Putin’s National Security Chief: US Provoked Russia Into Taking Over Crimea
'It was Washington that set the wheels in motion with an unconstitutional coup in Ukraine'
Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Nikolai Patrushev, is one of the most powerful persons in Russia. Before he took up his current position in 2008, for almost 10 years he was the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Не rarely speaks to journalists but when he does, he provides profound insight into the thinking of those that shape Russian foreign and security policies as this earlier interview published in RI shows. His recent interview to one of Russia’s most popular dailies, MK, will gives you an idea of the questions journalists from Russia’s supposedly ‘intimidated’ media ask their leaders.
Q— Isn’t Russia conducting a foreign policy that only a superpower like the USSR could afford?
A— Of course, Russia is only one part of the former USSR, and it doesn’t claim to be a superpower. Unlike the USA our goal is not to dominate the world. But that doesn’t mean we should not defend our national interests, and that means having an efficient foreign policy.
The Russian Federation is not interested in confrontation with the West. It is the US that started this confrontation, and Europe accepts it. So the decision to walk it back depends not only on Russia. We are always ready to restart equal and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Q - Have you not taken the Crimea from Ukraine and joined it to the Russian Federation? You didn’t have to do that!
A— Actually, it was Washington that set the wheels in motion with an unconstitutional coup in Ukraine. Crimea joined the Russian Federation not because Russia forced it or wanted it to, but because the population of the peninsula held a referendum and by an absolute majority of votes decided they want to live in the Russian Federation, not in Ukraine.
The only realistic alternative to the inclusion of Crimea into Russia was massive bloodshed on the peninsula. That’s why I say that the world community should thank us for the way we handled Crimea. People weren’t killed on a massive scale there, as opposed to what happened in Donbass.
Q— Do you believe the Donbass will reintegrate the Ukraine?
A— The Donbass has not split from Ukraine, and we want the Ukraine to remain as a unified state. We do not want it to fall apart. We believe the Minsk agreement should be fully carried out, but the Kiev authorities do not seem ready to do this.
Q— The Americans say Russia will run out of economic resources and then it will surrender, like the USSR.
A— Russia is a self-sufficient country that can fully provide for its people. You asked me about the collapse of the Soviet Union. The USSR did not break up because of economic problems. Its leaders were at a complete loss to solve its problems. And most importantly, they didn’t take responsibility. They forgot the main principle of governance, that if you take a decision, you are responsible for it.
Today’s Russian leaders have consistently proved that they have the political will and practical means to save and even strengthen the constitutional system, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state.
Q— What strategic goal do you think NATO has in relation to our country?
A— In order to understand NATO’s goals you have to consider that it it is under American leadership. Washington neutralizes ‘overly independent’ members of the alliance (France, Germany and Italy) by skillfully exploiting the anti-Russian eastern countries of the North Atlantic Alliance.
The leaders of the US are determined to dominate the world. Therefore they need to weaken Russia as much as possible. For them to achieve their goal, Russia would have to collapse, giving the US access to the richest resource trove on earth.
By increasing its military activities and bringing its infrastructure closer to Russian borders, NATO poses a significant threat to our security.
Q— Recently internet media in Lithuania and the Ukraine referred to an interview where you said the Russian Federation is planning to oppose NATO, including the seizure of some countries.
A— I never said anything like that. Ukrainian and Lithuanian media put words in my month.
Q— In Syria, aren’t we just pulling chestnuts out of the fire for Assad or Iran?
A— Recently, international terror organizations such as ISIL, Al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra have become more active in North Africa and the Middle East. This poses a direct threat to the security of many states, including the Russian Federation. The military defeat of the Syrian Arab Republic and its possible collapse would strengthen these terror organizations and increase extremism within the Russian Federation.
That is why we must fight international terror abroad.
Q— Is our ‘temporary’ military campaign relatively easy to start but very hard to end?
A— The sooner we can solve the problems in Syria the better.