The Wagner Factor and the Fairness Principle

Experience of Political Analysis

Throughout the Special Military Operation (SMO), the PMC Wagner and Yevgeny Prigozhin have been the center of attention of Russian society and the world community. For Russians, he has become the main symbol of victory, determination, heroism, courage and resilience. For the enemy a source of hatred, but also of fear and terror. It is important that Prigozhin not only leads the most combat-ready, victorious and undefeated unit of the Russian armed forces, but also provides an outlet for those feelings, thoughts, demands and hopes that live in the hearts of the people of war, completely and to the end, irreversibly immersed in its elements.

Prigozhin took this war to the end, to the bottom, to the last depths. And that element is shared by the members of the PMC “Wagner,” all those who move in the same direction and towards the same goal—the difficult, bloody, almost unattainable, but so longed-for, desired victory. PMC “Wagner” is not a private military company. The money has nothing to do with it. This is a brotherhood of war, the Russian guard, which was assembled by Eugene Prigozhin from those who responded to the call of the Motherland in the most difficult time for her and went to defend her, being ready to pay any price.

You might legitimately ask, but what about our other warriors? What about the Donbass militia, fighting in inhumane conditions since 2014, forgotten by everyone, but firmly in their post? What about our volunteers, who willingly moved to the fronts of the new Patriotic War, which they identified under the inaccurate name of “Special Military Operation?” What, after all, are the regular troops of various units, smashing the enemy and losing their brothers in a brutal confrontation? What about Ramzan Kadyrov’s heroic Chechens? Yes, of course, they’re all heroes, and they all bear priceless portions of our common Victory, to which they gave themselves to the end.

But Evgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner PMC is also something else. They are not only ahead of the rest, in the most difficult sections of the front, storming with inhuman tenacity meter by meter, house by house, street by street, village by village, city by city, liberating the native land from a cruel and vile maniacal enemy. They gave this war a style, became its symbols, found the most precise and most sincere words to express what was happening. It is a rare case in which a military feat of incredible significance and scale is accompanied by equally piercing declarations of worldview—understandable to everyone in Russia. This war is a war for justice. It is waged against evil and violence, against lies and deceit, against cruelty and substitution. But if this is so, it is directed not only against the direct enemy—Ukrainian Nazism and the globalist liberal West that supports it, but also against the injustice that sometimes takes place within Russia itself. Wagner’s war is a people’s war, liberating, cleansing. Half-measures, agreements, compromises, and negotiations behind the backs of the fighting heroes are not acceptable. The Wagner PMC values life very highly, both their own and the enemy’s. And death, the price of which gives the victory, can be paid only for it, and for nothing else.

The aesthetic apotheosis is Prigozhin’s programmatic film, The Best in Hell. It is the new Hemingway, Ernst Jünger. A great film—about the elements of war, about the price of life and death, about the profound existential transformations that happen to a man when he finds himself immersed in the inexorable process of mortal confrontation with the enemy. And with one that is not something radically different, but the reverse side of himself. It is precisely because Prigozhin not only wages war, but also comprehends war, accepts its terrible logic and freely and sovereignly enters into its elements that he represents such a nightmare for the enemy.

It is obvious that for the Kiev Nazi regime, which has no such symbols and which truly fears and hates the Wagner PMC the most in this war, as well as for the real actor, pushing Ukraine to attack Russia and fully arming it, that is, for the West, Yevgeny Prigozhin personally is the main priority, concrete and symbolic target simultaneously. And there is no doubt that the enemy knows the value of symbols. It should not be surprising therefore that it is the Wagner PMC that arouses such frenzied hatred of the enemy; and the West has thrown all its forces to destroy this formation and Yevgeny Prigozhin personally.

Inside Russia, people accept Prigozhin unconditionally. He, without any doubts, is the first in this war. Whatever he says or does, it immediately resonates in the heart of the people, in society, in the broad Russian, Eurasian masses. It is one of the many paradoxes of our history—an ethnic Jew, an oligarch, and a man with a rather turbulent past is transformed into the archetype of a purely Russian hero, into a symbol of justice and honor for all people. This says a lot about Prigozhin himself and about our people. We believe deeds, eyes, and words when they come from the depths. And this dimension of depth in Yevgeny Prigozhin cannot be overlooked.

Russian elites are another matter. It is precisely because Prigozhin has made a pact with the Russian people, with the Russian majority, on the blood—his own and that of his heroes from Wagner—that he is most hated by that part of the elite that has not accepted the war as its fate, has not realized its true and fundamental motives, has not yet seen the mortal danger that hangs over the country. It seems to the elite that Prigozhin is simply rushing to power, and, relying on the people, is preparing a “black redistribution.” For this part of the Russian elite, the word “justice” itself is unbearable and burns with the fires of hell. After all, Prigozhin is himself from this elite, but he found the courage to renounce the class of the rich, exploiters, cynics, and cosmopolitans, who despise all those who are less successful, and to move to the side of the warring, country-saving people.

In such a situation, analysts who belong to these elites as a kind of domestics wonder: how can Prigozhin afford to behave with such a degree of determination, audacity, and autonomy? Isn’t he an experiment by much more influential—indeed, simply the highest—forces in Russian politics, who are testing, by his example, the readiness of society to introduce stricter rules and a more consistent patriotic, people-oriented policy?

In other words, are not Yevgeny Prigozhin and Wagner PMC the forerunners of a full-fledged oprichnina? After all, even in the era of Ivan the Terrible, the oprichnina army was formed precisely in battles and also, as in the case of Wagner, from among the most courageous, courageous, desperate, strong, reliable, active – regardless of pedigree, title, status, rank, position in society.

What Prigozhin gets away with in Russia’s customary political system, no one could get away with. So, the analysts conclude, either he will soon be punished for his impertinence, or this familiar political system no longer exists, and we are witnessing the emergence of some other, unusual, new system, where values will greatly shift in the direction of justice, honesty, courage, and true front-line brotherhood, exactly what the elites hate.

External observers, with all their desire, cannot reliably determine the relationship between Yevgeny Prigozhin personally and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Whether or not he coordinates his hard line with the top leadership of the country. There are those who are convinced that Prigozhin’s oprichnina is sanctioned from above; but there are those who believe that it is an independent effort—a truth that surprisingly exactly coincides with the expectations of the majority. For the Russian government as a whole, uncertainty is a natural environment. When we are dealing with the personal will of the president, and when we are dealing with the initiative of his associates, who are trying to grasp in advance and anticipate “the commander’s intention” (the classic term from the theory of network-centric warfare), no one can fully understand. This is a rather pragmatic approach: in this case, the President is above any conflicts within the elites, and the transformation of the system (above all in a patriotic way) is left with complete freedom. If desired, it can be assumed that all the patriotic—and even the most avant-garde—initiatives (such as the PMC Wagner) are implemented with his tacit consent. But no one knows this for sure—just speculation. Prigozhin cultivates this uncertainty to the maximum extent and with maximum effect.

Meanwhile, love for and trust in Prigozhin and the Wagner PMC are growing, and at the same time, anxiety is growing among the elites.

In Prigozhin, society has begun to see something more than a successful and desperate field commander, a warlord. The configuration in the elites that prevailed in Russia before the SMO allowed (with personal loyalty to the supreme power) for a certain oligarchic stratum the opportunity to remain part of the global liberal globalist system. The people grumbled, lamented and complained about this, but as long as Russia’s sovereignty was being strengthened and, as it seemed, nothing threatened the country, this could somehow be tolerated. After the beginning of the SMO, this contradiction was fully exposed. Russia faced a deadly battle with the entire West, which fell upon our country, a West with all its might; and the Russian elite, by inertia, continued to slavishly follow the land of the setting sun, copying its standards and methods, keeping their savings abroad, dreaming of Courchevel and the Bahamas. Part of the elite frankly fled, and part hid and waited for it all to end. And here the “Prigozhin factor” appeared, already as a politician who became the mouthpiece of popular anger towards the remaining oligarchic elites, stubbornly refusing to accept the new realities of the war and do as Yevgeny Prigozhin himself did, that is, go to the front or, at least, join in the cause of Victory entirely and without a trace. If the West is our enemy, then a supporter of the West, a Westerner is a traitor and a direct agent of the enemy. If you are not at war with the West, then you are on its side. This is the simple logic voiced by Prigozhin. And in his decisive battle with the external enemy, the masses of the people saw a second—future—act, the transfer of similar methods for the internal enemy. And this is “justice”—in its popular, even albeit common people—understanding.

Obviously, this kind of oprichnina would have had no effect on the people themselves, since the victims of “justice according to Wagner” would only be the class enemies of the common people, and today even their political enemies, who happen to side with the very force with which the people are at war.

And more and more strata of society are coming to the conclusion (perhaps too simplistic and linear) that it is the “internal enemies” who are responsible for the slippages and some of the failures at the fronts—that is, the same oligarchs and Westerners who are actively sabotaging the will of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief for Victory. And this is where the factor of “justice” comes in. We are ready to fight like Wagner, to die like Wagner, but not in order to return to Russia before February 24, 2022—to the previous conditions. We demand a purification, enlightenment and spiritualization of society and the entire ruling class. We are not just fighting against the enemy, but for justice.

There is a tremendous time delay, but it is the beginning of fundamental change in Russian society. Yevgeny Prigozhin represents one of the directions. This, above all, is war, where Wagner is the brightest illustration of what meritocracy is; that is, the power of the most distinguished, the most courageous, and the most deserving. The elites of war are those who perform the task best, and there are no other criteria at all. In essence, our armed forces—at least some of their most important—assault—components—clearly need to be rebuilt in a “Wagnerian” way. With one criterion for evaluation: effectiveness. In war, the old criterion—loyalty combined with czarist skills—is no longer sufficient. Loyalty in war is implied; otherwise, immediate execution. But now something more is needed: the ability to cope with the task at hand. At any cost. Even at the cost of one’s own and others’ lives. This alone brings out the best. And the worst. And all that remains is to put the best over the worst, and the whole thing will head to Victory.

But this does not only apply to war. In politics, economics, management, administration, even in education and culture, in fact, similar trends are gradually beginning to make themselves known. People of a special kind—Lev Gumilev called them “passionarians”—are able to act in conditions of emergency and achieve significant results. In more prosaic terms “crisis managers.” It is possible to speak about “Wagner-principles” in all fields—those, who cope with assigned—the most difficult, unrealizable—tasks most effectively, come to the forefront. Those who do not cope with the task are relegated to the back burner. In the political science of Wilfred Pareto this is called the “rotation of the elite.” In Russia, this process is extremely inert and sporadic, and most often it is not taking place at all. War, on the other hand, requires the “rotation of the elites” in an ultimatum manner. This is a real horror for the elites, who are old and incapacitated, moreover, cut off from their matrix in the West.

Eugene Prigozhin outlined the most important vector of the direction in which Russia will have to move under any conditions and in any circumstances. That is why the West wants to destroy it, and is counting on the old and no longer appropriate to the challenges of the moment Russian elites to help it in this. The stakes are constantly rising. Victory is at stake. And the way to it lies only through justice.

Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

What Next for Türkiye?

On May 14, 2023, the citizens of Türkiye will head to the polls in both the presidential and parliamentary elections, which promise to be the most critical and contentious since the country’s first free and fair elections in 1950. The outcome of possible change will shape the country domestic and foreign policies for the coming years, in a turmoiled international landscape.
Polls show a very close run between two main blocs: Erdogan’s People’s Alliance—which include his own Justice and Development Party (AKP) (conservative), the allied ultra-nationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP), and a number of smaller, mostly far-right parties—and the National Alliance, the six-party opposition, led by the leftist, social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its long-time leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the legacy of the Kemalist parties.

In the coalition, together with CHP, there is the centrist Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), the center-right Democrat Party (DP), the nationalist, center-right Good Party (IYI)—the only other major faction besides the CHP— and two small groups, the conservative Future Party (Gelecek; GP), and the political Islamist Felicity Party (Saadet; FP). Also known as the “Table of Six,” the Nation’s Alliance poses the greatest challenge to Erdogan in nationwide vote since his AKP triumphed in November 2002 (and in the ongoing elections).

A third electoral bloc, led by the liberal, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)—and accompanied by an array of leftist and far-leftist parties—is informally backing Kilicdaroglu in the presidential race, though competing for seats in the parliamentarian vote.
This clear political landscape changed with the recent entry of the former Republican People’s Party (CHP) high ranking Muharrem Ince as the third candidate for the presidency could further boost the incumbent and reduce the margin of victory for Kilicdaroglu. While the coalition supporting Erdogan will struggle to break the 45 percent barrier, let alone the 50 percent necessary to win the presidential seat in the first round on May 14th, Ince’s rise could block Kilicdaroglu primary victory, forcing him to a second electoral vote on May 28th.

At the center of the political, but also institutional, economic, cultural aspects of the challenge is the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his model which has impacted the country since the beginning of the 1980s, when he first entered political life.

The main aim of the National Alliance (and associates) is to dismantle the institutional architecture and the related aspects progressively installed by Erdogan. They look to use the next presidential and parliamentarian mandate as transition time, and to re-build the Kemalist (as well as post-Kemalist) outlook for Türkiye—namely, political leadership for the prime minister; reduction of the role of the president; re-establishment of the prominence of parliament in the legislative mechanism; laicization of the laws and society, reintegration of the country in the international system; reassessment of the country relations with its allies and partners, prominence of generally accepted principles of law in the justice system, with the banning of opinion crimes; protection of individual liberties; rights of minorities and groups. What appear to have vanished from their project of Turkish society is the guarantor role of the country’s secularism played by the armed forces, already progressively erased in Erdogan’s tenure. So, in case of victory the National Alliance will work to bring an old/new architecture and posture for the country.

But Erdogan is an experimented and determined political leader and will fight to the least breath to remain the undisputed leader of the country and, for the electoral campaign, without bringing new elements, he will emphasize some of the institutional points of his policy. However, some external factors will pose a severe challenge. The most visible being the economic recession (with inflation reaching as high as 85%) and the disastrous earthquake which hit Türkiye in February (causing around 50.000 deaths) and which affected his image because of the alleged ties between some of the controversial real estate business and the President’s party. Also, the inefficiencies of the rescue operations and rebuilding activities have hurt him (this is unavoidable considering the extent and gravity of the earthquake).
Erdogan’s strategy, as mentioned, is based on three pillars, and he later added a fourth, after the February earthquake.

The first pillar is the use of foreign policy to boost domestic popularity. In pursuit of this goal, Erdogan, for a couple of years now, normalized the relations with his Arab neighbourhood, affected by the impact of the Syrian war and the related changes of Ankara’s stance; and, thus, early this year, brought a large inflow of financial resources, estimated at 20 billion of dollars from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. As well, despite a controversial history of relations with Moscow, Erdogan successfully secured a much-needed cash injection from Russia, amounting to nearly $10 billion, through the Akkuyu nuclear power plant construction project (till now Russia was very prudent in sharing her nuclear technology with third countries and even with a long-standing ally, like Algeria, an agreement on this issue has not been reached). This approach allowed Ankara to keep a control over the health of the local currency, limiting the negative impact of the economic fluctuation.

The second pillar is related to Syria, involved in a bloody civil war since 2001. Thanks to Russian mediation, starting in August 2022, Erdogan has been working on returning as soon as possible the four million Syrian refugees, a source of growing discontent among the Turkish people.

In this light, and to promote national pride, came the launch, in April, of the first locally made Turkish aircraft carrier (though of Spanish design). The Anadolou will have the capacity to carry the naval version of the US/international built fighter F-35 Lightning II, in its array of deadly UAVs of domestic manufacture. There are plans to build a second such carrier, the Traki. These vessels counter the embargo slapped on by the US to punish Ankara for its purchase of the Russian-made SAM system S-400 Triumph.
The third pillar, related to the recent cash in-flow, is the increase in wages and social benefits for the population, affected, not only by the economic crisis, but after February also by the earthquake (economic growth and the increase of purchasing power of each household has long been a dogma of the Erdogan doctrine, one at times contested by various economists who pointed to the intrinsic fragility of the projects. as well with a massive recruitment campaign in the enlarged public services sector. In this regard, Erdogan (and his party, the AKP) encourage every initiative that promotes a national endeavour in the economy, science, R&D, and tourism.

As mentioned, the earthquake is a tragic new element in the country’s political landscape, and this introduced the fourth pillar in the campaign of the President’s party, which is now focused on recalling the achievements of the past, not only the past economic growth but also the profile that the country obtained in the international and regional scene with the firm, influential and assertive stance of Erdogan in dealing with crises and countries (e.g., in Ukraine, the unique stance with Russia and the grain agreement with UN), NATO (for the addition of Sweden and Finland to the Alliance), Greece (for the delimitation of border waters and aerospace, the Cyprus issue, the exploitation of hydrocarbon in the Mediterranean basin), EU (the management of migrants), US (the refurbishment and modernization of the current fleet of F-16s).

But for Erdogan’s coalition (and for the opposition even more), there is the pending unresolved issue, which has run through the country’s history since the foundation of the republic (and as well before), and that is the management of the Kurdish issue, which is not only an identity and domestic question but also a serious regional and international one, given the co-presence of divergent interests, such as the support of Washington of the Syrian-Kurdish forces, which Ankara consider allied to the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), labelled as a terrorist movement and responsible for a tough armed and popular resistance in the Turkish eastern regions. Now, the Kurdish presence, though not formally, in the anti-Erdogan coalition of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is a serious political problem, given the hostility of the vast percentage of the electorate against the idea of concession of any sort of autonomy (cultural and even less administrative) for those areas. According to the polls, such concession would be crucial in defeating the Erdogan’ coalition, and this is an easy win for Erdogan who simply have to reject concession. Certainly, this will mean that they will not get the Kurdish vote, but there are also no strong reasons to actually given concessions.

According to plans of the National Alliance, the return to a Turkish parliamentary system would go more smoothly if they won the presidency as well as the parliament with a three-fifths majority—a prerequisite for a constitutional amendment necessary to restore the country’s former political system. However, the most recent election law changes make such a scenario difficult to achieve it.
Two scenarios could therefore emerge in May. First, given the wide executive powers of the presidency under Turkey’s new political architecture, Erdogan’s loss of position would be a huge blow for his party and its popular base. Hence, Erdogan could negotiate an agreement to divide leadership for personal and political guarantees. In case of defeat, Erdogan could be planning to build a powerful opposition exploiting an unstable governing alliance facing not only institutional changes but also the heavy legacy of economic reconstruction and earthquake-related struggles. Also, it should be noted that the opposition could lose both races (presidential and parliamentarian) thus assuring the grip of the AKP on Turkish society.

It is interesting to observe that in neighbouring Greece, the elections are planned one week after the Turkish ones, and inevitably their outcome will influence the vote in the country. But it is clear that Türkiye remains a pivotal country in the Euro-Atlantic security system, not only for the addition of Sweden and Finland (the latter is now added, while the former, it is widely believed, will be finalized after the election and before the NATO Summit of Vilnius, planned for July 11-12, 2023, along with policies for the neighbouring countries, given the fragile situations in Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbajian (and the Nagorno-Karabach conflict).

Enrico Magnani, PhD is a retired UN officer who specializes in military history, politico-military affairs, peacekeeping and stability operations. (The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations). This paper was presented at the 53rd Conference of the Consortium of the Revolutionary Era, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 2-4 February 2023.

Effective multilateralism through the Defense of the Principles of the UN Charter

Mr. Secretary-General,


It is symbolic that we are holding our session on the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace that was introduced into the List of International Days by a UN General Assembly resolution on December 12, 2018.

In two weeks, we will celebrate the 78th anniversary of Victory in World War II. The defeat of Nazi Germany, the decisive contribution to which was made by my country with allied support, made it possible to lay the foundation for the postwar international order. Legally, it was based on the UN Charter while the UN that embodied true multilateralism acquired a central, coordinating role in world politics.

For a little less than 80 years of its existence, the UN has been carrying out the important mission entrusted to it by its founders. For several decades, a basic understanding by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as regards the supremacy of the charter’s goals and principles guaranteed global security. By doing this, it created the conditions for truly multilateral cooperation that was regulated by the universally recognized standards of international law.

Today, our UN-centric system is going through a deep crisis. The main reason is a striving by some UN members to replace international law and the UN Charter with a certain “rules-based” order. Nobody has seen these rules. They have not been discussed in transparent international talks. They are being invented and used to counter the natural process of the forming of new independent development centres that objectively embody multilateralism. Attempts are made to curb them through illegal unilateral measures – by denying them access to modern technology and financial services, excluding them from supply chains, seizing their property, destroying their critical infrastructure and manipulating universally accepted norms and procedures. This leads to the fragmentation of global trade, a collapse of market mechanisms, paralysis of the WTO and the final – now open – conversion of the IMF into an instrument for reaching the goals of the US and its allies, including military goals.

In a desperate attempt to assert its dominance by way of punishing the disobedient, the United States has gone as far as destroying globalisation which it has for many years touted as a great benefit for humankind serving the needs of the global economy’s multilateral system. Washington and the rest of the obeisant West is using these rules as needed to justify illegitimate steps against the countries that build their policies in accordance with international law and refuse to follow the “golden billion’s” self-serving interests. Those who disagree are blacklisted based on the precept that “he who is not with us is against us.”

Our Western colleagues have been inconvenienced by holding talks based on universal formats, such as the UN, for a long time now. In order to provide an ideological substantiation for the course on undermining multilateralism, they initiated a concept of united “democracies” as opposed to “autocracies.” In addition to “summits for democracy,” the list of participants, which is determined by this self-proclaimed hegemon, other “elite clubs” are being created in circumvention of the UN.

Summits for Democracy, the Alliance for Multilateralism, the Global Partnership on AI, the Media Freedom Coalition, the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace – all these and other non-inclusive projects were designed to thwart talks on the corresponding matters under the auspices of the UN and to impose non-consensual concepts and solutions that benefit the West. First, they agree on something privately as a small group, and then they present the things they agreed on as an “international community position.” Let’s call it what it is: no one authorised the Western minority to speak on behalf of all humankind. Please act decently and respect all members of the international community.

By imposing a rules-based order, the quarters behind it arrogantly reject the UN Charter’s key principle which is the sovereign equality of states. The “proud” statement by the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell to the effect that Europe is a “garden” and the rest of the world is a “jungle” said it all about their world of exceptionality. I would also like to quote the Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation of January 10 which runs as follows: The United West “will further mobilise the combined set of instruments at our disposal, be they political, economic or military, to pursue our common objectives to the benefit of our one billion citizens.”

The collective West has set out to reshape the processes of multilateralism at the regional level to suit its needs. Recently, the United States called for reviving the Monroe Doctrine and wanted the Latin American countries to cut down on their ties with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. However, this policy ran into an obstacle from the countries of this region who resolved to strengthen their own multilateral structures, primarily the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), while upholding their legitimate right to establish themselves as a pillar of the multipolar world. Russia fully supports fair aspirations of that kind.

The United States and its allies have deployed significant forces to undermine multilateralism in the Asia-Pacific region where an ASEAN-centered successful and open economic and security cooperation system has been taking shape for decades. This system helped them develop consensus approaches that suited the 10 ASEAN members and their dialogue partners, including Russia, China, the United States, India, Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea, thus ensuring genuine inclusive multilateralism. Washington then advanced its Indo-Pacific Strategy in an effort to break up this established architecture.

At last year’s summit in Madrid, the NATO countries spoke about their global responsibility and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic region and in the so-called Indo-Pacific region, even though they have always made it a point to persuade everyone that they aspired to peace and that their military programmes were purely defensive. This means NATO’s boundaries as a defensive organisation are being moved towards the western coastal regions of the Pacific. This bloc-oriented policy that is eroding ASEAN-centred multilateralism manifests itself in the creation of the AUKUS military organisation, with Tokyo, Seoul and several ASEAN countries being drawn into it. The United State is leading the effort to develop mechanisms to interfere in maritime security in a move to protect the unilateral interests of the West in the South China Sea region. Josep Borrell, whom I referred to earlier, promised yesterday to send EU naval forces to this region. No one is hiding the fact that this Indo-Pacific strategy is seeking to contain China and isolate Russia. This is how our Western colleagues interpret the concept of effective multilateralism in the Asia-Pacific Region.

As soon as the Warsaw Treaty Organisation was dissolved and the Soviet Union vanished from the political arena, many entertained the hope that the principle of genuine multilateralism without dividing lines across the Euro-Atlantic area could be brought to life. However, instead of tapping the OSCE’s potential on an equal, collective basis, the Western countries not only kept NATO but, despite their firm pledges to the contrary, pursued a brazen policy of bringing the neighbouring areas under control, including those that are and always have been of vital interest to Russia. As then US State Secretary James Baker said talking to President George W. Bush, the OSCE is the main threat to NATO. On our behalf, I would add that today both the UN and the UN Charter’s provisions also pose a threat to Washington’s global ambitions.

Russia patiently tried to achieve mutually beneficial multilateral agreements relying on the principle of indivisible security which was solemnly declared at the highest level in OSCE summit documents in 1999 and 2010. It states unambiguously in black and white that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others and no state, group of states or organisation can be assigned primary responsibility for maintaining peace in the organisation’s region or consider any part of the OSCE region its sphere of influence.

NATO didn’t care one bit about the obligations of the presidents and prime ministers of its member countries and began to do exactly the opposite, having declared its “right” to arbitrary actions of any kind. The illegal bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, which included the use of depleted uranium warheads that later led to a surge in cancer cases among Serbian citizens and NATO military members is another glaring case in point. Joseph Biden was a senator then and said on camera, not without pride, that he personally called for bombing Belgrade and destroying bridges on the Drina River. Now, US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill is using the media to call on the Serbs to turn the page and “set aside their grievances.” The United States has an extensive track record of “setting aside grievances.” Japan has long been bashfully silent about who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. School textbooks don’t mention it. Recently, at a G-7 meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condescendingly grieved over the suffering of the victims of those bombings, but failed to mention who was behind them. These are the “rules,” and no one dares to disagree.

Since World War II, Washington has pulled off dozens of reckless criminal military operations without even trying to secure multilateral legitimacy. Why bother, with their set of arbitrary “rules?”

The disgraceful invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition in 2003 was carried out in violation of the UN Charter, just like the aggression against Libya in 2011. Both led to the destruction of statehood, hundreds of thousands of lost lives and rampant terrorism.

The US intervention in the domestic affairs of the post-Soviet countries also came as a flagrant violation of the UN Charter. “Colour revolutions” were concocted in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, and a bloody coup was staged in Kiev in February 2014. Attempts to seize power by force in Belarus in 2020 are part of the same approach.

The Anglo-Saxons who are at the helm of the West not only justify these lawless adventures, but flaunt them in their policy for “promoting democracy,” while doing so according to their own set of rules as well, where they recognised Kosovo’s independence without a referendum, but refused to recognise Crimea’s independence even though a referendum was held there; according to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, the Falklands/Malvinas are not an issue, because there was a referendum there. That’s amusing.

In order to avoid double standards, we call on everyone to follow the consensus agreements that were reached as part of the 1970 UN Declaration on Principles of International Law which remains in force. It clearly declares the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states that conduct “themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples as described above and thus possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory.” Any unbiased observer can clearly see that the Nazi Kiev regime can in no way be considered as a government representing the residents of the territories who refused to accept the results of the bloody February 2014 coup against whom the putschists unleashed a war. Just like Pristina cannot claim to represent the interests of the Kosovo Serbs to whom the EU promised autonomy, Berlin and Paris similarly promised a special status for Donbass. We are well aware of how these promises play out eventually.

In his message to the second Summit for Democracy on March 29, 2023, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said some great words: “Democracy flows from the United Nations Charter. Its opening invocation of ‘We the Peoples,’ reflects the fundamental source of legitimate authority: the consent of the governed.” I will emphasise the word “consent” once again.

Multilateral efforts were made to stop the war unleashed in the east of Ukraine as a result of a government coup. These efforts towards peaceful settlement were embodied in a UN Security Council resolution that unanimously approved the Minsk agreements. Kiev and its Western bosses trampled these agreements underfoot. They even cynically admitted with a tinge of pride that they never planned to fulfil them but merely wanted to gain time to fill Ukraine with weapons to use against Russia. In doing this they publicly announced the violation of a multilateral commitment by UN members as per the UN Charter, which requires all member countries to comply with Security Council resolutions.

Our consistent efforts to prevent this confrontation, including proposals made by President of Russia Vladimir Putin in December 2021 on agreeing on multilateral mutual security guarantees were arrogantly rejected. We were told that nobody can prevent NATO from “embracing” Ukraine.

During the years since the state coup and despite our strong demands, nobody from among Kiev’s Western bosses pulled Pyotr Poroshenko, Vladimir Zelensky or Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada back when the Russian language, education, the media and, in general, Russian cultural and religious traditions were being consistently destroyed by law. This was a direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine and universal conventions on the rights of ethnic minorities. In parallel, the Kiev regime was introducing the theory and practice of Nazism in everyday life and adopting related laws. The Kiev regime shamelessly staged huge torchlight processions under the banners of SS divisions in the centre of the capital and other cities. The West kept silent and rubbed its hands together. What was happening fully fit into the US’s plans to use the openly racist regime that Washington had created in the hope of weakening Russia across the board. It was part of a US strategic course towards removing rivals and undermining any scenario that implied the assertion of fair multilateralism in global affairs.

Now, all countries understand this, but not all talk about it openly – this is not really about Ukraine but about the future structure of international relations. Will they rest on a sustainable consensus based on the balance of interests or will they be reduced to the aggressive and explosive promotion of hegemony? It is inaccurate to take the Ukraine issue out of its geopolitical context. Multilateralism implies respect for the UN Charter and all of its interconnected principles, as I have already said. Russia has clearly explained the goals it is pursuing in conducting its special military operation – to remove the threat to its security that NATO has been creating for years directly on our borders, and to protect the people who were deprived of the rights that have been declared in multilateral conventions. Russia wanted to protect them from Kiev’s public and direct threats of annihilation and expulsion from the territories where their ancestors had lived for centuries. We honestly laid out for what and for whom we were fighting.

I am tempted to ask by contrast, against the backdrop of the US- and EU-fuelled hysteria – what did Washington and NATO do in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya? Were there threats to their security, culture, religion or languages? What multilateral standards were they guided by when they declared Kosovo’s independence in violation of OCSE principles and when they were destroying stable and economically wealthy Iraq and Libya that were ten thousand miles away from America’s coasts?

The shameless attempts by the Western countries to bring the secretariats of the UN and other international institutions under control came to threaten the multilateral system. The West has always enjoyed a quantitative advantage in terms of personnel, however, until recently the [UN] Secretariat tried to remain neutral. Today, this imbalance has become chronic while secretariat employees increasingly allow themselves politically motivated behaviour that is unbecoming to international officials. We call on His Excellency UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to ensure that all of his staff meet the requirements of impartiality in keeping with Article 100 of the UN Charter. We also call on the secretariat’s top officials to be guided – as they prepare initiative documents on the general agenda issues that were mentioned earlier, and the “New Agenda for Peace” – by the need to prompt the member countries on how to find ways of reaching consensus and a balance of interests, instead of playing up to neoliberal concepts. Otherwise, instead of a multilateral agenda, we will see an increasingly wider gap between the golden billion countries and the global majority.

As we speak of multilateralism, we cannot confine ourselves to an international context: in exactly the same way, we cannot ignore this international context as we speak of democracy. There should be no such thing as double standards. Both multilateralism and democracy should be respected within the member countries and in their relations with one another. Everyone knows that the West, while it imposes its understanding of democracy on other nations, opposes the democratisation of international relations based on respect for the sovereign equality of countries. Today, along with its efforts to promote its so-called rules in the international arena, the West is also suppressing multilateralism and democracy at home, resorting to increasingly repressive tools to crush dissent, in much the same way as the criminal Kiev regime is doing with support from its teachers – the United States and its allies.

Colleagues, once again, as in the Cold War years, we have approached a dangerous, and perhaps even a more dangerous, line. The situation is further aggravated by loss of faith in multilateralism where the financial and economic aggression of the West is destroying the benefits of globalisation and where Washington and its allies are abandoning diplomacy and demanding that things be sorted out “on the battlefield.” All of that is taking place within the walls of the UN which was created to prevent the horrors of war. The voices of responsible and sensible forces and the calls to show political wisdom and to revive the culture of dialogue are drowned out by those who set out to undermine the fundamental principles of communication between countries. We must all return to the roots and comply with the UN Charter’s purposes and principles in all their diversity and interconnectedness.

Genuine multilateralism today requires the UN to adapt to objective developments in the process of forming a multipolar architecture of international relations. It is imperative to expedite Security Council reform by expanding the representation of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The inordinate over-representation of the West in this main UN body undermines the principle of multilateralism.

Venezuela spearheaded the creation of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations. We call on all countries that respect the Charter to join it. It is also important to use the constructive potential of BRICS and the SCO. The EAEU, the CIS, and the CSTO are willing to contribute. We stand for using the initiatives advanced by the regional associations of the Global South. The G20 can be useful in maintaining multilateralism if its Western participants stop distracting their colleagues from priority items on its agenda in hopes of downplaying their responsibility for the pile-up of crises in the global economy.

It is our common duty to preserve the United Nations as the hard-won epitome of multilateralism and coordination of international politics. The key to success lies in working together, renouncing claims to anyone’s exceptionalism and – to reiterate – showing respect for the sovereign equality of states. This is what we all signed up for when ratifying the UN Charter.

In 2021, President Vladimir Putin suggested convening a summit of the UN Security Council permanent members. The leaders of China and France supported this initiative, but, unfortunately, it has not been brought to fruition. This issue is directly related to multilateralism. It’s not because the five powers have certain privileges over the rest, but precisely because of their special responsibility under the UN Charter for maintaining international peace and security. This is exactly what the imperatives of the UN-centric system, which is crumbling before our eyes as a result of the actions of the West, call for.

Concern about this situation can be increasingly heard in multiple initiatives and ideas from the Global South countries ranging from East and Southeast Asia, the Arab and generally the Muslim world all the way to Africa and Latin America. We appreciate their sincere desire to ensure the settlement of current issues through honest collective work aimed at agreeing on a balance of interests based on the sovereign equality of states and indivisible security.

In closing, I would like to let the reporters who are covering our meeting know that their colleagues from the Russian media were not allowed to come here. The US Embassy in Moscow cynically said it was ready to give them their passports with visas in them but only when our plane was taking off. So, I have a huge request for you. Please make up for the absence of Russian journalists. Please see to it that worldwide audiences can use your reports to glean every angle of the comments and assessments.

This speech appears through the kind courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The Geopolitics of Water

The factor of hydro-hegemony becomes an important asset in foreign policy disputes.

Water has traditionally been considered one of the most important resources to which proper access must be ensured. It is directly related to food security, i.e., agriculture, but also concerns all types of industry (since water is needed for a variety of production cycles from the creation of semiconductors to the functioning of standard equipment) and power generation.

If access to water begins to be a problem, it automatically leads to negative effects such as migration, epidemics, economic decline and conflict. In this context, the concept of water hegemony emerged in the context of state sovereignty (more precisely, the interrelation of the sovereignties of different states and their national interests). Hydro-hegemony is hegemony at the river basin level, achieved through water management strategies such as resource grabbing, integration, and containment.

Strategies are implemented through a variety of tactics (e.g., coercion—pressure, treaties, knowledge accumulation, etc.) that are made possible by exploiting existing asymmetries of power in a weak international institutional context.

Political processes, outside the water sector shape, hydro-political relations in a form that varies from the benefits derived from cooperation under hegemonic leadership to the unfair aspects of dominance. The outcome of competition in terms of control over a resource is determined by the form of establishment of hydro-hegemony, as a rule, in favor of the most powerful participant. The establishment of a dominant position in the management of the river system can be seen as an attractive tool for the hegemonic actor, since it allows him to unilaterally set national goals above those of other agents. In addition, unilateral control creates political leverage over downstream countries.

Thus, Zeitoun and Warner have looked at the basins of such rivers as the Jordan, Nile, Euphrates, and Tigris; but this model can be applied to other regions—in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. But there are also cases closer to us. The Rogun hydropower plant in Tajikistan has caused tensions between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

To this day, the problem of water allocation remains acute in Central Asia.

For example, the second largest lake in Asia, Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan is directly connected to the Ili River, whose headwaters are in China. The Ili-Balkhash ecosystem covers 413,000 square kilometers—more than Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium combined. Previously, due to the consumption of water resources in China itself, aimed at supplying the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the demands of local industry, the level of the river was declining, which was reflected in the rapid shallowing of the lake. In recent years, land development and expansion of rice fields in China have continued, which reflected in the decline of water in Balkhash. We must consider that the lack of water also results in desertification and loss of soil fertility. This is a universal phenomenon. And conflicts similar to the Tajik-Uzbek conflict occur in other regions.

For example, disputes over water resources of the Brahmaputra have long been the cause of political friction between India and China. In April 2010, during Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Beijing, the Chinese first designated an area on the Brahmaputra where the initial construction of the Zangmu Dam in Tibet was to take place. Chinese officials assured India that the projects would proceed as usual and would not create a water shortage downstream. In response to India’s subsequent requests for more information on the plans, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “China takes a responsible attitude toward transboundary water development. We have a policy that protection goes hand in hand with development, and we take full account of the interests of downstream countries.”

Additional information about the dam plan was released in January 2013, as part of China’s current five-year energy plan. The plan included proposals to build three medium-sized dams on the Yarlung Tsangpo River. As a result, this increased tensions between the two countries, because India was not consulted before the plan was released and only learned about it from the Chinese press. This forced the Indian government to protest strongly. The conflict between the two countries did not end there. When China completed construction of the 510 MW Zangmu hydropower plant in Tibet in October 2015, much of the Indian media expressed concern about the dam preventing water from flowing into the downstream Brahmaputra. A Chinese foreign ministry official noted that Zangmu was part of the River Project, so it would not hold back water.

Indeed, there is no water retention under this project, but there is silt retention, and this has a serious impact on downstream fertility. Technically, the project builds a dam to divert water from the river into the tunnel. The dam typically diverts 70 to 90 percent of the water, depending on the environmental permit obtained. This silt-laden water is first diverted to a sump so the silt can settle to the bottom, because the silt breaks the edges of the turbine blades. Then the silt-cleansed water is conveyed through a long tunnel, at the end of which it falls vertically onto the turbine blades. The rotation of the turbine generates electricity. The water is then diverted back into the river. Thus, the water itself is not retained, but the silt settles to the bottom of the first reservoir and is flushed into the riverbed just downstream of the dam wall. The question is, is the force of the water that flows out of the dam enough to carry much of this silt downstream? In most cases it is not.

Because it is the silt that restores soil fertility downstream, this issue becomes crucial.

The Himalayas are the youngest mountain range in the world, and the rivers flowing down from them replenish soil fertility in some of the oldest cultivated regions on earth in all of Asia. The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta consists almost entirely of this silt. There are controversial issues in Thailand as well. There are plans to build several dams on the Mekong in the region, such as Pak Beng and Luang Prabang, but some believe they are unnecessary for the Thai electricity system. Thai civil society and people in Thailand have also questioned the possibility of buying more electricity from neighboring countries, including from the Mekong River dams in Pak Beng and Luang Prabang. Since last year, every household has felt their electricity bills increase every month. They ask, “While we have a huge energy reserve, [an electricity surplus of] more than 50%, why are you buying more?”—since the main costs are borne by taxpayers. Environmentalists are also sounding the alarm because they believe that the natural balance will be disrupted.

As for Russia, the situation with the division of water resources differs depending on where the border runs. For example, there are about 450 rivers, streams and lakes on the Russian-Finnish border (Russia-Greater Russia, over 1,200 km). For the most part, their course is directed towards Russia, and among the larger rivers are the Vuoksi, the Hiitolanjoki and the Tuloma. The total flow volume is 780 cubic meters per second. There are four hydroelectric power stations on the Vuoksa, two in Finland and two in Russia. The Russian-Finnish Commission on the Use of Boundary Waters deals with the regulation of water flows. Given the fact that the upper reaches of the rivers are in Finland, theoretically Helsinki has a better chance of hydro-hegemony than Moscow.

With regard to Kazakhstan, Russia has a balanced position, since the Ural River flows from Russia, and Tobol, Ishim and Irtysh from Kazakhstan. There have been no problems with the water resources of these rivers between the countries. However, since the upper reaches of the Irtysh are in China, this has caused trilateral disputes and Beijing has been reluctant to respond to Russian and Kazakh requests to regulate the use and protection of water resources. But with respect to Ukraine, Russia has a serious advantage because it controls the upper reaches of the main tributaries of the Dnieper—the major rivers Desna, Psel, Seim, and Voskla. It should be added that allied Belarus controls the Pripyat and Dnieper rivers.

Potentially, Russia can use its strategic position, and not only from the position of geo-economics, but also from the theater of military operations.

In particular, unmanned surface and underwater vehicles can be launched into these rivers to collect intelligence. Such models are in service with the U.S. military, and some of them are made in the form of fish for external camouflage. Ideally, the use of such vehicles could create a reliable network of sensors to obtain operational information (e.g., on the movement of equipment across bridges or activity near special-purpose facilities that are in close proximity to river banks). If the need for such activity persists, such a hydro-hegemonic asset could become a useful tool in confronting the enemy.

Leonid Savin is Editor-in-Chief of the Analytical Center, General Director of the Cultural and Territorial Spaces Monitoring and Forecasting Foundation and Head of the International Eurasia Movement Administration. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.

Featured: The Oxus at Khami-e-Ab, Looking East, Near Khoja-Saleh, print, from a sketch by Captain Peacocke, Illustrated London News, 1885.

Is There a “True Islam?”

In his book, Sur l’Islam [On Islam], Rémi Brague gently mocks Pope Francis’ 2013 statement that “true Islam and a proper interpretation of the Koran are opposed to all violence.” “True Islam?” In this fascinating book tinged with caustic humor, striking by its erudition and its clarity, Rémi Brague puts things in their right place: by seeking to apprehend Islam under its different facets, without any positive or negative a priori, he shows that there is no “true Islam” and that it cannot exist because it does not recognize an authoritative magisterium, as it is the case in the Catholic Church. The Islamic terrorist who kills “unbelievers” can claim to be a “true Islam” just as much as the Sufi who is immersed in his meditations.

In order to understand what Islam is, therefore, what the Islamic vision of God and the world is, Brague explores its “fundamentals,” and in particular the Koran, which, since the Mu’tazilite crisis of the ninth century, has been fixed as the uncreated word of God dictated to Muhammad. This essential aspect explains an important part of the Muslim reality. The Koran contains a number of legal provisions, often extremely precise and dealing with daily life in some of its smallest details, making Islam more than a simple religion, “a legislation,” writes Brague—a “religion of the Law.” “In this way,” he continues, “when Islam, as a religion, enters Europe, it does not do so only as a religion…. It enters as a civilization that forms an organic whole and proposes well-defined rules of life.”

In Islam, reason can in no way be the source of the obligation of law, the law comes directly from God, via the Koran itself, the uncreated word of God. And when contradictions arise, they are resolved by the theory of “abrogation” which gives primacy to the most recent Koranic verse, which is always more severe than the previous one—thereby relativizing the more tolerant passages towards Jews and Christians that are usually put forward.

Thus, since there is only God’s law, the concept of natural law is meaningless and there can be, in theory, no common rules for Muslims and “unbelievers.” The consequences of this approach to law, a discipline that dominates all others in Islam, are important, notably through its repercussions on morality and the relativization of principles that we consider universal: what God wants is good; therefore what the Koran requires can only be good, including what Muhammad did, who is the “beautiful example” that God recommends to follow (Koran XXXIII, 21). Thus, murdering, torturing, conquering by the sword, lying (taqiyya), multiplying wives (including very young ones, since Muhammad consummated his marriage with Aisha when she was only 9 years old)—none of these actions are bad since they were done by the “Prophet”. Of course, no Muslim is obliged to do the same, but at least he can do so without betraying his religion.

Islam and Europe

Another theme on which Brague sets the record straight: the contribution of Islamic civilization (in which Christians, Jews, Sabians and Zoroastrians played a significant role) to Europe in the Middle Ages. Admittedly, the Arab sciences, at that time, were more developed in the Islamic than Christian sphere, but, tempers Brague, “Islam as a religion did not bring much to Europe, and only did so late,” while Western Christianity never completely ceased intellectual exchange with Byzantium, which enabled contact with Greek culture to be maintained, and which Islam in no way sought to assimilate.

For about five centuries, Islam, as it were, interrupted its cultural development and gradually allowed itself to be overtaken and dominated by Europe, causing intense humiliation among many Muslims—this is what Brague calls the “ankylosis” of Islam. Today, if it were not for the manna of oil, the Muslim countries, scientifically and militarily weak, would have no bearing at the international level. Their asset is nevertheless their strong demography, coupled with massive immigration to Europe, which has allowed the installation of vast Muslim communities, financed by the money of black gold. This is another, more patient but undoubtedly more effective way to win and thus take revenge on the past. When will we realize it?

Christophe Geffroy publishes the journal La Nef, through whose kind courtesy we are publishing this article.

The Role of the “Dissent Channel” in U.S. Foreign Policy

On August 31, 2021, U.S. President Joseph Biden announced the completion of the withdrawal of his troops from Afghanistan. The closure of the Bagram military air base, which was one of the largest and most strategically important facilities in the region, was the official end of the 20-year U.S. military campaign in that country. Inspired by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was the longest military campaign in U.S. history. More than 2,400 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Afghans lost their lives during the fighting. In addition, the U.S., leading a coalition of NATO allies, spent nearly $1 trillion on military action, and 80% of this amount was spent during the presidency of Barack Obama.

However, despite the length of the military operation and significant U.S. efforts, the goal of a complete victory in the conflict and the establishment of its hegemony in Afghanistan were not achieved. Many Western politicians have called the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan a geopolitical disaster for the forces of Atlanticism in the region. After the withdrawal of U.S. troops, fighting between pro-American insurgents and the Taliban, as well as other armed groups, periodically resumed in the region, giving rise to tensions for the region at the moment. For example, ongoing internal conflicts have been marked by the recent announcement by the National Resistance Front (NRF) of a renewed guerrilla struggle against the Taliban, who lead the government of the Emirate of Afghanistan.

Moreover, the situation inside the “young” state leaves much to be desired. Recently, there has been a significant increase in terrorist activity on the territory of Afghanistan, including from ISIS and al-Qaida.
In addition, the country remains one of the largest producers and suppliers of opium in the world, which threatens the security of not only Asia but also other regions. Nevertheless, the Taliban government is trying in every way to show its readiness to solve regional problems. Thus, the Taliban (an organization banned in Russia) on April 3, 2022, announced a ban on drugs and the cultivation of plants used in the production of narcotic substances.

Thus, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was not so much an end to the conflict as a reset of the situation in the region, which at the beginning was marked by a new wave of violence and instability. However, against the backdrop of a very complex geopolitical context and endless bloodshed in Afghanistan, a return to a peaceful resolution of the conflict with different interest groups is the only way out at present, though not a very promising one. The US, having unsuccessfully tried to establish its influence in Afghanistan, is trying to create tension in the southern “underbelly” of the Heartland, leaving the Taliban with $7.2 billion worth of weapons, after its departure, which in turn end up on the black market.

Biden’s Failure in Afghanistan

It is worth noting that the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2021 has caused numerous discussions and debates among politicians, experts and the public. The hottest disputes arise between Democrats and Republicans. The negative assessment of the evacuation of U.S. troops is given by “hawks,” supporters of a hardline American foreign policy. They and many others are convinced that the end of the Afghan campaign was an embarrassment for the United States and the Western world and that the decision was due to the failure of the Biden administration, which was criticized by a lot, especially by his Republican opponents. On the other hand, the Democrats supported the idea of withdrawal of troops, describing it as a long expected and promised measure to help bring the “endless war” in Afghanistan to a definitive end.

First of all, the criticism to Biden and his administration was due to the hasty withdrawal of the troops that entailed huge reputation costs for the U.S.

The U.S. and Taliban originally agreed to a gradual withdrawal over 14 months, and the withdrawal agreement covered “all United States military forces, their allies and coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisers and support personnel.” On the eve of the withdrawal, the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress approved the draft “Allies Act.” This document provided an expedited procedure for visa support for Afghan interpreters working at U.S. military installations. However, the necessity of hasty evacuation, first of all, of American citizens led to a failure of the declared guarantees: there were cases when the American embassy in Kabul destroyed the documents of citizens of Afghanistan, who had to be evacuated with the Americans. This showed the selfishness and indifference of the United States to those whom it called its “allies” throughout the Afghan campaign, and within the U.S. it became an occasion for political differences between competing parties.

In turn, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee ordered the U.S. administration to submit closed service documents by March 28, expressing disagreement with some specific decisions to withdraw from Afghanistan. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was notified of this requirement by Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee from the Republican Party. He asked for a list of all interagency meetings related to the withdrawal, as well as information on all negotiations with representatives of the Taliban (organization banned in Russia) since January 2021, in order to study in detail the circumstances of the withdrawal of US troops. It should be noted that Republicans have made similar requests before, but this time their legitimate demand for data from the State Department is consistent with their majority in the House. The potential risk of litigation with State Department head Anthony Blinken has significantly escalated the months-long battle between the Biden administration and Congress over the Republican-led investigation into the last days and months of the war in Afghanistan.
The “Dissent Channel” Factor

According to Foreign Policy, “The looming political battle between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Biden administration highlights the unique role that the State Department’s ‘Dissent Channel’ plays in U.S. foreign policy.” The Dissent Channel is a messaging system open to members of the Foreign Service and other U.S. citizens working at the U.S. Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through which they are invited to offer constructive criticism of government policies.

The original format under Secretary of State Dean Rusk (who held the post under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson) was the Open Forum panel, which served as a “common channel” for previously unrepresented opinions of junior civil servants on issues including foreign policy. At the same time, the American Foreign Service Association began awarding annual dissent awards to U.S. Foreign Service employees. This led to the publication of a State Department report entitled “Diplomacy for the ’70s,” which included more than 500 recommendations to improve the quality of U.S. foreign service operations. One of the points included the possibility for diplomats to express their disagreement with the course of foreign policy in the form of a telegram to high-ranking State Department officials.
Topics touched upon in official telegrams through the “Dissent Channel” ranged widely, from moral concerns about embassies harassing women’s groups by American congressmen, to calls for U.S. action to stop “genocide,” to warnings about errors in intelligence reports on the Vietnam War, to recommended changes in overall strategy toward the Soviet Union and China. “The Dissent Channel” was used 123 times in the first four decades, and nowadays about four or five dissent telegrams are sent every year.

One such telegram, signed by 23 government officials expressing concerns about the then current critical situation of the Afghan administration and the lack of readiness to withdraw U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan, was sent on July 13, 2021, about a month before the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban took control of the country. At the time the telegram was sent, Biden and other top officials from his administration insisted that the Afghan government would not collapse and would continue the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops.

In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken refused to send the said telegram to McCaul, saying its transmission undermined the sanctity of the Dissent Channel and might have a “deterrent effect” on future dissenters. The case of the “Bloody Telegram,” written in 1971 by Archer Blood and 20 of his colleagues, cost an American diplomat his career, is noteworthy.

Some of the telegrams sent through the Dissent Channel did predict many of the mistakes and strategic miscalculations that the United States subsequently made. However, many of the cables did call for a more moderate foreign policy (protesting the invasions of Iraq and Syria). Nevertheless, the U.S. political establishment, intent on achieving its geopolitical goals by any means necessary, almost always ignores these messages completely, and many of the officials involved in signing the telegrams are weeded out, through removal from office. As the current scandal between McCall and Blinken shows, the Dissent Channel is only used as a matter of political speculation for the partisan struggle between Republicans and Democrats.

Nikita Averkin writes from Russia. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

Ukraine and the Gulf: Agreements and About-Face

The Russo-Ukrainian war—and the long list of potential global conflicts that could erupt, such as in Taiwan, the South China Sea, the Kuril Islands, North Korea and Iran—represents a rude awakening for the strategic landscape for several countries around the world, suggesting that the international order after this war (and potential others) will never be as it was before. But this is equally valid for already existing conflicts, such as those between Armenia and Azerbaijan, India and Pakistan, Palestine, Kurdistan (Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian), Sahel, Somalia, Mozambique, etc. etc.

A new multipolar order of a different nature and contours to those that previously existed has begun to appear on the horizon, prompting countries to reevaluate their economic accounts and political alliances. Indeed, many nations are redefining (or trying to do so) their geopolitical interests to adapt and be self-sustaining and stable amid complex global crises with no clear goals (and no clear consequences), identifiable or controllable. This is especially true for the so-called Arab-Islamic states community and even more so for the Arab-Persian Gulf sub-region.

Among these states, particularly, for those adhering to the bizarre (in the sense that it is unclear how it is really governed given the very deep divisions hidden behind lavish meetings and very long final communiqués) Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), these revaluations seem to be increasingly articulated, considering current geopolitical developments. Will the alliance with the United States continue to coincide with the present and, above all, future interests of the Gulf States? How are these nations trying to diversify their alliances with emerging powers like China, Russia (and others) in the fields of security, finance and energy?

But between these two horns of dilemma is a third, very delicate one, namely the construction of a balance between US interests on the one hand and Chinese and Russian interests on the other (not counting the weight and interests of states such as Iran and Turkey)? Identifying a path to follow is of the utmost importance, for the West and for Europe, in view of the important energy capacity (the Gulf states produce 40% of the world’s total energy) and consequently, enormous financial resources.

Before examining the options and choices available to these states, however, there are several key points that need to be highlighted as factors in Gulf states’ assessments of their interests and alliances.

Firstly, the Gulf States do not seem to ignore the signals coming from an important strategic alliance formed by the complex of international architectures alternative to the system of Euro-Atlantic political, economic and security architectures (like EU, NATO, G7, G20, etc.) represented by a consolidated reality like the Shangai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which includes Russia, China, Iran, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and other various countries both as observers and as partners, including Saudi Arabia), a very robust BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) and one in progress, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and several others interested in join.

Similarly, the Gulf states are aware of the important role of Russia and China in controlling Iranian excesses, especially if Teheran, despite some recent declarations of goodwill (probably dictated by the need to mitigate its isolation which has grown due to the brutal repression of civil protest movements), were to replicate North Korea’s nuclear scheme. Furthermore, the GCC states, despite the obvious needs, are unable to develop a common policy due to the aforementioned interstate divisions and rivalries and divergent needs.

But what is more important is that the link between the subregion and the United States, which began with the meeting between President F. D. Roosevelt and the Saudi king, Ibn Saud aboard the cruiser USS ‘Quincy’ in the Suez Canal in February 1945, if historically fluctuating according to the Washington administrations, in recent years it has become more unstable due to the ideological polarization of the US leadership (not to mention Trump’s insulting manners towards his local interlocutors).

Finally, the repercussions of the Ukrainian war still remain unclear and unpredictable in terms of security and economics, especially with regard to global energy prices, but have shown world leaders that, compared to China, Russia increasingly looks like the junior partner of Beijing. As a result, the Gulf states, while holding the energy blackmail card to the West, are understandably reluctant to give up major oil customers, such as China, especially in the perspective that all their customers (Beijing included) are turning to less dependence on hydrocarbons, and that their infinite gains will have to be reduced.

Given the current international conditions, the GCC leadership is faced with a number of options for defining a new strategic approach in the coming years. The diversification of international partnerships seems an obligatory choice, given the current context. However, diversification is an important issue, given the GCC’s ties to the US and its allies, which incidentally have significant military assets deployed in the area. The difference is whether to increase strategic cooperation with Beijing and Moscow and take on a harsh hostility from the West or maintain it, albeit at a more reduced level that allows for good business, which appears to be the only raison d’etre for many Western countries, and maintain a high context of economic, political and military contacts with the West.

This option could make it possible to balance geopolitical interests between the West on one side and China and Russia on the other (but up to a certain point, in the case of the Washington/Brussels confrontation, Beijing/Moscow go to extremes). If they adopt the second option, the Gulf states could become a channel of communication, understanding and balance between US, Chinese and Russian interests on various global issues, especially energy and trade.

In particular, the UAE could play an important role in this option building on the vital international role it already plays (it is precisely in March that units of the UAE land forces exercise with US Army in the United States) and also to mark the difference with the cumbersome partner that is Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman could also manage complex issues between the United States, China and Russia, given their long experience in complex negotiations. For example, Qatar successfully brokered a deal between the Taliban and the US in 2020 (the problem was the fragility of the Afghan government that collapsed in front of the Taliban, thanks to the corruption of Kabul political and military leadership) and Oman successfully brokered several deals between Iran and the United States, including the 2015 nuclear deal.

A Red Line

In the perspective of Washington and Brussels, the red line would be military agreements with Beijing and/or Moscow. This hypothesis, so far distant, however could be in view, after the recent agreement for the normalization of relations between Teheran and Riyadh, sponsored by China; and it is useful to remember that since 1988 Saudi Arabia has acquired Chinese Dong Feng 3 missiles (with a range of 3,000 kilometres). But those were different times and the sale did not constitute a problem, given that this type of system was not produced by Western industries and those missiles were perceived as a deterrent against Iran.

Furthermore, the cooperation between the GCC states, Russia and China should not damage the interests of the United States and EU especially in the energy fields (and also if not clearly stated, also those of Tel Aviv). The GCC should, if it were in a position to do so, assure Washington and Brussels that cooperation with Russia, or even China, does not lead to the growth of their influence in the Persian Gulf region, potentially triggering a hostile response from USA, NATO and the EU, such as the further acceleration of energy policies independent of hydrocarbons, with dire consequences for the GCC states (and in fact to it, albeit through OPEC and OAPEC, such as Iraq).

The agreement to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered and sponsored by Beijing, seems to be the first sign of this new approach (but maybe not); at any rate since it involves the leading nation of the GCC (albeit disputed) and has vast influence and influence over other Arab-Islamic nations (with some notable exceptions).

In any case, referring to the above, despite a not particularly positive climate between Riyadh and Washington, with a timing worthy of a better cause, the Saudi crown prince MBS (Mohammed Bin Salman) announced the finalization of a massive contract for the purchase of 121 Boeing airliners for the newly formed Riyadh Air and Saudia just after the international notification of the Beijing-sponsored agreement. The contract was commented on by a warm statement from the US State Department which underlined the solidity of bilateral relations (excusatio non petit). The negotiations for this contract took time to be finalized, also for technical reasons, but they probably would have started some time ago would have started some time ago, probably coinciding with Beijing’s first diplomatic approaches and, equally clearly, it represents an assurance that Saudi Arabia wants to give Washington and a nice injection of money for the US aeronautical industry, a symbolic and strategic axis of the USA.


The latest developments, such as the promise to re-establish diplomatic ties and normalize relations between Riyadh and Tehran, promoted by China, have a potentially very wide range of consequences, both regionally and in the near (and not) abroad. At first glance, the Iranian-Saudi-Chinese deal could be seen as another affront by MBS to the US. If it is, it is surely a partial aspect of the complex bilateral relations that bind the two countries. Fears of Riyadh’s possible departure from Washington ties are mitigated by Saudi Arabia’s continued dependence on US military capability, not to mention the flow of spare parts for the Saudi arsenal.
However, the US irritation towards Saudi Arabia on the subject of human and civil rights and for the barbaric murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 remains intact. The White House, meanwhile, downplayed differences with Saudi Arabia, saying Riyadh was in close contact with Washington for conversations with Beijing and Tehran, given that the United States and Iran have no direct diplomatic contacts.

The real reason for Riyadh’s agreement with Iran seems to be dictated by the increasingly urgent need to get out of the quagmire of war in Yemen, which began in March 2015, with enormous expenses, poor results and significant damage to the image of the suffering of the civilian populations, not to mention the military humiliation of theoretically very powerful armed forces, the Saudi ones, in fact blocked by the militias of the Yemeni-Shiite-like Houti, who have come to hit Saudi Arabia and the UAE in depth, with missiles supplied from Tehran. Furthermore, due to the aforementioned human rights problems in Saudi Arabia, Biden, with the support of Congress, ended American assistance for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen.

Also, here too enters the increasingly fierce domestic ideological political dispute in the US, where Republicans criticize Biden for pushing Riyadh closer to Beijing, saying Democrats have alienated a key Gulf partner, lost another battle in the competition against China and jeopardize the opportunities to establish ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel and the possibility of reconstituting (on different bases and adherents, obviously) the ancient alliances and understandings promoted by Washington in the 1950s in the Middle East (Baghdad Pact, CENTO, METO).

Saudi Arabia has however said that opening ties with Israel is conditional on progress towards a Palestinian state. This condition constitutes a serious problem for Netanyahu, who, with his hard hand towards the Palestinians, has put himself in a corner in this perspective, given that Saudi Arabia’s accession to the anti-Iranian coalition, is seen by Israel as a strategic necessity, would unblock the expansion of this agreement almost all the states of the region, with the excepted self-exclusion of Syria, Algeria, perhaps Iraq and Lebanon (in these two for the massive presence of populations of the Shiite rite), but Saudi officials have asked for guarantees for a constant flow of armaments and placing this area outside of political differences, a commitment to the defense of the kingdom and help in the construction of a civilian nuclear program.

The countries of the region, with Saudi Arabia in the lead, continue to prefer Republicans negotiating partners to Washington, both for ideological reasons (both reactionary/conservative) and economic proximity, given the proximity of the US oil industry to the Republican party and proof of this, it would suffice to observe that the Saudis, before the mid-term elections of 2022, cut oil production despite the opposition of the USA, with the aim of driving up the price, damaging the electoral chances of the Democrats and helping the Republicans.

This distrust of Democrats is ancient, originating from the attention they give to issues that the Saudis find unbearable, such as the protection of human rights, but the turning point came in 2015, when US President Barack Obama gave the green light for a nuclear deal with Iran without consulting the Saudis. He then insinuated that Saudi Arabia is a “free rider” and argued that the situation in the Persian Gulf “requires us to tell our friends and the Iranians that they must find an effective way to share the neighborhood”.

According to many observers, the Iranian-Saudi-Chinese agreement would be a “tactical affront” by Saudi Arabia towards the Biden administration, but the perturbations of relations at the political level almost never have repercussions on the military-military level and the possibilities of further slides of the countries of the region towards the purchase of Chinese weapons is low (and the Russian one is very low, given the poor results provided of the Moscow weapons systems by the war in Ukraine) and more generally, there is strong dissatisfaction with goods and services supplied by companies and Chinese, while the United States and Europe maintain a undisputed advantage with the quality of the material, after-sales services, training, education and support.

A Different View

It remains to be seen whether Saudi Arabia and Iran will keep the commitments made in their trilateral declaration signed with China, such as the reopening of their embassies and the exchange of ambassadors within two months. Saudi Arabia and Iran also agreed to implement a decades-old security cooperation agreement, first established in 1998 and expanded in 2001, and to cooperate on the economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sport and youth (agreement that remained a dead letter).

A new restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China, is barely enough to overcome the long-standing hostilities of these two countries. Far from representing a regional realignment, ultimately it is more likely to appear as a further sign that Beijing is trying to make inroads in international diplomacy and that in its perspective the results, if any, can be seen in the medium term.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter adversaries with a centuries-old history of enmity and mistrust. On that basis they are extremely unlikely to suddenly become friendly neighbors. But it is not clear in what terms and for how long MBS will be able to validate this result. The new deal is not like the Camp David deal (which effectively ended the war between Egypt and Israel); nor is it even comparable to the wishful thinking Abraham Accords (which established relations between Israel and Arab countries that had never joined a war against it and which Israel now hopes to extend to other participants in an anti-Iranian fashion).

Rather, the deal promises little more than a resumption of normal diplomatic ties; without more concrete steps towards reconciliation, underpinned by external guarantees and oversight, the Chinese-brokered deal could simply represent an interregnum of calm before a possible next phase of bilateral tensions, as the underlying reasons for resolving and/or remove the suspicious mortgages, mistrust and fears have not been addressed, as far as is known.

The two states have a contentious relationship history. Iran severed ties with Riyadh in 1944 after the Saudis executed an Iranian pilgrim who had accidentally desecrated a rock at the shrine in Mecca. They reconciled in 1966. But then, in 1988, the Saudis cut ties after Iranian political demonstrations during the pilgrimage to Mecca the year before left at least 402 dead. Relations were then resumed in 1991, before being suspended again in 2016, when Saudi Arabia beheaded a Shiite cleric, leading protesters to storm his embassy in Tehran.
Most of these swings have been driven by regional and global dynamics. In 1966, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s secular and pan-Arab rhetoric prompted the Saudis to approach the enlightened dictator, Sha Reza Pahlavi (then Washington’s protégé). In 1968, the exit of Great Britain from the Gulf, following the decision to suspend all military presence east of Suez, shuffled the cards. OPEC’s worldwide energy blackmail following the Yom Kippur War begins to give endless financial resources to that region, further igniting pre-existing rivalries. In 1991 both countries feared Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Today there is no common threat to both countries.

The accord is more like a temporary ceasefire, one of many promoted by regional leaders and all of which ended agonizingly, such as the accord promoted by Nasser between Lebanon and the PLO in 1969, giving the Palestinians a fixed area of operations against Israel. But six years later, the Palestinians were at war with Lebanon’s Christian factions, igniting the civil war between local religious-political factions and setting off repeated and deadly Israeli actions; or how in February 1994, King Hussein of Jordan brokered a deal between feuding Yemeni leaders; but by May of that year a faction had split off, causing a new civil war.

As an aspiring hegemonic and regional player, China hopes its new diplomatic clout will bolster its military power and presence in the region (and sub-region). But there is an important American military presence in the Persian Gulf. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, CENTCOM (US joint central command which has jurisdiction and operates in an area ranging from Egypt to Afghanistan) has its advanced operational command in Qatar and Saudi Arabia itself hosts nearly 3,000 US military personnel (and a huge, but unknown, number of ‘contractors’).

But GCC states remain on the top of US-led interest (politically and financially). Saudi Arabia, Qatar were classified among the top 10 global arms importers from 2018 to 2022, according to a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on March of this year. Saudi Arabia was the world’s second-largest arms importer during that period and received 9.6% of all arms imports, second only to India at 11%, according to SIPRI’s ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers 2022’. Riyadh received the 78%, of its imports from the US, which included the delivery almost 100 combat aircraft, hundreds of land-attack missiles and over 20,000 guided bombs. UAE and Kuwait got the majority of their imports at 66% for the UAE and 78% for Kuwait from US as well.

After these notes, which may appear reassuring with regards to the connection, perhaps forced by Saudi Arabia (and these parameters are also transferable to the other small states of the GCC), to the political-economic and military system of the West, it is useful to recall that Riyadh, which seems to be looking for its own space, recently flatly refused to participate in the recapitalization of the collapsing Credit Suisse. The amount, which is important but not insurmountable for Saudi finances, should make us reflect on how much it can really count on a partner who seeks to silence doubts and fears by monetizing them (i.e. by signing large contracts of all kinds).
Of course, each state has its own priorities and needs, but sometimes such moves leave client states in the open, which had aligned their policies on Saudi ones, such as Morocco. Rabat in solidarity with one of its major donors, had a very hard line with Iran, recently accused of providing military assistance to POLISARIO through instructors of the Iranian Hezbollah and more recently, of giving in to the movement fighting for independence of the former Spanish Sahara, drones to attack his troops deployed on the sand wall that divides the former colony of Madrid.

Enrico Magnani, PhD is a UN officer who specializes in military history, politico-military affairs, peacekeeping and stability operations. (The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations). This paper was presented at the 53rd Conference of the Consortium of the Revolutionary Era, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 2-4 February 2023.

Russia’s Special Military Operation: After the First Year, A Paradigm Shift

From SMO to Full-Fledged War

A year has passed since the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO). If it began as a Special Military Operation, it is clear today that Russia has found itself in a full-fledged and difficult war. Not only with Ukraine—as a regime and not with the people (hence the demand for political denazification put forward initially), but also with the “collective West;” that is, in fact, with the NATO bloc (except for the special position of Turkey and Hungary, seeking to remain neutral in the conflict—the remaining NATO countries take part in the war one way or another on the side of Ukraine).

This year of war has shattered many illusions that all sides of the conflict had.

Where Did the West Go Wrong?

The West, hoping for the effectiveness of an avalanche of sanctions against Russia and its almost complete cut-off from the part of the world economy, politics, and diplomacy controlled by the United States and its allies, did not succeed. The Russian economy has held its own. There have been no internal protests, and Putin’s position has not only not wavered, but has only grown stronger. It has not been possible to force Russia to stop conducting military operations, attacking Ukraine’s military-technical infrastructure, or withdrawing decisions on the annexation of new entities. There was no uprising of the oligarchs, whose assets had been seized in the West, either. Russia survived, even though the West seriously believed that it would fall.

From the very beginning of the conflict, Russia, realizing that relations with the West were crumbling, made a sharp turn toward non-Western countries—especially China, Iran, the Islamic countries, but also India, Latin America and Africa—clearly and contrastingly declaring its determination to build a multipolar world. In part, Russia, strengthening its sovereignty, has done this before, but with hesitation; not consistently, constantly returning to attempts to integrate into the global West. Now this illusion has finally dissipated, and Moscow simply has no choice but to plunge headlong into building a multipolar world order. This has already yielded certain results; but here we are at the very beginning of the road.

Russia’s Plans have Changed Significantly

However, things did not go as expected for Russia itself. Apparently, the plan was to deal a swift and fatal blow to Ukraine, to rush to besiege Kiev and force the Zelensky regime to capitulate, without waiting for Ukraine to attack Donbass and then Crimea, which was being prepared by the West under the guise of formal agreement with the Minsk agreements and with the active support of globalist elites—Soros, Nuland, Biden himself and his cabinet. Then it was supposed to bring a moderate politician (such as Medvedchuk) to power and begin to restore relations with the West (as after the reunification with Crimea). No significant economic, political, or social reforms were planned. Everything was supposed to remain as before.

But things did not go that way. After the first real successes, certain miscalculations in strategic planning of the entire operation became apparent. The military, elite and society were not ready for a serious confrontation; neither with the Ukrainian regime, nor with the collective West. The offensive stalled, encountering desperate and fierce resistance from an adversary with unprecedented support from the NATO military machine. The Kremlin probably did not take into account either the psychological readiness of the Ukrainian Nazis to fight to the last Ukrainian, or the scale of Western military aid.

In addition, we did not take into account the effects of eight years of intensive propaganda, which forcibly inculcated Russophobia and extreme hysterical nationalism day in and day out in the entire Ukrainian society. While in 2014 the overwhelming majority of eastern Ukraine (Novorossiya) and half of Central Ukraine were positively disposed toward Russia, although not as radically “for” as residents of Crimea and Donbass, in 2022 this balance has changed—the level of hatred toward Russians has significantly increased, and pro-Russian sympathies have been violently suppressed—often through direct repression, violence, torture and beatings. In any case, Moscow’s active supporters in Ukraine became passive and intimidated, while those who wavered sided with Ukrainian neo-Nazism, encouraged in every possible way by the West (for purely pragmatic and geopolitical purposes).

Only a year later, did Moscow finally realize that this was not an SMO, but a full-fledged war.

Ukraine was Ready

Ukraine was more prepared than anyone else for Russia’s actions, which it began to talk about in 2014, when Moscow had not even remote intentions of expanding the conflict, and reunification with Crimea seemed quite sufficient. If the Kiev regime was surprised by anything, it was precisely Russia’s military failures that followed its initial successes. This greatly boosted the morale of Ukrainian society, already permeated by rampant Russophobia and exalted nationalism. At some point, Ukraine decided to fight Russia in earnest to the very end. Kiev, given the enormous military aid from the West, believed in the possibility of victory, and this became a very significant factor for the Ukrainian psychology.

The only thing that took the Kiev regime by surprise was a preemptive strike by Moscow, the readiness for which many considered a bluff. Kiev planned to begin military action in the Donbass as it prepared, confident that Moscow would not attack first. But the Kiev regime had also prepared thoroughly to repel a possible strike, which would have followed in any case (no one had any illusions about that). For eight years, it had been working uninterruptedly to strengthen several lines of defense in the Donbass, where the main battles were expected to take place. NATO instructors were preparing well-coordinated and combat-ready units, saturating them with the latest technical developments. The West did not hesitate to welcome the formation of punitive neo-Nazi groups engaged in direct mass terror against civilians in the Donbass. And it was there that Russia’s advance was most difficult. Ukraine was ready for war precisely because it wanted to start it any day now.

Moscow, on the other hand, kept everything a secret until the very last, which made society not quite ready for what followed on February 24, 2022.

Russia’s Liberal Elite has been Held Hostage by the SMO

But the biggest surprise was the beginning of the SMO for the Russian liberal pro-Western elite. This elite was individually and almost institutionally deeply integrated into the Western world. Most kept their savings (sometimes gigantic) in the West and actively participated in securities transactions and stock trading. The SMO actually put this elite at risk of total ruin. And in Russia itself, this customary practice has been perceived by many as a betrayal of national interests. Therefore, Russian liberals until the last moment did not believe that the SMO would begin; and when it happened, they began to count the days when it would end. Having turned into a long, protracted war, with an uncertain outcome, the SMO was a disaster for the entire liberal segment of the ruling class.

So far, some in the elite are making desperate attempts to stop the war (and on any terms). But neither Putin, nor the masses, nor Kiev, nor even the West, which has noticed the weakness of Russia, somewhat bogged down in the conflict, and will go all the way in its supposed destabilization.

Fluctuating Allies and Russian Loneliness

I think Russia’s friends were also partly disappointed by the first year of the SMO. Many probably thought its military capabilities were so substantial and well-tuned that the conflict with Ukraine should have been resolved relatively easily. For many, the transition to a multipolar world seemed already irreversible and natural, and the problems Russia faced along the way brought everyone back to a more problematic and bloody scenario.

It turned out that Western liberal elites were ready to fight seriously and desperately to preserve their unipolar hegemony—up to the likelihood of a full-scale war with direct NATO participation and even a full-fledged nuclear conflict. China, India, Turkey and other Islamic countries, as well as African and Latin American states, were hardly ready for such a turnaround. It is one thing to get closer to a peaceful Russia, quietly strengthening its sovereignty and building non-Western (but also not anti-Western!) regional and interregional structures. Entering into a frontal, head-on conflict with the West is another matter. Therefore, with the tacit support of supporters of multipolarity (and above all the friendly policies of China, the solidarity of Iran, and the neutrality of India and Turkey), Russia was essentially left alone in this war with the West.

All this became obvious a year after the start of the SMO.

The First Phase: A Swift Victorious Beginning

The first year of the war had several phases. In each of them, many things changed in Russia, in Ukraine, and in the world community.

The first abrupt phase of Russian successes, during which Russian troops from the north passed Sumy and Chernigov and reached Kiev, was met with a flurry of fury in the West. Russia proved its seriousness in liberating the Donbass, and with a swift rush from Crimea established control over two more regions, Kherson and Zaporozhye, as well as parts of the Kharkov region. Mariupol, a strategically important city in the DNR, was taken with difficulty. Overall, Russia, when it acted lightning fast and unexpectedly, achieved serious successes at the beginning of the operation. However, we do not fully know what mistakes were made at this stage that led to the subsequent failures. This question still needs to be studied. But for certain, they were made.

Overall, this phase lasted for the first two months of the SMO. Russia was expanding its presence, coping with sanctions and unprecedented pressure, establishing itself in the regions, and establishing a military-civilian administration.

With demonstrable and tangible successes, Moscow was ready for negotiations that would consolidate military gains with political ones. Kiev also reluctantly agreed to negotiations.

The Second Phase: The Logical Failure of the Negotiations

But then the second phase began. It was the military and strategic miscalculations in the planning of the operation, the inaccuracy of the forecasts and the failure of unfulfilled expectations, both on the part of the local population, and the readiness of some Ukrainian oligarchs to support Russia under certain conditions.

The offensive stalled; and in some ways, Russia was forced to retreat from its positions. The military leadership tried to achieve some results through negotiations in Istanbul, but this did not bring any results.

The negotiations lost their meaning because Kiev felt that it could resolve the conflict militarily in its favor.

From then on, the West, having prepared public opinion with the furious Russophobia of the first phase, began to supply Ukraine with all forms of lethal weapons on an unprecedented scale. The situation began to deteriorate little by little.

The Third Phase: Stalemate

In the summer of 2022, the situation began to stalemate, although Russia had some success in some areas. By the end of May, Mariupol had been taken.

The third phase lasted until August. During this period, the contradiction between the understanding of the SMO as a rapid and fast operation, which had to pass into the political phase, and the need to fight against a well-armed enemy, which received logistical, intelligence, technological, communication and political support from the entire West, became fully evident. And along a front of enormous length. Moscow was still trying to continue with the original scenario, not wanting to disturb society as a whole and not addressing the people directly. This created a contradiction in the sentiments of the front and the home front, and led to a dissonance in the military command. The Russian leadership did not want to let the war in, postponing in every way the imperative of partial mobilization, which had become overdue by that time.

During this period, Kiev and the West in general turned to terrorist tactics—killing civilians in Russia itself, blowing up the Crimean bridge, and then the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

The Fourth Phase: The Kiev Regime Counterattacks

Thus, we entered phase four, which was marked by a counterattack by the AFU in the Kharkov region, already partially under Russian control at the beginning of the SMO. The Ukrainians’ attacks also intensified in other parts of the front, and the mass delivery of HIMERS units and the supply of the closed satellite communications system Starlink to Ukrainian troops, in combination with a number of other military and technical means, created serious problems for the Russian army, for which it was not prepared at the first stage. The retreat in the Kharkov region, the loss of Kupyansk and even Krasny Liman, a town in the DNR, was the result of “war by half” (as Vladlen Tatarsky accurately put it). Attacks on “old” territories also increased, with regular shelling of Belgorod and the Kursk region. The enemy also used drones to hit some targets deep in Russian territory.

It was no longer possible to fight or not to fight at the same time; or, in other words, to keep society at a distance from what was happening in the new territories.

It was at this point that the SMO turned into a full-fledged war. Or, to be more precise, this fait accompli was finally realized in Russian upper circles.

The Fifth Phase: The Decisive Turn

These failures were followed by a fifth phase, which, although much delayed, has changed the course of things. Putin took the following steps: announcing partial mobilization, reshuffling the military leadership, establishing the Coordinating Council on Special Operations, putting the military industry on a tightened schedule, tightening measures for disrupting state defense orders, and so on.

The culmination of this phase was the referendum on joining Russia in four regions—the DNR, LNR, Kherson and Zaporozhye; Putin’s decision to accept them into Russia; and his program speech on this occasion on September 30, where he stated for the first time with all the candor of Russia’s opposition to Western liberal hegemony, the complete and irreversible determination to build a multipolar world and the beginning of the acute phase of the war of civilizations, where the modern civilization of the West was declared “satanic.” In his later Valdai speech, the President reiterated and developed the main theses.

Although Russia was already forced to surrender Kherson after that, retreating further, the attacks of the AFU were stopped, the defense of the controlled borders was strengthened and the war entered a new phase.

As the next step of escalation, Russia began regular destruction of Ukraine’s military-technical and sometimes energy infrastructure with missile-bombing strikes.

The purification of society from within also began: traitors and collaborators of the enemy left Russia, patriots ceased to be a marginal group, with their positions of selfless devotion to the homeland, becoming—at least outwardly—the ethical mainstream. Where once liberals used to compile systematic denunciations against anyone who showed any sign of left-wing or conservative views critical of liberals, the West, etc., now, by contrast, anyone with liberal sentiments was automatically suspected of being at least a foreign agent, or even a traitor, saboteur, and terrorist collaborator. Public concerts and speeches by outspoken opponents of the SMO were banned. Russia began the road to its ideological transformation.

The Sixth Phase: Equilibrium Again

Gradually the front stabilized and a new stalemate emerged again. None of the adversaries could now turn the tide. Russia reinforced itself with a mobilized reserve. Moscow supported the volunteers and especially the Wagner PMC, which managed to achieve significant success in turning the tide in the local theaters of war. Many necessary measures to supply the army and the necessary equipment were taken. The volunteer movement was in full swing.

The war entered Russian society.

This sixth phase lasts to the present time. It is characterized by a relative balance of power. Both sides cannot achieve decisive and breakthrough successes in such a state. But Moscow, Kiev and Washington are ready to continue the confrontation for as long as it takes.

In other words, the question of how soon the conflict in Ukraine will end has lost its meaning and its relevance. We are only now really at war. We have realized this fact. It is a kind of being-in-war. It is a difficult, tragic, and painful existence, to which Russian society had long ago become unaccustomed, and most of us did not even really know war.

The Use of Nuclear Weapons: The Latest Argument

The seriousness of Russia’s confrontation with the West has raised new questions about the likelihood that the conflict will escalate to nuclear weapons. The use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs) and Strategic Nuclear Weapons (SNWs) was discussed at all levels, from governments to the media. Since we were already talking about a full-fledged war between Russia and the West, this prospect ceased to be purely theoretical and became an argument that is increasingly mentioned by various parties to the conflict.

A few comments should be made in this regard.

Despite the fact that the issue of the actual state of affairs in nuclear technology is deeply classified, and no one can be completely sure how things really are in this area, it is believed (and probably not without reason) that Russian nuclear capabilities, as well as the means of using them through missiles, submarines and other means, are enough to destroy the United States and NATO countries. At the moment, NATO does not have sufficient means to protect itself from a potential Russian nuclear strike. Therefore, in case of an emergency Russia can use this last argument.

Putin has been quite clear about what he means by that—essentially, if Russia faces a direct military defeat by NATO countries and their allies, occupation and loss of sovereignty, nuclear weapons can be used by Russia.

Nuclear Sovereignty

At the same time Russia also lacks air defense equipment which would reliably protect it from a U.S. nuclear strike. Consequently, the outbreak of a full-scale nuclear conflict, no matter who strikes first, will almost certainly be a nuclear apocalypse and the destruction of humanity, and perhaps the entire planet. Nuclear weapons—especially in view of NSNWs—cannot be used effectively by only one of the parties. The second would respond, and it would be enough for humanity to burn in nuclear fire.

Obviously, the very fact of possessing nuclear weapons means that in a critical situation they can be used by sovereign rulers—that is, by the highest authorities in the United States and Russia. Hardly anyone else is capable of influencing such a decision on global suicide. That is the point of nuclear sovereignty. Putin has been quite frank about the terms of the use of nuclear weapons. Of course, Washington has its own views on this problem; but it is obvious that in response to a hypothetical strike from Russia, it too will have to respond symmetrically.

Could it come to that? I think it could.

Nuclear Red Lines

If the use of nuclear weapons almost certainly means the end of humanity, they will only be used if red lines are crossed. This time very serious ones. The West ignored the first red lines that Russia identified before the start of the SMO, convinced that Putin was bluffing. The West was convinced of this by the Russian liberal elite, which refused to believe that Putin’s intentions were serious. But these intentions should be taken very seriously.

So, for Moscow the red lines, crossing which would be fraught with the beginning of a nuclear war, are quite clear. And they sound like this: a critical defeat in the war in Ukraine with the direct and intensive involvement of the United States and NATO countries in the conflict. We were on the threshold of this in the fourth phase of the SMO, when, in fact, everyone was talking about TNWs and NSNWs. Only some successes of the Russian army, relying on conventional means of arms and warfare, defused the situation to some extent. But, of course, they did not cancel the nuclear threat completely. For Russia, the issue of nuclear confrontation will be removed from the agenda only after it achieves Victory. We will talk a little later about what the “Victory” consists of.

The United States and the West Have No Reason to Use Nuclear Weapons

For the United States and NATO, in the situation where they are, there is no motivation at all to use nuclear weapons even in the foreseeable future. They would only be used in response to a Russian nuclear attack, which would not happen without a fundamental reason (i.e., without a serious—even fatal—threat of military annihilation). Even if one imagines that Russia would take control of all of Ukraine, that would not bring the U.S. any closer to its red lines.

In a sense, the U.S. has already achieved a lot in its confrontation with Russia—it has derailed a peaceful and smooth transition to multipolarity; it has cut Russia off from the Western world and condemned it to partial isolation; it has succeeded in demonstrating a certain weakness of Russia in the military and technical sphere; it has imposed serious sanctions; it has contributed to the deterioration of Russia’s image among those who were its real or potential allies; it has updated its military and technical arsenal and has tested new technologies in real-life situations. If Russia can be beaten by other means, the collective West will be more than happy to do so. By any means, except nuclear. In other words, the position of the West is such that it has no motives to be the first to use nuclear weapons against Russia, even in the distant future. But Russia does. But here everything depends on the West. If Russia is not driven to a dead end, this can easily be avoided. Russia will only destroy humanity, if Russia itself is brought to the brink of annihilation.

Kiev Doomed

And finally, Kiev. Kiev is in a very difficult situation. Zelensky had already once asked his Western partners and patrons to launch a nuclear strike against Russia after a Ukrainian missile fell on Polish territory. What was his idea?

The fact is that Ukraine is doomed in this war from all points of view. Russia cannot lose, because its red line is its defeat. Then everyone will lose.

The collective West, even if it loses something, has already gained a lot, and there is no critical threat to the European NATO countries, let alone the United States itself, from Russia. Everything that is said in this regard is pure propaganda.

But Ukraine, in the situation in which it has found itself several times in its history, between the hammer and the anvil, between the Empire (white or red) and the West, is doomed. The Russians will not make any concessions whatsoever, and will stand until victory. A victory for Moscow would mean the complete defeat of Kiev’s pro-Western Nazi regime. And as a national sovereign state, there will be no Ukraine even in the most general approximation.

It is in this situation that Zelensky, in partial imitation of Putin, proclaims that he is ready to press the nuclear button. Since there will be no Ukraine, it is necessary to destroy humanity. In principle this is understandable; it is quite in the logic of terrorist thinking. The only thing is that Zelensky does not have a nuclear button—because he does not have any sovereignty. Asking the U.S. and NATO to commit global suicide for the sake of independence (which is nothing more than a fiction) is naive, to say the least. Weapons yes, money yes, media support yes, of course, political support yes, as much as you want. But nuclear?

The answer is too obvious to give. How can one seriously believe that Washington, no matter how fanatical the supporters of globalism, unipolarity and maintaining hegemony at all costs, will go to the destruction of humanity for the sake of “Glory to the Heroes!” Even by losing all of Ukraine, the West does not lose much. And Kiev’s Nazi regime and its dreams of world greatness will, of course, collapse.

In other words, Kiev’s red lines should not be taken seriously, though Zelensky acts like a real terrorist. He has taken a whole country hostage and threatens to destroy humanity.

The End of the War: Russia’s Goals

After a year of war in Ukraine, it is absolutely clear that Russia cannot lose in it. This is an existential challenge—to be or not to be a country, a state, a people? It is not about acquiring disputed territories or about the balance of security. That was a year ago. Things are much more acute now. Russia cannot lose; and crossing this red line again refers us to the topic of nuclear apocalypse. And on this issue, everyone should be clear—this is not just Putin’s decision, but the logic of the entire historical path of Russia, which at all stages has fought against falling into dependence on the West—be it the Teutonic Order, Catholic Poland, bourgeois Napoleon, racist Hitler or modern globalists. Russia will be free or nothing at all.

Small Victory: The Liberation of New Territories

Now we are left to consider what is Victory? There are three options here.

The minimum scale of Victory for Russia could, under certain circumstances, consist of putting all the territories of the four new members of the Russian Federation—the DNR, LNR, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions—under control. In parallel with this, the disarmament of Ukraine and full guarantees of its neutral status for the foreseeable future. In this case, Kiev must recognize and accept the actual state of affairs. With this the peace process can begin.

However, such a scenario is very unlikely. The Kiev regime’s relative successes in the Kharkov region have given Ukrainian nationalists hope that they can defeat Russia. The fierce resistance in Donbass demonstrates their intention to stand to the end, reverse the course of the campaign, and go on a counteroffensive again—against all new oncomers, including Crimea. And it is not at all improbable that the current authorities in Kiev would agree to such a fixation of the status quo.

For the West, however, this would be the best solution, as a pause in hostilities could be used, like the Minsk agreements, to further militarize Ukraine. Ukraine itself—even without these areas—remains a huge territory, and the question of neutral status could be confused in ambiguous terms.

Moscow understands all this; Washington understands it somewhat less. And the current leadership of Kiev does not want to understand it at all.

The Average Victory: The Liberation of Novorossia

The average version of Victory for Russia would be the liberation of the entire territory of historical Novorossia, which includes the Crimea, four new members of Russia and three more regions—Kharkov, Odessa and Nikolaev (with parts of Krivoy Rog, Dneprovsk and Poltava). This would complete the logical division of Ukraine into Eastern and Western, which have different histories, identities and geopolitical orientations. Such a solution would be acceptable to Russia and would certainly be perceived as a very real Victory, completing what was started, and then interrupted, in 2014. On the whole, it would also suit the West, whose strategic plans would be most sensitive to the loss of the port city of Odessa. But even that is not so crucial, due to the presence of other Black Sea ports—Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, the three NATO countries (not potential, but actual members of the Alliance).

It is clear that such a scenario is categorically unacceptable to Kiev, although a reservation should be made here. It is categorically unacceptable for the current regime and in the current military-strategic situation. If it comes to the complete successful liberation of the four new members of the Federation and the subsequent withdrawal of Russian troops to the borders of the three new regions, both the army of Ukraine, and the psychological state of the population, and the economic potential, and the political regime of Zelensky will be in a completely different—completely broken—state. The infrastructure of the economy will continue to be destroyed by Russian strikes, and defeats on the fronts will lead a society already exhausted and bleeding from the war into utter despondency. Perhaps there will be a different government in Kiev; and it cannot be ruled out that there will also be a change of government in Washington, where any realist ruler will certainly reduce the scale of support for Ukraine, simply by soberly calculating the national interests of the United States, without a fanatical belief in globalization. Trump is a living example that this is quite possible and not far beyond the realm of probability.

In a mid-Victory situation, that is, the complete liberation of Novorossia, it would be extremely beneficial for Kiev and for the West to move to peace agreements in order to preserve at least the remaining Ukraine. A new state could be established that would not have the current restrictions and obligations, and could become—gradually—a bulwark to encircle Russia. In order for the West to save at least the rest of Ukraine, the Novorossiya project would be quite acceptable and in the long run would be rather beneficial to it—including for confrontation with a sovereign Russia.

The Great Victory: The Liberation of Ukraine

Finally, a complete Victory for Russia would be the liberation of the entire territory of Ukraine from the control of the pro-Western Nazi regime and the re-establishment of the historical unity of both an Eastern Slavic state and a great Eurasian power. Multipolarity would be irreversibly established, and we would overturn human history. In addition, only such a Victory would allow for the full implementation of the goals set at the outset—denazification and demilitarization—for without full control of a militarized and Nazified territory, this cannot be achieved.

The Atlanticist geopolitician, Zbigniew Brzezinski, quite rightly wrote: “Without Ukraine, Russia cannot become an Empire.” He is right. But we can also read this formula in a Eurasian way: “And with Ukraine, Russia will become an Empire;” that is, a sovereign pole of the multipolar world.

But even with this option, the West would not suffer critical damage in the military-strategic and even more so in the economic sense. Russia would remain cut off from the West, demonized in the eyes of many countries. Its influence on Europe would be reduced to zero, or even negative. The Atlantic community would be more consolidated than ever in the face of such a dangerous enemy. And Russia, excluded from the collective West and cut off from technology and new networks, would receive a significant not entirely loyal, if not hostile, population, whose integration into a single space would require an incredible, extraordinary effort from an already war-weary country.

And Ukraine itself would not be under occupation, but as part of a single nation, with no ethnic disadvantages and with all prospects open for taking up positions and moving freely throughout Russia. If one wished, this could be seen as annexation of Russia to Ukraine, and the ancient capital of the Russian state, Kiev, would again be at the center of the Russian world rather than on its periphery.

Naturally, in this case, peace would come by itself, and there would be no point in negotiating its terms with anyone.

Changing the Russian Formula

The last thing worth considering, when analyzing the first year of the SMO. This time it is a theoretical assessment of the transformation that the war in Ukraine has caused in the space of International Relations.

Here we have the following picture. The Clinton, neocon Bush Jr. and Obama administrations, as well as the Biden administration, have a strong liberal stance on International Relations. They see the world as global and governed by the World Government through the heads of all nation-states. Even the U.S. itself is in their eyes nothing more than a temporary tool in the hands of a cosmopolitan world elite. Hence the dislike and even hatred of democrats and globalists for any form of American patriotism and for the very traditional identity of Americans.

For the supporters of liberalism in IR, any nation-state is an obstacle to World Government, and a strong sovereign nation-state, and openly challenging the liberal elite, is the real enemy, which must be destroyed.

After the fall of the USSR the world ceased to be bipolar and became unipolar, and the globalist elite, the adherents of liberalism in IR seized the levers of management of mankind.

The defeated, dismembered Russia of the 1990s, as a remnant of the second pole, under Yeltsin accepted the rules of the game and agreed with the logic of the liberals in IR. All Moscow had to do was integrate into the Western world, part with its sovereignty and start playing by its rules. The goal was to get at least some status in the future World Government, and the new oligarchic top brass did everything they could to fit into the Western world at any cost—even on an individual basis.

All Russian universities and institutions of higher education have since this time taken the side of liberalism in the question of International Relations. Realism was forgotten (even if they knew it), equated with “nationalism,” and the word “sovereignty” was not uttered at all.

Everything has changed in realpolitik (but not in education) with Putin’s arrival. Putin was from the beginning a convinced realist in International Relations and a staunch supporter of sovereignty. At the same time, he fully shared the universality of Western values, the lack of any alternative to the market and democracy; and he considered the social and scientific and technological progress of the West the only way to develop civilization. The only thing he insisted on was sovereignty. Hence the myth of his influence on Trump. It was realism that brought Putin and Trump together. Otherwise, they are very different. Putin’s realism is not against the West; it is against liberalism in International Relations, against World Government. So is American realism, and Chinese realism, and European realism, and any other.

But the unipolarity that has developed since the beginning of the 1990s has turned the head of the liberals in International Relations. They believed that the historical moment had arrived; history as a confrontation of ideological paradigms is over (Fukuyama’s thesis) and the time has come to begin the process of unification of mankind under the World Government with new force. But to do this, residual sovereignty had to be abolished.

Such a line was strictly at odds with Putin’s realism. Nevertheless, Putin tried to balance on the edge and maintain relations with the West at all costs. This was quite easy to do with the realist Trump, who understood Putin’s will for sovereignty, but became quite impossible with the arrival of Biden in the White House. So, Putin, as a realist, came to the limit of possible compromise. The collective West, led by the liberals in IR, pressed Russia harder and harder to finally begin to dismantle its sovereignty, rather than to strengthen it.

The culmination of this conflict was the beginning of the SMO. The globalists actively supported the militarization and Nazification of Ukraine. Putin rebelled against this because he understood that the collective West was preparing for a symmetrical campaign of “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Russia itself. Liberals turned a blind eye to the rapid flowering of Russophobic neo-Nazism in Ukraine itself and, moreover, actively promoted it, while promoting its militarization as much as possible, and accused Russia itself of the same thing—”militarism” and “Nazism,” trying to equate Putin with Hitler.

Putin started the SMO as a realist. No more than that. But a year later, the situation changed. It became clear that Russia is at war with the modern Western liberal civilization as a whole, with globalism and the values that the West imposes on everyone else. This turn in Russia’s awareness of the world situation is perhaps the most important result of the SMO.

From the defense of sovereignty, the war has turned into a clash of civilizations. And Russia no longer simply insists on independent governance, sharing Western attitudes, criteria, norms, rules and values, but acts as an independent civilization—with its own attitudes, criteria, norms, rules and values. Russia is no longer the West at all. Not a European country, but a Eurasian Orthodox civilization. This is what Putin declared in his speech on the occasion of the admission of four new members to the Russian Federation on September 30, then in the Valdai speech, and repeated many times in other speeches. And finally, in Edict 809, Putin approved the foundations of a state policy to protect Russian traditional values, a policy that not only differs significantly from liberalism, but in some points is the exact opposite of it.

Russia has changed its paradigm from realism to the Theory of a Multi-polar World. It has rejected liberalism in all its forms and directly challenged modern Western civilization by openly denying it the right to be universal. Putin no longer believes in the West. And he calls modern Western civilization “satanic.” In this, one can easily identify both a direct appeal to Orthodox eschatology and theology, as well as a hint of confrontation between the capitalist and socialist systems of the Stalin era. Today, it is true, Russia is not a socialist state. But this is the result of the defeat suffered by the USSR in the early 1990s, leaving Russia and other post-Soviet countries in the position of ideological and economic colonies of the global West.

Putin’s entire reign until February 24, 2022 was a preparation for this decisive moment. But before that it remained within the framework of realism. That is, the Western way of development + sovereignty. Now, after a year of severe trials and terrible sacrifices that Russia has suffered, the formula has changed: sovereignty + civilizational identity. The Russian way.

Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

Featured: Mother of a Partisan, by Sergey Gerasimov; painted ca. 1943–1950.

George Soros’ Last Speech: Wars of the “Open Society,” and Climate as a Combatant

Soros’ Testament

On February 16, 2023, George Soros, one of the chief ideologists and practitioners of globalism, unipolarity and the preservation of Western hegemony at all costs, gave a speech in Germany, at the Munich Security Conference, which can be called a landmark.

The 93-year-old Soros summarized the situation in which he found himself at the end of his life, entirely devoted to the struggle of the “open society” against its enemies, the “closed societies,” according to the precepts of his teacher Karl Popper. If Hayek and Popper are the Marx and Engels of liberal globalism, Popper is his Lenin. Soros may look extravagant at times, but on the whole, he openly articulates what have become the main trends in world politics. His opinion is much more important than Biden’s inarticulate babbling, or Obama’s demagoguery. All liberals and globalists end up doing exactly what Soros says. He is the EU, MI6, the CIA, the CFR, the Trilateral Commission, Macron, Scholz, Baerbock, Saakashvili, Zelensky, Sandu, Pashinyan, and just about everyone who stands for the West, liberal values, the Postmodern and so-called “progress” in one way or another. Soros is important. And this speech is his message to the “Federal Assembly” of the world—that is an admonition to all the endless agents of the globalists, both sleeping and awakened.

Soros begins by saying that the situation in the world is critical. In it he immediately identifies two main factors:

  • The clash of two types of government (“open society” vs. “closed society”), and
  • climate change

The climate we will talk about later; the climate is the end of his speech. But the clash of two types of government, in fact the two “camps,” the supporters of a unipolar world (Schwab, Biden, the Euro-bureaucracy and their regional satellites, like the Zelensky terrorist regime) and the supporters of a multi-polar world hold prime place in his speech. Let us examine Soros’ theses in order.

Open and Closed: Fundamental Definitions

Soros provides definitions of “open” and “closed” societies. In the first, the State protects the freedom of the individual. In the second, the individual serves the interests of the State. In theory, this corresponds to the opposition of Western liberal democracy and traditional society (whatever that may be). Moreover, in international relations (IR), it corresponds exactly to the polemic between liberals in IR and realists in IR. At the level of geopolitics, it corresponds to the opposition between the “civilization of the Sea” and the “civilization of the Land.” The civilization of the Sea is a commercial society—oligarchy, capitalism, materialism, technical development, with the ideal of selfish, carnal pleasure. It is liberal democracy, the construction of politics from below, and the destruction of all traditional values—religion, state, estates, family, morality. The symbol of such a civilization is the ancient Phoenician Carthage, the pole of a huge, colonial, robber-slave empire, with the worship of the Golden Calf, the bloody cults of Moloch, the sacrifice of babies. Carthage was an “open society.”

It was opposed by Rome, the civilization of the land, a society based on honor, loyalty, sacred traditions, heroism of service and hierarchy, valor and continuity of the ancient generations. The Romans worshipped the luminous paternal gods of Heaven and squeamishly rejected the bloody, chthonic cults of sea pirates and merchants. We can think of this as a prototype of “closed societies,” true to their roots and origins.

Soros is (so far) the living embodiment of liberalism, Atlantism, globalism and Thalassocracy (“power through the Sea”). He is unequivocally for Carthage versus Rome. His formula, symmetrical to the saying of the Roman senator Cato the Elder, “Carthage must be destroyed,” is: “No, it is Rome that must be destroyed.” In our historical circumstances, we are talking about the “Third Rome. That is about Moscow. That is said and done. And Soros is creating an artificial opposition in Russia itself, organizing and supporting Russophobe regimes, parties, movements, non-governmental organizations, hostile to the authorities in all the CIS countries.

“Rome must be destroyed.” After all, “Rome” is a “closed society;” and “closed society” is the enemy of the”open society.” And enemies are to be destroyed. Otherwise, they will destroy you. A simple but clear logic, which the liberal globalist elites of the West, and their “proxies”-branches over all mankind, are guided by. And those in the West itself who disagree with Soros, such as Donald Trump and his voters, are immediately declared “Nazis,” discriminated against, “canceled.” Moreover, “Nazis” according to Soros are only those who oppose him. If a Ukrainian terrorist with a swastika and arms up to his elbows in blood stands against Rome, he is no longer a “Nazi,” but simply: “they are children.” And whoever is for Rome is definitely a Nazi. Whether Trump, whether Putin, whether Xin Jiang Ping. Dual Manichean logic; but that is what the modern global elites are guided by.

Those Who Hesitate

Having divided the two camps, Soros then addressed those regimes which are in the middle, between Carthage (the USA and its satellites), close to his heart, and Rome (Moscow and its satellites), which he loathes. Such is Modi’s India, which, on the one hand, joined the Atlanticist QUAD alliance (Carthage) and, on the other hand, is actively buying Russian oil (in cooperation with Rome).

Such is the case with Erdogan’s Turkey. Turkey is both a NATO member and, at the same time, a hardliner against the Kurdish terrorists that Soros actively supports. Erdogan should, in Soros’ mind, be destroying his own state with his own hands—then he would be a complete “good guy;” that is, on the side of the “open society.” In the meantime, Erdogan and Modi are “Nazis by half.” Unobtrusively, Soros suggests overthrowing Modi and Erdogan and causing bloody chaos in India and Turkey. So “half-closed-half-open” societies will become fully “open.” No wonder Erdogan does not listen to such advice; and if he hears it, he does just the opposite. Modi is beginning to understand this as well. But not so clearly.

The same choice between slavish obedience to the global liberal oligarchy, i.e., “open society,” and the preservation of sovereignty or participation in multipolar blocs (such as BRICS), under the threat of bloody chaos in case of disobedience of the globalists, Soros gives to the recently re-elected leftist president of Brazil, Inacio Lula. He draws a parallel between the January 6, 2021 Trumpist uprising in Washington and the January 8th riots by supporters of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Soros warns Lula: “Do like Biden, and Carthage will support you. Otherwise…” Since Soros is known for his active support of “color revolutions” (in favor of “open society”) and his direct help to terrorists of all stripes, only to have them attack Rome, that is “closed societies,” his threats are not empty words. He is capable of overthrowing governments and presidents, collapsing national currencies, starting wars and carrying out coups d’etat.

Ukraine: The Main Outpost of Liberal Hegemony in the Fight Against Multipolarity

Soros then med on to the war in Ukraine. Here he claims that by the fall of 2022 Ukraine had almost won the war against Russia, which, at the first stage, Soros’s deep-encrypted agents in Russia itself were apparently holding back against the long overdue decisive action on the part of the Kremlin. But after October, something went wrong for Carthage. Rome carried out a partial mobilization; proceeded to destroy Ukraine’s industrial and energy infrastructure; that is, began to go to war for real.

Soros especially lingers at the figure of Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group. According to Soros, Prigozhin was the decisive factor that turned the situation around. It is worth wondering, if a relatively small PMC, which undertook to fight “properly,” could change the balance in the great war of “closed societies” “against open ones” (and this assumes a global scale of combat operations in diplomacy, politics, economics, etc.), then who leads the actual Russian army as such? I would like to believe that Soros is wrong in his pursuit of flashy symbols. But, alas, he is too often right. Moreover, he knows what a small but cohesive group of passionaries is capable of doing. Supported by such groups, Soros has repeatedly carried out coups, won wars and overthrown unwanted political leaders. And when such passionaries are on the side of Rome, it is time to worry Carthage itself.

Soros went on to analyze the amount of military support for Kiev from the West and calls for it to be increased as much as necessary in order to defeat Russia for good. This would be the decisive victory of the “open society”—the crowning achievement of Soros’ life’s work and the achievement of the main goal of the globalists. Soros says bluntly—that the goal of the war in Ukraine is “the dissolution of the Russian empire.” For this purpose, it is necessary to gather all the forces and coerce all the CIS countries, especially Soros-dependent Maia Sandu, to join the war with Russia. Prigozhin should be eliminated, and his opponents, both internal and external, should be supported.

China, and the Balloon that Blew Everything Up

Soros then moved on to his second worst enemy, China, another “closed society. Soros believes that Xi Jinping has made strategic mistakes in the fight against covid (probably manufactured and injected into humanity on the direct orders of Soros himself and his like-minded “open society” to make it even more open to Big Pharma). Soros assesses Xi Jinping’s position as weakened and believes that, despite some improvement in relations with Washington, the story of the downed Chinese balloon will lead to a new cooling in relations. The Taiwan crisis is frozen, but not solved. If Russia is dealt with, then China will cease to be an impassable obstacle to an “open society,” and color revolutions can start there: ethnic uprisings, coups and terrorist acts—Soros knows how to do this, and has probably taught those who will remain after he himself is gone.

Trump as a Spokesman for a “Closed Society”

In the U.S. itself, Soros lashes out with curses at Trump, whom he considers a representative of a “closed society” that has adopted the role model of Vladimir Putin.

Soros dreams that neither Trump nor DeSantis will be nominated for president in 2024—but he will, as always, back up his dreams with action. This is another black mark from the World Government sent to the Republicans.

Soros as a Global Activist

Such is the map of the world, according to the outgoing George Soros. He has spent nearly 100 years of his life making it so. He played a role in the destruction of the socialist camp, in the anti-Soviet revolution of 1991, in destroying the Soviet Union and flooding the governments of the new post-Soviet countries with his agents. And in the 1990s, he completely controlled the Russian reformers and Yeltsin’s government, who loudly swore an oath to an “open society” at the time. Yes, Putin’s arrival snatched the final victory from him. And when this became obvious, Soros helped turn Ukraine into an aggressive Russophobic Nazi menagerie. It’s a bit at odds with the liberal dogma of an “open society;” but against such a dangerous “closed society” as the Russian Empire, it will do.

Everything is decided in Ukraine, says Soros. If Russia wins, it will push “open society” and global liberal hegemony far back. If it falls, woe to the losers. The Soros cause will then win for good. This is the geopolitical summary.

General “Warming”

But at the very beginning of the speech and at the very end of it, Soros turned to another factor that poses a threat to the “open society.” It is climate change.

How they came to be put on the same board with the great geopolitical and civilizational transformations, conflicts and confrontations is wittily explained in one Telegram channel, “Eksplikatsiya” (“Explanation”). Here is the whole explanation from there:

On February 16, 2023, a global speculator, a fanatical follower of the extremist ideology of “open society,” George Soros, gave a keynote speech in Germany at a forum on security issues. Much of it was devoted to geopolitics and the tough confrontation of the unipolar globalist liberal world order with what Soros and the world’s elites call “closed societies….”

I was interested, however, in how these geopolitical constructs relate in meaning to the problem of global warming, with which Soros began and how he ended his speech. Putting it all together, I came to the following conclusion. The melting ice of the Antarctic and the Arctic, along with Putin, Xin Jiang Ping, Erdogan, and Modi, are real threats to an open society; and the climate agenda is integrated directly into the geopolitical discourse and becomes a participant in the great confrontation.

At first glance, this seems a bit absurd. How a hypothetical global warming (even if we accept it as real) can be counted among the enemies of the globalists, and even get the status of “threat number 1,” since Soros declared the melting of the ice first and only second, Putin in the Kremlin and the Russian troops in Ukraine.

Here, we may be talking about the following. Recall that geopolitics teaches about the confrontation of “civilizations of the sea” and “civilizations of the land.” Accordingly, all the main centers of Atlantism are located in port cities, on the coast. This was the case with Carthage, Athens, Venice, Amsterdam, London, and today with New York. This law even extends to the electoral geopolitics of the United States, where the blue states that traditionally support the Democrats, including ultra-liberal New York, are located along both coasts, and the more traditional red Republican states, whose support brought Trump, George Soros’ chief enemy, to power, make up the American Heartland.

Roughly the same is true on other continents. It was the “civilization of the sea” that built that “open society,” which George Soros fervently defends, while the “closed societies,” opposed to it, are the civilizations of the Land, including the Russian-Eurasian, Chinese, Indian, Latin American, and even the North American (red states). So, if the ice melts, the level of the world’s oceans rises rapidly. And that means that the first to be submerged will be precisely the poles of world thalassocracy—the Rimland zone, the coastal spaces which are the strongholds of the global liberal oligarchy. In such a case, the open liberal society, also called “liquid society” (Sigmund Bauman) will simply be washed away; only “closed societies” will remain, located on the Hinterland—in the interior of the continents

The warming of the earth will make many cold areas, especially in northeastern Eurasia, fertile oases. In America, the only states left will be those that support Republicans. The Democrats will drown. And before that happens, the dying Soros announced his testament to the globalists: “it’s now or never”: either ‘open society’ wins today in Russia, China, India, Turkey, etc., which will allow the globalist elite to save themselves on the continents by moving into the interior regions, or the settled “open society” areas will end.

This is the only way to explain the obsession with climate change in the minds of globalists. No, they are not crazy! Not Soros, not Schwab, not Biden! Global warming, like “General Winter” once did, is becoming a factor in world politics, and it is now on the side of a multipolar world.

A very interesting explanation. It didn’t even cross my mind.

Soros as the Neural Network, and the Operating System of Rome

In conclusion, we should pay attention to the following. The words of George Soros, given who he is, what he is capable of and what he has already done, should not be taken lightly, that “the old financial speculator is out of his mind.” Soros is not just an individual but a kind of “Artificial Intelligence” of the Western liberal civilization. It is this code, this algorithm, upon which the whole structure of the global Western domination in the 20th century is built. Ideology is intertwined with economy, geopolitics with education, diplomacy with culture, secret services with journalism, medicine with terrorism, biological weapons with the ecological agenda, gender preferences with heavy industry and world trade. In Soros, we are dealing with an “open society” operating system where all answers, moves, steps and strategies are deliberately planned. New inputs are fed into a fine-tuned system that runs like clockwork, or rather like a supercomputer, a globalist neural network.

“A closed society,” that is, “we,” must build our own operating system, create our own codes and algorithms. It is not enough to say no to Soros and the globalists. It is necessary to proclaim something in return—and just as coherent, systemic, grounded, backed by resources and capabilities. In essence, such an Anti-Soros is Eurasianism and the Fourth Political Theory, a philosophy of a multipolar world and a full-fledged defense of sacred tradition and traditional values.

In the face of Soros, it is necessary not to justify, but to attack. And at all levels and in all spheres. Right down to the environment. If Soros thinks global warming is a threat, then global warming is our ally, just as “General Winter” once was. We should enlist global warming—this unidentified hyper-object—in the Wagner PMC, and give it a medal.

Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

The Notion of “Turan” in Eurasianism of the 1920s

The paired concept of “Iran” and “Turan” has undergone many modifications in history. Its classical use is associated with the medieval Persian epic, in particular, with Firdausi, where “Iran” was understood as a state of sedentary farmers, and “Turan” as a world of nomads of Central Asia (in antiquity—Iranian-speaking, and since the 6th century A.D.—Turkic-speaking and Mongol-speaking). As applied to antiquity, it was thus a question of the opposition between the Western Iranian and Eastern Iranian (in the linguistic sense) worlds.

At the beginning of the 20th century the meaning of the term “Turan” was radically changed by such pan-Turkists as Yusuf Akchurin and Ziya Gokalp. Starting from 1911-1912 on the wave of the Young Turk revolution, they began to understand “Turan” as the totality of Turkic-speaking peoples far beyond the historical Turan (Central Asia). In 1923 Gokalp published the book, Basic Principles of Turkism, thus completing the process of creating the myth of Turan opposing both the Aryan and Arab worlds.

By this time, the Eurasian movement had emerged and was gaining strength in the Russian emigration, whose leaders N.S. Trubetskoy and P.N. Savitsky opposed Pan-Turkism, contrasting it with the idea of the historical and geographic unity of the peoples of Russia-Eurasia. With this approach, the nomads of the steppes (Kazakhs) and sedentary Turks of the Volga region (Tatars) were inextricably linked with the Russian world, and the Turks of Anatolia—with the Greek, Balkan, Mediterranean world [Трубецкой Н.С. О туранском элементе в русской культуре // Трубецкой Н.С. История. Культура. Язык. М.: Прогресс, 1995. С. 141–161—N.S. Trubetskoy, “On the Turanian element in Russian culture,” in N.S. Trubetskoy, History. Culture. Language (Moscow: Progress, 1995), pp. 141-161.].

However, the intermediate position of Central Asia in such a scheme remained uncertain and caused Eurasians a sense of discomfort. Against the background of the creation in 1924 of the Soviet Union republics, primarily Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, it was necessary to determine whether this region belonged to Russia-Eurasia, Turan or Iran as a place of development. At first, however, Eurasianists had no experts on Iran and Central Asia. They could rely on the old works of V.I. Lamansky on the borders of the “middle world of Asia-European continent,” but even in them the southern border of the Russian, Eurasian world was defined extremely vaguely, mainly on the border of the Russian Empire with Afghanistan, along the ridges of the Hindu Kush and Tibet [Ламанский В.И. Об историческом изучении греко-славянского мира в Европе // Ламанский В.И. Геополитика панславизма. М.: Институт русской цивилизации, 2010. С. 86.—V.I. Lamansky, “On the Historical Study of the Greek-Slavic World in Europe,” in V.I. Lamansky, Geopolitics of Pan-Slavism (Moscow: Institute of Russian Civilization, 2010), p. 86.].

Luckily for the Eurasianists, there came along Vasilii Petrovich Nikitin (1885-1960), an experienced Orientalist, diplomat, and Iranianist. From 1912 to 1919, he worked in the Russian consulates in Persia, even headed them, was closely acquainted with the lives of the Kurds and Assyrians and their leaders, participated in the events of the First World War on this front. After the Revolution he emigrated to Paris and never returned to his homeland. Working for thirty years in a French bank, he devoted his free time to writing scientific works on Orientalism, gained recognition among French Orientalists, and became a member of various academies and scientific societies. While still in Russia, he married a Frenchwoman, which allowed him to easily enter the circle of the French ultra-right and traditionalists, the first among Russian emigrants to read and popularize the works of René Guénon.

Nikitin at various times wrote about India, China, Japan, even Poland, but he always focused on the people of Iran. After his death, his fundamental work on the Kurds was published in the Soviet Union [Никитин В.П. Курды. М.: Прогресс, 1964.—V.P. Nikitin, The Kurds (Moscow: Progress, 1964).]. Therefore, Eurasians were immediately interested in him as an Iranianist. At the first meeting with Nikitin on September 24, 1925, the leader of the Eurasian movement, N.S. Trubetskoy, asked him to write a major article on Russia, Iran and Turan in order to define the boundaries between them. Nikitin recorded a summary of his conversation with Trubetskoy: “Our Turanism interferes with Iranism and frightens it (big and small Turan).” [Сорокина М.Ю. Василий Никитин: Свидетельские показания в деле о русской эмиграции // Диаспора: новые материалы. Вып. 1. Париж – СПб.: Athenaeum-Феникс, 2001. С. 603.—M.Y. Sorokina, “Vasily Nikitin: Witness testimony in the case of Russian emigration,” in Diaspora: Novye materialy, Vyp. 1, Sankt-Petersburg–Paris 2001, p. 603].

The Eurasianists needed clarification of the concept of Turan in order to allow their ideology to spread among the Turkic-speaking peoples of the USSR. Nikitin actively took up the work, and by the end of the year he finished the article, and on January 4, 1926 he received a visit from P.P. Suvchinsky, who praised it [Sorokina (2001), p. 606]. This topic also aroused the interest of other Eurasians; in particular, L.P. Karsavin asked Nikitin: “Can a Persian become Russian? What would happen to Christianity if the Persians adopted it? After all, from Zoroastrianism, not without reason, they have deviated into “Satanic” Manichaeism.” [Sorokina (2001), p. 602].

Between January 1926 and September 1929, Nikitin published 24 of his articles in Eurasian publications. Many of them were devoted to the general justification of the need to intensify Soviet Russia’s policy in Asian countries, but a number of works dealt specifically with Persia, its relations with Russia before the revolution, during World War I, and at the present moment under the regime of Reza Shah Pahlavi.

[Никитин В.П. 1) Персия в проблеме Среднего Востока // Евразийская хроника. Вып. 5. Париж, 1926. С. 1–15; 2) Ритмы Евразии // Евразийская хроника. Вып. 9. Париж, 1927. С. 46–48; 3) По Азии. Сегодняшняя Персия // Евразийская хроника. Вып. 9. Париж, 1927. С. 55–60; 4) [Рец.:] Свентицкий А.С. Персия. РИОБ НКВТ. М., 1925; Корецкий А. Торговый Восток и СССР. Прометей, 1925 // Евразийская хроника. Вып. 10. Париж, 1928. С. 86–88; 5) Россия и Персия. Очерки 1914–1918 гг. // Евразия. 1929. 6 апреля. № 20. С. 5–6; 13 апреля. № 21. С. 5; 20 апреля. № 22. С. 5; 27 апреля. № 23. С. 6–7; 4 мая. № 24. С. 6; 1 июня. № 28. С. 7–8; 6) Персидское возрождение // Евразия. 1929. 29 июня. № 30. С. 5–6; 10 августа. № 33. С. 6; 7 сентября. № 35. С. 6–7.—V.P. Nikitin, “Persia in the Problem of the Middle East,” in Eurasian Chronicle, Vol. 5 (Paris, 1926), pp. 1-15; “Rhythms of Eurasia,” in Eurasian Chronicle. Vol. 9 (Paris, 1927), pp. 46-48; “Across Asia. Today’s Persia,” in Eurasian Chronicle, Vol. 9 (Paris, 1927), pp. 55-60; Review: A.S. Sventitsky, Persia (RIOB NKVT. M., 1925); A. Koretsky, Trade East and the USSR (Prometheus, 1925}, in Eurasian Chronicle, Vyp. 10. (Paris, 1928), pp. 86-88; “Russia and Persia. Sketches of 1914-1918,” in Eurasia 1929: (April 6), № 20, pp. 5-6; (April 13), № 21, p. 5; (April 20), № 22, p. 5; (April 27), № 23, pp. 6-7; (May 4), № 24, p. 6; (June 1), № 28, pp. 7-8; “Persian Revival,” in Eurasia 1929: (June 29), № 30, pp. 5-6; (August 10), № 33, p. 6; (September 7), № 35, pp. 6-7.

In addition, Nikitin made oral presentations on Iranian topics at Eurasian seminars in Paris. [Татищев Н. Евразийский семинар в Париже // Евразийская хроника. Вып. 7. Париж, 1927. С. 44.—N. Tatishchev, “Eurasian Seminar in Paris,” in Eurasian Chronicle, Vyp. 7. (Paris, 1927), p. 44].

The above-mentioned article “Iran, Turan and Russia,” the preface to which was written by P.N. Savitsky, stands out among these essays in terms of its conceptuality. [Никитин В.П. Иран, Туран и Россия // Евразийский временник. Книга пятая. Париж: Евразийское книгоиздательство, 1927. С. 75–120.—V.P. Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, in Eurasian Times. Book Five (Paris: Eurasian Book Publishers, 1927), pp. 75-120].

It won such popularity that it was a success even more than thirty years later. Nikitin by this time gave out all its reprints and was glad when P.N. Savitsky, in November 1959, sent copies to the students in the USSR [Sorokina (2001), p. 643].

How was the problem of the definition of Turan in this work handled? Savitsky recalled the cooperation between Russia and Iran in the Middle Ages, but at the same time he refused to include Iran in the place-development of Russia-Eurasia. In his opinion, “internal Iran” is an Asian country and for centuries fought the Scythian-Sarmatian nomads of the Eurasian steppes as representatives of “external Iran.” Recognizing a certain Iranian contribution to the formation of the Russian people, Savitsky still considered this contribution to be small [Editorial note of P.N. Savitsky. See, Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, pp. 75-78.].

Nikitin looked at the problem quite differently. According to him, Russia and Iran are in a similar position at the crossroads of civilizations, and the Russian national character combines in itself Turanian and Iranian traits. The Turanian character is known from the works of N.S. Trubetskoy (it is a warrior, alien to abstract philosophy, hardy, loyal, passive). But Nikitin also pointed to the other pole of the Russian soul—the Iranian, represented in individualism and mysticism of the Old Believers, sectarians, Khlysts, preachers in general [Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, pp. 79-80.]. The scientist viewed the history of Eurasia as a dialectic of the struggle of Iran and Turan, their ebb and flow. He later added to his article with three hand-drawn maps, showing how the concept of Turan expanded over the centuries until it encompassed both the steppe zone and agricultural Central Asia (Maverannahr) [Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, pp. 118-120.]. Nikitin referred to the works of another Eurasianist P.M. Bicilli on the attempted alliance of Byzantium with the Turkic Khaganate against Sassanian Iran as a typical manifestation of the struggle between the two Eurasian principles [Бицилли П.М. Восток и Запад в истории Старого Света // На путях: Утверждение евразийцев. Книга 2. Берлин, 1922. С. 320–321.—P.M. Bicilli, “East and West in the History of the Old World,” in On the Roads: The Assertion of Eurasians. Book 2. (Berlin, 1922), pp. 320-321.].

Considering the history of Iran’s wars with nomads over many centuries, the researcher drew attention to the lack of study of Russian-Iranian ties and mutual influences [Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, pp. 103-115.]. “There is a Turanian yarn in this Iranian-Russian canvas,” he concluded [Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, pp. 113.].

He summed up: “The place of Russia between Iran and Turan has also been indicated…. Under the Mongol yoke both Rus and Iran were on an equal position of subordination to the Turan ulus. After liberation from this yoke, Rus and Iran went their own ways, as a result of which Rus took in relation to Iran the geographical position of Turan, whereas on the Bosporus, the statehood of Turanian root strengthened” [Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, pp. 115.]. Nikitin reinforced this political conclusion with a reflection on the need for self-discovery of the Russian character with its duality of Turanian and Iranian traits: “Turan in our mental stock is an articulate, ‘kosher’ beginning, whereas Iran is individualism, in a form that reaches the point of rebellion, of anarchy” [Nikitin, Iran, Turan and Russia, pp. 116].

Marlène Laruelle, analyzing the reasons why Trubetskoy and Savitsky had asked for a detailed study of Iran and Turan from Nikitin, suggests that “the sedentary Central Asia… presented a problem for Eurasian thought,” that “the borders with Asia remained… blurred, and the movement failed to capture all the original and imagined potential that the claims of the Timurid and Mongol heritage carried within them” [Laruelle, pp. 172-173]. Therefore, according to Laruelle, “Eurasianism will remain indecisive about the sedentary peoples of Central Asia all the time” [Laruelle, p. 173]. These conclusions, in view of the above, do not seem quite accurate, and it is unlikely that the formula proposed by Laruelle can follow directly from the analyzed works of Nikitin, Savitsky, Trubetskoy, and Bicilli: “China embodies Asia; Persia is the outer East in relation to Russia; Turan is its inner East” [Laruelle, p. 177]. Nikitin himself nowhere distinguished between “East” and “Asia,” but always ranked Iran alongside India, China, and “Mediterranean Turkey” as civilizations that were Asian rather than Eurasian.

In his later Eurasian articles, Персидское возрождение [The Persian Renaissance (1929): Никитин В.П. Персидское возрождение // Евразия. 1929. 29 июня. № 30. С. 5–6; 10 августа. № 33. С. 6; 7 сентября. № 35. С. 6–7.—Nikitin, “Persian Revival,” in Eurasia. 1929: (June 29), № 30, pp. 5-6; (August 10), № 33, p. 6; (September 7), № 35, pp. 6-7.]—Nikitin put forward the thesis that, contrary to supposed apathy, cultural life in Iran never died, began to revive rapidly from the middle of the 19th century and reached a new level after 1925 under Reza Shah Pahlavi. The scholar talked about the general rhythm of Russian and Iranian history, from the fall of the Safavids and the Persian campaign of Peter the Great to the revolutionary events of the first quarter of the 20th century in both countries. Nikitin expressed the hope that the St. Petersburg period of Russian history, with its Westernizing intellectuals who did not want to understand Asia, was over. The duties of man to God instead of rights, the collectivism of the people instead of democracy and citizenship were what, in Nikitin’s opinion, united Russia with the Islamic world. The researcher hoped that “through the joint efforts of the Eurasian and Persian nationalities and the Moscow and Tehran authorities, ways would be found for a new politics and culture beyond imitation and dependence on imperialism and capitalism of the West and America” [Eurasia, 1929: (June 29), № 30, p. 5.]. At the same time Nikitin did not abandon the Eurasian slogans “about demoticism, about ideocracy, about the labor state and the common cause” [Eurasia, 1929: (June 29), № 30, p. 6]. The scholar presciently anticipated the future ideas of Khomeini and the Islamic revolution, pointing out the necessity for Iran to develop a new state system: not parliamentarism and not absolutism, but a combination of the Shiite principle of “light-bearing” Imamate and modern conditions [Eurasia, 1929: (August 10), № 33, p. 6].

Nikitin drew particular attention to the ease of mutual understanding between Russian and Persian peasants and merchants, the “osmosis” between them, and the rapidity of Russian settlement in Iran.

Nikitin predicted the “rise of national energy” in Persia, expressed already by the end of the 1920s in that country gaining full political independence, active construction of railroads, improvements in agriculture, and the development of new fields, all with German and Soviet support. In the field of religion and culture, the scholar noted in contemporary Iran a “feverish” surge of enthusiasm for Zoroastrianism, the neo-pagan reconstruction of the Sassanid era, Babism, and renewed Shiism. He noted the gravitation of Iranian thought towards an identity as opposed to the imitative nature of the Turan, described earlier by N.S. Trubetskoy [Eurasia, 1929: (September 7), № 30, p. 7].

Thus, according to the Eurasianists of the 1920s, Iran (the West Iranian peoples) opposed the steppe, nomadic Turan (the East Iranian, and later Turkic peoples). And that Russia is a direct heir of Turan, but it should choose the path of active foreign policy and cooperation on an equal basis, and the harmonization of development and revolutionary revival of Russia and Iran, rather than confrontation with Iran (as well as with India and China), as it was in the times of nomadic raids.

As for Turan, under such an interpretation, covering not only the Kazakh steppes, but also the sedentary Central Asia, it was included in the Eurasian place-development, becoming an integral part of Russia.

Thus, Eurasianists, with their historical and geographical arguments, knocked out any ground from under the pan-Turkic understanding of the myth of Turan as a set of only Turkic-speaking “descendants of the wolf” opposed to all other peoples of Eurasia. Nikitin specifically stipulated that the “Pan-Turan idea” in Turkey and Hungary was “a phenomenon of the intelligentsia’s mugshot and a certain literary fashion” [Никитин В.П. По Азии (Факты и мысли) // Версты: Вып. 1. Париж, 1926. С. 241.—V.P. Nikitin, Across Asia. Facts and Thoughts, (Paris, 1926), p. 241.] This formulation of the question is not only of academic interest but also sounds very relevant nowadays, when the ideology of pan-Turkism is supported by the elites of Turkey and Great Britain, and the convergence of the Eurasian Union, headed by Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, has reached a qualitatively new stage.

Maxim Medovarov, PhD, is at Department of Historical Methods and Informatics, Nizhny Novgorod State University. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

Featured: Promotional poster for Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Turandot” (“Daughter of Turan”), April 25, 1926.