Vladimir Putin at Valdai Discussion: Appendix to 10282022

Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club (content blocked in most of the West)

A World After Hegemony: Justice and Security for All

Appendix to 10282022

The theme of this year’s forum is “A World After Hegemony: Justice and Security for All”. The four-day meeting brought together 111 experts, politicians, diplomats and economists from Russia and 40 foreign countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, usa, Turkey, France, Uzbekistan, South Africa and others.

Vladimir Putin 10-27-2022 to the Valdai Conference

Vladimir Putin speaks to the Valdai Discussion group 27 October 2022. Photo courtesy Kremlin.ru /  Photo is cropped. Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective-Magazine

Introduction Final Plenary Session XIX annual forum

Fyodor Lukyanov: Dear friends, guests,

We are opening the final plenary session of the XIX annual forum of the Valdai Discussion Club.

I am very glad to see you all in this hall, and I am all the more pleased to introduce our guest to the plenary session, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

Mr. President, good afternoon.

We look forward to seeing you every year, but this year, perhaps, impatience was even more impatient than usual: there are a lot of topics for discussion.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I’m guessing.

Fyodor Lukyanov: The forum itself was mainly devoted to the topic of the world order: how it is changing and, most importantly, who, generally speaking, is now in power in the world – who manages it, whether it can be managed in principle.

But we are discussing it as observers, and you are still the authorities, so please share your opinion with us.

Vladimir Putin

Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club. Vladimir Putin, head of the Russian Federation state took part in the final plenary session of the XIX meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club. The following is an English translation of his speech and exchange with participants.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Dear participants of the plenary session! Ladies and gentlemen, Friends!

I got acquainted with the discussions that took place here in previous days, which are very interesting and substantive. I hope you did not regret coming to Russia and communicating with each other.

Good to see you all.

At the Valdai Discussion Club, we have repeatedly talked about the shifts – serious, big shifts that have already taken place and are taking place in the world, the risks associated with the degradation of world institutions, with the erosion of the principles of collective security, with the replacement of international law with the so-called rules – I wanted to say, it is clear by whom, but, perhaps, and this is inaccurate – it is not clear by anyone invented. what these rules are based on, what is inside these rules.

Apparently, there is only an attempt to establish one rule, so that the powers that be – now they are talking about power, I am talking about global power – have the opportunity to live without any rules at all and everything is allowed to them, everything would get away with, no matter what they do. These are, in fact, the very rules that we are constantly, as people say, talk about, that is, they constantly talk about it.

The value of the Valdai discussions is that there are a variety of estimates and forecasts. How true they were is shown by life itself, the strictest and most objective examiner is life. So it shows how true our preliminary discussions were in previous years.

Alas, events continue to develop according to the negative scenario, which we have talked about more than once and not twice during previous meetings. Moreover, these events have turned into a large-scale, systemic crisis, and not only in the military-political, but also in the economic and humanitarian spheres.

The so-called West – conditionally, of course, there is no unity there – it is clear that this is a very complex conglomerate, nevertheless, let’s put it this way that this West in recent years and especially in recent months has taken a number of steps to exacerbate. As a matter of fact, they always play for aggravation, there is nothing new here either. This is the incitement of war in Ukraine, these are provocations around Taiwan, the destabilization of the world food and energy markets. The latter, of course, was not done on purpose, there is no doubt about it, but due to a number of systemic errors by the Western authorities that I have already mentioned. And as we are now seeing, in addition to this, there is also the destruction of pan-European gas pipelines. This is a transcendent thing, but nevertheless we are witnessing these sad events.

Power over the world is exactly what the so-called West has put on the line in its game. But this game is certainly dangerous, bloody and, I would say, dirty. It denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples, their identity and uniqueness, and does not put the interests of other states in anything. In any case, if it does not directly talk about denial, but in practice this is exactly what is being implemented. No one, except those who formulate these very rules, which I have mentioned, has the right to original development: everyone else must be “combed” under these very rules.

In this regard, I would like to remind you of Russia’s proposals to our Western partners to build trust and build a system of collective security. Last December, they were once again thrown aside.

But in the modern world, it is unlikely to sit out. The one who sows the wind – as they say – will reap the storm. The crisis has indeed acquired a global character, it affects everyone. There is no need to have any illusions here.

In fact, humanity now has two ways: either to continue to accumulate a load of problems that will inevitably crush all of us, or still together to try to find solutions, albeit imperfect, but working, capable of making our world more stable and safer.

You know, I have always believed and still believe in the power of common sense. Therefore, I am convinced that sooner or later both the new centres of the multipolar world order and the West will have to start an equal conversation about a common future for us, and the sooner the better, of course. And in this regard, I will outline some extremely important accents for all of us.

Today’s events have overshadowed environmental problems – oddly enough, but I would like to start with this. Climate change issues are no longer at the top of the agenda. But these fundamental challenges have not disappeared, they have not disappeared anywhere, they are only growing.

One of the most dangerous consequences of the disruption of the ecological balance is the reduction of biodiversity in nature. And now I turn to the main topic for which we all gathered: is it less important to have other diversity – cultural, social, political, civilizational?

At the same time, simplification, erasure of all and any differences have become almost the essence of the modern West. What’s behind this simplification? First of all, it is the disappearance of the creative potential of the West itself and the desire to restrain and block the free development of other civilizations.

There is also a direct mercantile interest here: imposing their values, consumer stereotypes, unification, our opponents – so I will carefully call them – are trying to expand the markets for their products. Everything is very ended up on this track being primitive. It is no accident that the West claims that it is its culture and worldview that should be universal. If this is not explicitly stated – although it is also said directly often – but if they do not speak directly, then this is how they behave and insist, in fact, on the fact of life, insist that these values be unconditionally accepted by all other participants in international communication.

I will quote from the famous Harvard speech of Alexander Isaevich Solzhenitsyn. As early as 1978, he noted that the West is characterized by a “continuing blinding of superiority” – all of which is still happening today – which “supports the notion that all vast areas on our planet should develop and evolve to the current Western systems …” The year is 1978. Nothing has changed.

Over the past nearly half century, this blindness that Solzhenitsyn was talking about – openly racist and neocolonial in nature – has taken on simply ugly forms, especially after the so-called unipolar world emerged. What do I want to say to that? Confidence in one’s infallibility is a very dangerous state: from it is one step to the desire of the “infallibles” themselves to simply destroy those who they do not like. As they say, “cancel” – let’s think at least about the meaning of this word.

Even in the midst of the Cold War, at the peak of the confrontation of systems, ideologies and military rivalry, no one even thought of denying the very existence of the culture, art, science of other peoples – their opponents. It never even occurred to anyone! Yes, certain restrictions were imposed on educational, scientific, cultural and, unfortunately, sports ties. Nevertheless, both soviet and American leaders of that time had enough understanding that the humanitarian sphere should be treated delicately, studying and respecting the rival, sometimes borrowing something from him in order to preserve at least for the future the basis for sound, fruitful relations.

And now what’s going on? The Nazis once came to the burning of books, and now the Western “guardians of liberalism and progress” have slid down to the prohibitions of Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky. The so-called culture of abolition, and in fact – we have already talked about this many times – the real abolition of culture decimates everything living and creative, does not allow the development of free thought in any of the areas: neither in the economy, nor in politics, nor in culture.

The liberal ideology itself has changed beyond recognition today. If initially classical liberalism understood the freedom of each person as the freedom to say what you want, to do what you want, then already in the XX century liberals began to declare that the so-called open society has enemies – it turns out that an open society has enemies – and the freedom of such enemies can and should be limited, or even canceled. Now it has reached the point of absurdity, when any alternative point of view is declared subversive propaganda and a threat to democracy.

Whatever comes from Russia is all the “intrigues of the Kremlin.” But look at yourself! Are we really that omnipotent? Any criticism of our opponents – any! – is perceived as “the intrigues of the Kremlin”, “the hand of the Kremlin”. Some nonsense. What have you slipped down to? At least move your brains, express something more interesting, state your point of view somehow conceptually. It is impossible to blame everything on the machinations of the Kremlin.

All this was prophetically predicted in the XIX century by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. One of the characters in his novel “Demons”, the nihilist Shigalev, described the bright future invented by him in this way: “coming out of boundless freedom, I conclude with boundless despotism” – this, by the way, is what our Western opponents came to. He is echoed by another protagonist of the novel , Pyotr Verkhovensky, arguing that widespread betrayal, denunciation, espionage are necessary, that society does not need talents and higher abilities: “Cicero’s tongue is cut off, Copernicus’ eyes are gouged out, Shakespeare is beaten with stones.” This is what our Western opponents are coming to. What is this if not the modern Western culture of abolition?

Great thinkers were, and I’m grateful, to be honest, to my assistants who found these quotes.

What can I say to that? History, of course, will put everything in its place and cancel not the greatest works of universally recognized geniuses of world culture, but those who today for some reason decided that they have the right to dispose of this world culture at their discretion. The ego of such figures, as they say, is off the scale, but no one will even remember their names in a few years. And Dostoevsky will live, like Tchaikovsky, Pushkin, no matter how much anyone would like it.

It was on unification, on financial and technological monopoly, on the erasure of all and sundry differences that the Western model of globalization, neocolonial in its essence, was built. The task was clear – to strengthen the unconditional dominance of the West in the world economy and politics, and for this purpose to put at its service the natural and financial resources, intellectual, personnel and economic capabilities of the entire planet, to do this under the sauce of the so-called new global interdependence.

Here I would like to recall another Russian philosopher, Alexander Zinoviev, whose centenary of birth we will celebrate just the other day, on October 29. More than 20 years ago, he said that for the survival of Western civilization at the level it has reached, “the whole planet is necessary as a medium of existence, all the resources of mankind are needed.” That’s what they claim to be, that’s just the way it is.

Moreover, in this system, the West initially laid a huge head start for itself, since it itself developed its principles and mechanisms – as now the very principles that are constantly repeated and which are an incomprehensible “black hole”: no one knows what it is. But as soon as the benefits of globalization began to be derived not by Western countries, but by other states, and above all, we are talking, of course, about the large states of Asia, the West immediately changed or completely abolished many rules. And the so-called sacred principles of free trade, economic openness, equal competition, even the right to property were suddenly immediately forgotten, completely. As something became profitable for themselves – so immediately, on the go, in the course of the game, they change the rules.

Or another example of the substitution of concepts and meanings. For many years, Western ideologists and politicians have been saying and telling the whole world: there is no alternative to democracy. True, they were talking about the Western, the so-called liberal model of democracy. They arrogantly rejected all other variants and forms of people’s power with contempt and, I want to emphasize this, through the lip. This manner has developed for a long time, since colonial times: everyone is considered second-class people, and they are considered exceptional. And so it goes on for centuries to this day.

But today, the absolute majority of the world community demands democracy in international affairs and does not accept any form of authoritarian dictate of individual countries or groups of states. What is this, if not a direct application of the principles of democracy at the level of international relations?

And what is the position of the “civilized” – in quotation marks – West? If you’re a Democrat, you’d think you should welcome this natural desire for freedom for billions of people – but no! The West calls it the undermining of the liberal order based on the rules, launches economic and trade wars, sanctions, boycotts, color revolutions, prepares and conducts all sorts of coups.

One of them led to tragic consequences in Ukraine in 2014 – they supported, even said, how much money was spent on this coup. In general, they are simply, they are not ashamed of anything. They took Soleimani and killed an Iranian general. You could treat Soleimani any way you wanted, but this is the official face of another state! They killed them in a third country and said, yes, we killed. What is it anyway? Where do we live?

Washington habitually continues to call the current world order liberal in the American way, but in fact, every day this notorious “order” multiplies the chaos and, I add, becomes more and more intolerant even towards the Western countries themselves, to their attempts to show any independence. Everything is being suppressed at the root, and sanctions are being imposed against their own allies – without any embarrassment! And they agree with everything, lowering their heads low.

For example, the July proposals of Hungarian parliamentarians to enshrine in the eu treaty their commitment to European Christian values and culture were perceived not even as a fronde, but as a direct hostile diversion. What’s that? How do we understand this? Yes, someone may like it, someone may not like it.

Over the past thousand years, we in Russia have developed a unique culture of interaction between all the world’s religions. There is no need to abolish anything: neither Christian values, nor Islamic, nor Jewish values. We have other world religions. We just need to treat each other with respect. In a number of regions of the country – I just know this firsthand – people go together, celebrate Christian holidays, Islamic, Buddhist, and Jewish, and do it with pleasure, congratulating each other and rejoicing for each other.

Not here. Why not? At least we would discuss. That’s amazing!

Without exaggeration, all this is not even a systemic, but a doctrinal crisis of the neoliberal model of the American world order. They have no ideas of creation and positive development, they simply have nothing to offer the world, except to maintain their dominance.

I am convinced that real democracy in a multipolar world primarily presupposes the ability of any people – I want to emphasise this – any society, any civilization to choose its own path, its own socio-political system. If the United States and the European Union have such a right, then the countries of Asia, the Islamic states, the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, and the states of other continents certainly have such a right. Of course, our country and Russia have it, and no one will ever be able to dictate to our people what kind of society and on what principles we should build.

The direct threat to the political, economic and ideological monopoly of the West is that alternative social models may emerge in the world – more effective, I want to emphasise this, more effective in today, bright, attractive than those that exist. But such models will definitely develop – this is inevitable. By the way, American political scientists, specialists, they write about this directly. True, their authorities are not yet listening very much, although they cannot help but see these ideas that are expressed on the pages of political science journals and in discussions.

Development should proceed precisely in the dialogue of civilizations, based on spiritual and moral values. Yes, different civilizations have a different understanding of man, his nature – it is often on the surface only different, but everyone recognizes the highest dignity and spiritual essence of man. And it is extremely important to have a common, common foundation on which we can and must build our future.

What do I want to emphasize here? Traditional values are not some fixed set of postulates that everyone should adhere to. Of course not. Their difference from the so-called neoliberal values is that in each case they are unique, because they stem from the tradition of a particular society, its culture and historical experience. Therefore, traditional values cannot be imposed on anyone – they simply need to be respected, to take care of what every nation has chosen for centuries.

This is our understanding of traditional values, and this approach is shared and accepted by the majority of humanity. This is natural, because it is the traditional societies of the East, Latin America, Africa, Eurasia that form the basis of world civilization.

Respect for the peculiarities of peoples and civilizations is in the interests of everyone. In fact, this is in the interests of the so-called West. Losing its superiority, it is quickly becoming a minority on the world stage. And, of course, the right of this Western minority to their own cultural identity, of course, I want to emphasize this, must be ensured, it is necessary to treat this with respect, of course, but, I emphasize, on a par with the rights of everyone else.

If Western elites believe that they will be able to introduce into the minds of their people, their societies strange, in my opinion, newfangled trends like dozens of genders and gay parades, so be it. Let them do what they want! But what they definitely don’t have the right to do is demand that others follow in the same direction.

We see that complex demographic, political and social processes are underway in Western countries. Of course, this is their internal affair. Russia does not interfere in these issues and is not going to do so – unlike the West, we do not get into someone else’s yard. But we expect that pragmatism will prevail and Russia’s dialogue with the genuine, traditional West, as well as with other equal centers of development, will become an important contribution to the construction of a multipolar world order.

I would like to add that multipolarity is a real, and in fact, the only chance for Europe to restore its political and economic subjectivity. What is a sin to hide, we all understand, and they talk about it in Europe directly: today this legal personality of Europe – to put it mildly, so as not to offend anyone – is very limited.

The world is inherently diverse, and the West’s attempts to drive everyone under one template are objectively doomed, nothing will come of it.

The arrogant desire for world leadership, and in fact, for dictate or for the preservation of leadership through dictate, in fact, turns into a decrease in the international authority of the leaders of the Western world, including the United States, and an increase in distrust of their negotiability as a whole. Today they say one thing – tomorrow another, they sign documents – tomorrow they refuse them, what they want, they do. There is no stability at all. How the documents are signed, what they talked about, what we can hope for – it is completely unclear.

If earlier only a few countries allowed themselves to argue with the same America, and this looked almost like a sensation, now it is already commonplace when a variety of states refuse Washington its groundless demands, despite the fact that it is still trying to put pressure on everyone. Wrong policy absolutely, in nowhere easy. Well, let it be their choice too.

I am convinced that the peoples of the world will not turn a blind eye to the coercive policy that has discredited itself, and every time the West will have to pay and pay an increasing price for trying to maintain its hegemony. In the place of these elites, the West would seriously think about such a prospect, just as some political scientists and politicians in the United States themselves are thinking about it, as I have already said.

In the current conditions of a tough conflict, I will say some things directly. Russia, being an independent, original civilization, has never considered and does not consider itself an enemy of the West. Americanophobia, Anglophobia, Francophobia, Germanophobia are the same forms of racism as Russophobia and anti-Semitism – however, as well as any manifestations of xenophobia.

We just need to clearly understand that there are, as I said before, two Wests – at least two, and maybe more, but at least two: the West of traditional, primarily Christian, values, freedom, patriotism, rich culture, and now Islamic values too – a significant part of the population of many Western countries professes Islam. This West is somewhat close to us, we have in many respects common, even ancient roots. But there is another West – aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, acting as a tool of neoliberal elites. It is with the dictates of this West that Russia, of course, will never reconcile.

In 2000, after being elected President, what I was faced with, I will always remember this – remember the price we paid to destroy the terrorist nest in the North Caucasus, which the West then almost openly supported. Here, all the adults, most of you in this room, understand what I am talking about. We know that this is exactly what it was in practice: financial, political, information support. We’ve all been through it.

Moreover, [the West] not only actively supported terrorists on the territory of Russia, but also largely nurtured this threat. We know that. Nevertheless, after the stabilization of the situation when the main gangs of terrorists were defeated, including thanks to the courage of the Chechen people, we decided not to turn back, not to build ourselves offended, to go forward, to build relations even with those who actually worked against us, to establish and develop relations with everyone who wants it, on the basis of mutual benefit and respect for each other.

I thought it was in the common interest. Thank God, Russia survived all the difficulties of that time, survived, strengthened, coped with internal and external terrorism, preserved its economy, began to develop, and its defense capability began to increase. We tried to build relations with the leading Western countries and with NATO. The message was the same: let’s stop being enemies, let’s live amicably, let’s have a dialogue, build trust, and therefore peace. We were absolutely sincere, I want to emphasise this, we clearly understood the complexity of such a rapprochement, but we went for it.

And what did we get in return? In short, we received “no” in all the main areas of possible cooperation. We have received ever-increasing pressure on us and the creation of hotbeds of tension near our borders. And the goal, if I may ask, what is this pressure? Well, which one? It’s so easy to train, isn’t it? Of course not. The goal is to make Russia more vulnerable. The goal is to turn Russia into a tool to achieve its own geopolitical goals.

Strictly speaking, this is a universal rule: they try to turn everyone into a tool in order to use these tools for their own purposes. And those who do not obey this pressure do not want to be such a tool – sanctions are imposed against them, all sorts of economic restrictions are imposed against them and against them, coups are being prepared or, where possible, carried out, carried out and so on. And in the end, if nothing can be done at all, the goal is one – to destroy, to sweep off the political map. But it has not worked and will never be possible to deploy and implement such a scenario in relation to Russia.

What else would you like to add? Russia is not challenging the elites of the West – Russia is simply defending its right to exist and freely develop. At the same time, we ourselves are not going to become some new hegemon. Russia is not proposing to replace unipolarity with bipolarity, tripolarity, and so on, and the dominance of the West with the dominance of the East, North, or South. This would inevitably lead to a new impasse.

And here I want to quote the words of the great Russian philosopher Nikolai Yakovlevich Danilevsky, who believed that progress is not to go all in one direction, as some of our opponents push us – in this case, progress would soon stop, says Danilevsky – but to “proceed from the entire field that makes up the field of historical activity of mankind, in all directions.” And he adds that no civilization can be proud to represent the highest point of development.

I am convinced that dictatorship can be opposed only by the freedom of development of countries and peoples, the degradation of the individual – love for man as a creator, primitive simplification and prohibitions – the blossoming complexity of cultures and traditions.

The meaning of today’s historical moment is precisely that all civilizations, states and their integration associations are really opening up opportunities for their own, democratic, original path of development. And above all, we believe that the new world order should be based on law and right, be free, original and just.

Thus, the world economy and trade must become fairer and more open. Russia considers the process of forming new international financial platforms, including for the purposes of international payments, inevitable. Such platforms should be located outside national jurisdictions, be secure, depoliticized, automated and not depend on any single control center. Is it possible to do this or not? Yes of course. It will require a lot of effort, combining the efforts of many countries, but this can be done.

This will eliminate the possibility of abuse in the sphere of the new global financial infrastructure, will allow to effectively, profitably and safely do without the dollar and other so-called reserve currencies in international transactions. Moreover, using the dollar as a weapon, the United States and the West as a whole discredited the institution of international financial reserves. First, they were devalued due to inflation in the dollar and euro zones, and then they were pocketed by our gold and foreign exchange reserves.

The transition to settlements in national currencies will actively gain momentum – inevitably. This, of course, depends on the level of state of the issuers of these currencies, on the state of their economies, but they will strengthen, and such calculations will certainly gradually become dominant. This is the logic of the sovereign economic and financial policy of a multipolar world.

Further. Today, new centers of world development already have unique technologies and scientific developments in various fields and in many areas can successfully compete with Western transnational companies.

Obviously, we have a common, quite pragmatic interest in an honest and open scientific and technological exchange. Together, everyone will win more than individually. The majority, not the individual, super-rich corporations should benefit.

What is the situation today? If the West sells medicines or seeds of food crops to other countries, it orders the killing of national pharmaceuticals and breeding, in fact, in practice it all boils down to this; supplies machines and equipment – destroys local engineering. When I was Prime Minister, I understood this: as soon as the market is opened for a certain product group, everything is “laid down”, and it is almost impossible to raise your head. That’s how relationships are built. Thus, markets and resources are seized, countries lose their technological and scientific potential. This is not progress, but enslavement, reducing economies to a primitive level.

Technological development should not exacerbate global inequality, but reduce it. This is how Russia traditionally implements its foreign technology policy. For example, when we build nuclear power plants in other countries, we simultaneously create competence centres there, train national personnel – we create an industry, we are not just building an enterprise, but creating an entire industry. In fact, we are giving other countries the opportunity to make a real breakthrough in their scientific and technological development, reduce inequality, and bring their energy sector to a new level of efficiency and environmental friendliness.

I would like to stress once again that sovereignty and distinctive development in no way mean isolation or autarky, but, on the contrary, they presuppose active and mutually beneficial cooperation on just and equal principles.

If liberal globalization is the depersonalization, the imposition of the Western model on the whole world, then integration, on the contrary, is the disclosure of the potential of each civilization in the interests of the whole, for the sake of common gain. If globalism is a diktat, it all comes down to in the end, then integration is the joint development of common strategies that benefit everyone.

In this regard, Russia considers it important to more actively launch mechanisms for creating large spaces built on the interaction of neighboring countries, whose economy, social system, resource base, infrastructure complement each other. Such large spaces, in fact, are the basis of a multipolar world order – the economic basis. From their dialogue, a true unity of humanity is born, much more complex, original and multidimensional than in the simplified ideas of some Western ideologists.

The unity of humanity is not built on the command “do as I do”, “be like us”. It is formed taking into account and on the basis of the opinion of all, with a careful attitude to the identity of each society and people. It is on this principle that long-term interaction in a multipolar world can develop.

In this regard, it may be worth considering making the structure of the United Nations, including its Security Council, more reflective of the diversity of the world’s regions. After all, asia, Africa, Latin America in the world of tomorrow will depend much more than is commonly believed today, and such an increase in their influence is certainly positive.

Let me remind you that Western civilization is not the only one even in our common Eurasian space. Moreover, the majority of the population is concentrated in the east of Eurasia – where the centers of the oldest civilizations of mankind arose.

The value and significance of Eurasia is that this continent is a self-sufficient complex with gigantic resources of any kind and enormous opportunities. And the harder we work to increase the connectivity of Eurasia, to create new ways, forms of cooperation, the more impressive success we achieve.

The successful activities of the Eurasian Economic Union, the rapid growth of the authority and influence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, large-scale initiatives within the framework of the “One Belt, One Road”, plans for multilateral cooperation to implement the North-South transport corridor and others, many other projects in this part of the world, I am sure, are the beginning of a new era, a new stage in the development of Eurasia. Integration projects here do not contradict, but mutually complement each other, of course, if they are carried out by neighboring countries in their own interests, and not implemented by external forces in order to split the Eurasian space, to turn it into a zone of bloc confrontation.

A natural part of Greater Eurasia could be its western extremity – Europe. But many of its leaders are hampered by the conviction that Europeans are better than others, that it is not appropriate for them to participate in some undertakings on an equal footing with others. Behind such arrogance, they somehow do not notice that they themselves have already become someone else’s periphery, have turned into vassals – often without the right to vote.

Dear colleagues!

The collapse of the Soviet Union also destroyed the balance of geopolitical forces. The West felt victorious and proclaimed a unipolar world order in which only its will, its culture, its interests had the right to exist.

Now this historical period of undivided domination of the West in world affairs is coming to an end, the unipolar world is becoming a thing of the past. We are at a historic juncture, with probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and at the same time important decade ahead since the end of World War II. The West is not able to single-handedly control humanity, but it is desperately trying to do so, and most of the peoples of the world no longer want to put up with it. This is the main contradiction of the new era. In the words of the classics, the situation is to a certain extent revolutionary: the upper classes cannot, and the lower classes do not want to live like this, in the words of the classic.

This state of affairs is fraught with global conflicts or a whole chain of conflicts, which poses a threat to humanity, including the West itself. Constructively and constructively resolving such a contradiction is the main historical task today.

The change of milestones is a painful process, but natural and inevitable. The future world order is being formed before our eyes. And in this world order, we must listen to everyone, take into account every point of view, every people, society, culture, every system of worldviews, ideas and religious ideas, without imposing a single truth on anyone, and only on this basis, understanding our responsibility for fate – the fate of peoples, planets, to build a symphony of human civilization.

I would like to end with words of gratitude for the patience you have shown in listening to my message.

Thank you very much.


Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much, Mr President, for such an all-encompassing text of the speech.

I can’t help but spontaneously cling to your ending, since you have remembered about the revolutionary situation, the tops and the bottoms. Those who are a little older, all this was taught in school, of course. And who do you associate yourself with more: with the tops or with the bottoms?

Vladimir Putin: With the bottom, of course, I am with the bottom.

My mom had… As you know, I have said this many times: the family is a working family. His father is a worker, he worked as a master recently, graduated from the technical school; my mother had no education, not even a middle one, she was just a worker – and worked as a nanny in the hospital, and whoever she worked: she worked as a janitor, and as a night watchman. She didn’t want to leave me in kindergarten, in a nursery.

Therefore, of course, I always feel very subtly – thank God, until recently this was and is, I hope it will remain – very subtly feel the pulse of what an ordinary person lives by.

Fyodor Lukyanov: In other words, at the global level, you are on the side of those who “do not want to”?

Vladimir Putin: At the global level – of course, this is part of my responsibility to look at what is happening at the global level – I am for what I just said: democratic relations, taking into account the interests of all participants in international communication, and not just the interests of the so-called golden billion.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I see.

You and I met exactly one year ago. Then the atmosphere and the international situation were quite tense, but, of course, when we look at that October from this, it seems that there was just an idyll there. A lot has changed in a year, literally the world has turned upside down, as some say. For you personally, what has changed this year – inside, in your perception of the world, the country?

Vladimir Putin: What has been happening and is happening now, including, say, in the Ukrainian direction, is not the changes that are taking place now or after the start of Russia’s special military operation, no. All these changes have been going on for many years, for a long time, it’s just that someone pays attention to it in one way or another, and someone does not, but these are tectonic changes in the entire world order.

You know, these tectonic plates, they are constantly in motion somewhere, in the crust of the earth, when, as experts say, they move, move, everything is calm and quiet, but changes still occur. Then – once! – Hooked. Energy accumulates, accumulates, then moved – an earthquake occurs. The accumulation of this energy and then its such a surge led to the events that are taking place.

But they’ve happened before. After all, what is the essence of these events? New centers of power are emerging. I talk about it all the time, and it’s not just me – is it about me? They occur due to objective circumstances. Something from the former centers of power is already fading. Now I don’t even want to say why this is happening. But this is a natural process of growth, extinction, change. New centers of power are emerging, mainly in Asia, of course. Africa is yet to come. Yes, Africa is a very poor continent so far, but look, what a huge potential! Latin America. All this will definitely develop perfectly. These tectonic changes are taking place.

But what not we, but the West has brought to the current situation … If there are any questions, I am ready to return to this once again, to what is happening in Ukraine. Did we carry out a coup d’état there, which led to a series of tragic events, including our special military operation? No, we didn’t do it.

But it does not matter, but what is important is that tectonic changes are happening and will continue to occur. Our actions have nothing to do with it. Yes, indeed, the events that are taking place simply highlight more brightly and push some processes that are beginning to develop, perhaps faster than it was until now. But in general, they are inevitable, and this would happen regardless of how Russia would act in the Ukrainian direction.

Fyodor Lukyanov: If we talk about our state, have you learned anything new about it over the year?

Vladimir Putin: You know, as far as our state is concerned… Of course, we have costs, and first of all this concerns the losses associated with the special military operation, I think about this all the time, there are also economic losses. But there are huge acquisitions, and what is happening, without any doubt, in the long run – I want to emphasise this – ultimately benefits Russia and its future.

Why? This is connected with strengthening our sovereignty, and in all areas, and in this case, primarily in the economic sphere. After all, not so long ago, we ourselves were anxiously thinking about the fact that we were turning into some kind of semi-colony, we could not do anything without our Western partners: we could not make financial calculations, we would not have the technology, there would be no markets, no markets, no sources of acquisition of the latest technologies – there is nothing; as soon as they click, everything falls apart. But no, nothing fell apart, and the fundamental foundations of the existence of the Russian economy and the Russian Federation itself turned out to be much stronger than anyone thought about it – even, perhaps, we ourselves.

This is purification, this is an understanding of their capabilities, the ability to quickly adapt to the current situation and the objective need not only to accelerate the processes of import substitution, but also to replace those who leave our market … And it turned out that in most areas our business intercepts all those who leave. They still whisper in their ear: we are leaving for a while, we will be back soon. But how? They sell multibillion-dollar property for one dollar. Why? Management is resold. What’s that? So, the agreement with the management is that they will return. How could it be otherwise? Do these two or three specific individuals make gifts? Of course not. We know these sentiments.

So this is an extremely important thing: we ourselves have finally realized – we say all the time that we are a great country – we [realized that we are] a great country, we can do it.

We understand the medium-term negative consequences associated with the twisting of technology. So we were already screwed up with all the critical technologies! The Kokom lists seem to have been canceled, but they have actually been in effect for decades. Now they have escalated, of course, – nothing, it turned out that we are succeeding, it turns out.

Another very important component is that it is of a spiritual nature, and perhaps this is the most important thing. First, this broad slogan – “We do not abandon our own” – actually sits deep in the heart of every Russian and representative of other ethnic groups of Russians, and the willingness to fight for their people leads to the cohesion of society. This has always been the great strength of our country. We have confirmed and strengthened it, and this is the most important thing.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Is there anything in our country this year that really disappointed you?

Vladimir Putin: No.

Fyodor Lukyanov: In other words, we do not need organizational conclusions? No major changes?

Vladimir Putin: Organizational conclusions are always needed. If you mean some personnel decisions, this is a natural process: all the time you need to think about updating in various areas, train new personnel, bring to a new level people who are able to work on tasks of a higher level than those on which they worked before. Of course, this is a natural thing. But in order to say that someone disappointed me in something, you need to disperse someone – of course, there is no such thing.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Excellent.

Mr President, your decision to launch a special military operation in February was, of course, a big surprise for everyone, including the majority of Russian citizens. You have repeatedly explained the logic and the reasons, as we know, but still these are decisions of such a scale that, probably, are not made without some special impetus. What happened before that decision?

Vladimir Putin: I have already said many times, and I am unlikely to say anything new in this audience. What happened? I am not even talking about the expansion of NATO at the expense of Ukraine, which was absolutely unacceptable for us, and everyone knew it, but simply completely ignored our security interests. And another attempt at the end of last year once again failed – they just sent us away, and that’s it, they said: okay, sit there and… Okay, I won’t say too many words, but, in general, ignored. That’s the first thing.

The second important thing is that with the support of their Western curators, representatives of the Kiev regime publicly refused to implement the Minsk agreements. The leader said that he did not like any point in the Minsk agreements. It’s said publicly! Other top officials have explicitly stated that they are not going to do so. The former President said that he signed the Minsk agreements, but proceeded from the fact that they would never be implemented. What more is needed?

After all, it is one thing when something needs to be introduced into the consciousness of millions with the help of the media and the Internet, and another thing is real deeds, real politics. Everything I have just said is happening unnoticed for millions of people, because it is drowning in the information field, but we know it.

That was all said at last. What did that mean for us? For us, it meant that we had to do something with Donbass. People have been living under shelling for eight years, which, by the way, continues to this day, but we had to decide something for ourselves. And what could we solve? Recognize their independence. But to recognize their independence and abandon them simply to the mercy of fate is generally unacceptable. So, we had to take the next step, which we did, to include them in the Russian state. They alone will not survive, this is an obvious fact.

But if we recognize, include in the Russian state – at their will, we know the mood of the people – and these very shelling and the upcoming next military operations by the Kiev regime continue and are inevitable… They also conducted two large-scale military operations, which ended unsuccessfully, but they also happened. And the shelling would certainly continue. What were we supposed to do next? Perform the operation. What can we expect for them to start? And we know they’re getting ready. Of course, this is simply the inevitable logic of events.

And this logic was not formed by us. In 2014, why was it necessary to carry out a coup d’état in Ukraine? Yanukovych actually gave up power, agreed to hold elections ahead of schedule. It was clear that the chances – Viktor Fedorovich would not be offended by me – he had few chances, if any. And why was it necessary to carry out a bloody anti-state, unconstitutional coup in these conditions? No response. But there can be only one answer – to show who is the boss in the house: everyone to sit – excuse me, I apologize to the ladies – to all sit on the butt flat and not quack, will be as we say. I just can’t explain it any other way.

They committed a coup d’état – people did not want to admit it either in Crimea or in Donbass, and everything came to today’s tragic events. But what prevented the so-called West from implementing the agreements that were reached in Minsk?

I was personally told: in those conditions, you would have signed everything if you had been in such conditions. But, listen to me, they signed! They signed and insisted that the leaders of the then unrecognized republics of Donbass put their signatures. Then they took one of them killed in general – Zakharchenko.

All these actions led to today’s tragic events, that’s all.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Do you have a feeling, which, to be honest, exists in society, that the enemy has been underestimated?

Vladimir Putin: No. You know what I mean? The thing is, we’ve seen what’s going on.

For eight years, we have been creating a fortified area to a fairly large depth in the Donbass, and, of course, climbing there, constantly incurring losses is groundless and pointless – this is the first thing. Secondly, we were well aware that this process would continue, and the further it would be, the worse, more difficult, more dangerous it would be for us, and we would suffer more losses. Those are the considerations that guided us. NATO’s development of the territory was in full swing – and now it is going, and then it was going. These fortified areas would not only be along today’s contact line in Donbass – they would be everywhere. That’s it.

What we see now, when our troops are “crimping” Donbass from the south and from the north, is one thing. And in conditions when fortified areas were created there for several more years throughout the country, training was carried out and weapons systems were accumulated there, which many never had, many do not have now, there would be a completely different situation for Russia, even from the point of view of conducting this special military operation.

Fyodor Lukyanov: You have repeatedly said and written in your programme article that we are one people. Have you changed that view in a year?

Vladimir Putin: No, of course not. And how can this be changed? This is a historical fact.

In the IX century, Russian statehood was born in our territories – first in Novgorod, then in Kiev, then all this grew together. It is one people. They spoke the same language – Old Russian, and changes in the language began to occur, I think, only in the XIV or XV century under the influence of Poland, because the western parts of the Russian state were in different countries. That’s where the change came from.

Of course, as I have already said, different processes arise with the development of an ethnic group. If some part of this single ethnic group at some point decided that they had reached such a level that they consider themselves a separate people, this can only be treated with respect, of course.

But this process did not happen by itself. First of all, as I have already said, it happened because part of the ancient Russian western lands became part of other states for a number of reasons.

These states began to promote their interests there. Those units that got to Poland, there was an obvious Polonization and so on. The language began to change. I have already said this when Ukraine joined Russia, they wrote letters to Warsaw and Moscow. In the archive there are documents. It says: we, Russian Orthodox people, are addressing you with such and such. Moscow was asked to be accepted into Russia, Poland was asked to observe the interests and their Orthodox traditions. But they wrote: we, Russian Orthodox people. I didn’t say that. This is the part of the people that we now call Ukrainians.

Yes, then everything began to happen according to its own laws. A huge Russian Empire emerged. European countries tried and partly created such a barrier between themselves and the Russian Empire, a well-known principle since ancient times: divide and rule. So the attempts to divide the united Russian people began. In the XIX century, this began to happen, acquired more and more scope and was supported primarily from the West. Of course, part of the population cultivated this, someone began to like it and in their own peculiarities, both historical and linguistic.

Of course, they began to use this, it is for this purpose – divide and rule. There is nothing so unusual here, but we have achieved certain goals, of course. And then it degenerated into cooperation with Hitler during the Second World War, when Ukrainian collaborators were used to carry out actions to exterminate Russians, Poles, Jews, and Belarusians. This is well known, it is a historical fact: the punishers entrusted the dirtiest, bloody deeds primarily to the Banderaites. It’s all part of our history. But the fact that basically Russians and Ukrainians, in fact, are one people is a historical fact here.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Back then, we had a civil war with part of our own people.

Vladimir Putin: In part, yes. But we found ourselves in different states, unfortunately, for a number of reasons, and above all because, creating the Soviet Union after the collapse of the empire, as I have already written in my articles and said repeatedly, the Bolshevik leadership of that time made decisions in order to appease the nationalist-minded part of the Bolsheviks, who were originally from Ukraine, to endow them with primordially Russian historical territories. without asking the population that lived in these territories. They handed over all of Malorossiya, the entire Black Sea region, the entire Donbass, and first they decided to give Donbass to Russia, then a delegation from Ukraine arrived, they came to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, he summoned a representative of Donbass and said that it was necessary to re-decide. That’s what they decided – they gave it back to Ukraine.

In this sense, Ukraine, of course, was formed as an artificial state. Moreover, after the Second World War – this is also a historical fact – Stalin took and transferred to Ukraine a number of Polish territories, a number of Hungarian, a number of Romanian, taking away their territories from these countries. He gave part of the eastern German lands to the Poles, who did not participate in Hitler’s coalition. This is well known, these are historical facts. Thus, today’s Ukraine was formed.

To be honest, I just thought about this: frankly speaking, the only real, such a serious guarantor of Ukrainian statehood, sovereignty and territorial integrity could only be Russia, which created today’s Ukraine.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I remember that they talked about the guarantors in the spring, and then it all went somewhere.

This is probably a rhetorical question, given that there are many things going on, but you and Russian officials have repeatedly said that the special operation is going according to plan. Still, to be honest, the public does not really understand what the plan is. What’s the plan?

Vladimir Putin: You see, we were initially, as I said initially, right on the day the operation began: the most important thing in our country is to help Donbass. I have already mentioned this, and if we had acted differently, we would not have been able to deploy our Armed Forces there on both sides around Donbass – this is the first thing.

Second. The Lugansk People’s Republic has been completely liberated. There are military measures related to the Donetsk Republic itself, and, of course, when our troops came from both the south and the north, and it became obvious that people living in these historical Novorossiysk territories see their future together with Russia. How could we not respond to that?

Therefore, the events that we are all witnessing have also taken place. They arose in the course, as a logical continuation of the situation that has developed at this point in time. But there was only one goal – to help people who live in the Donbas. That’s what we’re coming from. As for what exactly the General Staff is planning, I know, of course, what, but it seems to me that this is not the case when it is necessary to talk in detail about this.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Dear friends, I have satisfied my primary curiosity by monopolizing everything. Now, please, those who wish can ask questions.

Let’s get started. Ivan Safranchuk.

I.Safranchuk: Ivan Safranchuk, MGIMO.

You said that we are in for a very important decade in the development of the world and our country. But it seems that there is some door to this decade.

I have a question about this door.

Recently, the intensity of nuclear rhetoric has increased manifold. Ukraine has moved from simply irresponsible statements to practical preparation of a nuclear provocation, representatives of the United States and Britain make statements in which notes are heard about the permissibility of the use of nuclear weapons.

Biden, for example, talks about nuclear Armageddon, and immediately in America there are comments in the spirit that, like, it’s not scary. And at the same time, the United States is rapidly deploying modernized tactical nuclear bombs in Europe. It turns out something like nuclear weapons are being rattled, and the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis are refused to be recognized.

Could you please explain, Mr President: is the world really on the verge of the possibility of using nuclear weapons? And how will Russia behave as a responsible world nuclear power in these conditions?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Look, as long as nuclear weapons exist, there is always a danger of their use, first of all.

Secondly, the purpose of today’s fuss over the threats and possible use of nuclear weapons is very primitive, and I will hardly be mistaken if I say what it is.

I have already said that this diktat of Western countries, their attempt to put pressure on all participants in international relations, including neutral or friendly countries, ends in nothing, and they are looking for additional arguments to convince our friends or neutral states that it is necessary to oppose Russia together.

The provocation with nuclear weapons, the escalation of the possibility of the very thesis about the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia is used precisely to achieve these goals – to influence our friends, our allies, to influence neutral states, to tell them: look who you support there, what a terrible country Russia is, you do not need to support it anymore, you do not need to cooperate with it, you do not need to buy anything from it. you don’t have to sell them anything. It’s actually a primitive goal.

What’s really going on? After all, we never spoke proactively about the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia, but only hinted at the statements made by the leaders of Western countries.

Ms Liz Truss, britain’s recent prime minister, said bluntly in a conversation with a member of the press: “Yes, the UK is a nuclear power. It is the Prime Minister’s responsibility to make possible applications, and I will do so.” It’s not verbatim, but it’s close to the text. “I’m ready for it.”

You know, nobody reacted. Let’s say she blurted out there – the girl is a little bit out of her depth. How can you say such things in public? Said.

If they corrected it, Washington would publicly say: we have nothing to do with this, we do not know. And there was no need to offend, but simply to dissociate. After all, everyone is silent. And what should we think? We thought that this was a coordinated position, that we were beginning to be blackmailed. And are we completely silent and pretend that we haven’t heard anything, or what?

A series of other statements are underway on this matter. The leadership of the Kiev regime constantly talks about its desire to possess nuclear weapons. This is the first part of the Marleson Ballet. And then?

There is constant talk about what we are doing at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. And what are we doing there?

That’s what they say sometimes. They constantly hint that we are shelling the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Well, they’re branded completely, no? We control this nuclear power plant. Our troops are there.

I’ve been talking, probably a couple of months now, with one of the Western leaders. I say, what needs to be done? He says: remove the heavy weapons from the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. I say, I agree, we have already done this, there are no heavy weapons there. “Huh? Well, take it away.” (Laughter.)

Nonsense, you know? You’re laughing, it’s ridiculous. But it’s actually almost verbatim.

I say, look, you asked for IAEA representatives to be there at the station, and we agreed, they are there.

They live right on the territory of the nuclear power plant. They see with their own eyes what is happening, who is shooting and where the shells are coming from. After all, no one is saying that Ukrainian troops are shelling a nuclear power plant– no one. And they are whipping up a stir, blaming Russia for this. This is nonsense. It would seem to be nonsense, but it actually happens like this.

I have also said publicly that, I think, three or four high-voltage power lines were brought down by sabotage groups of the Kiev regime around the Kursk nuclear power plant. But, unfortunately, the FSB could not catch them. They will catch it, hopefully someday. Gone. But they did.

We have informed all our Western partners that there is silence as if nothing is happening. That is, they are striving for some kind of nuclear incident in order to lay responsibility on Russia and inflate some new round of struggle with Russia, sanctions against Russia and so on. I just don’t see any other meaning. It’s happening.

Now a new idea. It is not by chance that we have published the data of the special services that they are preparing some kind of incident with the so-called dirty bomb, it is easy to do. We even know roughly where it’s being done. The remnants of nuclear fuel were slightly transformed, the technologies available in Ukraine allow this to be done, loaded into Tochka-U, blew up this device, said that Russia did it, launched a nuclear strike.

But we don’t need to do that, it doesn’t make any sense to us, neither political nor military. No, they do. And it was I who instructed Shoigu to call all his colleagues and inform about it. We can’t get past things like that.

Now they say: the IAEA wants to come and check the nuclear facilities of Ukraine. We are in favour, and we need to do this as soon as possible, and as widely as possible, because we know that now the Kiev authorities are doing everything to cover up the traces of this preparation. They’re working on it.

And, finally, about the application-non-application. The only country in the world that has used nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state is the United States of America, which it has done twice against Japan. To what end? There was no military expediency at all, zero. What was the expediency of using nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, practically against civilian civilians? Was there a threat to the territorial integrity of the United States? Sovereignty? Of course not. And there was no military expediency – Japan’s military machine was broken, the possibilities for resistance were reduced to almost zero, why was it necessary to finish off Japan with nuclear weapons?

By the way, in Japanese textbooks, as a rule, they write that it was the Allies who launched a nuclear strike on Japan. They hold this Japan in such a way that even in school textbooks they cannot write the truth. Although it seems that every year they remember this tragedy. Well done Americans, we just need to take an example, probably, in some respects from them. Just handsome.

But it happens, that’s life. So, the United States is the only country in the world that used nuclear weapons and did it because it considered that it was in their interests.

As for Russia… We have a Military Doctrine, let them read it. The relevant article of this Military Doctrine describes in what cases, on what occasion, in connection with what and in what way Russia considers it possible to use weapons of mass destruction in the form of nuclear weapons to protect its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and ensure the security of the Russian people.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the main day of the Cuban Missile Crisis – the culmination of the decision to retreat.

Can you imagine yourself in the role of one of the leaders, or rather, Khrushchev, right? Can we get to that point?

Vladimir Putin: No way.

Fyodor Lukyanov: We will not reach it?

Vladimir Putin: No, I cannot imagine myself in the role of Khrushchev, in any case. (Laughter.)

Fyodor Lukyanov: All right. And in the role of a leader who will have to solve such a question?

Vladimir Putin: We are ready to resolve any issues, and we are not refusing. Last December, we proposed that the United States continue its dialogue on strategic stability, and they did not respond to us. Last December. Silence.

If they want, we are ready, please. And if they don’t want to, we don’t need to, we are developing our modern technologies, delivery vehicles, including hypersonic weapons. In principle, we do not need anything, we feel self-sufficient.

Yes, it is clear that someday they will catch up with us in hypersonic weapons, it is obvious: a high-tech country is only a matter of time. But we haven’t caught up yet. We have everything, and we are developing these technologies. If anyone wants to have a dialogue with us on this matter, we are ready, please.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Rasigan Maharaj, please.

Ryan Maharaj (retranslated): Thank you very much.

You answered a specific question that I raised earlier, but I would like to expand on it.

The acceleration and exacerbation of crises continues, revealing more and more the difficult situation in which we find ourselves, and our systems are pushing us to do so. Therefore, unequal exchanges continue, as you noted, uneven distribution, especially of human potential and competencies. All this makes future possible reconciliation and reform impossible. Nevertheless, the system of hegemony, its future is extremely vague. The future looks set to be pretty bleak, especially in terms of payments reform.

What do you think, what can a more democratic option, a workable alternative to the current system of settlements and payments, look like now?

Vladimir Putin: This is one of the key issues of today’s development and the future, not only of the financial system, but also of the world order. You’re right in the top ten.

After World War II, the United States created the Bretton Woods system, strengthened it many times, worked on a variety of vectors, created international institutions that are under its control both in the field of finance and in the sphere of international trade. But they fail– obviously.

It is a huge mistake on the part of the United States, as I have already said, to use the dollar as a weapon in the struggle for its political interests. It undermines confidence in the dollar and other reserve currencies, fundamentally undermines – believe me, I know what I’m saying. Because everyone was thinking: is it worth keeping gold and foreign exchange reserves in dollars?

It is not so easy to get out of the dollar, because the Americans have created a very powerful system that keeps these reserves, does not release them, in fact. It is very difficult to get out, but everyone is thinking about the future. I have already said, and I can only repeat, what we see as the future of the international financial system.

First, this is a common message, but nevertheless: all countries must be ensured sovereign development, and the choice of any country must be respected. This is also important, even in relation to the financial system. It should be independent, depoliticized, and, of course, it should be based on the financial systems of the world’s leading countries.

And if this is created, and this is not an easy process, a very difficult one, but it is possible, then international institutions will work more effectively – they need to be either reformed or created anew – to help those countries that need this support.

First of all, it will be necessary to ensure the transfer of education and technology on the basis of this new financial system.

If we sum this up together, collect it as a palette of opportunities necessary for implementation, then the economic model itself and the financial system will meet the interests of the majority, and not only the interests of this “golden billion”, which we talked about.

As a forerunner, the creation of such a system is, of course, the need to expand settlements in national currencies. Taking into account the fact that the US financial authorities use the dollar as a weapon and create problems for settlements not only for us, but also for our partners and other countries, of course, the desire for independence, it will inevitably develop settlement in national currencies.

For example, with India, we already have 53 percent of the settlement in national currencies for exports, and about 27 percent for imports. And calculation is developing very actively with other countries. With China, settlements in yuan and rubles are developing very actively and with other countries – I will not list them all.

So, as for our own financial system, in my opinion, the main way of development is the creation of a depoliticized, based on national currency systems, supranational world monetary system, which would certainly ensure settlement. It’s possible. In the end, one way or another, we took the first steps in settlements in national currencies, then at the regional level. It seems to me that this process will develop.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Colleagues, please introduce yourself when you ask questions. Rasigan Maharaj is from South Africa. To be clear.

Alexander Iskandaryan.

Artur Iskandaryan: Mr President, I have come from Armenia, and my question concerns my country, my region.

Recently, discussions on the preparation of an agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan have intensified. And these discussions are basically about the fact that there are two competing projects: the Russian one, so to speak, proposed by the Russian mediator, and the Western one. The situation is quite risky, and in general there are risks in the region, the situation is not very calm.

What does Russia think in this sense, how is Russia going to respond to this situation and how does Russia plan to act in the future in this context?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know, I don’t even know whether they talked about it publicly before or not – maybe they did, or maybe not – but I will say that I don’t see any secrets here, if they didn’t even talk about it.

For many years, we have been conducting a dialogue with the Armenian side and proposed to resolve the issue related to Karabakh as follows. After all, Armenia actually controlled seven regions of Azerbaijan, we said: let’s move towards the normalization of relations. There are two districts, Kelbajar and to the south, corridors these large areas. At some stage, we will agree with the Azerbaijani side – give five districts. They are unnecessary, meaningless, they are simply empty, people have left there, in fact they were expelled from these territories. Why keep them? There’s no point. And for communication with Karabakh – two districts, huge by the way, are quite enough.

We believe that it would be fair to return refugees and so on, and this would be a good step towards normalising the situation in the region as a whole. The Armenian leadership went its own way. As you know, this led to the situation that has developed to date.

Now the question of a settlement, a peace treaty. Our position is that this peace treaty, of course, is needed, and we support a peaceful settlement, as well as the delimitation of the border, and the full settlement of the border issue – we are for this. The question is which option to choose. This is a matter for Armenia, the Armenian people and the Armenian leadership. In any case, whatever option is chosen, if it leads to peace, we are all for it.

But we are not going to impose anything, we cannot and are not going to dictate anything to Armenia. If the Armenian people and the current Armenian leadership believe that it is necessary to choose a specific version of this peace treaty… The so-called Washington one, as far as I understand, provides for the recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh as a whole. If Armenia thinks so, please. We will support any choice of the Armenian people.

If the Armenian people and the Armenian leadership believe that Karabakh has some of its own characteristics, that these features should be taken into account and somehow this should be discussed in a future peace treaty, this is also possible. But, of course, it is necessary to negotiate with Azerbaijan. It is necessary that these agreements be acceptable to the other party – to Azerbaijan. This is a very difficult, frankly speaking, difficult question.

But Armenia is our strategic partner, an ally, and we, of course, to a large extent, bearing in mind the interests of Azerbaijan, will focus on what Armenia itself will offer.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Two years ago, at our own conversations, you spoke very highly of President Erdogan, that he does not waggle his tail and is a real man. A lot has happened in those two years, too. Has your estimate remained the same?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, he is a strong leader who is guided primarily, and perhaps exclusively, by the interests of Turkey, the Turkish people, and the interests of the Turkish economy. To a large extent, this explains his position on energy issues, in the construction of, say, the Turkish Stream.

We have now proposed to create a gas hub in Turkey for consumers in Europe. The Turkish side agreed, also, of course, primarily on the basis of its own interests. There are many interests in the tourism sector, there are a lot of interests in the construction sector, in agriculture. We have a lot of coinciding vectors of mutual interests.

President Erdogan never allows himself to sit on his neck and be guided by the interests of third countries. But of course, he protects – and in dialogue with us – first of all his interests. In this sense, Turkey in general and President Erdogan in particular are not easy partners: many decisions are born in long and difficult disputes and negotiations.

But there is a desire on both sides to reach these agreements, and we, as a rule, reach these agreements. In this sense, Erdogan is, of course, a consistent and reliable partner. Perhaps this is probably the most important characteristic: he is a reliable partner.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Is he trying to sit on his neck? For example?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I said that the President of Turkey is not an easy partner, he always defends his interests – not personal, but the interests of the country, but we cannot say that he is trying to sit on his neck.

He is simply fighting for what his Government and his advisers think is the best solution. We fight to ensure that the decisions we make are optimal for us. As a rule, I repeat, we find these solutions even on very sensitive issues: in Syria, for example, in security issues, including the economy, including infrastructure. So far, we’ve been able to do all of that.

I repeat, this is extremely important: we understand that if we have gone through a difficult path, it was difficult to reach an agreement, but we agreed on something, you can be sure that it will be done. This is the most important thing – reliability and stability in these relations.

David Jayatilleka (retranslated): My name is Dayan Jayatilleka, I am from Sri Lanka.

Mr. President, they say that now Russia is facing a proxy war, which the collective West and NATO are waging with you by proxy hands.

If so, perhaps this is the most serious threat Russia has faced since 1941, when the Great Patriotic War began. Communist, then leader of the USSR decided to establish a dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church in order to create a broad front for the defense of Russia.

Could you say that in a similar way you could return to this heritage, for example, to the legacy of 1917, in order to take advantage of an old legacy that could be useful, for example, the legacy of the Red Army? Could we, for example, use the help of communist elements, no matter how few of them, to join this broad patriotic front?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: My position is that I believe it is necessary to use our entire historical heritage. I believe that nothing can be abandoned: neither the positive that in the history of Russia was associated with the tsarist empire, nor the positive, but there were many positive things in the history of the Soviet Union. Both had their disadvantages, their problems, they were overcome in different ways and had different consequences.

As for relations with the left side of our political spectrum and with other political currents… You know, the peculiarity of today’s Russia is that we have almost complete consensus on the fight against external threats. Yes, there are people of absolutely pro-Western orientation who live there mostly: mentally there, their families there, their children study there. Yes, there is such a small part, but it has always been and always is in all countries – nothing special here. But in general, the consolidation is very large, regardless of the political coloring and views on the ways of development of Russia itself.

People of communist convictions believe that it is necessary to nationalize everything again, everything should be “nationalized” and so on. How effective this is is hard to say. In some ways, in some specific historical situations, we do not refuse this either, we even have a law on nationalisation. But we don’t – there’s no need for it.

We proceed from the premise that it is necessary to use the most effective tools for the development of the country, market principles, but under the control, of course, of the state, state power, under the control of the people and, using these advantages, direct them to the main goals – to improve the welfare of the country, to fight poverty, to expand our efforts and achieve better results in the field of housing, education, healthcare, solving other extremely important issues for people.

Therefore, we work and respect those people who hold left-wing views, including communist beliefs. The Soviet Union, as you rightly said, you mentioned it yourself, lived for a long time under the control, under the leadership of the Communist Party. Now I will not go into details: what was good, what was bad.

You mentioned religious organisations, but all of them – we have four traditional religions – are all purely patriotic. As for the Russian Orthodox Church, it has always been with its flock, with its people throughout history – the same thing is happening today.

The key difference, perhaps, today in relations with confessions, with our traditional confessions, is that we not only externally, but we essentially do not interfere in the life of religious organizations. They may be in a much freer position in our country than in many countries that consider themselves democratic. We never exert any pressure. We believe that we are indebted to them, because during the Soviet era their property was squandered, taken abroad, sold there and so on, that is, they caused great damage to religious organizations, including the Russian Orthodox Church.

We try to support all our faiths, but we do not interfere in their work. And, probably, this has never happened before, so that, on the one hand, there was a general patriotic mood associated with the development of the country and within our state and associated with maintaining our interests outside, but at the same time we provide complete freedom of their activities. Such a relationship, such a situation, it seems to me, brings the desired result.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Please. Kubat Rakhimov.

Kirill Rakhimov: Kubat Rakhimov, Kyrgyz Republic.

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,

Russia is indeed the undisputed leader of the new anti-colonial movement. Russia’s commitment to traditional conservative values is also receiving a wide response around the world. But during the work of our Valdai Discussion Club, we have seen a very serious demand for social justice and the fair organisation of public relations.

How do you see this and how could we be useful as Valdai Club experts? That’s my first question.

Secondly, how do you assess the prospects for moving the capital of the Russian Federation to the centre of the country, in fact to the centre of the Eurasian continent, in order to be closer to the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: As for a fairer social structure in Russia, according to the Constitution, Russia is a social state, and, of course, everything we do, all our national development goals are devoted to solving social problems. Here you can talk for hours, even today’s time will not be enough. Everything we are doing is aimed precisely at this – at solving the social problems facing the Russian state. And we have a lot of them, including many unresolved tasks.

I have already spoken about this, and I will repeat it once again: we need to develop the economy and use this basis to resolve issues of healthcare, education, technological development, and change the structure of our economy. Structural change is the most important thing. The labour market will change, and in this regard, of course, we must think about those people who will be released from old jobs, give them new competencies, conduct retraining and so on.

As for the Valdai Discussion Club, experts from various fields gather here. If at the expert level we are prompted by development trends in key areas, we would certainly be grateful to have your opinion in mind when building our plans, given your position on these trends, which I have just mentioned. Because understanding what will happen tomorrow, it is possible and necessary to build a policy today.

As for the transfer of the capital, yes, we have such talks. We once moved the capital, and this has happened many times in the history of the Russian state. Historically, mentally, the center of Russia is always associated with Moscow, and, in my opinion, there is some need…

There are problems in the development of the capital as a metropolis, and I must say that under the leadership of the team of the current mayor Sobyanin, they are solved much better than in many other countries of the world and in many other megacities.

There was a period when problems related to transport, the development of social infrastructure and so on were growing – and they are still growing to some extent. But in recent years, Mayor Sobyanin has done a lot to stop these threats and, on the contrary, to create conditions for Muscovites and those who come to Moscow to work, or guests of Moscow who come here for tourist purposes, to feel comfortable here. A lot has been done for the development of the city in the last few years.

The problem of excessive centralization of all federal structures in Moscow exists. For example, I am in favor of doing the same as in some other countries, namely, to decentralize these powers and central, metropolitan competencies in other regions of Russia. For example, we are setting up a judicial centre in St Petersburg. The Constitutional Court is already working there, there are specific plans for the construction of the Supreme Court. This should be done slowly, calmly, creating favorable conditions for the judicial community to work in the same St. Petersburg. And we will do it without any haste and fuss.

Some large companies that, say, actually operate in Siberia, and have central authorities in Moscow, could place their headquarters there. This, by the way, is what is happening. RusHydro, for example, is based there, in Siberia, in Krasnoyarsk, I think, their headquarters will be equipped.

And some central authorities could be dispersed throughout the territory of the Russian Federation. This will only benefit the governance system itself and the regions where they will appear.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Ivan Timofeev.

Igor Timofeyev: Mr President, good evening.

Ivan Timofeev, Valdai Club.

My question is this. An unprecedented number of sanctions have been imposed on Russia over the past year. You mentioned the freezing of our reserves in Europe by three hundred billion. To this can be added the freezing of the property of our citizens and our organisations by tens of billions. By the way, they plan to confiscate this property, now they are developing appropriate mechanisms. And in addition to this, there are many other things: financial restrictions, bans on the supply of goods and technologies to Russia, bans on the supply of our oil, manipulation of gas and so on. We are well aware of all this, as you mentioned in your speech.

It was expected that our economy would not be able to withstand this. She endured. This is largely because the economy remains market-oriented, it remains flexible, it remains adaptive. Business is looking for new markets, where possible, looking for ways of import substitution. The government is taking a number of steps to help businesses.

But given the extreme foreign policy conditions and those sanctions, maybe it is time to take the path of further deregulation of the economy? You mentioned decentralization. Reduce the number of inspections, reduce the regulatory burden?

I would be very happy to hear your opinion on this issue.

Vladimir Putin: It is our choice, as they say in such cases, to reduce the number of inspections and get rid of excessive regulation by the state.

You know that scheduled inspections have been stopped not only for small and medium-sized businesses, but also for large businesses. If this has not been said yet, I will say now: we will extend this regime to 2023.

As for the regulatory system, as we said, this administrative guillotine has led to the fact that thousands of acts have been repealed, I think, and somewhere less than five hundred new ones have taken their place – I hope, modern ones. There are four hundred and something new acts regulating economic activity.

Therefore, we will continue to follow this path – of course, with the exception of those types of production that are associated with known risks for the consumer. This, I think, is clear to everyone. But here too, we will try to organise our work in such a way that all these regulatory functions and inspections are of a targeted nature and do not interfere with the work of enterprises and businesses as a whole.

You are absolutely right: in response to all sorts of restrictions imposed on Russia and its economy… You said that it was assumed that something would collapse in our country. It was not supposed to be, but the goal was to bring down the Russian economy – it did not work. Yes, it has become indeed, and in this you are right, much more adaptive, more flexible. It turned out that our business is already quite mature and calmly intercepts those areas and types of activities, those enterprises that are exempted by those of our partners who have decided to leave Russia. Easily, our business takes and continues those enterprises that, as it seemed not so long ago, cannot exist without a Western presence. Easy, in almost all directions.

Yes, we understand and see the difficulties of the medium term. We understand that we can’t produce everything. But, you know, I spoke with some of my colleagues this morning before I came to you – of course, I spoke with everyone in the Government, the Central Bank, the Executive Office: after all, our experts believe that the peak of difficulties associated with the wave of restrictions and sanctions has passed. The Russian economy as a whole has adapted to the new conditions.

Much more needs to be done to create new supply chains – both imports and exports – and to reduce the costs associated with this. But in general, the peak of difficulties has passed, the Russian economy has been adapted, and we will continue to develop on a more stable, more sovereign platform.

But the answer to all these challenges, of course, can and should be, including – and perhaps, first of all – de-bureaucratization of business, support for it and increasing the space for freedom for economic activity.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Alexander Andreevich, you cannot be bypassed.

Andrei Prokhanov: Mr President, very often foreigners ask us: “What can you, Russia, offer to today’s world? Where are your Nobel laureates? Where are your great discoveries, industrial, scientific discoveries?” My colleagues often answer: “Well, how come? And the great Russian culture? And Pushkin? And Rublev? And iconography? And the marvelous Russian architecture?” But they say: “But all this is in the past. And today?”

When I listened to you today, I discovered what Russia can offer to today’s world: Russia can offer a religion of justice to today’s world, because this religion, this feeling lies at the root of our entire Russian culture, all our Russian sacrifice. And today Russia is making this sacrifice, it is essentially alone, alone with the rest of the cruel Western world, waging this struggle for justice. This is a huge contribution of today’s Russia to the context of world civilization and culture. Because even those former traditional values that we talked about, and the same Rublev, Russian icon painting, and the same delightful Russian Novgorod-Pskov architecture, and the amazing Golden and Silver Ages – they all talked about justice. In the depths of Russian civilization lies justice.

Maybe make today’s Russian ideology a religion of justice?

Vladimir Putin: We have four traditional confessions, and we have had enough.

Fyodor Lukyanov: There will be a fifth.

Vladimir Putin: This is a joke, of course.

As for doing something… You know, I follow your work, your work, when I have time, I enjoy reading what you write and say. Of course, I know that you are a true Russian patriot in the kindest, goodest, broadest sense of the word.

Whether we need to present something to someone on purpose is something I’m not sure.

You know, you just said that we are sacrificing something in the interests of many other peoples. I’ll argue with you here. We are not sacrificing anything, we are working to strengthen our sovereignty, it is in our interests. First of all, this is the strengthening of financial and economic sovereignty, it will be the basis, the foundation for our future development – technological, educational and scientific.

Whether there are Nobel laureates or not… When did Alferov make his invention? In 30 years – or how many? – He was given a Nobel laureate. Is that the point? The former President of the United States was given a Nobel laureate. Is this an indicator of some achievements? With all due respect to both the Nobel Committee and the winner of this remarkable Nobel Prize, is that the only indicator?

Science is evolving. We must do everything to ensure that the return on both fundamental and applied science is many times higher for our development, and we will do this. Today we are undergoing significant, noticeable renewals of scientific personnel, and science is becoming one of the youngest in the world.

Yes, of course, the United States, bearing in mind its competitive advantages from the point of view of a monopolist on global finance, as a vacuum cleaner pulls everything from all over the world, including scientific and creative personnel, this is understandable. And this will also end with the loss of monopoly on the dollar as a world currency, and this is also happening today.

You see, what we are doing is very attractive for many countries of the world and peoples. Our so-called Western partners are doing everything to deceive Russia, humiliate it in some way, and ignore its interests. And when we fight for our interests and do it openly, honestly and, frankly, courageously, in itself, this fact, in itself this example is extremely contagious and attractive to billions of people on the planet.

You will see, in many African countries, in some countries Russian flags now. In Latin America, the same thing is happening in Asia. We have a lot of friends. And we don’t need to impose anything on anyone. It’s just that a lot of people , both politicians and ordinary citizens – are tired of living in conditions of some external dictate. I’m sick of it. And when they see an example of our struggle against this dictate, they are both internally and externally on our side. And that support will only expand.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, we talked a lot about science this time. In my opinion, there was one of the most interesting sessions on how to develop science and technology in these conditions.

Ruslan Yunusov is sitting in the hall – he painted a very interesting picture for us.

Rustam Yunusov: Thank you.

Today I represent Rosatom and the Valdai Discussion Club.

Mr President, you did say the right words about science. We see that over the past twenty years, support for science in Russia has grown significantly, and the mega-grant programme has made it possible to launch many dozens of modern laboratories in Russia, and we can see this.

However, on the other hand, we as scientists see that most of the professors who opened these laboratories never came to live in Russia and work full-time. You can even understand why it is difficult to compete: here you have a megagrant for five years, and here you have a lifetime professorship. That’s really the question.

On the other hand, yesterday we discussed at the session that our Chinese colleagues have made a tremendous breakthrough in science over the past twenty years. Today, they have not just brought back scientists, they occupy the first places in many areas.

So we are dealing with quanta, and I want to say that we know that the most powerful quantum computer today is in China, not in the United States, the maximum number of patents is published in quanta by China, not the United States.

But, on the other hand, of course, in Russia we also have programs that unite many laboratories. The same quantum project, a quantum computer, is twenty scientific groups, 15 universities, universities, institutes of the Academy of Sciences. But we have five years of planning.

I think that today we are faced with increased pressure, we really have a challenge to scientific and technological sovereignty, and, perhaps, this is the right time to start formulating strategic projects and the horizon to make ten to twenty years.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, the higher the horizon, the better, the farther the horizon, the better, I agree with you. We need to look at the positive examples of other countries, our friends and partners, including the People’s Republic of China. A lot has been done there in recent years under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, he pays great attention to this – not only the development of science, but also China as a whole, the Chinese economy, and improving the welfare of the Chinese people. I know this, he and I are on good, friendly terms. And where they achieve real results, of course, can be the subject of our study and implementation in our practice.

As for mega-grants, they have really played a good, positive role, and the next stage that we are now implementing is not just research and the creation of separate laboratories, it is the creation of scientific communities of young scientists. And this, in fact, is the future of these megagrants.

I agree with those who initiated this process. We do. (Addressing A.Fursenko.) Yes, Andrey Alexandrovich?

We will continue to do so.

You said no one came. Some come and work here, even if they are formally listed somewhere there, abroad, spend most of their time in Russia, there are a lot of them. These are our former compatriots, and not only former ones, but compatriots who are listed at work somewhere, but come to work with us constantly.

You know, the world of science, like the world of art, does not tolerate artificial boundaries and restrictions. People should feel free, and we will not lock anyone up here, but we will welcome everyone who wants to work in Russia. In general, we are succeeding, and we will continue to follow the same path.

To increase the planning horizons – you are probably right. Although we have megagrants for five years now, right? You can, of course, extend them. These are, of course, issues related to budget financing, but this can be done. In any case, today we can expand these horizons.

Although what you said about the fact that somewhere there a person works, holds some kind of professorial position, and this is for life, is far from everywhere. You are a scientist yourself, you know: they signed a contract there for several years, the contract ended – goodbye, be healthy. So it’s not all there for life either. But to live in the space of your native language, your culture is for life.

Therefore, this freedom of choice should be granted to both cultural figures and scientists. We must create conditions that will be more attractive than those that are created abroad. It’s not an easy process. We are following this path, achieving results and will continue along it, including – you are probably right – and expand the planning horizon.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Please, Wang Wen.

Wang Wen (retranslated): Thank you.

My name is Wang Wen. I work at Chongyang University. It’s a Chinese university. This time I visited more than 20 cities in Russia and wrote a number of articles to demonstrate the real Russia to China. In China, many people love Russia and you in particular.

I want to ask the following question. Surely now you are under great pressure, you have a large weight on your shoulders. Do you feel fear or nervousness, or maybe excitement, especially in light of the threat from the West? Do you think you have created a new Russia? Or did Russian fate create you?

And the second question is, what would you like to say to the Chinese people? What could you say about the last ten years of Russian-Chinese relations? What are your forecasts and expectations for the future of Russian-Chinese cooperation?

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: You know, when I work, I never think about any historical achievements, I just proceed from what needs to be done and what is impossible to do without – this is the most important thing. And in this sense, of course, the circumstances in which a country lives shape any person, including me, of course, this is true.

As for the fact that we should be afraid of someone… Of course, probably, many would like to hear now that I am afraid, but if I was afraid of everything, I would not do anything. I cannot be guided by considerations of this order in the place I occupy. I must be guided by the interests of the Russian people, the Russian state, and I am doing this and will continue to do so. I will do what I consider necessary for the interests of my people and my country.

As for Russian-Chinese relations, in recent years, over the past decades, they have acquired an absolutely unprecedented level of openness, mutual trust and efficiency. In terms of country, China is our largest trade and economic partner. We are really working in all spheres: in the military sphere, we are constantly conducting exercises together, in the military-technical sphere, and as trustingly as, perhaps, never before in the history of our countries, we are working in the field of culture, humanitarian cooperation and in the field of the economy, of course.

Russia has the largest trade turnover with China, and it is growing, and it is growing at a very rapid pace. The pace was gained even before any restrictions and redistribution of our trade flows towards Asia, including Towards China.

We have set certain tasks for ourselves together with my friend – he says this about me, I consider him my friend – Mr Xi Jinping in terms of a certain level of trade. We will definitely achieve it. We are moving towards this at a faster pace than we even planned.

As for our attitude towards China, we treat it as a close friend to China, to the Chinese people, with great respect for culture and traditions. I am confident that, relying on this solid base, we will confidently move forward.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, regarding fears, Professor Van said that this year, when the nuclear factor had arisen since the spring, and you pointed out its presence, and in general many people were a little nervous, remembering your statement here, at our event, four years ago, that we would all go to paradise. We’re not in a hurry, are we? (Laughter.)

You’ve thought about it, it’s alarming somehow.

Vladimir Putin: I deliberately thought about making you wary. The effect has been achieved. (Laughter.)

Fyodor Lukyanov: I see. Thank you.

Mohammed Ihsan, please.

M. Ihsan (retranslated):Professor Mohammed Ihsan, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

I am very pleased to be here, Mr President. I have a direct question for you.

The theme of this session is a world after hegemony, justice and security for all. Do you think that at this stage the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan will achieve better security, achieve greater justice in the future? Could you elaborate on this issue?

And as you said, in Central America, in Africa, Russian flags are everywhere, there are a lot of people who love Russia, who support it. And I want to assure you that the same can be said about the Middle East – there are also a lot of people there who support Russia and love it.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you for the final part of your speech. Flags are present in European countries and in the United States, by the way, too, where we have many supporters. By the way, in the United States, a very large part of people who adhere to traditional values, and they are with us, we know this.

As for the Kurds, I have already said not in relation to the Kurds, but in general to all peoples: of course, we must strive for a balance of interests. Only if a balance of interests is achieved can peace be sustainable, including the fate of the Kurdish people.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Please go ahead. Mr. Starysh.

Kirill Starish: Thank you.

Good evening!

Constantin Starysh, Republic of Moldova. I represent the parliamentary opposition, of course, the opposition, because our government, to the misfortune of our country and our people, still prefers some other routes for their foreign trips. As a result, from today the lights went out in Chisinau almost completely. But that’s not what this is about.

I have a question, but first, an instruction. You spoke so well, Mr President, about your family that I will take a chance. I have two children, they are eight and ten years old, they are students of the Pushkin Lyceum in Chisinau. They asked me very much to say hello to you, and I could not deny myself this little pleasure of my father. So greetings from Alexandra and Gavril from Chisinau.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Kirill Starish: Now a question.

In your speech, you spoke about the inevitability of the emergence of new models of interaction between countries and regions. Perhaps, in this context, it makes sense to return to the idea that you voiced back in 2001, about a single economic, humanitarian and cultural space that will stretch from Vladivostok to Lisbon?

For us, Moldovans of different nationalities, such a statement of the question would be very satisfying, since it is always very difficult for us to choose between good and good, between Europe and Russia. For us, it would be a very promising project and as if the light at the end of the tunnel.

But is it possible in the world we are about to build, in a post-conflict world, in a world in which there will no longer be a hegemon, a global policeman and a dominant power?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Is it possible to create a single space – humanitarian, economic – and a region in terms of ensuring the security of all those who live in this huge megacontinent from Lisbon to Vladivostok? Yes of course. Hope dies last. It’s not our idea. True, then they said “to the Urals”, it was I who later transformed this idea of our French colleagues and former French leaders “to Vladivostok”.

Why? Because people of the same culture also live beyond the Urals – this is the most important thing.

Today, complex, difficult and tragic events are taking place. But in general, why not? In general, it is possible to imagine such a thing. I think it’s going to happen one way or another.

I spoke in my speech about Eurasia as a whole, including the European part. You just know what’s very important? It is really important, and I would like to return to my speech, so that this European part regains its legal personality.

How to talk to this or that partner, if he does not decide anything and on every occasion should call the Washington “regional committee” and ask what can be done and what can not be done.

In fact, this is what happens in life.

I remember when the very difficult events around Syria began, one of the leaders arrived, and I meet with him. We agreed on what we would do, how we would do it. Specifically, this, this, this, I’ll do it.

From us, he flew from Moscow to Washington. I returned to Paris and everything was forgotten. As if there were no agreements. How to talk? About what?

And there were directly specific agreements, up to where the fleet will move, what we will do, how we agree. Are we against it? We’re all for it. And they agreed. Done.

And how do you talk? Why then talk to them? Then it’s better to call Washington directly. That’s it. I’m talking now and I’m not making anything up, you know?

Of course, Europe protects its interests, especially in the economic sphere, and even then not so much. Gas pipeline systems were blown up. These are not ours, they are pan-European. There, five European companies are represented in Nord Stream 1. So what? Everyone is silent, as if that’s the way it should be. Yes, there is enough audacity to show there: maybe it was Russia that blew up. Russia blew itself up. Completely crazy, or what? No, they do.

Gazprom even published pictures of 2016, when an American-made explosive device lies under the gas pipeline system, I think. They said they lost it during the exercises. We lost so much that right under the gas pipe went this explosive device, which, I think, was designed to destroy underwater mines.

No, the world media do not even broadcast this, no one repeats it, all this is dying at the root, there is nowhere to be found: neither on the Internet, nor on television screens, there is nothing. This is also the use of a monopoly in the media in order to promote the necessary information and kill everything that interferes with them. It’s there, but everyone is silent.

Therefore, of course, it is necessary to create this single space in every sense from Lisbon to Vladivostok. But this can only be done with those who have the right to vote. I do not want to provoke or offend anyone, but this is the practice, these are the realities of life today. But nevertheless, in my opinion, in a historical perspective, it is possible.

I have already mentioned this, and I will say it again. Helmut Kohl once told me that the United States will one day go about its business, including in Latin America, Asia will develop powerfully in its own way, if European civilization wants to survive as some kind of world center, then, of course, we need to be with Russia. That was Helmut Kohl’s position. The current leadership of the Federal Republic seems to have a different view. But this is the choice of European countries.

But I’d like to go back to where you started. You said that the lights went out in Chisinau. It’s not clear why it went out, we definitely have nothing to do with it.

You know why I’m talking about this? Because Russia is always blamed for everything: somewhere the lights have gone out, somewhere the toilet does not work, sorry, somewhere else – Russia is to blame for everything. This, remember, as in the famous film: and the chapel of some XII or what century we also destroyed? But thank goodness not. But I want to inform you, and what I will say is the pure truth. When we were negotiating with representatives of the Moldovan Government over gas supplies and gas prices, Gazprom took an absolutely pragmatic market position on the contract with Moldova for the supply of natural gas.

The Moldovan side did not agree with the position of Gazprom and insisted on price preferences. Gazprom stumbled upon me, then Mr. Miller came to me, stated his position and said that he considered his point of view correct. I asked him to meet the Moldovan side halfway, bearing in mind the economic and financial capabilities of the Moldovan state. I told him: the prices, although fair from a market point of view, are unaffordable for Moldova; if they can’t pay, what’s the point?

He didn’t really agree with me, but he listened to my opinion. Gazprom met the Moldovan Government halfway and signed a contract for the supply of gas on Moldovan terms – on the terms of the Moldovan side, the Moldovan government.

There’s a lot of detail, I just don’t want to bore the audience because, except you, no one is interested. It is associated with debts, with current payments, with a certain prepayment. But in general, in terms of price parameters, they completely went to meet the Moldovan side. Of course, you have to pay. That in itself, I think, is obvious.

Why the matter was brought to the point that there is no light in Moldova, this is, sorry, not our problem.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, you mentioned Europe. Two months ago or even less, there was an interesting episode when it turned out that when you spoke with President Macron shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, journalists were sitting in his office, all this was broadcast on speakerphone, they recorded all this. Such a somewhat unusual shape. Okay, this isn’t the first time. How do you feel about such things?

Vladimir Putin: No. I believe that there are certain formats of communication between the heads of state and they must be observed, otherwise the credibility of what the partner is doing disappears. In general, there is nothing reprehensible here, if what we are saying, what we are talking about, if our assessments reach the representatives of the media. But just then you need to warn about it, that’s all.

Fyodor Lukyanov: You were not warned?

Vladimir Putin: Of course not. On the contrary, when there are telephone conversations, including through closed communication channels, we always proceed from the fact that these are confidential negotiations, they are not subject to publicity, or something is subject to something by agreement of the parties. If this is done unilaterally, then, of course, it is indecent.

Fyodor Lukyanov: And now when Macron calls, do you specify who is there?

Vladimir Putin: No.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Why? It would be worth it.

Vladimir Putin: Because I now proceed from the fact that someone is listening.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I see.

Please, guest from Indonesia.

R.B. Connie (retranslated):Thank you.

Mr President, I really enjoyed your speech. I think it brought us the spirit of how we can build together, build stronger. Sounds like a motto for the G20.

We hope you will come to Indonesia next month.

I’ll ask you about the headline “A world after hegemony: security for all.”

Mr. Sukarno already said in 1955 that all security alliances are dangerous to the world. You and China are on the UN Security Council. Can you cope with getting rid of KVAT, AUCUS, NATO together. Is this possible?

Question two.

Everyone in Indonesia loves you very much. Everyone is always shouting “hurrah.” I want to ask: is it possible to take a picture with you later, later?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, with pleasure. With such a beautiful woman with pleasure.

We have very good relations with Indonesia throughout almost the entire recent history.

President Widodo, when he calls me, addresses me as “brother”, I tell him the same thing. We value the relations that we have developed with Indonesia.

I am grateful to the leadership and the President for the invitation to the G20. We’ll think about how we’re going to do that. Russia will definitely be represented there at a high level. Maybe I’ll go. I’ll think about it.

As for the creation of new blocs in Asia, in my opinion, this is an attempt to transfer the failed system of bloc thinking from the Atlantic region to Asia. Without any doubt, this is a harmful idea. This is again an attempt to be friends with someone against someone, in this case to be friends against China. Not only do we not support the attempt to revive or recreate now in the Asia-Pacific region what happened in the Atlantic, but we also believe that this is a very harmful and dangerous undertaking.

I must say that this has adverse consequences for the participants or for the allies of the United States, from which, as we know, contracts for the supply of submarines and something like that are being taken away. Nothing has been done yet, and negative consequences, including for US allies, are already coming. And if this practice continues, the number of these errors and problems will only increase. Of course, we have opposed and continue to oppose policies of this kind.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I know that General Sharma wanted to ask you.

B.K. Sharma (retranslated): Mr President, in the post-hegemon world, what role do you expect India to play?

Vladimir Putin: India has come a long way from the British colony to its current state. Nearly 1.5 billion people, and the notable development results are both universally admired and respected by the world.

Much has been done in recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. He is certainly a patriot of his country. And his thesis “Do in India” has both economic and moral significance.

India has made huge strides in its development, and, of course, it has a huge future. India not only has the right to be proud of being the largest democracy, in the good sense of the word, but also to be proud of the pace of its development. This is an extremely important base on which India is developing.

We have a special relationship with India that has been evoked or built on the foundation of a very close alliance for many, many decades. With India, we have never had any, I want to emphasize this, never any difficult issues, we have always only supported each other. This is what is happening now, I am sure it will continue to be the same in the future.

Now the pace of economic cooperation is growing. First, trade as a whole is growing. But as an example: Prime Minister Modi asked me to increase the supply of fertilizers, which is very important for Indian agriculture, and we did it. How much do you think? The supply of fertilizers to India has increased by 7.6 times – not by any percentage, but by 7.6 times. The trade turnover in the sphere of purchase and sale of agricultural products has almost doubled.

We continue to have relations in the field of military-technical cooperation. Prime Minister Modi is a man, one of those people in the world, who is able to pursue an independent foreign policy in the interests of his people. Despite any attempts to contain something, to limit something, it is, you know, an icebreaker, and moving calmly in the direction necessary for the Indian state.

I think that countries like India have not only a great future, but also, of course, a growing role in international affairs.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Since we are talking about fertilizers, for some reason I immediately remembered Brazil. Igor Gilov, where do we sit?

Vladimir Putin: By the way, we agreed with Brazil that the supply of fertilizers will also increase, but, unfortunately, it has decreased slightly. I don’t know why, maybe because of logistics, I think the supply of fertilizers there has decreased by several percent.

Fyodor Lukyanov: He left us, well, it doesn’t matter. Then I’ll actually ask what I know he wanted to ask.

Here they have an election the other day literally. How are we? Lula will probably be back. You’re on good terms with him, aren’t you?

Vladimir Putin: We are on good terms with Mr Lula, we are on good terms with Mr Bolsonaro. We do not interfere in internal political processes – this is the most important thing.

We know that in India, despite the acute internal political processes, there is a consensus on cooperation with Russia, a consensus on our interaction within brics. For us, this is of fundamental importance, we proceed from this.

We also have a consensus on cooperation with Brazil. We consider Brazil to be our most important partner in Latin America, and we will do everything to ensure that these relations develop in the future.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, since we went to BRICS, there was an initiative just a week and a half ago that Saudi Arabia wants to join.

Do you support?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, we support it. This requires the consensus of all BRICS countries. But Saudi Arabia is a rapidly developing country, and this is due not only to the fact that it is a leader in the production of hydrocarbons, oil production.

This is due to the fact that the Crown Prince, the government of Saudi Arabia has very big plans, which is very important, to diversify the economy – there are entire plans for national development in this direction. Keeping in mind the energy and creativity of the Crown Prince, I am confident that these plans will be realized.

Therefore, of course, Saudi Arabia deserves to be a member of major international organizations, such as BRICS and such as the SCO. Most recently, we have determined the status of Saudi Arabia in the SCO. We will develop relations with this country both bilaterally and at multilateral venues.

Fyodor Lukyanov: There are a lot of people in the West who say that Ben Salman is rude to the Americans because of you.

Vladimir Putin: This is not true.

Ben Salman is a young man, determined, with character, these are obvious facts. He does not need to be rude, and then in response you will not hear harsh assessments on his part, that’s all. We must respect both the Crown Prince and Saudi Arabia itself, and they will respond in kind. The same will be answered to those who are rude to them.

As for us, this is complete nonsense, because in general, both the Crown Prince and the entire Saudi leadership are guided by their own national interests. And if we are talking about whether to reduce or increase production – and I know the Crown Prince very well personally, I know what he is guided by – he is guided, of course, by national interests and the interests of balancing energy markets.

In this sense, his position – I am speaking without any jokes now – is absolutely balanced. It is aimed at balancing the interests of both producers and consumers, because in energy markets it is not even the final price that is important, it is not important – this is the current economic or political situation. For international energy markets, predictability and stability are important. That’s what the crown prince wants and generally gets what he wants.

Fyodor Lukyanov: So you can’t sit on his neck either?

Vladimir Putin: Certainly not.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Muhammad Javed, please.

Maria Javed (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.

I convey love and respect from Pakistan, from Islamabad. Thank you for your resolute and comprehensive analysis of what is happening.

My question is related to a very important factor, also related to the history before the Second World War, when the Jews were demonized, and then everything that was connected with them was ignored by the United States and Western Europe. Then came the monstrous Holocaust. Now there is a hate syndrome that is being created around Russia. You talked about Donbass and how people were treated.

I myself have been to the UK, to the Scandinavian countries: neo-Nazism is on the rise there. In particular, I worked in a project that is related to the assessment of these trends. What we understood from this project is that several vices occur: for example, neo-Nazism is not reported, as, for example, before the Second World War, and secondly, everyone tries to level it, not to report. This means that there is a need, as you said, on the part of Russia to protect the Russian language, Russians outside Russia, as well as the need to create a counter plan to combat the rise of neo-Nazism. This is a serious threat.

And the last component is this. In Ukraine, non-state actors from various regions are recruited. There are credible reports that this is happening in order to use brigades to fight traditional armies to suppress combat capability.

I would be interested to hear your analysis – this is very serious: Europe is facing the rise of neo-Nazism.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know, it seems to me that one of the serious, fundamental problems of those who supposedly care about the future of Ukraine, the so-called Ukrainian nationalists, is that even the nationalist movement and the neo-fascist, neo-Nazi movement are merging.

After all, they rely on those who cannot but be attributed to collaborators and Nazis. It is impossible not to be attributed to those who, as I have already said, on behalf of the Hitler authorities, destroyed the Polish, Jewish, Russian population in the territories occupied during the Second World War. It is impossible to separate today’s so-called jingoistic patriots and nationalists with the Banderaites – in fact, the same thing. That, in my opinion, is their big problem, really.

Therefore, I say, including to our So-called Western partners: look at what is being done on the streets of Kiev and other major cities, when thousands of people walk the streets with swastikas and torches, and so on.

Yes, manifestations of neo-Nazism are also possible in our country. In all countries, it is tenacious – such a tenacious infection. But we are fighting this, and there is support at the state level – this, of course, is a problem. It is hushed up, but it exists, and there is no getting away from it, because it is.

Well, today’s “jingoists” in Ukraine are not driven by this – not even by the interests, not by the ideas of nationalism, everything is very primitive: they are driven by economic interests, the desire to save billions of dollars in Western banks that they stole from the Ukrainian people. They stole it, hid it in Western banks and, in order to ensure the safety of their capital, they do everything that they are ordered from the West, wrapping it in a nationalist wrapper, presenting it to their own people as a struggle for the interests of the Ukrainian people. This is what is really happening – they do not regret and fight with Russia to the last Ukrainian.

I say this with regret. There, casualties are one in ten, one in eight. Lately, it’s almost always one in seven, one in eight. People are not spared at all. Can true patriots of their country allow this to happen? They go right along this path calmly and even without looking back, do not think about it. Of course, they do not protect their national interests.

But this contagion of nationalism is tenacious, and the fact that it is tied to neo-Nazism, they try or prefer not to notice. And this, of course, is a huge problem for the current Ukrainian regime, and for those who support them, of course. But we cannot ignore this and will always point it out, including as one of the root causes of today’s crisis.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr Kim.

Heiko Kim (retranslated): Hello, my name is Kim Heungchong, I am from South Korea. I came to the Valdai Club for the second time, and I learned a lot. Thank you very much for the opportunity to hear a lot.

I have a question about security. I would be interested in your opinion on Russia’s position on the growing tension between China and the United States over Taiwan, North Korea and its nuclear development program.

The second question is about the fight against climate change. Russia is very rich in natural resources and fossil fuels. Accelerating the transition to carbon neutrality could run counter to Russian interests.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the last one. The transition to carbon neutrality does not contradict Russia’s interests, because we have opportunities to develop alternative types of energy, including hydrogen, including pure hydrogen, and here we have serious competitive advantages. In particular, you can use gas, there are many opportunities, this does not frighten us absolutely, but on the contrary, creates incentives for us to develop. And as a transition energy resource, primary gas is the best source of energy. If we talk about deep oil refining, then here we largely have the advantages that I have just mentioned. This does not contradict our interests in any way.

Our interests are contradicted only by the bacchanalia in the energy sector, to get ahead of ourselves in resolving issues related to energy security related to the provision of “green” energy. How could it be possible for many, many years to underfund and hinder investment in traditional energy without preparing everything related to green energy for this transition? How could this be done?

To a large extent, this is the basis of today’s energy crisis. After all, Western politicians simply talk with their tongues in order to attract voters to their side. First, ordinary citizens are frightened by possible climate change, then on the basis of this fear they begin to promise something that is impossible to fulfill, get votes, come to power, and then “boom”.

What is happening now – a return to coal-fired generation, a return to fuel oil? And what, they blurted out their tongues, but what is the result? It’s not about Russia. We are ready to supply gas, we are ready to supply oil – what are you refusing? After the explosion of Nord Streams, we have one pipe left, it is working, we can pump 27.5 billion cubic meters. But they don’t want to – what do we have to do with it? If they don’t want to, they don’t.

As for green energy, I repeat, everything must be prepared in a timely manner. Systemic measures restricting the development of traditional forms of energy have led to this serious crisis. There is no financing, banks do not give loans – not only European, and the same thing is happening in the States. Why is it limited there – banks do not give, do not insure, land is not allocated, transport is not built for oil and gas transmission of these products, and this has been going on for years. A significant underfunding of the industry led to a deficit. That’s it.

The United States allocates oil from strategic reserves – well, fine, but they will have to be replenished later, market experts understand this. Today it was taken and taken from the strategic reserves, but tomorrow it will be necessary to purchase. We hear that we will buy when prices fall. But they don’t fall. So what? Hello, here we come! We will have to buy at high prices, again prices went up. What do we have to do with this? These are systemic mistakes in the energy sector of those who should think about it and deal with it. That’s the first thing.

Second. Regarding North Korea and what concerns Taiwan. Taiwan is undoubtedly an integral part of the People’s Republic of China. We have always adhered to this position, and it does not change here.

All the provocative movements associated with the visit to Taiwan by senior OFFICIALS of the United States are perceived in Russia as nothing more than a provocation. Why they’re doing that, I honestly don’t know.

You know, we have known many of us here for many, many years and have been speaking the same language – let’s do it in a family way. Here’s what’s happening: the tragedy in Ukraine. The entire West has attacked us there, trying to destroy our economy, supplies weapons and ammunition to Ukraine by the billions. They are fighting Russia.

But why should relations with China be spoiled at the same time? Are they normal people or not? This seems to be completely contrary to common sense and logic. Why would this grandmother drag herself to Taiwan to provoke China to retaliate? At a time when they cannot regulate relations with Russia because of what is happening in Ukraine. Some nonsense is simple.

There seems to be some subtle, deep idea to this. I think there’s no shish, no subtle idea. Just nonsense and everything, and self-confidence. You know what I mean? Overconfidence and a sense of impunity are the underlying factors of such irrational actions.

Our position is clear, and I have outlined it.

Now, with regard to the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In my opinion, this problem also lies – you know what – in the unwillingness to talk, in an absolutely boorish attitude to the interests of North Korea, including in the field of security. After all, almost everything was agreed upon, there was a moment. The North Korean leaders agreed, in fact, with the proposals of the United States on how to resolve this problem, including those related to the nuclear component.

No, at the last moment, the American side changed its position and forced, in fact, the North Korean leadership to abandon the agreements reached. The United States did this – they imposed additional sanctions there, began to restrict something in the field of finance and banking, although there was an agreement not to do this. What for? It’s also not very clear.

By the way, we have joint proposals with the People’s Republic of China on how to move towards resolving this problem. These proposals are formulated in our two documents, and everyone knows this well. We will maintain an agreed position.

By the way, as for humanitarian issues and similar issues, here we also need to understand the state of north Korea’s economy, what are the needs of ordinary citizens, and not to tighten the screws, but, based on humanitarian considerations, to resolve certain issues.

We have very good relations with the Republic of Korea, and we have always had the opportunity to have a dialogue with both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But now we know that the Republic of Korea has decided to supply weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. It’s going to ruin our relationship. And how would the Republic of Korea react if we resumed cooperation with North Korea in this area? Would that make you happy?

I ask you to pay attention to this.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, since you yourself said that it was a family thing, lift the veil on our family circle – there was a lot of speculation.

When you were in China in early February and met with President Xi, you warned him about the plans for a special…

Vladimir Putin: No.

Fyodor Lukyanov: And then he did not express a grudge against you for not sharing in a friendly way?

Vladimir Putin: You know, the Chinese leader is not a person who expresses grievances against anything. He is a self-sufficient leader on a global scale. And then, we do not have such a need for this, we make sovereign decisions: both Russia and the People’s Republic of China.

Therefore, China perfectly understands what the West’s desire to promote the infrastructure of the NATO bloc to our borders means for Russia, and they objectively assess these situations. Just as they see what has been happening in the Donbas over the past eight years, they are perfectly able to assess the consequences and causes of the coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014.

Of course, the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese leadership stand for pragmatic, balanced solutions to the crisis that is taking place in Ukraine peacefully, and we respect this position.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Then Nelson Wong, probably.

Natalie Wong (retranslated): Thank you.

My name is Nelson Wong, Shanghai, China. It is a great honour for me to be here, Mr President.

In your speech and your remarks, you mentioned that the rules-based world order has been and continues to be used very often by the West, although it is not clear where this order came from. And I must say that this issue has been discussed quite often over the past four days here as part of our discussions.

Mr. President, my question is as follows. Looking to the future, we see that we are entering an era when there will be no superpowers. I must say that we talked about this on the first day of our discussions. Because the only superpower, the United States, is losing control and we are entering a new era. This is not only the beginning of the end of the superpower status of the United States, moreover, we are already in the process of this loss.

At the new stage, I think we will also need certain rules. If we want to develop such rules, from your point of view, Mr President, what rules would be most important? It is clear that there are no such rules yet, but as a hypothesis: what principles must be observed when new rules are developed?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Why are there no such rules? They exist, they are laid down in the Charter of the United Nations. And these rules are called international law. We just need everyone to follow and understand these rules equally. It is possible to abandon these rules or radically modernize them only when the basis for the development of relations on some other principles is prepared.

The Charter of the United Nations fixed the existing balance of power after the Second World War. Of course, the world is fundamentally changing, it has changed. Such giants as China, like India, like Indonesia, with a large population, are growing, in Africa such huge countries are emerging, developing – 200 million people a population of 200 million people, in Latin America.

The world is changing. Of course, the norms of international law should follow these changes and regulate relations between states in accordance with the balance of power that develops in real life in the world. But this should be done calmly, slowly, according to understandable principles, and not by someone invented rules.

I said in the introduction, and who read these rules? They talk about some rules – what rules? Where are they written, who agreed? Nonsense is simple. For idiots, is that all being said? To some general audience of people who do not even know how to read properly. What are the rules, who worked with them? Nonsense is simple, and that’s it. No, it’s endless, as they say in our country. As for those who do not comply with them, we will impose some restrictions and sanctions.

They are waging a trade war with China and so on in this regard, pointing out what China should do in its individual provinces, regulate what relations should be there, and respect for human rights. These are tools in the fight against the People’s Republic of China, and instruments of unfair competition, that’s what it is. They are afraid of the growing power of China, and because of this, everything is happening: they are looking for human rights, and individual regions of China are put under the distribution of solutions to current issues of an economic and political nature. The only point is this: the fight against China as a growing competitor, and all sorts of tools are being invented.

What can be the basis – respect for interests, openness and general rules, uniformly understood and applied by all participants in international communication. We need to achieve this balance of interests, restore this balance of interests and follow these norms. But it seems to me that this should be done in public, and not behind the scenes, not in the interests of one country or a group of countries, but in the interests of the entire international community.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, without leaving China, and a little bit to the previous question about green energy and so on. It is clear that the European energy market, apparently, in the coming years will close for us altogether. There is such a possibility.

Are we ready to quickly build infrastructure for Asian markets?

Vladimir Putin: You know, we did not do this based on today’s conjuncture, we did it a long time ago. The Power of Siberia was built not in connection with the events in Ukraine – it was built because we were aware that the energy needs of our friends in China are growing, and we have the opportunity to meet these needs.

We are also negotiating with India on various ways to deliver our energy resources to the Indian market and with other countries. We will continue to liquefy natural gas. Our participation in global LNG markets is still modest, but it is growing constantly. We’ll continue to do that. I repeat, we will develop this area not even because of today’s restrictions, but because these are the trends in the development of the global economy.

The Chinese economy in terms of purchasing power parity has become larger than the American one – this is a fact, and the needs are growing. Why should we – especially our friends, neighbours, we have wonderful relations, a common border – not supply us there in the same way as in other Asian countries? We’ve done it and we’re going to do it.

Now, in fact, we have already agreed on a new system through Mongolia. Both Mongolia and China are interested. We will let our friends and partners into our mining resources – why not – as we did with the Europeans, with the Americans, but they prefer to leave our market – the flag is in their hands, let them move wherever they want, in any direction. Is it good for them or not? I think it’s actually bad.

They leave with losses at that. Whoever wants to go, we are open for cooperation, this process will continue. Whether we are ready for this or not, we have been preparing for this for many years, and we will continue this process further. I don’t see any insurmountable obstacles here, no issues that we could not resolve, everything will be resolved.

Alexander Dzermant: Alexei Dzermant, Minsk, Belarus.

Before I ask my question, Mr President, I would like to convey the words of support from many, many Belarusians. I often meet with them at discussion platforms, where we discuss, including Ukraine, events. Therefore, you personally and Russia, which is fighting Nazism in Ukraine, have the most ardent support from the citizens of my country.

I would like to ask the following question. Due to the fact that the West, in fact, builds real walls, arranges a blockade, sanctions pressure on the Republic of Belarus and Russia, the North-South corridor is now becoming very important in logistical and financial terms. Of course, it is important to fill it now with specific projects that include both Russia and Belarus.

But don’t you think that with the growth of the development of Asia and the East as a whole, we need not only to develop the material infrastructure, but also to pay attention to the cultural and humanitarian aspect, so that we have ideas, values, certain views on the world with the countries of the East?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You are right. But that’s what we do. And not even because someone builds a wall from the West, and we always do.

After all, look, the bulk of Russia’s population is located in the European part, but the territory is largely beyond the Ural Mountains, so Russia is a Eurasian country, we always remember this, we have never forgotten about it. We have traditionally developed relations with Asian countries, and even more so now, when there is such an explosive growth there – not right now, for several years already.

We see all this, so we have largely reoriented our cooperation with Asian countries. Well, of course, is it possible to develop economic ties without paying attention to the humanitarian component? But, to a certain extent, China and India are the “cradle” of world civilizations, we always treat this with great respect, attention and interest.

The interest of the Russian public in these civilizations has always been very high. By the way, schools studying India, China, the culture of this and that state, the peoples of these states, and these are also multinational states, we have a very high level of science in these areas, this has always been traditional for Russia, and we will support this in the future.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Colleagues, the fourth hour of our work has begun. I think that we have already abused the time of the President of the Russian Federation. One other question is there that anyone else has? Eat.

Vladimir Putin: Please.

Pete Mtembu (retranslated): Thank you. Pilani Mtembu from South Africa, Institute for Global Dialogue.

Mr. President, you said that the West is not able to unilaterally lead all of humanity and that we need to build a symphony of human civilization. I would be interested if you could tell us in more detail about your thoughts if we want to build a multipolar world order, the importance of regional cooperation as a way to maintain and build such bricks of multipolarity.

And a few more words from the point of view of Russian cooperation with Africa, in particular related to the Russia-Africa summit.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: We have very good, traditionally good relations with Africa as a whole, including with the Republic of South Africa, since, as you know, Africa’s struggle for its independence, since the struggle against colonialism. This absolutely unique relationship developed during the years when the Soviet Union and Russia supported African states in their struggle for their freedom.

And this foundation of our relations, which developed in previous decades, of course, should be used in the new conditions to develop multilateral relations with African states today, including with the Republic of South Africa, which, as you know, is a very active and effective partner of ours within brics.

We value this, we know the possibilities of the Republic of South Africa. We know the opportunities and are confident in the future of the African continent and, of course, we will develop our relations with African countries – both with those with which we have developed traditional relations over the past decades, and with those with which they are developing only now.

But as for the essence of your question and the first part of it. In principle, it seems to me that I have replied that I will hardly be able to detail my position in a short answer.

We need to find a balance of interests. This cannot be done under conditions of hegemony or an attempt to preserve the hegemony of one country or group of countries vis-à-vis the rest of humanity. These hegemons will have to reckon with these legitimate demands of the overwhelming majority of participants in international communication – and not in words, but in deeds.

What’s going on? In words, everyone is for equality, for the support of African countries, for example, and so on. In words, everything sounds beautiful, but in practice what happens? After all, what instruments are used today, say, the instrument of the same dollar or other currencies, say, the euro. What happens in practical life? $5.9 trillion has been printed in the last two years and €2.9 trillion has been printed. Where did that money go? They went to buy goods on world markets, and the United States from a net importer of food began to buy more on world food markets than to sell to world markets, began to buy food due to the fact that they have a printing press.

That’s what a financial monopoly leads to – there was a deficit right away. Not only was there a crop failure the previous year and the pandemic, a reduction in production, money was printed in the fight against the pandemic, thrown to their population – food purchases began, prices went up. And who suffers? First of all, the countries of Africa and to some extent Latin America and Asia. Is anyone thinking about that? Of course, those who do think. They didn’t care about the consequences. They solve their interests without thinking about the consequences that are coming for the same African countries.

The same thing is happening in another part of the food market related to fertilizers. Listen, how can that be? I have already said this, and I will say it again. How was it possible to make a decision to lift restrictions and bans on Russian fertilizers in Europe, and then issue an explanation that these restrictions were lifted only for EU countries? Are they completely crazy, or what? They also issued this clarification in writing. How can you imagine that? But they do it without hesitation, without anything. Is it a balance of interests, or what?

We have already said many times: 300,000 tonnes of fertilisers have been seized and are lying in European ports. Our companies are ready to give away for free, but do not give, including to African countries. Some African leaders asked me where exactly. I asked the assistants to send out where and how much they found – 300,000 tons, which is millions of dollars.

Give it to the poorest countries, they need it. No, they don’t let go. Is it a balance of interests? If you want to fight Russia, the flag is in your hands, fight. You do not want us to receive additional income, we give it away for free, there is no income. Give it to developing countries, your actions only contribute to the fact that prices rise. Why are you doing this? So, they’re interested in that.

Is it a balance of interests? How to ensure that the relationship is stable? We must achieve this balance, we must act within the framework of the norms that we call the norms of international law, we must coordinate and adhere to them, including in the financial sphere, we must create independent systems of international settlements, which I spoke about.

I have given a concrete example of what the endless emission, the unlimited emission of major currencies leads to. It also has practical implications, including and above all for developing countries.

I would like to return to this once again: in order for the world to be stable, we need to achieve this balance of interests.