April 8, 2015
Translated by Kristina Rus
On the Northern outskirts of Moscow under the watchful guard of soldiers of internal troops stands the former secret Institute of Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Now the front canopy is adorned with gold letters – Russian Institute of Strategic Studies. But the peaceful name does not fool those in the know – more than two hundred employees here comprise the analytical shield of the Motherland.
Will there be a new war in South-Eastern Ukraine? Who controls the President of the United States? Why are many of our officials referred to as the ideological agents of influence? These and other questions of “AN”, habitually weighing every word, answers the RISS Director, retired Lieutenant-General, Leonid RESHETNIKOV.
Leonid Petrovich Reshetnikov was born on February 6, 1947 in Potsdam (GDR) in a military family. Graduated from the History Department of the Kharkov State University and completed postgraduate studies at Sofia University (Bulgaria).
From 1974 to 1976 he worked at the Institute of Economics of the World Socialist System of the USSR Academy of Sciences. From April 1976 to April 2009 – in the analytical departments of foreign intelligence. Last position – head of Information and Analytical Department of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), member of the board of SVR , Lieutenant-General. In April 2009, retired due to reaching the military service age limit. Member of the Scientific Council of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
Fluent in Serbian and Bulgarian languages, speaks Greek. Awarded with state medals (the medal of Merit, the medal of Honor) and the Russian Orthodox Church medals (the medal of the Saint Blessed Prince Daniel of Moscow, the medal of the Saint Blessed Prince Dmitry Donskoy), as well as other medals and badges of honor.
Rivals in the same field
– You had a serious “cover” – SVR. Why was it suddenly declassified?
– We were really a secret Institute of Foreign Intelligence, specializing in the analysis of available information on the far and near abroad. That is the information that is needed not only by intelligence, but also the structures that shape the foreign policy of the country. Oddly enough, but the administration of the President of Russia did not have such serious analytical centers. Although there were plenty “institutions” that have only a director, a secretary and the wife of the director as an analyst. Presidential Administration lacked serious experts, and intelligence had to share them.
Today our founder is the President of Russia, and all the government research orders are signed by the head of Presidential Administration, Sergey Ivanov.
– Is your analysis in high demand? We are a country of writers, everyone writes, but does it influence anything?
– Sometimes we see actions that resonate with our analytical notes. Sometimes it is striking that we offer specific ideas, and it becomes a trend in the Russian public opinion. Seems like many ideas are just in the air.
– In the U.S. the analytical center “Stratfor” and strategic research center RAND Corporation are engaged in similar activity. Who is “cooler”?
– When after moving to the Presidential Administration in April 2009 we created a new statute of the Institute, others were wishing us to follow their example. I then thought, “If you will fund us as much, as the “Stratfor” or the RAND Corporation are funded, then we will give all these foreign research companies a run for their money”. Indeed, Russian analysts are the strongest in the world. Especially the regional specialists, who have fresh open-minded perspectives. I can say this confidently, given my 33 years experience in analytical work, first in the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR, and then in the Foreign Intelligence Service.
NGOs, NGOs – what have you done
– As it is known, the RAND Corporation developed the ATO (anti-terrorist operation) plan for Ukraine in the Southeast of the country. Did your institute provide information on Ukraine, particularly on Crimea?
– Of course. In principle, only two institutions worked on Ukraine: the RISS and the Institute of CIS Countries of Konstantin Zatulin. From the very beginning, we wrote analytical notes on the growth of anti-Russian sentiment in mainland Ukraine and the strengthening of Pro-Russian moods in Crimea. We analyzed the activities of the Ukrainian authorities. But it wasn’t alarmist – “all is lost”, but rather we drew attention to the growing problem. Offered to significantly strengthen the work of pro-Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to strengthen, as they say now, the “soft power” pressure policies.
– With Ambassador, such as Zurabov, no need for enemies!
– Operations of any Embassy and Ambassador are constrained by a multitude of limitations. Step left, step right – scandal. Plus there is a shortage of professional staff in the country. And not only in the diplomatic field. We have thinned out somewhat – there are very few tough people with a strong foundation left in the civil service.
The role of NGOs is difficult to overestimate. A bright example – are color revolutions, which are fueled by foreign, primarily American, non-governmental organizations. This is what happened in Ukraine. Unfortunately, little attention was paid to the creation and support of such organizations, which would act in our interest. And if they operated, they would replace ten embassies and ten even very smart ambassadors. Now the situation began to change after the direct instructions of the President. God willing this development will not be undermined.
If tomorrow is war
– In your opinion, how will the events develop in Novorossia in the spring and summer? Will there be a new military campaign?
– Alas, the probability is very high. A year ago the idea of federalization of Ukraine was still alive. But now Kiev only wants war. Only a unitary state. For several reasons. Mainly because ideologically anti-Russian people are at the helm of the country, who are not just subordinate to Washington, but are literally funded by those forces, which hide behind the US government.
– And what does this proverbial “world government” want?
– Easier to say what they don’t need: don’t need a federated Ukraine, it would be a poorly controlled territory. It would be impossible to open military bases, install new air defense systems. And such plans exist. From Lugansk or Kharkov the tactical cruise missiles reach beyond the Urals, where our main forces of nuclear deterrence are located. And with 100% probability they could strike silo-based and mobile-based ballistic missiles on the take-off trajectory. This area is now unreachable to them neither from Poland, nor from Turkey, nor from South-East Asia. This is the main goal. Therefore the USA will fight for Donbass to the last Ukrainian.
– So this is not about the shale gas deposits, which were found on this territory?
– The main strategic task – unitary Ukraine under their complete control for a fight against Russia. And shale gas or arable land – it’s just a nice bonus. A side benefit. Plus a serious blow to our defense from the disruption of the ties between the defense industries of Ukraine and Russia. This is already done.
– We were outplayed: “son of a b$tch” Yanukovych had to be evacuated by spetsnaz, and Washington installed its own “sons of b#tches”?
– From the military-strategic point of view, of course, outplayed. Russia has a “compensation” – Crimea. There is a “compensation” – the resistance of the inhabitants of the South-East of Ukraine. But the opponent had already received a huge territory, which was part of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire.
– What will we see in Ukraine this year?
– A process of decay or even total collapse. Many are just simply hiding in the face of real Nazism. But people who understand that Ukraine and Russia are connected at the base, have not yet said their word. Neither in Odessa, nor in Kharkov, nor in Zaporozhye, nor in Chernigov. This silence is not forever. And the cover of the pot will inevitably blow.
– And how will the relations between Novorossia and the rest of Ukraine develop?
– There is an unlikely scenario of Transnistria. But I don’t believe in it – the territory of the DPR and LPR is significantly larger, millions of people have already got sucked into this war. For now Russia can still persuade the leaders of the militia to a temporary respite and ceasefire. But only “temporary”. We can forget about Novorossia becoming a part of Ukraine. The people of the South-East don’t want to be Ukrainians.
– If our country is already under the “world isolation” due to the annexation of Crimea, then why not go all in in the Southeast? How much longer can the duplicity continue?
– In my opinion, it is too early to go all in. We underestimate the awareness of our President, who knows that there are some behind the scenes processes unfolding in Europe. They give us hope that for now we can defend our interests with other methods and means.
The front without the front line
– In the information flow associated with Ukraine, we forget about the explosive growth of religious extremism in Central Asia…
– This is an extremely dangerous trend for our country. There is a very difficult situation in Tajikistan. The situation is unstable in Kyrgyzstan. But the direction of the first blow could be Turkmenistan, and “AN” wrote about it before. We kind of forget about it a bit, due to the fact that Ashgabat keeps to itself. But this “homestead” may collapse first. Do they have enough forces to defend themselves? Or will we have to intervene in a country, which keeps a fairly remote distance from us. So this section is tough. And not only in connection with the penetration into the region of militants from “Islamic State”. According to recent data, the U.S. and NATO are not going to leave Afghanistan, and will retain their bases there. From a military perspective, five or ten thousand soldiers who remain, can be deployed into a group 50-100 thousand-strong in a month.
This is a part of the overall plan of the encirlclement and pressure on Russia, undertaken by the USA in order to overthrow President Vladimir Putin and split the country. An ordinary layman may certainly not believe that, but people who posses large amounts of information, are well aware of it.
– What are the contours of the split?
– Initially they want to chip at the weakest points. Doesn’t matter what breaks away first: Kaliningrad, the North Caucasus or the Far East. This will be the detonator of the process which may escalate. This idea is not propaganda, it’s real. Such pressure from the West (Ukraine) and South (Central Asia) will only increase. They are trying to seep through the Western gates, but also testing the strength of the Southern,.
– What is our most strategically dangerous section?
– The South is very dangerous. But there are still buffer states – the former Central Asian Soviet republics. While in the West the war is already on the border. Practically on our territory.
The battle is now not between Ukrainians and Russians, but a war of world systems. Some believe that they are “Tse Evropa” (“Are Europe” – Ukr.) and others – Russia. Because our country is not just a territory, it is a separate huge civilization that brought its own world paradigm to the entire world. First of all, of course, the Russian Empire as a model of the Eastern Orthodox civilization. The Bolsheviks destroyed it, but produced a new civilizational idea. Now we are at the gates of the third. And we will see it in 5-6 years.
– What will it be?
– I think that it will be a good symbiosis of the previous ideas. And our “fierce colleagues” understand this very well. Thus began to attack from all sides.
– So a joint Russian-American fight against terrorism, in particular, with ISIS – is just a fiction?
– Of course. America creates terrorists, feeds them, trains them, and then gives the command to the whole gang: “Go”. They may shoot one “rabid dog” from this pack, but the rest will be incited even harder.
Satan rules the ball
– Leonid Petrovich, you think that the U.S. and American presidents are just tools. Who, then, creates the policies?
– There is a community of some virtually unknown to the society people who not only install American presidents, but determine the rules of the “Big game” for everyone. These are, in particular, transnational financial corporations. But not only them.
A reformatting of the world financial and economic system is taking place. There is an obvious attempt to rethink the entire structure of capitalism, without abandoning it. Foreign policy changes dramatically. The US suddenly dumped Israel – their main ally in the Middle East for the sake of improving relations with Iran. Why is Tehran now more needed and more important than Tel Aviv? Because it is in the zone of the encirclement of Russia. These shadow forces set the task of elilmination of our country as a serious player on the world stage. After all, Russia carries a civilizational alternative to the entire united West.
Moreover, the world is experiencing an explosive growth of anti-American sentiment. Hungary, where the conservative right-wing forces are in power, and the leftists in Greece – diametrically opposite forces – practically came together and revolted against the dictate of the United States on the Old continent. The revolt is boiling in Italy, Austria, France and so on. If Russia can hold on, then processes will surface in Europe, which are detrimental to the forces, aspiring for world domination. And they know it.
– Some European leaders are already crying that the US literally forced them to institute sanctions. Can Europe escape from the “friendly” American embrace?
– Never. America holds it tight on several chains: the Fed’s printing press, a threat of color revolutions and a physical elimination of unwanted politicians.
– Are you exaggerating about the physical elimination?
– Not at all. The US Central Intelligence Agency – is not even an intelligence service in terms of the level of its tasks. The KGB or SVR – are classic intelligence agencies: collecting information and reporting to the leadership of the country. At the CIA these traditional intelligence activities are at the end of the task list. The main ones – are elimination, including physical, of political figures and the organization of coups. And they do it in real time.
After the sinking of the “Kursk” submarine the CIA Director George Tenet paid us a visit from Romania. I was tasked with meeting him at the airport. Tenet did not come out of the plane for a long time, but the ramp was open, and I was able to peak inside of his “Hercules”. It was a flying command post, computer operation center, fully packed with equipment and communication systems, which can track and model the situation around the world. Accompanying delegation – twenty people. We have been flying on regular flights in groups of 2-5 people. As they say, feel the difference.
– Speaking of intelligence. There are talks about the idea of a restoration of the unified Russian intelligence service by combining SVR and FSB. Your thoughts?
– Very negative. If we combine the two intelligence agencies – foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, then from two sources of information for the senior management of the country we will create one. Then that person who sits on this “stream of information” becomes a monopolist. And can manipulate it to achieve some task. Such manipulations of information were visible even to captain Reshetnikov at the KGB. For the President, Tsar or Prime Minister – whatever you call the top official – it is advantageous to have several independent intelligence sources. Otherwise he becomes a hostage of a particular head of agency or the agency itself. This is very dangerous.
The authors of this idea think that the merger will make us stronger, but we would create a threat to ourselves.
Where do we land?
– Let’s move on from world conspiracies “to our sheep”. How to distinguish an official who doesn’t know what he is doing from the agent of influence who acts consciously?
– There are not many real power brokers of a serious level in the world, as is commonly believed. The acceptance or rejection of serious strategic decisions contrary to the interests of your country are mainly initiated, shall we say, by ideological agents. Those are our officials who ended up in a domestic senior position, but their soul is in the West. They do not need to be recruited or commanded. For these people, everything that is done there is the highest achievements of civilization. And here – is the “unwashed Russia”. They do not associate the future of their children with the country, whom they sent to study abroad. And this is a more serious indicator than accounts in Western banks. Such “comrades” hate Russia from the bottom of their heart, the “development” of which they are in charge of.
– You just painted a portrait of some of our Ministers very precisely. How will we make it through 2015 with them?
– The year, with them or without them, will be tough. Most likely, the next will not be easier. But then a steady march of new Russia will begin.