Arguably the world's best chess player ever, Garry Kasparov is on a new mission. He hopes to convince the world that the biggest threat to global unrest is not the Islamic State, al-Qaida or North Korea. Instead it is Vladimir Putin, Russia's president from 2000 to 2008 and then again from 2012 to today.
In an interview with Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga, Kasparov outlined his reasons for believing that Putin should be what keeps the world up at night. He chided President Barack Obama for being too late in addressing Putin's aggression in Ukraine — ultimately annexing Crimea. And while he views the president's speech at the United Nations — calling Russia's invasion into Ukraine and ideology of "might makes right" backward —he still believes that actions speak louder than words. Kasparov has extremely harsh words for what he views as European indifference to Putin's actions, and he compares the world's complacency with the lead-up to World War II.
Kasparov calls the Islamic State militant group (also known as ISIL and ISIS) a diversion for the world to focus on. He finds it hypocritical that the U.S. and other Western allies have agreed to supply Syrian rebels opposed to IS, while refusing Ukraine's similar request.
Regarding the current sanctions imposed on Russia, Kasparov believes that at some point they will hurt not only the Russian economy, but also Putin and his inner circle. However, for that to happen, he believes the sanctions will have to be in place through at least March 2015. He adds that Putin will use Russia's vast supply of natural gas as leverage ahead of what he calls the "upcoming cold winter," threatening to shut down supplies to Europe and other former Soviet republics and satellite nations. Kasparov fears that the threat will be enough to persuade an easing of sanctions. He also believes Putin is telling his inner circle of Russia's richest and most powerful business leaders, who are facing the ramifications of stiff sanctions that the western governments "will blink. As before, they will capitulate. We'll get what we need." Kasparov believes that Putin is calling the world's bluff. "He is playing poker while everyone else is playing chess."
Kasparov, who once expressed interest in running in the 2008 presidential race and who has in recent years become an anti-Putin activist, avoided the question of whether or not he would seek public office. Instead his response was a sobering one: "We should forget about power in Russia changing hands throughout the election process. I'm afraid it will be not a very lawful process and it may eventually end up with the collapse of the country."
His political views have affected his professional career and aspirations. Just last month Kasparov lost his bid for the presidency of the International Chess Federation, to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a controversial billionaire who had ties to Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gadhafi and Bashar Assad. (Ilyumzhinov also believes that not only was the game invented by aliens, but that he too was abducted by alien years ago. "Of course it was," Kasparov answered when asked if the election was rigged.)
As for the future, Kasparov sees dark days ahead as long as Putin is in office. He believes that the 2018 World Cup, now currently set to take place in Russia, should be relocated to another country. But that is down the line, Kasparov says, adding that he is currently focused on the upcoming "cold winter."
Watch the complete interview: