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Putin at Valdai Club Plenary Session
An annual gig and very long read
The XX annual Valdai Club meeting’s Plenary Session features Russian President Vladimir Putin and Scientific Director of the Valdai Discussion Club Fyodor Lukyanov as moderator. The woman in the red power suit really stands out in the front row. Here’s a better image:
Political expert Rahakundini Laspetrini (Indonesia) before the start of the 20th annual meeting.
The topic for this year’s meeting is "Fair Multipolarity: How to Ensure security and development for all," which is a summation of all the previous summits and the UNGA high level week that have occurred this year. Putin begins reviewing the last twenty plus years since the start of the 21st Century and tells it like it is—the facts are the facts. He doesn’t use the term Ponzi but what he describes is that type of scheme to enrich a few at the expense of all others. Putin then provides a headline sentence:
Therefore, the West simply cannot stop and did not intend to do so.
That’s enough of a preamble to what you’ll soon read. Those preferring to listen in Russian will find a video at the above link. The event lasted almost four hours, so be prepared if you read or view. As an aside, there were several events Putin participated in yesterday that escaped publication which will be remedied once this important session is released. Putin:
F.Lukyanov: Good evening, dear colleagues and friends!
I am pleased to welcome you to the XX annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.
Today, as before, we have a great honor, and I am pleased to introduce you that President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is participating in our meeting.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, we have the XX session. Valdai is 19 years old, and the meeting is the 20th, so it happens. When we look at the Valdai archives, we get the feeling that this is a chronicle of a crucial time. The time was really very interesting. We are very honored that all these 20 meetings were never held, in my opinion, that you missed and did not meet with your Valdai colleagues. There are people in the audience who have met you before, and for the first time, and there are those who have met you for the first time.
I will be very happy to offer you your opinion today.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Dear participants of the plenary session, Colleagues! Ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome all of you to Sochi at the twentieth anniversary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, as our hosts have just said.
Our forum, or rather your forum, which traditionally brought together politicians and scientists, experts and public figures from many countries around the world, once again confirms the high status of a popular and intellectual platform. The Valdai discussions are always a reflection of the most important processes of world politics in the 21st century in their entirety and complexity. I am sure that this will continue to be the case today, as it probably was in the previous days when you discussed it with each other, and it will continue to be so, because we are essentially facing the task of building a new world. And at such crucial stages, the role and responsibility of intellectuals like you, dear colleagues, is extremely important.
Over the years of the club's work, as we have just said, serious, if not huge, changes have taken place both in the world and in our country. By historical standards, the period of twenty years is not so long, not so long. But when it falls on the epoch of the breakdown of the entire world structure, time seems to shrink.
And I think you will agree that more events have taken place in these twenty years than at any other time in many, many decades, and these changes are qualitative, requiring fundamental changes in the very principles of international relations.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, everyone hoped that states and peoples had learned lessons from the costly and destructive military-ideological confrontation of the last century, realized its perniciousness, felt the fragility and interconnectedness of our planet, and were convinced that global problems of humanity require joint action and the search for collective solutions. And selfishness, self-conceit, and disregard for real challenges will inevitably lead us to a dead end, as will the attempt of the stronger ones to impose their own ideas and interests on others. It should have been obvious to everyone – it should have been, but it turned out not to be, no.
When we first met at the club meeting almost twenty years ago, our country was entering a new stage of development. Russia has overcome the most difficult period of recovery after the collapse of the USSR. We have engaged with all our energy and good will in the process of building a new, as it seemed to us, more just world order. Fortunately, our country is able to make a huge contribution to them, because we have something to offer our friends, partners, and the whole world.
Unfortunately, some have misunderstood our willingness to engage constructively – understood it as submission, as acceptance that the new order will be built by those who declared themselves winners in the cold War, in fact, as recognition that Russia is ready to follow in someone else's wake, is ready to be guided not by its own national interests, but by its own interests. other people's interests.
Over the years, we have repeatedly warned that such an approach does not just lead to a dead end, it is fraught with an increasing threat of military conflict. But no one was going to listen and hear us, no one wanted to. The arrogance of our so-called partners in the West, as you know, simply went through the roof, and there is no other way to say it.
The United States and its satellites are firmly committed to hegemony – military, political, economic, cultural, even moral, moral, and value-based. It was clear to us from the very beginning that attempts to establish a monopoly were doomed to failure. The world is too complex and diverse to be subservient to a single scheme, even if it is backed by the power, the vast power of the West, accumulated over centuries of colonial politics. Many of your colleagues are also absent, but they do not deny that much of the West's prosperity has been achieved by robbing its colonies over the centuries. It's a fact. In fact, this level of development was achieved by robbing the entire planet. The history of the West is essentially a chronicle of endless expansion. Western influence in the world is a huge military – financial pyramid, and it constantly needs new fuel to support itself – natural, technological, and human resources belonging to others. Therefore, the West simply cannot stop and did not intend to do so. Our arguments, exhortations, appeals to reason, suggestions were simply ignored.
I have already said this publicly-both to our allies and to our partners. After all, there was a moment when your humble servant simply suggested: maybe we should join NATO? But no, NATO doesn't need such a country. The question is, what else is there? We thought that we were already our own, sorry, as we say in the people, bourgeois. What else? There is no ideological confrontation anymore. What is the problem? Apparently, the problem lies in geopolitical interests and an arrogant attitude towards others. That's the problem, overconfidence.
We have to respond to the constantly growing military and political pressure. I have repeatedly said that we did not start the so-called "war in Ukraine". On the contrary, we are trying to finish it. We did not organize the coup d'etat in Kiev in 2014 – a bloody and unconstitutional coup d'etat. Wherever it happens, we always immediately hear all the world's mass media, subordinated primarily, of course, to the Anglo-Saxon world: this is not possible, it is impossible, it is anti-democratic. But here you can. Even the money was named, the amount of money that was spent on this coup. Anything is possible.
At that time, we were engaged in supporting Crimeans and Sevastopol residents. We did not organize a coup d'etat, and we did not intimidate Crimeans and Sevastopol residents with ethnic cleansing in the Nazi spirit. We did not try to force the Donbass to obey through shelling and bombing. We didn't threaten to crack down on those who want to speak their native language. Look, everyone here is well-informed and competent. Well, you can brainwash, sorry for the bad manners, millions of people who perceive the real reality of the media. But you know what happened: for nine years they bombed, shot, and used tanks. The war, the natural war against Donbass was unleashed. And no one counted the dead children in the Donbas. No one in other countries, especially in the West, wept for the dead.
The war started by the Kiev regime with the active, direct support of the West is now in its tenth year, and a special military operation is aimed at ending it. And it reminds us that unilateral steps, no matter who takes them, will inevitably be met with retaliatory actions. Action, as you know, creates a counteraction. This is what any responsible state, a sovereign, independent and self-respecting country does.
Everyone is aware that in an international system where arbitrariness reigns, where everything is decided by those who think they are exceptional, sinless and only right, anyone can be under attack simply for the reason that this or that country does not like the hegemon, who has lost a sense of proportion and, I add, a sense of reality.
Unfortunately, we have to admit that our contractors in the West have lost their sense of reality, and they have crossed all possible boundaries. In vain.
The Ukrainian crisis is not a territorial conflict, I want to emphasize this. Russia is the largest and largest country in the world by territory. We do not have any interests in terms of recapturing any additional territories. We still need to develop and develop Siberia, Eastern Siberia and the Far East. This is not a territorial conflict or even the establishment of a regional geopolitical balance. The question is much broader and more fundamental: we are talking about the principles on which the new world order will be based.
Lasting peace will be established only when everyone feels safe, understands that their opinions are respected and that there is a balance in the world, when no one is able to force others to live and behave as the hegemon pleases, even if this is contrary to sovereignty, true interests, traditions, etc. the foundations of peoples and states. In such a scheme, the very concept of any sovereignty is simply denied, thrown out, sorry, in the trash.
It is obvious that the commitment to block approaches, the desire to drive the world into a situation of constant confrontation "we – they" – a vicious legacy of the XX century. This is a product of Western political culture, at least of its most aggressive manifestations. I repeat, the West always needs an enemy – a certain part of the West, the Western elites. We need an enemy, the fight against which can explain the need for military action and expansion. But it is also necessary to maintain internal control in a certain system of this very hegemon, within the blocs-within NATO or other military-political blocs. The enemy is there – everyone should rally around the boss.
It is not our business how other states live. But we see how in many of them the ruling elites force societies to adopt norms and rules that the citizens themselves – at least, a large number of citizens, and in some countries, one can say for sure, the majority of citizens – do not want to accept. And they are being forced, constantly inventing reasons for this, finding external culprits for growing internal problems, inventing and inflating non-existent threats.
At the same time, Russia is a favorite topic of such politicians. Of course, we are already used to it, historically used to it. But they are trying to shape the image of the enemy out of everyone who is not ready to blindly follow these Western elites. From anyone: from the People's Republic of China, in certain situations, at a certain moment, and from India of the same country-now they are flirting, of course, we understand this perfectly, we feel and see the situation in Asia, everything is clear. I want to say that the Indian leadership is independent and very nationally oriented. I think that these attempts do not make any sense, but nevertheless they continue. They are trying to make an enemy out of the Arab world, also selectively, they are trying to act carefully, but nevertheless, in general, it all comes down to this – and even from Muslims they are trying to make some kind of hostile environment. Etc. In fact, anyone who behaves independently, follows their own interests, instantly turns into an obstacle for these Western elites, which must be eliminated.
Artificial geopolitical structures are being imposed on the world, and closed block formats are being created. We see this in Europe, where a bold policy of expanding NATO has been pursued for decades, as well as in the Asia-Pacific region and South Asia, where they are trying to break the open and inclusive architecture of cooperation. The block approach, let's call a spade a spade – is a restriction of the rights and freedoms of states to their own development, an attempt to drive them into a certain cage of obligations. This is to a certain extent – and this is an obvious thing – the withdrawal of part of sovereignty, and then – and very often-the imposition of solutions in other areas besides the security sphere, and above all in the economic sphere, as is currently happening in relations between the United States and Europe. There is no need to explain – if necessary, we will talk about this in more detail during the discussion after my opening speech.
To do this, they are trying to substitute "order" for international law – what "order"? - based on certain "rules". What kind of" rules", what kind of" rules " they are, and by whom they were invented is completely unclear. This is just some kind of nonsense, nonsense. But they are trying to introduce it into the minds of millions of people. "You have to live by the rules." By what rules?
And in general, if I may say so, our Western colleagues, especially from the United States, do not just set such "rules" arbitrarily, but also teach us who should follow them and how, and who should behave in general. All this is done and said, as a rule, in a frankly boorish form. This is all the same manifestation of this colonial mindset. All the time we hear, all the time it sounds: you must, you must, we seriously warn you…
Who are you anyway? What right do you have to warn someone? It's just amazing. Maybe those who say this, maybe it's time for you to get rid of your arrogance, stop behaving towards the world community in such a way that perfectly understands its tasks, its interests, and really get rid of this thinking of the era of colonial rule? I want to say this: wipe your eyes, this era is long over and will never return, never again.
I will say more: for centuries, such behavior led to the reproduction of the same thing – big wars, which were justified by various ideological, and even pseudo-moral justifications. This is especially dangerous today. Humanity has the means to destroy the entire planet with ease, and the incredible manipulation of consciousness leads to a loss of sense of reality. Of course, we need to get out of this vicious circle, we need to look for some way out. As I understand it, dear friends and colleagues, you are going to the Valdai site for this purpose.
In the Concept of Russia's Foreign Policy adopted this year, our country is described as an original state-civilization. This formulation accurately and succinctly reflects how we understand not only our own development, but also the basic principles of the world order, which we hope to win.
In our understanding, civilization is a multi-faceted phenomenon. It is certainly interpreted in different ways. There was also a frankly colonial interpretation: there is a certain " civilized world "that serves as a model for others, everyone should follow these standards, models, and those who do not agree will be driven into" civilization "with the club of an" enlightened " gentleman. These times, as I have just said, are over, and our understanding of civilization is completely different.
First, there are many civilizations, and none of them is better or worse than the other. They have equal rights as representatives of the aspirations of their cultures and traditions, their peoples. For each of us-it's different. For me, for example, these are the aspirations of our people, my people, of which I was lucky enough to become a part.
Outstanding thinkers around the world, adherents of the civilizational approach, have reflected and continue to reflect on the concept of "civilization". This is a multi-component phenomenon. Without plunging into philosophical depths – this is probably not the place or time for such reasoning-we will try to describe it in relation to today, and I will try to do it in detail.
The main qualities of a state-civilization are diversity and self-sufficiency. Here are the two main components, in my opinion. Any unification is alien to the modern world, and every state and society wants to work out its own path of development independently. It is based on culture and traditions that are reinforced in geography, historical experience, both ancient and modern, and in the values of the people. This is a complex synthesis, in the process of which an original civilizational community arises. Its heterogeneity and diversity are the key to sustainability and development.
Over the centuries, Russia has been formed as a country of different cultures, religions, and nationalities. Russian civilization cannot be reduced to one common denominator, but it cannot be divided, because it exists only in its integrity-in spiritual and cultural wealth. Maintaining the solid unity of such a State is not an easy task.
Over the centuries, we have faced the most difficult challenges. We have always overcome them, sometimes at great cost, but we have always learned lessons for the future, strengthening our national unity and the integrity of the Russian state.
Today, this experience is truly invaluable. The world is increasingly diverse. Simple methods of management, combing everyone under one comb, as we say, what some states are used to, will not cope with all the complexity of the processes.
What is very important to add? A truly effective and solid State system cannot be imposed from the outside. It grows naturally out of the civilizational roots of countries and peoples, and Russia in this regard is an example of how this happens in real life and in practice.
Civilizational support is a necessary condition for success in the modern world, in a world that is chaotic, unfortunately dangerous and has lost its landmarks. More and more States are coming to this conclusion, realizing their own interests and needs, opportunities and limitations, their identity and degree of interconnectedness with the world around them.
I am convinced that humanity is moving not towards fragmentation into competing segments, not towards a new block confrontation, no matter what motivates it, not towards the soulless universalism of a new globalization – but, on the contrary, the world is on the way to synergy of states-civilizations, large spaces, communities that recognize themselves as such.
At the same time, civilization is not a universal construction, one for all – this does not happen. Each of them is different from the others, each is culturally self-sufficient, and draws its own ideological and value principles from its own history and traditions. Respect for ourselves comes from respect, of course, for others, but it also means respect on the part of others. Therefore, civilization does not impose anything on anyone, but it does not allow anything to be imposed on itself. If everyone adheres to this rule, it will ensure harmonious coexistence and creative interaction of all participants in international relations.
Of course, protecting one's civilizational choice is a huge responsibility. This concerns responding to external encroachments, establishing close and constructive relations with other civilized communities, and, most importantly, maintaining internal stability and harmony. After all, we all see that the international environment today, as I have already said, is unfortunately both unstable and sufficiently aggressive.
And one more very important thing. Of course, you can't betray your civilization to anyone. This is also a path to general chaos, it is unnatural and disgusting, I would say. For our part, we have always tried and are trying to offer solutions that would take into account the interests of all. But our interlocutors in the West seem to have forgotten that there are such concepts as reasonable self-restraint, compromises, and a willingness to give in to something in order to achieve an acceptable result for everyone. No, they are literally obsessed with only one thing: to push, to push, and at any cost, here and now their interests. If it's their choice, we'll see what happens.
The paradox is that tomorrow the market situation may change – this is the problem. For example, there will be internal political shifts after the next election. Here the country insists on something, they push through their actions at all costs – and tomorrow there are internal political changes, and with the same pressure and unceremoniousness, something completely different, sometimes just the opposite, is pushed through.
The most striking example is the Iranian nuclear program. One Administration [of the United States] pushed through one decision, another came-everything was turned around, and everything went in the opposite direction. And how to work in such conditions? Where are the landmarks? What should I rely on? Where are the guarantees? These are the very "rules" that we are told about? It's just nonsense.
Why is all this happening, and why does it not bother anyone? Because strategic thinking has been replaced by following the short-term self-serving interests of not even countries and peoples, but of changing groups of influence. Hence the incredible, by the former standards of the cold War, irresponsibility of the behavior of political elites, who often forget both fear and shame, and consider themselves absolutely sinless.
The civilizational approach opposes such trends because it is based on the fundamental, long-term interests of States and peoples. Interests that are dictated not by the momentary ideological conjuncture, but by the entire historical experience, the legacy of the past, on which the idea of a harmonious future is based.
If everyone is guided by this approach, conflicts in the world, in my opinion, will become much less, and the methods of their resolution will become much more rational, because every civilization respects, as I have already said, others and does not try to change anyone according to their own ideas.
Dear friends, I have read with interest the report prepared by the Valdai Club for this meeting. It says that today everyone is trying to understand, to present an image of the future. This is completely natural and understandable, especially for an intelligent environment. In an era of dramatic changes, when the whole usual way of life is collapsing, it is very important to understand where we are going, what we want to come to. And, of course, the future is being created today, not only before our eyes – but by our own hands.
Of course, when it comes to such gigantic, incredibly complex processes, it is difficult or almost impossible to predict the result. Whatever we all do, life will make and will certainly make its own adjustments. But, at the very least, we must be aware of what we are striving for, what we want to come to. And there is such an understanding in Russia.
First. We want to live in an open, interconnected world in which no one will ever try to erect artificial barriers to people's communication, creative fulfillment and prosperity. There should be a barrier-free environment – that's what we should strive for.
Second. We want the diversity of the world not just to be preserved, but to be the foundation of universal development. Imposing on any country or people how to live, how to feel, should be prohibited. Only true cultural and civilizational diversity will ensure the benefit of people and the balance of interests.
The third. We are for maximum representativeness. No one has the right, nor can they rule the world for others or on behalf of others. The world of the future is a world of collective decisions made at the levels where they are most effective, and by those actors who are truly able to make a significant contribution to solving a particular problem. Not one person decides for everyone, and not everyone even decides about everything, but those who are directly concerned with this or that issue agree on what to do and how to do it.
Fourth. We stand for universal security and a lasting peace based on respect for the interests of all: from great, big states to small countries. The main thing is to free international relations from the bloc approach, from the legacy of the colonial era and the cold War. We have been talking for decades about the indivisibility of security, that it is impossible to ensure the security of some at the expense of the security of others. Indeed, harmony in this area is achievable. You just need to put aside your pride and arrogance and stop looking at others as "second-class" partners or as outcasts or savages.
Fifth. We stand for justice for all. The era of exploiting anyone, I have already said this twice, in the past. Countries and peoples are clearly aware of their interests and capabilities and are ready to rely on themselves – and this increases their strength. Everyone should be guaranteed access to the benefits of modern development, and attempts to restrict it for any country or people should be considered an act of aggression, just like that.
Sixth. We are for equal rights, for different potentials of different countries. This is an absolutely objective factor. But it is no less objective that no one else is ready to obey, to make their interests and needs dependent on anyone, and above all on the richer and stronger ones.
This is not just a natural state of the international community, it is the quintessence of the entire historical experience of mankind.
These are the principles that we want to adhere to ourselves and that we invite all our friends and colleagues to join.
Russia has always been, is and will continue to be one of the pillars of the world system, ready for constructive cooperation with all those who seek peace and prosperity, ready for tough opposition to those who profess the principles of dictate and violence. We are confident that pragmatism and common sense will prevail, and a multipolar world will be established.
In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to the forum organizers, as always, for their thorough and high-quality preparation, and I would like to thank all the participants of the anniversary meeting for your attention. Thank you very much.
F.Lukyanov: Mr President, thank you very much for such a detailed presentation of general and conceptual issues, because now everyone at the Valdai Club and in many other places is really trying to understand the framework that will replace those that are no longer working, and so far we have not been very successful. We know what is no longer there, but we don't really understand what will happen. Your points are, it seems to me, the first case of such an attempt, at least, to lay out the principles very clearly.
If possible, after your performance. Of course, there is a very interesting part devoted to civilizations and the civilizational approach. You once said, long ago, however, a very vivid phrase that the borders of Russia do not end anywhere. If Russia's borders do not end, then the Russian and Russian civilizations, apparently, have nothing to talk about at all. What does it mean? Where is she?
Vladimir Putin: You know, this was said for the first time in a conversation with one of the former presidents of the United States at my home in Ogaryovo, it was said in jest, of course, when he was looking at a map of the Russian Federation.
We all know, and I want to repeat it again: Russia remains the largest country in the world in terms of territory. But if we are serious, then, of course, this is primarily a civilizational meaning. There are many of our compatriots living in the Russian world, the Russian world is global in nature, and Russian is one of the official languages of the UN. There are 300,000 of our compatriots living in Latin America alone, as we have just met with parliamentarians. They are everywhere: in Asia, in Africa, in Europe, of course, in North America.
Therefore, speaking seriously, I repeat, in the civilizational sense, of course, there are no borders, just as there are no borders of all other civilizations. Take India or China – how many representatives of China live in other countries of the world and how many representatives of India live in other countries of the world! It all intersects, interacts with each other. And it will be very good if this interaction is natural and friendly, aimed at strengthening this state.
F.Lukyanov: So for you, civilization is not a territory, but people?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course, first of all it is people. I'm sure there will be a lot of questions about Ukraine right now. Our actions in the same Donbas are primarily and primarily dictated by the protection of people. This is the whole point of our actions.
F.Lukyanov: In this case, can you describe a special military operation as a civilizational conflict? You said that this is not a territorial conflict.
Vladimir Putin: This is first of all… I do not know which civilization is being defended by those on the other side of the front line, but we are protecting our traditions, our culture and our people.
F.Lukyanov: All right. Since we immediately moved on to Ukraine: today, in my opinion, a big European event begins in Spain, where Vladimir Zelensky and a number of other important people went. The issue of continuing support for Ukraine is being discussed. Now, as we know, in the United States, there is a bit of a hitch due to the crisis in Congress. So in Europe, I think, they felt that they would have to take on the financing themselves.
Do you think they can handle it? And what do we expect from this?
Vladimir Putin: We are waiting for the appearance of at least some sprouts of common sense. As for whether they can handle it or not, you should ask them. Of course, they will manage, but I don't see any problems – the problem is to expand production, to increase the amount of money that is sent to the war and prolong this conflict. But, of course, there are also problems, which I think are clear and well-known to this audience.
If, as you said, there is a hitch in the United States, it is rather technical, political and technical, so to speak, which is that there are problems with the budget, a large debt burden, and the budget needs to be balanced. Question: at the expense of what to balance? Either by supplying weapons to Ukraine and reducing budget expenditures, or by cutting social spending? But no one wants to cut social spending, especially as this strengthens the position of the opposition parties, the opposition party in this case. That's all.
But in the end, probably, the money will be found, and more will be printed. They've printed more than nine trillion dollars in the post-covid period and in the covid period, so it doesn't cost them anything to print something else and spread it all over the world, raising food inflation. They'll do it for sure.
As for Europe, the situation is more complicated, because if in the United States we still see economic growth of 2.4 percent of GDP over the previous period, then in Europe the situation is much worse. There, in 2021, economic growth was 4.9 percent, and this year it will be 0.5. And then only at the expense of the southern countries, at the expense of Italy and Spain, which showed a slight increase.
We discussed this issue with our experts yesterday: I think that the growth in Italy and Spain is primarily due to rising property prices and a certain increase in the tourism sector. And in the main economies of Europe – stagnation, there is a minus in all industries. In the Federal Republic [of Germany] – minus 0.1, in the Baltic countries – minus two, minus three even, in Estonia, in my opinion, minus three, in Holland, in Austria – minus everywhere. Especially a big disadvantage in the field of industrial production: If not a catastrophe, then the real production sector is in a very difficult state, especially in the chemical industry, in the glass industry, and in the metallurgical industry.
We know that due to relatively cheap energy sources in the United States and some administrative and financial decisions, many European production facilities simply move to the United States, close down in Europe and move to the United States. This is well known, this is what I hinted at when I spoke here, from this rostrum. The burden on the population of European countries is also growing, this is also an obvious thing, these are data from the European statistics themselves. The standard of living is falling, and over the past month it has decreased, in my opinion, by one and a half percent.
Can Europe or can't it? Maybe. At the expense of what? Due to the deterioration, further deterioration of their economy and the lives of citizens of European states.
F.Lukyanov: But we don't have a rubber budget either. Are we going to be able to do it differently from them?
Vladimir Putin: We are doing well so far, and I have reason to believe that we will continue to do so in the future. We had a surplus of over 660 billion rubles in the third quarter of this year. This is the first one.
Second. We will eventually have a certain deficit by the end of the year – somewhere in the region of one percent. And for the coming years-for 2024 and 2025-we expect that the deficit will be somewhere in the region of one percent. We have a record low unemployment rate – three percent – established and stabilized.
And what is very important – this is a key point, maybe we will come back to it again, but I think this is an important, fundamental phenomenon in our economy-we have naturally started a structural adjustment of the economy. Because what we used to receive from European countries for import-a lot of things were closed for us, and we, just as in 2014, by introducing certain restrictions on the purchase of Western, European primarily agricultural products, were forced to invest in the development of agricultural production in the country. Yes, inflation spiked, but then we made sure that our producers increased the volume of production of the goods we need. And today, as you know, we fully support ourselves for all basic agricultural products, for the main types of food.
The same thing is happening now in the sphere of real production in industry, and the main growth is provided by manufacturing industries. Oil and gas revenues have fallen, but they also account for plus three percent, while non-oil and gas revenues, primarily in the processing industries, account for plus 43 percent, primarily in the steel industry, optics, and electronics. We have a lot to do in the field of microelectronics. We are really still at the beginning of the road, but it is already growing. All together, it gives a plus of 43 percent.
We have rebuilt logistics, mechanical engineering is growing, and so on. In general, we have a stable and stable situation. We have overcome all the problems that arose after the introduction of sanctions against us, and have started the next stage of development-on a new basis, which is extremely important.
It is very important for us to maintain this trend and not miss it. We have problems, including the shortage of labor, yes. This is followed by some other questions. But we have a growing real disposable income of the population. If they have fallen in Europe, they have grown by more than 12 percent in our country.
There are also questions related to inflation, and it has grown-now 5.7 percent, yes, but the Central Bank and the Government are taking coordinated measures to offset these possible negative consequences.
F.Lukyanov: You mentioned the structural adjustment that is taking place.
Some opponents will say that this is a militarization of the economy. Are they right?
Vladimir Putin: Look, we have increased spending on defense, but not just on defense, but on defense and security. They have increased approximately twice: they were about three percent, and now they are about six percent-for defense and security. But at the same time, I want to emphasize this, I have already said and I have to repeat: we have a budget surplus of over 660 billion rubles in the third quarter, and this year there will be a deficit, but only one percent. This is a healthy budget and a healthy economy.
Therefore, to say that we spend too much money on guns and forgot about oil is not true. I would like to emphasize that all the previously announced development plans, the achievement of strategic goals and all the social obligations assumed by the state to the population are fully implemented.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you. This is good news.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, in addition to the conflict in Ukraine, to which we will certainly return again and again, the events in the South Caucasus have taken place in recent days and weeks. European Council President Charles Michel said in an interview yesterday that Russia has betrayed the Armenian people.
Vladimir Putin: Who says so?
F.Lukyanov: Charles Michel, President of the European Council.
Vladimir Putin: You know, our people say: whose mare would low, and yours would be silent.
F.Lukyanov: A cow.
Vladimir Putin: A cow, a mare-it doesn't matter, an animal, in short, some kind of animal.
Is that all? I interrupted you, I'm sorry.
Vladimir Putin: Do you understand what has been happening and what has happened recently? After the well-known events and the collapse of the Soviet Union, we know that there was a conflict, ethnic clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis began, they started in the city of Sumgait, then spread to Karabakh. All this led to the fact that Armenia-not Karabakh, but Armenia-put under its control all of Karabakh and seven adjacent territories, seven districts of Azerbaijan. This, in my opinion, is almost 20 percent of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. And so all this went on for many decades.
I must say that – I will not reveal any secret here – we have offered our Armenian friends many compromises over the past 15 years. Which ones? Return five districts around Karabakh to Azerbaijan, keep two of them, and thus preserve the territorial connection between Armenia and Karabakh.
But our Karabakh friends have repeatedly told us: no, this will create certain threats for us. We, in turn, said: listen, Azerbaijan is growing, the economy is developing, it is an oil and gas producing country, there is already over 10 million [people] population, let's compare the potentials. While there is such a possibility, we need to find this compromise. For our part, we are confident that we will take appropriate decisions within the framework of the UN Security Council, guarantee the security of this naturally emerging Lachin corridor between Armenia and Karabakh, and guarantee the security of Armenians living in this territory.
But no, we were told: no, we can't do that. What will you do? We will fight. Well okay. It eventually came to armed clashes in 2020, and then I also suggested to our friends and colleagues – by the way, President Aliyev will probably not be offended by me, but at some point an agreement was reached that the Azerbaijani troops would stop.
I honestly thought the issue was resolved. I called Yerevan and suddenly heard: no, let them leave the small part of Karabakh where the Azerbaijani troops entered. Well, that's it. I say: look, what are you going to do? Again the same phrase: we will fight. I say: listen, they will come to the rear of your fortifications in the Aghdam area in a few days, and everything will be over, do you understand? - Yes – - What will you do? "We will fight. Well okay. So everything turned out the way it did.
In the end, we agreed with Azerbaijan that after reaching the Shusha line and entering Shusha itself, the fighting will be stopped. A corresponding statement was signed in November 2020 on the suspension of hostilities and the deployment of our peacekeepers. And the next, very important point: the legal status of our peacekeepers was based solely on this statement of November 2020. No status of peacekeepers has emerged. I won't say why now. Azerbaijan considered that there was no need for this, and it was pointless to sign without Azerbaijan. Therefore, the entire status was based, I repeat, solely on the statement of November 2020, and the rights of peacekeepers consisted only in one thing – in monitoring compliance with the ceasefire. That's all, we peacemakers had no other rights there and do not have any. Just monitoring the cease-fire regime is all. But such a shaky state lasted for a certain time.
Now you have mentioned the distinguished President of the European Council, Mr. Michel. In the autumn of 2022, under the auspices of Mr. Michel, then French President Macron, and Mr. Scholz, German Chancellor, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan gathered in Prague and signed a statement, which implies that Armenia recognized Karabakh as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Moreover, the heads of delegations, the leaders of Armenia directly mentioned the territory of Azerbaijan in square kilometers, which, of course, includes Karabakh, and stressed that they recognize the sovereignty of Azerbaijan within the framework of the Azerbaijan SSR, which was once part of the USSR. And as you know, Karabakh was also part of the Azerbaijan SSR. That is, in fact, the main, absolutely key issue, which was the status of Karabakh, was resolved. When Karabakh declared its independence, no one recognized this independence, not even Armenia, which, to be honest, is strange for me, but nevertheless it was decided – they did not recognize the independence of Karabakh. But here in Prague, they recognized that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan. And then, at the beginning of 2023, they repeated the same thing again at a similar meeting in Brussels.
You know, just between us, although between us-this is probably not suitable, but nevertheless if we came [to an agreement]... By the way, no one told us about this, I personally learned it from the press. Azerbaijan has always considered that Karabakh is part of its territory, but by defining the status of Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, Armenia has made a qualitative change in its position.
After that, at one of the meetings, President Aliyev came up to me and said: well, you see, everyone recognized that Karabakh is ours, your peacekeepers are there on our territory. You see, even the status of our peacekeepers underwent a qualitative change immediately after the determination of the status of Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. He says: your military personnel are on our territory, and now let's agree on their status on a bilateral basis. And Prime Minister Pashinyan confirmed: yes, you now need to negotiate on a bilateral basis. In other words, Karabakh is gone. You can say anything about this status, but this was the key issue – the status of Karabakh. This has been the focus of everything over the previous decades: how and when, who and where will determine the status. That's all, Armenia solved it-Karabakh officially became part of Azerbaijan. This is the position of the modern Armenian state.
What are we going to do? Everything that happened in the recent past – a week, two, three years ago, and the closure of this Lachin corridor and so on-all this was inevitable after the recognition of Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Karabakh. It was only a matter of time: when and in what way Azerbaijan would restore constitutional order there within the framework of the constitution of the Azerbaijani state. What do you say?" How does anyone else respond to this? Armenia has recognized it, but what should we do? Say: no, we don't recognize it? This is nonsense, right? It doesn't make any sense.
I'm not going to talk about the nuances of our discussions right now – I think this is incorrect – but what happened in recent days or in recent weeks was an inevitable consequence of what was done in Prague and Brussels. Therefore, Mr. Michel and his colleagues should have thought about it when they were trying to persuade Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan to take such a step somewhere behind the scenes, behind the scenes, they should have all thought about the fate of the Armenians of Karabakh.-then at least prescribe something about what and how they will be expected in this situation, some order of integration of Karabakh into the Azerbaijani state, some order related to ensuring both security and respect for their rights. There's no such thing there. There is only a statement that Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan, that's all. And what should we do? If this is what Armenia has decided, what should we do?
What did we do? We used everything we had at our disposal in the legal sense to provide a humanitarian component. As you know, our peacekeepers died there, among other things, defending the Armenians of Karabakh. We provided them with humanitarian aid, provided medical assistance, and ensured their exit.
If we go back to our so-called European colleagues, they should at least now send humanitarian aid to support those unfortunate people, I can't say otherwise, who left their native places of Nagorno-Karabakh. I think they will. But in general, by and large, you need, of course, to think about their fate in the long term.
F.Lukyanov: Is Russia ready to support these people?
Vladimir Putin: I just told you: we supported them.
F.Lukyanov: Those who left.
Vladimir Putin: We have lost people there, protecting them, protecting them, and providing humanitarian support. After all, we have there, in the center of our peacekeepers, where all the refugees came, under the protection of our peacekeepers. Thousands gathered there, mostly women and children.
And so, of course, we are also ready to provide [assistance], Armenia does not cease to be our ally. And if there are humanitarian issues, and there are, we will certainly discuss them and we are ready to provide support and assistance to these people. This goes without saying.
I just told you how the events unfolded, briefly,but in general, the main thing I said.
F.Lukyanov: Mr President, there is one more nuance in this regard. Now the Azerbaijani leadership is very hard to clean up those who were in the service in Karabakh, the leaders. And there are different people there, including those who are well known in Russia, like Ruben Vardanyan, for example.
Vladimir Putin: As far as I know, he has renounced our citizenship.
F.Lukyanov: He refused, but he was. Can we somehow call on the Azerbaijani leadership to show, I don't know, mercy?
Vladimir Putin: We have always done this and are doing it now. As you know, I spoke with President Aliyev on the phone, but we have said before that no matter what happens, he always assured me that whatever happens, he will ensure both the security and the rights of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. But now there are no Armenians left, everyone has left. Do you know that everyone is gone? There are simply no Armenians there – maybe a thousand, a half-all of them. That's it, there's just no one there.
As for the former leaders – I do not know, I do not want to go into details, but I understand that they are especially not wanted in Yerevan. But I believe that in this case, when all territorial issues have been resolved for Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani leadership will still proceed from humanitarian considerations.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
Colleagues, please ask questions.
Professor Feng Shaolei is one of our "veterans".
Feng Shaolei: Thank you very much.
Feng Shaolei, East China Normal University, Shanghai.
Dear Mr. President, I am very glad to see you again!
The October international conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative will be held in Beijing. At the same time, the initiative to link the Eurasian partnership with the Belt and Road initiative, which you defined together with President Xi Jinping, is almost ten years old.
My question is the same: in the new environment, what new ideas and concrete proposals have you already prepared?
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: We are indeed returning to this topic, and some people are even trying to sow doubts that our Eurasian development project-the Eurasian Economic Union – and President Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" initiative may not coincide in interests and may enter into some kind of competition with each other. This is not true, I have already said this many times. On the contrary, we believe that one project harmoniously complements another.
After all, what's going on? And with regard to China, with regard to Russia – but with regard to Russia to a greater extent today, and with regard to China long before the events in Ukraine began – some partners, we know who exactly, began to impose various kinds of sanctions. At some points, all this turned into a kind of trade war between China and the United States, and restrictions were imposed, including those related to logistics.
We are interested in establishing new logistics routes, and China is also interested. The volume of trade turnover is growing. We are now talking about the North-South corridor. China is building some routes through Central Asian states. We are interested in supporting this, and we are building appropriate roads and railways. All this is the subject of our negotiations. That's the first thing.
Secondly, all this is supplemented by what is called the sphere of real production. We supply the necessary goods to the People's Republic of China, China supplies us with the necessary goods, and we are building both logistics and production chains that, of course, fit into the goals that President Xi Jinping set for the Chinese economy, and fit into our tasks of developing our economy and partner organizations, especially in the modern world. relations with other countries. This is quite obviously complementary.
I'm not going to list specific projects right now, there are enough of them, including between China and Russia. We have built the bridge, as you know, and we have other logistics plans. As I have already said, we are developing relations in the field of real production. All this together will be the subject of our bilateral contacts and negotiations in the framework of a multilateral format. This is a very large and very capacious, capital-intensive work.
I want to emphasize once again, I want to emphasize this: all this work has never been built against anyone. It has a creative beginning and is aimed exclusively at achieving a positive result both for us-Russia and China-and for our partners around the world.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
:(as translated)R.Sakva You spoke about changes in international politics, the emergence of sovereign states that defend themselves, they are autonomous actors in international politics. Indeed, this is happening. This is happening within the framework of BRICS Plus, and the SCO meeting was also held a few months ago.
Thus, the world is changing, international politics, states, and post-colonial states are changing. And now these States have made it clear that they want to actively participate in the international community.
Nevertheless, international politics is formed within the framework of the system that was created in 1945 – the UN. Do you see any contradictions between changes in international politics and the paralysis of the UN system and international law? How can Russia help overcome this so that the UN can work better? How can the contradictions in international politics be resolved in a more peaceful way, so that they are directed to the future?
Vladimir Putin: You are certainly right, there are certain contradictions between the framework that was created by the victorious countries in World War II in 1945, and the changed conditions in the world today. The year 1945 was one situation in the world, but today is quite another. And, of course, these legal norms must change in accordance with the changing world.
There are different ways to treat this issue, and we can say that the UN and modern international law, which is built on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations, are outdated and subject to demolition, and something new needs to be created. But here, of course, there is a danger that we will eliminate the existing system of international rules, namely these rules, international law based on the UN Charter, and nothing new has been created yet – and we will not create it, and there will simply be general chaos. Its elements already "have a place to be". But if the UN Charter is completely consigned to the dustbin of history, without replacing it with anything, then chaos is inevitable and can lead to very serious consequences.
Therefore, I believe that we should follow the path of changing international law in accordance with the requirements of today and with the changing situation in the world. In this sense, of course, the UN Security Council should be represented by countries that gain significant weight in international affairs and simply because of their potential have the opportunity and influence to resolve key international issues.
Which countries are they? This is India – more than one and a half billion people, in my opinion, already the population, more than seven percent of economic growth, in my opinion-7.4 or 7.6 percent. It is a global giant. Yes, there are still a lot of people who need help and support. Nevertheless, high-tech exports there are growing at a gigantic pace. So it is a powerful country, and it is becoming more powerful every year under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
Or Brazil in Latin America – the population is huge, the growth of influence is enormous. South Africa. How can we ignore their influence in the world? This means that their weight in making key decisions on the international agenda should also increase.
But, of course, this should be done in such a way that a consensus of these changes is reached, so that it does not destroy the existing international legal regime. This is a complex process, but, in my opinion, it is necessary to go in this direction, along this path.
F.Lukyanov: So you think that the existing international legal regime exists? Has it been destroyed yet?
Vladimir Putin: It's definitely not completely destroyed. After all, you know what's going on? Let's remember the very first years of the UN's existence. What was the name of our Soviet Foreign Minister, Mr. Gromyko, then? They called him "Mr. Nou." Why? Because there were so many contradictions, and the Soviet Union very often used its right of veto. But it made sense and made sense, and it didn't lead to conflicts.
In our recent history, we have often heard from Western leaders that the UN system is outdated, it does not meet the needs of today. Especially when it started to sound? During the Yugoslav crisis, when the United States and its allies began bombing Belgrade without any UN Security Council sanctions, ruthlessly and fearlessly, even hitting the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Belgrade.
Where is this international law? No, they said, there is no need for any international law that existed, it is outdated. Why? Because I wanted to act without regard for this international law. Then, when Russia began to take some actions, they said: but how so? It's an outrage! Russia violates international law and the UN Charter!
Unfortunately, there have always been attempts to adapt this international law to suit themselves. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? This is very bad. But at least something exists that is a reference point.
My only concern is that if it is swept away in the trash at all, then there will not even be landmarks. It seems to me that we need to follow the path of permanent gradual changes. But it should be done, of course. The world has changed.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
Sergey Karaganov: Mr President, I am one of the "veterans" and founders of the club. I am in a state of near-happiness on the day of his 20th birthday because… Old people, generally speaking, should say that "it was better with us" – it was not better with us, now it is better, more fun, more interesting, brighter, more colorful. So thank you for participating too. My question is this…
Vladimir Putin: As for "more fun", I think it sounds bold.
Sergey Karaganov: When it's more interesting, it's more fun.
Vladimir Putin: It's more fun for you, but not for me, to be honest. (Laughter.)
Sergey Karaganov: Mr President, one simple issue is being discussed quite sharply both outside of Russia and at the [Valdai] Club. I will formulate it as follows – from myself, of course, but not from everyone. Is our doctrine of the use of nuclear weapons outdated? It seems to me that it is certainly outdated, and it even looks frivolous, created in other times and, perhaps, in a different environment, and even follows the old theories. Containment no longer works. Isn't it time for us to change the doctrine of the use of nuclear weapons in the direction of lowering the nuclear threshold and go, of course, firmly, but quickly enough on the ladder of escalation of deterrence, sobering up our partners?
They have become insolent, they directly say that "since you have such a doctrine that you will never use nuclear weapons" - and we, thus, unwittingly allow them to expand and carry out absolutely monstrous aggression.
This is one question, and it contains another. Peace in the coming years-even when we win in one way or another in Ukraine or around Ukraine – the West will still live through very difficult times: new centers will rise, new difficulties will arise. After all, we need to put back the same fuse that was the nuclear deterrent and that kept the world going for 70 years. Now this West, having forgotten history and fear, is trying to eliminate this fuse. Should we change our policy in this area?
Vladimir Putin: I know your position, I have read some of your documents, articles, and notes. And I understand your feelings.
Let me remind you that in the Russian military doctrine there are two reasons for the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia. The first is the use against us, that is, it is a so-called retaliatory strike. But in practice, what does this mean? The missiles were launched, our early warning system detected, recorded, made it known that the target is the territory of the Russian Federation – all this happens in seconds so that everyone understands – and already understanding, knowing the information that Russia is being hit, we, for our part, respond to this aggression.
I want to assure everyone that today the response is absolutely unacceptable for any potential aggressor, because from the moment the launch of missiles is detected, no matter where it comes from, from any point of the World Ocean or from any territory, in response to a counter strike, so many hundreds appear in the air. – our missiles, that the chances of survival of any enemy will not remain, and in several directions at once.
The second reason for the use of these weapons is a threat to the existence of the Russian state, if even conventional weapons are used against Russia, but the very existence of Russia as a state is put at risk.
Here are two possible reasons for using the weapon you mentioned.
Do we need to change this? And why? Everything can be changed, I just don't see the need for it. There is no situation in which, for example, today something would threaten the Russian statehood and the existence of the Russian state, no. I don't think anyone in their right mind and clear memory would think of using nuclear weapons against Russia.
Nevertheless, the point of view of you, other experts, people who are patriotic, who are very concerned about what is happening inside the country, around us, and what is happening on the line of contact in the Ukrainian direction-I understand everything, we are carefully watching and, believe me, we respect your point of view However, I don't see such a need to change our concept. The potential enemy knows about everything, knows about our capabilities.
It is another matter, for example, that I am already hearing calls to, say, start testing nuclear weapons and return to testing. Here's what I'd say. The United States has signed a relevant international instrument, a document, a treaty banning nuclear weapons testing, and Russia has signed it. Russia has signed and ratified, and the United States has signed but not ratified.
Now we have almost finished working on the modern types of strategic weapons that I spoke about and which I announced a few years ago.
The latest successful test of the Burevestnik, a global-range cruise missile with a nuclear propulsion system, was conducted. We have actually finished work on the Sarmat, a super-heavy rocket. The question is that we just need to finish some procedures in a purely administrative and bureaucratic manner, go to their mass production and put them on combat duty. We will do it soon.
As a rule, experts say that this is a new weapon and you need to make sure that the special warhead will work without failures, and you need to conduct tests. I'm not ready to say right now whether we really need or don't need to conduct tests. But to behave in a mirror way in relations with the United States, I repeat once again, when the United States signed, but did not ratify, and we signed and ratified – in principle, it is possible to behave in a mirror way with the same United States. But this is a question for deputies of the State Duma. In theory, this ratification can be revoked. If we do that, it will be quite enough.
F.Lukyanov: Now some people in the West are already openly expressing the position that such active support for Ukraine is due to the fact that Russia somehow did not respond convincingly enough to the escalation on their part for the whole year and a half.
Vladimir Putin: I do not know, convincing, not convincing. But now, since the beginning of the so – called counteroffensive – this is the latest data – only since June 4, Ukrainian units have already lost more than 90 thousand people-these are sanitary and irretrievable losses, 557 tanks, almost 1,900 armored vehicles of various classes. Convincing, not convincing?
We have our own understanding of what moves and how. We understand where and what we need to do, where and what we need to add. We are calmly moving towards achieving our goals, and I am confident that we will achieve them-the implementation of these tasks that we set for ourselves.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
: (as translated)R.Desai Mr. President Putin, thank you for another, I would say, historically important and thoughtful speech. I'm always very impressed when I listen to you.
I have a question and a personal request. This question concerns my country, Canada. As you know, the Canadian Parliament just made a mockery of itself when they applauded a Ukrainian veteran Nazi in the Canadian Parliament. More than 440 people applauded, and no one asked the question: is this right?
As you know, Prime Minister Trudeau has apologized, it seems, twice already, and the Speaker of Parliament has resigned. And for me, it really shows the scale of how far the Western position has come. They are so focused on their own ignorant concepts that they have even forgotten how much Russia did to defeat Nazism.
They do not understand that if it were not for Russia's contribution, the Second World War would have ended differently: there would have been no victory. They have forgotten how much Russia did to win, 30 million lives were lost – a huge figure, it is difficult even to imagine this scale.
Could you comment on this, what do you think about it?
And my personal request to you, it concerns me personally. Sorry if I mispronounce something, but this concerns my friend, the friend of many of us here, and my husband Dimitris Konstantakopoulos. And this is the question of Boris Kagarlitsky. As you know, he was detained, and he is concerned about his personal condition.
And I have several reasons why I say this. Several petitions have been signed in Western countries, and of course there is a lot of talk about this case, but we do not sign these petitions because we do not agree with their content, because they are completely anti-Russian. And we have a letter for you, and we hope that you will read it, and we hope that you will understand that we are addressing you as friends of Russia.
Of course, we are in a difficult position because we do not agree with our friend's position, but we remember how much we learned from him. He has an excellent knowledge of Russian history and has always been committed to Russia. And this is our personal appeal to you: please do this in person. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: You know, to be honest, I don't know in detail who Kagarlitsky is – that's how my colleague [f.Lukyanov] prompts. I'll take your paper, look at it, and react, I promise you, okay?
As for your question, God knows we didn't agree on what this question would be, but I've been waiting for it, and I'll tell you honestly. And what's more, I took information about what actually happened. This is not an ordinary event for us.
Let me remind you that this division, in which the Ukrainian Nazi you mentioned served, was created by Hitler's command on April 28, 1943. The Nuremberg trial – not us yesterday or in the conditions of today, but the Nuremberg Tribunal declared the SS division "Galicia", in which this Ukrainian Nazi served, criminal and responsible for the genocide of Jews, Poles and other civilians. This is the decision of the International Nuremberg Court.
Let me remind you that this decision was made by independent prosecutors and judges – ultimately, judges, of course, based on the data provided by prosecutors in various countries. This organization has been declared a criminal organization.
Let me also remind you of the words – I specifically took this paper with information so that it would be concrete and evidence-that the Speaker of the Canadian Parliament said: "Today in this hall there is a Ukrainian-Canadian veteran of World War II who fought for the independence of Ukraine against the Russians. I am proud to say that he is a hero of Ukraine and a hero of Canada, and we are grateful for his service."
First, if the Speaker of the Canadian Parliament says that during the Second World War this Canadian-Ukrainian or Ukrainian-Canadian Nazi fought against the Russians, he cannot but understand that he fought on the side of Hitler, and not on the side of his own Homeland – Canada, or was a fascist collaborator-in the United States. in any case, he fought on the side of the Nazi troops. Let's say he doesn't know that. I don't want to hurt the feelings of the Canadian people in any way. We treat Canada no matter what with respect, especially to the people. But if he doesn't know that Hitler and his henchmen fought against Russia during the war, then he's an idiot. So he just didn't go to school, doesn't have basic knowledge. And if he knows that this man fought on the side of Hitler, and calls him a "hero of Ukraine" and a "hero of Canada", then he is a scoundrel. Either that or that.
These are the kind of people we have to deal with, such are our opponents today from some Western countries.
But what else is important, in my opinion. The Speaker of the Parliament of Canada says: he fought with the Russians and (there [in the document] further quote) today continues to support the Ukrainian troops fighting against the Russians. He basically put Hitler's collaborators, the Waffen – Ss, and today's Ukrainian military units fighting, as he said, against Russia on the same level-he put them on the same level. This only confirms our thesis that one of our goals in Ukraine is denazification. So, it is still there and recognized – this Nazification of Ukraine. And our common goal, I believe, is to achieve denazification.
And, finally, of course, it is absolutely disgusting that everyone applauded this Nazi, and especially the President of Ukraine, who has Jewish blood in his veins, a Jew by nationality, stands and applauds a Nazi – not just a" follower " of the Nazis, not just an ideological follower, but a person who destroyed the Jewish population with his own hands. This he personally destroyed, because the German fascists created this SS division "Galicia" primarily for the destruction of civilians, and the Nuremberg Court decision says so. They are blamed for the genocide of Jews, Poles-about 150 thousand Poles were killed, Russians, of course, Gypsies were not considered at all – they were not even considered people. 1.5 million Jews were exterminated in Ukraine – just think about this figure. What, didn't that happen? What, doesn't anyone know that? Yes, everyone knows, everyone knows. Wasn't there a Holocaust?
And when the President of Ukraine applauds a person who personally, with his own hands, destroyed Jews in Ukraine, does he mean to say that the Holocaust did not happen? Isn't that disgusting? All means are good, if only they would fight against Russia, such people. And all means are good if used in the fight against Russia. I can imagine that there is simply an overwhelming desire to defeat Russia on the battlefield, to achieve its strategic defeat. But is it really possible to do this at such a price? I think it's just extremely disgusting. And I very much hope that not only we will talk about this here, in a narrow circle, at the Valdai Club, but also that, somehow, public organizations – those who care about the future of humanity-will still formulate their position on this issue clearly, unequivocally and with condemnation what happened.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
I saw Gabor Stier. Gabor Stier-I saw it somewhere, but now I've lost it.
G. Stir: Gabor Stir from Hungary.
Mr. President, this time I will not ask what will happen to Odessa, although in Hungary many people ask what the neighboring country will be called.
Vladimir Putin: Did you have Odessa in mind? Last time you asked.
G. Stier: Yes, it was last time, [but] I have a different question.
Vladimir Putin: Please excuse me.
G. Stier: Mr. President, we know that you are interested in history, so now I would like to approach the current reality from this point of view. If we talk about history, we know how important it was for the development of Russia that Peter the Great opened a "window to Europe", to the European part of the Russian identity.
Of course, now Europe is in decline and is doing everything possible to make Russia dislike it. But I, as a European, am seriously afraid sometimes to hear statements that some European cities should be subjected to atomic bombing.
What does Europe mean for Russia today? Because it's not a question of what problems we have. What does Europe mean for Russia today? Will Russia turn its back on it completely? Don't you think it would be a mistake to seal up this "window"?
If we are already talking about history, then one more question. New Russian history textbooks have caused a serious discussion in Hungary, more precisely, lines about 1956 describing what happened as a kind of"color revolution". Do you also think that 1956 was not a real revolution? And do you agree with another controversial comment in the book that the withdrawal of troops from Central Europe in 1990-1991 was a mistake?
I remember and know that in Vladivostok you said that the introduction of tanks was a mistake, in 1968 and in 1956. But if it was a mistake, then do you think that the withdrawal of troops is also a mistake?
Vladimir Putin: Do you think this is a question? This is probably the reason for writing a dissertation. You said you wouldn't mention Odessa, although you did. I refrained last time, but I can say that Odessa is, of course, a Russian city. A little Jewish, as we say now. Just a little. But now we will not discuss this issue if you are determined to talk about another topic.
First, the "window to Europe". You know, my colleagues have just said that the world is changing and climbing back and forth through the "window" all the time, tearing your pants is not the best thing to do. And why go through the window when there are other doors? This is the first one.
Second. Without any doubt, the civilized code of Russia, as well as Europe, is based on Christianity. And this, of course, unites us. But we are not going to impose ourselves on Europe if it doesn't want to. We don't refuse, we don't shut it down. You said whether we're sorry or not sorry. Why should we be sorry? It is not we who are slamming the door for joint communication, it is Europe that is shutting itself off from us and creating a new "iron curtain", it is not we who are creating it, but the Europeans are creating it, at a loss and to their detriment.
I've already said it, and I can repeat it. The economy of, say, the United States is growing-2.4 percent, and the European economy is going into recession, already gone. Some European politicians, who are definitely not positive and friendly towards our country, give the correct diagnosis: well-being was based on cheap energy carriers from Russia and on the development of the Chinese market. Europe's well-being was based on these factors. Of course, high technologies, a hardworking and disciplined working class, talented people – all this is certainly true. But there are fundamental factors that Europe itself refuses.
In my opening speech, I spoke about sovereignty. You understand the point, because sovereignty has multi-vector dimensions. Why do we keep saying, and I keep saying, that Russia cannot exist as a non-sovereign state? It will simply cease to exist altogether. Because it's not just about military and other security issues, it's also about other components.
Here's what happened to Europe? Many European leaders, so that they don't accuse me of running roughshod over someone or making a rascal of someone, many Europeans themselves say that Europe has lost its sovereignty. For example, in the" economic locomotive " of Europe, the Federal Republic, leading politicians have repeatedly stressed that after 1945, Germany was never, in the full sense of the word, a sovereign state.
What does this lead to in practice, including in economic life? It was the United States that provoked it, and I think, I have no doubt, it was they who provoked the Ukrainian crisis when they supported the coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014. They could not help but understand that this is a "red line", we have said this a thousand times. No, they did. Here we have today's situation.
And I suspect that this is no accident. They needed this conflict. As a result, Europe, which had long ago lost a part – not completely, but a significant part of its sovereignty – was forced to immediately stand "in the tail" of its sovereign and follow his policy, switch to a policy of sanctions and restrictions against Russia. It was forced to, realizing that this is going to harm it, and now all energy carriers – a significant part of these energy carriers – are bought from the United States at 30 percent more expensive.
Restrictions have been imposed on Russian oil, but what is the result? This is not as obvious as for gas, but the result is the same: they have reduced the number of suppliers, and in turn they have started buying from the reduced number of oil suppliers at more expensive prices, while we sell our oil to other countries at a discount.
Do you understand what happened? The competitiveness of the European economy has fallen, and the competitiveness of their main competitor in terms of the economic component of the United States has increased dramatically, and other countries, including in Asia, have also increased. As a result of the loss of part of their sovereignty, they were forced to make decisions to their own detriment.
Why do we need such a partner? Of course, it's not useless. But I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we are largely moving away from the fading European market and increasing our presence in growing markets in other regions of the world, including Asia.
At the same time, of course, we have many centuries-old ties with Europe in the field of culture and education. I repeat: all this is based on the Christian culture. But here, too, we are not very happy with the Europeans. They destroy their roots based on Christian culture, they just pull them out mercilessly.
Therefore, we are not going to close anything-no windows – no doors, but we are not going to break down there, to Europe, if Europe does not want it. Wants – please, we will work together. It seems to me that you can talk endlessly, but I think I have noted the main points.
Now about the textbook and the color revolutions, 1956. I won't hide it, I haven't read this part of the tutorial. And about the withdrawal of troops. Of course, these are also historical facts, and then, in 1956, many Western countries fomented the problems that took place, including due to the mistakes of the then Hungarian leadership, and the militants were trained abroad, transferred to Hungary. But this, in my opinion, is still difficult to call a color revolution in its pure form, because after all, there was an internal basis for serious protest within the country itself. This, in my opinion, is an obvious thing. And besides, it is hardly necessary to transfer today's wording to the middle of the last century.
As for the withdrawal of troops. I am deeply convinced that there is no point in using troops to suppress internal tendencies in a particular country, among the people, to achieve the goals that they consider a priority for themselves. This applies to European countries, including Eastern Europe. There was no point in keeping troops there if the peoples of those countries didn't want them on their territory.
But how it happened, under what conditions it all happened, and in what way-this, of course, raises many questions. Our troops went straight to the open field. How many people know about this? Just in the open field, with their families. Is this normal? At the same time, neither the Soviet nor the Russian leadership formulated any obligations or legal consequences for the withdrawal of these troops.
Our Western partners have not made any commitments at all. At least we returned to the issue of NATO's expansion or non-expansion to the east. Yes, everything was promised, our American partners do not deny it, verbally, and then they ask us: where is the piece of paper? There is no piece of paper. And that's it, goodbye. Promised? It seems like they promised, but it doesn't cost anything. We know that they don't even have a piece of paper worth anything. They are ready to throw away any piece of paper. But at least something would have been recorded on paper, and something could have been agreed upon during the withdrawal of troops.
Agree on the issues of ensuring security in Europe, achieve some new design in Europe. After all, the same German social democracy, Mr. Egon Bahr, had proposals, and I have already mentioned this once, to create a new security system in Europe that would include Russia, the same United States, and the same Canada, but not NATO, but together with everyone - for Eastern Europe and Central Europe. In my opinion, this would solve many of the problems of today.
And then he said, my grandfather was smart, just said: "Otherwise, you will see, everything will be the same only closer to Russia." He was a German politician, an experienced, competent and intelligent man. No one listened to him, not even the Soviet leadership, much less in the West and in the United States. Now we have what he said.
Withdrawal of troops-yes, it was pointless to keep them. But the conditions of withdrawal – this is exactly what we should have discussed and achieved the creation of a situation that, perhaps, would not have led to today's tragedies and to today's crisis. That's probably all.
Did I answer your question? If you forgot something, please.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
Now that we're talking about Germany, Stefan Huth.
:(as translated)Sh.Huth My name is Stefan Huth, I'm from Germany.
I would like to talk about what you just mentioned – the special military operation in Ukraine. It is often said that this is an anti-fascist operation, that we need to liberate the people of Ukraine from the Nazis, we need to liberate the country, and so on.
Against this background, it is not entirely clear how this can be. It turns out that we have contacts at a high level, between parliaments, and even German parties have contacts.
We also have parties that are inherently deeply racist. Of course, they have no sympathy for the Russian people, and they do not understand at all that Russia is a multi-ethnic country, as you said in your speech.
Here's what I'd like to understand. What do you expect, what does your Government expect from contacts with parliaments of other countries, with other parties – with parties that have a similar sense, almost fascist? Do you understand that anti-fascism in Europe also does not support your policy? The European anti-fascist movement does not support Russian actions.
Vladimir Putin: Please excuse me, but I would like to ask you to be more specific. What do you mean when you talk about fascist forces and fascist parties, their attitude to Russia, and so on? Please be specific, otherwise we will speak in semitones, but it is better to speak directly.
:(as translated)Sh.So, AfD head Tino Abdalla held an official meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2020. It was an official meeting. And part of the AfD, in fact, is based on the fascist movement, and anti-fascists in Germany do not quite understand the meaning of such contacts, and they do not understand the meaning of Russia's policy towards such parties.
Vladimir Putin: What do you see and what confirms what you said, that they are based in their activities on some fascist, pro-Fascist national socialist ideas? Can you tell me exactly what it's about?
:(as translated)Sh.Hut Björn Hecke, for example, is directly linked to the fascists, he regularly goes to demonstrations in Dresden on the anniversary of the events, and he goes out with the fascists. This is a representative of the Alternative for Germany party, directly connected with the fascist movement, and this is often said. He does not hide the fact that it is a right-wing party.
Vladimir Putin: I see. Look, you started with Ukraine and asked me if it is fair that we publicly declare that we are striving for the denazification of the Ukrainian political system. But here we were just discussing the situation that developed in the Canadian Parliament, when the President of Ukraine stood and applauded the Nazi who killed Jews, Russians and Poles.
Isn't this a sign that Ukraine has developed a system that we can call pro-Nazi? The leader of the state stands and applauds a Nazi, and not just some ideological follower of Nazism, but a real Nazi, a former SS soldier. Isn't this a sign of the Nazification of Ukraine, and doesn't this give us the right to talk about its denazification?
But you can answer: "Yes, this is the head of state, but this is not the whole country." And I'll tell you: you mentioned those who go to rallies together with pro-Fascist elements. Is this the entire party that goes to these rallies? Probably not.
Everything that is pro-Fascist and pro-Nazi is certainly condemned by us. Anything that lacks these characteristics, but, on the contrary, is aimed at establishing contacts, is supported by us.
As far as I know, an attempt was made on the life of one of the leaders of Alternative for Germany. Just now, during the election campaign. What does this mean? That the representatives of this party use Nazi methods, or that these Nazi methods are used against them? After all, this is a question waiting for a painstaking researcher, including in your person, and in the person of the general public of the Federal Republic itself.
As for the anti-fascist forces. We have always been together with them, and we know their position on Russia. We are grateful to them for this position and, of course, support it.
I think that everything that the revival aims at maintaining relations between us should be supported, and this, of course, can be a light at the end of the tunnel of our current relations.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
Alexey Grivach: Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question. It also has a research character. We are working on the latest developments in the gas sector.
Just over a year ago, we all witnessed an incredible, unprecedented act of international terrorism against Europe's cross-border critical infrastructure. I am referring to the Northern Streams explosions.
You have made many comments on this topic, including the demonstrative negligence of European investigators and politicians in assessing this situation. We can say that we see a brilliant lack of any clear reaction-condemnation of this fact on the part of the leadership, for example, Chancellor Scholz or President Macron. Although the companies of these countries, it can be said, directly suffered from these actions, as they were and are shareholders, co-owners of these assets and co-investors of these projects.
But at the same time, numerous "plums" have recently appeared, which directly or indirectly try to lay the blame: allegedly, the investigation comes to such conclusions that Ukrainian comrades are behind these acts. In this regard, I have two questions for you.
The first. Was there any reaction on the part of these gentlemen-political figures, your European counterparts-in any direct contacts, and not in official speeches, which were not, in my opinion, or, as they say, through diplomatic channels?
Second question. What can and will be the consequences if the so-called European investigation, the investigative bodies of European countries still place some form of blame for these events and actions on the Ukrainian side?
Vladimir Putin: The first thing I would like to draw your attention to is that long before these explosions, the President of the United States publicly said that the United States would do everything possible to stop Russian energy supplies to Europe through these pipeline systems. Moreover, he smiled significantly and said:"I won't tell you how it will be done now, but we will do it." First.
Second. The destruction of these infrastructure facilities is certainly an act of international terrorism.
The third. We are not allowed to participate in the investigation, despite our suggestions and repeated calls to do so.
Further. There are no results of the investigation and, apparently, will not be.
And finally, when answering the question of who is to blame, it is always necessary to answer the question of who is interested in it. Of course, the American supplier of energy carriers to the European market is interested. The Americans have long wanted this, and they have achieved it, and by whose hands – it no longer matters.
There is another component to this whole problem. Of course, if it is ever revealed who did this, it is necessary to bring to justice. This is an act of international terrorism. But one branch of Nord Stream 2 remains intact, and it can supply 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe. This is only a decision of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. Nothing else is needed. Today the decision is made-tomorrow we turn the valve, and that's all-the gas went. But they do not do this, because, as we say, the "Washington regional committee" does not allow it-to the detriment of their own interests.
We continue to supply gas to Europe through Turkish Streams, and it seems that the Ukrainian tergroups are aiming to damage it as well. Our ships guard the pipeline systems laid along the bottom of the Black Sea, but they are constantly being attacked by drones, which are being prepared, including with the direct participation of English-speaking specialists and advisers. We hear this on the air: where these unmanned semi-submerged boats are being prepared, we hear English speech – this is an obvious fact for us. Who does it in the end-draw your own conclusions.
But deliveries continue, including through the territory of Ukraine. We transit through the territory of Ukraine and pay money for this transit-just for a moment. I've already talked about this. We hear that we are aggressors, that we are so-and-so, bad. But the money, apparently, does not smell – they get money for transit, with pleasure, they cash it all: am, and that's all.
We are open and transparent, and we are ready to cooperate. If they don't want to, don't. We will increase the amount of liquefied natural gas produced and sold. We will send them to other markets. We will build new pipeline systems where our products are wanted, where they are absolutely competitive and raise the competitiveness of the economies of those countries, as I have already said, where our products are delivered.
As for the investigation, we'll see. In the end, the awl in the bag, as we say in the people, do not hide: in the end, it will still be clear who did it.
F.Lukyanov: Mr President, you yourself mentioned transit through Ukraine. We have a part of the public is perplexed: why are we doing this? This money, so that they "am", why do we pay them?
Vladimir Putin: We pay money because it is a transit country, and we supply it in transit through Ukraine only because we fulfill our contractual obligations to our counterparties in Europe.
F.Lukyanov: But it also strengthens the defense capability of our enemy.
Vladimir Putin: But it also strengthens our financial condition – we get paid for it.
F.Lukyanov: I see. Thank you.
Mohammad Ihsan has been holding out his hand for a long time.
: (as translated)M.Ishan Thank you.
It is an honor and a great opportunity to hear your speech.
I would like to switch to the Middle East, move away from the topic of the international system and Ukraine. I am from Iraq, and soon the Prime Minister of Iraq will pay a visit to Moscow. I am grateful that you will accept it personally.
Now there are numerous problems related to our country. Both Rosneft and Gazprom work here. They have invested large sums in Iraq, and in Kurdistan in particular.
Do you think that now there is an opportunity to help the parties to the conflict in Kurdistan reach a peaceful solution and peacefully resolve all the problems that currently exist, since there are other countries in the region that would like, for example, to escalate the conflict, would like to add fuel to the fire?
Now I would also like to say that we have already reached the end of 2023, and don't you think that the time has come to personally help all parties to the conflict in Syria, including to talk to the government, the Kurds, regional forces, and all regional parties, and finally, end this conflict?
Thousands of Syrians have fled their homes. They are being humiliated, and a peaceful solution to the conflict is not yet on the horizon. I don't think anyone but you can do that right now. Most of the parties to the conflict respect Russia, respect President Putin, and you have very good relations with them. I think the time has come not to intervene, but to mediate between all parties in Syria.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: You have just said that even the parties to the conflict in some countries of the Middle East, including Syria, respect us and treat us with respect. I can tell you: this is because we ourselves treat everyone with respect.
As far as Syria is concerned, we support the peace process, including under the auspices of the United Nations. But we cannot substitute ourselves for the contracting parties. We can only create conditions and, to a certain extent, if this is acceptable to everyone, act as guarantors of these agreements, including with the participation of our direct partners in this process. I am referring to Iran and Turkey – within the framework of the Astana process.
We did it, all of it had positive consequences, and now everything that has been achieved, and thank God a lot has been achieved-I mean, first of all, the ceasefire-conditions have been created for the peace process. All this was done by us and our partners with the good will of the Syrian leadership. But, of course, there is still a lot to do.
It seems to me that outside interference and attempts to create some quasi-state associations on the territory of Syria do not lead to anything good. The displacement of Arab tribes that traditionally lived in certain territories in order to create these quasi-state entities is a difficult story that can lead to a prolonged conflict.
But we are nevertheless ready to do everything possible to increase the level of trust, including between the central authorities and Syria, and the Kurds living in the east of the country. This is a complex process. Here, you know, I try to be very careful, because every word has a meaning. This is the first one.
The second is about Iraq. We have very good relations with Iraq, and we welcome the visit of the Prime Minister of Iraq to Russia. Indeed, there are many issues of mutual interest, and, of course, they are primarily in the energy sector. But there is another issue that is very important in the economic sphere – logistics. I won't go into details right now, but we know that there are several options for developing logistics transport routes across Iraq. In general, they all suit us, we just need to choose the most optimal projects. We are ready to take part in their implementation.
Mr. Prime Minister will be here, and we will be happy to discuss all these issues, including those related to regional security and security inside Iraq itself. We have maintained the closest, closest and most trusting relations with Iraq for many, many decades. We have a lot of friends there, and we want and strive for a situation of stability in the country, and on the basis of this stability, the economy and social sphere will develop.
We are waiting for the arrival of Mr. Prime Minister. I am sure that this visit will be very productive and timely.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
Taisuke Abiru, please.
T. Abiru: Sasakawa Foundation, Japan.
The last time I was given the opportunity to ask a question was in 2018, five years ago. But after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Japan participated in sanctions against Russia, and Russia announced the suspension of negotiations on a peace treaty between the two countries, bringing Japanese-Russian relations to a standstill. Personally, I don't see any good prospects for improving the situation in the near future.
Nevertheless, Russia and Japan are neighbors. I believe that it is necessary to always keep the dialog box open. In this sense, I believe that it is high time to resume the dialogue between our countries at least at the level of experts.
If Japan comes up with such an initiative, Mr. President, will you support this initiative? Thank you.
F.Lukyanov: "Window openings" are popular with us today, have you noticed?
Vladimir Putin: I'm a 4th class carpenter, I know how to build windows, don't worry.
F.Lukyanov: Can you expand?
Vladimir Putin: We will expand it if necessary. If this is in our national interest, we will work on it as well.
About Japan. You said that you asked the question in 2018, and after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, everything changed. The fighting in Ukraine began not after 2018, but in 2014, but simply in Japan they preferred not to notice this. And the more acute phase really began in 2022, but the fighting itself began in 2014 during the bombing and attacks of armored vehicles on the Donbass-that's how it all started. I mentioned this in my opening speech.
Now about our relationship. We didn't impose sanctions on Japan, we didn't close this "window", in this case to Asia. Japan did the same. We didn't do anything.
If you think that the time has come for some kind of dialogue to take place, and you think that it is possible for the Japanese side to show some initiative, it is always good when there is some kind of dialogue.
You asked me if we were ready to answer that. We are ready if there is such an initiative on the part of the party that closed these "doors" or "windows". If you think it's time to open this "window" a crack, please. We never said we were against it. Do this.
F.Lukyanov: Alexander Rakovich.
: (as translated)But.Rakovich, Your Excellency!
I am a historian from Belgrade, Serbia. It's a privilege to be here, to see you and talk to you. I have a question about your opinion on the current relations between Russia and Serbia and the current position of the Serbs in the Balkans. Are we, Serbia and Russia, the target of Western policy because we are pro-Christian?
Mr. President, I have with me two books that I brought from Belgrade for you. Please accept them to your library. I will provide these books to your protocol service after our session.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. I'll definitely take the books. thank you.
As for whether Russia and Serbia are a target for some circles in the West? Yes, this is a fact. No special proof is needed here, it's just a fact. Why is Serbia such a target? I honestly don't understand.
Just as Russia in the early 90-ies was ready to do anything to build after the collapse of the Soviet Union, believing that times have changed dramatically, to make virtually any sacrifice-in order to build its relations with Western countries. What did we get? Support for separatism and terrorism in the Caucasus, including direct political, informational, financial, and even military support. You know, I was first director of the FSB at that time, and I was surprised to see what was happening, and I thought: "Why? It's like we're all together now, so why are they doing this?" There is no answer, to be honest, not even until now.
I believe that this is just a lack of education or something, a lack of understanding of trends, a lack of understanding of how the world works, how Russia works, and what this can lead to. Just a desire to push hard, push hard, push hard – nothing but force. After all, sanctions are also a force, only in a different form. Complete lack of desire to find any compromises. And those shouts I was talking about: "You must, you must, we warn you" - this is also force and an attempt to use the element of force. It's the same thing. That's what it's all about.
And in relation to first Yugoslavia, and then Serbia. What for? Serbia, too, seems to have been ready for everything, wanted to agree on everything. No, we need to push on, push on. You know, I have repeatedly heard: "It is necessary to add pressure, this is the weak link." That's the philosophy. Why exactly did the Serbs have to be crushed? I honestly don't know.
Even more than that, when I had some frank conversations, I still had normal relations with some leaders, when I was told: "We need to add pressure," I said: "Why?" – no answer. Just like that, the philosophy has developed, the paradigm, it is necessary to decide like this – to add pressure.
But the Serbs are not the same people, the history is not the same, the culture is not the same. You know, I may say a difficult thing: you can destroy them, but you can't crush them and subdue the Serbs. They don't understand it either.
But I hope that sooner or later there will also be an understanding of this component in European politics, and in general in the world as a whole, and there will be an understanding that it is necessary to negotiate more constructively, and not try to add pressure.
: (as translated)Question Mr. President, thank you very much for your speeches, they are very informative. I'm from New Delhi. Thank you so much for your positive assessment of India's role.
I have a question about the G20 . The G20 declaration was developed, and we are very grateful to you for your work. In the G20 ,there is also a certain reference: "One world, one family, one future", which is connected with the civilizational approach, as I think you mentioned. Just like the Russian civilization, you promote the approach of the Russian civilization, just as India describes itself, calls itself a civilizational state, a state-civilization. Thus, it is necessary to establish a dialogue between civilizations, and not to follow the path of confrontation between civilizations-this is what was once popular in the Western world.
Now leaders like you and Prime Minister Modi are putting forward their own initiatives. They will help to create a dialogue between civilizations that can be positive and will help to create the principles of international relations that you mentioned.
The question is: what do you think of the G20 Declaration and what is your view on the future of the G20? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to confirm what you said about Indian civilization and Russian civilization, which is exactly what I said in my opening speech. India, of course, is the oldest world civilization, powerful, huge and with great potential.
Russia is also a separate civilization. See: we have more than 190 peoples, nationalities, and ethnic groups living in Russia, and more than 270 languages and dialects. Of course, isn't this a civilization? And India is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic country, a huge country. We need to establish a dialogue, a balance of interests and mechanisms for maintaining this balance among all civilizations – these are not the only world civilizations.
As for the work of the G20 ,it is certainly a success of the Indian leadership and personally of Prime Minister Mr. Modi. This is a success, and the Indian leadership was able to find and achieve this balance, including in the Declaration. Some associations are closed, they do not have much perspective, and the balance is changing.
But what, I think, is the success of the G20 in India? The fact is that the Prime Minister managed to depoliticize the decisions that were made at the G20, and this is the only correct approach, because the G20 was once created as a platform for discussing economic, not political issues. Politicization of the G20 is simply a sure path to its self-destruction, and the Indian leadership has managed to avoid this, and this is certainly a success.
As for the fact that some closed associations are flawed, it seems to me that this thesis is difficult to refute, because the balance of forces is changing. Look, not so long ago, everyone was watching with a shudder what would happen as a result of the G7 meeting: the world's largest economies are gathering, what they are doing there now, and what will be the consequences for the global economy.
Even before the expansion, the BRICS economies accounted for more than 51 percent of global GDP. Accordingly, the G7 economy was smaller. And now, after the adoption of additional members by the BRICS organization, the size of the economy of the BRICS member countries has become even larger than the G7 members, so the real balance of forces and potentials is very important.
In this sense, open platforms are always better, always more promising, and always more valuable, because they create conditions for finding compromises and mutually acceptable solutions. But if we talk about the results of the G20's work, I would like to repeat once again, and I would like to end my answer to your question: this is certainly a success for Prime Minister Modi.
F.Lukyanov: Mr Putin, you didn't go to the BRICS, and you didn't go to the G20 either. Don't you feel a little "deprived" that you can't go anywhere you want?
Vladimir Putin: Those who were deprived of certain social benefits in the first years of Soviet power were called" deprived". So? We do not need social payments, we are a self-sufficient state and we are following this path.
F.Lukyanov: Some people were also deprived of their civil rights there.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, they were deprived. But we are defending our rights, and I am sure we will ensure them. This is the first one.
Second. Why would I create any problems for our friends during these events? But I, and we adults, understand that when I arrive, there will be political attacks, political shows, and all this will be aimed at disrupting the event. And why?
First of all, we are interested in ensuring that the BRICS countries pass through normally, smoothly and with results, and that the G20 meets at the right level. All this has taken place, and we are quite happy with it.
And finally, the third. Still, there's enough to do at home.
F.Lukyanov: So you're not offended by the South African President?
Vladimir Putin: Come on, this is our friend.
F.Lukyanov: Does he look like you?
Vladimir Putin: And for what? No, we agreed on the same thing, he came to Russia twice, we met with him, had a long conversation. There are no problems, and I think that he conducted BRICS brilliantly, to be honest, I didn't even expect such diplomatic skill from him. Because if you followed the discussion, it was not easy to solve the issue of BRICS expansion, but he did. He so politely, tactfully, repeatedly returned to the same topic, and once, and twice, and three times – and, finally, a consensus was reached. This is a positive result, and we welcome it.
F.Lukyanov: Next year you will be in his place. Do you already know who we will accept?
Vladimir Putin: Next year, yes, we are holding the BRICS presidency, and of course we will strive to accept the "baton" from South Africa. This is the first time that we will hold a summit with the participation of new members of the organization. We have planned 200 events within the BRICS framework, and I am sure that a great deal of positive work will be done over the course of the year to strengthen the organization, which is becoming more and more authoritative and powerful, and this will certainly benefit both the members of the organization and the entire international community.
It was born in Russia-BRICS. I'll remind you what it was like. At first, we suggested that the three of us meet: Russia, India and China, and we agreed that we would meet on a regular basis. This is how the RIC emerged-Russia, India, and China. Then Brazil expressed its willingness and willingness to join these discussions – the BRIC turned out. And then South Africa, South Africa, and it turned out to be BRICS.
Now we have reached the expansion stage and expanded the number of members of the organization. In my opinion, this is very important, it shows the growing authority and, most importantly, the desire to join a format that does not oblige anyone, does not impose anything on anyone, but simply creates conditions for finding compromises and resolving issues that all participating countries are interested in solving. We are happy about this, and we believe that this is a positive process.
F.Lukyanov: Will we take Algeria?
Vladimir Putin: Algeria is our friend, certainly a traditional friend in the Arab world, in North Africa. We believe that this would benefit the organization, but we should certainly work out these issues with all our friends in the BRICS framework, in contact with the Algerian leadership itself, and do it calmly, without creating problems for the organization, but only creating additional ways for common development.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you.
: (as translated)D.Jayatilleka Thank you, Mr. President.
I represent Sri Lanka. I was the Ambassador to the Russian Federation.
The Western bloc decided to equip Ukraine with long-range missiles, cluster munitions that can reach the territory of the Russian Federation, and they also wanted to provide F-16s.
Obviously, you are now facing a war, imperialism, a proxy war, and as you have already said, there are also Nazi elements here.
From a historical point of view, Mr. President, imperialism was fought on the battlefield. This includes Chinese Communists, communists in North Korea and Vietnam. They won a victory over the United States. As for imperialism, it was Lenin who most criticized it.
The question is this: in the face of this challenge, this threat from these forces, perhaps it is time to reassess 1917, because the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the North Koreans were the children of this year. Don't you think it's time to review the events of these years, as well as the attitude of the United States with its allies, and with France, and with China during the Chinese Revolution? That's my question.
Vladimir Putin: I'm sorry, but please specify what? And who needs to review what – you have such a difficult question-since 1917?
F.Lukyanov: If I understand correctly, my colleague is asking whether it is time to reconsider the attitude towards the revolution, the Communists and that period of our history in a more positive way.
Vladimir Putin:Should we reconsider our attitude to the period of our history in 1917?
F.Lukyanov: 1917 and beyond. I'm sorry for my interpretation, but I understand that, yes.
Vladimir Putin: Why interpret it when there is an author of this question?
:(as translated)D.Jayatilleka Let me briefly explain what I am talking about.
Since we are being attacked by imperialism and elements of fascism, and since there have already been cases of successful victory over imperialism in China, Korea, and Vietnam, and Lenin wrote texts about imperialism, perhaps it is time to less criticize the events of 1917 and restore the historical status of those events – as the French, American, and Chinese revolutions.
Vladimir Putin: I take it that there is less criticism of the events of those years, including in Russia itself.
Yes, you're right. We are right in the sense that we need to engage less in criticism, and more in a deep, in this case even scientific, analysis of the realities that were happening at that time, which are happening now. Yes, you're right.
The only thing is that you need to give deep assessments, including those related to ideologization. Now I will speak my own opinion, and everyone here can argue with it. It is also necessary to give correct assessments of the ideologization of interstate relations and geopolitical interests. Apart from relations between classes, relations within the framework of the so-called class struggle… We didn't pay much attention – and even after the events of 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we were still in the paradigm of class relations and ideological relations and didn't notice that there were purely geopolitical interests.
Here is the West's relationship with the People's Republic of China. There was a time when they tried – and not without success – to pit China and the Soviet Union, Russia. Because China was the weakest – it wasn't a big deal . Now that China has started to grow, under the leadership of the same Communist Party and today President Xi Jinping, its power is growing almost every day-everything, now there is a return… And when they tried to use China, they forgot about all the ideological differences, and now they are reviving them again. But, in fact, the US policy towards China is based on geopolitical fears. The power, the growing power of China-that's what scares, and not that there are any human rights violated or the rights of national minorities.
Does this really bother anyone? No, it's just a tool to fight China, that's all. The same applies to Russia.
But in general, globally-yes, we need to give general, more in-depth assessments. In any case, I agree with you that indiscriminately throwing everything into the "dustbin of history", everything that happened under the leadership of the communist parties of that time, which you mentioned, of course, indiscriminately smearing all this with one paint is impractical and even harmful. In this sense, I agree with you.
F.Lukyanov: But now that we're talking about China, Mr. Liu Gang.
:(as translated)Liu Gang Mr. President, I represent the Xinhua Institute from China.
At the last meetings of the Valdai Club, we talked about BRICS, and this is very important. We also saw that after the US and some Western countries escalated sanctions against Russia, the global South did not follow suit and showed strategic independence. During the BRICS summit in August this year, six countries became new members of BRICS, and the global South reached a new level in its history of cooperation.
China and Russia are important emerging economies. What can our countries do to expand cooperation in the global South? What are the main areas that need to be strengthened? And what should be done in the face of new sanctions imposed by the United States and some Western countries? What else can Russia do to meet this challenge?
Vladimir Putin: Even today, cooperation between Russia and the People's Republic of China is undoubtedly a very important factor stabilizing international life. This is the first one.
Second. In order for this influence to grow, first of all, we need to pay attention to maintaining the pace of our economic growth. I don't remember whether I mentioned economic growth in Russia this year, but I did talk about some aspects, and if I did, I will repeat that this year's economic growth will be somewhere between 2.8 percent and maybe even three percent, and I say this very carefully, but closer to three percent. This is a good result for our economy, for the economic structure that Russia has. We have completely overcome the downturn of last year and are gaining momentum.
In China, growth, as far as I know, will already be 6.4 percent – this is a very good indicator. No matter what anyone says about the decline in the Chinese economy's growth rate, it's all just idle talk, because China is driving these high rates and is actually one of the leading locomotives of the global economy. The same thing is happening in India: there the growth is even greater – 7.6 percent, in my opinion. Therefore, the countries of the global South are gaining momentum, and our task is to ensure this leadership. This is the first one.
The second is in the field of security. We see what is happening in Europe. We see that one of the ways to provoke and create a crisis in Ukraine was the irrepressible desire of Western countries, and above all the United States, to expand NATO to the borders of the Russian Federation. They are doing the same thing in the East, creating various closed military groups. They are stepping on the same rake there that they did in Europe. Therefore, it is important for us to respond to this in a timely manner.
We will expand our cooperation in the field of security as well. At the same time, we do not create any blocks against anyone, but we are forced to react to what is happening around our states.
We will certainly implement the infrastructure development plans that are related to the construction of greater Eurasia, the Eurasian Economic Union and the plans of our Chinese friends to develop President Xi Jinping's idea of "One Belt, One Road". I have already mentioned this – I think it is very promising.
Finally, we have a lot of cooperation planned in the humanitarian fields: culture, student exchanges, and sports. This is extremely important for the neighboring States.
We are already implementing fairly large infrastructure projects on a bilateral basis and will continue to do so. I hope that we will discuss all this in the near future during our meeting with President Xi Jinping in the framework of the forum that the President is holding in Beijing in October this year.
F.Lukyanov: Mikhail Rostovsky.
Mikhail Rostovsky: Mr President, Ukraine's accession to NATO is absolutely unacceptable for Russia. But as far as I remember your last speech on Ukraine's accession to the European Union, you were much less negative.
Has your point of view changed over the past year? Will Russia object to Ukraine joining the European Union? And do you think such an entry is possible in principle?
Vladimir Putin: We have never objected or expressed any negative position regarding Ukraine's plans to join the European Economic Community-never.
As for NATO: yes, we have always been against it, and this position has some serious grounds, since the expansion of NATO directly to our borders threatens our security – this is a serious challenge for the security of the Russian Federation. This is not only a political block – it is a military-political block, and the approach of infrastructure poses a serious threat to us.
As for the economic cooperation of any country, economic unions, we do not see any military threat to ourselves, so we do not consider ourselves entitled to even discuss this topic. This is a matter for Ukraine and European states themselves.
At one time, President Yanukovych, by the way, without renouncing associations with the European Union, said that it is necessary to simply work out these issues in addition, because he believes that the terms of the agreement on the creation of this association with the European Union pose certain serious threats to the Ukrainian economy. And in fact, if you read what was written there, he was absolutely right.
There is the opening of borders, the creation of absolutely unacceptable conditions for the functioning of the Ukrainian economy, the Ukrainian real sector of the economy. The products are more competitive in Europe. Opening up the Ukrainian market for these goods was extremely disastrous for the real economy of Ukraine itself. Being drawn into the energy structures of the European Union also deprived Ukraine of certain advantages, so if you only analyze it-just analyze it objectively-Yanukovich was right. And this was used as a pretext for a coup d'etat. It's just nonsense, I do not know, just an excuse. The crime is real.
And today this is no longer relevant, because, by and large, the Ukrainian economy cannot exist without external support, and today everything is different. Today, look, everything there is balanced in general-externally, and the budget is balanced in Ukraine, macroeconomic indicators are more or less aligned. But at the expense of what? Through monthly multibillion-dollar infusions.
About four or five billion rubles a month are sent to Ukraine through various channels – loans, grants, etc. Once it's stopped, it's all over, and in a week everything will be fine. The same goes for the defense system: imagine if the supply stops tomorrow – you will only have a week to live when the ammunition runs out.
Yes, they end in the West, too. As I have already said, the United States produces 14,000 155-caliber shells, and Ukrainian troops spend up to five thousand a day, and there they produce 14 a month. Do you understand what I'm talking about? Yes, they are trying to increase production to 75% by the end of next year, but we still have to live to see it through to the end of next year.
And in Europe, the situation is about the same, they say themselves. They said that we had delivered everything: all the armored vehicles, ammunition. We have done everything for Ukraine. They said it themselves, it wasn't my idea, they said it publicly: "We have done everything for this, now it's up to Ukraine-let them counterattack." And then on the sidelines they add: "At any cost." Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. So they are doing it, trying to do it at any cost.
This is a question of demilitarizing Ukraine. It is now trying to produce something else, but not much is being done. Even these unmanned vehicles – both flying and moving by sea – are all carried out with the help of Western advisers and intermediaries.
Is the European Union ready to accept such an economy into its membership? Flag in hand, and go. But in order to maintain the viability of the population, which has already declined since the beginning of the post-Soviet period from 41 million to 19 and a half, and maybe even that is no longer there. But still, 19 million people need to be fed, this is not an easy task. Are European countries ready to take over such an economy? Let them take it. We have never been against it – before this crisis escalated, and now we are not against it.
But I have already said what is happening inside the European economy itself. It would be very noble of them to take Ukraine's economy in its current state as well. There are also certain funds and certain procedures for equalizing the level of economic development. A colleague from Hungary spoke just now. I do not know how much Hungary currently receives from these funds. He will not get anything, of course, because everything will go to Ukraine, and nothing will be enough. No one will get anything, no one.
If the level of welfare has decreased by one and a half percent over the past couple of years, then it will fall not only to zero, but also to minus. Nevertheless – I don't want to be ironic, I don't want to escalate anything, it's just the reality – if this takes place, we don't consider ourselves entitled to oppose it in any way and even speak negatively about it.
F.Lukyanov: Mr President, is there really a line left between NATO and the EU? These are the same countries.
Vladimir Putin: I believe that the EU is not a military bloc after all. And why should they move all this to the EU platform, if there is NATO: as you said, these are the same countries. They make appropriate decisions within this organization.
NATO, in fact, is primarily a tool of US foreign policy. So they provoked the conflict to an acute phase in Ukraine, united their allies and satellites around them, in fact, and demanded that they take measures in the fight against Russia. They took these measures and immediately the United States took advantage of this situation in the economic sphere, imposed its own expensive energy carriers, and made decisions related to increasing the attractiveness of its economy and its markets. And what? This is also a fact: many industrial enterprises in Europe and Germany decide to move to the United States. Here is the end result of this whole chain.
I know and I'm sure: many people do not like it in the same Europe. Everyone sees and understands this, but they can't do anything about it. And today's European elites, apparently, are not ready to fight for their interests, they simply cannot, they are not ready: the dependence is very large in the economic sphere. You can even partially understand them.
I am sure that everything will gradually level out. The same States, in my opinion, are making a colossal strategic mistake, just colossal. As I said at public events of various kinds: they put pressure on their allies, and then there are such questions as from a colleague from Germany: here is [the party] AfD, "Alternative for Germany", raises its head. So, of course, they will raise it, because no one from the ruling class is fighting for the interests of Germany, that's why this is happening. Don't you understand that? It's an obvious thing.
Let's see how this situation will develop. Ukrainians want to join the EU – let them join, Europeans are ready to accept them-let them accept.
F.Lukyanov: The day before yesterday was just the Day of German Unity, and I read in a newspaper that there was a big problem: Gerhard Schroeder came to the event and all the current politicians decided how not to be near him, because he is your friend. Do you still have friends in Germany, by the way?
Vladimir Putin: You know, it's not a question of whether I still have friends in Germany, although I have friends there, and the number of them is growing, no matter how strange it may seem. (Applause.)
F.Lukyanov: At the expense of those Stefan is talking about, no?
Vladimir Putin: No matter. First of all, at the expense of those who pursue the interests of their own people and do not want to serve the interests of others.
As for Schroeder, Germany should be proud of people like him. He is a true son of his people: he thinks first of all about the interests of the German people. I can assure you that in every decision he made, he always put the interests of the German economy and the German state first and foremost, when discussing any issue that we discussed with him.
What's going on today? After all, it was he and I who built Nord Stream 1 and actually started Nord Stream 2. They started doing it with him. These infrastructure systems have been blown up, and where is the German economy now? Where is she? So those who are trying to get away from him would think about what he has done for the interests of his people and what they are doing today and what the result is.
F.Lukyanov: Rahim Oshakbayev.
Vladimir Putin: I'm sorry. What surprises me? To be honest, I am surprised that such people and politicians [like Gerhard Schroeder] still exist in Europe, that they have survived. This is surprising, and I tell you this sincerely, because the generation of people who are able to protect national interests, in my opinion, simply self-destructed, disappeared somewhere.
R. Oshakbayev: Good evening!
Here, in the Valdai Club, there were a lot of discussions that stated the imperfection and unfairness of the structure of the world monetary economic system – world finance, the world economy. Many experts had high hopes for BRICS Plus.
Could you share your vision of the desired, and most importantly, possible structure of the global monetary economic system? And what discussions do you have within the BRICS? And about the single currency.
Vladimir Putin: As for the global financial system, it is certainly not ideal, balanced and meets the interests of the vast majority of participants in international communication.
At the Russia-Africa summit, our colleagues, our African friends, said and mentioned that the credit burden of African states – there are over a trillion dollars – is such that there is no way to pay these debts, it simply will never happen. it will be done.
What is this system of international financial relations that has created such a state? This is some kind of contribution. These are not loans, this is already beyond the scope of normal financial and economic relations. And the modern financial system has created such a state, brought it to this state. So I then jokingly – jokingly! "he said that only cowards pay their debts, and warned me that this was a joke.
But this is not normal when such a situation is created and, of course, something needs to be changed. This Bretton Woods system was once created on the basis of the dollar, but all this is gradually collapsing. After all, a currency is a derivative of the strength of the economy of the country that issues this currency.
The share of the US economy in global GDP is declining – this is also an obvious thing, these are statistics. The share of the BRICS countries, as I also mentioned, in terms of purchasing power parity in relation to the share of the G7 countries is increasing, especially after the admission of new members to the organization. This is already a serious value, the difference is quite serious.
Yes, the economy of the United States and the eurozone is based on modern technologies, and per capita incomes are much higher than in emerging economies. But what's the trend? There, everything goes into recession and minus, and in the BRICS countries such growth – even after the blows to the Russian economy. And, apparently, they were designed for the fact that the country would simply collapse, and the economy would collapse, and the country of Russia would collapse.
We not only overcame all the difficulties of last year, but also went into a plus: under three percent – economic growth, unemployment – three percent, debts are reduced. We have significantly reduced our external debt. All our companies service all their debt obligations. Yes, we have problems, we see them: non-return of revenue, weakening of the national currency. We see this, and both the Central Bank and the Government are responding to it. I am sure that the steps are correct and the results will be good.
But as far as BRICS is concerned, we don't need to create a single currency, but we need to set up a settlement system, create financial logistics in order to ensure settlements between our countries, switch to settlements in national currencies, while understanding what is happening with our national currencies, and keep in mind the macroeconomic indicators of our economies. exchange rate differences, inflationary processes. It's not an easy situation, but it's solvable: we need to work on this.
Yesterday we discussed this issue with our experts, including the possibility of creating a single BRICS currency. Theoretically, yes, this is probably possible, but in order to approach it at some point, we need to achieve a certain parity in the development of our countries ' economies, but this is a very long-term prospect.
At one time, as my colleagues told me, the eurozone switched to the euro, to a single currency, without thinking about how it would work in relation to countries with different levels of economic development, and problems arose. Why should we step on the same rake? This issue is not even on the agenda. But of course, we must and will continue to work on improving the entire financial system – both global finance and financial relations within the BRICS framework.
F.Lukyanov: Mr President, we have already been working for three hours. Aren't you tired of us yet?
Vladimir Putin: How can I say that?
F.Lukyanov: I see. Right answer.
Vladimir Putin: But it's time to finish, probably on the sly.
F.Lukyanov: Okay, we'll finish it soon.
Monsieur de Gaulle.
:(as translated)Pierre de Gaulle Mr. President, I am Pierre de Gaulle, Chairman of the Association "Mir France and Francophonie". I am a true friend of your country. Just like my family, I stand for friendship between Russia and France. More and more people in France and Europe share the same points of view.
Friendship and partnership between Russia and France were one of the pillars of my grandfather's [Charles de Gaulle's] policy, and I want to restore that. France is based on fundamental values, such as family, patriotism and spiritual responsibility, which are now disappearing in the Western world. It seems to me that these fundamental values are very important for creating peace and mutual understanding between peoples.
Therefore, it seems to me that the conflict in Ukraine is an ideological conflict, it is even a conflict of civilizations. Because, on the one hand, there is the Western world, which has lost its soul, which has exchanged everything for ego, for momentary enjoyment. History has shown us that civilization cannot live like this. On the other hand, there is a multipolar world under the auspices of Russia, China, India, African countries, and Arab countries. These people, these peoples are ready to fight for their traditional values, fundamental values. For me, Mr. President, this is an ideological conflict. That is why I believe that it will continue and expand.
What do you think?
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to say that it is a great honor for us to host General de Gaulle's grandson in Russia. (Applause.)
I once discussed some issues with the current President in passing, and I said – I can repeat myself here, there is no secret – I don't want to give any historical assessments, everything was very difficult, but for us, in Russia, despite the difference in military rank, the hero is not Marshal Petain, but General de la Reine. Gaulle, because he represented France and its desire for freedom, for independence, for dignity, and the heroes-pilots of the Normandy-Niemen squadron.
Yes, today the situation is different, today France is led by completely different people – and it is not a matter of age, but of views on the role, on the significance of France, even, perhaps, on its history, on its future. I will not give any estimates – this is not our business, this is the business of the French people themselves. But I know that there are many people with the views that you represent, true friends of Russia in France, and their number is growing.
Will this situation continue to worsen in terms of the development of the situation in the world, given the fact that, as you said, such an ideological confrontation will continue? It will never end, obviously. These different currents, no matter what shape they take, of course, will always fight among themselves, this is obvious. But, in my opinion, awareness of the importance and enduring significance of national values and traditions will gradually gain momentum in European countries and in the United States itself.
And in this sense, I think that yes, the ideological confrontation will continue, but still the future belongs to the national-oriented forces in the world. And the balance between them on the world stage should be achieved, as I said in my speech, by finding compromises between civilizations.
F.Lukyanov: Dear colleagues, we are really running out of time, so let's have a blitz. Please, very please, very short questions.
Vladimir Putin: Please try a short question.
To.Old boy: I'll try. Thank you.
Constantin Staris, Republic of Moldova, parliamentary opposition.
I have a question like this. Sooner or later, this conflict will end anyway, and I want to believe that some kind of reassembly of relations between Russia and the West will begin. I speak very selfishly, because when such confrontations occur, countries like Moldova are very feverish, both economically and politically.
So, I would like to believe that such a process of reconfiguring relations, which will determine the fate of greater Europe for decades to come, will still begin.
In your opinion, Mr President, what role can countries like Moldova play in this process? And what place can they occupy in this future construction that will arise as a result of this process?
Vladimir Putin: It depends on the people of Moldova. I'll explain in a moment.
If the people of Moldova will vote for those people who want to give a significant part of their sovereignty to other countries and follow in the tail of these interests, then in accordance with this, they will have a certain role: they will not be seen and not heard.
And if they follow the path of preserving their sovereignty, national dignity, and national traditions, then, as I said in my speech, we will strive to ensure that all countries, regardless of their size or economic condition, have an equal voice, and that everyone treats each other as equals. I do not know how it will all turn out, but this is our position, and this is what we will strive for.
You are welcome.
To.Rakhimov: Kubat Rakhimov, Kyrgyz Republic. Short question.
We see a successful case of creating a gas union of Russia with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. This year, in October, Uzbekistan will receive Russian gas. But we still have two problems in Central Asia: this is water and energy.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, how do you assess the prospects for creating a water and energy union in which Russia would act as an active player and moderator in order to avoid social instability and even armed conflicts? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: As for energy and energy supplies, we have never supplied gas from Russia to Central Asia. There, in Soviet times, everything was different: Central Asia was supplied via two pipeline systems.
But now, taking into account the growing needs, the growth of the economy of our friends in Central Asia and climate change - this year in Kazakhstan, in Tashkent, it was minus 21, minus 24, in my opinion, no one ever remembers this at all, it's just incredible, but it was, and therefore it can happen again, – they asked us to think about starting the supply of Russian gas to these countries. Without these supplies, it is difficult, we understand.
We worked this out together. Our Kazakh friends have taken up and implemented a plan to restore their part of the pipeline system, and the same was done on the territory of Uzbekistan. And Gazprom had to do this on the territory of the Russian Federation, including reconfiguring some of our technical capabilities. Because, I repeat once again, gas was supplied in Soviet times in one direction, and now we need to supply it in the other.
We will implement it, technically it has already been done. In October of this year, full-fledged deliveries will begin in a small volume, but this is critically important for both the economy of Kazakhstan and the economy of Uzbekistan. We will supply three billion cubic meters a year, and then we can increase it.
Yes, there are other issues as well: this includes energy in the broadest sense of the word, hydropower, water – these are all issues that can be resolved. They are not easy from an economic and financial point of view, but they can be solved. But, of course, we should not forget about the environment when addressing all these issues. All this is in our field of vision, including with our Kyrgyz friends. We know about it, we are working on it. We are constantly discussing this with the current Prime Minister. I hope that we will see him at the CIS summit in the near future, and we will also talk about this. So everything is on the agenda, and we understand that this is important for our countries.
By the way, as for our gas supplies to Moldova. I once noticed that one of the Moldovan officials said that Moldova no longer buys Russian gas. To be honest, I was a little surprised, because the conditions under which we supply gas to Moldova are Moldovan conditions: it was the Moldovans who asked us for such a formula of supply and pricing, it was exactly the Moldovan proposal. And we met them halfway, despite all the contradictions in the field of politics. We chose the proposal of the Moldovan side. But, of course, we need to resolve issues related to debt obligations, which is an obvious thing here.
Despite the statement of Moldovan officials that Moldova has stopped receiving our gas, I asked [Alexey] Miller yesterday what they are doing, what they are doing – they don't need gas? He says: "No, as delivered, so everything is delivered, nothing has changed at all." What kind of people are they? They talk with their tongues, it is not clear why they do this, and, in my opinion, only harm the economy of Moldova.
Alexey Prokhanov: Mr Putin, Pyotr Stolypin, addressing the troublemakers, uttered his famous phrase :" We need a great Russia – you need great upheavals." Then the great upheavals did not escape Russia. The last time these shocks came to us was in 1991. Today, Russia is moving from great upheavals to greatness.
What is the greatness of Russia for you?
Vladimir Putin: We all know you as a writer, a patriot of Russia and such a fundamentalist, I would say, of Russian statehood.
As for the greatness of Russia. As you know, Russia's greatness today lies in strengthening its sovereignty, and sovereignty is based on self-sufficiency in technology, finance, the economy as a whole, and defense and security.
And here is what I would like to say in this regard. Those people who for some reason began to fight with Russia today after 1991, I partly said this in my speech… I don't understand why they did it at all-just out of self-confidence and stupidity, I can't say otherwise. I keep asking myself: why? After all, we have spread our hands: we want, we are here. No, they started trying to finish me off. What for? Nevertheless, they started to do it. This has led us to the only choice – to strengthen our sovereignty in the economic, financial, technological, and security spheres.
And so. Those people who started to do this and brought such a confrontation to the current stage already hot, began to impose sanctions on us, and they achieved the opposite of the expected result. We are experiencing an obvious change in the structure of the Russian economy. I have already said that in the structure of GDP, we have added three percent from oil and gas, and 43 percent from processing industries, including, of course, the defense industry, but not only electronics, optics, and mechanical engineering. They left our market, apparently thinking that everything would collapse, but no: everything is only getting stronger.
Yes, inflation has increased slightly. Yes, the ruble is fluctuating on its own. We see these problems. But the structure of the economy is changing: it is becoming more high-tech on its own base, and we need to maintain this trend. And we will definitely do this, and on the basis of this, we will continue to strengthen our defense capability. We also see the issues that arise, I'm sorry, to put it bluntly, in the course of military operations. We see what we still lack, but we are increasing this production, and in some areas directly at times – not by any percentage, but by several times.
If we maintain all these trends, and we will certainly do so, and we will rely on the support and trust of our people, which is also reflected in the fact that we have a large flow of volunteers going to the Armed Forces. To date, we have 335,000 people who have voluntarily come and signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense, and about five thousand more, a little more, so-called volunteers. Although they are all volunteers-they come voluntarily, but this is just a different category – they sign contracts for a shorter period of time. In general, this is already somewhere around 350 thousand. And this is a manifestation of people's trust in the policy of the Russian state.
Because everyone can see that we don't deal with any immediate issues. We may not do everything as we would like, but the overwhelming majority of citizens see that everything is aimed at strengthening the Russian state, Russian statehood. It is multicomponent, but the trend is obviously very positive and correct. Our task is to maintain these trends, and we will do it.
F.Lukyanov: Mr President, can I just say one thing, since you've already mentioned volunteers? Just recently, during the year that passed, among other things, there was one very dramatic event-an attempt at a military mutiny. Have you recently met with a representative…
Vladimir Putin: I wanted to finish on the positive side, but it doesn't work.
F.Lukyanov: This is a positive development. I just wanted to ask: do we now know how to deal with private military companies?
Vladimir Putin: You know, we used to have a journalistic name – "private military company". There are no private military companies in Russia, because there is no law on private military companies. In our country, they don't exist and didn't exist.
The experience that was, and it was so clumsy, because it was not based on the law. Yes, it was caused by the need for the current situation, frankly, on the battlefield. And when the Ministry of Defense offered some of this company to come and participate in the fighting, I did not object, because people acted voluntarily, and we saw that we fought heroically. But the interests of even ordinary members of this company and the management of this company-they do not always coincide. Not all of them received revenues, in my opinion, 840 billion rubles, from food supplies to the Armed Forces. There were other problems related to the purely economic component, but I don't want to go into that now.
We do not yet have a common opinion in Russia about whether we need such formations or not, but today I can say for sure that several thousand fighters of this company have already signed contracts with the Armed Forces. They want to – and if they want to, then they will take part in combat operations. This is the first one.
Second. They do this on the basis of signed individual contracts, which was not the case before. And this was a big mistake, because it did not guarantee people social protection: if there is no contract, then there are no social obligations on the part of the state. What to hide, it is already well known to everyone: the money was paid in cash. What do you mean, cash? To be honest, this is also my fault, I couldn't imagine – how can this be? And if it's in cash, it means who was given, who wasn't given – who determines who deserves what? This is the same question. Therefore, if we do this, then we must do it on the basis of the law. This is not an easy and complex process. We discuss and think about it.
In many countries, such companies exist and are actively working, and, first of all, they work abroad, of course, we are all well aware of this. Whether we need them or not, we'll think about it. But now we can see what is happening on the contact line. Russian troops feel confident there, and they are moving in many directions.
Yesterday, we made progress in 12 areas along the entire contact line – we just don't pay such fundamental attention to this, but it does matter – in 12 areas: about 300, 400, 500 [meters], in two areas-1500, 1600 meters deep. This is simply called improving your position on the battlefield, these are such tactical things, but they still matter. So do we need private military companies here? We need those people who want to fight and defend the interests of the Motherland, fight for the Motherland-there are such people, including those from the company you mentioned.
Well, to quite already… I know that the question is probably hanging in the air: what happened to the company's management and so on. We know about the plane crash, the head of the Investigative Committee [Alexander Bastrykin] reported to me just the other day: fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of those killed in the plane crash. There was no external impact on the plane – this is already an established fact, the result of an expert examination conducted by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. But the investigation is not complete. Yes, unfortunately, the presence of alcohol or drugs in the blood of the victims was not examined, although we know that after the well-known events in the [office] of the company [Wagner] in St. Petersburg, the FSB found not only 10 billion rubles in cash, but also five kilograms of cocaine. But, I repeat once again: in my opinion, it would have been necessary to conduct such an examination, but it was not carried out. I've told you what I have.
I want to say right away that I asked the Chairman of the Investigative Committee whether it is possible to say this publicly. He says: yes, it is possible, it is an established fact. So in this way.
Let's have another question then.
F.Lukyanov: So as not to end there.
Margarita Simonyan, perhaps?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, Marguerite, please. Although you can do that, you would give the floor to our foreign [guests].
F.Lukyanov: You can decide.
M. Simonyan: I'll be quick, Mr Putin.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
M. Simonyan: You mentioned Karabakh. As an ethnic Armenian, I cannot but react and allow myself to assure you that all normal Armenians understand everything perfectly-and they understand perfectly well that Pashinyan was brought to power at the time precisely in order to surrender Karabakh, and thus raise such questions, as our leading European politicians quoted. Normal Armenians understand that if it were not for Russia, the Armenian people would not exist-both at the beginning of the XIX century, when they were saved by Griboyedov, and at the beginning of the XXI century, when the peacekeepers in Karabakh are saving them. This is a remark.
The question is short. Our guest from Hungary doesn't want to ask about our Odessa, but I do, because Odessa is a Russian city, a beautiful city. And it seems to us that Russian cities should live in Russia. In this regard, the question. Where would you like us to stay?
Vladimir Putin: The first part of your speech. I cannot agree with you – that Prime Minister Pashinyan was brought to power by someone from outside and in order to surrender Karabakh. After all, it was the choice of the Armenian people. Yes, it is possible to treat electoral processes differently, but this is a fact. So I don't agree with you here. This is the first one.
The second thing is that he wanted to surrender Karabakh – I don't agree either. I've been in close contact with him, both during this conflict in 2020 and earlier, of course. After all, let's remember: when he came to power, he said that Karabakh is part of Armenia. No one had ever said that before. However, then his position changed dramatically. Why is no longer a question for me. And then, during the conflict in 2020 – I talked to him, and, in my opinion, he sincerely tried to keep the situation going.
I'm not saying that the decisions were right or wrong-it's not my place to judge. But I consider it unfair to say that he purposefully surrendered Karabakh.
Now, about where we should stay. You know, it's not about territories, it's about guaranteeing the security of the peoples of Russia and the Russian state, and this is a more complex issue than any territory, it's about the security of people who consider Russia their Homeland, and we consider them our people. This is a complex issue that requires a conversation. I am afraid to talk to your husband, he is such a person, if not an extremist, then a person of extreme beliefs. But we'll discuss it again later.
Mikhail Simonyan: Thank you.
:(as translated)M. A. Javed Mr. President!
My name is Muhammad Atar Javed. I work in Islamabad and would like to return to [your] speech.
We have raised very important issues, we are talking about the positions of the West and the need for dialogue and constructive interaction between civilizations. You keep saying: who are they to ask us questions or dictate to us? And we understand that military alliances have really changed the entire balance of power in the Middle East by attacking different countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and so on.
But there is a serious question. If we are truly building a multipolar world, it must be based on economic aspects. You talked about energy. You look at the competition in the markets, and you see that for the population, for example, it is impossible to provide a lower price, and then this is a crime against their own consumers.
And that's my question. Is it possible to see an opportunity for Russia to create a new economic world order in the course of crises? I am a political scientist, and it seems to me that the whole point is precisely in the economic order. The one who controls natural resources, the one who controls all our transportation routes, has all the levers of control. And is there a new project that will help us counter the sanctions?
Sanctions, indeed, stifle not only Russia, but also many other countries. Russia survives because it has a lot of resources. But there are other countries, for example, in Africa and Asia, and we face serious challenges.
Can you formulate your own opinion, how would you determine whether it is possible to form a new economic world order led by Russia in the future?
Vladimir Putin: I fully agree with what you just said. This is true – the future world order will certainly be based on the future economic, monetary and financial system. And it should be more balanced, it should meet the interests of the overwhelming majority of participants in international communication – and so it is.
Are there any prospects that this will eventually take place? This is a very complex process. Judging by the way our opponents behave – that's what we'll call them, since we're talking about the economy right now, we won't use any other terms-but they cling to their privileges at all costs.
I have already said, and many believe, that the Bretton Woods system is outdated. After all, this is not me talking, these are Western experts. It needs to be changed. Of course, it leads to such ugly phenomena as, say, debt obligations of developing economies, of course, this is the absolute, complete domination of the dollar in the world system. It's only a matter of time before this happens.
But with their, let's say, unprofessional actions, their stubbornness and their disregard for all other participants in international economic communication, say, the political and financial authorities, the economic authorities of the United States are shooting themselves in the foot. After all, when they limit payments in dollars – well, what should we do? We are then forced, simply forced, to pay in national currencies. We are forced to discuss the issues that I have already mentioned when answering one of my colleagues ' questions, and create new logistics for these currency settlements.
So the scope of the dollar is naturally shrinking, but it is also shrinking as the United States is a huge economy, and the country is huge and great, without any doubt, there can be no doubt about it, we are not understating anything here and we are not exaggerating anything – but it is reducing its own sphere of influence in the global economy. In other words, this is already happening for objective reasons – the growth of emerging markets, emerging economies, and the pace at which Asia is developing. This is already happening. And the United States, based on the current political situation, is accelerating these processes. But, I'm sorry, but this is, to put it mildly... you know, there is such a common expression: it's worse than a crime, it's a mistake. This is true, in this case it is true.
Are there any projects? There are companies that will create a new economic and logistics base. There is, of course. President Xi Jinping is proposing one of these projects, "One Belt, One Road". This is the unifying slogan - "One belt, one Road", all together. And we are doing the same in the course of building the Eurasian Economic Community: we are working together on how to combine them. And if the BRICS and SCO countries are also involved-look, this is a joint effort – Pakistan is also involved-to find a solution. Of course, this is a difficult task, it will take time. But the realization that it is beneficial for everyone will push this process forward.
And I'll end up where I started. In this sense, the strengthening of a multipolar world is inevitable.
Thank you very much for your attention.
F.Lukyanov: Thank you very much, Mr President. We are waiting for you in a year at the XXI-m "Valdai".
Vladimir Putin: I am also looking forward to seeing you all at events of this kind, and I would like to thank you for your participation.
Thank you very much.
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