Nuclear Point of No Return: Putin Speech Transcript

Addressing senior diplomats on Friday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Western leaders were trying to come up with “some kind of legal basis” for the asset freezes, “despite all the chicanery, theft is certainly theft and will not go unpunished”.

He also launched an attack on the US and Europe, saying Russia is being pushed "unacceptably close to the point of no return" ' on the nuclear confrontation.

Note: This transcript presents what Putin said and as he said - it may contain a selective view of information to argue Russia’s case for its invasion of Ukraine. Russia refers to the Russia-Ukraine War as a special military operation. 

Here is the full text transcript of the speech on June 14, 2024:

Dear colleagues, good afternoon!

I am pleased to welcome you all and, at the beginning of our meeting, I would like to thank you for your hard work in the interests of Russia and our people.

The last time we met in such a broad format was in late November 2021. Since then, many pivotal, truly fateful events have occurred in both our country and the world. Therefore, I believe it is important to assess the current situation in global and regional affairs, as well as to set appropriate tasks for the foreign policy department. All of them are aimed at achieving the main goal: creating conditions for the sustainable development of our country, ensuring its security, and improving the well-being of Russian families.

Working in this direction, in the realm of modern, complex, and rapidly changing realities, requires even greater concentration of efforts, initiative, perseverance, and the ability not only to respond to current challenges but also to form our own long-term agenda. Together with partners, we need to propose and discuss in an open and constructive manner solutions to fundamental issues that concern not only us but the entire global community.

I reiterate that the world is rapidly changing. There will no longer be the same global politics, economy, or technological competition as before. More and more states are striving to strengthen their sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and national and cultural identity. The countries of the Global South and East are coming to the forefront, and the role of Africa and Latin America is growing. We have always, since Soviet times, emphasized the importance of these regions of the world, but today the dynamics are entirely different, and it is becoming noticeable. The pace of transformation in Eurasia, where a number of large-scale integration projects are actively being implemented, has also significantly accelerated.

It is precisely based on this new political and economic reality that the contours of a multipolar and multilateral world order are being formed today, and this is an objective process. It reflects the cultural and civilizational diversity that is organically inherent to humanity, despite all attempts at artificial unification.

These profound systemic changes undoubtedly inspire optimism and hope, as the assertion of the principles of multipolarity and multilateralism in international affairs, including respect for international law and broad representation, allows us to jointly address the most complex problems for mutual benefit and to build mutually beneficial relationships and cooperation among sovereign states in the interests of the well-being and security of peoples.

This vision of the future resonates with the aspirations of the vast majority of countries in the world. We see this, among other things, through the growing interest in the work of such a universal association as BRICS, which is based on a unique culture of trustful dialogue, sovereign equality of participants, and mutual respect. Within the framework of Russia's chairmanship this year, we will facilitate the smooth inclusion of new BRICS participants into the working structures of the association.

I ask the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to continue substantive work and dialogue with partners to come to the BRICS summit in Kazan in October with a significant set of agreed decisions that will set the direction for our cooperation in politics and security, economics and finance, science, culture, sports, and humanitarian ties.

Overall, I believe that the potential of BRICS will eventually allow it to become one of the core regulatory institutions of the multipolar world order.

In this context, it should be noted that the international discussion on the parameters of state interaction in a multipolar world and the democratization of the entire system of international relations is already underway. For instance, with our colleagues in the Commonwealth of Independent States, we have agreed and adopted a joint document on international relations in a multipolar world. We have invited partners to discuss this topic on other international platforms, primarily in the SCO and BRICS.

We are interested in seeing this dialogue seriously developed within the UN, including on such a basic, vitally important topic for everyone as the creation of an indivisible security system. In other words, the establishment in world affairs of the principle that the security of some cannot be ensured at the expense of the security of others.

Let me remind you in this regard that at the end of the 20th century, after the end of the acute military-ideological confrontation, the world community had a unique chance to build a reliable, fair order in the field of security. For this, not much was required - a simple ability to listen to the opinions of all interested parties, mutual willingness to take them into account. Our country was committed to such constructive work.

However, a different approach prevailed. Western powers, led by the United States, believed that they had won the "Cold War" and were entitled to determine on their own how the world should be arranged. The practical expression of this worldview was the project of unlimited NATO expansion in space and time, although there were other ideas on how to ensure security in Europe.

To our fair questions, they responded with excuses, claiming that no one intended to attack Russia and that NATO expansion was not directed against Russia. They forgot the promises given to the Soviet Union and later to Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s about not including new members in the bloc. And if they did remember, they would dismiss them with a smirk, citing that these assurances were verbal and thus non-binding.

We consistently pointed out the mistaken course chosen by Western elites, not merely criticizing and warning, but offering alternatives and constructive solutions, emphasizing the importance of developing a security mechanism that would satisfy everyone – and I want to emphasize this, satisfy everyone. Simply listing the initiatives that Russia has put forward over the years would take more than one paragraph.

Let's recall the idea of a European security treaty, which we proposed back in 2008. The same topics were raised in the memorandum of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was handed over to the United States and NATO in December 2021.

But all our attempts – and there were many attempts, too numerous to list – to reason with our counterparts, to explain, urge, and request, found no response whatsoever. Western countries, confident not only in their righteousness but in their power and ability to impose anything they wanted on the rest of the world, simply ignored other opinions. At best, they considered discussing secondary issues that, in essence, solved nothing or topics that were beneficial only to the West.

Meanwhile, it quickly became clear that the Western scheme, proclaimed as the only correct one for ensuring security and prosperity in Europe and the world, did not actually work. Let's recall the tragedy in the Balkans. Internal problems – of course, they existed – accumulated in the former Yugoslavia and sharply escalated due to crude external interference. Even then, the main principle of NATO diplomacy manifested itself in all its glory – deeply flawed and futile in resolving complex internal conflicts, namely: blame one of the parties that they didn't like for some reason, and unleash all political, informational, and military might, economic sanctions and restrictions on them.

Later, the same approaches were applied in different parts of the world, as we all know very well: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and so on, – and they brought nothing but aggravation of existing problems, broken lives of millions of people, destruction of entire states, and growth of humanitarian and social disasters, terrorist enclaves. In essence, no country in the world is immune from joining this sad list.

Now, the West is trying aggressively to interfere in the affairs of the Middle East. They once monopolized this direction, and the result is now clear and obvious to everyone. The South Caucasus and Central Asia. Two years ago, at the NATO summit in Madrid, they announced that the alliance would now deal with security issues not only in the Euro-Atlantic but also in the Asia-Pacific region. They claim they can't do without them there. Clearly, this is an attempt to increase pressure on the countries of the region whose development they decided to curb. As is well known, Russia is one of the top countries on this list.

I also remind you that it was Washington that undermined strategic stability by unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty, and, together with its NATO satellites, destroyed the confidence-building and arms control system in Europe that had been created over decades.

Ultimately, the selfishness and arrogance of Western states led to the current extremely dangerous state of affairs. We have come unacceptably close to the point of no return. Calls to inflict a strategic defeat to Russia, which possesses the largest nuclear arsenals, demonstrate the extreme adventurism of Western politicians. They either do not understand the scale of the threat they are creating or are simply obsessed with their belief in their own impunity and exceptionalism. Either can lead to tragedy.

Obviously, we are witnessing the collapse of the Euro-Atlantic security system. Today it simply isn't there. It actually needs to be created anew. All this requires us, together with our partners, with all interested countries, and there are many of them, to work out our options for ensuring security in Eurasia, then offering them for broad international discussion.

This is precisely the instruction outlined in my Address to the Federal Assembly. We are talking about formulating, in the foreseeable future, an outline of equal and indivisible security, mutually beneficial, equal cooperation and development on the Eurasian continent.

What needs to be done for this and on what principles?

First, we need to establish dialogue with all potential participants in such a future security system. To begin with, I request that the necessary issues be worked out with countries open to constructive interaction with Russia.

During a recent visit to the People's Republic of China, we discussed this issue with Chairman Xi Jinping. We noted that the Russian proposal does not contradict, but rather complements and fully aligns with the main principles of China's Global Security Initiative.

Second, it is important to proceed from the understanding that the future security architecture is open to all Eurasian countries wishing to participate in its creation. "For all" means including European and NATO countries, of course. We live on the same continent, and no matter what happens, we cannot change geography; we will have to coexist and work together one way or another.

Yes, now Russia’s relations with the EU and with a number of European states have deteriorated, and, as I have emphasized this many times, it is not our fault. The anti-Russian propaganda campaign, in which very senior European figures are participating, is accompanied by speculation that Russia is allegedly planning to attack Europe. I have said many times and will not repeat again in this hall: we all understand that this is absolute nonsense, only a justification for an arms race.

In this context, I will make a brief digression. The danger to Europe comes not from Russia. The main threat to Europeans is the critical and growing, almost total dependence on the USA: in the military, political, technological, ideological, and informational spheres. Europe is being increasingly pushed to the sidelines of global economic development, plunged into chaos with migration and other acute problems, stripped of international subjectivity and cultural identity.

It sometimes seems that ruling European politicians and EU bureaucrats fear falling out of favor with Washington more than losing the trust of their own people, their own citizens. Recent elections to the European Parliament also show this. European politicians swallow humiliation, rudeness, and scandals involving surveillance of European leaders while the USA simply uses them for its interests: forcing them to buy expensive gas – by the way, in Europe gas is three to four times more expensive than in the USA – or, as now, demanding that European countries increase arms supplies to Ukraine. By the way, constant demands come from here and there. And sanctions are imposed on them, on economic operators in Europe. They do it without any hesitation.

Now they are forcing them to increase arms supplies to Ukraine, to expand their capacities for producing artillery shells. Listen, who will need these shells when the conflict in Ukraine ends? How can this ensure Europe's military security? It is unclear. The USA is investing in military technologies, in the technologies of tomorrow: space, modern drones, strike systems on new physical principles, in other words, in areas that will determine the nature of armed struggle in the future and, therefore, the military-political potential of states, their positions in the world. But now they are telling them to invest money where they need it. But this does not increase any European potential. To hell with them, let them. Maybe it's good for us, but in essence, it is so.

If Europe wants to maintain itself as one of the independent centers of global development and cultural-civilizational poles of the planet, it undoubtedly needs to have good relations with Russia, and we are, above all, ready for this.

This simple and obvious truth was well understood by politicians of truly European and global stature, patriots of their countries and peoples, who thought in historical categories, not followers of others' will and hints. Charles de Gaulle spoke a lot about this in the post-war years. I also remember well how in 1991, during a conversation in which I was personally involved, Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany emphasized the importance of Europe-Russia partnership. I hope that new generations of European politicians will eventually return to this legacy.

As for the United States itself, the relentless attempts of today's ruling liberal-globalist elites to spread their ideology worldwide by any means, to maintain their imperial status and dominance, only further exhaust the country, lead it to degradation, and contradict the true interests of the American people. If it were not for this dead-end path, aggressive messianism, based on a belief in their own exceptionalism, international relations would have long been stabilized.

Third. To promote the idea of a Eurasian security system, we need to significantly activate the dialogue process among the already operating multilateral organizations in Eurasia. This primarily concerns the Union State, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

We see the prospect of connecting other influential Eurasian associations from Southeast Asia to the Middle East to these processes in the future.

Fourth. We believe it is time to start a broad discussion on a new system of bilateral and multilateral collective security guarantees in Eurasia. In the long term, we need to move towards gradually reducing the military presence of external powers in the Eurasian region.

We certainly understand that in the current situation this thesis may seem unrealistic, but that is for now. But if we build a reliable security system in the future, there will simply be no need for the presence of extra-regional military contingents. By and large, if we are honest, there is no need today either – just occupation, that's all.

Ultimately, we believe that the states and regional structures of Eurasia should themselves determine specific areas of cooperation in the field of joint security. Based on this, they should also build a system of working institutions, mechanisms, and agreements that would really serve to achieve common goals of stability and development.

In this regard, we support the initiative of our Belarusian friends to develop a program document – the Charter of Multipolarity and Diversity in the 21st Century. It can formulate not only the framework principles of the Eurasian architecture based on the fundamental norms of international law but also, in a broader sense, a strategic vision of the essence and nature of multipolarity and multilateralism as a new system of international relations replacing the Western-centric world. I consider it important and ask for a deep elaboration of this document with our partners and all interested states. I would add that when discussing such complex and comprehensive issues, of course, maximum broad representation is needed, taking into account different approaches and positions.

Fifth. An essential part of the Eurasian security and development system should, of course, be issues of economics, social welfare, integration, and mutually beneficial cooperation, addressing common problems such as overcoming poverty, inequality, climate, and ecology, developing mechanisms to respond to pandemic threats and global economic crises – all important issues.

The West, by its actions, not only undermined military-political stability in the world but also discredited and weakened key market institutions with sanctions and trade wars. Using the IMF and the World Bank, manipulating the climate agenda, it holds back the development of the Global South. Losing in competition, even by the rules that the West itself wrote, it resorts to prohibitive barriers and all kinds of protectionism. So, in the USA, they have practically abandoned the World Trade Organization as a regulator of international trade. Everything is blocked. Moreover, they pressure not only competitors but also their satellites. It is enough to look at how they are now "draining the juices" from European economies, which are balancing on the brink of recession.

Western countries froze part of Russian assets and foreign exchange reserves. Now they are thinking about how to provide at least some kind of legal basis in order to finally appropriate them. But, despite all the chicanery, theft will certainly remain theft and, on the other hand, will not go unpunished.

The question is even deeper. By stealing Russian assets, they will take another step towards destroying the system they created themselves, which for many decades ensured their prosperity, allowed them to consume more than they earned, attracting money from all over the world through debts and obligations. Now, all countries and companies, sovereign funds realize that their assets and reserves are far from safe – both legally and economically. And the next in line for expropriation by the USA and the West could be anyone – those sovereign funds.

Even now, trust in the financial system based on Western reserve currencies is declining. There is an outflow of funds from Western government securities and bonds, as well as from some European banks, which were recently considered absolutely safe places to store capital. They are already exporting gold from them. And rightly so.

I believe that we need to seriously step up the formation of effective and secure bilateral and multilateral foreign economic mechanisms, alternative to those controlled by the West. This includes expanding settlements in national currencies, creating independent payment systems, and building production and sales chains bypassing the channels blocked or compromised by the West.

Of course, it is necessary to continue efforts to develop international transport corridors in Eurasia – the continent whose natural geographic core is Russia.

Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I instruct you to maximize efforts to develop international agreements in all these areas. They are extremely important for strengthening economic cooperation for both our country and our partners. Thus, the construction of the Greater Eurasian Partnership should receive a new impetus, which, in essence, can become the socio-economic foundation of the new system of indivisible security in Europe.

Dear colleagues! The essence of our proposals is to form a system in which all states would be confident in their own security. Then we can indeed take a constructive approach to solving numerous conflicts that exist today. Security and mutual trust issues are not confined to the Eurasian continent; growing tensions are observed everywhere. And the extent to which the world is interconnected and interdependent is evident all the time, and the tragic example for all of us is the Ukrainian crisis, whose consequences resonate globally.

But I want to say right away: the crisis related to Ukraine is not a conflict between two states, let alone two peoples caused by some problems between them. If this were the case, there is no doubt that Russians and Ukrainians, united by common history and culture, spiritual values, and millions of family and human ties, would have found a way to fairly resolve any issues and disagreements.

But things are different: the roots of the conflict are not in bilateral relations. The events in Ukraine are a direct result of global and European developments in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, of the aggressive, brazen, and absolutely reckless policies pursued by the West all these years long before the start of the special military operation.

These Western elites, as I mentioned today, after the end of the "Cold War," embarked on a course of further geopolitical restructuring of the world, creating and imposing the notorious order based on rules, in which strong, sovereign, and self-sufficient states simply do not fit.

Hence the policy of containing our country. The goals of this policy are openly declared by some actors in the USA and Europe. Today they speak of the notorious decolonization of Russia. In essence, this is an attempt to provide an ideological foundation for the dismemberment of our Motherland along national lines. The dismemberment of the Soviet Union, of Russia, has long been discussed. All present in this hall are well aware of this.

Implementing this strategy, Western countries took a line on the absorption and military-political exploitation of territories close to us. There have been five, and now six, waves of NATO expansion. They tried to turn Ukraine into their foothold, making it an "anti-Russia." To achieve these goals, they invested money, resources, bought politicians and entire parties, rewrote history and educational programs, nurtured and cultivated groups of neo-Nazis and radicals. They did everything to undermine our interstate ties, divide, and set our peoples against each other.

Pursuing such a policy even more brazenly and unceremoniously was hindered by southeastern Ukraine – territories that had been part of the greater historical Russia for centuries. People lived there, and still live, who, even after Ukraine declared independence in 1991, advocated for good and the closest relations with our country. People – both Russians and Ukrainians, representatives of different nationalities, united by the Russian language, culture, traditions, and historical memory.

The position, mood, interests, and voices of these people – millions of people living in the southeast – had to be considered, taken into account by then-Ukrainian presidents and politicians who competed for office and used the votes of these voters. But, using these votes, they maneuvered, lied a lot, talked about the so-called European choice. They did not dare to completely break with Russia because the southeast of Ukraine had a different stance, which could not be ignored. Such duality has always characterized the Ukrainian authorities throughout the years after recognizing independence.

The West, of course, saw this. They long saw and understood the problems that existed there and could be stirred up, understood the restraining significance of the southeastern factor, and that no long-term propaganda could fundamentally change the situation. Of course, much was done, but it was difficult to radically alter the situation.

They failed to distort the historical identity, consciousness of most people in southeastern Ukraine, and eradicate the positive attitude towards Russia and the feeling of our historical unity from them, including from the younger generations. And so they decided again to act with force, simply to break the people of the southeast, disregarding their opinion. For this, they organized, financed, and, of course, took advantage of the internal political difficulties in Ukraine, but still consistently and purposefully prepared an armed coup.

The cities of Ukraine were swept by a wave of pogroms, violence, and murders. Authorities in Kyiv was finally seized and usurped by radicals. Their aggressive nationalist slogans, including the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators, were elevated to the rank of state ideology. They proclaimed a course to abolish the Russian language in state and public spheres, intensified pressure on Orthodox believers, interference in church affairs, which eventually led to a schism. Nobody seems to notice this interference, as if it is the norm. Try doing something different somewhere else, and there will be so much artistic whistling that ears will fall off. But it is allowed there because it is against Russia.

Millions of Ukrainians, primarily from its eastern regions, opposed the coup, as is well known. They were threatened with reprisals, terror. And first of all, the new authorities in Kyiv began preparing a strike against Russian-speaking Crimea, which was transferred from the RSFSR to Ukraine in 1954, as you know, in violation of all, even the then-existing Soviet laws and procedures. In this situation, of course, we could not abandon, leave without protection the Crimeans and Sevastopolians. They made their choice, and in March 2014, as is well known, the historic reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia took place.

In Kharkov, Kherson, Odessa, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Lugansk, and Mariupol, peaceful protests against the coup began to be suppressed, and terror was unleashed by the Kyiv regime and nationalist groups. There is probably no need to recall, everyone remembers well what happened in these regions.

In May 2014, referendums on the status of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics were held, in which the absolute majority of residents voted for independence and sovereignty. Immediately a question arises: could people generally express their will in this way, could they declare their independence? Those sitting in this hall understand that of course, they could, they had every right and reason to do so, in accordance with international law, including the right of peoples to self-determination. No need to remind you, but nonetheless, since the media are working, I will say, Article 1, Paragraph 2 of the UN Charter grants this right.

In this context, I remind you of the notorious Kosovo precedent. It was talked about many times before, and now I will say again. The precedent created by the Western countries themselves, recognizing the separation of Kosovo from Serbia in 2008 as legitimate in absolutely similar circumstances. Then followed the well-known decision of the International Court of Justice, which on July 22, 2010, based on Article 1, Paragraph 2 of the UN Charter, ruled, and I quote: "No general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence can be inferred from the practice of the Security Council." And the next quote: "General international law does not contain any applicable prohibition on declarations of independence." Moreover, it was written there that parts of a country, any country, that decided to declare their independence do not have to seek permission from the central authorities of their former state. Everything is written there, all written by their own hand in black and white.

So did these republics – Donetsk and Lugansk – have the right to declare their independence? Of course, they did. The question cannot be considered in any other way.

What did the regime in Kyiv do in this situation? Completely ignored the choice of people and launched a full-scale war against the new independent states – the people's republics of Donbass, using aviation, artillery, and tanks. Bombings and shelling of peaceful cities began, acts of intimidation. And what happened next? The residents of Donbass took up arms to protect their lives, their homes, and their legitimate rights and interests.

In the West, it is now constantly stated that Russia started the war in the context of the special military operation and that it is the aggressor, which is why they claim it is permissible to strike its territory with Western weapon systems, claiming Ukraine is defending itself and can do so.

I want to emphasize again: Russia did not start the war, it was the Kyiv regime that did, after the residents of part of Ukraine declared their independence in accordance with international law, and they started military actions and continue them. This is aggression if we do not recognize the right of these peoples living in those territories to declare their independence. What is this then? This is aggression. And those who have been helping the Kyiv regime's military machine all these years are accomplices of the aggressor.

Then, in 2014, the residents of Donbass did not surrender. The militia units stood their ground, repelled the punitive forces, and then pushed them back from Donetsk and Lugansk. We hoped this would sober up those who had unleashed this bloodshed. To stop the bloodshed, Russia called for negotiations, and they began with the participation of Kyiv and representatives of the Donbass republics with the assistance of Russia, Germany, and France.

The talks were difficult, but nonetheless, the Minsk agreements were concluded in 2015. We seriously treated their implementation, hoping to resolve the situation within the framework of a peaceful process and international law. We hoped this would lead to the consideration of the legitimate interests and demands of Donbass, the consolidation in the constitution of the special status of these regions, and the fundamental rights of the people living there while maintaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We were ready for this and were ready to persuade the people living in those territories to resolve the issues in this way, offering various compromises and solutions.

But in the end, everything was rejected. The Minsk agreements were simply discarded by Kyiv. As later revealed by Ukrainian leaders, they were not satisfied with a single clause of these documents, simply lying and maneuvering as much as possible.

The former Chancellor of Germany and the former President of France, who were de facto co-authors and supposed guarantors of the Minsk agreements, later also openly admitted that they never planned to implement them, but only needed to stall the situation to buy time to build up Ukrainian armed forces, supplying them with weapons and equipment. They simply deceived us once again, tricked us.

Instead of a real peace process, instead of reintegration and national reconciliation policies they liked to talk about in Kyiv, Donbass was shelled for eight years. Terror attacks, killings, and harsh blockades were organized. For all these years, the residents of Donbass (women, children, the elderly) were declared "second-class people," "subhumans," threatened with retribution, saying, "We will come and deal with everyone." What is this, if not genocide in the center of Europe in the 21st century? And in Europe and the USA, they pretended that nothing was happening, no one noticed anything.

At the end of 2021 – early 2022, the Minsk process was finally buried, buried by Kyiv and its Western patrons, and a massive strike on Donbass was again planned. A large grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was preparing to launch a new offensive on Lugansk and Donetsk, of course, with ethnic cleansing and enormous human casualties, hundreds of thousands of refugees. We were obliged to prevent this catastrophe, protect the people, and could not make any other decision.

Russia finally recognized the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. We did not recognize them for eight years, all the time hoping to reach an agreement. The result is now known. And on February 21, 2022, we concluded treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance with these republics. The question arises: did the people's republics have the right to turn to us for support if we recognized their independence? And did we have the right to recognize their independence just as they had the right to declare their sovereignty under the mentioned articles and the decisions of the International Court of Justice? They had the right to declare independence? They did. But if they had such a right and used it, then we had the right to conclude treaties with them – and we did so, I repeat, in full accordance with international law and Article 51 of the UN Charter.

At the same time, we addressed the Kyiv authorities with a call to withdraw their troops from Donbass. I can tell you, there were contacts, we immediately told them: withdraw your troops from there, and this will end everything. This proposal was practically immediately rejected, simply ignored, although it provided a real opportunity to resolve the issue peacefully.

On February 24, 2022, Russia was forced to announce the start of a special military operation. Addressing the citizens of Russia, the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, and the Ukrainian society, I then outlined the goals of this operation – to protect the people in Donbass, restore peace, conduct the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, and thereby remove threats to our state, restore the balance of security in Europe.

At the same time, we continued to prioritize achieving these goals by political and diplomatic methods. I remind you that already at the very first stage of the special military operation, our country entered into negotiations with representatives of the Kyiv regime. They took place first in Belarus, then in Turkey. We tried to convey our main message: respect the choice of Donbass, the will of the people living there, withdraw troops, stop shelling peaceful cities and villages. Nothing more was needed; other issues could be resolved later. The response was: no, we will fight. Obviously, this was the command from the Western masters, and now I will also speak about this.

At that time, in February-March 2022, our troops, as is known, approached Kyiv. There are many speculations about this in Ukraine and the West, both then and now.

What do I want to say about this? Our units indeed stood near Kyiv, and the military departments and the security bloc had various proposals on possible further actions, but there was no political decision to storm the three-million city, no matter what anyone says or imagines.

In essence, it was nothing more than an operation to force the Ukrainian regime to peace. The troops were there to push the Ukrainian side to negotiations, try to find acceptable solutions, and thus end the war, started by Kyiv against Donbass back in 2014, and resolve issues that posed a threat to our country's security, to Russia's security.

Oddly enough, as a result, it was indeed possible to reach agreements that essentially satisfied both Moscow and Kyiv. These agreements were put on paper and initialed in Istanbul by the head of the Ukrainian negotiating delegation. So, the Kyiv authorities were satisfied with such a solution.

The document was called the "Treaty of Permanent Neutrality and Security Guarantees for Ukraine." It was a compromise document, but its key points aligned with our fundamental demands and addressed the goals stated as essential even at the start of the special military operation. Including, oddly enough, I emphasize, on the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. And here, we also managed to find complex solutions. They were complex, but they were found. Namely: it was implied that a Ukrainian law would be adopted banning Nazi ideology and any of its manifestations. Everything is written there.

Furthermore, Ukraine, in exchange for international security guarantees, would limit the size of its armed forces, commit not to join military alliances, not to allow foreign military bases on its territory, not to deploy them, and not to conduct military exercises on its territory. Everything is written on paper.

We, for our part, also understanding Ukraine's concerns about security, agreed that Ukraine, formally not joining NATO, would receive guarantees practically equivalent to those enjoyed by alliance members. For us, this was a difficult decision, but we recognized the legitimacy of Ukraine's demands for its security and, in principle, did not object to the formulations proposed by Kyiv. These were formulations proposed by Kyiv, and we did not object to them in general, understanding that the main thing was to stop the bloodshed and war in Donbass.

On March 29, 2022, we withdrew our troops from Kyiv, as we were assured that the necessary conditions needed to be created for the completion of the political negotiation process. And that it was unacceptable for one side to sign such agreements, as our Western colleagues said, with a pistol to their heads. Fine, we agreed to this too.

However, immediately, the next day after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kyiv, the Ukrainian leadership suspended its participation in the negotiation process, organizing the well-known provocation in Bucha and refused the prepared draft agreements. I think it is clear today why this dirty provocation was needed – to somehow explain the refusal of the results achieved during the negotiations. The path to peace was again rejected.

This was done, as we now know, at the direction of Western overseers, including the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who, during his visit to Kyiv, directly stated: no agreements, Russia must be defeated on the battlefield, achieve its strategic defeat. And they continued to intensify the armament of Ukraine, speaking about the need to deliver a strategic defeat to us, as I just reminded. And some time later, it is well known, the President of Ukraine issued a decree prohibiting his representatives and even himself from conducting any negotiations with Moscow. This episode with our attempt to resolve the issue by peaceful means again ended in nothing.

By the way, on the topic of negotiations, I would like to make another episode public in this audience. I haven't spoken about this publicly before, but some of those present are aware of it. After the Russian army occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, many Western politicians offered their mediation for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. One of them was on a working visit to Moscow on March 5, 2022. We accepted his mediation efforts, especially since he mentioned during the conversation that he had the support of the leaders of Germany and France, as well as the USA at a higher level.

During the conversation, our foreign guest asked a curious question: if you are helping Donbas, why are Russian troops in southern Ukraine, including the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions? Our response was that this was the decision of the Russian General Staff in planning the operation. Today, I will add that the plan was to bypass some fortified areas that the Ukrainian authorities had built over eight years in Donbas, primarily to liberate Mariupol.

Then the foreign colleague, a professional person, to his credit, clarified: will our Russian troops remain in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions? And what will happen to these regions after the goals of the special military operation are achieved? I responded that, in general, I do not rule out the retention of Ukrainian sovereignty over these territories, provided that Russia has a secure land corridor to Crimea.

In other words, Kyiv must guarantee what is known as a servitude—a legally formalized right of access for Russia to the Crimean Peninsula through the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. This is an essential political decision. And, of course, in the final version, it would not be made unilaterally but only after consultations with the Security Council, other structures, and, of course, after discussions with citizens, the public of our country, and primarily with the residents of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Ultimately, we did just that: we asked the opinion of the people themselves and held referendums. And we acted according to the people's decision, including in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, in the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.

At that time, in March 2022, the negotiation partner reported that he intended to go to Kyiv to continue the conversation with colleagues in the Ukrainian capital. We welcomed this, as well as the overall attempts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict because each day of hostilities meant new casualties and losses. However, in Ukraine, as we later learned, the services of the Western mediator were not accepted; on the contrary, as we learned, he was accused of taking pro-Russian positions—quite harshly, I must say, but these are details.

Now, as I have already said, the situation has fundamentally changed. The residents of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia expressed their position through referendums, and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, along with the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, became part of the Russian Federation. There can be no question of violating our state unity. The will of the people to be with Russia is unshakable. The matter is closed forever and is no longer subject to discussion.

I want to reiterate: it was the West that prepared and provoked the Ukrainian crisis, and now it is doing everything to prolong this crisis endlessly, to weaken and mutually embitter the people of Russia and Ukraine.

They are sending new batches of ammunition and weapons. Some European politicians have started talking about the possibility of deploying their regular troops in Ukraine. At the same time, as I have already noted, the real masters of Ukraine—unfortunately, not the people of Ukraine, but the globalist elites located overseas—are trying to place the burden of making unpopular decisions with the people on the Ukrainian executive power, including further lowering the draft age.

Currently, as you know, it is 25 years; the next stage could be 23, then 20, 18, or immediately 18. And then, of course, they will get rid of those who will make these unpopular decisions under Western pressure, discard them as unnecessary, placing all the blame on them, and put other, still dependent on the West, people in their place, but with a less tarnished reputation.

Hence, possibly, the idea of canceling the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine. Now those in power will do everything, then be discarded, and then continue to do what they see fit.

In this regard, I will also remind you of what they prefer not to remember in Kyiv and what they prefer not to talk about in the West. What is this about? In May 2014, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled that "the President is elected for five years, regardless of whether he is elected in extraordinary or regular elections." Additionally, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine noted that "the constitutional status of the President does not contain norms that would establish any other term except for a five-year term." End of quote. The court's decision was final and not subject to appeal. That’s it.

What does this mean for today's situation? The presidential term of the previously elected head of Ukraine expired along with his legitimacy, which cannot be restored by any machinations. I will not go into detail about the background of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine's decision on the presidential term. It is clear that it was connected with attempts to legitimize the 2014 coup d'état. However, this verdict exists, and it is a legal fact. It casts doubt on all attempts to justify today's spectacle with the cancellation of elections.

In reality, the current tragic page of Ukraine's history began with the forceful seizure of power, as I have already mentioned, an unconstitutional coup in 2014. I repeat: the source of the current Kyiv regime is an armed coup. And now the circle has closed—the executive power in Ukraine is again, as in 2014, usurped and held illegally, in fact, is illegitimate.

I will say more: the situation with the cancellation of elections is an expression of the very nature, the true essence of the current Kyiv regime, which grew out of the armed coup of 2014, is associated with it, and has its roots there. And the fact that, by canceling the elections, they continue to cling to power is an action directly prohibited by Article 5 of the Constitution of Ukraine. I quote: "The right to determine and change the constitutional order in Ukraine belongs exclusively to the people and cannot be usurped by the state, its bodies, or officials." Additionally, such actions fall under Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which speaks of violent change or overthrow of the constitutional order or seizure of state power, as well as conspiracy to commit such actions.

In 2014, such usurpation was justified in the name of revolution, and now—in the name of military actions. But the essence does not change. Essentially, it is a conspiracy of the executive power of Ukraine, the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada, and its controlled parliamentary majority aimed at usurping state power - there is no other way to call it, which is a criminal offense under Ukrainian law.

Furthermore, the Constitution of Ukraine does not provide for the possibility of canceling or postponing presidential elections, extending his powers due to martial law, which is now being referred to. What does the Ukrainian Basic Law have? It states that during martial law, the elections of the Verkhovna Rada may be postponed. This is Article 83 of the country's Constitution.

So, Ukrainian legislation provides for the sole exception when the powers of a state authority are extended during martial law and elections are not held. And this exclusively concerns the Verkhovna Rada. Thus, the status of the Ukrainian parliament as a continuously operating body in martial law conditions is designated.

In other words, it is the Verkhovna Rada that is today a legitimate body, unlike the executive power. Ukraine is not a presidential republic but a parliamentary-presidential one. This is the essence.

In other words, it is the Verkhovna Rada that is today a legitimate body, unlike the executive power. Ukraine is not a presidential republic but a parliamentary-presidential one. This is the essence.

Moreover, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, acting as President, under Articles 106 and 112, is endowed with special powers, including in the sphere of defense, security, and supreme command of the armed forces. Everything is written there in black and white.

By the way, in the first half of this year, Ukraine concluded a package of bilateral agreements on cooperation in the field of security and long-term support with a number of European states. Now there is a similar document with the USA.

Since May 21 of this year, the question of the powers and legitimacy of the Ukrainian side's representatives who sign such documents has logically arisen. We, as they say, do not care; let them sign whatever they want. It is clear that there is a political and propaganda component here. The United States and its satellites want to somehow support their protégés, give them weight and legitimacy.

Nevertheless, if later in the same USA a serious legal examination of such an agreement is conducted (I am not talking about the essence, but about the legal aspect), the question will inevitably arise: who signed these documents and with what powers? And it will turn out that all this is a bluff and the agreement is void, and the entire structure will collapse, of course, if there is a desire to analyze the situation. You can pretend that everything is normal, but there is nothing normal there, as I have just read. Everything is written in the documents, everything is written in the Constitution.

Let me also remind you that after

after the start of the special military operation, the West launched a vigorous and very impudent campaign, trying to isolate Russia on the international stage. Today, it is clear to everyone, it is obvious that this attempt has failed, but the West has not abandoned its plan to build a semblance of an international anti-Russian coalition, to create the appearance of pressure on Russia. We understand this as well.

As you know, they began to actively promote the initiative of holding a so-called high-level international conference on peace in Ukraine in Switzerland. They plan to hold it right after the G7 summit, that is, the group that, in fact, ignited the conflict in Ukraine with its policies. What the organizers of the meeting in Switzerland propose is just another trick to divert attention, to reverse the cause and effect of the Ukrainian crisis, to mislead the discussion and, to some extent, create the appearance of legitimacy for the current executive power in Ukraine once again.

Therefore, it is natural that no fundamental questions lying at the core of the current crisis of international security and stability, the true roots of the Ukrainian conflict, are going to be discussed in Switzerland, despite all attempts to give the conference agenda a more or less decent appearance.

Already now, it can be expected that everything will boil down to general demagogic conversations and a new set of accusations against Russia. The trick is easy to see through: by any means, draw as many countries as possible and, based on the results, present the case as if the Western recipes and rules are shared by the entire international community, and therefore our country must accept them unconditionally.

As you know, we were not invited to the meeting in Switzerland. After all, it is not about negotiations, but about a group of countries pushing their line, solving issues that directly affect our interests and security at their discretion.

I want to emphasize in this regard: without the participation of Russia, without an honest and responsible dialogue with us, it is impossible to reach a peaceful resolution in Ukraine and, in general, on global European security.

While the West ignores our interests, simultaneously forbidding Kyiv to negotiate, it hypocritically calls us to some kind of negotiations. It looks simply idiotic: on the one hand, they forbid them to negotiate with us, and on the other, they urge us to negotiate and even hint that we refuse to negotiate. This is some kind of nonsense. But we live in some kind of Wonderland.

But, firstly, they would give Kyiv the command to lift the ban, the self-ban on negotiations with Russia, and secondly, we are ready to sit down at the negotiating table even tomorrow. We understand, given the peculiarity of the legal situation, but there are legitimate authorities there, even according to the Constitution, I just mentioned this, there is someone to negotiate with. Please, we are ready. Our conditions for starting such a conversation are simple and boil down to the following.

You know, I will now take some time to recount the entire chain of events once again so that it is clear that what I am about to say is not today's agenda but a position we have always adhered to, we have always sought peace.

So, these conditions are very simple. Ukrainian troops must be completely withdrawn from the Donetsk, Luhansk People's Republics, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions. Moreover, I draw your attention to the entire territory of these regions within their administrative boundaries as they existed at the time of their accession to Ukraine.

As soon as Kyiv declares its readiness for such a solution and begins the real withdrawal of troops from these regions, and also officially notifies the renunciation of plans to join NATO, we will immediately, literally at that moment, order a ceasefire and start negotiations. I repeat: we will do this immediately. Naturally, we will also guarantee the safe and unimpeded withdrawal of Ukrainian units and formations.

Of course, we would like to hope that such a decision on troop withdrawal, non-aligned status, and starting a dialogue with Russia, on which the future existence of Ukraine depends, will be made in Kyiv independently, based on the current realities and guided by the genuine national interests of the Ukrainian people, and not under Western directives, although there are, of course, great doubts about this.

Nevertheless, what I want to say in this regard once again, and to remind you? I said that I would like to recount the chronology of events once again. Let's take the time to do this.

So, during the events on the Maidan in Kyiv in 2013-2014, Russia repeatedly offered its assistance in the constitutional resolution of the crisis, which was actually organized from outside. Let's return to the chronology of events at the end of February 2014.

On February 18, armed clashes began in Kyiv, provoked by the opposition. Several buildings, including the mayor's office and the House of Trade Unions, were set on fire. On February 20, unknown snipers opened fire on protesters and law enforcement officers; those preparing the armed coup did everything to push the situation towards violence and radicalization. Those people who were on the streets of Kyiv during those days and expressed dissatisfaction with the then authorities were intentionally used for their selfish purposes, as cannon fodder. They are doing exactly the same thing today, conducting mobilization and sending people to slaughter. And yet, there was an opportunity for a civilized way out of the situation.

It is known that on February 21, an agreement was signed between the then-President of Ukraine and the opposition to resolve the political crisis. The official representatives of Germany, Poland, and France acted as guarantors. The agreement provided for a return to the parliamentary-presidential form of government, early presidential elections, the formation of a government of national trust, as well as the withdrawal of law enforcement forces from the center of Kyiv and the disarmament of the opposition.

I will add that the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law excluding criminal prosecution of protesters. Such an agreement, which would have stopped the violence and returned the situation to the constitutional field, existed. This agreement was signed, although in Kyiv and in the West they also prefer not to remember it.

Today, I will say more, about another important fact that has not been publicly mentioned before: literally in those same hours on February 21, a conversation took place at the initiative of the American side with my American counterpart. The essence was as follows: the American leader unequivocally supported the Kyiv agreement between the authorities and the opposition. Moreover, he called it a real breakthrough, a chance for the Ukrainian people so that the violence that had flared up would not go beyond all imaginable boundaries.

And then, during the conversations, we jointly formulated the following approach: Russia will try to persuade the then-President of Ukraine to behave as restrained as possible, not to use the army and law enforcement against the protesters. And the USA, accordingly, as was said, will call on the opposition to order, to free the administrative buildings, so that the streets calm down.

All this was supposed to create the conditions for the country to return to normal life, to the constitutional and legal field. Overall, we agreed to work together for a stable, peaceful, and normally developing Ukraine. We fully kept our word. The then-President of Ukraine Yanukovych, who actually did not plan to use the army, nevertheless did not do so and, moreover, even withdrew additional police units from Kyiv.

What about the Western colleagues? On the night of February 22 and throughout the entire following day, when President Yanukovych left for Kharkov, where a congress of deputies of the southeastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea was to be held, radicals, despite all agreements and guarantees from the West (both Europe and the USA, as I have just said), forcibly took control of the Verkhovna Rada building, the President's administration, and the government. And not one guarantor of all these agreements on political settlement—the United States nor the Europeans—lifted a finger to fulfill their obligations, to call on the opposition to free the captured administrative buildings, to abandon violence. It is evident that such a course of events suited them; it seems they were the authors of the development of events in this direction.

Additionally, already on February 22, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada, in violation of the Constitution of Ukraine, adopted a resolution on the so-called self-removal of the acting President Yanukovych from office and scheduled early elections for May 25. In other words, an armed coup, provoked from outside, took place. Ukrainian radicals, with the silent consent and direct support of the West, thwarted all attempts to peacefully resolve the situation.

Then we urged Kyiv and Western capitals to start a dialogue with the people in southeastern Ukraine, to respect their interests, rights, and freedoms. No, the regime that came to power as a result of the coup chose war, launching punitive actions against Donbas in the spring and summer of 2014. Russia once again called for peace.

We did everything to resolve the acute problems within the framework of the Minsk agreements, but the West and Kyiv authorities, as I have emphasized, did not intend to implement them. Although verbally, Western colleagues, including the head of the White House, assured us that the Minsk agreements were important and that they were committed to their implementation processes. That this, in their opinion, would allow the situation in Ukraine to be resolved, to stabilize, and to take into account the interests of the residents of the east. Instead, they organized a blockade, as I have already mentioned, of Donbas. The Ukrainian armed forces were consistently preparing for a full-scale operation to destroy the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.

The Minsk agreements were ultimately buried by the hands of the Kyiv regime and the West. I will return to this again. It is precisely for this reason that in 2022, Russia was forced to start a special military operation to stop the war in Donbas and protect peaceful residents from genocide.

At the same time, from the first days, we have been proposing options for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis, as I have already mentioned today. These are negotiations in Belarus, Turkey, the withdrawal of troops from Kyiv to create conditions for signing the Istanbul agreements, which were basically agreed upon by everyone. But these attempts of ours were ultimately rejected again. The West and Kyiv took a course to defeat us. But, as is known, all this failed.

Today we are making another concrete, real peace proposal. If Kyiv and Western capitals again refuse it, as they did before, it is ultimately their business, their political and moral responsibility for the continuation of the bloodshed. It is clear that the realities on the ground, on the line of contact, will continue to change not in favor of the Kyiv regime. And the conditions for the start of negotiations will be different.

I emphasize the main thing: the essence of our proposal is not about some temporary truce or cessation of fire, as the West wants, to restore losses, rearm the Kyiv regime, prepare it for a new offensive. I repeat: it is not about freezing the conflict but about its final resolution.

And once again, I say: as soon as Kyiv agrees to such a course of events proposed today, agrees to the full withdrawal of its troops from the DNR and LNR, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, and really starts this process, we are ready to start negotiations immediately, without delay.

I repeat: our principled position is as follows: a neutral, non-aligned, non-nuclear status for Ukraine, its demilitarization and denazification, especially since all these parameters were generally agreed upon during the Istanbul negotiations in 2022. Everything was clear regarding demilitarization; everything was spelled out: the number of this and that, tanks. Everything was agreed upon.

Undoubtedly, the rights, freedoms, and interests of Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine must be fully ensured, new territorial realities recognized, the status of Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk, and Luhansk People's Republics, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions as subjects of the Russian Federation must be recognized. Subsequently, all these basic and fundamental provisions must be enshrined in the form of fundamental international agreements. Naturally, this implies the lifting of all Western sanctions against Russia.

I believe that Russia is proposing a solution that will allow for the real end of the war in Ukraine. That is, we are calling for the tragic chapter of history to be turned, and although difficult, gradually, step by step, to begin to restore relations of trust and good neighborliness between Russia and Ukraine and in Europe as a whole.

By resolving the Ukrainian crisis, we, together with our partners in the CSTO and SCO, who today are making a significant, constructive contribution to finding ways to peacefully resolve the Ukrainian crisis, as well as with Western, including European states, are ready for dialogue and could begin to address the fundamental task, which I spoke about at the beginning of my speech, namely, the creation of an indivisible system of Eurasian security that takes into account the interests of all, without exception, states on the continent.

Of course, a literal return to the security proposals we made 25, 15, or even two years ago is impossible; too much has happened, circumstances have changed. However, the basic principles and, most importantly, the subject of dialogue remain unchanged. Russia recognizes its responsibility for global stability and again confirms its readiness to engage in dialogue with all countries. But it should not be a simulation of a peace process to serve someone's selfish will, someone's selfish interests, but a serious, substantive conversation on all issues, on the entire complex of global security issues.

Dear colleagues, I am confident that you understand well the massive tasks facing Russia, how much we need to do, including in foreign policy.

I sincerely wish you success in this challenging work to ensure the security of Russia, our national interests, strengthen the country's position in the world, promote integration processes, and develop bilateral relations with our partners.

The state leadership will continue to support the diplomatic department and everyone involved in implementing Russia's foreign policy.

Once again, thank you for your work, thank you for your patience and attention to what has been said. I am confident that we will succeed together.

Thank you very much.