December 17, 2022

Russian Ambassador to the U.S.: Washington ‘appears to be winning everywhere’

Moscow’s envoy in Washington, D.C. recently told Newsweek that, despite the United States’ efforts to assert its global leadership through backing Ukraine in its war with Russia, a new international order is emerging in which the U.S. may stand to lose in the long run if it did not move to adapt.

“The Ukrainian crisis is becoming, without exaggeration, a turning point in the history of international relations,” Russian ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek.

Antonov said that the developments of the past eight years, beginning in 2014 with the uprising that brought to power a pro-West government in Kyiv and a pro-Moscow separatist uprising in Eastern Ukraine, “is a subject of scrupulous study by diplomats, analysts, and political scientists and will be widely reflected in history books.”

Reflecting the Kremlin’s version of the events that have ensued since Russia launched what it refers to as a “special military operation” to pursue the “demilitarization” and “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, he expressed confidence that “the heroic struggle of the Russian people against Nazism will be remembered in various parts of our planet.” This effort, he said, was a continuation of the Soviet fight against “the brown plague” of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Washington has supported Kyiv’s narrative, considering the conflict to be an illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war of Russian aggression against a neighboring country aspiring to join Western blocs such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). Meanwhile, the U.S. and Ukrainian officials have roundly rejected any ties between the current war and Nazism.

However, Antonov saw a longstanding campaign by the U.S. in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse “to create an anti-Russian foothold on the Ukrainian territory” through governmental and non-governmental means that he said “encouraged hostility towards everything Russian.”

“The question arises: Why was it so important for Washington to create an area of instability at our borders?” Antonov asked. “After all, Russia was already extremely weakened as a result of the events of 1991 and was living through troubled times and couldn’t compete with the United States.”

The war in Ukraine already marks the bloodiest post-Cold War conflict involving Russia and a neighboring nation, but it is only the latest conflict to erupt as Moscow protested NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe over the course of decades.

In 2008, when NATO first announced that it would consider Ukraine’s NATO membership bid at the Bucharest summit, the U.S.-led military alliance also declared its consideration of Georgia’s application. Antonov accused NATO members of “bluntly breaking their own promises” not to expand on the territory of the former Soviet Union,” though the transatlantic bloc has denied ever giving such assurances.

Months after the summit, and also coincidentally as Beijing hosted the Olympic World Games as was the case with the outbreak of the current war in Ukraine in February, war erupted in Georgia as the Kremlin backed two separatist states aligned with Moscow. The two self-proclaimed breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia still exist today as part of a series of frozen conflicts in the former Soviet sphere of influence.

The Kremlin has also accused Kyiv and its Western supporters of violating agreements over Ukraine, namely the Minsk agreements. The deals were designed to deescalate the conflict in Ukraine after the events of 2014, but Moscow and Kyiv have regularly charged one another with violating the terms of their arrangement and the U.S. consistently backed up Ukraine’s claims up until the war erupted.

In seeking to explain what he referred to as “the anti-Russian strategy of the White House,” Antonov suggested “one line of reasoning is that the United States has a gene of ‘exceptionalism’ ‘in its blood.'” He cited a long history of this concept, from the words of 17th century Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop to President Ronald Reagan who oversaw some of the final years of the Cold War in the 1980s and even current President Joe Biden.

“Washington seems to need to constantly assert itself through competition with Russia,” Antonov said. “It looks as if the ‘ghost’ of the Soviet Union is still haunting the corridors of power in the American capital, and the “Сold War” has not ended at all.”

He added: “Many politicians here still think and act according to the laws of that historical period. They believe that restoration of Russia’s international prestige with Vladimir Putin‘s accession to power in our country has become a ‘headache’ for Washington.”

Since first coming to power at the dawn of the 21st century, Putin has openly sought to reassert Moscow’s great power status after a decade of tumult that followed the Soviet Union’s downfall. And while U.S.-Russia relations have experienced highs and lows in this era, the war in Ukraine has proven the most serious challenge yet.

Antonov acknowledged that, in some ways, this has been to Washington’s strategic benefit.

“With the conflict in Ukraine the United States is better placed to implement its idée fixe to weaken Russia,” Antonov said. “It is much easier to consolidate society within the United States and in the Western camp as a whole around the image of a ‘foreign enemy that undermines the values of the democratic world.'”

He continued: “At the same time, one can always shift the blame for its own problems and miscalculations onto the Russian Federation and use Russia to justify its unprecedented military spending. In addition, under the pretext of the developments in Ukraine, the administration is ruining mutually beneficial ties between Russia and Europe, making the latter fully dependent on Washington.”

In fact, he asserted that it could be easy to view the U.S. as succeeding over Russia amid their rivalry.

“At first glance, it may appear that Americans are ‘winning’ everywhere and at the cost of the lives of Ukrainian soldiers retain their own ‘leadership,'” Antonov said. “They hope in this way to maintain dominance in the world stage, which someone dared to challenge for the first time in a long time.”

“However,” he added. “Things are different.”

Beyond the intensive feud between Moscow and Washington, Antonov said that “it is clear that we are at the beginning of a complex and long journey of building a multipolar world,” one in which “the Russian Federation advocates that the interests of all participants should be taken into account in the future system of international relations, and that new centers of development in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East could have an equal impact on global processes together with Russia and the United States.”

And he argued that “our proposals find more and more understanding and support in various regions of the planet.”

While Russia’s conflict in Ukraine has garnered near-unanimous condemnation among the U.S. and its allies as well as number of other countries, Moscow has persisted in developing ties with a variety of nations. And Russian influence continues to grow in some parts of the world, including those that Antonov mentioned.

With the U.S. and Russia still very much locked in geopolitical competition, Antonov said that “it is naïve to assume that in the course of the abovementioned transformation, the rivalry between the Russian Federation and the United States will cease overnight.” He argued that “Washington will certainly do everything possible to maintain its leading position and ‘silence’ our voice.”

“Still, the Russian-American standoff, if it is to continue, must be mutually respectful,” he asserted. “This is the foundation of both diplomatic practice and basic human communication.”

“Today, we do not see this kind of Washington’s attitude,” Antonov argued. “On the contrary, Russophobia prevails over creativity and common sense so much that the United States is getting increasingly dragged into the Ukrainian conflict, losing the instinct of self-preservation.”

Speaking to reporters on Friday, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel affirmed the Biden administration’s position that the U.S. will “continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, alongside our allies and partners, as the people of Ukraine defend their country from Russia’s aggression.”

Patel touted Washington’s recent effort to provide Kyiv with defensive platforms such as the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) and the MIM-23 Hawk.

But as reports suggest, the U.S. was preparing to send Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine, Antonov warned that “the consequences of a further increase in the supply of arms to Kiev’s criminals are truly unpredictable.”

“The Administration completely ignores our concerns, which we communicate to our interlocutors via all channels available,” he said. “The practical steps of the White House, which is constantly ‘raising the stakes’ by sending more and more powerful weapons, points to only one thing: Washington is pushing for escalation.”

However, he added that, “in this context, it is appropriate to remind the colleagues once again of the special responsibility of our countries for maintaining global security.”

U.S.-Russia relations have hit their lowest point in the post-Cold War era, yet both powers have demonstrated some degree of recognition of the continued necessity of bilateral engagement on certain issues. While there is no official record of Biden and Putin having been in contact since their last known call two weeks before the war in Ukraine began, top intelligence officials from both countries met last month in Turkey to discuss the sharp escalation in nuclear rhetoric accompanying the ongoing conflict.

Antonov said Moscow was willing to expand this dialogue to address “other common priorities, including the fight against international terrorism, climate change, pandemics, as well as ensuring stability in the Arctic region.” Once again drawing from World War II history, he said “we must not forget about the need to preserve the historical memory of the joint struggle against fascism.”

He then quoted U.S. Secretary of State and national security adviser Henry Kissinger, who wrote in the immediate aftermath of the USSR’s dissolution in the early 1990s, that “in the new world order…traditional American idealism must combine with a thoughtful assessment of contemporary realities.”

“Therefore,” Antonov said, “I hope that Washington will after all heed to our arguments and adopt a constructive approach to the Ukrainian crisis and the risks associated with it.”

Share the Post: