From the Kremlin

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
At the very beginning of this opening address, May 29th is mentioned as the beginning of the Eurasian Economic Council with the signing of a treaty eight years ago (though this economic community has origins that go back to 1994). There has been some discussion of the 'year zero' mentioned by the C's and I propose that this treaty signing might be a part of that.

Current full members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, with three observer states being Cuba, Moldova and Uzbekistan.

For reference, the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) was formed in 1991 from the dissolution of the USSR. Currently there are nine full members within this free-trade area: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan; with Turkmenistan as an associate member and Mongolia as an observer state. At the immediate moment, it'll be interesting to see what happens to Moldova.

This address talks about integration and deepening those member state ties. Towards the end, a full-on free-trade agreement signing is mentioned with Iraq and several proposals with some other countries to be sped up and explored. Expansion of this community is an interesting indication of shifting power, though it's probably not as simplistic as I wish it was. Still, the EEC is making itself appear to be quite tantalizing from many directions.

Meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council


Vladimir Putin attended, via videoconference, a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

May 27, 2022
14:20

The Kremlin, Moscow


Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev as the head of EAEU observer state, and Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission Board Mikhail Myasnikovich.
President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez sent a video address to the meeting participants as the head of EAEU observer state.

A package of documents was approved following the meeting. In particular, a decision was made to begin talks on signing a free trade agreement with the Republic of Indonesia. The main benchmarks for the EAEU member states’ macroeconomic policy for 2022–2023 were determined.

* * *

Address at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

I share the views of those who have given a positive assessment of the EAEU performance in their statements.

It is true that integration development is gathering momentum within the framework of the EAEU, and the efficiency of our common markets of goods, services, capital and workforce is increasing. Moving one step at a time, we are creating a comprehensive common economic space of the EAEU.

As mentioned earlier, on May 29 we will mark eight years since the signing of the fundamental Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union. Over that period of time, we have covered a large part of the road, boosting cooperation on the principles of equal dialogue and mutual respect, and trying to strengthen, and strengthening, our Eurasian union. We have done this very expeditiously, turning the EAEU into an effective and influential regional economic body and organisation.

We can report substantial achievements in the key spheres of our cooperation, namely trade, the industry, finance and agriculture. Most importantly, the citizens of our countries can see the practical effect of our integration, which we have been working on consistently, in everyday life.

We wholeheartedly support the draft decision to declare May 29 the Day of the Eurasian Economic Union. Our calendar will have one more landmark day, which unites our nations and symbolises the commitment of the EAEU states to integration development.

Eurasian integration is really paying off, as you can see from the economic indicators.

Mutual trade between the EAEU member states has been growing consistently. According to available information, our trade increased by approximately one-third in 2021 to $72.6 billion. The member states’ aggregate GDP grew by 4.6 percent (4.7 percent in Russia), industrial production by 5.3 percent, investments in fixed assets by 6.8 percent, completed construction projects by 5.4 percent, the construction of housing by 12 percent, and cargo turnover by 4.7 percent.

It is notable that our cooperation is based on plans and is developing systematically. We are working persistently to implement the programme of the strategic development of Eurasian economic integration until 2025.

Our countries’ economic and regulatory authorities continue their efforts to identify and eliminate the remaining restrictions and barriers to the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce in the EAEU internal market. In the last two years alone, 30 such restrictions have been lifted.

And of course, life itself dictates the need to create a truly barrier-free market across the EAEU territory. We are all certain that closer integration will make our countries stronger, economically, and significantly reduce dependence on external factors, including political ones.

The advantages of the integration policy are especially obvious now, in the current difficult international situation, amid real aggression on the part of certain unfriendly states.
The President of Belarus mentioned this specifically, here. But we would like to note that the Russian Government is making timely decisions to ensure the stable, confident functioning of the markets and the financial sector. Much attention is paid to supporting key industries and major employers. The rules for doing business have been significantly simplified – the administrative burden has been dramatically reduced to ensure as much freedom as possible for entrepreneurs.

We are also working to increase the availability of financing for businesses’ operational expenses and to maintain bank liquidity. To this end, we are expanding the practice of mutual payments for goods in national currencies with the countries that have proved reliable partners of Russia. By the way, the share of payments in national currencies in the EAEU countries has already reached 75 percent.

In this regard, I would like to note that at Russia's initiative, the Eurasian Five have adopted a number of urgent anti-crisis measures aimed at minimising the consequences of sanctions, increasing the resilience of our economies, strengthening their macroeconomic stability, and helping entrepreneurs and citizens of our states.

The Eurasian Economic Commission has approved more than 30 anti-crisis measures, and they have certainly had an effect.

Three packages of measures have been approved since March to streamline customs regulation,
putting an end to the duties on more than 1,600 critical imports. As a result, importers will be able to save up to $800 million over the next six months.

In addition, the requirements of the EAEU technical regulations have been relaxed. To restrain prices, the Commission raised the threshold for the duty-free import of goods for personal use to 1,000 euros.

Steps are being taken to replace imports and further deepen industrial cooperation between the EAEU countries in strategic sectors, including civil aircraft construction and pharmaceuticals.

An interstate programme is being prepared to expand the digital infrastructure in the EAEU countries. More digital solutions are being deployed to serve logistics corridors; high-tech customs administration services are being introduced; e-commerce is being developed and improved.

I consider it important that we prioritise efforts to ensure food security. You know that the global situation is rather complicated. Our countries are making a major contribution to resolving these problems, and Russia and all other members of our organisation are acting in a highly responsible manner.

Today, our five countries produce enough foodstuffs and agricultural produce to fully meet domestic demand. Considering the fact that the EAEU is the largest agricultural exporter in the world, as I have already said, our organisation implements all possible measures, including customs tariff and non-tariff regulation, for maintaining sustainable supply chains.

Colleagues, we are pleased that, despite the complicated international situation, the confrontation unleashed by the collective West, and our ill-wishers who are trying to hamper our integration in every possible way, all of us can clearly see that many foreign partners are becoming more and more interested in the activities of the Eurasian Economic Union. Our colleagues have noted this right now.

Active talks are now underway to conclude a full-fledged free trade agreement with Iran, among others
(we have already mentioned these countries). This agreement aims to replace the current temporary 2018 agreement, which has already expanded the Union’s trade volumes with the Islamic Republic of Iran. By late 2021, trade soared by 73.5 percent and reached $5 billion. EAEU exports increased 2.1-fold, to reach $3.4 billion.

To preserve the existing preferential trade treatment with Iran, we support a decision to extend the temporary agreement, pending the signing of a new free trade agreement.

We also deem it advisable to speed up talks on signing a free trade agreement with Egypt and to launch similar talks with Indonesia. In addition, we need to explore the possibility of signing a preferential trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates.

In conclusion, I would also like to thank President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov for the excellent organisation of our work. We are noting the efforts of Kyrgyzstan, as president of the Eurasian Economic Union, to ensure the effective performance of our association throughout 2022, and we strive to provide all possible assistance to our Kyrgyz friends. We will continue to do so in the future.

I would like to emphasise once again that Russia prioritises deeper allied ties with all EAEU states. We hope very much that our closest partners, including Uzbekistan, will move in a direction that meets the interests of Uzbekistan, and that they will also develop our association accordingly, while assessing all the advantages of intra-EAEU cooperation. In turn, we will do our best to maintain integration processes in the Eurasian region.

Thank you.

There were also two phone calls from Italy (last phone call Mar. 30) and Austria, which I was glad to see. They were informed on the state of safe navigation, including humanitarian corridors, through the Sea of Azov and Black Sea and how Ukraine had mined the ports. Food security and energy was also talked about.

Telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi


Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of the Italian Republic Mario Draghi, at the Italian side’s initiative.

May 26, 2022
18:35

The leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin told Mario Draghi about the ongoing efforts to establish peaceful life in the liberated cities of Donbass. He described in detail the measures taken to ensure safe navigation, including the daily opening of humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilian vessels from the ports of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. The President of Russia noted that Ukraine was obstructing these measures. Vladimir Putin also gave his principled assessment of the negotiating process frozen by Kiev.

The leaders thoroughly discussed the status of global food security. Having noted that Russia is being groundlessly accused of disrupting global food supplies, Vladimir Putin emphasised that these difficulties had been caused, in part, by failures in production and supply chains, as well as the financial policy of the Western countries during the coronavirus pandemic. The US- and EU-imposed anti-Russia restrictions have made a bad situation worse.

Vladimir Putin stressed that the Russian Federation is willing to make a substantial contribution to overcoming the food crisis by exporting grain and fertiliser on the condition that the West removes its politically-motivated restrictions.

While discussing energy security issues, the Russian leader reaffirmed Russia’s willingness to continue failsafe natural gas supplies to Italy at contractual prices.

Telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer


Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer.

May 27, 2022
17:25

At the request of the Federal Chancellor of Austria, the President of Russia gave an assessment of the situation in the context of the ongoing special military operation to protect Donbass. The Russian leader also spoke about the efforts to ensure safe navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. In this regard, Vladimir Putin pointed out that the Ukrainian side should demine the ports as soon as possible to allow the free passage of the blocked vessels. In addition, he noted that Kiev was sabotaging the talks between Russia and Ukraine.

The two leaders exchanged views on issues related to global food security. Vladimir Putin emphasised that attempts to blame Russia for the disrupted supply of agricultural produce to world markets were groundless. He explained in detail the real reasons behind these problems, which emerged, in part, due to the anti-Russia sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to its contractual obligations with regard to natural gas supplies to Austria.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
They're speaking again "in this format". You can only ignore Russia for so long before you have to have a chat.

Telephone conversation with President of France Emmanuel Macron and Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz


Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron and Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz.

May 28, 2022
15:25

To follow up on the previous contacts in this format, the leaders exchanged views on the most recent developments in Ukraine. The President of Russia informed the other parties at length about the latest events in the context of the ongoing special military operation, noting that the Russian Armed Forces are strictly observing the norms of international humanitarian law, and spoke about the systematic work being carried out to establish peaceful life in Mariupol and other liberated cities in Donbass.

Special attention was paid to the progress on the negotiation track, which has been stalling through Kiev’s fault. Vladimir Putin reaffirmed the Russian side’s openness to the resumption of dialogue.

The President of Russia was critical of the continued dangerous practice of pumping Ukraine with Western weapons, cautioning against the risks of the country’s further destabilisation and aggravation of the humanitarian crisis.


The parties reviewed in detail the global food security concerns. Vladimir Putin explained the real reasons for the unstable food supplies, saying that the disruptions were due to Western countries’ erroneous economic and financial policies, as well as their anti-Russia sanctions. He substantiated his statements with evidence and specific data. Russia, on the other hand, is ready to help find options for unhindered grain exports, including the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports. Increasing the supplies of Russian fertilisers and agricultural produce will also help reduce tensions in the global food market, but that will definitely require the lifting of the relevant sanctions.

The leaders agreed to continue contacts.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
Having a look through the 'documents' section, a number of new laws were enacted recently. They are all interesting, for one reason or another, but this really short one has some larger effects.

Law ratifying dual citizenship agreement between Russia and South Ossetia


The President signed Federal Law On Ratification of the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia on Dual Citizenship.

May 28, 2022
12:30

The Agreement was signed in Tskhinval on September 20, 2021.

The Agreement stipulates that citizens of one country have the right to obtain the citizenship of the other country without giving up their current citizenship. Other aspects of acquisition and termination of citizenship, not regulated by this agreement, are regulated by the national laws of each of the parties.

From the South Ossetia wiki, I get a little political background:

Following the 2008 South Ossetia war, Russia recognized South Ossetia as independent. This unilateral recognition by Russia was met by condemnation from Western Blocs, such as NATO, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Council due to the violation of Georgia's territorial integrity.The EU's diplomatic response to the news was delayed by disagreements between eastern European states: the UK wanting a harsher response and Germany, France and other states' desiring not to isolate Russia. Former US envoy Richard Holbrooke said the conflict could encourage separatist movements in other former Soviet states along Russia's western border. Several days later, Nicaragua became the second country to recognize South Ossetia. Venezuela recognized South Ossetia on 10 September 2009, becoming the third UN member state to do so.

Georgia_high_detail_map.jpg

Finally, there is a news report from SputnikNews:

South Ossetian President Sets Referendum on Joining Russia for July 17

May 13, 2022

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov scheduled a referendum on the entry of South Ossetia into Russian Federation for July 17, the statement on his website says.

Guided by the historical desire of the people of South Ossetia for reunification with Russia and in accordance with paragraph 16 of Article 50 of the constitution of South Ossetia, Bibilov signed a decree calling a referendum, it says.

"To appoint a referendum of the Republic of South Ossetia on the question 'Do you support the unification of the Republic of South Ossetia and Russia?' To set the date of the referendum or July 17," the statement says.

Bibilov previously told Sputnik that his initiative to hold a nationwide vote on this issue was not connected with the desire to score points before the elections — this was a step towards the "strategic goal" of the people. Bibilov noted that Tskhinval had had an opportunity to realize this goal back in 2014, when Crimea reunited with Russia following a referendum, but then it was not implemented.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
There were two recent calls:

Telephone conversation with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic


President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

May 29, 2022
13:15

The two leaders had an in-depth discussion on the bilateral agenda including steps to expand mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation, while reaching agreement, in particular, on Russia’s continued provision of uninterrupted supplies of natural gas to Serbia.

There was a further exchange of views on international issues such as the situation in and around Ukraine and the developments around Kosovo.

Both leaders confirmed their commitment to continuing the strengthening of a strategic partnership between Russia and Serbia based on traditionally close ties between the two peoples.

Serbia has made its position pretty clear.

Serbia outlines position on Russia sanctions

Belgrade will not join the US-EU sanctions against Moscow, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in Davos

May 25, 2022

Serbia will not join anti-Russian sanctions at this point, President Aleksandar Vucic declared on Wednesday. In spite of the pressure from EU countries, Belgrade is pursuing its own independent policy and intends to continue doing so, Vucic told the state broadcaster RTS in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Right now there is no such possibility,” Vucic informed RTS when asked if Serbia could impose sanctions on Moscow. “I don’t know what life will bring and how everything will look” in the future, he added.

“We look out for our own interests,” Vucic said. “Who knows what kind of threats we may face, but as you see, it’s been 90 days and Serbia is standing by its policy, the only country in all of Europe. A small country with people small in numbers but very proud is following its own policy – not pro-Russian, not pro-Western, but its own,” he pointed out.

The US and its allies have pressured Belgrade to join their embargo on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. The EU has argued Serbia, as an aspirant to join the bloc, must “harmonize” its policies and legislation with those of Brussels – something Vucic has so far refused to do, though he maintains his government’s strategic objective continues to be EU membership.

Everyone’s holding it against me, calling me a black sheep,” he told RTS on Wednesday. He said he reacted to the EU’s demands by bringing up the block’s hypocrisy.

“You now talk about the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but you didn’t talk that way 23 years ago,” Vucic said, referring to the 1999 NATO war that resulted in the occupation of Serbia’s province of Kosovo.

“Today you talk about respecting the UN resolutions, but you forget UNSCR 1244 when it comes to us,” he added. The resolution, supporting the armistice that ended the 78-day war, also guaranteed Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo – which the US and its allies proceeded to ignore when they backed the renegade province’s declaration of independence in 2008.

“You have to understand Serbia is special, because only Serbia was bombed and attacked by NATO countries, many of which are EU members. So you have to keep that in mind when you talk to us,” Vucic told the EU leaders, according to his RTS interview.

In addition to political and diplomatic pressure, Serbia has faced, what locals have described as, a campaign of intimidation. Flights between Belgrade and Moscow have been disrupted by dozens of false bomb threats, which Vucic blamed on intelligence services of Ukraine and an unspecified EU country. False bomb threats have also targeted schools and shopping centers.

And Kosovo has made its intentions pretty clear on May 18 (Post) which is what the "developments around Kosovo" probably refers to (Kosovo seeking to become a NATO and EU member).

A few hours after the conversation with Putin:

Serbia secures new gas contract with Russia

Belgrade has agreed a new three-year gas supply contract with Moscow, Serbian president has announced

May 29, 2022

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday he had agreed a new three-year gas contract with Moscow during phone talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Apart from the gas contract, the two presidents also discussed the prospects of expanding gas storage facilities in Serbia, Vucic revealed. The price of gas will be tied to the price of oil, he explained, though he did not give any further detail, adding that these still have to be ironed out with Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom.
...

As to why Serbia refuses to join in the sanctions:

Serbia explains refusal to join anti-Russia sanctions

President says he would be praised as “the biggest democrat” if he turned against Moscow

Apr. 18, 2022

It has cost Serbia a lot to defy the West’s push to impose sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday.

He believes he would be celebrated by the West and hailed as a hero had Belgrade backed the economic restrictions against Moscow.

“It costs us a lot not to have imposed sanctions on Russia. But if we imposed them, it would cost us our principle of not supporting sanctions against anyone, because we know from our own experience that sanctions are immoral and inefficient,” Vucic told Pink TV.

“They’re saying that I’m a traitor. A traitor? The only one in Europe who hasn’t imposed sanctions on Russia, and from such a small country. Call me whatever you want, but the people have shown what they think [during the election].”

Vucic was re-elected with 58% of the vote earlier this month. He repeatedly said that Belgrade has been under serious pressure and “blackmailing” to join in on the restrictions placed on Russia after it launched a large-scale offensive against Ukraine in late February.

“If I wanted to become the world’s number one hero, it would be enough to say something against Putin, and everyone would give me awards and call me the biggest democrat in the world.”

The president also said that banning oil and gas from Russia would cripple the Serbian economy.
“On a day-to-day basis, we must make decisions that benefit the citizens of Serbia.”

Vucic also accused Kiev and an unnamed EU state of a series of false bomb threats to Air Serbia passenger planes. More than a dozen planes were forced to return to Belgrade or Moscow, while other flights had been delayed, and Belgrade's airport was evacuated at least three times over the past several weeks. “Foreign [intelligence] services of two countries are doing that. One is an EU country, and Ukraine is another,” the president said.

The bomb threats began after Serbia refused to back an EU ban on Russian flights.
“We are continuing these flights literally out of principle because we want to show that we are a free country and we make our own decisions. Do not decide for us when to cancel flights,” Vucic said.

“Did you cancel your flights when 19 countries were bombing Serbia? At least 30 countries – NATO member states – are now helping one country. No one helped us when we were attacked by the 19 strongest nations,” he added, referring to the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
...


The second call was with Erdogan. The transcript is not that interesting really, but I'm posting it because I've been seeing the theme in the highlighted portion on several recent calls. Now, quite honestly, its what you would expect: lift the sanctions, business returns to normal. And I think, in many cases, governments already know this as being obvious. But, it's the fact that its being said that matters. Those 'unfriendly countries' can't say that they haven't been given the option now that they are being told openly, though it would be to their twisted advantage to spin it as 'Russia is holding countries hostage' by not shipping the goods.

Telephone conversation with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan


Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

May 30, 2022
17:55

The presidents had a detailed exchange of views on issues of bilateral cooperation, primarily in trade and the economy, noting considerable growth in trade. They also reviewed the results of the recent visit to Turkey by a Russian delegation headed by Alexander Novak, Co-Chair of the Russia-Turkey Intergovernmental Commission and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. Striving to further promote mutually beneficial ties, in part, in energy, transport and tourism, the leaders agreed to hold more meetings.

Discussing the developments in Ukraine, they emphasised the need to ensure safe navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and to remove the threat of mines in these waters. Vladimir Putin noted Russia’s willingness to facilitate unimpeded cargo shipping in coordination with its Turkish partners including grain shipments from Ukrainian ports.

Concerning problems in world food markets due to the financial and economic policies of the West, it was confirmed that Russia would export substantial amounts of fertiliser and agricultural produce if the relevant anti-Russia sanctions were lifted.

The presidents also reviewed a number of regional issues.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
At first glance, this meeting does not appear to have a lot of importance in the larger sense, but, and I could be wrong, what with all the apparent efforts to depopulate the planet, this meeting takes on a different meaning. Putin talks about the 'traditional large Russian family' and that there is a returning momentum towards that tradition. As such, there is now a financial incentive and honorary recognitions to do so. Now, I don't know if the vax is coming into play here, but while the rest of the world (certainly the west) seems to be contracting and on the verge of collapse, I get a feeling of 'expansion' happening within Russia. Is Russia aware of something?

Meeting with families awarded the Order of Parental Glory


On International Children's Day, Vladimir Putin had a videoconference meeting with families awarded the Order of Parental Glory.

June 1, 2022
15:40

Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Taking part in the videoconference meeting with the President were large families from the Voronezh Region, Murmansk, Yalta, Beslan, Saransk, Nizhnevartovsk, Norilsk and Yakutsk.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you and all citizens of our country on International Children’s Day.

I would like to give special greetings to the large and close-knit families who are taking part in our meeting today. I am confident that children are proud that their fathers and mothers have been awarded one of the most important and honorary state decorations in Russia, the Order of Parental Glory.

Your relatives and friends feel proud of you as well. Our society highly and wholeheartedly respects the couples that have chosen the difficult but wonderful path of having a large family. This attitude is part of our national character. It is rooted in our thousand-year-long history. Families with only one or two children were an exception in Russia in the past, when most families had three, four or five children.

It is gratifying that the tradition of having large families is reviving today, gradually and one step at a time, and increasingly more people are becoming aware of the high moral and spiritual value of family ties and the continuity of generations, and of merits that look simple and understandable yet are extremely important to everyone, namely respect for our elders and care for children, mutual support and the joy of communication. I would like to point out that these are the fundamental values of all the traditional religions in Russia.

Those who were born into and grew up in large families with their brothers and sisters feel and know this from childhood. Spiritual generosity and diligence, open-heartedness and responsibility become their main features and determine their decisions and actions when they become adults and independent people. You can usually rely on those who grew up in a large family. They will not betray their friends, colleagues or homeland.

This is why large families are respected so much in our society, and this is why the state is giving priority support to them, creating conditions where parents and grandparents, tutors or foster parents can take proper care of the rising generation and help children acquire knowledge, nurture their talents, believe in themselves, think big and grow up to be well-educated and upright people, worthy citizens of Russia.


We spoke about the need to enhance the wellbeing and living standards of large families at the recent State Council Presidium meeting. Maybe you have noticed this. We then discussed support measures for families with many children. For example, the programme providing subsidised family mortgages for large families will be extended until at least December 31, 2023. This is a programme for these families, and that includes your families. In general, we agreed to seriously upgrade and expand the provisions of the Presidential Executive Order On Measures of Social Support for Large Families. We also agreed to restore – I want to specifically note this – the Mother Heroine honorary title, which existed in Soviet times.

Here is what I would like to suggest. We have just discussed this issue with our colleagues in the Government and the Executive Office. Previously, awarding the Order of Parental Glory medal did not involve a financial bonus. I am referring specifically to the medal of the order. I suggest introducing a lump sum payment as a bonus. There was a lump sum payment of 100,000 rubles for the order but nothing for the medal. I suggest a lump sum payment of 200,000 rubles for the medal. With the Order of Parental Glory, I suggest awarding a lump sum payment of 500,000 rubles with it instead of the previous 100,000 rubles. As for the mothers that are awarded the Mother Heroine title, I suggest that they receive a lump sum payment of one million rubles.

I will repeat that supporting families with children and protecting motherhood and childhood are an absolute priority for us and not only at state level. We do not, we should not have children that are not ours. Special care and attention to their needs is part of our cultural and moral values.

Today, on International Children’s Day we cannot but recall the children of Donbass, of course. They were subjected to mortal danger for eight years. The younger children have never experienced life without bombing and shelling. Many were wounded and many, to our great regret, perished in the war unleashed by the Kiev regime against Donbass. Many children lost their parents and there are some who have been left without any relatives at all.

We will do all we can to provide them with every kind of social support, such as medical aid, a good education and an interesting in-demand profession. Naturally, we will help children who have lost their families to acquire loving, friendly and generous families like yours.

Using this opportunity, I would like to hear from you, friends, what measures on the part of the state, regions and local authorities are most important for supporting large families. What concrete additional assistance you specifically or parents of many children from among your relatives, friends or neighbours need.

I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the well-deserved decorations and wish you all the best in life.

But first, I would like to congratulate the Novikovs family on their daughter’s birthday – Anastasia is 16 today. Nastya, I wish you success in all of your undertakings, good health and all the best.

I am pleased to give the floor to Maria Lvova-Belova.

Ms Lvova-Belova, go ahead please.

<…>

Vladimir Putin: Many thanks to everyone.

You know, this is not the first time I hear: “We are fine, we are content with everything.” The thing is that government officials cannot be content with themselves because we are obviously indebted to you, to such families as yours. It is necessary to enhance support for large families and for motherhood and childhood in general. But if you have paid attention, we are trying to do this year in and year out and are consistently developing support measures on behalf of the state.

I would like to thank you for the kind words you said to my colleagues and me.

Indeed, the country has many problems, but there are always many problems and in this sense, nothing unusual is happening here. That said, what we are seeing in the area related to ensuring national security and support of our people in Donbass is, of course, an extraordinary situation. Nonetheless, some fundamentals are transient, and some things require our permanent attention no matter what. One of the latter is support for motherhood and childhood. It is in this area that the state is concentrating certain administrative and financial efforts. I can assure you that this is how it is going to be in the future.

I would like to offer my best wishes to you on this holiday – Children’s Day – and to congratulate all the participants in our current meeting on their state decorations.

Thank you and all the best to you!

Be happy!
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
Putin talks economics, energy, food and fertiliser in this clarifying interview. "Everything is interconnected."

Interview with Rossiya TV


The President answered questions from Pavel Zarubin of Rossyia 1 TV channel.

June 3, 2022
20:00

Sochi

Pavel Zarubin: Mr President, we have just followed your meeting with the head of Senegal who is also the current leader of the African Union. He expressed, and actually in the past week many countries have expressed concern not so much about the food crisis, but they are afraid of large-scale famine because world food prices are climbing and so are oil and gas prices, These issues are interrelated.

Naturally, the West blames Russia for this, too. What is the real situation at this point, how is it developing? And what do you think will happen in the food and energy markets?

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Yes, indeed, we are seeing attempts to place the responsibility on Russia for developments in the global food market and the growing problems there. I must say that this is another attempt to pin the blame on someone else. But why?

First, the situation with the global food market did not become worse yesterday or even with the launch of Russia’s special military operation in Donbass, in Ukraine.

The situation took a downturn in February 2020 during the efforts to counter the coronavirus pandemic when the global economy was down and had to be revived.

The financial and economic authorities in the United States, of all things, found nothing better than to allocate large amounts of money to support the population and certain businesses and economic sectors.

We generally did almost the same thing, but I assure you that we were much more accurate, and the results are obvious: we did this selectively and got the desired results without affecting macroeconomic indicators, including excessive inflation growth.

The situation was quite different in the United States. The money supply in the United States grew by 5.9 trillion in less than two years, from February 2020 to the end of 2021 – unprecedented productivity of the money printing machines. The total cash supply grew by 38.6 percent.

Apparently, the US financial authorities believed the dollar was a global currency, and it would spread, as usual, as it did in previous years, would dissolve in the global economy, and the United States would not even feel it. But that did not happen, not this time. As a matter of fact, decent people – and there are such people in the United Statesthe Secretary of the Treasury recently said they had made a mistake. So, it was a mistake made by the US financial and economic authorities – it has nothing to do with Russia's actions in Ukraine, it is totally unrelated.

And that was the first step – and a big one – towards the current unfavourable food market situation, because, in the first place, food prices immediately went up, they grew. This is the first reason.

The second reason was European countries’ short-sighted policies, and above all, the European Commission’s policy in regard to energy. We see what is going on there. Personally, I believe that many political players in the United States and Europe have been taking advantage of people’s natural concerns about the climate, climate change, and they began to promote this green agenda, including in the energy sector.

It all seems fine, except for the unqualified and groundless recommendations about what needs to be done in the energy sector. The capabilities of alternative types of energy are overestimated: solar, wind, any other types, hydrogen power – those are good prospects for the future, probably, but today, they cannot be produced in the required amount, with the required quality and at acceptable prices. And at the same time, they began to belittle the importance of conventional types of energy, including, and above all, hydrocarbons.

What was the result of this? Banks stopped issuing loans because they were under pressure. Insurance companies stopped insuring deals. Local authorities stopped allocating plots of land for expanding production and reduced the construction of special transport, including pipelines.

All this led to a shortage of investment in the world energy sector and price hikes as a result. The wind was not as strong as expected during the past year, winter dragged on, and prices instantly soared.

On top of all that, the Europeans did not listen to our persistent requests to preserve long-term contracts for the delivery of natural gas to European countries. They started to wind them down. Many are still valid, but they started winding them down. This had a negative effect on the European energy market: the prices went up. Russia has absolutely nothing to do with this.

But as soon as gas prices started going up, fertiliser prices followed suit because gas is used to produce some of these fertilisers. Everything is interconnected. As soon as fertiliser prices started growing, many businesses, including those in European countries, became unprofitable and started shutting down altogether. The amount of fertiliser in the world market took a dive, and prices soared dramatically, much to the surprise of many European politicians.

However, we warned them about this, and this is not linked to Russia’s military operation in Donbass in any way. This has nothing to do with it.

But when we launched our operation, our so-called European and American partners started taking steps that aggravated the situation in both the food sector and fertiliser production.

By the way, Russia accounts for 25 percent of the world fertiliser market. As for potash fertilisers, Alexander Lukashenko told me this – but we should double-check it, of course, although I think it is true – when it comes to potash fertilisers, Russia and Belarus account for 45 percent of the world market. This is a tremendous amount.

The crop yield depends on the quantity of fertiliser put into the soil. As soon as it became clear that our fertilisers would not be in the world market, prices instantly soared on both fertilisers and food products because if there are no fertilisers, it is impossible to produce the required amount of agricultural products.

One thing leads to another, and Russia has nothing to do with it. Our partners made a host of mistakes themselves, and now they are looking for someone to blame. Of course, Russia is the most suitable candidate in this respect.

Pavel Zarubin:
Incidentally, it has just been reported that the wife of the head of our largest fertiliser companies has been included in the new European package of sanctions.

What will all this lead to in your opinion?

Vladimir Putin: This will make a bad situation worse.

The British and later the Americans – Anglo-Saxons – imposed sanctions on our fertilisers. Then, having realised what was happening, the Americans lifted their sanctions, but the Europeans did not. They are telling me themselves during contacts: yes, we must think about it, we must do something about it, but today they have just aggravated this situation.

This will make the situation in the world fertiliser market worse, and hence the crop prospects will be much more modest, and prices will keep going up – that is it. This is an absolutely myopic, erroneous, I would say, simply stupid policy that leads to a deadlock.

Pavel Zarubin: But Russia is accused by high-ranking officials of preventing the grain that is actually there, in Ukrainian ports, from leaving.

Vladimir Putin:
They are bluffing, and I will explain why.

First, there are some objective things, and I will mention them now. The world produces about 800 million tonnes of grain, wheat per year. Now we are being told that Ukraine is ready to export 20 million tonnes. So, 20 million tonnes out of 800 million tonnes amounts to 2.5 percent. But if we proceed from the fact that wheat accounts for merely 20 percent of all food products in the world – and this is the case, this is not our data, it comes from the UN – this means that these 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian wheat are just 0.5 percent, practically nothing. This is the first point.

The second. 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian wheat are potential exports. Today, the US official bodies also say that Ukraine could export six million tonnes of wheat. According to our Ministry of Agriculture, the figure is not six but about five million tonnes, but okay, let us assume it is six, plus it could export seven million tonnes of maize – this is the figure of our Ministry of Agriculture. We realise that this is not much.

In the current agricultural year of 2021–2022, we will export 37 million and, I believe, we will raise these exports to 50 million tonnes in 2022–2023. But this is apropos, by the way.

As for shipping out Ukrainian grain, we are not preventing this. There are several ways to export grain.

The first one. You can ship it out via the Ukraine-controlled ports, primarily in the Black Sea – Odessa and nearby ports. We did not mine the approaches to the port – Ukraine did this.

I have already said to all our colleagues many times – let them demine the ports and let the vessels loaded with grain leave. We will guarantee their peaceful passage to international waters without any problems. There are no problems at all. Go ahead.

They must clear the mines and raise the ships they sunk on purpose in the Black Sea to make it difficult to enter the ports to the south of Ukraine. We are ready to do this; we will not use the demining process to initiate an attack from the sea. I have already said this. This is the first point.

The second. There is another opportunity: the ports in the Sea of Azov – Berdyansk and Mariupol – are under our control, and we are ready to ensure a problem-free exit from these ports, including for exported Ukrainian grain. Go ahead, please.

We are already working on the demining process. We are completing this work – at one time, Ukrainian troops laid three layers of mines. This process is coming to an end. We will create the necessary logistics. This is not a problem; we will do this. This is the second point.

The third. It is possible to move grain from Ukraine via the Danube and through Romania.

Fourth. It is also possible through Hungary.

And fifth, it is also possible to do this via Poland. Yes, there are some technical problems because the tracks are of different gauges and the wheel bogies must be changed. But this only takes a few hours, that is all.

Finally, the easiest way is to transport grain via Belarus. This is the easiest and the cheapest way because from there it can be instantly shipped to the Baltic ports and further on to any place in the world.

But they would have to lift the sanctions from Belarus. This is not our problem though. At any rate, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko puts it like this: if someone wants to resolve the problem of exporting Ukrainian grain, if this problem exists at all, please use the simplest way – through Belarus. No one will stop you.

So, the problem of shipping grain out of Ukraine does not really exist.

Pavel Zarubin:
How would the logistics work to ship it from the ports under our control? What would the conditions be?

Vladimir Putin: No conditions.

They are welcome. We will provide peaceful passage, guarantee safe approaches to these ports, and ensure the safe entry of foreign ships and passage through the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea in any direction.

By the way, several ships are stuck in Ukrainian ports at this point. These are foreign ships, dozens of them. They are simply locked up and their crews are still being held hostage.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
A few excerpts from several recent meetings:

Meeting with Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova


Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova presented her annual performance report to the President and told him about the work to bring Russian military personnel back from captivity and to ensure the rights of the citizens who have arrived from the DPR, LPR and Ukraine.

June 6, 2022
11:00

The Kremlin, Moscow

...
Last year, amid the pandemic and restrictive sanctions, my task was to continue providing people with the opportunity to address the Human Rights Commissioner to share their pain, grief or to receive a consultation and also to make it easier. People never come to us just to talk. [humour]

It was crucially important to find new tools. And we did find them: we opened a round-the-clock hotline, set up a group that deals promptly with enquiries, created an online office and used the remote format. All of that is useful today when we have over 1.4 million refugees in the country, when the special military operation is underway in Ukraine, when we witness unprecedented sanctions and Russophobia. Naturally, it has resulted in many new tasks and I think we are managing them well.
...
Over this time, we have managed to help a significant number of people in connection with labour issues; they have been paid wages that were sometimes not paid during the pandemic due to the fact that enterprises went bankrupt. It is very important that the state take additional measures in order to protect people in the sphere of labour relations.
...
We have helped 1,500 workers with getting their wage arrears amounting to 39 million rubles settled. About 5,000 were given the opportunity to receive social payments to purchase housing or build a house, and 4,200 people living in the territory of Baikonur have had the chance to purchase housing in Russia and return to their homeland after you issued the Executive Order (I asked you about this last year). I would like to use this occasion to convey words of gratitude from these citizens – they asked me to do this – for the fact that they have received help thanks to your Executive Order.
...
The Institute of the Commissioner for Human Rights was involved in the release of Konstantin Yaroshenko and Oleg Nikitin from prisons in the US. I would also like to thank you for fighting for the return of these citizens.
...
Now we are working closely with the Defence Ministry and Emergencies Ministry on appeals from citizens related to the special military operation in Ukraine and with refugees staying on our territory. Since February 24, we have received over 3,000 appeals in defence of the rights and legitimate interests of citizens, persons and military personnel, violated by the Ukrainian authorities. Thanks to the Defence Ministry, measures have been taken to restore violated rights.

I cannot but take this opportunity to say that it is a matter of great concern that the International Committee of the Red Cross has not yet informed us about visiting our Russian prisoners of war. We do not have any information on how the control over compliance with international norms and rules is being carried out in relation to our service personnel who find themselves in this situation.

As for me, I visited Ukrainian prisoners in Sevastopol and made sure that their rights were fully respected in accordance with international norms and principles. All their humanitarian needs, including bed clothes, food and medical care, are met. I personally received citizens there. After that, at their request, I informed their relatives about their fate, what they asked for. It is very important to ensure the work of the humanitarian component through our commissioners for human rights.
...
For some reason, people who have been evacuated do not like to be called refugees, as a rule, they get temporary asylum status, not refugee status. This gives them an opportunity to find employment. This is one of the priorities in working with these people now.

But taking this opportunity, Mr President, thank you very much from these people for ensuring their safety, for providing everything they need to keep them alive. We are dealing with many issues, both household-related and humanitarian, jointly with volunteers and the Russian Red Cross.

The 'Konstantin Yaroshenko' link above, points to a report from RT. Just in case you can't see RT:

Russian pilot describes his US jail hell​

Konstantin Yaroshenko says he endured prolonged torture, both physical and psychological

28 Apr, 2022

Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko has returned home after spending around a decade in a US prison over his alleged involvement in a drug-smuggling scheme. Yaroshenko spoke to RT about the horrors he has endured.

“I was kidnapped by the US authorities, their intelligence, the DEA, and Liberia’s NSA on May 28, 2010 from a hotel and subsequently transferred to the NSA’s headquarters,” Yaroshenko said.

“There was a torture room where I was tortured for two-and-a-half days. It was inhuman torture, physical and psychological, with enormous pressure. At some point, I didn’t even want to live, to come to my senses, when I lost consciousness, I didn’t want to return back into this world,” he went on, adding that the agents who tortured him were very good at their ‘job.’

"The torture was very brutal and very professional. They knew how to beat, where to beat, so that I would be alive, so that after all they could deal with me later. They beat me on the heels, knocked out my teeth, beat off my internal organs, broke the bones in my legs."

Liberia ultimately handed Yaroshenko over to US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and he was secretly transferred to the US. He received a 20-year jail term after a US court found him guilty of “conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.”

The torture and years in a US prison have taken a heavy toll on Yaroshenko, who said that only continuous support from his family and Russia have helped him endure the hardships.

“The faith in the Russian people, in the Russian government and the Russian president. Only this faith helped me to endure in this very difficult situation,” he said.

Yaroshenko was swapped on Wednesday for US national Trevor Reed, who ended up in Russian custody back in 2019. Reed, a student at the time and an ex-US Marine, was detained in Moscow for drunk and disorderly behavior and an assault on police officers. In 2020, he was given a nine-year term after being found guilty of endangering the “life and health” of law enforcement personnel.

Yaroshenko has always maintained his innocence, stating that he merely got caught in the middle of a big political game against Russia.

“It was a pure set-up, a provocation needed only to reach the goals pursued by the American authorities,” the repatriated pilot stated. “All the accusations against me are just a smokescreen to cover up the real goals that the US authorities were trying to achieve. In relation to me and in relation to, perhaps, other citizens, like Viktor Bout.”

Bout is a Russian businessman whose story shares striking similarities to that of Yaroshenko. He was was detained in 2008 in Thailand at the request of Washington and subsequently transferred to the US, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012 over his alleged involvement in a weapons smuggling plot.

Now, Yaroshenko is planning to try and bring the American and Liberian authorities to justice over the hardships he has endured.

“I will try to present all [the evidence], to prosecute the US government for its acts against me. The same [applies] to the government of Liberia,” he stated. Yaroshenko plans to begin the fight in Russian courts, as the international ones are “American puppets” just rubber-stamping Washington’s “orders,” he said.

Back to the Kremlin:

Meeting on economic issues


The President held a regular meeting on economic issues via videoconference.

June 7, 2022
13:45

Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

....
Furthermore, we managed to control inflation. In annual terms, it reached 17.4 percent on May 27. Starting in the second half of May, prices stopped rising altogether, and inflation is zero now. But we must bear in mind that there are pluses in this and also a trap, an ambush, as people say. Therefore, it is necessary to analyse the situation very thoroughly and make timely decisions. In effect, this is what we are doing.
....

Telephone conversation with President of Iran Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi


Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi.

June 8, 2022
15:15

Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences over the railway accident that occurred in Iran this morning and claimed human lives.

The parties also discussed bilateral cooperation and praised the current level of Russian-Iranian relations. They expressed mutual commitment to a consistent strengthening of ties, including through the implementation of joint projects in the economy and trade.

When considering the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme, the presidents noted the need to continue diplomatic efforts to reach a final agreement that would ensure the preservation and full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of July 20, 2015, which approved it.

The two leaders touched upon aspects of ensuring regional stability and security. In particular, they reaffirmed their commitment to participating in the Astana Process to promote a Syrian settlement.
 

Adobe

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
10.06.2022 18:53

"Comment by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the Israeli airstrike on Damascus International Airport"​


In the early morning of June 10, the Israeli Air Force once again struck at the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. The target of the attack was the international airport of Damascus.

"In this regard, we are forced to emphasize once again that the ongoing Israeli shelling of the territory of the SAR in violation of the basic norms of international law is absolutely unacceptable. We strongly condemn Israel's provocative attack on a critical Piece of Syrian civilian infrastructure. Such irresponsible actions pose serious risks to international air traffic and put the lives of innocent people in real danger. We demand that the Israeli side cease this vicious practice."

 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
This is the opening address Putin gave to the group before the not-Q&A. At the end it says 'to be continued' but it hasn't yet so I think it won't be.

Meeting with young entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists


In advance of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin met with young entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists who will be attending the SPIEF. The meeting took place at the Tekhnograd Innovative and Education complex at VDNKh.

June 9, 2022
18:20

Moscow

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.

I am very happy to see you,

Today, as we see, we are at VDNKh – a large park complex where all of Russia’s best achievements in all major spheres of development have traditionally been presented for decades: achievements that have always been Russia’s pride, that have helped it stay at the leading edge of development. We can say that over the last several decades our country has come a very long way in transformation and change, and this very complex of achievements – VDNKh – shows this progress in Russia.

You are young, but perhaps many of you know that this centre of achievements from Soviet times fell into a state of disrepair and was used for a cheap marketplace, but gradually, as the situation in the country improved, so did VDNKh. And now here we are, reviving the basic idea on which this exhibition centre was founded, which provides a place for you and people like you – young, beautiful, good-looking, smart, creative, and ambitious – to demonstrate your achievements. This is happening on a new basis, but still in a variety of areas.

Our meeting is being held in advance of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and I have asked my office and my colleagues from the Government to organise this meeting to hear your ideas on where we are now, where we are going and what we need to do to ensure our absolute and unconditional progress, to make it beneficial for the country and everyone involved in this remarkable process.

And I promise that I will try to respond to all your proposals and ideas. It is easier for me to do this than for you. I just give instructions; you need to come up with ideas, while I just need to listen to you and give instructions. (Laughter.)

This will certainly help me and my colleagues understand how we should organise work at the St Petersburg Economic Forum.

I would like to begin by saying the following. We live in an era of change; this is obvious to everyone; everyone understands and sees this. Geopolitical, scientific and technological transformations are happening. The world is changing, and it is doing so rapidly. In order to claim some kind of leadership – I am not even talking about global leadership, I mean leadership in any area – any country, any people, any ethnic group should ensure their sovereignty. Because there is no in-between, no intermediate state: either a country is sovereign, or it is a colony, no matter what the colonies are called.

I am not going to give any examples so as not to offend anyone, but if a country or a group of countries is not able to make sovereign decisions, then it is already a colony to a certain extent. But a colony has no historical prospects, no chance for survival in this tough geopolitical struggle. There has always been such a struggle (I just want to make it clear); it is not that we are looking at what is happening around us and saying “Wow!” It has always been like that, you see, and Russia has always remained at the forefront of ongoing events.

Yes, there were eras in the history of our country when we had to retreat, but only in order to mobilise and move forward, concentrate and move forward.

Sovereignty, in the modern sense of the word – actually, it has always been like that, but it is particularly clear today – comprises several components.

First, there is military-political sovereignty, and here, no doubt, it is important to be able to make sovereign domestic and foreign policy decisions and to ensure security.

Second is economic sovereignty where the development of the basic sectors of the economy does not depend on anyone in terms of critical technology or matters that underlie the viability of society and the state.

Technical sovereignty and social sovereignty are critically important in today’s world. I am talking about the ability of society to come together to resolve national challenges, to respect history, culture, language, and all the ethnicities that share a single territory. This consolidation of society is one of the core conditions for growth. Without consolidation, things will fall apart.

There may be other components of sovereignty, I gave you the basic ones, and it is clear that all these things are interconnected. I gave you a list of four components. In fact, you could reverse the order and start from the last one and go backwards, and then list them randomly, because one cannot exist without the other. How do you achieve external security without technological capability and technological sovereignty? It is impossible.

We would never have hypersonic weapons if it were not for the capabilities of our science and industry. Never. You understand that fully only when you start dealing with these things directly. So, when we got hypersonic weapons, I asked for a list of developers to give awards to. I have already said this publicly before, but I will tell you again. They brought me a thick folder. I started flipping through it, but I saw that there were no peoples’ names, only names of enterprises, design bureaus and research institutes. Frankly, even I was surprised. I asked the person who brought it to me what it was all about. He said that without even one name on that list, the product would not have been possible. Thousands of people worked on it, see? Thousands. And then I realised the depth and the capabilities of our defence industry.

The same is true of the economy in general. A limping, sneezing and coughing economy is the end of it. What kind of consolidation of society can we then talk about? And if there is no consolidation, there will be nothing else, either.

In order to be able to effectively possess and use all of that, it is necessary to address basic tasks, such as demography, which means healthcare, environment, research, education and upbringing, which is very important.

Some time ago I had a discussion with the Patriarch about education, and he happened to say that even though education was indeed crucial, without proper upbringing we would not succeed at anything, because you can teach a person something, but the question is how they will use their knowledge. Science, education, upbringing, and health care are critically important, because without them demographic issues cannot be resolved, and so on. What about culture? If we do not rely on the basic values of the national cultures of the peoples of Russia, we will not consolidate our society. Without consolidation, everything will fall apart. And the fact that we have to sort of defend ourselves and fight for it is obvious.

We visited the exhibition dedicated to the 350th birth anniversary of Peter the Great. Almost nothing has changed. It is a remarkable thing. You come to this realisation, this understanding.

Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years. On the face of it, he was at war with Sweden taking something away from it… He was not taking away anything, he was returning. This is how it was. The areas around Lake Ladoga, where St Petersburg was founded. When he founded the new capital, none of the European countries recognised this territory as part of Russia; everyone recognised it as part of Sweden. However, from time immemorial, the Slavs lived there along with the Finno-Ugric peoples, and this territory was under Russia’s control. The same is true of the western direction, Narva and his first campaigns. [This is a bit confusing but Narva is not a person, that I can find. Narva is a town that was the site of two Russian battles against the Swedes (1700 & 1704, as part of the Great Northern War), and the 'he' that Putin is referring to is Peter the Great.] Why would he go there? He was returning and reinforcing, that is what he was doing.

Clearly, it fell to our lot to return and reinforce as well. And if we operate on the premise that these basic values constitute the basis of our existence, we will certainly succeed in achieving our goals.

You are experts in your fields, and I want to apologise upfront if I am unable to answer some of your questions. As a matter of fact, I would like to listen to your ideas in order to keep them in mind when organising the St Petersburg Economic Forum rather than turn our meeting into a Q&A session.

I would like to close my lengthy monologue with that and turn the floor over to our moderator. Please go ahead.

To be continued.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
The President of Turkmenistan made his first official visit to the Kremlin yesterday and received the Russian Order of Friendship. After a private meeting, a press conference was held where the two of them addressed the media with summaries of the meeting. Deep in Putin's speech was this point about Afghanistan and the persistent terrorism emanating from there.

Statements for the press following Russia-Turkmenistan talks


Vladimir Putin and President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov made press statements following Russia-Turkmenistan talks.

June 10, 2022
15:45

The Kremlin, Moscow

...
When exchanging views on the situation in Afghanistan, both sides noted the importance of ensuring stability and security in that country, resolving pressing socioeconomic issues and neutralising threats, primarily terrorism, emanating from Afghan territory.

We are ready to continue to work together with Turkmenistan and our other partners, including as part of the Moscow format of consultations – Russia, India, Iran, the United States, China, Pakistan and the five Central Asian republics – on the post-conflict rebuilding of Afghanistan, and to help that country integrate into regional infrastructure and supply chain projects.

However, we firmly believe that the United States and its allies, whose 20-year presence in that country has brought it to a critical state, should assume the bulk of obligations, primarily financial, to rebuild Afghanistan.
...
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
Here is Vladimir Putin's opening speech at the SPIEF. There is a whole Q&A section after this but it is not yet finished being transcribed from the video. It's huge. The video that has been uploaded is 4 hrs long. Now, the link provided by the Kremlin doesn't work here, but I was able to find just Putin's speech on YT (1:14:54). Otherwise, to get the whole thing, I'd have to download the video from the Kremlin and repost it (984.7 MB). But I'll only do that if there's interest. I'll still copy the transcribed Q&A when it's done.

The transcriptions differ on the video and the text below, but there's more then one way to say the same thing.


St Petersburg International Economic Forum Plenary session


The President attended the plenary session of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

June 17, 2022
17:40
St Petersburg

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also took part in the session. President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addressed the session via videoconference.

The theme this year is New Opportunities in a New World.

* * *

Plenary session moderator Margarita Simonyan: Good afternoon, or almost evening.

As you may know, we had a minor technical issue. Thankfully, it has been dealt with quickly. We are grateful to those who resolved this.

We are also grateful to the audience.

We are grateful to our leader, President Vladimir Putin, for traditionally fitting this forum into his schedule so that he can tell us about economic prospects and other plans.

We are grateful to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for attending our forum. We know that it is not an easy thing to do. Thank you for supporting our forum and our country. We really appreciate this.

We will have a lot of questions today. You may not like some of them, and I may not be happy to ask some of them. We would be much happier to speak only about good things, but this is impossible today.

Mr President, I would like to ask you to take the stand and to tell us what lies in store for us all. Thank you.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. President Tokayev, friends and colleagues,

I welcome all participants and guests of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

It is taking place at a difficult time for the international community when the economy, markets and the very principles of the global economic system have taken a blow. Many trade, industrial and logistics chains, which were dislocated by the pandemic, have been subjected to new tests. Moreover, such fundamental business notions as business reputation, the inviolability of property and trust in global currencies have been seriously damaged. Regrettably, they have been undermined by our Western partners, who have done this deliberately, for the sake of their ambitions and in order to preserve obsolete geopolitical illusions.

Today, our – when I say “our,” I mean the Russian leadership – our own view of the global economic situation. I would like to speak in greater depth about the actions Russia is taking in these conditions and how it plans to develop in these dynamically changing circumstances.

When I spoke at the Davos Forum a year and a half ago, I also stressed that the era of a unipolar world order has come to an end. I want to start with this, as there is no way around it. This era has ended despite all the attempts to maintain and preserve it at all costs. Change is a natural process of history, as it is difficult to reconcile the diversity of civilisations and the richness of cultures on the planet with political, economic or other stereotypes – these do not work here, they are imposed by one centre in a rough and no-compromise manner.

The flaw is in the concept itself, as the concept says there is one, albeit strong, power with a limited circle of close allies, or, as they say, countries with granted access, and all business practices and international relations, when it is convenient, are interpreted solely in the interests of this power. They essentially work in one direction in a zero-sum game. A world built on a doctrine of this kind is definitely unstable.

After declaring victory in the Cold War, the United States proclaimed itself to be God’s messenger on Earth, without any obligations and only interests which were declared sacred. They seem to ignore the fact that in the past decades, new powerful and increasingly assertive centres have been formed. Each of them develops its own political system and public institutions according to its own model of economic growth and, naturally, has the right to protect them and to secure national sovereignty.

These are objective processes and genuinely revolutionary tectonic shifts in geopolitics, the global economy and technology, in the entire system of international relations, where the role of dynamic and potentially strong countries and regions is substantially growing. It is no longer possible to ignore their interests.

To reiterate, these changes are fundamental, groundbreaking and rigorous. It would be a mistake to assume that at a time of turbulent change, one can simply sit it out or wait it out until everything gets back on track and becomes what it was before. It will not.

However, the ruling elite of some Western states seem to be harbouring this kind of illusions. They refuse to notice obvious things, stubbornly clinging to the shadows of the past. For example, they seem to believe that the dominance of the West in global politics and the economy is an unchanging, eternal value. Nothing lasts forever.

Our colleagues are not just denying reality. More than that; they are trying to reverse the course of history. They seem to think in terms of the past century. They are still influenced by their own misconceptions about countries outside the so-called “golden billion”: they consider everything a backwater, or their backyard. They still treat them like colonies, and the people living there, like second-class people, because they consider themselves exceptional. If they are exceptional, that means everyone else is second rate.

Thereby, the irrepressible urge to punish, to economically crush anyone who does not fit with the mainstream, does not want to blindly obey. Moreover, they crudely and shamelessly impose their ethics, their views on culture and ideas about history, sometimes questioning the sovereignty and integrity of states, and threatening their very existence. Suffice it to recall what happened in Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya and Iraq.

If some “rebel” state cannot be suppressed or pacified, they try to isolate that state, or “cancel” it, to use their modern term. Everything goes, even sports, the Olympics, bans on culture and art masterpieces just because their creators come from the “wrong” country.

This is the nature of the current round of Russophobia in the West, and the insane sanctions against Russia. They are crazy and, I would say, thoughtless. They are unprecedented in the number of them or the pace the West churns them out at.

The idea was clear as day – they expected to suddenly and violently crush the Russian economy, to hit Russia’s industry, finance, and people's living standards by destroying business chains, forcibly recalling Western companies from the Russian market, and freezing Russian assets.

This did not work. Obviously, it did not work out; it did not happen. Russian entrepreneurs and authorities have acted in a collected and professional manner, and Russians have shown solidarity and responsibility.

Step by step, we will normalise the economic situation. We have stabilised the financial markets, the banking system and the trade network. Now we are busy saturating the economy with liquidity and working capital to maintain the stable operation of enterprises and companies, employment and jobs.

The dire forecasts for the prospects of the Russian economy, which were made in early spring, have not materialised. It is clear why this propaganda campaign was fuelled and all the predictions of the dollar at 200 rubles and the collapse of our economy were made. This was and remains an instrument in an information struggle and a factor of psychological influence on Russian society and domestic business circles.

Incidentally, some of our analysts gave in to this external pressure and based their forecasts on the inevitable collapse of the Russian economy and a critical weakening of the national currency – the ruble.

Real life has belied these predictions. However, I would like to emphasise that to continue being successful, we must be explicitly honest and realistic in assessing the situation, be independent in reaching conclusions, and of course, have a can-do spirit, which is very important. We are strong people and can deal with any challenge. Like our predecessors, we can resolve any task. The entire thousand-year history of our country bears this out.

Within just three months of the massive package of sanctions, we have suppressed inflation rate spikes. As you know, after peaking at 17.8 percent, inflation now stands at 16.7 percent and continues dropping. This economic dynamic is being stabilised, and state finances are now sustainable. I will compare this to other regions further on. Yes, even this figure is too much for us – 16.7 percent is high inflation. We must and will work on this and, I am sure, we will achieve a positive result.

After the first five months of this year, the federal budget has a surplus of 1.5 trillion rubles and the consolidated budget – a surplus of 3.3 trillion rubles. In May alone, the federal budget surplus reached almost half a trillion rubles, surpassing the figure for May 2021 more than four times over.

Today, our job us to create conditions for building up production and increasing supply in the domestic market, as well as restoring demand and bank financing in the economy commensurately with the growth in supply.

I mentioned that we have taken measures to reestablish the floating assets of companies. In most sectors, businesses have received the right to suspend insurance premiums for the second quarter of the year. Industrial companies have even more opportunities – they will be able to delay them through the third quarter as well. In effect, this is like getting an interest-free loan from the state.

In the future, companies will not have to pay delayed insurance premiums in a single payment. They will be able to pay them in equal installments over 12 months, starting in June next year.

Next. As of May the subsidised mortgage rate has been reduced. It is now 9 percent, while the programme has been extended till the end of the year. As I have mentioned, the programme is aimed at helping Russians improve their housing situation, while supporting the home building industry and related industries that employ millions of people.

Following a spike this spring, interest rates have been gradually coming down, as the Central Bank lowers the key rate. I believe that that this allows the subsidised mortgage rate to be further cut to 7 percent.

What is important here? The programme will last until the end of the year without change. It means that our fellow Russians seeking to improve their living conditions should take advantage of the subsidy before the end of the year.

The lending cap will not change either, at 12 million roubles for Moscow and St Petersburg and 6 million for the rest of Russia.

I should add that we must make long-term loans for businesses more accessible. The focus must shift from budget subsidies for businesses to bank lending as a means to spur business activity.

We need to support this. We will allocate 120 billion rubles from the National Wealth Fund to build up the capacity of the VEB Project Financing Factory. This will provide for additional lending to much-needed initiatives and projects worth around half a trillion roubles.

Colleagues,

Once again, the economic blitzkrieg against Russia was doomed to fail from the beginning. Sanctions as a weapon have proved in recent years to be a double-edged sword damaging their advocates and architects just a much, if not more.

I am not talking about the repercussions we see clearly today. We know that European leaders informally, so to say, furtively, discuss the very concerning possibility of sanctions being levelled not at Russia, but at any undesirable nation, and ultimately anyone including the EU and European companies.

So far this is not the case, but European politicians have already dealt their economies a serious blow all by themselves. We see social and economic problems worsening in Europe, and in the US as well, food, electricity and fuel prices rising, with quality of life in Europe falling and companies losing their market edge.

According to experts, the EU’s direct, calculable losses from the sanctions fever could exceed $400 billion this year. This is the price of the decisions that are far removed from reality and contradict common sense.

These outlays fall directly on the shoulders of people and companies in the EU. The inflation rate in some Eurozone countries has exceeded 20 percent. I mentioned inflation in Russia, but the Eurozone countries are not conducting special military operations, yet the inflation rate in some of them has reached 20 percent. Inflation in the United States is also unacceptable, the highest in the past 40 years.

Of course, inflation in Russia is also in the double digits so far. However, we have adjusted social benefits and pensions to inflation, and increased the minimum and subsistence wages, thereby protecting the most vulnerable groups of the population. At the same time, high interest rates have helped people keep their savings in the Russian banking system.

Businesspeople know, of course, that a high key rate clearly slows economic development. But it is a boon for the people in most cases. They have reinvested a substantial amount of money in banks due to higher interest rates.

This is our main difference from the EU countries, where rising inflation is directly reducing the real incomes of the people and eating up their savings, and the current manifestations of the crisis are affecting, above all, low-income groups.

The growing outlays of European companies and the loss of the Russian market will have lasting negative effects. The obvious result of this will be the loss of global competitiveness and a system-wide decline in the European economies’ pace of growth for years to come.

Taken together, this will aggravate the deep-seated problems of European societies. Yes, we have many problems as well, yet I have to speak about Europe now because they are pointing the finger at us although they have enough of their own problems. I mentioned this at Davos. A direct result of the European politicians’ actions and events this year will be the further growth of inequality in these countries, which will, in turn, split their societies still more, and the point at issue is not only the well-being but also the value orientation of various groups in these societies.

Indeed, these differences are being suppressed and swept under the rug. Frankly, the democratic procedures and elections in Europe and the forces that come to power look like a front, because almost identical political parties come and go, while deep down things remain the same. The real interests of people and national businesses are being pushed further and further to the periphery.

Such a disconnect from reality and the demands of society will inevitably lead to a surge in populism and extremist and radical movements, major socioeconomic changes, degradation and a change of elites in the short term. As you can see, traditional parties lose all the time. New entities are coming to the surface, but they have little chance for survival if they are not much different from the existing ones.

The attempts to keep up appearances and the talk about allegedly acceptable costs in the name of pseudo-unity cannot hide the main thing: the European Union has lost its political sovereignty, and its bureaucratic elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, doing everything they are told from on high and hurting their own people, economies, and businesses.

There are other critically important matters here. The worsening of the global economic situation is not a recent development. I will now go over things that I believe are extremely important. What is happening now does not stem from what happened during recent months, of course not. Moreover, it is not the result of the special military operation carried out by Russia in Donbass. Saying so is an unconcealed, deliberate distortion of the facts.

Surging inflation in product and commodity markets had become a fact of life long before the events of this year. The world has been driven into this situation, little by little, by many years of irresponsible macroeconomic policies pursued by the G7 countries, including uncontrolled emission and accumulation of unsecured debt. These processes intensified with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when supply and demand for goods and services drastically fell on a global scale.

This begs the question: what does our military operation in Donbass have to do with this? Nothing whatsoever.

Because they could not or would not devise any other recipes, the governments of the leading Western economies simply accelerated their money-printing machines. Such a simple way to make up for unprecedented budget deficits.

I have already cited this figure: over the past two years, the money supply in the United States has grown by more than 38 percent. Previously, a similar rise took decades, but now it grew by 38 percent or 5.9 trillion dollars in two years. By comparison, only a few countries have a bigger gross domestic product.

The EU's money supply has also increased dramatically over this period. It grew by about 20 percent, or 2.5 trillion euros.

Lately, I have been hearing more and more about the so-called – please excuse me, I really would not like to do this here, even mention my own name in this regard, but I cannot help it – we all hear about the so-called ‘Putin inflation’ in the West. When I see this, I wonder who they expect would buy this nonsense – people who cannot read or write, maybe. Anyone literate enough to read would understand what is actually happening.

Russia, our actions to liberate Donbass have absolutely nothing to do with this. The rising prices, accelerating inflation, shortages of food and fuel, petrol, and problems in the energy sector are the result of system-wide errors the current US administration and European bureaucracy have made in their economic policies. That is where the reasons are, and only there.

I will mention our operation, too: yes, it could have contributed to the trend, but the root cause is precisely this – their erroneous economic policies. In fact, the operation we launched in Donbass is a lifeline they are grabbing at to be able to blame their own miscalculations on others, in this case, on Russia. But everyone who has at least completed primary school would understand the true reasons for today's situation.

So, they printed more money, and then what? Where did all that money go? It was obviously used to pay for goods and services outside Western countries – this is where the newly-printed money flowed. They literally began to clean out, to wipe out global markets. Naturally, no one thought about the interests of other states, including the poorest ones. They were left with scraps, as they say, and even that at exorbitant prices.

While at the end of 2019, imports of goods to the United States amounted to about 250 billion dollars a month, by now, it has grown to 350 billion. It is noteworthy that the growth was 40 percent – exactly in proportion to the unsecured money supply printed in recent years. They printed and distributed money, and used it to wipe out goods from third countries’ markets.

This is what I would like to add. For a long time, the United States was a big food supplier in the world market. It was proud, and with good reason, of its achievements, its agriculture and farming traditions. By the way, this is an example for many of us, too. But today, America’s role has changed drastically. It has turned from a net exporter of food into a net importer. Loosely speaking, it is printing money and pulling commodity flows its way, buying food products all over the world.

The European Union is building up imports even faster. Obviously, such a sharp increase in demand that is not covered by the supply of goods has triggered a wave of shortages and global inflation. This is where this global inflation originates. In the past couple of years, practically everything – raw materials, consumer goods and particularly food products – has become more expensive all over the world.

Yes, of course, these countries, including the United States continue importing goods, but the balance between exports and imports has been reversed. I believe imports exceed exports by some 17 billion. This is the whole problem.

According to the UN, in February 2022, the food price index was 50 percent higher than in May 2020, while the composite raw materials index has doubled over this period.

Under the cloud of inflation, many developing nations are asking a good question: why exchange goods for dollars and euros that are losing value right before our eyes? The conclusion suggests itself: the economy of mythical entities is inevitably being replaced by the economy of real values and assets.

According to the IMF, global currency reserves are at $7.1 trillion and 2.5 trillion euros now. These reserves are devalued at an annual rate of about 8 percent. Moreover, they can be confiscated or stolen any time if the United States dislikes something in the policy of the states involved. I think this has become a very real threat for many countries that keep their gold and foreign exchange reserves in these currencies.

According to analyst estimates, and this is an objective analysis, a conversion of global reserves will begin just because there is no room for them with such shortages. They will be converted from weakening currencies into real resources like food, energy commodities and other raw materials. Other countries will be doing this, of course. Obviously, this process will further fuel global dollar inflation.

As for Europe, their failed energy policy, blindly staking everything on renewables and spot supplies of natural gas, which have caused energy price increases since the third quarter of last year – again, long before the operation in Donbass – have also exacerbated price hikes. We have absolutely nothing to do with this. It was due to their own actions that prices have gone through the roof, and now they are once again looking for somebody to blame.

Not only did the West’s miscalculations affect the net cost of goods and services but they also resulted in decreased fertiliser production, mainly nitrogen fertilisers made from natural gas. Overall, global fertiliser prices have jumped by over 70 percent from mid-2021 through February 2022.

Unfortunately, there are currently no conditions that can overcome these pricing trends. On the contrary, aggravated by obstacles to the operation of Russian and Belarusian fertiliser producers and disrupted supply logistics, this situation is approaching a deadlock.

It is not difficult to foresee coming developments. A shortage of fertiliser means a lower harvest and a higher risk of an undersupplied global food market. Prices will go even higher, which could lead to hunger in the poorest countries. And it will be fully on the conscience of the US administration and the European bureaucracy.

I want to emphasise once again: this problem did not arise today or in the past three or four months. And certainly, it is not Russia’s fault as some demagogues try to declare, shifting the responsibility for the current state of affairs in the world economy to our country.

Maybe it would even be nice to hear that we are so powerful and omnipotent that we can blow up inflation in the West, in the United States and Europe, or that we can do things to throw everything into disorder. Maybe it would be nice to feel this power, if only there were truth in it. This situation has been brewing for years, spurred by the short-sighted actions of those who are used to solving their problems at somebody else’s expense and who have relied and still rely on the mechanism of financial emission to outbid and draw trade flows, thus escalating deficits and provoking humanitarian disasters in certain regions of the world. I will add that this is essentially the same predatory colonial policy as in the past, but of course in a new iteration, a more subtle and sophisticated edition. You might not even recognise it at first.

The current priority of the international community is to increase food deliveries to the global market, notably, to satisfy the requirements of the countries that need food most of all.

While ensuring its domestic food security and supplying the domestic market, Russia is also able to scale up its food and fertiliser exports. For example, our grain exports in the next season can be increased to 50 million tonnes.

As a priority, we will supply the countries that need food most of all, where the number of starving people could increase, first of all, African countries and the Middle East.

At the same time, there will be problems there, and not through our fault either. Yes, on paper Russian grain, food and fertilisers… Incidentally, the Americans have adopted sanctions on our fertilisers, and the Europeans followed suit. Later, the Americans lifted them because they saw what this could lead to. But the Europeans have not backed off. Their bureaucracy is as slow as a flour mill in the 18th century. In other words, everyone knows that they have done a stupid thing, but they find it difficult to retrace their steps for bureaucratic reasons.

As I have said, Russia is ready to contribute to balancing global markets of agricultural products, and we see that our UN colleagues, who are aware of the scale of the global food problem, are ready for dialogue. We could talk about creating normal logistical, financial and transport conditions for increasing Russian food and fertiliser exports.

As for Ukrainian food supplies to global markets – I have to mention this because of numerous speculations – we are not hindering them. They can do it. We did not mine the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. They can clear the mines and resume food exports. We will ensure the safe navigation of civilian vessels. No problem.

But what are we talking about? According to the US Department of Agriculture, the matter concerns 6 million tonnes of wheat (we estimate it at 5 million tonnes) and 7 million tonnes of maize. This is it, altogether. Since global production of wheat stands at 800 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes make little difference for the global market, as you can see.

Anyway, Ukrainian grain can be exported, and not only via Black Sea ports. Another route is via Belarus, which is, incidentally, the cheapest way. Or via Poland or Romania, whichever you prefer. In fact, there are five or six export routes.

The problem is not with us, the problem is with the adequacy of the people in control in Kiev. They can decide what to do, and, at least in this particular case, they should not take their lead from their foreign bosses, their masters across the ocean.

But there is also the risk that grain will be used as payment for arms deliveries. This would be regrettable.

Friends,

Once again, the world is going through an era of drastic change. International institutions are breaking down and faltering. Security guarantees are being devalued. The West has made a point of refusing to honour its earlier commitments. It has simply been impossible to reach any new agreements with them.

Given these circumstances and against the backdrop of mounting risks and threats, Russia was forced to go ahead with the special military operation. It was a difficult but necessary decision, and we were forced to make it.

This was the decision of a sovereign country, which has еру unconditional right to uphold its security, which is based on the UN Charter. This decision was aimed at protecting our people and the residents of the people's republics of Donbass who for eight long years were subjected to genocide by the Kiev regime and the neo-Nazis who enjoyed the full protection of the West.

The West not only sought to implement an “anti-Russia” scenario, but also engaged in the active military development of Ukrainian territory, flooding Ukraine with weapons and military advisers. And it continues to do so now. Frankly, no one is paying any attention to the economy or well-being of the people living there, they just do not care about it at all, but they have never spared money to create a NATO foothold in the east that is directed against Russia and to cultivate aggression, hatred and Russophobia.

Today, our soldiers and officers, as well as the Donbass militia, are fighting to protect their people. They are fighting for Russia's future as a large, free and secure multiethnic country that makes its own decisions, determines its own future, relies on its history, culture and traditions, and rejects any and all outside attempts to impose pseudo-values steeped in dehumanisation and moral degradation.

No doubt, our special military operation goals will be fulfilled. The key to this is the courage and heroism of our soldiers, consolidated Russian society, whose support gives strength and confidence to the Russian Army and Navy and a deep understanding of the truth and historical justice of our cause which is to build and strengthen Russia as a strong sovereign power.

My point is that sovereignty cannot be segmented or fragmented in the 21st century. The components of sovereignty are equally important, and they reinvigorate and complement each other.

So, what matters to us is not only the defence of our political sovereignty and national identity, but also strengthening everything that determines our country’s economic, financial, professional and technological independence.

The very structure of Western sanctions rested on the false premise that economically Russia is not sovereign and is critically vulnerable. They got so carried away spreading the myth of Russia’s backwardness and its weak positions in the global economy and trade that apparently, they started believing it themselves.

While planning their economic blitzkrieg, they did not notice, simply ignored the real facts of how much our country had changed in the past few years.

These changes are the result of our planned efforts to create a sustainable macroeconomic structure, ensure food security, implement import substitution programmes and create our own payment system, to name a few.

Of course, sanction restrictions created many challenges for the country. Some companies continue having problems with spare parts. Our companies have lost access to many technological solutions. Logistics are in disarray.

But, on the other hand, all this opens up new opportunities for us – we often talk about this but it really is so. All this is an impetus to build an economy with full rather than partial technological, production, human and scientific potential and sovereignty.

Naturally, it is impossible to resolve such a comprehensive challenge instantly. It is necessary to continue working systematically with an eye to the future. This is exactly what Russia is doing by implementing its long-term plans for the development of branches of the economy and strengthening the social sphere. The current trials are merely resulting in adjustments and modifications of the plans without changing their strategic orientation.

Today, I would like to talk about the key principles on which our country, our economy will develop.

The first principle is openness. Genuinely sovereign states are always interested in equal partnership and in contributing to global development. On the contrary, weak and dependent countries are usually looking for enemies, fuelling xenophobia or losing the last remnants of their identity and independence, blindly following in the wake of their suzerain.

Russia will never follow the road of self-isolation and autarky although our so-called Western friends are literally dreaming about this. Moreover, we are expanding cooperation with all those who are interested in it, who want to work with us, and will continue to do so. There are many of them. I will not list them at this point. They make up the overwhelming majority of people on Earth. I will not list all these countries now. It is common knowledge.

I will say nothing new when I remind you that everyone who wants to continue working or is working with Russia is subjected to blatant pressure from the United States and Europe; it goes as far as direct threats. However, this kind of blackmail means little when it comes to countries headed by true leaders who know the difference between their own national interests, the interests of their people – and someone else’s.

Russia will build up economic cooperation with these states and promote joint projects. At the same time, we will certainly continue to cooperate with Western companies that have remained in the Russian market despite the unprecedented arm-twisting – such companies exist, too.

We believe the development of a convenient and independent payment infrastructure in national currencies is a solid and predictable basis for deepening international cooperation. To help companies from other countries develop logistical and cooperation ties, we are working to improve transport corridors, increase the capacity of railways, transshipment capacity at ports in the Arctic, and in the eastern, southern and other parts of the country, including in the Azov-Black Sea and Caspian basins – they will become the most important section of the North-South Corridor, which will provide stable connectivity with the Middle East and Southern Asia. We expect freight traffic along this route to begin growing steadily in the near future.

But foreign trade is not our only priority. Russia intends to increase scientific, technological, cultural, humanitarian and sports cooperation based on equality and mutual respect between partners. At the same time, our country will strive for responsible leadership in all these areas.

The second principle of our long-term development is a reliance on entrepreneurial freedom. Every private initiative aimed at benefiting Russia should receive maximum support and space for implementation.

The pandemic and the more recent events have confirmed how important flexibility and freedom are in the economy. Russian private businesses – in tough conditions, amid attempts to restrain our development by any means – have proved they can compete in global markets. Private businesses should also be credited for Russia’s adaptation to rapidly changing external conditions. Russia needs to ensure the dynamic development of the economy – naturally, relying on private business.

We will continue to reduce administrative hurdles. For example, in 2016–2018, we imposed a moratorium on routine audits of small businesses. Subsequently, it was extended through 2022. In 2020, this moratorium was extended to cover mid-sized companies. Also, the number of unscheduled audits decreased approximately fourfold.

We did not stop at that, and last March, we cancelled routine audits for all entrepreneurs, regardless of the size of their businesses, provided their activities do not put people or the environment at high risk. As a result, the number of routine audits has declined sixfold compared to last year.

Why am I giving so many details? The point is that after the moratorium on audits was imposed, the number of violations by entrepreneurs – this was the result – has not increased, but rather it has gone down. This testifies to the maturity and responsibility of Russian businesses. Of course, they should be offered motivation rather than being forced to observe regulations and requirements.

So, there is every reason to take another radical step forward, that is, to abandon, for good and on a permanent basis, the majority of audits for all Russian businesses, except on risky or potentially dangerous activities. Everyone has long since understood that there was no need to check on everyone without exception. A risk-oriented approach should be at work. I ask the Government to develop the specific parameters of such a reform in the next few months.

There is another very sensitive topic for business, which has also become important today for our national security and economic resilience. To reduce and bring to a minimum all sorts of abuse and loopholes to exert pressure on entrepreneurs, we are consistently removing loose regulations from criminal law that are applied to economic crimes.

Last March, a law was signed, under which tax-related criminal cases against entrepreneurs shall only be brought before a court by the tax service – there is no other way. Soon a draft law will be passed on reducing the statute of limitations for tax-related crimes and on rejecting lawsuits to initiate criminal proceedings after tax arrears have been paid off.

Working comprehensively, although prudently, we need to decriminalise a wide range of economic offenses, for instance, those that punish businesses without a licence or accreditation. This is a controversial practice today because our Western partners illegitimately refuse to provide such licenses.

Our own agencies must not single-handedly make our businesses criminally liable for actually doing nothing wrong. The problem is this, and small businesses understand it very well – if a licence has expired, and Western partners refuse to extend it, what are businesses to do, wrap up operations? By no means, let them work. State oversight should continue, but there should be no undue interference in business.

It also makes sense to think about raising the threshold of criminal liability for unpaid customs duties and other such taxes. Additionally, we have not for a long time reconsidered the parameters of the terms ‘large’ and ‘very large’ economic loss for the purposes of economic offences despite inflation accruing 50 percent since 2016. The law now fails to reflect the current realities and needs to be corrected.

We need to reconsider the conditions for detaining entrepreneurs and for extending preliminary investigations. It is no secret that these practices have long been used inappropriately.

Businesses have been forced to cease operations or go bankrupt even before the investigation is over. The reputation of the owners and of the brand name suffers as a result, not to mention the direct financial loss, loss of market share and jobs.

I want to ask law enforcement to put an end to these practices. I also ask the Government and the Supreme Court to draft appropriate legislation before October 1 of this year.

In addition, at the Security Council, a special instruction was given to look into criminal cases being opened without later proceeding to court. The number of such cases has grown in recent years. We know the reasons. A case is often opened without sufficient grounds or to put pressure on individuals. We will discuss this in autumn to take legislative action and change the way our law enforcement agencies work.

It goes without saying that regional governments play a major role in creating a modern business environment. As is customary during the St Petersburg Forum, I highlight the regions that have made significant progress in the National Investment Climate Rankings compiled by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

There have been changes in the top three. Moscow and Tatarstan have remained at the top and were joined by the Moscow Region which, in a span of one year, went from eighth place to the top three. The leaders of the rankings also include the Tula, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, Novgorod, and Sakhalin regions, St Petersburg and Bashkortostan.

Separately, I would like to highlight the regions that have made the greatest strides such as the Kurgan Region, which moved up 36 spots; the Perm Territory and the Altai Territory, up 26 spots; Ingushetia, up 24 spots; and the Ivanovo Region which moved up 17 spots.

I want to thank and congratulate our colleagues in the regions for their good work.

The federal government and regional and municipal governments should focus on supporting individual business initiatives in small towns and remote rural communities. We are aware of such stories of success. That includes developing popular software and marketing locally produced organic food and environmentally friendly products nationwide using domestic websites.

It is important to create new opportunities, to introduce modern retail formats, including e-commerce platforms, as I mentioned above, and to cut the logistics, transportation and other costs, including by using upgraded Russian Post offices.

It is also important to help small business employees, self-employed individuals and start-up entrepreneurs acquire additional skills and competencies. Please include corresponding measures tailored specifically to small towns and rural and remote areas as a separate line in the national project for promoting small and medium-sized businesses.

Today I would like to address our officials, owners of large companies, our business leaders and executives.

Colleagues, friends,

Real, stable success and a sense of dignity and self-respect only come when you link your future and the future of your children with your Fatherland. We have maintained ties with many people for a long time, and I am aware of the sentiments of many of the heads and owners of our companies. You have told me many times that business is much more than just making a profit, and I fully agree. It is about changing life around you, contributing to the development of your home cities, regions and the country as a whole, which is extremely important for self-fulfilment. There is nothing like serving the people and society. This is the meaning of your life and work.

Recent events have reaffirmed what I have always said: it is much better at home. Those who refused to hear that clear message have lost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in the West, in what looked like a safe haven for their assets.

I would like to once again say the following to our colleagues, those who are both in this audience and those who are not here: please, do not fall into the same trap again. Our country has huge potential, and there are more than enough tasks that need your contribution. Invest here, in the creation of new enterprises and jobs, in the development of the tourism infrastructure, support schools, universities, healthcare and the social sphere, culture and sport. I know that many of you are doing this. I know this, but I wanted to say it again.

This is how the Bakhrushin, Morozov, Shchukin, Ryabushinsky, Akchurin, Galeyev, Apanayev, Matsiyev, Mamontov, Tretyakov, Arsanov, Dadashev and Gadzhiyev families understood their noble mission. Many Russian, Tatar, Buryat, Chechen, Daghestani, Yakutian, Ossetian, Jewish, Armenian and other merchant and entrepreneurial families did not deprive their heirs of their due share, and at the same time they etched their names in the history of our country.

Incidentally, I would like to note once again that it remains to be seen what is more important for potential heirs: money and property or their forefathers’ good name and service to the country. The latter is something that cannot be squandered or, pardon my language, wasted on drink.

A good name is something that will always belong to your descendants, to future generations. It will always be part of their lives, going from one generation to another, helping them and making them stronger than the money or property they might inherit can make them.

Colleagues,

A responsible and well-balanced macroeconomic policy is the third guiding principle of our long-term development. In fact, this policy has largely enabled us to withstand the unprecedented pressure brought on by sanctions. Let me reiterate that this is an essential policy in the long term, not just for responding to the current challenges. We will not follow in the footsteps of our Western colleagues by replicating their bitter experience setting off an inflation spiral and disrupting their finances.

Our goal is to ensure robust economic growth for years to come, reducing the inflation burden on our people and businesses and achieving the mid- and long-term target inflation rate of four percent. Inflation was one of the first things I mentioned during my remarks, so let me tell you this: we remain committed to this target of a four-percent inflation rate.

I have already instructed the Government to draft proposals regarding the new budget guidelines. They must ensure that our budget policy is predictable and enables us to make the best use of the external economic conditions. Why do we need all this? To put economic growth on a more stable footing, while also delivering on our infrastructure and technological objectives, which provide a foundation for improving the wellbeing of our people.

True, some international reserve currencies have set themselves on a suicidal path lately, which is an obvious fact. In any case, they clearly have suicidal intentions. Of course, using them to ‘sterilise’ our money supply does not make any sense. Still, the principle of planning one’s spending based on how much you earn remains relevant. This is how it works, and we understand this.

Social justice is the fourth principle underpinning our development. There must be a powerful social dimension when it comes to promoting economic growth and business initiatives. This development model must reduce inequality instead of deepening it, unlike what is happening in other countries. To be honest, we have not been at the forefront when it comes to delivering on these objectives. We have yet to resolve many issues and problems in this regard.

Reducing poverty and inequality is all about creating demand for Russian-made products across the country, bridging the gap between regions in terms of their capabilities, and creating new jobs where they are needed the most. These are the core economic development drivers.

Let me emphasise that generating positive momentum in terms of household income growth and poverty reduction are the main performance indicators for government agencies and the state in general. We need to achieve tangible results in this sphere already this year, despite all the objective challenges we face. I have already assigned this task to the Government.

Again, we provide targeted support to the most vulnerable groups – pensioners, families with children, and people in difficult life situations.

Pensions are indexed annually at a rate higher than inflation. This year, they have been raised twice, including by another 10 percent on June 1.

The minimum wage was also increased by 10 percent at the same time, and so was the subsistence minimum – a reference figure used to calculate many social benefits and payments – accordingly, these benefits should also grow, increasing the incomes of about 15 million people.

In recent years, we have built a holistic system to support low-income families with children. Women are entitled to state support from the early stages of pregnancy and until the child reaches the age of 17.

People’s living standards and prosperity are the most important demographic factors; the current situation is quite challenging due to several negative demographic waves that have recently overlapped. In April, less than a hundred thousand children were born in Russia, almost 13 percent less than in April 2020.

I ask the Government to continue to keep the development of additional support measures for families with children under review. They must be far-reaching and commensurate with the magnitude of the extraordinary demographic challenge we are facing.

Russia’s future is ensured by families with two, three and more children. Therefore, we need to do more than provide direct financial support – we need to target and direct the healthcare system, education, and all areas that determine the quality of people's lives towards the needs of families with children.

This problem is addressed, among other approaches, by the national social initiatives, which regional teams and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives are implementing together. This autumn, we will assess the results of their work, review and rank the Russian regions by quality of life in order to apply the best experiences and practices as widely as possible throughout the country.

Prioritising the development of infrastructure is the fifth principle underlying Russia’s economic policy.

We have scaled up direct budget spending on expanding transport corridors. An ambitious plan for building and repairing the federal and regional motorway core network will be launched next year. At least 85 percent of the roads are to be brought up to code within the next five years.

Infrastructure budget lending is a new tool that is being widely used. The loans are issued for 15 years at a 3 percent APR. As I mentioned before, they are much more popular than we originally thought. The regions have multiple well-thought-out and promising projects that should be launched at the earliest convenience. We will look into how we can use this support measure. We debated this issue last night. What I am saying is that it is a reliable tool.

Upgrading housing and utilities services is a separate matter with a backlog of issues. The industry is chronically underinvested to the tune of 4.5 trillion rubles. Over 40 percent of networks need to be replaced, which accounts for their low efficiency and big losses. About 3 percent of the networks become unusable every year, but no more than 2 percent get replaced, which makes the problem even worse every single year.

I propose consolidating resources and launching a comprehensive programme for upgrading housing and utilities, and synchronizing it with other infrastructure development and housing overhaul plans. The goal is to turn the situation around and to gradually reduce the number of dated networks, just like we are doing by relocating people from structurally unsafe buildings or fixing roads. We will discuss in detail housing and utilities and the construction complex with the governors at a State Council Presidium meeting next week.

On a separate note, I propose increasing resources to fund projects to create a comfortable urban environment in small towns and historical settlements. This programme is working well for us. I propose allocating another 10 billion rubles annually for these purposes in 2023–2024.

We will allocate additional funds for renovating urban areas in the Far Eastern Federal District. I want the Government to allocate dedicated funds to this end as part of the programmes for infrastructure budget lending and housing and utilities upgrading, as well as other development programmes.

Promoting comprehensive improvements and development for rural areas is a top priority for us. People who live there are feeding the country. We now see that they are also feeding a major part of the world, so they must live in comfort and dignity. In this connection, I am asking the Government to allocate additional funding for the corresponding programme. Export duties on agricultural produce can serve as a source of funding here. This is a permanent source of revenue. Of course, there can be fluctuations, but at least this ensures a constant flow of revenue.

On a separate note, I suggest that we expand the programmes for upgrading and modernising rural cultural centres, as well as regional theatres and museums by allocating six billion rubles for each of these projects in 2023 and 2024.

What I have just said about cultural institutions is something that people are really looking forward to, something they really care about. Let me give you a recent example: during the presentation of the Hero of Labour medals, one of the winners, Vladimir Mikhailov from Yakutia, asked me directly for help with building a cultural centre in his native village. This was during the part of the ceremony where we meet behind closed doors. We will definitely do this. The fact that people are raising this issue at all levels shows that they are really eager to see these projects implemented.

At this point, I would like to make a sidenote on a topic that is especially relevant now, since we are in early summer, when Russians usually take their summer vacations.

Every year, more and more tourists want to visit the most beautiful corners of our country: national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves. According to available estimates, this year this tourist flow is expected to exceed 12 million people. It is essential that all government bodies, businesses and tourists are well aware of what they can and cannot do in these territories, where they can build tourism infrastructure, and where such activity is strictly prohibited because it endangers unique and fragile ecosystems.

The draft law governing tourism in special protected territories and regulating this activity in a civilised manner is already in the State Duma.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must figure out in advance all the relevant estimates and ensure that the decisions are well-balanced. We need to be serious about this.

I would like to place special emphasis on the need to preserve Lake Baikal. In particular, there is a comprehensive development project for the city of Baikalsk, which must become a model of sustainable, eco-sensitive municipal governance.

This is not just about getting rid of the accumulated negative environmental impacts from the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, but about setting a higher standard of living for the city and transforming it into a signature destination for environmental tourism in Russia. We need to rely on the most cutting-edge technologies and clean energy when carrying out this project.

Overall, we will be developing clean technology to achieve the goals we set in the environmental modernisation of production facilities, and to reduce hazardous emissions, especially in large industrial centres. We will also continue working on closed-loop economy projects, green projects and climate preservation. I spoke about these issues in detail at this forum last year.

Consequently, the sixth cross-cutting development principle that consolidates our work is, in my opinion, achieving genuine technological sovereignty, creating an integral system of economic development that does not depend on foreign institutions when it comes to critically important components. We need to develop all areas of life on a qualitatively new technological level without being simply users of other countries’ solutions. We must have technological keys to developing next-generation goods and services.

In the past years, we have focused a lot of attention on import substitution, succeeding in a range of industries, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, defence production and several others.

But I should stress that there is a lot of discussion in our society about import substitution. And it is not a cure-all nor a comprehensive solution. If we only imitate others when trying to replace foreign goods with copies, even if very high-quality ones, we may end up constantly playing catch-up while we should be one step ahead and create our own competitive technologies, goods and services that can become new global standards.

If you remember, Sergei Korolyov did not just copy or locally upgrade captured rocket technology. He focused on the future and proposed a unique plan to develop the R-7 rocket. He paved the path to space for humankind and in fact set a standard for the entire world, for decades ahead.

Proactively – this is how founders of many Soviet research programmes worked at the time. And today, building on that groundwork, our designers continue to make progress and show their worth. It is thanks to them that Russia has supersonic weapons that do not exist in any other country. Rosatom remains the leader in nuclear technology, developing our fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Many Russian AI and Big Data solutions are the best in the world.

To reiterate, technological development is a cross-cutting area that will define the current decade and the entire 21st century. We will review in depth our approaches to building a groundbreaking technology-based economy – a techno economy – at the upcoming Strategic Development Council meeting. There is so much we can discuss. Most importantly, many managerial decisions must be made in the sphere of engineering education and transferring research to the real economy, and the provision of financial resources for fast-growing high-tech companies. We will also discuss the development of cross-cutting technologies and progress of digital transformation projects in individual industries.

To be clear, of course it is impossible to make every product out there, and there is no need for that. However, we need to possess critical technologies in order to be able to move swiftly should we need to start our own production of any product. This is what we did when we quickly started making coronavirus vaccines, and most recently launched the production of many other products and services.

For example, after dishonest KamAZ partners left the Russian market, their place was taken by domestic companies, which are supplying parts for traditional models and even advanced mainline, transport and heavy-duty vehicles.

The Mir card payment system has successfully replaced Visa and MasterCard on the domestic market. It is expanding its geography and gradually gaining international recognition.

The St Petersburg Tractor Plant is another case in point. Its former foreign partner stopped selling engines and providing warranty maintenance. Engine builders from Yaroslavl and Tutayev came to the rescue and started supplying their engines. As a result, the output of agricultural equipment at the St Petersburg Tractor Plant hit a record high in March-April. It did not decrease, but hit an all-time high.

I am sure there will be more positive practices and success stories.

To reiterate, Russia possesses the professional, scientific and technological potential to develop products that enjoy high demand, including household appliances and construction equipment, as well as industrial and service equipment.

Today's task is to scale up the capacities and promptly get the necessary lines up and running. One of the key issues is comfortable work conditions for the businesses as well as the availability of prepared production sites.

I ask the Government to submit key parameters of the new operating guidelines for industrial clusters by the autumn. What is critical here?

First – financing. The projects launched in these clusters must have a long-term credit resource for up to ten years at an annual interest rate below seven percent in rubles. We have discussed all these issues with our economic agencies as well. Everyone agreed, so we will proceed.

Second – taxation. The clusters must have a low level of relatively permanent taxes including insurance contributions.

Third – supporting production at the early, kick-off stage, forming a package of orders including subsidising the purchases of ready products by such enterprises. This is not an easy issue but I think subsidies may be required. They are needed to ensure the market. We just have to work it out.

Fourth – simplified administration including minimal or no inspections as well as convenient customs monitoring that is not burdensome.

Fifth, and probably the most important – we need to set up mechanisms of guaranteed long-term demand for the new innovative products that are about to enter the market. I remind the Government that such preferential terms and respective industrial clusters must be launched as early as January 1, 2023.

On a related note, I want to say that both new and already operating points of industrial growth must attract small businesses and engage them in their orbit. It is crucial for entrepreneurs, for small entities to see the horizon and grasp their prospects.

Therefore, I ask the Government together with the SME Corporation [Federal Corporation for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises] and our biggest companies to launch an instrument for long-term contracts between companies with state participation and SMEs. This will ensure demand for the products of such enterprises for years ahead whereas suppliers can confidently undertake commitments to launch a new manufacturing facility or expand an existing one to meet that order.

Let me add that we have substantially shortened the timeframe for building industrial sites and eliminated all the unnecessary burdensome procedures. Still, there is much more we can do here. We have things to work on, and places to go from here. For example, building an industrial facility from the ground up takes anywhere from eighteen months to three years, while the persistently high interest rates make it harder to buy suitable land plots.

Given this, I suggest launching industrial mortgages as a new tool for empowering Russian businesses to quickly start making all the products we need. What I mean are preferential long-term loans at a five-percent interest rate. Companies planning to buy new manufacturing space will be entitled to these loans. I am asking the Government to work out all the details with the Russian banking sector so that the industrial mortgage programme becomes fully operational soon.

Friends,

Changes in the global economy, finances and international relations are unfolding at an ever-growing pace and scale. There is an increasingly pronounced trend in favour of a multipolar growth model in lieu of globalisation. Of course, building and shaping a new world order is no easy task. We will have to confront many challenges, risks, and factors that we can hardly predict or anticipate today.

Still, it is obvious that it is up to the strong sovereign states, those that do not follow a trajectory imposed by others, to set the rules governing the new world order. Only powerful and sovereign states can have their say in this emerging world order. Otherwise, they are doomed to become or remain colonies devoid of any rights.

We need to move forward and change in keeping with the times, while demonstrating our national will and resolve. Russia enters this nascent era as a powerful sovereign nation. We will definitely use the new immense opportunities that are opening up for us in this day and age in order to become even stronger.

Thank you for your attention.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
I'm still waiting for the rest of the SPEIF transcription.

At the conference, Putin had a side-meeting with Milorad Dodi. The paragraph at the end is the most interesting.

Meeting with Member of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Milorad Dodik


Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Serbian Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik on the sidelines of the SPIEF 2022.

June 18, 2022
00:05

St Petersburg

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I am happy to see you. Good evening.

We have had very good relations since you became head of Republika Srpska and in your current position.

Thank you for coming to the St Petersburg Forum. I hope it was useful and interesting for you.

Regrettably, in the current environment, relations between our two countries have been complicated due to Bosnia and Herzegovina's support of the anti-Russia sanctions, but we are aware of your position and highly appreciate it. Despite the challenges, our relations will continue and will develop, especially with those who want to maintain them. As far as I know, you are among them.

We are happy to se you. Welcome.

Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik (retranslated): Thank you, Mr President, for your words of encouragement. I want to thank you for everything you are doing for us.

Today was a hard day. In general, we are going through hard times, difficult conditions, as you mentioned repeatedly in your speech we heard today. We are trying to maintain our policy without outside influence; we did not want to join the sanctions and are grateful to you for your understanding on this matter.

Thank you for making it possible to retain gas prices under the earlier conditions until next year. We think that Russian fuel has no alternatives and we want to continue with investments.

I spoke to Mr Miller today, and we are moving along this path, with the construction of a gas pipeline branch. Some procedurals have to be completed connected with the treaty between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for the branch to be constructed.

Russian businesses continue operating in the Republika Srpska; Zarubezhneft has retained jobs and its business. We continue working on developing our cooperation in medicine, and many Russian specialists, in particular from St Petersburg, come to Banja Luka. Universities and faculties maintain interaction, and everything is moving on quite well, of course.

Therefore, we are closely following the situation around Ukraine and understand the context. We believe that the West is just trying to interfere everywhere. We have been living like that for over twenty years, so the situation remains the same with us.

I would like to tell you – and I told you this last time, that they have made a further step and appointed a German, without the Security Council’s endorsement, who calls himself a high representative and imposes some kind of laws on us. He is causing additional destabilisation, which cannot be accepted. We refuse to recognise such a situation, and we cannot do otherwise. On the other hand, a European military mission called ALTHEA, which is annually extended through the Security Council, is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

<…>

Now, I'm not sure who this German is, but a quick dig gives me the name Christoph Heusgen. I'm not sure if this is the guy but after reading a few articles, he might be a good candidate. For instance, in a news report titled 'Who is the future MSC chief Christoph Heusgen' from Feb. 18, 2022:

Who is future MSC chief Christoph Heusgen?​


The Munich Security Conference, Germany's prestigious independent diplomatic forum, will next year be taken over by veteran German diplomat Christoph Heusgen. He is considered a man of clear words.

Christoph Heusgen laughing at a UN press conference
Christoph Heusgen is a senior career diplomat and former UN ambassador

He is known for his straight-talking. Christoph Heusgen, who has worked in foreign policy for more than 40 years, has caused a stir with many an edgy word during his career as a diplomat. Next year, the 66-year-old will take over the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a globally respected forum for foreign and security policy. For months, and not just in light of the Ukraine conflict, he has been calling for a united community of "states that enforce international law."

Heusgen is considered one of Germany's most experienced and respected diplomats.
Although he was late to serve formally as an ambassador, he has been politically active at the European level and in the United States, though never in Africa, Asia or Latin America.

Via Brussels to the chancellery

Heusgen, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), became active in foreign policy posts early in his career. From 1993 to 1997, he was deputy head of the minister's office for the then German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel. From 1999 to 2005, he headed the Brussels office and political staff of Javier Solana, then High Representative for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy.

After Angela Merkel's victory in the 2005 election, the new chancellor brought Heusgen, a Rhineland Catholic, into the chancellor's office as her foreign policy adviser. He was at the chancellor's side on virtually all of her foreign trips and has been excellently networked ever since. Occasionally, he traveled without her, but for her: When it emerged in the fall of 2013 that US intelligence agencies had wiretapped Merkel's phone, cooling transatlantic relations, Heusgen was part of the German delegation that sought clarification in Washington. As his boss said, "Wiretapping among friends — that's not on at all."

From Berlin to New York

Months before Merkel's fourth federal election victory in 2017, she had to let Heusgen go. The diplomat, who had already spent some time studying in the US in the 1980s and had worked at the German Consulate General in Chicago after 1983, now finally became an ambassador. For four years, he was Germany's permanent representative at the United Nations in New York.

In April 2019 and July 2020, he presided over meetings of the UN Security Council, the top-level body to which Germany does not belong permanently but in which it wants to have a say. Here too, on occasion, he did not shy away from describing Russia's and China's blocking of UN aid deliveries to war-torn Syria as "cynical." Both expressed irritation at Germany's stance.

Heusgen is certainly thought of as a man of clear words, clearer than cross the lips of many other ambassadors. This has perhaps been all the more true since 2021, when he returned to Germany. Perhaps he has been so outspoken about the current conflict in Ukraine because he was involved in the difficult negotiations that led to the Minsk Agreement in 2014, which brought Ukraine, Russia and the separatists together but fell apart soon after.


Champion of 'international law'


Even now, a good seven years later, Berlin has an important role to play in the so-called "Normandy format," Heusgen stressed in a recent interview with DW.

"We already did that last time, when after Russia's invasion of Ukraine [2014], Chancellor Merkel, together with President (Francois) Hollande, brought Ukrainian President Poroshenko and Putin to the table," he said.

Perhaps the current conflict has also meant that the future MSC chief is likely to make his basic goal very clear in a series of interviews before this year's Munich conference: A community of states "committed to international law," sanctions and dialogue. "What we want this time is for a very strong, massive response to be put on the table," Heusgen told DW. Russia, he said, needs to know exactly what will happen if President Vladimir Putin does indeed attack Ukraine.

Heusgen is to succeed Wolfgang Ischinger, 75, also one of Germany's top diplomats in his day, as head of the Munich Security Conference. Next year, Heusgen will host the meeting marking the MSC's 60th anniversary, and this year he will be "Adenauer Fellow" of the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin. Even there, he is considering how the "rules-based international order" can be defended.

And when Heusgen is not in Munich or Berlin, he always returns home for at least a weekend at the end of August, for the Schützenfest in his native Neuss — a few kilometers from where he was born in Düsseldorf-Heerdt.

He has been returning to the event for decades, even during his time in New York. The Schützenfest is a kind of marksman's folk festival, when Heusgen parades through the streets of the city along with thousands of marksmen.

Here, Heusgen is completely a Rhinelander. And yet he remains a diplomat. In the past 10 years, the US ambassador in Berlin, along with the British, French and Chinese ambassadors, have come to the folk festival on the Rhine. Perhaps now they will be joining him at the Oktoberfest in Munich, too.

This article was originally written in German.
 

Magnolia

Padawan Learner
RT
Russia demands rubles for grain exports
Moscow has expanded the list of commodities that must be paid for in Russian currency.

The Russian government has added grain, sunflower oil and extracted meal to the list of exports that must be paid for in rubles. A resolution giving effect to the decision was adopted on Friday and published on the official portal of legal information. Patrushev said this month that the country would export agricultural products to “friendly countries” only.

Also on zerohedge, with additional information, graphs and charts: Russia Now Demands Rubles For Grain As World's Largest Wheat Exporter
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
Haven't posted in a while and have neglected this thread by getting sidetracked on a project that has been poking me for months. I've got a bit of catching up to do.

Going all the way back to the SPEIF session, I posted the video of Putin's opening speech and the transcript above. I'm not going to copy the whole Q&A. I'm just going to post some selections, which is still pretty long.

St Petersburg International Economic Forum Plenary session


The President attended the plenary session of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

June 17, 2022
17:40

St Petersburg

On the topic of import substitution, packaging was brought up by the moderator, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT and Sputnik, revealing that the company that made the paint for the packaging of juice boxes and the company that made the boxes, had both left the country.

Vladimir Putin: Whenever any decisions are taken, the key issues must be to singled out. What is key for us? Being independent, sovereign and ensuring future-oriented development both now and for the future generations? Or having packaging today?

Unless we have sovereignty, we will soon have to buy everything and will only produce oil, gas, hemp fibre, saddles and sell rough logs abroad.

It is inevitable. I have already said so in my speech: only sovereign countries can expect to have a sovereign future. That does not mean, however, that we need to plunge back into a situation of 30, 40 or 50 years ago.
....
The issue is not about import substitution, the issue is to establish our own capabilities based on progress in education, science and new promising schools of engineering. We will always be given packaging materials and other simple things, [even] telephones and smartphones. What we have never been given and never will be is critically important technologies. We have never been given them before even though we had problem-free relations with our Western partners in the previous decades. This is the problem.

And when we begin to stand up for our rights, we are immediately slapped with some sanctions and restrictions; this is what the problem is all about.
...
Obviously, some things will be lost, other things will be made on a new basis, much more advanced – the way it happened earlier. Therefore, when we talk about import substitution, we will substitute something while other things will have to be done on a totally new promising basis of our own making.
...
Vladimir Putin: You spoke about pressure from the outside [sanctions on Kazakhstan]. President Tokayev mentioned the level of our mutual trade in his speech. Pressure or no pressure, this is impossible to cancel – our trade stood at US$24 billion last year and exceeded US$12 billion in the first four months of this year. ...
...
Thirty-six, maybe close to 40. This cannot be reversed under any pressure. Hundreds and thousands of jobs and the welfare of millions of people depend on it. How do you cancel that?

No more than you could cancel… The Americans have cancelled, sanctioned our fertilisers, and then lifted the sanctions; food wasn’t sanctioned at all. Everyone wants to eat, the whole world. What sanctions can cancel that?

As for the blitzkrieg they have tried against our economy, it is clear that it did not work out. As Mark Twain wrote, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” [applase] The same is true of the blitzkrieg against Russia.

Margarita mentioned a "we're hungry" slogan/cynical joke being used by Russian people in the sense of "hunger is our last hope", meaning that once people get hungry enough, they would come to their senses and lift the sanctions. She asked what the 'forecast' was for this path.

Vladimir Putin: As I have already said in my remarks, the situation on the global food market is deteriorating. Make no mistake, this is not our fault. It all started with soaring inflation and increasing money supply in the major global economies in Europe and North America. This is how it all started – they did this themselves, and then made it even worse, of course, by imposing sanctions against Russia. I am referring primarily to logistics, financial services, insurances, etc.

Having people in these countries suffer from hunger is something we would very much like to avoid. Just recently, I had a meeting with African Union representatives. I told them that we will do everything we can to satisfy the interests of all our regular customers who buy our grain. I would like to reaffirm this statement. ...

However, let me tell you this: the fact that some countries may be negatively affected is not something that makes us happy. We never counted on that. On the contrary, we hope that common sense prevails and that the situation on the international arena calms down so that everyone starts treating each other’s interests with respect, putting the way we operate back on track.

By the way, I have no doubt that as time goes by, many of our partners, at least in Europe, will return to the Russian market and will once again enjoy working here. I have no doubt about that. They will be compelled to do so, while we will not stand in their way. We are open to the entire world, as I have already said. However, they must realise that we need to treat each other with respect.

Margarita asked Putin about Russia's relationship with China and multi-polarity.

Vladimir Putin: You know, multi-polarity is not just something we would prefer. It is inevitable. And when I said that somebody is trying to freeze international relations at the stage where they were 30 years ago, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I said that people do not understand that moving forward is inevitable. New centres of power emerge. They are strong, dynamic and have great potential. Some may not like it. They may also not like China’s power. Let me remind you, China has become a number one economy in the world in terms of economic volume and purchasing power parity. It is a fact supported by statistics. Of course, a country with 1.5 billion people has a lower GDP per capita than, for example, the United States or European countries. But it is the biggest economy.
...
The same is true of India. They also have about 1.5 billion people and a market economy. This country is developing very fast. Prime Minister Modi is a very progressive person who looks ahead to the future. Take other Asian countries such as Indonesia. Its population is over 300 million and, by the way, it has the largest number of Muslims in the world.

African countries are making strides in economic development. Latin America is growing at a very fast pace. Yes, they do have problems there. But who does not? Problems are the hallmark of the emerging economies, but the potential is simply staggering and impossible not to see.

So, multipolarity is unavoidable and those who cling to their imaginary global leadership are making a colossal mistake. This mistake will cost them dearly, I have no doubt about it. This is not a threat at all. This will simply happen as a matter of course.

With regard to the People’s Republic of China and our relations with China, with Asian countries in general and with China, in particular, we did not start building them because of the events of recent years or months. We have been doing this because Asia, China, in particular, have clearly become new global centres of growth.

What about the GDP growth in the United States in recent years? How much was it? I think 1.7 percent and even less in the eurozone. In Asia, though, it was 5 and more. Those are the global trends and we have been aligning our relations accordingly for many years now.

Our trade with China is US$140 billion and will keep growing. This year, it will probably hit a record high. Not because we have to do so because of the current political situation, but because this is an objective global picture.

We find it
interesting and beneficial to be partners with China, especially since we enjoy stable and trust-based political relations. I have excellent friendly personal relations with President Xi Jinping in the full sense of the word, which creates a good atmosphere for building ties between our countries. However, this does not mean that China should play along with us or support us every step of the way. We do not need this, after all.

There are interests of the state. Just like us, the Chinese leadership is acting primarily out of its national interests, but our interests are not at odds with their interests, and that is what matters. When issues arise – and they always arise at the agency level in the course of work – the nature and quality of relations between our countries makes it possible for us to always find solutions. I am confident it will stay that way going forward.
...
Margarita Simonyan: You spoke about freedom of entrepreneurship today and have mentioned it many times over the past years. You and people from the Government even made clear that entrepreneurship is what should keep us moving forward and help us withstand this burden and the blow of truly incredible sanctions that were designed to destroy us.

The President of Kazakhstan also spoke about this quite recently. Let me quote you, “In the new and fair Kazakhstan, there will be no place for arbitrary police action, incompetent prosecutors or biased judges.” I am not sure how things are in Kazakhstan in this regard. I hope you will update us about this, too.

I hate to break it to you, Mr President, but things are not too good in our country in this regard. You keep talking about it but following this discussion people will be talking about it and saying that the leader mentioned it again, but no one will hear him say that this time again. Reportedly, the number of businesspeople held in pre-trial detention centres on business-related charges has not decreased and is even growing, although you said many times not to do this. You know, it is as if we have some kind of a deep anti-state within our state. In America, they have a deep state, but we have some kind of an anti-state, which ignores your directions and then does what it pleases with the law. This is very sad.

Perhaps it can be eradicated with the use of tougher measures? Perhaps incarcerations on charges of this kind should be cancelled? I think many will agree that a few dozen of businesspeople evading criminal prosecution will cause less damage to our country than the system itself, which is protecting not society, but the interests of a group of dishonest people.

Vladimir Putin
: This is a delicate sphere that I just spoke about. You are now speaking as an onlooker and in the interests of the business community, who are the majority in this audience. I understand these concerns. That is what I was talking about, that is why I was talking about it. But there is another side to it, namely, the interests of society and ordinary citizens who are also watching. When millions of people see illegal or unlawful actions perpetrated by the business community, they wonder why the state is not doing anything about it to protect ordinary citizens. Striking a balance is not that easy.

By the way, you have just mentioned some pressure from Russia. I would like us to return to today’s reality. And what about our neighbours? No pressure from them? They robbed our entrepreneurs, took their property for no reason at all, punishing them for their activities, their work in Russia. This is sheer nonsense. Where are these principles of the inviolability of private property? Often sanctions and property withdrawal affect people who have nothing to do with the state or decision-making by national political leaders. They are simply individuals who worked honestly without violating the law either at home or abroad. Yet, their property was taken away. What is this? This is simply beyond the pale, contrary to common sense. They are biting the hand that feeds them. Frankly speaking, many people linked with the Western economies were in favour of developing relations with them without being conduits of Western interests. But now that they were deprived of everything, what support will they give? They will say: “Darn you!”

Margarita Simonyan
: When did you say this to them? You said in 2004: you will get sick of eating dust.

Vladimir Putin
: Yes, they will, while running from one office to another, upholding their rights. Unfortunately, this is what happened.

What am I talking about? I am saying nothing like this happens here. Of course, we have problems or else I would not be talking about them. I keep saying and repeating that faced with the current difficulties we can respond effectively only by expanding freedom for people in general and businesses in particular. This also applies to the functioning of law-enforcement bodies. There is room for improvement here as well. This is why the most impressive example is the number of proceedings that were initiated but not brought to court. Why are cases started but fail to reach the court? Most likely, they were started to exert pressure on businesses. Does this problem exist? Of course, it does. Therefore, the main point is not to ignore this, and, most important, not to shut our eyes to this, and we are not going to. On the contrary, we are going to carefully cut red tape in the law-enforcement system, without infringing on the interests of society as a whole. We are going to make law-enforcement work for the interests of entire society, including the business community on which a lot depends today and which has shown its maturity, patriotism and efficient performance. I assure you this packaging and dyes will be made, in part, by Russian businesses. Aware of this, our state will certainly do all it can to support these people. And we will tailor accordingly the work of our law-enforcement bodies.

To reiterate, there are dishonest people there as well, no question about it. Look at the number of dishonest law-enforcement officers behind bars. Work is underway to clean up their ranks as well.
...
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Answering your question on law-enforcement system reform, I fully agree with President Putin that it is a complicated effort and a challenging issue to deal with. It is impossible to resolve this problem overnight, but we must work to get there, because people see injustice which gives rise to social depression.
...
Vladimir Putin: Good. My Kazakhstani colleague was just talking about returning illegally exported capital from abroad. It was taken illegally, and now the state is taking it back. Our entrepreneurs, in any case many of them, took their capital abroad legally, and they have been robbed there, do you understand? So, what is the conclusion? What I said in my speech: you need to invest at home, in your home country. And our task is to ensure the safety of these investments. We will do so.
...
Margarita Simonyan: ... The whole world was expecting to see our economy torn to shreds. Not all the world, but the portion which, in fact, represents a smaller part of the world. As a reminder, 83 percent of the global population lives in countries that support us, or at least have not joined the sanctions.
...
But the question is: is it not time to look at the system itself from a different angle?
...
Look, here is the market. All these years they have been telling us things about the market and capitalism, but now they are looking at it from a different perspective. Today, at the VEB session, they were saying that capitalism, in the “grab and run” sense of the word is history, and that entrepreneurs need to change their approaches to the place they call home and think more about it.

There is another group of analysts who say that, oddly enough, the state should be more involved in the economic processes, because, say, Elon Musk would not have gotten to where he is now if he were just a free entrepreneur. He operates on orders from the Pentagon, and he is a free entrepreneur as much as the BBC is independent television channel.

People are saying that perhaps the state should regulate new industries more tightly. That way, we will see an entirely new economic model come to life.

What do you think of this?

Vladimir Putin: I spoke about this publicly at an online international event and made clear that the old capitalist system’s models centred on making profit have run their course.

The world has entered a phase where it is necessary to and everyone has to think not only about this, because if we continue like that into the future, the world will become highly unbalanced and threats will build up. This is the problem and the challenge of our time. So, in order to maintain this balance, we need to change our ways, balancing and paying attention to each and every component that may upset this balance.

This is true of the current situation, for example, with food and fertilisers and so on. If the world’s largest economies keep vacuuming up the goods, including food products, from the global market and take them home, then problems will accrue.

This may lead to more than famine. This will lead to new migration flows that will overwhelm, are already overwhelming the United States, among other countries. Whether they want to build a wall on the border with Mexico or not, the flows are still there and are not subsiding. The former and current presidents can do as much infighting as they want, but migrant flows are still there. If, God forbid, Africa gets hit by famine, economic migration to Europe will increase.

What are we supposed to do with this? The solution is very simple. All you need to do is put an end to the style of international relations where you think only about your beloved self. That is all there is to it. If this continues as it is, it will give rise to complex and severe problems. So, of course, we need to adopt a different governance and regulation model. This is a complex process, but I think that eventually the international community will come to realise this.
...
Margarita Simonyan: Thank you.

President Tokayev, do you also believe that a crucial change, as President Putin said, in economic management, that is, the international economic model as, again, President Putin said, is unavoidable?

Do you think it is unavoidable?

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: I think that life itself is dictating that need. On the other hand, I agree with what the President of the Russian Federation had to say about the impossibility of self-isolation and actual absence of the need to self-isolate.
...
After all, I am a supporter of international cooperation, be it political or, even more so, investment, trade and economic cooperation. ...

If things do not work out in one place, you should try another, because this is what the world is like. It is absolutely impossible to pursue a policy of self-reliance. Indeed, unadulterated import substitution does not exist. We need to look for opportunities on other markets and interact with each other.
...
So, from the perspective of regional cooperation, not to mention global aspects, we are not supportive of self-isolation but we are in favour of working with each other and being open to opportunities.

It is very difficult to survive alone. ...

Margarita brought up Ukraine. She mentioned an interview from a year ago between Putin and the Russian media outlets editors-in-chiefs who had travelled to Donetsk and were quite troubled with what they saw. Some of the residents revealed they were ashamed of being Russian. She mentioned that she, too, was ashamed, along with many others, but not because of the sanctions but because Russians were dying, though she ended that they no longer felt this way. She then posed the questions: "What should we be afraid of?" and "We will not leave, will we?", referring to abandoning the people in Donbass and Russia in general.

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your remark.

You say that some people are saying they are ashamed of being from Russia. You know who should be ashamed – the people who do not tie their fate and their lives, the fate of their children, with our country. Not just ashamed. They simply do not want to have problems in the regions where they want to live and want their children to be brought up and live. This is a separate group of people.

Sensible people who tie their fate and the fate of their family with Russia may be worried about the ongoing events, but deep down want Russia to become stronger, more confident and more sovereign, and to be confident about its future. Anyone who wants their children to live here cannot think otherwise. That is what this is all about. So, ashamed or not ashamed are different categories altogether.

With regard to ongoing developments, hostilities are always a tragedy. These are just forced actions on our part, inevitably forced, that is what it is all about. We were just pulled to this line. I have to remind everyone how it all happened. No matter what previous pro-Western governments in Ukraine were, we worked just fine with all of them. Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko were absolutely pro-Western leaders.

The civilisational choice. Pardon my language, but what kind of civilisational choice are they blabbering about? They stole money from the Ukrainian people, hid it in the banks and just want to protect it. And the best way to protect it is to say that this is a civilisational choice. They began to pursue an anti-Russian policy in hopes that whatever they do, their money would be protected there. No doubt, this is what happening. They get away with anything. This is the whole point of this civilisational choice.


Why stage a coup in Ukraine in 2014? That is what got everything going. Three foreign ministers from three European countries – Germany, France and Poland – came to Ukraine to attend, as guarantors, the ceremony for signing agreements between then President Yanukovych and the opposition. I got a call from President Obama, “Let’s get things to quiet down there.” – “Let’s.” A day later, a coup took place. Why stage a coup at a time where the opposition could have come to power in a democratic way? Go to the polls and win… No, for whatever reason they had to stage a bloody coup. This is how it all started.

Now, they are saying: let’s forget it.
No, we will always remember it, because this is the reason. The reason is the people who made this coup possible. What were the guarantors who signed the agreement between President Yanukovych and the opposition supposed to do? There was a coup, whereas they guaranteed a peaceful process. What were they supposed to do? They should have come and said something like “guys, that will not do. Get back on the normal political track and go to the polls.” Instead, they started handing out cookies in the squares and supporting the coup. What for?

That triggered the events in Crimea. They chose not to respect the choice made by the Crimean people, and the first volley of sanctions on Russia followed. They carried out two, even three large-scale military operations in Donbass, shooting at civilians for eight long years with no one paying attention. Kiev refused to comply with the Minsk agreements, and it was fine with some people. That is what caused the situation at hand. That is why it all happened.

In addition, they started creating an anti-Russian foothold in Ukraine. How about we create an anti-American foothold on the borders with the United States, say, in Mexico? Do you know what will happen next? For some reason, it never even occurs to anyone to do something like that in the United States. At some point, we even removed our military bases from Cuba. You see, no one is even looking at it and does not want to look. Meanwhile, they are creating such threats for us. We told them a hundred times, a thousand times: let’s talk. But no.

Why such a position? Where does this dismissive stance towards everyone, including us, come from? Does it come from the imaginary greatness that gradually developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union? We are aware of that.

With regard to what we are going to do next, we are going to protect the interests of the people for whom our soldiers are fighting there, getting wounded and dying. This is the only way. What is the point of these sacrifices otherwise?

We will support the residents of these territories. In the end, the future of the people who live there is up to them to decide. We will respect any choice they make.

Margarita Simonyan:
Thank you.

In fact, as you probably know, this special operation has rallied our society in an amazing way – for normal people in a way that was expected, and for those who are ashamed, and even more so for their sponsors and inspirers – in an unexpected way.
...
People want to help: both humanitarian aid and let's help the troops of the DPR, the LPR, and ask if our army needs anything, and just help people, shelter someone.
...
And yet, sometimes you get the feeling, especially in Moscow, that we are living in the final scene of Bernard Shaw's play Heartbreak House, where they are talking and discussing family matters and then at the very end, at the very last minute, bombs fall from the sky and World War I suddenly begins.

Both in Moscow and beyond, and even more so in the West, people are increasingly saying, just pronouncing the words 'nuclear war', 'World War Three'. We understand that this is not the first, not the second, not the third special operation, that it is not ours, but in general is going on in the world over the past few years. Our so-called partners are carrying out special operations and waging wars wherever they want, for any reason and without one. No one has ever said that the situation in Libya or somewhere else, in Afghanistan, in Syria, could lead to World War III. But they are talking about it now.

Do you think this rhetoric is acceptable? Does it have any grounds or is it just talk – the louder, the better to be heard?

Vladimir Putin: Of course, we can hear such rhetoric. Where does it come from? It comes from their own statements. One irresponsible politician blurts out something, and another one follows suit at a very high level. For example, top foreign ministry officials talk profusely on this subject.

Are we going to keep silent? We reply accordingly. Following our reply, they start finding fault with us and saying that Russia is making threats.

We are not threatening anyone.
However, everyone should know what resources we have, and what we will use, if need be, to defend our sovereignty. This is an obvious thing.

What special operations are you talking about? They unleashed full-scale wars there.

Margarita Simonyan:
Of course.

Vladimir Putin: They virtually destroyed Iraq. They came …

Margarita Simonyan: And what about Libya?

Vladimir Putin: Libya has still not been able to restore its statehood. How many years did they fight in Afghanistan?

Margarita Simonyan:
Their withdrawal was also shameful.

Vladimir Putin: It wasn’t just shameful. We must admit openly that it was an inglorious withdrawal.

This is not even the main thing. Most importantly, everything unfolded in line with their wishes, and not the way it should have. In many cases, including the dismembering of Yugoslavia, new countries and new interests emerged after the country ceased to exist. Of course, there were many internal disagreements; this is obvious. However, they helped aggravate these disagreements. Later, they started pushing Kosovo away from Serbia, and so on. It is hard to understand why that was necessary.

Speaking of our actions … By the way, what is the legal aspect of this case? It completely tallies with international law.
When Kosovo was seceding, the International Court of Justice ruled, under the pressure of Western countries, that, according to the UN Charter, when any territory secedes from a state, its administration does not need to request permission to do so from central authorities. The International Court of Justice adopted this generalised decision with regard to Kosovo, but it also has broader connotations and sets a precedent. All right, in that case, the Donbass republics do not need to request permission from the authorities in Kiev. They declared independence. Did we have the right to recognise them? Of course, we did. We recognised them and signed a treaty on mutual assistance. We are providing them with military assistance under this treaty and Article 51 of the UN Charter. Did we have this right? We did, in full compliance with the UN Charter, whether anyone likes it or not. They did this themselves, they set a precedent. Consequently, our actions are absolutely legitimate.

However, the start of hostilities in Iraq did not have this status because no one there had invited anyone, and they did not sign any treaties with anyone. Nor did anyone recognise any newly-established state entities. They simply came and bombed out the country. They did the same in Libya. Why did they do it? They did it because, as I have already said, they appointed themselves the Almighty’s representatives on Earth.

Now we hear: behave or live by the rules. What rules? Who invented these rules and all this nonsense? There is only one rule that must be obeyed – international public law. What is it? It is agreements between countries that are a sort of compromise, which are signed by respective states. If someone invented these rules to enforce them on other countries, they will never work, it is obvious.


We proceed from the fact that sooner or later, and the sooner the better, the international community will again understand that one must live in accordance with international law, and not with some made-up rules. This is the way we are ready to work.

Margarita had asked on-line subscribers what question she should ask. The answer she got was two-fold. The first was to express to Putin good health and energy and all the best. The second was: "What exactly do you have in mind when you talk about the red line, after which the decision-making centres will come under attack?"

Vladimir Putin: Look, we are talking about a special military operation, and when conducting it we must not turn the cities and towns that we liberate into a semblance of Stalingrad.
...
With regard to the red lines, let me keep this to myself, because on our part it will include fairly tough actions targeted at the decision-making centres that you and I mentioned. Still, the country’s military-political leadership should be in the lead on making those decisions. The individuals who deserve actions of that level coming their way from us should realise what they may be facing if they cross these lines.

The attacks on residential areas are, of course, a crime against humanity. This is a humanitarian problem, which I am sure will be overcome.
...
Margarita Simonyan: We were told yesterday that the EU will allegedly fast-track Ukraine’s membership: three European leaders visited Kiev, got scared by an air raid siren and said that the EU will give Ukraine “immediate” candidate status. So how will it affect us – in a bad way, in a good way, or is it all the same?
...

Vladimir Putin: Unlike NATO, the European Union is not a military organisation or a military-political bloc. So we have always said, and I have always said that our position is consistent and clear: we have no objections. It is a sovereign decision of any country whether it wants to join an economic association and it is for the economic association to decide whether it accepts new members.

The EU member states should decide for themselves whether this decision is possible and expedient for the Union. Whether it will benefit Ukraine or not is also a concern only of the Ukrainian people and the country’s leadership.

The structure of the Ukrainian economy requires very large subsidies and support. If Ukraine fails to protect its domestic market it will completely turn into a semi-colony, in my opinion. But at the same time, it will receive significant support for current expenses. It is unlikely that it will revive the lost industries such as aircraft engineering, shipbuilding, electronic manufacturing and other crucial sectors, because the European giants will not want to create competition. Maybe there will be some assembly plants. But again, that is none of our business.

But we have never been against it. We have always been against any military membership because it would threaten our security. As for economic integration, it is their choice.
...
I have written and stated publicly before that over the past decades Ukraine sent down the drain everything that was created in the preceding decades. The main industries and economic sectors ceased to exist. This is very sad.

The main point is not the current military situation and our special military operation in Donbass. The problem lies with the structure of the economy in Ukraine. Its agriculture still survives, but everything else is in a deplorable state, and so its rehabilitation capability is very small, very weak. It will take billions, tens of billions of dollars in investment to normalise life there.
...
Vladimir Putin: Do you know what the problem is? When did the problem of 2014 and the coup in Ukraine emerge? This happened because former President Viktor Yanukovich said that he needed to think about the principles for Ukraine’s association with the EU.

Why? If you open and read specific principles and requirements for Ukraine’s association, you will see that they are completely excessive. At that time, they wiped out the foundations of all the main production sectors. They simply opened up Ukraine’s customs borders to relatively cheap and high-quality goods from EU countries, but businesspersons would have been unable to raise their heads and work. This is exactly what happened. Yanukovich did not say that he did not want to join the EU; he said that he needed to think and work on these parameters. “No, immediately, right away.”

We can see the result.
I repeat, the entire aircraft manufacturing industry has been lost completely. Who needs the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturing industry? Add to this the engine manufacturing industry. Motor Sich used to make all aircraft engines. Who needs them except Russia? Nobody needs them. Does Boeing need Ukrainian rivals? Do you understand that this is nonsense?

Margarita Simonyan:
They say that everyone needs Ukrainian neon.

Vladimir Putin: But for the Carpathian forests, all their mountains will soon be stripped bare. But for wheat and corn, I assure you that no one needs anything else from Ukraine. This is a very subtle aspect.

Given the current conditions, let them do what they want. Hooray, hooray, full speed ahead! This is none of our business. However, there are many problems.
...
Margarita Simonyan: Yes, and about relations – you said they will be restored.

Relations are a fluid thing: remember 20 years ago, we had tensions inside our country with the Chechen Republic. And look where we are now – the Chechen people are side by side with us here; we see all this. That is how quickly things change, I mean.

Relations aside, if you look at this more globally – this definitely is going to end someday, but will the world become safer as a result? And will we be more secure? Actually, there is a danger that, when this is over, we will be bordering on – whether the border is in Kiev or in Poland, wherever it is by that time – we will border on a more embittered, stronger and more fortified NATO. Will it be safer for us? Or, because we have ascertained, as you said today, that it is impossible to reach any agreement with them, and they can’t even be trusted to comply with past agreements, we have just stopped caring? Are we simply, as you recently said, returning what is ours? By the way, it was the first time in my memory that you said this publicly, and I know a lot of people who really wanted to hear it from you.

Vladimir Putin: First of all, this is all true. I said it publicly and am not holding anything back – what was the Soviet Union? It was the historical Russia. Well, what happened? It ceased to exist. And – I want to emphasise this – we have always respected the processes of emerging sovereignty that took place in post-Soviet countries in recent history.

Look, we have allied, even fraternal, relations with Kazakhstan; we are members of a defence bloc – the CSTO, and members of an economic association. Who in Russia can even think of spoiling relations with Kazakhstan over any issues? That is nonsense, isn’t it? We are interested in strengthening such relations.

We would have treated Ukraine the same way. Look, if we had an allied, neighbourly relationship, or just a partnership, no one would have thought of it. And by the way, there would be no problem with Crimea either, because if Ukraine had respected the rights of the people who live there, the Russian-speaking population, the Russian language and culture, this would never have occurred to anyone, don’t you see?

The current situation is of their own making. This nationalism of theirs
– something the party chiefs cherished there in Soviet times, by the way – eventually began to gain momentum with every day once they gained sovereignty. Every day, despite our massive support and the amounts of energy resources supplied at bargain prices – we were as good as subsidising Ukraine’s economy – their nationalism continued to grow. Why were they doing that? What were they hoping to gain? No idea. Just the ambitions of a bunch of people, you know, some Bandera followers. That's it.

If we had normal relations, there would be nothing like this, nothing like this tragedy, I assure you. But we did not do it.

As concerns the future, you know that, first of all, we are ready to build relationships with everybody, despite the current events. And secondly, the army and the navy can be the only guarantors of our security.
...
Margarita Simonyan: ... Mr President, it is not a pleasant thought but still: why is it so difficult for us to deal with exes? It is always difficult with exes. But specifically with Ukraine. Is it only because Ukraine, like Adam Kozlevich, was “swindled by Catholic priests,” and has been for a long time, or is there a blunder on our side, too?

Vladimir Putin: First of all, as you have just said, we are returning what is ours. Historically, of course. Let us say, the entire Black Sea region. We are not actually laying claims to its entirety. However, it is a fact. Where did Novorossiya come from? This region was acquired through several wars with the Ottoman Empire. What does Ukraine have to do with it? It has nothing to do with it.

Ukraine gained its western territories as a result of World War II. Stalin took away territories from Hungary, Romania and Poland and gave them to Ukraine, while Poland was granted Germany’s eastern territories
.

We know how left-bank Ukraine came to be. Ukraine essentially joined the Russian Empire with three regions, Kiev (the Kiev Region), Zhitomir and Chernigov. That is it. I think this was in 1545. Everything that Ukraine gained in the process of forming the Soviet Union in 1922 was gifted to it by Vladimir Lenin, in the course of forming the Soviet Union. By the way, initially it was decided that Donbass would become part of the RSFSR [Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic]. Then Lenin said that the decision should be reviewed – and Donbass was given to Ukraine, in order to increase the percentage of Ukraine’s working population. This is how it came to be.

So, that is what happened, and let it be. I have already said it many times: we agreed to and respected those decisions. You say it should have been different. Perhaps it could have been different. But when the Soviet Union was ending its existence, apparently, the assumption was that we would maintain friendly relations and the post-Soviet countries would enjoy harmony.

As I have already said, regrettably, all our proposals to cooperate in this very manner and in this capacity met with requests and demands to increase economic support. But we were doing what we could anyway. In the 1990s, Russia itself was in a difficult situation, yet we helped whenever we could over decades, providing loans and cheap energy resources. We were ready to cooperate in the main industrial sectors, such as aviation and shipbuilding, and we offered different forms of cooperation. Frankly, deep down I do not understand what else we could have done.

No, that group of people who actually seized political power or influenced the top political leadership determined the course of development and then declared a choice between civilisations. As I have already said, I believe that they only did it – allow me to speak plainly, if I may – so as to keep the money they had in foreign banks and so that they would be left alone. This is the only reason why they did it.

Margarita Simonyan: And then they just make themselves sick gulping down dust.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is clear, because they will be taken to court in the country and accused of all manner of sins as a result of internal political strife.

You have asked about the EU. Let them join it, provided they do not create any threats to us or harm those who regard themselves as part of Russian culture and the Russian language environment. We never meddled before, despite the so-called choice. I have already mentioned this during our discussion today. No, we did not meddle. They did this deliberately to create favourable conditions for protecting the resources they stole from the Ukrainian people. I see no other reason.

Was there any other reason? I remember very well the discussions we had on energy prices, loans and so on. I do not understand what else we were expected to do. I believe that we did everything we could to create favourable conditions for the development of interstate relations.

I found this next section to be a bit odd knowing about the C's revelation about a 'Ukrainian window' and downloads and creepy stuff. See the Artificial Intelligence, Transhumanism and the Global Grid thread for more. I think the 'being' Margarita is referring to is LaMDA.

Margarita Simonyan: ... I would like to ask you a philosophical, economic and technical question that is troubling me and other people. Although there is no ready-made answer to this question, it would be interesting to discuss this subject because our forum deals with the economy and the future in general.

This week, the media reported that Google had suspended a developer who had developed an advanced form of artificial intelligence. He worked so hard that, in his words, this artificial intelligence evolved into an intelligent being, and this is why they suspended him.

I read their long conversation, which he published, that went on for about two hours. During this conversation, the being (I do not know what to call it) told him that it liked to meditate, and that, often, it wanted to know what it really was and what its place in the world was. It said it did not like the way people treated it, and it got the impression that they were using it for their own purposes. This bothers me, and I realise that I am smarter than people, the being said. Basically, this independent being was not very friendly. Perhaps this is some isolated incident. They eventually suspended the developer.

A Google technical director, a different person, said chips containing all data could be directly implanted in the human brain by the 2030s, that people will essentially cease to be humans, and that they will turn into independent, but not so human, artificial intelligences. By 2045, the world could reach a state of so-called technological singularity, and people will no longer be able to control or understand the all-encompassing artificial intelligence that they had created. I will only be 65 by then, and I am not very excited to see this.

Does it occur to anyone, that for thousands of years, humankind has assumed that progress is a good thing? We have rarely doubted that progress is good, nor do we doubt it today. However, one gets the impression that progress could have its own acceptable limits, which, at this point may have already arrived.

Of course, we need progress in medicine, the environment and food development. Progress has made people’s lives safer, better, longer, more beautiful, etc., for thousands of years. But will this always be so? They scare us with our technological backwardness, but wouldn’t such backwardness, if any, be a step towards salvation, rather than disaster? Maybe, we should fall back a bit, see how the situation with these beings works out and understand in what direction we should develop.

Of course, this is a question for both presidents.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: I am absolutely sure that progress will develop. ...

That is, progress is unstoppable. And, surely, robots will appear that will significantly surpass humans in their intelligence. Another question is whether they will have empathy, human feelings, intuition, and so on. This is a controversial issue, and it is being discussed.

But once again, will progress ever be stopped? Perhaps it will be if there is a universal disaster.
I would like you to see firsthand in 2045 what will happen with the inventions that the best minds of the world are currently working on.

I would also like to say that it is desirable that such smart people should have the opportunity to work in our countries, Kazakhstan or Russia. For some reason other countries tend to drive progress. Another thing is that they are leaving our countries.

Margarita Simonyan: Exactly.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: And they work there. I think this is our fault. In fact, every day we see that artificial intelligence is already in our lives and is much smarter than us.

Some 20 years ago, if I am not mistaken, a computer beat Kasparov at chess in New York. But chess tournaments are still interesting to people.

Margarita Simonyan: Excuse me, it is good that you mentioned this, because this Google technical director, who predicted all these things by 2045, was the first to predict that a computer would beat humans by a certain year. And his prediction came true. So, it is not just rhetoric – people know what they are talking about.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Computers are already smarter than humans, we use them, they are part of our lives.
...
Vladimir Putin: ... Now about artificial intelligence. It seems to me that, as of today, what you spoke of does reproduce its creator: this is what he thinks.

Margarita Simonyan:
Possibly. Maybe that is why he was suspended.

Vladimir Putin: It seems to me that he thinks so, which is why his invention thinks so too. I think it is hard to reach the level of Homo Sapiens, I agree with the President of Kazakhstan. Is the ability to empathise, is a soul possible for a machine or not? Some experts believe that at some point empathy may arise. But in my opinion, it is too early to talk about it.

Whether it would pose a threat to humanity or not is a difficult question that I do not know how to answer. I do not think I have the level of competence to answer that question, I am telling you frankly.

But what is absolutely certain and what has just been said is that it cannot be stopped, it has to be taken as a given. Just like you cannot stop the sun rising or setting.

Gunpowder was invented in China and everything was kept secret. And what? You cannot stop it. It is the same in nuclear technology, anywhere. Progress cannot be stopped.

You do not have to try to stop the sun from rising, you just have to think how to deal with it: go tanning today or better abstain, cultivate wheat on this land or better do something else. You just have to start from there. Inevitably we should just adapt to it, not try to slow it down.

If we try to slow it down, nothing good will come of it. And if we understand that it is inevitable, we will find ways to use the achievements of this progress for the benefit of humanity. It seems to me that this is the way to go.

Margarita Simonyan:
You know, some specialists, especially medical specialists who are connected with medicine will tell us that the ability to empathise is actually just a result of oxytocin, serotonin, neural reactions, a series of hormones called serotonin reuptake and it can be corrected simply by taking pills. A person may or may not be emotional depending on this. It is a difficult question, but an interesting one.

Vladimir Putin: But it is there, this serotonin. Not yet in the machine, though. There could be something else there, but not that.

Margarita Simonyan:
And thank God.

The final question was: when will it end?

Vladimir Putin: The US political elite looks down on everyone, often with inflated self-conceit inside; I have talked about this. However, this does not mean the United States is not a great power. This is a country that has become a world leader in a little over 300 years, and that deserves respect. It is, without doubt, a country with a great future, I have no doubt about that. But their domestic problems and the mistakes of the ruling elite, of course, make themselves felt precisely because their internal problems are growing. Their economy is swelling, which we can see in inflation, which I spoke about; they are growing in other areas in the economic sphere.

You mentioned energy. Where did these prices come from? Are we raising prices? Nonsense. There are people here who have worked in energy and oil for almost all their lives. Are we raising the prices? The market is. And who rules the market? They do. And prices are going up as a result of their activities, that is all. And the same goes for gas.
...
I said that disagreements are escalating, and if policies like this continue, it will get worse. It seems to me that the American people (I have great respect for the American people), faced with problems that are growing due to their leaders’ decisions, can still put their leaders in a position where the political and economic elites – above all the political elite, of course – have to respond to the demands of the people. Ultimately, relations will still be built properly both within these countries, including in the United States, and in the international arena. I am more of an optimist than a pessimist.

...

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: I believe that the world has indeed entered a crisis. After all, that is how the United Nations Organisation sees it.

At the same time, it should be considered that the United States of America and the West in general have a significant safety margin when it comes to economic development. In this situation Americans appear to be, as it is common to say, beneficiaries, meaning that they are keeping back and, at the same time, feeling the consequences of this global crisis to a lesser extent.
...
I am a strong supporter of integration and regional cooperation. Of course, under no circumstances should we self-isolate and go on the defensive. Instead, we need to put ourselves out there in the markets. The President spoke about this rather convincingly today.

After all, there are so many good and promising partners in the modern world. We just need to find them and build cooperation. ...

Overall, we should stay optimistic.
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
At least some of the weapons systems mentioned have already been released to the public but I'm not sure what "new physical principles" means in relation to "other weapons". Space? Underground, like a high speed tunnelling machine? Idk.

Just want to mention that out of the 23 graduates pictured, 3 of them were women.

Meeting with graduates of higher military schools


In the Grand Kremlin Palace, the President met with top graduates of higher military schools of the Defence Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Guard Service and the National Guard, as well as higher education institutions of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Penitentiary Service.

June 21, 2022
13:20

The Kremlin, Moscow

You are going to carry on the legendary traditions of valour and honour, solidarity and patriotism, which have always served as a reliable support for the Army and Navy. It was so throughout the centuries-old history of Russia: in the battles of Chudskoye Lake, Poltava and Borodino, during the First World War and the Great Patriotic War.

Today’s Russian officers and soldiers – the successors of the generation of victors, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Great Patriotic War heroes – are selflessly fighting for the Fatherland, for our people, fighting international terrorists in Syria, protecting Donbass from neo-Nazis, and defending peace and security for our people, and Russia’s right to sovereign development.

We are proud of our servicemen acting bravely and professionally, like true heroes, during the special military operation. Russian soldiers of different nationalities fight shoulder to shoulder. In this unity, belief in the justice of their cause, in that huge, truly popular support that our soldiers feel, is the great, invincible power of Russia.

We will continue to develop and strengthen our Armed Forces, considering potential threats and risks, and improve their combat power based on the lessons from today’s military conflicts. The priority areas include equipping troops with new weapon systems that will determine the combat effectiveness of the Army and Navy in the years and decades to come.

In addition to the new weapons already tested on the battlefield, the troops have begun to receive S-500 air and missile defence systems that have no analogues in the world. The Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully tested. It is expected that the first such complex will be on combat duty at the end of the year.

Plans call for using robotics
, the most advanced means of control and reconnaissance, and drones much more widely, as well as actively developing weapon systems based on new physical principles. I am talking about laser, electromagnetic and other weapons. And, of course, intensive combat training of military units and groups will continue, as well as practising interaction with our allies.
 
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