One of the most common mistakes Western countries commit when dealing with criminals is that they refuse to believe that the crooks are telling us what they plan to accomplish. For instance, they don't want to read only Godwin's Law but rather Mein Kampf (originally it had the more appealing title Viereinhalb years [des Kampfes] gegen Luge, Dummheit und Feigheit [Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice]), in which Germany’s Adolf Hitler revealed the plans he had for the Jews, Slavs and communists. The world did not believe him.
On July 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin released a statement to all members of the Russian Armed Forces titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” In it, he conceived an alternate world and declared Ukraine as Russian.
In the article as well as during the question-and-answer session, Russia’s most powerful man retraces his most popular thoughts: There is no distinct separate Ukrainian population; they are part of the Russian population. And the independent status of Ukraine is an invention of the state and a chance event in the history of the country, which should be thankful to Russia for its permission to exist.
According to Putin’s own words, the removal of (pro-Moscow) Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 was the result of a long-running Western plot in Ukraine, the kind of situation Putin is calling “anti-Russia” intended to limit and encircle Russia completely. In 2014, Ukraine did not have sovereignty and has been placed in subordination to “external governance,” which is a code term to refer to an external entity, namely the United States, to which the European Union is a servile partner. Moscow is not going to tolerate this kind of situation. There are a huge number of Ukrainians who are not happy with the current situation and want to be part of Russia.
Since then, we've seen other instances of articles written by famous Russian political figures and analysts who openly proclaim that Russia plans to take over Ukraine in addition to Belarus and engage in genocide within Ukraine. Be aware that Russia isn't a place where those who are identified as Vladimir Putin idly muse in front of the media. Their remarks need to be read as if they were official statements made by the government.
Previous articles have revealed Putin's intentions regarding Ukraine. We now have another piece of information that shows how Putin views the current conflict. The interview is from the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, conducted by Putin’s close friend Sergey Karaaganov. Karaganov was the genesis of the notion that Russia should act as the security guarantor of Russians who live abroad. He wrote that Russia is entitled to use force to establish a sphere of influence, and Ukraine is not a viable nation and should be dismantled. The subtitle of the interview is “We are in a battle between Russia and the West. This is because the European law of security is not legitimate.”
I've cited a few key points from the interview. Karagonov begins with his “her dress was too damn short, she had it coming” defense of the invasion of Ukraine.
Q: What is the best way to explain how [the attack against Ukraine] can be justified on these grounds?
A: For the past 25 years, people like me have claimed that NATO expansion could lead to conflict. Putin has repeatedly stated that in the event of Ukraine being a member of NATO, it would mean there was no Ukraine for a long time. At Bucharest in 2008, there was a proposal for a rapid admission [of] Ukraine along with Georgia into NATO. This was blocked by determination from Germany and France; however, since then, Ukraine is now part of NATO. The country was given a boost through weaponry and its soldiers were instructed by [the] NATO army, which was becoming stronger and stronger every day. Additionally, we witnessed an extremely rapid rise in [the] hatred of neo-Nazis, especially in the army, society, and the ruling class. It was evident that Ukraine was becoming something like Germany in the period 1936-1937. It was inevitable that war would ensue, and they were a major force in NATO. We made the extremely difficult choice of striking first before the threat grows more dangerous.
He admits that an agreement wasn’t signed between NATO and Russia prohibiting NATO expansion.
Q: You claim that NATO has promised not to expand…east as well. Russia was duped on [that]. However, the former Warsaw Pact countries requested to be included in NATO themselves. Additionally, Russia accepted NATO's Founding Act on Russia-NATO relations in 1997, thereby allowing NATO the enlargement. It's not a ploy to get there.
A: It was the most costly mistake of Russia's foreign policy over the past 30 years. I was against it due to the fact that this Founding Act of 1997 legitimized further NATO expansion. However, we signed it due to the fact that we were incredibly in need and believed in the expertise of our allies.
Here's what he is saying: Russia is in a life-and-death fight with the West and is rumored to be planning to anoint Putin as the future president of any realigned boundaries.
Q: All of us agree that the Iraq war was unjust and was a grave error. Corriere Della Sera came out against the war in the midst of it. However, one mistake can't justify a subsequent grave error. The US citizens could elect an alternative leader, Obama, that was anti-war and anti-Iraq war and has changed American policy. Do Russians get a chance to follow suit?
A: I do not believe that in the near future there will be any shift of the power structure in Russia since we are in a battle of survival. It is a war against the West, and the people are forming a group in support of their leaders. It is an authoritarian state, and the leaders are extremely attentive to the mood of the population. But I'm not seeing any evidence of opposition. In addition, there was no opposition in the U.S. or in other countries, nobody was ever really penalized for the conflict in Iraq. So, we are left with doubts regarding the efficacy of democracy.
To prove Karaganov isn't talking about metaphors, he makes some very clear statements about what will happen next.
Q: You have said that the actual conflict is now fought in opposition to Western expansion. What is your meaning?
A: We observed Western expansion. We are seeing Russophobia within the West increasing to levels comparable to antisemitism in the time between [the] world wars. War was already probable. We also observed stark divisions and structural difficulties among Western societies, and we thought that war was getting more likely. The Kremlin chose to start the war first. Additionally, this military action is intended to reform the Russian elites and Russian society. The society will evolve into an increasingly nationalist-oriented and militant society, eliminating people who aren't patriotic in the upper echelons.
Q: The most important issue is: Mussolini didn't recognize the international order which emerged through the Versailles Treaty in 1919. Do you think the Kremlin accepts [the] legitimacy [of] the European order that was created following [the] fall [of] the Berlin Wall? Do you believe this arrangement is legitimate?
A: We shouldn't be able to recognize the order which was erected against Russia. We attempted to join it, but we realized it was the Versailles system number 2. Then I wrote that we needed to take it down. Not through force but rather through constructive destruction and refusing to be a part of it. After the last request to end NATO was rejected again, it was then decided to employ force.
Q: So, the main objective for this war would be to sever the existence of NATO in eastern and central European countries?
A: We have observed that the majority of these institutions are, we believe, one-sided and illegitimate. They're in danger of threatening Russia in particular and Eastern Europe. We wanted a fair peace, but the greed and insanity of the Americans and the blindness of the Europeans proved that they did not really want it. We need to rectify their errors.
The aim is to create an increasingly militaristic and nationalist Russia. This Russia does not trust any current European security arrangements as legitimate and believes the ex-Warsaw Pact states Russia's legitimate zone of influence. It believes that military force is an acceptable tool to reach this aim. It is important to interpret the interview to be a warning to the West regarding the way Russia perceives the war in Ukraine and what's to come. We are wrong when we decide to ignore the Kremlin’s message to us.