Kasparov said Russian aggression “would not have a two-two draw” as happens in chess. “No ties, no compromises,” he said, reminding the audience that war crimes were being committed “on an industrial scale” in Ukraine. “The last time I saw such destruction of Ukraine was in WWII movies,” he said, adding that it was a state-sponsored genocide against Ukraine fueled by Russian propaganda. But Kasparov was confident that the war was taking a different turn than Putin ever imagined. “Everyone thought Ukraine will fall in three days. That didn’t happen. Keep in mind that the Ukrainian army, with the arms push from Europe, is currently larger than the Russian one and is more experienced with eight years of fighting (2014 aggression in Crimea),” he said. “Putin did not foresee this, he was forced to mobilize his soldiers from the Far East,” Kasparov said.
Kasparov pointed to the impact sanctions could have to contain Putin. “The Russian economy, unlike the former USSR, is dependent on the global economy and with its cash frozen abroad, sanctions can be very effective. Remember that war is an expensive business and its money is running out. Russia is now isolated,” he said.
However, Kasparov pointed out that the two-month war had reached a critical stage where the next 10 days of fighting could reveal an entirely new geopolitical landscape.
“This is a war not just to protect Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. This war will have consequences elsewhere, which will deter China from attacking Taiwan (next),” he wondered.
When asked how India should position itself in this geopolitical crisis, Kasparov warned of India’s reluctance.
“Remember, Putin cannot be a reliable partner. He is what I call a merchant of doubt. He could look to India just to set up another problem there. So India’s long-term strategy should be to work with the free world. India could play a big role, even lead this coalition that will change things in Asia. But it must learn to dodge diplomatic landmines,” he said.
He addressed Putin’s growing frustration. “He has expressed his open admiration not only for Joseph Stalin but also for Ivan the Terrible, so it is no surprise that in his ideal from Novorossiya – south of Ukraine down to Odessa – he would want the annexation of Ukraine . Do they have resources for that, we don’t know, but they are aggressive.”
Will it lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction? “Tactical nuclear weapons maybe, but who’s going to push the button, that’s the question,” Kasparov said. “Which of his buddies, his generals, will carry out his orders? If he loses, they will hesitate. I think Putin would find it difficult to get kamikaze out of his army. That’s why it’s poker, not chess.
“Putin cannot afford to lose like a loser. He may not have read many books, but he knows how to survive. If you can survive 20 years as a dictator, you have to be good at it, but he also knows that if something goes wrong, the scapegoat is the dictator himself,” Kasparov analyzed.
“I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, but I can see that he doesn’t look strong anymore,” Kasparov said, “and when a dictator doesn’t exude strength, that’s really bad news.”