Director General of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Svetlana Chupsheva: Today we are meeting at the Zotov Centre creative space. I will tell you everything, Mr President, but I cannot help but ask a question that concerns many today.
Drones attacked Moscow and the Moscow Region this morning. Can you comment on what happened and what measures must be taken to prevent such attacks, and how we should react to this?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: We are beginning with this issue? Ok.
As you know, it all began long ago. I will just need to repeat the story.
After the collapse of the USSR, some rivalry between Russia and Ukraine was inevitable – obviously – but it seems that those who were dealing with this believed that it would be done in a civilised way, and moreover, with regard to our historical, cultural and linguistic affinity. But it all went another way, unfortunately, which should have been expected.
Basically, the territory that is called Ukraine was virtually controlled from the very beginning by people who, being led by the West, took the path of not just confronting Russia, but creating an “anti-Russia” on that territory.
They had to have consideration for the people who lived in the southeast of Ukraine: these were voters, a large number of voters, who had to be reckoned with. Let me also remind you that, during the time that Ukraine was emerging as an independent state, from the very beginning, from the first step, it declared itself a neutral state: this is written in its Declaration of Independence.
Instead, they gradually turned to a different path: joining NATO, an organisation that is hostile to Russia and was created solely to fight the Soviet Union and Russia.
And in 2008, without any external signs, without any military-political tension, they announced that they were joining NATO, they wanted to join NATO, and the Western countries – the alliance members – announced in Bucharest, I think, at the summit, that NATO’s doors were open to Ukraine. Not only were we deceived and told that there would be no NATO expansion to the east, but then, they also reached Ukraine.
In 2014, as you know, they carried out a coup d’état and simply began to destroy everyone who, one way or another, wanted to build normal relations with Russia. They also unleashed a war and military operations in Donbass. Then they deceived everyone to keep their guard down, declaring that they wanted to resolve the issue through peaceful means.
Now they are openly admitting that they were deceiving us only in order to build up their military capability and unleash hostilities, including against Crimea. Now, as you know, they are using drones for attacks.
The Russian Armed Forces, which had to respond – Russia was forced to respond to the war the Ukrainian regime unleashed in Donbass. We all had to respond by launching the special military operation. We are striking at the territory of Ukraine, but with long-range precision weapons, at military infrastructure facilities only, either at ammunition or fuel and lubricants warehouses used for combat operations.
We have talked about the possibility of striking at decision-making centres. Of course, the headquarters of Ukrainian military intelligence is one of them, and a strike at this target was carried out two or three days ago.
In response, the Kiev regime has chosen a different path – attempts to intimidate Russian citizens with strikes at residential buildings. This is an obvious terrorist approach.
First, I must say that the Moscow air defence system responded properly. The response was satisfactory although there is room for improvement. We faced similar problems at the Khmeimim Aerodrome in Syria, but the area around our airbase in Khmeimim is not comparable to Moscow – an enormous European metropolis. However, overall, we understand what to do to tighten up the capital’s air defences and we will do this.
However, I am not even so much concerned about this as over the attempts to trigger a Russian response. Apparently, they are provoking us into responding in a like manner. We will have to consider how to approach this.
Of course, Ukrainian citizens cannot speak out because of the total terror against civilians. Yet, they should know where the current leaders of Ukraine are pushing the country. Ukrainian citizens need to understand that there are other threats as well, for instance, attempts to disrupt the operation of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant or use “dirty” devices related to nuclear technology. We have talked about this more than once. We know what they have in mind.
Obviously, no matter what we say, they will always point fingers at Russia, although this is wrong. We did not unleash this war. Let me repeat that the Kiev regime unleashed it in 2014 in Donbass. Nor are we using the means that the Ukrainian ‘wheeler-dealers’ are resorting to.
This attack on civilian buildings in Moscow is further evidence of this. But I will repeat – the air defence system in Moscow worked well. But, again, there is room for improvement, we know what should be done.
Svetlana Chupsheva: Thank you, Mr President. We believe in our victory.