“Ukraine as a state must be liquidated”

What awaits Ukrainian culture in the new Russian territories, will the pendulum swing in the opposite direction?

Alexey Peskov

Our today’s conversation with Rostislav Ishchenko , a well-known political scientist and columnist for Rossiya Segodnya news agency, was devoted to a very vague topic – the very idea of ​​Ukrainianism, which has grown before our eyes into outright “Nazism with a Ukrainian face.” Nevertheless, there is such an idea, it owns the minds of many, and it is impossible to ignore this fact. This is where we started.

What awaits Ukrainians as a national idea? What are the options?

– The options are endless – from complete oblivion to global success. The implementation of any idea depends on who undertakes it. There are no guarantees that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, some local genius will not appear who will tear Ukrainians out of the current hole and lift them to shining heights.

Is it with irony or without it?

– Without any irony. Let’s remember history. France, 1799. The Directory has ruled for four years – a decomposed, corrupt regime. The country is on the verge of disaster. People plotting a coup d’état are no better than those in power. And then Bonaparte appears, who was involved in overthrowing the directory, but they were not going to give him power. The rest is known.

Or the history of the Russian Empire. 1917 Catastrophe. The Bolsheviks come to power intending to build an unbuildable society. And by 1920, it became clear that the country was about to explode from the inside – peasant uprisings, military riots, the Kronstadt rebellion … Few politicians could do what Lenin did , who suddenly switched from military communism and mass repressions to capitalism within the framework of the NEP. And he kept the power. And after his death, Stalin cleared out the petty-bourgeois strata of society and switched to paramilitary communism. But as a result, Soviet, or rather Bolshevik, power collapsed not in 1920 but in 1991. But it might not have collapsed because the potential for reforms existed, and we see this in China.

What if?

So the implementation of any idea depends on the individual and their efforts. Mussolini’s regime arose in Italy in 1922. If comrades from Germany had not dragged him into the world war, he could have existed for a long time. Like the similar fascist regimes of Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal. Yes, doomed to fall since a totalitarian regime cannot exist for too long, but a few decades is enough. It’s just that Francisco Franco did not buy into Hitler’s proposals to return Gibraltar to Spain. However, everything looked tempting: France was defeated, Great Britain was driven to its islands, and powerful Germany was in the allies. Take Gibraltar and rejoice. But Spain remained neutral, and Franco was in power until the end of his life.

In relation to Ukraine, this historical digression, what can it mean?

– Let’s compare the regimes of Zelensky and his predecessor in the presidency. Under the circumstances of Poroshenko, Ukraine could exist for a long time. First of all, Poroshenko ran to Russia in any critical situation to negotiate. Then he deceived, but agreed. The war in the Donbass was going on, but he did not seek to force it. And they shot, except for a few episodes, much less than now.

And then came Zelensky. Everyone expected that he, all so compromised and good, would bring peace. A comedian. Even pro-Russian in places, from a good intelligent family. Not like his predecessor, from a family of hucksters. So what? As a result, this under-Bonaparte is fighting with might and main. Poroshenko would not allow this…

To be honest, when the special operation began by entering Ukraine from three sides, I had an idea – with such a demonstration, Russia gave Ukraine a chance to inoffensively capitulate for the clear advantage of the enemy. And under Poroshenko, this would most likely work …

– Now we see – Ukraine is being squeezed, and, in theory, they should be squeezed. But the problem must be considered in a global context. We are not at war with Ukraine but with the United States. And there is a powerful coalition against us. Although we say that most of the world is with us, we understand that the part of the world that is not with us is a very solid force. 

Yes, all these countries have big problems. They are not at all as weak as they seem from afar. And they will not just fight with us but achieve victory. Because at what point we will have to stop, we do not know. And our resources are not endless. We do not know our real losses – which is understandable since this is a military secret. But, without knowing the specifics, drawing any conclusions and forecasts is impossible.

How much longer can we maintain offensive potential? A limited number of servicemen participate in the special operation, and mobilization is not only pointless but also criminal because, as a result, we will get the same as in Ukraine. There will be a contingent that does not know how to fight but is simple and easy to kill. You can’t train a soldier in a week, month, or two. So far, contract soldiers are participating in the battles, but their number is still limited …

And since it is not yet possible to take and brush off all the opponent’s pieces from the board, Ukraine as a state will likely be preserved in one form or another

“I can’t come to that conclusion. Ukraine as a state must be liquidated, and not only we are interested in this, but also the Poles, Hungarians, and Romanians … Theoretically, if you work on this issue well, you can find a certain consensus. If we cannot do it alone, then we can do it collectively. Understand – we can annex the Crimea, Donbass, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, Odessa, and anything. But if we leave at least the smallest piece of Ukraine, even somewhere in the Zhytomyr swamps, then this piece will legitimately claim all the territories that were torn away.

You can see for yourself how dramatically the situation in the world is changing rapidly – in the 70s the USSR was on horseback; in the 80s, it was already under horseback, and in the 90s the Soviet Union did not exist at all, and the United States was on horseback. Now the States are breathing their last breath, together with Europe.

State of Russia in ten years

And we do not know what state Russia will be in 10 years from now: who will come to power, what alignments will emerge among the elites. States, as we see, are rapidly collapsing; for some 3-4 years, there may be no trace of their former power. Therefore, leaving such a contender for vast territories is at least unreasonable – there will definitely be someone who decides to take advantage of this.

But if I say “necessary”, then this does not mean that we will succeed. We are fighting, they are fighting with us, and it is impossible to say unequivocally who will win. If we were now sitting at the table in Potsdam and dictating our inexorable will to all mankind, as we did in 1945, we could say that these will live, but these will not exist. But for now, we are still in the process. 

And who could say, for example, in 1943 on the eve of the Battle of Kursk, who would win the war. Yes, we just won Stalingrad – but after that, we lost Kharkov. A huge strong army stood against us, and it was pointless then to argue where and how the war would end. Yes, we were not going to lose, and there was already an understanding that the Germans could not defeat us. But there were no guarantees that we would definitely win at that moment.

US provoking China

And now we are still in the process, fighting is going on – and all over the world. We do not know how the situation will develop in Southeast Asia, where the US is strongly provoking China to war. And most likely within a year, this war should begin – if Taiwan does not surrender just like that. And that war in general can result in a nuclear one, however, like ours.

How so?

— And so. There is a lot of nonsense going on at first glance: Estonia has closed the borders, a British plane violated the Russian border twice, Ukrainian DRGs in Crimea are blowing up our ammunition depots… But these seemingly unrelated events add up to a single picture of escalating tension between the West and us. There is a danger of expanding the war zone and involving new countries.

We are in a situation where we do not know who we will fight tomorrow. Therefore, to argue where we will reach in Ukraine, what we will annex … Only the Lord God can know this, for he is omnipotent and therefore knows how this clash will end. But today he knows, but tomorrow he can change his mind.

But some part of the Ukrainian territories will most likely be annexed to Russia, if we proceed not from a hypothetical future, but from today’s realities. And here is the burning question of what awaits Ukrainian culture in the new Russian territories. Won’t the pendulum swing in the opposite direction, won’t everything Ukrainian be spread rot in response to long years of oppression of everything Russian?

– I’m just afraid there will be no persecution but demonstrative support of Ukrainian culture that no one needs. This is generally in the Russian tradition – to demonstrate that “we are not like that.” One side. On the other hand, we have an exaggerated idea of ​​how many bearers of Ukrainian culture there really are and how deeply it has ingrained them in Temechko. 

For some reason, many believe that if we (we, not them!) do not develop Ukrainian culture, then they will be very offended by us. Although, in fact, the process there will be exactly the same as with Ukrainization. Since the country is Ukraine, the language should be only Ukrainian, and my son will attend a Ukrainian school. What for? And then, what is the future of this? They will also say why a son or daughter will attend a Russian school. We are Russia now, which means the Russians have the future.

The experience of the Soviet Union

But I fear that they will repeat the experience of the Soviet Union, when, albeit non-violently, but the Ukrainization of these territories took place constantly. The Russians were told that they were Ukrainians, there were signs in Ukrainian everywhere, and they urgently invented Ukrainian literature and history. However, all this was part of Russian literature and Russian history. We start talking about the Ukrainian playwright, but it turns out he is Russian. About Ukrainian writers – even Gogol , even Bulgakov  – and they are also Russian. Akhmatova was born in Kiev, but she is a Russian poetess. And so on.

From my point of view, in the liberated territories it is necessary to promote the theme that we are all Russians, that we have a common culture. But let all these flecks, embroidered shirts, borscht with donuts, dumplings and other bells and whistles remain an ethnographic trifle. Similar local specifics can be found in every corner of Russia. But if someone likes it, no one forbids it, they can organize hobby groups within the framework of the current legislation, and there you can make dumplings or play the bandura. But finance at your own expense, not from the state budget.

Why is the president of Argentina going to Russia and China?

At a critical juncture in Argentina’s $40 billion IMF debt talks, President Alberto Fernandez will travel to China on Feb. 2, stopping in Russia en route. The reasons and purpose of the trip are reported by the Argentine news agency Pagina12

The most important political aspect of the trip is joining China’s new Silk Road, a strategic investment project in regional infrastructure promoted by Beijing. The visit to Asia will pave the way for many projects launched after the signing of a bilateral cooperation agreement during the Kirchner period . The main project financed by China will be the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant. Beijing will invest more than $7.9 billion in it, which will be 85% of the total project budget.

The issue of attracting investments from Russia was not officially discussed, however, some facts point to the possibility of its implementation. The last major investment was made at the end of December, when the government won a $864 million tender to supply 70 electric trains from Russia’s TransMashHolding.

Total trade with China

It is also known about negotiations with Lukoil , which is interested in the Vaca Muerta shale oil field in Neuquen, Argentina. The company plans to implement a project to develop it jointly with the Argentinean oil and gas company YPF.

As for nuclear energy, Rosatom also plans to take part in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Argentina. The company also plans to conduct research into the peaceful atom.

Argentinian experts compare Russia and China as a South American country, noting that “Russians are more difficult as they are forced to inherit complicated geopolitical relations with the American region and also enter the market with a state-run market economy” . China, on the other hand, has “more capital” and intends to invest in infrastructure and geopolitics much more than Russia.

Spectacular Turkey: Central Anatolia itinerary

Turkey outside of all inclusive hotels

India has key first-mover edge on China in Iran

India doubling down on Iran’s Chabahar port project as strategic counter to China’s Belt and Road gains trade traction


When China clinched a massive $400 billion bilateral investment pact with Iran, few noted that India was already well-engaged.

By the end of May, India will begin full-scale operations in its first foreign port venture at Iran’s Chabahar. That is facility that opens on the Gulf of Oman that will aim to facilitate more South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East trade while bypassing Pakistan.

India’s US$500 million investment represents a clear and potent commercial challenge to China’s massive port investment in neighboring Pakistan’s Gwadar. Gwadar is a key component of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The 10-year lease agreement, a deal first clinched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tehran in 2016, has until now been hobbled by US sanctions imposed under the Donald Trump administration.  

Indian suppliers and engineers, some with interests in the US, were reluctant to deliver essential machinery and services to Iran on fears they could somehow be sanctioned, despite clear exemptions on Chabahar in Trump’s sanction order. That led to certain speculation that China may take over the project from India.

New Delhi has doubled down and accelerated the project with the shift from Trump to Biden. It is banking like others on a new breakthrough on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement and a broader US-Iran warming trend.

Aerial view of Iran’s Chabahar port. Image: Twitter

India has supplied two large cargo-moving cranes. It will deliver two more in the coming weeks before the facility’s expected ceremonial opening.

New Delhi is already promoting the port’s potential humanitarian role, noting it was used to send emergency shipments of wheat to Afghanistan during the Covid-19 crisis and pesticide to Iran to deal with a recent locust infestation.

Pakistan is getting worried about losing regional trade

India’s renewed commitment to Iran via Chabahar is already setting alarm bells ringing in neighboring Pakistan, which is already losing regional trade mainly from Afghanistan to Iran despite US sanctions.

India and Pakistan recently announced a renewed commitment to an existing 2003 ceasefire over contested Kashmir. That move that should allow both to focus more on economic linkages than strategic rivalry.

Chabahar has seen limited operations since 2019, a result of US restrictions imposed on Iran’s energy exports. The port handled a mere 123 vessels with 1.8 million tons of bulk and general cargo from February 2019 to January 2021. It is well below its operating capacity, according to reports.

That’s set to change. New Delhi ultimately aims to link Chabahar to its International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). It is a project initially proposed by India, Russia and Iran in 2000 and later joined by 10 other Central Asian nations.

Some see the INSTC as a less-monied rival to China’s BRI. Belt-Road-Initiative has invested heavily in Pakistan’s road, power and trade infrastructure. And including huge multi-billion dollar investments at Gwadar port some critics have likened to a debt trap.

Security concerns sparked by armed groups in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where Gwadar is situated, have hindered progress on various BRI projects and pushed Pakistan to recently ramp up security at the Beijing-invested port.

From India to Europe – cheaper and faster

INSTC envisions a 7,200 kilometer-long, multimode network comprised of shipping, rail and road links. It is connecting India’s Mumbai with Europe via Moscow and Central Asia. Initial estimates suggest INSTC could cut current carriage costs by about 30% and travel times by half.

That means more trade and port activity for Iran and less for Pakistan. Last year Iran has already usurped 70% of Pakistan’s recent transport business at Karachi port.

Landlocked Afghanistan has traditionally relied on Pakistan as its gateway to international shipping routes. However, recent trends indicate that as much as 70% of Afghan transit trade is now handled by Iran.

If India presses ahead as planned with INSTC, Pakistan would be the ultimate loser as Afghan and Central Asian transport business diverts increasingly to Chabahar and away from Karachi and Gwadar.

“Iran had already started working on a 600-kilometer-long railway line connecting Chabahar port to Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province close to the Afghan border,” he said.

India has already lined up $1.6 billion for the project to facilitate the movement of goods to and from Afghanistan via Iran. India also plans to invest $2 billion to develop supporting infrastructure including the Chabahar-Hajigak railway line in Afghanistan.

Many Afghan traders are plugging into Chabahar

Many Afghan traders still rely on traditional transit routes through Pakistan. However, many are plugging into Chabahar’s comparative cost-effectiveness and speed in handling transit cargo, analysts say. The same is true for Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and other landlocked Central Asian countries looking for alternatives to Pakistani ports.      

Pakistan-Afghanistan trade has recently fallen from around $2.5 billion to $1 billion annually due to wide-ranging differences over the now expired transit agreement.

“Afghans want Pakistan to allow Afghan wheelers to enter into Indian border areas through Wagah for transportation of Afghan export goods and on return upload import consignments from India,”

“Pakistan on the other hand argues that the APTTA is a bilateral arrangement between Pakistan and Afghanistan and not a trilateral agreement to facilitate mutual trade between India and Afghanistan,”.

Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port and so far consists of Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti terminals. Each of which has five berth facilities. The port is located in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province. It is about 120 kilometers southwest of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where the China-funded Gwadar port is situated.

In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement for the strategically-located Chabahar to give New Delhi access to Kabul and Central Asia without having to travel through Pakistan.

Chabahar is regional project unlike Gwadar which is China oriented

The original plan committed at least $21 billion to the so-called Chabahar–Hajigak corridor, which then included $85 million for Chabahar port development, a $150 million credit line to Iran, an $8 billion India-Iran MoU for Indian industrial investment in a Chabahar special economic zone, and $11 billion for the Hajigak iron and steel mining project awarded to seven Indian companies in central Afghanistan.

Unlike Chabahar, which is designed more to serve the economic and trade interests of the wider region, Gwadar is more tilted toward Beijing’s ambitions, analysts and traders say.

Gwadar port’s planned capacity will accommodate a massive 300 to 400 million tons of cargo annually, comparable to the combined annual capacity of all Indian ports. It also dwarfs the 10-12 million tons of cargo handling capacity now planned for Chabahar.

In another comparison, the largest US port at Long Beach, California, handles 80 million tons of cargo, about a quarter of what Gwadar could handle upon completion of a project that is designed largely to receive and move China’s, not the region’s, trade.