflict, as well as the role of countries like China in the situation. It was a serious and thoughtful discussion.

We greatly appreciate Kevin’s time and perspective, as well as the work the Belfer Center is doing. For the extra curious, we have linked some of the best articles we have found on the Ukraine war below.

We hope you have a safe and happy Memorial Day. Like you, we are most thankful for and respectful of the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

God bless you and God bless them.

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February 27, 2023

“Almost Everything You’re Proud Of Was Invented Here” Featuring Jigar Shah, US DOE Loan Programs Office

We are excited to share this special edition with you featuring our good friend Jigar Shah, Director of the US Department of Energy Loan Programs Office (LPO).

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Featured guest on this show include: