Alexei Kudrin (lead image) is the longest-running candidate for regime change in the Kremlin who is not in jail, or outside the country. “We need a friendly global environment,” he told a business conference in Moscow last week. Currently chairman of the Accounting Chamber, the state auditor, Kudrin explained this is “currently not being achieved fully due to global geopolitical disagreements and sanctions. Russia should try to reduce this factor and to mitigate political disagreements and sanctions by way of talks and other means.”
Kudrin’s remedy, he added, is that Russia and the US “have to meet each other halfway.”
Kudrin was asked to clarify what he means by “halfway”.
He employs spokesmen at the Accounting Chamber and at a political organization he maintains called the Committee of Civil Initiatives. The latter, established by Kudrin in 2012 following his dismissal as finance minister, describes itself as “united around the idea of modernization of the country and strengthening of democratic institutions.” Every year, the Committee runs surveys of regional conditions, monitors the press, and organizes conferences of political organizations backing Kudrin. To selected local activists, the Committee also awards annual prizes of cash and a figurine, the Golden Sprout. This is Kudrin’s permanent campaign organization. It does not disclose its source of money except for the posting of its “special gratitude” to Norilsk Nickel, controlled by Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska.
Publicity shot of Alexei Kudrin in front of his supporters at the Committee of Civil Initiatives. A list of his principal supporters can be opened here.
Kudrin was asked: what did he mean by his reference to geopolitical disagreements? What is his proposal for the Russian offer in talks with the US? What does he mean by “other means”? and, concretely, what is meant by “meet each other halfway” — half of Crimea to go back to Ukraine? Half of Syria assigned to Israel and Turkey? half the Kuril islands to go to Japan?
Kudrin’s offices at the Chamber and the Committee said he would not answer by telephone, and requested emails. The questions were sent. By telephone both offices confirmed receiving the emails. Kudrin refuses to answer.
A year ago, when Kudrin was publicly pressing President Vladimir Putin for a post in the new government with special powers to negotiate with the US, he outlined a plan of attack on the Russian Defence Ministry and General Staff — cutting Russia’s military budget, defence capability, and commitments to Crimea and the Donbass. This was in statements given on his behalf to a London newspaper; Kudrin avoided making them himself in Russia. For details, read this.
In May, when his campaign for political promotion had failed, Kudrin retracted his views in a speech to the State Duma in order to secure votes for confirmation of his Accounting Chamber job; click to read. The vote against Kudrin was the highest ever against a presidential nominee for Chamber chairman. Kudrin’s ranking in national opinion polls is on the top-10 most distrusted politicians in the country.
The principal target of Kudrin’s campaign remains the Russian military leadership. General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff, has responded with a detailed outline of Russian strategy against the US. His speech entitled “Vectors of Development of Military Strategy” was delivered to the Academy of Military Sciences. The full text can be read in Russian here and in English here.
Left, the Red Star text of General Gerasimov’s speech on March 4; right, Gerasimov at the Academy of Military Sciences. Source: http://redstar.ru/
Gerasimov identified “the US and its allies” as engaged in permanent war of all types, including “preparation for ‘global strike’, ‘multi-domain battle’, [and the] use of the technology of ‘colour revolutions’ and ‘soft power’. Their goal is the elimination of the statehood of undesirable countries, undermining their sovereignty, changing the legitimately elected public authorities. Thus it was in Iraq, in Libya and in Ukraine. Now similar actions are observed in Venezuela… The results achieved in Syria have allowed [us] to identify the current direction of research into the use of the Armed Forces in the course of performing tasks for the protection and promotion of national interests outside the national territory.”
This is the first explicit identification by the Russian General Staff of Venezuela alongside Ukraine and Syria as a target of US war which it is in Russia’s strategic interest to oppose.
Gerasimov also had a word for Kudrin. In his speech Kudrin had ignored the military in his idea of coordinated Russian government. “If the law enforcement system works according to its own plan, while the international institutions and the Foreign Ministry act on their own, and the Ministry of Economic Development is trying to increase the growth rate of the economy to the global average, then exactly nothing happens. It should be a single team, everyone should have a single goal. [All government agencies should] synchronise their actions, including in the format of dialogue and reconciliation of tasks to improve the investment climate.”
Gerasimov’s reply: “The Pentagon has begun to develop a fundamentally new strategy of warfare, which has been dubbed the ‘Trojan Horse’. Its essence lies in the active use of the ‘protest potential of the fifth column’ in order to destabilize the situation with simultaneous strikes by precision-guided weapons on the most important targets.”
Coordination of Russia’s defence resources, according to the General Staff, requires that measures to counter US economic sanctions, media and cyber operations against Russia and its allies, including domestic subversion, should be directed by the General Staff.
“I would like to note,” Gerasimov declared, “that the Russian Federation is ready to oppose every one of these strategies. In recent years, military scientists, together with the General Staff, have developed conceptual approaches to neutralize the aggressive actions of potential opponents. The field of research of military strategy is armed struggle, its strategic level. With the emergence of new areas of confrontation in modern conflicts, methods of struggle are increasingly shifting towards the integrated application of political, economic, information and other non-military measures, implemented with the support of military force.”