Only Ukrainian victory can bring about change in Russia: Kasparov

TVP World’s Jan Darasz interviewed Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov during the “Free Russia Forum”. Kasparov, also the Chairman of the Renew Democracy Initiative, discusses the ideology of Putin, the implications of the West’s interaction with dictator-led nations like Russia, and his vision for a free Russia.

In a candid conversation, Garry Kasparov grappled with the task of defining Putin’s ideology, which he claimed lacks consistent principles. Instead, Putin views the world through a lens attuned to weaknesses, seizing opportunities as they arise.

Kasparov highlighted Putin’s flexibility in altering his political ideologies to suit his agenda, a stark contrast to the rigidity of the Soviet Union. He critically examines the Western notion that offering due respect to Russia, acknowledging its sacrifices in World War II, would entice the nation to join the ranks of civilized societies. This, Kasparov argued, is a fundamental misjudgment. He expressed concern that the West continues to err in its belief that engaging in “business as usual” with autocratic nations such as Russia and China would nudge them towards democracy.

Deciphering Putin’s dictatorial style is not particularly challenging, in Kasparov’s view. The leader has openly declared his ambitions, terming the disintegration of the Soviet Union as the most significant geopolitical catastrophe. According to Kasparov, the West’s mistake lies not in its lack of respect towards Russia but in its ignorance of the nation’s imperialistic ambitions.

Kasparov asserted that warnings from the Baltic States, and also from Poland, nations with more direct experience with the Soviet Union and Russia, have been ignored by the West. Even as the threat became increasingly apparent, the West refused to recognize it until the invasion of Ukraine was imminent. Post the annexation of Crimea, Putin’s designs on Ukraine have been clear through propaganda, but many on both sides of the Atlantic dismissed it as mere noise.

When questioned about his vision for a free Russia as part of the forum, Kasparov was straightforward: no progress can be made without a victorious Ukraine. He is convinced that Russia cannot alter its course unless the world ceases to tolerate its imperialistic ambitions. In his view, it is crucial for Ukraine to reclaim all territories it has lost and emerge victorious in the war.

History, he asserted, offers this as the only viable path for Russia’s change: While the Russian people can endure hardships and suffering, they cannot bear geopolitical defeat. The government that loses the war cannot remain in power, and the Russian dictatorship cannot survive without the backbone of its mythology. Only when the Ukrainian flag is raised in Sevastopol can a change in the Russian dictatorship be anticipated.

In a sobering reflection, Kasparov noted, “I wish I had a better story to tell, but we have to be realists… to win the game”. If the global community hopes for Russia to integrate with civilized society, it must accept that the nation requires a fresh start. The war against Ukraine must result in a staggering loss for the Russian empire, compelling a fundamental restructuring of the nation’s political and social landscape.


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