Antoaneta Kiselincheva’s interview with Valentin Vatzev, an expert on political analysis, geo-politics and international relations, a lecturer in European studies and political philosophy in the European College and at Paisii Hilendarski University in Plovdiv. Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront
SF editor: This is the second part of the interview. The first part could be found here.
Voices for dropping the sanctions against Russia are rising up in a number of European countries. Look at France, where a resolution for dropping the sanctions in the upper Chamber of Parliament was passed.
Yes, it is true that the latest is that the Senate passed a resolution for dropping the sanctions. Of course, there everything goes “in style, in a French manner”.
This resolution does not have a mandatory character.
All possible modalities have been used. But there are so many things of a mandatory character, and which do not take place, and others that are extremely unmadatory but happen suspiciously quickly. The first visible step was taken when a part of the lower Chamber of Parliament managed to bring in the resolution, which penetrated the first cordons of the anti-Russian blockade of the French politics. The same happened in the Senate, which is not more powerful but is more representative of the two segments of the united French elite. The high ruling levels of France are represented there as well as the so-called super-elite. There are two kinds of elite in France: the petite borgeouisie, which may live in expensive suburbs but they do not own property in Antib, and the super-elite: the people who own coal mines, nuclear power and nuclear stations, mines, ports, shipyards, people who own plantations in Martinique, tin mines in New Caledonia and luxurious residences in French Polynnesia. This is the French super-elite, which does not like to show itself, but which did not accept Sarkozy as one of their own, for example, and this was the reason for him not to win a second mandate. For the French elite, Sarkozy was a poor relative who was only making up stories. The story with Libya was absolutely unnecessary because only to prove that he is a man, he wasted so much money and weapons, and damaged the image of France. The world saw that France was destroying Libya. Yes, America shot about a hundred missiles to avoid accusing Obama of lack of will to fight at the forefront of the democratic world. The French military forces made their efforts in Libya, which in France was evaluated as: ”Well, that’s nice, but is it necessary? Don’t we have other problems?”
The French super-elite, which is well-represented in the Senate of the French Parliament (which is a room for speaking, but they speak about important matters) is ready to lift the sanctions.
Why? What changed since the introduction of the sanctions? Did France lose something?
France lost a lot. We can make a bad list of real damage, but more irritating is the list of missed benefits. The truth is that Putin is seducing them non-stop by offering and promising everything that France is short of. And France is short of a lot of things, starting with the simplest and obvious: nuclear fuel. There was a country which would have been very important to France if it did not destroy its uranium production. The leaders of that country decided that it is better to be poor but honest. That’s why this country does not have uranium production today, but Russia has enough. And this is not the most important. Russia has plenty of resources to offer to France for the development of its industry. Russia can offer military technologies, because the French military industry is getting older and France is not in the leading position globally.
There is something else: today, in the charming French city of Antib, about 80% of the properties valued over 50 million dollars are Russian properties. The Russians living in Antib are joking that this is the new Komarovo (a resort north of St Petersburg) and Komarovo will turn into the old Antib. They bought an incredible number of properties in Sain Jean Cap-Fera, which is the alma matter of the French super-elite, they almost bought villa Leopolda…
A certain agreement between the Russian oligarch circle and the French super-economic-elite is being observed. And the Russian oligarchs’ circle is representing, to a degree, the interests of the Kremlin; at present, they are not so much represented in Russia, but perhaps they have their arguments in France.
In this regard, Germany is even easier. Seducing Germany is very easy. The economy of Germany is a hungry dragon demanding resources. And Putin is offering as much resources as they want, even more.
The USA are pressing for an extension of the sanctions. Can they offer an analogue to what Europe is losing?
They sure can, but this is not their policy. At present, they are busy solving their big questions: isolationism or expansionism, protecting the American national state or turning it into a location for the global elite, as well as the question of the nature of the American state, which is a real state. The United States can offer resources, but the price won’t be economically efficient and the American brain is mostly economical. They can deliver liquid gas to Portugal, smell the price atmosphere in Europe, and return the gas back home. America is a sensible country, and if you want to stop the war with the Americans, you have to offer them good business. They always first to hear about business.
Look, here we are talking about a choice of strategic direction of the American interests. The United States, circles close to the Democratic Party are convinced that America – without the controlled land of Europe – will turn into a third-rate regional power, which is unacceptable. But there are some other reputable opinions suggesting that the Pacific region is the natural place for development of the American interests. There are old debates in American politics, ever since the time of the ‘Monroe’ doctrine; the American realism and the American idealism have not stopped arguing, sometimes in an encoded manner which is we do not understand. The return of Europe under the umbrella of American control, is not an absolute imperative for most of the American elite. And after all, America lives its own intense and dramatic political life.
So no, they can not oppose Russia; obviously they don’t succeed. To date, Russia simply wins…
But from here starts the political and historical metaphysics loaded with terrible problems. The problem is in the cycles of Russian history. The long cycle in Russian history is about 80 to 100 years, and every time it reached an influx point, one head of their national symbol eats the eyes of the other head. Then the empire gets crazy and behaves not like an empire, but like a hamster. It’s very funny and very pitiful when the bear behaves like a hamster. After that, it remembers that it is a bear, but then it decides that it wants to wear a bow tie and to dance the tango. ”It means yes, we are a bear, but we are an European bear”.
At the moment, the bear is looking for its new consciousness, which is not at all easy. Russia has a few geo-political doctines staring with the most primitive and rotten Europe-ism, which I am convinced is not good for Russia, and through the primitive and simple slavs-philia, whose time has run out and there are other things…
If I had to choose between the Russian dominant geo-political doctrines, I think that the Russian geo-political isolationism is the most adequate for the moment. But today, the power is in the hands of the people who want to make Russia European.
There are heavy conflicts in the Russian political conscience. Even now, one can feel the mysterious contradiction between Russia as a kingdom and Russia as an empire, or, stated differently: the times of Moscow and the times of St Petersburg; the Russians feel and know this difference very well, but they have difficulties explaining it outside, they are not inclined to do this, maybe because they don’t expect to be understood.
This is a fundamental question, which somehow will not remain unresolved.
Second, there are three camps in Russia: the Februarists – left and right liberals; Octobrists – the offspring of the Bolsheviks currently in search of their new identity. And there are people who insist on being above this devision – let’s say the imperialists. These are the people who carry the portrait of Nikolay II, an innocent victim of the brutality of communism. Of course, it is not important who removed him from power, there are mysteries about how he was executed, why and whether they actually did so.
At the moment, Russia is in a complex dynamic balance and the guarantor for the balance is no one else but Putin and his circle. I am happy about the European successes of Russia, but the interface of Russia towards Europe are people like Abramovich and other unpure figures. This is in fact, the dregs of the Perestroika. Such people are less presented, with more millions in the West and less roots in authentic Russian politics.
At this stage Moscow, Berlin and Paris are getting closer and there is no way to counter it, no one has the power to stop it. Such technology does not exist except for a brutal war, of course. But to start a war, you need a good pair of trousers and readiness for anything. It is clear: it is easy to talk about a war, making war is difficult. The Russian–European Union is taking shape. To prevent it from happening, a new NATO will be created in which the giants France and Germany will not participate, but will nod in agreement and the “little tigers” like Bulgaria will participate. And why shouldn’t they invite Honduras…
What about the Baltic states?
Yes, of course. There, NATO had two airplanes and now there are four already, or there is a 100% increase of NATO’s presence. The interesting country, Ukraine, will also participate – where half of the population disagrees with the other half. And Poland also, which is the clearest. In Poland, to fight the Russians is fate; it is dignified and shameful. It doesn’t matter that they are beaten from time to time, otherwise what kind of a Pole are you…
Seriously speaking though, there are lots of clever people in Poland who know what they are doing, so the Pole is not a primitive man, he knows where the Polish interest lies. In this NATO-2, the role of coordinator is left to Turkey, a country with its own serious problems. There is the globally-historic figure, Erdogan, and his fate is extremely unclear. Because the biggest enemies of Erdogan are not in the Kremlin, but in Ankara and Istanbul. They are the Kemalists, who remember for a long time and don’t forgive Erdogan for changing the character of the Turkish state. He is seeking to revive what Kemal Ataturk destroyed, and to destroy what Kemal Ataturk built up. The Kemalist elites of Turkey, which are powerful in the military, civilian, cultural and economic spheres look at Erdogan with clear disapproval. Thus, Turkey is a country of contradictions. And this country will have to coordinate the future global opposition to Russia. I am not full of confidence that they can do it.
Azerbaijan will also participate in NATO-2 – a very interesting country where nothing is unilateral. It is extremely interested in peace with the neighbours (excluding Armenia) and peace with the great regional power, Iran. Without the will of Iran, Azerbaijan will not make any sharp move. As you see, this is one broad scheme. The more we analyse it, the broader it becomes. It becomes interesting – the big NATO, the one that historically never managed a war, not once (yes, I remember how they shot Serbia from above, but there the real winner was not General Clark but Chernomirdin). Maybe this new little NATO will get lucky and meet its fortune.
At the moment, the attention of the American audience and the whole world is transfixed on the Donald Trump character, his out-of-the box campaign, the theses that no other American politician has verbalised before or even thought in a similar way. How do you see the figure of Donald Trump. What is the meaning of “Trumpizatiom” and why don’t we talk about “Hillarization” for example? And as a whole, what is your prognosis for the American elections in 2016?
America is defining its fortune today, as the question is not about Trump or Clinton. The question is whether an outsider, out of the circle of the 50 families determining who will be the next president of the USA since the time of Nixon, can get through. Trump is an outsider. We see him as a rich eccentric with a funny hair style, but as a matter of fact, he is a desperate outsider.
I see that everything possible will be done to make Hillary Clinton win, because this is not a victory for the Clintons, but a victory for the present elites of the United States. Do you remember how terrified the Republican establishment was by Trump’s victories? The very leadership of the Republican Party was afraid of him and stood in his way. It lost the control over the Republican electorate and its supporters.
Because Trump speaks the language of the middle American Republican. He can be tough, often he can be cruel and untolerant, now and then he makes it smell like racism. Yes, Trump is not an object of love, but he is the voice of the real America, the not politically correct America which, thank God, does not forget that there is a difference between the man and the woman. Trump’s electorate does not know what is the “third gender”. In this regard, they are primitive and will never master the subtle dialect of ladies’ and gentlemens’ toilets, they do not understand that these are conditions. And there is no way to explain to them that the genders (in fact) are socio-cultural constructions and maybe they are simply a form of substansialisation of the transcendental a-perception…
In this concept, they are not refined left liberals of the postmodern type. This is simple America. America of aunt Pauli – Tom Sawyer’s aunt, who lives alone and breeds her naughty nephew. She is a healthy and strict woman, there is a gun hanging on the wall. She has no husband but she has power, she has responsibility. She is a good person. She does not show off her legs to just everyone; only when necessary. Aunt Pauli of today hates Hollywood, of course. She hates all possible sex revolutions, not because she has no gender, but because she believes it to be of demons and uselessness. She is a normal woman. And yes, she is conservative. Aunt Pauli lives by the rules inherited from the founders of America.
Trump, in his endless improvised creative work (because he is not an educated politician and simply asks his intuition), in fact, expresses the mind-set of the ordinary American people, the red-necks, and he does not represent the American law-house, the software engineers and people with dynamic gender. There are such people – in the morning you are of one gender, in the evening, you are of the other, and in the middle, whatever happens in between as the situation goes.
Trump’s electorate does not hate the Mexicans and other Latinos but asks: ”is it specifically with their values that we are we going to raise the glory of America?” In the most politically incorrect way, Trump presents the real problems of the American society. In this context, he is absolutely unprestigious and absolutely presenable. He is much more presentable than the elegant clique. It is the liberal “demo-publican” clique afraid of its people. Trump, at the moment, is activating the deep concerns and hopes of the ordinary, simple American.
I think that Trump will not win in the long term, even if he became the president. Apart from that, I am not fully confident that he will become president. I expect the Clinton clan to win because it is not the Clinton clan, it is those 50 to 60 families bearing the real power of the United States. They are not illegal, but overall they are invisible. In order for them not to be seen, they employ any Hollywood clowns and actresses who steal from the local supermarket every week in order to make noise. And when they are asked: ”Why do you steal?” they answer: “Well, I am a cleptomaniac because my father did not love me.” It suits Hollywood, so it can divert the attention from the real power. The real power is such a substance that does not like undressing but dressing up, not to reveal itself – true to its nature, it covers itself up. The tendency of the power is to be invisible. At the moment, you cannot observe from a helicopter the estates of the real authorities in America because a local missile defence will knock you down. They fly helicopters without recognition signs and gather together at quiet places, where they make decisions about the future. These are the first 50 to 60 families of the USA, the American global elite. Trump is disturbing them badly because he is a threat that can damage their game. Trump is a natural nationalist, meaning that he does not understand how from the great America you will make something else. This is not a hotel for billionaires. This is our country.
Second, Trump unwittingly repeated a formula of Lincoln’s, who said that America must help establish democracy and freedom all over the world, but not to seek enemies all over the world and to beat them. By the way, this is the spirit of great America which I also liked, but unfortunately it does not exist anymore. The last sparkles of that America died down in the end of the 70s, and that America deserved to be liked and loved. Trump is a reactive romanticist who wants to bring it back, but probably, he will not ssucceed. I guess he will lose, not personally, and that he will be rewarded for his efforts. But that America will not come back, there is no way. It was the laboratory of the world’s industrialism. Today, the American industry is at another place. That America had 64% middle class. Today the percentage of the middle class, after all accountable manipulations, is about 31 to 32%, or a double drop. This America with which we are living now, from time to time, behaves like a mindless rhinoceros and you don’t know how to deal with it.
If Trump wins, the Russians will take a breath of relief. If Clinton wins, she will do everything in her power and for which she has the recourses, to remove the present leadership of Russia. Obviously, her goals will be to destabilise the Russian leadership. The pool of considerable factors in the USA who chose Clinton to be the face of power today, leads and will carry on brutally leading to jihad, a holy war against Russia. If you asked them – Russia should not exist. It has to be changed into an exploitation-friendly territory.
Is Russia the enemy that they need?
They want to win over this enemy. They do not know the thin dialectics which you oversee: if you don’t have an enemy, you have no political existence. They need the resources of Eurasia and will do everything in their power to get them. They accepted Yeltzin – never mind he shot the parliament, freed the darkest forces of the Russian society, he legalised the liberties of the bands, scared the Russians to such a degree that today they look at Putin as the main guarantor that the late 90s will not come back. Yeltzin was absolutely acceptable for the United States because he offered to all who were not lazy, to come and help themselves to whatever they wanted. Russia was cut off into tiny pieces like baklava and there everyone could build wells, mine or whatever they wanted. There were countless agreements signed for the division of production. This is an economic right without a chance of a meaning for the state sovereignty. This Yeltzin was acceptable and loved, they even allowed him to hug the Queen of the United Kingdom, which is a miracle of miracles. No one touches this woman and he is hugging her.
They cannot forgive Putin one thing, he states: ”Yes, we have plenty, but we will sell it to you; we are not going to give it away as a gift. Pay and you will get what you want.” “But how do we have to pay, aren’t we the Right People. The future belongs to us, we are the Democratic Society! How dare you ask us to pay? Villain! He wants to be paid! How do you live with such a man?” The Clintons will make sure he is not there to make space for someone like Khodorkovsky, with whom they can get along. Again, they will divide Russia into pieces for private consumption, and if there is a local population, it might be asked to leave. There is such technology for when someone does not like this world to leave for the better one. It has happened already at other places in the world.
In other words, at the moment, a decision is in the making through the interaction of a variety of factors whether America should be isolationist or expantionist, what the relations with the Kremlin of today will be, and lastly – without thinking about Bulgaria – someone there will determine its road. Because we are but a speck of sand in the wheels of the world’s history. We understand it, the question is: can we do something about it. That’s why I insist that a whole era is nearing its end and a new one is beginning. A war might erupt, but there might be a period of long term peace in which the main factors have calmed down.
A while ago, Vladimir Putin, announced the formation of a National Guard, prioritising fighting terrorism and organised crime. What is your opinion on this step made by the Russian President?
If you asked me – this is not because of a good life. I know where and when National Guards have been made, and it has never been nice. The Russian National Guard is a sign that the Russian power elite, again, once more is experiencing a period of contradictions.
The Russian elite is devided into two wings – the financial-Western and the Russian-imperial-power elite. Now, in the empire wing, there are conflicts brewing.
President Putin entered into very troubled times. He is absolutely successful in the main direction – the relations with Europe. But the pain with Donbas and Lugansk, the Ukrainian problem is not resolving, as Lavrov says. He is a wonderful Foreign Minister, but no foreign minister is allowed to say the truth when it is not convenient. And the inconvenient truth is about the question of Ukraine, which is not resolving. The Minsk Agreements (Minsk 1 and Minsk 2) stopped the big war which, in fact, had started already but they have not avoided it, it is still coming. I have not met a serious Russian analyst and geo-politician who doubts that “dirty times” are coming, the Russian military and geo-political thought suspiciously often goes back and goes around a strange idea for the so called “sweeping war”, which Russia must be ready for in order to successfully avoid it…
Specifically, the National Guard is an efficient instrument in such wars.
The real opposition to Putin are not the liberals around “The Echo of Moscow”, they are by the feeder, “Gasprom” is filling up their bowls and they chew, live happily and are very pretty. Bikov, Venedictov, and my favorite – the genius, Latinina (although she is slightly crazy), and all the rest are white, fluffy domestic creatures who are able to scratch you, but who are mainly décor in the scenery.
The real opposition of Putin are at other places – in the high elites of the liberal administration, in the high elite of the grey bloc. There are people there who are openly blaming him for treason. They will not forgive Putin for the Ukrainian development.
In analogy, the Russian Imperial House has entered a difficult stage of its life after the loss in the Russian-Turkish Liberation War. Because the main goal, of course, was not the independence of Bulgaria. Yes, in a way, this goal was achieved in some shape – we remember and we will always remember. The day when the Emperor sent the telegram to attack Istanbul, to conquer it and make it Constantinople, up to lunch time, there had been a military advance, the armies were enthusiastic, and at lunch time, another telegram was received. In the Russian Foreign Ministry, the British Ambassador arrived saying: one more step of your army, and you will meet our marine at the Dardanelles. Or ”soon we’ll declare war”. The Russian Tsar, according to me, had wisely given up because Russia was not ready for a war, not only with England, but its allies too. And England was the hegemony of the world at the time. Facing the risk of losing a second Crimean War, the Russians gave up. The Ottoman Empire got lucky for the moment. From this moment, however, all the supporters of the royal ideal of the imperial politics opposed; the power of the royal ideal makes Moscow the Third Rome and this is the God-protected land of the real Christian faith, which must raise the cross on top of St Sophia (Istanbul), thus saving the Slav people and all the orthodox – Armenia, Georgia, the Balkan Slavs and Greece. The moment the Russian Imperial Home gave up the realisation of this mission, and the cold rationalism of the Russian empire took over, all the supporters of the idea of the cross over St Sophia took the road of the people’s will, they stepped on the road of revolution and the backwards counting of time of the home of Romanov began. The end of this period took place in the underground of the Ipatiev’s home which is destroyed, without explanation.
I think that Putin will not get away from the Ukrainian plot. I am not saying this with pride. His opposition will realise that they are adversaries and they will put on their spears the slogan ”the betrayed national ideas”. They will write on their flags the names of Russian heroes who died in Donetsk and Lugansk, in fact they are already doing it. From here on, it is very easy to blame the leadership in treason.
By the way, the last phase of the life in the Russian Imperial Home was passed under the accusation of treason. The accusation came from a liberal senator in the Duma, that Her Imperial Highness, Alexandra Feodorovna, worked directly for the General Quarters of the German Army. So, in the heat of the World War I, the Imperial Home has been accused of treason. This was the beginning of the end of the power of the Russian Empire.
They will present accusations to Putin for treason of national interests and irresponsibility. I think that for such a moment, the National Guard will be required. Putin is surrounded by clever people. Of course, Putin is clever, but he has not studied these things and he has a different type of education. He is extremely fast to learn, but he is not a humanitarian-intelligent. But the Kremlin has splendid expertise. Experts, who know to perfection, the world and their own history, work there. Putin is entering a difficult time. There are talks about a bodyguard of his who could become his successor, Zolotov. This is the leader, the future commander of the National Guard. Zolotov is a very interesting general, a respectful Russian military. In the beginning, he was the boss of Putin’s personal security; later, he was a commander of the National troops of Russia.
The National Guard is well-armed and has well-selected forces, different from Russia’s armed forces. In all, they will have a role to stabilise the processes and not to offend but to defend. Not as a first, but not second either, to guarantee security in case the Russian Muslims from the Middle East come back with military habits and arms. Eighteen percent of the population of the Russian Federation are Muslims. For sure, a very small number of these 18% of the Russian Muslims are jihadists, but nevertheless, there is such possibility. A faithful supporter of “Islamic State” costs as much as 10 others. These are people who will joyfully die shouting “Allah Akbar”. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the military power of the Russian state, but I think that Putin believes that the impossibility of resolving the Ukrainian crisis, at this stage, must be somehow compensated with, by preparing a force for reaction.
His opposition already feels that something has changed in the atmosphere. I felt it when Putin, for the first time, gave up the priviledge to remain silent. He does not feel like a tsar, but he is perceived as one, objectively. And objectively, he has the right of the tsar’s priviledges and one of the main ones is to remain silent. At an official event – an anniversary at one of the Russian nuclear centres where he was present – the leader of the nuclear centre mentioned Lenin in the context of a poem by Alexander Blok. Then, Putin without even noticing that it is about a complex, direct citation made in different context, was quick to distance himself from Lenin. Immediately, his supporters told him: ”Volodia, this is not necessary, this is not your business! Leave Lenin alone. Lenin does not have rating, but you do.” The one who has a rating can not fight the one who does not have it. Because it is like a crash between an egg and a stone. Speeches addressing Lenin were technically unnecessary, but the brave heart can not wait. This was a mistake. There was a period of unnecessary chatting from the side of the Russian president, but it passed. Now, Putin is mysterious and dignified again, as it should be. But I remember well how his enemies cheered then; “Oh! Wait, wait! He dropped his tongue!”
Putin quietly balances between the three ideological centres – the Februarists, the Octoberists and the imperialists. If the balance gets broken though, the wave will push him aside. Diffcult times are coming to Russia. Clever American observers – oponents, but clever – are observing this and for sure they will not miss a chance to destabilise their opponent.
Perhaps in the plan of this new problematic, the idea of the National Guard was born. I am not happy about its creation as simply, it is not a good life. I think perhaps they should have simply stressed on enforcing the armed forces of the regular Russian Army – but I accept, of course, that Putin knows better.
One is sure that Russia is facing dramatic changes, even worse – the world is going to change dramatically because the Russian drama incredibly often becomes dramas of the whole, of the world.