Interview with the leader of the International Eurasia Movement, Russian political scientist and philosopher Aleksandr Dugin.
Aleksandr, in a recent interview with Tsargrad TV, you spoke very strongly about the recent events in Kazakhstan, saying that “Russia is the guarantor of the territorial integrity of all post-Soviet states,” and that they should therefore all seek Russia’s help to avoid threats to their territorial integrity. Are you suggesting that the countries of the former Soviet Union should give up their sovereignty? You are, aren’t you?
They don’t have to give up their sovereignty, but then they will have to give up their territorial integrity. I believe that the matter of sovereignty has a different meaning in our time. In our modern world, sovereignty belongs to those states that have huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons, enormous demographic and natural resources, and vast territories. Whereas the sovereignty of other, smaller players depends on their relations with those pole states that have a full, fundamental, true sovereignty that can be proved. There are only three sovereign poles in the world today: the United States and the NATO countries of the joint Western bloc, China on account of its financial power, and Russia on account of its military power. Iran, Pakistan, India and a number of other countries are striving for sovereignty, but none of these countries is a full-fledged sovereign pole yet. This is why the issue of the post-Soviet space is now very acute. It’ now or never, this is the fundamental “moment of truth” for all post-Soviet republics. Most of them are failed states. Let’s be honest about it, these are the states that emerged on the remains and ruins of the Soviet Union, they were supported by the West exactly in defiance of Russia, who remains the main geopolitical rival of the Western civilization. That is why all these post-Soviet states are built on a dual-vector policy. Meaning, they partly look to Russia and partly to the West.
Which states exactly are you referring to?
I was just about to elaborate, don’t interrupt me. Some of these states, for example, in the GUAM bloc, they had more of a pro-Western orientation. These were Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, and at some point, Uzbekistan, but then again, that was when GUAM was first established. But the situation began to change, GUAM began to weaken, and EAEU-CSTO countries leaning more toward Russia, while still maintaining ties with the West, thus creating a multi-vector situation, which came to a dead end. And now it is a question of whom, or rather which of these three poles, the post-Soviet space is going to join. China is not an alternative to Russia. Russia has an excellent strategic partnership with China aimed at weakening the hegemony of the West. That is, Russia and China represent two anti-Western poles, so you have to choose between Russia+China and the West. This is the choice facing each state. Those of them that will take the side of the multipolar world, Russia and China, are urged to be more closely united and to stop balancing between the two worlds. That is, they should choose the poles to which the state adjoins and thereby preserve their sovereignty.
Now to answer your question. Georgia and Ukraine tried to preserve their sovereignty by looking to the West and suffered enormous territorial losses.
Then why didn’t Russia support Azerbaijan over the past 30 years? All these years Azerbaijani territories were occupied by Armenia, and the territorial integrity of our country was violated in disregard of international law.
I can’t say I like the aggressive tone of this question, but I’ll answer it anyway. When Armenia sought to move toward the West, it lost control of Karabakh, because Russia blessed, if you will, supported, in a sense, the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
Consider this. We are friends with Baku, we helped and supported the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, a lot has changed over the years. In the 1990s, the Yeltsin clique ruled Russia, it was an occupation government. And when Putin gradually started feeling strong enough, he beagn to pursue a policy that was in Russia’s interests, supporting its friends and punishing its opponents. And, in fact, the support to friends translated to supporting the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The punishment of those who hesitated, in the person of Pashinyan, consisted in the same. Georgia was punished in 2008, Ukraine was punished in 2014. And now the support to the friends in Kazakhstan is in the saving grace of the CSTO troops to maintain order and political legitimacy in the country.
Now things have escalated, that is what really matters. It is important to change the tone, it is important to understand that Putin is now in a place where he will not tolerate half-measures. He said this to Lukashenko and Tokayev, he said, “If you are our friends, then come this way; if you are undecided, then just say so. Then you will have a different status, if you are undecided about who you are with.” I’m talking about the post-Soviet countries. If you are the enemy, if you are for NATO and seek to integrate into the West, if you let Western players into your economy, if you flirt with the British, the Anglo-Saxons, you will pay for this. So this is roughly where we are.
That said, I want to say right away that Azerbaijan is a very important strategic ally for us, and it is exactly because the good relationship between Aliyev and Putin kept developing more and more that the things are going really well. Only now the moment has come for Azerbaijan to get more closely involved in the integration processes in the post-Soviet space. And it seems to me that Baku has already made its choice. This is my personal opinion.
Let’s put it bluntly. Is Russia persistently inviting Azerbaijan to join the EAEU and the CSTO?
Yes. There have been talks about this for a long time. The Karabakh problem was an obstacle to this, as it was pointed out many times at Russian-Azerbaijani summits. Now that problem has been solved, and our leaders must themselves determine when and in what form, in what timeframe, and under what conditions the process of further rapprochement will take place. Many were afraid, and we were afraid, and probably Azerbaijan was also afraid that Armenia would impede it. But now the Armenians, in my opinion, have understood everything after the cautionary tale of Karabakh. They have realized that Russia is not just a country one can obey or ignore. Disobeying Russia will cost you. Pashinyan learned a lesson here, and he will act rationally, all the more so because no one has anything against Armenia—neither Russia, nor Azerbaijan, nor Turkey. If Armenia behaves properly, it is only in our and your interests.
This last sentence of yours reminds me of a Soviet slogan, “All for World Peace.”
No, absolutely not. We are not for world peace. This slogan is too abstract, you can lump just about anything under it. We are specifically for peace in the post-Soviet space, and Russia is responsible for this peace.
In that case, explain something to me. You constantly criticize the US policy, the US hegemony and so on, but at the same time in the context of Kazakhstan you said that “if the leadership of Kazakhstan fails to guarantee allegiance to the Eurasian line, the situation will escalate and the fate of the territorial integrity of Kazakhstan will be open to question.” Isn’t this an attempt at a threat? Or do you consider it a “friendly warning”?
This applies not only to the post-Soviet space. I believe that the territorial integrity of Russia is a pole of interest. Russia can punish those who challenge it and can, on the contrary, provide friendly support. This is how any pole operates. All these years we were used to living in a unipolar world, where everything depended on the United States. Now we live in a multipolar world, so the US influence and hegemony have shrunk dramatically. They are still a defining force in some areas. In Syria, for example, in the Middle East, Americans said “no” to territorial integrity, while Russia said “yes” and stopped the destructive processes. That is, when we need it, we save a country from collapse, and when we do not need it, we do not prevent its disintegration. And there are enough tendencies of chaos and disintegration in any society.
Like in Armenia?
Including Armenia. That is, we should adopt a “cold strategy,” as I said, given the three poles. China is constantly adapting, getting closer and closer with Russia, which is absolutely logical and rational. That is why we should even talk about the Russian-Chinese double pole, which opposes the unipolar world, and because it has formed, this unipolar world does not exist.
Do you believe that Russia, together with China, can challenge the United States and NATO countries?
It is already happening. When the Turks shot down our plane in Syria, we were almost on the verge of a military conflict. Moreover, the issue of Turkey’s territorial integrity and the mobilization of the Kurdish population was also on the agenda. The same issue was used by the Americans when they organized a coup attempt against Erdoğan. Russia backed Erdoğan at the time, and the mobilization of Kurdish separatist movements in northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey itself followed. Half of Turkey’s territories are populated by Kurds and this is a factor that threatens Turkey’s territorial integrity. As long as Ankara is friends with Moscow, there is no threat to the Turks. We can counter American projects aimed at supporting separatism in Turkey together. But should Ankara challenge Russia, the situation could change. And this goes for every state that lies more or less close to Russia’s territory.
It is no secret that Russia would very much like to see Turkey in the EAEU. But the question is, how interested is Turkey?
Of course. I am in close contact with the Turkish leadership, they are thinking over these options. Erdoğan, in my opinion, the way I see it, has already burned his bridges with the West. He is well aware that the West is a mortal danger, that it is a toxic pole that is in agony and has lost its hegemony. So, it seems to me that everything is shaping up in the best possible way for the Turkic world.
Back to Kazakhstan. You said that “if the leadership of Kazakhstan fails to guarantee allegiance to the Eurasian line, the situation will escalate and the fate of the territorial integrity of Kazakhstan will be open to question.” Is this a warning or an ultimatum?
That is a matter of opinion. Well, a warning, if you like. For example, I know Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev very well personally, I even wrote a book about him. He followed the Eurasian model for a long time, he understood perfectly well that orientation towards Russia and China is a prerequisite for the sovereignty of Kazakhstan. But, unfortunately, over the past ten years Nazarbayev and especially his clan veered away from this model and became more and more involved in Anglo-Saxon, British projects, replaced the Russian language with English, began undermining the economic integration, which my friend Sergey Glazyev mentioned repeatedly. So, in fact Nazarbayev’s departure from the Eurasian orientation, from Russia, from the creation of a unified Slavic-Turkic bloc has led to the current crisis. In order to avoid this in the future, the entire British presence there must be reduced to a minimum, and the authorities must stop sabotaging the integration projects.
Is President Tokayev ready for all this?
Tokayev should be ready for this, because he made the same choice that Nazarbayev had made originally, realizing that this is the only way to make choices for Kazakhstan. And the corrupt pro-Western elites with the support of the West opted for the extreme scenario of destabilization. That’s why at the moment there is no room for a multi-vector policy in Kazakhstan. And this is indeed an ultimatum, just not mine and not Russia’s, but of political logic itself.
What surprises me is that Nazarbayev knew the rules of the big game, geopolitics, multipolarity better than other post-Soviet rulers, even better than Putin; he described it very clearly in his articles, conversations, speeches. I don’t know what happened in these past ten years. I can assume that somehow, maybe through a corrupt environment, through American, British or European fifth column in Kazakhstan, or by means of some dirt someone had on the clans, this Eurasian line towards the integration of the post-Soviet space has been slowed down and delayed. Now Kazakhstan is reaping the fruits.
So there are no options? In order to gain Russia’s support, Kazakhstan has to kick out all of its Western partners and give up on foreign projects?
The point is that the West should not have a decisive influence on Kazakhstan’s strategy. The squeezing of the Russian language out of all educational projects by English-language programs is a challenge to Russia. This must be stopped. The most significant resources and assets that have fallen into the hands of the British should be returned to Kazakhstan’s national administration. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The events in Ukraine proved that, on the example of Poroshenko, and it applies to all leaders of post-Soviet countries. Pick a side. If you pick Russia, then get closer to us, play by our rules, be a good friend, and we will return the favor. Had we organized this unrest in Kazakhstan, that would have been a different matter. But it started there without us. We came there as friends, but you have to know who is behind all these events.
There is no doubt that the Western networks, which Nazarbayev had let in, were at the center of it. And it is appropriate at this point to recall that it was the British companies that raised the price of liquefied gas by as much as one hundred percent, which provoked the mass protests in Aktau. This was a pure provocation. That is, it wasn’t the government that raised prices; it was the British owners of the companies sold by Nazarbaev. But then the popular unrest quickly escalated into a military uprising, mercenaries showed up and so on. One of them was Ablyazov, a fugitive oligarch like our Khodorkovsky or Berezovsky, a thief who had stolen several billion dollars there. There were also the Glenist networks, Erdoğan’s opponents, who had taken root in Kazakhstan and were not purged by Nazarbaev. There were Islamic fundamentalists and all sorts of mercenaries, as President Tokayev said. And all of this wouldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been some of the corrupt elites behind the rioters, the very ones who abhorred Eurasian integration more than anything. For example, Masimov, we know that he was a liaison for Hunter and Joe Bidens. Now he has been arrested for treason. These traces all lead to the United States, to the CIA, to a number of pro-Western proxies directly or indirectly, and to corrupt pro-Nazarbayev clans. Tokayev’s rapprochement with Russia caused panic in their ranks. And it was essentially a real attempt at a coup d’état, which is precisely what the president of Kazakhstan said.
But don’t you think that Nazarbayev was removed from big politics after he stopped serving Russia’s interests?
He himself has moved away from the Eurasian model of development in the past ten years. It was a strategic shift in priorities, he decided to make Singapore out of Kazakhstan, using the game between the three forces. Between China, who has gradually taken over a significant part of the financial sector, the West represented by Britain, who was entrusted with the ideological supervision of this project, and Russia, who turned out to be a force element, unwanted by Kazakhstan. That was simply a geopolitical miscalculation.
It is very odd: Nazarbayev did know that this wasn’t the right way of doing things. He understood that multi-polarity is the key, that it is impossible to flirt with unipolar hegemony. And yet he did something that shouldn’t have been done. It was a colossal strategic mistake by the former president.
You know what he promised me? He said, I will resign as president, I will become the head of the International Eurasian Movement, because this is the future of Eurasia. This is a historical fact. He could have made history. But it is what it is. Betting on the West is disastrous even for such a great man as Nazarbayev.
What do you know about Nazarbayev’s fate?
There are a lot of rumors circulating at the moment. It is known that he has not been in good health for a long time, so it’s hard to say whether he is alive or not, whether he can move around on his own or not. There’s a lot of misinformation about it. That’s not what really matters right now. The real leader is President Tokayev, who has completely changed the structure of control over the country’s security bloc. That’s why we are talking to Tokayev now. If he still has the right mindset, then he has a chance to revisit the mistakes and honestly confess them before the people of Kazakhstan.
I think that Tokayev’s position is saved for now, but the people of Kazakhstan will decide for themselves who their leader will be. Tokayev has practically stopped Kazakhstan from slipping into a Syrian scenario, a civil war, and only now has he passed the real test of power, a personality test. His positions will be strengthened, and if he learns his lessons and works on his predecessor’s mistakes, that is, purges the pro-Western corrupt elite of different clans from Kazakhstan, then he has a chance to become the new star of post-Soviet politics, thus leading Kazakhstan on the course of strengthening its sovereignty through friendship with Russia and China in the framework of the multipolar Eurasian paradigm.
What did you mean when you suggested dropping the word “economic” from the EAEU acronym?
I’ll put it this way. Back in the 1990s, Nazarbayev put forward the idea of creating a Eurasian Union without the word “economic”. We even discussed it with him more than once afterwards. He was a proponent of bringing together the post-Soviet space in a kind of confederative unity with a single military-strategic body, the role of which was to be played by the CSTO, with a single worldview vector—Eurasianism, with Russia playing the central role. But at the same time Nazarbayev said that without the Turkic factor and without the Islamic world, such an alliance would not be complete. And he saw the role of Kazakhstan as the representative of Islamic and Turkic peoples inside the Union. But then, when Putin gave the go-ahead, it was the Kazakhs who said no, this is not the right time to create a Eurasian Union, let’s just deal with economy. And it was they who imposed this word “economic”, turning the EAEU into a kind of crippled organization. We should create a Eurasian Union based on Nazarbayev’s designs, because it is a great idea.
With a view of opposing the European Union?
With a view that it is so much clearer and more predictable this way.
Towards the end of our conversation, I got the impression that you were advocating for the idea of reanimating a “USSR 2.0”.
The USSR is an ideological construct, based on the communist ideology. Therefore, it is impossible to restore the USSR without the communist ideology. I am not a proponent of this idea, in fact, I’m not even sure it is possible. And these territories that used to be the USSR were united not by communists or Bolsheviks in 1917 or 1922. These were the territories of the Russian Empire, who had gathered them under its banners, with an elite that became imperial, with the peoples who became not subjugated slaves, not colonies, but provinces inhabited by other peoples.
The Russian Empire was never an ethnic entity, and I think that the restoration of the USSR in our conditions is not relevant. What we need to do is to create a state of the future, a large Eurasian Union, based on our common history, but with a focus on new horizons, new forms, in worldview and in politics. Some elements of the past should remain, but we must move forward. And all the organizations, that were often dominated by the Turks—this is great and can be an inspiration for us.
Translated from Caliber.az