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Why Russia is back

Noted theorist Aleksandr Dugin accuses the U.S. of seeking world domination.

September 04, 2008|Megan K. Stack | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Writer, political activist and father figure for contemporary Russian nationalism, Aleksandr Dugin is the founder of Russia's International Eurasian Movement and a popular theorist among Russia's hard-line elite. He envisions a strategic bloc comprising the former Soviet Union and the Middle East to rival the U.S.-dominated Atlantic alliance. The Times interviewed Dugin, 46, this week at his office, a room draped with flags bearing the slogan "Pax Russica." Following are excerpts. (A longer version is at latimes.com/world).

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What is your assessment of Russia's place in the world now, and how should Russia be behaving with respect to the West?

I think that the pretension of the United States to be the unique pole of the world . . . is completely wrong, immoral, and unacceptable by the other great centers of power. We support the creation of great space, a few great spaces, instead of only one point of decision, the United States' decision. We think Russia should be in the vanguard of this process.

We consider -- not only myself, not only I, but our political chiefs -- we consider that in Georgia, [President Mikheil] Saakashvili has committed not only a moral crime, but also he tested what is behind the Russian words, behind the Russian protests against American domination. They wanted to test up to which point is this only words, and what Russia could oppose directly, in concrete acts.

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Many in the West believe that Moscow deliberately provoked a confrontation over Georgia's breakaway republics. Who do you believe is responsible for the eruption of armed conflict?

It was too risky for us to begin it. And I think, also, that as long as I have known [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin and [President Dmitry] Medvedev, they would like to avoid at any price direct confrontation with the United States.

Their idea was that they should gain the time to prepare Russia to attack or to withstand the possible attack of the United States, and they needed 10 years. The reaction of Putin -- of Putin and Medvedev -- was such as it was only because they considered this an offensive, impossible and unacceptable provocation from the Georgians. And that was a reaction, not a planned strategic offensive.

It is very far from the end. It is only the beginning of a real, and maybe very serious, and very dangerous for all of the sides, confrontation between us and Americans.

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What was the strategic purpose in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia? Russia is, so far, completely alone in the recognition.

First of all, by this step Russia confirmed its will to go until the end in this conflict. . . . It was a kind of demonstration of our serious and profound will to continue.

It is not the rule that from now on we will recognize all the separatist regions. Absolutely no. We will recognize those separatists' regions that would be geopolitically on our side -- either on our side or on our friends' -- and opposed to the United States.

The United States showed us this double morality. They recognized pro-American Kosovo and don't recognize anti-American, pro-Russian South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They don't recognize the integrity of Serbia, but they recognize the integrity of Georgia.

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How does Russia view the development of friendly relations between the United States and former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia?

As a declaration of war. As a declaration of psychological, geopolitical, economic and open war.

Putin was pro-Western at the beginning. He was pro-American. That was the reason of our criticism of his conduct. . . . But little by little, he was confronted with the complete neglect of all Russian interests.

Step by step, with the economy and the trade of energy resources, we finally found the force and the will to respond against this war. Because this war was not desired by us. It was a challenge. It was imposed on us by the United States.

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You have been banned from visiting Ukraine. Do you believe that Ukraine will join NATO, and if so, how will Russia react?

I think that most of the population of Ukraine doesn't want to come into NATO. The majority of the population, after the Georgian case more than before, wants to have a good relationship with Russia. Entrance to NATO will signify complete abolishment of any kind of relationship, and real, hard confrontation.

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If Ukraine were to move into NATO, what do you think the Russian reaction would be?

I think that Russian reaction would be to support an uprising in eastern parts and Crimea and I could not exclude the entrance of armed force there, as in the Ossetian scenario.

But the difference is that half of the Ukrainian population is Russian, is directly Russian, and this half of the population regards itself as being oppressed by the values, by the language, by the geopolitical issues, completely against their will.

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