Putin Tells West, This Game Has Come to an End: You Must Give Russia Security Guarantees
Dec. 23, 2021 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin answered with a blunt, impassioned review of recent history, when a reporter for Britain’s Sky News asked a typical needling question during the President’s annual press conference today. The only conclusion we can draw from the unrelenting advance and attacks on Russia, Putin explained, is that the West is out to break up Russia.
EIR reproduces their exchange in full, so that sane people in the West can start thinking through the significance of allowing to continue the policy of threatening the very existence of the proud nation of Russia, today a nuclear-armed power.
Sky News, Diana Magnay: You have talked a lot about security guarantees, and now we have seen your proposals. You also say you have no intention of invading Ukraine. So, will you guarantee unconditionally that you will not invade Ukraine or any other sovereign country? Or does that depend on how negotiations go? And another question: what is it, do you think, that the West does not understand about Russia or about your intentions?
President Vladimir Putin: Regarding your question about guarantees or whether things depend on the negotiations, our actions will not depend on the negotiation process, but rather on unconditional guarantees for Russia’s security today and in the historical perspective.
In this connection, we have made it clear that any further movement of NATO to the East is unacceptable. Is there anything unclear about this? Are we deploying missiles near the U.S. border? No, we are not. It is the United States that has come to our home with its missiles and is already standing at our doorstep. Is it going too far to demand that no strike systems be placed near our home? What is so unusual about this?
What would the Americans say if we stationed our missiles on the border between Canada and the United States, or between Mexico and the United States? Haven’t Mexico and the U.S. had territorial disputes in the past? Which country owned California? And Texas? Have you forgotten? All right, nobody is talking about this now the way they are talking about Crimea. Very well. But we are trying to avoid talking about the creation of Ukraine as well. Who created it? Vladimir Lenin did, when he established the Soviet Union. This is set out in the 1922 Treaty on the creation of the Soviet Union and in the 1924 Constitution. True, this happened after his death, but in accordance with the principles he formulated.
But the matter at hand concerns security, not history, but security guarantees. This is why it is not the negotiations themselves but the results that matter to us.
We remember, as I have mentioned many times before and as you know very well, how you promised us in the 1990s that [NATO] would not move an inch to the East. You cheated us shamelessly: there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and now the weapons systems I mentioned have been deployed in Romania and deployment has recently begun in Poland. This is what we are talking about, can you not see?
We are not threatening anyone. Have we approached U.S. borders? Or the borders of Britain or any other country? It is you who have come to our border, and now you say that Ukraine will become a member of NATO as well. Or, even if it does not join NATO, that military bases and strike systems will be placed on its territory under bilateral agreements. This is the point.
And you are demanding guarantees from me. It is you who must give us guarantees, and you must do it immediately, right now, instead of talking about it for decades and doing what you want, while talking quietly about the need for security guarantees to everyone. This is the point. Are we threatening anyone?
Now to your second question. Repeat it, please.
Magnay: What is it that you think that the West does not understand about Russia or about your intentions?
Putin: Does the West understand or fail to understand something? You know, sometimes I get the feeling we live in different worlds. I just talked about things that are obvious. How can you not understand them? They told us: there will be no expansion, but they expanded. They promised us equal guarantees for all under several international treaties. But this equal security has failed to materialize.
Look, back in 1918, an aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson said that it would be a relief for the entire world if instead of one huge Russia, that a separate state in Siberia and another four countries in the European part be created.
In 1991, we divided ourselves into 12, I believe, parts, and we did this ourselves. Still, it seems that this was not enough for our partners. They believe that Russia is too big as it is today. This is because the European countries themselves turned into small states. Instead of vast empires, they are now small states with 60 to 80 million people. However, even after the Soviet Union collapsed, and we were left with just 146 million, it is still too much for them. I believe that this is the only way to explain this unrelenting pressure.
Take the 1990s, for example. The Soviet Union did everything to build normal relations with the West and the United States. I have said this many times, and I will repeat it, so that your listeners and viewers understand. I do not recall what media outlet you represent, but this is not the point. We had representatives from American intelligence services at our nuclear, military facilities; monitoring Russia’s nuclear weapons sites was their job. They went there every day and even lived there. Many advisors, including CIA staffers, worked in the Russian Government.
What else did you need? Why did they have to support terrorists in the North Caucasus and use organizations of a clearly terrorist nature in attempts to break the Russian Federation apart? But they did this, and as former Director of the Federal Security Service, I know this all too well. We worked with double agents, and they reported to us on the objectives set for them by Western intelligence services. But why? They should have treated Russia as a potential ally, and made it stronger, but it all went in the opposite direction; they wanted to break it down even further.
And then they started expanding NATO eastwards. Of course, we told them not to do this, arguing that they promised not to. But they asked us: “Do you have any paper record? No? If not, go away, we don’t care about your concerns.” This continued year after year, every time we showed our teeth and tried to prevent something and voice our concerns. But no: they did not want to hear anything, saying that they would do what they considered necessary.
There were one, two, three, four, five—five waves of expansion. What is it they don’t understand? I don’t know. You can say that this is all abundantly clear. I do believe that it is clear as daylight: we want to ensure our security.