Garry Kasparov, Russian opposition politician, founder of Free Russia Forum
China is playing its own game with territorial claims to Russia
30.05.2023 14:49

A roundtable discussion of the Free Russia Forum was held in Warsaw, where international experts discussed the impact of the war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine on Central Europe.

On the sidelines of the forum, a well-known Russian opposition politician who has always supported Ukraine in its confrontation with Putin's regime, the 13th world chess champion Garry Kasparov shared his thoughts on the Kremlin's new "peacekeeping" proposals, the internal situation in Russia in the context of Russian aggression against Ukraine, and what game China is playing now, using Russia's war against Ukraine.

NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE PUTIN REGIME CAN ONLY BE ABOUT SURRENDER

- Mr. Kasparov, the Russian Foreign Ministry has made public its new demands for an end to the war in Ukraine. Russia is not abandoning its previous demands, but adding new ones, such as Ukraine's rejection of EU membership and granting Russian the status of an official language. How should Ukraine and the West react to this?

I don't understand why the West still maintains high-level diplomatic relations with Russia

- Ignore it. There is no point in discussing any statements by the Russian Foreign Ministry. This war is not just about the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but a global war between freedom and tyranny, and there are no compromises in such a war. Negotiations with the Putin regime can only be conducted on the terms of surrender, as it was in Nazi Germany and in any war where principles, not just territories, were at stake. Therefore, no matter what the Russian ambassadors say...

Putin still sees Ukraine as an intermediate stage in his war with the West

By the way, I still don't understand why the West maintains high-level diplomatic relations with Russia. I believe that recalling ambassadors and maintaining a minimal presence would be the right response to the ongoing crimes. But we have to understand that Putin is not going to change his attitude towards Ukraine and the world order. 460 days of war have not changed anything. Putin still sees Ukraine as an intermediate stage in his war with the West. He is going to negotiate with the Americans, possibly the Europeans, and Ukraine, according to Putin, is an unfortunate historical misunderstanding.

- What should we do in this case?

Ukraine's victory is Russia's freedom, and nothing can happen without Ukraine's victory

- We need to focus on matters of principle. Ukraine's victory means Russia's freedom, and nothing can happen without Ukraine's victory. We must stop discussing any intermediate options. Nothing positive can happen in the world - from North Korea to Venezuela, from Belarus to Zimbabwe - until the issue in Ukraine is resolved.

Victory in Ukraine includes three main components: the liberation of the entire territory up to and including Sevastopol, Russia's payment of reparations, and the prosecution of war criminals. Any components that go ahead of this option make no sense, as this is the only way to expect changes in Russia.

Unfortunately, we need to understand that Russian society is not ready for any changes until it becomes obvious that the war is lost. Historical experience teaches us that changes in Russia begin with a geopolitical defeat, and the return of Crimea to Ukraine should be this starting point, after which the process of Russia's return to the family of civilized nations may begin.

That is why we must now do everything that can help Ukraine win, including arms supplies, financial assistance, and continued isolation of Russia. Unfortunately, we have not yet come close to the necessary level of diplomatic isolation, which is indeed necessary. But it is very important to adhere to the sanctions regime.

PUTIN AVOIDS MASS CONSCRIPTION IN MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBURG

- In your opinion, is the current level of sanctions sufficient?

- The question is not what the new sanctions will be, but how the existing ones will be implemented. Unfortunately, there are big claims even against countries that actively support Ukraine. We see that many sanctions provisions are not being implemented. Even those Western countries that are on the side of Ukraine often still do not stop this gray flow of imports that goes to Russia and allows it to continue to wage war.

- According to the Ukrainian General Staff, more than 200,000 Russians have already been killed in Ukraine...

- No matter how many have died, we understand that this is a six-digit figure, a huge loss. They do not yet affect the situation in Russia. First of all, the country is big. And secondly, if you look at the demographic gap, Putin is avoiding mass conscription in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Huge losses in Buryatia, Tuva, or depressed Russian regions, such as Kurgan, do not affect the political situation in Russia. But Moscow and St. Petersburg do not feel it yet.

CHINA IS INTERESTED IN CONTINUING THE CONFLICT, WHICH WEAKENS RUSSIA AND THE WEST

- However, there are countries that are more or less sympathetic to Russia, and their representatives are making some peacekeeping trips. We see China's special representative traveling around Europe, Hungary is taking some steps, and Brazil has also begun to be active in this area. It is clear that these countries are trying to call for some kind of truce, which in the current situation can only benefit Russia. Is it possible to unite them?

- Can they be united? I think not, because the motivational part of these countries is different. With Orban, everything is simple: it's corruption, there's nothing to invent. He is thoroughly corrupt, and this, in my opinion, is the main driving force behind Hungarian politics.

As for Brazil, it's hard for me to say, because this country is far away from us. But in general, we need to understand that the so-called Global South is now dominated by leftist tendencies with empathy for the USSR, or anti-Americanism. I am inclined to believe that anti-Americanism prevails, because they understand perfectly well what is at stake in Ukraine and that Russia's defeat in this war and Ukraine's victory is a success for the collective West. Accordingly, this will affect the development of all leftist theories that have influence in the Global South.

The collapse of Russia in a protracted war opens the way for China to much more interesting prospects than the war over Taiwan

As for China, it is a different story altogether. In my opinion, China is playing its own game, which brings with it a historical perspective. Of course, at the initial stage of the war, China would have been interested in Putin's victory, as it would have opened the way to Taiwan, and it would have been a defeat for the West and a success for the forces of totalitarianism and tyranny. However, China is pragmatic, and I think Xi Jinping has already realized that Russia will not win the war, and any other outcome opens up other opportunities for Xi Jinping. So today, China is interested in continuing the conflict because it weakens both Russia and the West, because China is the only country that has territorial claims to Russia based on treaties of the 17th and 19th centuries. Chinese historiography has always maintained that the Russian Empire took away 1.5 million square kilometers of territory from them, which is the size of two and a half Ukraine - the area from Vladivostok to Lake Baikal. In contrast to Putin's fantasies about Ukraine, these are real maps, treaties signed between China and the Russian Empire in 1689 [the Treaty of Nerchinsk] and later in 1860 [the Treaty of Beijing]. From Xi Jinping's point of view, perhaps the collapse of Russia in a protracted war opens the way to much more interesting prospects than the war over Taiwan. So I wouldn't look for any common denominator - each of these countries has its own interests.

- How do you assess the actions of the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion in the Belgorod region?

- This is a good action. Anything that helps Ukraine win the war is acceptable.

Yurii Banakhevych

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