Full text of Putin speech and answers at Valdai Discussion Club

Russian President Vladimir Putin has delivered a wide-ranging keynote speech and answered questions at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on Thursday.

His annual encounter with hundreds of reporters lasted a record 3 hours and 40 minutes. Most of the questioning was on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Russia refers to it as “special military operation”), world order, foreign policy & relations, economy, sanctions, familiar grievances and criticisms of the hegemonic “West” etc.

As usual, he devoted the best part of his opening speech to Russian values and castigated the West for “its so-called cancel culture” and for losing touch with its traditional roots.

Below is the full text transcript of the speech and lengthy press-conference in English:

Fyodor Lukyanov: Dear friends, distinguished guests!

We are opening the final plenary session of the 19th annual forum of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

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

Vladimir Vladimirovich, hello!

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

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I can guess.

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

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

KEYNOTE SPEECH

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Dear participants of the plenary session! Ladies and Gentlemen! Friends!

I got a little acquainted with the discussions that took place here in the previous days – very interesting and informative. I hope you did not regret that you came to Russia and communicate with each other.

Good to see you all.

On the platform of the Valdai Club, we have talked more than once about those shifts – serious, big shifts that have already taken place and are taking place in the world, about the risks that are associated with the degradation of world institutions, with the erosion of the principles of collective security, with the substitution of international law for the so-called rules – I wanted to say, it’s clear who invented it, but, perhaps, this is also inaccurate – it’s generally not clear who invented it, what these rules are based on, what is inside these rules.

Apparently, there is only an attempt to approve one rule, so that those in power – now they are talking about power, I’m talking about global power – have the opportunity to live without any rules at all and they are allowed to do everything, everything would get away with whatever they do . Here, in fact, are these very rules, which, as the people say, they constantly talk about to us, that is, they constantly talk about it.

The value of the Valdai discussions lies in the fact that a variety of assessments and forecasts are heard here. How true they were, life itself shows, the most strict and objective examiner is life. Here it shows how correct our preliminary discussions were in previous years.

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

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

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

In this regard, let me remind you of Russia’s proposals to Western partners to build confidence and build a system of collective security. In December of last year, they were once again simply thrown aside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even at the height of the Cold War, at the peak of the confrontation between systems, ideologies and military rivalry, it never even occurred to anyone to deny the very existence of culture, art, science of other peoples – their opponents. It didn’t even cross anyone’s mind! Yes, certain restrictions were imposed on educational, scientific, cultural and, unfortunately, sports ties. Nevertheless, both the Soviet and American leaders of that time had enough understanding that the humanitarian sphere must be treated delicately, studying and respecting the opponent, sometimes borrowing something from him in order to preserve, at least for the future, the basis for sound, fruitful relations.

And now what is happening? At one time, the Nazis reached the point of burning books, and now Western “guardians of liberalism and progress” have fallen to the prohibitions of Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky. The so-called cancel culture, but in fact – we have already talked about this many times – the real cancel culture mows down everything that is alive and creative, does not allow free thought to develop in any of the areas: neither in economics, nor in politics, nor in culture.

The very liberal ideology today has changed beyond recognition. If initially classical liberalism understood the freedom of every person as the freedom to say what you want, to do what you want, then already in the 20th century liberals began to declare that the so-called open society has enemies – it turns out that an open society has enemies – and the freedom of such enemies can and should be limited, if not abolished. Now they have reached the point of absurdity, when any alternative point of view is declared subversive propaganda and a threat to democracy.

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

All this was prophetically predicted by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky back in the 19th century. One of the characters in his novel The Possessed, the nihilist Shigalev, described the bright future he invented in this way: “leaving boundless freedom, I conclude with boundless despotism” – this, by the way, is what our Western opponents came to. He is echoed by another protagonist of the novel – Peter Verkhovensky, arguing that widespread betrayal, denunciation, espionage is necessary, that society does not need talents and higher abilities: “Cicero’s tongue is cut off, Copernicus’s eyes are gouged out, Shakespeare is stoned.” This is what our Western opponents are coming to. What is this if not the modern Western culture of cancellation?

There were great thinkers, and I am grateful, to be honest, to my assistants who found these quotes.

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

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

Here I would like to recall another Russian philosopher – Alexander Alexandrovich Zinoviev, whose centenary we will celebrate just the other day, on October 29. Even more than 20 years ago, he said that for the survival of Western civilization at the level reached by it, “the whole planet is necessary as an environment for existence, all the resources of mankind are necessary.” That’s what they claim, and that’s exactly what it is.

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

Or another example of the substitution of concepts and meanings. Western ideologists and politicians have been saying and repeating to the whole world for many years: there is no alternative to democracy. True, they were talking about the Western, so-called liberal model of democracy. All other options and forms of democracy they scornfully and – I want to emphasize this – through the lip, arrogantly rejected. This manner has developed a long time ago, since colonial times: everyone is considered second-class people, and themselves are exceptional. And so it continues for centuries to this day.

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

And what is the position of the “civilized” – in quotation marks – West? If you are a democrat, then it would seem that you should welcome such a natural desire for freedom of billions of people – but no! The West calls it a subversion of the liberal rules-based order, launches economic and trade wars, sanctions, boycotts, color revolutions, prepares and conducts all sorts of coups.

One of them led to tragic consequences in Ukraine in 2014 – they supported it, they even said how much money they spent on this coup. In general, they are simply dumbfounded, they are not shy about anything. They took Soleimani and killed an Iranian general. It was possible to treat Soleimani as you like, but this is an official of another state! They killed on the territory of a third country and said: yes, we killed. What is it in general? Where do we live?

Out of habit, Washington continues to call the current world order American-style liberal, but in fact, every day this notorious “order” multiplies chaos and, I might add, becomes more and more intolerant even towards the Western countries themselves, towards their attempts to show any independence. Everything is suppressed right on the vine, and they impose more sanctions against their own allies – without any hesitation! And they agree with everything, lowering their heads low.

For example, the July proposals of the Hungarian parliamentarians to consolidate the commitment to European Christian values ​​and culture in the EU treaty were perceived not even as a fronde, but as a direct hostile sabotage. What is this? What does it mean? Yes, some people like it, some people don’t.

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

But not here. Why not? At least they would discuss. Marvelous!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Western elites think they can inject into the minds of their people, their societies, strange, in my opinion, newfangled trends like dozens of genders and gay pride parades, then so be it. Let them do what they want! But what they certainly have no right to do is to require others to follow in the same direction.

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

I will add that multipolarity is a real, and in fact, the only chance for the same Europe to restore its political and economic subjectivity. To be honest, we all understand, and they speak about it in the same Europe directly: today this legal personality of Europe – how to put it mildly, so as not to offend anyone – is very limited.

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

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

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

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

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

You just need to clearly understand that there are, as I said before, two West – at least two, and maybe more, but at least two: the West of traditional, primarily Christian, values, freedom, patriotism, the richest culture, now, Islamic values ​​too – a significant part of the population of many Western countries profess Islam. This West is close to us in some ways, we have many things in common, even ancient roots. But there is another West – aggressive, cosmopolitan, neo-colonial, acting as a tool of the neo-liberal elites. Russia, of course, will never put up with the dictates of this West.

In 2000, after being elected President, what I faced, I will always remember this – remember what price we paid for destroying the terrorist nest in the North Caucasus, which the West then practically openly supported. All adults here, most of you present in this hall, understand what I am talking about. We know that this is how it was in practice: financial, political, informational support. We have all experienced it.

Moreover, [the West] not only actively supported terrorists on Russian territory, but also nurtured this threat in many ways. We know it. Nevertheless, after the stabilization of the situation, when the main terrorist gangs were defeated, thanks also to the courage of the Chechen people, we decided not to look back, not to pretend to be offended, to go forward, to build relationships even with those who actually worked against us, to establish and develop relations with all who want it, on the basis of mutual benefit and respect for each other.

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

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

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

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

And I want to quote here the words of the great Russian philosopher Nikolai Yakovlevich Danilevsky, who believed that progress does not consist in everyone going in the same direction, as some of our opponents are pushing us – in this case, progress would soon stop, says Danilevsky, – but is to “produce the entire field, which is the field of the historical activity of mankind, in all directions.” And he adds that no civilization can be proud to represent the highest point of development.

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

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

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

This will rule out the possibility of abuse in the new global financial infrastructure, and will make it possible to effectively, profitably and safely manage international transactions without the dollar and other so-called reserve currencies. Moreover, using the dollar as a weapon, the United States and the West as a whole discredited the institution of international financial reserves. First, he devalued them due to inflation in the dollar and euro zone, and then completely – tsap-scratch – pocketed our gold and foreign exchange reserves.

The transition to settlements in national currencies will be actively gaining momentum – inevitably. This, of course, depends on the state of the issuers of these currencies, on the state of their economies, but they will strengthen, and such calculations, of course, will gradually begin to dominate. Such is the logic of the sovereign economic and financial policy of the multipolar world.

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

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

How are things today? If the West sells medicines or seeds of food crops to other countries, then it orders the killing of national pharmaceuticals and selection, in fact, in practice it all comes down to this; supplies machine tools and equipment – destroys local mechanical engineering. I, while still the Prime Minister, understood this: as soon as the market is opened for a certain product group, that’s it, the local manufacturer “lay down”, and it’s almost impossible to raise your head. That’s how relationships are built. Thus, the capture of markets and resources takes place, countries are deprived of their technological and scientific potential. This is not progress, but enslavement, the reduction of economies to a primitive level.

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

Let me emphasize again: sovereignty, original development in no way mean isolation, autarky, but, on the contrary, presuppose active, mutually beneficial cooperation on fair and equal principles.

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

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

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

In this regard, it may be worth considering that the structure of the United Nations, including its Security Council, reflects precisely the diversity of world regions to a greater extent. After all, much more will depend on Asia, Africa, Latin America in the world of tomorrow than is commonly believed today, and such an increase in their influence is certainly positive.

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

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

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

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

Dear colleagues!

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

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

This state of affairs is fraught with global conflicts or a whole chain of conflicts, which is a threat to humanity, including the West itself. Constructively, constructively resolve this contradiction – that is today’s main historical task.

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

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

Thank you very much.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Thank you very much, Vladimir Vladimirovich, for such a comprehensive text of the speech.

I cannot spontaneously not cling to your finale, since you have remembered the revolutionary situation, the tops and the bottoms. Those who are a little older, all this was taught at school, of course. And who do you associate yourself with more: with the tops or with the bottoms?

Vladimir Putin:  From the bottom, of course, but I am from the bottom.

My mother was… As you know, I spoke about this many times: a working family. Father – a worker, worked as a foreman recently, graduated from a technical school; my mother did not have an education, even a secondary one, she was simply a worker – and she worked as a nanny in a hospital, and worked with anyone: she worked as a janitor and a night watchman. She did not want to leave me in kindergarten, in a nursery.

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

F.Lukyanov:  So, at the world level, you are on the side of those who “do not want”?

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  I understand.

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

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

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

But they have happened before. After all, what is the essence of these ongoing events? New centers of power are emerging. I talk about it all the time, and not only me – is it really about me? They occur under objective circumstances. Some of the former centers of power are already fading away. Now I don’t even want to say why this is happening. But this is a natural process of growth, death, change. New centers of power are emerging, mainly in Asia, of course. Africa is ahead. Yes, Africa is a very poor continent so far, but look how colossal the potential is! Latin America. All this will definitely develop completely. These tectonic changes are taking place.

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

But it doesn’t matter, what matters is that tectonic changes are taking place and will continue to take place. Our actions have nothing to do with it. Yes, indeed, the ongoing events simply highlight more clearly and push some processes that begin to develop, perhaps faster than it has been so far. But in general, they are inevitable, and this would happen regardless of how Russia would act in the Ukrainian direction.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Speaking  about our state, did you learn anything new about it during the year?

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

What is it connected with? This is due to the strengthening of our sovereignty, and in all areas, and in this case, primarily in the economic sphere. Indeed, quite recently, we ourselves were anxiously thinking that we were turning into some kind of semi-colony, we could not do anything without our Western partners: we could not make financial calculations, we would not have technologies, there would be no markets, no sales markets, no sources for acquiring the latest technologies – there is nothing; they only need to click, and everything falls apart with us. But no, nothing collapsed, and the fundamental foundations for the existence of the Russian economy and the Russian Federation itself turned out to be much stronger than anyone thought about it – even, maybe, ourselves.

This is purification, this is an understanding of one’s capabilities, the ability to quickly reorganize in the current situation and the objective need not only to speed up the processes of import substitution, but also to replace those who leave our market … But it turned out that in most areas our business intercepts all those who leave. They still whisper in your ear: we will leave for a short while, we will return soon. Well, how? They sell multibillion-dollar property for one dollar. Why? Management resell. What is this? So, there is an agreement with the management that they will return. How else? What, do they make such gifts to two or three specific individuals? Of course not. We know these sentiments.

Therefore, this is an extremely important thing: we ourselves have finally realized – we keep saying that we are a great country – we [realized that we are] a great country, we can do it.

We understand the negative medium-term consequences associated with the twisting of technologies. That’s how we got all the critical technologies going around anyway! Kokomovskie lists seem to have been canceled, but they actually operated for decades. Now they have aggravated, of course, – nothing, it turned out what we are getting, it turns out.

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

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

Vladimir Putin:  No.

F. Lukyanov:  That is, organizational conclusions are not needed? Shouldn’t there be any special changes?

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Excellent.

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

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

The second important thing is that, with the support of their Western curators, the representatives of the Kyiv regime publicly refused to implement the Minsk agreements. The leader said that he did not like a single point in the Minsk agreements. It’s publicly said! Other senior officials have explicitly stated that they have no intention of doing so. The former President said that he signed the Minsk agreements, but proceeded from the fact that they would never be implemented. What more is needed?

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

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

But if we recognize, include in the Russian state – by their will, we know the mood of the people – and these same shelling and the next military operations being prepared by the Kyiv regime continue and are inevitable … They also carried out two large-scale military operations that ended unsuccessfully, but they were. And the shelling would certainly continue. What were we supposed to do next? Carry out the operation. Why wait until they start? And we know that they are preparing. Of course, this is just the inevitable logic of events.

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

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

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

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

F. Lukyanov:  Do you have the feeling, which, frankly, there is in society, that the enemy was underestimated?

Vladimir Putin:  No. Do you know what’s the matter? The thing is, we’ve seen what’s going on.

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

What we see now, when our troops are “compressing” Donbass from the south and north, is one thing. And in conditions where for a few more years they would create fortified areas all over the country there, conduct training and accumulate weapons systems there that never existed, many still don’t have, there would be a completely different situation for Russia, even from the point of view of carrying out this special military operation.

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

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

In the 9th century, Russian statehood was born in our territories – first in Novgorod, then in Kyiv, then all this grew together. This is one people. They spoke the same language – Old Russian, and changes in the language began to appear, in my opinion, only in the 14th or 15th century under the influence of Poland, because the western parts of the Russian state ended up in different countries. This is where the changes came from.

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

But this process did not happen by itself. It happened, firstly, as I already said, because part of the ancient Russian western lands turned out to be part of other states for a number of reasons.

These states began to promote their interests there. Those parts that ended up in Poland, there was a clear polonization and so on. The language began to change. I already spoke about this when Ukraine joined Russia, they wrote letters to Warsaw and Moscow. Documents are in the archive. It is written there: we, Russian Orthodox people, are turning to you with this and that. They turned to Moscow with a request to accept them into Russia, to Poland they turned with a demand to observe the interests and their Orthodox traditions. But they wrote: we, Russian Orthodox people. That’s not what I said. This is the part of the people that we now call Ukrainians.

Yes, then everything began to happen according to its own laws. A huge Russian empire arose. European countries tried and partly created such a barrier between themselves and the Russian Empire, a well-known principle since ancient times: divide and conquer. So the attempts to divide the united Russian people began. In the 19th century, this began to happen, gained more and more scope and was supported primarily from the West. Of course, this was cultivated in part of the population, someone began to like it both in terms of its own peculiarities, both historical and linguistic.

Of course, they began to use it, precisely for this purpose – divide and conquer. There is nothing unusual here, but certain goals have been achieved, of course. And then it degenerated into cooperation with Hitler during World War II, when Ukrainian collaborators were used to carry out actions to destroy Russians, Poles, Jews, and Belarusians. This is well known, it is a historical fact: the punishers entrusted the dirtiest, bloodiest deeds primarily to Bandera. All this is part of our history. But the fact that basically Russians and Ukrainians, in fact, are one people, is a historical fact here.

F. Lukyanov:  In our country, then, a civil war turns out with a part of our own people.

Vladimir Putin:  Partly yes. But we ended up in different states, unfortunately, for a number of reasons, and above all because, creating the Soviet Union after the collapse of the empire, as I have already written in my articles and said more than once, the Bolshevik leadership of that time made decisions in order to appease the nationalist the tuned part of the Bolsheviks, who were originally from Ukraine, to endow them with primordially Russian historical territories, without asking the population who lived in these territories. They transferred all of Little Russia, the entire Black Sea region, the entire Donbass, and at first they decided to give the Donbass to Russia, then a delegation from Ukraine arrived, they came to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, he called a representative of the Donbass and said that it was necessary to reconsider. Here they decided – they gave it back to Ukraine.

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

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

F. Lukyanov:  They talked about guarantors, I remember, in the spring, then it all went away somewhere.

The question is probably rhetorical, considering that there are military actions, there is a lot of things, but both you and Russian officials have repeatedly said that the special operation is going according to plan. Still, what kind of plan, to be honest, society does not really understand. What’s the plan?

Vladimir Putin: You understand, from the very beginning, as I said from the very beginning, right on the day the operation began: the most important thing for us is to help Donbass. I have already mentioned this, and if we had acted differently, we would not have been able to place our Armed Forces on both sides of the Donbass – this is the first.

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

That is why the events that we are all witnesses took place. They arose in the course, as a logical continuation of the situation that has developed at a given time. But the plan was the same and the goal is to help people who live in the Donbass. From this we proceed. As for what exactly is there, what the General Staff is planning, I know, of course, what, but it seems to me that this is not the case when it is necessary to talk about it in detail.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Thank you.

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

Let’s start. Ivan Safranchuk.

Ivan Safranchuk :  Ivan Safranchuk, MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations).

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

I just have a question about this door.

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

Biden, let’s say, talks about nuclear Armageddon, and right there in America there are comments in the spirit that, they say, it’s not scary. And at the same time, the United States is rapidly deploying modernized tactical nuclear bombs in Europe. It turns out something like the fact that they are rattling nuclear weapons, but they refuse to recognize the lessons of the Caribbean crisis.

Please explain, Vladimir Vladimirovich: is the world really on the threshold of the possibility of using nuclear weapons? And how will Russia behave under these conditions as a responsible world nuclear power?

Thank you.

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

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

I have already said that this dictate of Western countries, their attempt to put pressure on all participants in international communication, including neutral or friendly countries, ends in nothing, and they are looking for additional arguments in order to convince our friends or neutral states in the fact that we all need to stand together against Russia.

The provocation with nuclear weapons, forcing the possibility of the very thesis about the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia is used precisely to achieve these goals – to influence our friends, our allies, to influence neutral states, to tell them: look who you support there, what kind of Russia a terrible country, no need to support it anymore, no need to cooperate with it, no need to buy anything from it, no need to sell anything to them. In fact, this is a primitive goal.

What is happening in reality? After all, we never proactively said anything about the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia, but only hinted at the statements made by the leaders of Western countries.

Mrs. Liz Truss, the recent Prime Minister of Great Britain, she directly said in a conversation with a member of the press: “Yes, Great Britain is a nuclear power. It is the Prime Minister’s responsibility to make possible use, and I will do so.” It’s not verbatim, but close to the text. “I’m ready for this.”

You see, no one reacted in any way. Suppose she blurted out there – the girl is a little out of her mind. How can you say such things in public? Said.

If they had corrected it, Washington would have publicly said: we have nothing to do with this, we don’t know. And it was not necessary to offend, but simply to dissociate. After all, everyone is silent. What should we think? We thought that this was an agreed position, that we were being blackmailed. And what, we should be completely silent and pretend that we did not hear anything, or what?

There are a series of other statements about this. The leadership of the Kyiv regime constantly talks about its desire to possess nuclear weapons. This is the first part of the Marlezon ballet. So?

There are constant talks about what we are doing at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. What are we doing there?

That’s what they say sometimes. They constantly hint that we are shelling the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Well, they’re totally crazy, aren’t they? We control this nuclear power plant. Our troops are there.

I talked, probably a couple of months have passed since, with one of the Western leaders. I say what should be done? He says: remove heavy weapons from the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. I say: I agree, we have already done it, there are no heavy weapons. “Yes? Well, take the other one.” ( Laughter. )

Some nonsense, you understand? Here you are laughing, it’s funny. But it’s actually almost verbatim.

I say: listen, you asked that there, at the station, there be representatives of the IAEA, but we agreed, they are there.

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

I have already publicly said that, in my opinion, three or four high-voltage power lines were knocked down by sabotage groups of the Kyiv regime around the Kursk nuclear power plant. But, unfortunately, the FSB was unable to catch them. Get caught, hopefully someday. Gone. But they did it.

We have informed all Western partners – silence, as if nothing is happening. That is, they seek some kind of nuclear incident in order to lay responsibility on Russia and inflate some new round of the fight against Russia, sanctions against Russia, and so on. I just don’t see any other point. The same is happening.

Now a new idea. It was not by chance that we published data from the special services about the fact that they are preparing some kind of incident with the so-called dirty bomb, it’s easy to do. We even know where approximately it is done. The rest of the nuclear fuel was slightly transformed, the technologies available in Ukraine make it possible to do this, they loaded it into Tochka-U, blew up this device, they said that Russia had done it, launched a nuclear strike.

But we do not need to do this, for us there is no sense in this – neither political nor military. No, they do it. And it was I who instructed Shoigu to call all his colleagues and inform him about this. We cannot pass by such things.

Now they are saying: the IAEA wants to come and check Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. We are for it, and this needs to be done as soon as possible, and as widely as possible, because we know that the Kyiv authorities are now doing everything to cover up the traces of this preparation. They are working on it.

And finally, about the use-non-use. The only country in the world that has used nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state is the United States of America, they have done it twice against Japan. For what purpose? There was no military expediency at all, zero. What was the expediency of using nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, practically against the civilian population? What, was there a threat to the territorial integrity of the United States? Sovereignty? No, of course not. Yes, and there was no longer any military expediency – Japan’s military machine was broken, the ability to resist was reduced to almost zero, why was it necessary to finish off Japan with nuclear weapons?

By the way, in Japanese textbooks, as a rule, they write that it was the Allies who launched a nuclear attack on Japan. This Japan is kept in such a way that even in school textbooks they cannot write the truth. Although it seems every year they remember this tragedy. Well done Americans, you just need to take an example, probably in something from them. Just beauties.

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

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Literally tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the main day of the Caribbean crisis – the climax, when, in fact, we decided to retreat.

Can you imagine yourself in the role of one of the leaders, or rather, Khrushchev, it turns out? Can we get to this point?

Vladimir Putin:  No way.

F. Lukyanov:  We won’t make it?

Vladimir Putin:  No, I cannot imagine myself in the role of Khrushchev, by no means. (Laugh.)

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Good. And in the role of a leader who will have to decide such a question?

Vladimir Putin:  We are ready to resolve any issues, but we do not refuse. In December last year, we proposed to the United States to continue the dialogue on strategic stability, but they did not answer us. In December last year. Silence.

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

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

F. Lukyanov:  Rasigan Maharaj, please.

R. Maharaj (retranslated) :  Thank you very much.

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

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

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

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

After the Second World War, the United States created the Bretton Woods system, strengthened it many times, worked along various vectors, created international institutions that are under their control both in the field of finance and in the field of international trade. But they fail – obviously.

A huge mistake on the part of the States, I have already mentioned this, is to use the dollar as a weapon in the struggle for their political interests. It undermines the credibility of the dollar and other reserve currencies, it undermines fundamentally – trust me, I know what I’m talking about. Because everyone thought: is it worth keeping gold and foreign exchange reserves in dollars?

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

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

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

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

If all this is summarized together, collected as a palette of opportunities necessary for implementation, then the economic model itself, and the financial system, it will meet the interests of the majority, and not just the interests of this “golden billion”, which we talked about.

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

For example, with India, we have, in my opinion, already 53 percent of the settlements in national currencies for exports, and approximately 27 percent for imports. And settlements with other countries are developing very actively. With China, settlements in yuan and rubles are developing very actively, as well as with other countries – I won’t list them all.

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

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

Alexander Iskandaryan.

A. Iskandaryan:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, I come from Armenia, and my question concerns my country and my region.

Recently, there are discussions that Armenia and Azerbaijan have made progress on drafting of an agreement. And these discussions are mainly around two competing drafts: so to speak, Russian, proposed by a Russian intermediary, and Western. The situation is quite risky, and in general there are risks in the region, the situation is not very calm.

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

Thank you.

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

We have been in dialogue with the Armenian side for many years and proposed to resolve the issue related to Karabakh in the following way. After all, Armenia actually controlled seven regions of Azerbaijan, we said: let’s move towards the normalization of relations. There are two districts, Kalbajar and to the south, these corridors are large districts. At some stage, we will agree with the Azerbaijani side – give five districts. They are not needed, they are meaningless, they are simply empty, people left there, they were actually expelled from these territories. Why keep them? There is no meaning. And for communication with Karabakh – two regions, huge by the way, are quite enough.

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

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

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

If the Armenian people and the Armenian leadership believe that Karabakh has some peculiarities of its own, that these peculiarities should be taken into account and somehow this should be discussed in a future peace treaty, this is also possible. But, of course, we need to negotiate with Azerbaijan. These agreements must also be acceptable to the other side, Azerbaijan. This is a very difficult, to put it bluntly, difficult question.

But Armenia is our strategic partner, ally, and we, of course, to a large extent, keeping in mind the interests of Azerbaijan, will be guided by what Armenia itself will offer.

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

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

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

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

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

F. Lukyanov: Does  n’t he try to sit on Asam’s neck? For you, for example?

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

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

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

D. Jayatilleka (retranslated) :  My name is Dayan Jayatilleka and I am from Sri Lanka.

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

People of communist convictions believe that basically everything needs to be nationalized again, everything needs to be “nationalized”, and so on. How effective this is is hard to say. In some way and somewhere, in some specific historical situation, we also do not refuse this, we even have a law on nationalization. But we do not do this – there is no need for any.

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

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

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

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

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Please. Kubat Rakhimov.

Kirill Rakhimov :  Kubat Rakhimov, Kyrgyz Republic.

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

Russia is indeed the undisputed leader of the new anti-colonial movement. Russia’s adherence to traditional conservative values ​​also receives a wide response around the world. But during the work of our Valdai Club, we saw a very serious request for social justice, for a fair organization of social relations.

How do you see this and how could we be useful as experts of the Valdai Club? This is my first question.

Second question: how do you assess the prospects for moving the capital of the Russian Federation to the center of the country, in fact, to the center of the Eurasian continent, in order to be closer to the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

Thank you.

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

I have already spoken about this, and I will repeat it again: we need to develop the economy and, on this basis, address issues of healthcare, education, technological development, and change the structure of our economy. Structural changes are the most important. The labor market will change, and in this regard, of course, we must think about those people who will be released from their old jobs, give them new competencies, retrain them, and so on.

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

Regarding the transfer of the capital – yes, we have such conversations. Our capital was once transferred, and this happened many times in the history of the Russian state. Historically, mentally, the center of Russia is always associated with Moscow, and, in my opinion, some kind of necessity …

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

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

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

Some large companies that, say, actually operate in Siberia, but have their central management bodies in Moscow, could place their headquarters there. By the way, this is what is happening. RusHydro, for example, is settling there, in Siberia, in Krasnoyarsk, in my opinion, they are equipping their headquarters.

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Thank you.

Ivan Timofeev.

Ivan Timofeev: Mr  President, good evening!

Ivan Timofeev, Valdai Club.

My question is the following. An unprecedented number of sanctions have been imposed on Russia over the past year. You mentioned the freezing of our reserves in Europe for three hundred billion. To this we can add tens of billions worth of freezing the property of our citizens and our organizations. By the way, they are planning to confiscate this property, they are now developing appropriate mechanisms. And besides this, there is a lot more: financial restrictions, bans on the supply of goods and technologies to Russia, bans on the supply of our oil, manipulations with gas, and so on. We all know this very well, you mentioned it in your speech.

Our economy was expected to fail. She endured. In many ways, this happened because the economy remains a market economy, it remains flexible, it remains adaptive. Business is looking for new markets, where possible, looking for ways to import substitution. The government is taking a number of steps to help businesses.

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

I would be very glad to hear your opinion on this matter.

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

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

As for the regulation, this administrative guillotine, as we said, has led to the fact that from above, in my opinion, thousands of acts have been canceled, and somewhere less than five hundred new ones have come in their place – I hope modern ones. There are four hundred and something new acts regulating economic activity.

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

You are absolutely right: in response to all sorts of restrictions that are being imposed on Russia and its economy… You said that it was assumed that something would collapse in our country. It was not supposed, but the goal was set to bring down the Russian economy – it did not work out. Yes, it has indeed become, and in this you are right, much more adaptive, more flexible. It turned out that our business is already quite mature and is quietly intercepting those areas and types of activities, those enterprises that are released by those of our partners who have decided to leave Russia. It is easy for our business to take on and lead further those enterprises that, as until quite recently it seemed, could not exist without a Western presence. Easily, in almost all directions.

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

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

But the answer to all these challenges, of course, can and should be, among other things – and maybe, above all – de-bureaucratizing the work of business, supporting it and increasing the space for freedom for economic activity.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Alexander Andreyevich, you will not be outdone.

Alexander Prokhanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, foreigners often ask us: “What can you, Russia, offer to the world today? Where are your Nobel laureates? Where are your great discoveries, industrial, scientific discoveries?” My colleagues often answer: “Well, how is it? And the great Russian culture? And Pushkin? And Rublev? What about iconography? And marvelous Russian architecture?” But they say, “But that’s all in the past. Today?”.

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

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

Vladimir Putin:  We have four traditional denominations, and that’s enough for us.

Fyodor Lukyanov: There  will be a fifth.

Vladimir Putin:  This is a joke, of course.

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

Whether we need to present something specifically to someone – I’m not sure about that.

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

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

Science is developing. We must do everything to ensure that the returns from both fundamental and applied science are many times higher for our development, and we will do it. Today, we are undergoing significant, noticeable renewal of scientific personnel, our science is becoming one of the youngest in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

Roman Yunusov:  Thank you.

Today I represent Rosatom and the Valdai Club.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, you really said the right words about science. We see that over the past twenty years, support for science in Russia has grown significantly, and the mega-grant program has made it possible to launch many dozens of modern laboratories in Russia, we see this.

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

On the other hand, yesterday we discussed at the session: over the past twenty years, our Chinese colleagues have made a colossal breakthrough in science. Today, they have not only brought scientists back, they are taking first place in many areas.

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

I agree with those who initiated this process. We do it. (Turning to A. Fursenko.) Yes, Andrei Alexandrovich?

We will continue to do this.

You said no one came. Some come and work here, even if they are formally registered somewhere abroad, they spend most of their time in Russia, there are many of them. These are our former compatriots, and not only former, but compatriots who are somewhere on the job, but come to work with us all the time.

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

Increase planning horizons – you are probably right. Although we now have mega-grants for five years, right? You can, of course, extend them. These are issues, of course, related to budget financing, but it can be done. In any case, today we can expand these horizons.

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

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Please, Wang Wen.

Wang Wen (retranslated) :  Thank you.

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

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

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

Thanks a lot.

Vladimir Putin:  You know, when I work, I never think about any historical accomplishments, I just proceed from what needs to be done and what cannot be done without – this is the most important thing. And in this sense, of course, the circumstances in which the country lives shape any person, including me, of course, this is true.

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

As for Russian-Chinese relations, in recent years, in recent decades, they have acquired an absolutely unprecedented level of openness, mutual trust and efficiency. In the country dimension, China is our largest trade and economic partner. We really work in all spheres: in the military sphere, we constantly conduct exercises together, in the military-technical sphere, and more confidentially, as perhaps never before in the history of our countries, we work in the field of culture, humanitarian interaction and in the field of economics, of course.

Russia’s largest trade turnover is with China, and it is growing, and growing at a very fast pace. The pace was picked up even before any restrictions and redistribution of our commodity flows towards Asia, including towards China.

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

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

F. Lukyanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, regarding fears, Professor Wang said, this year, when the nuclear factor somehow arose in the spring, and you pointed out its presence in this way, and in general, many people became a little nervous, remembering your statement here same, at our event, four years ago, that we will all go to heaven. We’re not in a hurry, are we? (Laugh.)

You thought, this is already alarming somehow.

Vladimir Putin:  I specifically thought about it so that you would be on your guard. The effect has been achieved. (Laugh.)

Fyodor Lukyanov:  I understand. Thank you.

Mohammed Ihsan, please.

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

F. Lukyanov:  Please go on. Mr Old Man.

Konstantin Starysh:  Thank you.

Good evening!

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

I have a question, but first, an assignment. You spoke so well, Vladimir Vladimirovich, about your family that I would risk it. I have two children, they are eight and ten years old, they are students of the Pushkin Lyceum in Chisinau. They really asked me to say hello to you, and I could not deny myself this little paternal pleasure. So hello to you from Alexandra and Gavril from Chisinau.

Vladimir Putin:  Thank you.

Konstantin Starysh:  Now a question.

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

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

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

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  Is it possible to create a single space – humanitarian, economic – and even a region in terms of ensuring the security of all who live on this vast mega-continent from Lisbon to Vladivostok? Of course yes. Hope dies last. It’s not our idea. True, then they said “to the Urals”, it was only later that I transformed this idea of ​​our French colleagues and former French leaders “to Vladivostok”.

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

Difficult, difficult, tragic events are taking place today. But in general, why not? In general, it is possible to imagine such a thing. I think it will happen one way or another.

I spoke in my speech about Eurasia as a whole, including the European part. Do you know what is very important? It is really important, I want to return to my speech again, so that this European part will regain its legal personality.

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

In fact, this is what happens in real life.

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

From us, from Moscow, he flew to Washington. Returned to Paris – everything is forgotten. As if there were no agreements. How to talk? About what?

And there were directly concrete agreements, right down to where the fleet would move, what we would do, how we would agree. Are we against it? We’re for it. And they agreed. Deal.

How about talking? Why talk to them then? Then it’s best to call Washington directly. That’s all. Now I’m talking and not inventing anything, you understand?

Of course, Europe is protecting its interests, especially in the economic sphere, and even then not so much. Vaughn blew up gas pipeline systems. These are not ours, they are pan-European. There, five European companies are represented in Nord Stream 1. So what? Everyone is silent, as if it should be so. Moreover, there is enough impudence to show there: maybe it was Russia that blew it up. Russia blew itself up. Completely crazy, right? No, they still do.

Gazprom even published pictures from 2016, when, in my opinion, an American-made explosive device lies under the gas pipeline system. They said that they lost during the exercises. They lost it so that this explosive device went right under the gas pipeline, which, in my opinion, was intended to destroy underwater mines. Look, here’s the photo.

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

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

I have already mentioned this, now I will say it again. Helmut Kohl once told me that the States would someday take care of their own affairs, including in Latin America, Asia would develop powerfully in its own way, if European civilization wants to be preserved as some kind of world center, then, of course, you need to be with Russia. This was the position of Helmut Kohl. The current leadership of the Federal Republic, apparently, holds other views. But this is the choice of European countries.

But I would like to return to where you started. You said that the lights went out in Chisinau. It is not clear why it went out, we definitely have nothing to do with this.

Do you know why I’m talking about this? Because Russia is always blamed for everything: somewhere the lights went out, somewhere the toilet does not work, sorry, somewhere else – Russia is to blame for everything. This, remember, as in the famous film: did we also destroy the chapel of some XII or what century? But, thank God, no. But I want to inform you, and what I will say is, as they say, the pure truth. When we were negotiating with representatives of the Government of Moldova on gas supplies, on gas prices, Gazprom took an absolutely pragmatic market position on a contract with Moldova for natural gas supplies.

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

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

There are a lot of details, I just don’t want to bore the audience, because, except for you, this is probably not interesting to anyone. There it is connected with debts, connected with current payments, with a certain prepayment. But in general, in terms of price parameters, they fully met the Moldovan side. You have to pay, of course. This in itself, I think, is obvious.

Why things have been brought to the point where there is no electricity in Moldova, this, excuse me, is not our problem.

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

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

F. Lukyanov: Were  you not warned?

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

F.Lukyanov:  And now, when Macron calls, do you specify who is next to him?

Vladimir Putin:  No.

F. Lukyanov:  And why? As much as it would be worth it.

Vladimir Putin:  Because I now assume that someone is listening.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  I understand.

Please, guest from Indonesia.

RB Connie (retranslated)  Thank you.

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

We hope that you will come to Indonesia next month.

I’ll ask you about the title “The World After Hegemony: Security for All.”

Mr. Sukarno already said in 1955 that all security alliances are dangerous for peace. You and China are on the UN Security Council. Can you handle getting rid of QUAT, AUCUS, NATO together. Is it possible?

Question two.

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

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

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

President Widodo, when he calls me, calls me “brother”, I tell him the same thing. We cherish the relations we have established with Indonesia.

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

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

I must say that this has adverse consequences for the participants or allies of the same United States, which, as we know, are being deprived of contracts for the supply of submarines, or something else. It’s just that nothing has been done yet, and the negative consequences, including for the US allies, are already coming. And if this practice continues, the number of these errors and problems will only increase. Of course, we have opposed and continue to oppose a policy of this kind.

F. Lukyanov:  General Sharma, I know I wanted to ask you.

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

Vladimir Putin:  India has come a long way from being an English colony to its current state. Nearly 1.5 billion people, and the remarkable results of development inspire both universal admiration and respect for India from around the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

F. Lukyanov:  Since we are talking about fertilizers, for some reason I immediately thought of Brazil. Igor Gilov, where is he sitting with us?

Vladimir Putin:  By the way, we agreed with Brazil that the supply of fertilizers would also increase, but, unfortunately, they have slightly decreased. I don’t know why, maybe because of logistics, there, in my opinion, the supply of fertilizers was reduced by a few percent.

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

Here they have elections in a matter of days. How are we? Lula will probably come back. Are you on good terms with him?

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

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

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

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

Do you support?

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

This is due to the fact that the Crown Prince and the government of Saudi Arabia have very big plans, which is very important, to diversify the economy – there are whole national development plans drawn up in this direction. Bearing in mind the energy and creativity of the Crown Prince, I am confident that these plans will be implemented.

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

F.Lukyanov:  Now in the West they write a lot that Ben Salman is rude to the Americans because of you.

Vladimir Putin:  This is not true.

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

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

In this sense, his position – I’m not joking now – is absolutely balanced. It is aimed at balancing the interests of both producers and consumers, because in the energy markets, it is not even the final price that is important, it is not that important – it is the current economic or political situation. For international energy markets, predictability is important, stability is what is important. This is exactly what the crown prince strives for and generally achieves what he wants.

F. Lukyanov:  So you won’t sit on his neck either?

Vladimir Putin:  Certainly not.

F. Lukyanov:  Muhammad Javed, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

After all, they rely on those who cannot but be attributed to collaborators and Nazis. It is impossible not to include those who, as I have already said, on behalf of the Nazi authorities, destroyed the Polish, Jewish, Russian population in the territories occupied during the Second World War. It is impossible to separate today’s so-called jingoists and nationalists from Bandera – in fact, one and the same thing. This is their biggest problem, in my opinion.

Therefore, I say, including to our so-called Western partners: look at what is happening on the streets of Kyiv and other large cities, when thousands of people walk the streets with a swastika, torches, and so on.

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

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

I say this with regret. There losses are one in ten, one in eight. Recently, almost always one to seven, one to eight. People are not sorry at all. Can true patriots of their country allow this? They go straight along this path calmly and even without looking back, they do not think about it. Of course, they are not protecting their national interests.

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Mr. Kim.

H. Kim (retranslated) :  Hello, my name is Kim Heung Chong, I’m from South Korea. I came to the Valdai Club for the second time, I learned a lot. Thank you very much for the opportunity to hear a lot.

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

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

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  I will start with the last one. The transition to carbon neutrality does not run counter to Russian interests, because we have opportunities to develop alternative types of energy, including hydrogen, including pure hydrogen, and here we have serious competitive advantages. We can also use gas, there are many opportunities, this does not frighten us at all, but, on the contrary, creates incentives for us to develop. And as a transitional energy source, primary gas is the best source of energy. If we talk about deep oil refining, then here we have to a large extent the advantages that I just mentioned. It doesn’t run counter to our interests.

Only orgy in the energy sector, running ahead in resolving issues related to energy security, related to the provision of “green” energy, is contrary to our interests. How was it possible for many, many years to underfund, hinder investment in traditional energy without preparing everything related to green energy for this transition? How could this be done?

To a large extent, this is at the heart of today’s energy crisis. After all, Western politicians are just talking their tongues in order to win voters over to their side. At first they scare ordinary citizens with possible climate change, then on the basis of this fear they begin to promise something that is impossible to fulfill, they get votes, they come to power, and then – “boom”.

What is happening now – a return to coal generation, a return to heating oil? And what, they chatted, but what is the result? It’s not about Russia. We are ready to supply gas, we are ready to supply oil as well – why are you refusing something? After the Nord Stream explosion, we have one pipe left, it is working, we can pump 27.5 billion cubic meters. But they don’t want to – what do we have to do with it? If they don’t want to, they don’t need to.

As for green energy, I repeat, everything must be prepared in a timely manner. Systemic measures limiting the development of traditional types of energy have led to just this serious crisis. There is no financing, banks do not give loans – not only European ones, and the same thing happens in the States. Why is it limited there – banks do not give, they do not insure, they do not allocate land, they do not build transport for the oil and gas transmission of these products, and this has been going on for years. Significant underfunding of the industry has led to a deficit. That’s all.

From the strategic reserves, the United States allocates oil – well, well, but they will have to be replenished later, market experts understand this. Today they took it and took it from the strategic reserves, but tomorrow it will be necessary to buy. We hear: we will buy when prices fall. But they don’t fall. And what? Hello, we have arrived! We’ll have to buy at high prices, prices went up again. What are we doing here? These are systemic mistakes in the energy sector of those who should think about it and deal with it. This is the first.

Second. About North Korea and about Taiwan. Taiwan is, without any doubt, an integral part of the People’s Republic of China. We have always adhered to this position, and it does not change with us.

All gestures of a provocative nature, connected with the visit to Taiwan by the highest officials of the United States, are perceived by us in Russia as nothing more than a provocation. Why they do it, I honestly don’t know.

You know, we have known many people here for many, many years and we speak the same language – let’s just do it like a family. Here is what is happening: the tragedy in Ukraine. The entire West has attacked us there, trying to ruin our economy, supplies weapons and ammunition in the billions to Ukraine. Fighting Russia.

But why is it necessary at the same time to spoil relations with China? Are they normal people or not? It seems to be completely contrary to common sense and logic. Why did this grandmother have to drag herself to Taiwan in order to provoke China into some kind of retaliatory action? At a time when they and Russia can not regulate relations in any way because of what is happening in Ukraine. It’s just Brad.

It seems that there is some subtle, deep idea in this. I think that there is not a shish there, no subtle ideas. Just nonsense and everything, and self-confidence. Do you understand what’s the matter? Self-confidence and a sense of impunity is what underlies such irrational actions.

Our position is clear, I have stated it.

Now, regarding the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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

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

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

By the way, with regard to humanitarian issues and similar issues, here you also need to understand the state of the North Korean economy, what are the needs of ordinary citizens, and not tighten the screws, but, based on humanitarian considerations, resolve certain issues.

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

I ask you to pay attention to this.

F. Lukyanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, since you yourself said that it’s like a family here, open the veil then to our family circle – there was a lot of speculation.

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

Vladimir Putin:  No.

F. Lukyanov:  And then he didn’t express an insult to you that they didn’t share it in a friendly way?

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

Therefore, China sees very well what the desire of the West to advance the infrastructure of the NATO bloc to our borders means for Russia, they objectively assess these situations. Just as they see what happened in the Donbass in the last eight years, they are perfectly able to assess the consequences and causes of the coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014.

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

F. Lukyanov: Then Nelson Wong, probably.

N. Wong (retranslated) :  Thank you.

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

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

Mr. President, my question is the following. Looking to the future, we see that we are entering an era where there will be no superpowers. It must be said that we talked about this on the first day of our discussions. As the only superpower, the US, is losing control and we are entering a new era. This is not only the beginning of the end of US superpower status, in fact, we are already in the process of losing it.

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

I said in the introduction, and who read these rules? They talk about some rules – what rules? Where are they written, who agreed? It’s just some nonsense. For idiots, or what, all this is said? To some general public of people who don’t even know how to read properly. What are the rules, who worked with them? It’s just bullshit, that’s all. No, it’s endless, as our people say, endlessly. And against those who do not comply with them, we will introduce some kind of restrictions and sanctions.

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

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Without leaving China, Mr Putin, and a little about the previous question about green energy and other issues. It is clear that the European energy market, apparently, will be completely closed for us in the coming years. There is such a possibility.

Are we ready to quickly build infrastructure for Asian markets?

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

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

The Chinese economy in purchasing power parity has become larger than the American one – it’s a fact, and the needs are growing. Why should we, especially our friends, neighbors, we have wonderful relations, a common border, why shouldn’t we deliver something there in the same way as to other Asian countries? We have done it and we will continue to do it.

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

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

Alexander Dzermant:  Alexey Dzermant, Minsk, Belarus.

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

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

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

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  You are right. But we do. And not even because someone is building a wall from the West, but we always do that.

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

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

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

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Dear colleagues, we have entered our fourth hour of work. I think that we have already abused the time of the President of the Russian Federation. One more question, does anyone else have a burning one? There is.

Vladimir Putin:  Please.

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

And this foundation of our relations, which was formed in previous decades, of course, should be used in the new conditions for the development of multilateral relations with African states today, including with the Republic of South Africa, which, as you know, is our very active and effective partner and within the framework of BRICS.

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

But as to the essence of your question and its first part. I, in principle, it seems to me, answered – I can hardly detail my position in a short answer.

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

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

This is what the financial monopoly leads to – immediately there was a shortage. Not only was there a crop failure in the previous year and a pandemic, a reduction in production, money was printed in the fight against the pandemic, thrown away to their population – food buying began, prices went up. And who suffers? First of all, the countries of Africa and partly of Latin America and Asia. Does anyone think about it? Of course, those who do it think. They didn’t care about the consequences. They decide their interests without thinking about the consequences that come for the same African countries.

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

We have already said many times: we have 300,000 tons of fertilizers arrested, lying in European ports. Our companies are ready to give away for free, but they do not give it away, including to African countries. Some leaders of African countries asked me where exactly. I asked my assistants to send them where and how much they find – 300,000 tons, that’s millions of dollars.

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

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

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

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

Please raise your hand here.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Natalia Zaiser.

D. Constantakopoulos ( retranslated :  Mr. President, two small questions.

Vladimir Putin:  It doesn’t look like Natalia, of course.

D. Constantakopoulos : Do you think the time has come for deeper integration in the space of the former Soviet Union?

And the second question. What is your message to ordinary citizens of Western countries? If you had a citizen of the West in front of you, what would you say to him?

Vladimir Putin : First, with regard to integration.

This is a very subtle question. Here, too, we must achieve exactly what I have been talking about in relation to the whole world – we need to achieve a balance of interests. This must be done professionally, without any haste and consistently. We have certain plans within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. This concerns the removal of restrictions on the most important commodity groups in order to fully ensure the free movement of goods, finance, capital and labor.

I don’t think it’s advisable to get ahead of ourselves, as it was, say, in the European Union, when some countries with a certain level of economic development got into the euro zone, and then they didn’t know what to do with it, because problems arise when the inflation tool becomes unavailable to regulate the situation within the economy. I mean the well-known situation, for example, with Greece, and with some other countries.

Therefore, we must not get ahead of ourselves, but must consistently move towards the implementation of the plans that have been outlined. We know what we must do in this direction, and we will definitely do it, taking into account the interests of all participants in this process.

As for our message to ordinary citizens of Western countries – both the United States and Europe. I want to say the most important thing: fight for wage increases – this is the first thing. Second, do not believe that Russia is your enemy or even adversary. Russia is your friend, and we have been doing everything for decades and are ready to do everything in the future in order to strengthen our relations.

In this regard, an anecdote that I recently told my colleagues came to my mind. A friend from Germany told me recently. Family, son asks dad: “Dad, why is it so cold?” And he says: “Because Russia attacked Ukraine.” The child asks: “What do we have to do with it?” “And we imposed sanctions against the Russians.” – “Why?” – “To make them feel bad” – “And we – what, Russians?”

I want to say that all the problems, and this is addressed to citizens in this case of European countries, and the United States as well, all the problems that arise in this regard are not related to Russia’s actions. They are connected with the systemic mistakes of your political leadership, the political leadership of your countries – both in the field of energy, and in the field of food, and in the field of monetary policy, which has led to an unprecedented increase in inflation and a shortage of energy resources. Russia has nothing to do with it, this is the result of systemic mistakes by the leadership of your countries. And we need to conduct a sound analysis of what is happening, and seek a change in economic policy.

As for international politics, of course, this is always the decision of sovereign states, but it must, of course, be based on the opinion of voters, ordinary citizens of a particular country. But ordinary citizens should know – I will end where I started: Russia is not an enemy and has never had any malicious intentions towards European states and the United States.

And we know that we, Russia, have a lot of friends there. We will build our relations with the so-called collective West, relying precisely on this part of the population of European countries and the United States.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr Putin  , does the call to fight for higher wages also apply to Russian citizens?

Vladimir Putin:  Yes.

F. Lukyanov:  Excellent. Everyone heard.

Vladimir Putin:  And I must tell you that this is one of the fundamental issues that the Government should deal with, and the trade unions are doing it, doing it no matter what, doing it no matter what special operations.

There is a complex dialogue in the tripartite commission between representatives of employers, trade unions and the Government. This dialogue continues.

We see that the nominal incomes of citizens are growing, while the real ones have become slightly lower. Bearing in mind the state of the Russian economy, we can and must do so. In accordance with the existing plans of the Russian Government, I hope that all the tasks that we set ourselves in this sense and in this vein will be resolved.

Someone else wants to [ask a question].

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, you don’t give orders here, I give orders here. (Laugh.)

Vladimir Putin:  This is called hegemonism.

F. Lukyanov:  What to do, we have not overcome it yet.

Colleagues, I propose a blitz at the end. Natalia [Zaiser] is offended, and there are two more questions, and we will finish with this.

Vladimir Putin:  Good.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Natalia.

Nikolai Zaiser: Mr  President, good evening!

Natalia Zaiser, African Business Initiative Union.

For almost 15 years I have been developing international relations and expanding contacts in the field of public diplomacy. As a person who builds bridges, it is important for me to always project some actions into the future.

It is obvious that we are facing a certain new historical stage, and when the chapter of current events is over, there will be a need to form new or other institutions of international partnership. And we are talking, probably, not about countries that have made up their minds, but also about countries that, due to their geopolitical position, cannot openly express their intentions and position.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, how do you see the new institution of international partnership? What parity basis is Russia ready to offer to the international level? What mechanisms, tools and persons are needed to acquire new allies, partners, friends not at a declarative, but at a fundamentally responsible level in their agreements? Do you think it makes sense for us to change some or build other approaches within the international partnership of the future?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  You know, you have such a broad question, if it can be called a question, it is like a position.

What I would like to say. It seems to me that in general I have already answered practically what you have just asked. We must and can focus on cooperation, above all with those countries that are sovereign in making their fundamental decisions. This is the first.

Second. Consensus must be sought in making these decisions.

And thirdly, to achieve a balance of interests.

Within what institutions? First of all, of course, these are universal international organizations, and number one here is the United Nations.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Alan Freeman, please.

A. Freeman (retranslated) :  Mr. President, I came from Canada, a NATO country. The future Prime Minister, or rather his grandfather, was a Bandera. Dissatisfaction with NATO’s position is heard around the world, and there are many voices in the global South. These voices exist both in the North and in the collective West. Why don’t we hear them? Because they are suppressed.

Look at what happened to Julian Assange. The media, political elites, academic elites are waging an unprecedented campaign, it is racist and Russophobic, it intimidates people, does not allow them to express their full measure of disagreement with what their governments are doing. Here you don’t see the full scale of the opposition that exists in Europe, in Canada, in the UK, here you don’t see it.

What can we do to build a relationship between those in the collective West who are fighting what their government is doing and those who are supporting what is happening in the global South and in Russia for Russia’s brave actions on the global stage?

Vladimir Putin:  It seems to me that no one should sacrifice anything from the set of their national interests, you just need to fight for your national interests, and we will work in unison with you.

Of course, we are not immersed in the details of the internal political struggle in the countries of the collective West, as you mentioned. We do not – you know, probably better than I do – work with the opposition practically at the level of special services, as the West does with respect to us and to our opposition. We know that hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, are being spent there to support the opposition, and in all directions, through various channels, they are already coming up with everything in order to send financial resources to Russia for these purposes. We can’t even keep track of it. But we don’t do any of that.

But we expect – and I have said this many times today, in my opinion, even in my speech – that our very position on the fundamental issues of the development of international relations and simply development, the development of societies, is attractive to a large number of people not only in the world as a whole, but also in Western countries.

I just said about it. We know that we have a lot of supporters there. Relying on these supporters, we will build relations with the countries of the so-called collective West.

For my part, I can only wish you success in the struggle for your national interests. This will be enough to establish good relations with Russia.

(Turning to F. Lukyanov.)

Anyway, let me have the last word. I will ask any of those present to raise their hand and answer your question.

Yes. Please.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Gabor Stir.

G. Stir:  Good afternoon, Mr. President!

At the beginning of the conversation, you talked about what the goals were, how you assessed the situation, and my question is the following: on February 24, did you think that in eight months the NWO would continue? And not only continues, but the situation is aggravated. In addition, many in the world already fear the start of the Third World War.

Hence the question. One of my favorite cities in the post-Soviet space is Odessa. What do you think, give me advice: if I would like to go there next summer, or in two years …

Vladimir Putin:  Don’t delay, go as fast as possible. Joke. Kidding.

G. Stir:  In two years, then, should I ask for a Russian or Ukrainian visa?

Vladimir Putin:  You know, Odessa is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As you know, Odessa was founded by Catherine II, and even extreme nationalists, in my opinion, do not dare to demolish the monument to the founder of the city.

Odessa can be both a bone of contention, and a symbol of conflict resolution, and a symbol of finding some solution to everything that is happening now. The issue is not with us. We have said many times that we are ready for negotiations, and I recently, speaking in the Kremlin, publicly mentioned this again. But the leaders of the Kyiv regime decided not to continue negotiations with the Russian Federation. Those who – and there are many of them… However, the decisive word belongs to those who implement this policy in Washington. It is very simple to solve this problem: to give an appropriate signal to Kyiv that they should change their position and strive to solve these problems peacefully. That’s all.

And as for your possible trip to Odessa, if without any jokes, I recommend that you do it. This is really a very good, beautiful city with wonderful traditions and history. It’s worth admiring it.

True, in recent years, at least when I was in Odessa, it did not make the best impression on me, because the public utilities were clearly in decline, this was evident even from the facades of buildings, although there seemed to be nothing in the center yet still, it was preserved, a little to the side – everything already looked not so presentable there. But Odessa is worth seeing.

Let’s finish. Please.

F. Lukyanov:  Then Carlos Ron, after all, Venezuela, as without it.

Vladimir Putin:  Venezuela?

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Yes.

Vladimir Putin:  I would like the Russians to finish. Well, let’s.

Caroline Ron (retranslated) :  Mr. President, greetings from Venezuela, from your friend, Mr. President Nicolas Maduro.

At the moment, about 30 percent of the world’s countries are under some kind of illegal sanctions from the United States. You spoke about the importance of protecting the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Last month, the Group of Friends in Defense of the UN Charter met in New York, and one of the questions that was raised at the meeting was how to contribute to the creation of a zone free from illegal sanctions, where one could do business, affairs without fear of such sanctions?

What do you think Russia could do to create such a space? And how do you think this could happen? Maybe you have another message for the people of Venezuela.

Vladimir Putin: By  opposing the sanctions that have been imposed on it, Russia is actually creating, in a certain sense, a space of freedom so that one can not be afraid of sanctions pressure and freely develop economic ties between various regions of the world and most different countries.

There is no need for any special solutions. Just the very example of what is happening, it seems to me, is indicative. Now a colleague asked what kind of signals we are ready to send to citizens of European, Western countries in general. I spoke about this, but I also spoke about the mistakes that were made by the political leadership of Western countries in the global economy, financial, energy and food sectors.

Here is one of the confirmations. Sanctions have been imposed on Venezuela. She was one of the largest oil producers until recently. Sanctions were imposed on Iran, sanctions were imposed on Russia. Now they are threatening to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia. They want to introduce a cap on the prices of Russian oil and gas. Well, at every step they make a mistake that leads to dire consequences for the countries that impose these sanctions. This is just one of the examples. And then they look for someone to blame. They do everything themselves, and then they look for the guilty.

Nevertheless, Venezuela is developing. There are big problems, we know about it, but Venezuela overcomes them.

These sanctions were imposed on Russia, they expected a complete collapse of the Russian economy, we already talked about this here at the beginning of our meeting today. But this “blitzkrieg” against the Russian economy did not take place.

What’s happening? Look, our inflation will be around 12% a year, and it tends to go down. In the first quarter of next year, according to our experts, it will be somewhere around 5 percent. In advanced EU countries it is 17 (here in the Netherlands), and in some countries it is 21-23 [percent], twice as much as ours.

Unemployment – 3.8 percent. It has become less, unemployment than in the pre-pandemic period was 4.7. Our budget deficit next year is 2 percent, then 1.4 percent, and a year later, 0.7 percent. It is higher in almost all eurozone countries. Public debt is fundamentally lower than in the eurozone, either in the United States or in Britain.

We will have a recession in the economy this year – about 2.8-2.9 percent. Will be. But industrial production and processing remain approximately at the same level. Construction, the construction sector grew by more than 5 percent – 5.1 percent – over the eight months of this year. Agriculture has doubled, and the trend is growing.

We are increasing the volume of lending to both the corporate sector and the consumer sector. There has been an increase in lending. Yes, we have seen some issues related to the outflow of money supply from banks, related to well-known events. The money began to come back, and citizens are doing the right thing, because rather than keeping money under the pillow, losing money on inflation, it is better to have at least some interest in the bank, this is quite obvious. The stability of the banking system is reliable, the banking system is highly stable. I repeat, lending is growing.

You asked me: what can Russia do to create the conditions for living independently of these sanctions and for sustainable development? It seems to me that this is a good example, and it is necessary to unite the efforts of all those who are interested in this, to achieve this agreement and a balance of interest, which I have already spoken about many times. And then, without any doubt, success will be ensured.

Let’s finish here.

F. Lukyanov:  Well, finally.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, I began by saying that we were looking forward to seeing you. It seems to me that we will leave extremely satisfied and will reflect for a long time. It’s hard for me, sitting here, to [evaluate] – of course, the impressions can be different, but I think this is one of the most successful discussions of ours in terms of both coverage of topics and general atmosphere.

Thank you very much, and we really hope, we are already starting to look forward to seeing you in a year.

Vladimir Putin:  All right.

I want to express my gratitude to our moderator, presenter. And, of course, to thank you all for the interest you show in relations with Russia, I mean, first of all, of course, our foreign guests.

I would like to thank all the experts of the Valdai Club for the fact that you are working on this site, and, of course, making a noticeable, significant contribution to those brainstorming sessions that are so needed, including for decision-making at a practical level.

Thank you. Good luck.