The Ukraine story will certainly take a turn once the identity of senior Western officials, generals and mercenary groups at Azov are revealed. (Representational Image/ AP)
The complete surrender of Ukraine’s armed forces is the only formula for peace", Valery Fadeyev, adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in an hour-long Zoom conversation.
Isn’t this an invitation to the West to keep pumping advanced weapons and cash so that the Ukrainians can bleed Russia "exactly as the US bled you in Afghanistan?" Fadeyev thought the comparison with Afghanistan was wrong.
"The Soviet war in Afghanistan lasted 10 years. At the end all major Soviet Army equipment and weapons were taken back home. It was not a military decision; it was a political decision." After a pause: "I think it was the wrong decision."
Will the Ukrainian war last for years? "I didn’t say this conflict can last for years. The conflict with the West can last for years, but this special operation in Ukraine will likely end soon." He said Mr Putin elevated his May 9 Victory Day speech to a high plane as he and Russia’s elite were dismayed at the way the West was trying to belittle and erase the memory of the sacrifice 26 million Russians made without which the war with Hitler would have been lost. Indeed, they were equating Nazism with the former Soviet Union. "There is a very deep, harmful idea promoted by the West: It compares Hitler’s Germany to Soviet Russia."
Fadeyev said: "See how these harmful ideas have found a working laboratory in Ukraine." He added: "A part of the Ukrainian population was already poisoned with this idea and the other part, turning its back on the Soviet Union, was developing an amnesia about our history. Russian and Ukrainian people fought against Fascist Germany together." The perplexing cocktail of Nazi nationalism led by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a Jew, taxes credulity. Equally puzzling is the fact that Israeli mercenaries are fighting with "Nazi nationalists" in Mariupol and the Azov steel plant.
Asked if a Canadian general and some French officers were among those holed up in the steel plant, Fadeyev replied: "I fully accept the importance of this question, but can’t comment on French officers." President Emmanuel Macron has frequently talked with Mr Putin. Is Mr Macron nervous that revelations about French military participation in the war will affect the National Assembly elections in June? France’s Left parties have joined hands. If they win, Mr Macron will be a lame duck President. How can Mr Putin help Mr Macron? What is the mystery behind Mariupol’s Azov steel plant? "I don’t see any big secret in this. There’s a huge concentration of Nazi nationalist forces, mainly the Azov battalion, hiding in Soviet-era tunnels. These battalions are highly motivated. They study Nazi literature, follow fascist ideology and worship Hitler." There are two reasons why the Azov battalion and its Western advisers are not coming out of the steel plant: "First, they are hoping mercenaries from third countries will come to their aid. Also, it is afraid they will have to face military war crimes tribunals."
On US defence secretary Gen. Lloyd Austin declaring America’s war aims ("We want to weaken Russia"), Fadeyev said: "Putin had talked about exactly this at the Security Conference in Munich on February 10, 2007. He had said the West wants to weaken Russia. Austin’s statement was no revelation. In fact, Putin’s mind moved on a different track… In 1990s as well as in 2000s, Putin openly declared he was ready to cooperate and integrate with Europe. He announced several far-reaching economic projects. He even expressed Russia’s desire to be part of Nato. On all our proposals, we got refusals from the West. They never understood that Russia has genuine security concerns." Fadeyev said he himself had served in a special rocket battalion. "The flight time of a ballistic missile from Kharkiv to Moscow is five minutes. Today, the West is arming Ukraine to the teeth. Everyone blames the US military-industrial complex for being obsessed with the Russian enemy; but in reality, the entire US ruling class sees us as the enemy."
On the war’s long-term effects, Fadeyev turns the tables. The sanctions on Russia are actually hurting Europe more, he says. The US has been against EU proposals for 30 years to build a European army outside Nato: "Weakening of Europe is in the interest of America."
With the USSR’s collapse, the West had hoped Russia would cease to be a great power. The re-emergence of Russia with the help of friends who don’t want Western hegemony, is unacceptable to the West. "In this geopolitical confrontation between China and the US, the Russian role will be critical for our friends." This, he says, explains the US desire to contain Russia by igniting the Ukraine war.
Once the dust settles, what will the war’s effect be on the new global order? "Pay attention to the fact that countries where two-thirds of the population are not supporting sanctions on Russia despite heavy pressure from the West and the US. This is the clear divide between the West and the majority of the world and leaders of countries who have a memory of colonial times and know how the West exploited them." This will be the new post-Ukraine war faultline.
He brushed off questions on President Putin’s health as "malicious rumours".
The Ukraine story will certainly take a turn once the identity of senior Western officials, generals and mercenary groups at Azov are revealed. The Second World War yielded great escape stories. The Israelis’ Entebbe operation still resonates. What plots are now being hatched to extricate priceless Ukrainian assets from the steel plant? The screenplay writers are rubbing their hands.