Kasparov on Ukraine war and the potential for regime change in Russia

Garry Kasparov and Uriel Epshtein of the Renew Democracy Initiative join Yahoo News Senior White House Correspondent Alexander Nazaryan for a wide ranging discussion on the next stages of the war in Ukraine and the potential for regime change in Russia. Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster and outspoken critic of the Kremlin, shares his thoughts on military aid and why a Ukrainian victory is vital to Russia’s future.

Video transcript

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: You believe Ukraine can end will win?

GARY KASPAROV: Yes, I believe Ukraine create can and will win. I think it's inevitable. It's a matter of the cost. And every day of delay of giving Ukraine what it needs to win simply is pushing this cost up.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: What I hear you saying is we should be accelerating a pace which we're sending HIMARS, attack ends, sort of long range--

GARY KASPAROV: Yes, it's also important for Russia, because less Russian soldiers will die in this useless war. And it will make the moment of the collapse of Putin regime sort of closer. It's will not it will not continue this senseless massacre.

URIEL EPSHTEIN: I'll even offer a specific instance. You mentioned some of the weapons, HIMARS and so forth. Right now Iran has given Russia these drones, as well as long range missiles. Iranian drones are primitive by American standards, right? And yet right now Ukraine doesn't have a great answer to them, because it doesn't have the advanced air defense systems that it would require.

What we could do very quickly and easily is give Ukraine unmanned aerial vehicles of our own, which like I said are far more advanced than anything Iran could provide. And if we give them even a couple hundred million dollars worth, that would be enough to close the skies over Kyiv, over a Odessa, over much of the populated portions of Ukraine.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: But the argument against doing so is that a confrontation-- that leads to a direct confrontation between the US and--

GARY KASPAROV: How come?

URIEL EPSHTEIN: The UAVs were being controlled by Ukrainians.

GARY KASPAROV: How come? This is-- it's the same thing-- what's the difference between American drones and HIMARS?

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: Critics Of that specific aid would make the distinction between defensive and offensive weapons.

GARY KASPAROV: It's defending Ukrainian skies, saving Ukrainian civilians from massacre. It's all defensive. All this talks about defensive, offensive, it's absolute nonsense. Everything that helps Ukraine winning the war is defensive. So this is-- because lethal weapon is offensive by definition.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: Of course.

GARY KASPAROV: HIMARS is offensive. So it's all-- But it's still defense, because they're fighting on Ukrainian land. And again, America could have done much more and still can do more. Because the whole idea of, oh, we should not do this because will go into escalation, escalation comes from it from the other side. And escalation is not a result of deterrence. It's always result of weakness.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: When you have someone like Elon Musk putting out his peace proposal, which obviously the Russians celebrated, how does that corrode the kind of international unity that Ukraine needs at this moment?

GARY KASPAROV: Let's not spend too much time debating the impact of Elon Musk "peace proposals," quote-unquote, in America or in Europe. Let's just talk about Putin and Putin's cronies. It emboldens them. It shows that there's still a chance to destroy the coalition.

There are dissenting voices in the West. And Elon Mush, again, it's just it's not just a businessman. This is the richest man in the world, though Putin may argue. So--

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: [LAUGHS]

GARY KASPAROV: But it's with tens of millions of followers on social media, and again, with a lot of political weight and also economic influence. So the fact is that he's buying Russian propaganda points and suggesting that Ukraine would capitulate. But 86% of Ukrainians still want to fight. That's the latest poll. So that's no matter the cost. So it's very, very damaging for the future of the coalition willing that is trying to stop a modern Hitler.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: I want to get your plausibly best and plausibly worst case scenarios in the months ahead for the war.

GARY KASPAROV: I don't wonder about the worst because hopefully the worst is behind us. But it doesn't mean that we should celebrate. So one of the problems is winter. And Putin, by the way, he's playing his cards. He's attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, civil infrastructure, it's unprecedented. He wants to push Ukraine into the Stone Age, so to make sure that the winter would really harsh, no electricity, no heat. This winter is crucial. If this plan fails, I don't think Russia can continue this war say after April of next year.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: Let's say, April arrives and the everything is going poorly for Russia, at the same time, as you know better than anyone, a dictator is not going to be influenced by political mood or popular discontent. Is there any hope of change in the Kremlin and systemic change?

GARY KASPAROV: We're not talking about political mood. We're talking about military defeat. Military catastrophe. So the Russian army will be beaten badly. And it's army will go back to Russia. So you have army, angry, beaten, coming back with weapons to Russia. You have a few million refugees. And then you have economic crisis beyond one's imagination, real crisis. So it's not just the slowdown of economy. The country will be sliding into economic and financial abyss. If these conditions are not indicators of dramatic change, I don't know what it is.

So it's not about Putin making commands and reshuffling the government. It's the whole country will be falling apart. And then what may happen, and it's my hope, what I call democracy by default. It's not that the Russian people will all of a sudden decide to embrace democracy. But when they recognize that the choice is becoming Chinese satellite, a satellite state, or trying to go back to Europe confessing our crimes and also throwing the corrupt fascist regime, I think the choice is fairly easy. And again, who cares you know what Putin thinks and some of his cronies trying to do.