29.12.2023
Russia Can Become a Guarantor of Peace and the Military-Political Core of the World Majority
Russia is Being Reborn. This is Unavoidably Obvious
Interviews
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Sergei A. Karaganov

Dr. Sc. (History),
Honorary Chairman,
Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy;
Academic Supervisor
of the Faculty of World Economics and World Politics
of the National Research University Higher School of Economics.
Moscow, Russia

AUTHOR IDs

SPIN RSCI: 6020-9539
ORCID: 0000-0003-1473-6249
ResearcherID: K-6426-2015
Scopus AuthorID: 26025142400

Contacts

Email: [email protected]
Address: Office 103, 17, Bldg.1 Malaya Ordynka Str., Moscow 119017, Russia

Not so long ago, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the European Union should be prepared for war by the end of the decade. Politicians in Berlin are talking about reintroducing mandatory military service and getting ready for confrontation with Moscow. Similar sentiments can be observed in Poland. But is it just because of the events in Ukraine? What is the reason for the dramatic increase in European conflict potential? Rossiyskaya Gazeta discusses it with international relations expert Sergei Karaganov, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.

— Sergei Alexandrovich, in view of the current strained international situation, do we need a conceptually different theory of deterrence against Russia’s enemies to stop the looming confrontation early on and make our opponents lose a taste for conflicts?

— European and primarily German elites are facing a historical failure. The foundation has been knocked out from under their 500-year-long sway―military superiority on which the West’s economic, political, and cultural dominance rested. They used their superiority to syphon off gross world product. At first, they robbed their colonies, and later they did the same using more sophisticated methods.

The current Western elites are not able to cope with a barrage of mounting problems in their societies, such as the shrinking middle class and growing inequality. Almost all of their initiatives fail. The European Union is slowly and steadily moving towards its disintegration, as everyone understands this very well. That is why the European elites have been showing hostility towards Russia for about 15 years. They need an external enemy. (European chief diplomat Josep Borrell has described the world outside Europe as a jungle―Ed.). In the past, then German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU sanctions against Russia were necessary primarily to unite the European Union and to keep it from falling apart.

The German and European elites are experiencing a complex of inferiority in a situation that is quite appalling for them, as everyone else is ahead of Europe―not only China and America, but also many other countries. Now that Russia has freed the world from the “Western yoke,” the states of the Global South or, as we call them, the countries of the World Majority no longer obey Europe.

The threat emanating from Europe is that the Old World has stopped fearing armed conflicts. This is very dangerous. Let me remind you that Europe was the source of the worst troubles in the history of humankind. The ongoing fight in Ukraine is not only for the interests of Russia and its security, but also for preventing a new global confrontation. Its risk is growing, partly due to the desperate counterattacks undertaken by the West in a bid to preserve its dominance. Moreover, the current European elites are failing and losing influence in the world much more than the American ones.

Russia is fighting and it is fighting successfully. We act confidently enough to sober up these Western elites, lest they should start another world conflict out of despair because of their failures. We must not forget that these European elites unleashed two world wars in the last century in the span of one generation. And now the quality of these elites is even lower than it was in the last century.

— Are you talking about the spiritual and political defeat of Europe as a fait accompli?

— Yes, I am, and it is awful. We are still part of European culture after all. But I hope that healthy forces will prevail in Europe in, roughly speaking, 20 years or so after a series of crises. And it will recover from its failure, the moral one, too.

— In the meantime, we are witnessing the emergence of a new Iron Curtain against Russia. The West is trying to “cancel” Russia, including in terms of culture and our values. Mass media are purposefully dehumanizing Russian people. Should we respond in kind and “cancel” the West?

A: Certainly not. The West is dropping an iron curtain, firstly, because we in Russia are the right Europeans. We are morally healthy. And they want to isolate themselves from healthy forces. Secondly, the West is bringing down this curtain, even thicker than the one during the Cold War, in order to mobilize its population for feud. But we need no military confrontation with the West, so we will rely on the policy of deterrence to ward off the worst.

In any case, we will not cancel anything, of course, including our European history. Yes, we have ended our European journey. I think it lasted a bit longer than necessary, maybe for a century. But we would not have become such a great power without immunization of European culture. We would not have Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Blok. So we will keep European culture, which Europe seems to be trying to abandon. But I do hope that it will not abandon itself completely.

After all, Europe is not only canceling Russian culture, but it is also canceling its own culture. It is canceling a culture that is based largely on love and Christian values. It is canceling its history, destroying its monuments. But we will not reject our European roots and act as despicably as Europeans do.

At the same time, I have always been against looking at the West fastidiously. We should not do that. Otherwise we will be no different from them. And they are now sliding towards the inevitable fascistization. We need none of the plagues that befell Europe before and are on the rise there now, including, the plague of fascism spreading there again.

— The year 2023 saw old conflicts rekindled and prerequisites for new ones demonstratively created. These include Palestinian-Israeli confrontation that erupted quite predictably, a series of wars in Africa, and more local clashes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Will this trend continue?

— The trend will not yet become rampant next year. But it is quite obvious that it will grow because the tectonic plates under the world system have come into motion. Russia is now prepared for this period much better than a few years ago. The military operation we are conducting in Ukraine is aimed, among other things, at preparing the country for existence in a future very dangerous world. We are purging our elite of compradore and pro-Western elements. We are revitalizing our economy. We are rebuilding our military strength. We are reviving the spirit of Russia. We live in a country that is being reborn and looking into the future with confidence. The special military operation helps us rid ourselves of Westerners and Westernism, find our new place in history, and, finally, strengthen our country militarily.

— Do you agree that the world will enter a period of long-term conflicts in 2024? Does humanity have the political will to change this situation?

— We have certainly entered an era of long-term conflicts. But we are prepared for them much better than ever. I think that by containing and deterring the West and establishing relations with brotherly China, we are becoming an axis of peace that can keep all from slipping into a global catastrophe. But it will take some effort to sober up our opponents in the West. We have begun a fight that should save the world. And maybe it is Russia’s mission to free the world from the “Western yoke” and keep it from sliding into a catastrophe that is looming ahead because of the current global changes that are already causing a lot of tension. In no small part, the threat is coming from a desperate counterattack by the West, which is frantically trying to retain its 500-year dominance that allowed it to plunder the world.

We can see that new values have appeared in the West, including the denial of everything human and divine in man. Western elites have begun to nourish and nurture these anti-values, while suppressing normal values at the same time. Therefore, a hard time is in store, but I hope we will be able to save ourselves and help the world save the human nature of man.

One of the many problems facing the international community is that the world economy is in a systemic crisis due to endlessly growing consumption. This consumption destroys nature itself. After all, people were created not only to consume and to see the purpose of their existence in buying new things.

— In an interview with Interfax, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has linked a possible end of the anti-Russian policy of the United States and its allies with a “generational change” in the West. But can the change of elites in the West, if it happens, spur detente? For example, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was born in 1980 and belongs to a new generation, but her views are more radical than those some hawks held in the past. Are there still any sensible politicians in the West with whom to negotiate?

— I believe that we are dealing with two generations of elites in the West, who have already degraded deeply enough and with whom, unfortunately, it will most likely not be possible to come to any agreement. But I still believe that societies and peoples, including in Europe, will return to normal values. This will require a generational change of elites, of course. I agree with Sergei Ryabkov that this will take a long time. But I hope that Europe, and maybe the United States, too, will not fall into a completely hopeless state, and the healthy national forces will retake power in Europe.

But I do not believe that real pragmatic, I repeat, national forces can come to power in Europe in the near future. Therefore, if we talk about normal relations between Russia and the West, I think it will take at least one and a half generation, that is, about 20 years, for that to happen.

We must realize that we no longer need the West. We have taken everything useful from this wonderful European journey Peter the Great commenced in the past. Now we need to return to ourselves, to the origins of Russia’s greatness. This, of course, implies the development of Siberia, its new development, which means reaching new horizons. We must remember that we are not so much a European as Eurasian country. I never tire of saying that Alexander Nevsky traveled for a year and a half across Central Asia at first and then Southern Siberia on the way to Karakorum, the capital of the Mongol Empire. In fact, he was the first Russian Siberian.

By returning to Siberia and the Urals, by building new roads and a new industry, we will return to ourselves, to the origins of our 500-year greatness. It was after the mastery and development of Siberia that Russia gained strength and opportunities to become a great power.

— How reasonable is it to forget about Europe for decades?

— In no case should we forget about the old sacred stones of Europe Dostoevsky spoke about. They are part of our self-awareness. I love Europe, especially Venice. The Silk Road led to this city and was a gateway for great Asian civilizations. As a matter of fact, they overmatched the European civilization in development.

Some 150-200 years ago, the orientation towards Europe was a sign of modernization and progress. But for quite a long time, and even more so now, such an orientation has been a sign of intellectual and moral backwardness. We should not deny our European roots; we should treat them with care. After all, Europe gave us a lot, but Russia needs to go forward. And forward does not mean to the West, but to the East and the South. This is where the future of humanity lies.

— The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty expires in 2026. And what’s next? Given the legal nihilism in the West, can we expect new interstate agreements in the military sphere? Or humanity is doomed to an uncontrolled arms race until a new world order and consequently a new “status quo” is established?

— It is pointless to negotiate with the current Western elites. In my publications, I urge the Western oligarchy to change these elites because they are dangerous for them themselves, and I hope that such a change will sooner or later begin. In fact, the current governing Western elites have degraded so much that negotiating with them is impossible. But we should talk to them all the same as totally new threats have emerged in addition to nuclear weapons. A “drone revolution” has occurred. Cyber weapons and artificial intelligence have appeared. There are biological weapons that can also threaten humanity with terrible troubles. Russia needs to develop a new theory of deterring all these threats. We are working on this, including at the new Institute of International Military Economics and Strategy. We are doing this and will continue to do this more intensively together with the intellectual elites of the World Majority countries. These are, above all, our Chinese and Indian friends. We will discuss this with our Pakistani and Arab counterparts. The West cannot offer us anything constructive at this point. But we keep the doors open.

Unfortunately, there can be no serious interstate arms limitation agreements in the foreseeable future in principle, simply because it is not clear what and how to limit. We should work out new approaches and inspire our partners in the world with more realistic ideas. It is not even technically possible to expect any arms limitation agreements in the coming years. It will just be a pointless waste of time. However, we can, perhaps, conduct some kind of negotiations for a show, for example, in order to try to ban an arms race in new domains. I am particularly worried by biological and space weapons. Something can be done in this sphere. But right now Russia needs, first of all, to develop a new concept of deterrence, which will have not only military, but also psychological, political, and moral aspects.

— Wouldn’t it be premature to think that the West has reconciled with Kiev’s defeat, and that the Global South is confidently gaining the upper hand over the Western world?

— The U.S. benefits from the confrontation in Ukraine. For European elites, it is the only way to avoid moral collapse. Therefore, they will support the conflict in Ukraine for a long time. In such a situation, we must act decisively both on the ground and in the field of strategic deterrence in order to achieve the goals we have set as quickly as possible. At the same time, we must understand that the World Majority is not going to fight the West. Many countries are interested in developing trade and other relations with it. This is why the World Majority is Russia’s fellow mates, but not allies.

In today’s world everyone is for himself. This is a magnificent multipolar and multicolored world. This does not mean that there will be some blocs in 20 years from now, including a relatively pro-Russian one. We need to find ourselves and understand who we are. We are a great Eurasian power, Northern Eurasia, a liberator of peoples, a guarantor of peace, and the military-political core of the World Majority. This is our manifest destiny. In addition, we are uniquely prepared for this world because of the cultural openness our history has given us. We are religiously open. We are nationally open. This is what we are defending right now. We become more and more aware that our most important asset is the Russian spirit and Russian culture. We are all Russians―Russian Russians, Russian Tatars, Russian Chechens, Russian Yakuts… I think we are regaining ourselves again. So I am entering a new year inspired and optimistic. Russia is being reborn. This is unavoidably obvious.

Interviewed by Yevgeny Shestakov
Published originally in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, December 27, 2023, under the title “Where the River Is Flowing ― 2024. Sergei Karaganov: Russia Has Ended Its European Journey”. URL: https://rg.ru/2023/12/27/kuda-techet-reka-2024.html

 

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