On a revealing interview with Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation
by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 11 May 2022, www.thecommunists.net
Two weeks ago, Rossiyskaya Gazeta published a very interesting interview with Nikolai Patrushev who is the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. There are several reasons which make us consider this document as highly relevant. 
First, as is well known, Patrushev is not just a representative of the Kremlin. In fact, he plays a key role within the closest circle around Putin – there are rumours that he is actually the Number 2 and in case of illness he would take over from the long-time ruler.
Second, Rossiyskaya Gazeta is the daily newspaper of the Kremlin, serving as the official government gazette. In short, the interview is a highly authoritative statement of the Putin regime. This is even more the case since the interview is quite extensive (more than 3,500 words) and reflects the world view of Patrushev resp. the regime.
In this article we will present the most interesting statements of this interview and elaborate some conclusions.
Before doing so, we would like to put first a short note. It is an unfortunate habit of many bourgeois, and also progressive, commentators on the Ukraine War and the current escalation of the inter-imperialist rivalry between NATO and Russia that they mostly ignore documents from sources close to the Putin regime including its leading papers and think tanks.
Naturally, one has to read such documents highly critical as they are statements coming from the camp of the class enemy – Russian imperialism.  But without studying documents of the Kremlin, its strategists and ideologists, it seems to us difficult to fully comprehend their perspectives and their way of thinking. Sun Tzu, the great Chinese military strategist and philosopher, used to say 2,500 years ago that one needs to “'know your enemy” in order to win the battle. This ancient wisdom has not lost validity! For this reason, we have already published several documents critically analysing strategy papers of representatives and ideologists close to the Putin regime and we will continue doing so. 
Attacking Western hegemony
In our recently published pamphlet about the world situation, we elaborated the thesis that the apparently surprising decision of Putin to invade the Ukraine has been based on the assumption that a) the Ukrainian people would not put off much resistance and b) for that reason the Zelensky regime would soon collapse and could be replaced by a lackey of the Kremlin.
Related to this, the Kremlin views the Western powers – in particular of the European Union – as being in decline. Therefore, Putin considers the current situation as an opportunity for Russia to make a pre-emptive strike against its rivals. 
For these reasons, the Putin regime sees the attack on the Ukraine not only as an opportunity to expand Russia’s sphere of influence but also as a necessity in order to secure its place within a world order characterised by an escalation of the rivalry between the imperialist powers.
We wrote in our above-mentioned pamphlet: “It seems to us that the Putin regime has made a conscious strategic decision to rupture the existing world order and to challenge the Western powers.” Hence, we concluded: “We believe that Putin has been aware that there exists a window of opportunity since the U.S. suffered important setbacks in the recent past, the EU is disunited as ever and China – Moscow’s strategic ally – is accumulating strength.”
The statements of Patrushev in his interview fully confirm this assessment. “Washington has been and is causing crises in its quest to consolidate its hegemony, resisting the collapse of the unipolar world. The United States is doing everything to ensure that other centers of the multipolar world do not even dare to raise their heads, and our country not only dared, but publicly declared that it will not play by the imposed rules. They tried to force Russia to give up its sovereignty, identity, culture, and independent foreign and domestic policy. We have no right to agree with this approach.”
The Western camp is in crisis
The Patrushev interview shows that the Kremlin not only recognizes the decline of the Western powers but also believes that this crisis will deepen in the near future. This assumption is fully justified as we explained in our analysis of the world situation. The Putinistas, however, ignore only the fact that it is not only the Western powers which are badly affected by the war and the escalating tensions between the Great Powers but Russia suffers also massively. But then, on the other hand, who would be surprised that Putin’s Number 2 does not pay much attention to the weakness of his own state?!
“Europe is facing a deep economic and political crisis for their countries. Rising inflation and declining living standards are already taking a toll on the wallet and mood of Europeans. In addition, large-scale migration adds new challenges to old security threats, such as illegal drug distribution and transnational crime. Almost five million Ukrainian migrants have already arrived in Europe. In the near future, their number will grow to ten million. Most of the Ukrainians who have come to the West believe that Europeans should support them and provide for them, and when they are forced to work, they start to rebel.”
We note in passing that this statement reflects also the arch-reactionary assumption that 5-10 million Ukrainian refugees are mostly criminals in waiting! A similar view of migrants as a threat to law and order as well as social stability is expressed in the next quote. This shows, by the way, the ideological closeness of Putinism and far-right racist forces in Europe.
Patrushev also expresses his astonishment – again, not without reason – about Europe’s helpless subordination to Washington and its foreign policy. “Against the background of anti-Russian sanctions, the world is gradually plunging into an unprecedented food crisis. Tens of millions of people in Africa or the Middle East will be on the verge of starvation because of the West. To survive, they will rush to Europe. I am not sure that Europe will survive the crisis. Political institutions, supranational associations, the economy, culture, and traditions may become a thing of the past. Europe will howl in helpless frustration but America will be freed from its main geopolitical fear – the political and economic union of Russia and Europe.”
“Trying to support its economy in a constant pre-crisis state, the United States is actively pumping its banks, businesses and the population with money secured by government obligations. The result was high rates of inflation in America and Europe. At the same time, the US external debt exceeded $30 trillion. Yet for some reason Americans are discussing a possible default of Russia. It’s time for them to default. To overcome the negative consequences of past policies and create new opportunities for enrichment, United States is creating a global crisis. That is, they want to solve their problems at the expense of the rest of the world, by the way, primarily at the expense of Europe.
Q: In my opinion, this doesn’t bother the Europeans.
Nikolai Patrushev: Moreover, they are happy to step in the direction of the abyss that the United States has dug for them. In this sense, much has changed since the Cold War. Then the Europeans resisted Washington more confidently.”
In summary, one can say that Patrushev presents the Putinist outlook which recognizes the crisis of the “unilateral world order” and its long-time hegemon – Western imperialism – and which views this decline as an historic opportunity for the Russian Empire to regain its “place in the sun”.
Russia is in an existential war
We did show in our works that the Putinista ideologists view the war against the Ukraine as part of an existential struggle for the survival of the “Ruskij Mir” – the Russian world. Hence, they compare the Ukraine with Hitler’s Third Reich which is out to annihilate Russia. Such an extremely chauvinist ideology of Great Russian totalitarism justifies the brutal war which the Russian troops are waging against the neighbouring country.
“At one time, Hitler’s fascism dreamed of destroying the entire Russian population, and today its followers, according to the precepts of Hitler, are blasphemously trying to do this with the hands of the Slavs. Russia will not allow this to happen. Speaking of denazification, our goal is to destroy the neo-Nazi foothold that the West has created on our borders. The need for demilitarization is caused by the fact that a Ukraine that is heavily armed poses a threat to Russia, including from the point of view of the development and use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.”
It is hardly necessary to point to the bizarre nature of this “Ukraine = Nazi” propaganda. This is even more absurd as the Kremlin never tires of emphasizing that the Ukrainian people do not even constitute a separate nation but are essentially part of Russia. “In an attempt to suppress Russia, the Americans, using their proteges in Kiev, decided to create an antithesis of our country, cynically choosing Ukraine and trying to divide essentially a single people.”
State-capitalism, protectionism and turn to the East
Another interesting aspect of the Patrushev interview is his statement about the strategic shift of the Kremlin’s economic policy. This can be summarized as a shift towards more state-capitalist regulation, towards more protectionism and import-substitution.
“For any national financial system to be sovereigntized, its means of payment must have intrinsic value and price stability, without being pegged to the dollar. Our experts are working on a project proposed by the scientific community to create a double-circuit monetary and financial system. In particular, it is proposed to determine the value of the ruble by having it be backed by both gold and a basket of commodities, and to put the ruble exchange rate in line with the real purchasing power parity. (…) The fascination of our entrepreneurs who emerged from that era with market mechanisms alone, without taking into account the specifics of our country, is a risk factor. We are not opposed to a market economy and participation in global production chains, but we are clearly aware that the West allows other countries to be its partner only when it is profitable for it. Therefore, the most important condition for ensuring Russia’s economic security is to rely on the country’s internal potential, structural adjustment of the national economy on a modern technological basis. (…) If all the instructions of the head of state in the field of import substitution were fulfilled on time, we would be able to avoid many of the problems that the Russian economy is facing today.”
Related to this is a decisive shift of Russia’s foreign trade away from the Western markets and towards China and the global South. This shift did already take place in the past decade but has now, as a result of Western sanctions, massively accelerated in pace.
“Russia is moving from the European market to the African, Asian and Latin American markets. We give priority attention to the Eurasian Economic Union whose importance is growing in the current conditions. We are stepping up cooperation with the BRICS and SCO countries, which bring together about three and a half billion people on the planet.”
Defending the “values” of chauvinism and totalitarism
It is an essential part of the Putinist propaganda to present its struggle as a campaign in defence of “traditional values” of fatherland and family. Hence, the repeated tirades against multi-culturalism, women’s liberation, and homosexuality – sure symptoms of the decline of Western society. However, it is important to recognize that this chauvinist and reactionary ideology is crucial to understand Putin’s appeal to right-wing forces in West and other part of the world.
For these reasons, Patrushev repeats the Huntington’s narrative of the “clash of civilization” and presents the war as a defence of conservative values against “Western individualism”.
“This is the reality in which you need to live and pursue the course of action. In this regard, Russia has chosen the path of full protection of its sovereignty, firm defense of national interests, cultural and spiritual identity, traditional values and historical memory. Our spiritual and moral values allow us to remain ourselves, to be honest with our ancestors, to preserve the individual, society and the state. Europeans, for example, made a different choice. They have adopted so-called liberal values, although in reality they are neoliberal ones. They promotes the priority of the private over the public, individualism that suppresses love for the Fatherland, and the gradual withering away of the state. It is now obvious that with such a doctrine, Europe and European civilization have no future. Apparently, they will repeat the lessons they haven’t learned yet.”
“Washington and Brussels do not hide the fact that their sanctions are aimed at both material and spiritual impoverishment of Russians. Destroying our education by imposing so-called progressive models of education is as strategic a task for Westerners as, for example, bringing NATO closer to our borders. In fact, there is nothing progressive there. In the United States, for example, many people already say that you should sing and dance in math classes, because solving problems and equations oppresses and discriminates against someone. We don’t need such” progress”. The current situation proves the need to defend traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, reform the education and enlightenment system with the return of historically justified advantages of the national school. I am still convinced that the Soviet school of education has historically been the most advanced and progressive in the world, and moving forward should take this into account. (….) At the heart of everything lies the development of personal intellectual and spiritual qualities. Properly educated, well-rounded, physically and morally healthy children who know and understand the history and culture of their Homeland are our wealth and guarantee the guaranteed successful development of Russia. For the sake of the future of our children, for the sake of a prosperous and prosperous country in which they will live, we are working today.”
All these statements confirm the RCIT’s analysis of the reactionary bonapartist character of the Putin regime and the shift which has taken place recently. In our document on the world situation, we characterized the development of the Russian regime a follows. “We can therefore conclude that there has been a clear shift in the nature of the bonapartist Putin regime. It has massively increased its authoritarian character and nearly liquidates all elements of bourgeois democracy. This is combined with a massive radicalization of its Great Russian chauvinism and militarism as well as a shift towards more state-capitalist regulation.”
Putinism: the arch-reactionary program of modern Tsarism
We conclude our presentation of interesting excerpts of the Patrushev interview with a final quote which demonstrates, once more, the arch-reactionary character of Putinism and the ideology of Great Russian totalitarism. In his rant against liberal ideas threatening conservative value and spiritual health of the Russian people, Patrushev makes a revealing historical analogy.
“Don’t forget that all historical upheavals start with the spread of popular but potentially destructive ideas. Think of the French Revolution. From its misinterpreted slogans emerged the tyranny of Napoleon, who drowned half of Europe in blood but broke his teeth on Russia. What has our country done? Dismembered France, burned Paris? No, Emperor Alexander I restored French statehood and in 1815 initiated the creation of the Holy Alliance in Europe. The Union aimed at respecting the territorial integrity of States, suppressing nationalist movements, and ensuring Europe’s forty years of peaceful existence.”
Such denunciation of the Great French Revolution of 1789 and its “destructive ideas” (generally called “Enlightenment” and “Human Rights”!), such positive reference to the reactionary role of Tsarist Russia and its “Holy Alliance” in 19th century Europe – all this shows once more the ideological basis and the historical tradition of Putinism. This is a world view with strong affinity to the extreme reactionary ideas of far-right ideologists like Aleksandr Dugin and Alain de Benoist. 
It is also revealing that Patrushev praises the role of Tsarist Russia in the 19th century while Marx and Engels denounced it as “gendarme of European reaction” and Lenin called it a “veritable ‘prison of nations’.“ 
It is therefore no exaggeration to characterise Putinism as a modern form of Tsarism. It is an ideology reflecting the interests of a ruling class which can only dominate via vicious repression at home and reactionary aggression abroad.
All this shows once more how pathetic all the claims by Putinista “leftists” are that Russia would play a globally progressive role as a “challenger of Western hegemony”. True, Russia challenges the long-time dominance U.S., Western European and Japanese imperialism. But its role is not that of an opponent of imperialism. It rather represents new, rising imperialist power which aggressively pushes forward to challenge the old hegemons. A similar role was played by Germany before 1914 and, again, by Germany and Japan before 1939. Such challenge did not make these powers progressive whatsoever.
No one should have any illusions: Putin’s regime does not play any progressive role and never did so. Quiet the opposite, it is an arch-reactionary force. Hence, Russia is not a “counter-hegemonial” force but an imperialist Great Power. Likewise, the concept of a “multi-polar world order” – an idea enthusiastically advocated by the ideologists of Xi and Putin as well as the Stalinist and Castro-Chavista left – has no progressive content at all. It is the concept of a world order dominated by several Great Powers which are in intensive rivalry against each other – a dynamic which inevitable will result in World War III if the working class does not smash the rulers in East and West in time.
Consequently, the so-called “left-wing” parties which – directly or indirectly – side with Russia do also not play a progressive role. They are rather social-imperialist agents of the Xi resp. Putin regime within the workers and popular movement. 
It is the firm opinion of the RCIT that socialists today have to defend the Ukrainian people against Putin’s invasion and to advocate the defeat of the Russian aggressor.  At the same time, socialists must oppose all imperialist Great Powers. They need to reject collaboration with any of these and should refrain from supporting any form of chauvinist Great Power policy (e.g. sanctions). 
 Patrushev: The West has created an empire of lies, involving the destruction of Russia, Interview by Ivan Yegorov, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, April 26, 2022, https://rg.ru/2022/04/26/patrushev-zapad-sozdal-imperiiu-lzhi-predpolagaiushchuiu-unichtozhenie-rossii.html (English translation: https://www.stalkerzone.org/patrushev-the-west-has-created-an-empire-of-lies-presupposing-the-destruction-of-russia/). All quotes are from this source if not indicated otherwise.
 The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. See on this e.g. several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-peculiar-features-of-russian-imperialism/; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022, https://newpol.org/issue_post/russian-imperialism-and-its-monopolies/ (the same essay has been republished by International Viewpoint, 21. April 2022, https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7618); Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/once-again-on-russian-imperialism-reply-to-critics/. See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/
 See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: A Revealing Document of Great Russian Totalitarianism. Commentary on an article published by the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, 7 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/ria-novosti-great-russian-totalitarianism/; by the same author: World Situation: In the Midst of a Global Political Tornado. Notes on global developments characterized by the Ukraine War, inter-imperialist rivalry, global energy and food crisis as well as spontaneous mass protests, 13 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-situation-april-2022/; Putin’s Poodles (Apologies to All Dogs). Putins Pudel. The pro-Russian Stalinist parties and their arguments in the current NATO-Russia Conflict, 9 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/nato-russia-conflict-stalinism-as-putin-s-poodles/; The Significance of the Putin-Xi Meeting. Russia and China close ranks against their imperialist rivals, 5 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/significance-of-putin-xi-meeting/
 Michael Pröbsting: World Situation: In the Midst of a Global Political Tornado. Notes on global developments characterized by the Ukraine War, inter-imperialist rivalry, global energy and food crisis as well as spontaneous mass protests, 13 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-situation-april-2022/
 See on this e.g. chapter “Excurse: Eurasianism and Putin’s Bourgeois Allies in Western Europe” in the above-mentioned pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting “Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power”.
 G. Zinoviev / V. I. Lenin: Socialism and War (1915); in: LCW Vol. 21, p. 303
 For a critique of the Putinista left see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Putin’s Poodles (Apologies to All Dogs). The pro-Russian Stalinist parties and their arguments in the current NATO-Russia Conflict, 9 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/nato-russia-conflict-stalinism-as-putin-s-poodles/; see also by the same author: Servants of Two Masters. Stalinism and the New Cold War between Imperialist Great Powers in East and West, 10 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/servants-of-two-masters-stalinism-and-new-cold-war/; One-sided and Naïve … at Best! A joint call by the friends of Chinese imperialism and the daydreamers of well-meaning global capitalism, 31 March 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/joint-call-by-friends-of-chinese-imperialism-and-the-daydreamers/; Stalinist and “Trotskyist” Supporters of Chinese Imperialism under the Fig-Leaf of “Anti-Imperialism”. A commentary on the statement “No to U.S. war threats against China!” by the “United National Antiwar Coalition” in the U.S., 4 April 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/stalinist-and-trotskyist-supporters-of-chinese-imperialism-under-the-fig-leaf-of-anti-imperialism/
 We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 60 RCIT documents on the current NATO-Russia conflict and the Ukraine War are compiled: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/. The most important documents are: RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-ukraine-war-a-turning-point-of-world-historic-significance/; RCIT: Ukraine War: An Action Program for Authentic Socialists, 1 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/ukraine-war-an-action-program-for-authentic-socialists/; Medina Gunić: A new turning point in Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, 25 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/a-new-turning-point-in-russia-s-invasion-of-the-ukraine/; RCIT: Down with Putin’s Imperialist War against the Ukraine! Neither Russia nor NATO - against all imperialist powers! For an independent popular struggle to defend the Ukraine! For a workers government to defeat the Russian invaders! No to imperialist sanctions! For an independent socialist Ukraine! 24 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/down-with-putin-s-imperialist-war-against-the-ukraine/; see also our joint statement with UIT-CI and LIT-CI, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/joint-statement-on-ukraine-war-13-3-2022/
 The RCIT has dealt on numerous occasions with the inter-imperialist rivalry of the Great Powers. See e.g. the RCIT document: World Perspectives 2021-22: Entering a Pre-Revolutionary Global Situation, 22 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2021-22/; see also: RCIT: The Coming Inter-Imperialist War on Taiwan, 10 October 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-coming-inter-imperialist-war-on-taiwan/; The Meaning of the AUKUS Pact. The U.S. escalates the inter-imperialist Cold War against China and provokes the EU, 18 September 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-meaning-of-the-aukus-pact/; Russia Fires Warning Shots against UK Warship in the Black Sea. Down with Cold Warmongering! No support for any imperialist Great Power – neither UK, US nor Russia! 24 June 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/russia-fires-warning-shots-against-uk-warship-in-black-sea/; see also the following book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/; see also these two pamphlets by the same author: “A Really Good Quarrel”. US-China Alaska Meeting: The Inter-Imperialist Cold War Continues, 23 March 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/us-china-alaska-meeting-shows-continuation-of-inter-imperialist-cold-war/; Servants of Two Masters. Stalinism and the New Cold War between Imperialist Great Powers in East and West, 10 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/servants-of-two-masters-stalinism-and-new-cold-war/; for more works on this issue see these sub-pages: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/ and https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-global-trade-war/.