On 27 and 28 April in hotel “Radisson” a conference on international security was held in Moscow. The organizer of the event is the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. There were representatives from more than 80 countries worldwide. This is a forum that gathers experts in the field of security, representatives of military departments of different states and heads of major international organizations such as the UN, OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross and others. The geography of the delegations is extremely extensive. Besides representatives of the countries of the former Soviet Union, there were also delegates of such countries as China, Serbia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina and many others. On the Bulgarian side to the forum was invited Boyan Chukov as a political scientist and expert on security issues and international relations. Magazine a-specto sought him for a comment.
Interview conducted by Kalina Androlova with Boyan Chukov; Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront
Mr. Chukov, what was the main theme of the Fifth Moscow security conference?
The main focus, was the issue of combating terrorism. Experts commented on the causes of terrorism, the forms and distribution, as well as ways to search for effective ways to combat this global threat. At the conference, the majority of participants were acting senior figures from the defense agencies of different countries, so one of the highlights was how could the army of one country, participate in the fight against terrorism. The discussions had different opinions on whether the army should fight on their own territory with terrorism, or should it leave it to the Ministries of Interior and the special services. The main point was that the military can and should participate in the fight against terrorism on its own territory, in parallel with the special services and the interior ministry. An interesting point of view, however, was expressed by the Chief of General Staff of the Russian Federation Valery Gerasimov, who stressed that the main task of the army, according to him, is to fight terrorism, but when it already approaches from a distance to the country concerned. That is the case with Military Aerospace Forces of Russia in Syria. Russia is there to protect its borders from the creeping threat of Daesh. The first point of view was confirmed by the Deputy Minister of Defence of Egypt, Mohammed Abdelfattah. He stressed that it was the Egyptian army that saved Egypt from the terrorism posed by the “Muslim brothers” after the Arab Spring. Chief of General Staff of the Russian Army Valery Gerasimov stated that terrorism can not be eradicated without the use of military force, but it can’t be defeated only by the use of military force. It is necessary to combine the political, financial, ideological and information resources of the state.
The conference was under the auspices of Minister Shoigu. What was the most important point that Shoigu stated himself?
Shoigu pointed out that there is an increase of aggression against Russia. And that the Asia Pacific is becoming the focus of Russian foreign policy. Speaking of Shoigu, I feel he made an unambiguous and clear defense of Bashar Assad. Particularly significant at the conference was the welcoming statement of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, read by the Secretary of Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev. After him followed statements by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov, the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov, and finally the audience heard the welcoming statement of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, read by his deputy Jeffrey Feltmann.
Did something leave an impression in Lavrov’s statement?
Lavrov stressed the emphasis on cooperation with China, India, Iran and others. Which clearly shows the direction of Russian interests. Russia is no longer focused on Europe as propaganda constantly tries to imply: that Russia is a threat to Europe. The commercial interests of Russia began to orient themselves toward the bi growing Asian markets. Sergei Lavrov is strongly against the concept of US exeptionalism in international relations. And he is against the deployment of missile defense in northeast Asia. In short, the leadership of the Russian Federation is troubled by the current international situation. It is defined as critical with a tendency to complicate. In the world is purposely created an environment that allows the removal of legitimate governments. The block vs block thinking is worsening. Some countries continue to believe that they can impose their will using an armed force. Noted is an acute lack of trust, especially in Europe. The leadership of Russia registers an increase of aggression against Russia. Minister Shoigu expressed regret that the military bloc NATO, is a hostage of some member states who are adventurers.
Who did minister Shoigu have in mind when he said adventurers?
Turkey, of course. It’s about the downing of the Russian plane in Syrian airspace by Turkey. At the same time we find that at certain times there may be cooperation between Russia and the US, as was shown in Syria.
But was there actually cooperation or it was more of a formally, an attempt at interaction rather than a real cooperation?
From the Russian side it was a cooperation. From the American side it was probably with reserves and hidden moves. Because during the bombing of the active Russian military space forces in Syria, the Russians gave preliminary information to the American Coalition which were the jihadist sites to be bombed. Later it turned out that these sites are totally depopulated and the jihadists have left the area. Why? Because on the territories bombarded by the Russian aviation, alongside the jihadists there were also 2,700 fighters of some of the most famous private US military contractors. And that was publicly commented on in the informal discussions during the conference. This cooperation has been two faced. Their game is like this: everyone vs everyone. The US lost confidence even in its allies because they are not loyal partners. To achieve their political goals, they cavort with anyone who is useful to them. On one hand they fight against terrorism, on the other hand – they support terrorism if its needed.
What was the Chinese position at this conference? They avoid to make firm statements, unless they are directly affected in a particular situation?
The Chinese are directly affected by the spread of Islamic terrorism. In China there are many Muslims who are a convenient prey to the attempts to destabilize the country. The Chinese Defense Minister, Colonel-General Chan Vantsyuan noted the increasing risk of nuclear terrorism. And that DAESH quickly build their global networks. Chan Vantsyuan called for the rejection of double standards that allow treating terrorists as either good or bad. The Chinese state appeals to not use the fight against terrorism, as a pretext for interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Minister Chan Vantsyuan made it clear that China is a victim of terrorism in East Turkestan (populated by Uighurs – Muslims). He proposed that a mechanism is build to combat terrorism within the framework of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization). Notice that countries are beginning to seek regional alliances to tackle global threats?! Hegemonic decay creates threats that can be solved only through the united efforts of several regional powers. This is in exclusive detriment of the US, but this trend is caused by US policy and attempts of salvation through regional alliances will continue, until the hegemon does not recognize the fact of a multipolar world, and a level playing field in solving global problems and the organization of coexistence on the planet. The Russian Federation is the only country that has the power to oppose what the Pentagon calls “full spectrum dominance.” But it is not the only country that considers this necessary. Believe me, all countries are now convinced that we need joint efforts to win a factually legitimate and recognized multipolar world. And you can feel it, see it and sense it. It hovers in the air like a charge.
How do you see Iran’s “behavior”? What about their agreement with the United States? Does this agreement makes the Iranians less rigid than they were before? Or are they still completely frank?
Yes, the Minister of Defense of Iran, Hossein Dehkan’s statement was interesting. Everyone in the room noticed a particularly warm welcome between the Iranian Defense Minister and the former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. They embraced and kissed each other three times.
What exactly does this warm demonstration mean?
Iran has a much stronger position in Afghanistan than it seems. This shows that in Afghanistan, Iran is seen as a very serious external factor that can stabilize the situation in the country. Moreover, Iran is one of the countries affected by the increase in drug production and the increase in drug traffic. Afghanistan also has a substantial Iranian diaspora. Iran’s role increases in the region, especially as Iran deepens its cooperation with China and the Russian Federation and becomes a strong regional factor that will soon begin to have a global projection. The Iranian minister was quite candid. He said that today’s realities in the world contribute to the spread of terrorism. Countries on a regional level assist terrorists and deliberately fan ethnic conflicts. Hossein Dehkan directly accused the United States of applying double standards to terrorism and described this approach as a new form of warfare. Iran expressed regret that in the form of humanitarian aid, negotiations, etc. logistics are build for the benefit of terrorists. Tehran by way of its Minister categorically stated that it welcomes Russian presence on Syrian territory in support of the Syrian people and Bashar al-Assad. The Iranian minister stated unequivocally that Iran will continually to increase the potential of its military-industrial complex in order to strengthen the defense power of the country and that the focus will be on rocket technology.
Which topic provoked the most interest and activity of the conference?
Of particular interest was the theme “Color revolutions and regional security. The military’s role in ensuring the stability of the state”. The only theme on which the hall proved small to accommodate those wishing to see the statements. In the hall there were all heads of official delegations. The elite of the Russian academic community attended, as well as a plethora of media stars, headed by Vladimir Solovyov.
Yes, he is a very charming host, intelligent and talented.
Soloviev really is a celebrity. And his biography is complex and instructive as is every attractive mind. Few people know that at first he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys and acquires a technical specialty, later moving towards economy and international relations. He worked several years in the US, then he returned to Russia and was engaged in this and that, until he found his most visible career – journalism. It will sound outrageous for humanists, but people with mathematical and logical mind are the most incisive analysts, since in international relations and policies there are logical connections. To understand the schemes, you have to be a pragmatist rather than an elated scholastic idealist.
Here are examples of color revolutions. Most of the speeches at the conference showed that to the military experts and the academic community in the world, color revolutions are an obvious scheme: they are not just a spontaneous manifestation and the response of youth, the middle class and so on, against the government in a country. The experts shared the opinion that it is a new form of intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states. They were given enough evidence not only by participants in Europe, but also those from Asia, Africa and Latin America. These comments (by the experts) clearly show that to the world there is an obvious technology to overthrow the legally elected governments.
A number of representatives from the Latin America conference, directly accused the United States of currently orchestrating color revolutions to overthrow the governments on the continent. And as a result there are three color revolutions and at the most advanced stage is the one in Brazil. You know, no one suffers from the delusion that color revolutions are a spontaneous manifestation of “democratization” of the parties. The farce is already annoyingly obvious.
Without exaggerating the role of social networks in organizing such “revolutions”, it is obvious that the global internet network contributes to the radicalization of certain segments of the population. But only on condition that there is a well-established network of externally funded NGOs in the country. There was a dispute on whether there is a connection between revolutions and terrorism. One of the participants in the room put an end to the dispute with the witty remark: “Yes, there is a link between terrorism and revolutions, provided that they were prepared in the same factory.”
Why did the US and EU boycott the conference at an official level?
The West believes that if its absent at a similar event, the event loses its significance. However, this was not the case. This conference wonderfully proves that the world speaks more frankly, fruitfully and friendly, in the absence of the global hegemon. Because its a dialogue between equal partners. Personally, I noticed that despite the absence of official high-level representatives of the US, NATO and the EU, the conference was full of experts from these countries. There were Britons, Americans, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Danes, Dutch and others. Not to mention that in the room there was a particularly noticeable presence of officials from Western embassies in Moscow. I personally met and talked to some of them.
And what was the position of the parties, known for having long supported terrorist structures to deal with regional, and sometimes under the auspices of the US, global tasks?
Yes, I understand what you are asking me. In the hall at the end of one of the panels, a representative of Saudi Arabia wished to speak on his own and using a declarative-pathetic style, he said that his side did not interfere in the internal affairs of any other State, not finance terrorism, but rather was a victim of terrorism. This statement really cheered the mood in the room.
What about Islam? Because most often we talk about Islamic terrorism.
The Egyptian Defense Minister stated categorically that terrorism should be separated from religion. He stated that in the world there is no real interaction on the question of terrorism. According to him, since there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism, it is impossible to seek cooperation on the issue. Notable was the speech of Joseph Betty Asomo, Minister Delegate to the President of the Republic of Cameroon on defense. He said absolutely clearly that in the battle against terrorism we are fighting the symptoms rather than the causes. There were statements that each major religion has its extremists, but terrorism can not be identified with any of the major religions. Islamic radicals are used, but Islam itself is not directly related to terrorism. Islam as a religion is a victim of terrorism. Terrorism is a method of warfare. You can not fight against a method through explanations about Islam … what is Islam, what it says in the Koran and so on. The Koran has existed for a long time, and terrorism escalates right now, you understand…
Recently the instrument of NATO is actively used against Russia. Was there a statement on what is seen and understood by all?
At the end of the conference spoke Nikolai Bordyuzha, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. His words were sharp and clear. In regards to cooperation with NATO, he said emphatically: “There can be cooperation only in the absence of preconditions on the part of NATO.” Bordyuzha said the following: “We have never said that NATO is our enemy, while the United States and NATO recently begins their statements with the formulation that Russia is the main enemy of the alliance.” “For cooperation to be possible there can not be any hypocritical games at play” said Bordyuzha. He made a rhetorical question about where terrorists get their money to buy weapons and stressed that it is necessary to cut the cash flows that finance terrorists. He also asked why are there no official representatives of the USA and Western countries at the conference, why NATO and Western countries unilaterally ended cooperation with the Russian Federation, and why the West totally ceased its military ties with Russia?! Unfortunately today cooperation is replaced by propaganda.
At such conferences the conversations during coffee breaks and during cocktails, dinners and all the informal communication between participants in the event are also interesting … What did you learn from these informal conversations with the experts?
Personally for myself, exactly in these informal talks largely became clear what the US strategy is that they implemented through NATO on the border with the Russian Federation. A few years ago they were talking about the construction of training centers and management centers called a Rapid Reaction Force. Back then they explained that these new bases and centers will only serve for training and that there will not be permanently located US military bases. But in reality, the situation is as follows. They build new bases for supposedly temporary use, by volume in them can be stationed a brigade, but in practice the bases can take one division with all of its weapons. Thus using the excuse of temporary exercises along the border with the Russian Federation they create real military bases and also build infrastructure where appropriate, so they may in a very short period, redeploy American and Canadian troops on the border with Russia. And Bulgaria is also involved in this scheme of NATO, the population is lied to that this is only for temporary teachings. In actuality the Bulgarian territory is prepared to accept the US military in a possible military confrontation with the Russian Federation.
Do you think there really is a risk of confrontation between Russia and NATO or this is done only to squeeze some money from the US budget for military purposes because many private corporations are fed by this, including companies for logistical support?
In a play, in which there is a gun on the wall in the first act, it has to be fired in the second or third act. NATO has become a tool for the implementation of the US strategy towards the Russian Federation. This is no longer just a defensive alliance, but an instrument of the aggressive policy of the United States on an official level. And instead of talking about bringing NATO to the Russian border, the media is talking about Russia getting closer to NATO !!! But the power of the media is proportional to the naivete of the audience. Josef Kirchner, who sadly died recently, said: “The media are carriers of the manipulative impulses of a few, to the masses. That which we uncritically accepts, will affect us for the benefit of the few.” Kirchner was an Austrian writer and journalist, a lecturer at Harvard and a professor of journalism at the University of Vienna, he certainly understood media and media manipulation.
As for the missile defense issue, it was also widely discussed by the expert community. Of particular concern is the deployment of the US missile defense shield in the Asia-Pacific region. The legend that the US missile defense is aimed against the threat from Iranian and North Korean missiles raises indulgent smiles among the professionals. The shafts to deploy anti-missiles are standard, 31 cm in diameter, they are universal and within them at any time can be placed an offensive nuclear missiles or the latest hypersonic missiles. It is necessary to bear in mind that if the number of anti-missiles is smaller than the number of the missiles for which they are intended, the situation is relatively calm, since no one will risk nuclear retaliation. But the US goal is that the number of American anti-missiles be at least three times greater than the corresponding Russian missiles, and then the overwhelming temptation arises for a preventive nuclear strike by the United States.
Is globalization also not a “method” to break sovereignty, and then of course the local governments find themselves unable to make decisions in their own interest, since they are contrary to the “hegemonial” concepts of world order.
The conference participants were impressed by the speech of Zoran Djordjevic, Minister of Defence of Serbia. He was adamant that only a country with a national sovereignty can be an active participant in international cooperation. And that that’s the only way a country can contribute to peace building worldwide. After the speech of Serbian Minister there was an interesting expert opinion. Expressed was the thesis that a country that has destroyed its army and its intelligence services, has no future. As its in the army and special services that the younger generation of the country is thought patriotism and willingness to defend their homeland. A country with no army and no intelligence gathering is actually facing foreclosure. At the end of the conference the former Croatian president Stipe Mesic, supported the Russian position that democracy can not be exported, it is unexportable.
How did the conference end? Was there a final message that should be heard by both friends and enemies?
The famous German expert Alexander Rahr praised the defense ministers who made constructive contributions. Alexander Rahr is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations of Germany. He expressed his solidarity with the position of the Russian Federation, that not all security issues in the world are to be decided by the US, NATO and the EU. Alexander Rahr made five proposals: 1. It is necessary to enhance the role of the OSCE and to create a Security Council of Europe; 2. It is necessary to build a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok (the EU plus the Eurasian Union). The EU must obtain observer status in the SCO; 3. It is necessary to achieve a “ceasefire” between Russia and Poland and the Baltics. The problems of Poland and the Baltics can not be transferred to relations between the EU and Russia; 4. An institutionalization of the dialogue on values between the EU and the Russian Federation. A new EU approach to Islam; 5. What is needed is a European policy on Disarmament. We have to remove US nuclear weapons from German territory.
Alexander Rahr ended his speech with a rhetorical question: “Will there finally be a continental Europe?” You know that at the moment we observe an intensification and a deepening of the East-West conflict. But alongside it there is a conflict between the West-South. A North-South conflict is appearing. There is an avalanche of conflicts. That’s why the general conclusion of this conference is very important, if there is someone to consider it. Because when someone proclaims himself to be higher than others, he loses the ability to hear. The recklessness of exclusivity always degrades. History is constantly proving it. The general conclusion from this conference is that Russia is always ready to negotiate and cooperate and in every situation, but only as an equal partner.