Dear citizens of Russia! Dear friends!
Today, I again consider it necessary to return to the tragic events taking place in the Donbass and the key issues of ensuring the security of Russia itself.
Let me start with what I said in my address of 21 February this year. We are talking about what causes us particular concern and anxiety, about those fundamental threats that year after year, step by step, are rudely and unceremoniously created by irresponsible politicians in the West in relation to our country. I mean the expansion of the Nato bloc to the east, bringing its military infrastructure closer to Russian borders.
It is well known that for 30 years we have persistently and patiently tried to reach an agreement with the leading Nato countries on the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. In response to our proposals, we constantly faced either cynical deception and lies, or attempts to pressure and blackmail, while the North Atlantic Alliance, in the meantime, despite all our protests and concerns, is steadily expanding. The military machine is moving and, I repeat, is coming close to our borders.
Why is all this happening? Where does this impudent manner of speaking from the position of one’s own exclusivity, infallibility and permissiveness come from? Where does the disdainful, disdainful attitude towards our interests and absolutely legitimate demands come from?
The answer is clear, everything is clear and obvious. The Soviet Union in the late 80s of the last century weakened, and then completely collapsed. The whole course of events that took place then is a good lesson for us today as well; it convincingly showed that the paralysis of power and will is the first step towards complete degradation and oblivion. As soon as we lost confidence in ourselves for some time, and that’s it, the balance of power in the world turned out to be disturbed.
This has led to the fact that the previous treaties and agreements are no longer in effect. Persuasion and requests do not help. Everything that does not suit the hegemon, those in power, is declared archaic, obsolete, unnecessary. And vice versa: everything that seems beneficial to them is presented as the ultimate truth, pushed through at any cost, boorishly, by all means. Dissenters are broken through the knee.
What I am talking about now concerns not only Russia and not only us. This applies to the entire system of international relations, and sometimes even to the US allies themselves. After the collapse of the USSR, the redivision of the world actually began, and the norms of international law that had developed by that time – and the key, basic ones were adopted at the end of the Second World War and largely consolidated its results – began to interfere with those who declared themselves the winner in the Cold War .
Of course, in practical life, in international relations, in the rules for their regulation, it was necessary to take into account changes in the situation in the world and the balance of power itself. However, this should have been done professionally, smoothly, patiently, taking into account and respecting the interests of all countries and understanding our responsibility. But no: a state of euphoria from absolute superiority, a kind of modern form of absolutism, and even against the background of a low level of general culture and arrogance of those who prepared, adopted and pushed through decisions that were beneficial only for themselves. The situation began to develop according to a different scenario.
You don’t have to look far for examples. First, without any sanction from the UN Security Council, they carried out a bloody military operation against Belgrade, using aircraft and missiles right in the very centre of Europe. Several weeks of continuous bombing of civilian cities, on life-supporting infrastructure. We have to remind these facts, otherwise some Western colleagues do not like to remember those events, and when we talk about it, they prefer to point not to the norms of international law, but to the circumstances that they interpret as they see fit.
Then came the turn of Iraq, Libya, Syria. The illegitimate use of military force against Libya, the perversion of all decisions of the UN Security Council on the Libyan issue led to the complete destruction of the state, to the emergence of a huge hotbed of international terrorism, to the fact that the country plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe that has not stopped for many years. civil war. The tragedy, which doomed hundreds of thousands, millions of people not only in Libya, but throughout this region, gave rise to a massive migration exodus from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe.
A similar fate was prepared for Syria. The fighting of the Western coalition on the territory of this country without the consent of the Syrian government and the sanction of the UN Security Council is nothing but aggression, intervention.
However, a special place in this series is occupied, of course, by the invasion of Iraq, also without any legal grounds. As a pretext, they chose reliable information allegedly available to the United States about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As proof of this, publicly, in front of the eyes of the whole world, the US Secretary of State shook some kind of test tube with white powder, assuring everyone that this is the chemical weapon being developed in Iraq. And then it turned out that all this was a hoax, a bluff: there are no chemical weapons in Iraq. Unbelievable, surprising, but the fact remains. There were lies at the highest state level and from the high rostrum of the UN. And as a result: huge casualties, destruction, an incredible surge of terrorism.
In general, one gets the impression that practically everywhere, in many regions of the world, where the West comes to establish its own order, the result is bloody, unhealed wounds, ulcers of international terrorism and extremism. All that I have said is the most egregious, but by no means the only examples of disregard for international law.
In this series, and promises to our country not to expand Nato by one inch to the east. I repeat: they deceived me, but in popular terms, they simply threw it away. Yes, you can often hear that politics is a dirty business. Perhaps, but not to the same extent, not to the same extent. After all, such cheating behaviour contradicts not only the principles of international relations, but above all the generally recognised norms of morality and morality. Where is justice and truth here? Just a bunch of lies and hypocrisy.
By the way, American politicians, political scientists and journalists themselves write and talk about the fact that a real ’empire of lies’ has been created inside the United States in recent years. It’s hard to disagree with that; it’s true. But do not be modest: the United States is still a great country, a system-forming power. All her satellites not only resignedly and dutifully assent, sing along to her for any reason, but also copy her behaviour, enthusiastically accept the rules he proposes. Therefore, with good reason, we can confidently say that the entire so-called Western bloc, formed by the United States in its own image and likeness, all of it is the very ’empire of lies’.
As for our country, after the collapse of the USSR, with all the unprecedented openness of the new modern Russia, the readiness to work honestly with the United States and other Western partners, and in the conditions of virtually unilateral disarmament, they immediately tried to squeeze us, finish off and destroy us completely. This is exactly what happened in the 90s, in the early 2000s, when the so-called collective West most actively supported separatism and mercenary gangs in southern Russia. What sacrifices, what losses did all this cost us then, what trials did we have to go through before we finally broke the back of international terrorism in the Caucasus. We remember this and will never forget.
Yes, in fact, until recently, attempts have not stopped to use us in their own interests, destroy our traditional values and impose on us their pseudo-values that would corrode us, our people from the inside, those attitudes that they are already aggressively planting in their countries and which directly lead to degradation and degeneration, because they contradict the very nature of man. It won’t happen, no one has ever done it. It won’t work now either.
Despite everything, in December 2021, we nevertheless once again made an attempt to agree with the United States and its allies on the principles of ensuring security in Europe and on the non-expansion of Nato. Everything is in vain. The US position does not change. They do not consider it necessary to negotiate with Russia on this key issue for us, pursuing their own goals, they neglect our interests.
And of course, in this situation, we have a question: what to do next, what to expect? We know well from history how in the 1940s and early 1941s the Soviet Union tried in every possible way to prevent or at least delay the outbreak of war. To this end, among other things, he tried literally to the last not to provoke a potential aggressor, did not carry out or postponed the most necessary, obvious actions to prepare for repelling an inevitable attack. And those steps that were nevertheless taken in the end were catastrophically belated.
As a result, the country was not ready to fully meet the invasion of Nazi Germany, which attacked our Motherland on 22 June 1941 without declaring war. The enemy was stopped and then crushed, but at a colossal cost. An attempt to appease the aggressor on the eve of the Great Patriotic War turned out to be a mistake that cost our people dearly. In the very first months of hostilities, we lost huge, strategically important territories and millions of people. The second time we will not allow such a mistake, we have no right.
Those who claim world domination, publicly, with impunity and, I emphasise, without any reason, declare us, Russia, their enemy. Indeed, today they have great financial, scientific, technological and military capabilities. We are aware of this and objectively assess the threats constantly being addressed to us in the economic sphere, as well as our ability to resist this impudent and permanent blackmail. I repeat, we evaluate them without illusions, extremely realistically.
As for the military sphere, modern Russia, even after the collapse of the USSR and the loss of a significant part of its potential, is today one of the most powerful nuclear powers in the world and, moreover, has certain advantages in a number of the latest types of weapons. In this regard, no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to defeat and dire consequences for any potential aggressor.
At the same time, technologies, including defence technologies, are changing rapidly. Leadership in this area is passing and will continue to change hands, but the military development of the territories adjacent to our borders, if we allow it, will remain for decades to come, and maybe forever, and will create an ever-growing, absolutely unacceptable threat for Russia. .
Even now, as Nato expands to the east, the situation for our country is getting worse and more dangerous every year. Moreover, in recent days, the leadership of Nato has been openly talking about the need to accelerate, speed up the advancement of the Alliance’s infrastructure to the borders of Russia. In other words, they are hardening their position. We can no longer just continue to observe what is happening. It would be absolutely irresponsible on our part.
Further expansion of the infrastructure of the North Atlantic Alliance, the military development of the territories of Ukraine that has begun is unacceptable for us. The point, of course, is not the Nato organisation itself – it is only an instrument of US foreign policy. The problem is that in the territories adjacent to us, I will note, in our own historical territories, an ‘anti-Russia’ hostile to us is being created, which has been placed under complete external control, is intensively settled by the armed forces of Nato countries and is pumped up with the most modern weapons.
For the United States and its allies, this is the so-called policy of containment of Russia, obvious geopolitical dividends. And for our country, this is ultimately a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a people. And this is not an exaggeration: it is true. This is a real threat not just to our interests, but to the very existence of our state, its sovereignty. This is the very red line that has been talked about many times. They passed her.
In this regard, and about the situation in the Donbass. We see that the forces that carried out a coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014, seized power and are holding it with the help of, in fact, decorative electoral procedures, have finally abandoned the peaceful settlement of the conflict. For eight years, endlessly long eight years, we have done everything possible to resolve the situation by peaceful, political means. All in vain.
As I said in my previous address, one cannot look at what is happening there without compassion. It was simply impossible to endure all this. It was necessary to immediately stop this nightmare: the genocide against the millions of people living there, who rely only on Russia, hope only on us. It was these aspirations, feelings, pain of people that were for us the main motive for making a decision to recognise the people’s republics of Donbass.
What I think is important to emphasise further. The leading Nato countries, in order to achieve their own goals, support extreme nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine in everything, who, in turn, will never forgive the Crimeans and Sevastopol residents for their free choice: reunification with Russia.
They, of course, will climb into the Crimea, and just like in the Donbass, with a war, in order to kill, as punishers from the gangs of Ukrainian nationalists, Hitler’s accomplices, killed defenceless people during the Great Patriotic War. They openly declare that they lay claim to a number of other Russian territories.
The entire course of events and analysis of incoming information shows that Russia’s clash with these forces is inevitable. It is only a matter of time: they are getting ready, they are waiting for the right time. Now they also claim to possess nuclear weapons. We will not allow this to be done.
As I said earlier, after the collapse of the USSR, Russia accepted new geopolitical realities. We respect and will continue to treat all the newly formed countries in the post-Soviet space with respect. We respect and will continue to respect their sovereignty, and an example of this is the assistance we provided to Kazakhstan, which faced tragic events, with a challenge to its statehood and integrity. But Russia cannot feel safe, develop, exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine.
Let me remind you that in 2000-2005 we gave a military rebuff to terrorists in the Caucasus, defended the integrity of our state, saved Russia. In 2014, they supported the Crimeans and Sevastopol residents. In 2015, the Armed Forces used to put a reliable barrier to the penetration of terrorists from Syria into Russia. We had no other way to protect ourselves.
The same thing is happening now. You and I simply have not been left with any other opportunity to protect Russia, our people, except for the one that we will be forced to use today. Circumstances require us to take decisive and immediate action. The people’s republics of Donbass turned to Russia with a request for help.
In this regard, in accordance with Article 51 of Part 7 of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council of Russia and in pursuance of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance ratified by the Federal Assembly on 22 February this year with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, I decided to conduct a special military operation.
Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years. And for this we will strive for the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous, bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation.
At the same time, our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force. At the same time, we hear that recently in the West there are more and more words that the documents signed by the Soviet totalitarian regime, which consolidate the results of the Second World War, should no longer be carried out. Well, what is the answer to this?
The results of the Second World War, as well as the sacrifices made by our people on the altar of victory over Nazism, are sacred. But this does not contradict the high values of human rights and freedoms, based on the realities that have developed today over all the post-war decades. It also does not cancel the right of nations to self-determination, enshrined in Article 1 of the UN Charter.
Let me remind you that neither during the creation of the USSR, nor after the Second World War, people living in certain territories that are part of modern Ukraine, no one ever asked how they themselves want to arrange their lives. Our policy is based on freedom, the freedom of choice for everyone to independently determine their own future and the future of their children. And we consider it important that this right – the right to choose – could be used by all the peoples living on the territory of today’s Ukraine, by everyone who wants it.
In this regard, I appeal to the citizens of Ukraine. In 2014, Russia was obliged to protect the inhabitants of Crimea and Sevastopol from those whom you yourself call ‘Nazis’. Crimeans and Sevastopol residents made their choice to be with their historical homeland, with Russia, and we supported this. I repeat, they simply could not do otherwise.
Today’s events are not connected with the desire to infringe on the interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. They are connected with the protection of Russia itself from those who took Ukraine hostage and are trying to use it against our country and its people.
I repeat, our actions are self-defence against the threats posed to us and from an even greater disaster than what is happening today. No matter how difficult it may be, I ask you to understand this and call for cooperation in order to turn this tragic page as soon as possible and move forward together, not to allow anyone to interfere in our affairs, in our relations, but to build them on our own, so that it creates the necessary conditions for overcoming all problems and, despite the presence of state borders, would strengthen us from the inside as a whole. I believe in this; in this is our future.
I should also appeal to the military personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine.
Dear comrades! Your fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers did not fight the Nazis, defending our common Motherland, so that today’s neo-Nazis seized power in Ukraine. You took an oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people, and not to the anti-people junta that plunders Ukraine and mocks these same people.
Don’t follow her criminal orders. I urge you to lay down your weapons immediately and go home. Let me explain: all servicemen of the Ukrainian army who fulfil this requirement will be able to freely leave the combat zone and return to their families.
Once again, I insistently emphasise: all responsibility for possible bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling on the territory of Ukraine.
Now a few important, very important words for those who may be tempted to intervene in ongoing events. Whoever tries to hinder us, and even more so to create threats for our country, for our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history. We are ready for any development of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made. I hope that I will be heard.
Dear citizens of Russia!
Well-being, the very existence of entire states and peoples, their success and viability always originate in the powerful root system of their culture and values, experience and traditions of their ancestors and, of course, directly depend on the ability to quickly adapt to a constantly changing life, on the cohesion of society, its readiness to consolidate, to gather together all the forces in order to move forward.
Forces are needed always – always, but strength can be of different quality. The policy of the ’empire of lies’, which I spoke about at the beginning of my speech, is based primarily on brute, straightforward force. In such cases, we say: ‘There is power, mind is not needed.’
And you and I know that real strength lies in justice and truth, which is on our side. And if this is so, then it is difficult to disagree with the fact that it is the strength and readiness to fight that underlie independence and sovereignty, are the necessary foundation on which you can only reliably build your future, build your home, your family, your homeland. .
I am confident that the soldiers and officers of the Russian Armed Forces devoted to their country will professionally and courageously fulfil their duty. I have no doubt that all levels of government, specialists responsible for the stability of our economy, financial system, social sphere, heads of our companies and all Russian business will act in a coordinated and efficient manner. I count on a consolidated, patriotic position of all parliamentary parties and public forces.
Ultimately, as it has always been in history, the fate of Russia is in the reliable hands of our multinational people. And this means that the decisions made will be implemented, the goals set will be achieved, the security of our Motherland will be reliably guaranteed.
I believe in your support, in that invincible strength that our love for the Fatherland gives us.
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This is a transcript of remarks made by Putin overnight