Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, March 4, gathered Russian and foreign journalists to state his position on events in Ukraine. The conversation took place in the presidential residence in Novo-Ogarevo. The live broadcast of the meeting was conducted by the Russia 24 channel.
In Ukraine, there was an anti-constitutional coup and the seizure of power
Vladimir Putin regards recent events in Ukraine as an anti-constitutional coup and an armed seizure of power.
“There can be only one assessment: it is an anti-constitutional coup and an armed seizure of power,” Putin said. “Nobody argues with this. Who argues with this? There’s a question for me, which neither I can answer, nor my colleagues, with which, as you know, I have been discussing the problem of Ukraine by phone a lot lately. The question is: why was this done? "
Ignoring the 21 arrangement of February, the Ukrainian opposition achieved the opposite effect and only rocked the situation in the country, Putin said. “They wanted to humiliate someone, show their strength. I think they achieved a result opposite to expectation. Because these actions have largely swung the east and south-east of Ukraine,” Putin said.
According to the Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych is the only legitimate head of the Ukrainian state, although in fact he has lost real power. “It is clear that he has no power, but I have already spoken about this and I want to repeat: only Yanukovych is legally the only legitimate president,” he stressed.
Yanukovych has no political future
Putin also said that he saw Yanukovych two days ago in Russia. “He was alive and well, and so he wishes,” the president said in response to a request for comment on rumors about the possible death of Yanukovych. "He will still catch a cold at the funeral of those who spread this information," the president joked.
At the same time, the president said that he had no sympathy for this policy. “No, I have other completely sentimental feelings,” he said, answering the question of whether he sympathizes with Yanukovych. Nevertheless, the president did not specify what exactly he feels. According to him, a person who bears on his shoulders the duties of the head of state should fulfill the will of those people who entrusted him to the country. At the same time it is necessary to act within the law. “It’s necessary to analyze whether he did everything from what the law and the mandate of voters gave him,” the president said.
The reason for the introduction of troops can only be an extreme case.
Vladimir Putin also told reporters that Russian troops in Ukraine can only be used as a last resort. Speaking about the legitimacy of this step, Putin recalled that "Russia has a direct appeal from the legitimate president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, about using the armed forces to protect the life, freedom and health of the citizens of Ukraine."
At the same time, he expressed confidence that the Russian and Ukrainian military personnel would not enter into confrontation and would be on one side of the barricades.
Changes in the republics of the former USSR should take place strictly within the constitutional framework, Putin stressed. “In the post-Soviet space, where there are very fragile political structures, a very weak economy, you need to act exclusively by constitutional means,” the Russian president said.
"The people, of course, wanted a change, but illegal changes should not be encouraged," he continued. At the same time, the radical elements, according to him, “still do not require some repair of the facade of power on the Maidan, but require radical changes.”
“I understand their demands, because they are already accustomed to changing swindlers for some swindlers,” Putin said.
At the same time, Putin noted that if lawlessness begins in the eastern regions of Ukraine, Russia reserves the right to use all means at its disposal to protect the people living there.
If such a decision is made, Putin said, then it will fully comply with international law.
Russia only strengthened the protection of its military facilities in the Crimea
Putin believes that the tense situation in the Crimea, under which it was possible to use the armed forces, was averted. He drew the attention of journalists to the fact that not a single shot has yet been sounded, there have been no casualties.
“The only need was that we increased the security of our military facilities, because they were constantly receiving threats, and we saw that militants from nationalist organizations were pulling up in the Crimea,” Putin said. "We did it - and did it right and in a timely manner," the Russian president stressed.
He also promised that Russia would provide financial assistance to the Crimea. “We have decided to organize the work of the regions of the Russian Federation to provide appropriate assistance to the Crimea, which turned to us for humanitarian support. And we, of course, will do it,” said Putin.
Situation in financial markets is temporary
The reaction of financial markets to events in Ukraine is a temporary phenomenon, the Russian president said. "Politics always affects markets one way or another. Money loves silence, calmness and stability. But it seems to me that this is a temporary phenomenon and a temporary influence," he said.
Vladimir Putin was asked what would happen if a number of countries impose sanctions against Russia. He replied that those who are going to introduce them should think about the consequences, and warned that the damage would be mutual.
Russia is preparing for the G8 summit, but if the partners do not want, then do not
Regarding the upcoming G-8 summit, Putin said that Russia is still preparing. Earlier opinions were expressed that some Western countries may refuse to participate in the summit.
“As for the G-8, I don’t know,” Putin said. “We’re preparing for the G-8, we’ll be ready to host our colleagues, but if they don’t want to come, don’t.”
Vladimir Putin also said that Russia will withdraw the ambassador from Washington only as a last resort. "This is an extreme measure. But if necessary, it will be used," he said. "But I really would not want to," the Russian president stressed. According to him, not only Russia with its partners is interested in cooperation at the international level "in the sphere of economics, politics, international security, but also our partners are interested in cooperation with us."
Gazprom intends to fix the debt of Ukraine for gas at the old price
In the course of communication with journalists, Putin said that Gazprom was talking about fixing Ukraine’s debt for gas supplies at the old price, and not about ending the provision of discounts from April. He noted that earlier, Gazprom had agreed with Ukraine on a discount on the price of gas and a loan to pay off debts for the fuel already supplied, while Ukraine pledged to regularly pay for gas supplies. Putin stressed that, despite the provision of discounts and loans, however, Ukraine’s debt for gas supplies to Gazprom already amounts to 1,5-1,6 billion dollars, and if it does not receive a payment for February, it will already reach two billion. "Under these conditions, Gazprom says, if you don’t pay anyway, then let's fix at a normal price, not at a reduced price," the Russian president said. He stressed that this is not connected with the events in Ukraine or with politics. “They gave money, they lowered gas prices, but there are no payments. Naturally, Gazprom says: that will not work,” Putin concluded.