ArmInfo’s interview with Director General of the Center of Strategic Assessment and Forecast Sergey Grinyayev
by David Stepanyan
The key conclusion of the recent Moscow-hosted roundtable discussion on the Russian army was that terrorist war is the major challenge for Russia. What is this conclusion based on?
The military-political and military-strategic situation in the world makes countries revise their attitude to defense. Growing terrorist threats and the recent developments in the Middle East, and Syria, first of all, along with many other problems necessitate Russia to have quick response capabilities to meet the challenges it is facing. Over the last years, the Russian Armed Forces have not been properly re-equipped. The situation began to change during the last few years, but much is still to be done to keep the balance of power in the world arena. In addition, to settle a series of tasks, the military budget of Russia should be spent not only on purchase of new models of arms and military equipment, but also in reconstruction of infrastructures. I am sure that without reliable infrastructure, it is impossible to settle either military tasks or non- typical tasks, like liquidation of the latest flood aftermaths in the Russian Far East. So, I don’t think that the big military budget will be spent on purchase of arms within the coming years. He thinks that much will be spent on creation of dual-purpose infrastructures to foster Russia's economic and general development.
As a result of the two Geneva meetings the United States and Russia have come to terms on Syria and Iran. Have they reached agreements that might allow them to regulate a wide spectrum of relations?
I would not take the Geneva agreements seriously. History shows that the United States is unyielding and mostly takes what it wants. In Syria they are using diplomatic ways to put things into a deadlock, while in the meantime they keep saying that their military plans in that country are still in force. In Iran they are trying to cause internal instability. So, we can say that the Americans have not changed their plans on either Syria or Iran, what they have changed is the means they are using to carry those plans out.
Why is Israel so openly pessimistic about Iran’s nuclear agreements with P5+1?
Israel believes that only it can have a mass destruction weapon in the region. In the last years the Israelis have done their best to leave both Iraq and Syria without nuclear weapons, and now it's Iran's turn. So, they will not accept any pact leaving Iran at least the tiniest chance to have a nuclear weapon of its own.
Are the West and Russia making equal efforts in their fight for Ukraine? What will the Maidan end in?
Russia, unlike the West, has never laid political conditions when giving loans, while for the West politics have always been a top priority. And we all see what this policy has led to in Ukraine. They in Ukraine have proved unable to confront the new challenges that have come from the Middle East and North Africa - something termed as 'irregular warfare' in present-day military science. The Ukrainian leaders should have been more resolute in their actions. A state is not always a carrot, sometimes it must be a stick. But most of them have appeared to be more worried about their own selves than about their country. They left their law enforcers alone face to face with the mob and may well make them scapegoats in the end.
What countries will be attracted by the Kremlin’s reintegration projects should it win in the fight for Ukraine?
The Kremlin is not forcing anybody to join its reintegration projects. Today Russia is different - it is ready to help but only on a mutually beneficial basis. If a partner has what to offer to us, it will be welcome into the Customs Union, but if somebody has nothing to offer or regards Russia as a milk cow only, we don't need such a partner.
Many people in Armenia are seriously worried that the prices of a number of imported items will grow as the customs duties will be made equal to the duties that are in force in the Customs Union. Can any military-political preferences outbalance the vague economic future of Armenia as part of the Customs Union?
I am sure that Armenia will find its place in new Eurasian geopolitics. Here we must act jointly, without saying 'give us this or that cheaper just because we are partners.' If we want something, we must offer something in exchange. Military strategic partnership is the key bonus in Russian-Armenian relations. "Russia's military capacities in Armenia guarantee balance of forces and stability in the region. But this cannot be a firm basis for longer- term cooperation. "Here we also need economic motives and closer economic ties irrespective of formats. Armenia must find its place in history as an essential partner for Russia. The last events have shown that the West does not need us. What it wants is permanent conflicts in Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine and people killing each other, while it will be pumping resources from their neglected economies.
Armenia's accession to the Customs Union, the supplies of arms to Azerbaijan and Russia’s growing military presence in Armenia and the region – can this bring the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement closer?
The absence of territorial disputes is a guarantee of stability in any region. I think that Russia's comeback to the South Caucasus will foster security and development in that region, with the Nagorno- Karabakh problem being really crucial for the future of the whole Caucasus.
Does Armenia make use of its geographic situation? What other chances have it missed so far?
I think Armenia does not use all the advantages it has today. I don't mean only geography. Geography was important some hundred years ago at the time of commodity flows. Today, we are witnessing the birth of a new information society based on a world wide web. So, important today are not material but information flows. In this light, Armenia with its unique Diaspora networks perfectly fits into this new world. I think that Armenia is the only Customs Union country that is ready for the realities of the new information society. If wisely used, this advantage can make you a leader of the Union. I hope that the Customs Union will be one of the first successful symbols of the new world.