Igor Ivanovich presented his vision about how to solve the problem of Transnistria, Novorossiya and Ukraine, his attitude towards the Kremlin camarilla and towards Putin personally, as well as Putin’s role in the history of Russia.
Kolokol Rossii (KR): Igor Ivanovich, first of all, we would like to know your position on Transnistria. It is currently the most urgent topic. Is it possible to draw Russia into a conflict with Moldova and Ukraine? Is the Ossetian scenario, for example, a possibility?
Igor Strelkov (Strelkov): I have already spoken about it. This is yet another attempt to provoke Russia into direct participation in military hostilities, but to provoke in such a way that our country plays the game according to a scenario imposed by the enemy. I have no doubt that sooner or later the enemy will succeed in dragging us into a war and the try to force us to capitulate on the foreign policy front. But there is no chance of our President capitulating—I simply do not believe it. The only question is: where could this conflict take place? Transnistria is, for this purpose, an ideal springboard. Let’s be frank—this area is surrounded on all sides by countries hostile to Russia: Ukraine and Moldova. The fact that these countries are hostile to us is, by the way, an ‘outstanding’ achievement of our diplomacy and foreign policy. These ‘achievements’ include the fact that an absolutely pro-Russian Transnistria where (according to various estimates), 150-200 thousand Russian citizens reside, is in a full blockade.
There is no land connection with Transnistria, and the two countries that border this “last fragment of the Soviet Union” are interested in the absence of Russian troops there, as well as the non-existence of Transnistria itself. Accordingly, Russia will have to act asymmetrically if she wants to protect her ally. We either will have to get involved in an aerial war, which would be extremely disadvantageous, considering that the enemy will have the significant advantage of using ground-based anti-aircraft defences, or to attempt to punch a land corridor through to Transnistria. The latter scenario would immediately be labeled as Russian aggression against the independent states of Ukraine and Moldova. Everything that is happening in Transnistria is the consequence of the indecisiveness, and, I would also say, sabotage by certain individuals in the Russian leadership who were tasked with dealing with the Ukrainian problem a year ago. At that time, a single regiment or a brigade could have paved this land corridor and accomplished what was done in Crimea (albeit only in the territory from Kharkov to Odessa). But, a year later, we now find ourselves at an impasse. Ukraine is definitily preparing for a war, and it is obvious that it intends to attack Transnistria. Anti-aircraft defenses are being built up and and troops—readied.
KR: And how will such a move be legally formulated by Ukraine, since Transnistria is officially part of Moldova?
Strelkov: Of course, all this will done by agreement with Moldova. Whenever I want to understand the actions of an enemy, I ask myself how I would have acted in their stead. This is what I would have done: Organized a few provocations on the border between Ukraine and Transnistria, and then, under this pretext, Moldova would have issued an ultimatum and demanded that Russia withdraw its peacekeepers.
KR: And if Russia does not remove the troops? What then?
Strelkov: Yet another ultimatum—up to and including asking Romania for military aid, and so forth. It all depends on their understanding of how far Russia is willing to go. If they feel that Russia is not ready to defend Transnistria with military force, they will crush it straight away.
KR: And, for now, do they believe that Russia is not ready?
Strelkov: They are trying to move forward in small steps. How did they act in Slavyansk? First, they fired a series of weapons. Has Russia swallowed this affront? Aha! Let us then use bigger mortars! Again, Russia said nothing. Let’s try artillery. Again, Russia is silent. Let’s try using chemical weapons. And use them they did—white phosphorus incendiary shells! After that, they started shamelessly shelling the city with heavy artillery. They understood that Moscow is not prepared to give a real rebuff, and brazenly went ahead. In Transnistria, we are seeing evidence of the same approach. In one of my statements, I already gave the example of the frog that is slowly cooked over low heat. It does not realize until the end that it is being cooked alive, it adapts at each stage until, finally, all of a sudden it’s done for! The work to set up these provocations is now being done by Saakashvili—a man who has absolutely zero regard for the welfare of Ukraine, Odessa, and Russia.
KR: Do you think that his appointment was specifically in relation to Transnistria?
Strelkov: I think that it is no coincidence! Somehow, he was appointed not in Dnepropetrovsk, but in Odessa. It is no accident that the Odessa region borders with Transnistria.
KR: What is the purpose of these actions? To take Transnistria from Russia? To exact vengeance?
Strelkov: They have absolutely no interest in Transnistria itself! It is only a small detail in a bigger geopolitical setup. The primary goal is to force Putin to capitulate. To make him completely lose his credibility and authority. Just like in the old legend, he was brought to a crossroads: one road leads to war; the other—to surrender. What’s more, the road to capitulation also splits—again into war and surrender. This is entire system! If Russia had entered a direct conflict with Ukraine a year ago, then the country and the President himself would have faced an huge number of economic and political negatives, but there would have been enormous positives too—from Kharkov to Odessa! Russia could have regained millions of Russian people, as well as enormous economically developed territories… And now, more than a year later, these advantages are already nonexistent. Now the number of minuses has exceeded all positive aspects. The more we try to negotiate with those, who are in principle against seeing eye to eye, the less our chances to accomplish anything in the near future.
The enemy is constantly getting stronger, it sees our indecisiveness. In the capitalist world—in the world of real predators—everything is simple: If you do not fight back, everyone gangs up against you, from the polar bear to the puny cockroach, and each of them expects to get a piece of the bounty. At this point in time, even Moldova feels that Russia is no bear and is trying to take a bite out of her. The insolence of the Poles, the impudence of the Baltic States will only grow—in step with our own movement backwards and attempts to negotiate.
As it stands now, even if we try to secure the inviolability of Transnistria through diplomatic means, for example by declaring that we are going to fight for it, then, once again, we will end up in a trap. Remember the ‘marvelous’ “Kozak’s plan”, whereby we promised to respect the territorial integrity of Moldova? Similarly, we now recognise the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the Donbass. Wonderful! We no longer have any legal basis to intervene [in Transnistria], except in line with the old agreement with Moldova. If, tomorrow, the Moldovan Parliament decides to denounce this agreement, then we will have no response—legally we would be forced to withdraw our troops.
KR: But Transnistria considers itself an independent republic…
Strelkov: That’s what it claims, but no one has recognised it as such. Transnistria has been an independent republic for a long time (since 1992), and, unlike the DPR and the LPR, it never engaged in any negotiations with Chisinau about becoming part of Moldova with some sort of special rights. However, Russia continues to consider Transnistria to be part of Moldova.
KR: But, if the agreement is denounced by the Moldovan Parliament, then Russia could, in response, recognise the independence of Transnistria—after all, that’s what we did with South Ossetia. Is something like this even possible? And how would this affect the situation?
Strelkov: A recognition is possible. However if the agreement is denounced, and we recognise Transnistria as an independent state, then we would have to fight for it!
KR: Yes, just like in South Ossetia…
Strelkov: The only difference is that, in Transnistria, we have nothing like the Roksky tunnel that would connect Russia with this territory. We have only an air corridor, which we we are impeded from using. Therefore, as I said, there are two solutions for Russia: either to fight or capitulate.
KR: And in this case, could an order be given to the Army of Novorossiya to go on the offensive?
Strelkov: The Army of Novorossiya is three times smaller, in numerical terms, than its opponent. Do you think that such an attack has a chance of victory?
KR: There are reports that two combat-ready corps have been formed.
Strelkov: If, right now, I take a piece of paper and draw up an order to form two combat-ready corps, this, alone, will not yield two combat-ready corps. Yes, last Fall, the combat-readiness of the Army of Novorossiya surpasses that of the Ukrainian Army, but this is no longer the case. The waiting, the negotiations—came up with “Minsk-1” and “Minsk-2″—have exacted their toll… Ukraine, on the other hand, did not waste any time. Moreover, Ukraine’s resources, even in terms of manpower, many exceed the resources of the Donbass—the enemy has simply has more people. Even if every resident of Donetsk and Lugansk had a tank, the population would still not turn into a tank corps. For a military person, this is crystal clear.
KR: Will there be a Minsk-3, but now in relation to Transnistria, after provocations take place there? In order to ensure that the toad is slowly boiled—to again hypnotize Russia?
Strelkov: Ukraine is obsessed with war. Like a drug addict, who is addicted to hard drugs, Ukraine cannot stop fighting. It’s a never-ending circle over there: prepare, assail Russia, get rebuffed, then again get ready for another confrontation. Ukraine cannot exist in peace because all of its resources are directed to war. A victory in this war is the only miniscule chance that Ukraine has of surviving. They cannot freeze the situation. They are doomed to keep fighting because freezing this situation would automatically lead to the Kiev Junta’s downfall. For one simple reason: as soon as there is no doping—in the form of an external enemy in Russia—then uncomfortable questions will immediately begin: Why is everything so bad after the “revolution of dignity”? Only a victory, a complete and total one, would ensure the survival of Ukraine as a state, or rather as a pseudo-state. So they will fight, regardless of the number of Minsk agreements that come to pass.
And here I’ve been wondering: Is Vladislav Surkov (President’s Aide in relation to the Commonwealth of Independent States—Ed.) a complete idiot? Very unlikely! He is a smart and talented person. So, what are we to make of him? He could only be a saboteur! It means that he designed the country’s policies in such a way that they could never lead to success! He formulates the state policy, and, time after time, restarts it: Minsk-1 failed, so he launched Minsk-2, and if the second Minsk fails—he will launch the third! Meanwhile, external circumstances for Russia deteriorate with each such restart. And I am a hundred percent certain that he is well aware that all of this is doomed to failure. It’s simply that this failure is in his interests. It’s profitable for him or for his boss. And who is his boss?
Strelkov: How did he end up in the Presidential Administration? Let’s recall—he came from the Alfa Group. What is this Alfa Group? It’s Friedman—it is with his help that foreign capital came to Russia during the vaucher privatization period. Even now, Surkov and Friedman are on excellent terms. The question proposes itself: Who do you work for, Vladislav Yuryevich? For the President, or, perhaps, for someone else? The answer, I think, is self-evidence. And it is not for the President.