My guest today for this Frontpage Interview is Vladimir Bukovsky, a former leading Soviet dissident who spent twelve years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for his fight for freedom. His works include To Build a Castle and Judgement in Moscow.
Preobrazhensky: Vladimir Bukovsky, welcome.
You have turned out to be very prophetic in our previous interview “The Kremlin’s Obama Gambit” of April, 2009. Answering my question about your view of Russian-American relations ensuing under Obama, you said the following: “As it stands now and if there is no drastic rethinking and reformulating, [there will be] a chain of endless concessions by America.”
And just recently we have witnessed such a concession. America has refused to deploy missiles to Eastern Europe and it received nothing in exchange. How would you comment on this development?
Bukovsky: Yes, recently America has refused to deploy missiles to Eastern Europe. It was surely done under the greatest pressure by Russia in exchange for Russia’s support of American sanctions against Iran. But as soon as the Americans agreed, the Russians said that sanctions against Iran are too hard. And they have only increased their requirements.
The plan of deploying missiles to Eastern Europe cannot be brought back anymore. The West is driving itself into a corner. They should have been firm with Russia from the very beginning. They should have told the Russians that the plan of deploying missiles to Eastern Europe was not a matter of reconsideration, and the Russians might have been fine with it! They understand only strict language.
Preobrazhensky: Because of this development, Russia has now hampered the American position on the European continent in general, right?
Bukovsky: Yes, Russia is pushing America away from Europe. That has always been the “number 1” target of Kremlin policy. Task “number 2” is making Germany their leading ally in Europe. They have been doing it since Lenin’s times, the 1920s, and Hitler’s times, the1930s.
Preobrazhensky: Recently, a famous Russian historian, Irina Pavlova, wrote on Grani.ru that the leaders of Western states are making concessions to Russia step by step, not comprehending what doing so can really cause. It was clear from the very beginning that Russians would not sacrifice their friendship with Iran for the sake of America. But nevertheless many Americans believed in it. Why do Americans swallow all Russian misinformation and false promises so easily?
Bukovsky: It is just a cultural-psychological difference. The Americans do not understand who they are dealing with when it comes to Russia. They are dealing with the KGB and for KGB people you are either an enemy or their agent. They do not acknowledge other kind of human relations. All their methods of communication are recruitment, compromising etc. They do not acknowledge mere friendship.
On the contrary, the Western people are always trying to find some compromise which is natural in Western culture. But for the KGB it is not natural at all. They understand it as weakness and a retreat and it only facilitates their requirements.
Preobrazhensky: They have facilitated it already indeed. It is now possible that the Russians will get full access to inspect American nuclear facilities, thanks to Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. But can you bet that the Russians are really not informed well enough about American nuclear facilities?
Russian intelligence has a lot of assets in America from Soviet times and it is working in America quite openly. The Russians do not need to cover themselves, because they
are pretty sure that Americans would hardly allow themselves to stir up a spy scandal regarding Russia, their supposed ally in fighting terrorism and the Iranian nuclear threat.
I think the Russians want to inspect American nuclear facilities not because they have a lack of information, but in order to put some more psychological pressure on America. As soon as they are shown nuclear facilities, they might require to be shown something else or to have other concessions be made to them.
What do you think?
Bukovsky: The West is at this moment reproducing its appeasement of Hitler. This kind of politics can lead to war, because appeasement only encourages and emboldens totalitarian regimes. The West will have to reply with military means sooner or later. Even now the West doesn’t know what to do with Georgia. And what if Russia occupies the whole of its territory? What will America do?
Yes, Georgia is not a member of NATO. But Estonia has joined NATO already. And if Russia occupies Estonia, a NATO member, what will America do? And if Russia arranges some military actions against Ukraine on the eve of its presidential elections, perhaps, for example, organizing provocations in the Crimea, what will America do?
The West has to overcome its political correctness and address some firm words to Russia. Otherwise, they will have an ugly fight on their hands in the future.
Preobrazhensky: What do you think about the current American position on the numerous violations of human rights and shrinking freedoms in Russia?
Bukovsky: It is a pity that America does not want to criticize Russia for violation of human rights. The Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1975 stated that the violations of human rights cannot be a matter of home policy anymore. Anti-democratic regimes are inclined to aggression. That it is the two sides of the same medal. The famous Russian human rights activist, Academician Andrei Sakharov, won the Nobel Prize for formulating that idea. The time will come, and America will understand the real content of Russian policy.
Preobrazhensky: Vladimir Bukovsky, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.