Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday presided over a ceremony at the Kremlin to annex four Ukrainian regions partly occupied by his forces. Below is the full text transcript of his speech:
Dear citizens of Russia, citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, deputies of the State Duma, and senators of the Russian Federation!
As you know, referendums took place in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. Their results have been summed up, the results are known. People made their choice, a clear choice.
Today we are signing agreements on the admission of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, the Zaporizhia Region and the Kherson Region to Russia. I am sure that the Federal Assembly will support the constitutional laws on the adoption and formation in Russia of four new regions, four new subjects of the Russian Federation, because this is the will of millions of people.
And this, of course, is their right, their inalienable right, which is enshrined in the first article of the UN Charter, which directly speaks of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
I repeat: this is an inalienable right of people, it is based on historical unity, in the name of which the generations of our ancestors won, those who from the origins of Ancient Russia for centuries created and defended Russia. Here, in Novorossia, Rumyantsev, Suvorov and Ushakov fought, Catherine II and Potemkin founded new cities. Here our grandfathers and great-grandfathers stood to death during the Great Patriotic War.
We will always remember the heroes of the “Russian spring”, those who did not come to terms with the neo-Nazi coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014, all those who died for the right to speak their native language, preserve their culture, traditions, faith, for the right to live. These are the warriors of Donbass, the martyrs of the “Odessa Khatyn”, the victims of inhuman terrorist attacks staged by the Kyiv regime. These are volunteers and militias, these are civilians, children, women, old people, Russians, Ukrainians, people of various nationalities. This is the real people’s leader of Donetsk Alexander Zakharchenko, these are military commanders Arsen Pavlov and Vladimir Zhoga, Olga Kochura and Alexei Mozgovoy, this is the prosecutor of the Luhansk Republic Sergey Gorenko. This is paratrooper Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov and all our soldiers and officers who died the death of the brave during a special military operation. They are heroes. (Applause)
Heroes of Great Russia. And I ask you to honor their memory with a moment of silence.
(Moment of silence.)
Behind the choice of millions of residents in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions is our common destiny and a thousand-year history. This spiritual connection people passed on to their children and grandchildren. Despite all the trials, they carried through the years love for Russia. And no one can destroy this feeling in us. That is why both the older generations and the youth, those who were born after the tragedy of the collapse of the Soviet Union, voted for our unity, for our common future.
In 1991, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, without asking the will of ordinary citizens, representatives of the then party elites decided to collapse the USSR, and people suddenly found themselves cut off from their homeland. This tore apart, dismembered our people’s community, turned into a national catastrophe. As once after the revolution the borders of the union republics were cut behind the scenes, so the last leaders of the Soviet Union, contrary to the direct expression of the will of the majority of people in the 1991 referendum, ruined our great country, simply confronted the peoples with a fact.
I admit that they did not even fully understand what they were doing and what consequences this would inevitably lead to in the end. But that doesn’t matter anymore. There is no Soviet Union, the past cannot be returned. Yes, and Russia today does not need it anymore, we are not striving for this. But there is nothing stronger than the determination of millions of people who, by their culture, faith, traditions, language, consider themselves part of Russia, whose ancestors lived in a single state for centuries. There is nothing stronger than the determination of these people to return to their true, historical Fatherland.
For a long eight years, people in the Donbass were subjected to genocide, shelling and blockade, and in Kherson and Zaporozhye they tried to criminally cultivate hatred for Russia, for everything Russian. Now, already during the referendums, the Kyiv regime threatened with violence, death to school teachers, women who worked in election commissions, intimidated millions of people who came to express their will with repressions. But the unbroken people of Donbass, Zaporozhye and Kherson had their say.
I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me, so that everyone remembers this: people living in Lugansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye become our citizens forever. (Applause)
We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately cease fire, all hostilities, the war that it unleashed back in 2014, and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this, it has been said more than once. But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson, it has been made, Russia will not betray it. (Applause)
And today’s Kiev authorities should treat this free will of the people with respect, and nothing else. This is the only way to peace.
We will protect our land with all the forces and means at our disposal and will do everything to ensure the safe life of our people. This is the great liberation mission of our people.
We will definitely rebuild destroyed cities and towns, housing, schools, hospitals, theaters and museums, restore and develop industrial enterprises, factories, infrastructure, social security, pensions, healthcare and education systems.
Of course, we will work to improve the security level. Together we will make sure that citizens in the new regions feel the support of the entire people of Russia, the entire country, all the republics, all territories and regions of our vast Motherland. (Applause)
Dear friends, colleagues!
Today I want to address the soldiers and officers who are participating in a special military operation, the soldiers of Donbass and Novorossia, those who, after the decree on partial mobilization, join the ranks of the Armed Forces, fulfilling their patriotic duty, who, at the call of their hearts, come to the military registration and enlistment offices. I would like to turn to their parents, wives, and children, to tell them what our people are fighting for, what enemy is opposing us, who is throwing the world into new wars and crises, deriving their bloody profit from this tragedy.
Our compatriots, our brothers and sisters in Ukraine – the native part of our united people – saw with their own eyes what the ruling circles of the so-called West are preparing for all mankind. Here they, in fact, just threw off their masks, showed their true insides.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West decided that the world, all of us, would forever have to put up with its dictates. Then, in 1991, the West expected that Russia would not recover from such shocks and would fall apart on its own. Yes, it almost happened – we remember the 90s, the terrible 90s, hungry, cold and hopeless. But Russia resisted, revived, strengthened, again took its rightful place in the world.
At the same time, the West has been looking all this time and continues to look for a new chance to hit us, weaken and destroy Russia, which they have always dreamed of, split our state, pit peoples against each other, doom them to poverty and extinction. They are simply haunted by the fact that there is such a great, huge country in the world with its territory, natural wealth, resources, with a people who do not know how and will never live according to someone else’s orders.
The West is ready to step over everything in order to preserve the neo-colonial system that allows it to parasitize, in fact, to plunder the world at the expense of the power of the dollar and technological dictates, to collect real tribute from humanity, to extract the main source of unearned prosperity, the rent of the hegemon. The maintenance of this rent is their key, genuine and absolutely self-serving motive. That is why total desovereignization is in their interests. Hence their aggression towards independent states, towards traditional values and original cultures, attempts to undermine international and integration processes beyond their control, new world currencies and centers of technological development. It is critical for them that all countries surrender their sovereignty to the United States.
The ruling elites of some states voluntarily agree to do this, voluntarily agree to become vassals; others are bribed, intimidated. And if it doesn’t work out, they destroy entire states, leaving behind humanitarian catastrophes, disasters, ruins, millions of ruined, mangled human destinies, terrorist enclaves, social disaster zones, protectorates, colonies and semi-colonies. They don’t care as long as they get their own benefit.
I want to emphasize once again: it is precisely in greed, in the intention to maintain its unlimited power, that there are the real reasons for the hybrid war that the “collective West” is waging against Russia. They do not wish us freedom, but they want to see us as a colony. They do not want equal cooperation, but robbery. They want to see us not as a free society, but as a crowd of soulless slaves.
For them, a direct threat is our thought and philosophy, and therefore they encroach on our philosophers. Our culture and art are a danger to them, so they are trying to ban them. Our development and prosperity is also a threat to them – competition is growing. They don’t need Russia at all, we need it. (Applause)
I want to remind you that the claims to world domination in the past have been shattered more than once by the courage and steadfastness of our people. Russia will always be Russia. We will continue to defend both our values and our Motherland.
The West is counting on impunity, on getting away with everything. In fact, everything has gotten away with it so far. Agreements in the field of strategic security go to the wastebasket; agreements reached at the highest political level are declared false; firm promises not to expand NATO to the east, as soon as our former leaders bought into them, turned into a dirty deceit; treaties on anti-missile defense and intermediate- and shorter-range missiles have been unilaterally broken under far-fetched pretexts.
All we hear from all sides is that the West stands for order based on rules. Where did they come from? Who even saw these rules? Who agreed? Listen, this is just some kind of nonsense, sheer deception, double or already triple standards! It’s just designed for fools.
Russia is a great millennial power, a country-civilization, and will not live by such rigged, false rules. (Applause)
It is the so-called West that has trampled on the principle of the inviolability of borders, and now, at its own discretion, decides who has the right to self-determination and who does not, who is not worthy of it. Why they decide so, who gave them such a right is not clear. To themselves.
That is why the choice of people in the Crimea, in Sevastopol, in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson causes wild anger in them. This West has no moral right to evaluate it, even to stutter about the freedom of democracy. No, and never was!
Western elites deny not only national sovereignty and international law. Their hegemony has a pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid. They brazenly divide the world into their vassals, into the so-called civilized countries and into all the rest, who, according to the plan of today’s Western racists, should add to the list of barbarians and savages. False labels – “rogue country”, “authoritarian regime” – are already ready, they stigmatize entire peoples and states, and there is nothing new in this. There is nothing new in this: the Western elites are what they were, and have remained so – colonialist. They discriminate, divide peoples into the first and other grades.
We have never accepted and will never accept such political nationalism and racism. And what, if not racism, is Russophobia, which is now spreading all over the world? What, if not racism, is the peremptory conviction of the West that its civilization, neoliberal culture is an indisputable model for the whole world? “He who is not with us is against us.” It even sounds strange.
Even the repentance for their own historical crimes is being shifted by the Western elites to everyone else, demanding both the citizens of their countries and other peoples to confess for what they have nothing to do with at all, for example, for the period of colonial conquests.
It is worth reminding the West that it began its colonial policy back in the Middle Ages, and then followed the global slave trade, the genocide of Indian tribes in America, the plunder of India, Africa, the wars of England and France against China, as a result of which it was forced to open its ports for trade opium. What they did was put entire nations on drugs, purposefully exterminated entire ethnic groups for the sake of land and resources, staged a real hunt for people like animals. This is contrary to the very nature of man, truth, freedom and justice.
And we – we are proud that in the 20th century it was our country that led the anti-colonial movement, which opened up opportunities for many peoples of the world to develop in order to reduce poverty and inequality, to overcome hunger and disease.
I emphasize that one of the reasons for the centuries-old Russophobia, the undisguised malice of these Western elites towards Russia is precisely that we did not allow ourselves to be robbed during the period of colonial conquests, we forced the Europeans to trade for mutual benefit. This was achieved by creating a strong centralized state in Russia, which developed and strengthened itself on the great moral values of Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, on Russian culture and the Russian word open to all.
It is known that plans for interventions in Russia were repeatedly made, they tried to use the Time of Troubles at the beginning of the 17th century, and the period of upheavals after 1917 failed. The West nevertheless managed to seize the wealth of Russia at the end of the 20th century, when the state was destroyed. Then we were called both friends and partners, but in fact they treated us like a colony – trillions of dollars were siphoned out of the country under a variety of schemes. We all remember everything, we have not forgotten anything.
And these days, people in Donetsk and Luhansk, in Kherson and Zaporizhia have spoken out in favor of restoring our historical unity. Thank you! (Applause)
Western countries have been repeating for centuries that they bring freedom and democracy to other peoples. Everything is exactly the opposite: instead of democracy – suppression and exploitation; instead of freedom – enslavement and violence. The entire unipolar world order is inherently anti-democratic and not free, it is deceitful and hypocritical through and through.
The United States is the only country in the world to use nuclear weapons twice, destroying the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By the way, they set a precedent.
Let me also remind you that the United States, together with the British, turned Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne and many other German cities into ruins without any military necessity during World War II. And this was done defiantly, without any, I repeat, military necessity. There was only one goal: just as in the case of the nuclear bombings in Japan, to intimidate both our country and the whole world.
The United States left a terrible mark on the memory of the peoples of Korea and Vietnam with barbaric “carpet” bombing, the use of napalm and chemical weapons.
Until now, they actually occupy Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea and other countries, and at the same time cynically call them equal allies. Listen, I wonder what kind of alliance is this? The whole world knows that the leaders of these countries are being watched, the first persons of these states are being installed listening devices not only in office, but also in residential premises. This is a real shame. A shame both for those who do this and for those who, like a slave, silently and meekly swallow this rudeness.
They call orders and rude, insulting shouts at the address of their vassals Euro-Atlantic solidarity, the development of biological weapons, experiments on living people, including in Ukraine, noble medical research.
It is with their destructive policy, wars, and robbery that they provoked today’s colossal surge in migration flows. Millions of people suffer deprivation, abuse, die by the thousands, trying to get to the same Europe.
Now they are exporting bread from Ukraine. Where is he going under the pretext of “providing food security for the world’s poorest countries”? Where is it going? Everything goes to the same European countries. There, five percent only went to the poorest countries in the world. Again, another swindle and outright deception.
The American elite, in fact, uses the tragedy of these people to weaken their competitors, to destroy nation states. This also applies to Europe, this also applies to the identity of France, Italy, Spain and other countries with a long history.
Washington is demanding more and more sanctions against Russia, and most European politicians meekly agree with this. They clearly understand that the United States, pushing through the EU’s complete renunciation of Russian energy carriers and other resources, is practically leading to the de-industrialization of Europe, to completely taking over the European market – they understand everything, these elites are European, they understand everything, but prefer to serve the interests of others. This is no longer servility, but a direct betrayal of their peoples. But God bless them, that’s their business.
But sanctions are not enough for the Anglo-Saxons, they switched to sabotage – unbelievable, but true – having organized explosions on the international gas pipelines of the Nord Stream, which run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, they actually began to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure. It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Who benefits, he did, of course.
The US dictate is based on brute force, on fist law. Sometimes beautifully wrapped, sometimes without any wrapper, but the essence is the same – fist law. Hence the deployment and maintenance of hundreds of military bases in all corners of the world, the expansion of NATO, attempts to put together new military alliances such as AUKUS and the like. Active work is also underway to create a military-political link between Washington-Seoul-Tokyo. All those states that possess or seek to possess genuine strategic sovereignty and are capable of challenging Western hegemony are automatically included in the category of enemies.
It is on these principles that the US and NATO military doctrines are built, requiring nothing less than total domination. The Western elites present their neo-colonial plans in the same hypocritical way, even with a pretense of peacefulness, they talk about some kind of containment, and such a crafty word wanders from one strategy to another, but, in fact, means only one thing: undermining any sovereign centers of development.
We have already heard about the containment of Russia, China, Iran. I believe that other countries of Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, as well as current partners and allies of the United States, are next in line. We know that whatever they don’t like, they also impose sanctions against their allies – first against one bank, then against another; now against one company, now against another. This is the same practice, and will expand. They target everyone, including our closest neighbors – the CIS countries.
At the same time, the West has clearly and has long been wishful thinking. So, starting a sanctions blitzkrieg against Russia, they believed that they would once again be able to build the whole world on their command. But, as it turned out, such a rosy prospect excites far from everyone – perhaps complete political masochists and admirers of other non-traditional forms of international relations. Most states refuse to salute, and choose a reasonable path of cooperation with Russia.
The West clearly did not expect such disobedience from them. They just got used to acting according to a template, to take everything impudently, blackmail, bribery, intimidation, and convince themselves that these methods will work forever, as if they were ossified and frozen in the past.
Such self-confidence is a direct product not only of the notorious concept of one’s own exclusivity – although this, of course, is simply surprising – but also of a real hunger for information in the West. They drowned the truth in an ocean of myths, illusions and fakes, using extremely aggressive propaganda, lying recklessly, like Goebbels. The more incredible the lie, the faster they will believe in it – that’s how they act, according to this principle.
But people cannot be fed with printed dollars and euros. It is impossible to feed with these pieces of paper, and it is impossible to heat a home with the virtual, inflated capitalization of Western social networks. All this is important, what I’m talking about, but what was just said is no less important: you can’t feed anyone with paper money – you need food, and you won’t warm anyone with these inflated capitalizations – you need energy.
Therefore, politicians in the same Europe have to convince their fellow citizens to eat less, wash less often, and dress warmer at home. And those who begin to ask fair questions “actually, why is that so?” – are immediately declared enemies, extremists and radicals. They switch arrows to Russia, they say: here, they say, who is the source of all your troubles. They lie again.
What do I want to highlight in particular? There is every reason to believe that the Western elites are not going to look for constructive ways out of the global food and energy crisis, which arose through their fault, precisely through their fault, as a result of their many years of policy long before our special military operation in Ukraine, in the Donbass. They do not intend to solve the problems of injustice and inequality. There is a fear that they are ready to use other recipes that are familiar to them.
And here it is worth recalling that the West emerged from the contradictions of the early 20th century through the First World War. The profits from World War II allowed the United States to finally overcome the consequences of the Great Depression and become the largest economy in the world, to impose on the planet the power of the dollar as a global reserve currency. And the overdue crisis of the 80s – and in the 80s of the last century the crisis also aggravated – the West largely overcame by appropriating the legacy and resources of the Soviet Union that was collapsing and collapsed in the end. It is a fact.
Now, in order to extricate themselves from yet another tangle of contradictions, they need to break Russia and other states that choose the sovereign path of development at all costs in order to plunder other people’s wealth even more and at this expense close and plug their own holes. If this does not happen, I do not rule out that they will try to completely bring the system to a collapse, on which everything can be blamed, or, God forbid, they will decide to use the well-known formula “the war will write everything off”.
Russia understands its responsibility to the world community and will do everything to bring such hotheads to their senses.
It is clear that the current neo-colonial model is ultimately doomed. But I repeat that her real owners will cling to her to the end. They simply have nothing to offer the world, except for the preservation of the same system of robberies and racketeering.
In fact, they spit on the natural right of billions of people, most of humanity, to freedom and justice, to determine their own future on their own. Now they have completely moved to a radical denial of moral norms, religion, and family.
Let’s answer some very simple questions for ourselves. I now want to return to what I said, I want to address all the citizens of the country – not only to those colleagues who are in the hall – to all the citizens of Russia: do we want to have, here, in our country, in Russia, parent number one, number two, number three instead of mom and dad – have they gone made out there? Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed on children in our schools from the primary grades? To be drummed into them that there are various supposed genders besides women and men, and to be offered a sex change operation? Do we want all this for our country and our children? For us, all this is unacceptable, we have a different future, our own future
I repeat, the dictatorship of the Western elites is directed against all societies, including the peoples of the Western countries themselves. This is a challenge for everyone. Such a complete denial of man, the overthrow of faith and traditional values, the suppression of freedom acquiring the features of a “reverse religion” [the opposite of what the religion is] – outright Satanism. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ, denouncing the false prophets, says: By their fruits you shall know them. And these poisonous fruits are already obvious to people – not only in our country, in all countries, including many people in the West itself.
The world has entered a period of revolutionary transformations, they are of a fundamental nature. New development centers are being formed, they represent the majority – the majority! – of the world community and are ready not only to declare their interests, but also to protect them, and see multipolarity as an opportunity to strengthen their sovereignty, which means to gain true freedom, a historical perspective, their right to independent, creative, original development, to a harmonious process.
All over the world, including in Europe and the United States, as I said, we have many like-minded people, and we feel, we see their support. A liberation, anti-colonial movement against unipolar hegemony is already developing within the most diverse countries and societies. His subjectivity will only grow. It is this force that will determine the future geopolitical reality.
Today we are fighting for a just and free path, first of all for ourselves, for Russia, for diktat, despotism to remain forever in the past. I am convinced that countries and peoples understand that a policy based on the exclusivity of anyone, on the suppression of other cultures and peoples, is inherently criminal, that we must turn this shameful page. The collapse of Western hegemony that has begun is irreversible. And I repeat again: it will not be the same as before.
The battlefield to which fate and history have called us is the battlefield for our people, for great historical Russia. (Applause)
For a great historical Russia, for future generations, for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We must protect them from enslavement, from monstrous experiments that are aimed at crippling their minds and souls.
Today we are fighting so that it would never occur to anyone that Russia, our people, our language, our culture can be taken and erased from history. Today, we need the consolidation of the entire society, and such cohesion can only be based on sovereignty, freedom, creation, and justice. Our values are humanity, mercy and compassion.
And I want to end my speech with the words of a true patriot Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin: “If I consider Russia my Motherland, then this means that I love in Russian, contemplate and think, sing and speak Russian; that I believe in the spiritual strength of the Russian people. His spirit is my spirit; his fate is my fate; his suffering is my grief; its flowering is my joy.”
Behind these words is a great spiritual choice, which for more than a thousand years of Russian statehood was followed by many generations of our ancestors. Today we are making this choice, the citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, the residents of Zaporozhye and Kherson regions have made this choice. They made the choice to be with their people, to be with the Motherland, to live its destiny, to win together with it.
Behind us is the truth, behind us is Russia!