Rostislav Ishchenko: The Road to the Abyss

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


During meetings with my friends coming from Ukraine I had to repeatedly answer the questions: “why do Americans so easily and simply create a submissive and obedient to America skeleton of civil society in the form of a mass of public organisations and form a pro-American political elite in all post-Soviet countries? Why does Russia – which regularly faces the fact that the majority of the population of a particular State are generally sympathetic towards it, but the corresponding national elite pursues an anti-Russian policy – fail to do the same trick?” Many, including in Russia, believe that this happens because Moscow has not taken possession of the relevant technologies or hasn’t mastered them enough. Well-intentioned loyalists who sincerely support the current government allow themselves to make statements like “we lost Ukraine, we are losing Armenia, and Belarus and Kazakhstan are in the queue”.

In reality, if indeed someone loses someone, then it isn’t Russia who lost its neighbours, but its neighbors who lost Russia. And it happened at the time of the collapse of the USSR. It would not have collapsed if the national elites hadn’t made a choice in favor of sovereignty. For some this choice was very difficult, but it was still made. Let me remind you that in Viskuli (Białowieża Forest) Yeltsin, Shushkevich, and Kravchuk arrived without Nazarbayev (it was originally planned to invite him), as well as without the leaders of Moldova, the republics of Central Asia, and Transcaucasia. It wasn’t a coincidence that there were only three of them – most of the other leaders didn’t yet support the idea of the dissolution of the USSR.

I will note one more point. Yeltsin was unable to dissolve the Soviet Union independently from his office in Moscow. Although he really wanted to, because even the extremely weakened Soviet Union structures, headed by a completely demoralised Gorbachev, contested with the Russian leadership for power in the country, and in order to really govern Russia the Yeltsin team needed to reassign the executive structures, most of which were in the Soviet Union’s subordination. In order to legitimise the dissolution of the USSR Yeltsin needed accomplices in the form of Kravchuk and Shushkevich. If back then they refuse to play this game, then the Soviet Union would’ve had a good chance of surviving. But they made a choice in favor of sovereignty.

Further, this choice itself dictated the corresponding quality of the political elite. I remember perfectly well how during all negotiations in the first half of the 1990’s, the Americans and Europeans quite sincerely advised the Ukrainian leadership to be friends with Russia. Back then, Moscow was not considered by Washington and Brussels as a competitor and the Ukrainian-Russian friendship allowed to shift to Russia a significant part of the cost of maintaining the Ukrainian State. And this is how it indeed happened.

Only by lowering the price of Russian raw materials (especially for gas) and inflating Ukrainian agricultural and industrial production did Kiev, during its independence, receive several hundred billion dollars from Russia. But even back then the Ukrainian leadership refused outright to be friends with Russia, convincing Americans and Europeans of the need to pursue a policy of deterrence against Moscow, and to accept the EU and NATO in all the former republics. Only the Baltic States were more active than Ukrainians in this respect. But other national elites – some were faster, some were slower – went in this same way.

It should be admitted that the final choice of the Americans in favor of a confrontation with Russia was made by the end of the 90’s not least due to the influence of the position of the national post-Soviet elites. And it is understandable. The Americans reasonably believed that the local leaders – natives of the USSR – understand the intricacies of Russian political cuisine better than anyone else. They trusted their estimates. Especially when the same interpretations were given (with a small amendment for the region and national tradition) in all former republics: from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from the Caucasus to the Pamirs.

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Thus, the national elites were anti-Russian already even before the Americans made the final choice, that’s why the role of the US in the formation of the Russophobic agenda in the early 90’s is minimal. They actually returned to the former republics the program formulated by local elites. That’s why they all sorts of pro-American and pro-European activists and media didn’t have any difficulties with funding. They weren’t just fed on Western grants. The local political elite took upon itself most of the regular funding. This same elite that not only did not invest a kopeck in pro-Russian public organisations, but also tried to make it as difficult as possible for Russia to work in its countries, displacing it from public life and consciousness, as well as from the information space.

In the end, Yanukovych largely managed to finance even the Nazis who staged the coup in Ukraine if not out of his own pocket, then with the help of his colleagues and public funds.

The Americans did not have to create a loyal elite. It was already in place and in power, and quickly enough (by the end of 90’s) cleansed the civil service of almost all who sympathised with Russia. After the color revolutions, the new purges practically did not affect pro-Russian officials (because there were almost none). They hit those who weren’t pro-American enough. This is an objective reality and no technology could change it. The national elites saw Russia as the successor of the Soviet Union’s center, had an inferiority complex vis-a-vis Moscow bureaucracy, and were deathly afraid that Moscow will again force them to play by the rules again. Therefore, the slogan “Away from Russia!” consciously or not consciously became not only a Ukrainian one.

There is another serious point. No post-Soviet state that the United States established control over via a color coup or through the voluntary consent of the national elite to have a status of an American vassal not only doesn’t prosper, but almost all of them are on the verge of survival and it’s not a fact that they will survive. This is largely due to the low quality of the elite.

The Americans were not going to create a “second European Union” from the post-Soviet States. They were needed only as a battering ram against Russia, or as a territory linking Russian resources. That’s why the Americans did not feel the need for competent managers. On the contrary, the worse the person understood the problem, the more they suited the Americans, because feeling their professional inferiority, they meekly followed the recommendations of Washington advisers.

In order to move their people into power, the US needed to destroy the old system. That’s why a stake was placed on destroyers, but not on creators, and also on corrupt officials who could be kept on a short leash of compromising evidence.

They fulfilled their task – they shattered and destroyed the existing system in the post-Soviet republics, forced out professionals from power and became the power themselves. But they were unable to restore the destroyed State system. Since then, it only simulates work, and the State (some quickly, some slowly, some instantly) plunged into the abyss of uncontrollability. State structures have been working by inertia for some time. But the efficiency of their activities is beginning to quickly approach zero.

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But the United States doesn’t even need an effective State. They need a vassal that is destitute, disenfranchised, and ready to execute any order in the fight for an IMF loan.

But Russia, on the contrary, needed to have effective professional managers in the States falling within its sphere of influence, capable of bringing the national economy to the Russian level. Russia needed not mercenary States, but comrade States, led by effective managers who can’t be employed on USAID grants. These specimens are few and far between. But they were pushed away from power by thieves and corrupt officials.

Russia needed strong allies governed by adequate elites. Such elites practically did not remain in the post-Soviet space by the beginning of 2000. The remnants that have survived in some countries are now eroding away. But for America, any ambitious bastard who will do anything for their own well-being was suitable. They didn’t teach and educate these bastards. They simply recruited them.

By the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the post-Soviet countries the process of the negative selection of elites started and was then spontaneously supported. This objective process allowed the US to put most of the post-Soviet space under its full or partial control relatively easily. But everything has its price. If you employ the services of villains to control other people’s countries, sooner or later the villains will start to control you. The man who called Somoza “our son of a bitch” was himself a “son of a bitch”, and after a couple of generations he was replaced by fools and amateurs, even in the United States. And this became a tragedy for America.

When Obama said that he had torn the Russian economy to shreds, he believed it. This coincided with the data obtained from diplomatic sources via intelligence channels and also from the expert-analytical assessments of the condition of the Russian economy. The United States was very surprised when it became clear that Russia, which had recently provided for 60% of its food needs, suddenly (after sanctions) not only immediately met its own needs, but also became a net exporter of food, having started aggressive expansion in many markets (in particular – grain). The industry of Russia was self-sufficient, the financial system withstood the powerful blow of sanctions and almost walked away from dollar dependence.

American calculations were giving a very different picture. Until now, some pro-American social media activists sincerely do not believe that Russia’s achievements are not a bluff, not a photoshop, and not filmed in the Mosfilm pavilions. They had very different insider information.

Of course, it is worth thanking the Russian leadership, which managed to hide our achievements from our “friends and partners” until the last day. But agriculture is not a new missile system. It’s impossible to hide it under lock and key. The sown fields, farms, and herds of cattle are open to the eyes of the first comer. High-quality intelligence does not even need to strain much to adequately assess the capabilities of this industry. The Americans weren’t able to do this.

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To put it simply, their intelligence did half-assed work based on information voiced by “opinion leaders” who are often extremely poorly versed in the problem that they are going to comment on.

But the problem isn’t just intelligence. American diplomats, journalists, and businessmen work in Russia. On the basis of their data it is possible to form an objective picture of the situation in the country. It is just a matter of desire. I.e., we are not dealing with the failure of the intelligence service, but with the failure of the entire system of public administration, and in the main strategic direction too.

In this regard, the American government (several presidents in a row) did exactly the same as the Ukrainian (and other post-Soviet) political elite did. It demanded, paid for, and received only information that it wanted to hear. The negative elite selection that started in America’s vassal States spread to America itself. Professionals who were giving not pleasant, but truthful information and offered complex, but effective solutions were squeezed out by profane people who were able to draw beautiful graphics and tell the authorities what they wanted to hear.

The US has lost control over both foreign and domestic political processes. The policy of chaotization, as a result of which they lose their allies and geopolitical weight, became in many respects a forced measure. The qualifications of political staff did not allow more complex and finely organised activities. The aggressiveness of American politics, placing a stake on force even in cases where it is more profitable to reach an agreement, is the best proof of the intellectual weakness of the authorities.

The strong do not crush everything around them. Everyone can one day see that the strong, like Russia, has factories that work, bridges are built, the fleet floats, and there is bread (according to America there wasn’t any bread). Others want to be friends with such strong people, on the principle of “maybe something from this bounty will fall into our hands too” (for example, a certain “stream” will be constructed though our country [a hint at Nord Stream-2 ed]). But the weak destroy their own vassals without being sure of their loyalty and their ability to keep them. Destroying them just so that they don’t move to the strong camp.

There is, however, a malign moment in all of this. If you look at the completely degenerated Ukrainian political elite, you will notice that it has completely destroyed its own State – its food base, and it did not notice this. On the contrary, a significant part of it is sure that everything is good, there is just a need to remove Poroshenko.

This inadequacy of assessment is due to a lack of professionalism. But the American elite is also already unprofessional. It does not adequately assess the condition of the United States if it is still trying to frighten the world by military force. It does not understand just how close the US is to a position where brightness instantly fades and the abyss opens up.

Unfortunately, this is not just a problem for the US. If a relatively small Ukraine – which has neither a trained army, nor serious weapons – creates by its collapse a series of complex, intractable problems for Russia, Europe, and even for the United States itself, then when similar processes in America reach the same level, the whole world will shudder. The most important thing is that the world doesn’t crash.

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