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Sergei Karaganov, Chatham House, London, 2015. Wikipedia

‘Western elites will not survive the Ukraine conflict’

In a recent interview, the Russian geopolitician and long-time presidential adviser Sergei Karaganov made a comprehensive assessment of the Ukraine conflict and also spoke about possible future scenarios.

Published: August 13, 2022, 3:54 pm

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    The conversation with the New York Times can be seen as a follow-up to an April 2022 interview in the UK weekly the New Statesman and another in June in the Italian geopolitical magazine Limes.

    Karaganov interpreted the war in Ukraine as the result of the creeping “relationship escalation” between NATO and Russia. He said he had anticipated the danger of war long before and warned against it. However, the Russian leadership was convinced that the political West would soon collapse, due to economic weaknesses as well as a general political and moral decline. Basically, the new Cold War began more than a decade ago and thus even before Euromaidan in Ukraine in 2014.

    Western elites sought to halt Ukraine’s continuing decline by naming Ukraine as a launching pad aimed to strike “at the heart of Russia”. The conflict was inevitable from Moscow’s point of view, which is why Russia made the decision to strike first.

    People no longer trust their leaders in the West

    In view of the numerous crises and the desperate situation of the Western leadership elite, the reactions of the West were foreseeable, according to Karaganov. Ultimately, the current military conflict is not about Ukraine. Rather, the conflict is downright existential for the Western elites, who are increasingly losing the trust of their own people.

    The current ruling Western elite will not survive this conflict, predicted Karaganov. Nonetheless, most western states, having shed the “liberal globalist imperialism” imposed on them in the late 1980s, would certainly thrive again.

    In view of the political, economic and moral decline of the West, Russia would be well advised to keep its distance for the next decade or two. After a partial change of elite in the West, however, relations are likely to return to normal. In no way is Russia pursuing the suicidal decision to isolate itself from the rest of the world. Rather, the world is in the process of finally freeing itself from Western hegemony and can only gain from it in doing so.

    Cancel culture is to blame

    According to Karaganov, the international pivot away from Russia is closely related to the phenomenon of the so-called “cancel culture”. Russian culture, indeed everything Russian, falls victim to that fateful movement in the West. However, this is a fundamental problem of the West, which is also busy “cancelling” its own history, its own culture and Christian morals and values. Ultimately, however, the aggressive Western policy also has advantages – it has helped to cleanse Russian society and the elites of the “remnants of pro-Western elements”.

    In contrast to the West, Russia has still been able to preserve freedom of thought and intellectual discussion. In any case, phenomena such as cancel culture or “overwhelming political correctness” cannot be found in the Russian Federation. Russia is also not shutting itself off from European culture; on the contrary, it will remain one of the few places in the future that preserve the treasure of European, Western culture and its spiritual values.

    What are Russia’s objectives?

    Karaganov describes the capture of the Donbass and the conquest of the entire south and east Ukraine as Russia’s minimum war goal. The area remaining under Kiev’s control must be politically neutralized and completely demilitarized, he added.

    The Russian leadership, Karaganov said, was faced with an existential choice. If Russia wants to see the development of its “proud and sovereign state” preserved, the current battle for a future “just and stable world order” must be continued.

    Incidentally, Ukraine is only a small part of the comprehensive decline of the “world order of global liberal imperialism” imposed worldwide by the US. The world is currently moving towards a much fairer and freer system of multipolarity and diversity of civilizations and cultures. One of the centers of the coming world order would emerge in Eurasia, with Russia in its natural role as the “civilization of civilizations” and northern guarantor of global balance.

    In April 2022, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Karaganov had already stated that “war was inevitable, they were a spearhead of NATO. We made the very hard decision to strike first, before the threat became deadlier.” He further said the war in Ukraine “will be used to restructure Russian elite and Russian society. It will become a more militant-based and national-based society, pushing out non-patriotic elements from the elite.”

    He also said that “demilitarization means destruction of Ukrainian military forces – that is happening and will accelerate. Of course, if Ukraine is supported with new weapons, that could prolong the agony. … The war will be victorious, in one way or another. I assume demilitarization will be achieved and there will be denazification, too. Like we did in Germany and in Chechnya. Ukrainians will become much more peaceful and friendly to us”.

    Who is Karaganov?

    Sergei Karaganov is considered as one of Russia’s foreign and security policy pioneers. He has long been known for his provocative and polarizing statements. For more than two decades, Karaganov was an influential adviser to Russian Presidents Yeltsin and Putin. He was co-founder and honorary chairman of Russia’s oldest NGO, the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (CFDP), as well as the important foreign policy journal Russia in Global Affairs.

    The scientific director of the faculty for world economy and international relations at the renowned Russian university Higher School of Economics also sees himself as the spiritual father of Russia’s orientation towards the Asia-Pacific region.

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