Interview of the Minister of Defense of Russia Sergei Shoigu to the Kazakh resource
March 18th, 16:25
Kazakh journalist Akmaral Batalova took an exclusive interview with the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu specially for the Kazakh resource Tengrinews.kz . Answering questions, Shoigu shared his opinion on relations between Russia and Kazakhstan, the idea of creating a "Turanian army" and the actions of the United States. Defense Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu (c) tengrinews.kz
- The first question is about what is happening now in relations between Russia and the United States. In its military and national strategies, Washington for the first time designated specific countries as geopolitical or regional adversaries. The first group includes Russia and China, the second - Iran and North Korea. In connection with the arrival of a new president, there seems to be some kind of softening towards China. It seems that the Biden administration is going to return to the Iranian deal. And what about Russia? How does this relate to Kazakhstan together with Russia? What can we expect?
- What the new administration says today, in principle, in different periods with different priority, these priorities were set. Geopolitically, in the opinion of the United States administration, international terrorism has always been in the first place before. Then Russia and China changed in turn, Iran periodically came out on top. You can also remember that in Syria, international terrorism was just at the very top. For this, a coalition was formed, a large international coalition led by the United States. Added to them is the coalition created by Saudi Arabia. Here, of course, a certain surprise occurred when Russia took up the fight against terrorism, international terrorism, as they say, not childishly.
After everything that happened in Syria, we gradually migrated from those who established peace in Syria, from those who had the main influence on the situation in this country, defeated terrorism, starting an operation when Damascus was under the control of 18 percent, and today in fact more than 90 percent, then, naturally, they began to say that "Russia in Syria is behaving somehow differently."
Let me also remind you of those times when, in general, despite all the difficulties, we have a rather prompt, operative, and very effective dialogue, work and cooperation. At the suggestion of our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, when he suggested: "Well, why strike the country?" Then it was due to the presence of chemical weapons in Syria. Why strike? When an agreement can be reached, both technologies, equipment, and these weapons and their remnants will be transferred and destroyed peacefully by those who have technologies for peaceful destruction.
There were big doubts then. Obama, I just witnessed this, said:
"It is unlikely that Assad will agree to this, but if he does, it could be done." Then such a large, I would even call it, a beautiful operation was carried out to transport, collect and destroy chemical weapons by joint efforts.
This was a really important decision for this region and for the world as a whole. Because it was hard to imagine that they were not giving up their weapons, not surrendering, but a blow was being struck. And the blow is struck precisely at the places where it is stored. And the consequences for the entire region can be imagined. This was a great, good joint work.
I will not hide the fact that today in Syria, at the operational and tactical level, we have very close contacts with our American colleagues. Maybe if this is a secret for someone, I reveal it, this secret. We have contacts at the level of our, by civil name, managers in the airspace and in the conduct of work in the air to combat terrorism several times a day.
What can change? You know, the first steps are encouraging. They are encouraging because (there has been) such rapid progress towards the extension of the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty. Of course, everyone sighed. It is now clear that, after all, they have moved from unrealizable demands and proposals to a completely normal and constructive dialogue. I hope that, probably, in the future, those steps can be taken first in which not only the United States and Russia are interested, but also other countries. So, today it is said: "Yes, we need to cooperate with Russia, but only in those areas where it is beneficial for us." Such is the negotiating platform today, or something.
I hope that someday a full-fledged one will be restored, I am stressing on this word - a full-fledged and equal dialogue, the work of the Russia-NATO Council.
Indeed, it is necessary to come to an agreement, there is an urgent need and an extreme need for this. For our part, we have made all the steps, all the statements; We were waiting. In my opinion, the treaty on intermediate and shorter-range missiles was quite acceptable. But, as it seems to us, and it seems not unreasonable, there were found, and somewhere invented, special reasons to withdraw from this treaty.
Of course, we said: "Well, come out and come out, what can I do?" But we have committed ourselves not to deploy such weapons if they are not deployed in Europe. That is, we will not do this either. But if it is posted, we will naturally respond appropriately. As well as in the east of our country, of course, I mean the possible deployment on the territory of Japan and South Korea.
And we, unfortunately, have not yet received an answer to this question.
- So to speak, for myself I draw the conclusion that political rhetoric may be different, but in fact, it is not politicians, apparently, but the military who decide and make decisions.
- First of all, this is our supreme commander, who determines the main strategic line on such important issues as the treaty on strategic offensive weapons, on intermediate and shorter-range missiles, the open skies treaty and many other issues.
- And the Afghan direction? How can you assess now, at the present time, the threats for Russia, for the republics of Central Asia? Is there any threat from this direction?
- What we are seeing today is such a periodic "go-stay, stay-go". And this happens in different countries. They seem to be a coalition, each is responsible for his own zone, but with the change of presidents, we "leave", then "stay."
I told my colleagues from the United States, I told my colleagues in Great Britain that you still need to leave when you are absolutely sure that a peaceful life has improved there. And when the local population got something that they can earn, except drugs. Therefore, it is necessary to give them such an opportunity so that they can produce something and sell this something in order to have a normal life.
But now the conversation is not about that. Naturally, complex processes are going on there, not simple ones.
What worries us? And not only us, the entire region.
Large groups of terrorists are moving to different countries, including Afghanistan. ISIS has already appeared there (Daesh is an organization banned in Kazakhstan), and we are observing the arrival of those who, firstly, left Afghanistan for Syria, and plus those who came from Syria to another country are added to them.
And, of course, what is very, very serious about drug trafficking and drug production. We all live in this region, in this common territory of ours. Our neighbors and we cannot help but understand that these are neighbors not only with us, they are neighbors with our closest friends, with our fraternal peoples, with those with whom we have lived for centuries and, God willing, we will continue to live together. Of course, this is Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
- The partnership between Russia and Turkey has been quite productive lately. But at the same time, questions arise for some individual, let's say, politicians in Turkey, and among some circles we have an idea to recreate the "Great Turan" and create an "army of Turan" - a unified army of the Turkic countries. How do you feel about this?
- The first thing I would like to say to these people, I don’t know whether to call them politicians or who. Well, well, you are dreaming about it, you are trying to make some steps towards it. For what and against whom? Exactly the same Turkic-speaking peoples live on the territory of Russia, we have a lot of them. Our country is multiconfessional and multinational. And we have lived together for centuries.
If we talk about relations with Turkey, we are doing very difficult, very difficult, but very effective work. Collaboration. Difficult because it hinders, and hinders the fact that Turkey is a NATO member. Of course, this hinders, but in itself, I would say, even a unique experience, when one country is in NATO, another country is not a member of NATO. They find a common language, they carry out joint work and joint operations, they find compromises where it seems impossible. But we find solutions. For example, the Idlib de-escalation zone. In general, the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria at one time, in our opinion, is a new page and a new mechanism for resolving such conflicts. Create de-escalation zones so that people start talking to each other, so that a kind of separation can really take place. Some are ready to live like this,
And we (with Turkey) are on joint patrols in the north-east of Syria today. And together we are engaged in the fight against terrorists. We are working together, quite often in joint airspace. And we regulate and control many crossing points, we deal with refugees together.
This work is not easy, difficult. I will not talk about why they are trying to impose sanctions there, and in some part they have already been imposed against Turkey by their NATO partners. The last work is, of course, Nagorno-Karabakh. This is such a very difficult operation. That is what I would like to call her and nothing else. Because a huge number of arguments, elements, motives were involved in it. After all, you must agree, when two fraternal peoples, two close neighbors of ours, those with whom we lived, I repeat once again, are at war with each other, and we will continue to live in peace, harmony and friendship ...
On the other hand, Turkey's involvement in this, so it was necessary to talk and deal with Turkish colleagues as well. Our president, who, believe me, made a titanic effort to make all this happen. And everyone had to persuade. That is, there was no one who would say: "I agree, just convince them." No, I had to convince everyone, of course. And we, at our level of colleagues or defense ministers, we also spoke with our Turkish colleagues. But what has been done today is, firstly, that people have stopped killing each other. Secondly, I hope that now is the time for them to switch to bilateral contacts and talk to each other, start talking. I mean Armenia and Azerbaijan.
And here, of course, much depends on the relations that have developed in Russia with Turkey. Also new players appear, old neighbors appear, but they appear with their proposals. I mean Iran. This is the development of infrastructure, this is the railway, this is hydropower and transport links. Many questions.
- You are now talking about those who are really trying to solve the problem in a positive way. But if we talk about those who are trying in every possible way to embroil our countries and are trying to put Russia in a negative light. We even have those who in all seriousness believe that Russia wants to annex Kazakhstan to itself.
- You know, I am at least patiently listening to questions of this kind from you only because I know that you are deeply educated, very intelligent and, I will not hide, a very charming person who knows history well, knows it well and understands it. But let's get down to earth from all these fantasies! I can speculate about Abylai the Great (Abylai Khan) - a historical person whom I studied, his path and his exploits, his merits.
You can argue a lot, but we have long-established fraternal relations. We have no reason to share something among ourselves, and no reason, absolutely. Because we carried out a complete demarcation of borders back in 1998.
Moreover, we signed a border treaty, and I think it was signed in 2005. We have a great relationship, why interfere with all this?
And in general, everything related to interference, especially when two friends begin to argue about something, someone else appears, whom they did not know and never took into account in their friendship.
In this case, I'm talking about Ukraine and the United States. Those who sat down at the same table one fine evening signed guarantees that everything will be within the framework of the constitution, that the outgoing president will have elections within a year and that he will not go to these elections and everything will be fine. And there, after 4 hours, they were already looking for him in all the nooks and crannies. After that, they boarded the plane and flew away, leaving everything there in that state. And after that, someone says that Russia is to blame for all this? Is Russia to blame for arranging everything that happened there next?
And Russia is to blame for the fact that they started shooting at peaceful cities from multiple launch rocket systems? That over peaceful cities began to fly and fire on their combat helicopters and aircraft? Well you guys were sitting, you guaranteed, you signed up for this. Well then, go on with it all, go on with it!
Therefore, I have always treated everything taking into account the fact that April 17 will be 30 years as a member of the Russian government, and so it fell out that I was forced to deal with the conflicts South Ossetia - Georgia, Abkhazia - Georgia, Transnistria - Moldova, the Uzbek-Tajik conflict ... Well, and a lot more, and the reception of refugees from many, many republics of the former Soviet Union, who came here in tens and hundreds of thousands from the same Karabakh, from Baku, from Armenia. That is, it was such a difficult time, but even then I was never left with the confidence that everything would be fine and we would live together and in peace.