Interview with Sergei Karaganov: 'If We Lost, Russia Would Risk Breaking Apart'

June 03, 2022

This is a summary of an article originally published by Italian magazine Limes, with the headline: “Se perdessimo, la Russia rischierebbe di spaccarsi (If we lost, Russia would risk breaking apart)."

In this interview, Sergei Karaganov of Moscow's Higher School of Economics says:

On the war in Ukraine:

  • "There is a perception [in Russia] that this is an existential war, most of the [Russian] population supports the president. Most of the elite are supporting but also asking for a definition of what victory is. ... The question is how we define the victory. ... If Russia took over most of Eastern and Southern Ukraine and then could achieve some armistice: that would be a victory."
  • "I don’t think Russia should take control of the full territory of Ukraine because it would be a huge burden. ... In my vision, Russia with Ukraine could not be a viable great power." 

On the risk of nuclear war:

  • "We are living under very dangerous circumstances. I would call it a prolonged Cuban missile crisis. I think one of the biggest task for leaders, also for pundits like myself, is to avoid a nuclear world war that would finish off humanity. ... This expansion of NATO to Finland and Sweden means one very simple thing: the nuclear threshold will be lowered."

On the changing world order:

  • "Western dominance can’t be returned. The world is becoming more free. But instability comes with this freedom. ... The Chinese ... understand that if Russia loses, they would become totally vulnerable."
  • When asked: “What is your grand strategy?” "We will be able to fix our Western security border. We’ll become, of course, more dependent on China and the East. But in 10 years there will be a different world and a different Europe, and we will start to build what I call a Greater Eurasia, that is a Commonwealth of countries from Shanghai to Lisbon or Paris." 

On the risk of Russia's disintegration:

  • When asked: “Do you see the risk of a disaggregation process of the Russian Federation starting as consequence of a prolonged conflict?” "[W]e are openly talking about that and discuss that. ... We were talking about the absolute need of a victory exactly to avoid that kind of a scenario. ... The picture is much worse that the one we had during the previous Cold War, when the aim was deterring and containing, but now the aim [of some Western powers] is simple disintegration and collapse. So, we know the stakes are very high and that is why I am very worried about escalation." 

This item is part of Russia Matters’ “Clues from Russian Views” series, in which we share what newsmakers in/from Russia are saying on Russia-related issues that impact key U.S. national interests so that RM readers can glean clues about their thinking.

Photo shared under a Pixabay license.