Putin to West: ‘You Are Smart People, Why Do You Think We Are Idiots?’ — VIDEO
Challenged by BBC's Rosenberg Putin destroys him "Yes, compared to you, we are all white and fluffy"
At Putin’s traditional end-of-year press conference BBC’s Rosenberg asks him if he feels Russia partly responsible for the New Cold War or if instead, it is “all white and fluffy.”
Dmitry Peskov: We have somewhat neglected the foreign media. BBC, please. Steve, we have not heard from you or seen you for a while.
Steve Rosenberg: Steve Rosenberg, BBC News.
Mr President, we increasingly hear the phrase “New Cold War” to describe relations between Russia and the West. Russia regularly blames the tension on external forces, either America, Britain or NATO. But having been in power yourself for 20 years, don’t you think that you bear some of the responsibility for the woeful relations, especially considering Russia’s actions over the past years, from annexing Crimea to using chemical weapons on British soil, in Salisbury? Or not? Are Russian authorities “squeaky clean”?
And when it comes to chemical weapons – have you read the Bellingcat report that shows in detail that the attack on Alexei Navalny was orchestrated by the Russian state? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: I have already discussed the assassination attempt against the famous Russian blogger. I can only add to what has already been said on multiple occasions. We are ready to launch an investigation. If someone holds information that a chemical weapon was used, in this case Novichok, as we keep hearing, we ask you, please share it with us. We suggested that our specialists go to Germany, Sweden and France so that they can look into this issue together with their colleagues. Or we ask you to come to us and bring the biological samples or at least share an official statement with us.
Steven, can you explain to me why, despite repeated requests from the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, we have still not received even an official statement? The German authorities turned all the materials over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and they refuse to share them with us, saying that Germany refused to authorise them to do so. Germany, in turn, tells us to inquire with the OPCW.
Can you explain this to me, Steven? Why can’t they even give us an official report on the use of this Novichok?
Steve Rosenberg: Are you asking me?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I am asking you.
Steve Rosenberg: I am the journalist here, I am asking a question, and you answer it.
Vladimir Putin: Okay, fine. I apologise. Let me continue with my answer. Very well. Suppose this question remains hanging in the air. So be it.
Regarding whether we are “squeaky clean.” Do we feel any responsibility for what is going on? I feel responsible for what is going on inside Russia and with its people. I will do everything in the interests of the Russian Federation. This applies to Crimea returning to the Russian Federation. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this is how the people expressed their will.
In Kosovo, it was the parliament that took the decision, and you bought into it saying that this was the right way to go, everything is fine and democratic. In Crimea, people came to the polls and voted in a referendum, but for some reason, you do not like it. Let me remind you that democracy is the rule of the people, and you have to recognise this or stop using the term altogether.
Crimeans have been facing sanctions. What have you sanctioned them for? If they were annexed, they cannot be blamed. Why should they be punished? If they were not annexed, if this reflects the result of a vote, it has to be recognised that this is democracy and they should be left alone, together with the accusations against Russia of annexing Crimea.
Now, with regard to us being squeaky clean. Compared to you, yes, we are, indeed, squeaky clean, because we agreed to free the countries and peoples who wanted to be independent from a certain Soviet diktat. We heard your assurances that NATO would not expand eastward. However, you failed to keep your promises. Indeed, those promises were not made in writing; these were verbal statements, from NATO among others. However, you have done nothing in this regard. There have been two waves of expansion, and NATO’s military infrastructure is moving closer to our borders. Should we not respond to this? Was it us who withdrew from the ABM Treaty? No, it was not us. So, we are forced to respond by creating innovative weapons systems that can nip these threats in the bud.
Later on, our colleagues withdrew from the INF Treaty. Mind you, not we, but our US partners did so. Accordingly, we said that we would not produce or deploy such weapons until US weapons are deployed in Europe. However, no one has responded to this so far. Then, they withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty. What were we supposed to do? I do not want to ask you this question, but what were we supposed to do in this regard? Leave it at that? So, as a NATO country, you will fly over our territory and make everything available to our US partners, whereas we would not be able to do the same with regard to US territory? You are intelligent people, what makes you think we are dumb? Why do you think we cannot analyse and understand these elementary things?
There are more issues that cause our concern. We are forced to respond to them. With all of that in place, we are facing the threat of the START Treaty expiring. Then, there will be no arms race restrictions, nothing at all. From day one, we have been calling on our partners to renew this treaty for at least another year and to conduct substantive, as diplomats say, talks on what to do next.
We understand that Russia has developed state-of-the-art hypersonic systems, which no one else in the world has access to. We are aware of that. We are not against taking this circumstance into account. But to this day, no one has spoken to us about this. Similar systems are being developed in Great Britain and the United States. They have not yet developed them, we understand this, but we are open to talks. However, no one is talking to us. So, go ahead and answer your question about who is “squeaky clean” and who is not.
We have two or three bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Syria where the terrorist threat is quite real. The other side, the United States, operates a vast network of bases around the world.
Do you know the size of our military budget? It is 46 billion. Great Britain has a much bigger one. The US military budget is 770 billion. In terms of military spending, Russia ranks sixth internationally, after the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France and Japan.
So, who is squeaky clean and who is aggressive? Well, aggressive is not about us, for sure. If not squeaky clean, then, at least, we are comely and committed to maintaining dialogue and seeking compromise solutions. I would like to quote Leopold the Cat from a Russian cartoon: “Let us be friends, guys!”
Source: Excerpted from Kremlin’s transcript