The West will not talk to Putin on his terms
The West has long understood that we need more military assistance, so there is no problem with this at all. The problem is with political will and the readiness to move forward. This help is like a wave of new quality, this new armored vehicle – it is the first coordinated – again, coordinated!– action for the supply of Western armored vehicles. It will increase our firepower and maneuverability.
Of course, the West proceeds from this, and we proceed from the fact that Putin has not changed his goals towards us in any way. He will play at the same time both for attrition, and –as a person with the mind of a judoka– to raise the stakes. And this means that he will 100% try to attack.
Will he try to attack from several directions at the same time –from the south and north, for example – or will he focus on some separate fronts? This is, ultimately, a question for the military. Nevertheless, we can say that the ice has broken, we are getting Western weapons, and fairly modern weapons at that. This will make it possible to remove the barrier to the the supply of such weapons in the future. That is, there should be no further problems with weapons quantities.
For me, this shows, in boxing terminology, the West’s desire to win on points.
I do not yet see any desire to go at least for a knockdown. For me, this hypothetical knockdown would be the supply of longer-range missiles which would also allow us to hit the Russian regime's logistical lines. But there are discussions about this, and the very atmosphere of these discussions, as I feel them, is changing. And again, I emphasize that this is the coordinated position of the West.
News of Putin's deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak allegedly holding meetings with European politicians to get Ukraine to sign something like Minsk 3 sounds funny enough. First, it makes little sense to talk only with Europeans, and Putin himself is well aware of that, since it is first and foremost necessary to negotiate with Washington. It is Washington that he considers his main adversary. It is also obvious that today Kozak is not a figure through which even such probing contacts would be conducted. There are many possible formats for talks, but as I understand the West today, unless Putin comes and says “now I’m talking to you on your terms,” these negotiations just won’t happen.
And what I just said, in boxing terminology, the West will not talk to Putin on his terms. And the fact that we received these several aid packages precisely at the beginning of the year is no longer just an unsubtle hint, but a very clear signal to Putin that the stakes will rise and no one will let him advance anything on his terms, full stop.
Turkish President Erdogan allegedly called Putin on January 5 and said that a unilateral ceasefire was needed. But this didn't come from Erdogan. It is very important to emphasize this, since Russia and Putin in particular have swung for this topic for quite a long time. Putin also mentioned this so-called Christmas ceasefire to others, too, including in a conversation with Scholz, as far as I know. This is indeed a topic coming from the Kremlin, and it is clear why it is coming, since Putin now really needs to show himself to those who, it would seem, are ready to speak. He wants to put the Europeans on this hook, as he understands that Western solidarity needs to be broken. As long as the West is helping Ukraine, as long as it is with us, as long as there is solidarity, Putin is well aware that, in principle, nothing can work out for him.
Therefore, this is a topic that comes directly from Putin. For Erdogan, it is very important to show not just some kind of success, but that he is the one and only mediator between Russia and the West. This is part of his unique, almost magical image. It is very important for him to win the presidential elections next June.
The economy in Turkey has now begun to improve somewhat, with inflation there under 80% and decreasing. Now a foreign policy success is really critically needed. If he shows this success, or at least shows that he is able to organize some real negotiations, it would for him – I stress, for him – be a success. We have a completely different vision of success, and therefore I agree with you, I am also quite skeptical about what is happening now.
Erdogan wants to be unique, so to speak, to be part of the West and part of NATO, and to use this positioning.
But he wants at the same time to be a unique player in the Islamic world, to be a unique player in the Middle East, to be a unique player in the Caucasus, which he shows by his support for Azerbaijan in what is happening around Nagorno-Karabakh. He wants to build a large community out of the Turkic-speaking world. He has global ambitions, and in these global ambitions, he wants to be in the same league as Putin. Thus, I think Putin looks at Erdogan on the one hand as someone who can be used, and on the other hand, as someone who is reducing the geopolitical influence of Russia. And rather quickly.
Therefore, relations between Turkey and Russia are in fact not very clear, in one direction, and it cannot be said that Erdogan is playing only in favor of Russia. But in many economic aspects, Russia is indeed using Turkey.
Now a lot of Russian money has gone to Turkey – just as it goes to Dubai, so it goes to Turkey. And now Turkey is simply swimming in Russian money. It is the same situation as in Georgia, only multiplied tenfold. I can't even give you an approximate figure, because all this is happening completely under the table.
The political influence of Russia as the successor of the Soviet Union has finally 100% broken in Central Asia. I believe that it will not return, and while we can never say never in politics, but we should consistently work on this. This is the case in the Caucasus too, but Georgia is largely dependent on Russia due to many business connections.
Georgia is trying to somehow get out of this situation, using Russian money, using these business connections and demonstrating that they seem to have formally joined some kind of sanctions. And then they say: no, we don’t know where and we don’t understand where good and evil are here, what is light and where is darkness, and so on.
And it's really very sad when I talk to my Georgian friends and acquaintances. They say, “You know, we just want to apologize to the Ukrainians, we never thought that we would live in a Georgia like this, and we must honestly say that this is a different Georgia than years ago.”This is a Georgia which today has lost this path, and I say this, understanding the situation and having many ties, in particular human and friendly ties. But I believe that Georgia being lost does not mean a missed opportunity for it as a state.
Georgia must return to the side of good, and must turn around and turn away from Russia, its unequivocal enemy. This was shown not only in 2008, but through the entirety of Georgian history. I think that this will definitely happen, but as long as there is a situation where the ruling coalition in Georgia tries to continue to use the opportunities of business ties in Russia and somehow slip between the drops, everything must be said in plain text here.
As for Kazakhstan and re-elected President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: do you remember the Mowgli cartoon by Kipling? And there is this evil tiger Shere Khan, and with him, Jackal. And the whole forest was against him: the wolves, the bear cub, the panther, and all the rest. Even the boa constrictor there was on the side of good. So Kazakhstan today is definitely not Putin's jackal. I think that they are trying to balance things in Kazakhstan. Remember, we also once had such an idiotic period of multi-vector policy. So,now Kazakhstan is trying to play the same game, having China, having the influence of the West in particular, and other influences.
Tokayev is a foreign policy hand, and with Putin, he is trying to do as Lukashenka does, like the Iranian regime partially does. And, by the way, even they are not completely behind him, trying to maneuver to the last. Kazakhstan will not go there. I believe that China has actually become the No. 1 player in Central Asia today. And if we take the geopolitical result No. 1 of 2022, it is that, at the end of the day, it is China that is now the determining force in this region. This applies not only to Kazakhstan, but also to many others.
It also applies to Afghanistan and contacts with the Taliban. Here, it is definitely not Putin or the Russian regime that plays the first or even probably the second fiddle. This will only continue. We must honestly say that we would like to see everything in the “treason-or-for victory” dichotomy, and this is indeed quite correct. This leads us forward and this, if you like, is our mission to teach the world.
And secondly, Kazakhstan somehow wants to manage this balance that we would call “multi-vector” foreign policy. It will later backfire, but, nevertheless, it is very important for us that this non-Western world understands that Putin is definitely not the future. And people like Tokayev, I absolutely and even know this from my sources, understand this very well.