Patrushev and Putin

The World According to Patrushev

October 07, 2022
Simon Saradzhyan and Angelina Flood

A great power that is politically, culturally and economically sovereign and self-sufficient, benefiting from the rise of the East while jealously watched by the financially, culturally and morally bankrupt West—that is Nikolai Patrushev's vision for a future Russia. The picture, in some domestic policy respects, is not very different from the one painted by Vladimir Sorokin in his novel “Day of the Oprichnik.” For Sorokin, however, such a Russia is dystopian, while for Patrushev—whose first name and patronymic match those of the “first Russian tsar” in the 2006 novel—it would be a dream come true, one he would likely pursue with even greater vigor were he to succeed Vladimir Putin as president of Russia.

Patrushev often comes up when discussion turns to possible Putin successors. Given that the 71-year-old secretary of Russia’s Security Council is one of the few people who have Putin’s ear when it comes to foreign and security policy (and that he seems to view the world through the same lens as Putin), it is his views we have chosen to summarize in the first of our series of compilations that will shed light on views held by individuals identified by leading Russia experts as potential successors to Putin, who turns 70 on Oct. 7. The comments quoted below touch on key issues on the U.S.-Russia agenda, made mostly since Putin's return to the Kremlin in 2012.

Generally speaking, Patrushev has been consistently hawkish in his public views since then-prime minister Putin lobbied his appointment as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in 1999. However, like Putin, Patrushev has not always been as hostile toward the West as he is today. In fact, he was once seen as so constructive in his attitudes toward the U.S. that in 2010 Barack Obama’s national security adviser Jim Jones publicly called him “my friend. Also in 2010, Patrushev urged the U.S. and Russia to “deepen cooperation and imbue our bilateral relations with the spirit of openness and honesty.” The hardliner also seemed to have a soft spot for Europe at the time, calling for “strengthening” the EU in 2011 (though he probably wished a stronger EU would be more independent of the U.S.). More recently, Patrushev even implied that there was at one point a hypothetical possibility of a “political and economic union of Russia and Europe.” Patrushev was also one of the few top Russian officials who did not initially support the immediate recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” as independent at a fateful Security Council meeting on Feb. 21; instead, he suggested another round of negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, even if it were to fail to yield results acceptable to Putin.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, however, Patrushev quickly emerged as a leading proponent of the war, publicly justifying the invasion and promoting Moscow’s war aims in a spate of interviews and trips. According to Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, these public appearances illustrate that Patrushev, unlike even Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaks for Putin, and is “allowed to explain and clarify Putin’s thoughts.”

This compilation is meant as a categorized sampling of Patrushev’s views on issues that impact either vital or important U.S. interests. All sections may be updated with new or past statements. The quotes below are divided into categories similar to those in Russia Matters’ news and analysis digests, reflecting the most pertinent topic areas for U.S.-Russian relations broadly and for drivers of the two countries’ policies toward one another.

Bulleted text that is not italicized, bracketed or in parentheses is a direct quote from Patrushev.


I. U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda

Nuclear security and safety:

  • We note the aspiration of international terrorist structures to gain access to weapons of mass destruction and the technology of their production. (Izvestia, 10.11.06)
  • The continuing aspirations of terrorists to acquire radioactive materials and gain access to nuclear technologies are becoming one of the gravest threats. (RIA Novosti, 09.06.07)
  • With international terrorist organizations, radicalism and insurgencies an unfortunately common part of today's security environment, Moscow and Washington must take the lead by ensuring nuclear weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. (Politico, 04.08.10)
  • Global terrorism is characterized by the intention to possess weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists are seeking access to the facilities and technologies behind chemical and bacteriological weapons; radioactive, toxic agents; and biological formulas. (Itar-Tass, 10.05.10)

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:

  • The consistency of American leader Donald Trump in his desire to achieve a solution to the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula through diplomacy should be noted. After all, knowing the history of negotiations on the nuclear program of the DPRK, it is difficult to be an optimist. More than once, after the onset of a certain progress, then difficulties arose in the negotiations, which turned into mutual accusations of violating agreements and, as a result, another aggravation. (Argumenty i Fakty, 02.26.19)
  • In the event of a new test of nuclear weapons by the North Koreans, Washington is preparing to deploy strategic forces near the Korean Peninsula, which will lead to further degradation of the situation in the region. (RIA Novosti, 08.22.22)

Iran and its nuclear program:

  • America's NATO allies treat a nuclear threat from Iran as an established fact. They never explain what their conviction is based on. They only keep assuring Moscow that the American missile shield in Europe installed along Russian borders is supposed to protect their countries from an Iranian nuclear attack. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)
  • As for all these speculations on how the Iranians are allegedly on the threshold of making nuclear weapons next week ... we've been hearing them for years. There is no evidence at all that the Iranian nuclear program includes any military elements. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)

Humanitarian impact of the Ukraine conflict:

  • So that a handful of magnates in London’s City and on Wall Street can increase their wealth, the governments of the U.S. and England, controlled by big capital, are creating a global economic crisis, dooming millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America to hunger, restricting their access to grain, fertilizer and energy supplies. (Argumenty i Fakty, 05.24.22)

Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts:

  • It is the American advisers who encourage and help the Kyiv regime in the creation of biological and nuclear weapons. Ukraine has everything for this--competencies, technologies, raw materials, means of delivery. (RG, 03.15.22)
  • Our goal is to destroy the foothold of neo-Nazism created by the efforts of the West at our borders. The need for demilitarization is due to the fact that Ukraine, saturated with weapons, poses a threat to Russia, including from the point of view of the development and use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • The Kyiv regime’s so-called Western partners are also not opposed to taking advantage of the current situation for their own selfish interests and have special plans for Ukrainian lands. … By all appearances, Poland is already taking actions related to the seizure of western Ukrainian territories. (Interfax, 05.31.22)
  • It has been noted more than once that the United States and its allies intend to fight to the last Ukrainian, because the people of this country are just a bargaining chip in the geopolitical game for them. (RBC, 10.05.22)

Punitive measures related to Ukraine and their impact globally:

  • I am sure that we will solve all the problems that have arisen as a result of sanctions restrictions. Today Russia is reorienting itself away from the European market to the African, Asian and Latin American markets. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • Washington and Brussels do not hide the fact that their sanctions are aimed at both the material and spiritual impoverishment of Russians. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • Let's call a spade a spade: the freezing of Russian assets is one of the greatest thefts in history. And the paradox is that the organizers of this crime are the same people who previously assumed responsibility for maintaining the world economic architecture. (RIA Novosti, 06.30.22)

Ukraine-related negotiations:

  • All attempts at the negotiation process [between Ukraine and Russia] were thwarted by the order of the American patrons of the Kyiv regime. (RBC/TASS, 10.05.22)

Great Power rivalry/new Cold War/NATO-Russia relations:

  • At the core of the New START treaty is the principle of indivisible security. To make this principle universal, President Medvedev has put forward the initiative of a pan-European security treaty with a view to finally sweeping away the Cold War legacy. This initiative will neither replace nor weaken NATO, something often alleged by its opponents. These concerns are unwarranted. Our aim is to create a common space of indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic region, in which no country and no security alliance would be entitled to strengthen its own security at the cost of others. (The Guardian, 04.07.10)
  • We, of course, understand that Russia is only one part of the former USSR, and Russia is not claiming to be a superpower. Unlike the U.S., we do not aspire to dominate the world. (, 01.26.16)
  • When asked to comment on Westerners’ accusations that Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine: In fact, what happened in Crimea was not really our initiative. We should “thank” the U.S. for that. It was Washington that initiated the process of an unconstitutional coup in Ukraine. Crimea joined Russia not because Russia wanted it, but because the population of the peninsula held a referendum and an absolute majority decided that they wanted to live as  a part of Russia, and not a part of Ukraine. The only real alternative to Crimea’s ascent to the Russian Federation was massive bloodshed on the peninsula. (, 01.26.16)
  • U.S. leaders have designated a goal: global domination. In this regard, they do not need a strong Russia. On the contrary, they need to weaken our country. One cannot rule out that they may want to achieve this goal through the collapse of the Russian Federation. This will give the United States access to a wealth of resources, which, in their opinion, Russia possesses unjustly. (, 01.26.16)
  • The Strategic Forecast of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2035 identifies four scenarios for the development of the global situation. Specifically: the first is the transition to a polycentric world order. The second is the continuation of attempts by the U.S. to maintain its dominance. The third is the formation of a bipolar model of the world order. And, finally, the fourth development scenario is the intensification of regionalization processes. (RG, 11.11.19)
  • The U.S. is trying to replace the current international legal system with some kind of alternative "rules-based order." (RG, 11.11.19)
  • In the modern world, of course, there are trends in the formation of polycentric architecture. We are talking about the emergence of new world and regional centers of economic and political influence, whose share of world trade and in the system of international political coordinates is steadily growing. (RG, 11.11.19)
  • A separate shameful page in history for all NATO countries was and will forever remain the barbaric bombing of Yugoslavia. (RG, 06.17.20)
  • The tragic scenarios of world crises, both in past years and today, are being imposed by Washington in its desire to consolidate its hegemony, resisting the collapse of the unipolar world. ... They tried to force Russia to give up sovereignty, self-consciousness, culture, an independent foreign and domestic policy. We have no right to agree with such an approach. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • The West continues to act in line with the inhuman doctrine of the "golden billion," which implies a significant reduction in the population of the planet in various ways. To do this, the West dishonorably created an empire of lies, which involves the humiliation and destruction of Russia and other objectionable states. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • The result of the policy of the West and the Kyiv regime under its control can only be the disintegration of Ukraine into several states. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • The style of the Anglo-Saxons has not changed for centuries. And so today they continue to dictate their terms to the world, boorishly trampling on the sovereign rights of states. Covering their actions with words about the struggle for human rights, freedom and democracy, they are actually implementing the doctrine of the "golden billion," which suggests that a limited number of people can flourish in this world. The destiny of the rest … is to break their backs in the name of [the chosen few’s] goal.” (Argumenty i Fakty, 05.24.22)
  • [T]he increasingly adventurous and aggressive policy of the U.S., Britain, the EU and Japan … is based on a complete detachment from reality, the desire to construct their own imaginary world, which they will rule. Such an escape from reality is a real threat to all of humanity. (RIA Novosti, 06.30.22)
  • The Anglo-Saxons are exploiting Ukraine as an instrument of struggle with our country ... The goal is to suppress Russia, retain their imaginary supremacy, keep their unipolar world, ensure themselves the opportunity to live at the expense of others. (TASS, 10.05.22) 

China-Russia: Allied or aligned?

  • The United States is stubbornly trying to continue its global domination. They think it is important to remove challenges to this domination, such as China. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)
  • The American leadership clearly also disliked the prospects of Russia's collaboration with China and India, the introduction of the practice of summits in the BRICS format, the successful activity of other organizations in which Russia occupies leading positions, (the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization], the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization], and the EAEC [Eurasian Economic Community]), and the formation of the Customs Union. (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 10.15.14)

Missile defense:

  • Our countries [Russia and the U.S.] have serious converging interests, as a matter of fact, in the security domain. … But there is certain divergence on a number of issues… For example, we are greatly concerned about … the creation and development of the American missile shield. Today it poses no serious threat to Russia, but it is designed to lower our strategic potential in the future. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)

Nuclear arms control:

  • There is plenty of reason for optimism at this juncture [the signing of the New START Treaty]. Cutting nuclear stockpiles by a third proves our shared commitment to non-proliferation, setting an example to nuclear powers the world over. (The Guardian, 04.07.10)
  • With a new START the interests of [the] U.S., Europe and Russia are more united than ever before. A transatlantic alignment of security interests, from Vancouver to Vladivostok, is the only real guarantee for stability in the northern hemisphere. (The Guardian, 04.07.10)
  • It is most important to determine the parameters of peaceful coexistence that do not allow for a nuclear war or a war with the participation of nuclear powers. We can already talk about important progress in this area, including the extension of the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty, as well as the joint statement of the presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States adopted at the end of the Geneva summit and the decision to resume bilateral negotiations on the issue of strategic stability. In this way, we send a powerful signal to the whole world about our readiness to work together to resolve the most pressing problems in this, without exaggeration, vital area. (Russian Security Council, 06.24.21)
  • Our country is actively involved in the work on other subjects, such as the Iranian nuclear program, the Middle East settlement, the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula. (Russian Security Council, 06.24.21)


  • Once Cold War foes, Russia and the west are today united in facing a very real terrorist threat that more than ever requires a joint, coordinated and determined effort to defeat it. (The Guardian, 04.07.10)
  • As far as Russia is concerned, no-one is denying now that the threat [of terrorism] is coming from abroad. (Russian Media, 10.05.10)
  • Terrorists in all countries use funds of criminal origin, including those earned by drug trafficking. Additionally, criminal groups often recruit terrorists to achieve their illegal goals. As a result, a phenomenon—global [transnational] terrorism not recognizing state borders—has formed. … Modern terrorist organizations have an international line-up, use a common ideology and methods of terrorist activities and also have a broad geography. (Russian Media, 10.05.10)
  • The fight against terrorism is being used by the U.S. and its allies to advance their own interests and priorities. Thus, we see how the Americans impose their concept of countering violent extremism on countries, which not only ignores the legal framework of anti-terror agreed upon by the U.N., but also allows interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. (RG, 11.11.19)
  • The hasty withdrawal of the Western military contingent from Afghanistan had a serious negative impact on the security of our [CIS] states. … [T]he puppet regime in Kabul collapsed in a matter of days. And the Americans themselves simply left the Afghans to their fate, trying to shift the entire burden of responsibility onto the states neighboring Afghanistan. At the same time, the United States, in fact, planted a time bomb in the region, including leaving the Taliban an unprecedented amount of modern weapons and military equipment. In the current environment, it can easily fall into the hands of terrorists from ISIS, al-Qaeda or other groups that pose a serious threat to our states. (Russian Security Council, 10.13.21)
  • The experience gained by the Russian Federation in the late 20th and early 21st centuries in combating terrorism and eliminating the threat to the territorial integrity of the state required the creation in Russia of a qualitatively new nationwide system capable of repelling this evil. (RG, 06.02.22)

Conflict in Syria:

  • [The West is trying to have Syria] punished for its reluctance to sever ties with Iran. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)
  • The military defeat of the Syrian Arab Republic and its possible disintegration would inevitably lead to the strengthening of terrorist organizations, and in the future, the extremists will refocus on Russian territory. We have previously encountered the actions of international terrorists in Russia. We cannot allow this to be repeated. This is why we are fighting international terrorism outside our country. In Syria, we are defending primarily our own interest. … It will take some time, but the sooner [Russia’s] military operation [in Syria] is over, the better. (, 01.26.16)

Cyber security:

  • There are also serious risks in the field of information and communication technologies. In this area, today there is often a disregard for the sovereign rights of states to develop their own technological base for critical information infrastructure, including under the slogan of building up the digital potential of developing countries, and to manage the national segment of the global Internet. (RG, 11.11.19)
  • The epidemiological restrictions introduced in a number of states have stimulated the transition of terrorists and criminals to the wider use of various software tools and Internet technologies. The spread of hacker groups increases the risk of computer attacks on critical infrastructure. Terrorists are already creating their own cyber units. (Russian Security Council, 10.13.21)
  • One of the important tasks remains the development of measures to ensure national security in the information sphere, including in conditions where the collective West launched a cynical information campaign against Russia to discredit our country, its history, traditions, directly calling for the elimination of statehood and the humiliation of Russian citizens. (RG, 06.02.22)

Energy exports from CIS:

  • The manipulation of oil prices can be a powerful economic weapon. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)
  • In actual fact, specialists are certain that no real substitute for hydrocarbons as the basis of power generation will emerge in the next few decades. Furthermore, the understanding prevails in the West that the total capacity of nuclear, hydro, wind, solar and other power stations will meet no more than one-fifth of world demand. (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 10.15.14)
  • In the natural gas market, competition, which has become more intense, may get more so after 2020 as a result of the industrial use of the technology for the production of subsea gas hydrates. Unless principal Russia oil and gas producers change their inert policies, these developments may lead to losses of tens of billions of dollars. This is a direct threat to the economic security of the country. (Interfax, 2014)

Climate change:

  • In the struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, each country, within the framework of the implementation of the provisions of the Paris climate agreement, must independently derive a formula for the interdependence of the economy and the environment. At the same time, the energy balance, taking into account the share of “alternative” energy sources in it, cannot be calculated to the detriment of energy and environmental security. (Komsomolskaya Pravda, 11.01.21)
  • Russia, being one of the leading producers of nuclear energy in the world, advocates the development of nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuel stations and promotes this initiative at all international climate platforms. (Komsomolskaya Pravda, 11.01.21)

U.S.-Russian financial-economic ties:

  • For any national financial system to be sovereign, its means of payment must have intrinsic value and price stability without being tied to the dollar. (RG, 04.26.22)

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

  • The U.S. and Russia must continue to deepen cooperation and imbue our bilateral relations with the spirit of openness and honesty that the agreement [New START] represents. This means not only honoring the commitments already laid out, but taking care to allay each other's security fears by leaving no room for misinterpretation. (The Guardian, 04.07.10)
  • Vladimir Putin's ascent to power followed by Barack Obama's [re-election] may improve Russian-American relations and the general situation in the world. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)
  • We continue to record attempts of gross interference in our internal political processes. This was clearly manifested during the elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. (Russian Security Council, 10.13.21)
  • Russia supported Washington during the Civil War in 1863, although the current U.S. leadership prefers not to remember this. (RG, 09.19.22)


II. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

  • Through foreign NGOs and funds, they are trying to influence the opinions of Russians. Experience shows that this kind of interference will lead to lower living standards for the majority of the population. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)  
  • Russia is a self-sufficient country. … The Soviet Union, by the way, broke up not because of problems in the economy. The leaders of the Soviet Union simply lost their bearings. They did not understand how and what they had to do, did not see solutions to the country’s problems. And most importantly, the Soviet leadership did not take responsibility. They forgot the basic principle of governance: if you made a decision, then you have to be responsible for it. Recall, for example, decisions on the use of troops in Georgia or Lithuania. Does anyone really believe that these decisions were taken at the level of those who executed these decisions? All of this was directly related to the decay of the state system. Soviet leaders at the time did not show the political will. They did not have belief in their ability to preserve the country. … The current Russian leadership has repeatedly argued that the political will is there and it is able to maintain and strengthen the constitutional order, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state. (, 01.26.16)
  • The values ​​of our multinational, multi-confessional society must be protected from the aggressive promotion of neo-liberal values, which in many respects contradict the very essence of our worldview and are actively propagated by our geopolitical opponents in the struggle for influence on the development of civilization and their dominance in the world. ... In the West, basic concepts like family, mother and father, man and woman were deliberately clouded. Instead of the norm, artificial labels such as "parent 1" and "parent 2," due to their unnaturalness from a purely biological point of view, formed the basis for a civilizational conflict in Western European society. (RG, 06.17.20)
  • Our spiritual and moral values ​​allow us to remain ourselves, to be honest with our ancestors, to preserve the individual, society and the state. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • Our entire history teaches that Russia has only one right way—to remain Russia, not trying to include itself with any particular region. Our country is too vast, unique and diverse in historical, spiritual, cultural terms to be a part of something. (RIA Novosti, 06.30.22)

Defense and aerospace:

  • In the development of new weapons, we are often ahead of many of the world's leading armies, which have much broader budgetary possibilities ... The Russian Armed Forces are combat-ready, mobile, modern, compact and capable of solving the tasks assigned to them in any conditions. This was confirmed by the actions of the Aerospace Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic, during the peacekeeping operation in the zone of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in 2021, as well as the special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine. (RG, 06.02.22)
  •  See section Military aspects of the Ukraine conflict and their impacts above.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • The joint efforts of international organizations and national structures, as well as the development of coordinated methods to organize monitoring are possible in the work to draft a universal anti-criminal strategy to combat transnational crime. … Organized crime groups control a total of 1.5 trillion euros in the world. The growing market of arms smuggling, including military hardware, is worth $2.5 billion and is a global threat. (Russian Media, 10.05.10)


III. Russia’s relations with other countries

Russia’s general foreign policy and relations with “far abroad” countries:

  • Russia would rather see the European Union strengthen its position and evolve into a center of power. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)  
  • Tens of millions of people in Africa or the Middle East, through the fault of the West, will be on the verge of starvation. To survive, they will rush to Europe. I'm not sure that Europe will survive the crisis. Political institutions, supranational associations, economy, culture, traditions can become a thing of the past. Europe will come to bite its elbows, and America will be freed from its main geopolitical fear—the political and economic union of Russia and Europe. (RG, 04.26.22)
  • The best option for Russia, of course, is a stable and developing Europe. This region has always been one of the key markets for us, an important partner in the field of technology, and culturally we have built a productive dialogue with the Europeans. (RIA Novosti, 06.30.22)

Russia's other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • The United States also wants to win direct access to the resources and transport arteries of the Caucasus, Caspian region and Central Asia. (Kommersant, 01.12.11)  
  • The United States has been behaving particularly assertively and shamelessly over the past 20 years in and around this space. Encouraged by the weakening and subsequent elimination of the USSR, American ruling circles did everything possible to ensure dominance over the major sources of raw materials resources in our country and in Central Asia, as well as the transit routes for their export. Washington planned to extend its sphere of direct influence to the regions of the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the Caspian. (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 10.15.14)
  • Washington still won’t stop its attempts to negotiate with Afghanistan’s neighboring countries regarding the creation of supposedly temporary infrastructure there under the pretext of conducting anti-terrorist operations. … Such measures are needed by the Americans, first of all, to study the potential theater of military operations, to clarify the coordinates of promising targets and make adjustments to digital maps for precision weapons. (RG, 09.30.22)

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.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual quoted. Photo by shared under a Creative Commons license.