One can support President Putin without “deifying” him, and self-censoring oneself from constructively criticizing anyone is a disservice to those that you really care about.
Let me come out and say it — I’m a pro-Putin anti-“Putinist” and it’s about time that Alt-Media acknowledge that we exist. I deeply admire what President Putin has done for Russia and the world at large, but I’m not going to “deify” him as a “secular god” and self-censor myself from constructively criticizing him whenever I feel that it’s appropriate.
This might all sound obvious to most, but if you’re reading this, then you’ve probably come into contact somewhere at some time with what we can call the “Putinists”. They’re a uniquely foreign phenomenon that doesn’t exist inside Russia itself but survives in cyberspace where they’ve formed a cult of sorts that practically “worships” the Russian President.
“Russia, like any country in the world, isn’t “perfect”, but just like the object of anyone’s desire, its devotees have a tendency of seeing it that way regardless, especially if they’re not from there themselves but are attracted to it for geopolitical reasons or simply as a statement of principled opposition against the policies of their home country. Whatever the reason may be, and it’s irrelevant in this context to conduct a psychoanalysis of this trend, the end result is that many people across the world who truly appreciate Russia’s efforts to forge a Multipolar World Order that’s fairer and more just than the unipolar one that it seeks to replace often overlook some of the country’s unpleasant realities.
This is more often than not due to both a combination of cognitive dissonance in refusing to accept that their “deified” “role model” doesn’t rule over “paradise” and a deliberate move to avoid unintentionally playing into the runaway Russophobia that’s come to dominate the general discussion. For however “noble” this may or may not be, it nevertheless has fed into a growing online cottage industry that wrongly portrays Russia as having no problems at all.
This artificial narrative has gone viral to the point where an increasing number of people in the Alt-Media Community adhere to it as though it’s a “secular religion”, complete with its own “churches” (certain websites and forums), “priests” (narrative writers and promoters), “congregation” (their fellow “believers”), and “heathens” (those who “sacrilegiously” question the “sanctity” of Russia’s “infallibility”).
There’s nothing innately “wrong” with this so long as the “cult members” keep their beliefs to themselves and don’t “proselytize”, but the issue arises once they attempt to aggressively enforce their views onto others and/or disseminate them as indisputable “truths” that axiomatically form the basis of International Relations. The warped perception of Russia that’s beginning to take shape in the Alt-Media Community as a result of this “secular religion’s” growing popularity (provoked to a large degree as a response to the [western] MSM’s Russophobia) must urgently be corrected before it gets out of control and creates an Alternative Reality fully detached from real life. If those who want to truly understand and help Russia don’t have an accurate idea of what it even is, then their plans and efforts will inevitably be for naught.”
That pretty much sums up what a “Putinist” is, which is basically an Alt-Media gatekeeper whose fetish for President Putin prevents them from accepting even the mildest criticism of their “dear leader”, leading them to viciously attack all “deniers” who don’t accept that he isn’t a “secular god”. People can believe whatever they want, but the problem arises once they try to aggressively impose their beliefs on others and resort to propagating and reinforcing fake news narratives about their idol.
Nowhere is this more prominent than when it comes to Russian-“Israeli” relations, with the “Putinists” — who to remind everyone, are a distinctly foreign phenomenon and have nothing to do with Putin himself or his domestic supporters in Russia — convinced that he’s secretly an “anti-Zionist crusader” dedicated to “destroying Israel” on behalf of his “Resistance” allies. This narrative is the epitome of fake news for countless reasons, not least of which is that President Putin himself contradicted it with his own words and actions.
The reader should reference my piece from last year titled “President Putin On Israel: Quotes From The Kremlin Website”, which collects many of the Russian leader’s quotes about “Israel” and provides handy hyperlinks to the original sources on the official Kremlin website to prove that he really said everything that’s attributed to him. If one simply skims that article, then they’d see that President Putin has a track record of praising “Israel” in almost every sphere imaginable, insisting that it’s an ally in everything from “anti-terrorism” to even space exploration, with the two joined at the hip because of the Russian diaspora in “Israel” and their shared experience fighting Nazism together in order to advance the model that I’ve provocatively described as “two states, one nation”.
Skeptical “Putinists” — who adhere to the discredited “Putin is an anti-Zionist crusader” narrative for unknown reasons — like to push the fake news narrative that “Israel” supposedly shot down a Russian spy plane back in September, but actually it was Syria which did this though only as a result of a midair tactical maneuver by an “Israeli” jet that led to the S-200 missile hitting the Russian plane throughout the course of what President Putin himself described as a “chain of tragic circumstances”.
That event led to the Russian Ministry of Defense listing off all the favors that it did for its “Israeli” ally in Syria over the past few years, which included creating a 140-kilometer anti-Iranian “buffer zone” beyond the occupied Golan Heights at “Israel’s” behest and even dispatching special forces to unearth “Israeli” military remains in the middle of a SAA-ISIS firefight. The “Putinist” cult always omits this from their narrative but here’s what RT reported about Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov’s statement from that time:
“Russia has sent as many as 310 notifications to the Israeli Air Force Command, while the latter appeared to be reluctant to show the same level of commitment, notifying only 25 times even though its jets carried out more than 200 strikes against targets located in Syria over the past 18 months alone.
“This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that has been done by the Russian Federation for Israel and the Israeli people recently,” Konashenkov said.
The Russian military supported the Syrian military operation in the Golan Heights to “ensure there were no shelling attacks on Israeli territory” anymore, thus allowing the UN peacekeeping mission to resume patrolling of the contested border between Syria and Israel after “a six-year hiatus.”
Russia also managed to secure the withdrawal of all Iran-backed groups from the Golan Heights to a “safe distance for Israel,” more than 140 kilometers to the east of Syria, the spokesperson said, adding that this was done at the request of Tel Aviv. “A total of 1,050 personnel, 24 MLRSs and tactical missiles, as well as 145 pieces of other munitions and military equipment were withdrawn from the area,” Konashenkov told journalists.
The Russian Defense Ministry had provided assistance in preserving Jewish sacred places and graves in the city of Aleppo. Putting Russian Special Forces soldiers’ lives in danger, it also organized the search for the remains of some Israeli servicemen that died during the past conflicts in an area where the Syrian forces were combating Islamic State (IS, former ISIS) terrorists at that time.”
Oh yeah, Russia also “passively facilitated” 200+ “Israeli” airstrikes against the IRGC and Hezbollah in the period between January 2017 and September 2018 alone, proving just how close of an ally it is to “Israel” by not interfering every time that Tel Aviv wanted to carry out a strike against its enemies in the Arab Republic. It shouldn’t be any surprise then that Russia once again didn’t react when “Israel” bombed Syria on Christmas, even if it criticized the dangerous tactic of hiding behind civilian airliners and shamefully using them as “shields” to deter Syria from firing anti-air missiles against its jets.
Let’s not forget that Russia was recently unable to deny that it’s seeking Iran’s removal from Syria, though astute observers understand that this is the natural result of its 21st-century grand strategy which aspires to make the country the supreme “balancing” force in Afro-Eurasia. Accordingly, Russia’s tacit position seems to be that Iran must leave Syria in order to restore the pre-war regional “balance”, which might happen sooner rather than later as a seemingly inevitable outcome of Syria’s (Russian-brokered?) rapprochement with the GCC.
To get back on track after this important tangent, none of what I described has caused me to turn against the Russian President even if I might have some personal disagreements about this dimension of his “balancing” strategy, though I respect that there are others who feel differently. What separates me from the “Putinists”, however, is that I won’t aggressively impose my views on others, nor defame all dissenters as “CIA/Soros/Mossad/MI6 agents”, and I surely won’t pretend that President Putin is a “secular god” whose every action (or lack thereof in some cases like in Eastern Ukraine) should be glorified as a modern-day “miracle”.
I’m not going to attribute his alliance with “Israel” to “5D chess” and spread fake news that this “grandmaster” is supposedly so “sneaky” that he’s “tricked the Zionists” and is just waiting for the right moment to “nuke Israel”. No, frankly speaking, that’s just foolish and anyone who believes that probably has deeper psychological and emotional issues that require professional therapy if they ever want any hope of even remotely recovering. I’m using very strong words to describe the “Putinists” because they either disingenuously deny reality to advance their cultish agenda or have seriously split from it and need help as soon as possible.
“In his greeting message to Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin noted that the two countries have gained considerable experience in cooperation in various spheres and expressed hope that in the upcoming year Russian-Israeli relations will be developing in a constructive manner as a partnership for the benefit of the peoples of both states and in the interest of strengthening peace, security and stability in the Middle East.”
Unsurprisingly, this was followed up by the Russian Ambassador to “Israel” telling his hosts on Twitter that he’s “convinced that in the coming year there will be opportunities to continue and even multiply the partnership for the benefit of the Russian and Israeli peoples”, showing just how serious Russia regards its strategic alliance with “Israel”. Importantly, the Ambassador also made no mention of the mid-September tragedy, proving that Russia has moved past it and will not allow that incident to hinder the expansion of its partnership with “Israel” all across the Mideast.
The “Putinists”, however, either deny that any of this happened even if presented with verifiable evidence of it or chalk it all up to the grandiose “5D chess” conspiracy theory that varies from cultist to cultist but shares the common denominator of purporting that “grandmaster” Putin has “tricked the Zionists” and that no one else other than they and their fellow believers are capable of understanding the “superhuman” cunning behind this strategy.
I have no idea why the “Putinists” are all obsessed with the false notion that their role model is “against Israel” and continue to maintain that narrative in spite of the plethora of evidence debunking it, but that’s why I said that they seriously need professional help to cope with the cognitive dissonance that many of them experience whenever they’re presented with the facts. Still, they’re entitled to their own beliefs, but it’s unacceptable whenever they attack and defame others for pointing this out to them.
Alt-Media hasn’t been that helpful either because its gatekeepers have mostly downplayed President Putin’s philo-Semitism and painted anyone who draws attention to this as being a “Russophobic Zionist” and/or foreign intelligence “agent”. That’s wrong and it needs to stop in 2019. The facts are the facts and they mustn’t be suppressed just because they’re “inconvenient” to the “Putinist” cult’s prevailing narrative.
People can support President Putin without “worshipping” him like the “Putinists” do, and self-censoring oneself from constructively criticizing him and his country for whatever it may be is a disservice to both because it creates an Alt-Reality totally divergent from the objective truth and reinforces false narratives about them that perpetuate this propagandistic cycle. Alt-Media needs to acknowledge that pro-Putin anti-“Putinists” such as myself exist and stop denying us the space to respectfully express ourselves without having to experience defamatory abuse for none other than the “sin” of saying that President Putin isn’t perfect and that he doesn’t play “5D chess”.
For the record, President Putin is indeed a “Zionist” in the sense that he vehemently supports “Israel’s” “right to exist” as the “historical homeland” of global Jewry and has done more in recent years to ensure its survival than even the US has (i.e. forcing Iran to withdraw 140 kilometers from the occupied Golan Heights and therefore preventing the Islamic Republic and its allies from using that position to lob rockets at the “Jewish State”), but he isn’t the type of “Zionist” who supports abuses against the Palestinian people and the ethnic cleansing of them from their native lands because he’s repeatedly stated that he’s in favor of a so-called “two-state solution” that pushes “Israel” back to its pre-1967 borders.
Maybe it sounds paradoxical to some folks, but it is what it is and those are the facts as they objectively exist, and people need to accept this reality if they want to truly understand Russian foreign policy and specifically its manifestation in the Mideast. The “Putinists” will forever deny their “dear leader’s” philo-Semitism because it “blasphemously” contravenes the fundamental tenet of their “faith”, but that doesn’t bother me because I accept that my personal views can’t shape the future of International Relations, which is why I’m a pro-Putin anti-“Putinist” just like the silent majority of people in Alt-Media who have hitherto been too afraid to speak up for themselves out of fear that the gatekeepers will verbally abuse them.
That’s all changing in 2019 though because this is the year that people can finally come out and be proud of being pro-Putin anti-“Putinists”, no longer having to hide their views because the facts confidently speak for themselves and prove that the “Putinist” cult that’s captured control of most Alt-Media outlets and their influencers is contradicted by the object of their fetish himself. It’s no longer just a conspiracy theory to think that President Putin is an “anti-Zionist crusader”, but a mental illness along the lines of “transgenderism” that should be urgently addressed before the misguided believers hurt themselves or others.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
Getting to know the author Interview with Andrew Korybko First published on The Saker blog (a fraternal site) on April 20, 2016
An American studying in Moscow? That is a fascinating profile that sounds almost unreal. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to study in a country that most Serbs greatly respect and admire, while most of your Serbian peers dream of studying in America?
Hi, and thank you for this very privileged opportunity to address your readers, I’m very honored that they’re interested in learning more about me. Let me begin by telling you about my family and that will hopefully help to explain a lot. My patronymic is Russian and my great-grandfather left what is modern-day Ukraine for Poland after the end of World War I. Aside from him, most of my dad’s side of the family are ethnic Poles and have lived in the country since time immemorial, and my dad was an immigrant from Poland (where he was born and raised) until he returned back to his homeland a few years ago. My mom’s side is what is particularly relevant to our readers. She was born in the US to immigrants that came from Yugoslavia, specifically Slovenia, after World War II. My matronymic grandparents ended up raising me because my parents were divorced, and I learned a lot from them. One thing that they instilled within me is a respect for all other people and identities, because this is what Yugoslavia was all about – strength through differences, unity through diversity!
My grandparents don’t harbor any ill will towards anyone and encouraged me to embrace my common Yugoslav roots and learn more about the broader culture and history outside of Slovenia, and I eagerly took them up on this. Before I was born, my mom won an encyclopedia set in a spelling bee while she was still in school, and since it remained in my grandparents’ house where I grew up, I ended up reading it to learn more about Yugoslavia and our common history. I also became fascinated with maps and asked my grandparents to buy me a globe when I was just a little boy, which they did. Growing up, one of my first real memories was sitting in the living room and around the kitchen table and watching the US bomb the Serbs in Bosnia. My family was of course always talking about it because this involved their former homeland, and I became so interested in learning about everything that was happening so that I could bond more closely with my grandparents. In 1999, I vividly remember watching the NATO war on Yugoslavia and reading about it in the morning news every day before school. Actually, I used to read the newspaper each morning next to my grandpa and talk about the things that were happening, and he always told me to keep reading and learning in order to understand things as best as I can.
My dad had an enormous influence on me ever since I was young because he taught me to hold Russians in the highest of regard. This might sound odd considering that my dad is most directly an ethnic Pole (despite my great-grandfather’s Russian links), but his father, my grandfather, also held a very positive view of Russians and respected them for saving Poland from the evils of World War II’s Nazi occupation. This made my dad a lot different than the stereotypical Pole and had a tremendous effect on steering my later geopolitical ideas. It was during my upbringing – while embracing my Yugoslav roots, watching the US’ two wars on the Serbs in Bosnia and Yugoslavia, hearing a lot of heated criticism about American foreign policy, learning more about the Soviet Union and Russia, and beginning my lifelong habit of daily information consumption – that I started to formulate my own view on everything. I resolved to one day leave the US in order to live and work in Russia, no matter what it took. In pursuit of this, I enrolled at the Ohio State University for my undergraduate studies and received majors in International Relations & Diplomacy, International Studies (focusing on Eastern Europe), and Russian language. While being unable to find a respectable job after graduating and being forced to work in the fast food industry, I never lost hope of my eventual dream. My whole life changed when my dad retired in 2012, sold his house, and moved back to Poland. I decided to go with him later that year and hopefully advance my goal of moving to Russia.
I spent that year in Poland learning more about my Polish roots and preparing myself to enter graduate school. I applied to and was eventually enrolled in the Moscow State Institute of International Relations’ (MGIMO) Governance and Global Affairs master’s program in English and moved to Moscow in August 2013. Early on in my studies, I knew that I had to maximize my time here and find a job that would allow me to remain in the country after graduation. Thankfully, after contacting various news organizations and sharing my analytical writings with them, the Voice of Russia (now known as Sputnik after having merged with RIA Novosti) asked me to intern with them as a “creative content generator”, which I happily did without a moment’s hesitation. I was blessed that they offered me a job after graduation and helped me get my work visa, which explains why I was able to live and work here in Moscow until the present time.
I’m attracted to Russia not only because of my familial connection with the country, but actually mostly because it’s the only state that has the capability of firmly standing up to the US and supporting the ideas that I believe in, particularly multipolarity. As a Slav, I sensed in Russia the spirits of resistance, independence, and wisdom, and I knew that one day it would rise from its knees to push back against the US’ unipolar chaos. Understanding this and believing it to me an imminent eventuality sometime in my lifetime, I dedicated all my time and passion to pursuing my personal mission of moving to Russia and living out my multipolar dream. Having studied in the US through all levels of education, yet knowing through my independent research what was true and not true, I can firmly say that American educational institutions don’t just mislead students, they outright lie to them.
I’ll never forget an example that I regularly recall, during which I was enrolled in a course about “Public and Cultural Diplomacy”. The final assignment of the class was to research a current example of public and cultural diplomacy and write about it. I chose the scandal that was erupting at the time in Moscow when the Russian authorities accused the British Council of being an intelligence front and subsequently closed it down. I heavily cited on Russian, British, and independent materials and my own analysis in reaching the conclusion that the NGO was in fact involved in espionage activity and that the Russian government was right in shutting it down. Suffice to say, I received a very poor grade particularly because I sourced Russian international media reports that were described by the professor as “propaganda” and “unreliable”. Well, as the truth would have it, in 2012 the UK admitted that it was in fact financing Russian NGOs and even using fake rock to assist with its spy activities. The professor was wrong – what I had cited was not “Russian propaganda”, it was actually the truth, and I never, ever forgot that instance, which is one of many, actually.
To get back to addressing the main question, I chose to study in Russia because I had faith that the educational system would be fair there (unlike what I experienced in the US) and that I could use the time during my studies to look for a lasting job, which thank God I was able to find. I never had any similar thing happen to me while studying in Moscow as I did during my time in the US, and this just confirmed to me that institutional indoctrination is endemic to the West, not to Russia. If anything, I noticed that many Russians were a bit too, in my view, optimistically naïve about the West, even after the US’ support of urban terrorism during “Euro Maydan” ushered in the New Cold War. Whenever I would express to them all of the problems that I saw with my own eyes while living in Cleveland, Ohio, such as drugs, drug gangs, crime, illegal immigration, horrible working conditions, poverty, broken families, and so on and so forth, they would tell me that this is the first they ever heard about it from a real American, while acknowledging that they had a passing knowledge about these problems but didn’t know anything in detail.
I explained to them that unlike most Americans who travel abroad, I’m proud to say that I’m from a middle class, actually if we account for my mom who I lived with during my teenage years, we could actually say middle-low class or simply “blue-collar” family, and that, like over the statistical majority of Americans, I experienced all that the country has to offer first-hand, both the good and the bad. Most Americans who travel abroad, let alone to a country such as the US, are usually upper-middle class or upper class and have no experience with any of these things. Moreover, many of them are in Russia, for example, in order to receive diplomatic training or because they’re working for an American company and also making a handsome profit while doing so. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the point is that they represent a very, very narrow class of Americans and therefore give an unrepresentative view of the country and its state of affairs, which, whether wittingly or unwittingly, serves to advance the mainstream media-driven and US government-promoted myth about the “American Dream”.
Not all Americans share my geopolitical views – they were incubated under very special conditions that not many people have gone through in the US – but most of them have lived the same regular, basic life that I did while being there, and they can attest to all of the socio-political problems that plague the country, problems which American tourists never talk about and American diplomats, diplomats-in-training, and business professionals don’t care to share whenever they interact with the “locals”. It’s better for them and their own self-interests to keep up the ‘mystique’ and the ‘reputation’ that the US has in the minds of many of people all across the world. It’s a self-perpetuating myth that can only be broken by speaking to a regular blue-collar American who is politically aware enough to disown the official state ideology of “American Exceptionalism”. Thankfully, as a result of my upbringing and personal interests, I never really fell for that charade, although I pretended to during some points of my life after realizing that I was being met with a very, very negative reaction every time I would correct their false historical diatribes or share verifiable alternative media information about Russia and others. I yearned to be able to experience a type of “freedom of speech” where I wouldn’t be personally attacked for my ideas, smeared as “crazy” or a “conspiracy theorist” all the time for evoking ‘inconvenient’ facts, and actually be respected for my research. In the US, you can say whatever you want but if it’s not in accordance with the mainstream ideology of “American Exceptionalism”, you’ll regularly experience such a negative and actually intimidating reaction that it serves one’s best interests to largely remain quiet and only express one’s views on the internet or with very close and trusted friends.
I can say with full honesty that I never experienced this type of perversion of freedom of speech in Russia, even when people disagree with some of my ideas. I know that all people are different and that there are bad apples everywhere, but it’s more than just a coincidence that my entire life – including during my university years – I went through so many negative and uncomfortable experiences exercising my “freedom of speech.” I experienced nothing of the kind or to such a degree ever since I’ve been in Russia. I feel vindicated in knowing that the dream which I’ve held all my life – that for me, not necessarily for the average American, but for me as an individual person – living in the Russian Federation is preferable to living in the US, and it’s for this reason that I one day aspire to attain Russian citizenship and hopefully spend the rest of my life inside this beautiful country and wonderful society.
Your geopolitical analyses are increasingly being translated into Serbian and many people are already familiar with your views. For those who are not, can you briefly recapitulate your vision of the multipolar world in the making? What are the prospects and benefits, but also what are the obstacles?
I’m so thankful to all of the people who have translated my articles into Serbian and the readers who take the time to go through them and appreciate them. Thank you to all of you guys! The general theme of my work is that the global system is transitioning towards multipolarity, or in simple words, towards the sharing of world power from a single source (i.e. the US, unipolarity) to multiple actors who exercise elements of this once-consolidated post-Cold War hegemony and balance it out across the world. Part of the reason why the US’ unipolar moment was so short and fleeting has to do both with its own mistakes and the resilience of certain Great Powers such as Russia, China, and Iran in not fully capitulating after the end of the Cold War. In fact, I argue that this was largely due to the spirit of the Russian people in weathering the economic, governance, and terrorist difficulties of the 1990s and specifically in Vladimir Putin for putting an end to the country’s US-controlled dissolutive process by wrapping up the federal intervention in Chechnya and geopolitically countering the US by rebuilding Russian strength and prestige immediately following his election. That being said, given its post-Cold War limitations and the change in the geopolitical situation that has rapidly developed since then, Russia by itself cannot confront the US’ aggression all across the world, and even in the instances when it does, there are clear tangible limits in its hard and soft power projections. One thing is for sure, and it’s that the nuclear parity that Russia has retained with the US since the end of the Cold War is probably the main factor behind why Washington did not end up controlling the entire world in the years right after the Soviet collapse.
Having explained this, it became necessary for Russia to work in partnership with key likeminded states in coordinating their resistance activity, whether it it’s expressed on the geopolitical, economic, or institutional fronts, among others. Former Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, the man who ordered his plane to be turned around midway over the Atlantic after the US began its NATO War on Yugoslavia in 1999, spearheaded Russia’s turn towards multipolarity by striking strategic partnerships with China and India. The former was manifested in the Shanghai Five, which later evolved into the SCO, while the latter was more general and based on goodwill and trust established over decades. This formed the Eurasian epicenter of what would eventually turn out to be BRICS, which although coined by Goldman Sachs as a purely economic grouping, ended up taking on world-changing multipolar associations because of the Eurasian core of RIC that Primakov helped to create. There is a lot of concern about India at the moment and which I describe in some of my recent articles, so the main multipolar consistency has surely been the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership, which has strengthened to historically unprecedented levels amidst the US’ New Cold War aggression against both of these states in Ukraine and the South China Sea, respectively.
Russia doesn’t have the global economic capabilities of totally transforming the world, although it can surely present a firm geopolitical challenge to the US in Eurasia, but this is why China is so important in the emerging multipolar arranging. Beijing’s “One Belt One Road” strategy, popularly conceptualized as the New Silk Roads, can be summed up as a worldwide network of infrastructure corridors through which win-win cooperation and multipolarity will inevitably surge, provided, of course, that they’re completed. And herein lies the challenge, because the US is engaged in launching Hybrid Wars against the key transit states that will facilitate this global vision. To briefly explain, I conceive of Hybrid Wars not in the informational-economic sense, but in the strictly regime change manner of creating disruptive events in order to sabotage the New Silk Road corridors and the utilization of a phased continuum between Color Revolutions and Unconventional Wars. “The Law Of Hybrid War”, which I have named my new series on the Oriental Review online journal site, clearly states that “The grand objective behind every Hybrid War is to disrupt multipolar transnational connective projects through externally provoked identity conflicts (ethnic, religious, regional, political, etc.) within a targeted transit state”, and this is the reason for just about every single active, developing, and latent conflict across the world today. To simplify, Russia and China want to build a multipolar world future through worldwide infrastructure projects while the US, safe in its ‘world island’ and protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, seeks to sow the seeds of chaos in Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America in order to divide-and-rule key transit regions and indefinitely prolong its unipolar moment.
Do you think that your vision of a multipolar world is achievable by means of a peaceful transition? If by any other method, would it not be simply too frightening to contemplate?
No, the transition to a multipolar world or the retention of the unipolar one will inevitably be met with violence, as we are seeing it playing out on a large scale in the War on Syria and a lesser on in the War on Donbass. To add to that, there are many incipient conflicts that the US is preparing at the moment in order to activate as geopolitical ‘scorched earth’ ‘tripwires’ when the time is ripe and it feels that Russia and/or China have made too significant of a multipolar inroad into a key transit state and/or region, for example, the Balkans. Pertaining to that, we see that the Immigrant Crisis, which I have written at length about before, the Hybrid War in Macedonia, and the political instability in Serbia and Republika Srpska are predicated towards destabilizing the Central Balkans and preventing the construction of what I have taken to calling China’s Balkan Silk Road, otherwise known as the high-speed railway plan for connecting Budapest with the Greek port of Piraeus via Belgrade and Skopje. Republika Srpska in this undertaking is a vulnerable target that the US wants to use to indirectly attack Serbia and possibly draw it into a renewed conventional war in Bosnia, while Macedonia is the literal geopolitical bottleneck through which any north-south multipolar transnational connective infrastructure project must pass, including Russia’s currently suspended Balkan/Turkish Stream pipeline.
What I just described for our audience is applicable all across the world, and I’m currently in the process of writing about it for my Ph.D. and in my Oriental Review “The Law Of Hybrid War” series. Everywhere that there’s a New Silk Road, there’s going to be a Hybrid War plot or series thereof that the US is plotting at this very moment. The US, geopolitically insulated from the chaos that it creates in the Eastern Hemisphere and one could even say Latin America too to a certain degree, can and will resort to destroying a region in order to ‘spoil’ it for others instead of peacefully ceding its unipolar influence and sway there to Russia, China, and others. At the same time, the US isn’t just playing “defense”, it’s actually engaged in what I earlier called the Doctrine of Neo-Reaganism, in that it seeks not just to “contain” its subjectively defined “enemies”, but to “roll back” their influence and ultimately dismember its rivals into a collection of easy-to-control independent or Identity Federalized statelets. Because this is an obviously existential threat for Russia, China, and others, these multipolar countries are pushing back with the best of their ability and in the wisest and most thought-out manner in order to survive, meaning that the clash between the unipolar and multipolar worlds cannot but result in widespread conflict. After all, for Russia and China, this is pretty much a geopolitical fight to the death. They don’t want to destroy the US and split it up, but they know that is what the US is trying to do to them by hatching Hybrid War plots inside their borders and the steadily undermining their external security spheres through the use of neighboring and geostrategically partnered states.
Another thing too is that the concept of “proxy wars” has taken on an entirely new meaning in the context of the New Cold War. The US is engaged in a policy that I’ve described as “Lead From Behind”, in which it uses regional leaders such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and others to directly do its dirty work for it while America’s deep state (military-intelligence-diplomatic) apparatus provides varying degrees of behind-the-scenes and sometimes overt assistance during these campaigns (both military, like in Syria, and strategic, like in the South China Sea). This new and improved method of relying on capable regional partners for launching and sustaining proxy wars means that the US’ means of destabilizing the world is much more resource- and cost-efficient than it was before, for example, during the occupation of Iraq. By getting others to do the US’ on-the-ground work for it via the idea of a “shared self-interest”, Washington is now more dangerous than it ever was before, both because launching and managing such proxy wars is cheaper and more efficient than ever and because the US can always pin the consequences and direct fallout on its regional “Lead From Behind” ‘partners’ if things get rough. Again, it’s necessary to remind everyone that these “Lead From Behind” Hybrid Wars (the phased regime change continuum between Color Revolutions and Unconventional Wars) are aimed specifically against Russian and Chinese interests, and that the US is peeling away these multipolar anchors’ geopolitical protective zones piece by piece in its ultimate quest to dismember its chief rivals and control the heart of Eurasia. Thankfully, Russia is now in a position to confront the US’ chaotic aggression in most parts of Eurasia, while China is entrenched enough in Africa to do the same there, as well as supporting its Russian ally in their overlapping shared areas of interests in Eurasia.
Serbia, defined not simply as the country by that name, but as ethnic and cultural space inhabited by people who regard themselves as Serbs, has traditionally been a fault line more often separating than integrating civilizations and geopolitical blocks. How do you see the place and role of Serbia in the configuration of geopolitical forces today?
Serbia has fulfilled the traditional role that you described precisely because of its geostrategic significance in European affairs, which when the continent was the most important area of the world, actually gave it a global significance. The location of Serbia, not just the country but the ethnic-cultural space inhabited by Serbian-identifying people that you quite rightly described, allows a foreign power to project influence towards Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Anatolia, and the Mediterranean, thus making it perhaps the most important location in all of Europe. For this reason, foreign powers wanted to either control it for their own purposes or divide it between themselves and keep this space weak and under control, preventing its emergence as an independent pole of influence that could integrate with its nearby neighbors and fulfill the transregional function that I had just described.
The closest that Serbia ever came to this was Yugoslavia, which always occupied a very pivotal position and had much geopolitical potential but which was restrained from acting on it as fully as it would like because of the structural constraints of the Cold War. However, because of the importance that Yugoslavia had in the worldwide geopolitical paradigm, the US sought to undermine it economically and financially after the death of Josef Tito and then fully dismember it in the final days of the Cold War, expecting that this would create a black hole of chaos that would correspondingly suck in the USSR’s Warsaw Bloc allies and simultaneously give the US an easily manipulable divide-and-rule foothold in this crucial transregional crossroads with time. Had Yugoslavia not been ripped apart by the US and Germany’s scheming, then it would have become a multipolar center in the post-Cold War years and a beacon of development and leadership for all of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.
In the present-day geopolitical construction, Serbia’s role as an independent country outside of the historical state framework of Yugoslavia is still very important and for a similar reason as well. While the Serbian space is no longer united under one government and less capable of exerting the geopolitical influence that I described even if it was, that doesn’t at all take away from its centripetal function in being the irreplaceable Balkan core. I’m not saying that a neo-Yugoslavia will ever rise again, but what I am getting at is that a strong, confident, and sovereign Serbia that is closely connected to the multipolar world forces of Russia and China has the intrinsic possibility of drawing its neighbors together and positively influencing them. This is made possible both because of the shared civilizational memory of the Southern Slavs during the heyday of Yugoslavia and more importantly due to objective geopolitical factors in facilitating this process. It’s for this reason that the Chinese are building the Balkan Silk Road in the first place and why Russia had plans to construct Balkan/Turkish Stream parallel to that as well, because both Beijing and Moscow astutely understand that just as “all roads led to Rome” in the past, “all multipolar European roads lead through Belgrade”, and there is no way to avoid this geopolitical fact in the 21st century.
In the short-term, the construction of the Balkan Silk Road and other Chinese and complementary Russian investments in Serbia will transform the country into a multipolar bastion for projecting positive soft power through the region and attracting the neighboring economies (and by extension, eventually their governments) to the critical infrastructure that will run right through it. The obvious appeal to self-interest that each national government and its affiliated investors should theoretically have to the multipolar transnational connective infrastructure project of the Balkan Silk Road should be enough to retain regional stability in and of itself, but you see, that’s the thing – the key word here is theoretically, because only without outside interference and provocations, this is likely to happen. However, we all are aware that the US has pushed Croatia into entering into a dangerous missile race with Serbia, and this of course serves to heighten regional tensions, as does the distrust that multiplied between the two sides as a result of the Immigrant Crisis. Furthermore, Washington’s backing of Sarajevo’s institutional aggression against Banja Luka and the presence of US-affiliated Islamic terrorists in Bosnia portends quite negatively for the regional balance, leading to a plethora of dark scenarios where the Balkans plunges into destructive chaos once more and state-to-state militant tension between Croatia and Serbia once more becomes a real threat that is seriously regarded by both sides.
To remind everyone, this is due to the US’ Hybrid War plans in offsetting Russia and China’s multipolar infrastructure projects that are set to lay the foundation for the emerging multipolar world order. To be sure, there’s a certain level of “domestic” support in these initiatives, such as the hate that some Croatian politicians still have for Serbia and all things Serb-related, but the US undoubtedly plays the crucial role in facilitating or outright planning these destructive scenarios and guiding them along applying the “Lead From Behind” strategy. This is why I said earlier that it’s very difficult for me to see a smooth transition to multipolarity, or likewise, an easy retention of unipolarity, because the actors that are involved – both on the Great Power scale such as Russia, China, and the US and on the medium-regional power one such as Croatia and Serbia – are either being manipulated (like Croatia is) or see in this coming clash an existential battle for their survival (whether directly like Serbia does or indirectly as Russia and China see it vis-à-vis the Balkans).
Nevertheless, things aren’t all doom and gloom, and there’s no inevitability that a major war will once more break out, but it’s just that the global situation is very precarious right now and the US is setting off geopolitical ‘time bombs’ in critical regions by lighting the Hybrid War wick. If conflict can be avoided and regional stability returns to all areas of the Balkans – including of course Bosnia and the Republic of Macedonia – then Serbia, assisted by its key Russian and Chinese allies, can once more regain its historical and destined leadership role in the region and play a role in infrastructurally reconnecting the Balkans, and by extension, the rest of Europe to the unfolding multipolar world order.
The Republic of Srpska has been facing severe difficulties on many fronts. Its economy, like that of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, is in tatters, its government seems to have a hard time defining a clear political course, and although it projects an image of solidarity with Russia it flirts also with the other side. Two years ago, it was the target of a failed “color revolution” attempt which is now being revived using more sophisticated methods. Can the Republic of Srpska survive under these pressures, and how?
Yes, I believe that Republika Srpska will survive just as Serbs always have, regardless of their historically challenging circumstances, but it’s just that the present threat is different in all of its main aspects than the one which Serbs have faced before. First off, Republika Srpska’s difficulties were first experienced due to the US’ ‘conventional’ Hybrid War against Serbia, in that informational-economic tools were used against Republika Srpska as an indirect means of harming the Republic of Serbia (herein referred to simply as Serbia). At this moment in time, the ‘conventional’ Hybrid War is morphing into the form of Hybrid War that I described in my book, a phased regime change continuum from a Color Revolution to an Unconventional War, representing a very dangerous escalation of subversive US policy that threatens to throw the entire Balkans into chaos, as planned. In responding to this threat, I’d first like to say that I believe that Milorad Dodik has done a fairly good job, although of course there’s definitely room for improvement and I feel that he’s being led down a dark road by his EU ‘partners’.
Whether or not he feels he can safely say “no” to them is another topic, but I’m sure that the prior and presently incipient Color Revolution threat gave him a strong warning that he had better reconsider what multipolar policies he has instead of aligning more closely with the unipolar bloc. At the same time, though, such regime change intrigues against him could also serve to fortify his will to resist and outright reject the EU if he really wanted to, and there’s a possibility that he’s just playing a game with them for now and might turn against them when he feels the time is right. No matter the analytical speculation, however, it’s clear that he is being threatened by the US and EU with a Color Revolution overthrow, and this is being done not only as punishment because of his multipolar sympathies and engagement with Russia, but also as a Hybrid War means of indirectly destabilizing Serbia and thereby disrupting Russia and China’s transnational connective infrastructure plans for the Balkans. That geopolitical imperative must never be forgotten when considering present-day Balkan geopolitics, and Republika Srpska fits perfectly into this puzzle as the ultimate ‘bait’ for drawing Serbia into a trap and possibly setting it up for a clash with Croatia inside of Bosnia.
When I speak about this, I am not just throwing out some wild idea. I am basing it on the fact that both Serbia and Croatia have geopolitical and security interests in Bosnia which they would defend in some form or another when the made-to-fail “federation” inevitably unravels. Just as Bush Sr. chose not to invade Iraq during 1991 so as to indefinitely keep it as a future war to wage whenever the time was ‘right’, so too did the US opt for the creation of an inherently unstable and untenable Bosnian Federation in order to activate a geopolitical ‘time bomb’ at a future ‘opportune’ time. The documented history of Islamic terrorism in Bosnia and the current uncountable cells of Daesh, Al Qaeda, and other sorts of terrorist groups within the country are the most unpredictable factors, and depending on if (or when…) they are activated, they could create a plethora of potential scenarios that would lead to the breakdown of the Bosnian state and/or the possibility of Croatian and/or Serbian intervention (of a presently undetermined nature) to deal with it. Considering the post-war domestic situation in Bosnia and the West’s ongoing and incessant War on the Serbs (now fought out largely through historical revisionism, ‘victor’s justice’ against Karadzic, and other unconventional ways, to name but a few), the global mainstream media ‘narrative’ is already set for the activation of an Islamic terrorist attack against the Serbs in Republika Srpska.
This is but one of the Hybrid War threats facing the country, and it’s a huge problem which is very difficult to deal with due to its amorphous and unpredictable nature. Republika Srpska will need to intensify its security cooperation with Russia and Serbia in order to properly deal with this to the best of its capability, but even then it’s impossible to 100% protect oneself from such attacks. What can be done, however, is that the state adequately prepares for responding to the most likely scenarios and trains its relevant assets with the professional high-level competencies for doing so. The same goes for Color Revolutions, although this threat is comparatively easier to identify, predict, and respond to. NGOs are the devil’s nest of Color Revolutions, and the hostile ones are already known and identified. Republika Srpska should also use Russian strategic advice in adapting its own NGO-related law to compel foreign-funded groups to identify as foreign agents. Appropriate legislation should be crafted to ban undesirable organizations.
This may be difficult to implement in practice owing to Sarajevo’s inevitable opposition to these initiatives and the constitutional problems that it may try to manufacture in order to stop it, but it needs to be done whether de-jure or de-facto via the work of patriotic and genuinely non-governmental organizations (identifying and naming and shaming the subversive groups and their employees, not physically shutting them down of course). Parallel to this, Republika Srpska needs to learn from Russia the best ways in which its police forces can respond to Color Revolution provocations on the street at the moment of their activation, carefully dealing with them just forcefully enough to stop them but not quite strongly enough to unwittingly create ‘sympathy’ for the regime change organizations, leading to the positive spread of their message among the civilian base. All in all, surviving these threats comes down to cooperation between the relevant state organs and their better-trained international counterparts in Russia, the launching of patriotic organizations that can de-facto assist with these measures, the liberation of the media from unipolar control and influence and its redirection towards patriotic purposes, and soliciting the support of knowledgeable experts and their institutes in studying the latest Color Revolution technologies and forecasting their changing forms while also proactively engineering appropriate solutions (preferably in cooperation with their much more experienced Russian counterparts).
In your opinion, would the integration of the geographically disconnected Serbian space with the Eurasian Union be feasible and desirable?
In a sense, both yes and no. If Serbia remains geographically disconnected from the Eurasian Union, then it’ll just be a larger version of Transdnestria or Armenia, very closely linked to Moscow but physically dependent on the temporary ‘goodwill’ of unipolar-influenced transit states in order to facilitate economic relations with its partner. However, as we see from both cases of Russia’s other geographically disconnected partners, this doesn’t make relations impossible, it just means that there are long-term challenges in ensuring their sustainability, which is of course very formidable task in both cases. Considering that, the benefits obviously outweigh the detriments, and it is in Serbia’s self-interest to diversify as much of its relations as possible by embracing its multipolar partners, especially nearby Russia.
Ideally, though, while Serbia is geopolitically disconnected from the Eurasian Union, with China’s help, it won’t be infrastructurally disconnected in the future. The completion of the Balkan Silk Road would create a corridor to the south through the Republic of Macedonia and Greece which would enable Serbia to conduct maritime trade with Crimea and the other parts of Russia. Looked at this way, with China creating the geo-economic possibility of connecting Serbia and Russia, any prospective integration between the two under the aegis of the Eurasian Union is both feasible and desirable, but it’s all contingent on the construction of the Balkan Silk Road. To return back to one of the main themes that I’ve presented in this interview, that explains why the US is targeting the Balkans once more at this very time and is poised to unleash a series of Hybrid Wars in order to stop this scenario from unfolding.
Again, I want to repeat – China is creating the Balkan Silk Road which, if completed, would make integration between Serbia and Russia feasible and desirable, and this is precisely why the Balkans have become so destabilized right now and will likely remain so for the coming years, although I have faith in the Balkan nations that they can and will surmount these difficulties and emerge stronger, more unified, and more multipolar than ever before.
What impressions will you take away from Serbia? What message do you have for the Serbian people?
I’ll take away only the best of impressions because that’s all that I received! Serbian people are so warm, friendly, and relaxed, and I found the social atmosphere in Belgrade to be very pleasant and easygoing. Coming from Moscow with our daily hustle and bustle, it’s a welcome change of pace to go to Belgrade and live life a little bit differently for a couple of days. I also noticed just how clean a lot of the city was, which puts it in marked contrast to many American cities. It was really nice to see that Serbs care about their capital just like Russians do. In fact, speaking about Russians, it seems to me that there are many more similarities between these two closely related people than even I had initially thought.
Having interacted with many Serbs during my visit, I saw with my own eyes just how much they are like their Russian brothers and that reinforced my conviction that the two countries must continue moving even closer together. After all, Russians and Serbs are Slavs and they have many more similarities between themselves than Russians and Czechs do, for example. This isn’t coincidental but is a product of socio-cultural and religious heritage that ties the two together in a fraternal way. It was definitely a welcome realization to see – no, to actually feel – this, and I can now fully understand how so many Serbs turned out to greet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Belgrade last year.
As for my message to the Serbian people, I’d like to thank them for such an amazing and unforgettable time. My brief visit to Belgrade filled my heart with happiness and was the perfect respite that I genuinely needed to experience. I truly felt like I belonged in Serbia and that everyone accepted me and appreciated my grandparents’ Yugoslav (Slovenian) roots. It’s an indescribable feeling to come to a place and feel like everyone has been waiting for you to arrive. I’ll never forget this experience. While I still have the readers’ kind attention for a final moment, I’d like to end my interview on an upbeat and optimistic note. For as much as the Serbian government has backtracked on national sovereignty through the treacherous agreement with NATO, I am now 110% convinced that this does not in any shape or form represent the sincere will of the Serbian people, and I am positive that if Serbs make the sustained effort to peacefully change this, that agreement can in fact be rescinded.
All that’s needed is prolonged patriotic conviction and the proper organizational tactics, and while Serbia already has the former, it needs key individuals to help manage the latter. As a Slav myself, I can personally attest to our kind, warm, and trusting nature that sometimes inadvertently leads to naiveté and apathy, and my general assessment is that the Western-controlled media in Serbia has exploited these psychological tendencies in order to neutralize Serbian resistance to the NATO Agreement. That being said, we Slavs are courageous, proud, and clever, and if we put our minds to something and dedicate ourselves to a cause, we always succeed in whatever we set out to do. I know in my heart that if Serbs focus on this part of our common Slavic identity, then there’s no doubt in my mind that they can make history and be the first country in the world to ever pull out of a NATO Agreement.
The time is now, and I believe that the Serbian people can succeed in pulling off this unprecedented feat of patriotism in liberating their country from NATO occupation, but the pivotal question is – do Serbs believe in themselves?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia. His other areas of focus include tactics of regime change, color revolutions and unconventional warfare used across the world. His book, “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change”, extensively analyzes the situations in Syria and Ukraine and claims to prove that they represent a new model of strategic warfare being waged by the US.
“There are three kinds of violence. The first, the mother of all the others, is the institutional violence, the one that legalizes and perpetuates the dominations, the oppressions and the exploitations, the one that crushes and flattens millions of men in its silent and well oiled wheels. The second is revolutionary violence, which arises from the desire to abolish the first. The third is repressive violence, the object of which is to stifle the second by making itself the auxiliary and the accomplice of the first violence, the one that engenders all the others. There is no worse hypocrisy to call violence only the second, by pretending to forget the first, which gives birth to it, and the third which kills it. ”
–Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Archbishop and liberation theologian
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