The interview at the BRICS meeting 15-16/10 further down is in English. Intervjun längre ned är på engelska.
Man kan läsa och höra mycket skarp kritik av Ryssland president Putin av ledande politiker och ledande massmedia. En lögnaktig demonisering skulle vissa säga. Mycket sällan får man reda på hur han ser på olika förhållanden, annat som enstaka meningar av osäker representativitet. Då kan det vara av intresse att ta del av vad Putin egentligen tycker. Svens-ryska vänskapsföreningen har givit ut broschyren ”Tre tal av Vladimir Putin” som innehåller tal från 2007, 2014 och från FN:s 70-årsjubileum förra hösten. Nedan följer ett sammandrag av en rapport av en intervju med Putin av ryska journalister. När såg du en liknande intervju med Obama förresten? Nedan följer utdrag ur en intervju av ryska journalister i samband med den åttonde BRICS-mötet 15-16/10 i Goa, IndienIntervju med Putin Mitt intryck är att Putin är en kunnig, pragmatisk politiker med respekt för internationell rätt. Man får också intressant kunskap om denne världsledare. Vad tycker du?
Question: Much is being said in the Western media about BRICS going through a rough patch. Since Brazil got a new president, the country has been allegedly thinking whether it needs BRICS. There is little secret about the tension that exists between India and China. The US has been increasingly proactive regarding India.
How serious do you think are the challenges?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: There are always issues in relations between any countries. Does this mean that countries whose representatives talk about BRICS this way do not have any issues with their closest strategic partners and allies?
If there were no problems, they would have signed and ratified the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a long time ago, and would have resolved many other issues. New areas of cooperation and frameworks, are being developed on top of structures that already exist, such as the New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement with a total capital of $200 billion, a substantial amount that will further increase in the future. We are discussing introducing uniform technical standards.
Yesterday night, my Brazilian colleague and I had a lengthy conversation to review the state of our respective economies. We have much in common.
All in all, I think that BRICS has every chance to develop further.
Question: US Vice President Joseph Biden promised yesterday to send you a message and respond to the hacking that the US blames on Russia…
Vladimir Putin: There is nothing surprising about that.
Question: It was a threat coming from a very high-ranking official, and it targeted you personally. Do you expect hacking attacks on Russia or some other kinds of attacks?
Vladimir Putin: You can expect anything from our US friends. As if we didn’t know that US government bodies snoop on and wiretap everyone?
Everyone knows this all too well. Billions of dollars are channelled into this activity, with the NSA and the CIA working on it alongside other government bodies. In fact, they are spying also on their allies, including the closest ones. We know about so many wiretapping scandals involving top government officials from countries that are allies of the United States.
The only new thing is that for the first time has acknowledged that they actually do this, and second that they are making some kind of a threat, which of course is inconsistent with the norms of international dialogue.
While it’s the leading economy in the world, a great power, no doubt, it still has a lot of unsolved problems. For example, the massive public debt is a time bomb for the US economy and for the global financial system. Nobody knows what to do. Maybe devaluation in the future might help, or something.
More examples can be cited in foreign policy. The Middle East reconciliation process, is certainly stalling, including between Israel and Palestine. Tensions are growing between the United States and their regular allies in the region.
In these conditions, many choose to resort to the usual tactics of distracting voters from their problems.
In my view, this is exactly what we are witnessing. How do you do it? Try to create an enemy and rally the nation against that enemy. Iran and the Iranian nuclear threat did not work well for that. Russia is a more interesting story. In my opinion, this card is being played now.
By the way, I have not fully answered your question. India, for example, is making friends with the United States. Good for them! The United States is a great power, and India is a great power. Great powers have interests and they pursue these interests in a multilateral format. It is impossible to imagine the modern world any different.
I hope that, once this debate is over, once this difficult period in the political life of the States comes to an end, we will have a chance to restore relations between Russia and the United States.
Question: What is your actual preference? You have been asked many times – Clinton or Trump?
The US Vice President said recently that we cannot influence the US election results. Frankly, are we even trying to interfere?
Vladimir Putin: I would like to reassure you all, including our American partners and friends: we have no plans to influence the election campaign in the United States.
We will certainly welcome anyone who wants to work with us, and no, we are not interested in quarrelling constantly with anyone. We do not know whether or not presidential candidate Trump will follow through on his intentions, how far he will go in cooperation with us, whether Ms Clinton will stick to her harsh anti-Russian rhetoric if she is elected President, or maybe she will also adjust her position. Sacrificing Russian-American relations for the sake of internal political events in the US is harmful and counterproductive. This is not the first time. Look at all the previous election campaigns – it’s the same story again and again, as I said.
On the contrary, we would like to find common ground and work together to address global challenges facing Russia and the United States and the world.
Question: On Friday, a CSTO summit took place in Yerevan, where Alexander Lukashenko said that the organisation needs to formulate new priorities. Do you believe that other military organisations do not even notice the CSTO? Is the Nagorno-Karabakh situation a priority for the CSTO?
Vladimir Putin: Here is what I think – and I told my colleagues about this – you see, there are issues that arise between NATO member states, for example, between Turkey and Greece on the Cyprus issue.
It is well known that these problems have persisted for many years, decades even. And for us, it does not even matter whether a country, a former Soviet republic, is part of the CSTO or not. It matters that we have special, historical relations with all these countries, and they are closer and deeper than the relations between NATO member states.
The CSTO was created to address external threats. In fact, what I just said is not so different from Mr Lukashenko’s stance.
Question: Could I ask a question about the cancellation of your visit to France.
Vladimir Putin: You may have misunderstood the President of France. The main purpose, the main reason for my planned trip to France was to attend the opening of our religious and cultural centre and to visit a Russian art exhibition. We have issues beside Syria, so it would have been possible to discuss other issues.
Although France is part of the Friends of Syria Group, it is not as deeply involved in Syrian issues.
Question: Mr President, we know that you also talked with our partners from India and China yesterday. Can you tell us about it?
Vladimir Putin: India is one of our priority partners, and a strategic partner.
But military technical cooperation is not the only area of interest to us.
India is a huge market with 1.25 billion people. That is a very big and lucrative market for our products.
The S-400 Triumf contract is worth not hundreds of millions, but billions of dollars.
Question: Do the BRICS leaders have a common stance on Syria?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, they share a common stance in general and in other terms. All of us agree on the need for a consistent fight against terrorism. And all of us believe that there is no other solution to the Syrian problem other than a diplomatic one.
Question: Mr President, a trip to Berlin is being planned. As your aide said, it all depends on whether those representing the conflicting parties will be able to make any progress. What is your take on this? .
As for the trip to Berlin, we have agreed with the President of France and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, by telephone, that it would be advisable to meet in Berlin only if our aides, took the dialogue to the point where we could meet to formalise these arrangements.
Regarding the question of whether Ukraine is delivering on its commitments. I am aware that my colleague Petro Poroshenko has published an article – I think it appeared in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – in an attempt to once again shift the responsibility to Russia and alluding to unsettled security issues. How can people who live in Donbass be sure that they will not be persecuted, detained and imprisoned on charges of separatism or terrorism?
How can people be sure that their rights will be respected and guaranteed, if not by having the Rada adopt a law on the special status of the region and including it in the Constitution?
Question: Mr President, I would like to discuss BRICS again.
You said that you spoke with the President of Brazil. Should we trust WikiLeaks that reported in 2011 that Mr Temer had allegedly been recruited as an informant by the United States? Please reassure us.
Vladimir Putin: Look, we started by discussing the fact that the United States overhears and eavesdrops on everyone. All of you are being watched by these services.
You chat freely on the telephone, on open communications systems; you broadcast everything you consider essential, as well as all your thoughts or just conjecture. This is of interest. So it is possible to open a file on each of you, and it has probably been done. And they may monitor your conversations. All this is systematised, consolidated and analysed. This is what the US National Security Agency is doing.
Remark: And what about Russian secret services?
Vladimir Putin: Russian secret services operate strictly in line with the law. As we have learned from former NSA officials, that agency even violates US law. We act only under court rulings, and it turns out that they don’t do this. There is a big difference between Russian and US secret services’ approaches.
Question: Mr President, what do you think about the possibility of new sanctions over Syria? he Mosul offensive is underway. These actions appear to be similar. Why the double standards?
Vladimir Putin: As for the sanctions, you know our attitude to sanctions. They are counter-productive and harmful. But the main thing is that they never attain the goals set by those who impose them.
In general, regarding sanctions against Russia, the goal is to contain Russia.
They are simply dissatisfied with the fact that Russia is becoming, and I would even say that it has become, a full international player, has consolidated politically and has shown a willingness to work with any partner. International issues require concessions and compromises. But they do not want to compromise – they want to dictate their will.
This is the style that our US partners have developed over the past 15 or 20 years, and they appear unable to change it.
The goal of these sanctions is not to settle a problem, but to contain the strengthening of Russia as a full member of the international community. But it cannot be achieved with these methods.
Now as concerns Mosul, the similarity is obvious. When we are told that there are many humanitarian issues around Aleppo we can, of course, refer to Mosul and tell our partners that they should remember that this city has hundreds of thousands of people too. This is a city with over 1 million people, and air strikes and shelling are very dangerous in terms of potential civilian casualties.
We hope that our American and, in this case, French partners will take selective action and do everything to reduce or, better yet, rule out civilian victims.
Question: Relations with the US have been aggravated by the Syrian issue.
Vladimir Putin: You are mistaken. Think about Yugoslavia. Boris Yeltsin was also in favour and agreeable until he took a very tough stance on Yugoslavia. Then everybody started bringing up his drinking and other compromising behaviour.
You see, as I just said: they do not like our growing independence, that’s the problem.
Just like Libya, Iraq was never a centre of terrorism. But after all the government institutions were destroyed, both countries turned into hotbeds of terrorism. Now we are at a point where we have to storm Mosul with one million people with aircraft, tanks and artillery. This is the outcome.
How to proceed with Libya is not clear at all. The state ceased to exist. Now it is a hotbed of terrorism, with a massive flow of refugees. Are you sure our relations with the US deteriorated because of Syria? No, not because of Syria but because of attempts by one country to impose its decisions on the entire world.
We are not against this country, but we are against unilateral and ill-considered decisions that disregard the historical, cultural and religious specificities of any country, even if there are conflicts and tensions there.
Question: So we cannot hope for improvement or de-escalation until a new administration takes over?
Vladimir Putin: They are continuing to work to the last day. As I said, we maintain contacts in nearly all areas, and we will work with our US partners, but only if they are willing to work with us.
On sanctions I do not agree when our response measures are described as sanctions but these are response measures taken to protect our market.
It is true that we used sanctions against Russia to impose certain restrictions [against the West]. And look at what has happened: despite a falling GDP and industrial production in 2015 and 2014, our agricultural output grew by 3.6 percent a year.
We have very accurate figures now. Yes, we have some problems with the vegetable market and even more with the fruit market, but we knew this would happen. There has been a certain increase in domestic prices, but this provided an opportunity for domestic producers – with government support, of course.
Now, as for the so-called import replacement in industrial production, I had big concerns and doubts. Therefore, we regularly meet with defence and civil production representatives to discuss the state of these areas and the outcome. This includes our decision that major state-run companies must provide for a certain part of the market for Russian small and medium-sized enterprises.
They received funds to market their products, and high-tech products account for a significant part. It is unacceptable that in microelectronics we depend on spare parts for the Strategic Missile Troops or other very sensitive systems. This dependency is gradually fading. One hundred percent of our helicopters used to be outfitted with Ukrainian engines. Now this is over. We built one engine plant and are now finishing another.
We will be ready to involve Ukrainian industry in the effort to meet our consumption demands. This includes joint cooperation to modernise Ukraine’s defence enterprises and civilian sectors.
Finally, on the question of how our BRICS partners have responded to our response measures taken against the countries that imposed sanctions on us, I do not see any concern on their part because we have not and have no plans to set any restrictions on the goods they produce. Furthermore, the restrictions that we introduced for the countries that imposed sanctions against us give our BRICS partners and other partners new opportunities on the Russian market.
Question: Will Russia face new sanctions?
Vladimir Putin: What I want to say here is that we made a conscious choice to introduce restrictions on agricultural products. This was an asymmetrical measure. They imposed sanctions on industrial goods, some kinds of what they consider dual-purpose goods, and financial restrictions. The losses are now into the billions. These are estimates, of Western European experts and representatives of the various sectors in question, including in industry. We took action in areas in which it was to our advantage to act.
We will not take any action purely for the sake of punishing others and end up punishing ourselves at the same time.”
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