Author - SERGEY KARAGANOV
Doctor of History, Professor, Academic Supervisor of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
I will share a few thoughts that I have been nurturing for a long time, and they took shape after the recent Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy , one of the brightest in its 31-year history.
It seems to me that our country and its leadership are facing a difficult choice. It is increasingly clear that the clash with the West will not end if we win a partial or even a crushing victory in Ukraine.
If we completely liberate the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, this will be a minimal victory. A little more success will be the liberation within a year or two of the entire East and South of present-day Ukraine. But all the same, a piece of it will remain with an even more embittered ultra-nationalist population, pumped up with weapons - a bleeding wound that threatens with inevitable complications, war again. An almost worse situation could arise if, at the cost of monstrous sacrifices, we liberate the whole of Ukraine and remain in ruins with a population that mostly hates us. It will take more than a decade to "re-educate" them.
Any of these options, especially the last one, will distract Russia from the urgently needed shift of its spiritual, economic, military-political center to the East of Eurasia. We'll be stuck in the unpromising western direction. And the territories of present-day Ukraine, primarily the central and western ones, will draw on resources - managerial, human, financial. These regions were deeply subsidized in Soviet times as well. The enmity with the West will continue, it will support a sluggish guerrilla civil war.
A more attractive option is the liberation and reunification of the East and South, and the imposition of capitulation on the remnants of Ukraine with complete demilitarization, the creation of a buffer, friendly state. But such an outcome is possible only if and when we can break the will of the West to incite and support the Kyiv junta, force it to retreat strategically.
And here I come to the most important, but almost undiscussed issue. The deep, even the main reason for the Ukrainian crisis, like many other conflicts in the world, the general increase in the military threat - the accelerating failure of the modern ruling Western elites, created by the globalization tour of the last decades - for the most part compradors in Europe (the Portuguese colonialists called compradors the local merchants who served them - S.K.). This failure is accompanied by an unprecedented rapid change in the balance of power in the world in favor of the Global Majority, the economic locomotive of which is China and partly India, and history has nominated Russia for the role of a military-strategic support. This weakening infuriates not only the imperial-cosmopolitan elites (Biden and Co.), but also frightens the imperial-national ones (Trump). The West is losing the ability it had for five centuries to suck out wealth from the whole world, imposing, first of all, by brute force, political, economic orders and establishing its cultural dominance. So, a quick end to the defensive, but aggressive confrontation unfolded by the West is not to be expected. This collapse of moral, political and economic positions had been brewing since the mid-1960s, was interrupted by the collapse of the USSR, but resumed with renewed vigor in the 2000s (the milestones were the defeats of the Americans and their allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as 2008.
To stop this downward slide, the West temporarily consolidated. The United States has turned Ukraine into a shock fist in order to use it to tie the hands of Russia, the military-political core of the non-Western world liberated from the shackles of neo-colonialism. Ideally, the Americans would like, of course, to simply blow up our country, thereby drastically weakening the rising alternative superpower, China. We, either not realizing the inevitability of a collision, or, saving up strength, hesitated with a preemptive strike. And besides, following in line with modern, mostly Western military-political thought, they imprudently raised the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, inaccurately assessed the situation in Ukraine, and launched a special operation not entirely successfully.
Failing inside, the Western elites began to actively feed the weeds that had broken through on the soil of seventy years of prosperity, satiety and peace - all these anti-human ideologies: denial of the family, homeland, history, love between a man and a woman, faith, service to higher ideals, everything that makes up the essence person. Weed those who resist. The goal is to mankurtize people in order to reduce their ability to resist the increasingly obviously unjust and harmful to man and humanity, modern "globalist" capitalism.
Along the way, the weakened United States is finishing off Europe and other countries dependent on them, trying to throw them into the furnace of confrontation after Ukraine. The elites in most of these states have lost their bearings and, panicking because of the failure of their own positions inside and outside, obediently lead their countries to the slaughter. At the same time, due to a greater failure, a sense of powerlessness, centuries-old Russophobia, degradation of the intellectual level and loss of a strategic culture, their hatred is almost fiercer than in the United States.
The development vector of most Western countries unequivocally points to a movement towards a new fascism and (so far) “liberal” totalitarianism.
Further, and this is the most important thing - it will only get worse there. Truces are possible, but reconciliation is not. Anger and despair will continue to grow in waves and with maneuvers. This vector of movement of the West serves as an unequivocal sign of a drift towards the outbreak of the Third World War. It is already beginning and can flare up into a full-fledged fire due to chance or the growing incompetence and irresponsibility of the ruling circles of the West.
The introduction of artificial intelligence, robotization of war increases the threat of unintended escalation. Machines can get out of control of confused elites.
The situation is aggravated by "strategic parasitism" - for 75 years of relative peace, people have forgotten the horrors of war, they have ceased to be afraid even of nuclear weapons . Everywhere, but especially in the West, the instinct of self-preservation has weakened.
I have been studying the history of nuclear strategy for many years and have come to an unequivocal, albeit sounding not quite scientific, conclusion. The appearance of nuclear weapons is the result of the intervention of the Almighty, who was horrified when he saw that people, Europeans and the Japanese who joined them, unleashed two world wars over the course of one generation, which claimed tens of millions of lives, and handed over to mankind the weapon of Armageddon, showed those who had lost their fear of hell that he exists. On this fear rested the relative peace of the last three-quarters of a century. Now that fear is gone. The unthinkable from the point of view of previous ideas about nuclear deterrence is happening - the ruling circles of a group of countries, in a fit of desperate rage, unleashed a full-scale war in the underbelly of a nuclear superpower.
The fear of nuclear escalation must be restored. Otherwise humanity is doomed.
Now, on the margins of Ukraine, not only and not even so much what will be Russia, the future world order is being decided. But also whether the world familiar to us will be preserved in general or radioactive ruins will remain on the planet, poisoning the remnants of humanity.
By breaking the West's will to aggression, we will not only save ourselves, finally liberate the world from the Western yoke that has lasted five centuries, but we will also save all of humanity. By pushing the West into catharsis and the abandonment of its elites from hegemony, we will force it to retreat before a worldwide catastrophe occurs. Humanity will get a new chance for development.
Naturally, there is a tough fight ahead. It is also necessary to solve internal problems - to finally get rid of Western-centrism in the minds and Westerners in the managerial stratum, from compradors and their characteristic thinking. (However, here the West, unwittingly, helps us with might and main). The three-hundred-year voyage across Europe gave us a lot of useful things, helped shape our great culture. We will carefully preserve, of course, the European heritage in it. But it's time to go home to ourselves. Start, using the accumulated baggage, live with your mind. Our foreign ministry friends have recently made a real breakthrough by calling Russia a state-civilization in the Foreign Policy Concept . I would add - a civilization of civilizations, open to the North and South, West and East. Now the main direction of development is the South, the North, and, first of all, the East.
The confrontation with the West in Ukraine, no matter how it ends, should not distract us from the strategic internal movement - spiritual, cultural, economic, political, military-political - to the Urals, Siberia, the Great Ocean. We need a new Ural-Siberian strategy, which includes several powerful spiritual projects, including, of course, the creation of a third capital located in Siberia. This movement should become part of the urgently needed formulation of the "Russian dream" at last - the image of that Russia and the world that one wants to strive for.
I have written many times, and I am not the only one, that great states without a great idea cease to be such or simply go nowhere. History is strewn with shadows and graves of the powers that have lost it. This idea must be created from above, not relying, as fools or lazy people do, on the fact that it will come from below. It must meet the deep values and aspirations of the people and, most importantly, lead us all forward. But formulating it is the duty of the elite and the leadership of the country. The delay in putting forward such an idea-dream was unacceptably delayed.
But in order for the future to take place, it is necessary to overcome the resistance of the forces of the past - the West. If this is not done, a full-scale and, probably, the last World War for mankind will almost certainly begin.
And here I come to the most difficult part of this article. We can fight for another year or two or three, sacrificing thousands and thousands of our best men and grinding tens and hundreds of thousands of people who fell into a tragic historical trap of the inhabitants of the territory that is now called Ukraine. But this military operation cannot end with a decisive victory without imposing a strategic retreat or even capitulation on the West. We must force the West to give up trying to turn back history, give up its attempts at global dominance and force it to take care of itself, digesting its current multi-level crisis. Roughly speaking, it is necessary that the West simply “fall away” and not prevent Russia and the world from moving forward.
And for this it is necessary to restore in him the lost sense of self-preservation, convincing that attempts to wear down Russia by inciting Ukrainians against it are counterproductive for the West itself. We will have to restore the credibility of nuclear deterrence by lowering the unacceptably high threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, prudently but quickly moving up the deterrence-escalation ladder. The first steps have already been taken by the relevant statements of the president and other leaders, the start of the deployment of nuclear weapons and their carriers in Belarus, and the increase in the combat capability of the strategic deterrence forces. There are many steps on this staircase. I counted two dozen. Things can even go as far as warning compatriots and all people of good will about the need to leave their places of residence near objects that could become targets of nuclear strikes in countries providing direct support to the Kyiv regime. The enemy must know that we are ready to strike a preemptive retaliatory strike for all of his current and past aggressions to prevent a slide into global thermonuclear war.
I have said and written many times that if we build a strategy of deterrence and even use correctly, the risk of a "retaliatory" nuclear strike, and indeed any other strike on our territory, can be minimized. Only if a madman sits in the White House, besides hating his country, America will decide to strike at the "defense" of the Europeans, incurring a response, sacrificing a conditional Boston for the sake of a conditional Poznan. Both the US and Europe are well aware of this, they simply prefer not to think about it. Yes, and we contributed to this thoughtlessness with our peace-loving statements. Having studied the history of American nuclear strategy, I know that after the USSR gained a convincing ability to retaliate a nuclear strike, Washington did not seriously consider, although it publicly bluffed, the possibility of using nuclear weapons on Soviet territory. If the possibility of using nuclear weapons was considered, then only against the "advancing" Soviet troops in Western Europe. I know that Chancellors Kohl and Schmidt fled from the bunkers as soon as the question of such use arose during the exercises.
You need to go up the containment-escalation ladder quickly enough. Given the vector of development of the West - the degradation of most of its elites - each of their next call is more incompetent and more ideologically blinkered than the previous ones. And so far, one cannot expect that these elites will be replaced by more responsible and reasonable ones. This will happen only after catharsis - the rejection of ambition.
It is impossible to repeat the “Ukrainian scenario”. For a quarter of a century we did not listen to those who warned that the expansion of NATO would lead to war, we tried to delay, to "agree". And as a result, we got a severe armed conflict. Now the price of indecision is an order of magnitude higher.
But what if they don't back down? Have you completely lost your sense of self-preservation? Then you will have to hit a group of targets in a number of countries in order to revive those who have lost their minds.
This is a morally terrible choice - we use the weapons of God, dooming ourselves to severe spiritual losses. But if this is not done, not only Russia may perish, but most likely the entire human civilization will end.
You will have to make this choice yourself. Even friends and sympathizers will not support at first. If I were Chinese, I would not want a too quick and decisive end to the conflict, since it draws off US forces and makes it possible to build up forces for a decisive battle - direct or, in accordance with the best precepts of Sun Tzu, forcing the enemy to retreat without a fight. I would also oppose the use of nuclear weapons, because the rise of the confrontation to the nuclear level means a shift to an area where my country (China) is still weak. In addition, decisive action is not in line with the Chinese foreign policy philosophy, which emphasizes economic factors (while accumulating military power) and avoids direct confrontation. I would support an ally, providing him with a rear, but I would take cover behind his back, not interfering in the fight. (However, perhaps I do not understand this philosophy enough and attribute to Chinese friends motives that are unusual for them). If Russia used nuclear weapons, the Chinese would condemn it. But I would also rejoice in my soul that a powerful blow was dealt to the reputation and positions of the United States.
And what would be our reaction if (God forbid!) Pakistan attacked India or vice versa? Let's be horrified. Let us be sorry that the nuclear taboo has been broken. And then we will deal with helping the victims and the corresponding change in our nuclear doctrine.
For India, other countries of the world majority , including nuclear ones (Pakistan, Israel), the use of nuclear weapons is hardly acceptable, both for moral reasons and for geostrategic ones. If it is used and “successfully”, the nuclear taboo, the idea that such weapons should never be used and that their use is a direct path to nuclear Armageddon, will be depreciated. We can hardly count on quick support, even if many in the Global South feel the satisfaction of defeating their former oppressors who robbed, perpetrated genocides, imposed an alien culture.
But in the end, the winners are not judged. And thanks to the saviors. The European political culture does not remember the good. But in the rest of the world they remember with gratitude how we helped the Chinese to free themselves from the brutal Japanese occupation, the colonies to throw off the colonial yoke. If we are not understood at first, there will be even more incentives to engage in self-improvement. But still, there is a high probability that it will be possible to win, to reason with the enemy without extreme measures, to force him to retreat. And in a few years, take a position behind China, as it now stands behind ours, supporting it in a fight with the United States. Then this fight can do without a big war. And together we will win for the benefit of everyone, including residents of Western countries.
And then Russia and humanity, through all the thorns and traumas, will go towards a future that I see as bright - multipolar, multicultural, multicolored, enabling countries and peoples to build their own and common destiny.