World War VI: Statement made by A. Illarionov at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

World War VI

Statement made at the assembly of the Committee for Economics and Security of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Vilnius, May 31st, 2014.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

For me, it is a great honour and great pleasure to be here, and have the opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas regarding the current state of affairs in Ukraine, in Russia, regarding relations between Ukraine and Russia, with you. Though in the previously announced title of my speech, only Ukraine and Russia are mentioned, it will be hard for me to avoid mentioning some other issues as well, which have a connection with what has been happening in the world recently.

In the past several months, people from all over the world have been asking themselves the question, what is going on? What does this all mean: Putin’s attack on Ukraine, the occupation and annex of Crimea, the intervention of the Russian regime in Eastern Ukraine? What are Putin’s short- and long-term goals? Where and when will he stop? (If he is even planning on doing so). I would like to offer my thoughts, grouped into ten points. I will try to be brief and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Point one. You have most probably heard claims that at the moment, a “Ukrainian crisis” or “crisis in Ukraine” is underway. This is not so. What is happening now is neither a “crisis in Ukraine” nor “a Ukrainian crisis.” What we are dealing with is not Ukraine’s internal problem, as the Kremlin presents it. It is war. It is Russia’s war against Ukraine. More particularly, it is Putin’s war against Ukraine. And this war is only the prologue (or the first chapter) of a much more grand event, which is also called war, it is already called so – “world war.” World War Four. I will return to this definition a little later. I did not choose this term. This term is being used by the Kremlin propaganda machine; according to its claims, Russia is leading World War IV against the rest of the world.

Point two. In some analytical works, the current war is described as a Cold War – either a return to the situation of the former Cold War, or as a beginning of a new Cold War. To my mind, what is happening now is not a return to the situation of the Cold War that ended between the 1980’s and 1990’s with the achievement of political regulation in Europe. It is not a new Cold War either. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that during that Cold War, the one that followed World War II, there were no instances on annex of the territory of any European country, similar to what just happened with Crimea. During the “classical” Cold War there had been attempts to change political regimes in individual states, but the borders between the free and non-free world in Europe were not subject to change.

There is another substantial difference between the Cold War and the current war. During the Cold War, personal sanctions were never used. There were sanctions of a different sort, but there were no personal sanctions. This way what is happening now is not a Cold War. Analysts and politicians are yet to give a precise name to this war. In any case, this is not a Cold War. I remind you once more that the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is calling it World War IV.

Point three. For many, this war has played the role of a warning signal of sorts. Claims can be heard that for the first time the Russian army has invaded foreign territory. According to such people, “just several months ago everything was wonderful, we had great relations with Russia. And suddenly everything changed dramatically.” Let me remind you that it is not several months ago, but several years ago, particularly, six years ago, that the Russian-Georgian war happened. It was Russian aggression against independent Georgia, which led to the invasion of the Russian armed forces on Georgian territory and the occupation of two regions in Georgia, which constitute about twenty percent of Georgian territory. Some of the technologies of that war, the Russian-Georgian war, are now being used in Ukraine again, some of them have been updated. Unfortunately, the lessons of the Russian-Georgian war have not been investigated, have not been learned, no conclusions were made from what happened. The comfortable opinion, according to which the blame for what happened six years ago lay of the President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili, has been spread wide; he was accused of making mistakes. Besides, many had the desire to simply forget this episode.

But three months ago, there was no Ukrainian Mikhail Saakashvili in Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovich was head of state, one of the most pro-Russian and pro-Putin Presidents in the entire post-Soviet space. Nevertheless, the Russian armed forces began a military operation to occupy and annex Crimea on February 20th. So it happened two days before Mr. Yanukovich signed the agreement with the three opposition leaders and three European Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and four days before Mr. Yanukovich fled the territory of Ukraine onboard a Russian military ship.

This way, this Russian aggression against Ukraine was not a reaction to the Maidan revolutions, neither was it a response to the fall of Yanukovich’s regime. Aggression began when Yanukovich was the full-fledged and legitimate President of Ukraine. Consequently, for the aggressor it matters not whether there is Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia or Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine, or any other leader in any other country which is viewed by the Russian leadership as part of the sphere of their imperialistic interests. Regardless of concrete personalities, such a country may become the object of Russian aggression.

Point four. Over twenty years ago there was not Russian-Ukrainian war, neither a Russian-Georgian war. But there were wars in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria. If there is something in the annex of Crimea and the operation in destabilising Eastern Ukraine what we could thank their authors for, it that the entire world was openly presented with the methods and technologies used by the same aggressor in all of these cases, in particular: in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, during the Georgian and Russian-Ukrainian wars – with the participation of the Russian special service, so called “volunteers,” Chechens, Dagestans, South Ossetians and others in the military action.

Before, such operations with the involvement of similar “green men” were carried out in occupying and annex of territories of former Soviet republic two and some decades ago, in three Baltic states in 1940. I would like to draw your attention to a small pamphlet which was distributed among the delegates of this Assembly – “Lessons of History. The silent occupation of 1940.” It demonstrates some of the methods used against Baltic states in 1940, used over twenty years ago in Transnistria, six years ago in Georgia, which are not being used in Ukraine. I would like to thank our Lithuanian organisers for publishing this pamphlet, which is incredibly important to understand the historical connection between all of these acts of aggression.

Strictly speaking, the traces of the usage of some of these methods may be discovered even earlier, during the so-called October Revolution in Russia. Such methods include violent government coups, establishment of a terror regime, torture and murder of political opponents, falsification of election results and referendums, creation of a propaganda machine for brainwashing, formation of authoritarian or totalitarian regimes – in Russia, Cuba, North Korea, in other countries.

Point five of my speech regards Ukraine. Of course, it is a huge topic, which at the moment cannot be discussed fully. But I would like to note possibly the most important process that has been happening in Ukraine in the past twenty plus years, since the moment of the declaration of its independence after the fall of the USSR. This process is of a gradual, but quite swift political westernisation of the country. Sometimes it takes on the shape of ukrainisation, but in its essence it is the spread of western institutions on more and more territory of Ukraine, as well as the spread of European models of behaviour among a growing amount of Ukrainian citizens.

At the 1991 elections the pro-western orientation, western values, pro-western politicians got the support in only three out of Ukraine’s twenty-five oblasts. The border between the western-oriented regions and, I would not say, pro-Russian, I would say, pro-Soviet-oriented oblasts swiftly moved from the Northwest of Ukraine to its Southeast. For some time, the impression (it was false) could be made that in the 2000’s the process has been stoppered, as about half of the country regularly voted for the so-called “orange,” pro-western powers, and the other half – for the so-called “white-and-blue coalition,” the post-Soviet powers in Ukraine. In reality the process of westernisation continued and intensified quite a bit, especially during Yushchenko and Yanukovich’s presidencies. By summer of 2013 the public support for pro-western, pro-European-oriented powers in Ukraine had a great advantage over the support of the so-called pro-Eurasian powers. Having understood that Ukraine is leaving the pro-Soviet, east-oriented, pro-Eurasian sphere of imperial influence forever, Putin began his anti-Ukrainian war.

My next, sixth, point regards the prehistory and ideological grounding of this Russian-Ukrainian war. This war did not start by accident, it was not unexpected, Putin was not “forced to intervene in Ukrainian affairs,” as some claim, nothing “forced” him to occupy Crimea. This was was thoroughly planned and prepared throughout several years. There were several important stages on the way, which have to be noted.

The KGB/FSB officer corporation, which gradually captured power in Russia in the 1990’s and, in the end, came to power (I would even say, absolute power) in the 2000’s, never viewed Ukraine as an independent, self-sufficient state.

On March 25th, 1999 Vyacheslav Chernovil, a dissident, rights activists back in the Soviet era, leader of the National movement “Rukh” and candidate at the Ukrainian presidential elections in 1999, was killed in a thoroughly organised car crash on the Boryspil-Zolotonosha highway. The investigation conducted by the SSU established that several groups of FSB officers were sent to carry out this operation in Ukraine.

The traces of serious preparation for full-fledged aggression against Ukraine can be found at least starting summer of 2003, when Putin deemed it unacceptable that Kyiv, “the mother of all Rus cities,” the location of the ancient Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, should be located outside of the Russian Federation.

Later Putin was offered a legend (as it turned out later, a falsified one) regarding the baptism of prince Vladimir Svyatoslavovich in the Greek city of Khersones (Korsun in Russian, now located in within the Sevastopol city limits) in 989. This way it seemed that the two places considered sacred by the Russian Orthodox Church, which the majority of Russian population is part of, and particularly Kyiv and Khersones, have turned out to be not in Russia, but the territory of Ukraine. It was seen as an unacceptable state of affairs, therefore a plan to return these sacred sites under Russian control has been developed.

On September 5th, 2004, another candidate for President in Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, was poisoned with dioxine and barely survived it.

Radical means were added to the methods of propaganda war against Ukraine: mass bribery of Ukrainian officials and governors, as well as undermining activity. Direct military intervention was deemed acceptable in the end of 2004 – after the then-President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, in a meeting on December 2nd with Vladimir Putin in the VIP hall of Vnukovo-2 airport refused to comply with the demand of the latter to use force against the Kyiv demonstrators, as well as after the final victory of Viktor Yushchenko in the third round of the presidential elections on December 26th, 2004.

One of the options of the Russian military campaign against Ukraine with the possible usage of nuclear weapons near Kyiv was published on April 21, 2008 in “Russkiy Zhurnal” under the title “Operation: “Clockwork Orange”.”

Three weeks before, on April 4th, 2008, during the NATO summit in Bucharest, V. Putin said to George Busch Jr. that “Ukraine is not even a country,” that practically half of the territory of Ukraine is “historical Russian land” given to Ukraine by Russia.

During the next five years, the concept of the so-called “Russian world” was under development. According to this concept, there are no such nationalities as Ukrainians or Belorussians. Ukrainians, Belorussians and Russians are sub-ethnoses of a single Russian people, they, consequently, have to be united under the roof of one state.

Publicly this concept was proclaimed on July 27th, 2013 in Kyiv during the official ceremony of celebrating the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Rus. I cite Mr. Putin: “a choice for the entirety of Holy Rus was made on the Dnipro baptistry, on the Kyiv baptistry. Here, the choice was made for all of us. Our ancestors which lived on these territories made this choice for our entire people. “For our entire people” – I put it this way, meaning that, of course, we understand the realities of today, there is a Ukrainian nation, a Belorussian one, and there are other peoples, and we respect all this heritage, but our common spiritual values, which make us a single people, lie in the basis of it… … the thought of unity between the west and east of the Rus which began here, I reiterate, in the Kyiv and Dnipro baptistry, has always existed both in the east and the west, where our people have lived.” In this speech Putin used the preposition “on” (used in the Russian language to regard territories but not countries) instead of “in” (used in the Russian language to regard states but not territories) to speak about Ukraine. Instead of saying “in Ukraine,” as he has done for many years before, Putin started saying “on Ukraine,” making it clear that he does not acknowledge Ukraine’s status as a sovereign state, and considers it a territory only.

Two days later, using the accusations of the Head Sanitary Doctor of Russia G. Onishchenko against the confectionary company “Roshen,” the Russian government unfolded a sanitary, trade and economical war against Ukraine.

Later, in November 2013, these actions grew into a campaign of diplomatic pressure, which forced Yanukovich to refuse to sign the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.

Military action, as I have noted before, began on February 20th. This date is designated on the medal made on orders of the Russian Defence Ministry “For the return of Crimea. February 20th – March 18th, 2014.”

The new ideological concept received further development during Putin’s press conference on April 17th, 2014. For the first time in the history of Russia (this has to be emphasised, it is a historical event), Putin stated that the Russian nation has “an extraordinarily powerful genetic code… it is this genetic code of outs… that is one of our main competitive advantages in today’s world… a Russian person, or, to put it more broadly, a person from the Russian world, they first and foremost think that there is some higher moral destiny of the person themselves, some higher moral root. And because of this, the Russian person, the person from the Russian world, they are not oriented more towards themselves…” According to Putin, one of the main traits characteristic of the Russian genetic code is their ability and readiness to die in public: “only our people could have birthed the famous saying: “Death is beautiful before the world.” This is Putin’s second public address of the topic of the Russian gene code and the topic of necessity to sacrifice his compatriots’ lives. It seems that he first started talking about it on February 23rd, 2012, on Soviet Army and Naval Fleet Day, at the pre-electoral meeting in Luzhniki, when he cited Lermontov’s: “Let us die under Moscow like our brothers have died! And we promised to die…

After the April 17th, 2014, press conference, the Russian propaganda machine advanced towards a principally new level, and its head propagandists started explaining to the public the significance of what has been said by the government. One of such propagandists, Mr. Mamontov, stated on April 29th that the developing war will be “Russia’s war against the rest of the world.” Sergey Kurginian (another veteran of the propagandist wars since he worked for the head of the KGB General Kriuchkov, who headed the attempt of a government coup in August of 1991) explained that the current war will not be World War III but World War IV, as the Cold War, which ended in the beginning of the 90’s had been World War III. Another propagandist, Segey Makarov, in an article for the “Moscow Times” explained on May 14th, 2014 that the aim of the war started by Putin is the split of the West: the Anglo-Saxon world, the Russian enemy, has to be beaten, and the friendly Continental Europe has to become Russia’s ally.

Point seven. The current campaign unfolded by Putin lies in three levels and has three goals. 

Level one is Ukraine: Ukraine has to be either Putin’s, or it should not exist as an independent and sovereign state.

Level two: the creation of the so-called “Russian world.” Under the universal roof of the Russian state, the Russian world has to be created, the biggest divided nation in the world, the Russian, has to be reunited. This motto is the exact reproduction of the mottos of nazi propaganda of the 1930’s, during Germany’ preparation for World War II. A simliar formulation was later used by Slobodan Miloshevich during the attempt to create the so-called Great Serbia. The proposed “Russian world” includes four categories of the population:

  • first, ethnic Russians, regardless of where they are living;
  • second, all Russian-speaking people, regardless of their nationality;
  • third, all compatriots which have lived on USSR soil at some point, as well as their descendants;
  • four, all compatriots which have lived on the territory of the Russian Empire, as well as their descendants.

The concept of the “Russian world” is not a fantasy invented by strange people. The State Duma of Russia passed the law regarding compatriots recently, which creates juridical grounds for their military protection outside of the country. What is more, another law was passed, which gives the right to Russian armed forces to act outside of Russia’s borders.

The third level of this war aims for the West. The western union has to be divided into two camps. According to this concept the Anglo-Saxon world includes the US, the UK, as well as the so-called “near-front states.” It seems that this term was borrowed from the times of the fight against the apartheid in South Africa. The “near-front states” include Poland and three Baltic states. This part of the Western union has to be defeated. The rest of “Continental Europe” has to either take a neutral stance regarding Putin’s Russia or even become its ally.

Point eight – the characteristic of this war, unconventional war. In many regards the current war is a war of a new type, especially in what regards new methods of war, or what regards the transition of the old methods of conducting war to a new level. One of the characteristics of such a war is the simultaneous usage of all methods and technologies, the combination of the usage of the technology of soft and harsh force.

Among these methods and technologies, it is better to note some, in which the aggressor, as we can see, has achieved certain perfection:

  • intelligence and counter-intelligence;
  • informational, disinformational and propagandist war, which has currently become a powerful instrument of influence;
  • cyberwar;
  • the wide usage of special departments;
  • the wide usage of non-government agents (business, non-government organisations, religious organisations, criminals, private persons), which are acting relatively independently but under a general leadership and centralised commandment;
  • the wide usage of undermining activities;
  • the wide usage of terrorist tactics (including using women and children as a live shield during an attack at the military and civil objects);
  • fuel war;
  • economical war, including trade, sanitary, financial and other instruments;
  • corruption has advanced to a principally new level, practically having turned into bulk purchases for political and military leadership in the countries which are the aim of aggressive influence. Ukraine in particular turned out to be an example of such a country;
  • the “fifth column” in Ukraine, other post-Soviet states, in the West, including European states;
  • the so-called “Putintern,” Putin’s International, the flexible union of various political parties and political activists which are supported by and support Putin.

One of the most important observations that can be made in light of this is the softening and full disappearance of front lines – concrete and visible political or military borders. Front lines may be anywhere, inside any country. Possibly this is the main peculiarity of the new, unconventional, World War IV.

Point nine – the necessity of having a counteraction strategy. What is the response to conducting unconventional war? The time has come to create and develop a counteraction strategy. Without the presence of such a strategy, it is difficult to achieve the result itself. First and foremost, it is necessary understand that war is underway. This is no joke, no coincidence, no nightmare. It will not go away or dissipate by itself. It is war. And, just like any war, it can be lost or won. What would you prefer, depends on you. Second, it is necessary to comprehend the nature of the opposing problem, which is Putin’s aggressive regime. This regime is aggressive inside the country as well – towards its own people, the national movement of the Chechen people, towards democratic opposition, towards business. It is also aggressive outside of the country – towards Georgia, towards Ukraine, towards Baltic countries, other state. Unfortunately, this regime has enforced itself significantly in the recent years thanks to the victories in Ukraine, which provided its significant support by the vast majority of the Russian population. This way, now we have to deal not only with the reigning regime, but also with the significant part of Russian society, which is inclined towards revenge and the revision of the established world order. This has to be understood.

Third, it is necessary to comprehend the necessity of preparing a mid- and long-term strategy akin to Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” during World War I, the Atlantic Treaty during World War II, Churchill’s Fulton speech and Truman’s Doctrine during the Cold War. This is needed in order to see long-term goals and know the main instrument necessary for their achievement.

Fourth, it is necessary to grasp the mistakes which have already been made. I am not talking about them now, but if there are questions regarding this, I am ready to answer them.

Fifth, it is necessary to come to an agreement regarding mid- and long-term goals for this counteraction strategy. There is an according project document. At the moment it is under examination and work. This is the first step, but not the last one by far.

Point ten. There is no possibility to speak about the details of counteraction strategy. But some key elements can be noted.

First and foremost, in the military sphere it is completely obvious that victory in war is impossible without the adaptation of the existing war doctrine to new realities. “Soft” methods of influence evoke awe, but by themselves they cannot stop forcible influence. As we can see, in the new, so-called “hybrid” war, the traditional, conventional methods of conducting military action are not always sufficiently effective.

Second, one of the most powerful weapons of current aggression is the informational, misinformation, propagandist war. We can see how citizens of various countries, one by one, become the victims of this propaganda war. The first victim was a significant part of Russian citizens, later part of the population of Ukraine, later the citizens of several other states, including the states of Western Europe as well. Counteraction in this sphere is a very delicate topic, as it is difficult to name the instruments which may be used at the moment, meanwhile retaining the most prised freedoms untouched – freedom of speech and freedom of information. It is necessary to develop technologies which allow to retain these freedoms, meanwhile shielding away from the inorganic propaganda war, which has become an extremely dangerous weapon.

In the sphere of international law it is necessary to develop a new definition of aggression. At the moment there is a definition of aggression which has been approved by the UN General Assembly in 1974. Under the new conditions it clearly necessitates changes and additions. In 1939, when the USSR attacked Finland, the League of Nations discussed this issue and within two days made the decision to expel the aggressor from the League of Nations. In our time, 75 years later, the aggressor has made two overt attacks on independent states, occupied their territories, annexed Crimea, but nothing akin to what happened 75 years ago happened. We have to think what should be done with the aggressor in the new conditions. The legislative result of using such a strategy may be a document similar to the Helsinki Act-2, which confirms the integrity of borders in Europe, which is to be signed by all participants, including the Russian government – either current or future.

Political sphere. The theory of democratic peace claims that democratic regimes do not wage war against one another. International practice generally confirms this. This is why the given problem can only be solved strategically only having turned Russia into a democratic state, no matter how long this process would take. This is the only strategic solution of the current crisis and the only way to end all these wars – the Russian-Ukrainian one, as well as World War IV. A similar problem existed to a known extent in the form of the German problem during World War II. By definition it is a completely special department of strategy. We have to keep in mind that nobody can be sure that a new war will not start, a more thoroughly prepared one, with a bigger number of victims and more bloodshed, if Russia does not become a democratic state sooner or later. Only then will we be able to achieve a more or less stable state, more or less solid peace, with Europe, having become a wholesome, free, democratic, at peace with all of its member states and all of its neighbours.

Thank you for your attention.

Source: Aillarionov LJ

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina

3 thoughts on “World War VI: Statement made by A. Illarionov at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

  1. Pingback: World War VI: Statement made by A. Illarionov at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly - Israel Foreign Affairs News

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