Russian chess legend says war in Ukraine is a ‘battle between freedom and tyranny’

NEW YORK – Chess is a brain game, but legendary Soviet Grand Master Garry Kasparov can make it seem like a contact game. When he was at the height of his power in the mid-1980s, he came to the chessboard with the physical strength of a wrestler engaged in unfair competition.

Today, his inexhaustible energy is directed entirely against Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Kasparov approaches in the same place he reserved for his Soviet nemesis, Anatoly Karpov – who, as it turns out, do, currently serving as a pro-Putin MP. And if the Kremlin autocrat hates him, nothing annoys Kasparov like the Western hand turns for how much to help Ukraine, and for a long time.

“Putin is attacking not only Ukraine. He is attacking the whole system of international cooperation,” Kasparov told Yahoo News in a recent interview. “Ukraine is at the forefront of this battle between freedom and tyranny.”

Garry Kasparov, seated, holds the machine with his right hand and moves with his left hand.

Garry Kasparov at the Congress of Free Russia in Vilnius, Lithuania, on September 1. (Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

Last week’s presidential election in the US may make aid to Ukraine more complicated, especially if there is no serious Republican doubt about stability. Speaking at a press conference last week, President Biden expressed hope that aid to Ukraine would continue – but accused him of giving too much to Ukraine.

“We did not give Ukraine free money,” the president told reporters, referring to complaints about the budget targeting Ukraine by the Rep. Kevin McCarthy did, who will assume the role of House speaker in January. “There are a lot of things that Ukraine needs that we didn’t do.”

That’s exactly the kind of talk that discourages Kasparov. He praises Biden’s support for Ukraine’s efforts, which are supported by European allies, but cannot imagine that his limits will be reduced. “It’s less than Ukraine wants and needs, but more than Putin expected.”

The war in Ukraine is closer to poker than chess, a competition of eye-downs and bluffs. On the chessboard, the opponent has nowhere to hide his pieces, but poker is by its very nature a game of incomplete information, of trying to guess and being forced to act on those assumptions.

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One of Putin’s cards holding a nuclear bomb? How long will power-hungry Europe last before folding? How long will American aid last?

Kasparov certainly doesn’t ignore those ideas, but he also refuses to be an endless stream of geopolitical speculation. For him, the war retains an incredibly clear character. “I believe that Ukraine will win,” he says. “I think it’s inevitable. It’s a price issue. Every day of delay, giving Ukraine what it needs to win, is only raising this price.”

Vladimir Putin sits at a large table with several phones and flat screens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in a video conference at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Monday. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Photo Kremlin Pool via AP)

What is wrong with Kasparov is the argument that Ukraine should sue for peace, not because the war is successful for Kyiv but because it is expensive for Washington, London and Berlin.

That was the well-understood theme of the letter sent on Oct. 24 by the front-runners of the House and Biden, urging him to “take any diplomatic route” while pointing out – not incorrectly – that the war “and -make the cost and price of oil higher for the American people. in recent months.” A fury followed, and a day later, the letter was recalled, but not without the Russians have seen growing American and Ukrainian resistance.

Kasparov finds this kind of speech extremely dangerous. He thinks about the conflict in the Manichean world of chess, where there is only black and white, win or lose. Either the West defeated Putin, or Putin defeated the West. “If we are turning today because of Putin’s nuclear destruction, who is to say that he will not use the same evil after five years, six years later?” Kasparov is surprised, his voice and his words show that this is far from an idle dance.

“And who’s to say,” he continued, “that other dictators around the world won’t look at this and say, ‘Oh, look at it. Is the West ready to go to nuclear war? Why don’t we do the same?’ For countries that do not have nuclear weapons today? Why can’t they have nuclear weapons if nuclear weapons are effective, helping them get what they want?

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A missile rises from the smoke and flames shortly after it has fired near the green buildings and towers and the clearing of trees against the cloudy sky.

In a photo released on October 26, the Intercontinental ballistic missile Yars is being tested as part of Russia’s nuclear program in Plesetsk, in northwestern Russia. (Russia’s National Security Agency via AP)

The dark situation is likely to be fulfilled in Taiwan, where Xi Jinping is boldly seeking to fully and finally assert China’s sovereignty over the island.

Kasparov was particularly saddened – and, obviously, angry – by Elon Musk’s “Peace Plan”. which will effectively hand over swaths of Ukraine to Russia. Kremlin insiders immediately welcomed the idea, pointing to criticism from American politicians and social media as evidence that Musk (who did not respond to a Yahoo News request for comment via Twitter) had said some restricted, truth-defying beliefs.

“He’s buying Russian propaganda,” Kasparov says of Musk. “It’s fragile.”

Kasparov left Russia in 2013, disgusted by the growing opposition to the Putin regime. In 2015 he published “Winter is Coming,” an urgent warning to Western policymakers about Putin, whom he called “clearly the biggest and most dangerous threat facing the world today.”

Either shame or respect, Kasparov blames President Barack Obama for trying to “reset” relations with Putin shortly after Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, in what was the Kremlin’s first foray into a free country. since the fall of the Soviet Union. Later, Obama warned that if Russia crosses the “red line” in Syria and uses chemical weapons to support Bashar Assad’s regime, “there will be serious consequences.”

Time for Putin and Obama before they shake hands in front of the Russian and American flags.

Putin and President Barack Obama in a second meeting during the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2012. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Then Russia used chemical weapons. Kasparov lamented, accusing the president of “weakness.” It is not clear, however, what Obama – controlling two expensive conflicts, in Afghanistan and Iraq – can do to stop Putin, at a time of war that could be bad for the American people. . A representative for the former president did not respond to a request for comment.

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No development has emboldened Putin to attack Ukraine, Kasparov argues, like the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. “I wouldn’t call it removal. It’s a wreck,” he told Yahoo News. “It is also a tragedy. But it undoubtedly added to Putin’s credibility. “

Today, the 59-year-old New Yorker – who is retired from professional chess but still teaches a class at MasterClass – runs the Renew Democracy Initiative, a non-profit organization that organizes relief efforts and non-profit organizations. paid to work in Ukraine. , by the RDI Executive Director Uriel Epstein said ensures that resources and money get to the right people, in the right place, rather than being wasted or lost.

Epshtein, the son of Soviet immigrants in New Jersey, told Yahoo News, “It’s our job to give them what they need not just to survive, not just to survive, but to win the war.” He also described efforts at what has come to be known as the “information gap,” which the Kremlin has tried to cover up with its own media.

A black and white photo of Garry Kasparov in a dark turtleneck sweater shows him standing slightly with his left hand.

Kasparov in MasterClass. (PR Newswire via AP)

RDI works with US Gen. Ben Hodges has come out of retirement to create a short, brilliant video that explains the battle conditions and the melting process. He also solicited and published essays from dissidents from around the world in partnership with CNN, part of a series called Voice of Freedom. Contributors include, among others, the Egyptian-American politician Mohamed Soltan and the Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who was recently killed in a murder in New York.

Epshtein says, “They have the confidence to break through our shields, to remind us that America is a power for good, and it can continue to do good.”

The debate has contradicted Putin’s negative argument against what he described as the bloody colonial West, in his words, married to a plan that continues to be anti-Christian. As the war worsened for Russia, these anti-Western barriers became more pronounced.

Kasparov says: “Putin’s Russia is in serious decline. I don’t believe that by next spring, Russia will be able to carry out this war.” The recent progress of the Ukrainian military, including the recent liberation of Kherson, gives hope for victory in the field. The war in Ukraine will end.

Where Epshtein pleads: “It’s up to us,” he says.


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