Putin Advisor Karaganov Warns Der Spiegel in Interview: ‘Russia Will Never Again Fight on Its Own Territory’

The German weekly Der Spiegel experienced a very tough interview at the hands of Sergey Karaganov, honorary chairman of the Kremlin’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and Foreign Policy Advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The excerpts below are taken from Spiegel‘s English translation.

When asked whether Russia and NATO could “stumble” into a war, Karaganov said he had already been warning of the danger eight years ago, during the conflict in Georgia, saying that

“Even then, trust between the great powers was trending toward zero. Russia began rearming its army, and since then, the situation has worsened considerably. We warned NATO against approaching the borders of Ukraine because that would create a situation that we cannot accept. Russia has stopped the Western advance in this direction and hopefully that means that the danger of a large war in Europe has been eliminated in the medium term. But the propaganda that is now circulating is reminiscent of the period preceding a new war.”

In its nasty way, Spiegel asked if he was referring to Russian propaganda, to which Karaganov retorted:

“The Russian media are more reserved than Western media,” pointing out that the West “is doing nothing but vilifying Russia; it believes that we are threatening to attack. The situation is comparable to the crisis at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s,”

referring to the stationing of Soviet SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles and the American reaction. Karaganov continued:

“Europe felt weak at the time and was afraid that the Americans might leave the continent. But the Soviet Union, though it had already become rotten internally, felt militarily strong and undertook the foolishness of deploying the SS-20 missiles. The result was a completely pointless crisis. Today, it is the other way around. Now, fears in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are to be allayed by NATO stationing weapons there. But that doesn’t help them; we interpret that as a provocation. In a crisis, we will destroy exactly these weapons. Russia will never again fight on its own territory.”

Lyndon LaRouche commented that Karaganov is absolutely correct in this comparison and regarding reversal of roles; i.e., the West is rotten inside, but thinks it is strong. LaRouche said this shows that the “danger comes from the British.”

Karaganov replied to Speigel‘s question on what proposals he has put forth to ease East-West tensions:

“We want to prevent further destabilization in the world. And we want the status of being a great power: We unfortunately cannot relinquish that. In the last 300 years, this status has become a part of our genetic makeup. We want to be the heart of greater Eurasia, a region of peace and cooperation. The subcontinent of Europe will also belong to this Eurasia.” As for Europe, he said: “We currently find ourselves in a situation where we don’t trust you in the least, after all of the disappointments of recent years. And we are reacting accordingly. There is such a thing as tactical surprise. You should know that we are smarter, stronger and more determined.”

Spiegel followed up with a question about Russia’s withdrawal of troops from Syria, but then leaving the West guessing how many troops had actually been withdrawn. Karaganov replied,

“That was masterful; that was fantastic. We take advantage of our preeminence in this area. Russians aren’t good at haggling; they aren’t passionate about business. But they are outstanding fighters. In Europe, you have a different political system; one that is unable to adapt to the challenges of the new world. The German Chancellor said that our President lives in a different world. I believe he lives in a very real world.”

Spiegel queried why Russians take pleasure over the problems in Europe. Karaganov replied with a cold dose of reality:

“Many of my colleagues view our European partners with derision, and I always warn them not to be cocky and arrogant. Some among the European elite have sought out confrontation with us. As a consequence, we won’t help Europe, although we could do so when it comes to the refugee question. A joint closure of borders would be essential. In this regard, the Russians would be 10 times more effective than the Europeans. Instead, you have tried to make a deal with Turkey. That is a disgrace. In the face of our problems with Turkey, we have pursued a clear, hard political line — with success.”

Commenting on whether “Russia wanted to be part of Europe — but the Europe of Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle,” Karaganov said,

“The majority of Europeans want that Europe, too. For the next decades, Europe will not be a model that is attractive to Russia.”

Regarding NATO’s stationing of units in the Baltics, Karaganov said:

“This chatter that we intend to attack the Baltics is idiotic. Why is NATO stationing weapons and equipment there? Imagine what would happen to them in the case of a crisis. The help offered by NATO is not symbolic help for the Baltic states. It is a provocation. If NATO initiates an encroachment — against a nuclear power like ourselves — it will be punished.”

As for the NATO-Russia Council, which is meeting Wednesday, Karaganov said:

“It is no longer a legitimate body. Plus, NATO has become a qualitatively different alliance. When we began the dialogue with NATO, it was a defensive alliance of democratic powers. But then, the NATO-Russia Council served as cover for and the legalization of NATO expansion. When we really needed it — in 2008 and 2014 — it wasn’t there.”
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