By Mohammad Mazhari

Days of the only superpower in the world are gone: Russian expert

February 19, 2022 - 21:26

THRAN - A Russian expert believes that China and Russia would strengthen their alliance in case of Western sanctions on Moscow.

“Days of the only superpower in the world are gone,” Stanislav Mitrakhovich from the National Energy Security Fund and the Financial University tells the Tehran Times.

“China and Russia strengthen their alliance that is almost formed. Pushing Russia even closer to China would be a super great mistake of the West.”

United States President Joe Biden has said he is “convinced” that Russia’s Vladimir Putin has made a decision to invade Ukraine, warning Moscow against starting what he called a “war of choice” that would be catastrophic.

But the U.S. president said the door for diplomacy remains open. Until war breaks out, “diplomacy is always a possibility”, Biden told reporters on Friday.

Since November 2021, both NATO and EU officials have repeatedly voiced their concerns about Russia's military concentration, warning that Moscow will face serious consequences and heavy sanctions if Ukraine is attacked.

“As for harsh sanctions, if it excludes trade blockade (including energy), then these sanctions are not harsh by design. If sanctions aim at electronics as the biggest threat, China will inevitably help Russia, although it takes time and efforts to organize a technological transfer,” Mitrakhovich notes.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you assess the current escalation between Russia and NATO over Ukraine?

A: The only reasonable scenario when Russia could interfere militarily in the Ukraine crises presumes an attack of Ukrainian military forces against separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. It is just a way to prevent an operation "Storm"-like scenario like Croatia in 1995 against the Republic of Serbian Krajina. 

Q: What is the fallout of any military clash in Ukraine?

A: Moscow shows a capability (including even "armed arguments") to prevent any possible way of Ukraine joining NATO in the future. And it all works. Putin wants Ukraine out of NATO, and he basically gets what he wants. At the same time, military rhetoric and hysteria in Western media raise oil and gas prices. American and Western rhetoric of possible and almost imminent invasion hugely damages Ukraine's economy. Some air companies stop flying to Ukraine. What about advertised tourists and investment attractions in Ukraine? Just see an example: Mercedes recently constructed its car-assembling plant in Russia, not in Ukraine.

 NATO doesn't include Russia; it means Russia is excluded from the European system of strategic stability, that's an unsustainable type of security system.

 Q: Is Ukraine ready to pay the costs of war?

Ukraine is dependent on Russian gas that Ukraine transports. Without this gas transit, Ukraine can't sustain a basic energy infrastructure. 

Ukraine is hugely dependent on Russian coal for metallurgy and diesel from Belarus (that is a Russian ally). Ukraine is dependent on electricity imports from Belarus.

Several questions are yet to be answered in Kyiv and NATO capitals. If Ukraine is ready to fight, as we are being told, why not take control over Crimea?

If there was a Russian invasion before, or it is an ongoing Russian invasion, then why wait with sanctions? The West and Ukraine are confused with their own narratives.

Q: How the does Ukrainian public see the current escalation?

There is no unified public opinion in Ukraine. A large number of people have relatives or friends in Russia. A strong pro-Russian element exists within the population of Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine artists and bloggers work for a Russian-speaking audience in several countries, including Russia. So the Russian market is important for them. Don't misinterpret the rhetoric of vocal Ukrainian activists with real public opinion (that in reality is deeply divided).

Q: Do you predict Western powers including the U.S. will intervene in any military clash over Ukraine?

A: America will not fight for Ukraine. Do Americans or Europeans really want to make a body bag for Ukraine? The answer is very clear “no”. 

Public opinion in the U.S. doesn't support American military intervention in the Ukraine crisis. Public opinion will say: stay out of it.

Ukraine doesn't matter as much for America as it matters for Russia, so for Moscow, it will be natural to raise stakes (the same can’t be said about America).

 NATO and EU are not united. Take a note about the Hungarian prime minister just visiting Moscow and talking about a new gas contract.

Q: How would be the fallout of U.S. harsh sanctions on Russia's banks?

A: As for harsh sanctions, if it excludes trade blockade (including energy), then these sanctions are not harsh by design. If sanctions aim at electronics as the biggest threat, China will inevitably help Russia, although it takes time and effort to organize a technological transfer.

Days of the only superpower in the world are gone. China and Russia strengthen their alliance that is almost formed. Pushing Russia even closer to China would be a super great mistake of the West.

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