Ex-Russian Ambassador Popov: A Global Coalition Needed to Crush Islamic State
October 10, 2014 • 9:09AM

In an interview Thursday with RIA Novosti, Ambassador Veniamin Popov, the former Russian Ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the current Director of the Center for Partnership of Civilizations at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO), warned that only "joint efforts of the international community and major global powers can pave the way for the victory over the Islamic State (IS) and any other strategy is useless." He warned, "We can defeat this evil [IS] by collective efforts only. Everything that is being done now is more of a facade."

Ambassador Popov elaborated: "The collective efforts envisage Syria and Iran first of all, as well as Russia, China, India, the other BRICS, and so on. But at the moment the world is splitting based on other principles. The West is waging a fight with China—for Hong Kong; we are distracted by Ukraine. Thus, the United States is ensuring its leadership."

He addressed Russia's role: "As for us, we help Assad, we have urgently delivered several planes to Iraqi government so that they can face the advance, as well as weapons." He reminded RIA Novosti that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had warned Washington about the rise of extremism in Syria. "He suggested combining the efforts. But the US said it was moderate opposition, very nice one that we can work with. And this moderate opposition has then shown itself — there is no moderate opposition."

Russia has a clear and significant interest in fully collaborating to crush the Islamic State. Bloomberg News published a detailed account of the role of Chechens in the Islamic State under the headline "Islamic State Grooms Chechen Fighters Against Putin." One of the top IS commanders, who led the assault on Fallujah in January which launched the Islamic State offensive, is a Georgian who goes under the name "Omar the Chechen" ("Omar al-Shishani"). According to Elena Suponina, an advisor to the director of Moscow's Institute for Strategic Studies, there are over 1,000 Russian-speaking fighters in the IS, mostly Chechens from Pankisi, a region of Georgia between Chechnya and South Ossetia. The Pankisi Gorge has been a recruiting hub since the time of the First Chechen War.