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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Putin on Russia and Ukraine

The man's own words

Russians and Ukrainians are one people

https://alcuinbramerton.blogspot.com/2021/08/putin-on-russia-and-ukraine.html
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Picture: Pavel Zarubin and Vladimir Putin in Moscow - 14th February 2024.
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Pavel Zarubin: Mr President, your interview with Tucker Carlson has already garnered one billion views. While there has been a lot of positive feedback, we can see the kind of comments that Western leaders are making. For example, the Prime Minister of the UK and the German Chancellor labelled your explanation that the special military operation had been caused by a threat from NATO as “absurd” and “clearly ridiculous.” What do you think of this?

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: First of all, it is good that they have been watching and listening to what I say. If we are not able to maintain a direct dialogue today due to certain reasons, we should be grateful to Mr Carlson for acting as an intermediary. So, it is good that they are watching and listening.

The fact that they are distorting my words and misrepresenting things is concerning. Why? Because I never said those things. Nowhere in the interview did I say that the start of the special military operation in Ukraine is linked to the threat of a NATO attack on Russia. Where in the interview did I make such a statement? The interview was recorded. They can go back and pinpoint exactly where I said this.

What I actually said was that we have been constantly deceived about NATO’s non-expansion to the east. By the way, then NATO Secretary-General, a representative of Germany, made such a promise. He explicitly stated NATO would not expand even an inch to the east. After that, NATO proceeded to expand five times, completely deceiving us. Of course, we were concerned about the possibility of Ukraine being drawn into NATO, as it poses a security threat to us. So, this is what I actually said.

However, what served as the trigger was the current Ukrainian officials’ outright refusal to comply with the Minsk agreements, coupled with Ukraine’s relentless attacks on the unrecognised republics of Donbass, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, which continued for eight years and resulted in numerous deaths. Realising that there are no prospects of resolving this problem under the Minsk agreements, these republics formally requested our recognition. We recognised them and signed a treaty of friendship and mutual assistance. After that, as required by the UN Charter, we fulfilled our obligations under the treaty.

As I said, we did not initiate this war; rather, we are striving to end it. During the first phase, we tried to achieve this through peaceful means, specifically, through the Minsk agreements. However, it became apparent that we had been given the runaround once again. Both the former German Chancellor and the former President of France admitted and publicly stated that they had never intended to honour the agreements and had merely used them to buy time to supply the Ukrainian regime with more weapons, which they successfully did. Our only regret is that we did not take action sooner, believing that we were dealing with honest people.

Pavel Zarubin: Carlson faced criticism before the interview, and since then he has been accused of asking too few probing questions and of allegedly being too soft on you, which is why you felt so comfortable with him. Do you think you overwhelmed the American journalist with your authority?

Vladimir Putin: I believe that your Carlson – “your” as a member of the journalistic community – is a dangerous man, and here is why. To be honest, I thought he would be quite aggressive and ask so-called tough questions.

I was not just prepared for this, I wanted it, because it would give me the opportunity to respond with equally sharp answers, which would add a certain character to our conversation. But he chose a different tactic. He tried to interrupt me several times, but still, surprisingly for a Western journalist, he remained patient and listened to my lengthy monologues, especially when I spoke about history. He gave me no cause for doing what I was prepared to do. That is why, to tell the truth, I did not fully enjoy that interview. But he acted strictly according to his plan, and he did what he intended. As for how informative it turned out to be in the end, that is not for me to judge. It is for the viewers, listeners and possibly readers of this material to judge.

Pavel Zarubin: Following that interview, calls have been made to impose sanctions against Tucker Carlson, and there are even rumours that he could be arrested. Is this possible?

Vladimir Putin: Assange has been locked up, and few people mention him now. Only those close to him still talk about it, and that is all. One specific feature of public opinion is that people tend to forget quickly. But Assange was at least accused of revealing state secrets. Carlson cannot be charged with that because he did not touch upon any secrets. Nevertheless, anything is possible, theoretically, in modern-day America, in the United States today.

This would be bad for Carlson. I feel sorry for him, but it was his choice. He knew what he was doing. On the other hand, this could be a good opportunity for people around the world to see the true nature of modern “liberal democratic” (in scare quotes) dictatorship, which is supposedly represented in the current ruling class in the United States. This would reveal its true face.

Pavel Zarubin: Carlson said that after the interview… I wanted to ask you a question so that we can put the doubt to rest. Carlson said that after the interview your conversation continued. What did you discuss? Now everyone wants to know.

Vladimir Putin: As I have already said, and as far as I can see, he had a plan for the interview and he stuck to it. But there were other topics too that had to be raised, in my opinion. Still, I decided not to inject new topics into our conversation without being prompted to do so by the journalist.

During the taped part of the interview, we should have discussed efforts to use inter-ethnic relations and the Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire as a way of denigrating and demonising Russia. One of the subjects we discussed when the cameras were turned off was what US Secretary of State, Mr Blinken, mentioned on several occasions. He said that his relatives, his great-grandfather, fled the Jewish pogroms and left Russia.

This topic keeps surfacing across the world, in Europe and in the United States. Let me reiterate that it is being used to demonise and discredit Russia and to demonstrate that it is home to barbaric, cruel people and outlaws. However, we can clarify many issues if we try to understand what today’s US Secretary of State actually said and if we look beyond political slogans by focusing on the substance.

All this information is in our archives. For example, Mr Blinken’s great-grandfather did leave the Russian Empire. I think that he was born somewhere in the Poltava Province, and then moved to Kiev before emigrating. This raises the following question: does Mr Blinken think that Kiev and the surrounding territories are historically Russian land? This is my first point here.

Second, if he says that his great-grandfather left Russia to escape the Jewish pogroms, this, at least, means, and I would like to stress this point, that in 1904, since this is when Mr Blinken’s great-grandfather left Kiev for the United States, Ukraine did not exist – this is what he seems to believe. This way, Mr Blinken seems to share our views. That said, he should have refrained from saying so in public. This could undermine his cause.

Pavel Zarubin: Just the other day, there were articles in the German media saying that the grandfather of Germany’s current Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was a devoted Nazi. Considering the way the relations between our countries have been unfolding over the past years, could it be that the Nazi virus still exists in this country at a genetic level or something like that?

Vladimir Putin: This is an iteration of nationalism, albeit a radical one. By the way, something has just occurred to me about these pogroms. They took place mainly in the south and southwest of the Russian Empire. In fact, this is where present-day Ukraine is, for example in Kiev, in 1905. If Mr Blinken’s ancestor left in 1904, the first pogrom in Kiev, I mean a big one, happened in 1905, which means that his great-grandfather, or his great-great-grandfather, could only find out what happened there from newspapers, or from those who were in Kiev at that time.

In fact, these tragic mass atrocities started in the early 19th century. I think it was in 1820 or in 1821 when the first major pogrom took place. We know that these crimes took place in Odessa, and later in Melitopol, in Zhitomir, and in other cities of present-day Ukraine, as well as in Byelorussia. There were also several incidents of this kind in Siberia, but the very first one happened after a Greek Patriarch was killed in Constantinople. This was when the Greeks who lived there thought that the Jews were involved in the assassination in one way or another.

But this is not what matters here. What does matter is that there were resistance militias who tried to counter these attacks, formed by Jewish and Russian youth, while the government, even the tsarist authorities, delivered a proper assessment of these tragic events and tried to stop them, including by sending in the army. Let me reiterate that this is a whole different story.

Speaking of nationalism, Nazism and fascism, you know, I will tell you something that may sound strange. First, Ms, what is her name?

Annalena Baerbock.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, Baerbock (I do not want to mispronounce her surname) represents the Greens party. Many representatives of this part of the European political spectrum speculate on people’s fears and engage in fearmongering about what might happen in the world due to climate change. Later, they speculate on these fears, fanned by themselves, and follow their political line that differs greatly from their earlier programme, with which they assumed power. This is what is now happening in Germany. For example, the share of coal has increased in the national energy mix. The share of coal was already higher than in Russia, and it has now increased even more. I mean, what happened to the “green” agenda? This is the first thing.

Second, the German Foreign Minister and people like her, are, of course, hostile towards Russia. In my opinion, she is also hostile towards her own country because it is hard to imagine such a high-ranking politician treating the economic interests of her country and people with such disdain. Right now, I will not go into details, but this is exactly what is happening in reality, and we can see this.

The next part of my statement will probably sound out of tune with what I have just said. I do not think that the current generations of Germans should assume complete political responsibility for everything perpetrated by Nazi Germany. It is impossible to blame the current generation of people for what Hitler and his cronies perpetrated in Germany and other parts of the world, in Europe and so on. I believe that this would be unfair. To be frank, sticking this label on the entire German nation is an unfair position; this misuses what people experienced, what the people of the Soviet Union experienced. To my mind, this is unfair and inappropriate. We should proceed from present-day realities and see who is doing what, and what policy they are conducting.

By the way, in this connection, it would be useful to do the following. As I see it, many people in many countries are voicing this viewpoint; unfortunately, this concerns even those countries where this issue should not be politicised.

What am I talking about? I am referring to an exceptionalism of certain nations, as compared to others, some kind of exclusivity, etc. Just listen: this is how Nazism started. Now that this has become so widespread, it would be appropriate to conduct this anti-fascist and anti-Nazi propaganda and work at the same global level. I repeat, at the global level.

And this should not be done at some state level. This will prove effective only if it is done at the level of public conscience and public initiative, regardless of the country where it takes place.

Pavel Zarubin: The European Union is generally in panic over Donald Trump’s potential return to the presidential post in the United States. Trump completely dumbfounded European leaders with his recent statements, made just a couple of days ago, and they are not trying to hide it. Trump said that the United States must protect the European countries only if the European countries can pay for it. Why has this sort of relationship come about between Europe, the European leaders and politicians, and Donald Trump?

Vladimir Putin: Trump has always been considered a non-system politician. He has his own ideas about how the US should develop its relations with its allies. There was friction before. Take, for example, the United States and its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol on environmental protection. It was tense. But the then President of the United States decided that the United States should withdraw from the agreement, despite the high appeal of the environmental agenda. He believed that the agreement causes harm to the US economy. That was all. He stood his ground and that was it. There was a massive wave of criticism from European leaders but he still did it. Yes, he made certain changes later.

How is Trump’s stance different? It is fundamentally no different. He wanted to force Europeans to raise their defence expenditure or, as he said, to pay the United States for protection and for opening a nuclear umbrella over their heads. Well, I don’t know, it is their problem, they need to work it out for themselves. There may be logic from his perspective. There is none from the Europeans’ perspective. Europe wanted the United States to continue performing certain functions that it took up at the establishment of NATO, at no charge. It is their business.

I personally believe that there is absolutely no point in NATO. Its only purpose is to serve as a tool of US foreign policy. If the United States considers this tool no longer necessary, that is their decision.

Pavel Zarubin: The current President of the United States Biden has been causing a mounting wave of speculation around the world concerning his health. We are talking about the president of one of the world’s biggest nuclear powers, all while witnessing very peculiar, to put it mildly, scenes almost every day. What do you think when you see and hear all this?

Vladimir Putin: What this suggests to me is that the election campaign and domestic political struggles are gaining traction in the United States. These processes are exacerbating so I do not think that it would be appropriate for us to weigh in on them.

You see, when Biden and I met in Switzerland, even if it happened several years ago, in fact, three years ago, there were already those back then who were saying that he was unfit for office. I did not see anything of this sort. Well, he did keep glancing at his notes but, to be honest, I looked at mine too. Nothing special about that. And the fact that he banged his head on something when descending from a helicopter, well, who of us has never banged his head on something, let them throw the first stone, as the saying goes.

Overall, what I think… I am not a doctor, so I do not think that I can make any comments on this topic. We must look elsewhere, focus on the political position instead. I believe that the current administration is pursuing what amounts to a harmful and erroneous policy. This is what I told President Biden back then.

Pavel Zarubin: Therefore, the question we had four years ago is taking on new relevance today. Who would be better for us? Biden or Trump?

Vladimir Putin: Biden. He has more experience, and he is more predictable too, an old school politician. That said, we will work with any leader of the United States who has the trust of the American people.

Pavel Zarubin: Allow me to come back to the Tucker Carlson interview. We mentioned statements by the current German and British leaders. We also heard from the person whom you mentioned in your interview with Carlson with the following words: “Where is Mr Johnson now?” According to Arakhamia’s confessions, it was Johnson who ordered Kiev not to sign a deal with Moscow and to keep fighting instead. Had the Kiev authorities ignored this kind of advice, how would events have unfolded?

Vladimir Putin: This is what Mr Arakhamia said. After all, he… Look at the recording. We did not force him to say these words. He spoke his mind. Why he did so is another matter. I do not know. Maybe he likes saying things as they are. He did say that had we fulfilled the agreements negotiated in Istanbul, the war would have ended one and a half years ago. He was the one who said it. I think Arakhamia’s recordings should be included in the interview with Carlson.

Why has the West adopted this position? I am referring to the West, primarily the Anglo-Saxon world, since former Prime Minister Johnson would have never travelled there on his own initiative, without seeking Washington’s advice. These consultations probably took place, and I think that he was on a business mission, with expenses covered by the US administration, including the per diem. So he went there on a mission to make the case for fighting Russia until the last Ukrainian (without saying so directly), or should we say until victory and Russia’s strategic defeat. This is probably the kind of result they hoped for.

However, I can repeat here what I told Mr Carlson. If they see that it is not working out the way they expected, they probably have to make adjustments. But this is a matter of the art of government and politics, since politics, as we all know, is the art of compromise.

Source
here (14.02.24).
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Picture: Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin in The Kremlin, Moscow - 9th February 2024.
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Tucker Carlson: Mr. President, thank you. On February 24, 2022, you addressed your country in your nationwide address when the conflict in Ukraine started and you said that you were acting because you had come to the conclusion that the United States through NATO might initiate a quote, “surprise attack on our country”. And to American ears that sounds paranoid. Tell us why you believe the United States might strike Russia out of the blue. How did you conclude that?

Vladimir Putin: It's not that the United States was going to launch a surprise strike on Russia, I didn't say so. Are we having a talk show or serious conversation?

Tucker Carlson: That was a good quote. Thank you, it’s formidably serious!

Vladimir Putin: You were initially trained in history, as far as I know?

Tucker Carlson: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: So if you don’t mind I will take only 30 seconds or one minute of your time for giving you a little historical background.

Tucker Carlson: Please.

Vladimir Putin: Let’s look where our relationship with Ukraine started from. Where does Ukraine come from?

The Russian state started to exist as a centralized state in 862. This is considered to be the year of creation of the Russian state because this year the townspeople of Novgorod (a city in the North-West of the country) invited Rurik, a Varangian prince from Scandinavia, to reign. In 1862, Russia celebrated the 1000th anniversary of its statehood, and in Novgorod there is a memorial dedicated to the 1000th anniversary of the country.

In 882, Rurik's successor Prince Oleg, who was, actually, playing the role of regent at Rurik's young son because Rurik had died by that time, came to Kiev. He ousted two brothers who, apparently, had once been members of Rurik's squad. So, Russia began to develop with two centers of power, Kiev and Novgorod.

The next, very significant date in the history of Russia, was 988. This was the Baptism of Russia, when Prince Vladimir, the great-grandson of Rurik, baptized Russia and adopted Orthodoxy, or Eastern Christianity. From this time the centralized Russian state began to strengthen. Why? Because of a single territory, integrated economic ties, one and the same language and, after the Baptism of Russia, the same faith and rule of the Prince. The centralized Russian state began to take shape.

Back in the Middle Ages, Prince Yaroslav the Wise introduced the order of succession to the throne, but after he passed away, it became complicated for various reasons. The throne was passed not directly from father to eldest son, but from the prince who had passed away to his brother, then to his sons in different lines. All this led to the fragmentation and the end of Rus as a single state. There was nothing special about it, the same was happening then in Europe. But the fragmented Russian state became an easy prey to the empire created earlier by Genghis Khan. His successors, namely, Batu Khan, came to Rus, plundered and ruined nearly all the cities. The southern part, including Kiev, by the way, and some other cities, simply lost independence, while northern cities preserved some of their sovereignty. They had to pay tribute to the Horde, but they managed to preserve some part of their sovereignty. And then a unified Russian state began to take shape with its centre in Moscow.

The southern part of the Russian lands, including Kiev, began to gradually gravitate towards another ”magnet“ – the centre that was emerging in Europe. This was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was even called the Lithuanian-Russian Duchy, because Russians were a significant part of its population. They spoke the Old Russian language and were Orthodox. But then there was a unification, the union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. A few years later, another union was signed, but this time already in the religious sphere. Some of the Orthodox priests became subordinate to the Pope. Thus, these lands became part of the Polish-Lithuanian state.

During decades, the Poles were engaged in the ”Polonization“ of this part of the population: they introduced their language there, tried to entrench the idea that this population was not exactly Russians, that because they lived on the fringe (u kraya) they were “Ukrainians”. Originally, the word ‘Ukrainian’ meant that a person was living on the outskirts of the state, near the fringe, or was engaged in border service. It didn't mean any particular ethnic group.

So, the Poles were trying in every possible way to polonize this part of the Russian lands and actually treated it rather harshly, not to say cruelly. All that led to the fact that this part of the Russian lands began to struggle for their rights. They wrote letters to Warsaw demanding that their rights be observed and that people be commissioned here, including to Kiev…

Tucker Carlson: I beg your pardon, can you tell us what period… I am losing track of where in history we are?

Vladimir Putin: It was in the 13th century. Now I will tell what happened later and give the dates so that there is no confusion. And in 1654, even a bit earlier, the people who were in control of the authority over that part of the Russian lands, addressed Warsaw, I repeat, demanding their rights be observed that they send to them rulers of Russian origin and Orthodox faith. When Warsaw did not answer them and in fact rejected their demands, they turned to Moscow so that Moscow took them away.

So that you don't think that I am inventing things… I'll give you these documents…

Tucker Carlson: It doesn’t sound like you are inventing it, but I am not sure why it’s relevant to what’s happened two years ago.

Vladimir Putin: But still, these are documents from the archives, copies. Here are letters from Bogdan Khmelnitsky, the man who then controlled the power in this part of the Russian lands that is now called Ukraine. He wrote to Warsaw demanding that their rights be upheld, and after being refused, he began to write letters to Moscow asking to take them under the strong hand of the Moscow Tsar. There are copies of these documents. I will leave them for your good memory. There is a translation into Russian, you can translate it into English later.

Russia would not agree to admit them straight away, assuming this would trigger a war with Poland. Nevertheless, in 1654, the Zemsky Sobor, which was a representative body of power of the Old Russian state, made the decision: those Old Russian lands became part of the Tsardom of Muscovy.

As expected, the war with Poland began. It lasted 13 years, and then a truce was concluded. In all, after that act of 1654, 32 years later, I think, a peace treaty with Poland was concluded, “the eternal peace,” as it said. And those lands, the whole left bank of the Dnieper, including Kiev, reverted to Russia, while the entire right bank of the Dnieper remained in possession of Poland.

Under the rule of Catherine the Great, Russia reclaimed all of its historical lands, including in the south and west. This all lasted until the Revolution. Before World War I, Austrian General Staff relied on the ideas of Ukrainianization and started actively promoting the ideas of Ukraine and the Ukrainianization. Their motive was obvious. Just before World War I they wanted to weaken the potential enemy and secure themselves favourable conditions in the border area. So the idea which had emerged in Poland that people residing in that territory were allegedly not really Russians, but rather belonged to a special ethnic group, Ukrainians, started being propagated by the Austrian General Staff.

As far back as the 19th century, theorists calling for Ukrainian independence appeared. All those, however, claimed that Ukraine should have a very good relationship with Russia. They insisted on that. After the 1917 Revolution, the Bolsheviks sought to restore the statehood, and the Civil War began, including the hostilities with Poland. In 1921, peace with Poland was proclaimed, and under that treaty, the right bank of the Dnieper River once again was given back to Poland.

In 1939, after Poland cooperated with Hitler - it did collaborate with Hitler, you know - Hitler offered Poland peace and a treaty of friendship and alliance (we have all the relevant documents in the archives), demanding in return that Poland give back to Germany the so-called Danzig Corridor, which connected the bulk of Germany with East Prussia and Konigsberg. After World War I this territory was transferred to Poland, and instead of Danzig, a city of Gdansk emerged. Hitler asked them to give it amicably, but they refused. Still they collaborated with Hitler and engaged together in the partitioning of Czechoslovakia.

Tucker Carlson: May I ask… You are making the case that Ukraine, certain parts of Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, in fact, has been Russia for hundreds of years, why wouldn’t you just take it when you became President 24 years ago? Your have nuclear weapons, they don’t. It’s actually your land. Why did you wait so long?

Vladimir Putin: I’ll tell you. I’m coming to that. This briefing is coming to an end. It might be boring, but it explains many things.

Tucker Carlson: It’s not boring.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Good. I am so gratified that you appreciate that. Thank you.

So before World War II, Poland collaborated with Hitler and although it did not yield to Hitler’s demands, it still participated in the partitioning of Czechoslovakia together with Hitler. As the Poles had not given the Danzig Corridor to Germany, and went too far, pushing Hitler to start World War II by attacking them. Why was it Poland against whom the war started on 1 September 1939? Poland turned out to be uncompromising, and Hitler had nothing to do but start implementing his plans with Poland.

By the way, the USSR — I have read some archive documents — behaved very honestly. It asked Poland’s permission to transit its troops through the Polish territory to help Czechoslovakia. But the then Polish foreign minister said that if the Soviet planes flew over Poland, they would be downed over the territory of Poland. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the war began, and Poland fell prey to the policies it had pursued against Czechoslovakia, as under the well-known Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, part of that territory, including western Ukraine, was to be given to Russia. Thus Russia, which was then named the USSR, regained its historical lands.

After the victory in the Great Patriotic War, as we call World War II, all those territories were ultimately enshrined as belonging to Russia, to the USSR. As for Poland, it received, apparently in compensation, the lands which had originally being German: the eastern parts of Germany (these are now western lands of Poland). Of course, Poland regained access to the Baltic sea, and Danzig, which was once again given its Polish name. So this was how this situation developed.

In 1922, when the USSR was being established, the Bolsheviks started building the USSR and established the Soviet Ukraine, which had never existed before.

Tucker Carlson: Right.

Vladimir Putin: Stalin insisted that those republics be included in the USSR as autonomous entities. For some inexplicable reason, Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state, insisted that they be entitled to withdraw from the USSR. And, again for some unknown reasons, he transferred to that newly established Soviet Republic of Ukraine some of the lands together with people living there, even though those lands had never been called Ukraine; and yet they were made part of that Soviet Republic of Ukraine. Those lands included the Black Sea region, which was received under Catherine the Great and which had no historical connection with Ukraine whatsoever.

Even if we go as far back as 1654, when these lands returned to the Russian Empire, that territory was the size of three to four regions of modern Ukraine, with no Black Sea region. That was completely out of the question.

Tucker Carlson: In 1654?

Vladimir Putin: Exactly.

Tucker Carlson: You have, I see, encyclopedic knowledge of this region. But why didn’t you make this case for the first 22 years as president, that Ukraine wasn’t a real country?

Vladimir Putin: The Soviet Ukraine was given a great deal of territory that had never belonged to it, including the Black Sea region. At some point, when Russia received them as an outcome of the Russo-Turkish wars, they were called “New Russia” or Novorossiya. But that does not matter. What matters is that Lenin, the founder of the Soviet State, established Ukraine that way. For decades, the Ukrainian Soviet Republic developed as part of the USSR, and for unknown reasons again, the Bolsheviks were engaged in Ukrainianization. It was not merely because the Soviet leadership was composed to a great extent of those originating from Ukraine. Rather, it was explained by the general policy of indigenization pursued by the Soviet Union. Same things were done in other Soviet republics. This involved promoting national languages and national cultures, which is not bad in principle. That is how the Soviet Ukraine was created.

After World War II, Ukraine received, in addition to the lands that had belonged to Poland before the war, part of the lands that had previously belonged to Hungary and Romania (today known as Western Ukraine). So Romania and Hungary had some of their lands taken away and given to the Ukraine and they still remain part of Ukraine. So in this sense, we have every reason to affirm that Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s will.

Tucker Carlson: Do you believe Hungary has a right to take back its land from Ukraine? And that other nations have a right to go back to their 1654 borders?

Vladimir Putin: I am not sure whether they should go back to the 1654 borders, but given Stalin’s time, so-called Stalin’s regime — which as many claim saw numerous violations of human rights and violations of the rights of other states – one may say that they could claim back those lands of theirs, while having no right to do that, it is at least understandable…

Tucker Carlson: Have you told Viktor Orbán that he can have a part of Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin: Never. I have never told him. Not a single time. We have not even had any conversation on that, but I actually know for sure that Hungarians who live there wanted to get back to their historical land.

Moreover, I would like to share a very interesting story with you, I'll digress, it's a personal one. Somewhere in the early 80's, I went on a road trip on a car from then-Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) across the Soviet Union through Kiev, made a stop in Kiev, and then went to Western Ukraine. I went to the town of Beregovoye, and all the names of towns and villages there were in Russian and in a language I didn't understand – in Hungarian . In Russian and in Hungarian. Not in Ukrainian – in Russian and in Hungarian.

I was driving through some kind of a village and there were men sitting next to the houses and they were wearing black three-piece suits and black cylinder hats. I asked, ”Are they some kind of entertainers?“ I was told, ”No, they're not entertainers. They're Hungarians. ‘I said, ‘What are they doing here?’ — ‘What do you mean? This is their land, they live here.’ This was during the Soviet time, in the 1980’s. They preserve the Hungarian language, Hungarian names, and all their national costumes. They are Hungarians and they feel themselves to be Hungarians. And of course, when now there is an infringement….

Tucker Carlson: And there’s a lot of that though, I think. Many nations feel upset about — there are Transylvanians as well as you, others, you know — but many nations feel frustrated by their re-drawn borders after the wars of the 20th century, and wars going back a thousand years, the ones that you mention, but the fact is that you didn’t make this case in public until two years ago in February, and in the case that you made, which I read today, you explain a great length that you thought a physical threat from the West and NATO, including potentially a nuclear threat, and that’s what got you to move. Is that a fair characterization of what you said?

Vladimir Putin: I understand that my long speeches probably fall outside of the genre of an interview. That is why I asked you at the beginning: ”Are we going to have a serious talk or a show?“ You said — a serious talk. So bear with me please.

We are coming to the point where the Soviet Ukraine was established. Then, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. And everything that Russia had generously bestowed on Ukraine was ”dragged away“ by the latter.

I'm coming to a very important point of today's agenda. After all, the collapse of the Soviet Union was effectively initiated by the Russian leadership. I do not understand what the Russian leadership was guided by at the time, but I suspect there were several reasons to think everything would be fine.

First, I think that the then Russian leadership believed that the fundamentals of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine were: in fact, a common language - more than 90 percent of the population there spoke Russian; family ties - every third person there had some kind of family or friendship ties; common culture; common history; finally, common faith; co-existence within a single state for centuries; and deeply interconnected economies. All of these were so fundamental. All these elements together make our good relations inevitable.

The second point is a very important one. I want you as an American citizen and your viewers to hear about this as well. The former Russian leadership assumed that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and therefore there were no longer any ideological dividing lines. Russia even agreed, voluntarily and proactively, to the collapse of the Soviet Union and believed that this would be understood by the so-called (now in scare quotes) ”civilized West“ as an invitation for cooperation and associateship. That is what Russia was expecting both from the United States and the so-called collective West as a whole.

There were smart people, including in Germany. Egon Bahr, a major politician of the Social Democratic Party, who insisted in his personal conversations with the Soviet leadership on the brink of the collapse of the Soviet Union that a new security system should be established in Europe. Help should be given to unify Germany, but a new system should also be established to include the United States, Canada, Russia, and other Central European countries. But NATO needs not to expand. That's what he said: if NATO expands, everything would be just the same as during the Cold War, only closer to Russia's borders. That's all. He was a wise old man, but no one listened to him. In fact, he got angry once (we have a record of this conversation in our archives): ”If, he said, you don't listen to me, I'm never setting my foot in Moscow once again.“ He was frustrated with the Soviet leadership. He was right, everything happened just as he had said.

Tucker Carlson: Well, of course, it did come true, and you’ve mentioned it many times. I think, it’s a fair point. And many in America thought that relations between Russia and United States would be fine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, at the core. But the opposite happened. But have never explained why you think that happened, except to say that the West fears a strong Russia. But we have a strong China that the West doesn’t seem to be very afraid of. What about Russia, what do you think convinced the policymakers to take it down?

Vladimir Putin: The West is afraid of a strong China more than it fears a strong Russia because Russia has 150 million people, and China has a 1.5 billion population, and its economy is growing by leaps and bounds — over five percent a year, it used to be even more. But that's enough for China. As Bismark once put it, potentials are most important. China's potential is enormous — it is the biggest economy in the world today in terms of purchasing power parity and the size of the economy. It has already overtaken the United States, quite a long time ago, and it is growing at a rapid clip.

Let's not talk about who is afraid of whom, let's not reason in such terms. And let's get into the fact that after 1991, when Russia expected that it would be welcomed into the brotherly family of ”civilized nations,“ nothing like this happened. You tricked us (I don't mean you personally when I say ”you“, of course, I'm talking about the United States), the promise was that NATO would not expand eastward, but it happened five times, there were five waves of expansion. We tolerated all that, we were trying to persuade them, we were saying: ”Please don't, we are as bourgeois now as you are, we are a market economy, and there is no Communist Party power. Let's negotiate.“ Moreover, I have also said this publicly before (let's look at Yeltsin's times now), there was a moment when a certain rift started growing between us. Before that, Yeltsin came to the United States, remember, he spoke in Congress and said the good words: ”God bless America“. Everything he said were signals — let us in.

Remember the developments in Yugoslavia, before that Yeltsin was lavished with praise, as soon as the developments in Yugoslavia started, he raised his voice in support of Serbs, and we couldn't but raise our voices for Serbs in their defense. I understand that there were complex processes underway there, I do. But Russia could not help raising its voice in support of Serbs, because Serbs are also a special and close to us nation, with Orthodox culture and so on. It's a nation that has suffered so much for generations. Well, regardless, what is important is that Yeltsin expressed his support. What did the United States do? In violation of international law and the UN Charter it started bombing Belgrade.

It was the United States that let the genie out of the bottle. Moreover, when Russia protested and expressed its resentment, what was said? The UN Charter and international law have become obsolete. Now everyone invokes international law, but at that time they started saying that everything was outdated, everything had to be changed.

Indeed, some things need to be changed as the balance of power has changed, it's true, but not in this manner. Yeltsin was immediately dragged through the mud, accused of alcoholism, of understanding nothing, of knowing nothing. He understood everything, I assure you.

Well, I became President in 2000. I thought: okay, the Yugoslav issue is over, but we should try to restore relations. Let's reopen the door that Russia had tried to go through. And moreover, I've said it publicly, I can reiterate. At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him, ” Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?“ Suddenly he said: ”You know, it's interesting, I think so.“ But in the evening, when we had dinner, he said, ”You know, I've talked to my team, no-no, it's not possible now.“ You can ask him, I think he will watch our interview, he'll confirm it. I wouldn't have said anything like that if it hadn't happened. Okay, well, it's impossible now.

Tucker Carlson: Were you sincere? Would you have joined NATO?

Vladimir Putin: Look, I asked the question, ”Is it possible or not?“ And the answer I got was no. If I was insincere in my desire to find out what the leadership's position was…

Tucker Carlson: But if he would say yes, would you have joined NATO?

Vladimir Putin: If he had said yes, the process of rapprochement would have commenced, and eventually it might have happened if we had seen some sincere wish on the side of our partners. But it didn't happen. Well, no means no, okay, fine.

Tucker Carlson: Why do you think that is? Just to get to motive. I know, you’re clearly bitter about it. I understand. But why do you think the West rebuffed you then? Why the hostility? Why did the end of the Cold War not fix the relationship? What motivates this from your point of view?

Vladimir Putin: You said I was bitter about the answer. No, it's not bitterness, it's just a statement of fact. We're not the bride and groom, bitterness, resentment, it's not about those kinds of matters in such circumstances. We just realised we weren't welcome there, that's all. Okay, fine. But let's build relations in another manner, let's look for common ground elsewhere. Why we received such a negative response, you should ask your leader. I can only guess why: too big a country, with its own opinion and so on. And the United States – I have seen how issues are being resolved in NATO.

I will give you another example now, concerning Ukraine. The US leadership exerts pressure, and all NATO members obediently vote, even if they do not like something. Now, I'll tell you what happened in this regard with Ukraine in 2008, although it's being discussed, I’m not going to open a secret to you, say anything new. Nevertheless, after that, we tried to build relations in different ways. For example, the events in the Middle East, in Iraq, we were building relations with the United States in a very soft, prudent, cautious manner.

I repeatedly raised the issue that the United States should not support separatism or terrorism in the North Caucasus. But they continued to do it anyway. And political support, information support, financial support, even military support came from the United States and its satellites for terrorist groups in the Caucasus.

I once raised this issue with my colleague, also the President of the United States. He says, ”It’s impossible! Do you have proof?“ I said, ”Yes.“ I was prepared for this conversation and I gave him that proof. He looked at it and, you know what he said? I apologise, but that's what happened, I'll quote. He says, ”Well, I’m gonna kick their ass“. We waited and waited for some response – there was no reply.

I said to the FSB Director: ”Write to the CIA. What is the result of the conversation with the President?“ He wrote once, twice, and then we got a reply. We have the answer in the archive. “
The CIA replied: "We have been working with the opposition in Russia. We believe that this is the right thing to do and we will keep on doing it." Just ridiculous. Well, okay. We realised that it was out of the question.

Tucker Carlson: Forces in opposition to you? Do you think the CIA is trying to overthrow your government?

Vladimir Putin: Of course, they meant in that particular case the separatists, the terrorists who fought with us in the Caucasus. That's who they called the opposition. This is the second point.

The third moment, a very important one, is the moment when the US missile defense (ABM) system was created. The beginning. We persuaded for a long time not to do it in the United States. Moreover, after I was invited by Bush Jr.'s father, Bush Sr. to visit his place on the ocean, I had a very serious conversation with President Bush and his team. I proposed that the United States, Russia and Europe jointly create a missile defense system that, we believe, if created unilaterally, threatens our security, despite the fact that the United States officially said that it was being created against missile threats from Iran. That was the justification for the deployment of the missile defense system. I suggested working together – Russia, the United States, and Europe. They said it was very interesting. They asked me, ”Are you serious?“ I said, “Absolutely”.

Tucker Carlson: May I ask what year was this?

Vladimir Putin: I don't remember. It is easy to find out on the Internet, when I was in the USA at the invitation of Bush Sr. It is even easier to learn from someone, I’m going to tell you about.

I was told it was very interesting. I said, ”Just imagine if we could tackle such a global, strategic security challenge together. The world would change. We'll probably have disputes, probably economic and even political ones, but we could drastically change the situation in the world.“ He says, ”Yes.“ And asks: ”Are you serious?“. I said, ”Of course.“ ”We need to think about it,“ I'm told. I said, ”Go ahead, please.“

Then Secretary of Defense R.Gates, former Director of the CIA, and Secretary of State C.Rice came here, in this cabinet. Right here, at this table, they sat on this side. Me, the Foreign Minister, the Russian Defense Minister – on that side. They said to me, ”Yes, we have thought about it, we agree.“ I said, ”Thank God, great.“ – ”But with some exceptions.“

Tucker Carlson: So, twice you've described US presidents making decisions and then being undercut by their agency heads. So, it sounds like you're describing a system that is not run by the people who are elected, in your telling.

Vladimir Putin: That's right, that's right. In the end they just told us to get lost. I am not going to tell you the details, because I think it is incorrect, after all, it was a confidential conversation. But our proposal was declined, that’s a fact.

It was right then when I said: ”Look, but then we will be forced to take counter measures. We will create such strike systems that will certainly overcome missile defense systems.“ The answer was: ”We are not doing this against you, and you do what you want, assuming that it is not against us, not against the United States“. I said, ”Okay.“

Very well, that’s the way it went. And we created hypersonic systems, with intercontinental range, and we continue to develop them. We are now ahead of everyone – the United States and other countries – in terms of the development of hypersonic strike systems, and we are improving them every day.

But it wasn’t us, we proposed to go the other way, and we were pushed back.

Now, about NATO's expansion to the East. Well, we were promised, no NATO to the East, not an inch to the East, as we were told. And then what? They said, ”Well, it's not enshrined on paper, so we'll expand.“ So there were five waves of expansion, the Baltic States, the whole of Eastern Europe, and so on.

And now I come to the main thing: they have come to Ukraine ultimately. In 2008 at the summit in Bucharest they declared that the doors for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO were open.

Now about how decisions are made there. Germany, France seemed to be against it as well as some other European countries. But then, as it turned out later, President Bush, and he is such a tough guy, a tough politician, as I was told later, ”He exerted pressure on us and we had to agree.“ It's ridiculous, it's like kindergarten. Where are the guarantees? What kindergarten is this, what kind of people are these, who are they? You see, they were pressed, they agreed. And then they say, ”Ukraine won't be in NATO, you know.“ I say, ”I don't know, I know you agreed in 2008, why won't you agree in the future?“ ”Well, they pressed us then.“ I say, ”Why won't they press you tomorrow? And you'll agree again.“

Well, it's nonsensical. Who's there to talk to, I just don't understand. We're ready to talk. But with whom? Where are the guarantees? None.

So, they started to develop the territory of Ukraine. Whatever is there, I have told you the background, how this territory developed, what kind of relations there were with Russia. Every second or third person there has always had some ties with Russia. And during the elections in already independent, sovereign Ukraine, which gained its independence as a result of the Declaration of Independence, and, by the way, it says that Ukraine is a neutral state, and in 2008 suddenly the doors or gates to NATO were open to it. Oh, come on! This is not how we agreed. Now, all the presidents that have come to power in Ukraine, they've relied on an electorate with a good attitude to Russia in one way or another. This is the south-east of Ukraine, this is a large number of people. And it was very difficult to desuade this electorate, which had a positive attitude towards Russia.

Viktor Yanukovych came to power, and how: the first time he won after President Kuchma – they organised a third round, which is not provided for in the Constitution of Ukraine. This is a coup d'état. Just imagine, someone in the United States wouldn’t like the outcome…

Tucker Carlson: In 2014?

Vladimir Putin: Before that. No, this was before that. After President Kuchma, Viktor Yanukovich won the elections. However, his opponents did not recognize that victory, the US supported the opposition and the third round was scheduled. What is this? This is a coup. The US supported it and the winner of the third round came to power. Imagine if in the US, something was not to someone’s liking and the third round of election, which the US Constitution does not provide for, was organized, Nonetheless, it was done in Ukraine. Okay, Viktor Yushchenko who was considered a pro-Western politician, came to power. Fine, we have built relations with him as well. He came to Moscow with visits, we visited Kiev. I visited it too. We met in an informal setting. If he is pro-Western, so be it. It’s fine, let people do their job. The situation should develop inside the independent Ukraine itself. As a result of Kuchma’s leadership, things got worse and Viktor Yanukovich came to power after all.

Maybe he wasn’t the best President and politician. I don’t know, I don’t want to give assessments. However, the issue of the association with the EU came up. We have always been lenient to this: suit yourself. But when we read through that treaty of association it turned out to be a problem for us, since we had a free-trade zone and open customs borders with Ukraine which, under this association, had to open its borders for Europe, which could have led to flooding of our market.

We said, “No, this is not going to work. We shall close our borders with Ukraine then”. The customs borders, that is. Yanukovich started to calculate how much Ukraine was going to gain, how much to lose and said to his European partners: “I need more time to think before signing”. The moment he said that, the opposition began to take destructive steps which were supported by the West. It all came down to Maidan and a coup in Ukraine.

Tucker Carlson: So, he did more trade with Russia than with the EU? Ukraine did…

Vladimir Putin: Of course. It’s not even the matter of trade volume, although for the most part it is. It is the matter of cooperation ties which the entire Ukrainian economy was based on. The cooperation ties between the enterprises were very close since the times of the Soviet Union. One enterprise there used to produce components to be assembled both in Russia and Ukraine and vice versa. There used to be very close ties.

A coup d’etat was committed, although, I shall not delve into details now as I find doing it inappropriate, the US told us, “Calm Yanukovich down and we will calm the opposition. Let the situation unfold in the scenario of a political settlement”. We said, “Alright. Agreed. Let’s do it this way”. As the Americans requested us, Yanukovich did use neither the Armed Forces, nor the police, yet the armed opposition committed a coup in Kiev. What is that supposed to mean? “Who do you think you are?”, I wanted to ask the then US leadership.

Tucker Carlson: With the backing of whom?

Vladimir Putin: With the backing of CIA, of course. The organization you wanted to join back in the day, as I understand. Maybe we should thank God they didn’t let you in. Although, it is a serious organization. I understand. My former vis-à-vis, in the sense that I served in the First Main Directorate – Soviet Union’s intelligence service. They have always been our opponents. A job is a job.

Technically they did everything right, they achieved their goal of changing the government. However, from political standpoint, it was a colossal mistake. Surely, it was political leadership’s miscalculation. They should have seen what it would evolve into.

So, in 2008 the doors of NATO were opened for Ukraine. In 2014, there was a coup, they started persecuting those who did not accept the coup, and it was indeed a coup, they created a threat to Crimea which we had to take under our protection. They launched a war in Donbass in 2014 with the use of aircraft and artillery against civilians. This is when it started. There is a video of aircraft attacking Donetsk from above. They launched a large-scale military operation, then another one. When they failed, they started to prepare the next one. All this against the background of military development of this territory and opening of NATO’s doors.

How could we not express concern over what was happening? From our side, this would have been a culpable negligence – that’s what it would have been. It’s just that the US political leadership pushed us to the line we could not cross because doing so could have ruined Russia itself. Besides, we could not leave our brothers in faith and, in fact, a part of Russian people, in the face of this “war machine”.

Tucker Carlson: So, that was eight years before the current conflict started. What was the trigger for you? What was the moment where you decided you had to do this?

Vladimir Putin: Initially, it was the coup in Ukraine that provoked the conflict.

By the way, back then the representatives of three European countries – Germany, Poland and France – arrived. They were the guarantors of the signed agreement between the Government of Yanukovich and the opposition. They signed it as guarantors. Despite that, the opposition committed a coup and all these countries pretended that they didn’t remember that they were guarantors of peaceful settlement. They just threw it in the stove right away and nobody recalls that.

I don’t know if the US know anything about that agreement between the opposition and the authorities and its three guarantors who, instead of bringing this whole situation back in the political field, supported the coup. Although, it was meaningless, believe me, because President Yanukovich agreed to all conditions, he was ready to hold early election which he had no chance to win, frankly speaking, Everyone knew that. Then why the coup, why the victims? Why threatening Crimea? Why launching an operation in Donbass? This I do not understand. That is exactly what the miscalculation is. CIA did its job to complete the coup. I think one of the Deputy Secretaries of State said that it cost a large sum of money, almost 5 billion. But the political mistake was colossal! Why would they have to do that? All this could have been done legally, without victims, without military action, without losing Crimea. We would have never considered to even lift a finger, if it hadn’t been for the bloody developments on Maidan.

Because we agreed with the fact that after the collapse of the Soviet Union our borders should be along the borders of former Union’s republics. We agreed to that. But we never agreed to NATO’s expansion and moreover we never agreed that Ukraine would be in NATO. We did not agree to NATO bases there without any discussion with us. For decades we kept asking: don’t do this, don’t do that.

And what triggered the latest events? Firstly, the current Ukrainian leadership declared that it would not implement the Minsk Agreements, which had been signed, as you know, after the events of 2014, in Minsk, where the plan of peaceful settlement in Donbass was set forth. But no, the current Ukrainian leadership, Foreign Minister, all other officials and then President himself said that they don’t like anything about the Minsk Agreements. In other words, they were not going to implement it. A year or a year and a half ago, former leaders of Germany and France said openly to the whole world that they indeed signed the Minsk Agreements but they never intended to implement them. They simply led us by the nose.

Tucker Carlson: Was there anyone free to talk to? Did you call the US President, Secretary of State and say if you keep militarizing Ukraine with NATO forces, we are going to act?

Vladimir Putin: We talked about this all the time. We addressed the United States’ and European countries’ leadership to stop these developments immediately, to implement the Minsk Agreements. Frankly speaking, I didn’t know how we were going to do this but I was ready to implement them. These Agreements were complicated for Ukraine; they included lots of elements of those Donbass territories’ independence. That’s true. However, I was absolutely confident, and I am saying this to you now: I honestly believed that if we managed to convince the residents of Donbass – and we had to work hard to convince them to return to the Ukrainian statehood – then gradually the wounds would start to heal. When this part of territory reintegrated itself into common social environment, when the pensions and social benefits were paid again, all the pieces would gradually fall into place.

No, nobody wanted that, everybody wanted to resolve the issue by military force only. But we could not let that happen. And the situation got to the point, when the Ukrainian side announced: ”No, we will not do anything“. They also started preparing for military action. It was they who started the war in 2014. Our goal is to stop this war. And we did not start this war in 2022. This is an attempt to stop it.

Tucker Carlson: Do you think you have stopped it now? I mean have you achieved your aims?

Vladimir Putin: No, we haven't achieved our aims yet, because one of them is denazification. This means the prohibition of all kinds of neo-Nazi movements. This is one of the problems that we discussed during the negotiation process, which ended in Istanbul early last year, and it was not our initiative, because we were told (by the Europeans, in particular) that ”it was necessary to create conditions for the final signing of the documents“. My counterparts in France and Germany said, ”How can you imagine them signing a treaty with a gun to their heads? The troops should be pulled back from Kiev. ‘I said, ‘All right.’ We withdrew the troops from Kiev.

As soon as we pulled back our troops from Kiev, our Ukrainian negotiators immediately threw all our agreements reached in Istanbul into the bin and got prepared for a longstanding armed confrontation with the help of the United States and its satellites in Europe. That is how the situation has developed. And that is how it looks now.

Tucker Carlson: What is denazification? What would that mean?

Vladimir Putin: That is what I want to talk about right now. It is a very important issue.

Denazification. After gaining independence, Ukraine began to search, as some Western analysts say, its identity. And it came up with nothing better than to build this identity upon some false heroes who collaborated with Hitler.

I have already said that in the early 19th century, when the theorists of independence and sovereignty of Ukraine appeared, they assumed that an independent Ukraine should have very good relations with Russia. But due to the historical development, these territories were part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – Poland, where Ukrainians were persecuted and treated quite brutally as well as were subject to cruel behavior. There were also attempts to destroy their identity. All this remained in the memory of the people. When World War II broke out, part of this extremely nationalist elite collaborated with Hitler, believing that he would bring them freedom. The German troops, even the SS troops made Hitler's collaborators do the dirtiest work of exterminating the Polish and Jewish population. Hence this brutal massacre of the Polish and Jewish population as well as the Russian population too. This was led by the persons who are well known – Bandera, Shukhevich. It was these people who were made national heroes – that is the problem. And we are constantly told that nationalism and neo-Nazism exist in other countries as well. Yes, there are seedlings, but we uproot them, and other countries fight against them. But Ukraine is not the case. These people have been made into national heroes in Ukraine. Monuments to these people have been erected, they are displayed on flags, their names are shouted by crowds that walk with torches, as it was in Nazi Germany. These were the people who exterminated Poles, Jews and Russians. It is necessary to stop this practice and prevent the dissemination of this concept.

I say that Ukrainians are part of the one Russian people. They say, ”No, we are a separate people.“ Okay, fine. If they consider themselves a separate people, they have the right to do so, but not on the basis of Nazism, the Nazi ideology.

Tucker Carlson: Would you be satisfied with the territory that you have now?

Vladimir Putin: I will finish answering the question. You just asked a question about neo-Nazism and denazification.

Look, the President of Ukraine visited Canada. This story is well known, but is silenced in the Western countries: The Canadian parliament introduced a man who, as the speaker of the parliament said, fought against the Russians during the World War II. Well, who fought against the Russians during World War II? Hitler and his accomplices. It turned out that this man served in the SS troops. He personally killed Russians, Poles, and Jews. The SS troops consisted of Ukrainian nationalists who did this dirty work. The President of Ukraine stood up with the entire Parliament of Canada and applauded this man. How can this be imagined? The President of Ukraine himself, by the way, is a Jew by nationality.

Tucker Carlson: Really, my question is: What do you do about it? I mean, Hitler has been dead for eighty years, Nazi Germany no longer exists, and it’s true. So, I think, what you are saying, you want to extinguish or at least control Ukrainian nationalism. But how do you do that?

Vladimir Putin: Listen to me. Your question is very subtle.

And can I tell you what I think? Do not take offense.

Tucker Carlson: Of course!

Vladimir Putin: This question appears to be subtle, it is quite pesky.

You say Hitler has been dead for so many years, 80 years. But his example lives on. People who exterminated Jews, Russians and Poles are alive. And the president, the current president of today's Ukraine applauds him in the Canadian Parliament, gives a standing ovation! Can we say that we have completely uprooted this ideology if what we see is happening today? That is what denazification is in our understanding. We have to get rid of those people who maintain this concept and support this practice and try to preserve it – that is what denazification is. That is what we mean.

Tucker Carlson: Right. My question is almost specific, it was, of course, not a defense of Nazism. Otherwise, it was a practical question. You don't control the entire country, you don’t seem like you want to. So, how do you eliminate that culture, or an ideology, or feelings, or a view of history, in a country that you don’t control? What do you do about that?

Vladimir Putin: You know, as strange as it may seem to you, during the negotiations in Istanbul we did agree that – we have it all in writing – neo-Nazism would not be cultivated in Ukraine, including that it would be prohibited at the legislative level.

Mr. Carlson, we agreed on that. This, it turns out, can be done during the negotiation process. And there is nothing humiliating for Ukraine as a modern civilized State. Is any state allowed to promote Nazism? It is not, is it? That is it.

Tucker Carlson: Will there be talks? And why haven’t there been talks about resolving the conflict in Ukraine? Peace talks.

Vladimir Putin: They have been. They reached a very high stage of coordination of positions in a complex process, but still they were almost finalized. But after we withdrew our troops from Kiev, as I have already said, the other side (Ukraine) threw away all these agreements and obeyed the instructions of Western countries, European countries and the United States to fight Russia to the bitter end.

Moreover, the President of Ukraine has legislated a ban on negotiating with Russia. He signed a decree forbidding everyone to negotiate with Russia. But how are we going to negotiate if he forbade himself and everyone to do this? We know that he is putting forward some ideas about this settlement. But in order to agree on something, we need to have a dialog. Is not that right?

Tucker Carlson: Well, but you would not be speaking to the Ukrainian president, you would be speaking to the American president. When was the last time you spoke to Joe Biden?

Vladimir Putin: I cannot remember when I talked to him. I do not remember, we can look it up.

Tucker Carlson: You do not remember?!

Vladimir Putin: No, why? Do I have to remember everything? I have my own things to do. We have domestic political affairs.

Tucker Carlson: But he is funding the war that you are fighting, so I think that would be memorable?

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes, he funds, but I talked to him before the Special Military Operation, of course. And I said to him then, by the way – I will not go into details, I never do – but I said to him then: ”I believe that you are making a huge mistake of historic proportions by supporting everything that is happening there, in Ukraine, by pushing Russia away.“ I told him, told him repeatedly, by the way. I think that would be correct if I stop here.

Tucker Carlson: What did he say?

Vladimir Putin: Ask him, please. It is easier for you, you are a citizen of the United States, go and ask him. It is not appropriate for me to comment on our conversation.

Tucker Carlson: But you haven’t spoken to him since before February of 2022?

Vladimir Putin: No, we haven't spoken. Certain contacts are been maintained though. Speaking of which, do you remember what I told you about my proposal to work together on a missile defense system?

Tucker Carlson: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: You can ask all of them. All of them are safe and sound, thank God. The former President, Condoleezza is safe and sound, and, I think, Mr. Gates, and the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Burns, the then Ambassador to Russia, in my opinion, a very successful Ambassador. They were all witnesses to these conversations. Ask them.

Same here, if you are interested in what Mr. President Biden responded to me, ask him. At any rate, I talked to him about it.

Tucker Carlson: I am definitely interested. But from the other side it seems like it could devolve, evolve into something that brings the entire world into conflict, and could initiate a nuclear launch, and so why don’t you just call Biden and say “let’s work this out”?

Vladimir Putin: What's there to work out? It's very simple. I repeat, we have contacts through various agencies. I will tell you what we are saying on this matter and what we are conveying to the US leadership: ”If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons. It will be over within a few weeks. That's it. And then we can agree on some terms before you do that, stop.“

What's easier? Why would I call him? What should I talk to him about? Or beg him for what? ”You're going to deliver such and such weapons to Ukraine. Oh, I'm afraid, I'm afraid, please don't.“ What is there to talk about?

Tucker Carlson: Do you think NATO was worried about this becoming a global war or nuclear conflict?

Vladimir Putin: At least that's what they're talking about. And they are trying to intimidate their own population with an imaginary Russian threat. This is an obvious fact. And thinking people, not philistines, but thinking people, analysts, those who are engaged in real politics, just smart people understand perfectly well that this is a fake. They are trying to fuel the Russian threat.

Tucker Carlson: The threat I think you were referring to is Russian invasion of Poland, Latvia – expansionist behavior. Can you imagine a scenario where you send Russian troops to Poland?

Vladimir Putin: Only in one case: if Poland attacks Russia. Why? Because we have no interest in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else. Why would we do that? We simply don't have any interest. Its just threat mongering.

Tucker Carlson: Well, the argument, I know you know this, is that, well, he invaded Ukraine – he has territorial aims across the continent. And you are saying unequivocally, you don’t?

Vladimir Putin: It is absolutely out of the question. You just don't have to be any kind of analyst, it goes against common sense to get involved in some kind of global war. And a global war will bring all of humanity to the brink of destruction. It's obvious.

There are, certainly, means of deterrence. They have been scaring everyone with us all along: tomorrow Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons, tomorrow Russia will use that, no, the day after tomorrow. So what? These are just horror stories for people in the street in order to extort additional money from US taxpayers and European taxpayers in the confrontation with Russia in the Ukrainian theatre of war. The goal is to weaken Russia as much as possible.

Tucker Carlson: One of our senior United States senators from the State of New York, Chuck Schumer, said yesterday, I believe, that we have to continue to fund the Ukrainian effort or US soldiers, citizens could wind up fighting there. How do you assess that?

Vladimir Putin: This is a provocation, and a cheap provocation at that.

I do not understand why American soldiers should fight in Ukraine. There are mercenaries from the United States there. The biggest number of mercenaries comes from Poland, with mercenaries from the United States in second place, and mercenaries from Georgia in third place. Well, if somebody has the desire to send regular troops, that would certainly bring humanity on the brink of a very serious, global conflict. This is obvious.

Do the United States need this? What for? Thousands of miles away from your national territory! Don't you have anything better to do?

You have issues on the border, issues with migration, issues with the national debt – more than 33 trillion dollars. You have nothing better to do, so you should fight in Ukraine? Wouldn't it be better to negotiate with Russia? Make an agreement, already understanding the situation that is developing today, realizing that Russia will fight for its interests to the end. And, realizing this, actually return to common sense, start respecting our country and its interests and look for certain solutions. It seems to me that this is much smarter and more rational.

Tucker Carlson: Who blew up Nord Stream?

Vladimir Putin: You, for sure. (L a u g h i n g.)

Tucker Carlson: I was busy that day. I did not blow up Nord Stream.

Vladimir Putin: You personally may have an alibi, but the CIA has no such alibi.

Tucker Carlson: Do you have evidence that NATO or CIA did it?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I won't get into details, but people always say in such cases: ”Look for someone who is interested“. But in this case we should not only look for someone who is interested, but also for someone who has capabilities. Because there may be many people interested, but not all of them are capable of sinking to the bottom of the Baltic Sea and carrying out this explosion. These two components should be connected: who is interested and who is capable of doing it.

Tucker Carlson: But I am confused. I mean, that’s the biggest act of industrial terrorism ever and it’s the largest emission of CO₂ in history. Okay, so, if you had evidence and presumably, given your security services, your intel services, you would, that NATO, the US, CIA, the West did this, why wouldn’t you present it and win a propaganda victory?

Vladimir Putin: In the war of propaganda it is very difficult to defeat the United States because the United States controls all the world’s media and many European media. The ultimate beneficiary of the biggest European media are American financial institutions. Don't you know that? So it is possible to get involved in this work, but it is cost prohibitive, so to speak. We can simply shine the spotlight on our sources of information, and we will not achieve results. It is clear to the whole world what happened, and even American analysts talk about it directly. It's true.

Tucker Carlson: Yes. But here is a question you may be able to answer. You worked in Germany, famously. The Germans clearly know that their NATO partner did this, that they damaged their economy greatly – it may never recover. Why are they being silent about it? That is very confusing to me. Why wouldn’t the Germans say something about it?

Vladimir Putin: This also confuses me. But today's German leadership is guided by the interests of the collective West rather than its national interests, otherwise it is difficult to explain the logic of their action or inaction. After all, it is not only about Nord Stream-1, which was blown up, and Nord Stream-2 was damaged, but one pipe is safe and sound, and gas can be supplied to Europe through it, but Germany does not open it. We are ready, please.

There is another route through Poland, called Yamal-Europe, which also allows for a large flow. Poland has closed it, but Poland pecks from the German hand, it receives money from pan-European funds, and Germany is the main donor to these pan-European funds. Germany feeds Poland to a certain extent. And they closed the route to Germany. Why? I don't understand. Ukraine, to which the Germans supply weapons and give money.

Germany is the second sponsor after the United States in terms of financial aid to Ukraine. There are two gas routes through Ukraine. They simply closed one route, the Ukrainians. Open the second route and, please, get gas from Russia. They do not open it. Why don't the Germans say: ”Look, guys, we give you money and weapons. Open up the valve, please, let the gas from Russia pass through for us.

We are buying liquefied gas at exorbitant prices in Europe, which brings the level of our competitiveness, and economy in general down to zero. Do you want us to give you money? Let us have a decent existence, make money for our economy, because this is where the money we give you comes from“. They refuse to do so. Why? Ask them. (Knocks on the table.) That is what it is like in their heads. Those are highly incompetent people.

Tucker Carlson: Well, maybe the world is breaking into two hemispheres. One with cheap energy, the other without it. And I want to ask you that, if we are now a multipolar world, obviously we are, can you describe the blocs of alliances? Who is in each side, do you think?

Vladimir Putin: Listen, you have said that the world is breaking into two hemispheres. A human brain is divided into two hemispheres: one is responsible for one type of activities, the other one is more about creativity and so on. But it is still one and the same head. The world should be a single whole, security should be shared, rather than meant for the ”golden billion“. That is the only scenario where the world could be stable, sustainable and predictable. Until then, while the head is split into two parts, it is an illness, a serious adverse condition. It is a period of a severe disease that the world is now going through.

But I think that, thanks to honest journalism — this work is akin to work of the doctors, this could somehow be remedied.

Tucker Carlson: Well, let’s just give one example — the US dollar, which has, kind of, united the world in a lot of ways, maybe not to your advantage, but certainly to ours. Is that going away as the reserve currency, the universally accepted currency? How have sanctions, do you think, changed the dollar’s place in the world?

Vladimir Putin: You know, to use the dollar as a tool of foreign policy struggle is one of the biggest strategic mistakes made by the US political leadership. The dollar is the cornerstone of the United States' power. I think everyone understands very well that, no matter how many dollars are printed, they are quickly dispersed all over the world. Inflation in the United States is minimal. It is about 3 or 3.4 per cent, which is, I think, totally acceptable for the US. But they won't stop printing. What does the debt of 33 trillion dollars tell us about? It is about the emission.

Nevertheless, it is the main weapon used by the United States to preserve its power across the world. As soon as the political leadership decided to use the US dollar as a tool of political struggle, a blow was dealt to this American power. I would not like to use any strong language, but it is a stupid thing to do, and a grave mistake.

Look at what is going on in the world. Even the United States' allies are now downsizing their dollar reserves. Seeing this, everyone starts looking for ways to protect themselves. But the fact that the United States applies restrictive measures to certain countries, such as placing restrictions on transactions, freezing assets, etc., causes grave concern and sends a signal to the whole world.

What did we have here? Until 2022, about 80 per cent of Russia's foreign trade transactions were made in US dollars and euros. US dollars accounted for approximately 50 per cent of our transactions with third countries, while currently it is down to 13 per cent. It was not us who banned the use of the US dollar, we had no such intention. It was the decision of the United States to restrict our transactions in US dollars. I think it is a complete foolishness from the point of view of the interests of the United States itself and its tax payers, as it damages the US economy, undermines the power of the United States across the world.

By the way, our transactions in Yuan accounted for about 3 per cent. Today, 34 per cent of our transactions are made in Rubles, and about as much, a little over 34 per cent, in Yuan.

Why did the United States do this? My only guess is self-conceit. They probably thought it would lead to a full collapse, but nothing collapsed. Moreover, other countries, including oil producers, are thinking of and already accepting payments for oil in yuan. Do you even realize what is going on or not? Does anyone in the United States realize this? What are you doing? You are cutting yourself off… all experts say this. Ask any intelligent and thinking person in the United States what the dollar means for the US? You are killing it with your own hands.

Tucker Carlson: I think that is a fair assessment. The question is what comes next? And maybe you trade one colonial power for another, much less sentimental and forgiving colonial power? Is the BRICS, for example, in danger of being completely dominated by the Chinese economy? In a way that is not good for their sovereignty. Do you worry about that?

Vladimir Putin: We have heard those boogeyman stories before. It is a boogeyman story. We are neighbours with China. You cannot choose neighbours, just as you cannot choose close relatives. We share a border of 1000 kilometers with them. This is number one.

Second, we have a centuries-long history of coexistence, we are used to it.

Third, China's foreign policy philosophy is not aggressive, its idea is to always look for compromise, and we can see that.

The next point is as follows. We are always told the same boogeyman story, and here it goes again, though in a euphemistic form, but it is still the same bogeyman story: the cooperation with China keeps increasing. The pace at which China's cooperation with Europe is growing is higher and greater than that of the growth of Chinese-Russian cooperation. Ask Europeans: aren’t they afraid? They might be, I do not know, but they are still trying to access China's market at all costs, especially now that they are facing economic problems. Chinese businesses are also exploring the European market.

Do Chinese businesses have small presence in the United States? Yes, the political decisions are such that they are trying to limit their cooperation with China.

It is to your own detriment, Mr Tucker, that you are limiting cooperation with China, you are hurting yourself. It is a delicate matter, and there are no silver bullet solutions, just as it is with the dollar.

So, before introducing any illegitimate sanctions — illegitimate in terms of the Charter of the United Nations — one should think very carefully. For decision-makers, this appears to be a problem.

Tucker Carlson: So, you said a moment ago that the world would be a lot better if it were not broken into competing alliances, if there was cooperation globally. One of the reasons you don’t have that is because the current American administration is dead set against you. Do you think if there was a new administration after Joe Biden that you would be able to re-establish communication with the US government? Or does it not matter who the President is?

Vladimir Putin: I will tell you. But let me finish the previous thought. We, together with my colleague and friend President Xi Jinping, set a goal to reach 200 billion dollars of mutual trade with China this year. We have exceeded this level. According to our figures, our bilateral trade with China totals already 230 billion, and the Chinese statistics says it is 240 billion dollars.

One more important thing: our trade is well-balanced, mutually complementary in high-tech, energy, scientific research and development. It is very balanced.

As for BRICS, where Russia took over the presidency this year, the BRICS countries are, by and large, developing very rapidly.

Look, if memory serves me right, back in 1992, the share of the G7 countries in the world economy amounted to 47 per cent, whereas in 2022 it was down to, I think, a little over 30 per cent. The BRICS countries accounted for only 16 per cent in 1992, but now their share is greater than that of the G7. It has nothing to do with the events in Ukraine. This is due to the trends of global development and world economy that I mentioned just now, and this is inevitable. This will keep happening, it is like the rise of the sun — you cannot prevent the sun from rising, you have to adapt to it. How do the United States adapt? With the help of force: sanctions, pressure, bombings, and use of armed forces.

This is about self-conceit. Your political establishment does not understand that the world is changing (under objective circumstances), and in order to preserve your level — even if someone aspires, pardon me, to the level of dominance — you have to make the right decisions in a competent and timely manner.

Such brutal actions, including with regard to Russia and, say, other countries, are counterproductive. This is an obvious fact; it has already become evident.

You just asked me if another leader comes and changes something. It is not about the leader, it is not about the personality of a particular person. I had a very good relationship with, say, Bush. I know that in the United States he was portrayed as some kind of a country boy who does not understand much. I assure you that is not the case. I think he made a lot of mistakes with regard to Russia, too. I told you about 2008 and the decision in Bucharest to open the NATO’s doors to for Ukraine and so on. That happened during his presidency. He actually exercised pressure on the Europeans.

But in general, on a personal human level, I had a very good relationship with him. He was no worse than any other American, or Russian, or European politician. I assure you, he understood what he was doing as well as others. I had such personal relationships with Trump as well.

It is not about the personality of the leader, it is about the elites’ mindset. If the idea of domination at any cost, based also on forceful actions, dominates the American society, nothing will change, it will only get worse. But if, in the end, one comes to the awareness that the world has been changing due to objective circumstances, and that one should be able to adapt to them in time, using the advantages that the U.S. still has today, then, perhaps, something may change.

Look, China's economy has become the first economy in the world in purchasing power parity; in terms of volume it overtook the US a long time ago. The USA comes second, then India (one and a half billion people), and then Japan, with Russia in the fifth place. Russia was the first economy in Europe last year, despite all the sanctions and restrictions. Is this normal, from your point of view: sanctions, restrictions, impossibility of payments in dollars, being cut off from SWIFT services, sanctions against our ships carrying oil, sanctions against airplanes, sanctions in everything, everywhere? The largest number of sanctions in the world which are applied – are applied against Russia. And we have become Europe's first economy during this time.

The tools that the US uses don't work. Well, one has to think about what to do. If this realization comes to the ruling elites, then yes, then the first person of the state will act in anticipation of what the voters and the people who make decisions at various levels expect from this person. Then maybe something will change.

Tucker Carlson: But you are describing two different systems. You say that the leader acts in the interests of the voters, but you also say that these decisions are not made by the leader – they are made by the ruling classes. You have run this country for so long, you have known all these American presidents. What are those power centers in the United States, do you think? And who actually makes the decisions?

Vladimir Putin: I don't know. America is a complex country, conservative on the one hand, rapidly changing on the other. It's not easy for us to sort it all out.

Who makes decisions in the elections – is it possible to understand this, when each state has its own legislation, each state regulates itself, someone can be excluded from the elections at the state level. It is a two-stage electoral system, it is very difficult for us to understand it.

Certainly there are two parties that are dominant, the Republicans and the Democrats, and within this party system, the centers that make decisions, that prepare decisions.

Then, look, why, in my opinion, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, such an erroneous, crude, completely unjustified policy of pressure was pursued against Russia? After all, this is a policy of pressure. NATO expansion, support for the separatists in the Caucasus, creation of a missile defense system – these are all elements of pressure. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

Then, dragging Ukraine into NATO is all about pressure, pressure, pressure. Why? I think, among other things, because excessive production capacities were created. During the confrontation with the Soviet Union, there were many centers created and specialists on the Soviet Union, who could not do anything else. It seemed to them, they convinced the political leadership: it is necessary to continue ”chiseling“ Russia, to try to break it up, to create on this territory several quasi-state entities and to subdue them in a divided form, to use their combined potential for the future struggle with China. This is a mistake, including the excessive potential of those who worked for the confrontation with the Soviet Union. It is necessary to get rid of this, there should be new, fresh forces, people who look into the future and understand what is happening in the world.

Look at how Indonesia is developing? 600 million people. Where can we get away from that? Nowhere, we just have to assume that Indonesia will enter (it is already in) the club of the world's leading economies, no matter who likes or dislikes it.

Yes, we understand and are aware that in the United States, despite all the economic problems, the situation is still normal with the economy growing decently, the GDP is growing by 2.5 percent, if I am not mistaken.

But if we want to ensure the future, then we need to change our approach to what is changing. As I already said, the world would nevertheless change regardless of how the developments in Ukraine end. The world is changing. In the United States themselves, experts write that the United States are nonetheless gradually changing their position in the world, it is your experts who write that, I just read them. The only question is how this would happen – painfully and quickly or gently and gradually. And this is written by people who are not anti-American; they simply follow global development trends. That's it.

And in order to assess them and change policies, we need people who think, look forward, can analyze and recommend certain decisions at the level of political leaders.

Tucker Carlson: I just have to ask. You have said clearly that NATO expansion eastward is a violation of the promise you were all made in the 1990s. It is a threat to your country. Right before you sent troops into Ukraine the Vice-President of the United States spoke at the Security Conference and encouraged the President of Ukraine to join NATO. Do you think that was an effort to provoke you into military action?

Vladimir Putin: I repeat once again, we have repeatedly, repeatedly proposed to seek a solution to the problems that arose in Ukraine after the 2014 coup d’etat through peaceful means. But no one listened to us. And moreover, the Ukrainian leaders who were under the complete US control, suddenly declared that they would not comply with the Minsk agreements, they disliked everything there, and continued military activity in that territory.

And in parallel, that territory was being exploited by NATO military structures under the guise of various personnel training and retraining centers. They essentially began to create bases there. That's all.

Ukraine announced that the Russians were (a law was adopted) a non-titular nationality, while passing laws that limit the rights of non-titular nationalities in Ukraine. Ukraine, having received all these southeastern territories as a gift from the Russian people, suddenly announced that the Russians were a non-titular nationality in that territory. Is it normal? All this put together led to the decision to end the war that neo-Nazis started in Ukraine in 2014.

Tucker Carlson: Do you think Zelensky has the freedom to negotiate the settlement to this conflict?

Vladimir Putin: I don’t know the details, of course it’s difficult for me to judge, but I believe he has, in any case, he used to have. His father fought against the fascists, Nazis during World War II, I once talked to him about this. I said: “Volodya, what are you doing? Why are you supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine today, while your father fought against fascism? He was a front-line soldier.” I will not tell you what he answered, this is a separate topic, and I think it’s incorrect for me to do so.

But as to the freedom of choice – why not? He came to power on the expectations of Ukrainian people that he would lead Ukraine to peace. He talked about this, it was thanks to this that he won the election overwhelmingly. But then, when he came to power, in my opinion, he realized two things: firstly, it is better not to clash with neo-Nazis and nationalists, because they are aggressive and very active, you can expect anything from them, and secondly, the US-led West supports them and will always support those who antagonize with Russia – it is beneficial and safe. So he took the relevant position, despite promising his people to end the war in Ukraine. He deceived his voters.

Tucker Carlson: But do you think at this point – as of February 2024 – he has the latitude, the freedom to speak with you or government directly, which would clearly help his country or the world? Can he do that, do you think?

Vladimir Putin: Why not? He considers himself head of state, he won the elections. Although we believe in Russia that the coup d’etat is the primary source of power for everything that happened after 2014, and in this sense, even today’s government is flawed. But he considers himself the president, and he is recognized by the United States, all of Europe and practically the rest of the world in such a capacity – why not? He can.

We negotiated with Ukraine in Istanbul, we agreed, he was aware of this. Moreover, the negotiation group leader, Mr. Arakhamia is his last name, I believe, still heads the faction of the ruling party, the party of the President in the Rada. He still heads the Presidential faction in the Rada, the country’s parliament, he still sits there. He even put his preliminary signature on the document I am telling you about. But then he publicly stated to the whole world: “We were ready to sign this document, but Mr. Johnson, then the Prime Minister of Great Britain, came and dissuaded us from doing this saying it was better to fight Russia. They would give everything needed for us to return what was lost during the clashes with Russia. And we agreed with this proposal.“ Look, his statement has been published. He said this publicly.

Can they return to this or not? The question is: do they want it or not?

Further on, President of Ukraine issued a decree prohibiting negotiations with us. Let him cancel that decree and that’s it. We have never refused negotiations indeed. We hear all the time: is Russia ready? Yes, we have not refused! It was them who publicly refused. Well, let him cancel his decree and enter into negotiations. We have never refused.

And the fact that they obeyed the demand or persuasion of Mr. Johnson, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, seems ridiculous and very sad to me. Because, as Mr. Arakhamia put it: “We could have stopped these hostilities, this war a year and a half ago already. But the British persuaded us, and we refused this.” Where is Mr. Johnson now? And the war continues.

Tucker Carlson: That is a good question. Why did he do that?

Vladimir Putin: Hell knows. I don't understand it myself. There was a general starting point. For some reason, everyone had the illusion that Russia could be defeated on the battlefield. Because of arrogance, because of a pure heart, but not because of a great mind.

Tucker Carlson: You have described the connection between Russia and Ukraine; you have described Russia itself, a couple of times as Orthodox – that is central to your understanding of Russia. What does that mean for you? You are a Cristian leader by your own description. So what effect does that have on you?

Vladimir Putin: You know, as I already mentioned, in 988 Prince Vladimir himself was baptized following the example of his grandmother, Princess Olga, and then he baptized his squad, and then gradually, over the course of several years, he baptized all the Rus. It was a lengthy process – from pagans to Christians, it took many years. But in the end, this Orthodoxy, Eastern Christianity, deeply rooted itself in the consciousness of the Russian people.

When Russia expanded and absorbed other nations who profess Islam, Buddhism and Judaism, Russia has always been very loyal to those people who profess other religions. This is her strength. This is absolutely clear.

And the fact is that the main postulates, main values are very similar, not to say the same, in all world religions I’ve just mentioned and which are the traditional religions of the Russian Federation, Russia. By the way, Russian authorities were always very careful about the culture and religion of those peoples who came into the Russian Empire. This, in my opinion, forms the basis of both security and stability of the Russian statehood – all the peoples inhabiting Russia basically consider it their Motherland.

If, say, people move over to you or to Europe from Latin America – an even clearer and more understandable example – people come, but yet they have come to you or to European countries from their historical homeland. And people who profess different religions in Russia consider Russia their Motherland, they have no other Motherland. We are together, this is one big family. And our traditional values are very similar. I’ve just mentioned one big family, but everyone has his/hers own family, and this is the basis of our society. And if we say that the Motherland and the family are specifically connected with each other, it is indeed the case, since it is impossible to ensure a normal future for our children and our families unless we ensure a normal, sustainable future for the entire country, for the Motherland. That is why patriotic sentiment is so strong in Russia.

Tucker Carlson: Can I say, the one way in which religions are different is that Christianity is specifically a non-violent religion. Jesus says “Turn the other cheek, don’t kill”. How can a leader who has to kill, of any country, how can a leader be a Christian? How do you reconcile that to yourself?

Vladimir Putin: It is very easy: when it comes to protecting oneself and one’s family, one’s homeland. We won’t attack anyone.

When did the developments in Ukraine start? Since the coup d'etat and the hostilities in Donbass began, that’s when they started. And we are protecting our people, ourselves, our homeland and our future.

As for religion in general.

You know, it’s not about external manifestations, it’s not about going to church every day or banging your head on the floor. It is in the heart. And our culture is so human-oriented. Dostoevsky, who is very well known in the West as the genius of Russian culture, Russian literature, spoke a lot about this, about the Russian soul.

After all, Western society is more pragmatic. Russian people think more about the eternal, about moral values. I don’t know, maybe you won’t agree with me, but Western culture is more pragmatic after all.

I’m not saying this is bad, it makes it possible for today’s “golden billion” to achieve good success in production, even in science, and so on. There's nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying that we kind of look the same, but our minds are built a little differently.

Tucker Carlson: So do you see the supernatural at work? As you look out across what’s happening in the world now, do you see God at work? Do you ever think to yourself: these are forces that are not human?

Vladimir Putin: No, to be honest, I don't think so. My opinion is that the development of the world community is in accordance with the inherent laws, and those laws are what they are. It's always been this way in the history of mankind. Some nations and countries rose, became stronger and more numerous, and then left the international stage, losing the status they had accustomed to. There is probably no need for me to give examples, but we could start with Genghis Khan and the Horde conquerors, the Golden Horde, and then end with the Roman Empire.

It seems that there has never been anything like the Roman Empire in the history of mankind. Nevertheless, the potential of the barbarians gradually grew, as did their population. In general, the barbarians were getting stronger and began to develop economically, as we would say today. This eventually led to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the regime imposed by the Romans. However, it took five centuries for the Roman Empire to fall apart. The difference with what is happening now is that all the processes of change are happening at a much faster pace than in Roman times.

Tucker Carlson: So when does the AI empire start do you think?

Vladimir Putin: (Laughing) You are asking increasingly more complicated questions. To answer them, you need to be an expert in big numbers, big data and AI.

Mankind is currently facing many threats. Due to genetic researches, it is now possible to create a superhuman, a specialized human being – a genetically engineered athlete, scientist, military man.

There are reports that Elon Musk has already had a chip implanted in the human brain in the USA.

Tucker Carlson: What do you think of that?

Vladimir Putin: Well, I think there’s no stopping Elon Musk, he will do as he sees fit. Nevertheless, you need to find some common ground with him, search for ways to persuade him. I think he’s a smart person, I truly believe he is. So you need to reach an agreement with him because this process needs to be formalized and subjected to certain rules.

Humanity has to consider what is going to happen due to the newest developments in genetics or in AI. One can make an approximate prediction of what will happen. Once mankind felt an existential threat coming from nuclear weapons, all nuclear nations began to come to terms with one another since they realized that negligent use of nuclear weaponry could drive humanity to extinction.

It is impossible to stop research in genetics or AI today, just as it was impossible to stop the use of gunpowder back in the day. But as soon as we realize that the threat comes from unbridled and uncontrolled development of AI, or genetics, or any other fields, the time wi not a spy, he is a kid and maybe he was breaking a law in some way but he is not a superspy and everybody knows that and he has been held hostage and exchange, which is true, with respect, it’s true and everyone knows it’s true. So maybe he is in a different category, maybe it’s not fair to ask for somebody else in exchange for letting him out. Maybe it degrades Russia to do that.

Vladimir Putin: You know, you can give different interpretations to what constitutes a “spy”, but there are certain things provided by law. If a person gets secret information, and does that in a conspiratorial manner, then this is qualified as espionage. And that is exactly what he was doing. He was receiving classified, confidential information, and he did it covertly. Maybe he had been implicated in that, someone could have dragged him into that, maybe he did that out of carelessness, or on his own initiative. Considering the sheer facts, this is qualified as espionage. The fact has been proven, as he was caught red-handed when he was receiving this information. If it had been some far-fetched excuse, some fabrication, something not proven, it would have been a different story then. But he was caught red-handed when he was secretly getting confidential information. What is it, then?

Tucker Carlson: But are you suggesting he was working for the US government or NATO? Or he was just a reporter who was given material he wasn’t supposed to have? Those seem like very different, very different things.

Vladimir Putin: I don’t know who he was working for. But I would like to reiterate that getting classified information in secret is called espionage, and he was working for the U.S. special services, some other agencies. I don’t think that he was working for Monaco, as Monaco is hardly interested in getting that information. It is up to the special services to come to an agreement. Some groundwork has been laid. There are people who, in our view, are not connected with special services.

Let me tell you a story about a person serving a sentence in an allied country of the U.S. That person, due to patriotic sentiments, eliminated a bandit in one of the European capitals. During the events in the Caucasus, do you know what he [bandit] was doing? I don’t want to say that, but I will do it anyway. He was laying our soldiers, taken prisoner, on the road and then he drove his car over their heads. What kind of a person is that? Can he be even called a human? But there was a patriot who eliminated him in one of the European capitals. Whether he did that of his own volition or not, that is a different question.

Tucker Carlson: Evan Gershkovich, that’s a completely different, I mean, this is a thirty-two year old newspaper reporter.

Vladimir Putin: He committed something different.

Tucker Carlson: He is just a journalist

Vladimir Putin: He is not just a journalist, I reiterate, he is a journalist who was secretly getting confidential information.

Yes, it is different, but still, I am talking about other people who are essentially controlled by the U.S. authorities wherever they are serving a sentence. There is an ongoing dialogue between the special services. This has to be resolved in a calm, responsible and professional manner. They are keeping in touch, so let them do their work.

I do not rule out that the person you referred to, Mister Gershkovich, may return to his motherland. By the end of the day, it does not make any sense to keep him in prison in Russia. We want the U.S. special services to think about how they can contribute to achieving the goals our special services are pursuing. We are ready to talk. Moreover, the talks are underway, and there have been many successful examples of these talks crowned with success. Probably this is going to be crowned with success as well, but we have to come to an agreement.

Tucker Carlson: I hope you’ll let him out. Mister President, thank you!

Vladimir Putin: I also want him to return to his homeland at last. I am absolutely sincere. But let me say once again, the dialogue continues. The more public we render things of this nature, the more difficult it becomes to resolve them. Everything has to be done in a calm manner.

Tucker Carlson: I wonder if that’s true with the war though also, I mean, I guess I want to ask one more question which is, and maybe you don’t want to say so for strategic reasons, but are you worried that what’s happening in Ukraine could lead to something much larger and much more horrible and how motivated are you just to call the US government and say “let’s come to terms”?

Vladimir Putin: I already said that we did not refuse to talk. We are willing to negotiate. It is the Western side, and Ukraine is obviously a satellite state of the U.S. It is evident. I do not want you to take it as if I am looking for a strong word or an insult, but we both understand what is happening.

The financial support, 72 billion U.S. dollars, was provided. Germany ranks second, then other European countries come. Dozens of billions of U.S. dollars are go to Ukraine. There is a huge influx of weapons.

In this case you should tell the current Ukrainian leadership to stop and come to the negotiating table, rescind this absurd decree. We did not refuse.

Tucker Carlson: Well, sure, you have already said it — I didn’t think you meant it as an insult — because you have already said, correctly, it's been reported that Ukraine was prevented from negotiating peace settlement by the former British prime-minister acting on behalf of the Biden administration. Of course, it's our satellite, big countries control small countries, that's not new. And that is why I asked about dealing directly with the Biden administration, which is making these decisions, not president Zelensky of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin: Well, if the Zelensky administration in Ukraine refused to negotiate, I assume that they did it under the instruction from Washington. If Washington believes it to be the wrong decision, let it abandon it, let it find a delicate excuse so that no one is insulted, let it come up with a way out. It was not us who made this decision, it was them, so let them go back on it. That is it.

However, they made the wrong decision and now we have to look for a way out of this situation, to correct their mistakes. They did it so let them correct it themselves. We support this.

Tucker Carlson: So, I just want to make sure I am not misunderstanding what you are saying — and I don't think that I am — I think you are saying you want a negotiated settlement to what's happening in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin: Right. And we made it, we prepared a huge document in Istanbul that was initialed by the head of the Ukrainian delegation. He affixed his signature to some of the provisions, not to all of it. He put his signature and then he himself said: “We were ready to sign it and the war would have been over long ago, eighteen months ago. However, Prime Minister Johnson came, talked us out of it and we missed that chance.” Well, you missed it, you made a mistake, let them get back to that, that is all. Why do we have to bother ourselves and correct somebody else’s mistakes?

I know one can say it is our mistake, it was us who intensified the situation and decided to put an end to the war that started in 2014 in Donbas, as I have already said, by means of weapons. Let me get back to further in history, I already told you this, we were just discussing it. Let us go back to 1991 when we were promised that NATO would not be expanded, to 2008 when the doors to NATO opened, to the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine declaring Ukraine a neutral state. Let us go back to the fact that NATO and US military bases started to appear on the territory of Ukraine creating threats for us. Let us go back to coup d'état in Ukraine in 2014. It is pointless though, isn’t it? We may go back and forth endlessly. But they stopped negotiations. Is it a mistake? Yes. Correct it. We are ready. What else is needed?

Tucker Carlson: Do you think it is too humiliating at this point for NATO to accept Russian control of what was two years ago Ukrainian territory?

Vladimir Putin: I said let them think how to do it with dignity. There are options if there is a will.

Up until now there has been the uproar and screaming about inflicting a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield. Now they are apparently coming to realize that it is difficult to achieve, if possible at all. In my opinion, it is impossible by definition, it is never going to happen. It seems to me that now those who are in power in the West have come to realize this as well. If so, if the realization has set in, they have to think what to do next. We are ready for this dialogue.

Tucker Carlson: Would you be willing to say, ”Congratulations, NATO, you won?“ And just keep the situation where it is now?

Vladimir Putin: You know, it is a subject matter for the negotiations no one is willing to conduct or, to put it more accurately, they are willing but do not know how to do it. I know they want. It is not just I see it but I know they do want it but they are struggling to understand how to do it. They have driven the situation to the point where we are at. It is not us who have done that, it is our partners, opponents who have done that. Well, now let them think how to reverse the situation. We are not against it.

It would be funny if it were not so sad. This endless mobilization in Ukraine, the hysteria, the domestic problems – sooner or later it all will result in an agreement. You know, this will probably sound strange given the current situation but the relations between the two peoples will be rebuilt anyway. It will take a lot of time but they will heal.

I will give you very unusual examples. There is a combat encounter on the battlefield, here is a specific example: Ukrainian soldiers got encircled (this is an example from real life), our soldiers were shouting to them: “There is no chance! Surrender yourselves! Come out and you will be alive!” Suddenly the Ukrainian soldiers were screaming from there in Russian, perfect Russian, saying: “Russians do not surrender!” and all of them perished. They still identify themselves as Russian.

What is happening is, to a certain extent, an element of a civil war. Everyone in the West thinks that the Russian people have been split by hostilities forever. No. They will be reunited. The unity is still there.

Why are the Ukranian authorities dismantling the Ukranian Orthodox Church? Because it brings together not only the territory, it brings together our souls. No one will be able to separate the soul.

Shall we end here or there is anything else?

Tucker Carlson: Thank you, Mr. President.

Source
here (09.02.24). ..........................................................................................................
Picture: Valerii Zaluzhny (Ukraine) and Valery Gerasimov (Russia).
Picture: Geowars. US, Ukraine, Syria and Libya. Sunday 17th December 2023.
Picture: The standard of living of European Union citizens.
Picture: The US and Ukraine - Friday 10th November 2023.
Picture: Russia, Turkey, NATO and Ukraine. October 2023.
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During her appearance at a meeting hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), NATO nuclear policy director Jessica Cox revealed that the Alliance did not agree to Ukraine’s membership.

Volodymir Zelensky spoke of a “humiliation”. Previously a UK rogue-faction operator had assured him that his country’s accession would be a mere formality. That UK operator has since been comprehensively and visibly removed from public office. And the now non-existent country once known as Ukraine is no longer credible as a legally-defined sovereign nation with legitimate or stable borders.

Russia, which had announced that it would interpret Ukraine’s accession as a declaration of war, did not comment on NATO's decision.

Online source
here (29.10.23).
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Picture: Are Western-sourced weapons being used against Israeli forces in Gaza?
Picture: The old agreement between the Czar of Russia and Frederick the Great.
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Vladimir Putin: It is extremely important for us that Ukraine stays outside any blocs.

On Monday 16th October 2023, just before he left for meetings and top-level geopolitical talks in China, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, gave an interview to Wang Guan of the China Media Group. The interview took place in The Kremlin, Moscow. One of the topics covered was Ukraine and NATO.

Vladimir Putin: The security of one group of states cannot be built at the expense of the security of other states. Security needs to be the same for everyone.

In this context, it is extremely important for us that Ukraine stays outside any blocs.

We were told as far back as 1991 - by the then US Administration - that NATO would not expand further east. Since then, there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and every time we expressed our concerns. Every time we were told: yes, we promised you not to expand NATO eastwards, but those were verbal promises - is there any paper with our signature on it? No paper? Good-bye.

You see, it is very difficult to engage in a dialogue with people like that.

Fuller coverage
here: (16.10.23).
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Picture: Poland and Ukraine are at Loggerheads.
Picture: Ukraine, Zelensky and Stepan Bandera.
Picture: Biden, Zelensky, US, Ukraine and Russia. Saturday 19th August 2023.
Picture: Ukraine, NATO and Zelensky. Monday 17th July 2023.
The USA and Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin of Russia and Belarus. #1ab
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By the early morning of Sunday 25th June 2023, European time, it had become clear that the Prigozhin tantrum in Southern Russia had fizzled out, the roads were open again, and the Western mainstream media's attempt at another Russophobic psyop had failed spectacularly in less than 48 hours.

AltNews background coverage here (24.06.23), here (24.06.23), here (24.06.23), here (24.06.23), here (24.06.23) and here (25.06.23).


A suggestion that US Rogue Faction AI may have been involved in setting up the Russophobic Wagner-Prigozhin psyop is introduced here (26.06.23) and here (26.06.23).

And Thierry Meyssan (France) reports that contrary to comments in the Western press, Yevgeny Prigozhin never attempted a coup against Vladimir Putin. He simply wanted to blackmail him in order to preserve the exorbitant privileges he had accumulated since the creation of his private military company, Wagner. Subsequently, he came to his senses and returned to post without a fight. More here (27.06.23). 
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Picture: Ukraine, NATO and Russia. Saturday 10th June 2023.
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Contrary to most up-page reports in the Western mass media, in six days, the Western weapons amassed by the Ukrainian army were virtually all destroyed (ammunition, tanks and aircraft). The human toll exacted by Ukraine’s catastrophic counter-offensive was beyond counting.

The Ukrainian army crumbled along the first line of Russian defense and could not make it to the second, despite seven successive waves of attack to penetrate them, the last one being on the night of 9th/10th June 2023.

VoltaireNet's preliminary report is here (10.06.23).
Subsequent reports from the same source can be found here (12.06.23), here (13.06.23), here (13.06.23), here (15.06.23), here (16.06.23) and here (20.06.23).
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Picture: US, Ukraine and the Nord Stream pipeline.
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According to a Discord Leaks document, which the Washington Post picked up from a friend of Jack Teixeira, the CIA got wind of a Ukrainian plan to sabotage Nord Stream in June 2022.

The CIA allegedly shared this information with the German BND Intelligence service before 26 September 2022, when the sabotage was carried out, which Intelligence officers reportedly confirmed.

Simultaneously, a private expedition, in which a journalist from The Grayzone participated, found a diving boot at the scene of the attack identical to those used by Ukrainian combat swimmers.

In December 2022, several senior European and US officials had declared that there was no incriminating evidence against Russia.

The saboteurs purportedly acted under the direct orders of General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armies, and of his deputy, integral nationalist Dmytro Yarosh.

Contrary to what might appear at first glance, this development does not let the United States off the hook, considering that Dmytro Yarosh is a historical member of NATO’s secret service. He has carried out a number of covert operations on behalf of the Atlantic Alliance against Russia since the 2000s.

The Nord Stream gas pipelines are owned by an international Russian-German-French-Dutch consortium. Consequently, the sabotage of this infrastructure constitutes an act of war against Russia, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

The original VoltaireNet article with supporting links is here (07.06.23).

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Picture: Our generation's Winston Churchill.
Picture: China, Ukraine and the West. Tuesday 30th May 2023.
Picture: Ukraine, Poland, Turkey and Russia. Monday 22nd May 2023.
Picture: Ukraine and US endgame. May 2023.
Picture: US and Ukraine. Wednesday 3rd May 2023.
Picture: Escobar on US, Ukraine, Russia and China.
Picture: Has the Ukraine trap now placed the US on a suicidal course?
Facts, Truth, the US and Ukraine. #1ab
Picture: The global community, Ukraine and Russia.
Picture: Geopolitics - China, US and Ukraine.
Picture: Geopolitics - China and the US in 2023.
Picture: The United States of America and the Vatican.
Picture: Russia, Ukraine and the ICC. Wednesday 22nd March 2023.
Picture: China and Russia 2023. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.
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On Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st March 2023, Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, paid a state visit to Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.

After a series of talks in the Kremlin, Moscow, the two leaders issued press statements. Most of the talks concerned matters to do with bilateral relations, cultural and education exchanges, trade, currency swaps, technology transfers and global governance. The Ukraine settlement was also touched on, and those parts of the leaders' press statements which related to this follow here:

Vladimir Putin: When discussing topical international and regional problems, the President and I affirmed that Russia and China’s views on them are identical or very close.

We noted the rise of tensions in many regions of the world, and the accumulation of conflict and crisis potential in the global economy and politics. We can see that the practice of applying illegitimate, politically biased sanctions and other restrictions, and the use of other means of unfair competition in the economic struggle is expanding.

Seemingly unshakable principles, such as non-interference in internal affairs, the rights of countries to a sovereign model of development, freedom of trade, access to modern technologies and even to education, are being violated. And in this context, Russia and China strongly oppose any state or bloc seeking to harm the legitimate interests of any other country in order to obtain military, political and economic advantages.

Of course, we did not ignore developments around Ukraine. We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when the West and Kiev are ready for it.

However, so far, we have not seen such readiness on their part. Moreover, I was just informed that while the Chinese President and I were discussing the possibility of implementing the Chinese peace plan - and the Chinese President devoted considerable attention to his peace initiatives during our one-on-one conversation yesterday - the UK deputy defence minister announced that the United Kingdom would supply not only tanks to Ukraine, but also depleted uranium shells.

It seems that the West really has decided to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian - no longer in words, but in deeds. But in this regard, I would like to note that if all this comes to pass, then Russia will have to respond accordingly. What I mean is that the collective West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component.

At the same time, I would like to emphasise that Russia and China pursue an independent and sovereign foreign policy. We jointly work to create a more just and democratic multipolar world order, which should be based on the central role of the UN, its Security Council, international law, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Xi Jinping: Regarding the Ukraine settlement, I would like to emphasise that we have always upheld our unwavering commitment to the goals and principles of the UN Charter, adopting an objective and unbiased position. We have been proactive in promoting reconciliation and the resumption of talks. In our approach, we proceed from the essence of the matter in question and only seek the truth. We always support peace and dialogue, and firmly stand on the right side of history.

Text source here (21.03.23).
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Picture: Geopolitics - Is it time to call the Great Satan a threat to Russia?
Picture: Ukraine and NATO - Tuesday 14th March 2023.
Picture: Rogue faction mass media distractions 2020-2023?
Picture: UK, Russia, China and Ukraine. Monday 30th January 2023.
Picture: Europe, US, Russia and Ukraine. Monday 30th January 2023.
Picture: Europe, Germany and Russia. January 2023.
Picture: The changing geopolitics of the West. Tuesday 22nd November 2022.
Picture: Russia and Ukraine. Tuesday 15th November 2022.
Picture: Russia, Ukraine and the USA Military. Friday 11th November 2022.
Picture: Avoiding nuclear war in Ukraine and Russia.
Picture: Ukraine and Russia. Moscow - Friday 30th September 2022.

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Signing of treaties on accession of Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics and Zaporozhye and Kherson regions to Russia

On Friday 30th September 2022, a ceremony for signing the treaties on the accession of the Donetsk People's Republic, the Lugansk People's Republic, the Zaporozhye Region and the Kherson Region to the Russian Federation took place at St George's Hall in the Kremlin, Moscow.

At the ceremony the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, spoke as follows:

Citizens of Russia, citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, deputies of the State Duma, senators of the Russian Federation,

As you know, referendums have been held in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. The ballots have been counted and the results have been announced. The people have made their unequivocal choice.

Today we will sign treaties on the accession of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Lugansk People’s Republic, Zaporozhye Region and Kherson Region to the Russian Federation.

I have no doubt that the Federal Assembly will support the constitutional laws on the accession to Russia and the establishment of four new regions, our new constituent entities of the Russian Federation, because this is the will of millions of people.

It is undoubtedly their right, an inherent right sealed in Article 1 of the UN Charter, which directly states the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

I repeat, it is an inherent right of the people. It is based on our historical affinity, and it is that right that led generations of our predecessors, those who built and defended Russia for centuries since the period of Ancient Rus, to victory.

Here in Novorossiya, Pyotr Rumyantsev, Alexander Suvorov and Fyodor Ushakov fought their battles, and Catherine the Great and Grigory Potyomkin founded new cities. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought here to the bitter end during the Great Patriotic War.

We will always remember the heroes of the Russian Spring, those who refused to accept the neo-Nazi coup d'état in Ukraine in 2014, all those who died for the right to speak their native language, to preserve their culture, traditions and religion, and for the very right to live.

We remember the soldiers of Donbass, the martyrs of the “Odessa Khatyn,” the victims of inhuman terrorist attacks carried out by the Kiev regime.

We commemorate volunteers and militiamen, civilians, children, women, senior citizens, Russians, Ukrainians, people of various nationalities; popular leader of Donetsk Alexander Zakharchenko; military commanders Arsen Pavlov and Vladimir Zhoga, Olga Kochura and Alexei Mozgovoy; prosecutor of the Lugansk Republic Sergei Gorenko; paratrooper Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov and all our soldiers and officers who died a hero’s death during the special military operation. They are heroes. Heroes of great Russia.

The full text of Vladimir Putin's speech is here (30.09.22).

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Picture: Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Autumn 2022.
Picture: Official spokesman for Ukraine 2022.
Picture: Ukraine and Russia. Wednesday 21st September 2022.
Picture: Ukraine and Russia. Monday 12th September 2022.
Picture: The Chinese government comments on Ukraine.
Picture: Germany, US and Russia. Saturday 20th August 2022.
Picture: Russia, Ukraine and NATO. Sunday 7th August 2022.
Picture: Possible future Ukraine map.
Picture: Russia and Ukraine. Tuesday 26th July 2022.
Picture: UK, Russia and Ukraine. Monday 25th July 2022.
Picture: Who is training the Ukrainian fighters to use western weapons?
Picture: Ukraine, US and Russia. Saturday 16th July 2022.
Picture: Arms dealing in Ukraine. Thursday 14th July 2022.
Picture: Monday 4th July 2022. Bloomberg on the Russian ruble.
Picture: Russia, Ukraine, US and EU. Monday 20th June 2022.
Picture: President of Mexico on the US, NATO and Ukraine.
Picture: The US, Ukraine and Russia. Tuesday 31st May 2022.
Picture: The US and Ukraine - 2016.
Picture: The US and Ukraine - 2014
Picture: Mariupol (Ukraine). Saturday 21st May 2022. (1)
Picture: Mariupol (Ukraine). Saturday 21st May 2022. (2)
Picture: Twitter censorship in Germany? Thursday 12th May 2022.
Picture: Canada and Russia in Ukraine. Tuesday 10th May 2022.
Picture: Canada and Russia in Mariupol (Ukraine). Tuesday 3rd May 2022.
Picture: Ten European gas buyers open Gazprom rubles accounts (27th April 2022).
French journalist returns from Ukraine. Wednesday 13th April 2022. #1ab
Picture: Mariupol (Ukraine). Wednesday 13th April 2022.
Picture: Mariupol (Ukraine). Wednesday 13th April 2022.
Picture: Ukraine and the Bucha meme. What actually happened?
Picture: Ukraine and the Bucha meme. What actually happened?
Picture: Ukraine and the Bucha meme. What actually happened?
Picture: Red Cross problems in Ukraine. Monday 28th March 2022.
Picture: Moscow and Kiev organise prisoner exchanges. March 2022.
Picture: DPR and Russian forces capture Mariupol airport.
Picture: Three American military instructors killed in the Donbass (Ukraine).
Picture: Ukrainian soldier - Tuesday 15th March 2022.
Picture: Russia, Germany and France discuss Ukraine.
Picture: American, Asian, and Spanish Primary Asset Base Accounts United.
Picture: Russian embassy (UK). Thursday 10th March 2022.
Picture: Ukraine, Biden and Zelensky. Monday 7th March 2022.
Picture: Russia and Ukraine. Monday 7th March 2022.
Picture: Problems with Ukraine’s negotiation team. Monday 7th March 2022.
Picture: Ukraine and Russia. Monday 7th March 2022.
Picture: The US, Ukraine and Russia. March 2022.
Picture: Eastern European visitor in Miami (USA).
Picture: There's a way out of the matrix!
Russia announces ceasefire and humanitarian corridors in Ukraine.
Picture: Ukraine, Greystone and the Aidar Battalion. March 2022. #1ab
Picture: European security - Biolabs (February 2022).
Picture: Ron Paul (US) - The Ukraine problem all comes back to NATO.
Picture: European security talks in Gomel, Belarus. 28th February 2022.
Picture: The US, Ukraine and Russia. February 2022. #1ab
Picture: Russia and Ukraine peace process.
Picture: The demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine (2022).
Picture: Pepe Escobar on Putin, Russia and Ukraine.

Picture: Alexander Panin and Simon Parkes on Russia and Ukraine.

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Following here, this page offers a compilation of most of Vladimir Putin's public comments on the Russia-Ukraine situation made during the period June-September 2021, and published on his official Kremlin English-language website here.

Eight substantive Russian government documents are cited and linked below. The text emphases in bold font are ours.

Picture: Putin (Russia) talks to NBC (USA). Friday 11th June 2021; Kremlin, Moscow. .........................................................................................................................
11.06.21
On Friday 11th June 2021, for the first time in three years, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, gave an interview to an American television network. In the Kremlin, Moscow, he spoke at length to Keir Simmons of NBC.

One of the topics touched on in that Kremlin exchange was the situation sometimes described as the Russia-Ukraine frozen conflict. The full text of that particular part of the interview follows here:

NBC: In the case of neighbouring Ukraine earlier this year, the European Union said you had more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. Was that an attempt to get Washington's attention?

Putin: Look, first, Ukraine itself constantly - and I think is still doing that - kept bringing personnel and military equipment to the conflict area in the southeast of Ukraine, Donbass. That's one. Two is that we conducted exercises in our territory and not just in the south of the Russian Federation but also in the Far East and in the north, in the Arctic.

Simultaneously, military exercises were being held in different parts of the Russian Federation. At the same time, the US was conducting military exercises in Alaska. Do you know anything about it? Probably not. But I'll tell you that I do know. And that is in direct proximity to our borders. But that's in your territory, on your land. We didn't even pay attention to it.

What is happening now? Now, at our southern borders, there is a war game, Defender Europe, 40,000 personnel, 15,000 units of military equipment. Part of them have been airlifted from the US continent directly to our borders. Did we airlift any of our military technology to the US borders? No, we did not.

NBC: Many of those…

Putin: Why are you worried then?

NBC: But many of those exercises are a response to your actions, Mr President. Do you worry that your opposition to NATO has actually strengthened it? For six years, NATO has spent more on defence.

Putin: Some defence. During the USSR era, Gorbachev, who is still, thank God, with us, got a promise, a verbal promise that there would be no NATO expansion to the east. Where is that…

NBC: Where is that…

Putin: …promise? Two ways of expansion.

NBC: Where is that written down? Where is that promise written down?

Putin: Right, right. Well done. Correct. You’ve got a point. Got you good. Well, congratulations. Of course, everything should be sealed and written on paper. But what was the point of expanding NATO to the east and bringing this infrastructure to our borders, and all of this before saying that we are the ones who have been acting aggressively?

Why? On what basis? Did Russia after the USSR collapsed present any threat to the US or European countries? We voluntarily withdrew our troops from Eastern Europe. Leaving them just on empty land. Our people there, military personnel for decades lived there in what was not normal conditions, including their children.

We went to tremendous expenses. And what did we get in response? We got in response infrastructure next to our borders. And now, you are saying that we are threatening somebody. We're conducting war games on a regular basis, including sometimes surprise military exercises. Why should it worry the NATO partners? I just don't understand that.

NBC: Will you commit now not to send any further Russian troops into Ukrainian sovereign territory?

Putin: Look, did we say that we were planning to send our armed formations anywhere? We were conducting war games in our territory. How can this not be clear? I'm saying it again because I want your audience to hear it, your listeners to hear it both on the screens of their televisions and on the internet.

We conducted military exercises in our territory. Imagine if we sent our troops into direct proximity to your borders. What would have been your response? We didn't do that. We did it in our territory. You conducted war games in Alaska. God bless you. But you had crossed an ocean, brought thousands of personnel, thousands of units of military equipment close to our borders, and yet you believe that we are acting aggressively and somehow you're not acting aggressively. Just look at that. The pot calling the kettle black.

The complete text of that Kremlin interview can be found here (14.06.21).

16.06.21
Five days later, on Wednesday 16th June 2021, Vladimir Putin was in Europe on geopolitical business. Stopping off in Geneva, he gave a substantive news conference to the global media. The subject of Ukraine came up in a number of questions. Vladimir Putin's responses included the following:

Question: Ukraine is of great interest. In what context was it touched upon, was the situation in Donbass and the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO discussed?

Putin: With regard to Ukraine, indeed, this issue was touched upon. I cannot say that it was done in great detail, but as far as I understood President Biden, he agreed that the Minsk agreements should be the basis for a settlement in southeastern Ukraine.

As for Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO, this issue was touched upon in passing. I suppose there is nothing to discuss in this respect.

Question: Did you commit to stopping threatening Ukraine’s security? Remember the reason this summit was called in the first place, or the timing of it, was when Russia was building up lots of forces close to border.

Putin: With regard to our obligations regarding Ukraine, we have only one obligation which is to facilitate the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. If the Ukrainian side is willing to do this, we will take this path, no questions asked.

By the way, I would like to note the following. Back in November 2020, the Ukrainian delegation presented its views about how it was planning to implement the Minsk Agreements. Please take a look at the Minsk Agreements - they are not a confidential document.

They say that, first, it is necessary to submit proposals on the political integration of Donbass into the Ukrainian legal system and the Constitution. To do so, it is necessary to amend the Constitution - this is spelled out in the agreements. This is the first point. And second, the border between the Russian Federation and Ukraine along the Donbass line will begin to be occupied by the border troops of Ukraine on the day following election day - Article 9.

What has Ukraine come up with? The first step it proposed was to move Ukraine’s armed forces back to their permanent stations. What does this mean? This means Ukrainian troops would enter Donbass. This is the first point. Second, they proposed closing the border between Russia and Ukraine in this area. Third, they proposed holding elections three months after these two steps.

You do not need a legal background or any special training to understand that this has nothing to do with the Minsk Agreements. This completely contradicts the Minsk Agreements. Therefore, what kind of additional obligations can Russia assume? I think the answer is clear.

With regard to military exercises, we conduct them on our territory, just like the United States conducts many of its exercises on its territory. But we are not bringing our equipment and personnel closer to the state borders of the United States of America when we conduct our exercises. Unfortunately, this is what our US partners are doing now. So, the Russian side, not the American side, should be concerned about this, and this also needs to be discussed, and our respective positions should be clarified.

Question: it is believed in the West that unpredictability is a feature of the Russian foreign policy. Are you ready to give up unpredictability for the sake of improving relations with the West?

Putin: You are a famous wordsmith who has reached a high degree of perfection in this field; this is to be envied. In the first part of your question, you said “it is believed in the West.” In the second part, you asked if we are ready to give this up. If something is believed in the West, this does not mean that it is true.

.... take the situation with Ukraine and Crimea - is it a song and dance situation? Was it for the sake of stability that coup d’état was supported in Ukraine after former President Yanukovych had agreed to accept all demands of the opposition? He was actually ready to step down and to hold new elections in three months. But no, it was decided to stage a bloody coup d’état, which has led to the consequences everyone is aware of, in the southeast of Ukraine and later in Crimea.

And you say we are unpredictable? No, I don’t think so. In my opinion, we are responding absolutely adequately to the arising threats. I believe that for the situation to be really stable we should coordinate the rules of conduct in all the spheres you have mentioned: strategic stability, cyber security, and the settlement of regional conflicts.

The complete text of that Geneva news conference can be found here (16.06.21).

23.06.21
The following week, on Wednesday 23rd June 2021 in Russia, the Moscow Conference on International Security took place. Vladimir Putin gave a video address to the participants and guests. The text of that address was as follows:

Ladies and gentlemen, foreign guests, welcome to the 9th Moscow Conference on International Security.

Your representative forum is dedicated to the critical issues of the modern military-political agenda. Strengthening security on the planet and the sustainable development of our civilisation depend on their resolution and on the productive search for effective joint responses to common challenges.

However, unfortunately, geopolitical processes are becoming increasingly turbulent despite isolated positive signals. The erosion of international law continues as well. The attempts to use force to push through one’s own interests and to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of the security of others continue unabated.

Regional armed conflicts, the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the activity of cross-border criminal groups, drug trafficking and cybercriminals are causing us serious concern. International terrorism continues to pose a particular threat.

To reiterate, the scale and the global nature of the above challenges require that all states join their efforts. Of course, this collective work must be based on international law and the UN Charter goals and principles.

Since its inception, the UN has been and remains the foundation of the international relations system. The main objective of this authoritative and internationally recognised organisation is to prevent a global conflict, a new world war.

Any new rules should be formulated under the auspices of the UN. All other avenues will lead to chaos and unpredictability.

Yesterday, we marked the mournful date – 80 years since Nazi Germany invaded our country. For us, the lessons of the Great Patriotic War have a special price, and we will do our best to guarantee peace and security for the people of Russia, improve our Armed Forces and, of course, use the opportunities offered by diplomacy and conduct a meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders.

We never dictate our will to other countries, and are willing to participate in addressing global and regional challenges and to expand creative cooperation with all countries on equal terms using political and diplomatic methods.

(Here in Russia) we are developing our defence potential based on the principle of reasonable sufficiency and we are not seeking a determining, unilateral military advantage or a balance-of-forces edge in our favour, all the more so in such a sensitive sphere as strategic stability. But we will never allow anyone to pull the balance over to themselves.

Our efforts are aimed at reducing the risks, ensuring predictability, and solving differences via dialogue and concrete agreements, including in the field of arms control.

I would like to remind you in this connection that earlier Russia suggested developing a new “security equation.” It should take into account all the factors influencing strategic stability in their interconnection. We are confident that political will and readiness to compromise can produce a positive effect. Clear evidence of this is Russia and the United States extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty until 2026.

Naturally, we cannot but be concerned over the continuous build-up of NATO’ military potentials and infrastructure in the vicinity of Russian borders, as well as over the fact that the (NATO) Alliance is refusing to consider in a constructive manner our proposals on de-escalating the tension and reducing the risk of unpredictable incidents. We really do hope that common sense together with the desire to promote constructive relations with Russia will eventually prevail.

Settlement of regional conflict is an important aspect of efforts to ensure global security. Russia is active in assisting this. Our military aid helped to liberate the greater part of Syrian territory from international terrorists and to prevent the disintegration of the Syrian state. The political and diplomatic work within the Astana format that is pursued jointly with Turkey and Iran has made it possible to start the process of Syrian settlement under the UN aegis.

Russia’s decisive contribution helped to stop the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Russian peacekeepers reliably guarantee peace and security in the region. They are doing a lot to improve the humanitarian situation, clear territories of landmines and rebuild the social infrastructure.

Russia never forgets its responsibility for the security and prosperity of neighbouring countries, with which we are brought together by inextricable historical, cultural and human ties.

We intend to continue promoting the de-escalation of regional conflicts and strengthening peace and stability on our common continent.

In conclusion, I would like to wish you every success with your work and all the best. I am confident that the participants at this conference are going to have some interesting discussions and that the resulting proposals and initiatives will serve to strengthen international security and stability.

Thank you for your attention.

Source here (23.06.21).

30.06.21
Then at the end of that same month, on Wednesday 30th June 2021, Vladimir Putin was in action again, this time hosting his annual special Direct Line on Russian TV and radio. As usual this was very long, wide-ranging and detailed. Many domestic and geopolitical issues were addressed. One of the topics touched on was Ukraine:

Question: Mr President, we understand that you are now immune to the coronavirus and, probably, to some unfriendly countries. We have received the following question as an SMS message via the number 04040 from Igor Oboimov in Moscow: Why is Ukraine not listed among these unfriendly countries? And here is another message on the same subject: Will you meet with President Zelensky?

Putin: Why is Ukraine not listed among unfriendly countries? This is because I do not regard Ukraine as a country unfriendly towards Russia. I have noted many times, and I can repeat once again that, in my opinion, Ukrainians and Russians are a single people.

See for yourself: The Jews come to Israel from Africa, Europe, and other countries. Black people arrive from Africa, right? Those arriving from Europe speak Yiddish, rather than Hebrew. Although they are diverse, the Jewish people, nevertheless, cherishes its unity.

Well, Israel is far away. We have the Mordvins, one of Russia’s indigenous ethnic groups. This people is subdivided into the Erzya, Moksha and Shoksha ethnic groups, and there are three other ethnic groups. However, all of them consider themselves part of the Mordvin people.

Although they speak the language of one ethnic group, the Erzya and the Moksha do not understand each other. Their respective languages are more different than the Russian and Ukrainian languages, but they cherish their unity. There are several reasons why.

First, they are smart, and they realise that a breakup yields no positive results and simply weakens an ethnic group. There are also external factors to consider.

What do I mean? Since the Middle Ages, efforts have always been made to divide and break up the Russian people. Rzeczpospolita launched this policy because Poland itself wanted to become a great power. Consequently, it tried to split up all nearby ethnic groups around itself. Austro-Hungary continued this policy in the run-up to World War I. But we have to understand this.

How did this country interpret ethnic aspects in the past? There were the Great Russians, the White Russians and the Little Russians. Sometime later, they started dividing the single Russian people under the influence of external factors, and the Bolsheviks also contributed to this process.

Unfortunately, we cannot discuss this matter in great detail. By the way, I have thought it over, I will write a separate analytical article, and I will set forth my view of this subject. And I hope that people in Russia and Ukraine will read it.

Question: Because people just do not know many things, do not know the history?

Putin: Of course, people have no interest in that; they are living in a world of their own. But this is important for all of us.

So, I do not regard the Ukraine people unfriendly. Nothing of the kind. Russians and Ukrainians are a single people. But the Ukrainian leadership, the current authorities of modern Ukraine are clearly unfriendly to us. This is perfectly obvious.

Otherwise there is no explanation for the draft law submitted by the Ukrainian President to the Verkhovna Rada, the law on indigenous peoples under which Russians are not an indigenous people in that territory. It defies comprehension. Russians have lived there for centuries, and now they have been declared as non-indigenous people.

What can this lead to? As a result, part of these people could emigrate. But where would they go? They have flats, jobs and so on in Ukraine. And so they will have to reregister [as Ukrainians], because they would be second-class citizens otherwise. This would reduce the overall number of Russians. This effect will be comparable to the negative impact of weapons of mass destruction. This is serious. This is pushing the Russian language out of everyday life.

You see, there are narrow-minded people and far-right nationalists everywhere; they exist in Russia and also in Ukraine. They are acting in all sincerity, but not wisely. The results of their activities will be destructive. This also concerns the suppression of the opposition in Ukraine.

Viktor Medvedchuk, whom I regard as a Ukrainian nationalist, was seized and confined to his apartment ahead of the election campaign, and they also ordered him to wear an electronic bracelet. Absolutely illegal and unconstitutional decisions have been taken. But nobody is paying any attention to this.

This shows people in the country that there are no legal opportunities for the forces which want to develop and strengthen their country, including by developing normal relations with Russia, that they have no chance. They are nipped in the bud: some are jailed, others are placed under house arrest, and still others are simply killed in the street.

Why meet with Zelensky if he has accepted the full external management of his country? The main issues concerning Ukraine’s functioning are not decided in Kiev but in Washington and, partly, in Berlin and Paris. What is there to talk about then?

Nevertheless, I do not refuse to hold such meetings, but I first want to understand what issues we can discuss.

Source here (30.06.21).


12.07.21
In the course of the wide-ranging media exchanges on Wednesday 30th June 2021 cited above, Vladimir Putin said that he was going to write a separate analytical article outlining his view of the long history of Russian-Ukrainian linguistic, cultural and political connectivity. This article was published twelve days later, on Monday 12th July 2021, under the title 'On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians'. The full text follows here:

During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people - a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today's situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy.

These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity.

The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial - divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the ”national question“ and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov - were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and - after the baptism of Rus - the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ”Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.“

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan's devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which - most significantly - was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and ”boyar“ clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas - Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk - fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila - son of the Princess of Tver - led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes - the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky - cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania's ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16-17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking ”the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar“. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would ”detach themselves“ from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667.

The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as ”Malorossia“ (Little Russia).

The name ”Ukraine“ was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word ”okraina“ (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word ”Ukrainian“, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa's rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life. This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire.

Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country - its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian - and later Austro-Hungarian - Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and - I would like to emphasize it once again - language similarity.

Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant. He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here. Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage.

Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1876, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context.

These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the ”Ukrainian issue“ to their own advantage. I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis - and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not. Such "hypotheses" became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 - following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary- Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that ”Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation“. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People's Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People's Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the ”heroes“ in today's Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long. As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura's forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks' supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic's leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that ”one government for all of Ukraine“ be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania. The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin's plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution.

By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A ”parade of sovereignties“ followed.

On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that ”the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed.“ By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920's-1930's, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the ”localization policy“, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine ”with its ancient motherland, Ukraine“ – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped - for a significant part - on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external "patrons" prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn "the crimes of the Soviet regime," listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do. At the same time, the Bolsheviks' efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishers are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized - this, again, was secured by the CPSU's leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people's views.

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country.

Throughout the difficult 1990's and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever ”political arithmetic“ of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine's budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine's electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years.

Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine's GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe's poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine's fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who wasted and frittered away the achievements of many generations.

We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people- both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine's top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the "aggressor state" is.

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events - at first gradually, and then more rapidly - started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine's ruling circles decided to justify their country's independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else's geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia's repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of ”Ukraine is not Russia“ was no longer an option. There was a need for the ”anti-Russia“ concept which we will never accept.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an ”anti-Moscow Russia“. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest. The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine's internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new ”Maidan“ authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the ”purification of power“, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on ”indigenous peoples“ to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be - Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors, but also to believe that Russia is their enemy.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities.

Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force.

And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives. Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d'état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine's representatives regularly declare their "full adherence" to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of ”unacceptability“. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the ”victim of external aggression“ and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats.

And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add - under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country. Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military "development" of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on ”indigenous peoples“ was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up. From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today's generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as ”pro-Russian“ agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the "right" patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else's, and is not a tool in someone else's hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians' desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.

Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources; they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing - Russia has never been and will never be "anti-Ukraine". And what Ukraine will be - it is up to its citizens to decide.

Source here (12.07.21).


13.07.21
On Tuesday 13th July 2021, while in St Petersburg, Vladimir Putin answered some questions about the article he had published the previous day on the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians. The full text of that Q&A follows here:

Question: Mr President, thank you very much for finding an opportunity to answer questions about your well-known article on Ukrainian issues. Here is my first question, if I may. Why did you decide to write this article at this particular time?

Putin: I decided to prepare this material a while ago, actually. I have been thinking about it for several months now. The title of this material, or “article,” is just a convention because it is still a bit more than just an article. It is analytical material based on historical facts, events and historical documents.

Why did I have this idea at all? In our daily lives, we work, bring up our children, go for a hobby. As a rule, we do not think much about the issues in this article. However, the situation required that we look more attentively at the world we live in, who we are, and what relations we have with our closest relatives and neighbours. So, this idea came about in this context.

But why did I start it at this particular time? Because the conditions that are taking shape are fundamentally different from what they were only recently. There is every indication that an anti-Russia agenda is being pursued, and of course, this is bound to be of concern to us.

Yes, of course, every country has the right to choose its own way, no question. But, you know, it is the same as with every person. He is free but there is a well-known formula: the freedom of each person is limited by the freedom of another person. If it contradicts the freedom of another person, it is necessary to consider certain limits and self-restrictions. The same applies to countries. If we see that certain threats are being created, especially in security, we must certainly decide what to do about it. And this is a sincere conversation on all the subjects I just mentioned.

However, there are also certain circumstances that compelled me to present this material today. After all, there are many people in Ukraine, millions of people who want to restore relations with Russia. I am sure there are millions of them. There are also political forces that advocate normalisation in this respect.

But, judging by what we see, they are being deprived of any opportunity to implement their political goals. They are simply removed from the political scene through non-systemic, illegal methods. Some are simply killed in the streets, and then after this kind of crime nobody looks for the criminal. Or people are burned alive, like the tragic events in Odessa.

National media are closed and people are put under house arrest, like it’s happening now with Mr Medvedchuk. Indicatively, the Ukrainian authorities take completely illegal actions that are even outside their competence. In other words, these forces are not given any chance for legal political work. This is another circumstance that I consider to be very important.

And lastly - I would like to return to what I started with - it is essentially important for all of us to understand the current situation based on the historical context of its roots.

Question: Who is your article intended for, first of all, “them” or “us”?

Putin: I do not divide people into “them” and “us.” In the article I also write that we are a common entity, and so it is intended for all of us, including those who live in modern Russia, those who live in modern Ukraine and the sponsors of the current political leadership of Ukraine. They should also know what we are and what we think about each other. I believe that this is important for all of us.

Question: You mentioned one of the “time bombs” in the Soviet Constitution. Does this mean that there were other time bombs as well? What did you have in mind?

Putin: I said frankly in the article that the most dangerous time bomb is the right of the Soviet republics to freely secede from the united country.

I would like to say that when the Soviet Union was born after the First World War, even the Bolshevik leadership was divided on that matter. I did not write about this in detail in my article, because I believe that such details would be superfluous. However, Stalin, who was responsible for this sphere of activities in the Bolshevik party, had major differences with Lenin. Stalin insisted on the principle of autonomisation during the creation of the Soviet Union, believing that all the other Soviet republics that were established in the former empire must be incorporated, yes, incorporated, into the RSFSR.

Lenin had a different perspective. He spoke about the equality of all the republics, which should not be incorporated into the Russian Federation (RSFSR), but should establish new states on equal conditions with it. Stalin described this as national liberalism and openly argued with Lenin.

Incidentally, if we read some documents, we will see that Lenin’s position was that Stalin was ultimately right, but it was premature to speak about that. And Lenin made concessions to the national republics, as Stalin described this. Stalin himself said that Russian federalism was a period of transition to socialist centrism.

Actually, this is what the Bolsheviks really did, because the Soviet Union, which was formally a federation, or possibly even a confederation if we take into account the right to secede, essentially was an extremely unitary centralised state. The right to secede was, of course, one of the time bombs.

And the second time bomb, which I also mentioned, was the leading role of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, its directing and primary role. Why? Because it turned out that the party was the only thing that kept the entire country together as a single state. As I wrote in the article, as soon as the party started to fall apart from the inside, the whole country shattered.

There were other time bombs as well. Perhaps we will talk about this later on.

Question: You wrote about the anti-Russia project. When did it start and does it only concern Ukraine?

Putin: Of course, not. The details are all in there. The project started back in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was later exploited by the Polish national movement and, before World War I, it was used by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The goal was quite simple, as I wrote: divide and rule. Before World War I, Russia’s potential opponents had a simple goal - to just weaken the country. They pursued this target vigorously, promoting the anti-Russia concept and separating part of one nation in order to make the rival weaker. Why the Bolsheviks had to pick up that concept and implement it when building a union, is not historically clear.

Perhaps, at the time it would have been more logical to bring the country together, especially because they believed it was a transition period. But they left it as it was and, unfortunately, the time bombs eventually detonated.

So, it all started a long time ago, during the Middle Ages, and it continues to this very day. They are simply recycling old schemes. History repeats itself.

Question: Would it be correct to say that the triune people are long gone and will never exist in the future?

Putin: No, of course, not. You know, in the Soviet times there were attempts to eradicate religiousness among our people. Did they succeed? When the Great Patriotic War broke out, during his speech on the radio, Vyacheslav Molotov addressed the nation as “fellow citizens.” But Joseph Stalin, who spoke after we all realised the looming catastrophe of the war started by Nazi Germany, addressed the nation as “brothers and sisters.” This is what people call each other in church. Later, the patriarchate was restored. Today, the church plays its well-deserved role in society.

It is not gone; the triunity of our people has never been and will never be gone, no matter how hard they try using the same schemes as in the 17th and 18th centuries.

I talked about this with the President of Belarus. He said that when he plays hockey and team members get angry because somebody makes a mistake, in the heat of the moment they shout: “Come on, don’t you get it? Are you not Russian?” Phrases like this one come out without thinking, from the heart. There are millions of people like this in Ukraine, too. So, no, it is not gone and it will never be gone.

Question: Several months ago now, Zelensky made a statement in Russian and noted that everything had already been decided in Ukraine, and that it was going its own way. Do you think that this road will or will not intersect with Russia?

Putin: This does not imply our intersecting paths but, rather, interdependent and interwoven destinies of millions of people living in contemporary Ukraine and contemporary Russia. This amounts to the historical and spiritual interweaving of our peoples that took centuries to evolve. What the incumbent authorities are saying has nothing to do with the people. The authorities are talking about their own personal choice. But this does not necessarily mean that this choice is final.

Question: In your article, you say that those who try and use people living on our historical territories against Russia will thus demolish their own country. Who are you referring to?

Putin: Going back to your first question as to why this material appeared precisely now, I would address the matter from another angle. This material appeared following the drafting and enactment of the law on indigenous peoples. I will repeat the gist of the matter. The law declares Russian people living on historical Russian territories to be aliens. In effect, the authorities are beginning to expel them from this territory. This is what is happening. So, this was one of the factors that motivated me to write the article.

As to whom all this is addressed to, and what I had in mind when I was talking about what we have just mentioned, I would just like to note one aspect: People living in Ukraine are unlikely to look calmly at incumbent rulers who gain power under certain slogans and who later change their colour just like chameleons and defend entirely different positions. As a rule, they defend the interests of their superiors and those financing their stay in power, rather than the interests of the Ukrainian people.

Question: President Zelensky said that he could discuss this article with you during a face-to-face meeting. While in Berlin, he talked a lot about Nord Stream and the need to discuss the gas transit topic at the upcoming Normandy Summit. What can you say about this?

Putin: If they want to have a discussion, I think they should take a break, read the article carefully, analyse it and review some of the archival material. I think this is exactly what they will do and they will find something to talk about. When I say “they” I mean the political leadership of today’s Ukraine. These debates have been going on for a long time now. It is hard to argue with this article because it is honest and it is in fact based on historical documents. They may be subject to different interpretations, it is true. But the basis for the article is historical archives.

What can I say about the gas issue? Russia, Gazprom, we signed a five-year contract to deliver a certain amount of Russian natural gas to our consumers in Europe via Ukraine. The Normandy format and other similar formats are political platforms for discussing the situation in southeastern Ukraine. They have nothing to do with commercial projects like Nord Stream or Nord Stream 2 or the transit of our gas through the territory of Ukraine. Despite all the current difficulties, Russia undertook certain obligations under this contract and will fully meet them.

Question: The Soviet Union included not only Ukraine but also Kazakhstan, Belarus and many other republics. Based on the article, which relationship model do you see as the most sustainable in the future?

Putin: It does not only depend on us. On the international stage, building a certain type of relationship even between the closest neighbours is always a compromise. It is not our goal to force anybody into adopting a certain model. We are looking for a compromise.

Here is what I mean: it does not matter to us how a neighbouring state - in this case, Ukraine - will shape its foreign policy and its roadmap. What matters is (and I said the same thing about freedom) that nobody creates problems or threats for us. What we see, however, is that military development of this territory is starting, which is worrying.

I have expressed my opinion about this issue multiple times. And I think that our concerns will eventually be heard by those involved. After all, it is not Ukraine’s doing. It is happening on Ukrainian territory and people are being used. I really do hope that our concerns will be taken seriously.

Regarding other countries, if you are hinting that it discusses the evolution of these republics - this republic in this case, then other republics also evolved in the same manner. Yes, this is so. But I have noted there that contemporary Russia recognises current geopolitical realities. We have recognised current geopolitical realities.

Naturally, we are worried about hypothetical threats. But we maintain allied and friendly relations like with Kazakhstan and many other former Soviet republics, we work with some of them on a bilateral basis in an absolutely friendly manner. We set up economic alliances with some of them.

We also set up defensive alliances, including the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, or the Customs Union first and then the Eurasian Economic Union. We are not dragging anyone there. I repeat, we are looking for compromise solutions that create a situation that our partners feel satisfied with. This amounts to a complicated coordination process. But we are patient and search for mutually acceptable solutions that suit all of us. This is an ideal scenario.

See for yourself: The European Union continues to develop, and nobody compares it with the Soviet Union. Although I have already mentioned this, the number of mandatory decisions, passed by the European Parliament, exceeds the number of similar mandatory decisions, passed by the Supreme Soviet (Parliament) of the USSR. Nobody compares them with the Soviet Union. This is voluntary business.

We will be completely satisfied if we can maintain friendly and stable relations even in a bilateral format. And we are ready for this, I repeat again, while recognising current geopolitical realities. The situation is even better if we establish relations similar to those we have with Kazakhstan or Belarus, with which we are building a Union State, this is even better. We are also ready for such profound cooperation.

By the way, we are talking here about the Russia-Belarus Union State. This is not a state in the direct sense of the word but, rather, a certain level of integration.

If we compare the Russia-Belarus Union State with the European Union, the EU boasts much more profound integration levels. These levels are much deeper. They have a common currency, an extremely powerful customs union, etc. They also have a common space and stipulate visa-free travel. We have so far failed to attain EU levels; at the same time, the EU countries completely retain their sovereignty.

Nevertheless, this makes people’s life easier, creates certain conditions for economic development and boosts our common competitiveness. If relations develop in this context, we will, of course, support such relations. We advocate this concept and we will work with all our neighbours and friends in a partner-like manner.

Source here (13.07.21).

20.08.21
Five weeks later, on Friday 20th August 2021, Vladimir Putin met with the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, in The Kremlin, Moscow. After these Russian-German talks, the two leaders gave a joint news conference. The parts of that news conference which touched on the Ukraine problem included the following:

Putin: Among other international topics, we had a detailed discussion on promoting a settlement in southeastern Ukraine. As you know, Ms Merkel has done a lot to bring about a resolution to Ukraine’s internal crisis. She was at the origins of the Normandy Format, and we all worked together on ways of restoring peace in Donbass.

Unfortunately, so far we have not been able to accomplish this. Today, the Russian and German sides expressed serious concern about the growing tension along the line of contact. We talked this over, and I hope that we follow up on this conversation in the nearest future. More than a thousand ceasefire violations have been reported since the beginning of August, and Donbass towns and villages face artillery fire every day.

Another matter of concern is that Ukraine has adopted a number of laws and regulations that essentially contradict the Minsk agreements. It is as if the leadership of that country has decided to give up on achieving a peaceful settlement altogether. In this connection, we ask Ms Federal Chancellor once again to exercise her influence over Ukraine, including during her upcoming visit to Kiev, to see that Ukraine honours its obligations.

Merkel: .... We also discussed developments in Ukraine. The Normandy Format is the only political framework we have for discussing these contentious issues. Currently the situation is in a deadlock. Unfortunately, Ukrainian service personnel are dying on the line of contact. I have always advocated reviving this format and giving it more weight. The last meeting was in December 2019, in Paris, and the goals we set back then were achieved both by the separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and by Ukraine.

I pointed out that I am ready to make further progress on this matter in the interest of the people of Ukraine, so that everyone can live in peace in Ukraine. This is what we stand for.

For us, the annexation of Crimea constitutes a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, we will insist on this point, and I will continue supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Question: Madam Federal Chancellor, the Minsk agreements are 6 years old now, but Ukraine remains divided, and you yourself said that people along the demarcation line in Donbass are dying. Following your talks today, are there any concrete plans to hold new talks at the heads of state or government level, or should we conclude that the Normandy format has failed?

Merkel: With regard to the Minsk agreements: we have failed to achieve the goals that we wanted to achieve. But this is the format we have, including the trilateral contact group, and talks with the separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

So, this format needs to be handled with care, but progress is not as good as I would like it to be. However, if we identify an agenda, we can make arrangements for high-level meetings and talks. But we need to know what to discuss. During my visit to Ukraine, I will be pushing for identifying this agenda, because any minor progress can be decisive. However, this represents a very ambitious goal and a very challenging task. There are many inputs here. I still recommend this format, even though it is taking more time than we wanted, but we still need to avoid a dead end.

Putin: I agree with the Federal Chancellor regarding the Minsk agreements and the Normandy format. We have no other tool to achieve peace, and I believe that it should be treated very carefully and with respect, despite the fact that we have so far failed to achieve the ultimate goals of the settlement.

The Minsk agreements are enshrined in a corresponding UN Security Council resolution, and in this sense, the Minsk agreements have become international law.

We are concerned that during the official talks and in their contacts with the media, the Ukrainian side says one thing, but inside the country it says something very different. In fact, and I want to emphasise this, it is enough to look at what the top public officials are saying, and they are saying that they are not going to comply with the Minsk agreements.

Today, I informed the Federal Chancellor that another draft law has been submitted by the Ukrainian government. If this law is adopted - please read it, it is not a classified document, it is probably available online - it means that Ukraine will, in fact, withdraw from the Minsk process unilaterally. Because it is not just that only certain things contradict the Minsk agreements, everything there contradicts the Minsk agreements. This will mean Ukraine’s de facto withdrawal from these agreements. I hope that during her visit, the Federal Chancellor will use some of her influence and exert some pressure on the Ukrainian authorities, and that this law will not be adopted.

The complete text of that Kremlin news conference can be found here (20.08.21).


08.09.21
The following month, on Wednesday 8th September 2021, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, had a telephone conversation with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The Ukraine problem was discussed, along with other geopolitical and bilateral matters. Following this telephone exchange, the Kremlin put out a note which included the following text:

While discussing (the) domestic Ukrainian crisis, they (Putin and Michel) emphasised the need to invigorate talks between the warring parties in order to implement the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures, a basic document for the peace settlement to which there is no alternative.

Vladimir Putin noted that the authorities in Kiev were stubbornly shying away from fulfilling their obligations, which are primarily to launch direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk and formalise the special status of Donbass.

He also noted the provocative nature of the Ukrainian leaders’ intention to hold the so-called summit of the Crimean Platform, all the more so as the issue of returning Crimea to the Russian Federation was fully resolved as far back as March 2014. It was noted in this connection that the European Union continued to pursue a discriminatory policy against the peninsula’s residents.

Source here (08.09.21).


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