Nikolai Patrushev: “One gets the impression Europe has forgotten the horrors of WW2”

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 Nikolai Patrushev: "One gets the impression Europe has forgotten the horrors of WW2"
Interview conducted by Ivan Yegorov and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta; extract translation by J.Hawk
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Concerning the post-Soviet space, it’s the situation in Ukraine that’s attracting the most attention. How can that crisis be solved?
Patrushev: First of all, I’d like to turn attention to the nature of the current crisis in Ukraine, which is the result of an West-organized anti-constitutional coup to which the inhabitants of several regions could not acquiesce.  The most acute conflict is between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donbass republics, conflict that is being kept hot by Kiev’s military and punitive actions against their own citizens.
In February we had the second anniversary of the phased plan to peacefully resolve the conflict that was the product of tremendous efforts. The parties to the conflict (Kiev and DPR/LPR) should have started implementing it right away. Today it’s more difficult to do it, and it seems Kiev is in no condition to fulfill its part of the Minsk Agreements–nobody’s in actual control of the situation in Ukraine, the current president doesn’t even have the monopoly on the use of force. Poroshenko is rejecting compromise solutions to the crisis that were proposed by a variety of civic and political activists. It is evident that the various branches of government in Kiev are unprepared to abandon the use of force in the matters of normalizing the situation in the country’s south-east.

But there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution.

Russia continues to operate on the assumption that DPR and LPR are parts of Ukraine, but at the same time we cannot allow the genocide of the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass. In the absence of political guarantees to prevent ethnic cleansing, in the absence of a law on the special status of the Donbass, the conflict cannot be resolved. Reintegrating the territories outside of Kiev’s control is possible only by preserving its genuine autonomy, and that requires a direct political dialogue with the representatives of the two republics.

How should we react to the facts suggesting that Europeans are unconcerned with their fellow citizens joining Ukrainian nationalist battalions?

Patrushev: Europe is not merely unconcerned by the nationalist formations in Ukraine, but it also doesn’t condemn the crimes committed by Ukrainian neo-Nazis. The burning and shooting of people at the Labor Union House in Odessa, the murder of politicians and journalists in Kiev, threats leveled at Great Patriotic War veterans, the radicals’ assault on anything and everything that represents some sort of link to Russia–all of that remains unpunished.

And it’s no accident. Neo-Nazi ideas are being reborn in Europe. According to available data, there are over 500 neo-Nazi and radical nationalist groups in Europe, often youth ones. They have 7 million members.

There is major proliferation of neo-Nazi ideas not only in Ukraine, but also in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, where the governments are facilitating the growth of Russophobia, anti-semitism, and neo-Nazism.

Several European countries’ governments have either turned a blind eye on, or actively supported, neo-Nazi marches, torch parades with demonstrative displays of Nazi symbols. Nazi criminals are being rendered honors, ceremonial burials are being held. Memorials to SS legionaries are being built, including in the place of destroyed monuments to Soviet soldiers who brought liberation.

Nationalist groups are creating mobile militant detachments which may be used to organize acts of civil disobedience and mass riots in their own and other countries. One gets the impression Europe has forgotten the horrors of World War 2.

Nikolai Patrushev: "One gets the impression Europe has forgotten the horrors of WW2"

Events in Ukraine are a one of clearest examples of the consequences of “color revolutions” inspired by the West around the world. Should one expect similar measures being aimed at Russia?

Patrushev: You are correct, “color revolutions” are by now a traditional policy instrument used by some countries to destroy statehood and sovereignty under the guise of democratization. But the country where a “color revolution” takes place nearly always collapses into chaos and then becomes subject to external control.

Western technologists have not abandoned their plans to implement “color scenarios” in our country. They are not very choosy in their choice of methods to promote protest sentiments, which range from exploiting temporary socio-economic problems to outright lies.

As a rule, one can expect an increase in opposition group activism on the eve of federal election campaigns. It’s no accident that the West appropriates money and material resources for NGOs in Russia and creates the so-called “independent” Russian-language media. While simultaneously intensifying its propaganda activity on Russian territory using the Internet.

I want to emphasize we are on top of the situation. Our law enforcement and intelligence services have amassed considerable experience in rapidly defusing provocations and unlawful acts. Attempts to pursue a “color revolution” in our country are doomed to fail.

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The media paid considerable attention to the “chemical” incident in the Idlib Province, which served as apretext for the subsequent US airstrike on the Shayrat airbase. Can such actions be justified, and what is their impact on counter-terrorist operations in the Middle East?

Patrushev: Arbitrary use of force is absolutely unacceptable in international relations, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.

But it raises the question: why was Assad accused of using chemical weapons, instead of first establishing who used them? Who benefited from that? And why is the struggle against terrorism being transformed into actions against the government of a sovereign state which itself is waging an active struggle against ISIS and other bandits? One should carefully analyze what exactly is being done in order to facilitate a ceasefire and the political resolution in Syria.

Russia categorically condemns any use of chemical weapons. The guilty parties should be held to strict account. That’s why our country has insisted and continues to insist on a thorough and objective investigation of the alleged chemical incident in Khan-Sheykhoun on April 4.

One must also note that the government in Damascus eliminated its chemical weapons potential in accordance with the established procedures. Already in early 2016, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that such weapons were transported out and destroyed outside of Syria’s borders, and that the US accepted OPCW conclusions.

Remarkably, Western media still prefer not to mention the proven fact that chemical weapons and highly toxic chemicals have been used by terrorists, including in Aleppo.

Did US policy change with the new administration in the White House? How do you assess the prospects for security cooperation with the US?
Patrushev: An objective assessment of their government’s policies should be performed by US citizens. Concerning the change of course of US policies  with the coming of the new administration, there are a number of opinion polls conducted in the US.

However, irrespective of who the US president is and of the current trends in US domestic politics, one should remember that our countries, being the biggest nuclear powers, bear special responsibility for ensuring international security. That places a major responsibility on us before our peoples and also before the whole world. We are expected to implement agreements on the main international problems, to effectively coordinate our actions, so as to facilitate the strengthening of global stability.

We are ready to collaborate with the West. In spite of all the difficulties, we continue seeking points of agreement. We can see that, in spite of the coordinated efforts to contain Russia, there are nevertheless efforts to preserve certain areas of cooperation. We maintain contacts between our foreign policy and national security entities, there is collaboration between our respective business circles. Naturally, we’d rather not see such cooperation be reduced to a list of lost opportunities.

Will the “Russian threat” factor will continue to be used by the West in the future, mainly in order to justify the growth of defense expenditures?

Patrushev: Indeed, the US right now lists Russia as one of its main threats, but not only to increase military expenditures. In doing so they are also hurting Russia-Europe relations, which have always been greater by an order of magnitude than the scope of US-Russia cooperation. 

The new US leadership does not intend to abandon the idea of preserving America’s dominant role in the world, and will seek that preservation using a comprehensive application of political, diplomatic, economic, information, and military measures.

We are also analyzing the ongoing changes in the activities of NATO and its individual members. Some of them undertook to rapidly equip their forces with modern precision-guided munitions, claiming it was urgently necessary to do so due to the need to deter Russia on NATO’s eastern flank.

Russia, for its part, is forced to react by adopting military, political, and other measures in order to, among other things, to improve its armed forces’ combat capabilities.

But this state of affairs need not continue.

Both NATO and we face a whole range of common threats and challenges, on which we should focus. And we should make it a joint effort. The only way out of the situation is to transition to planned, long-term joint efforts based on respecting mutual security concerns.

There are examples of how such dialogue can develop.

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What is currently being done to make sure the Arctic becomes an economic asset for Russia, and also a zone of guaranteed peace?

Patrushev: There exists a long tradition and culture of cooperation in the Arctic. Russian seafarers have been finding a common language with the inhabitants of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland long before diplomatic relations were established. There were brotherly ties established within international polar expeditions which explored near-Polar areas.

We remember the heroic efforts by Soviet, American, British, Norwegian, and Danish sailors who brought tens of Arctic convoys into Murmansk during WW2.

Russia is acting on the assumption that there is no and should not be any potential for conflict. International norms clearly define the rights of coastal and other states. The Arctic today is an arena of peaceful cooperation in preventing and addressing man-made and ecological catastrophes and disasters, combating poaching, ensuring safe navigation along the Northern route, establishing a network of global maritime communications and navigation system.
Russia’s Arctic zone represents a major proving ground for international cooperation in both basic and applied scientific research concerning Earth’s nature and climate, including the resilience of Arctic ecosystems.
It would be impossible to ensure the effective functioning of the Arctic zone without state support, therefore the state is in the process of creating a comprehensive transport and energy infrastructure, a network of communications systems, including through reliance on dual-use military facilities in order to assist civil services in ensuring both the socioeconomic development of these regions and to facilitate rescue operations.
The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is continuing its growth. If in 2014 it was used to transport 7.5 million tons of cargo, in 2016 that number rose to 7.5 million tons.
When taking into consideration hydrocarbon extraction in all the regional projects, by 2022 the amount of cargo transported may increase to 40 million tons. State efforts aim at creating an attractive investment climate for further expansion of the NSR by establishing a benign tax regime and other forms of relief to investors, special economic zones in Arctic sea ports, flexible tariffs on icebreaker and pilot services.
Nikolai Patrushev, we are speaking on the even of the 25th anniversary of establishing the Russian Federation Security Council, all of whose decisions are closely tied to our country’s history, to the need to address specific issues. In retrospect, could you name the most important decisions made by the Security Council in the last 25 years?
Patrushev: I’ll say this–every Security Council meeting or session under the President’s chairmanship deals with the most pressing current problems.
It’s enough to recall the decisions concerning the neutralization of unlawful militant formations and restoring constitutional order in the Chechen Republic, which allowed us to stabilize the situation int he region, ensure the country’s territorial integrity.
In response to Georgia’s war on South Ossetia in August 2008, the Security Council adopted decisions to compel Georgia to make peace, recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and assist them in developing their statehood.

Top priorities have always included combating international terrorism, including following the negative turn of events in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and threats emanating from the Afghan-Pakistani zone of instability. These factors were also taken into account when preparing proposals for cooperation with CIS member-states, in ensuring the safety of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi and other major sports events.

The Security Council has identified the main aspects of transforming the Armed Forces, took measures to improve the  social conditions of servicemembers, law enforcement officials, military veterans, and their families.

When necessary, we make corrections in strategic planning documents. Thus, in accordance with a Security Council decision, made during the July 2015 session, the new Russian Federation Economic Security Strategy through 2030 was developed. The document was approved on May 13 by President Vladimir Putin.
The strategy defines both the challenges and threats to the country’s economic security, and also the state’s main tasks in terms of preventing crises in every sphere of the economy and preventing the lowering of the citizens’ quality of life.
In the nearest future, we intend to develop the Strategic Forecast for Russia, the Foundations of Russian State Policy for Protecting Citizens and Territories Against Emergencies through 2030, and the Foundations of State Policy to Ensure Industrial Security through 2025, and other documents.
We are also paying particular attention to ecological restoration of territories, stimulating technological retooling of industries, reducing harmful emissions, maximizing waste processing.

It is very difficult to list all the topics with which the Security Council deals. Its work is structured depending on the situation in the realm of international and regional security.

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