Vladimir Putin has expressed his full support for the incorporation of the Donbass and the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions into Russia, and signed a decree to that effect.
"Dear residents of Russia, residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, the people of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions...you know that referendums have taken place. The results have been calculated. The results are known. People have made their choice, an unequivocal choice," Putin said, speaking at a ceremony in the Kremlin on Friday.
"I am sure that the Federal Assembly will support the constitutional laws on the admission and formation in Russia of four new regions, of four new subjects of the Russian Federation, because this is the will of millions of people," Putin said. "This is of course their right, their inalienable right, enshrined in Article 1 of the United Nations Charter, where the principle of equality and self-determination of peoples is stated directly," he added.
This right is also based on the historical unity of generations of residents of the four regions with Russia, from the period of Ancient Rus to the time of Catherine the Great, to the Second World War, Putin said.
"We will always remember the heroes of the Russian Spring, those who died for the right in their native tongue, to preserve their culture, traditions, their faith. For their right to live," the president added, referring to the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in eastern and southern Ukraine in the months following the Western-backed coup in Kiev in February of 2014.
"This includes the fighters of the Donbass, the martyrs of the 'Odessa Khatyn', the victims of the inhuman terrorist attacks carried out by the Kiev regime. It includes volunteers and militiamen, civilians, women and children, the elderly. Russians, Ukrainians, people from various nationalities." Putin asked for a minute of silence to honor the memories of the fallen, including the Russian servicemen who have died over the course of the special military operation.
Crisis Whose Roots Go Back Decades
The current security crisis in Ukraine goes back decades, Putin said. "In 1991, at the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, without asking the will of ordinary citizens, representatives of the then-party elites decided on the collapse of the USSR, and people found themselves cut off from their homeland at a stroke. This tore apart dismembered our community of peoples, became a national catastrophe. Just as the borders of the union republics were cut up behind the scenes after the Revolution [of 1917], the final leaders of the Soviet Union, contrary to the direct expression of the will of the majority of the people in the 1991 referendum, destroyed our great country and simply placed the people before this fact," Putin said.
"The Soviet Union is no more. The past cannot be returned, and Russia does not need this today. We are not pursuing this. But there is nothing stronger than the determination of millions of people who by their culture, faith, traditions, language consider themselves part of Russia, whose ancestors lived for centuries as part of one state. There is nothing stronger than the determination of these people to return to their true historical fatherland," Putin said.
Message to Kiev and Its Western Sponsors
The president said that the people of the Donbass have faced eight years of "genocide, shelling and blockade," while in Kherson and Zaporozhye, authorities attempted to foment hatred against Russia and everything Russian. While referendums were being held, he said, Kiev threatened to target women schoolteachers working in election commissions, and promised repressions against millions of people who took part in the plebiscites.
"I would like everyone, including the authorities in Kiev and their real masters in the West, to hear me and remember that the people of [the four territories] are becoming our citizens. Forever," Putin said. "We call on the Kiev regime to immediately cease fire, cease all hostilities - the war it unleashed in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this," Putin said.
The president called on Ukraine's authorities to respect the choice made by the residents of the Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye, and warned that Russia would protect its territories using all available means.
Putin also promised that the cities and settlements, housing stock, schools, hospitals, theatres and museums damaged in fighting would be restored, as would industry and infrastructure.
30 September 2022, 14:37 GMT
Ukraine a Preview of What West is Preparing for Humanity: Putin
Appealing to the servicemen of the Russian armed forces, the Donbass militiamen, and members of their families, Putin outlined what they are fighting for.
"Our compatriots, our brothers and sisters in Ukraine -the native part of our united people, have seen with their own eyes what the ruling circles of the so-called West are preparing for all of humanity. In Ukraine, they have essentially thrown off their masks, shown their true nature. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West decided that the planet -all of us forever would have to accept its dictate. In 1991, the West was counting on Russia not to recover from the shocks it faced and fall apart on its own. This almost transpired, we remember the 90s, the terrible 90s, filled with hunger, cold and hopelessness. But Russia stood firm, revived, strengthened and again took its rightful place in the world," Putin said.
Western elites continue to seek out new opportunities to strike at, weaken and dismember Russia and to give rise to tensions between its people, something "they always dreamed about," he added. They are ready to go to any length "to preserve the neocolonial system which allows them to live parasitically - and factually to pillage the world thanks to the power of the dollar and the technological dictate. To collect tribute from humanity," Putin said.
This is the reason for their pursuit of the "total desovereigntization" of nations, aggression against independent states, traditional values and unique cultures, Putin suggested. Some countries agree to this "vassal" status voluntarily, while others are bought off, threatened or destroyed, leaving entire nations in ruins, according to the president.
"It is precisely this greed, this effort to preserve its unrestricted power, which serves as the real reason for the hybrid war being waged against Russia by the collective West," Putin said. "They do not need Russia in principle. We do."
The US and its allies are counting on their continued ability to act with impunity, according to Putin.
"Agreements in the field of strategic security are sent into the wastebasket. Agreements reached at the highest level are declared a fiction. Firm promises not to expand NATO to the east were turned into a dirty deception as soon as our former leaders bought into them. Treaties on missile defense and intermediate range missiles were unilaterally torn apart under far-fetched pretexts. We hear from all sides that the West is defending a 'rules-based order'. Where did these rules come from? Who has even seen these rules? Who agreed on them? Listen, this is just some kind of nonsense, sheer deceit, double or even triple standards. These 'rules' are simply designed for fools," Putin said.
Russia will not live under these "rigged, false" rules, he added.
The West has no right to "even stutter about freedom and democracy" in evaluating the votes on the will of the people of Crimea, the Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye, according to the president.
Moscow will never accept the West's "colonial-style" approach to international politics, and attempts to discriminate against and divide people into categories based on political nationalism and racism, including Russophobia, Putin said. He recalled that the West should recall its historical role in the global slave trade, the genocide of the Native peoples of North America, the plundering of India and Africa, the Opium Wars waged by France and Britain against China in the 19th century.
"What they did amounted to the hooking of entire nations on drugs, the purposeful extermination of entire ethnic groups for the sake of land and resources, the organization of the hunting of people like animals. This is contrary to human nature, to the ideals of truth, freedom and justice. We are proud that during the 20th century, our country led the anti-colonial movement, which opened opportunities for development for many peoples of the world - to reduce poverty and inequality, to defeat hunger and disease," Putin said. This, and the West's failure to colonize Russia, to receive unfettered access to its riches, are additional reasons behind the West's Russophobia, he suggested.
15 August 2022, 04:00 GMT
"The West managed to grab hold of Russia's wealth at the close of the 20th century, when the state was destroyed. At that time we were called friends and partners, but in fact were treated as a colony. Trillions of dollars were pumped out of the country using the broadest variety of schemes. We all remember this, and haven't forgotten anything. And during these past days, the people of Donetsk and Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye spoke in favor of restoring our historical unity," Putin said.
Putin accused the United States of treating even its allies like "vassals," all the while cynically referring to them as "allies with equal rights." He recalled the many scandals involving revelations that the US openly spies on the leaders of allied nations, and suggested that these officials "shamefully," "silently and resignedly swallow this loutish behavior."
Europe has suffered from a colossal migratory wave sparked by the West's "destructive policy, wars and robbery," Putin said. "The American elite is in essense using the tragedy of these people to weaken their competitors, to destroy national governments," he added, noting these problems apply to countries like France, Italy, Spain and others whose national identities are now under threat.
These same nations have continued to support round after round of new anti-Russian sanctions, Putin said, with US pressure "practically leading to the deindustrialization of Europe, to the total takeover of the European market. These European elites understand all this, but prefer [to support] the interests of others. This is no longer just servility, but a direct betrayal of their peoples. But God help them, this is their business."
"But sanctions are not enough for the Anglo-Saxons, and they have moved on to sabotage. It's incredible, but true. By organizing explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines running along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, they have factually begun to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure. It's clear to everyone who benefits from this," Putin suggested.
30 September 2022, 07:38 GMT
"US dictate is based on naked force," Putin said. "Sometimes this is wrapped up in a beautiful wrapper, sometimes without, but the essence is the same - the 'law of fists'." This is evidenced by the hundreds of US bases dotting the globe, the formation of new exclusive military blocs, with all nations that enjoy or seek genuine strategic sovereignty "automatically categorized as enemies." Even US allies who dare to go against Washington's will are slapped with sanctions, he argued.
Fortunately for Moscow, Putin said, "the West has clearly been engaged in wishful thinking for a long time" when measuring their global strength. "Starting their sanctions blitzkrieg against Russia, they thought that they could once again assemble the whole world at their command. But as it turned out, such rosy prospects failed to excite everyone - perhaps apart from complete political masochists and fans of other non-traditional forms of international relations."
The majority of nations have instead supported rational cooperation with Moscow, something the West did not anticipate and does not accept, the Russian president said.
Dollars Can't Be Eaten
"Printed dollars and euros cannot feed people. They cannot be fed with these pieces of paper. And the virtual, inflated market capitalization of Western social media [companies] cannot be used to heat homes," Putin said. "Therefore, politicians in Europe have to convince their fellow citizens to eat less, wash less often, and dress warmer in their homes. Those who begin to ask fair questions about why this is happening are immediately declared enemies, extremists and radicals, and the finger is pointed at Russia, which is said to be the source of all your troubles. They lie once again," Putin said.
Putin said he does not expect the West's elites to find constructive ways to get their nations out of the energy and food crises which they caused - long before Russia ever kicked off its military operation in Ukraine. Instead, he suggested that just as the West escaped the looming economic crises of the 80s by plundering the assets of the Eastern Bloc after its collapse, today, they will attempt to repeat this process by "breaking Russia" and other nations pursuing a sovereign policy. "If this does not take place, I cannot exclude that they will try to bring the [global economic] system to a complete collapse, on which everything can then be blamed, or, God forbid, decide to use the well-known formula of 'war writes off everything'," Putin warned.
16 September 2022, 14:48 GMT
He stressed that Russia understands its responsibility before the international community, and "will do everything possible to bring such hotheads to their senses. It is obvious that their neo-colonial model is ultimately doomed."
"The planet has entered a period of revolutionary transformations. They carry a fundamental nature; new centers of development are being created which represent the majority of the world community and are ready not only to declare their interests but to defend them. And they see multipolarity as a chance to strengthen their own sovereignty," Putin said. "It is this force that will decide the future geopolitical reality," he added.
29 September 2022, 11:24 GMT
Two Dramatic Weeks
The territorial changes come in the wake of 12 days of dramatic proceedings, which began on September 19 when the civic chambers of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics issued formal appeals to republican authorities to hold referendums to become part of Russia. The initiative was quickly joined by those areas of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions under the control of pro-Russian civil-military administrations, and a series of paper ballot-based referenda were held over a five-day period in each territory.
Russia recognized the DPR and LPR on February 22, on the eve of the start of its special military operation to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
The question posed
to voters in the referenda in the two states were “Do you support [your republic’s] entry into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of a Russian Federation?” In Zaporozhye and Kherson, the question posed was “Are you in favor of [your region] exiting Ukraine, forming an independent state and joining the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation?”
The results of the referenda showed overwhelming majority support for joining Russia, including 99.23 percent support in the DPR, 98.42 percent in the LPR, 87.05 percent in Kherson and 93.11 percent in Zaporozhye. Turnout was 97.5 percent in the DPR, 92.6 percent in the LPR, 76.9 percent in Kherson and 85.4 percent in Zaporozhye, respectively.
The territorial changes come in the aftermath of an eight year-long political and security crisis which began in February of 2014, when Ukraine’s democratically-elected government was overthrown in a US-sponsored coup d’état
and replaced by a pro-Western client state which proceeded to try to drag the country into the European Union and NATO. The crisis prompted Crimea to break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia in March 2014, and sparked an armed conflict in the Donbass in the spring of that year.
29 August 2022, 18:22 GMT
In February 2015, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France met in the Belarusian capital of Minsk to sign the so-called Minsk peace agreements – which envisioned the then-self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics returning to Ukraine’s control in exchange for broad autonomy. Successive Ukrainian administrations waffled on the idea, while the Verkhovna Rada parliament refused to make any progress in this area, leading to nearly seven years of an uneasy ceasefire punctuated by regular shelling, sabotage, assassination and sniper attacks against the breakaway territories. In early 2022, the security crisis reached a fever pitch, with Moscow preempting a feared Ukrainian all-out invasion of the Donbass by launching its special military operation.