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Putin Meeting with War Correspondents

June 14, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Russian journalists at the Kremlin yesterday for what appears to have been a lengthy and wide-ranging discussion, one characterized by Putin’s in-depth replies to probing questions from the journalists.

In response to the first question on whether or not Russia’s goals in the special military operation have changed, Putin stressed that no, they have not changed. “No, they are changing in accordance with the current situation but of course overall we are not changing anything,” he said. “Our goals are fundamental for us.”

Putin went on to explain that Russia did everything possible to engage with the West, with NATO, “but we were quickly shown the door....” He noted that during the wars in the Caucasus, Russia was mostly fighting Al Qaeda but that the West was supporting the terrorists. “They did not give a damn about the fact that they were helping Al-Qaeda as long as they were able to rock our boat,” he said. Similarly on NATO expansion, Russia was rebuffed. “Why? It is just because the country is too big: no one needs a country that big and with such great potential in Europe,” he said. “Everyone tries their hand at gradually breaking Russia into pieces.”

Ukraine, Putin continued, “is part of the effort to destabilize Russia.” Russia did everything possible to help Ukraine, including by propping up its economy and continuing to engage with Kiev even after the first coup in 2004.

“Then they pulled themselves together, and events immediately started unfolding in the southeast, in Donbass—after the coup d’état, they realized that we would not be able to just leave Crimea—we simply could not leave it, this was impossible, it would have been a betrayal on our part,”

Putin explained. “But we didn’t touch Donbass. Yes, our volunteers were there, but the Russian state had nothing to do with it at all—I assure you of this—none at all. I’m perfectly open and honest—we had nothing to do with it, our involvement was zero. Yes, there were people from Russia there.”

On the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) and dam, Putin said.

“we did not record any big explosion just before the destruction. At any rate, this is what was reported to me. But they (Ukrainian forces) had targeted the Kakhovka HPP with HIMARS many times. That’s the whole point. Maybe, they placed munitions there—I don’t know right now, or maybe they undermined the structure with something minor and it triggered the break. But as far as we are concerned, we are not interested in this now because there are arduous consequences for the territories that we control and that belong to Russia.”

He indicated that Russian emergency services are working hard to contain those consequences.

Putin was asked both about drone attacks inside Russia and about Ukrainian sabotage activities inside Russia. In both cases, he stressed that these are problems that government must do better to deal with, but that they are solvable problems. One reporter noted that Ukrainian special services are conducting terrorist activities inside Russia. Putin agreed and replied that

“we, unlike Ukraine’s current authorities, cannot employ terrorist methods: We still have a state, a country, while it is a regime there. They operate, in fact, as a regime based on terror: They have a very tough counterintelligence regime, martial law. I don’t think we need to do that now. We just need to improve and expand the work of law enforcement agencies and special services.”

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