Thought-provoking essay by Russian Strategist Sergey Karaganov: “Decades Of wars– Or offer a new paradigm” of development for the world?


By Elisabeth Hellenbroich

On May 21rst US Treasury Secretary J. Yellen, at the occasion of receiving the honorary doctor from the “Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in Frankfurt” gave a brief lecture to the assembled Academia and some of the top German Banking representatives about the status of the “Transatlantic Alliance.” In her remarks she noted that the bonds of transatlantic relations based on a “community of values” have been significantly strengthened since the beginning of Russia’s Special Operation in Ukraine. The speech which she gave is in line with those given in these days by leading US representatives from the Foreign Policy establishment, the CIA, as well as military and security “experts” in Europe- the purpose being to bring the European allies “into line” given by the U.S. establishment. Just two weeks ago in China, the US Treasury Secretary was launching a strong diatribe against China, warning them that unless they reduce their “overcapacity” and stop “overflooding the global markets”, the US will have to take further sanction measures against China.

Yellen in her speech in Frankfurt outlined how the US with its “sanctions policy” against Russia has already sanctioned 4000 individuals and entities “as part of our effort to hold Russia accountable” for its war in Ukraine, while pursuing an unprecedented level of coordination with the G7 (Russia’s oil revenue in 2023 was 30% lower than in 2022 according to Yellen). Directly addressing the German Banking community she issued a clear warning, by emphasizing that “we need to continue cracking down on Russian sanctions evasion, including third parties and sensitive goods that originate in the U.S. and Europe. It’s also critical that we ensure Ukraine has the support it needs to equip its military, fund critical services, and ultimately rebuild the country in the medium- to long-term perspective. That’s why I think it’s vital and urgent that we collectively find a way forward to unlock the value of Russian sovereign assets immobilized in our jurisdictions for the benefit of Ukraine. This will be a key topic of conversation during G7 meetings.”

Treasury Secretary Yellen’s attitude is one example that is shown these days by many representatives in Europe, particularly in Germany, who have begun pushing the line, that weapons from Europe should be aimed directly at Russian territory. According to the influential Russian strategist and economist Prof. Sergey Karaganov, “they are playing with fire”, he stated in his latest interview in “Al Mayadeen” (May 9th – Arab independent TV network). He emphasized the “inability and unwillingness to face reality” by pointing out that “there is a growing stratum amongst western elites who have begun to prepare their citizens for war. In the meantime, western leaders have completely severed any ties between their citizens and Russians and Russia itself and those who visit Russia end up being interrogated by the police or security services. This is symptomatic of a preparation for war – the build- up of hostility.” In other words, the “political classes or ruling classes are so desperate that they are resorting to fomenting wars so as to hide their incompetence and /or their crimes.”

Prof. Karaganov during the period of the Cold War was known for his role as an influential Russian arms control negotiator among other things and many former top security experts in Europe, particularly in Germany, remember him vividly as a straight forward strategic thinker. In his article that is being synthesized here, Karaganov -very similar to previous articles- warns of the danger of a nuclear war, if “Russia’s existence” is threatened. His intention is to have responsible thinking military analysts join the discussion from the West, as well as the Global South, the Arab world, Latin America, China and Asia, which he is triggering by his articles and provoke them come to up with proposals for peace that may show a way out of the strategic impasse.

Decades of wars? Or what kind of new Foreign and Defense policy should Russia have?

In the Spring edition No 26/ Spring 2024 of the journal “Horizons” (a Belgrade, Serbia, based journal, which features different contributions from East and West), Karaganov, who used to be also advisor to Putin and was cofounder of the influential Valdai discussion Club, presented some shocking but nonetheless thought-provoking reflections about the present strategic impasse which the world faces globally. One has to take into account, as the former British diplomat Alastair Crooke stated in an interview with Die Weltwoche 10 days ago, that at the moment there are virtually “no communication channels” between the West and Russia. There may be some unit in the Pentagon responsible for de-escalating, but overall, all channels have been closed between Russia and the West.  Karaganov’s reflections are a wake-up call in contrast to the often repeated claims, insinuations and outright lies that we are used to hear from the US or leading EU representatives.

Prof. Sergey Karaganov is honorary Chairman of the presidium of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, as well as Professor emeritus at the National Research University -Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Recently an “Institute of World Military Economics and Strategy” that is chaired by Admiral Sergei Avakyants and the well- known Professor Dmitri Trenin became part of the HSE.

In his article “Decades of war?” Karaganov reflects about the need to understand the causes of escalations in conflicts and advance a much more active policy of safeguarding peace. Hence what in his view is needed is an adjustment of “domestic, foreign and military policy” and a new “paradigm of development for ourselves and the world.”

Among the main challenges which Russia and the world are facing, Karaganov mentions a few: the challenge of modern form of capitalism based primarily on profit -making and rampant consumption of goods and services – unnecessary for normal human life.

* Global problems like pollution, climate change, dwindling reserves of fresh water remain unsolved. So called “Green solutions” are proposed that only aim a consolidating the dominance of the privileged both in societies and globally. “An estimated 20 to 30% of the world’s population. concentrated mainly in North America, Europe and Japan consumes 70 to 80 % of the resources drawn each year from the biosphere and this gap keeps growing. Parallel is also the “increasing social inequality” and in developed Western countries the middle class has been shrinking for about 15 to 20 years and becoming significantly less visible.”

* Another challenge is the “degradation of man and society”.  The spread of digital technologies supposed to promote mass education “is increasingly responsible for the general dumbing down and makes the masses of people manipulable” as well as negating on a grand scale the defense of basic human values in society.  At the same time European elites have completely lost the ability to think strategically. What we witness is an intellectual decline of the elite in the United States and “in order to distract people and themselves from unresolved problems, politicians are whipping up interest in AI, artificial intelligence.”

* The most important sources of increasing global tensions over the last 15 years according to Karaganov is the “redistribution of power from the old West to the World Majority.” As he had underlined in previous essays, he emphasized that with the loss of 500 years hegemony of the West, that loss is the “root cause of the West’s rabid hatred towards Russia and the resulting attempts to crush it.” He pointed to the series of geopolitical mistakes that were committed by the West: among them the rejection to integrate the Russian elite in the 1980ies and 90ies into the West. As result Russia turned into an opponent with its huge military natural and intellectual potential. It became the strategic kernel of the non-West, which is most often referred to as the Global South, or more appropriately, the World Majority.

* With a mixture of arrogance and greed, the West and the US became involved in a series of unnecessary conflicts – Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq- which it predictably lost ruining the aura of its military dominance and wasting trillions of dollars. By withdrawing from the 1972 ABM treaty, Washington revived a sense of self- preservation in Russia which was accompanied by Moscow’s program to modernize its strategic forces.

* Another major source of tension in the world system is the avalanche -like change in the global balance of power.  “The West, primarily Washington is destroying its formerly privileged economic and financial positions by weaponizing economic ties and using force in a bid to slow down its own decline and harm competitors with a barrage of sanctions and restrictions on transfer of technology and high-tech goods breaks production chains…The unabashed printing of the dollar, and now the euro, accelerates inflation and increases public debt.” Trying to retain its status the United States is undermining the globalist system which it created, but which has given almost equal opportunities to rising and more organized hardworking competitors in the World Majority.”

* The west started to demonize Russia and China and a wartime like propaganda campaign demonizing competitors and systematically cutting off human, cultural and economic ties.  By building up an image of “universal enemy” this has created a political and psychological situation where the West is “dehumanizing” the Russians and to some but lesser extent the Chinese.  “Dehumanization paves the way for war. It seems to be part of preparations for war with the West.” (!)

In this context according to Karaganov Europe is “experiencing economic down fall, growing inequality, mounting migration problems, increasing dysfunction of relatively political democratic systems and moral degradation”. This will go along with a rise of nationalism and the continent will fall back to its usual state of instability. The inevitable withdrawal of the United States, which is losing interest in the stability in the subcontinent, will only exacerbate this trend.

* According to Karaganov  we are going to see more collapse of global governance  with a UN structure that is less and less functional and  a European Security system ruined by NATO expansion. While the North Atlantic bloc has turned into a bloc that has committed several acts of aggression and is now waging war in Ukraine, new organizations such as BRICs, SCO, Belt and Road and Northern Sea route emerge. At the same time we witness the collapse of Washingtons intitiative of the former arms control system, which played a limited but useful role in preventing an arms race.

* The retreat of the West, especially the US from its dominant position in the global culture economy and politics.  Yet the “Americans while slowly retreating into neo-isolationism will for many years live in the mental paradigm of imperial dominance and, if allowed, incite conflict in Eurasia. (…) The American political class will remain, for at least another generation within the framework if Mackinder Theories.” And the US will try to hinder the rise of new powers, primarily China, but also Russia, India, Iran, very soon Türkiye, and the Gulf countries. Hence its policy of provoking and inciting an armed conflict in Ukraine, attempts to drag China into a war over Taiwan and exacerbate Sino-India disagreements. “Stir up conflicts in South China Sea and in the East China Sea and torpedo intra Korean rapprochement and foment conflict in the Transcaucasian and between Gulf Arab stat11es and Iran. Also, in the neighborhood between Russia and China – Kazakhstan being the most vulnerable position.” He states clearly at one point that in respect to the Ukraine war “in a year or two, the special military operation in Ukraine will have to be wound up with a decisive victory, so that the existing American and related comprador elites in Europe come to terms with the loss of their dominance and agree to much more modest position in the future international system.”

* Finally, a major challenge for the world is a “new qualitative and quantitative arms race” that is underway which is undermining “strategic stability” on all sides. New types of weapons of mass destruction appear, not covered by a system of limitations and prohibitions. This includes drone revolution as well as work in the US to “miniaturize nuclear weapons” which erodes strategic stability “from above. There are more signs that the arms race is taken to outer space. Long range precision and invisible missiles will threaten the most important maritime communications such as Suez and Panama Canals, Bab al- Mandeb, Hormuz, Singapore and Malacca Straits.” Also, Artificial Intelligence in the military strategic field carrying more dangers.

Karaganov concludes from the above-mentioned challenges that Russia needs “a new foreign and defense policy and new priorities for its internal development, society and every responsible citizen.”

The need for Russia to adjust its foreign and defense policy

In previous article dating back to 2022, Karaganov had coined the term of “Fortress Russia” which includes maximum sovereignty, independence, autonomy and security with a focus on internal development: “Russia must be intelligently open to beneficial economic, scientific, cultural and informational cooperation with friendly countries of the World Majority.” It means not to follow the liberal globalist program but instead we must create “value chains on our own territory” in order to increase connectedness.

“Russia must be Siberianized” shifting its center of spiritual, political and economic development to the Urals and all of Siberia (i.e. not get entangled in other conflicts like Armenia, Israel, Palestine). The Northern Silk Road, and major North South land routes must be rapidly developed. The labor rich but water poor Central Asian countries should be incorporated into this strategy. Conscious integration into the new world also necessitates a discovery of our Asian roots and respectively research about Prince Alexander Nevsky who travelled across modern Central Asia and Southern Siberia from 1248 to 1249. Years later Kublai Khan began his rise to power which culminated in his becoming the emperor and the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty over China, Mongolia and a number of adjacent countries.  Mongol troops also protected against the West and hence “The history of Russia China relations is much deeper than is commonly believed.”

“Key for Russia was the conquest and development of Siberia with is infinite resources. It was largely on that basis that Peter the Great built an empire: fees from caravans, carrying silk and tea from China to Europe along Russia’s Northern Silk Road, were used to equip the new Russia army. We will retain the great European culture that is now rejected by post European fashion.  Without it we would not have created the greatest literature in the world. And without Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol and Blok Russia would not have become a great country and nation.”

“Today’s Foreign Policy should be geared towards the comprehensive development of relations with the countries of the World Majority to ensure the West steps down from its five centuries held position of Dominance.   In a new multicultural period, more attention should be given to the study of the languages, culture, and lives of the rising powers and civilizations in Asia, Africa, Latin America. Karaganov looks at China and Russia as complementary powers which was underlined during Putin’s recent state visit in China. “China is the main external resource for Russia’s internal development and ally and partner in the foreseeable future.  Russia should help to develop China’s naval and strategic nuclear capabilities in order to help oust the United States as an aggressive hegemon.”

Karaganov sees in the friendship between Russia and China the potential to become “a bulwark of international peace and stability. (…) India is another natural ally in creating a new world system and arresting our slide towards a World War III…The Primakov Triangle of Russia, China and India is a guarantor of Greater Eurasia’s relatively peaceful development… In the meantime, we need hundreds of Indologists, dozens of experts on Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian and Africa, aside its excellent relations with Arab countries such as Egypt, UAE and Algeria.” Concerning Russia’s future “defense policy” Karaganov concludes that it will be impossible to prevent the world from sliding into a series of conflicts and subsequently a global thermonuclear war, unless our nuclear deterrence policy is drastically energized and updated.

“The main thing is that we demonstrate our readiness and ability to use nuclear weapons in the event of extreme necessity.” He underlines that he has no doubt that the doctrine is already being updated, which the stationing of long-range missiles in Belarus testifies. The missiles are clearly intended for use not only when “the very existence of the state is threatened, but much earlier (…)  By intensifying nuclear deterrence, we will not only sober up the aggressors, but also perform an invaluable service to all humanity. At the moment, there is no other protection from a series of wars and major thermonuclear conflict.” Hence Karaganov’s proposal to “work and think together, both publicly and behind closed doors with experts from leading countries of the World Majority and in the future with representatives of the sobered -up Western World.”

A further sign that things are getting into motion is underlined by the fact that on May24th the Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi met Chief advisor to the President of Brazil Celso Amorim. In a joint 6- point press release the two countries stated that they “support an international peace conference that is recognized by both Russia and Ukraine….”–issue-no-26/decades-of-wars


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