Staunton, May 23 – Rostislav Ishchenko, a commentator for Russia Today who gained notoriety for arguing that Moscow should “preventively occupy” the Baltic countries, says that Russia today “is in a state of war with the United States and that each of its citizens is on the front lines regardless of whether he is fighting with arms in his or her hands.”
In a speech to a May 17 conference on “The Ukrainian Crisis and Global Politics” organized by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI) and in an interview given to Prague’s Parlimentni Listy portal yesterday, Ishchenko presents these and other notions which because of his closeness to the Kremlin deserve attention.
In his speech in St. Petersburg, Ishchenko, who is also president of the Moscow Center for Systems Analysis and Forecasting, said that it was already long past time to speak about the existence of a state of war, about why it had come about, and about how Russia must prosecute it in order to ensure its national survival.
According to Ishchenko, “the war was inevitable” because the US needed to expand its markets and could do so only by turning Ukraine against Russia. Only Russia could resist the US, he says, because of Moscow’s nuclear arsenal, one “approximately equivalent” to that of the US, even though Russia’s economy is much smaller.
Indeed, he continued, “The GDP and other economic indicators do not play as important a role” as many imagine. “The barbarians destroyed the Roman Empire even though their GDPs were microscopic” in comparison with Rome’s. That must be kept in mind, he said, now when “a war for survival, for determining who will live in the brave new world,” is taking place.
In this situation, he argued, it is important to understand that “we are on the frontlines. We have a common enemy and we have a common victory. Each of us is fighting for his or her future. It is not important what weapons we are employing, guns, computers, or pieces of paper. We are fighting for our lives” and for “the survival of our people and of ourselves.”
“Unfortunately,” Ishchenko said, “the enemy is a very serious one. This is the largest economy in the world. One cannot defeat it today or tomorrow however much we would like. Yes, we will take losses, in the Donbass and in other places, not just in Ukraine.” Instead, Russia is facing as its zone of operations “all of Eastern Europe.”
In his Prague interview, Ishchenko provides context for these extremely militaristic and aggressive views. He argues that Putin’s “greatest service” to Russia has been that he has restored the country’s power step by step rather than by radical measures, so gradually that only now can Russians “see the gigantic extend of the work he has carried out.”
The war in Ukraine is a result of a general overreaching by the United States, a trend that reflects the “dizzy with success” feelings many American officials had after the collapse of the USSR and their sense that the US could do anything. Now, thanks to Putin’s rebuilding of Russia, they are learning that they have underrated the power of those arrayed against them.
“Putin has acted correctly,” Ishchenko says. “Now his time has come and he can calmly offer the US any compromise. Washington has gone too far. Compromise for it is defeat and loss of face.” Because that is the case, the US will increase tensions in what will prove a failed effort to reverse the situation.
As far as Ukraine is concerned, Ishchenko argues that “the civil war [there] will not only continue” in the Donbass “but spread throughout all of Ukraine.” And he adds that those parts of Ukraine, like those parts of other former Soviet states, will ultimately rejoin Russia in one form or another.
“There won’t be such small states around Russia,” he suggests. “Most likely they will become part of Russia [because] that is what the people populating these regions are seeking. If there won’t be such a possibility, then they will form under a Russian protectorate a confederal or federal union (or even two or three of these).”