“Russia does not aim to initiate an arms race’ – INTERVIEW

2018/03/1521195733.jpg
Read: 1003     15:03     16 March 2018    

by Anar Musayev

Interview by defence.az with Russian political expert, professor at National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Dmitry Evstafiev.


- Several days ago, Vladimir Putin spoke of the capacity of new Russian weapons and demonstrated their test videos at his annual address to the Federal Assembly. What was more important in the message by the Russian President – the military or the domestic policy aspect?

- The key factor surely was the domestic policy aspect. That is when the president quite frankly said that the model for economic development, we have been following for the last several years, has exhausted itself. This comes despite the fact that namely that model gave us the opportunity to survive the last four years of sanction and economic pressure relatively pain-free, even compared to the most optimistic prognoses. But the new times have arrived and the president quite distinctly, however much possible within a framework for such formal speech, let everyone know that the Russian elite must correspondent to these times.

Otherwise “we shall go under” as one famous political figure once said, first of all from the point of view of socio-economic competitive ability. And this aspect for the development of the country becomes the key one for the foreseeable perspective, not only in macroeconomic, but also socio-economic sense. And the new military instruments are nothing more than means of constraining outside pressure, a tool for preventing certain countries and politics from rationally considering the issue of a military-force solution for the problems they are experiencing in their relations with Russia.

The president as if told the elite and the society: We have created a resource, which will allow us to deal with our domestic issues for another ten-twelve years in peace and quiet.

- Are there really countries and politicians in the world, who would seriously consider a military solution to problems in Russia?

- I am afraid so. Just look at the situation in the Russia-West relations. In the last four years, the West has been holding its breath and waiting for Russia to “break” and for the Pro-West Russian elite, which is simply often dependent on the West, to “get up off their knees” and “show Putin his place”. In 2014 they did not even have a tinge of doubt that it would exactly happen so. And now, in 2018, Russia did not only withstand, but also managed to build its domestic social system and a range of economic sectors, having become more resilient in matters regarding the West than it was before the crisis. The USA cannot but understand that a new generation of Russian elite will shape itself in another 5 years even considering the sanction pressures. This new elite will at the least have much less piety towards the USA and, secondly, will not have the same political insecurities of geopolitical deprivation that the current Russian elite has both in politics and business. On the other hand, the American elite strongly believes that the Russian government will not resolve to employ nuclear weapons as a response to a first strike, especially if it is a surgical, non-nuclear, massive and a successful one. In other words, the leadership of the country will be beheaded. So, yes, the USA did consider solutions by force, thinking that Russia has if not a window, but at least a “vent window of vulnerability”. Vladimir Putin closed that vent window politically on 1 March.

- Politically?

- Yes, exactly politically. He demonstrated the will of the Russian leadership to “counter-punch” should there be a first strike. He did not even exclude a preventive strike. However, he demonstrated it with the clear hope that he will not have to transfer this “will” into “iron”, in other words, not have to fully expand the armaments, which is both expensive and politically unreasonable. Russia does not have the aim of initiating a new arms race. Russia aims at restoring the potential for containing the USA both in political and military fields.

- What dictated the necessity of developing such strategic weapons?

- Russia has been modernizing its strategic nuclear forces for a long time. It is a natural reaction to the domination of the USA and their allies in conventional armaments and the advancement of the USA and NATO military infrastructure towards Russian borders. At the same time, these are the elements of military infrastructure, which may be employed for the primary decapitation strike. Developing strategic nuclear weapons is a natural reaction to such state of affairs. And this reaction is relatively cheaper than, say, trying to put up parity in high-precision conventional armaments.

The Russian developments in strategic weapons also include a significant political component: by accentuating on strategic nuclear armaments, Russia addresses a signal to the Europeans that the key power Russia is trying to contain is the USA, not Europe, and that Russia does not intend to turn Europe into a battlefield. This is something that both Russia and the Europeans are pushed towards by their overseas partners. It is a completely different story whether the European elite is capable of understanding this signal. But the signal was sent, and those, who listen carefully, will surely catch it.

- How did the USA react and how can Americans reply to this new challenge by Russia? What can they do in return?

- At the moment, I would call this reaction a “nervous understanding” of sorts. Of course, we can all see an outburst of anti-Russian propaganda, which is normal for the modern-day USA. The “voice of reason” cannot even be heard in such circumstances. And of course there are the promises of “caching up and surpassing” Russia. Moreover, the long-term military budget of the USA is being “split” at this very moment and we are talking of gigantic amounts. This is normal and does not come off as surprising at all. The most important thing right now is hot who says what in the USA. More importantly is who in the USA is silent. And it seems as if for the first time since 2008, when Russia launched the operation to extort Georgia to peace, serious people in the USA have started pondering if the “game is worth the candle” at all. And will “Bolivar be able to carry double” – both the re-industrialization and the arms race at the same time. These terms do not mean the same thing for the USA. This means that the move by the Russian president reached its target.  And the elements of “containment” in Russia-US bilateral relations has started rehabilitating. It is a completely different story whether the USA has the resource of “long time”. In other words, how far is the modern American elite capable of planning its actions for 10-12 years ahead? Is it capable of a “silent compromise” with Russia? We cannot know the answer to this question. All we can do is quietly observe and wait.  

Leyla Orujova

Sabina Hasanova



Tags: exclusive  



News Line

“Russia does not aim to initiate an arms race’ – INTERVIEW

2018/03/1521195733.jpg
Read: 1004     15:03     16 March 2018    

by Anar Musayev

Interview by defence.az with Russian political expert, professor at National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Dmitry Evstafiev.


- Several days ago, Vladimir Putin spoke of the capacity of new Russian weapons and demonstrated their test videos at his annual address to the Federal Assembly. What was more important in the message by the Russian President – the military or the domestic policy aspect?

- The key factor surely was the domestic policy aspect. That is when the president quite frankly said that the model for economic development, we have been following for the last several years, has exhausted itself. This comes despite the fact that namely that model gave us the opportunity to survive the last four years of sanction and economic pressure relatively pain-free, even compared to the most optimistic prognoses. But the new times have arrived and the president quite distinctly, however much possible within a framework for such formal speech, let everyone know that the Russian elite must correspondent to these times.

Otherwise “we shall go under” as one famous political figure once said, first of all from the point of view of socio-economic competitive ability. And this aspect for the development of the country becomes the key one for the foreseeable perspective, not only in macroeconomic, but also socio-economic sense. And the new military instruments are nothing more than means of constraining outside pressure, a tool for preventing certain countries and politics from rationally considering the issue of a military-force solution for the problems they are experiencing in their relations with Russia.

The president as if told the elite and the society: We have created a resource, which will allow us to deal with our domestic issues for another ten-twelve years in peace and quiet.

- Are there really countries and politicians in the world, who would seriously consider a military solution to problems in Russia?

- I am afraid so. Just look at the situation in the Russia-West relations. In the last four years, the West has been holding its breath and waiting for Russia to “break” and for the Pro-West Russian elite, which is simply often dependent on the West, to “get up off their knees” and “show Putin his place”. In 2014 they did not even have a tinge of doubt that it would exactly happen so. And now, in 2018, Russia did not only withstand, but also managed to build its domestic social system and a range of economic sectors, having become more resilient in matters regarding the West than it was before the crisis. The USA cannot but understand that a new generation of Russian elite will shape itself in another 5 years even considering the sanction pressures. This new elite will at the least have much less piety towards the USA and, secondly, will not have the same political insecurities of geopolitical deprivation that the current Russian elite has both in politics and business. On the other hand, the American elite strongly believes that the Russian government will not resolve to employ nuclear weapons as a response to a first strike, especially if it is a surgical, non-nuclear, massive and a successful one. In other words, the leadership of the country will be beheaded. So, yes, the USA did consider solutions by force, thinking that Russia has if not a window, but at least a “vent window of vulnerability”. Vladimir Putin closed that vent window politically on 1 March.

- Politically?

- Yes, exactly politically. He demonstrated the will of the Russian leadership to “counter-punch” should there be a first strike. He did not even exclude a preventive strike. However, he demonstrated it with the clear hope that he will not have to transfer this “will” into “iron”, in other words, not have to fully expand the armaments, which is both expensive and politically unreasonable. Russia does not have the aim of initiating a new arms race. Russia aims at restoring the potential for containing the USA both in political and military fields.

- What dictated the necessity of developing such strategic weapons?

- Russia has been modernizing its strategic nuclear forces for a long time. It is a natural reaction to the domination of the USA and their allies in conventional armaments and the advancement of the USA and NATO military infrastructure towards Russian borders. At the same time, these are the elements of military infrastructure, which may be employed for the primary decapitation strike. Developing strategic nuclear weapons is a natural reaction to such state of affairs. And this reaction is relatively cheaper than, say, trying to put up parity in high-precision conventional armaments.

The Russian developments in strategic weapons also include a significant political component: by accentuating on strategic nuclear armaments, Russia addresses a signal to the Europeans that the key power Russia is trying to contain is the USA, not Europe, and that Russia does not intend to turn Europe into a battlefield. This is something that both Russia and the Europeans are pushed towards by their overseas partners. It is a completely different story whether the European elite is capable of understanding this signal. But the signal was sent, and those, who listen carefully, will surely catch it.

- How did the USA react and how can Americans reply to this new challenge by Russia? What can they do in return?

- At the moment, I would call this reaction a “nervous understanding” of sorts. Of course, we can all see an outburst of anti-Russian propaganda, which is normal for the modern-day USA. The “voice of reason” cannot even be heard in such circumstances. And of course there are the promises of “caching up and surpassing” Russia. Moreover, the long-term military budget of the USA is being “split” at this very moment and we are talking of gigantic amounts. This is normal and does not come off as surprising at all. The most important thing right now is hot who says what in the USA. More importantly is who in the USA is silent. And it seems as if for the first time since 2008, when Russia launched the operation to extort Georgia to peace, serious people in the USA have started pondering if the “game is worth the candle” at all. And will “Bolivar be able to carry double” – both the re-industrialization and the arms race at the same time. These terms do not mean the same thing for the USA. This means that the move by the Russian president reached its target.  And the elements of “containment” in Russia-US bilateral relations has started rehabilitating. It is a completely different story whether the USA has the resource of “long time”. In other words, how far is the modern American elite capable of planning its actions for 10-12 years ahead? Is it capable of a “silent compromise” with Russia? We cannot know the answer to this question. All we can do is quietly observe and wait.  

Leyla Orujova

Sabina Hasanova



Tags: exclusive