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War in Ukraine Began After the 2014 Coup, Not Because of Russia - Putin

© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich / Go to the mediabankRussian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with heads of international news agencies
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with heads of international news agencies - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.06.2024
The war in Ukraine began after the coup d'état in 2014, not because of Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his conversation with the heads of international news agencies on the sidelines of the 27th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
"We did not start this war, the war began in 2014 after a coup d'état and attempts to crush those who did not agree with the coup using guns," Putin said during the meeting on the sidelines of the SPIEF.
Russia has made every effort to find a formula for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine, the president added.
"Russia has made every effort to find a settlement formula by peaceful means - in 2015 Minsk [we] signed the so-called Minsk agreements, which were, incidentally, legally constituted by a decision of the UN Security Council."
The President added that this made the document necessary for execution, but Ukraine decided to take the military approach.
Washington provoked an unconstitutional takeover in Ukraine and therefore bears equal responsibility for what is happening there at the moment.
"They are to blame for what happened, along with the faction in the United States that provoked an unconstitutional seizure of power [in Ukraine]. Should I say more about what the result was?" Putin said at the meeting.

On Targeting Russian Journalists

Russian journalists are being obstructed and intimidated everywhere in the West, the Russian leader noted.
"Wherever our journalists try to work, they are hindered everywhere. Well, it is just everywhere, so their employees are being intimidated, bank accounts are being closed, transport is being taken away," he said.
The only thing that Russian media representatives do is tell the Russian point of view on global events
"The only thing that our media representatives and your Russian colleagues do is tell the Russian point of view on certain processes that are taking place in the world, in our country and in Europe," Putin added.
Russian news agencies should be able to convey their own point of view to a Western audience, Putin said.
"At least 30 people have died, our journalists. And they are not giving us the opportunity to investigate what happened to them," Putin also told the media.
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On Russia's and Kiev's Losses in Ukraine Conflict

Russia's losses in the Ukrainian conflict are several times less than Kiev's losses, while the irrevocable personnel losses ratio is one to five, Putin underlined.
"I know for a fact that our losses, especially in what comes to unfortunate irretrievable losses, are certainly several times less than those of the Ukrainian side," the president said.
The irrevocable personnel losses ratio is one to five, the Russian president added. The Ukrainian army loses about 50,000 soldiers a month, with sanitary losses accounting for only 50% of them, Putin also said. With regard to prisoners of war, a total of 1,348 Russian soldiers and officers have been taken prisoner by Kiev, while Russia currently has 6,465 Ukrainian soldiers in captivity, Putin said.
Meanwhile, Kiev recruited about 50,000 soldiers during mobilization last month, according to Russian intelligence data, the president said, adding that Kiev aims at making up for losses, since even "the total mobilization" will not be able to solve its problems.
"The US administration insists on gradually lowering the mobilization threshold [in Ukraine] from 25 to 23, then to 20 and finally to 18 years. Or better still, down to 18 years in one go. Boys aged 17 are already required to be put on military records," Putin said.
In light of this, those who attempt to harm Russia should understand that they are hurting themselves more than they will ever be able to hurt Russia, the president added.
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On Arms Supplies to Conflict Zone

Supplying weapons to a conflict zone is always a bad, dangerous and serious step, Vladimir Putin added.
"The supply of weapons to the conflict zone is always bad. Moreover, if this is due to the fact that those who supply, they do not only supply weapons, but control these weapons. And this is a very serious and very dangerous step," Putin underlined.

On Germany's Missile Supplies to Ukraine

Berlin's missile supplies to Kiev will "completely" destroy its relations with Moscow, Putin highlighted.
"When the first German-made tanks appeared on Ukrainian soil, it then produced such a moral and ethical shock in Russia. Because the attitude toward the Federal Republic in the Russian society has always been very good. Now, when they say that some kind of missiles will appear soon, which will strike targets on Russian territory, this, of course, will completely destroy Russian-German relations," he said.
No one in the German leadership protects the interests of its citizens, the Russian leader added.
"It is clear that Germany does not have full sovereignty, but the Germans do. And one should think at least a little about their interests," Putin said.
Germany is dependent in the areas of information policy and defense on the mastermind "across the ocean," the president added.

On Response to Supplies of Long-Range Weapons to Ukraine

Russia's response to supplies of long-range weapons to Ukraine may be asymmetrical, the leader noted.

"We are thinking about the fact that if someone considers it possible to supply such weapons to a war zone to strike at our territory and create problems for us, then why do we not have the right to supply our weapons of the same class to those regions of the world where attacks on sensitive facilities will be carried out... The answer may be asymmetric. We will think about it," Putin said.

If Russia sees other countries being drawn into war against it, then Moscow will reserve the right to act similarly, he added.

On 'Threats' to Other Countries' Leaders

Russia does not threaten anyone, especially leaders of other countries, as to do otherwise would be "ill manners," the Russian leader elaborated.
"What makes you think we are threatening someone? We do not threaten anyone, especially a head of another country. This is ill manners. This is wrong. We have our own position on certain issues," Putin said.
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On US Presidential Election

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will work with any US president elected by the American people.
On Wednesday, President Putin holds a conversation with the heads of major international news agencies on the sidelines of the 27th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), including with representatives of unfriendly countries.
"For us, the end result, we believe, does not matter much. Russia will work with any US president, who will be elected by the American people," he said.
Russia has not and will not interfere in the US political process, Putin said, adding that the US is “burning itself” from the inside in the course of its internal political struggles.
US President Joe Biden is an old-school politician, and he is predictable, Vladimir Putin noted.
"I have already said that everyone took my statement about Mr. Biden skeptically, but they also saw in it some kind of hidden attack on President Biden, but really he is an old-school politician," he mentioned.

On Relations With EU Leaders

It would be possible to find solutions to issues with the leaders of the European Union (EU) if they felt more confident and had more courage to protect their national interests, the president emphasized.
"It is possible [to find solutions to issues with the leaders of the European Union] if they felt more confident and had more courage to protect national interests," he mentioned.
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On US Administration's Economic Policy

The US administration is making one mistake after another in the economic policy, the Russian president said.
"And in the field of international politics, in domestic politics, but also in economic policy, I think that today's administration is making one mistake after another, one after another," he noted.
Washington's desire to be the leader of global liberalism is destroying the state from within, Putin added.
"I think you will agree with me that no one is interested in Ukraine in the United States, they are interested in the greatness of the United States, which is fighting not for Ukraine and not for the Ukrainian people, but for its greatness and for its leadership," he pointed out.
It is hard to tell whether there will be any changes in the US policy when it comes to Kiev if Donald Trump comes to power, Putin said, adding that currently the US seeks to prevent Russia's success, believing it will damage its leadership position.

On Trump's Prosecution

Vladimir Putin pointed out that the prosecution of former US President Donald Trump demonstrates the use of the judicial system for internal political struggle.
"It is clear to the whole world that prosecuting Trump, especially on charges based on events that happened years ago without direct evidence, is simply the use of the judicial system as part of the political struggle," he said.
He noted that Trump’s rating rose and his political campaign donations increased after the jury declared him guilty.
"This suggests that people in the United States do not trust the judicial system that makes such decisions, and believe that they are being made for political reasons," Putin said.

On Russian-Chinese Relations

Bilateral relations between Russia and China are not situational in nature and based on deep, mutual interests, the President emphasized.
“As for bilateral relations [between China and Russia], I would like to draw your attention to the fact that they are not situational in nature. They are based on deep, mutual interests,” Putin told foreign reporters.
Putin noted that over the 15 years that China has been Russia’s main trading partner, Moscow and Beijing have built their relations based on mutual interests, and not on opportunistic political world events.
During his communication with international journalists, Putin also discussed the prospects for developing Russian-Chinese high-tech relations, including aircraft manufacturing and artificial intelligence.
We also have good prospects in the field of high technologies,” Putin said. “I mean aircraft manufacturing, I mean artificial intelligence.”
Russia and China continue their defense industry cooperation, and Moscow has something to offer Beijing, Vladimir Putin elaborated.
"We are working on military-technical cooperation. We have something to offer our Chinese friends here," Putin said. "And our Chinese friends are interested in working together in this area."
Putin also said that Russia and China are conducting and will continue to conduct joint exercises, including military ones.

On Russian-Belarusian Economic Relations

"Our trade [between Russia and Belarus], if you look at it in dollar terms, and it is no secret, everyone knows it well, amounts to $48 billion … These economic relations are very diversified," Putin told media representatives.

The Russian leader added that his trip to Minsk after his reelection had not been just "symbolic."
"All very specific, very tangible issues were addressed, and the quality of life of our citizens, of course, depends on their resolution," he said.
In Minsk, there were disputes between the delegations of Russia and Belarus regarding issues pertaining to industrial cooperation and the volume of supplies of petroleum products, Putin added.
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On Russian-Azerbaijani Relations

The relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are developing successfully and in a reliable and pragmatic manner, as the Azerbaijani leadership is committed to building interstate relations based on mutual interest, the president noted.
"Our [Russian-Azerbaijani] relations are developing successfully, reliably and very pragmatically. We see that the Azerbaijani leadership is committed to building interstate ties precisely on the basis of mutual interest and, I would say, to a certain extent, sympathy for each other," he said.
It is necessary to develop transport infrastructure between Russia and Azerbaijan to further develop bilateral relations, the Russian leader added.
"A lot needs to be done in this area from the point of view of logistics development. You are absolutely right. This is not only about the North-South [international transport corridor], but in other spheres as well. The connection between logistics hubs on the Russian-Azerbaijani border in the [Russian republic of] Dagestan section, for one," Putin mentioned.

On Future Cooperation With Iran

"I want to say that we had very good, reliable and business relations with him [Raisi]," Putin said.
"We are waiting for the Iranian presidential election to take place. I hope to meet with a new president of Iran at international events, such as the SCO and BRICS. I am confident that we will find a common language and will work to implement all the plans that were outlined by the late President Raisi."
Putin underlined that relations between Russia and Iran are developing well, and in many areas.

On Russia's Economic Growth

The Russian economy grew by 5.4% in the first quarter of this year, President Putin pointed out.
"In the first quarter of this year, the growth of the Russian economy amounted to 5.4%," he clarified.
The place in the economic ratings is not an end in itself, it is important to maintain the pace of economic growth of Russia and we are succeeding, Putin concluded.
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On the North-South Transport Corridor

Foreign investors, including Arab sovereign funds, have shown interest in the North-South international transport corridor, with the project promising to be very profitable.
"Since it promises to be very profitable, there are also foreign investors ... including Arab sovereign funds, who have declared their interest in this project. This is understandable, because sovereign funds are always looking for reliable investments. This is one of the reliable investments, because its profitability will be ensured and guaranteed, " Putin said.
The Russian leader has "no doubt" that the project will be implemented.

On Gas Supplies to Europe Through Ukraine

Russia continues to supply gas to Europe via Ukraine, although only one out of two pipelines is currently operational.
"We continue to supply gas to Europe via the Ukrainian territory. We are supplying it. We had two pipelines. The Ukrainian side closed one of them, screwed up the valve and closed it, just like that. Although there was no reason to do that. Only one pipeline was left. Whatever, our gas continues to be pumped to Europe through it. European consumers received that gas," Putin told the media.
In addition, European consumers also receive Russian gas through TurkStream pipeline, the Russian leader added.
In that context, Putin wondered why Germany was unwilling to be supplied with Russian gas through the one intact Nord Stream pipeline, but insisted on importing it at an exorbitant price from overseas.
"One Nord Stream pipeline was destroyed. Another one is still intact, thank God, so why is Germany so unwilling to get our gas through it? Can anyone explain that to me? Where is the logic? They can get it through Ukraine, and they can get it through Turkiye, but through the Baltic Sea, they cannot? What sort of delirium is that?" the president said.
It is one thing that Europe does not want Russian gas at all, and Russian gas giant Gazprom would survive that, but it is quite another thing that it wants to purchase liquefied natural gas shipped from overseas, he added.
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On the 'Destruction of Civilian Population' in Gaza

The current situation in the Gaza Strip looks less like a war and more like a total destruction of the civilian population of the enclave, Putin argued.

"What is happening in Gaza now in response to that terrorist attack in Israel does not look much like a war. What it looks like is a total destruction of the civilian population," Putin stressed.

It was Washington monopolizing the issue of resolving the Palestinian crisis that led to the current situation in the enclave, the Russian president added.
"We believe that this is the result of the US policy of monopolizing the Israeli-Palestinian settlement and pushing aside all the international instruments created specifically to resolve this complex issue collectively... Perhaps someone in the US administration believes that the fewer opinions are there on the issue, the easier it would be to get the results, but they were obviously wrong," Putin said.
Moscow counts on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's contribution to resolving this crisis, given his political weight both in the region and in the Islamic world, while Russia, for its part, will do everything it can to help him, the Russian leader added.
Putin also stated that when it comes to terrorism, Russia opposes it in all its forms.
"Of course, we oppose terrorism in all its forms, including attacks against civilians in any place and in any country," he said.
Meanwhile, Russia's stance on the Gaza Strip is not subject to political circumstances and has not changed since Soviet times, given that the Soviet Union recognized the Palestinian statehood as far back as in 1988, the Russian president concluded.
Russia should not play a leading role in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but it can make a contribution, Putin added.

"Is it important for Russia to play a leading role? I think not. There are many players who are involved in this conflict and have a huge influence on the events taking place, but of course we can contribute to the settlement attempts, taking into account our relations that have developed over the past 10 years with Israel, taking into account our traditional relations, very trusting relations with the Muslim Arab world," Putin underscored.

The regional states, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab League, the United States must make a decisive contribution to Middle East settlement, the Russian president said.
The conflict in the Gaza Strip would have been resolved if the United States had not vetoed the ceasefire proposals, the president added.
"We have put forward initiatives in the UN Security Council on a ceasefire several times. The United States is blocking, vetoing. If we worked in solidarity, we would come to an agreement - that would be the right scenario. It has not been possible so far," Putin said.

On Russia's Security

Russia will use all means at its disposal if the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are threatened, said Putin on Wednesday.

"We have a nuclear doctrine, look what is written. If someone’s actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we consider it possible to use all the means at our disposal," Putin clarified.

There are constant attempts to accuse Russia of threatening with the use of nuclear arms, which is not true, the president said.
"This is such a very tough topic. The United States is the only country that used nuclear weapons, in the Second World War — Hiroshima, Nagasaki, 20 kilotonnes. Our tactical nuclear weapons are 70-75 kilotonnes, such nuclear tactical weapons. Let's not to bring not only to its use, but even to the threat of use," he added.

On Partnership With Western Countries

Russia, the US, the UK and France can be partners at present, but the Western states rule out such a possibility, Putin highlighted.

"We do not rule it out, it is the Americans and Europeans who rule it out," the Russian president emphasized.

Commenting on the prospects for contacts with Western countries, the president said that Russia is always open for negotiations.
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