Russia's newspapers have identified many hotspots where war could erupt and most notably Taiwan and Ukraine. Russia's leadership has been making menacing noises about a resort to war if Russia's security concerns are not addressed. Vassily Kashin from his perspective as senior research fellow at both the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University–Higher School of Economics and the Institute of the Russian Far East will have none of it. In an interview with Roman Tyukavkin, Kashin downplays the possibility of war erupting in 2022. The most important factor is that the United States remains the preeminent superpower and it could hurt Russia in many ways. Only the Chinese stand a chance against the United States simply because their power is concentrated in one area while America must disperse its forces to cope with numerous threats.
The interview with Kashin follows below:
Vassily Kashin (Source: Eastrussia.ru)
"Just don't let there be war" is a chant that many people are now repeating. Can the new year 2022 bring war and is a conflict between NATO and Russia likely - we asked political scientist Vasily Kashin about this.
Many talk about the imminent battle between the United States and China over Taiwan. What are your thoughts on this?
This is highly unlikely in 2022. Hypothetically, such a possibility exists, of course, but I don’t think it will happen exactly next year. The United States still possesses clear military superiority. At the moment, it is the strongest superpower in the world. But the main problem for Americans is that their military forces are scattered throughout the world. They are simultaneously forced to contain Russia, China, Iran and still participate in many conflicts in other countries. The United States no longer has enough strength for all this.
- Can China overtake the United States in the coming years in terms of weapon quantity and quality?
“This is just a common misconception. Although China has an advantage in certain types of weapons, it will only be able to match the United States in overall military power by 2050. According to the calculations of the Chinese themselves, they should catch up with their rivals in 2035.
- So, if a war breaks out between these countries in the near future, America will win?
- No, not necessarily. If, let us assume that a local conflict occurs in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, everything will depend on the level of combat readiness of American troops at that moment, on the actions of other countries, including Russia, and on how quickly the United States can react. China's advantage is that the overwhelming majority of its armed forces are located in only one theater of operations - the Pacific Ocean. Within the framework of a local conflict, China has a chance of victory, but if matters escalate to a full-scale war, then the advantage would lie with the United States. But in this situation, the presence of nuclear weapons on both sides is a serious limitation.
- Is a military conflict between the United States and Iran possible in the near future?
- No, such a scenario does not correspond to the plans of either side. On the contrary, the Americans are trying to reduce tensions in this region in order to be able to transfer their forces to the Pacific Ocean for containing China. Of course, the US is not ready to make concessions to Iran, but there are no signs of an impending conflict.
- Is there a likelihood that next year Armenia will not try to take revenge from Azerbaijan? In this case, Iran as an ally will be able to help Armenia?
Armenia has no chance of opposing Azerbaijan. Even before the 2020 conflict, it was a militarily weaker state compared to its neighbor, and after most of the armed forces of Armenia were routed, any revenge is out of the question. Local skirmishes may periodically occur on the border, but the Armenians have neither the strength nor the ability to resist Azerbaijan.
As for Iran, intervention in the war on the side of Armenia means an inevitable conflict with Turkey, and this is simply not in the interests of Tehran, which has super-tense relations with Israel and tense relations with the United States. Moreover, Iran is not a strong ally for Armenia that can be relied upon.
- Is the conflict between Russia and NATO real? Who has better weapons and better training for soldiers - Russia or the United States and its allies?
- I think this is extremely unlikely. Both sides are actively trying to find a compromise. But even if they don't succeed in finding one, no one will definitely fight. As for the weapons. The United States, I repeat, is the strongest military power with the most powerful naval forces in the world. In this regard, we cannot even compete with them, since, unlike the United States, Russia has not re-equipped its Navy on an appreciable scale. Additionally, the United States has the edge in terms of the air force.
On the other hand, the Russian army has significant combat experience. We have superiority in certain types of weapons - hypersonic complexes "Dagger", "Zircon", "Sarmat", "Avangard".
Do not forget that Russia, like the United States, is a nuclear power, so a full-scale war will inevitably take countless lives on both sides. In this case, we will approach the threat of terminating the existence of the whole world in its present form. So, I think negotiations will take place and positions will be agreed upon to prevent such a huge risk.
As for local clashes, it depends on the number of our troops and enemy troops in a given region at a particular time. Russia will enjoy superiority in the Black Sea, the eastern part of the Baltic, on the territory of Belarus, and possibly eastern Ukraine. But on the whole, the enemy, of course, has more opportunities to strike at us.
- It turns out that 2022 will be relatively peaceful, excluding local clashes?
- I hope that local clashes will not occur as well. In an extreme case, various events may occur in Ukraine, but NATO will definitely not defend it. There is also a chance of provocation, like the situation with the British destroyer "Defender" in the Black Sea, which will end with gunfire and, perhaps, the sinking of one ship. But even that will not lead to a full-scale war between Russia and NATO.
Roman Tyukavkin (Source: Mk.ru)
[i] Mk.ru, January 1, 2022.