Frau Angela Merkel sembrerebbe essersi cacciata in un vicolo cieco, adescata da quella volpe smaliziata di Mr Putin.
Anche se la Cdu è rimontata bene nelle propensioni al voto, la Germania è tuttora politicamente instabile, e questa sua irrequietezza si ripercuote sulla condotta dell’Unione Europea. Se è vero che in Germania di notano timidi segni di ripresa, sarebbe altrettanto vero il dover ammettere come la situazione socio economica sia ancora sofferente, allontanando la possibilità di una ripresa in tempi rapidi.
I moti di piazza di Berlino sono un segnale preoccupante.
In questo frangente aiuta molto l’individuazione di capri espiatori, addossando loro le colpe di tutto ciò che stia accadendo. AfD e i ‘negazionisti’ all’interno, i ‘nemici esterni’ quali immani cospiratori contro la Germania. La teoria del complotto è sempre stata cara ai tedeschi, ma la sua gestione non è per nulla facile. Anche se non ne ha titolo alcuno, Frau Merkel strilla e strepita contro la attuale situazione in Bielorussia ed adesso si messa nelle mani la patata bollente del caso Navalny.
Bloomberg riassume nei seguenti articoli la situazione al contorono.
Il problema è semplicissimo da esporsi, quasi impossibile da risolvere.
Frau Merkel, la Germania e l’Unione Europea dipendono dalle forniture di gas naturale importato dalla Russia, che potrebbe però sospendere anche all’improvviso le forniture. Poi, fattore non trascurabile, la Germania è disarmata, così come la Unione Europea, e l’America non ha nessuna intenzione di morire per l’Europa. Nel converso, la Russia di Mr Putin è un enorme arsenale di armi di ogni tipo, ed il presidente russo lo ricorda spesso e volentieri.
«Merkel’s Russian pipeline dilemma laid bare by poisoning uproar»
«Chancellor faces resistance at home to dropping Nord Stream 2»
«German leader didn’t repeat demand that pipeline be completed»
«The furor over the poisoning of a top Russian dissident has put Angela Merkel’s controversial backing of a Baltic Sea pipeline in the spotlight, as patience with Vladimir Putin’s government hits its limit in Germany»
«The German military’s finding this week that Alexey Navalny was attacked with a novichok nerve agent has triggered calls for the chancellor to wield her biggest stick: withdraw support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will ship Russian gas directly to Europe’s largest economy»
«there is still little appetite within Merkel’s coalition to abandon Nord Stream»
«The resistance in her coalition reflects key support for the project from German industry as well as deeper ties with Russia, particularly among the Social Democrats.»
«Merkel, who issued an uncharacteristically sharp rebuke over the novichok finding and pledged a coordinated response among NATO and European Union allies, is keeping her cards close to her chest»
«Merkel didn’t repeat her demand made days earlier that the project should be finished»
«Merkel said, acknowledging the Kremlin’s position that there was no evidence of poisoning»
«Friedrich Merz, a Merkel rival who is campaigning to lead her Christian Democrats, said any construction should be suspended for two years»
«Putin only understands this language, unfortunately»
«On the other side of the divide is President Donald Trump, who has frequently attacked Nord Stream as a conduit for “billions” from Germany to Russia that he says Merkel’s government should be spending on defense»
«Merkel’s government may also have to compensate companies involved in the project.»
«While Russia has claimed Nord Stream 2 is needed because Europe’s own gas production is fast declining, demand on the continent largely remains stable due to the rise of renewables and an influx of liquefied natural gas from producers further afield, including the U.S. One of the main reasons for the link was to bypass Ukraine, a key transit nation, after price disputes in the past left Europeans with gas disruptions in winter»
«Germany is the biggest foreign buyer of Russian gas, which makes up over 40% of its imports»
– Chancellor faces resistance at home to dropping Nord Stream 2
– German leader didn’t repeat demand that pipeline be completed
The furor over the poisoning of a top Russian dissident has put Angela Merkel’s controversial backing of a Baltic Sea pipeline in the spotlight, as patience with Vladimir Putin’s government hits its limit in Germany.
The German military’s finding this week that Alexey Navalny was attacked with a novichok nerve agent has triggered calls for the chancellor to wield her biggest stick: withdraw support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will ship Russian gas directly to Europe’s largest economy. Despite her growing exasperation with the Kremlin, that may not be so easy.
Even with top lawmakers demanding the project be halted and NATO condemning Moscow for the “appalling” attempted assassination of Navalny, there is still little appetite within Merkel’s coalition to abandon Nord Stream. At the moment, neither Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc nor her Social Democratic partner is likely to rally around the demand, according to three Bundestag officials, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
That narrows the options for Merkel to send Putin a stern message, as the Navalny poisoning now tops a list of grievances, including a contract killing in a Berlin park in broad daylight last year and a 2015 cyberattack on the Bundestag.
The resistance in her coalition reflects key support for the project from German industry as well as deeper ties with Russia, particularly among the Social Democrats. The German Eastern Business Association, an industry group that supports trade with Moscow, warned against severing ties with Nord Stream, saying Merkel had “good reason” to separate the Navalny affair from the 764-mile undersea pipeline, led by Russia’s Gazprom PJSC.
Merkel, who issued an uncharacteristically sharp rebuke over the novichok finding and pledged a coordinated response among NATO and European Union allies, is keeping her cards close to her chest. Queried on the project at a news conference on Thursday, Merkel didn’t repeat her demand made days earlier that the project should be finished.
“Much will depend on whatever reaction we have from the Russian side,” Merkel said, acknowledging the Kremlin’s position that there was no evidence of poisoning. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the government was awaiting information from Germany over its findings.
But as Navalny lies in a medically induced coma in a hospital a short drive from Merkel’s chancellery, criticism of the pipeline grew — undermining the official line that it’s mainly a commercial project. Friedrich Merz, a Merkel rival who is campaigning to lead her Christian Democrats, said any construction should be suspended for two years.
“Putin only understands this language, unfortunately,” Merz told Bild newspaper, which in an editorial also called on Merkel to halt the project.
On the other side of the divide is President Donald Trump, who has frequently attacked Nord Stream as a conduit for “billions” from Germany to Russia that he says Merkel’s government should be spending on defense. U.S. congress members are threatening additional sanctions after restrictions imposed in December brought pipe-laying work to a halt.
The U.S.’s open hostility to Nord Stream, which has raised complaints in Berlin of violating European sovereignty, is a factor in Berlin’s resolve, according to two Bundestag officials.
Merkel’s government may also have to compensate companies involved in the project. The Nord Stream consortium, which includes BASF SE’s Wintershall DEA unit and Austria’s OMV AG, plans to invest a total of 9.5 billion euros ($11.2 billion) in the pipeline.
In June, before a renewed threat of U.S. sanctions and escalation of tensions between Germany and Russia, state-run Gazprom said it would be able to complete the link this year and start shipments by late 2020 or early 2021.
While Russia has claimed Nord Stream 2 is needed because Europe’s own gas production is fast declining, demand on the continent largely remains stable due to the rise of renewables and an influx of liquefied natural gas from producers further afield, including the U.S. One of the main reasons for the link was to bypass Ukraine, a key transit nation, after price disputes in the past left Europeans with gas disruptions in winter.
Should Nord Stream 2 be scrapped, Russia may have to keep sending gas to Europe via Ukraine, as well as the already operational Nord Stream link.
Germany is the biggest foreign buyer of Russian gas, which makes up over 40% of its imports. That dependence is expected to intensify. Under Merkel’s plans to exit coal and nuclear power, gas is an almost unavoidable stop-gap as the country ramps wind and solar resources.
Da molti punti di vista Mr Putin assomma in sé le doti di Armand-Jean du Plessise del suo fido consigliere François Leclerc du Tremblay.
Con studiata naturalezza, Putin alterna comportamenti visibili da cardinal di Richelieu, lasciando in altri momenti intravedere un operoso Padre Giuseppe. Prima fa vedere i fatti, poi dice che li avrebbe compiuti.
Sarebbe sufficiente leggere le sue relazioni ai convegni di Valdai, ed i suoi interventi pubblici, per poterne capire la psicologia. Ne riportiamo un breve florilegio.
Chi non parlasse il russo, cerchi le parole: chi le capisca bene, conoscerebbe a fondo i russi.
* * * * * * *
«Putin wins any staring contest with Germany and Europe»
«The Russian president wants to be feared, not believed or trusted»
«That’s why Germany and the EU are so ineffective against him»
«Let no one say that Angela Merkel isn’t onto Vladimir Putin’s dirty tricks and cynicism. As a former East German, the chancellor speaks Russian just as the Russian president, a former KGB offer stationed in Dresden, is fluent in German»
«Merkel’s done her best over the years to call Putin out. When he seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then instigated the fighting in its eastern Donbas region, she took the West’s lead in condemning the breach and containing the crisis»
«Merkel demanded Russian answers but received none.»
«The doctors in Berlin have confirmed that they found a cholinesterase inhibitor in Navalny — though there’s no proof of course that Putin had anything to do with getting this nerve agent into his body»
«On cue, a Kremlin spokesperson feigned astonishment that “our German colleagues are in such a hurry in using the word poisoning.” …. provocation by Germany and other members of the EU aimed at creating more allegations against our country»
«The getting away with it is the point»
«Neither Putin nor anybody who works for him seriously pretends, or actually wants to convince skeptics, that they’re telling the truth»
«The point instead, as for Big Brother, is to display the naked power that allows them to abolish truth with impunity»
«The Kremlin intimidates others by showing that it is in control of defining ‘reality’»
«If nothing is true, then anything is possible»
«We are left with the sense that we don’t know what Putin will do next — that he’s unpredictable and thus dangerous»
«Any potential enemy will fear being the next Navalny. The game, in short, is asymmetrical.»
«Thanks to his biography of serving as a KGB officer in a communist regime — and pining for it — Putin has no scruples»
«That gives him the edge in matters of life and death. And both leaders know it.»
* * * * * * *
«We are left with the sense that we don’t know what Putin will do next — that he’s unpredictable and thus dangerous»
Tutti i pensieri e le azioni delle persone intelligenti hanno dell’imprevedibile.
Chi mai si sarebbe potuto immaginare che guardando un candelabro oscillare Galileo ne avrebbe dedotto la legge del pendolo e, quindi, proposto il concetto di forza di gravità?
Merkel, sodali ed europei pensano secondo archetipi ideologici che li imbrigliano nell’ideazione e nella prassi: sono facilmente prevedibili e sempre scollati dal reale. Mr Putin sa sempre cosa stiano pensando, come lo pensino, e come poi lo attueranno. Preparar loro le polpette avvelenate è gioco da ragazzi.
In questo l’articolo di Bloomberg coglie solo un aspetto della personalità di Mr Putin. Non riesce a vedere il Putin che è russo.
The Russian president wants to be feared, not believed or trusted. That’s why Germany and the EU are so ineffective against him.
Let no one say that Angela Merkel isn’t onto Vladimir Putin’s dirty tricks and cynicism. As a former East German, the chancellor speaks Russian just as the Russian president, a former KGB offer stationed in Dresden, is fluent in German. They’ve known each other for decades. She still recalls vividly his attempt during a visit in 2007 to intimidate her, a known cynophobe, by letting his black Labrador Koni sniff her.
So as the worldly-wise leader of a country that’s often naively Russophile, Merkel’s done her best over the years to call Putin out. When he seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then instigated the fighting in its eastern Donbas region, she took the West’s lead in condemning the breach and containing the crisis.
When Russia kept feeding the West, including Germany, disinformation and fake news, she let him know that she didn’t like it, but kept up the dialogue. After a Russian cyberattack on the Bundestag and her own e-mail account, Merkel called such methods “outrageous.” And after a gangland-style execution last summer of a Chechen who had fought against Russian forces — in a Berlin park in broad daylight — Merkel demanded Russian answers but received none.
And then, this month, came the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the most prominent figure in Russia’s remaining opposition movement. Merkel’s reaction has been stronger than that of any other Western leader. She’s had Navalny airlifted out of Russia and brought to a clinic in Berlin, where she’s put guards around his bed.
But now, with Navalny still in a coma, all sides are reverting to the usual script. The doctors in Berlin have confirmed that they found a cholinesterase inhibitor in Navalny — though there’s no proof of course that Putin had anything to do with getting this nerve agent into his body. Merkel and her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, immediately and “urgently” demanded that Russia investigate this poisoning “in a completely transparent way.”
On cue, a Kremlin spokesperson feigned astonishment that “our German colleagues are in such a hurry in using the word poisoning.” The speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament suggested the whole episode may be just another “provocation by Germany and other members of the EU aimed at creating more allegations against our country.” And everything goes on as usual.
In these recurring charades between the West and Russia, and in particular between Merkel and Putin, everybody knows the game, and yet everybody feels the need to keep playing it. It’s like a nightmare from which there is no waking up, as in George Orwell’s “1984.” Like the Ministry of Truth in the novel, Putin’s Kremlin can insist that “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength” — and get away with it.
The getting away with it is the point. Neither Putin nor anybody who works for him seriously pretends, or actually wants to convince skeptics, that they’re telling the truth. The point instead, as for Big Brother, is to display the naked power that allows them to abolish truth with impunity.
“The Kremlin intimidates others by showing that it is in control of defining ‘reality’,” as Peter Pomerantsev, a Soviet-born British author, has been pointing out since 2014. “If nothing is true, then anything is possible. We are left with the sense that we don’t know what Putin will do next — that he’s unpredictable and thus dangerous. We’re rendered stunned, spun, and flummoxed by the Kremlin’s weaponization of absurdity and unreality.”
For these purposes it’s moot whether Putin is acting out of a sense of strength or vulnerability. Unlike Big Brother, he hasn’t yet squashed all opposition. In Russia’s far east, people are demonstrating. In next-door Belarus, citizens are rebelling against the dictatorship of his geopolitical buddy, Alexander Lukashenko.
But Putin knows he can disturb any “narrative” that doesn’t suit him. Nobody knows where next he will cause mischief, and even massive human suffering — in Syria or Libya, in the Baltic, on the streets of Berlin or in Belarus. Any potential enemy will fear being the next Navalny.
The game, in short, is asymmetrical. Thanks to her biography of growing up in a communist regime and hating it, Merkel values truth and freedom, and she understands that “the West” only lives as an idea, one that couldn’t survive the abolition of reality. Thanks to his biography of serving as a KGB officer in a communist regime — and pining for it — Putin has no scruples. That gives him the edge in matters of life and death. And both leaders know it.
Ricapitoliamo i fatti, nei limiti dell’umano possibile.
– Mr Alexey Navalny sale su di un aereo di linea, si sente male, e l’aereo compie un atterraggio d’emergenza per poterlo far portare in ospedale, in stato comatoso.
– Immediatamente i pesi del blocco europeo gridano che sia stato avvelenato, in quanto avversario politico di Mr Putin.
– Francia e Germania reclamano che i russi consegnino loro il malato per curarlo e per appurare la ‘verità dei fatti’, ergendosi così a giudici di ultima istanza. Non si sa chi li abbia incardinati in sì alta carica.
– I medici russi dichiarano di non aver riscontrato prove laboratoristiche di avvelenamento, e danno il parere favorevole al trasferimento in Germania.
– I medici tedeschi refertano che Mr Alexey Navalny «had likely been poisoned», ma non sono stati in grado di identificare il supposto veleno.
– Sulla scorta di tali ipotesi, «Merkel demanded Putin “fully investigate this act as a matter of urgency.”»
– «his [Putin’s] chief spokesman simply brushed her off saying there was no need to investigate because it had not yet been proven that Navalny was poisoned»
* * * * * * *
Riportiamo adesso, virgolettati, i modi con cui i media si stanno esprimendo in materia.
«Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny could have been poisoned with an unknown nerve agent, according to doctors at Berlin’s Charité hospital»
«Alexei Navalny may have been poisoned»
«Berlin doctors announced there was a high likelihood he had been poisoned»
«Navalny’s suspected poisoning»
* * * * * * *
Una cosa è sospettare che una persona possa essere stata avvelenata ed una del tutto differente è averne in mano le prove essendo stato identificato in modo incontrovertibile il veleno nell’organismo.
Tutto questo bataclan si ritorce severamente contro Frau Merkel, che sta provando una dolorosa quanto goffa marcia indietro.
«Merkel’s spokesperson made it clear she had not officially invited Navalny to be treated in Germany. He was, after all, flown to the German capital by a non-governmental organization»
* * * * * * *
– Chi mai ha incardinato a giudici supremi Frau Merkel e Mr Macron?
– Sulla base di quale fondamento giuridico si sono arrogati il diritto di inquisire uno stato sovrano?
– La superbia alimenta anche l’odio politico, e porta a scambiare il possibile con l’avvenuto: se i medici tedeschi non riuscissero a trovare in Mr Alexei Navalny il ‘veleno usato’, Frau Merkel ci farebbe la figura della Marktschreier, per dirla come si mangia, della pescivendola.
Intanto ha già fatto marcia indietro, come nel coito interrotto.
Doctors in Berlin have revealed that Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny may have been poisoned. Even if this were proven beyond doubt, the German government has no way to retaliate against Moscow, says Jens Thurau.
Here are the facts, as far as they can be corroborated: Aboard a flight from Siberia to Moscow, Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny began suffering serious health problems, necessitating his hospitalization.
Siberian doctors said Navalny, who has become known as one of President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, had suffered from a metabolic disorder. Soon thereafter, the gravely ill man was flown to Berlin for medical treatment, even though Russian authorities had argued he was too unwell to travel. Was his relocation deliberately delayed so that traces of his suspected poisoning would be harder to detect in his body? If so, the plan did not work. Shortly after Navalny’s arrival in the German capital, Berlin doctors announced there was a high likelihood he had been poisoned.
A Russian warning shot?
In the wake of this suspected attempt on Navalny’s life, there is once again talk of a deep rift emerging between Germany and Russia. But does this even come as a surprise? What if Russia welcomes that global attention is focused on the Navalny case, sparking outrage? Maybe Russia intends to deter other Kremlin critics? In any case, it does not seem Putin is particularly fazed by the case.
This is not the first suspected poisoning of a Kremlin critic. And it comes at a time when neither Germany nor the European Union can risk outright confrontation with Russia. The EU finds itself disunited over many pressing policy questions, and ties with the US — its erstwhile ally — have been deeply strained since President Donald Trump took power. On top of this, the EU finds itself overwhelmed by and uncertain how to respond to the events unfolding in Belarus.
What if Putin does intervene on behalf of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is facing mass protests? Could the EU even stop him? Not to mention the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which has plenty of critics in the US and the EU. As cynical as it may sound, Navalny’s case will not force Germany to reorient its stance toward Russia, no matter the outrage it has engendered.
Hopefully, the medical professionals in Berlin will help Navalny make it through this. But it is highly unlikely Germany will adopt a tougher stance on Russia or impose meaningful sanctions — just as it is highly improbable Russia will help shine any light on the Navalny case. This is a cynical assessment, granted. But these are the times we are living in.
– German officials worry as list of Russia problems grows longer
– Critical piece of puzzle is pressure Putin feeling in Belarus
With Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny lying in an induced coma just minutes from Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin, the German Chancellor is at a loss over what to do about Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
The German leader is frustrated that Putin has shown no flexibility, according to two officials familiar with her thinking who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. Merkel is a conduit to the West for Putin and moreover tends to choose her language carefully.
But her tone has shifted. Less than two hours after doctors in Berlin determined that Navalny, a prominent Putin critic, had likely been poisoned, Merkel demanded Putin “fully investigate this act as a matter of urgency.”
The speed with which she responded, according to the officials, was meant to send the signal to the Kremlin how seriously Merkel takes the matter. It tops a list of grievances that includes a murder in broad daylight in a Berlin park last summer and a 2015 cyberattack on the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house.
A Russian speaker who grew up in East Germany, Merkel has sought to leverage her position to open a channel with Putin, who served as a KGB lieutenant in Dresden in the years before the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989.
The issue is that whatever sway she might have had appears to have largely faded. All the condemnation over Russia’s annexation of Crimea did not change the facts on the ground even though Putin was excluded from the Group of Eight.
And with U.S. President Donald Trump mired in a presidential campaign and Merkel’s long tenure in power coming to an end next year, Putin may well feel emboldened to act without fear of retribution.
In fact, his chief spokesman simply brushed her off saying there was no need to investigate because it had not yet been proven that Navalny was poisoned. The opposition figure was flown to Berlin on Saturday after he’d fallen ill on a flight to Moscow on Thursday.
The speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, suggested the whole episode may be “a provocation by Germany and other members of the EU aimed at creating more allegations against our country.”
A medical team at Berlin’s Charite hospital said on Monday that they had found traces of a cholinesterase inhibitor, a possible nerve agent, even if the specific substance hadn’t yet been identified.
At least one lawmaker in Merkel’s party, Michael Brand, called on the EU and Berlin to take “tougher measures to stop the increased number of state-sponsored killings.” Other officials in Berlin said it was too early to talk about sanctions.
“Of course this is very bad for Russia’s relations with Germany and Europe,” Andrey Kortunov, director of the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council, said in an interview.
But then one always goes back to the same question of what will it take to change the geopolitical equation. Civil unrest directed at the Kremlin in Russia’s Far East and a popular uprising against Belarus’s Putin-backed leader, Alexander Lukashenko, could be what changes some of the thinking.
Kortunov said it could prompt the West to see the poisoning of a prominent opposition figure “as a sign that Putin is losing control of the situation.”
Should the friction reach a peak, projects such as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which Merkel’s government has defended in the face of forceful criticism from the U.S. and EU member states, could be at risk.
“This could tilt the balance within the EU, and the Germans might be forced to make concessions,” he said.
Trust between Merkel and Putin is at an all-time low and the relationship has continued to sour since Putin’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and his support for Ukrainian separatists in the eastern Donbas region.
In May, Merkel called Russia’s alleged involvement in a 2015 cyberattack on the Bundestag’s computer network “outrageous.” Meanwhile, German prosecutors have issued criminal charges for the murder of a Georgian man in broad daylight in Tiergarten park last August. Russian state actors are behind it, they say.
That gangland-style execution was the focus of Merkel’s last meeting with Putin, at a December summit about Ukraine in Paris. At the time Merkel repeated her demand for Russian legal assistance, and Putin agreed.
But as German officials point out, no such help has been forthcoming nor is now expected.
«The S-400 is a massive upgrade to the S-300, its predecessor which was recently sent to Syria.
Because of its capabilities, several countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India and Qatar have said they are willing to buy the S-400.
Almost every government that announced it was planning to buy the system was threatened with some kind of diplomatic retaliation from the US, NATO or adversaries.
The reason for this blowback, according to several experts Al Jazeera interviewed, is not only because the S-400 is technologically advanced, it also poses a potential risk for long-standing alliances. ….
The S-400 is among the most advanced air defence systems available, on par with the best the West has to offer, …. Its radars and other sensors, as well as its missiles, cover an extensive area – the radar has a range of at least 600km for surveillance, and its missiles have ranges of up to 400km, ….
It’s precise and it manages to track a very large number of potential targets, including stealth targets. ….»
«Volenti o nolenti però, si apre adesso un severo problema del settore meridionale della Nato, e proprio con la Turkia che ha il controllo dei Dardanelli.
L’Unione Europea è adesso compresa tra le basi russe di Kalinigrad e quelle turke di Murted. Forse, Frau Merkel potrebbe anche mobilitare il proprio esercito di frombolieri armati con le nuove catapulte che tirano massi anche a cinquecento metri. Ferma posizione delle front-hole tedesche: non gliela daremo più.»
«I russi hanno un segreto che nessuno è mai riuscito a violare. Come siano riusciti a concepire, progettare, costruire e rendere operativi un così grande numero di sistemi missilistici allo stato dell’arte ed il tutto in così poco tempo ed infine a costi irrisori»
Nelle abili mani di Mr Putin il sistema di missili anti oggetti volanti S-400 sta transitando da arma temibile a strumento diplomatico. Come arma, l’S-400 sarebbe in grado di intercettare ed abbattere aerei, droni, e missile anche ipersonici con una portata riferita di circa 400 km. Come strumento diplomatico è un mezzo molto utile per gratificare i paesi amici e per stuzzicare l’amicizia degli incerti. Poi, dotarsi di S-400 conferisce allo stato possessore una supremazia locoregionale nei confronti dei paesi viciniori.
Questi sistemi di arma erano una volta appannaggio dei soli Stati Uniti, che li avevano concessi a terzi con grande morigeratezza. Adesso la concorrenza russa inizia a farsi sentire pesantemente.
Russia is likely to sign a contract for delivery of an additional batch of its S-400 missile systems to Turkey next year, the Interfax news agency cited Sergei Chemezov, head of state conglomerate Rostec, as saying on Sunday.
Turkey bought a batch of the missile systems from Russia last year, leading to its suspension by Washington from the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jet programme. The United States has said that Turkey risks U.S. sanctions if it deploys the Russian-made S-400s.
I missili ipersonici sono armi tattiche ovvero balistiche capaci di viaggiare molte volte più veloci del suono anche a bassa altitudine, compiendo nel caso mutamenti di rotta ed operazioni di disimpegno.
Sebbene possano essere utilizzati in una guerra di offesa, il loro impiego caratteristico è sulle distanze brevi o medie: l’avversario collimato avrebbe un tempo di pochi minuti per inquadrare l’attacco missilistico e porre in atto le relative difese. Nel caso poi di guerra navale, le portaerei potrebbero essere bersagli preferiti.
Un aspetto che li rende temibili consiste nel fatto che i sistemi radar di avvistamento erano stati progettati per identificare oggetti volanti a velocità di poco superiori a quella del suono.
Al momento è impossibile dire quanto questi missili ipersonici siano affidabili, e nessuno muore dal desiderio di vederli utilizzati al solo scopo di soddisfare questa insana voglietta. Ma la loro stessa presenza rende inquiete tutte le persone che si occupano di codesti problemi con cognizione dei dati di fatto.
«Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday the Russian Navy would be armed with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons and underwater nuclear drones, which the defence ministry said were in their final phase of testing.»
«The weapons, some of which have yet to be deployed, include the Poseidon underwater nuclear drone, designed to be carried by submarines, and the Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile, which can be deployed on surface ships»
«The combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles, capable of travelling at more than five times the speed of sound, makes them difficult to track and intercept»
«The widespread deployment of advanced digital technologies that have no equals in the world, including hypersonic strike systems and underwater drones, will give the fleet unique advantages and increased combat capabilities»
«the defence ministry said testing of the Belgorod, the first submarine capable of carrying the Poseidon drones, was underway and testing of the weapons systems was nearing completion.»
* * * * * * *
Sembrerebbe essere cosa logica che anche gli Stati Uniti dispongano di armamenti di tali caratteristiche. Tuttavia si dovrebbe notare come i loro potenziali avversari non dispongano di una marineria militare in grado di agire a livello globale: nei fatti questa tipologia di missili sarebbe per loro di ben scarsa utilità.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday the Russian Navy would be armed with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons and underwater nuclear drones, which the defence ministry said were in their final phase of testing.
Putin, who says he does not want an arms race, has often spoken of a new generation of Russian nuclear weapons that he says are unequalled and can hit almost anywhere in the world. Some Western experts have questioned how advanced they are.
The weapons, some of which have yet to be deployed, include the Poseidon underwater nuclear drone, designed to be carried by submarines, and the Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile, which can be deployed on surface ships.
The combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles, capable of travelling at more than five times the speed of sound, makes them difficult to track and intercept.
Speaking in St Petersburg at an annual naval parade that showcases Russia’s best ships, nuclear submarines and naval aviation, Putin said the navy’s capabilities were growing and it would get 40 new vessels this year.
He did not specify when it would receive new hypersonic weapons, but suggested that day was drawing closer.
“The widespread deployment of advanced digital technologies that have no equals in the world, including hypersonic strike systems and underwater drones, will give the fleet unique advantages and increased combat capabilities,” Putin said.
In a separate statement released via Russian news agencies, the defence ministry said testing of the Belgorod, the first submarine capable of carrying the Poseidon drones, was underway and testing of the weapons systems was nearing completion.
“Work is being successfully completed to create modern weapons systems for the Navy,” it was cited as saying.
Putin last year threatened to deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines that could lurk outside U.S. territorial waters if the United States moved to deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe.
Washington has not deployed such missiles in Europe, but Moscow is worried it might.
Владимир Путин подписал Указ «О национальных целях развития Российской Федерации на период до 2030 года».
21 июля 2020 года
В целях осуществления прорывного развития Российской Федерации, увеличения численности населения страны, повышения уровня жизни граждан, создания комфортных условий для их проживания, а также раскрытия таланта каждого человека постановляю:
1. Определить следующие национальные цели развития Российской Федерации (далее – национальные цели) на период до 2030 года:
а) сохранение населения, здоровье и благополучие людей;
б) возможности для самореализации и развития талантов;
в) комфортная и безопасная среда для жизни;
г) достойный, эффективный труд и успешное предпринимательство;
«Executive Order on Russia’s national development goals through 2030
Vladimir Putin signed an Executive Order On the National Development Goals of the Russian Federation through 2030.
July 21, 2020 11:25
In order to ensure Russia’s breakthrough development, increase the number of the population, improve the living standards of the people and create comfortable living conditions, as well as to help everyone unlock their talents, the President has set forth the following national development goals through 2030:
a) preservation of the population, health and welfare of the people;
b) create conditions for self-fulfilment and the unlocking of talent;
c) comfortable and safe environment;
d) decent and effective jobs and successful enterprise;
e) digital transformation.
The Executive Order sets out the following targets for judging the achievement of national goals by 2030:
a) within the framework of the national goal of the preservation of the population, health and welfare of the people:
to ensure the sustainable growth of the population of the Russian Federation;
increase life expectancy to 78 years;
reduce the poverty rate by half compared to 2017;
increase the share of those who exercise and engage in sports on a regular basis to 70 percent;
b) within the framework of the national goal of creating conditions for self-fulfilment and the unlocking of talent:
join the world’s top 10 countries by the quality of education;
create an effective system for identifying, supporting and helping children and young people unlock their talents based on the principles of fairness, universality, self-determination and career guidance for all students;
join the world’s top 10 countries by the volume of research and development, including through the creation of an effective system of higher education;
create conditions for bringing up harmoniously developed and socially responsible people on the basis of the spiritual and moral values of the peoples of Russia and their historical, national and cultural traditions;
increase the amount of people engaged in volunteer activities or taking part in volunteer organisations to 15 percent;
triple the cultural event attendance compared to 2019;
с) within the framework of the national goal of comfortable and safe environment:
improve housing conditions for at least five million families annually, and increase housing construction to at least 120 million square metres per year;
improve urban environment quality index by at least 1.5 times;
ensure that the road network in major metropolitan areas meets statutory requirements by at least 85 percent;
create a sustainable solid household waste management system and ensure that 100 percent of waste is sorted, while reducing landfill waste by half;
reduce by half emissions of dangerous pollutants with the most negative effect on the environment and human health;
eliminate the most dangerous facilities causing accumulated environmental damage, and promote environmental recovery for water bodies including the Volga River, lakes Baikal and Teletskoye;
d) within the framework of the national goal of decent and effective jobs and successful enterprise:
ensure GDP growth above the global average while maintaining macroeconomic stability;
ensure steady growth in household incomes and pensions not lower than the rate of inflation;
increase real fixed capital investment by at least 70 percent compared to 2020;
achieve real growth in exports of non-resource-based, non-energy goods by at least 70 percent compared to 2020;
increase employment in small and medium-sized enterprises, including solo entrepreneurs and self-employed, to 25 million people;
e) within the framework of the national goal of digital transformation:
achieve “digital maturity” in the key sectors of the economy and in social services, including healthcare and education, as well as public governance;
increase the share of essential social services available online to 95 percent;
increase the share of households with broadband internet access to 97 percent;
increase investment in Russian information technology solutions four times compared to 2019.
Instructions to this effect have been issued to the Government of the Russian Federation.
This Executive Order shall come into force on the day of its official publication.»
* * * * * * * * * * *
Il piano di sviluppo economico è decennale.
«In order to ensure Russia’s breakthrough development, increase the number of the population, improve the living standards of the people and create comfortable living conditions, as well as to help everyone unlock their talents, the President has set forth the following national development goals through 2030»
«within the framework of the national goal of the preservation of the population, health and welfare of the people:
to ensure the sustainable growth of the population of the Russian Federation»
«reduce the poverty rate by half compared to 2017»
«within the framework of the national goal of creating conditions for self-fulfilment and the unlocking of talent»
«create an effective system for identifying, supporting and helping children and young people unlock their talents»
«join the world’s top 10 countries by the quality of education»
«create conditions for bringing up harmoniously developed and socially responsible people on the basis of the spiritual and moral values of the peoples of Russia and their historical, national and cultural traditions»
«improve housing conditions for at least five million families annually»
«ensure GDP growth above the global average while maintaining macroeconomic stability»
«achieve real growth in exports of non-resource-based, non-energy goods by at least 70 percent compared to 2020»
È un piano che promette cose realizzabili e quindi possibili.
Bloomberg chiosa il Decreto in questa maniera, alquanto malevola.
«Putin quietly drops goal to make Russia an economic powerhouse»
«In May 2018, President Vladimir Putin set out the ambitious goal of getting the Russian economy in the top five globally by 2024»
«Two years of stagnation later, and he’s quietly dropping the target»
«But a referendum this month gives him the option to run for another two terms after 2024, removing some of the urgency to boost living standards that have taken a fresh hit from the pandemic»
«Goals must be realistic and achievable»
«In the purchasing power parity terms that Putin was using as the basis for his target, Russia might topple Germany to get to fifth place in the global rankings this year, but will slip back to sixth place in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund»
«Targets include reducing poverty by half and reversing a drop in incomes that has left Russians poorer than before Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.»
* * * * * * * * * * *
A nostro personale avviso, opinabile quindi, il cuore degli obiettivi dovrebbe essere:
«achieve real growth in exports of non-resource-based, non-energy goods by at least 70 percent compared to 2020».
Al momento, il sistema industriale russo dipende infatti molto, forse anche troppo, dai combustibili fossili estratti ed esportati.
– Target scrapped after referendum allows Putin to extend rule
– National projects development program pushed back to 2030
In May 2018, President Vladimir Putin set out the ambitious goal of getting the Russian economy in the top five globally by 2024. Two years of stagnation later, and he’s quietly dropping the target.
The objective was a political move to try to shore up support in Putin’s final term in office. But a referendum this month gives him the option to run for another two terms after 2024, removing some of the urgency to boost living standards that have taken a fresh hit from the pandemic.
“Goals must be realistic and achievable, that’s what was guiding us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on his daily conference call with reporters.
The economy is forecast to contract by 6.6% this year, more than the world as a whole this year, and an expected rebound next year will be smaller. In the purchasing power parity terms that Putin was using as the basis for his target, Russia might topple Germany to get to fifth place in the global rankings this year, but will slip back to sixth place in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund.
A raft of other objectives that were laid out in a $400 billion investment and development program have been pushed back to 2030 from an earlier target of 2024, according to a Kremlin decree published Tuesday. Targets include reducing poverty by half and reversing a drop in incomes that has left Russians poorer than before Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
“Some of the goals looked overly ambitious from the start, including the top five economy goal,” said Sofya Donets, chief economist at Renaissance Capital in Moscow.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin last week blamed coronavirus for the decision to delay the National Projects. The government is running a budget deficit this year to pay for increased spending to counter the economic fallout from the pandemic, but has been reluctant to eat into reserves in case they are needed to fight a bigger crisis in the future.
Officials and analysts have long been skeptical about Russia’s ability to meet the targets, in part because the country has a long history of setting very specific goals that are impossible to achieve. The 2030 decree published Tuesday is no exception, with one section setting out an aim to triple attendance of cultural events and another aiming to get 70% of adults to work out regularly.
Mr Putin è uomo sorprendente: ha una preparazione filosofica e storica di alto livello.
Riproponiamo il suo discorso tenuto al Summit Cis sul ruolo svolto dalla Russia nell’intervallo di tempo che precedette la seconda guerra mondiale.
«Future generations will acknowledge their debt to the Red Army as unreservedly as do we who have lived to witness these proud achievements» [Winston Churchill]
«We fully appreciate the magnificent contribution made by the mighty Soviet Union to the cause of civilization and liberty. You have demonstrated the ability of a freedom-loving and supremely courageous people to crush the evil forces of barbarism, however powerful» [Harry Truman]
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, I am very happy to see you. I would like to welcome you once again, in this “very extended” format of CIS heads of state.
We have resolved on events dedicated to the end of the Great Patriotic War between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and the Victory of the Soviet Union.
Let me stress that for all of us, and I know you agree, it is a special date because our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed a lot to our Fatherland, our common Fatherland back then. In fact, every family in the former Soviet Union in one way or another suffered from what happened with our country and the world.
We have discussed this many times both formally and informally and decided to work together on the eve of the 75th anniversary. I would like to share some of my thoughts on this.
I was surprised, even somewhat hurt by one of the latest European Parliament resolutions dated September 19, 2019 “on the importance of preserving historical memory for the future of Europe.” We, too, have always strived to ensure the quality of history, its truthfulness, openness and objectivity. I want to emphasise once again that this applies to all of us, because we are to some extent descendants of the former Soviet Union. When they talk about the Soviet Union, they talk about us.
What does it say? According to this paper, the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany), as they write further, divided Europe and the territories of independent states between two totalitarian regimes, which paved the way for World War II. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ‘paved the way to WWII…’ Well, maybe.
In addition, the European parliamentarians are demanding that Russia stop its efforts aimed at distorting historical facts and promoting the thesis that Poland, the Baltic countries and the West really started the war. I do not think we have ever said anything like this, or that any of the above countries were the perpetrators.
Where is the truth after all? I decided to figure this out and asked my colleagues to check the archives. When I started reading them, I found something that I think would be interesting for all of us, because, again, we all come from the Soviet Union.
Here is the first question. We talk about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact all the time. We repeat this after our European colleagues. This begs the question: was this the only document signed by one of the European countries, back then the Soviet Union, with Nazi Germany? It turns out that this is not at all the case. I will simply give a list of them, if I may.
So, the Declaration on the Non-use of Force between Germany and Poland. This is, in fact, the so-called Pilsudski-Hitler Pact signed in 1934. In essence, this is a non-aggression pact.
Then, the Anglo-German maritime agreement of 1935. Great Britain provided Hitler with an opportunity to have his own Navy, which was illegal for him or, in fact, reduced to a minimum following World War I.
Then, the joint Anglo-German declaration of Chamberlain and Hitler signed on September 30, 1938, which they agreed upon at Chamberlain’s initiative. It said that the signed ‘Munich Agreement, as well as the Anglo-German maritime agreement symbolise…’ and so on. The creation of a legal framework between the two states continued.
That is not all. There is the Franco-German Declaration signed on December 6, 1938 in Paris by the foreign ministers of France and Germany, Bonnet and Ribbentrop.
Finally, the treaty between the Republic of Lithuania and the German Reich signed on March 22, 1939 in Berlin by the foreign minister of Lithuania and Ribbentop to the effect that Klaipeda Territory will reunite with the German Reich.
Then, there was the Nonaggression Treaty between the German Reich and Latvia of June 7, 1939.
Thus, the Treaty between the Soviet Union and Germany was the last in a line of treaties signed by European countries that seemed to be interested in maintaining peace in Europe. Also, I want to note that the Soviet Union agreed to sign this document only after all other avenues had been exhausted and all proposals by the Soviet Union to create a unified security system, in fact, an anti-Nazi coalition in Europe were rejected.
In this connection, I am asking you to take a few minutes to return to the origins, to the very beginning, which I find very important. I suggest beginning, as they say, from ‘centre field’, as they say, I mean from the results from World War I, from the Versailles Peace conditions written in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
For Germany, the Treaty of Versailles became a symbol of blatant injustice and national humiliation. In fact, it meant robbing Germany. I will give you some numbers, because they are very interesting.
Germany had to pay the Triple Entente countries (Russia left the winners and did not sign the Treaty of Versailles) an astronomical sum of 269 billion golden marks, the equivalent of 100,000 tonnes of gold. For comparison, I would say the gold reserves as of October 2019 are 8,130 tonnes in the US, 3,370 tonnes in Germany and 2,250 tonnes in Russia. And Germany had to pay 100,000 tonnes. At the current price of gold of $1,464 for a troy ounce, the reparations would be worth about $4.7 trillion, while the German GDP in 2018 prices, if my data are correct, is only $4 trillion.
Suffice it to say that the last payments of 70 million euros were made quite recently, on October 3, 2010. Germany was still paying for World War I on the 20th anniversary of the Federal Republic of Germany.
I believe, and many, including researchers, agree that the so-called spirit of Versailles created an environment for a radical and revanchist mood. The Nazis were actively exploiting Versailles in their propaganda promising to relieve Germany of this national shame, so the West gave the Nazis a free hand for revenge.
For reference, I can say that the man behind the French victory in World War I, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the French commander, spoke about the results of the Treaty of Versailles and once uttered a famous prophecy, I quote: “This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.” He was right even about the time.
US President Woodrow Wilson warned that giving Germany reason to avenge one day would be a big mistake. The internationally renowned Winston Churchill wrote that the economic articles of the treaty were vicious and stupid to the point of being clearly meaningless.
The Versailles world order gave rise to many conflicts and disagreements. They are based on the borders of new states arbitrarily drawn up in Europe by the winners of World War I. That is, the borders were reshaped. This created conditions for the so-called Sudeten crisis. Sudetenland was part of Czechoslovakia where the German population lived. Here is a reference document about the Sudeten crisis and the ensuing so-called Munich Conference.
In 1938, 14 million people lived in Czechoslovakia, of which 3.5 million were ethnic Germans. On September 13, 1938, a rebellion broke out there, and Great Britain immediately proposed talking to Hitler and appeasing him in order to keep the peace. I will not bore you with the details of the correspondence and talks, but they led to the signing of the well-known Munich agreement.
To reiterate, we used some archive materials. I want to explain some of them. We have an encrypted message from the Soviet Plenipotentiary Envoy to France to the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Litvinov dated May 25, 1938, about a confidential conversation with French Prime Minister Daladier.
I will read an excerpt, as it is an interesting document. “Prime Minister of France, Eduard Daladier, has devoted the past several days to clarifying Poland’s position.” This refers to the Munich Agreement, as a result of which Sudetenland, part of Czechoslovak territory, was supposed to go to Germany. ‘The probe in Poland gave an utterly negative result,’ the Prime Minister of France said. “Not only can we not rely on Polish support, but there is no certainty that Poland will not stab us in the back.” Contrary to Polish assurances, Daladier does not believe in the Poles’ loyalty, even if Germany were to directly attack France. He demanded a clear and unambiguous answer from the Poles as to whose side they are on in peace and in war. In this regard, he asked the Polish ambassador to France, Juliusz Łukasiewicz, a number of direct questions. He asked him if the Poles would let Soviet troops pass through their territory. Łukasiewicz said no. Daladier then asked if they would let Soviet planes fly across their territory. Łukasiewicz said the Poles would open fire on them. When Łukasiewicz said no to the question of whether Poland would come to the rescue if after a German attack on Czechoslovakia (there was an agreement on mutual assistance between France and Czechoslovakia)… Germany declares war on France. The Polish representative said no. Daladier said he saw no reason in a Franco-Polish alliance and the sacrifices that France is making as part of it.“
So what does this mean? It means the Soviet Union was ready to help Czechoslovakia, which Nazi Germany was going to rob. But the agreement between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia stated that the Soviet Union would do this only if France fulfilled its obligations to Czechoslovakia. France linked its aid to Czechoslovakia to support from Poland. But Poland refused to provide it.
The following document is this document No. 5 in front of me, which I have just spoken about. Let us go ahead. The sixth document.
What did the Polish authorities do when Germany began to claim part of Czechoslovak territory? They also laid claim to their part of the “prey” during the partitioning of Czechoslovak territory and demanded that a certain part of Czechoslovakia be transferred to them. Moreover, they were ready to use force. They formed a special military group called ‘Silesia,’ which included three infantry divisions, a cavalry brigade and other units.
There is also a specific document from the archives. From a report from a commander of the Silesia Independent Operation Group, a Mr Bortnowski on preparations for the offensive operation, the capture of Tesin Silesia and the training of troops, the Polish authorities trained and sent militants to Czechoslovakia to carry out sabotage and terrorist attacks and actively prepare for the partitioning and occupation of Czechoslovakia.
The next document is a record of a conversation between German Ambassador to Poland Mr Moltke and Polish Foreign Minister, Mr Beck. In this document, Polish Foreign Minister Beck spoke directly about this, I quote: “In the areas claimed by Poland, there will be no conflict with German interests.” Therefore, there will be a division of Czechoslovak territory.
Immediately after the Munich Agreement was concluded on September 30, 1938, Warsaw, having imitated in fact Nazi methods, sent an ultimatum to Prague with an unconditional claim for part of the territory of Czechoslovakia – Tesin Silesia. France and Great Britain did not support Czechoslovakia, which forced it to yield to this violence. Simultaneously with Germany, which annexed Sudetenland, Poland began a direct seizing of Czechoslovak territory on October 1, 1938, thereby violating the agreement it had previously concluded with Czechoslovakia.
The next document tells about the final agreement to set the border between Poland and Czechoslovakia. Here is what this is about: on July 28, 1920, with the arbitration of the Triple Entente, Poland and Czechoslovakia signed the so-called final border agreement, which gave the western part of Czechoslovakia’s Cieszyn Region to the Czechs and the eastern part to Warsaw. Both parts officially recognised and, more importantly, guaranteed their shared border.
Of course, Poland understood that without Hitler’s support all attempts to seize part of Czechoslovakia were doomed to fail. In this context, I would like to cite a very interesting document: a recorded conversation between German Ambassador in Warsaw Hans-Adolf von Moltke and Josef Beck about Polish-Czech relations and the USSR’s position on this from October 1, 1938.
The German ambassador reports to his superiors in Berlin. Mr Beck – let me remind you that he was the Foreign Minister of Poland – expressed his deep gratitude for the loyal interpretation of Polish interests at the Munich conference as well as for the sincere relations during the Czech conflict. The Polish government and people credited Hitler and the Reichskanzler, which means he was grateful for Hitler’s actions at the conference in Munich.
It is noteworthy that representatives of Poland were not invited to the Munich conference, and that their interests were in fact represented by Hitler.
At this point Poland assumed the role of instigator: it tried to draw Hungary into the division of Czechoslovakia, which means deliberately pulling other countries into violating international law. It was well known to other European countries, including to both Great Britain and France, that Germany and Poland acted together.
The next, tenth document. From a report by French Ambassador to Germany André François-Poncet to the Foreign Minister of France Georges-Étienne Bonnet of September 22, 1938. I will read it; it is a very interesting document. Next comes a quote, it is the French ambassador’s report to his superior in Paris; he writes, “This is about the demarches taken by Poland and Hungary on September 20 to the Fuehrer, and in London, which were designed to point out that Warsaw and Budapest would not agree to exercising a less favourable plan for their ethnic minorities in the Czechoslovakian state than the plan offered to Sudeten Germans. This was equivalent to a statement, the French Ambassador goes on to say, that ceding territories inhabited by the German majority should also entail Prague’s surrender of the Těšín district and 700,000 Hungarians in Slovakia. Therefore, the presumed divestiture of the territory would amount to the partitioning of the country (that is, Czechoslovakia).”
This is exactly what the Reich wanted. Poland and Warsaw were joining Germany in hounding Czechoslovakia. France and England, who were trying to offer concessions and doing their best to meet Germany’s demands, wanted to save the existence of the Czech state, which was facing a united front of three states that were set to partition Czechoslovakia.
The leaders of the Reich, who made no secret of their goal to erase Czechoslovakia from the map of Europe, immediately used the Polish and Hungarian demarches to declare through their official print media as early as September 21, that a new situation had emerged which required a new solution.
Next. The fact that Poland expressed its appetite once it felt the hour for the division of the spoils was coming, could not have come as a surprise to those who were aware of the intentions of Polish Foreign Minister Beck, who had displayed an increasing caution about Germany and was fully informed of the designs of Hitler’s leaders. In particular, due to regular contact with Hermann Goering throughout several months, the Polish foreign minister believed that the partitioning of Czechoslovakia was unavoidable, that it would happen before the end of 1938. Beck also made no secret of his intentions to claim Těšín and to occupy it if needed.
And the last point. The differences between the party led by Konrad Henlein – the party’s leader in Czechoslovakia – and the Czechs only served as a pretext and the starting point for the Reich as, by persecuting the Prague authorities, the Reich could achieve its main objective, which was to take down a barrier to Germany’s expansion, as Czechoslovakia was an ally of France and Russia in Central Europe.
This is significant. How did the leading politicians around the world respond to the Munich Betrayal, an agreement signed between Hitler, Great Britain and France in 1938? What did well-known people who earned the respect of the public around the world and Europe say back then? We can say that with a few exceptions their reaction was positive and optimistic. Only Winston Churchill was honest in describing the situation, calling a spade a spade.
I want to add that after the agreement was signed, the British Prime Minister, speaking outside his residence on Downing Street upon his return from Munich on September 30, 1938, said: “For the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.” That is, for our generation.
After the Munich Agreement was signed, Franklin Roosevelt in his message of greetings to Chamberlain dated October 5, 1938, wrote that he completely shared his belief that this was a great opportunity to establish a new order based on justice and the rule of law.
On October 19, 1938, US Ambassador to the UK Joseph Kennedy, the father of future president John Kennedy, gave the following assessment of the Munich Agreement signed between the Western countries, or democracies, and Germany and Italy: It has been my belief for a long time now that it is unproductive and unreasonable on the part of both democracies and dictatorships to emphasise the existing differences between them. They can benefit from working towards resolving their common problems, something that will change relations between them for the better.
And now from Churchill’s speech made in the House of Commons in the British Parliament on October 5, 1938: “We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat… All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness… Do not let us blind ourselves to that.” He said we should stop deceiving ourselves; we must look realistically at the scale of the disaster that the world is facing. “A disaster of the first magnitude has befallen Great Britain and France… We have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road… And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip.” Quite an assessment.
What was Churchill talking about? The fact that, in Munich, the so-called Western democracies had betrayed their ally, signaling that war was imminent.
Speaking at a League of Nations plenary meeting in September 1938, our Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov said, “Avoiding a likely war today and getting a sure and universal war tomorrow – and that at the cost of feeding the aggressors’ insatiable appetite and destroying sovereign countries – does not mean acting in the spirit of the League of Nations pact.” That is, the Soviet Union condemned this event.
In this connection, I would like to present the following very important document; it is a curious document. Actually, we have all of them displayed at our exhibit. This is a response from the Political Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) to the September 20, 1938 cable from the USSR’s Plenipotentiary Envoy to Czechoslovakia, Alexandrovsky. On September 20, 1938, the Political Bureau of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) unanimously gave a positive answer to the direct question from President Edvard Benes as to whether the USSR would deliver prompt assistance to Czechoslovakia if France stood loyal to it.
Further, on September 23, 1938, the Soviet Union officially notified Poland that if it invaded Czechoslovakia, the Soviet-Polish non-aggression pact would be terminated. Poland’s Foreign Minister Jozef Beck called this a propaganda ploy of no significance.
In addition, while considering the forthcoming invasion of Tesin, Poland did everything it could to prevent the Soviet Union from fulfilling its obligations to provide assistance to Czechoslovakia. As you recall, they were going to shoot down Soviet planes, and not allow the transit of Soviet troops to help rescue Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, France, the chief ally of the Czechs and Slovaks at the time, in fact reneged on its guarantees to defend Czechoslovakia’s integrity.
Being left alone, the USSR had to face the reality created by the Western states. The partitioning of Czechoslovakia was cruel and cynical, in essence, it was pillaging. We have every reason to say that the Munich agreement was the turning point in history following which World War II became inevitable.
Hitler could have been stopped in 1938 through the collective efforts of the European states. This was acknowledged by the Western leaders themselves.
Another reference to a document. This is a transcript of conversations of May 17, 1939, between representatives of the French and Polish Commands about the possibilities of war in Europe between the Italian-German and Polish-French coalitions. The French Chief of Staff said at a meeting with the Polish Minister of Military Affairs that the overall situation in 1938 offered many more opportunities for opposition to Germany. So what was he talking about? That given a timely response, the war could have been avoided. Meanwhile, during the Nuremberg Trials, Field Marshall Keitel said, when responding to the question of whether Germany would have attacked Czechoslovakia in 1938 if the Western powers had supported Prague, “No. We were not strong enough militarily.” The Munich [agreement] objective was to push Russia out of Europe, gain time and complete the arming of Germany.
The Soviet Union consistently tried to prevent the tragedy of partitioning Czechoslovakia based on its international obligations, including its agreements with France and Czechoslovakia. However, Britain and France preferred to throw a democratic East European country to the Nazis to appease them. And not only that, but also to steer Nazi aspirations eastward. Polandat the time, unfortunately, was instrumental in this. The leaders of the Second Rzeczpospolita did everything they could to resist a collective security system that would include the USSR.
I want to show you another document – a transcript of Adolf Hitler’s conversation with Foreign Minister of Poland Jozef Beck of January 5, 1939. This document is indicative. It is a sort of distillation of the joint policy of the German Reich and Poland on the eve of, in the course of, and after the end of the Czechoslovakia crisis. The content is cynical in its attitude towards neighbouring nations and Europe as a whole. And it clearly illustrates the contours of the Polish-German alliance as a striking force against Russia.
Let me quote just a few excerpts. Document 13. Everything is in fine print here. This is a copy of the May 17, 1939 document, and I asked my colleagues to make excerpts for me so they are readable.
So, quote number one. The Fuehrer says bluntly, “It was not easy to get the French and the English to consent to the inclusion of Polish and Hungarian claims to Czechoslovakia in the Munich agreement.” This means Hitler was working in the interests of those countries then. In fact, Hitler was an attorney for the Polish authorities in Munich.
And the second quote. The Polish minister says, with certain pride, that Poland does not show such nervousness about enhancing its security as, for example, France does, and attaches no importance to the so-called security systems that went completely bankrupt after the September crisis (Sudetenlandcrisis) in Czechoslovakia. They do not want to establish anything. The Polish foreign minister says this to Hitler directly.
None of the decision-makers in Berlin or Warsaw cared about the fact that the security system in Europe was disintegrating. They cared about something else.
In this connection, the third quote. Hitler says (Adolf Hitler’s words), “Under all circumstances, Germany will be interested in the preservation of a strong national Poland, absolutely independently from the situation in Russia. Be it Bolshevik, Tsarist or any other Russia, Germany will always be extremely cautious in regard to this country. A strong Polish army takes a considerable burden off Germany. The divisions that Poland is forced to keep on the Russian border relieve Germany of additional military expense.” This looks like a military alliance against the Soviet Union.
This document, as you can see, was completely undisguised, and it did not come out of nowhere. This was not a result of tactical manoeuvring but rather a reflection of the consistent trend towards Polish-German rapprochement to the detriment of the Soviet Union. And I have more evidence in this vein, though from earlier dates, it is very revealing
This is an excerpt from a conversation between Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Szembek and Hermann Goering about Polish-Soviet relations of November 5, 1937. Goering is confident that the Third Empire, that is, the Third Reich, will not be able to cooperate with the Soviets and with Russia in general regardless of its internal structure. Goering also added that Germany needs a strong Poland whereby he added that the Baltic Sea is not enough for Poland and it must have access to the Black Sea.
Both then and now, Russia is used to scare people. Be it Tsarist, Soviet or today’s – nothing has changed. It does not matter what kind of country Russia is – this rationale remains. We should also not confuse ideological terms – Bolshevik, Russian, whatever, our former common homeland, the Soviet Union. To achieve this, they will make a deal with anyone, including Nazi Germany, we can, in fact, see this.
And related to that is another very revealing document – a transcript of the conversation between the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joachim Ribbentrop, and Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck on January 6, 1939. We got hold of a fairly substantial number of documents from Eastern Europe and Germany after World War II. Joachim Ribbentrop expressed Germany’s position, which, I quote, “will proceed from viewing the Ukrainian issue as Poland’s privilege, and we support Poland in all respects during the discussion of this issue, however, only on condition that Poland takes a more salient anti-Russian stance (this is a quote) since otherwise we (Nazi Germany) are unlikely to have common interests.” Responding to Ribbentrop’s question as to whether Poland had given up Marshal Pilsudski’s ambitions regarding Ukraine, Mr Beck said, “The Poles have already been to Kiev, and these plans are undoubtedly still alive today.”
Actually, this happened in 1939. Let us hope that at least something has changed in this respect. However, the foundation of what I am sharing now is pathological Russophobia. The European capitals, incidentally, were perfectly aware of that. Poland’s Western allies at that time were perfectly aware of that.
The following document will prove what I have just said. This is a report by Ambassador of France to Poland, Mr Leon Noel, to Foreign Minister of France Georges Bonnet on his conversations with his Polish colleagues of May 31, 1938. In this document, the French ambassador wrote about the unequivocal statements made by the Polish leaders, who did not mince words during their meeting.
To quote, “When a German is a rival, he nevertheless remains a European and a man of order.” And Poland would soon find out what a “European and man of order” means. Everyone experienced this on September 1, 1939.
According to Noel, the Poles saw Russians as barbarians with whom “all contact would be perilous and all compromise mortal.” To comment, this can be seen as a typical example of racism and contempt for the “untermensch,” a Nazi concept that included Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and later the Poles themselves.
You know, in this context, I look at the cases of Russophobia, anti-Semitism and so on in certain European countries, and they bear a striking resemblance to this.
Aggressive nationalism always makes one blind and eliminates any and all moral boundaries. Those who take this path will stop at nothing to achieve their goals – but ultimately, it will hit them back, which we have seen repeatedly.
In this context, here is another document to support this, a report by Ambassador of Poland to Nazi Germany Jozef Lipski to Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jozef Beck of September 20, 1938, which I think is necessary to read to you aloud. Mr Lipski had spoken to Hitler, and this is what he, the Polish ambassador, wrote to his Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Further to our discussion, the Chancellor of Germany, Hitler persistently emphasised that Poland is a paramount factor that protects Europe from Russia.”
It follows from Hitler’s other statements that he suddenly had an idea that the Jewish issue can be resolved through migration to colonies in accord with Poland, Hungary, and maybe also Romania. Hitler suggested forcibly expelling the Jewish population from Europe to Africa first – and not just expelling them but actually sending them to their extermination. We all know what was meant by colonies in 1938 – it meant extermination. This was the first step towards genocide, the extermination of Jews and what we today know as the Holocaust.
And this is what the Polish ambassador wrote to the Polish Foreign Minister in this connection – apparently hoping for understanding and approval: I, meaning the Polish Ambassador to Germany, responded, he writes to his Foreign Minister, that if this happens and this issue is resolved, we will build a beautiful monument to him, to Hitler, in Warsaw. There.
An excerpt from the above-mentioned conversation between Adolf Hitler and Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck of January 5, 1939. Hitler said, “Another issue of common interest for Germany and Poland is the Jewish issue.” He, the Fuhrer, is firmly resolved to oust Jews from Germany. At that moment, they would be allowed to take along some of their belongings, and Hitler noted, they would definitely take with them much more from Germany than they had when they had settled in that country. But the longer they procrastinate with emigration, the less property they will able to take with them.
What is this? What kind of people are they? Who are they? I have the impression that today’s Europe wants to know nothing about it, it is being deliberately hushed up while they try to shift the blame, including for starting World War II, from the Nazis to the Communists.
Yes, we know who Stalin was, we have given our assessments of him. But I think the fact remains that it was Nazi Germany that invaded first Poland on September 1, 1939, and then the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
And what kind of people are those who hold such conversations with Hitler? It was them who, while pursuing their mercenary and exorbitantly overgrown ambitions, laid their people, the Polish people, open to attack from Germany’s military machine, and, moreover, generally contributed to the beginning of the Second World War. What else can one think after reading these documents?
And something we also witness today: they desecrate the graves of those who won that war, who gave their lives, including in Europe, while liberating those countries from Nazism.
By the way, it occurred to me that it had nothing to do with Stalin whatsoever. The monuments in Europe were erected to our regular Red Army soldiers, including those who came from currently absolutely independent states established after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They were ordinary people. Who were these Red Army soldiers? They were mainly farmers and workers, many of whom also suffered from the Stalin regime – some of them were repressed kulaks, some had family members sent to labour camps. These people died as they were liberating the European countries from Nazism. Now memorials to them are being demolished, among other things, so that the facts of a real collusion of some European leaders with Hitler should not surface. This is not revenge on Bolsheviks: they are doing all they can to conceal their own position.
Why did I say that the leaders of those countries, including Poland, at that time, actually threw their people under the chariot of Nazi Germany’s military machine? Because they underestimated the real reasons underlying Hitler’s actions.
This is what he said at a meeting with German Army commanders at the Reich Chancellery, I quote: “The point is not Danzig,” this is a city that was declared to be an international entity and which Germany wanted back after World War I, “the point for us is to expand the Lebensraum eastward and to ensure food supplies.” It was not about Poland at all. The point is that they needed to pave the road for an aggression against the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was trying to the utmost to use every opportunity for establishing an anti-Hitler coalition, held talks with military representatives of France and Great Britain, thus attempting to prevent the outbreak of World War II, but it practically remained alone and isolated. As I have already said, it was the last of the European states concerned that was compelled to sign a non-aggression pact with Hitler.
Yes, there is a classified part on the partitioning of some territory. But we do not know the content of other European countries’ agreements with Hitler. Because while we have de-classified these documents, the Western capitals are still keeping all this classified. We know nothing of their contents. But now we do not need to, because the facts show that there was collusion. In essence, we see the partitioning of a democratic independent state, Czechoslovakia. And the participants in it were not just Hitler but also the then leaders of those countries. It was this that opened the road to the east for Hitler, it was this that became the cause of the outbreak of World War II.
One more point concerning the Soviet Union’s actions after Germany launched a war against Poland. Let me remind you that in the west, in the area of Lvov, the Polish garrison was still resisting, this is true. When the Red Army advanced, they surrendered their weapons to the Red Army. Actually, the fact that the Red Army’s units entered there saved many lives of the local population, mainly the Jewish population. Because all those present here know that the percentage of the Jewish population in that area was very high. If the Nazis had entered, they would have cut out everyone and sent them to the furnaces.
Concerning Brest, for instance, the Red Army advanced there only after those territories were occupied by German troops. The Red Army did not wage any hostilities with anyone there; they were not fighting with the Poles. Moreover, by that time the Polish government had lost control over the country, over the armed forces, and stayed somewhere close to the Romanian border. There was nobody to have any negotiations with. Let me reiterate, the Brest Fortress, which we all know as a citadel for defending the interests of the Soviet Union and our common Fatherland and one of the most extraordinary pages in the history of the Great Patriotic War, was only occupied by the Red Army after the Germans left. They had already captured it, thus in reality the Soviet Union did not seize it from Poland.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you of the way contemporaries assessed the results of the victory over Nazism and the contribution of each of us to that victory, starting with 1941.
Churchill’s statement: “I am very glad to … learn from many sources of the valiant fight and many vigorous counter-attacks with which the Russian armies are defending their native soil. I fully realise the military advantage you have gained by forcing the enemy to deploy and engage on forward Western fronts,” “on forward Western fronts” – I draw your attention to this, the British leaders of the time admitted that this had a combat importance in fighting Nazi Germany, “thus exhausting some of the force of his initial effort.” That means the power of the initial assault of the Nazi army was weakened by the fact that the Red Army advanced to new frontiers. So advancing to these new positions also had a military importance for the Soviet Union.
And now a quote from Winston Churchill’s personal message to Joseph Stalin of February 22, 1945. It was on February 22, the eve of the 27th anniversary of the Red Army. Churchill writes that the Red Army celebrates its twenty-seventh anniversary amid triumphs, which have won the unstinted applause of their allies. And I would like to stress the following in connection with the resolution adopted recently by our colleagues in the European Parliament: “Future generations will acknowledge their debt to the Red Army as unreservedly as do we who have lived to witness these proud achievements.” But we see how the present-day generation of European politicians reacts to this.
Here is what Roosevelt wrote to Stalin in 1945, “The continued outstanding achievements of the Red Army together with the all-out effort of the United Nations forces in the South and the West assure the speedy attainment of our common goal—a peaceful world based upon mutual understanding and cooperation.”
And some time later Harry Truman, the new US President, wrote, “We fully appreciate the magnificent contribution made by the mighty Soviet Union to the cause of civilization and liberty. You have demonstrated the ability of a freedom-loving and supremely courageous people to crush the evil forces of barbarism, however powerful.”
I believe each of us here cannot forget and will never forget the feat of our fathers. I would very much like our colleagues in the West in general and in Europe in particular, to keep this in mind. And if they do not want to listen to us, let them heed the respected leaders of their own countries, who knew what they were saying and had first-hand knowledge of the events.
First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev: This must be made public.
Vladimir Putin: We have already made it public. But I just want to put it all together properly and write an article. I want to write an article on this matter.
Inizia a delinearsi la strategia di Mr Putin e della Russia per il dominio del Mare Mediterraneo. Dapprima l’intervento militare diretto in Siria, adesso in Libia. Ma il Mediterraneo è solo un elemento di uno scacchiere ben più vasto: l’obiettivo è il dominio dell’Africa.
«The US has identified over a dozen Russia warplanes in Libya, marking Moscow’s first direct venture into the North African country»
«Experts say it is part of a larger Russian plan to expand its influence in the region»
«US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced earlier this week that Russia had deployed at least 14 warplanes to Libya in support of private military contractors known as the Wagner Group»
«It was the first time Russian armed forces were identified in the North African country. Although the Wagner Group purportedly enjoys Russian state backing, the Kremlin had initially stopped short of deploying official military assets to Libya, despite Moscow’s support for general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar»
«For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict»
«neither Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) nor private military contractors could “arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia»
«Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya …. The UN said Russia’s Wagner group already has up to 1,200 mercenaries in Libya.»
«Haftar’s LNA has sought to oust the UN-backed government Tripoli in favor of a rival Tobruk-based government. He has received support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and, at one point, even France. …. But Russia remains Haftar’s most committed ally»
«Strengthening the Russian military position in North Africa will undoubtedly provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with a much tighter grip over Europe and possibly even deep-rooted influence and control in the wider MENA region»
«Libya’s energy resources and the presence of several deep-water ports will give Putin the logistical and geo-strategical advantage he is attempting to achieve»
Sarebbe impossibile dominare il Mediterraneo senza poter disporre di porti con acque sufficientemente profonde da permetterne l’uso a navi da guerra. Ma gli unici porti ‘acquisibili’ al momento sono quelli della Libia.
«Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport announced in April the first contract to supply assault boats to a country in sub-Saharan Africa»
«Russia is building its path to gain a foothold in Africa and broaden its export map for arms on the continent»
«Currently, it accounts for 49% of total arms exports to Africa, according to the database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)»
«Until now, Algeria remains the biggest recipient of Russian arms in Africa, followed by Egypt, Sudan and Angola …. In the early 2000s, 16 African countries were recipients of Russian arms. Between 2010 and 2019, the figure went up to 21»
«Starting in 2015, Russia started selling arms to oil-rich Angola — mainly fighter aircraft and combat helicopters»
«That same year, Algeria signed another arms deal to buy Russian weapons for $7.5 billion»
«Russia hosted the first-ever Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019 as a way of further identifying cooperation possibilities across the continent. During the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that “the strengthening of ties with African countries is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities”»
«This exhibition showed that Russia does not aim to offer disruptive new technologies in arms; instead, it focuses on improving the models that have been demanded the most»
«Russia sees Africa as a key potential partner in the vision for a multipolar world order»
«Less European, less trans-Atlantic and focused more on rising powers and rising regions»
«Despite widespread international condemnation of Mugabe’s regime, Russia stayed on the side of Zimbabwe: together with China, it vetoed the UN’s Security Council resolution for an arms embargo in 2008 and criticized Western sanctions»
«Russia has been scaling up activities in the mining of resources such as coltan, cobalt, gold, and diamonds in several other countries across Africa»
«For example, Algeria alone bought around 200 aircraft items from Russia from 2000 to2019, ranging from transporter helicopters to combat helicopters, bomber and fighter ground aircrafts. Various models of surface-to-air missiles (SAM) that are designed for destroying aircrafts or other missiles have been ordered from Algeria (several orders through 2000-2019), Burkina Faso, Egypt (several orders), Ethiopia, Libya and Morocco. Algeria also ordered tanks (more than 500 items in total), as did Uganda (67 items).»
«Cheap weapons — no questions asked»
«Africa is the continent where Russia can freely push one of the key elements of its exports: weapons. Arms trading accounts for 39% of Russia’s defense industry revenue.»
«Russian arms are good. It is universally recognized. Russian arms are also cheaper. There is no reason why African countries would not want to buy them»
«For example, in 2014, government soldiers in Nigeria were accused of human rights abuses against suspects in the country’s fight against Boko Haram. Afterwards, the US cancelled a shipment of attack helicopters, even though the deal had already been signed. That same year, Nigeria placed an order and received six Mi-35M combat helicopters from Russia»
«from 2009 to 2018, Russia accounted for 31% of Egypt’s imports of major weapons.»
«Russia’s defense industry is secretive; the law does not oblige companies to report on arms exports as such, and usually this information falls under the state’s secrecy laws.»
«China is generally growing as an arms exporter and shows similar patterns as Russia in a way of giving weapons with less political conditions»
* * * * * * *
Fornire armi e sistemi di arma è sicuramente una operazione economica, ma i risvolti politici sono evidenti: i paesi che si dotano di armamenti russi alla fine dipendono dalla Russia.
La chiave del successo è di un semplice banalità.
«Russian arms are good»
«Cheap weapons — no questions asked»
«giving weapons with less political conditions»
Il vizietto di voler imporre la propria Weltanschauung come prerequisito ai commerci sta costando all’occidente il domini mondiale.
The US has identified over a dozen Russia warplanes in Libya, marking Moscow’s first direct venture into the North African country. Experts say it is part of a larger Russian plan to expand its influence in the region.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced earlier this week that Russia had deployed at least 14 warplanes to Libya in support of private military contractors known as the Wagner Group.
It was the first time Russian armed forces were identified in the North African country. Although the Wagner Group purportedly enjoys Russian state backing, the Kremlin had initially stopped short of deploying official military assets to Libya, despite Moscow’s support for general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar.
“For too long, Russia has denied the full extent of its involvement in the ongoing Libyan conflict,” said US Army General Stephen Townsend, who leads AFRICOM. “We watched as Russia flew fourth-generation jet fighters to Libya — every step of the way.”
The US general noted that neither Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) nor private military contractors could “arm, operate and sustain these fighters without state support — support they are getting from Russia.
“Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya,” Townsend said.
The UN said Russia’s Wagner group already has up to 1,200 mercenaries in Libya.
Haftar’s LNA has sought to oust the UN-backed government Tripoli in favor of a rival Tobruk-based government. He has received support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and, at one point, even France.
But Russia remains Haftar’s most committed ally.
Moscow has sought to expand its influence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and supported that mission through military escapades. In Syria, Moscow deployed its armed forces to prop up the Assad regime, a move that has ensured its place as a regional stakeholder.
“Strengthening the Russian military position in North Africa will undoubtedly provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with a much tighter grip over Europe and possibly even deep-rooted influence and control in the wider MENA region,” said Tomas Olivier, a counter-terrorism expert and former senior officer in the Dutch government.
“Libya’s energy resources and the presence of several deep-water ports will give Putin the logistical and geo-strategical advantage he is attempting to achieve,” Olivier added.
Although the Russian Defense Ministry has yet to comment on the US allegations, Russian lawmaker Andrei Krasov, a member of the Russian parliament’s Defense Committee, dismissed them as “fake.”
With state-supported paramilitary forces on the ground, the Kremlin maintains the ability to deny direct involvement, yet still has strategic assets in place. That plays into its larger hybrid warfare strategy, which serves to undermine rules and responsibilities in the conflicts it engages with.
But deploying warplanes raises the stakes, making it a highly risky move for Russia, according to Theresa Fallon, director and founder of the Brussels-based Center for Russia Europe Asia Studies.
“Moscow’s supply of aircraft reportedly repainted in Syria for plausible deniability, represents a creeping shift from a proxy war to open support for Haftar,” Fallon said. “If Turkey responds by deploying more aircraft, it is likely that this could turn into another endless, Syria-like conflict.”
Although Russian-Turkish ties have thawed in recent years, the countries back opposing parties in Syria and Libya. Earlier this month, the Turkish government threatened to strike Haftar’s forces if they continued to attack diplomatic missions in Tripoli, where the UN-backed government is based.
“Libya is rich in energy sources, migrants can be leveraged in negotiations with Europe and Russian mercenaries are likely to command a lucrative revenue stream,” Fallon said. “This could turn into one more frozen conflict on which Russia thrives.”
Along with natural resources, arms exports are a key component of Russia’s economy. In the last two decades, Moscow has managed to deepen its connection with Africa and became the biggest arms supplier on the continent.
Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport announced in April the first contract to supply assault boats to a country in sub-Saharan Africa. The recipient’s identity is concealed. What is known: It marks the first export contract of Russian-made final naval products to this region in the last 20 years. While this news might not have caught much international attention, this new deal adds up to a pattern: Russia is building its path to gain a foothold in Africa and broaden its export map for arms on the continent.
Once a major supplier during the Soviet era, Russia’s role in Africa waned after the collapse of the USSR. But by 2000, Russia had made inroads again, and within the last two decades Russia has managed to become the biggest arms exporter to Africa. Currently, it accounts for 49% of total arms exports to Africa, according to the database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Since 2000, Russia’s arms exports to Africa have grown significantly. The increases were mainly due to growth in Russia’s arms exports to Algeria.
Russia’s eye on Africa
Until now, Algeria remains the biggest recipient of Russian arms in Africa, followed by Egypt, Sudan and Angola. According to Alexandra Kuimova, a researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Program, the number of African countries buying Russian arms increased over the last two decades. In the early 2000s, 16 African countries were recipients of Russian arms. Between 2010 and 2019, the figure went up to 21.
Starting in 2015, Russia started selling arms to oil-rich Angola — mainly fighter aircraft and combat helicopters. The Angolan government in Luanda has long maintained strong ties with Moscow, dating back to the USSR. In 1996, Russia forgave 70% of Angola’s $5 billion (€4.56 billion) in debt, which was mainly a result of several export credits the USSR had issued Angola for buying Soviet arms and military equipment. In the new millennium, Russia was a predictable choice for Angola to sign new arms deals — and within the last five years, Angola has become the third-biggest African client for Russian arms after Algeria and Egypt. Luanda’s other suppliers are Bulgaria, Belarus, Italy and China, but their shares are small.
The situation was similar with Algeria, the largest importer of Russian arms on the African continent. Soviet-era connections allowed Russia to secure its monopoly on arms deals, and Moscow completely wrote off Algeria’s $5.7 billion in debt in 2006. That same year, Algeria signed another arms deal to buy Russian weapons for $7.5 billion.
“Officials in these countries intrinsically look at Moscow from the Soviet-era links and Moscow has been able to maintain its influence. In some cases, like Algeria, it is done by debt release; sometimes by claiming that it will build repair facilities and manufacturing or maintenance facilities,” says Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Carnegie Endowment’s Russia and Eurasia Program.
Russia hosted the first-ever Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019 as a way of further identifying cooperation possibilities across the continent. During the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that “the strengthening of ties with African countries is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities”.
Arms deals were at the center of attention at the summit. African delegates were invited to exhibitions of Russian weapons: from subsonic jet trainor Yakovlev Yak-130, the Pantsir missile system, and the Tor-M2KM surface-to-air missile systems to smaller arms including a new Kalashnikov AK-200 series assault rifle. This exhibition showed that Russia does not aim to offer disruptive new technologies in arms; instead, it focuses on improving the models that have been demanded the most.
Opening new markets in line with geopolitical vision
Russia’s growing interest in Africa is defined by not only economic, but also political and strategic reasons. Russia sees Africa as a key potential partner in the vision for a multipolar world order.
“Less European, less trans-Atlantic and focused more on rising powers and rising regions,” Stronski said. This is where Russia’s ties with countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan have been established, he stressed.
Zimbabwe has been subject to financial sanctions from the West since the early 2000s. The state was reportedly responsible for violence, tortures and killings of the president’s opponents during the era of former President Robert Mugabe. Despite widespread international condemnation of Mugabe’s regime, Russia stayed on the side of Zimbabwe: together with China, it vetoed the UN’s Security Council resolution for an arms embargo in 2008 and criticized Western sanctions. Russia exports a number of both raw and finished materials to Zimbabwe, ranging from wood, wheat and fertilizers to printed materials, railway cars and electronics. Russia, in turn, imports coffee and tobacco from Zimbabwe.
Russian companies are also involved in diamond and gold mining projects in the country. According to Gugu Dube, a researcher at the Transnational Threats and International Crime program in the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, Russia has been scaling up activities in the mining of resources such as coltan, cobalt, gold, and diamonds in several other countries across Africa. In Zimbabwe, Russian companies are also involved in a joint venture of the Darwendale project — mining and smelting one of the world’s largest deposits of platinum group metal — for which production is planned in 2021.
These include aircrafts, missiles, tanks, air defense systems and artillery. For example, Algeria alone bought around 200 aircraft items from Russia from 2000 to2019, ranging from transporter helicopters to combat helicopters, bomber and fighter ground aircrafts. Various models of surface-to-air missiles (SAM) that are designed for destroying aircrafts or other missiles have been ordered from Algeria (several orders through 2000-2019), Burkina Faso, Egypt (several orders), Ethiopia, Libya and Morocco. Algeria also ordered tanks (more than 500 items in total), as did Uganda (67 items).
Cheap weapons — no questions asked
In Russia’s publicly available strategy documents, such as its foreign policy concept or defense doctrine, African states are defined as belonging to an unstable continent and posing an international threat in light of terrorist groups’ activities, particularly in the North African region. Such documents highlight Russia’s aims to expand interaction with Africa by developing beneficial trade and economic relations and supporting regional conflict and crisis prevention.
This ongoing instability feeds a continuous market for arms — and for Russia, Africa represents a major market without a limit in the form of economic sanctions that came from the West after the annexation of Crimea. Africa is the continent where Russia can freely push one of the key elements of its exports: weapons. Arms trading accounts for 39% of Russia’s defense industry revenue.
“Russian arms are good. It is universally recognized. Russian arms are also cheaper. There is no reason why African countries would not want to buy them,” says Irina Filatova, a history professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics and professor emeritus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who specializes in Russo-African history and relations.
In comparison to other big players, arms deals with Russia do not demand political or human rights conditions. In some cases, Russia has managed to fill the gap where European or American suppliers stepped out.
For example, in 2014, government soldiers in Nigeria were accused of human rights abuses against suspects in the country’s fight against Boko Haram. Afterwards, the US cancelled a shipment of attack helicopters, even though the deal had already been signed. That same year, Nigeria placed an order and received six Mi-35M combat helicopters from Russia.
Egypt is a similar case. After a military coup in 2013, the US started cutting military aid and arms supplies to the country. This left Russia (together with France, another leading arms exporter) with an open opportunity; the country quickly intensified arms transfers to Egypt. From 2009 to 2018, Russia accounted for 31% of Egypt’s imports of major weapons.
According to Kuimova, arms deals with Russia generally go fast. If a certain country needs weapons right away and Russia has them, Russia will be able to supply. What also plays in its favor is a lack of pressure from local civil society groups to track weapons sales. Russia’s defense industry is secretive; the law does not oblige companies to report on arms exports as such, and usually this information falls under the state’s secrecy laws. A general lack of data and transparency has created a situation where civil society groups for monitoring arms trading simply do not exist.
Competition for Russia? Growing potential of Chinese arms
“China has improved the quality and quantity of what it sells. They also do reverse-engineered Russian weapons. Since 2014, Russia has shared sensitive military technology as a part of its growing ties with China,” Stronski said.
Kuimova adds that today China is able to produce and offer all kinds of arms. “China is generally growing as an arms exporter and shows similar patterns as Russia in a way of giving weapons with less political conditions,” she explained.
Researcher Filatova does not see China as a threat to Russian arms in Africa, however — in her opinion, the main competitors for Russian arms will remain the same: the US and France. She defines China’s interest in Africa as predominantly economic and says that “Russia’s competition in Africa in that regard is already lost” — because economically, Russia is not able to offer what China can. Moscow instead focuses on natural resources exports and locking down arms deals. For arms importers, switching to other suppliers is costly, so the likelihood is high that Russia can ensure new deals with its arms buyers well into the future.
La mentalità ideologizzata dei liberal democratici americani e socialisti in Europa trova una preclusione dottrinale alla comprensione della Russia, delle sue ambizioni e della sua realtà.
Intanto, la Russia è un Impero, intendendo con questo termine una federazione di realtà politiche, linguistiche ed etniche alquanto differenti, ma omogenee per amor di Patria. In questo la Russia assomiglia più alla Cina e differisce dall’occidente liberal.
Poi, la Russia vive in modo profondo il proprio retaggio religioso, storico, culturale ed artistico: è in questo che affonda le sue radici la profonda coesione che sta dimostrando. Ma i liberal rigettano persino le proprie tradizioni, figurarsi poi cercare di comprendere quelle altrui.
La concezione di governo quale quella dello Czar imperiale è l’unica realtà politica vissuta dai russi negli ultimi sei secoli: oramai è entrata nei loro cromosomi. È l’unico modo di governare la Federazione.
«La Russia non si può capire con la mente, né la si misura col metro comune: la Russia è fatta a modo proprio, in essa si può soltanto credere».
Secondo Fedor Tjutchev1 “La Russia non si può capire con la mente, né la si misura col metro comune: la Russia è fatta a modo proprio, in essa si può soltanto credere.”; una visione poetica, lo spirito slavo e passionale di Čajkovskij, la tessera di un mosaico molto più ampio. In 1984, l’Eurasia di Orwell indicava una superpotenza che comprendeva l’Europa, eccetto l’Inghilterra, ed oltrepassava l’Asia settentrionale fino allo stretto di Bering; la geopolitica di Putin supera la fantasia e va in senso opposto alle direttrici staliniane: l’Eurasia guarda al Mediterraneo in Libia ed in Turchia; in Medio Oriente verso la Siria dove ha conservato le basi di Tartus, Humaymin e Latakia; in Asia Centrale ed Estremo Oriente in coabitazione con Pechino, una convivenza supportata da un’attenta compensazione politica in ambito ONU e caratterizzata dalla fondazione di organizzazioni economiche2 capaci di creare ad Est valide alternative alle seduzioni occidentali, da nicchie negoziali nella SCO3, volte ad attrarre potenze quali Iran, Giappone ed India. La Russia conosce tuttavia limiti che vietano politiche espansive per imporne altre che la vedono quale trait d’union tra Asia Centrale ed Europa.
Useremo 8 Parole chiave, per dare punti di sintesi e giungere a conclusioni logiche.
1: Linee generali di politica estera. Se Kennan4 avesse presenziato al discorso tenuto da Putin nel 2016 al Valdai Club, avrebbe dato un seguito al suo lungo telegramma. Putin, stigmatizzando le politiche occidentali, ha ironizzato su quelle egemoniche obamiane (“Cos’è l’America? Una Repubblica delle Banane o una grande potenza?”), incolpando le élite tecnocratiche sia di privare di senso il concetto di sovranità, sia di ignorare i malesseri sociali. Putin, pro dacia sua, ha tralasciato il suo cortile, ma di certo la politica occidentale gli ha agevolato il compito, visti gli esiti del caos siro-libico. La Russia deve condurre una politica estera indipendente, centellinando le proprie risorse: sostenere sovieticamente troppi fronti è un errore strategico ed un suicidio economico. Fondamentale dunque mantenere rapporti non conflittuali conservando l’equilibrio di Jalta e Potsdam, non cedendo terreno in ambito ONU, e perseguendo strategie alternative a quella americana, troppo incline alla creazione di cohalition of willings, e che ha propiziato le fratture interne con Gorbačëv ed El’cin; meglio dunque attendere gli errori di Washington, punta sul vivo dall’entente cordiale con Maduro.
2: Nazione. Difensore della sovranità, Putin ha tenuto vivi storia e nazionalismo; solo la pandemia è riuscita ad impedire l’anniversario della vittoria sulla Germania, ancora memore dell’umiliazione inflitta con l’inchino degli stendardi nazisti davanti al Mausoleo di Lenin. Ora che l’intellighenzia comincia a soffrire di carenza di motivazioni, la Giornata della Vittoria contrasta il revisionismo occidentale (segnatamente polacco) sulle conseguenze del Patto Molotov – Ribbentrop, e ridesta il senso di accerchiamento con una costruzione verticale del potere e con una progressiva rivalutazione della figura di Stalin, non ancora riabilitata, ma che incarna una gloria russa, non marxista leninista, secondo la retorica usata in Crimea e Bielorussia.
3: Costituzione. Richiedesiuomo forte; il prossimo referendum, se approvato, introdurrà due riforme significative: il limite complessivo di due mandati presidenziali, cosa che permetterà a Putin di ricandidarsi fino al 2036, e la preminenza del diritto nazionale su quello internazionale, volta ad evitare interferenze esterne. Da ricordare la recente rivisitazione della legge sulla cittadinanza, un insieme di misure volte a contrastare il calo demografico e l’impoverimento del mercato del lavoro: una possibile società stratificata, con frange favorevoli ad uno Stato improntato ad una democrazia gestita centralmente.
4: Economia e Pensioni. Il modello produttivo russo, basato sull’export energetico non ha trovato diversificazione, ed il settore bancario è ancora impreparato per contenere le fasi recessive, acuite da tagli negli investimenti e penalizzate dalle sanzioni occidentali, puntate a colpire i settori energetico, della difesa e della finanza. Il Cremlino difende la sovranità economica cercando di attenuare l’interdipendenza estera, e con una programmazione sovietica di opere pubbliche da 400 Mld di dollari da ultimare nel 2024 che suscita non poche perplessità, visti gli elevati tassi d’interesse praticati dalla Banca Centrale che non favoriscono gli investimenti privati. Il cedimento della domanda globale ha portato al crollo del prezzo del greggio, ulteriormente penalizzato dalla decisione di Igor Sechin, CEO di Rosneft, di infrangere il patto con i Sauditi (che hanno continuato a produrre ed a continuare il loro processo di diversificazione) e l’Opec, originariamente indirizzato a colpire lo shale oil USA. D’attualità il problema pensionistico, con l’innalzamento della soglia per gli uomini a 65 anni (eccetto le FFAA) e che ha portato a mobilitazioni di massa. Il rapporto tra lavoratori e pensionati, sbilanciato verso questi ultimi, porta ad un calo contributivo; se è vero che l’aspettativa di vita per un uomo si attesta intorno ai 67 anni, l’erogazione pensionistica non si estenderebbe per oltre 2 anni.
5: Cina e USA. Cina e Russia perseguono propri interessi trovandosi spesso in amichevole disaccordo, tanto che un’alleanza militare non appare ipotizzabile; rimane dunque una cooperazione a livello economico, come nell’Artico, in cui il cambiamento climatico ha aperto vie commerciali altrimenti inaccessibili, in un’area strategicamente rilevante per la deterrenza nucleare e per le traiettorie missilistiche più brevi in caso di conflitto. Il divario esistente tra risorse economiche e tecnologiche acuisce la percezione di una subalternità russa rispetto ad un Dragone che sa che non esistono punti di possibile rottura, dato che anche la politica di Trump con il suo America first, non fornisce a Putin alcuna exit strategy utile.
6: COVID e Propaganda: La congiuntura economica ha acuito gli aspetti recessivi e le frizioni con oligarchi e Governatori chiamati a sopperire alle mancanze statali. Per ciò che concerne la propaganda, anche se può apparire singolare che Mosca lanci una campagna disinformativa proprio quando sta tentando di acquisire un appeal più seducente con i suoi aiuti umanitari, non si può escludere che l’Orso abbia perso il pelo ma non il vizio di ampliare linee di faglia, implementando una strategia del caos che si avvale di metodi asimmetrici, come già avvenuto in Donbas e Siria: “.. la guerra dell’informazione è una forma di potere politico ed uno strumento geopolitico che consente un alto livello di manipolazione ed influenza”5.
7: Dottrine. La dottrina russa ha sviluppato strategie non lineari, volte a difendere la Federazione secondo il principio per cui la politica, durante la guerra, continua ad avvalersi dei mezzi militari, anche quelli nucleari utili a compensare le carenze convenzionali; la stessa Marina, fatta eccezione per le armi subacquee, sembra destinata ad una pericolosa involuzione per ciò che concerne i mezzi di superficie; sotto questo aspetto assume particolare importanza la relazione con la Turchia, utile a garantire l’accesso ai Dardanelli. Non v’è certezza che la cosiddetta dottrina Gerasimov6 sia frutto di un parto originale, ma non c’è dubbio che aspetti strategici e militari siano stati oggetto di un approccio politico più sofisticato, che punta a sorprendere ed a dividere le alleanze del nemico, mascherando le intenzioni, colpendo di sorpresa e sfruttando le vulnerabilità; una rivisitazione della strategia Prometeo di Józef Piłsudski7. Più che di una singola dottrina sembra di poter parlare di un efficace connubio politico militare, dove il Ministro degli esteri Lavrov cura la visione strategica, e Gerasimov – abilmente – un quadro tattico difficile ed esteso.
8: Matrioske.Amarus in fundo, l’Italia. L’attuale situazione ricorda l’epoca rinascimentale, con la Penisola attraversata dalle milizie; secondo un consolidato cerchiobottismo, ci sono fazioni pro Cina, contrapposte ad altre che, guardando alla Russia, strizzano l’occhio ai partner Atlantici, con la Francia osservatore interessato. Il fattore sfuggente sta nella valutazione politica dei Paesi: il sistema Sino – Russo è caratterizzato da un impalpabile confronto democratico, con leader che hanno di fatto prolungato sine die il loro potere. L’aiuto sino russo sotto quale forma di contropartita si concretizzerà? Quale può essere l’effettivo impatto valutario e del PIL russo in un ambito come quello occidentale? Quale competitività può assicurare? La Russia, Federazione multietnica che non può essere gestita se non centralmente, nutre tutto l’interesse a mantenere un perdurante stallo che capitalizzi le risorse strategiche di cui dispone e che, per il momento, le permettono di sedere nei più alti consessi.
1 Scrittore e poeta russo
2 Unione Economica Eurasiatica
3 Shanghai Cooperation Organization
4 George Kennan, diplomatico americano
5 Domenico Frascà – Collaboratore del Center for Cyber Security and International Relations Studies (CCSIRS)
6 gen. Valerij Vasil’evič Gerasimov, capo di stato maggiore generale.
7 Faceva leva sulle vulnerabilità russe creando divisioni e conflitti territoriali sostenendo movimenti di indipendenza potenzialmente distruttivi.
Quando Mr Putin assunse per la prima volta la presidenza della Federazione Russa il pil era 278 miliardi Usd ed il pil procapite 1,940 Usd. Venti anni dopo il pil ammontava a 1657.29 miliardi Usd ed il pil procapite era salito ad 11,289 Usd. In questi venti anni di governo ininterrotto il pil è aumentato sette volte.
Per comparazione nello stesso arco di tempo il pil cinese è aumentato di 11 volte, quello indiano di 5.7 volte, quello americano è raddoppiato così come quello dell’eurozona.
Ma quello di Mr Putin non è solo un ottimo risultato economico. In questi venti anni ha impiantato una solidissima struttura estrattiva e distributiva di gas naturale e petrolio diventando uno dei maggiori produttori mondiali di energetici: non solo questa operazione è altamente remunerativa, ma soprattutto è destinata a durare nel tempo, diventando una stabile fonte di guadano per lo stato.
Nel contempo, Mr Putin ha riportato la Federazione Russa all’onor dl mondo riarmando le forze armate allo stato dell’arte, potendo così riprendere un ruolo primario quale superpotenza politica.
Infine, Mr Putin ha ripristinato il retaggio russo religioso, storico, culturale, ed artistico. È caso unico che un Governo abbia sentito l’esigenza di istituire un ‘Kremlin Ballet’, oppure enumeri nel suo sito ufficiali le sue sette Chiese.
* * * * * * *
Nulla quindi di cui stupirsi se l’occidente lo considera la sua ‘bestia nera’: l’esecrando essere che ha risollevato una Russia che negli anni novanta pareva essere stata definitivamente sconfitta, riportandola a pieno diritto tra i ranghi delle superpotenze politiche, militari ed economiche.
La strategia seguita da Mr Putin è lineare:
– primo, generare una solida struttura economica che generi costantemente reddito;
– secondo, dotarsi di forze armate allo stato dell’arte;
– terzo, ripartire ciò che eventualmente rimanga.
Per meglio comprendere Mr Putin si considerino queste due sole frasi, peraltro ripetute:
«If this saves at least one life – it is great, and God will bless you when you appear before Him; it will be good»
The news conference was broadcast live by Rossiya-1, Rossiya-24, Channel One, NTV television channels, as well as radio stations Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
We are holding our traditional end-of-year meeting to summarise the year’s results, to see what we have achieved and what we could not achieve and why.
I will refrain from lengthy opening remarks. As I see, there are many people who would like to ask their questions, and during today’s discussion, today’s meeting, I will try to use these questions to talk more about what is happening in our country and how.
Thank you for your keen interest in such meetings. Let us begin.
Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov: Thank you, Mr President.
Traditionally we give priority to the ‘veterans’ of the Kremlin pool of journalists, who have covered the President’s work for many years. I will continue this tradition.
Valery Sanfirov, Mayak. Please, pass the microphone.
Valery Sanfirov: Hello, Mr President. Valery Sanfirov, Mayak radio station.
Initially, I had a different question, but I changed my mind when I heard today’s weather forecast: there will be no snow until the end of December. And I wondered where you would tape your New Year address to the nation.
My question is not about the New Year tree but about climate change. Everyone is talking about it, but it looks as if nobody knows what to do about it. What are the risks? How can climate change damage Russia?
One more thing: Russia has joined the Paris Agreement this year, if I am not mistaken (the Government has adopted a resolution to this effect). Under the agreement, Russia must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25–30 percent by 2030.
However, you said at the recent VTB Russia Calling! forum that we would reduce the emissions by as much as 60 percent by that deadline. I wonder if you have made your first mistake or if you have something special in mind.
Vladimir Putin: You have trapped me, you really have.
Indeed, Russia has joined the Paris Agreement. In fact, we announced our intention to do this much earlier, but this year we have formalised our decision by adopting a Government resolution. It does mention the reduction of 25–30 percent compared to the base year 1990. This is what all countries, including EU member states, do, they compare their reductions to 1990 or use it as the base year.
But if… How can I get out of your trap? If we take [the base figure] as 100 percent and subtract 30 percent from it, the remaining figure will be 70 percent, and bearing in mind the absorption capacity of our forests, the ultimate figure will be 60 percent of the base figure. Let us assume that this is what I had in mind. This is my first argument.
Second, Russia is not the world’s largest polluter. The biggest polluter according to the UN – many other organisations made such calculations, but according to the UN, the biggest polluters are the United States and China (16 percent of emissions each), the EU (11 percent), Russia (6 percent) and India (5 percent).
As you know, the Paris Agreement pursues efforts to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 percent. I do not know whether we will be able to achieve this together or not, because nobody really knows the causes of climate change, at least global climate change.
We know that in the history of the Earth there have been periods of warming and cooling, and this might depend on the global processes in the Universe. A small tilt of the Earth’s axis and its orbit around the Sun can lead to and have already led to very serious climate changes on the Earth, which had dramatic consequences – good or bad, they were still dramatic.
And it is happening again now. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to work out exactly how humankind affects climate change. But we cannot stay idle either, I agree with my colleagues. We should make our best efforts to prevent dramatic changes in the climate.
As for our country, this process is very crucial for us. The temperature in Russia is rising 2.5 times faster than the planet’s average. As you know, Russia is a northern country, and 70 percent of our territory is located in the north latitudes. Some of our cities were built north of the Arctic Circle, on the permafrost. If it begins to thaw, you can imagine what consequences it would have. It would be a disaster.
In addition, it is getting warmer in some places, for instance, here in Moscow we are now setting temperature records, but this might lead to desertification in certain areas, and we will be directly affected by it.
Climate change also means an increase in the number of various natural disasters such as wildfires, floods and so on. This also concerns us. Therefore, we are continuing to be proactive in our efforts to minimise the impact of these changes.
Dmitry Peskov: Let us continue. The regions. “Kamchatka has not asked a question for 15 years.” Okay, I see you.
Anastasia Ostrovskaya: Good afternoon, Mr President, Mr Peskov, colleagues,
It is true, Kamchatka has not been given the floor for over ten years. As you know, the residents of Kamchatka have to buy a plane ticket to get to the mainland. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford it. Yes, there is a wonderful flat fare programme by Aeroflot, a presidential programme to subsidise tickets for young people, pensioners and large families. But these tickets are snapped up in an instant. Not everyone can buy them. And Aeroflot said recently that it will probably abandon the flat fare tickets. It will mean that many Kamchatka residents will be trapped in their peninsula.
How do you think this problem could be solved?
And another short sub-question. Mr President, it has been a long time since you paid an official visit to Kamchatka. Is that because the tickets are too expensive?
Vladimir Putin: No, it is not because tickets to Kamchatka are too expensive, I belong to one of the groups you mentioned, you see. (Laughter in the audience.) But no, the reason is that it just hasn’t worked out so far.
There are many pressing issues in the region. But my trips are not called official visits. I make official visits to foreign countries. To Kamchatka, it is a working trip. It does not mean that Government or I simply forget about the region. We are constantly working with it. It is a very important region in terms of the economy, social sphere and defence, because as you know, it hosts one of the bases of our strategic subsurface launch platforms. Therefore, we are always paying attention to Kamchatka.
As for the tickets, no one is going to take away the flat air fares. Aeroflot is simply exaggerating, trying to squeeze money from the Government for these flights. We will keep these programmes in place. Moreover, this programme is being expanded to other regions, beyond the Far East. We will keep doing this too.
But in general, what should we aim for? We need to see the growth of people’s incomes, which – we will talk about this later – are growing very slowly, and also to reduce carriage costs. This is how we should also reduce railway ticket prices. But these programmes will stay in place as long as there are no radical changes in the situation.
I assure you, Aeroflot itself has some reserves. We discuss this matter with the Transport Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister who supervises this area, and the Aeroflot management.
Viktor Smirnov: Rubbish from St Petersburg is swamping the Leningrad Region.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s … act as we have agreed.
Vladimir Putin: We will talk about St Petersburg, rubbish and other burning problems …
Dmitry Peskov: If we start shouting now… You do not respect all the others.
Vladimir Putin: Here is what we will do. I will answer your question by way of exception. Agreed? But please, do not do this again or else we will have an Oriental bazaar and no dialogue.
Let us talk about rubbish.
Viktor Smirnov: Viktor Smirnov, 47news. We write about the Leningrad Region.
As you know, the so-called rubbish reform has been launched in Russia, in all regions except Moscow, Sevastopol and St Petersburg, which have been given a respite until 2022. That is, they will be able to start when they are ready.
Speaking about St Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad Region, the reform has begun in the region, and now rubbish from St Petersburg is being moved to the region. The regional authorities are working on it, but their work has not been coordinated. St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region depend on each other in this regard; logistics has been disrupted, and it is unclear which vehicles go there.
People in the region wonder why rubbish heaps, clearly brought from the city, are growing near their houses, and why so many vehicles are doing this stealthily. It all seems legal – on the outside. Can the city authorities be encouraged legislatively to hurry up?
Vladimir Putin: This can be done, but this is not the problem. What we need to do is talk directly with the people. People must know what rubbish is brought in and from where, on what grounds and what will happen to it next. Just look at it, we…
Sit down, please.
Viktor Smirnov: I have a request.
Vladimir Putin: A request? I have not answered your question yet, but yes, go ahead with your request.
Viktor Smirnov: Thank you. Can I ask for a 10-minute interview afterwards, while you walk to your car?
Vladimir Putin: This is possible. But you have not listened to my answer. It is too soon to thank me. As for an interview after the news conference, will it be this year or next year? We have not decided this yet, but yes, this is possible, in principle.
Getting back to rubbish, it is public knowledge that we produce 70 million tonnes of household waste a year. Seventy million! Can you imagine that? Incredible.
The Soviet Union and Russia did not have a rubbish recycling industry. We are creating it from scratch. The basic decisions have been made, overall: we have created a federal operator and over 200 regional operators, as well as a territorial planning scheme with regard to rubbish.
What is really lacking, as I see it, is direct communication with the people. We must tell them what we plan to do and how we will do it, where the recycling plants will be built and where rubbish will be stored until they are built.
Of course, we should completely get rid of all grey schemes and crime. Simple order should be restored. I will take advantage of your question – people are certainly outraged at a tariff increase. There was never a separate tariff for household waste, but now it appeared and immediately grew many times. This should be explained.
In order to explain these figures, it should be transparent and clear who pays and what for. In rural areas, the waste removal tariff grew many times, but in fact, waste was never removed there, it was just thrown away in a neighbouring forest. But this is also a violation.
Then, rubbish needs to be taken somewhere – and this also requires payment. It should be transparent, so that people understand what they are paying for – this is the main problem, I think.
By the way, there may be a similar situation in Leningrad and in the Leningrad Region. Why is waste transported from St Petersburg to the Leningrad Region? Well, okay, let us remove it somewhere closer to the Arctic Ocean, and then the tariff will increase once again by 10 times.
After all, the Leningrad Region and the city of St Petersburg, former Leningrad, are a single economic region. During the Soviet era, it was managed, in fact, by one body – by the Communist Party’s regional committee.
Now that we have such a separation, this single area but at the same time two Russian regions certainly have slightly different interests. But so that people…
By the way, many people from the Leningrad Region, as well as from the Moscow Region, work in St Petersburg, and they generate this waste there, in St Petersburg. This is the point, and then it is removed to where they live, basically. The whole process should be transparent, and it seems to me that the situation can and must change.
But, among other things, we need to develop the industry in terms of building the facilities. They are already under construction. The number of waste processing plants should be increased. And we must explain to the people what kind of facilities they are, how they will work, what the damage will be and whether there will be damage to the environment and whether they will create any problems for the people who will live next to these facilities.
Indeed, in cities around the world, for example, in Tokyo, waste processing plants are located directly in the city. But they do not emit smoke, they do not stink, excuse my language, they do not affect people’s lives or destroy the environment. If we use the latest technology, and this is exactly what we are going to do, then no problems will arise.
But we should do everything as agreed, and this requires public control and public organisations. I have already spoken with the leadership of the Russian Popular Front and I ask them once again to pay special attention to this issue. If we address this problem all together, we will resolve it.
Dmitry Peskov: Let us continue. I see a journalist from TV Centre. I recall we sort of neglected this channel in the past years. Please, take the floor.
Matvei Shestakov: Hello. I am Matvei Shestakov from TV Centre TV company.
The media often make the accusation that the real sector of the economy is currently based exclusively on the achievements of the Soviet era: plants and major roads were built in Soviet times, and the deposits were developed in the Soviet period. What is your response to these critics and what has been done in the past ten years? What roads, plants, maybe airports have been built? I know there is a relevant programme. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Criticism is not always a bad thing; it makes us contemplate the issue in question.
As for the opinion that we are using Soviet achievements, we cannot neglect the legacy of the thousand-year-old Russian state, including its Soviet period. This is obvious. In the Soviet times, many things were done which we can be proud of and are proud of: Victory in the Great Patriotic War, the breakthrough in space exploration, and much more. We should be thankful to our ancestors, our fathers and grandfathers, who created such a huge and powerful state during the Soviet period.
As for today, I want to say just a few words to those who believe that nothing has changed.
First, 75 percent of the production capacity in the processing industry has been created since 2000. The average age of machinery and equipment in the processing industry is 12 years. Do you see what this means? It shows what has been done in recent decades.
But it is much more than that. You mentioned airports. Three new airports and 45 runways have been built. Speaking of transport in general, there are 12 new railway stations; dozens of railway stations have undergone modernisation, in-depth modernisation. The number of federal motorways has been doubled. Doubled! I believe there were some 39,000 kilometres of roads [percent – ed. note], and now there are more than 80,000 kilometres.
Agriculture is, of course, an excellent example. As you know, and there are many people from the older generation here who remember this well, the Soviet Union always was a purchaser of grain. We were among the largest importers of grain, wheat. Let me remind you that today Russia is the largest exporter of wheat to the global market. We are number one. We are ahead of both the United States and Canada.
They have bigger production, but they consume more, and we produce so much that we hold the first place in the wheat export to the international market. The agricultural growth is 46 percent.
Our exports have multiplied (I think they grew 2.6-fold). We sold $24 billion worth of agricultural products, including not just grain, which is the main source of foreign income in agriculture, but also livestock production, including poultry, pork and so on.
In total, all the ports of the Soviet Union transhipped (there were transhipping capacities) 600 million tonnes per year. Do you know how much Russia does now? 1.1 billion. All of this has been created over the recent decades.
Now to the mineral assets you have mentioned. There are about 600 new deposits, including 57 we plan to open this year. About 600 new deposits. And we can say the same for almost every industry. I am not even talking about such modern industries as nuclear energy, with eight blocks launched recently. I think there were 16 over the entire Soviet era. By the way, this gives us a big advantage in fighting climate change, because thanks to this, as well as hydropower and gas, we have the greenest energy structure in the world.
There are brand new spheres of energy as well, such as liquefied natural gas. Entire international-class complexes have been established, both in the Far East and the Arctic. A generation breakthrough has taken place in hydropower, a real breakthrough.
This is why those who believe we only use the old resources and capacities we inherited from the previous generations are mistaken.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s move to that side of the aisle. Interregional media, URA.RU. Give them a microphone, please.
Anton Olshannikov: URA.RU news agency. Mr President, my name is Anton Olshannikov.
I have a question about negative developments in medicine, as they are still relevant. The fact is that it may take up to a month to get a doctor’s appointment in the regions, and doctors’ salaries can be so low that doctors are quitting en masse. However, a head doctor may be paid hundreds of thousands of rubles a month, whereas, for example, a surgeon, gets about 50,000, if that.
You have held several meetings on primary care and healthcare in general this year. You said that the reforms should be carried out quickly and be meaningful. In this regard, I want to understand why the system remains at a standstill. The fact is that the reform is cosmetic, and there are no ground-breaking solutions that could make a difference. You got personally involved in dealing with this issue. I want to understand why. Perhaps, you think the country needs a different healthcare management model? Or does the state need to find resources to support what is available?
Vladimir Putin: First, it is best to let the model just be. It is evolving at a satisfactory pace, but there certainly are problems.
You mentioned one of them, salaries, but healthcare employees’ salaries are even higher than the salaries in other social spheres. Overall, the numbers outlined in the 2012 executive orders correspond to the planned salary benchmarks. Frankly, I cannot disagree with you, as these are average numbers as well.
You have just said that while head doctors may be earning high wages, rank-and-file doctors, even surgeons, are paid much less. This is one of those problems that we need to tackle. As far as pay levels are concerned, we need to look at the specific sector. After all, what are the approaches to getting things moving? There is no secret about it, and these solutions are quite simple. The first one is to simply increase Compulsory Health Insurance tariffs or change the way the tariffs are distributed within this system. Let me emphasise however that there is little that can be changed in terms of redistributing tariffs within the Compulsory Health Insurance system, since 70 percent of them already go towards salaries. If we change anything, there will be no money left for buying medicine or equipment.
What is the other option then? It consists of simply increasing the Compulsory Health Insurance tariffs. Can this be done? Yes, it can. However, at the end of the day it will be a burden for the entire economy, since all operators within it must pay for it, which will drive up prices and cause an overall increase in the rate of inflation. In such circumstances, any increase in salaries would be eaten up by inflation. So probably this is not the best option either.
But what can be done? Is there anything that can be done within the existing system? Of course, there is. Just look. First, as you have just said, a head doctor may have a big salary, much higher than ordinary doctors. The first thing that should be done is to eliminate this unfair differentiation. This is my first point.
There is no doubt that the base salary rate must be changed. In the regions, it is currently in the range of 35 to 50 percent. We need to have a single national approach to paying out incentives, so that people earn a specific amount for the number of patients they receive, for the number of patients they visit at home, etc. At the same time, there should be no question of cutting bonuses that are given for special working conditions, such as working holidays, working at night, and so on. I believe that even just putting this right would produce a positive effect.
Of course, this will not be enough. Salaries in the social services sector must grow alongside the economy, especially and even primarily in the healthcare industry. I do agree with that.
Dmitry Peskov: Thank you. Let us proceed.
Let us talk about sports, Match TV, if this is what you want to ask.
Olga Bogoslovskaya: Good afternoon, Mr President. Olga Bogoslovskaya, Match TV. I am from a sports channel, and so my question will be about sports, or more precisely, the difficult situation with Russian sports.
On December 9, the WADA Executive Committee adopted an unprecedentedly harsh decision to ban Russian athletes from participating in all major sports events, which include the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic games.
The reason for that decision was the discrepancy between the data provided by the Moscow laboratory and the data provided by WADA informers. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s rights have been curtailed.
However, the sanctions have hit the innocent athletes especially hard. This brings me to my question: What should Russian athletes do in this situation, and how can Russian sports develop in this difficult situation?
Vladimir Putin: I will answer your question, but first I would like to say that I noticed that I did not answer the previous question in full.
I would like to say a few more words about the measures we plan to take in the field of primary medical care. We have agreed, after all, to increase healthcare allocations, in addition to what has been stipulated under the Healthcare project, by 550 billion rubles.
These funds will be used first of all to improve physical assets and to buy equipment and vehicles. We plan to improve or built 10,000 medical facilities and buy 37,000 vehicles and approximately 10,000 pieces of medical equipment. In this context, I hope that we will be able to implement all our plans very soon and that people will feel the change.
The second component, which is mostly stipulated under national projects, includes allocations to primary care, but the bulk of funds will be invested in fighting cancer. I hope we will see a positive result in this sphere as well.
We can report achievements in the field of cardiovascular diseases, where the figure is some 0.6 percent. The situation with tuberculosis has improved by 12 percent, and child mortality has decreased considerably. We must continue working in the same manner in all of these spheres.
As for WADA and its decisions, I believe that they are not only unjust, but also defy common sense and are illegal. Why? Because as far as doping is concerned, decisions have already been taken against Russian athletes who had to compete in a neutral status at the previous Olympics. Now it is happening all over again. There has never been anything of this kind in any of the world’s legal systems or in human history, and I hope nothing of this kind ever happens again. This is my first point.
Second, any sanctions must target specific, individual breaches. If someone was caught doing something illegal, sanctions are natural and fair. But if an overwhelming majority of Russian athletes are clean, how can they be sanctioned for someone else’s actions?
We have very young female athletes competing in figure skating, they are practically little girls. What do they have to do with doping? Nothing whatsoever. But they can do quadruple jumps, which so far no one can, or almost no one can do in women’s figure skating. This is how they make sure that these girls are kept off the ice. Can this be done? Yes, it can. But what for? Will this help international sports in any way? I do not think so.
Among other things, as I already said at the news conference in Paris, this decision by WADA runs counter to the Olympic Charter. A national team cannot and should not compete under a neutral flag when there are no claims against its Olympic Committee. This is what the Charter says. If WADA does not have any claims against the Russian Olympic Committee at this time, this means that the national team can compete under the Russian flag. Go after specific people, and of course we will be there to assist you in these efforts. We are doing everything to make our sport clean.
By the way, RUSADA was created in close contact with our WADA colleagues. We even selected its executive team based on their recommendations. I think that everything I said suggests that this decision was politically tainted, as sad as it sounds.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s go to the middle [sector], to the federal media. I can see Channel One, pass on the microphone, please.
Konstantin Panyushkin: Thank you.
Good afternoon, Mr President. Konstantin Panyushkin, Channel One.
First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of the Channel One journalists and perhaps many others for what you said at the news conference in Paris. After the news conference – we did a little eavesdropping when you were talking with Chancellor Merkel and President Macron, explaining, as far as we understood, problems concerning journalists’ work in Ukraine. Perhaps one day, thanks to the work in the Normandy Format, we will be able to work there confidently and calmly like Ukrainian journalists work in Russia, who, by the way, should also be here today.
So I have a question about Ukraine. After Paris, after everything your summit partners have said in the two weeks since then, and I mean Ukraine above all, do you think there is any point holding another meeting in four months, as you agreed? And what do you think are the Normandy Format’s prospects in general?
Also, do you think the Minsk Agreements and the Steinmeier Formula will survive the next four months or survive at all in the future? What do you think is the best-case scenario for the future of Donbass?
In addition, journalists were looking forward to your meeting with Zelensky and Russian-Ukrainian talks. What are the current prospects of a settlement in Russian-Ukrainian relations? Are there any problems or breakthroughs due to the change of administration?
And the last question, if I may. President Zelensky talked about you right there, in Paris. What do you think about President Vladimir Zelensky? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Let’s begin with the last one. I always try to avoid such questions. I do not believe it is correct for me to answer them and to state my opinion of my colleagues. Perhaps you have noted that I don’t even describe former leaders who left their offices.
Let’s discuss historical figures. We can do this. I do not have the heart to talk about people who are in office today. Everybody has both positive and negative sides. But when people take such offices, this means they have passed through a serious selection process, so they are at least not ordinary people.
As for the Normandy format, the Minsk Agreements and so on, there is nothing more important than the Minsk Agreements. Of course, I was worried by the statement made by President Zelensky after he left Paris to the effect that they could be revised. If we revise the Minsk Agreements, the settlement process will hit a dead end, because the main element of the Minsk Agreements is a law on the special status of Donbass, which must be formalised in the Ukrainian Constitution. It has been extended for a year, but not permanently, although we keep saying – not only do I, but the other Normandy format leaders say so as well – that the law must be of unlimited duration and that its formula must be incorporated in the Constitution. However, it appears that neither the previous nor the current Ukrainian leadership wants this. But there is no way around it. This is the first point.
Second, there must be a direct dialogue with Donbass. There is none so far. It has been announced that amendments concerning decentralisation will be made. This is good. But is this meant to replace the Minsk Agreements? Or the law on the special status of Donbass? Can you imagine that? Yes. But the Minsk Agreements say that any actions that concern Donbass must be coordinated with Donbass. This initiative has not been coordinated with it. This, of course, is alarming.
As for the next meeting, for example, in April, it will only be relevant if we see positive change. Has there been any positive change? Yes, it is an objective fact. First, the law on the special status has been extended, and hence the basis for a settlement has not been destroyed. Second, troops have pulled back in several vital areas, although our Ukrainian partners are against disengagement along the entire contact line. I believe that they are making a mistake, but this is their position. That was my second point.
The number of artillery attacks has decreased, which is another achievement, although regrettably, they have not stopped altogether. There are positive things and there are alarming things. All this should be discussed. Overall, it is desirable to continue meetings in the Normandy format.
By the way, you mentioned our Ukrainian colleagues. Shall we give them the floor? Are any of them with us today?
Dmitry Peskov: Please let our traditional guest have the microphone.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Good afternoon, my name is Roman Tsymbalyuk, and I represent the Ukrainian UNIAN news agency.
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Indeed, we, and I personally, have no problem doing our work in Russia. Perhaps, if the Ukrainian tanks were in Kuban, you would have slightly different thoughts about us.
VladimirPutin: Are you talking about the 72 or the 34 model? (Laughter.)
Roman Tsymbalyuk: T-64 is our staple combat tank made in Kharkov.
Vladimir Putin: T-64 is a Soviet tank as well.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: You also mentioned you are originally from the Soviet Union.
Roman Tsymbalyuk: As a follow-up to the Minsk talks, could you give the date of your decision to disband the occupation administrations in Lugansk and Donetsk? You refer to them as republics, but they are not mentioned in the Minsk Agreements.
Also, if I may, will there be a gas war? It appears that you are not about to give us back the $3 billion awarded to us by the arbitration court. You are talking about cheap gas, but we know that Russia’s cheap gas is the most expensive thing for Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin: So, disbanding administrative bodies and gas. What else?
Roman Tsymbalyuk: Three billion.
VladimirPutin: Three billion.
Here is my first point regarding the Minsk Agreements and disbanding, as you said, administrative bodies in the unrecognised republics.
Former president Petro Poroshenko who represented Ukraine at the Minsk talks, which were followed by the Minsk Agreements, insisted on having this document signed by the leaders of these two unrecognised republics. They just grabbed me by the throat, all three of them, and representatives of these unrecognised republics refused to sign. I am giving you, so to speak, the inside facts about our talks in Minsk. However, we managed to persuade them, and they signed the document. Thus, Ukraine itself recognised the existence of these authorities. This is the first part of the Ballet de la Merlaison, so to say.
The second part is that the elections were held there, and the people cast their votes. This, I believe, is a very democratic way of organising government bodies.
Third, the Minsk Agreements themselves outline explicitly the rights of these republics, and what they are entitled to claim. Everything is spelled out there about the language, the local police, and so on.
The next aspect has to do with what it is all about, and I am getting to the controversial part. I will not hide anything, and there is no need to do it. People in both Russia and Ukraine must know what these agreements are about.
There is a clause about withdrawing mercenaries and foreign troops and closing the border. Under the Minsk Agreements, the process of closing the border is to begin on the second day after an election takes place, and to be completed only after an inclusive political settlement is achieved, including amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution and these republics acquiring the rights as set forth in the Minsk Agreements. As soon as this is done, the border can be completely sealed.
Finally, let me respond to the question about the withdrawal of foreign troops. There are no foreign troops there. Yes, there are local militias, local self-defence forces staffed with local residents. I get questions all the time: Where did they get tanks or heavy artillery? Look, conflicts and hostilities of all kinds are unfolding in many hotspots around the world, involving tanks, artillery, etc. Where do they get them? Probably from those government agencies that sympathise with them. But let me emphasise that these weapons are theirs, not foreign.
As for the mercenaries, I have just said in Paris that there are French and Germans fighting there on both sides. We must address this issue of mercenaries, but they are not the bedrock of these armed groups.
You know what the main problem is? I will be completely honest with you. The most important problem is that there is a lack of willingness to resolve this question through dialogue with the people. We have yet to see any willingness to move in this direction, instead of trying to create favourable conditions for resolving the problem by force using tanks, artillery and air power. I said: air power was used. And the current President of Ukraine replied: What air power? He did not even remember or did not know this. But they did use air power, you see?
As soon as we, or rather the Ukrainian leadership, abandon what I believe to be a completely misguided approach to resolving this problem and move into dialogue mode, this is when there will be a path towards a solution. It is stated in the agreements that they need to restore economic and other infrastructure, but instead they just cut off this part of the country from the Ukrainian territory by imposing a blockade. Was Moscow the one who imposed this blockade? The Kiev authorities were the ones who did it.
However, we are seeing some positive shifts in this sphere, at least I hope we do. As you already know, there are some changes for the better there. At least there are crossing points, and the demining effort is underway. This is not enough. A lot has to be done to improve the lives of the people who live there. But it can be done.
If we proceed from this premise and focus on finding common ground and promoting dialogue, the problem will be resolved. If attempts to strangle them by force continue, I do not think that it can be done. There is a saying that people in Donbass never yield under pressure. It definitely has a ruffian and aggressive side to it, but this is how people feel deep inside. People who live there have a sense of pride, so this problem is unlikely to be resolved by force.
The gas war. You mentioned three billion. Let me point out that part of our reserve money from the Russian National Welfare Fund is invested in Ukrainian bonds: $3 billion, exactly. There is a court ruling from London on this, but it is not fulfilled.
Speaking about gas relations, it is a complicated and sensitive issue. We want to solve this problem. As someone who has a degree in law, I believe that this ruling of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce is not legal but more likely political. Here’s one of the grounds for this ruling (everyone here will find it strange, too, but it is interesting): “…due to the difficult economic situation in Ukraine.” That is nonsense. But it is written there. They should have refrained from writing such a phrase.
Well, we have the court decision, it is true, and we must proceed from this. We will proceed from this and look for a solution that would suit everyone, including Ukraine, while preserving transit through Ukraine, despite the construction of new facilities, such as Nord Stream 1, Nord Stream 2, and TurkStream. The question is what the volume of transit and contract duration will be.
Let me also note that we are not going to sign any contract to stop transit later. No, we are interested in this, we want to do this; it is a good route.
By the way, the Ukrainian route to Europe is longer than via the Baltic Sea. It is longer and more expensive for us. But it is a good and well-known route to Central and Southern Europe, and we are ready to preserve it. We would also be ready to provide Ukraine with a gas discount of 20–25 percent, as I have already mentioned, by the way. It can be done.
This would also mean decreasing costs for the end consumer instead of increasing them as you are planning now. Starting from January 1, 2020, all the discounts will be cancelled, as far as I know, and the average gas price will be $300 for all categories of consumers, including individuals.
I think we will come to an agreement. By the way, we are already making headway. We will try to make Ukraine happy with the agreement, too. We do not want escalations in the energy sector that can be used to affect the situation in Ukraine.
We are interested in Ukraine getting the resource properly, so that our consumers in Europe are calm about us having normal relations with our neighbours and that everything goes as planned.
Dmitry Peskov: Let us go to that sector. Omsk has the floor. I believe we have not given the floor to Omsk yet. I see a lady standing.
Remark from the audience.
Dmitry Peskov: I thought we agreed to respect each other. Thank you.
Omsk, go ahead.
Olga Korobova: Good afternoon. Olga Korobova, editor-in-chief, Argumenty i Fakty v Omske.
Mr President, my question concerns not only Omsk but probably the whole of the Trans-Ural area.
Vladimir Putin: Can you raise your hand, please? I do not see you. Thank you.
Olga Korobova: I have a question about demography and migration. It is a question about everything, that is, the social situation in the Trans-Urals.
Vladimir Putin: If it is a question about everything, it will be the last question today.
Olga Korobova: First of all, I would like to thank you for launching the Far Eastern Hectare and Far Eastern Mortgage projects. But people are also leaving Siberia for oversized Moscow and St Petersburg. It would be wonderful if such measures, in particular a mortgage project, were adopted for our region as well so that young, smart and talented people aged 30–45 would not leave but take out mortgages.
Has this possibility been discussed for Siberia, the Trans-Urals and, more precisely, Omsk?
Vladimir Putin: We have indeed adopted several such measures for the Far East, where the population is declining much more rapidly than in any other part or region of Russia.
Many people have taken advantage of the Far Eastern Hectare project. We have adjusted it so that it is available not only to locals but also to people from any other part of Russia who want to settle in the Far East. This land is being used for several purposes: housing, agriculture and other forms of business, including tourism. But we also see some drawbacks to this project, first of all the fact that these land plots are not always attractive because of their infrastructure, or rather, they lack roads, electricity and other infrastructure. Therefore, we must first of all implement these projects and plans in full in the Far East before turning to other regions.
As for the Trans-Urals, I assure you that we see what is happening there. We will revise our demographic projects to include the Trans-Urals. I am referring to assistance for households with children, primarily those that have a third baby.
As for other support measures, including a 2 percent mortgage rate, all this is possible, of course. But first we need to analyse progress in the Far East, calculate how much this will cost us, see how many people request such assistance, and review our budget expenditures before calmly taking any decisions on what to do next.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s have a question from the centre.
Andrei Kolesnikov, one of the patriarchs of Russian journalism. As usual, he holds his hand up with great modesty, but he has been working with the President for many years.
Andrei Kolesnikov: Good afternoon. Andrei Kolesnikov, Kommersant newspaper.
Mr President, I have two questions on the recent meeting of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. You spoke out about Vladimir Ulyanov as never before. You even brought up his nicknames, such as “Old Man” and “Lenin.”
Vladimir Putin: A pseudonym.
Andrei Kolesnikov: You said nicknames.
Vladimir Putin: As a matter of fact, it is all one and the same.
Andrei Kolesnikov: Party nicknames.
You accused him of breaking down a 1,000-year-old state. When you were saying this, you facial expression was close to rage, it seemed to me. Will anything come out of your comment? What would be a logical follow-up to these words? Removing Lenin’s body from the Mausoleum, at long last?
And the second question. At the same meeting, you had a debate with Alexander Sokurov on the title of the Hero of Russia, regarding Ramzan Kadyrov’s case. At that point your facial expression simply showed tolerance. Would you like to say something in this regard?
Vladimir Putin: I prefer not to raise subjects of this kind, but since Mr Sokurov did, I had to respond, so now it seems that I have to set it out in more detail.
Regarding Lenin and his role in our history, and what I think about it, I believe that he was a revolutionary rather than a statesman.
When I talked about the 1,000-year history of our state, it was strictly centralised and unitary, as we all know. But what did Vladimir Lenin propose? He went even further than a federation and proposed a system that can be described as a confederation. It was his decision to tie ethnic groups to specific territories, so that they obtained the right to secede from the Soviet Union.
What happened was that a strictly centralised state was turned into a de facto confederation with the right of secession and with ethnic groups attached to specific territories. But these territories were divided in such a way that they did not always correspond and still do not correspond to where various ethnic groups traditionally lived. This is how cracks emerged that still linger in the relations between the former Soviet republics, and even within the Russian Federation. There are two thousand cracks of this kind, and letting them out of sight for even a second can have grave consequences. This is the first point I wanted to make.
By the way, Stalin was against such organisation. He even wrote an article on autonomy, but, eventually, adopted Lenin’s formula. The upshot? Just now, our colleague from Ukraine and I spoke about our relations. Back when the Soviet Union was created, original Russian territories that never had anything to do with Ukraine (the entire Black Sea region and Russia’s western lands) were transferred to Ukraine under a strange pretext of “increasing the percentage of the proletariat in Ukraine,” because Ukraine was a rural territory populated by petty-bourgeois-minded peasants, who were subjected to dispossession across the country. This was a somewhat odd decision. Nevertheless, it took place. We are now dealing with Vladimir Lenin’s legacy of state building.
What did they do? They tied the country’s future to their own party, and this tenet went from one Constitution to another. It was the main political force. As soon as the party started to crumble, the country followed. That is what I meant. I stick to this point of view to this day.
As you are aware, I worked in intelligence for a long time. It was an integral part of a much politicised organisation, the KGB, and I had my own ideas about our leaders and so on. But I know better today, and I understand that there are geopolitical considerations in addition to ideology. They were completely ignored during the creation of the Soviet Union. All this was much politicised at the time. To reiterate, the party began to fall apart, and that was the end of it – the country followed. This had to be prevented. This was a mistake. An absolute, cardinal and fundamental mistake in state building.
Now, with regard to the body. This is beside the point. I believe this subject should not be touched at all, at least as long as there are people, lots of them, who associate their lives and destinies, and certain achievements of the past, the Soviet years, with it. One way or another, the Soviet Union is certainly connected with Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the world proletariat. So, why delve deep into that? We just need to move forward and grow. That is all.
As for Kadyrov’s Hero of Russia title, you know I already spoke about it and I want to say it again. When I first met his father, the first President of the Chechen Republic, he came to me himself. He did not come to surrender, he came to build relations with Russia. It was before the active combat operation started in Chechnya and in the Caucasus. And he told me then, “We thought that we would be better off with other Islamic countries, but we realised that we were wrong because they tried to bend us to their will.” All those extremist, half-terrorist groups. He said, “We do not want it. I understand now that we will be better off with Russia. Russia has never had any issues with our religion or our everyday customs.” And so on. It was his choice. You know his fate. He died at the hands of terrorists. What did he die for? For Chechnya, the Chechen people, and for Russia. It was his decision. I still cannot forgive myself for letting him go home for the holidays, because he was in my office and I asked him to stay, but he said that he needed to be at home. And then he was killed in an explosion.
The current president, his son, is still exposed to danger every day. In addition, he personally takes part in various combat operations. The Federal Security Service Director was reporting to me once on the elimination of a terrorist group, and I suggested that his guys should be awarded state decorations. And he said, “It was not us.” I asked him who it was, and he said that it was Kadyrov and his men. I said, “I forbade him to do it!” But he is unstoppable, he is always out there in the field. So I always present such titles as Hero of Russia for a reason.
Look at what Grozny looks like now. Look at the photos taken several years ago featuring Minutka Square: Grozny looked like Stalingrad after the Battle of Stalingrad. Exactly like that. And look how it has changed.
Actually, we could present Kadyrov with the Hero of Labour title as well, but he is still young, he can wait. But the situation has really turned around there. So this is the answer to that part of your question.
Dmitry Peskov: By the way, I saw a journalist from Chechnya. Would you like to add anything? Central sector. Raise your hand, please, so that we can see you. Please, identify yourself and speak as concisely as possible.
Alkhazur Kerimov: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Alkhazur Kerimov: Alkhazur Kerimov, Grozny TV.
It was very gratifying to me to hear you speak so warmly about the first president of the Chechen Republic and about our current leader. First of all, I would like to say that the Chechen Republic is developing rapidly in all spheres.
This became possible thanks to your decisions and all-round assistance and help. The people can see this, which is why your confidence rating in the republic is the highest throughout Russia. People in Chechnya love and respect you, and they look forward to your visit. Now, my question.
There has been much talk about building a road to Georgia via Chechnya. This would settle many strategic problems and unclog the alternative route, which is especially busy in winter, when cars stand for days in traffic jams.
The head of Chechnya raised this issue and commented on it many times, because building one more road would help increase trade and boost our economic progress through a rapid development of tourism in the region. What do you think about this initiative? How can it benefit the economies of Russia and Georgia? Do you support it?
One more thing. Some time ago the head of Chechnya proposed building a high-speed railway line from Krasnodar to Grozny and connecting it to the existing Moscow-Adler high-speed road. This would greatly increase the accessibility of the republics involved. What do you think about this project? Can we count on its implementation?
Vladimir Putin: I would like to say that there are several infrastructure projects for southern Russia, including Chechnya. We are working on them or considering them. Some of them are at a more advanced stage than others. I would not like to go into detail now, but I know about these plans.
We have recently discussed this in the Government; there are several options for connecting Chechnya with Krasnodar and the Black Sea coast. We will do this when the time comes. For now, we do not have any concrete or calibrated plans, but I agree that this is a rational idea.
What was the first part of your question about?
Alkhazur Kerimov: The road to Georgia.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, Georgia. Indeed, there are problems with communication with Georgia, especially in winter when there is a lot of snow. We are aware of this. What you mentioned is a good idea, but it is not on the Transport Ministry’s plans at the moment. Although, I repeat, we know about it and it is a viable project. Yes, it would be reasonable to implement it.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s move over here. Dimitri Simes. Channel One, I guess?
Dimitri Simes: Bolshaya Igra, Channel One.
Dmitry Peskov: Please give him a microphone.
Dimitri Simes: Mr President, two days ago the US Congress passed bills on sanctions against Russia by such an overwhelming majority that it makes it difficult for President Trump to veto the bill.
And, as you probably know, the House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment yesterday. This is the context in which he has to make foreign policy decisions, and more specifically, those in relation to Russia.
In this situation, do you think you – and Russia – have any opportunity to try to maintain or strengthen dialogue with the United States before the end of Trump’s presidency? What can you do to enhance strategic stability, and more specifically, to extend the New START?
Vladimir Putin: As for the chances to continue our dialogue until the end of Trump’s presidency, you do sound like it is actually ending. I am not so sure about that. The decision still needs to pass through the Senate, where the Republicans, as far as I know, have the majority, and they are unlikely to want to remove the representative of their party from power for something I, personally, see as far-fetched.
This is just another move in that country’s domestic political campaigning, where one party that lost the election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results they want through other means, such as charging Trump with conspiracy related to Russia. When it turned out there was no conspiracy, there was no longer a sufficient reason to impeach. Now they have invented pressure on Ukraine. I do not know what this is all about. But your Congresspeople certainly know better.
As for the decisions that were made with respect to Russia, they are being made by people who hardly have any responsibility for these decisions. These are not executive authorities, but representative authorities, and their job is to pass laws. They are making such decisions regarding Russia.
This will certainly affect the level of interstate relations. We are aware of their general approach – the United States will work with us in areas where they have an interest and profit, while at the same time restraining Russia with decisions like this. Knowing this, we too will mirror their steps, we will do just that. I am not saying this is a good thing. These are very unfriendly acts in relation to Russia.
They want to help Ukraine keep its transits. As I have just told a colleague from Ukraine, we also want to keep transits. In any case, this is what we are interested in, and this is what we will do. If they wanted to help, they should have given them money. How come they do not give any money to Ukraine? This would have enabled them to provide subsidies.
You see, they give almost nothing, only guarantees for future loans. But this is not actual money, so the support they are getting is not real. At the same time, the IMF, where the United States rules, demands that all energy subsidies be cancelled, including for natural gas. This will once again drive consumer prices up.
Others in the West, I mean, the EU, want round timber to be exported to Europe. If they do so, very soon, there will be nothing left of the Carpathian mountains, with only bare rock remaining. It could seem that they are supporting the current Ukrainian regime and its leaders, but at the same time I believe that they are seriously hurting it.
Now they are asking Ukraine to start selling land. Land is sacred for Ukrainians, and I can understand this, since these are “golden” soils. Of course, the opposition was instantly all over this issue and is now attacking Zelensky on the domestic policy front.
They blame us for some actions towards Ukraine and pretend to be willing to help, but in reality what they want is to have Russia support the Ukrainian budget. Go ahead and give them the money, help Ukraine, grant it subsidised loans with lengthy repayment periods. But there is nothing of the kind.
Still, we are interested in expanding and maintaining relations with the United States and will move in this direction regardless of who is in the White House or who controls the two chambers of Congress.
Do we see any potential in this? I think so. You have mentioned global security, including the New START, as one of the foundations of our relations. We put forward our proposals, as I have already said, and will repeat: we stand ready until the end of the year to extend the existing New START as is.
They can send it to us by post, or we can sign it and send it to Washington so that their senior officials, including the President, sign it, if they are ready to do so. So far we have not received a reply to any of our proposals. Without the New START there will be nothing left in the world to contain the arms race. I believe that there is nothing good about it.
Dmitry Peskov: MIR TV channel, you have the floor.
Elina Dashkuyeva: Thank you, Mr Peskov.
Good afternoon, Mr President, I am Elina Dashkuyeva from the MIR Interstate Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.
At the Ashgabat meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council you spoke about the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, and you said that this victory concerns every citizen of the Soviet Union. You invited CIS leaders to come here to take part in the commemorative events, and also agreed to hold joint events to mark this date.
Mr President, do you regret that the joint column of the victors will not include servicemen from some former Soviet republics, including Ukraine and Georgia?
Vladimir Putin: I regret that there is no Soviet Union anymore. As for their participation in the parade, it is their choice. But if someone misses the event due to some interstate relations, I think they will make a big mistake. Because it will mean that they do not show respect for the people who fought and gave their lives for the independence of their Motherland.
There is one thing I would like to draw attention to. Nazi Germany had these documents that said that part of the Slavic people should be used as workers, but the majority should be sent beyond the Urals, to the northern territories. What did they count on? On our extinction. So that fight, it was not just about preserving our statehood, but about preserving the East Slavic ethnic group, both Russians and Ukrainians. This is was it was about.
When I hear someone say that maybe it would have been better to abandon Leningrad to the enemy and so on, I want to say, are you out of your mind? You would not be alive today if they had done that. This is what it is all about. And, of course, the presence at the Moscow parade of the descendants of those who saved our statehood and independence, and who preserved our peoples, is a symbolic and important gesture, I think. We will be happy to see everyone who accepts our invitation.
By the way, Minsk wants to ask a question. Excuse me, Dmitry, I see a ‘Minsk, Belarus’ poster there.
Go ahead, please.
Remark: Can we ask a question about Iran?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, in a moment, please.
Maria Nagibina: Hello, Mr President.
Maria Nagibina, Ministry of Ideas TV channel.
I have a question for you that follows up on the topic of the Soviet Union.
Millions of people suffered from Gorbachev’s illegal actions in 1991. So here is the question: how about looking at what happened in 1991 from a legal perspective? This could make resolving questions regarding territorial integrity, including with Belarus, easier.
I also have a second question. Last year you talked about the Constitution of the Russian Federation and its Article 13, paragraph 2, which bans ideology. You said that this should be a matter of public debate. As we all know, there is a massive drive by community activists across the country to collect signatures, and 200,000 have already been collected and handed over to the Federation Council, State Duma and other government institutions. Do you think that this question was sufficiently debated by Russian society?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding a legal assessment of what Gorbachev or anyone else did, I do not know. I do not understand how this relates to territorial integrity. We have resolved all the questions we had, and all the documents are signed. I do not quite understand what a legal evaluation of these actions has to do with it. This is my first point.
Second, regarding the Constitution and what it says on ideology, I have already said that the Soviet Constitution had a very pronounced ideological component, and the only ideology that guided it was the ideology of the Communist Party. It is clear however what came out of it, as I have already said. Among other things, it served as one of the triggers that led a unified state to break down. Without a party, it started to crumble, and the country followed.
However, I believe that in today’s democratic society there can be only one ideology: patriotism in a broad, positive sense of the word. It should not be driven by politics, but rather designed to strengthen the inner foundations of the Russian state.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s continue. It looks like we left out federal news agencies. I see ITAR-TASS on the right. Please remain seated. Let’s show some respect for each other. This is a news conference after all.
Remark: I have a question about the 75th anniversary of Victory.
Dmitry Peskov: Sit down, please.
Remark: All right.
Dmitry Peskov: Thank you very much.
Veronika Ichetkina: May I? Thank you.
Mr President, last year the news conference opened with a question from TASS about national projects. My question today is also about national projects, especially since this year our agency became an operator of a special website dedicated to this subject.
Here is my question. National projects have been implemented for almost a year now, and more and more experts from the regions are saying that the national projects’ goals are overly high and need to be revised.
Do you think we can say that national projects are stalling? Do you think the national projects’ goals should be revised? Or maybe it would make sense to develop additional measures to stimulate this work? Such as to establish additional personal responsibility of regional leaders for implementing national projects in terms of goals or deadlines? Or maybe decentralisation can help, such as expanding the powers of regional authorities, or municipal authorities, including redistribution of taxes, so that they have more money in their budgets and use it to more vigorously participate in national projects on the ground?
Vladimir Putin: First, I believe there is no need to revise anything fundamentally.
Second, personal responsibility has been introduced, but it can certainly be strengthened and detailed.
Third, national projects are, of course, a major undertaking, and we have not had anything like that before, we have not worked with such tools before, they simply did not exist. There were state programmes, but they are different. National projects pursue goals, and specific resources have been allocated to achieve these goals, and personal responsibility has been introduced and is being used. We should continue to move along these lines.
Are they stalling or not? Of course, mechanisms and the legislative framework should have been created from the get-go. I even got anxious at some point thinking about how this would continue to move forward. Look, we consider 26 goals achieved and 12 not achieved out of 38 goals planned for this year. With regard to an important area such as relocating residents from dilapidated housing, we went beyond meeting the target figure for the current year and exceeded it threefold. So, overall, the situation is under control. Of course, we need to look at what is happening in real life, analyse it, and, of course, some things will need to be adjusted. But on the whole, there is no need to revise anything.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s continue. Federal agencies now.
I see Interfax. Pass the microphone to Interfax, please.
Ksenia Golovanova: Good afternoon, Mr President. Ksenia Golovanova, Interfax.
This year abounded in high-profile cases that caused public outcry. Members of the HRC talked to you about some of them at a meeting last week, and you did not comment on one of them, the case of Ivan Golunov.
During the Direct Line, you described this case, this situation with Golunov, as lawlessness and said that those responsible should be found. However, no one responsible has been found, the case file has been classified, and an investigation is underway with regard to unidentified persons.
It seems to me that the Golunov case is a reflection of something that is typical for our law enforcement system; something, everyone has probably dealt with, unfortunately – complete impunity and the we-don’t-betray-our-own principle.
I have two questions in this regard. Don’t you not think that maybe it is time to somehow reshuffle and purge our law enforcement bodies again. And can you guarantee that the Golunov case will eventually lead to a conviction, and will not be soft-pedalled? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Earlier today I was thinking how I began my career as a security agent. When I joined, service veterans were still there, and some would hide in their offices when one old man would enter the building.
Who was that person? He served in 1936–1937. What did he do? That was a time of “purges” in law enforcement agencies, including security agencies. One could come to work in the morning, unsuspectingly, not knowing anything, but a criminal case had been initiated against them, and by the evening, their family was given the body just after they were executed. And that old man that everyone ran from was the one who carried out those sentences.
So, as far as “purges” are concerned, we have been through this, it happened in our not-so-distant history, and we had better avoid any further purges here.
The fact that we need to improve the system of law enforcement bodies’ work, to control what is happening there – I also mean public control – is completely obvious. All law enforcement agencies have their own security services, and those are working quite efficiently.
The we-don’t-betray-our-own phrase is just wrong. Because, indeed, probably, there may be cases where the chiefs want to cover up for someone, the immediate superiors, I mean. But, again, their own security services are effective. And a significant number of criminal cases – there are many cases brought against law enforcement officials – are based on the findings of their own security services.
As for the Golunov case (is this the name – Golunov?), indeed, it was decided to classify these materials, because the investigation raises questions related to the organisation of active search measures, and this is restricted information. But this does not mean the investigation is not proceeding as it should. I would like to inform you that five people have been suspended from the relevant services of the Interior Ministry. They have been fired from Interior Ministry bodies, and criminal cases have been initiated against them. The investigation is being conducted by the Investigative Committee, not the Interior Ministry.
Dmitry Peskov: RIA Novosti, on the right, please, go ahead.
Since you mentioned that you are a lawyer, the first part of my question relates to legal matters, Mr President. My question will be on the Constitution. In your opinion, could it be that the time has come to amend the Constitution? These questions surface every now and then, and have recently been discussed. If the time has come, what part could be changed? Are you satisfied with the amendments that were introduced ten years ago to change some articles in our Constitution?
The second part of my question is about politics, and relates to the political system our country has. Within a few days, it will be 20 years since you came to the helm. Is there a need, in your opinion, to make changes, like maybe reassigning powers between the parliament, the government or even the president?
And my final question, if you allow me. Do we have competition in Russian politics, in your opinion?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the Constitution, this is a live tool that has to keep up with the evolution of society. However, it is my belief that we do not have to change the Constitution, I mean adopt a new one, especially since it sets forth some fundamental principles that we have yet to fully achieve. This refers to its first chapter. I believe this part to be sacrosanct.
All the other provisions can be amended in one way or another. I am aware of the ongoing debates on this subject; I see them and hear them. I understand the logic behind what others propose. This is related to possibly expanding the powers of parliament and changing to some extent the powers of the president and the government. But all this has to be well prepared, result from a meaningful debate within society, and be carried out with extreme caution.
Regarding the past amendments, as far as I know, they were related to the number of terms. What could be done in this respect? We could take out the mention of “consecutive” terms. We have this provision, and yours truly served for two consecutive terms, then left this office and had the constitutional right to once again become president, because this did not interfere with the “two consecutive terms” limit. Some political observers and civil society activists have voiced misgivings over this provision. We can probably remove it.
There are some other questions, but they are more about preferences rather than necessity.
I can once again mention the powers of parliament. I do understand political parties, especially those represented in parliament, that believe that we have reached a level in the development of parliamentarism in Russia when parliament could take on additional functions and assume greater responsibility. All we need is to give this idea serious thought.
As for competition in politics, 54 parties are registered in Russia, and four of them I believe are about to be dissolved. Still, 50 parties is a good number, and 12 of them operate at the federal level. I believe that this meets the standard for political competition.
Dmitry Peskov: We have not yet given the floor to the organisers of the broadcast of this conference – Rossiya-1. Give the microphone to the right sector. Raise your hand and stand up, please, Rossiya-1, now I see you. Go ahead, please.
Alexander Khristenko: Good afternoon.
Alexander Khristenko, Rossiya TV channel, VGTRK.
Mr President, our National Welfare Fund is growing, there…
Vladimir Putin: Thank God.
Alexander Khristenko: There are trillions there, and more is expected next year. But our financial officials always argue, including in this room not so long ago, whether it is better to save or to spend? Do you think that more should be spent, including in order to spur economic growth? And in connection with this, another question: why are we so afraid of inflation?
Vladimir Putin: I will start with the end of your question. We are not afraid of inflation, but we believe that it is necessary to target and reduce it, because rising inflation means declining real incomes. We already have issues here that require additional attention, to say the least. So why do we need inflation?
It means price increases, but we do not want price increases. This is one of the fundamental macroeconomic conditions for economic growth. Inflationary expectations undermine the investment process, that is the point. But we have good performance here.
Russia is certainly one of the leaders among emerging markets regarding the state of its financial and budgetary system. According to the latest data, this year’s inflation is 3.25 percent; this is a very good indicator for us, and at the beginning of next year it may well come down to 3 percent.
As for the reserve funds and the National Welfare Fund. Yes, it really has almost tripled this year. This is a very good indicator.
To spend or not to spend was your other question. Look, 20 percent of the National Welfare Fund has already made its way to the economy via a variety of tools, including through VEB. Of this 20 percent, 8 percent was spent directly to fund major infrastructure projects, such as the Central Ring Road in Moscow.
Rolling stock is being purchased for Russian Railways, which is good for transport, keeping jobs and developing transport engineering. Finally, the money was used to improve rail traffic on the Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway. I am aware of the miners’ concern about a bottleneck there, but the situation would be really bad if it weren’t for the money already invested in eliminating bottlenecks on the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian railways.
Indeed, we are witnessing changes in the coal market, in Europe for example, and we need to ensure the development of the east, so we will go ahead and do this, possibly using the National Welfare Fund.
Last, we made a decision to freeze spending from the National Welfare Fund to allow it to grow to 7 percent of GDP. As a matter of fact, we are already there at 7.3 percent. Technically, this money will only reach the accounts in the summer of 2020, and we will then be able to use it more actively.
Notably, and most importantly, these funds have a higher purpose, to ensure national currency stability, which the fund is effectively doing. It is to a certain extent our safety bag.
As you may be aware, we honoured almost all of our social commitments in 2008 amid the serious international crisis and spent funds from accumulated reserves despite the sharp drop in federal budget revenue. We were able to accomplish this thanks to these reserve funds. Spending money left and right like a farmer sowing seeds oblivious to what could happen if energy prices fall is the easiest thing. But we will not do this, and will instead use the funds in accordance with the decisions adopted earlier.
Dmitry Peskov: Let’s move this way. Here is Yaroslavl, our colleagues from Yaroslavl. Stand up, please. Please, pass on the microphone there, on the left.
Arseny Kondratyev: Good afternoon, Mr President. Arseny Kondratyev, Yaroslavia State Television and Broadcasting Company, Yaroslavl Region.
My question continues Match TV’s topic about WADA, but it is not about sports – it’s about the development of the regions. Now that our athletes have been banned from participating in international competitions, other big events are under question, and Yaroslavl was the proposed venue for the 2022 Volleyball World Championship.
For Yaroslavl as well as other cities it is a unique opportunity to build new sports facilities and to develop transport and tourism infrastructure. Will we and other cities lose this opportunity now?
Vladimir Putin: I do not think so, because WADA did not prohibit the hosting of these events; let’s read this more closely: they recommend international federations not to host events. Let’s just say, the UEFA European Championship is still happening.
Recently I have had a meeting with the head of this organisation, who said directly: “The tickets are sold out.” Who will return them? WADA is not going to reimburse the tickets; this is nonsense. I think that the volleyball championship you mentioned will also take place.
You know, I think that we should calmly wait for the decisions, including the decisions by the Court of Arbitration for Sports, and then we will see where we are. However, Russian athletes have been preparing for all the competitions and will continue to do so. They are brilliant, and they will impress us with their victories many times.
Dmitry Peskov: I can see our largest state newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Please. Stand up, please, so everyone can see you. Wait, where are they? One moment, I just saw Rossiyskaya Gazeta…
Vladimir Putin: While he is choosing…
Dmitry Peskov: Just a moment, please. Here we go.
Vladimir Putin: While he is choosing, let’s have question from CCTV. Go ahead, please.
Sun Yao: Good afternoon, Mr President.
I am a correspondent of China’s CCTV media corporation. I have two questions.
The first question is about Chinese-Russian relations. This year marks 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. We can say that our bilateral ties have entered a new era. And my question is this: which results of our partnership do you see as the most significant, and what future cooperation potential do you see between our countries?
The other question is about international affairs. The global situation today is full of uncertainty and instability. Obviously, some countries pursue a policy to maintain a unipolar world and protectionism, undermining the foundations of international law and free trade, while China and Russia are both supporters of a multipolar world. So what steps do you think China and Russia could take to support the original principles of a multipolar system and free trade, and how could they effectively respond to external challenges?
Vladimir Putin: The most important thing that we have achieved in recent years, between Russia and the People’s Republic of China… The most important thing is not even the figures I will cite in a moment, or the industries in which we cooperate – the most important achievement is the unprecedented level of trust that has developed between our countries.
This is what forms the basis for our accomplishments in the economy (our bilateral trade has topped 100 billion, and we will certainly attain even 200 billion, we will reach that mark), and for our successful high-tech projects – in space exploration, the aircraft industry, and transport in general, and in many other areas.
Russian-Chinese cooperation is undoubtedly a major factor of international stability, including the strengthening of international law and the creation of a multipolar world.
As a matter of fact, it has already been created; a unipolar world no longer exists. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an illusion that this system was possible and that it would last for a long time, but it was only an illusion. I always said so. The most recent events have indicated just that. When you say ‘some countries,’ you, first of all, mean the United States. The world’s multipolarity is a derivative of economic relations.
After World War II, the US share in world GDP was 50 percent. And now China’s share is higher than the US’s share, I may be mistaken, but China is ahead of the United States in its share of global GDP. And also in many other indicators. In terms of purchasing power parity, the Chinese economy has become larger than the American one.
This inevitably leads to changes in many other areas. And apart from that, the world simply cannot have a unipolar structure, with a single centre that governs the entire international community.
The role of our interaction with China is very important here. We will continue to strengthen our multilateral strategic ties. I am sure that this will benefit the people of China and the Russian Federation alike.
Dmitry Peskov: Rossiyskaya Gazeta, take the floor, please.
Remark: The Urals!
Vladimir Putin: Wait, wait.
Remark: Mr President, the Urals!
Vladimir Putin: One moment, keep it down, please. Come to the meeting then.
Remark: Please give money for schools and the metro.
Vladimir Putin: Alright, I understand.
Kira Latukhina: Kira Latukhina, Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
I would like to return to the issue of our Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Next year we will celebrate the anniversary – the 75th anniversary, the Year of Memory and Glory. But at the same time, in September this year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that Nazism and fascism are equated with the Soviet regime, having timed it with the anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. They are calling it totalitarianism and suggesting introducing a new international holiday to celebrate the day of heroes of the fight against totalitarianism on May 25. What do you think about it? What is your opinion?
Vladimir Putin: There is nothing good about totalitarianism, it is worthy of condemnation, without any doubt.
I know about the European Parliament’s decision. I consider it absolutely unacceptable and wrong, because you can condemn Stalinism and totalitarianism as a whole, and in some ways these will be well-deserved reproaches. Our people were the biggest victims of totalitarianism. We condemned it and the personality cult and so on.
But to equate the Soviet Union or to put the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany on one level is incredible cynicism. This means that people do not know history; they cannot read or write. Let them read the documents of that time, let them see how the so-called Munich Agreement was signed in 1938, when the heads of the leading countries – France, Great Britain – signed an agreement with Hitler on the partition of Czechoslovakia.
How did Poland behave in this situation, which, as one diplomat wrote at the time, “did everything possible to participate in the partition of Czechoslovakia?” How did the Soviet Union behave then, proposing to all participants in international life to create a united anti-Nazi front?
And how, by not creating it, they were really trying to push Hitler to aggression to the East, not realising then that Nazi Germany was interested not in Polish-German relations, but in expanding their living space to the East, that is, war against the Soviet Union.
You see, I mean to write an article about this event. I will definitely have it published because I asked my colleagues to select archive materials for me. When I read some of them, everything becomes clear: everything in the process of appeasing Hitler is sorted out by year, month, and almost by day.
Stalin did not stain himself with direct contact with Hitler whereas the French and British leaders met with him and signed some documents. Yes the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the secret protocols to it were signed.
Is it good or bad? I draw your attention to this – it is crucial – that the Soviet Union was the last country in Europe to sign a non-aggression pact with Germany. All the others had signed it earlier. And what was the Soviet Union supposed to do? Face it alone?
Yes, they say there were secret protocols, the division of Poland. Poland itself joined in dividing Czechoslovakia. It entered two regions – Tesin and another one. And that’s it. Poland took them over. They in fact gave an ultimatum and set up an entire group for the aggression. But it was not needed because Czechoslovakia surrendered under pressure and gave those territories away. But the Poles did the same.
By the way, yes, Soviet troops entered Poland under the protocols. I draw your attention to the following circumstance: the troops did enter but only after the Polish government lost control over their armed forces and over the developments in Poland while the government itself was somewhere near the Polish-Romanian border. There was no one to talk to about it. Do you see this?
Moreover, we talk about the heroic defenders of the Brest Fortress. Nazi troops captured Brest-Litovsk and then just abandoned it, and the Red Army moved in. Do you understand this or not? This is what I want to ask all those who adopt such resolutions in the European Parliament.
That means the Red Army did not invade those territories in Poland. German troops entered them and then left, and after that the Soviet troops entered. Does this mean anything? So I will definitely let you know about that. By the way, we are holding a CIS format meeting tomorrow, and I want to show my CIS colleagues some of our archival documents. Anyone interested is welcome to come and listen.
Dmitry Peskov: You know, I saw the upper part of the central sector: Irkutsk.
Yekaterina Machavariani: Yekaterina Machavariani, the Krasnaya Liniya TV channel.
Mr President, my question is not about Irkutsk, but about former Irkutsk Region Governor Sergei Levchenko, whose resignation you recently accepted.
Our correspondents have been in the region, in particular, in Tulun, since August, and they see a slightly different picture than the one shown by the federal media. And the figures achieved by Sergei Levchenko speak for themselves.
He is the only governor who managed to double the budget over three years and increase the speed of social housing construction six-fold and of the region’s economic development by six percent, which is higher than the world average.
Speaking about relief efforts following the floods, even your Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Siberian Federal District Sergei Menyailo praised their speed: today 98 percent of the victims have received either housing or housing certificates. There are only 46 people at the temporary housing centre, and almost all of them have housing certificates.
My question is why you accepted the resignation of such an effective governor? Is Tulun the real reason or is there something else? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Listen, if you are hinting at his membership of the Communist Party, let me assure you that this has nothing to do with it. There are representatives of the Communist Party and other parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, who won the elections and work as governors in other regions, too. This does not matter to me. The main thing is that the governor’s work is effective.
You have mentioned some figures. But I have different figures, which say that there are still many problems in Irkutsk. This is the first point.
Second, I cannot say that Governor Levchenko was bad at what he did. No. But the situation there was too difficult to work slowly, and the elections were approaching. I did not accept these resignations straight away; I looked into them. You said that everyone has housing. Is that really so? Winter has come. This is the second point.
Third, you may have noted what people said when I was there. Including “Send us different people.” I took my time and watched how the situation was developing.
So there are many problems there. You know, I do not want to throw stones at someone who has already left. Of course, he was working hard, especially in the beginning. But these conditions require a specialist who can work on the tasks that need addressing.
I believe the person we have chosen, a deputy emergencies minister, will resolve this challenge, especially with the support of the federal centre, which is allocating a lot of money for this.
Dmitry Peskov: We have undeservingly overlooked RBK.
Polina Khimshiashvili: Good afternoon. Polina Khimshiashvili, RBK.
You mentioned your meeting tomorrow: you will meet with the President of Belarus. Tell me please, what do you think the Union State should be like? What should be shared in politics and in the economy? What specifically does Alexander Lukashenko dislike in your proposals? And if Belarus insists that gas prices should be the same as in Russia, does this mean that with the gas issue we can have a single state and in other issues we cannot?
And another question on the same subject. Many people are focusing on the year 2024 and think that hypothetically you will be able to head the Union State.
And, as a follow-up to my colleague’s question about Ivan Golunov: maybe you have been told who ordered the planting of drugs on him? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: So far I do not have any information on who ordered that, just to answer this part of your question.
As for our relations with Belarus and energy resource prices: first, I think the decisions made to form the Union State were correct. The Russian and Belarussian peoples are, in my opinion, the same as the Ukrainian and Russian peoples; it is almost the same thing in terms of ethnicity and our history and spirituality. This is why I am very happy that we have such rapprochement with Belarus.
And we have achieved certain goals here, especially in the social area. However, the decisions taken on the creation of the Union State, the majority of the basic decisions have yet to be implemented. About 90 percent of each issue have not been done yet. Please read what is written there, this is not a classified document; there is almost nothing there.
A lot has been done already within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, and in some respects economic integration in the EAEU is more comprehensive than in the Union State. This is why I, and Alexander Lukashenko, decided to return to this and see what should be done to expedite the development of the Union State.
We have taken the relevant decisions in the EAEU on energy resources: to fulfil certain decisions, including establishing a common energy market and on oil and gas issues, by 2024. Indeed, we sell everything to Belarus duty free. This is the first thing.
Secondly, with regard to our energy exports, including gas to Europe and Belarus. Firstly, Belarus pays the lowest prices that are even possible for our foreign partners. Let me remind you that they pay $127 per 1,000 cubic metres. We sell to Europe for $200. So Gazprom’s profitability from sales to Europe and Belarus differs – do you know by how much? Four times. In Russia, the weighted average price of gas is $70 per 1,000 cubic metres – $70 is the weighted average, with $75 for industry and $62 for retail consumers.
Furthermore, the longer the distance from the production sites, the more we subsidise this price. Smolensk is located in a zone where subsidies are the highest. Smolensk consumes approximately 2 billion. We sell 20 billion to Belarus. And if we subsidise the entire Belarusian economy, it means that we, Russia, are subsidising a primary energy carrier such as natural gas for a whole country. But this, you see, sounds like a very strange idea. That Russia should subsidise another country as much as its most subsidised region – Smolensk. This would be just strange.
Is this even possible or not? It is. But what do we need for this? To do this, we would need general rules such as laws, including taxation laws, laws on the subsidy policy, and on support of certain industries through budgets of different levels. To do this, we would also need common supranational bodies – control and issuance bodies. Common rules should be applied in the field of antitrust policy, and maybe a common body would be needed. This is a huge job, and it can be done and realised only if there is political will and interest on both sides. Incidentally, we have such an interest. We are discussing this with our Belarusian partners, and we are making significant progress on that. But how far we will go is not yet clear. So it would be a mistake, on our part, to jump the gun and begin to subsidise Belarus. We are not ready to do so, given the unresolved issues in building this Union.
As you know, we also sell oil duty free, which entails a large shortfall for the Russian budget. We are now reconfiguring our tax system in this field, and gradually increasing the severance tax (mineral extraction tax) simultaneously reducing the export customs duties. Due to these changes, Belarus is indeed losing the premium it had from the zero customs duties and the subsequent export of oil products. This is our domestic policy.
This has nothing to do with Belarus. It depends on a number of other circumstances – the Government of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Energy consider it better for us to regulate the industry differently, in a different way, bearing in mind our budget losses arising from the activities of economic operators within the country. But we understand all these problems, and are conducting a dialogue with our colleagues and we will continue doing so.
Allow me to remind you that we support our Belarusian friends through so many channels. Belarus has received about $7 billion or so in loans alone, as far as I know. And we will continue to do this. But all this should be done through dialogue, and we are ready for this dialogue, and we are ready to open our market further. You know that Russia accounts for almost 90 percent of all agricultural exports from Belarus. And so on and so forth. This is just routine work; in fact, we are working very smoothly, doing balanced work in this area.
I repeat once again, we are close to agreement on some matters; on others, agreements have not been reached yet. We will continue working.
Dmitry Peskov: Let us move away from our European borders. I see Magadan over there. Go ahead, Magadan. Please stand up and introduce yourself.
(Remark from the audience.)
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Dmitry Peskov: Thank you. And now Magadan, please.
Olga Burlya: Good afternoon, I am Olga Burlya, Kolyma Plus regional TV company, Magadan. Thank you from Kolyma residents, Mr President, for your support for the Far East and care for the Magadan Region, in particular.
Let me go back to the Far East mortgage. Our colleagues from Omsk may have it, too, whereas the programme has already been launched in the Far Eastern Federal District, we already have the first borrowers. It is an excellent initiative with an attractive interest rate of two percent.
But could it happen that the banks start toughening the conditions and requirements for such unprofitable and inconvenient clients? We already know that problems can arise when using the maternity capital to make mortgage payments. Families with children are refused mortgages by large banks.
What are the guarantees for potential participants in such state-support programmes? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Banks do not refuse to use maternity capital for resolving mortgage issues. It is just that the procedures for receiving the money are too complicated and create problems for people. You are absolutely right here. The situation undoubtedly must change. We have to cut the number of days needed to transfer the maternity capital as the down payment or as a mortgage payment and so on.
In general, such decisions are being made now, the number of days will be halved. But, as some of my colleagues think, this is also not enough. What do we need to do here? We have to expand the use of the so-called electronic turnover so that the relations between the bank’s client and the Pension Fund, which channels the maternity capital, and respective developers should not involve a person. Thus a person can just submit an application, and the banks will immediately take matters up with the Pension Fund regarding how much money and when they will receive. In this case, it can be done within one day, and we can and must do it. We discussed it quite recently with my colleagues, and we will do that.
Concerning the two percent mortgage interest rate for the Far East. Why should banks refuse? We subsidise that from the federal budget. This interest rate will not bring any losses to them; on the contrary, it is a state guarantee. So I do not expect any problems here. However, we will be monitoring the practice, the implementation of these measures.
Dmitry Peskov: Here are our colleagues from the foreign media. Introduce yourself, please.
Christian Esch: Good afternoon, Mr President!
My name is Christian Esch, I head Spiegel magazine’s Moscow office.
I have a question that concerns a matter that worries and annoys Germany, the murder of a citizen of Georgia of Chechen ethnicity, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili. The information coming from Moscow and Berlin is decidedly different.
Therefore, I wanted to ask you, first, about the killer. Germany says it did not receive proper information from Russia. It turned out that this person was identical to a person who had already been in prison in Russia. So there must be information about him.
The second question concerns the murder victim. You mentioned in Paris at a news conference following the Normandy meeting that Russia repeatedly asked for the extradition of this person. The German foreign minister recently confirmed that there have been no requests neither from Russia’s Interior Ministry nor through other channels. So who is right, you or him?
Vladimir Putin: Both of us, because these issues have been discussed at the special services level more than once. Indeed, there was no official request from the prosecutor’s office, because our authorities believed that doing so would be pointless, since they received a negative answer.
Once again, I will repeat what I said at the news conference in Paris. He was an absolute bloody killer. He killed 98 people, just think about that, 98 people in the Caucasus in one day. Many countries declare national mourning with many fewer deaths. He participated in bombings in the Moscow Metro. And the list of his crimes goes on. Indeed, we have repeatedly raised this issue at the special services level.
With regard to cooperation, I believe the main thing we should understand about this is that cooperation should be full and it should be a two-way street.
In Syria, we are witnessing developments in the camps and prisons where ISIS militants are held. Natives of Central Asia account for most of the foreigners there, followed by Russia. But there are many immigrants from Western Europe as well, including France and the Federal Republic of Germany.
We see that the people you just mentioned – terrorists and murderers – walk freely around European capitals. As far as I know, he was killed in central Berlin. Picture such a person strolling down the streets of a European capital. Would you like the prisoners from these camps to come to you? Will you also let them walk freely around your cities?
To avoid this, we must establish joint and highly effective work. This is what we are calling for. We hope it will be like that eventually. This does not mean that such work does not exist. It does. But its scope and nature are still insufficient.
Incidentally, at some point, we warned the Americans about the Tsarnaev brothers, or whatever their name is. We told them directly. First, we asked to extradite them, as well, and then told the Americans that they were a threat. They ignored us. The brothers then committed a notorious terrorist attack during the Boston marathon, and people died. Do you see my point? And you have bandits like that walking around Berlin.
Dmitry Peskov: Introduce yourself, please.
Svetlana Drobysheva: Svetlana Drobysheva, Editor-in-Chief of the School, Gymnasium, Lyceum magazine and author and former employee of Ogonyok, Rossiyaskaya Gazeta under the name Seregina, and even Pravda. I have worked everywhere, even in Tribuna. I have taken off my glasses, because I had lost the hope that I would get the floor.
Mr President, first of all, I would like to present to you a copy of the October 2000 edition of Ogonyok magazine, with my address to you. It is titled Where is the Monument to the Teacher? It is for the public and for you as the newly elected President.
First, thank you for your quick response. The monument was erected in the capital of Daghestan; my mother was an innovative teacher who gave 49 years of her life to teaching. I would like to be brief, but I have two questions about the war, for Victory Day.
Dmitry Peskov: Let us show consideration for our colleagues. Go ahead, please.
Svetlana Drobysheva: Yes, well, if I may, I will ask for your help to present my gift and ask all the questions I have.
I would like to ask you to pardon the person who erected this monument back in 2006. It is called Monument to a Russian Teacher, and it is 25 metres high. The man is Said Amirov, he is in prison now. According to numerous data, he was falsely accused. This is the first amnesty.
I have a second name here; it is the former head of Fryazino.
There are two questions regarding the spring of 1945. Perhaps we will touch upon May 9, the 75th anniversary of Victory, and what awaits us.
First, I want to ask you, Mr President, to award the status of the Hero of Russia to Sofya Arakcheyeva, a scout of the Znamensky squad who was tortured to death in Orel Region in February 1942. I believe Sergei Mironov asked you about this.
Secondly, to immortalise her memory in films, music and television. Newspapers wrote about this a lot, thank you all. Thanks to Potomsky, former Governor of Orel Region, who erected a monument to Sofya Arakcheyeva in Orel Region.
If possible, I would like to ask for five or seven passes to the Victory Parade for those who collected signatures, such as teacher Israilov and Deputy Governor of Tambov Region: all the signatures were collected in 2013 for you.
And my second question. I will not take much time…
Dmitry Peskov: You know, I am sorry, but you have already done this.
Svetlana Drobysheva: Thank you. I am sorry.
Dmitry Peskov: Respect you colleagues. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Speaking about the Heroes of Russia, I have to look into this; I do not have the materials at the moment. I will ask my colleagues to take your materials and look into the archives.
As for a pardon for Amirov, yes, I receive a lot of requests and I will look into this. But there is a court ruling, and his crimes were proven during the trial; in any case, there is no doubt. The pardon is a different thing, which is done on different grounds. I know about this and we will think about it.
Svetlana Drobysheva: (without microphone.)
Vladimir Putin: Do you want a dialogue or my answer? Let us see. Give us the materials, please.
As for your request about the Parade, please tell us who you want to bring and it will be our pleasure to work on this.
Dmitry Peskov: Good. Thank you.
We have Channel Five; I think I saw them here. Where is Channel Five? Raise your hand, please. No need to shout. Left side, Mr President, Channel Five, St Petersburg.
Yevgeny Gusev: Good afternoon, Mr President.
My name is Yevgeny Gusev. I represent the Izvestia multimedia information centre and Channel Five.
My question concerns sanctions and political pressure from the European Union. Here is one telling fact. Latvia recently banned several Russian channels, including Channel Five. The situation is very unpleasant. To be honest, our colleagues in Estonia are involved in a conflict now, and in other countries as well.
The situation has not improved of late, if anything, it has worsened. We can see this in the attitude towards Russia in the European Union. Do you think it can change for the better, especially since we all understand that these sanctions are pointless? And how much does this pressure affect Russia, and what impact will it have in the future?
Vladimir Putin: We have repeatedly discussed this topic. There are various assessments of the consequences of these sanctions for all participants in this unpleasant process, but they all boil down to the same thing. For the European Union, the losses amount to some of 50 billion euros. I do not remember exactly, but I believe the World Bank estimated around $50 million; for Germany, I believe, the losses amount to about 750 million a month or so.
These are major losses. This is not just about money, some abstract sums. This is about jobs, the loss of markets, including the Russian market. Other participants in international economic relations are coming to our market.
We actually support a full normalisation, especially since none of that really works effectively. Indeed, this policy causes us problems, but there are benefits, too, and they are also obvious. One of them is the development of agriculture, a leap in development: 24 billion in export revenue – this is simply unbelievable! No one would have believed this a few years ago. We spent a lot of money, trillions if we add up all sources, on import substitution, but we used it well. Just look at the result.
For example, Russia has never had its own helicopter engine industry. We have one now. We have built facilities, including the plant in St Petersburg – above all in St Petersburg. We did not make ship engines; there was simply no such industry in Russia. It is a whole separate industry now. We have it now, a next-generation industry, operating effectively. We have launched an entire industry, with its science base, school, and production. In the field of defence, we have made great strides. There is still work to do, but the breakthrough is very noticeable, obvious even.
Therefore, it would be better, of course, to eliminate politically motivated restrictions in economic activities. They result in huge damage to world trade and the global economy. There are analyses of this. Say, the US imposes restrictions on China – in reality they are also actually sanctions – this affects the overall world economy, and world trade levels promptly drop.
If this continues, trade will continue dropping. But there seems to be some progress, thank God, in their relations. We can also be harmed by this, because it affects us, it affects the demand for our major export commodities, etc.
So there is nothing good about this. But our economy – I can say this with full responsibility – has been able to adapt to external shock, while our national currency has actually become much more stable even with possible fuel price fluctuations. In this respect, our economy and our national currency are somewhat “detached” from world oil markets.
The defence industry. Go ahead, young lady, with what you have on the defence industry.
Lidia Novoseltseva: Good afternoon, Mr President.
My name is Lidia Novoseltseva, I am from Rostov Region.
Defence industry companies have been successfully operating in our region since Soviet times. The latest advances in military science and in the defence industry are quite capable of a technological breakthroughs. Can you tell us if there are measures under consideration…
I am sorry, I am very nervous.
Vladimir Putin: It is OK.
Lidia Novoseltseva: Are there additional short-term measures under consideration for the support and development of defence industry competitiveness?
And a wish, if I may. Next year is full of anniversaries, including the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory, and the 450th anniversary of the Cossacks’ allegiance to the Russian state. The city of Novocherkassk in Rostov Region will host the World Cossack Congress. You have always supported Rostov Region and the Cossacks. We would like to invite you to the event.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you for the invitation. This is very interesting. I will look into my schedule.
Regarding the defence industry and the developments there, first, the key is that we have not only maintained it but it is also progressing at a very fast and strong pace with the latest scientific and technological developments.
The first thing we did in this area was upgrade the manufacturing base. We allocated huge funds, I think it was 3 trillion rubles, to upgrade this industry. And we actually created cutting-edge weapons systems on this base using new design. We accomplished this expeditiously and consistently. And we have achieved positive results, as life and experience show.
One of the key issues now is the debt burden in the defence industry. I am not going to scare you with the numbers, but they are significant. It is a matter of billions of rubles. The Government, the Central Bank, all the shareholders in the process, including the defence industry companies and the government officials in charge, are now working to untangle this knot. There are feasible market solutions. I will not get ahead of myself.
Just a few days ago, I had another meeting with my colleagues on this issue, and I instructed them to draft the final version of the solution within a week. These are big issues for the people working in the defence industry, and for the overall economy, because the defence industry is to a certain degree a hi-tech industry driver. We will continue to develop it.
Dmitry Peskov: In the middle – Gazeta.Ru. The first row. Please, pass the microphone.
Margarita Gerasyukova: Good afternoon, Mr President.
I am Margarita Gerasyukova, from Gazeta.Ru.
This past May you said if anyone can establish a monopoly in artificial intelligence – the results will be clear – that person would rule the world. Can you describe Russia’s position today in the race for the development of artificial intelligence technologies? Where are we now – are we competitive or are we catching up? And in which future or maybe already achieved projects can the average Russian see the application of artificial intelligence technology?
Vladimir Putin: The average person can already see applications in banking, for example. Sberbank is active in applying digital technologies in its customer relations and it has a practical application.
In general, we have serious competitive advantages here too. I mean an advanced mathematics school and everything related to it: digital technologies based on mathematics. We have just discussed, your colleague asked and I answered, the use of maternal capital. If we develop these technologies, we will have fewer technical problems like this.
The modern concept of artificial intelligence is still being developed. There are several definitions of artificial intelligence and the highest is a spontaneously developing, so-called “thinking” intelligence.
We have made progress in some areas, and in some, we have not done enough. But there are some obvious things: apart from banking, there are, say, unmanned aircraft and autonomous vehicles. Our Yandex and KAMAZ vehicles have already logged over a million kilometers.
Yes, so far this is being done on a limited basis; yes, so far it is not being applied comprehensively in everyday life. However, these are the first steps, without which development is simply not possible. These are technologies that can be used in almost every area of manufacturing and life.
We believe, and I continue to believe that the most important question for our long-term development is the question of national security and the survival of the Russian state in general. This is because the capabilities of artificial intelligence will influence both defence and the pace of economic development.
We have drawn up a programme and created a special pool of potentially interested investors and participants in this process. Each has received an assignment, each knows what to do. There is a national project in this area and the resources for it have been allocated. Therefore, this is one of the most important of our development areas. I am not even talking about the obvious things related to the quality of manufacturing and labour productivity.
This is especially important for us, given our huge territory and relatively small population – 146 million; if we do not move in this direction, we will not be able even to guard our territory properly. This is the point. These are absolutely substantive things. This is one of the key areas of our development.
Dmitry Peskov: Perhaps let us get back to the foreign media. Turkey, Anadolu Agency, please.
Ali Cura: Thank you. Ali Jura, Anadolu Agency.
Russia has stressed many times that it supports the legitimate government, in particular, in Syria and other countries where a crisis situation remains. There is also a crisis in Libya. There is a legitimate government recognised by the international community there. The Western media say that Russia supports the so-called Libyan National Army, that Russian mercenaries support them.
Would you comment on this? Will you discuss this with President Erdogan, including the Syrian topic? What else will you discuss? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Do you believe what is written in the Western media? Read what they write about Turkey and you will change your mind.
Seriously speaking, of course, we are aware of the situation. We know that various countries have relations with both sides in the conflict, and the levels of relations are different.
Russia actually maintains contacts with al-Sarraj’s government and stays in touch with Marshal Haftar. We have a constant dialogue with our partners, including those in Turkey, Europe, and other countries. We understand that this is a very acute issue.
You also know very well who drove the country to this state. Russia was against using military force in Libya, and the UN Security Council Resolution on this prohibited former President of Libya Muammar al-Gaddafi from using the aviation against the opposition, which was armed, by the way. Instead, the Western coalition started using its air force against Libya, perverting the UN Security Council Resolution. As a result of this, a prospering country whose quality of life was close to some European standards is now in ruins, in chaos, torn by an unending civil war. It is very difficult to determine who is right and who is wrong.
In fact, the Russian authorities are in touch with al-Sarraj and Haftar, as I have said. We think that the best solution for all the parties to the conflict would be one that would allow them to end the hostilities and come to an agreement on who, how and on what terms will run the country. I believe that Libya is interested in this.
This is what we will definitely discuss with our partners in Europe. I have just talked about this in a telephone conversation with the German chancellor and the President of France. President Erdogan and I have also discussed this. A Turkish delegation will arrive in Moscow in the next few daysfor a working visit, and their agenda will include this issue. I hope we will find solutions that will be accepted by Libya and the Libyan people, and I hope that together with Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salame we will find the final solution.
Dmitry Peskov: PRIME Agency, they have the smallest sign.
Maria Balyuk: Maria Balyuk, PRIME Agency.
Mr President, my question is: why does the state change the pension system rules every several years, and why has it been freezing the pension contributions of citizens for several years? Maybe it is worth consolidating long-term rules that will not change anymore and that will support citizens’ trust in the pension system? And is it true that a new pension reform is coming?
Vladimir Putin: As for the pension system, all the decisions have been made and written into law, and no changes will be made there. No new pension reform is being developed or even discussed in the Government, the Executive Office or anywhere.
Certain proposals of the Finance Ministry in this area apply only to [pension] savings, which in fact can be considered investments. We are simply speaking about their protection.
Dmitry Peskov: You know, we have not yet given the floor to NTV. He has almost lost hope. You do not have to introduce yourself.
Vladimir Kondratyev: Thank you.
Mr President, I have a question on domestic policy. The demographic situation, as we know, was complicated this year, as well as last year, but this year we see a record negative result. This is connected, of course, primarily with the 1990s, with the low birth rate. But is it now necessary to make up for the population decline with an influx of immigrants from the former Soviet republics, especially from the southern republics? This does not please a significant part of Russians.
And how will the current Demography national project help here? Or maybe the state has other effective measures, for example, simplifying or, perhaps, easing legislation on granting citizenship to Russian-speaking compatriots?
Vladimir Putin: In my opinion, much more can be done concerning migration.
There are only two approaches (in the world and in general) to solving the demographic problem in the world. They are an increase in the birth rate, natural population growth, and immigration. In Canada, for example, a whole ministry deals with immigration, if I am not mistaken. But what do they do? They do not just accept everyone; they accept people of a certain age, with a certain health status and level of education. In fact, we also need to approach migration in this way.
Of course, it is easier for people who know and respect Russian culture and who speak Russian to adapt to the situation in Russia. This is why it is easier, for example, for Belarusians, Ukrainians and Moldovans, because it is simpler for them. And the locals take it easier. There are 3 million Ukrainians living in Russia, and almost the same number came after the tragic events in Donbass.
It is more difficult to adapt for those who come, for example, from Central Asia. What can we do? We have to introduce our education systems, open Russian language courses, Russian schools and university branches, so that those who come here feel more comfortable and do not irritate the locals, which can happen when they see disrespect for our culture and history. This is not only true for those who come from Central Asia but also for domestic migrants, for example, from the North Caucasus.
We were talking about Chechnya or any other republic, Daghestan, for example. Some people behave in a way they never would at home. This can be irritating, but it does not mean we should ban people from moving around. The economy requires an influx of immigrants, and the lack of qualified people in the labour market is an objective factor that holds the economy back today.
We must do this smartly, systematically. It is simply necessary that the people in the Russian regions work there, so that people who move from one Russian region to another feel comfortable and at the same time respect local traditions, laws and rules. I believe this can be done and must be done, if approached systematically.
Dmitry Peskov: We have been working for two and a half hours now.
Let us give Crimea a chance to ask a question. Please stand up. Stand up and raise your hand. No, not you. Yes, you, young lady, please, go ahead.
Irina Ivanchenko: Mr President,
First, Crimeans are expecting to see you next week in Crimea, where, we hear, you will be opening a railway across the Crimean Bridge.
Vladimir Putin: That is right.
Irina Ivanchenko: My question is about ill children. I am one of those Russians who start their mornings by sending out text messages collecting money for sick children’s treatments. I cannot sit back and watch the televised reports, they tear up my heart and soul, and it is impossible to live and breathe after watching them.
Please tell me whether it is possible to have Russian children treated and rehabilitated free of charge, without any preliminary conditions or benefits? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, you are aware that healthcare is free in our country, just like education. There are segments covered by privately owned healthcare institutions. Therefore, we are talking about the need for significant changes in primary care, since people should be able to receive medical assistance free of charge. This applies to everyone, including children, especially children. This is what happens in the vast majority of cases. By the way, I already mentioned that we had significantly reduced child mortality. This is one way to resolve demographic problems.
I will get back to your question, as I have something to add to my answer.
You mentioned 1999. Look what happened then. I have already mentioned it many times, and the demographers are well aware of it. We had two major demographic troughs. It is a horrible thing to say, but the total birth rate stood at 1.1 in 1943–1944 and 1999, as if there was a war, the same rate. A major decline, indeed. We are now haunted by this. Every 20 years, a thin generation of those born in these years enters adulthood, the childbearing age, but by definition, there are few of them, both men and women.
Men do not give birth to children, women do. Therefore, I want to share the latest data with you. The number of women aged 20 to 29 has decreased by 4.5 million over the past few years. These are objective numbers. What we need to do is strive to ensure that the birth rate increases through second and third births, etc. We must create proper conditions for people with children, as their lives are not easy.
If there are more questions on this, I am ready to answer them. We have planned a system of measures to support families with the first child, and maternity capital – we have extended the legitimate uses of maternity capital – and made changes to the entitlement criteria for receiving child benefits. Before, it was one and a half minimum subsistence baskets per family member to be entitled to the benefit; now we have expanded to two minimun wages. This will dramatically increase the number of recipients of this benefit. And there is a package of benefits. But still, we are looking at what else can be done. As you know, we have made a decision on mortgages. If a third child is born, the state immediately gives 450,000 rubles so the family can apply for a mortgage.
We added some regions that previously were not included in this support for families with children, in the Urals and Siberia (answering questions from our colleagues from Siberia). Now, there too, people can receive additional support.
I know this is not enough; we need to generally increase living standards, on the whole, to achieve growth in wages and people’s real incomes. The general sentiment, family planning and broader planning horizons will depend on the economy.
Of course, we need to make sure that children are treated with special concern, and we are trying to do just that. With medicines, for example, we have separated children’s pharmaceuticals into a special category (which was not the case before). But this is far from the only thing we have done.
As for charitable activities such as crowdfunding calls on our leading channels, projects to help specific children – these calls and projects cannot be prohibited. Helping even one or two children matters. If this saves at least one life – it is great, and God will bless you when you appear before Him; it will be good. Yet, these activities change little in the bigger picture. What needs to be done is to improve children’s healthcare and bring it to a higher level; this is true.
Dmitry Peskov: I see Life News over there.
Vladimir Putin: Hold on. Domestic violence. Do you want to ask about the law?
Dmitry Peskov: Go ahead. The third row in the centre.
Elina Zhgutova: Good afternoon. Mr President, Mr Peskov and the world watching us now.
It turns out that we do not have any problems more pressing today than domestic violence. The Federation Council drafted a law it posted on its official site.
And the Federation Council got more messages from citizens than it gets in one year. The Russian Orthodox Church is opposed to the draft law, but families with many children sign along. The LGBT community, feminist organisations and even the sex workers’ trade union are collecting signatures to support this law.
You said now that our demographics, the demography curve went into a tailspin …
Vladimir Putin: It is not a tailspin, but a predicted decline, an obvious trend.
Elina Zhgutova: We nevertheless say that we must somehow resolve demographic issues. However, this law contains provisions that allow officials to enter any family. That is, there is a certain number of scoundrels and sadists, but forgive me, we are being fed deliberately overblown numbers. I personally on behalf of my news agency sent an enquiry to the Interior Ministry’s Main Information and Analysis Centre and I was given the numbers that are totally at odds with what we are being fed by that infamous Anna Centre which is one of the main …
Vladimir Putin: Your question.
Elina Zhgutova: Your opinion. Have you read the text and do you think it will be the last nail in the coffin of our demographics? It actually containsprovisions for total control over the family.
The question is, what is your opinion? Have you read the draft law because it is the biggest… A poll conducted by the Federation Council shows that the majority of the 11,000 people polled are against it whereas VTSIOM states that 70 percent of citizens support it. However, the latter poll does not imply that the respondents read the draft law whereas the Federation Council poll presupposes it. People do not breed in captivity, we all know that.
Vladimir Putin: They do not breed in captivity, that is true.
Elina Zhgutova: I called it juvenile justice for adults.
Vladimir Putin: They do breed in captivity– babies are born in prison and in correctional facilities. But it does not matter. So you want my opinion, don’t you?
I have not read the draft law but Valentina Matviyenko briefed me in detail. What do I think about this matter? I have mixed feelings. One cannot be forced to love, first and foremost.
In the past people turned to their trade unions or party committees and demanded that these organisations bring order to families, rein in a spouse, mostly men, of course. But I am not aware if all that had any positive effect. But what I resolutely oppose is any violence, including in families, and of course, against children and women.
This is not just a sign of a very low level of general culture when a stronger person starts pushing for their rights with fists and crude physical violence. There is nothing good in it. Actually, a number of felonies and misdemeanours can be prosecuted by applying the existing legislative provisions, including hooliganism, battery and grave bodily harm. All that is provided for in the current legislation.
But indeed, you are right in saying that the overwhelming majority, over 70 percent of people support this law. I really do not understand if they support this law or they are opposed to violence.
Elina Zhgutova: Of course, exactly.
Vladimir Putin: I am also opposed to violence, just like those 70 plus percent of our citizens. Do we need this law? Let us discuss it reasonably, in public; it must go through this sort of a check. We must understand what is written in each of its articles, try to predict the results that would emerge after the adoption and application of the law, and then take the final decision.