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President Vladimir Putin:
“Russia’s isolation is absurd & illusory goal”
Trying to isolate Russia with sanctions and restrictive measures is “an absurd and illusory goal,” Russia’s president has said. Moscow intends to “further deepen” cooperation with EU partners, Vladimir Putin told the Serbian newspaper, Politika.
Read the full transcript of Vladimir Putin’s interview here:
Putin: Nazi virus ‘vaccine’ losing effect in Europe
(or at the end of this page)
“If the main goal is to isolate our country, it’s an absurd and illusory goal. It is obviously impossible to achieve it and the economic health of Europe and the world can be seriously undermined,” Russia’s president said.
“Attempts to put pressure on Russia with unilateral and illegitimate restrictive measures” is not going to help reach an agreement, but will “rather impede the dialogue,” Putin said particularly referring to the nearly year-long Ukrainian conflict that the international community blames on Russia.
“Washington actively supported the Maidan protests, and when its Kiev henchmen antagonized a large part of Ukraine through rabid nationalism and plunged the country into a civil war, it blamed Russia for provoking the crisis,” Putin said.“Any unbiased person knows that it was not Russia who staged the coup d’état in Ukraine, which led to the grave internal political crisis and a split in society.”
Speaking of sanctions, Putin reiterated that Russia will “adopt a balanced approach to assessing the risks and impact” of sanctions imposed by the EU and the US and will “respond to them proceeding from our national interests.”
Certainly, he added, the current situation and “decline in mutual confidence” will have a negative impact on European and American companies operating in Russia as well as on the international business climate in general.
At the same time, Russia is ready to develop relations with its EU partners and “constructive cooperation” with the US.
As for the EU, Russia intends to settle a dispute with Ukraine over gas supplies to European partners, which receive about 15 percent of their energy via Ukraine. In June, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom shut off supplies to Ukraine, but continued deliveries to European neighbors. If there is no agreement reached between Russia and Ukraine, Europe will face serious energy shortages.
“I would like to stress that Russia is meeting its obligations in full with regard to gas supplies to European consumers,” Putin said. “We intend to further deepen our cooperation with the EU in the energy sector, where we are natural partners, on a transparent and predictable basis.”
Putin agreed that “the problem of transit” of Russia’s gas to Europe across Ukrainian territory “remains.”
One of the “obvious solutions,” the Russian president said, “might be to diversify the delivery routes.”
“In this regard, we hope that the European Commission will finally make a decision in the nearest future about the use of the OPAL gas pipeline at full capacity,” he said.
OPAL (Ostsee Pipeline Anbindungs-Leitung) is a 470-kilometre transit pipeline, which links Russia’s Nord Stream and Europe bypassing transit countries as it runs Russian natural gas across Germany to the Czech Republic and further.
Gazprom has asked the European Commission to exclude OPAL from the Third Energy Package, which doesn’t allow one single company to both produce and transport oil and gas.
Unblocking the South Stream pipeline will also “significantly contribute to integrated energy security in Europe.”
“It will benefit everybody, Russia as well as European consumers, including Serbia,” Putin said.
President Putin was also asked about relations between Russia and the US. In his response Putin stressed that Russia always aimed for “open partnership relations with the United States.”
“In return, however, we have seen various reservations and attempts to interfere in our domestic affairs,” Putin said.
“Everything that has happened since the beginning of this year is even more disturbing.”
Current bilateral relations between the two states the president described as “nothing but hostile.”
“Now, President Barack Obama in his speech at the UN General Assembly named the ‘Russian aggression in Europe’ as one of the three major threats facing humanity today, alongside the deadly Ebola virus and the Islamic State. Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile,” Putin said.
At the same time, President Putin noted that “this is not the first downturn in relations between our countries.”
“We hope that our partners will realize the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability,” he said.
For its part, Russia is ready to cooperate “based on the principles of equality and genuine respect for each other’s interests.”
“Our president’s a pro judo wrestler”: Russian diplomat slams Aussie PM’s intention ‘to shirtfront’ Putin
A Russian diplomat in Australia called the remark of Australian PM Tony Abbott about his intention to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin “immature.” He reminded the Aussie politician that he might be “very fit” but Putin is “a professional judo wrestler.”
Abbot’s scandalous remark came on Monday after he told journalists that he is going to “shirtfront” the Russian president on the sidelines of G20 summit over the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner crash in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine in July.
“I am going to shirtfront Mr Putin – you bet I am – I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered, they were murdered by Russian backed rebels,” Abbott said.
Shirtfront is a football technique for a front-on chest bump or rough handling aimed at knocking your rival backward to the ground. It’s “a reportable offence and considered illegal,” says the Australian Football Rules website.
The Russian Embassy in Australia, however, didn’t let Abbot’s remark go unnoticed.
Third secretary of the Russian Embassy in Canberra, Aleksandr Odoevsky, told the Australian Associated Press that the remarks of the Australian PM were “immature.”
“We consider the recent statements tough talk and immature,” Odoevsky said.
“Hopefully there’s no fight. Well, definitely we admire the Australian prime minister. He’s very fit, but the Russian president… he’s a professional judo wrestler,” Odoevsky told Ten Network television.
Abbot toned down his language a day later as he failed to answer journalists’ questions about shirtfronting Putin and whether he regretted his staement. He said he is “absolutely determined to have a very robust conversation with the Russian president.”
“We’ve all seen the impact of Russian policy on the innocent people on board Flight MH17. I think the very least I can do, speaking for Australia’s dead and speaking for the families of Australia’s dead and indeed speaking for the world’s victims is to have a very robust conversation with President Putin,” he added.
But Odoevsky said that the Russian President is only planning to attend multilateral meetings, not separate ones.
“There has not been a request for bilateral meetings between Russian and Australian leaders, so we are not exactly sure where and when Prime Minister Abbott would like to shirtfront President Putin,” he said.
Abbot still hopes to meet the Russian president during the G20 summit.
“But I certainly expect that while he’s a guest of Australia, he will undertake to have a conversation with the Australian prime minister,” Abbott said.
Jacqui Lambie, a senator from Australia’s Palmer United Party, said that Abbott and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten should “stop acting like hormone-affected school boys trying to out macho each other on the footie field — and start acting like mature leaders of a great country.”
Earlier, Shorten had said that Putin should “show enough conscience” not to come to Australia.
Comic Jazz Twemlow criticized the remarks of the Australian PM, saying that “someone should tell Tony Abbott that gaffes aren’t like baby turtles.”
“What was the reckless, childish taunt? To the sound of foreheads being slapped everywhere, on Monday the prime minister threatened to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin, leading to the inevitable mass purge of jokes that turned your timelines into a scrolling tapestry of male chests,” he wrote in the Guardian article.
He said of Tony Abbot that “perhaps he’s trying to impress the public.” “In which case, if this is the image of the Australian public Abbott has, shame on us. How much more machismo does he think we can mentally ingest?” he asked.
The G-20 summit in scheduled to be held in Brisbane, Australia on 15 and 16 November 2014.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over eastern Ukraine on July 17, with 298 passengers on board.
A preliminary report into the disaster delivered by Dutch investigators on September 9 said that the MH17 crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects striking the Boeing from the outside.
Earlier a number of Western countries blamed Russia for the tragedy. Moscow, however, denies such allegations, saying there is a lack of new evidence presented in the report.
Putin: Nazi virus ‘vaccine’ losing effect in Europe
The coup d’état in Ukraine is a worrying example of growing neo-Nazi tendencies in Eastern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a Serbian newspaper. He stressed that “open manifestations” of neo-Nazism are also commonplace in Baltic states.
“Regrettably, in some European countries the Nazi virus ‘vaccine’ created at the Nuremberg Tribunal is losing its effect. This is clearly demonstrated by open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have already become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states,” Putin told Politika newspaper ahead of his visit to Serbia. “The situation in Ukraine, where nationalists and other radical groups provoked an anti-constitutional coup d’état in February, causes particular concern in this respect.”
Below is the full text of the interview.
Politika:You are coming to Belgrade to take part in the celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the city’s liberation from occupation by Nazi Germany. Why, in your view, are such commemoration events important today?
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to thank the Serbian leadership for the invitation to visit Serbia and take part in the celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from occupation by Nazi Germany.
We are truly grateful to our Serbian friends for the way they treasure the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought together with the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia against Hitler’s occupation troops. During World War II, over 31,000 Red Army officers and soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing on the territory of former Yugoslavia. About 6,000 Soviet citizens fought against the invaders in the ranks of the National Liberation Army. Their courage brought our common victory over Nazism closer and will always be remembered by our peoples as an example of bravery, unyielding determination and selfless service to one’s homeland.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of the upcoming events. Seventy years ago, our nations joined forces to defeat the criminal ideology of hatred for humanity, which threatened the very existence of our civilization. And today it’s also important that people in different countries and on different continents remember what terrible consequences may result from the belief in one’s exceptionality, attempts to achieve dubious geopolitical goals, no matter by what means, and disregard for basic norms of law and morality. We must do everything in our power to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Regrettably, in some European countries the Nazi virus “vaccine” created at the Nuremberg Tribunal is losing its effect. This is clearly demonstrated by open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have already become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states. The situation in Ukraine, where nationalists and other radical groups provoked an anti-constitutional coup d’état in February, causes particular concern in this respect.
Today, it is our shared duty to combat the glorification of Nazism. We must firmly oppose the attempts to revise the results of WWII and consistently combat any forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.
I am sure that the anniversary celebrations in Belgrade, which are to become another manifestation of the sincere friendship between our nations based on the feelings of mutual affinity and respect, on spiritual kinship, on brotherhood in arms in the years of WWII, will also contribute to addressing these challenges. We hope that the preservation of historical memory will continue to help us strengthen peace, stability and welfare of the common European space together.
Politika:How do you see the Russian-Serbian relations today? What has been achieved during the past 20 years and what future trends in the interaction between the two countries do you foresee?
Vladimir Putin: Serbia has always been and still is one of Russia’s key partners in southeastern Europe. Our nations are united by centuries-long traditions of friendship and fruitful cooperation. Their development is fostered by common interests in such spheres as politics, the economy, culture and many others.
Today, Russian-Serbian relations are on the rise. In 2013, President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic and I signed the Interstate Declaration on Strategic Partnership, reaffirming our shared intention to promote large-scale collaboration in all key areas.
We have maintained active political contacts to discuss relevant bilateral and international issues in the spirit of confidence and agree on joint practical steps. Our governments cooperate closely within the United Nations, OSCE, the Council of Europe and many other organizations.
We are satisfied with the consistent progress in our economic relations bolstered by the existing free trade regime between our countries. In 2013, our mutual trade grew by 15 percent amounting to $1.97 billion, and, in the first six months of 2014, it increased by another 16.5 percent to $1.2 billion. We expect it to reach $2 billion by the end of this year.
A positive trend continues in the field of investment as well. The total amount of Russian investments in Serbia has exceeded $3 billion. Most of these funds have been invested in the strategically-important energy industry. One example of successful cooperation is the energy giant Petroleum Industry of Serbia, which has turned from a loss-making enterprise into a major contributor to the Serbian state budget. The South Stream project will provide Serbia with more than 2 billion euro in new investments and significantly strengthen the country’s energy security.
Serbia’s rail infrastructure is being rebuilt and upgraded with the participation of the Russian Railways and our support in the form of loans.
I am pleased to see Serbian businesses play an active part in the promising Russian market. For example, they supply high-quality agricultural and industrial products.
I would like to note another important area of our bilateral cooperation. In recent years, the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Centre in Nis has taken part in disaster response operations in the Balkans on several occasions. Last May, Russian rescuers helped to evacuate people during a severe flood. Russian Emergencies Ministry aircraft made several flights to deliver more than 140 tonnes in humanitarian aid to Serbia.
The growing mutual interest of Russian and Serbian people in our countries’ history and culture is also evidence of deepening humanitarian relations. This autumn, Serbia is hosting Days of Russian Spiritual Culture with great success. The central event is the exhibition titled Russia and Serbia. History of Spiritual Connections, 14th-19th Century. We plan to expand cultural, educational, scientific and youth exchanges, and to promote tourism and sports events.
I am confident that my upcoming visit to Belgrade will give a new boost to the traditionally friendly Russian-Serbian relations, which will continue to grow and strengthen from year to year.
Politika:There is currently a great deal of speculation regarding the possible reduction in the supplies of Russian gas to Europe because of Ukraine’s debt. Should European consumers get ready for a cold winter? What about the future of the South Stream project, which is of great interest to Serbia?
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to stress that Russia is meeting its obligations in full with regard to gas supplies to European consumers. We intend to further deepen our cooperation with the EU in the energy sector, where we are natural partners, on a transparent and predictable basis.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, we have successfully implemented a number of major projects together with our European partners. This includes the Nord Stream pipeline, which is an important factor in minimizing transit risks and ensuring uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe. Over recent months, Gazprom has been actively increasing gas reserves in European underground gas storage facilities. These measures are aimed to prevent transit disruptions and meet peak demand in winter.
Naturally, we are aware of the risks generated by the Ukrainian crisis. We were forced to interrupt gas supplies to Ukraine last June because the Kiev authorities refused to pay for gas supplies they had already received. In late summer and early autumn, we held a series of consultations in a three-party format with the participation of Russia, the EU and Ukraine, where we discussed possible mutually-acceptable solutions to the problem of the Ukrainian gas debt settlement, resumption of gas supplies to Ukraine – which had been stopped by the Ukrainian side itself – and continuous hydrocarbon transit to Europe. We are ready to continue constructive talks on these issues.
As for the future of Russian gas exports to Europe, the problem of transit across the Ukrainian territory remains. One of the more obvious solutions might be to diversify the delivery routes. In this regard, we hope that the European Commission will finally make a decision in the nearest future about the use of the OPAL gas pipeline at full capacity.
In addition, we need to resolve the deadlock concerning the South Stream. We are convinced that this project will significantly contribute to integrated energy security in Europe. It will benefit everybody, Russia as well as European consumers, including Serbia.
Politika:In your opinion, what is the ultimate objective of the sanctions against Russia, imposed by the EU and the United States? How long will they last, in your view, and how much harm can they do to Russia?
Vladimir Putin: This question should be addressed to the EU and the United States, whose reasoning is hard to understand. Any unbiased person knows that it was not Russia who staged the coup d’état in Ukraine, which led to the grave internal political crisis and a split in society. An unconstitutional seizure of power was the starting point for the subsequent events, including the ones in Crimea. The people of Crimea, seeing the complexity and unpredictability of the situation and in order to protect their rights to their native language, culture and history, decided to hold a referendum in full compliance with the UN Charter, as a result of which the peninsula re-joined Russia.
Our partners should be well aware that attempts to put pressure on Russia with unilateral and illegitimate restrictive measures will not bring about a settlement, but rather impede the dialogue. How can we talk about de-escalation in Ukraine while the decisions on new sanctions are introduced almost simultaneously with the agreements on the peace process? If the main goal is to isolate our country, it’s an absurd and illusory goal. It is obviously impossible to achieve it, but the economic health of Europe and the world can be seriously undermined.
With regard to the duration of the restriction measures, it also depends on the United States and the European Union. For our part, we will adopt a balanced approach to assessing the risks and impact of the sanctions and respond to them proceeding from our national interests. It is obvious that the decline in mutual confidence is bound to have a negative impact on both the international business climate in general and on the operation of European and American companies in Russia, bearing in mind that such companies will find it difficult to recover from reputational damage. In addition, it will make other countries think carefully whether it is wise to invest their funds in the American banking system and increase their dependence on economic cooperation with the United States.
Politika:What do you think the future holds for Russian-Ukrainian relations? Will the United States and Russia re-establish a strategic partnership after all that has happened, or will they build their relations in a different way?
Vladimir Putin: As for Russia, its relations with Ukraine have always played and will continue to play a very important role. Our nations are inextricably linked by common spiritual, cultural and civilizational roots. We were part of a single state for centuries, and that huge historical experience and millions of intertwined fates cannot be dismissed or forgotten.
Despite the current difficult stage in Russian-Ukrainian relations, we are interested in progressive, equitable and mutually-beneficial cooperation with our Ukrainian partners. In practice, this will become possible after sustainable peace and stability are achieved in Ukraine. Therefore, we hope to see an end to the protracted deep political and economic crisis.
Today, there is a real opportunity to end the armed confrontation, which actually amounts to a civil war. The first steps in this direction have already been made. It is vital to start a real intra-Ukrainian dialogue as soon as possible involving representatives from all the regions and political forces. This approach was documented in the Geneva Statement of April 17. Such a nationwide dialogue must focus on Ukraine’s constitutional structure and the future of the country, where all the citizens with no exception will live comfortably and in safety.
As for Russian-US ties, our aim has always been to build open partnership relations with the United States. In return, however, we have seen various reservations and attempts to interfere in our domestic affairs.
Everything that has happened since the beginning of this year is even more disturbing. Washington actively supported the Maidan protests, and when its Kiev henchmen antagonized a large part of Ukraine through rabid nationalism and plunged the country into a civil war, it blamed Russia for provoking the crisis.
Now President Barack Obama in his speech at the UN General Assembly named the “Russian aggression in Europe” as one of the three major threats facing humanity today alongside with the deadly Ebola virus and the Islamic State. Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile.
The United States went so far as to declare the suspension of our cooperation in space exploration and nuclear energy. They also suspended the activity of the Russia-US Bilateral Presidential Commission established in 2009, which comprised 21 working groups dedicated, among other things, to combating terrorism and drug trafficking.
At the same time, this is not the first downturn in relations between our countries. We hope that our partners will realize the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability. For our part, we are ready to develop constructive cooperation based on the principles of equality and genuine respect for each others’ interests.