October 15th, 2015 –
By: Rostislav Ishchenko cont.ws –
Translated for Fort Russ by Paul Siebert –
Sputnik Abkhazia inteview with R. Ishchenko
SA – For the first time in recent
history Russia conducts a military operation outside of its conventional sphere
of influence – the post-Soviet space. It conducts it in such a complex region
like the Middle East. How justified is it to spend a lot of material and human
resources when the internal situation in the country is not simple?
RI – The internal situation is never simple, but a state
that stops “wasting resources” on the active foreign policy and the
protection of its interests and allies around the world very quickly finds itself
among third-rate countries whose resources are managed by other countries that
are not “cheapskates” in terms of their foreign policy.
SA – An open participation of Russia in the war in Syria brings about a
qualitative change in the geopolitical situation in the region. What
geopolitical risks do you see?
RI – While in Syria, as other conflict regions, we see a
confrontation between Russia and the United States (even if it looks like a
fight with local bandit radicals), all of geopolitical risks have been there
for about fifteen years (when Washington began to meddle into the sphere of
Russia’s vital interests). At the moment we can talk only about the
minimization of geopolitical risks because the fact of the beginning of the campaign
in Syrian by the Russian army shows a significant increase in political,
diplomatic and military potential of Moscow and the stability of the Russian
financial and economic system. This means that the balance of power for the
past decade and a half has not changed in favor of the US. If we bear in mind
the dynamics of the process (in the last five years the strengthening of Russia
was taking place at an increasing rate with the weakening of the US), it is
safe to say that in the fields of Syria we see a change of the global leader.
SA- The “Syrian story” is replacing the “Ukrainian story”?
Or do they complement each other? Perhaps, Russia’s actions in Syria somehow
help relieve the tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine?
RI – No, they do not. It is one and the same process –
the pieces of the same global military and political mosaic.
As for the tension, we can not talk about the
relationships with the “collective West”. In relations with the US there
can be nothing else other than a complete and final victory. Only the recognition
of the White House of its inability to stand up to Russia (as Germany did in
November 1918 recognizing the futility of continued resistance to the Allies)
can change the format of relations.
Regarding the European Union, the situation there is
not so dramatic. France and Germany do not support Ukraine recklessly any
longer, and during the last meeting of the “Norman four” in Paris
their position can even be characterized as pro-Russian (they accepted Putin’s,
not Poroshenko’s interpretation of the Minsk Agreement). So here even without
Syria the relations are not hopeless, although they are far from ideal (creation
of the axis Berlin – Moscow – Beijing).
SA – The flights of the Russian aircraft near the Syrian-Turkish border
unexpectedly (or, perhaps, expectedly) complicate Russia’s relations with
Turkey. Many observers believe that these flights were merely a pretext – the
major differences between Russia and Turkey are in relation to Bashar Assad.
How real is the threat of NATO’s intervention in relation to Turkey?
RI – This is normal in such a situation. There is nothing
tragic here. And there will be no NATO intervention.
SA – Foreign ministers of the EU member states called on Russia to stop air
strikes against “the moderate opposition in Syria.” In response,
Moscow asked the members of the US-led international coalition “to provide
information about the location of non-terrorist, so-called” patriotic
opposition”. Do you have an understanding of what is a “patriotic
opposition”? What, in your opinion, should this opposition be doing now?
And is it possible to include it in the settlement process in Syria?
RI – “Patriotic opposition” is something yet to
be found in Syria. At the end of the military operation and destruction of
Islamists it is important to create a “government of the national unity”
in which the current regime would be supplemented by some opposition leaders,
who would agree to resolve all internal problems in a peaceful way during general
elections, who would declare their support for the Assad government and the
Syrian Arab army in its fight against Islamic terrorists. Thus, they would be
given an opportunity to demonstrate to the world the unity of the healthy
forces of the Syrian society, regardless of their political views.
I am convinced that at the end of the war Assad would have
been re-elected for a new term during any (most transparent and democratic)
elections (if only he did not want to leave himself, which is unlikely), and
Russia would have received a reliable and decisive influence in Syria.