Address by the President of the Russian Federation
February 21, 2022
Citizens of Russia, friends,
My address concerns the events in Ukraine and why this is so important for us, for Russia. Of course, my message is also addressed to our compatriots in Ukraine.
The matter is very serious and needs to be discussed in depth.
The situation in Donbass has reached a critical, acute stage. I am speaking to you directly today not only to explain what is happening but also to inform you of the decisions being made as well as potential further steps.
I would like to emphasise again that Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space. These are our comrades, those dearest to us – not only colleagues, friends and people who once served together, but also relatives, people bound by blood, by family ties.
Since time immemorial, the people living in the south-west of what has historically been Russian land have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians. This was the case before the 17th century, when a portion of this territory rejoined the Russian state, and after.
It seems to us that, generally speaking, we all know these facts, that this is common knowledge. Still, it is necessary to say at least a few words about the history of this issue in order to understand what is happening today, to explain the motives behind Russia’s actions and what we aim to achieve.
So, I will start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia – by separating, severing what is historically Russian land. Nobody asked the millions of people living there what they thought.
Then, both before and after the Great Patriotic War, Stalin incorporated in the USSR and transferred to Ukraine some lands that previously belonged to Poland, Romania and Hungary. In the process, he gave Poland part of what was traditionally German land as compensation, and in 1954, Khrushchev took Crimea away from Russia for some reason and also gave it to Ukraine. In effect, this is how the territory of modern Ukraine was formed.
But now I would like to focus attention on the initial period of the USSR’s formation. I believe this is extremely important for us. I will have to approach it from a distance, so to speak.
I will remind you that after the 1917 October Revolution and the subsequent Civil War, the Bolsheviks set about creating a new statehood. They had rather serious disagreements among themselves on this point. In 1922, Stalin occupied the positions of both the General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the People’s Commissar for Ethnic Affairs. He suggested building the country on the principles of autonomisation that is, giving the republics – the future administrative and territorial entities – broad powers upon joining a unified state.
Lenin criticised this plan and suggested making concessions to the nationalists, whom he called “independents” at that time. Lenin’s ideas of what amounted in essence to a confederative state arrangement and a slogan about the right of nations to self-determination, up to secession, were laid in the foundation of Soviet statehood. Initially they were confirmed in the Declaration on the Formation of the USSR in 1922, and later on, after Lenin’s death, were enshrined in the 1924 Soviet Constitution.
This immediately raises many questions. The first is really the main one: why was it necessary to appease the nationalists, to satisfy the ceaselessly growing nationalist ambitions on the outskirts of the former empire? What was the point of transferring to the newly, often arbitrarily formed administrative units – the union republics – vast territories that had nothing to do with them? Let me repeat that these territories were transferred along with the population of what was historically Russia.
Moreover, these administrative units were de facto given the status and form of national state entities. That raises another question: why was it necessary to make such generous gifts, beyond the wildest dreams of the most zealous nationalists and, on top of all that, give the republics the right to secede from the unified state without any conditions?
At first glance, this looks absolutely incomprehensible, even crazy. But only at first glance. There is an explanation. After the revolution, the Bolsheviks’ main goal was to stay in power at all costs, absolutely at all costs. They did everything for this purpose: accepted the humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, although the military and economic situation in Kaiser Germany and its allies was dramatic and the outcome of the First World War was a foregone conclusion, and satisfied any demands and wishes of the nationalists within the country.
When it comes to the historical destiny of Russia and its peoples, Lenin’s principles of state development were not just a mistake; they were worse than a mistake, as the saying goes. This became patently clear after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Of course, we cannot change past events, but we must at least admit them openly and honestly, without any reservations or politicking. Personally, I can add that no political factors, however impressive or profitable they may seem at any given moment, can or may be used as the fundamental principles of statehood.
I am not trying to put the blame on anyone. The situation in the country at that time, both before and after the Civil War, was extremely complicated; it was critical. The only thing I would like to say today is that this is exactly how it was. It is a historical fact. Actually, as I have already said, Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy and can be rightfully called “Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine.” He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents, including Lenin’s harsh instructions regarding Donbass, which was actually shoved into Ukraine. And today the “grateful progeny” has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization.
You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.
Going back to history, I would like to repeat that the Soviet Union was established in the place of the former Russian Empire in 1922. But practice showed immediately that it was impossible to preserve or govern such a vast and complex territory on the amorphous principles that amounted to confederation. They were far removed from reality and the historical tradition.
It is logical that the Red Terror and a rapid slide into Stalin’s dictatorship, the domination of the communist ideology and the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, nationalisation and the planned economy – all this transformed the formally declared but ineffective principles of government into a mere declaration. In reality, the union republics did not have any sovereign rights, none at all. The practical result was the creation of a tightly centralised and absolutely unitary state.
In fact, what Stalin fully implemented was not Lenin’s but his own principles of government. But he did not make the relevant amendments to the cornerstone documents, to the Constitution, and he did not formally revise Lenin’s principles underlying the Soviet Union. From the look of it, there seemed to be no need for that, because everything seemed to be working well in conditions of the totalitarian regime, and outwardly it looked wonderful, attractive and even super-democratic.
And yet, it is a great pity that the fundamental and formally legal foundations of our state were not promptly cleansed of the odious and utopian fantasies inspired by the revolution, which are absolutely destructive for any normal state. As it often happened in our country before, nobody gave any thought to the future.
It seems that the Communist Party leaders were convinced that they had created a solid system of government and that their policies had settled the ethnic issue for good. But falsification, misconception, and tampering with public opinion have a high cost. The virus of nationalist ambitions is still with us, and the mine laid at the initial stage to destroy state immunity to the disease of nationalism was ticking. As I have already said, the mine was the right of secession from the Soviet Union.
In the mid-1980s, the increasing socioeconomic problems and the apparent crisis of the planned economy aggravated the ethnic issue, which essentially was not based on any expectations or unfulfilled dreams of the Soviet peoples but primarily the growing appetites of the local elites.
However, instead of analysing the situation, taking appropriate measures, first of all in the economy, and gradually transforming the political system and government in a well-considered and balanced manner, the Communist Party leadership only engaged in open doubletalk about the revival of the Leninist principle of national self-determination.
Moreover, in the course of power struggle within the Communist Party itself, each of the opposing sides, in a bid to expand its support base, started to thoughtlessly incite and encourage nationalist sentiments, manipulating them and promising their potential supporters whatever they wished. Against the backdrop of the superficial and populist rhetoric about democracy and a bright future based either on a market or a planned economy, but amid a true impoverishment of people and widespread shortages, no one among the powers that be was thinking about the inevitable tragic consequences for the country.
Next, they entirely embarked on the track beaten at the inception of the USSR and pandering to the ambitions of the nationalist elites nurtured within their own party ranks. But in so doing, they forgot that the CPSU no longer had – thank God – the tools for retaining power and the country itself, tools such as state terror and a Stalinist-type dictatorship, and that the notorious guiding role of the party was disappearing without a trace, like a morning mist, right before their eyes.
And then, the September 1989 plenary session of the CPSU Central Committee approved a truly fatal document, the so-called ethnic policy of the party in modern conditions, the CPSU platform. It included the following provisions, I quote: “The republics of the USSR shall possess all the rights appropriate to their status as sovereign socialist states.”
The next point: “The supreme representative bodies of power of the USSR republics can challenge and suspend the operation of the USSR Government’s resolutions and directives in their territory.”
And finally: “Each republic of the USSR shall have citizenship of its own, which shall apply to all of its residents.”
Wasn’t it clear what these formulas and decisions would lead to?
Now is not the time or place to go into matters pertaining to state or constitutional law, or define the concept of citizenship. But one may wonder: why was it necessary to rock the country even more in that already complicated situation? The facts remain.
Even two years before the collapse of the USSR, its fate was actually predetermined. It is now that radicals and nationalists, including and primarily those in Ukraine, are taking credit for having gained independence. As we can see, this is absolutely wrong. The disintegration of our united country was brought about by the historic, strategic mistakes on the part of the Bolshevik leaders and the CPSU leadership, mistakes committed at different times in state-building and in economic and ethnic policies. The collapse of the historical Russia known as the USSR is on their conscience.
Despite all these injustices, lies and outright pillage of Russia, it was our people who accepted the new geopolitical reality that took shape after the dissolution of the USSR, and recognised the new independent states. Not only did Russia recognise these countries, but helped its CIS partners, even though it faced a very dire situation itself. This included our Ukrainian colleagues, who turned to us for financial support many times from the very moment they declared independence. Our country provided this assistance while respecting Ukraine’s dignity and sovereignty.
According to expert assessments, confirmed by a simple calculation of our energy prices, the subsidised loans Russia provided to Ukraine along with economic and trade preferences, the overall benefit for the Ukrainian budget in the period from 1991 to 2013 amounted to $250 billion.
However, there was more to it than that. By the end of 1991, the USSR owed some $100 billion to other countries and international funds. Initially, there was this idea that all former Soviet republics will pay back these loans together, in the spirit of solidarity and proportionally to their economic potential. However, Russia undertook to pay back all Soviet debts and delivered on this promise by completing this process in 2017.
In exchange for that, the newly independent states had to hand over to Russia part of the Soviet foreign assets. An agreement to this effect was reached with Ukraine in December 1994. However, Kiev failed to ratify these agreements and later simply refused to honour them by making demands for a share of the Diamond Treasury, gold reserves, as well as former USSR property and other assets abroad.
Nevertheless, despite all these challenges, Russia always worked with Ukraine in an open and honest manner and, as I have already said, with respect for its interests. We developed our ties in multiple fields. Thus, in 2011, bilateral trade exceeded $50 billion. Let me note that in 2019, that is before the pandemic, Ukraine’s trade with all EU countries combined was below this indicator.
At the same time, it was striking how the Ukrainian authorities always preferred dealing with Russia in a way that ensured that they enjoy all the rights and privileges while remaining free from any obligations.
The officials in Kiev replaced partnership with a parasitic attitude acting at times in an extremely brash manner. Suffice it to recall the continuous blackmail on energy transits and the fact that they literally stole gas.
I can add that Kiev tried to use dialogue with Russia as a bargaining chip in its relations with the West, using the threat of closer ties with Russia for blackmailing the West to secure preferences by claiming that otherwise Russia would have a bigger influence in Ukraine.
At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities – I would like to emphasise this – began by building their statehood on the negation of everything that united us, trying to distort the mentality and historical memory of millions of people, of entire generations living in Ukraine. It is not surprising that Ukrainian society was faced with the rise of far-right nationalism, which rapidly developed into aggressive Russophobia and neo-Nazism. This resulted in the participation of Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis in the terrorist groups in the North Caucasus and the increasingly loud territorial claims to Russia.
A role in this was played by external forces, which used a ramified network of NGOs and special services to nurture their clients in Ukraine and to bring their representatives to the seats of authority.
It should be noted that Ukraine actually never had stable traditions of real statehood. And, therefore, in 1991 it opted for mindlessly emulating foreign models, which have no relation to history or Ukrainian realities. Political government institutions were readjusted many times to the rapidly growing clans and their self-serving interests, which had nothing to do with the interests of the Ukrainian people.
Essentially, the so-called pro-Western civilisational choice made by the oligarchic Ukrainian authorities was not and is not aimed at creating better conditions in the interests of people’s well-being but at keeping the billions of dollars that the oligarchs have stolen from the Ukrainians and are holding in their accounts in Western banks, while reverently accommodating the geopolitical rivals of Russia.
Some industrial and financial groups and the parties and politicians on their payroll relied on the nationalists and radicals from the very beginning. Others claimed to be in favour of good relations with Russia and cultural and language diversity, coming to power with the help of their citizens who sincerely supported their declared aspirations, including the millions of people in the south-eastern regions. But after getting the positions they coveted, these people immediately betrayed their voters, going back on their election promises and instead steering a policy prompted by the radicals and sometimes even persecuting their former allies – the public organisations that supported bilingualism and cooperation with Russia. These people took advantage of the fact that their voters were mostly law-abiding citizens with moderate views who trusted the authorities, and that, unlike the radicals, they would not act aggressively or make use of illegal instruments.
Meanwhile, the radicals became increasingly brazen in their actions and made more demands every year. They found it easy to force their will on the weak authorities, which were infected with the virus of nationalism and corruption as well and which artfully replaced the real cultural, economic and social interests of the people and Ukraine’s true sovereignty with various ethnic speculations and formal ethnic attributes.
A stable statehood has never developed in Ukraine; its electoral and other political procedures just serve as a cover, a screen for the redistribution of power and property between various oligarchic clans.
Corruption, which is certainly a challenge and a problem for many countries, including Russia, has gone beyond the usual scope in Ukraine. It has literally permeated and corroded Ukrainian statehood, the entire system, and all branches of power.
Radical nationalists took advantage of the justified public discontent and saddled the Maidan protest, escalating it to a coup d’état in 2014. They also had direct assistance from foreign states. According to reports, the US Embassy provided $1 million a day to support the so-called protest camp on Independence Square in Kiev. In addition, large amounts were impudently transferred directly to the opposition leaders’ bank accounts, tens of millions of dollars. But the people who actually suffered, the families of those who died in the clashes provoked in the streets and squares of Kiev and other cities, how much did they get in the end? Better not ask.
The nationalists who have seized power have unleashed a persecution, a real terror campaign against those who opposed their anti-constitutional actions. Politicians, journalists, and public activists were harassed and publicly humiliated. A wave of violence swept Ukrainian cities, including a series of high-profile and unpunished murders. One shudders at the memories of the terrible tragedy in Odessa, where peaceful protesters were brutally murdered, burned alive in the House of Trade Unions. The criminals who committed that atrocity have never been punished, and no one is even looking for them. But we know their names and we will do everything to punish them, find them and bring them to justice.
Maidan did not bring Ukraine any closer to democracy and progress. Having accomplished a coup d’état, the nationalists and those political forces that supported them eventually led Ukraine into an impasse, pushed the country into the abyss of civil war. Eight years later, the country is split. Ukraine is struggling with an acute socioeconomic crisis.
According to international organisations, in 2019, almost 6 million Ukrainians – I emphasise – about 15 percent, not of the wokrforce, but of the entire population of that country, had to go abroad to find work. Most of them do odd jobs. The following fact is also revealing: since 2020, over 60,000 doctors and other health workers have left the country amid the pandemic.
Since 2014, water bills increased by almost a third, and energy bills grew several times, while the price of gas for households surged several dozen times. Many people simply do not have the money to pay for utilities. They literally struggle to survive.
What happened? Why is this all happening? The answer is obvious. They spent and embezzled the legacy inherited not only from the Soviet era, but also from the Russian Empire. They lost tens, hundreds of thousands of jobs which enabled people to earn a reliable income and generate tax revenue, among other things thanks to close cooperation with Russia. Sectors including machine building, instrument engineering, electronics, ship and aircraft building have been undermined or destroyed altogether. There was a time, however, when not only Ukraine, but the entire Soviet Union took pride in these companies.
In 2021, the Black Sea Shipyard in Nikolayev went out of business. Its first docks date back to Catherine the Great. Antonov , the famous manufacturer, has not made a single commercial aircraft since 2016, while Yuzhmash , a factory specialising in missile and space equipment, is nearly bankrupt. The Kremenchug Steel Plant is in a similar situation. This sad list goes on and on.
As for the gas transportation system, it was built in its entirety by the Soviet Union, and it has now deteriorated to an extent that using it creates major risks and comes at a high cost for the environment.
This situation begs the question: poverty, lack of opportunity, and lost industrial and technological potential – is this the pro-Western civilisational choice they have been using for many years to fool millions of people with promises of heavenly pastures?
It all came down to a Ukrainian economy in tatters and an outright pillage of the country’s citizens, while Ukraine itself was placed under external control, directed not only from the Western capitals, but also on the ground, as the saying goes, through an entire network of foreign advisors, NGOs and other institutions present in Ukraine. They have a direct bearing on all the key appointments and dismissals and on all branches of power at all levels, from the central government down to municipalities, as well as on state-owned companies and corporations, including Naftogaz, Ukrenergo, Ukrainian Railways, Ukroboronprom, Ukrposhta, and the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority.
There is no independent judiciary in Ukraine. The Kiev authorities, at the West’s demand, delegated the priority right to select members of the supreme judicial bodies, the Council of Justice and the High Qualifications Commission of Judges, to international organisations.
In addition, the United States directly controls the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and the High Anti-Corruption Court. All this is done under the noble pretext of invigorating efforts against corruption. All right, but where are the results? Corruption is flourishing like never before.
Are the Ukrainian people aware that this is how their country is managed? Do they realise that their country has turned not even into a political or economic protectorate but has been reduced to a colony with a puppet regime? The state was privatised. As a result, the government, which designates itself as the “power of patriots” no longer acts in a national capacity and consistently pushes Ukraine towards losing its sovereignty.
The policy to root out the Russian language and culture and promote assimilation carries on. The Verkhovna Rada has generated a steady flow of discriminatory bills, and the law on the so-called indigenous people has already come into force. People who identify as Russians and want to preserve their identity, language and culture are getting the signal that they are not wanted in Ukraine.
Under the laws on education and the Ukrainian language as a state language, the Russian language has no place in schools or public spaces, even in ordinary shops. The law on the so-called vetting of officials and purging their ranks created a pathway for dealing with unwanted civil servants.
There are more and more acts enabling the Ukrainian military and law enforcement agencies to crack down on the freedom of speech, dissent, and going after the opposition. The world knows the deplorable practice of imposing unilateral illegitimate sanctions against other countries, foreign individuals and legal entities. Ukraine has outperformed its Western masters by inventing sanctions against its own citizens, companies, television channels, other media outlets and even members of parliament.
Kiev continues to prepare the destruction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. This is not an emotional judgement; proof of this can be found in concrete decisions and documents. The Ukrainian authorities have cynically turned the tragedy of the schism into an instrument of state policy. The current authorities do not react to the Ukrainian people’s appeals to abolish the laws that are infringing on believers’ rights. Moreover, new draft laws directed against the clergy and millions of parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate have been registered in the Verkhovna Rada.
A few words about Crimea. The people of the peninsula freely made their choice to be with Russia. The Kiev authorities cannot challenge the clearly stated choice of the people, which is why they have opted for aggressive action, for activating extremist cells, including radical Islamist organisations, for sending subversives to stage terrorist attacks at critical infrastructure facilities, and for kidnapping Russian citizens. We have factual proof that such aggressive actions are being taken with support from Western security services.
In March 2021, a new Military Strategy was adopted in Ukraine. This document is almost entirely dedicated to confrontation with Russia and sets the goal of involving foreign states in a conflict with our country. The strategy stipulates the organisation of what can be described as a terrorist underground movement in Russia’s Crimea and in Donbass. It also sets out the contours of a potential war, which should end, according to the Kiev strategists, “with the assistance of the international community on favourable terms for Ukraine,” as well as – listen carefully, please – “with foreign military support in the geopolitical confrontation with the Russian Federation.” In fact, this is nothing other than preparation for hostilities against our country, Russia.
As we know, it has already been stated today that Ukraine intends to create its own nuclear weapons, and this is not just bragging. Ukraine has the nuclear technologies created back in the Soviet times and delivery vehicles for such weapons, including aircraft, as well as the Soviet-designed Tochka-U precision tactical missiles with a range of over 100 kilometres. But they can do more; it is only a matter of time. They have had the groundwork for this since the Soviet era.
In other words, acquiring tactical nuclear weapons will be much easier for Ukraine than for some other states I am not going to mention here, which are conducting such research, especially if Kiev receives foreign technological support. We cannot rule this out either.
If Ukraine acquires weapons of mass destruction, the situation in the world and in Europe will drastically change, especially for us, for Russia. We cannot but react to this real danger, all the more so since, let me repeat, Ukraine’s Western patrons may help it acquire these weapons to create yet another threat to our country. We are seeing how persistently the Kiev regime is being pumped with arms. Since 2014, the United States alone has spent billions of dollars for this purpose, including supplies of arms and equipment and training of specialists. In the last few months, there has been a constant flow of Western weapons to Ukraine, ostentatiously, with the entire world watching. Foreign advisors supervise the activities of Ukraine’s armed forces and special services and we are well aware of this.
Over the past few years, military contingents of NATO countries have been almost constantly present on Ukrainian territory under the pretext of exercises. The Ukrainian troop control system has already been integrated into NATO. This means that NATO headquarters can issue direct commands to the Ukrainian armed forces, even to their separate units and squads.
The United States and NATO have started an impudent development of Ukrainian territory as a theatre of potential military operations. Their regular joint exercises are obviously anti-Russian. Last year alone, over 23,000 troops and more than a thousand units of hardware were involved.
A law has already been adopted that allows foreign troops to come to Ukraine in 2022 to take part in multinational drills. Understandably, these are primarily NATO troops. This year, at least ten of these joint drills are planned.
Obviously, such undertakings are designed to be a cover-up for a rapid buildup of the NATO military group on Ukrainian territory. This is all the more so since the network of airfields upgraded with US help in Borispol, Ivano-Frankovsk, Chuguyev and Odessa, to name a few, is capable of transferring army units in a very short time. Ukraine’s airspace is open to flights by US strategic and reconnaissance aircraft and drones that conduct surveillance over Russian territory.
I will add that the US-built Maritime Operations Centre in Ochakov makes it possible to support activity by NATO warships, including the use of precision weapons, against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and our infrastructure on the entire Black Sea Coast.
At one time, the United States intended to build similar facilities in Crimea as well but the Crimeans and residents of Sevastopol wrecked these plans. We will always remember this.
I would like to repeat that today such a centre has already been deployed in Ochakov. In the 18th century, soldiers of Alexander Suvorov fought for this city. Owing to their courage, it became part of Russia. Also in the 18th century, the lands of the Black Sea littoral, incorporated in Russia as a result of wars with the Ottoman Empire, were given the name of Novorossiya (New Russia). Now attempts are being made to condemn these landmarks of history to oblivion, along with the names of state and military figures of the Russian Empire without whose efforts modern Ukraine would not have many big cities or even access to the Black Sea.
A monument to Alexander Suvorov was recently demolished in Poltava. What is there to say? Are you renouncing your own past? The so-called colonial heritage of the Russian Empire? Well, in this case, be consistent.
Next, notably, Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that deploying foreign military bases on its territory is illegal. However, as it turns out, this is just a conventionality that can be easily circumvented.
Ukraine is home to NATO training missions which are, in fact, foreign military bases. They just called a base a mission and were done with it.
Kiev has long proclaimed a strategic course on joining NATO. Indeed, each country is entitled to pick its own security system and enter into military alliances. There would be no problem with that, if it were not for one “but.” International documents expressly stipulate the principle of equal and indivisible security, which includes obligations not to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of the security of other states. This is stated in the 1999 OSCE Charter for European Security adopted in Istanbul and the 2010 OSCE Astana Declaration.
In other words, the choice of pathways towards ensuring security should not pose a threat to other states, whereas Ukraine joining NATO is a direct threat to Russia’s security.
Let me remind you that at the Bucharest NATO summit held in April 2008, the United States pushed through a decision to the effect that Ukraine and, by the way, Georgia would become NATO members. Many European allies of the United States were well aware of the risks associated with this prospect already then, but were forced to put up with the will of their senior partner. The Americans simply used them to carry out a clearly anti-Russian policy.
A number of NATO member states are still very sceptical about Ukraine joining NATO. We are getting signals from some European capitals telling us not to worry since it will not happen literally overnight. In fact, our US partners are saying the same thing as well. “All right, then” we respond, “if it does not happen tomorrow, then it will happen the day after tomorrow. What does it change from the historical perspective? Nothing at all.”
Furthermore, we are aware of the US leadership’s position and words that active hostilities in eastern Ukraine do not rule out the possibility of that country joining NATO if it meets NATO criteria and overcomes corruption.
All the while, they are trying to convince us over and over again that NATO is a peace-loving and purely defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia. Again, they want us to take their word for it. But we are well aware of the real value of these words. In 1990, when German unification was discussed, the United States promised the Soviet leadership that NATO jurisdiction or military presence will not expand one inch to the east and that the unification of Germany will not lead to the spread of NATO’s military organisation to the east. This is a quote.
They issued lots of verbal assurances, all of which turned out to be empty phrases. Later, they began to assure us that the accession to NATO by Central and Eastern European countries would only improve relations with Moscow, relieve these countries of the fears steeped in their bitter historical legacy, and even create a belt of countries that are friendly towards Russia.
However, the exact opposite happened. The governments of certain Eastern European countries, speculating on Russophobia, brought their complexes and stereotypes about the Russian threat to the Alliance and insisted on building up the collective defence potentials and deploying them primarily against Russia. Worse still, that happened in the 1990s and the early 2000s when, thanks to our openness and goodwill, relations between Russia and the West had reached a high level.
Russia has fulfilled all of its obligations, including the pullout from Germany, from Central and Eastern Europe, making an immense contribution to overcoming the legacy of the Cold War. We have consistently proposed various cooperation options, including in the NATO-Russia Council and the OSCE formats.
Moreover, I will say something I have never said publicly, I will say it now for the first time. When then outgoing US President Bill Clinton visited Moscow in 2000, I asked him how America would feel about admitting Russia to NATO.
I will not reveal all the details of that conversation, but the reaction to my question was, let us say, quite restrained, and the Americans’ true attitude to that possibility can actually be seen from their subsequent steps with regard to our country. I am referring to the overt support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, the disregard for our security demands and concerns, NATO’s continued expansion, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and so on. It raises the question: why? What is all this about, what is the purpose? All right, you do not want to see us as friends or allies, but why make us an enemy?
There can be only one answer – this is not about our political regime or anything like that. They just do not need a big and independent country like Russia around. This is the answer to all questions. This is the source of America’s traditional policy towards Russia. Hence the attitude to all our security proposals
Today, one glance at the map is enough to see to what extent Western countries have kept their promise to refrain from NATO’s eastward expansion. They just cheated. We have seen five waves of NATO expansion, one after another – Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were admitted in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009; Montenegro in 2017; and North Macedonia in 2020.
As a result, the Alliance, its military infrastructure has reached Russia’s borders. This is one of the key causes of the European security crisis; it has had the most negative impact on the entire system of international relations and led to the loss of mutual trust.
The situation continues to deteriorate, including in the strategic area. Thus, positioning areas for interceptor missiles are being established in Romania and Poland as part of the US project to create a global missile defence system. It is common knowledge that the launchers deployed there can be used for Tomahawk cruise missiles – offensive strike systems.
In addition, the United States is developing its all-purpose Standard Missile-6, which can provide air and missile defence, as well as strike ground and surface targets. In other words, the allegedly defensive US missile defence system is developing and expanding its new offensive capabilities.
The information we have gives us good reason to believe that Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the subsequent deployment of NATO facilities has already been decided and is only a matter of time. We clearly understand that given this scenario, the level of military threats to Russia will increase dramatically, several times over. And I would like to emphasise at this point that the risk of a sudden strike at our country will multiply.
I will explain that American strategic planning documents confirm the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike at enemy missile systems. We also know the main adversary of the United States and NATO. It is Russia. NATO documents officially declare our country to be the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security. Ukraine will serve as an advanced bridgehead for such a strike. If our ancestors heard about this, they would probably simply not believe this. We do not want to believe this today either, but it is what it is. I would like people in Russia and Ukraine to understand this.
Many Ukrainian airfields are located not far from our borders. NATO’s tactical aviation deployed there, including precision weapon carriers, will be capable of striking at our territory to the depth of the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of reconnaissance radars on Ukrainian territory will allow NATO to tightly control Russia’s airspace up to the Urals.
Finally, after the US destroyed the INF Treaty, the Pentagon has been openly developing many land-based attack weapons, including ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 5,500 km. If deployed in Ukraine, such systems will be able to hit targets in Russia’s entire European part. The flying time of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Moscow will be less than 35 minutes; ballistic missiles from Kharkov will take seven to eight minutes; and hypersonic assault weapons, four to five minutes. It is like a knife to the throat. I have no doubt that they hope to carry out these plans, as they did many times in the past, expanding NATO eastward, moving their military infrastructure to Russian borders and fully ignoring our concerns, protests and warnings. Excuse me, but they simply did not care at all about such things and did whatever they deemed necessary.
Of course, they are going to behave in the same way in the future, following a well-known proverb: “The dogs bark but the caravan goes on.” Let me say right away – we do not accept this behaviour and will never accept it. That said, Russia has always advocated the resolution of the most complicated problems by political and diplomatic means, at the negotiating table.
We are well aware of our enormous responsibility when it comes to regional and global stability. Back in 2008, Russia put forth an initiative to conclude a European Security Treaty under which not a single Euro-Atlantic state or international organisation could strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. However, our proposal was rejected right off the bat on the pretext that Russia should not be allowed to put limits on NATO activities.
Furthermore, it was made explicitly clear to us that only NATO members can have legally binding security guarantees.
Last December, we handed over to our Western partners a draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, as well as a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and NATO member states.
The United States and NATO responded with general statements. There were kernels of rationality in them as well, but they concerned matters of secondary importance and it all looked like an attempt to drag the issue out and to lead the discussion astray.
We responded to this accordingly and pointed out that we were ready to follow the path of negotiations, provided, however, that all issues are considered as a package that includes Russia’s core proposals which contain three key points. First, to prevent further NATO expansion. Second, to have the Alliance refrain from deploying assault weapon systems on Russian borders. And finally, rolling back the bloc’s military capability and infrastructure in Europe to where they were in 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.
These principled proposals of ours have been ignored. To reiterate, our Western partners have once again vocalised the all-too-familiar formulas that each state is entitled to freely choose ways to ensure its security or to join any military union or alliance. That is, nothing has changed in their stance, and we keep hearing the same old references to NATO’s notorious “open door” policy. Moreover, they are again trying to blackmail us and are threatening us with sanctions, which, by the way, they will introduce no matter what as Russia continues to strengthen its sovereignty and its Armed Forces. To be sure, they will never think twice before coming up with or just fabricating a pretext for yet another sanction attack regardless of the developments in Ukraine. Their one and only goal is to hold back the development of Russia. And they will keep doing so, just as they did before, even without any formal pretext just because we exist and will never compromise our sovereignty, national interests or values.
I would like to be clear and straightforward: in the current circumstances, when our proposals for an equal dialogue on fundamental issues have actually remained unanswered by the United States and NATO, when the level of threats to our country has increased significantly, Russia has every right to respond in order to ensure its security. That is exactly what we will do.
With regard to the state of affairs in Donbass, we see that the ruling Kiev elites never stop publicly making clear their unwillingness to comply with the Minsk Package of Measures to settle the conflict and are not interested in a peaceful settlement. On the contrary, they are trying to orchestrate a blitzkrieg in Donbass as was the case in 2014 and 2015. We all know how these reckless schemes ended.
Not a single day goes by without Donbass communities coming under shelling attacks. The recently formed large military force makes use of attack drones, heavy equipment, missiles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers. The killing of civilians, the blockade, the abuse of people, including children, women and the elderly, continues unabated. As we say, there is no end in sight to this.
Meanwhile, the so-called civilised world, which our Western colleagues proclaimed themselves the only representatives of, prefers not to see this, as if this horror and genocide, which almost 4 million people are facing, do not exist. But they do exist and only because these people did not agree with the West-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014 and opposed the transition towards the Neanderthal and aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism which have been elevated in Ukraine to the rank of national policy. They are fighting for their elementary right to live on their own land, to speak their own language, and to preserve their culture and traditions.
How long can this tragedy continue? How much longer can one put up with this? Russia has done everything to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity. All these years, it has persistently and patiently pushed for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 of February 17, 2015, which consolidated the Minsk Package of Measures of February 12, 2015, to settle the situation in Donbass.
Everything was in vain. Presidents and Rada deputies come and go, but deep down the aggressive and nationalistic regime that seized power in Kiev remains unchanged. It is entirely a product of the 2014 coup, and those who then embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed and lawlessness did not recognise then and do not recognise now any solution to the Donbass issue other than a military one.
In this regard, I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision and to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic.
I would like to ask the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to support this decision and then ratify the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with both republics. These two documents will be prepared and signed shortly.
We want those who seized and continue to hold power in Kiev to immediately stop hostilities. Otherwise, the responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will lie entirely on the conscience of Ukraine’s ruling regime.
As I announce the decisions taken today, I remain confident in the support of Russia’s citizens and the country’s patriotic forces.
Address by the President of the Russian Federation
February 24, 2022
Citizens of Russia, friends,
I consider it necessary today to speak again about the tragic events in Donbass and the key aspects of ensuring the security of Russia.
I will begin with what I said in my address on February 21, 2022. I spoke about our biggest concerns and worries, and about the fundamental threats which irresponsible Western politicians created for Russia consistently, rudely and unceremoniously from year to year. I am referring to the eastward expansion of NATO, which is moving its military infrastructure ever closer to the Russian border.
It is a fact that over the past 30 years we have been patiently trying to come to an agreement with the leading NATO countries regarding the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. In response to our proposals, we invariably faced either cynical deception and lies or attempts at pressure and blackmail, while the North Atlantic alliance continued to expand despite our protests and concerns. Its military machine is moving and, as I said, is approaching our very border.
Why is this happening? Where did this insolent manner of talking down from the height of their exceptionalism, infallibility and all-permissiveness come from? What is the explanation for this contemptuous and disdainful attitude to our interests and absolutely legitimate demands?
The answer is simple. Everything is clear and obvious. In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union grew weaker and subsequently broke apart. That experience should serve as a good lesson for us, because it has shown us that the paralysis of power and will is the first step towards complete degradation and oblivion. We lost confidence for only one moment, but it was enough to disrupt the balance of forces in the world.
As a result, the old treaties and agreements are no longer effective. Entreaties and requests do not help. Anything that does not suit the dominant state, the powers that be, is denounced as archaic, obsolete and useless. At the same time, everything it regards as useful is presented as the ultimate truth and forced on others regardless of the cost, abusively and by any means available. Those who refuse to comply are subjected to strong-arm tactics.
What I am saying now does not concerns only Russia, and Russia is not the only country that is worried about this. This has to do with the entire system of international relations, and sometimes even US allies. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a redivision of the world, and the norms of international law that developed by that time – and the most important of them, the fundamental norms that were adopted following WWII and largely formalised its outcome – came in the way of those who declared themselves the winners of the Cold War.
Of course, practice, international relations and the rules regulating them had to take into account the changes that took place in the world and in the balance of forces. However, this should have been done professionally, smoothly, patiently, and with due regard and respect for the interests of all states and one’s own responsibility. Instead, we saw a state of euphoria created by the feeling of absolute superiority, a kind of modern absolutism, coupled with the low cultural standards and arrogance of those who formulated and pushed through decisions that suited only themselves. The situation took a different turn.
There are many examples of this. First a bloody military operation was waged against Belgrade, without the UN Security Council’s sanction but with combat aircraft and missiles used in the heart of Europe. The bombing of peaceful cities and vital infrastructure went on for several weeks. I have to recall these facts, because some Western colleagues prefer to forget them, and when we mentioned the event, they prefer to avoid speaking about international law, instead emphasising the circumstances which they interpret as they think necessary.
Then came the turn of Iraq, Libya and Syria. The illegal use of military power against Libya and the distortion of all the UN Security Council decisions on Libya ruined the state, created a huge seat of international terrorism, and pushed the country towards a humanitarian catastrophe, into the vortex of a civil war, which has continued there for years. The tragedy, which was created for hundreds of thousands and even millions of people not only in Libya but in the whole region, has led to a large-scale exodus from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe.
A similar fate was also prepared for Syria. The combat operations conducted by the Western coalition in that country without the Syrian government’s approval or UN Security Council’s sanction can only be defined as aggression and intervention.
But the example that stands apart from the above events is, of course, the invasion of Iraq without any legal grounds. They used the pretext of allegedly reliable information available in the United States about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. To prove that allegation, the US Secretary of State held up a vial with white power, publicly, for the whole world to see, assuring the international community that it was a chemical warfare agent created in Iraq. It later turned out that all of that was a fake and a sham, and that Iraq did not have any chemical weapons. Incredible and shocking but true. We witnessed lies made at the highest state level and voiced from the high UN rostrum. As a result we see a tremendous loss in human life, damage, destruction, and a colossal upsurge of terrorism.
Overall, it appears that nearly everywhere, in many regions of the world where the United States brought its law and order, this created bloody, non-healing wounds and the curse of international terrorism and extremism. I have only mentioned the most glaring but far from only examples of disregard for international law.
This array includes promises not to expand NATO eastwards even by an inch. To reiterate: they have deceived us, or, to put it simply, they have played us. Sure, one often hears that politics is a dirty business. It could be, but it shouldn’t be as dirty as it is now, not to such an extent. This type of con-artist behaviour is contrary not only to the principles of international relations but also and above all to the generally accepted norms of morality and ethics. Where is justice and truth here? Just lies and hypocrisy all around.
Incidentally, US politicians, political scientists and journalists write and say that a veritable “empire of lies” has been created inside the United States in recent years. It is hard to disagree with this – it is really so. But one should not be modest about it: the United States is still a great country and a system-forming power. All its satellites not only humbly and obediently say yes to and parrot it at the slightest pretext but also imitate its behaviour and enthusiastically accept the rules it is offering them. Therefore, one can say with good reason and confidence that the whole so-called Western bloc formed by the United States in its own image and likeness is, in its entirety, the very same “empire of lies.”
As for our country, after the disintegration of the USSR, given the entire unprecedented openness of the new, modern Russia, its readiness to work honestly with the United States and other Western partners, and its practically unilateral disarmament, they immediately tried to put the final squeeze on us, finish us off, and utterly destroy us. This is how it was in the 1990s and the early 2000s, when the so-called collective West was actively supporting separatism and gangs of mercenaries in southern Russia. What victims, what losses we had to sustain and what trials we had to go through at that time before we broke the back of international terrorism in the Caucasus! We remember this and will never forget.
Properly speaking, the attempts to use us in their own interests never ceased until quite recently: they sought to destroy our traditional values and force on us their false values that would erode us, our people from within, the attitudes they have been aggressively imposing on their countries, attitudes that are directly leading to degradation and degeneration, because they are contrary to human nature. This is not going to happen. No one has ever succeeded in doing this, nor will they succeed now.
Despite all that, in December 2021, we made yet another attempt to reach agreement with the United States and its allies on the principles of European security and NATO’s non-expansion. Our efforts were in vain. The United States has not changed its position. It does not believe it necessary to agree with Russia on a matter that is critical for us. The United States is pursuing its own objectives, while neglecting our interests.
Of course, this situation begs a question: what next, what are we to expect? If history is any guide, we know that in 1940 and early 1941 the Soviet Union went to great lengths to prevent war or at least delay its outbreak. To this end, the USSR sought not to provoke the potential aggressor until the very end by refraining or postponing the most urgent and obvious preparations it had to make to defend itself from an imminent attack. When it finally acted, it was too late.
As a result, the country was not prepared to counter the invasion by Nazi Germany, which attacked our Motherland on June 22, 1941, without declaring war. The country stopped the enemy and went on to defeat it, but this came at a tremendous cost. The attempt to appease the aggressor ahead of the Great Patriotic War proved to be a mistake which came at a high cost for our people. In the first months after the hostilities broke out, we lost vast territories of strategic importance, as well as millions of lives. We will not make this mistake the second time. We have no right to do so.
Those who aspire to global dominance have publicly designated Russia as their enemy. They did so with impunity. Make no mistake, they had no reason to act this way. It is true that they have considerable financial, scientific, technological, and military capabilities. We are aware of this and have an objective view of the economic threats we have been hearing, just as our ability to counter this brash and never-ending blackmail. Let me reiterate that we have no illusions in this regard and are extremely realistic in our assessments.
As for military affairs, even after the dissolution of the USSR and losing a considerable part of its capabilities, today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states. Moreover, it has a certain advantage in several cutting-edge weapons. In this context, there should be no doubt for anyone that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences should it directly attack our country.
At the same time, technology, including in the defence sector, is changing rapidly. One day there is one leader, and tomorrow another, but a military presence in territories bordering on Russia, if we permit it to go ahead, will stay for decades to come or maybe forever, creating an ever mounting and totally unacceptable threat for Russia.
Even now, with NATO’s eastward expansion the situation for Russia has been becoming worse and more dangerous by the year. Moreover, these past days NATO leadership has been blunt in its statements that they need to accelerate and step up efforts to bring the alliance’s infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders. In other words, they have been toughening their position. We cannot stay idle and passively observe these developments. This would be an absolutely irresponsible thing to do for us.
Any further expansion of the North Atlantic alliance’s infrastructure or the ongoing efforts to gain a military foothold of the Ukrainian territory are unacceptable for us. Of course, the question is not about NATO itself. It merely serves as a tool of US foreign policy. The problem is that in territories adjacent to Russia, which I have to note is our historical land, a hostile “anti-Russia” is taking shape. Fully controlled from the outside, it is doing everything to attract NATO armed forces and obtain cutting-edge weapons.
For the United States and its allies, it is a policy of containing Russia, with obvious geopolitical dividends. For our country, it is a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a nation. This is not an exaggeration; this is a fact. It is not only a very real threat to our interests but to the very existence of our state and to its sovereignty. It is the red line which we have spoken about on numerous occasions. They have crossed it.
This brings me to the situation in Donbass. We can see that the forces that staged the coup in Ukraine in 2014 have seized power, are keeping it with the help of ornamental election procedures and have abandoned the path of a peaceful conflict settlement. For eight years, for eight endless years we have been doing everything possible to settle the situation by peaceful political means. Everything was in vain.
As I said in my previous address, you cannot look without compassion at what is happening there. It became impossible to tolerate it. We had to stop that atrocity, that genocide of the millions of people who live there and who pinned their hopes on Russia, on all of us. It is their aspirations, the feelings and pain of these people that were the main motivating force behind our decision to recognise the independence of the Donbass people’s republics.
I would like to additionally emphasise the following. Focused on their own goals, the leading NATO countries are supporting the far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine, those who will never forgive the people of Crimea and Sevastopol for freely making a choice to reunite with Russia.
They will undoubtedly try to bring war to Crimea just as they have done in Donbass, to kill innocent people just as members of the punitive units of Ukrainian nationalists and Hitler’s accomplices did during the Great Patriotic War. They have also openly laid claim to several other Russian regions.
If we look at the sequence of events and the incoming reports, the showdown between Russia and these forces cannot be avoided. It is only a matter of time. They are getting ready and waiting for the right moment. Moreover, they went as far as aspire to acquire nuclear weapons. We will not let this happen.
I have already said that Russia accepted the new geopolitical reality after the dissolution of the USSR. We have been treating all new post-Soviet states with respect and will continue to act this way. We respect and will respect their sovereignty, as proven by the assistance we provided to Kazakhstan when it faced tragic events and a challenge in terms of its statehood and integrity. However, Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist while facing a permanent threat from the territory of today’s Ukraine.
Let me remind you that in 2000–2005 we used our military to push back against terrorists in the Caucasus and stood up for the integrity of our state. We preserved Russia. In 2014, we supported the people of Crimea and Sevastopol. In 2015, we used our Armed Forces to create a reliable shield that prevented terrorists from Syria from penetrating Russia. This was a matter of defending ourselves. We had no other choice.
The same is happening today. They did not leave us any other option for defending Russia and our people, other than the one we are forced to use today. In these circumstances, we have to take bold and immediate action. The people’s republics of Donbass have asked Russia for help.
In this context, in accordance with Article 51 (Chapter VII) of the UN Charter, with permission of Russia’s Federation Council, and in execution of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, ratified by the Federal Assembly on February 22, I made a decision to carry out a special military operation.
The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime. To this end, we will seek to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.
It is not our plan to occupy the Ukrainian territory. We do not intend to impose anything on anyone by force. At the same time, we have been hearing an increasing number of statements coming from the West that there is no need any more to abide by the documents setting forth the outcomes of World War II, as signed by the totalitarian Soviet regime. How can we respond to that?
The outcomes of World War II and the sacrifices our people had to make to defeat Nazism are sacred. This does not contradict the high values of human rights and freedoms in the reality that emerged over the post-war decades. This does not mean that nations cannot enjoy the right to self-determination, which is enshrined in Article 1 of the UN Charter.
Let me remind you that the people living in territories which are part of today’s Ukraine were not asked how they want to build their lives when the USSR was created or after World War II. Freedom guides our policy, the freedom to choose independently our future and the future of our children. We believe that all the peoples living in today’s Ukraine, anyone who want to do this, must be able to enjoy this right to make a free choice.
In this context I would like to address the citizens of Ukraine. In 2014, Russia was obliged to protect the people of Crimea and Sevastopol from those who you yourself call “nats.” The people of Crimea and Sevastopol made their choice in favour of being with their historical homeland, Russia, and we supported their choice. As I said, we could not act otherwise.
The current events have nothing to do with a desire to infringe on the interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. They are connected with the defending Russia from those who have taken Ukraine hostage and are trying to use it against our country and our people.
I reiterate: we are acting to defend ourselves from the threats created for us and from a worse peril than what is happening now. I am asking you, however hard this may be, to understand this and to work together with us so as to turn this tragic page as soon as possible and to move forward together, without allowing anyone to interfere in our affairs and our relations but developing them independently, so as to create favourable conditions for overcoming all these problems and to strengthen us from within as a single whole, despite the existence of state borders. I believe in this, in our common future.
I would also like to address the military personnel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Your fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers did not fight the Nazi occupiers and did not defend our common Motherland to allow today’s neo-Nazis to seize power in Ukraine. You swore the oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people and not to the junta, the people’s adversary which is plundering Ukraine and humiliating the Ukrainian people.
I urge you to refuse to carry out their criminal orders. I urge you to immediately lay down arms and go home. I will explain what this means: the military personnel of the Ukrainian army who do this will be able to freely leave the zone of hostilities and return to their families.
I want to emphasise again that all responsibility for the possible bloodshed will lie fully and wholly with the ruling Ukrainian regime.
I would now like to say something very important for those who may be tempted to interfere in these developments from the outside. No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history. No matter how the events unfold, we are ready. All the necessary decisions in this regard have been taken. I hope that my words will be heard.
Citizens of Russia,
The culture and values, experience and traditions of our ancestors invariably provided a powerful underpinning for the wellbeing and the very existence of entire states and nations, their success and viability. Of course, this directly depends on the ability to quickly adapt to constant change, maintain social cohesion, and readiness to consolidate and summon all the available forces in order to move forward.
We always need to be strong, but this strength can take on different forms. The “empire of lies,” which I mentioned in the beginning of my speech, proceeds in its policy primarily from rough, direct force. This is when our saying on being “all brawn and no brains” applies.
We all know that having justice and truth on our side is what makes us truly strong. If this is the case, it would be hard to disagree with the fact that it is our strength and our readiness to fight that are the bedrock of independence and sovereignty and provide the necessary foundation for building a reliable future for your home, your family, and your Motherland.
I am certain that devoted soldiers and officers of Russia’s Armed Forces will perform their duty with professionalism and courage. I have no doubt that the government institutions at all levels and specialists will work effectively to guarantee the stability of our economy, financial system and social wellbeing, and the same applies to corporate executives and the entire business community. I hope that all parliamentary parties and civil society take a consolidated, patriotic position.
At the end of the day, the future of Russia is in the hands of its multi-ethnic people, as has always been the case in our history. This means that the decisions that I made will be executed, that we will achieve the goals we have set, and reliably guarantee the security of our Motherland.
I believe in your support and the invincible force rooted in the love for our Fatherland.
Var det rasjonelt av Putin å invadere Ukraina?
Når jeg leser talene til Putin oppfatter jeg 3 motiver for å invadere Ukraina:
- at Russland og Ukraina er én nasjon
- at krigen i Donbas gjør det nødvendig å intervenere
- at eventuell NATO-ekspansjon til Ukraina truer russisk sikkerhet
Jeg vil se nærmere på disse motivene/påstandene, for å prøve gjøre opp ei meining om de er rasjonelle. Som rasjonelt mål tenker jeg i retning økt trygghet & velstand for russere og andre europeere i et lengre perspektiv.
Først vil jeg erklære noen ting. I utgangspunktet respekterer jeg russisk sjølstyre og ukrainsk sjølstyre. Men hvordan østslavere organiserer seg nede ved Svartehavet er ikke nordmenn si sak. Jeg er imot at Kongeriket Norge skal involvere seg i konflikta, inkludert alle de statlige sanksjonene (privatpersoner bør stå fritt til å gjøre det de vil). Særlig ille er det at staten subsidierer Ukraina med 2000 stk. M72-panservernraketter (lagd av Nammo på Raufoss) under ei varm konflikt.
Kjærlighet starter i heimen, og det er mer nærverende at nordmenn boikotter alle politiske partier som støtter intervensjonsalliansen NATO, som kontinuerlig skader og truer verdensfreden. (Og dette sier jeg som en norsk nasjonalist.)
Men som de fleste andre ble jeg sjokkert av den fullskala invasjonen. Jeg ble revet med i frykten for at vi bevegde oss mot tredje verdenskrig, og en stund tenkte jeg at eneste utveg var at Putin blir styrta. Men det ser ut som både Russland og NATO tross alt utøver noe forsiktighet. Feks. nekter NATO å innføre ei flyforbudsone i Ukraina eller å ta i bruk “polske jagerfly”. Så nå har jeg roet meg nok til å bedre reflektere over situasjonen.
Å se/lese talene til Putin er viktig. Det gjør en i stand til å forstå det russiske verdenssynet. Det man kan forstå, med ærlighet og menneskelig intuisjon, er at Putin er en moralsk person i sitt russiske verdenssyn. Det er klart at han prøver å gjøre det riktige gjennom det perspektivet han har. Spørsmålet er om han er nøytral nok, eller om han kan sies å være for egenrådig og trangsynt. Sjøl har jeg den naturlige fordelen at jeg er en utenforstående uten tilknytning til Russland eller Ukraina (men samtidig er jeg foruten en intim forståelse).
(Putin om dannelsen av moderne Ukraina): I will start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia – by separating, severing what is historically Russian land. Nobody asked the millions of people living there what they thought.
(Putin om russisk nasjonalisme): “I would like to emphasise again that Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space.”
(Putin når han omtaler Sovjetunionen): “As it often happened in our country before…”
(Putin når han omtaler andres nasjonalisme): “The virus of nationalist ambitions is still with us, and the mine laid at the initial stage to destroy state immunity to the disease of nationalism was ticking. As I have already said, the mine was the right of secession from the Soviet Union.”
(Putin om nasjonalisme som et produkt av kommunistisk maktkamp): Moreover, in the course of power struggle within the Communist Party itself, each of the opposing sides, in a bid to expand its support base, started to thoughtlessly incite and encourage nationalist sentiments, manipulating them and promising their potential supporters whatever they wished.
(Putin om oppløysinga av “det forente Russland”): Even two years before the collapse of the USSR, its fate was actually predetermined. It is now that radicals and nationalists, including and primarily those in Ukraine, are taking credit for having gained independence. As we can see, this is absolutely wrong. The disintegration of our united country was brought about by the historic, strategic mistakes on the part of the Bolshevik leaders and the CPSU leadership, mistakes committed at different times in state-building and in economic and ethnic policies. The collapse of the historical Russia known as the USSR is on their conscience.
Putin har rett i at de presise grensene til Ukraina skyldes USSR. Men det som er klart når du leser om Ukraina er at ukrainere har kulturell og språklig egenart, og at en ukrainsk nasjonfølelse eksisterte før USSR ble oppretta.
Putin har en vid definisjon av Russland, og mener Ukraina er “russisk land” som tilhører “det historiske Russland”, og mener overraskende nok at USSR er synonymt med “det historiske Russland” (altså ikke en union av arbeiderrepublikker). Uten ironi sier han om “dannelsen av Ukraina” at ingen spurte de millioner av menneskene som bodde der hva de mener…
Hva om svensker mente at norsk og dansk nasjonalfølelse var et virus man ikke skal ta hensyn til, at “vi er alle svensker”, og at et norsk og dansk land underlagt svensk maktkonsentrasjon er det eneste legitime…? Putin fremstår særdeles trangsynt vedrørende hva som “tilhører Russland” uten at han et eneste sekund erkjenner dette som russisk nasjonalisme og arroganse.
Det er opp til ukrainere sjøl å uttrykke hvem de er, og de har dessuten gode grunner til å være negative til “historiske Russland” sine herjinger. Så idéen om at Ukraina og Ukraina’s befolkning tilhører den russiske staten mener jeg er Putin’s desidert svakeste motiv for å invadere.
Fra slutten av 1500-tallet ble kosakkområdene et sentrum for den ukrainske kamp for uavhengighet fra Polen, og det brøt ut store oppstander. Den største brøt ut i 1648 under ledelse av Bogdan Khmelnitskij; i 1654 førte den til at kosakkene stilte seg under tsarens vern og la Ukraina øst for Dnepr inn under Russland (unionen i Perejaslavl). Kampene i Ukraina etter Khmelnitskij førte til at kosakksamfunnet gikk i oppløsning, og dette ble formalisert ved den polsk-russiske våpenstillstanden i Andrusov i 1667.
Et annet stort kosakksamfunn var donkosakkene (bosatt langs elven Don), som rundt 1700 var en ganske mektig faktor i Sør-Russland. Kosakkhetmanen Ivan Masepa gikk med den svenske kongen Karl 12 mot russerne under den store nordiske krig. Den russiske tsaren Peter den store arbeidet for å bringe kosakkene under statens kontroll, og i 1723 ble det tvunget igjennom at staten skulle utpeke donkosakkenes hetman (fører). De beholdt likevel en tid et visst indre selvstyre, men dette ble endelig avskaffet av Katarina den store i 1775.
En ukrainsk sosialistisk sovjetrepublikk inngikk i dannelsen av Sovjetunionen i 1922. Etter en innledende kampanje for å styrke den lokale kulturen i de ulike sovjetrepublikkene, viste sovjetmyndighetene seg fiendtlig innstilt overfor ukrainsk språk og kultur. Stalin iverksatte politiske utrenskninger og gjennomførte massedeportasjoner av ukrainere til Sibir, mens mange hundre tusen russere ble innflyttet til de ukrainske byene.
I årene 1932–1933 ble den ukrainske sovjetrepublikken hardt rammet av den kunstige hungersnøden som går under navnet Holodomor. Flere millioner mennesker mistet livet, men det råder uenighet om antall ofre.
I den (eneste) ukrainske folketellinga fra 2001 identifiserte hele 78% seg som ukrainere.
"Not a single day goes by without Donbas communities coming under shelling attacks. The recently formed large military force makes use of attack drones, heavy equipment, missiles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers. The killing of civilians, the blockade, the abuse of people, including children, women and the elderly, continues unabated. As we say, there is no end in sight to this.
Meanwhile, the so-called civilised world, which our Western colleagues proclaimed themselves the only representatives of, prefers not to see this, as if this horror and genocide, which almost 4 million people are facing, do not exist. But they do exist and only because these people did not agree with the West-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014 and opposed the transition towards the Neanderthal and aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism which have been elevated in Ukraine to the rank of national policy. They are fighting for their elementary right to live on their own land, to speak their own language, and to preserve their culture and traditions.
…they are trying to orchestrate a blitzkrieg in Donbas as was the case in 2014 and 2015."
Om det var planlagt en ‘blitzkrieg’ i Donbas vet jeg ikke, men Putin’s beskrivelse ignorerer elementære faktaopplysninger om Donbas:
#1 Ukrainere er i flertall i Donbas.
Den ukrainske folketellinga frå 2001, som registrerte “nasjonalitet”, viser at ukrainere var i flertall både i regionene Luhansk og Donetsk (som sammen utgjør området Donbas).
Luhansk (2,55 mill.)
Ukrainere - 58.0%
Russere - 39.0%
Donetsk (4,84 mill.)
Ukrainere - 56.9%
Russere - 38.2%
Krim (2,03 mill.)
Ukrainere - 24.4%
Russere - 58.5%
#2 Krigen i Donbas blei starta av militante, pro-russiske separatister.
Det blir feil å fremstille “ukrainske nasjonalister” som gjerningsmenn og “russiske nasjonalister” som offer, når krigen vart starta gjennom at pro-russiske militanter angrep offentlige bygninger, politistasjoner og grenseposter, dvs. menneskene som jobbet der. Separatistene har i tillegg fått militær støtte fra Russland.
“Millitær situasjon 27 februar 2022” - Wikipedia
#3 De siste årene har få sivile blitt drept i Donbas.
Jeg har sett flere halvveis forsvare invasjonen gjennom påstander om at “14.000 er drept i Donbas”.
Og Putin på si side bruker ordet “folkemord”. Men ifølge ei oversikt på Wikipedia gjelder disse tallene hovedsaklig “pro-russiske” og “pro-ukrainske” styrker som har mista rundt fem tusen mann hver. Etter en blodig start på konflikta har det vært få sivile dødsfall. Ei oversikt av Forente Nasjoner:
Å invadere hele Ukraina for å beskytte Donbas er et svakt skussmål, slik jeg ser det. Ukraina har problemer med korrupsjon og ekstreme nasjonalister, men i tilfelle innbyggerne i den opprørskontrollerte delen av Donbas sto i fare for en ‘blitzkrieg’, så ville den proporsjonale og spiselige reaksjonene være en invasjon av Donbas (slik Putin halvveis forespeilet).
"Many Ukrainian airfields are located not far from our borders. NATO’s tactical aviation deployed there, including precision weapon carriers, will be capable of striking at our territory to the depth of the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of reconnaissance radars on Ukrainian territory will allow NATO to tightly control Russia’s airspace up to the Urals.
Finally, after the US destroyed the INF Treaty, the Pentagon has been openly developing many land-based attack weapons, including ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 5,500 km. If deployed in Ukraine, such systems will be able to hit targets in Russia’s entire European part. The flying time of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Moscow will be less than 35 minutes; ballistic missiles from Kharkov will take seven to eight minutes; and hypersonic assault weapons, four to five minutes. It is like a knife to the throat.
Russia’s core proposals to NATO: First, to prevent further NATO expansion. Second, to have the Alliance refrain from deploying assault weapon systems on Russian borders. And finally, rolling back the bloc’s military capability and infrastructure in Europe to where they were in 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.
These principled proposals of ours have been ignored. To reiterate, our Western partners have once again vocalised the all-too-familiar formulas that each state is entitled to freely choose ways to ensure its security or to join any military union or alliance. (…) …when our proposals for an equal dialogue on fundamental issues have actually remained unanswered by the United States and NATO, when the level of threats to our country has increased significantly, Russia has every right to respond in order to ensure its security. That is exactly what we will do."
Ukraina var uansett et stykke og ei tid unna NATO-medlemskap, og utgjorde ingen umiddelbar fare, mens NATO-baser i Baltikum allerede er i noelunde lik avstand til Moskva som feks. Kharkov i Ukraina.
Om EU/Tyskland/Frankrike var på gli mot mer handel, samarbeid og integrasjon med Russland, så var vel dette den rasjonelle måten å “rulle tilbake NATO”…? Eller skal invasjonen av Ukraina skremme vekk NATO fra Baltikum? Ser ut som motsatt effekt er oppnådd, og at også Finland nå er ivrige etter NATO-medlemskap.
Den russiske utenriksministeren Sergey Lavrov har uttalt noe sånt som at det vil bli klart for det internasjonale samfunn etter hvert hvorfor Russland måtte invadere. For tida ser det ut som den fullskala invasjonen av Ukraina absolutt ikke gir økt trygghet & velstand for russere og andre europeere, og derfor at beslutningen om å invadere ikke var rasjonell. Men Russland er uten tvil isolert fra det amerikansk-sionistiske vesten, som gir det en egen form for sjølstyre. Dessverre var det ikke hele Europa som ble løsrevet.