This is the second part of the remarkable interview with political scientist Valery Solovey, a fierce opponent of the war, on the recently shuttered Echo of Moscow radio station. Solovey claims that historically regimes are laid low not by their opponents, but by their own blunders. This is the case today where Putin has launched an unwinnable war depriving Russia of its future. For things to get better they first have to get worse and we are at that stage as Russia begins to experience scarcity. People will then ask themselves who is responsible and raise the question made famous by Vladimir Lenin what is to be done?
The second part of the Solovey interview follows below:
The March 2, 2022 interview with Valery Solovey
We are continuing. This is the "Osoboye Mneniye" program. I'm your host, Alexei Naryshkin, political scientist Valery Solovey is our guest. Can you explain to me why Zelensky is stalling and does not surrender, in order to save the population, at least?
Zelensky has his reasons for not rushing into the talks, especially since he knows that Russia is still presenting an ultimatum rather than seeking a compromise. Support for Ukraine is growing. With each day of resistance, with each day of war more sanctions will be imposed on Russia. What's more sanctions are imposed promptly, but are lifted very, very slowly.
It makes sense for Zelensky to drag out the talks. It's Russia that is in a hurry, it needs to achieve a decisive victory at all costs, in order to be able to dictate to Zelensky the terms of the negotiations, the terms of the agreement [with Ukraine] from a position of strength. However, Zelensky, after all, can flee to Lviv, and the Russian army won't reach Lviv in any case.
Well, why? What's stopping them from advancing there?
It [the Russian army] just won't reach there. There are circumstances that prevent it from reaching Lviv.
Are the swamps there?
No, there are no swamps. It's just that one might encounter insurmountable obstacles in the form of, say, the Polish army.
Well, you are exaggerating. The Polish army is NATO, and NATO won't get into this.
NATO may not get into this, but the Poles may. Now the planes that Ukraine received [at the time EU Foreign Minister Josip Borrel was talking about the supply of planes] are stationed, as far as I know, at Polish airfields. And from Polish airfields the planes can attack the Russian army. NATO won't interfere in the conflict, this is the official position of the bloc. It could be a dangerous fake. In general, the entire air force, [correction] not the entire air force but a large part of it) has been relocated to the West, further away from the line combat.
So no, there [in the West of the country] will then be a Ukrainian government, which will remain the legitimate government from the West's perspective, there will also be some sort of puppet government at the part of Ukraine, which will supposedly be under Russian control. However, in fact, it won't be under Russia's control (with the exception of a few large cities), because it is impossible to control the country, [Moscow] doesn't have sufficient military force for that.
Even under conditions that they mobilize half a million people, that I think is totally improbable as it is fraught with serious problems. There will not be sufficient forces for control.
What is control anyways? Imagine: the entire country is hostile to you, what have you achieved? Nothing. You just brought problems upon yourself: you've achieved international isolation, and facilitated the economy's degradation; you've got the poorest population, which rapidly becomes further impoverished; you've caused discontent amongst all advanced groups, the discontent of the Russian elite (which is enormous). You've achieved nothing but minuses, not a single plus (except for self-satisfaction). The self-satisfaction, required to start to destroying Russia. After all, it's effectively being destroyed.
As a viewer of state propaganda, I'm told that this is, inter alia, for our security's sake, because there is the US, NATO enlargement, and etc. Yesterday Shoigu stated that we have a goal, roughly speaking, of ensuring our security.
If one wants to safeguard security, then you negotiate. The West didn't decline to engage in talks to ensure security. It turned down the Russian ultimatum, NATO refused to dissolve itself. This is true. But no one has ever refused to negotiate on security.
Let's recall, that back in Soviet times the security issue was always most acute, the Soviet leaders paid great deal of attention to it. However, for some reason they didn't try to start a war. [There were conflicts] but only within the socialist bloc, i.e. [the 1968 Soviet] intervention into Czechoslovakia, suppression of the revolt, or rather the  revolution, in Hungary, the  invasion of Afghanistan. They somehow managed to negotiate, even though they knew the value of security, after all they survived the [Second World] war. It never entered anyone's mind [then] that you had to start a special military operation.
I'm reading Lavrov's recent statement, regarding Russia's position on negotiations with Ukraine. I believe [Russian negotiator Vladimir] Medinsky claimed that the Ukrainian delegation is coming tomorrow. I understand that no one will stop the shelling, but nevertheless... Lavrov said that Russia's position is as follows: Crimea is part of Russia, recognition of the DPR and LPR within the administrative borders [of the respective oblasts in Ukraine], demilitarization, which must have defined parameters. That's it. Is it hard for Zelensky to accept this?
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These conditions will never be accepted by any Ukrainian president.
This means that the death notices will be received by both sides.
You are correct. The death notices will be received by both sides. But the point is different. Who does time work in favor of? To be honest, if [the Kremlin's] militarily success is possible, then strategically Russia loses everything. It loses our society, our economy, our future.
Right now, at this very moment, our children and grandchildren are being denied their future. We have to face the truth; this is the Russian leadership's doing. The man [Putin], who prided himself on raising Russia from its knees, on ensuring its success, its unprecedented status, is now destroying everything that was created during the post-Soviet era, including his own achievements. It's a remarkable ending, simply remarkable.
If we are talking about the fact that Russians are being deprived of their usual comfort (including due to the sanctions' pressure) what's preventing us from actually swapping our iPhone for some Huawei smartphone? And everything will be fine.
Why should people change [their phones]? They don't want to do it. They want to travel freely around the world.
[They could travel to] Turkey and Egypt.
They want to travel to Europe, and they have the right to do so. They want to enjoy their freedoms; they want for their children to study abroad. What's wrong with that? Why should people curb their needs, because a bunch of people wanted it? It's a small bunch, or rather, it's one person sitting in an underground bunker.
Things are still better than it was during the "Sovok" [derogatory term for the Soviet Union] One can always compare.
No, it's not better, oddly enough. Because during the "Sovok" there was no possibility for comparison. This is always the most dangerous thing [for the regime], that the current generation of Russian people have the opportunity for comparison. And they know that this [Russian] world does not suit them. They have not yet sensed what awaits them. The younger generation will know what scarcity is, i.e. when there will be no gadgets they want, they will learn the meaning of scarcity.
When the way of life, to which they are accustomed, will be demolished, no propaganda of war efforts, mobilization, and asceticism can offset for this. The only way for the state to develop the economy will be to beat people with batons [in submission], create concentration camps (I meant labor camps, not concentration camps, God forbid!) and etc. Maybe [they could] introduce forced labor, or something similar.
I read a lot of articles, [which claim] that migration sentiments have intensified. Do you consider those people, who are now leaving in the context of the unfolding events, traitors?
No, God forbid! Such people are making rational choices. I can only be happy for them....
By the way, what's up with criminal case against you?
I have no criminal cases against me, I have a witness status.
Well, I don't know what will be the investigation's arguments. I'm waiting to hear them. My lawyers prepare what needs to be prepared, while I'm waiting for what the investigation will say. Maybe the investigation is now busy looking for Ukrainian spies.
Are there any?
Well, probably, there are. They are looking for fake news, for spies. There is a substantial number of Ukrainian citizens in Russia, potentially every one of them could be a spy. By the way, I'm half Ukrainian myself, so I believe this characteristic is an aggravating circumstance in our times.
True, why did we even invite you? [jokingly]
Yeah, there's no way out now.
Do you intend [to leave Russia] in some future perspective, considering you are being monitored?
No. I don't intend to do so. Those, who don't like me, are free to leave Russia, I'm not holding them back.
I'd like to outline in broad strokes some positive things.
There will definitely be positive things, it's already there. You're right, we're just focused on the unfolding events, which are getting worse by the minute.
Let's try to come up with something positive. I was talking to Rogov before, and he said that the situation is getting worse and worse.
I have always argued that things will definitely improve, albeit through deterioration. So now we have finally entered this deterioration [phase]. In order for people to achieve improvement, they must realize that their country's fate, and their lives, are in their own hands. People must now arrive at this existential realization. This process has now, at last, been set in motion. It was launched by the Russian government.
I didn't understand anything
My point is that the government has set in motion a process by which things will begin to change. Right now things are changing for the worse. But later they will begin to change for the better, however not by the authorities' efforts, but against them. Against the power, because people will suddenly understand that their life, (their very life, not just their wellbeing), depends entirely on them.
And what Navalny has not achieved… (can he be mentioned by the way?) God have mercy on him.
What neither he nor his team was able to achieve, the Russia government (in the broad sense of the world) will achieve now. They have set this process in motion.
Being a historian, I've always known that it was never the opposition that facilitates radical changes, it's always those in power who bring them about. The changes are being brought about by their actions. And now these actions have started. This is amazing. Lots of books will be written about this later, explaining how it all came to this, how events came about that could easily have been avoided, but turned out to be fateful.
Valery Dmitrievich, I don't understand, are you prompting people to take to the street now?
I'm not prompting people to do anything, God forbid! I call upon people to do just one thing: look around diligently, evaluate the situation, and you will be able to answer the two questions: "who is to blame?" and "what is to be done?" Now you will get a clear, tangible and quite specific question, (excuse me, the answer) to these two celebrated Russian questions. And on the basis of these answers, you will act...
 For part I, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9806, Russian Professor Valery Solovey: Putin's Mistaken Invasion Will Accelerate Processes Leading To His Ouster, March 4, 2022.
 Echo.msk.ru, March 2, 2022.