Zelensky's former top adviser now wants Kiev to join up with Russia against the West – what exactly is going on?
Ukraine needs to come to an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and then Kiev and Moscow should unite to sue the West.
You may think the above idea is rather radical and unusual. Sue the West? Where? In what court? The same West that has no issue with either Ukraine or the US (or both) blowing up Germany’s – and the EU’s – vital energy pipelines? Or the West that ignores its leaders' complicity in Israel’s genocide in Gaza, a crime explicitly proscribed – the complicity no less than the act itself – in Article III (e) of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention?
But wait till you hear about the fertile mind that produced this very outside-the-box idea. It’s none other than Aleksey Arestovich, once an adviser to Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky. Not necessarily a household name (yet) outside Ukraine, Arestovich was, until very recently, a man of extraordinary influence in Kiev, and used it to energetically promote the very proxy war that he'd now like to end and to then blame on the West alone.
University dropout, sleazy pop psychologist (of the how-to-manipulate-others-to-succeed type), former military and virtually certainly also intelligence officer, blogger and would-be-geopolitics guru with very adaptable views, and, of course, Zelensky aide from 2020 to 2023, Arestovich is not merely an individual but a syndrome: He stands for a social type, the smart but psychopathically empathy-less conman who managed to ruthlessly exploit the disorientation left behind in post-Soviet societies with a coldhearted cynicism that would have made Machiavelli blush.
Now he deplores that Ukrainians and Russians are killing each other in droves over a couple of provincial towns. “And for what?”, it has occurred to him to ask himself. Arestovich's answer is of the kind that not long ago would've got you canceled in the West as a Putin stooge and appeaser: “We have pleased the head honchos from the Washington and Brussels obkoms – [a now derogative term from the Soviet lexicon, designating a district administration] – who stand around us and applaud, watching as two apes with knives have a go at each other.”
Arestovich’s 180-degree turn is yet another absurdity produced by the theatrical politics of the Kiev elite. But, embittering as it may be to hear this former warmonger extraordinaire speak about peace and who's blame, the stark contrast between the old anti-Russian jingoist Arestovich, and the new, would-be-friend of Russia and foe-of-the-West Arestovich, provides a depressingly accurate measure of just how irresponsible Ukrainian politics has become under the de facto authoritarian Zelensky regime.
In 2019, it was Arestovich who infamously 'predicted' a big and devastating war (beyond the conflict which started in 2014) with Russia over Ukraine’s attempt to join NATO, which, eventually, in 2022, left some naïve Western commenters gushing over his “eerie” foresight.
Except Arestovich did not really predict the big war in 2019. Instead, he sold it as good as he could. Ruling out any possibility of peacefully ending the then-ongoing, smaller-scale conflict with the Donbass republics (Minsk II, anybody?), he used the usual baseless talking points (“Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Union, destroy NATO, and the EU, dominate Europe” and so on, the whole hogwash then fashionable from Annalena Baerbock to Tim Snyder) to present an escalation into a bigger war as absolutely inevitable: Because not only did Minsk II hardly appear on this great fantasy-strategist’s radar, he also insisted that neutrality was impossible for Ukraine and misled his followers into believing that NATO would easily (“all very simple now”) accept Ukraine, even if it had unresolved territorial conflicts with internal insurgents or with Russia.
At the same time, Arestovich presented the future big war as Ukraine’s great chance. Having posited the false alternative – at least back then – of either joining NATO after that big war against Russia (which he recklessly assumed Ukraine would win) or being absorbed by Moscow in the near future, he wholeheartedly recommended course number one: war with Russia. Even three such wars in succession seemed to him both inevitable and advisable; back then, that is.
And, finally, he also invited Ukrainians to indulge in the West’s favorite fantasy, namely that Russia might suffer collapse and undergo a regime change. “Some kind of liberals” would come to power, he claimed, and say “we are a nice country again.” That part of his sales pitch for a steadfast “no” to diplomacy, compromise, and peace is particularly ironic now. For he has announced an utter and complete change of heart in an interview with Russian journalist and broadcaster Yulia Latynina.
Latynina is, of course, the embodiment of the kind of “liberal” (or “libertarian,” as she prefers) almost no Russian can stand, for excellent reasons: Having received her 2008 “freedom award” from the US State Department, she has been a reliable purveyor of right-wing propaganda, ranging from denying global warming, via finding that poor countries need not have too much democracy, to an almost obsessive islamophobia.
Even good old Europe is still too soft on simple people for her: All that “social-democratic” mumbo-jumbo about human rights, etc. won’t cut it for Latynina; her true European 'values' are about property, innovation, and competition. So much for those regime-change fantasies, then. It’s the Latynina type that Arestovich was wagering on. No wonder most Russians, including those critical of President Vladimir Putin, say “anybody but that.”
Yet in their recent tête-à-tête on YouTube, the Ukrainian conman and the Russian libertarian couldn't see entirely eye to eye. Even Latynina felt that Arestovich’s idea of joining up Russia to sue the NATO states was a bit of a non-starter. Moreover, as much in awe of the West as she is, she had to remind him that it “doesn't owe Ukraine anything.” Arestovich, carried away by his newest brainwave, insisted it does.
Both were missing the point: It does not matter what the West owes or does not owe you. The West will always only give you what is best for the West (and that usually means the US). And when that is “nothing,” then that is what you will get. If only arrogant former warmongers like Arestovich could finally start facing reality. All of it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.