Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Address to Russia Recognizing the Independence of Donetsk and Luhansk
February 21, 2022 22:35 Moscow Kremlin
Message from the President of the Russian Federation (Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/67828)
Vladimir Putin: Dear citizens of Russia! Dear friends!
The topic of my speech is the events in Ukraine and why it is so important for us, for Russia. Of course, my appeal is also addressed to our compatriots in Ukraine.
You will have to speak in detail and in detail. The question is very serious.
The situation in the Donbas has again acquired a critical, acute character. And today I am addressing you directly in order not only to assess what is happening, but also to inform you about the decisions being made, about possible further steps in this direction.
Let me emphasize once again that Ukraine for us is not just a neighboring country. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, spiritual space. These are our comrades, relatives, among whom are not only colleagues, friends, former colleagues, but also relatives, people connected with us by blood, family ties.
For a long time, the inhabitants of the southwestern historical Old Russian lands called themselves Russian and Orthodox. So it was until the 17th century, when part of these territories was reunited with the Russian state, and after.
It seems to us that, in principle, we all know about this, that we are talking about well-known facts. At the same time, in order to understand what is happening today, to explain the motives for Russia’s actions and the goals that we set for ourselves, it is necessary to say at least a few words about the history of the issue.
So, I’ll start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely and completely created by Russia, more precisely, Bolshevik, communist Russia. This process began almost immediately after the revolution of 1917, and Lenin and his associates did it in a very rude way towards Russia itself – by separating, tearing away from it part of its own historical territories. Of course, no one asked about anything to the millions of people who lived there.
Then, on the eve and after the Great Patriotic War, Stalin already annexed to the USSR and transferred to Ukraine some lands that previously belonged to Poland, Romania and Hungary. At the same time, as a kind of compensation, Stalin endowed Poland with part of the original German territories, and in 1954 Khrushchev for some reason took away Crimea from Russia and also presented it to Ukraine. Actually, this is how the territory of Soviet Ukraine was formed.
But now I would like to pay special attention to the initial period of the creation of the USSR. I think this is extremely important for us. You have to go, as they say, from afar.
Let me remind you that after the October Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Civil War, the Bolsheviks began to build a new statehood, and quite sharp disagreements arose between them. Stalin, who in 1922 combined the posts of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) and the People’s Commissar for Nationalities, proposed building the country on the principles of autonomization, that is, giving the republics – future administrative-territorial units – broad powers when they join a single state.
Lenin criticized this plan and offered to make concessions to the nationalists, as he then called them – “independents”. It was these Leninist ideas, in fact, a confederate state system and the slogan about the right of nations to self-determination up to secession, that formed the basis of Soviet statehood: first, in 1922, they were enshrined in the Declaration on the Formation of the USSR, and then, after the death of Lenin, and in the Constitution of the USSR in 1924.
Many questions immediately arise here. And the first of them, in fact the main one: why was it necessary to satisfy any, unlimitedly growing nationalist ambitions on the outskirts of the former empire from the lord’s shoulder? To transfer to the newly formed, and often arbitrarily formed, administrative units – the union republics – huge territories that often had nothing to do with them at all. I repeat, to convey together with the population of historical Russia.
Moreover, in fact, these administrative units were given the status and form of national state formations. Again I ask myself: why was it necessary to make such generous gifts, which the most ardent nationalists had never even dreamed of before, and even give the republics the right to secede from the united state without any conditions?
At first glance, this is generally incomprehensible, some kind of madness. But this is only at first glance. There is an explanation. After the revolution, the main task of the Bolsheviks was to stay in power at any cost, precisely at any cost. For the sake of this, they did everything: both to the humiliating conditions of the Brest Peace at a time when Kaiser Germany and its allies were in a difficult military and economic situation, and the outcome of the First World War was actually a foregone conclusion, and to satisfy any demands, any wishes from the outside nationalists within the country.
From the point of view of the historical fate of Russia and its peoples, the Leninist principles of state building turned out to be not just a mistake, it was, as they say, much worse than a mistake. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, this became absolutely obvious.
Of course, the events of the past cannot be changed, but we must at least speak about them directly and honestly, without any reservations and without any political overtones. I can only add on my own behalf that the considerations of the current political situation, no matter how spectacular, winning they may seem at a particular moment in time, under no circumstances should and cannot be taken as the basis of the basic principles of statehood.
I don’t blame anyone for anything now, the situation in the country at that time and after the Civil War, on the eve, was incredibly difficult, critical. Today I just want to say that this is exactly what happened. This is a historical fact. Actually, as I have already said, as a result of the Bolshevik policy, Soviet Ukraine arose, which even today can with good reason be called “Ukraine named after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.” He is its author and architect. This is fully confirmed by archival documents, including Lenin’s harsh directives on the Donbass, which was literally squeezed into Ukraine. And now “grateful descendants” have demolished monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. This is what they call decommunization.
Do you want decommunization? Well, that suits us just fine. But it is not necessary, as they say, to stop halfway. We are ready to show you what real decommunization means for Ukraine.
Returning to the history of the issue, I repeat that in 1922 the USSR was formed on the territory of the former Russian Empire. But life itself immediately showed that it was simply impossible to preserve such a huge and complex territory, or to manage it on the proposed amorphous, in fact, confederal principles. They were completely divorced from both reality and historical tradition.
It is natural that the Red Terror and the rapid transition to the Stalinist dictatorship, the dominance of the communist ideology and the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, nationalization and the planned system of the national economy – all this in fact turned into a simple declaration, into a formality, the declared, but non-working principles of the state system. In reality, the union republics did not have any sovereign rights, they simply did not exist. But in practice, a strictly centralized, absolutely unitary state was created.
Stalin, in fact, fully implemented in practice not Lenin’s, but his own ideas of state structure. But he did not make the corresponding changes to the backbone documents, to the Constitution of the country, did not formally revise the proclaimed Leninist principles of building the USSR. Yes, apparently, it seemed that there was no need for this – under the conditions of a totalitarian regime, everything worked anyway, and outwardly it looked beautiful, attractive and even super-democratic.
And yet, it is a pity, it is a pity that from the basic, formally legal foundations on which our entire statehood was built, odious, utopian, inspired by the revolution, but absolutely destructive fantasies for any normal country, were not cleaned out in a timely manner. Nobody thought about the future, as it often happened with us before.
The leaders of the Communist Party seemed to be sure that they had succeeded in forming a solid system of government, that through their policy they had finally solved the national question. But falsification, substitution of concepts, manipulation of public consciousness and deceit are costly. The bacillus of nationalist ambitions has not disappeared, and the initially laid mine, which undermines the state immunity against the infection of nationalism, was only waiting in the wings. Such a mine, I repeat, was the right to secede from the USSR.
In the mid-1980s, against the backdrop of growing socio-economic problems, the obvious crisis of the planned economy, the national question, the essence of which was not some expectations and unfulfilled aspirations of the peoples of the Union, but primarily the growing appetites of local elites, became more and more aggravated.
However, instead of a deep analysis of the situation, taking adequate measures, primarily in the economy, as well as a gradual, thoughtful, balanced transformation of the political system and state structure, the leadership of the CPSU limited itself to outright verbiage about restoring the Leninist principle of national self-determination.
Moreover, in the course of the unfolding struggle for power within the Communist Party itself, each of the warring parties, in order to expand the base of support, began to thoughtlessly stimulate, encourage nationalist sentiments, play on them, promising their potential supporters whatever they wish. Against the backdrop of superficial and populist chatter about democracy and a bright future built on the basis of either a market or a planned economy, but in conditions of real impoverishment of people and a total shortage, none of those in power even thought about the inevitable tragic consequences for the country.
And then they completely went along the path beaten at the dawn of the creation of the USSR to satisfy the ambitions of the nationalist elites grown in their own party ranks, while forgetting that the CPSU no longer has in its hands, and thank God, such tools for maintaining power and the country itself as state terror dictatorship of the Stalinist type. And that even the notorious leading role of the party, like morning mist, disappears without a trace right before their eyes.
And in September 1989, at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, an essentially fatal document was adopted – the so-called national policy of the party in modern conditions, the platform of the CPSU. It contained the following provisions, I will quote: “The Union Republics have all the rights corresponding to their status as sovereign socialist states.”
One more point: “The highest representative authorities of the union republics may protest and suspend the decisions and orders of the union government on their territory.”
And finally: “Each union republic has its own citizenship, which applies to all its inhabitants.”
Was it not obvious what such formulations and decisions would lead to?
Now is not the time, not the place to go into questions of state or constitutional law, to define the very concept of citizenship. But still, the question arises: why, in those already difficult conditions, was it necessary to shake the country even more in this way? The fact remains.
Two years before the collapse of the USSR, his fate was actually a foregone conclusion. It is now the radicals and nationalists, including and above all in Ukraine, who attribute to themselves the merit of gaining independence. As we can see, this is not at all the case. The historical, strategic mistakes of the leaders of the Bolsheviks, the leadership of the CPSU, made at different times in state building, economic and national policy, led to the disintegration of our united country. The collapse of historical Russia under the name of the USSR is on their conscience.
Despite all these injustices, deceit and outright robbery of Russia, our people, namely the people, recognized the new geopolitical realities that arose after the collapse of the USSR, recognized the new independent states. And he not only admitted it – Russia itself, being in a difficult situation at that time, helped its partners in the CIS, including Ukrainian colleagues, from whom, right from the moment of independence, numerous requests for material support began to arrive. And our country provided such support with respect for the dignity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
According to expert estimates, which are confirmed by a simple calculation of our energy prices, the volume of soft loans, economic and trade preferences that Russia provided to Ukraine, the total benefit for the Ukrainian budget for the period from 1991 to 2013 amounted to about $250 billion.
But this is not all. By the end of 1991, the debt obligations of the USSR to foreign states and international funds amounted to about 100 billion dollars. And initially it was assumed that these loans would be returned by all the republics of the former USSR in solidarity, in proportion to their economic potential. However, Russia took upon itself the repayment of the entire Soviet debt and paid it off in full. Completed this process in 2017.
In return, the newly independent states were to give up their share of Soviet foreign assets, and corresponding agreements were reached in December 1994 with Ukraine. However, Kiev did not ratify these agreements and later simply refused to comply, putting forward claims to the diamond fund, gold reserves, as well as property and other assets of the former USSR abroad.
And yet, despite the well-known problems, Russia has always cooperated with Ukraine openly, honestly and, I repeat, with respect for its interests, our ties have developed in various fields. Thus, in 2011 the bilateral trade turnover exceeded $50 billion. I note that the volume of Ukraine’s trade with all EU countries in 2019, that is, even before the pandemic, was inferior to this indicator.
At the same time, it was evident that the Ukrainian authorities preferred to act in such a way that they would have all the rights and advantages in relations with Russia, but not incur any obligations.
Instead of partnership, dependency began to prevail, which on the part of the Kiev authorities sometimes acquired an absolutely unceremonious character. Suffice it to recall the permanent blackmail in the field of energy transit and the banal theft of gas.
Let me add that Kiev tried to use the dialogue with Russia as a pretext for bargaining with the West, blackmailed it with rapprochement with Moscow, knocking out preferences for itself: they say, otherwise Russian influence on Ukraine will grow.
At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities initially, I want to emphasize this, it was from the very first steps that they began to build their statehood on the denial of everything that unites us, they sought to distort the consciousness, the historical memory of millions of people, entire generations living in Ukraine. Not surprisingly, Ukrainian society faced the rise of extreme nationalism, which quickly took the form of aggressive Russophobia and neo-Nazism. Hence the participation of Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis in terrorist gangs in the North Caucasus, and the increasingly louder territorial claims against Russia.
External forces also played their role, which, with the help of an extensive network of NGOs and special services, grew their clientele in Ukraine and promoted its representatives to power.
It is also important to understand that Ukraine, in fact, has never had a stable tradition of its true statehood. And starting from 1991, she took the path of mechanical copying of other people’s models, cut off from both history and Ukrainian realities. Political state institutions were constantly reshaped to suit the rapidly formed clans with their own selfish interests, which had nothing to do with the interests of the people of Ukraine.
The whole point of the so-called pro-Western civilizational choice of the Ukrainian oligarchic government was and is not to create better conditions for the well-being of the people, but to obsequiously render services to Russia’s geopolitical rivals, to save billions of dollars stolen from Ukrainians and hidden by oligarchs in accounts in Western banks.
Some industrial financial groups, taken by them for the maintenance of the party and politics, initially relied on nationalists and radicals. Others verbally advocated good relations with Russia, for cultural and linguistic diversity, and came to power with the help of the votes of citizens who sincerely supported such aspirations, including millions of residents of the southeast. But, having received posts, positions, they immediately betrayed their voters, renounced their election promises, and carried out real politics under the dictation of the radicals, sometimes persecuting their yesterday’s allies – those public organizations that advocated bilingualism, for cooperation with Russia. They took advantage of the fact that the people who supported them, as a rule, are law-abiding, moderate views, accustomed to trusting the authorities, they, unlike the radicals, will not show aggression,
In turn, the radicals became impudent, their claims grew year after year. It turned out to be easy for them over and over again to impose their will on the weak government, which itself was infected with the virus of nationalism and corruption and skillfully replaced the true cultural, economic, social interests of the people, the real sovereignty of Ukraine with various kinds of speculation on national soil and external ethnographic paraphernalia.
A stable statehood in Ukraine has not developed, and political, electoral procedures serve only as a cover, a screen for the redistribution of power and property between various oligarchic clans.
Corruption, which, without a doubt, is a challenge and a problem for many countries, including Russia, has acquired some special character in Ukraine. It literally permeated and corroded Ukrainian statehood, the entire system, all branches of power. The radicals took advantage of the justified discontent of the people, saddled the protest and in 2014 brought Maidan to a coup d’état. At the same time, they received direct assistance from foreign states. According to reports, the material support of the so-called protest camp on Independence Square in Kiev from the US Embassy amounted to one million dollars a day. Additional very large sums were impudently transferred directly to the bank accounts of opposition leaders. And it was about tens of millions of dollars. And how much did the really affected people, the families of those who died in the clashes provoked on the streets and squares of Kiev and other cities? It’s better not to ask about it.
The radicals who seized power organized a persecution, a real terror against those who opposed anti-constitutional actions. Politicians, journalists, public figures were mocked, they were publicly humiliated. Ukrainian cities were swept by a wave of pogroms and violence, a series of high-profile and unpunished murders. It is impossible without a shudder to remember the terrible tragedy in Odessa, where participants in a peaceful protest were brutally murdered, burned alive in the House of Trade Unions. The criminals who committed this atrocity are not punished, and no one is looking for them. But we know them by name and will do everything to punish them, find them and bring them to justice.
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Maidan did not bring Ukraine closer to democracy and progress. Having carried out a coup d’état, the nationalists and those political forces that supported them finally brought the situation to a standstill, pushed Ukraine into the abyss of civil war. Eight years after those events, the country is split. Ukraine is experiencing an acute socio-economic crisis.
According to international organizations, in 2019, almost six million Ukrainians, I emphasize that this is about 15 percent, not of the able-bodied, but of the entire population of the country, were forced to go abroad in search of work. And often, as a rule, for daily unskilled earnings. The following fact is also indicative: since 2020, over 60,000 doctors and other health workers have left the country during the pandemic.
Since 2014, tariffs for water supply have increased by almost a third, for electricity – by several times, for gas for households – by dozens of times. Many people simply do not have money to pay for utilities, they literally have to survive.
What happened? Why is all this happening? The answer is obvious: because the dowry, received not only from the Soviet era, but also from the Russian Empire, was squandered and taken into pockets. Tens and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, which, thanks, among other things, to close cooperation with Russia, gave people a stable income and brought taxes to the treasury. Industries such as mechanical engineering, instrumentation, electronics, shipbuilding and aircraft building are either lying on their side or completely destroyed, and in fact they were once proud not only of Ukraine, but of the entire Soviet Union.
In 2021, the Chernomorsky Shipbuilding Plant in Nikolaev was liquidated, where the first shipyards were laid down under Catherine II. The famous Antonov concern has not produced a single serial aircraft since 2016, and the Yuzhmash plant, which specialized in the production of rocket and space technology, was on the verge of bankruptcy, like the Kremenchug steel plant. This sad list goes on.
As for the gas transportation system, which was created by the entire Soviet Union, it is so dilapidated that its operation is associated with great risks and environmental costs.
And in this regard, the question arises: is poverty, hopelessness, the loss of industrial and technological potential – this is the very pro-Western civilizational choice that has been fooling and fooling millions of people for many years, promising them paradise?
In fact, it all came down to the fact that the collapse of the Ukrainian economy is accompanied by outright robbery of the citizens of the country, and Ukraine itself was simply driven under external control. It is carried out not only at the behest of Western capitals, but also, as they say, directly on the spot – through a whole network of foreign advisers, NGOs and other institutions deployed in Ukraine. They have a direct impact on all the most important personnel decisions, on all branches and levels of government: from the central and even to the municipal, on the main state-owned companies and corporations, including Naftogaz, Ukrenergo, Ukrainian Railways, Ukroboronprom, Ukrposhta , Administration of Sea Ports of Ukraine.
There is simply no independent court in Ukraine. At the request of the West, the Kiev authorities gave representatives of international organizations the pre-emptive right to select members of the highest judicial bodies – the Council of Justice and the Qualification Commission of Judges.
In addition, the US Embassy directly controls the National Corruption Prevention Agency, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, and the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. All this is done under a plausible pretext to increase the effectiveness of the fight against corruption. Okay, but where are the results? Corruption has blossomed as luxuriantly, and blossoms, more than ever.
Are the Ukrainians themselves aware of all these managerial methods? Do they understand that their country is not even under a political and economic protectorate, but reduced to the level of a colony with a puppet regime? The privatization of the state has led to the fact that the government, which calls itself the “power of the patriots”, has lost its national character and is consistently leading the matter towards the complete desovereignization of the country.
The course towards de-Russification and forced assimilation continues. The Verkhovna Rada is constantly issuing new discriminatory acts, the law on the so-called indigenous peoples is already in force. People who consider themselves Russians and would like to preserve their identity, language, culture, were made clear that they are strangers in Ukraine.
In accordance with the laws on education and on the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language, Russian is expelled from schools, from all public spheres, up to ordinary shops. The law on the so-called lustration, the “cleansing” of power, made it possible to deal with objectionable civil servants.
Acts are proliferating that give the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies grounds for the harsh suppression of freedom of speech, dissent, and the persecution of the opposition. The world knows the sad practice of unilateral illegitimate sanctions against other states, foreign individuals and legal entities. In Ukraine, they outdid their Western curators and invented such a tool as sanctions against their own citizens, enterprises, TV channels, other media, and even parliament deputies.
In Kiev, they continue to prepare reprisals against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. And this is not an emotional assessment, this is evidenced by specific decisions and documents. The Ukrainian authorities have cynically turned the tragedy of the church schism into an instrument of state policy. The current leadership of the country does not respond to the requests of Ukrainian citizens to repeal laws that infringe on the rights of believers. Moreover, the Rada registered new bills directed against the clergy and millions of parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Separately, I will say about the Crimea. The inhabitants of the peninsula have made their free choice – to be together with Russia. The Kiev authorities have nothing to oppose to this clear, clear will of the people, so they rely on aggressive actions, on the activation of extremist cells, including radical Islamic organizations, on the infiltration of sabotage groups to commit terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure, to kidnap Russian citizens. We have direct evidence that such aggressive actions are carried out with the support of foreign intelligence services.
In March 2021, Ukraine adopted a new Military Strategy. This document is almost entirely devoted to confrontation with Russia, aims to draw foreign states into conflict with our country. The strategy proposes the organization in the Russian Crimea and on the territory of Donbass, in fact, a terrorist underground. It also spells out the contours of the proposed war, and it should end, as it seems to today’s Kiev strategists, I will quote further – “with the assistance of the international community on favorable terms for Ukraine.” And also, as they say today in Kiev, I also quote here, listen carefully, please, “with military support from the world community in the geopolitical confrontation with the Russian Federation.” In fact, this is nothing more than preparation for hostilities against our country – against Russia.
We also know that there have already been statements that Ukraine is going to create its own nuclear weapons, and this is not empty bravado. Ukraine does indeed still have Soviet nuclear technologies and means of delivering such weapons, including aviation, as well as Tochka-U operational-tactical missiles, also of Soviet design, with a range of more than 100 kilometers. But they will do more, it’s only a matter of time. There are backlogs from the Soviet era.
Thus, it will be much easier for Ukraine to acquire tactical nuclear weapons than for some other states, I will not name them now, who actually conduct such developments, especially in the case of technological support from abroad. And we should not exclude this either.
With the appearance of weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine, the situation in the world, in Europe, especially for us, for Russia, will change in the most radical way. We cannot fail to react to this real danger, especially, I repeat, that Western patrons can contribute to the appearance of such weapons in Ukraine in order to create another threat to our country. We see how persistently the military pumping of the Kiev regime is being carried out. The United States alone, since 2014, has allocated billions of dollars for these purposes, including the supply of weapons, equipment, and training of specialists. In recent months, Western weapons are coming to Ukraine just in a continuous stream, defiantly, in front of the whole world. The activities of the armed forces and special services of Ukraine are led by foreign advisers, we know this very well.
In recent years, under the pretext of exercises, military contingents of NATO countries have been almost constantly present on the territory of Ukraine. The command and control system of the Ukrainian troops is already integrated with the NATO ones. This means that the command of the Ukrainian armed forces, even individual units and subunits, can be directly exercised from NATO headquarters.
The United States and NATO have begun the shameless development of the territory of Ukraine as a theater of potential military operations. Regular joint exercises have a clear anti-Russian focus. Last year alone, more than 23,000 servicemen and over a thousand pieces of equipment took part in them.
A law has already been adopted on the admission in 2022 of the armed forces of other states to the territory of Ukraine to participate in multinational exercises. It is clear that we are talking primarily about NATO troops. At least ten such joint maneuvers are planned for the coming year.
It is obvious that such events serve as a cover for the rapid build-up of the NATO military grouping on the territory of Ukraine. Moreover, the network of airfields modernized with the help of the Americans – Boryspil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chuguev, Odessa, and so on – is capable of ensuring the transfer of military units in the shortest possible time. The airspace of Ukraine is open for flights by US strategic and reconnaissance aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles that are used to monitor the territory of Russia.
I will add that the Naval Operations Center in Ochakovo, built by the Americans, makes it possible to ensure the actions of NATO ships, including the use of high-precision weapons by them against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and our infrastructure along the entire Black Sea coast.
At one time, the United States intended to create similar facilities in the Crimea, but the Crimeans and Sevastopol thwarted these plans. We will always remember this.
I repeat, today such a center has been deployed, it has already been deployed in Ochakovo. Let me remind you that in the 18th century the soldiers of Alexander Suvorov fought for this city. Thanks to their courage, he became part of Russia. Then, in the 18th century, the lands of the Black Sea region, annexed to Russia as a result of wars with the Ottoman Empire, were called Novorossiya. Now they are trying to oblivion these milestones of history, as well as the names of state military figures of the Russian Empire, without whose work modern Ukraine would not have many large cities and even the very exit to the Black Sea.
Recently, a monument to Alexander Suvorov was demolished in Poltava. What can you say? Renounce your own past? From the so-called colonial heritage of the Russian Empire? Well, then be consistent here.
Further. I note that Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine does not allow the deployment of foreign military bases on its territory. But it turned out that this is just a convention that can be easily circumvented.
Educational and training missions of NATO countries are deployed in Ukraine. These, in fact, are already foreign military bases. They just called the base “mission” and that’s it.
Kiev has long proclaimed a strategic course towards joining NATO. Yes, of course, each country has the right to choose its own security system and conclude military alliances. And everything seems to be so, if not for one “but”. International documents expressly record the principle of equal and indivisible security, which, as is well known, includes obligations not to strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of other states. I can also refer here to the 1999 OSCE Charter for European Security, adopted in Istanbul, and the 2010 OSCE Astana Declaration.
In other words, the choice of ways to ensure security should not pose a threat to other states, and Ukraine’s entry into NATO is a direct threat to Russia’s security.
Let me remind you that back in April 2008, at the Bucharest summit of the North Atlantic Alliance, the United States pushed through the decision that Ukraine and, by the way, Georgia would become NATO members. Many European allies of the United States were already well aware of all the risks of such a prospect, but were forced to come to terms with the will of their senior partner. The Americans simply used them to carry out a pronounced anti-Russian policy.
A number of member states of the Alliance are still very skeptical about the appearance of Ukraine in NATO. At the same time, we receive a signal from some European capitals, saying: “What are you going through? It won’t happen literally tomorrow.” In fact, our American partners are also talking about this. “Good,” we answer, “not tomorrow, so the day after tomorrow. What does this change in historical perspective? Basically, nothing.”
Moreover, we know the position and words of the United States leadership that active hostilities in eastern Ukraine do not exclude the possibility of this country joining NATO if it can meet the criteria of the North Atlantic Alliance and defeat corruption.
At the same time, they try to convince us over and over again that NATO is a peace-loving and purely defensive alliance. Like, there are no threats to Russia. Again they offer to take a word. But we know the real value of such words. In 1990, when the issue of German unification was being discussed, the Soviet leadership was promised by the US that there would be no extension of NATO jurisdiction or military presence one inch eastward. And that the unification of Germany will not lead to the spread of NATO’s military organization to the East. This quote.
They talked, gave verbal assurances, and everything turned out to be an empty sound. Later, we were assured that the accession to NATO of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe would only improve relations with Moscow, relieve these countries of the fears of a heavy historical legacy, and even, moreover, create a belt of states friendly to Russia.
Everything turned out exactly the opposite. The authorities of some Eastern European countries, trading in Russophobia, brought their complexes and stereotypes about the Russian threat to the Alliance, insisted on building up collective defense potentials, which should be deployed primarily against Russia. Moreover, this happened in the 1990s and early 2000s, when, thanks to openness and our goodwill, relations between Russia and the West were at a high level.
Russia has fulfilled all its obligations, including the withdrawal of troops from Germany, from the states of Central and Eastern Europe, and thus has made a huge contribution to overcoming the legacy of the Cold War. We have consistently proposed various options for cooperation, including in the format of the Russia-NATO Council and the OSCE.
Moreover, I will say now what I have never said publicly, I will say it for the first time. In 2000, during a visit to Moscow by outgoing US President Bill Clinton, I asked him: “How would America feel about admitting Russia into NATO?”
I won’t reveal all the details of that conversation, but the reaction to my question looked, let’s say, very reserved, and how the Americans really reacted to this opportunity is actually visible in their practical steps towards our country. These are open support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, disregard for our demands and security concerns in NATO expansion, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and so on. One wants to ask: why, why all this, for what? Well, you don’t want to see in our person a friend and ally, but why make an enemy out of us?
There is only one answer: it’s not about our political regime, it’s not about something else, they just don’t need such a big independent country like Russia. This is the answer to all questions. This is the source of the traditional American policy towards Russia. Hence the attitude to all our proposals in the field of security.
Today, one glance at the map is enough to see how Western countries have “kept” their promise to prevent NATO from moving eastward. Simply deceived. We received five waves of NATO expansion one after another. In 1999, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary were admitted to the Alliance, in 2004 – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, in 2009 – Albania and Croatia, in 2017 – Montenegro, in 2020 – North Macedonia.
As a result, the Alliance, its military infrastructure came directly to the borders of Russia. This became one of the key causes of the European security crisis, it had the most negative impact on the entire system of international relations and led to the loss of mutual trust.
The situation continues to deteriorate, including in the strategic sphere. Thus, in Romania and Poland, as part of the US project to create a global missile defense system, position areas for anti-missiles are being deployed. It is well known that the launchers located here can be used for Tomahawk cruise missiles – strike offensive systems.
In addition, the United States is developing the Standard-6 universal missile, which, along with solving the problems of air defense and anti-missile defense, can hit both ground and surface targets. That is, the supposedly defensive US missile defense system is expanding and new offensive capabilities are emerging.
The information we have gives every reason to believe that Ukraine’s entry into NATO and the subsequent deployment of NATO facilities here is a foregone conclusion, it’s a matter of time. We clearly understand that under such a scenario, the level of military threats to Russia will rise dramatically, many times over. And I draw special attention to the fact that the danger of a sudden strike on our country will increase many times over.
Let me explain that the American strategic planning documents (documents!) contain the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike against enemy missile systems. And who is the main enemy for the US and NATO, we also know. It’s Russia. In NATO documents, our country is officially and directly declared the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security. And Ukraine will serve as a forward springboard for such a strike. If our ancestors had heard about this, they probably simply would not have believed it. And today we don’t want to believe it, but it’s true. I want this to be understood both in Russia and in Ukraine.
Many Ukrainian airfields are located close to our borders. NATO tactical aircraft stationed here, including carriers of high-precision weapons, will be able to hit our territory to the depth of the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of radar reconnaissance assets on the territory of Ukraine will allow NATO to tightly control the airspace of Russia right up to the Urals.
Finally, after the United States broke the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Pentagon is already openly developing a whole range of ground-based strike weapons, including ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets at a distance of up to 5,500 kilometers. If such systems are deployed in Ukraine, they will be able to hit objects throughout the European territory of Russia, as well as beyond the Urals. The flight time to Moscow for Tomahawk cruise missiles will be less than 35 minutes, ballistic missiles from the Kharkov region – 7-8 minutes, and hypersonic strike weapons – 4-5 minutes. This is called, directly “knife to the throat.” And they, no doubt, expect to implement these plans in the same way that they have repeatedly done in past years, expanding NATO to the east, moving military infrastructure and equipment to Russian borders, completely ignoring our concerns, protests and warnings. Sorry, they just spit on them and did whatever they wanted, whatever they saw fit.
And of course, they also intend to continue to behave according to the well-known saying – “The dog barks, but the caravan moves on.” I will say right away that we did not agree to this and will never agree. At the same time, Russia has always advocated and advocates that the most difficult problems be resolved by political and diplomatic methods, at the negotiating table.
We are well aware of our colossal responsibility for regional and global stability. Back in 2008, Russia put forward an initiative to conclude a European Security Treaty. Its meaning was that not a single state and not a single international organization in the Euro-Atlantic could strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others. However, our proposal was rejected out of the blue: it is impossible, they say, to allow Russia to limit the activities of NATO.
Moreover, we were explicitly told that only members of the North Atlantic Alliance can have legally binding security guarantees.
Last December, we handed over to our Western partners a draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, as well as a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and NATO member states.
There were many common words in response from the US and NATO. There were also rational grains, but all this concerned minor points and looked like an attempt to wind up the issue, divert the discussion to the side.
We reacted to this in an appropriate way, stressing that we are ready to follow the path of negotiations, however, on the condition that all issues are considered as a whole, as a package, without being separated from the main, basic Russian proposals. And they contain three key points. The first is to prevent further NATO expansion. The second is the refusal of the Alliance to deploy strike weapons systems on Russian borders. And finally, the return of the bloc’s military potential and infrastructure in Europe to the state of 1997, when the Russia-NATO Founding Act was signed.
It is precisely these fundamental proposals of ours that have been ignored. The Western partners, I repeat, once again voiced the learned formulas that each state has the right to freely choose ways to ensure its security and enter into any military alliances and alliances. That is, nothing has changed in their position, the same references to the notorious “open door” policy of NATO are heard. Moreover, they are again trying to blackmail us, they are again threatening with sanctions, which, by the way, they will still introduce as Russia’s sovereignty strengthens and the power of our Armed Forces grows. And a pretext for another sanctions attack will always be found or simply fabricated, regardless of the situation in Ukraine. There is only one goal – to restrain the development of Russia. And they will do it, as they did before, even without any formal pretext at all, only because
I would like to say clearly, frankly, in the current situation, when our proposals for an equal dialogue on fundamental issues actually remained unanswered by the United States and NATO, when the level of threats to our country is significantly increasing, Russia has every right to take retaliatory measures to ensure its own security. That is exactly what we will do.
As for the state of affairs in the Donbass, we see that the ruling elite in Kiev constantly and publicly declares its unwillingness to implement the Minsk package of measures to resolve the conflict, and is not interested in a peaceful solution. On the contrary, it is trying to organize a blitzkrieg in the Donbass again, as it already happened in 2014 and 2015. How these adventures ended then, we remember.
Now practically not a single day goes by without shelling of settlements in Donbass. The formed large military group constantly uses attack drones, heavy equipment, rockets, artillery and multiple rocket launchers. The killing of civilians, the blockade, the abuse of people, including children, women, the elderly, does not stop. As we say, there is no end in sight to this.
And the so-called civilized world, of which our Western colleagues self-appointedly declared themselves to be the only representatives, prefers not to notice this, as if all this horror, the genocide, to which almost 4 million people are subjected, does not exist, and only because these people did not agree with the supported West coup in Ukraine in 2014, opposed the elevated to the rank of state movement in the direction of the cave and aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism. And they are fighting for their elementary rights – to live on their own land, to speak their own language, to preserve their culture and traditions.
How long can this tragedy continue? How much longer can you endure this? Russia has done everything to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine, all these years persistently and patiently fought for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 of February 17, 2015, which consolidated the Minsk Package of Measures of February 12, 2015 to resolve the situation in Donbas.
Everything is in vain. Presidents and Rada deputies change, but the essence, the aggressive, nationalistic character of the regime itself, which seized power in Kiev, does not change. It is entirely and completely a product of the 2014 coup d’etat, and those who then embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed, lawlessness did not recognize and do not recognize any other solution to the Donbass issue, except for the military one.
In this regard, I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.
I ask the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to support this decision and then ratify the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with both republics. These two documents will be prepared and signed in the very near future.
And from those who seized and hold power in Kiev, we demand an immediate cessation of hostilities. Otherwise, all responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling on the territory of Ukraine.
Announcing the decisions taken today, I am confident in the support of the citizens of Russia, all the patriotic forces of the country.
Thank you for your attention.
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