Excerpt from Putin's Interview

‘We are ready, if America wants to wage nuclear war’

[Excerpts from the interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin with a prominent journalist Dmitry Kiselev. The interview was done on the eve of election-March 13, 2024- and the reslut has gone in favour of Putin for another six years term.]

Secondly, we have already been promised a lot of things many times before. We were promised that NATO would not expand to the East, but then we saw NATO at our borders. We were promised, without delving into history, that the internal conflict in Ukraine would be resolved by peaceful, political means. As we remember, three foreign ministers from Poland, Germany and France came to Kiev and promised that they would be guarantors of these agreements. One day later, the coup d’état took place. We were promised that the Minsk agreements would be honoured, and then they publicly announced that they never intended to fulfil their promises, instead they only took a pause to arm the Bandera regime in Ukraine. We were promised a lot of things, so that is why promises alone are not enough.

For us to hold negotiations now just because they are running out of ammunition would be ridiculous. Nevertheless, we are open to a serious discussion, and we are eager to resolve all conflicts, especially this one, by peaceful means. However, we must be sure that this is not just another pause that the enemy wants to use for rearmament, but rather a serious conversation with security guarantees for the Russian Federation.

We know various options that are being discussed, we know the “lures” they are going to show us in order to convince us that the time has come. Once again, we want to resolve all disputes and this particular dispute, this particular conflict, by peaceful means. And we are ready for that, we want that. But this should be a serious negotiation with provision of security for the opposing side, and in this case we are primarily interested in the security of the Russian Federation. That is what we will proceed from.

Dmitry Kiselev: Mr President, I am afraid we appear too generous, don’t we? Wouldn’t it be the case that we conclude another agreement with them and they will cheat us once again? And we will console ourselves with the thought that we did it all honestly and it was they who cheated. Are we doomed to always end up with egg on our face?

Back in the 1990s, the United States coined themselves medals for the victory in the Cold War, and the decades since that time have been the decades of great lies. How can we ever hope that they finally conclude an honest treaty with us and comply with it and give us guarantees? I do not know how we are to handle them. Do you really believe this is at all possible?

Vladimir Putin: I hate saying this, but I don’t trust anyone.

Dmitry Kiselev: Well.

Vladimir Putin: But we need guarantees. These guarantees have to be put down on paper, and they should suit us and they should make us trust them. That is what I mean.

It would probably be premature to publicly say that it could be possible. But we certainly will not buy any empty promises.

Dmitry Kiselev: I am afraid your words might be cited and interpreted broadly. When you say that you don’t trust anyone, do you mean that you trust nobody at all or do you refer to the Western partners in this particular case?

Vladimir Putin: I prefer to rely on the facts rather than be guided by wishful thinking and assurances that everybody can be trusted. You see, the responsibility for the consequences of any decision of this magnitude is immense. For this reason, we will do nothing that would prejudice the interests of our country.

Dmitry Kiselev: Mr President, what happened to Emmanuel Macron? Has he gone nuts? He is going to send French troops against our army. He looks like a fighting Gallic rooster and has scared all Europeans. How should one take it?

Vladimir Putin: In fact, the Western countries’ military personnel have been present in Ukraine for a long time. They had been there before the coup d’état, and after the coup their number has grown several times. Today they are involved both directly as military advisers and as foreign mercenaries, and they suffer casualties. Yet I am certain that even if foreign countries are to send their troops officially, it will not change the situation on the ground – and this is the most important thing because arms supplies change nothing.

Second, it can lead to serious geopolitical consequences. If, say, Polish troops enter Ukrainian territory, allegedly for the protection of, say, the border between Belarus and Ukraine, or some other parts, to release Ukrainian troops and enable them to fight along the contact line, I think, Polish troops will stay there. That is what I believe. It is their heart’s desire to get back the lands they have historically regarded as theirs, the lands that “Father of the Peoples” Joseph Stalin took from them and gave to Ukraine. They certainly want to have these lands back. So if Polish troops enter Ukraine, they will hardly ever leave it.

In such a case, this example might be followed by other countries that lost parts of their territories after the Second World War. I think that Ukraine would face geopolitical consequences – at least as regards preserving its current statehood – in their full and unappealing magnitude.

Dmitry Kiselev: Meanwhile it seems that both superpowers, Russia and the USA, are playing what the Americans call the “chicken game” (when chickens ram each other); it is a game in which two drivers head toward each other to see who swerves away first. None seems inclined to be the first so far. Is the crash imminent then?

Vladimir Putin: Why? The United States announced that they are not going to send troops. We know what American troops in the Russian territory are. These are invaders. That is how we will treat them even if they appear in the territory of Ukraine, and they understand it. Mr Biden is a representative of the traditional school and this is proved. Yet, apart from Mr Biden, they have enough specialists in Russian-American relations and strategic deterrence. Therefore, I do not think that it is getting closer to a head-on collision. But we are ready for it. I have said many times that it is a matter of life and death for us, while for them it is a matter of improving their tactical position in the world on the whole as well as maintaining their status among their allies in Europe in particular. This is also important, but not as much as it is for us.

Dmitry Kiselev: It is interesting that you said we are ready for it. Philosopher and geopolitical expert Alexander Dugin directly urges to practically prepare for a nuclear war. “The better we are ready for it, the less likely such a war is”, Mr Dugin states. How can you ever be prepared for it? Are we really ready for a nuclear war?

Vladimir Putin: From a military-technical point of view, we are certainly ready. They [the troops] are constantly on alert. This is the first thing.

Secondly. Our nuclear triad is more advanced than any other one, and this is also a universally recognised fact. We and the Americans are the only ones who have such a triad, actually.

Here, we have made a lot more progress. We have a more advanced nuclear component. On the whole, as for carriers and warheads, we have a rough parity, yet, the nuclear component we have is more sophisticated.

Everyone knows it, all experts do. However, it does not mean that we should compete by the number of carriers or warheads, but we should know about it. And I repeat that those who need it – experts, specialists, the military – are well aware of it.

Now they are setting the task to increase this modernity, novelty, they have relevant plans. We also know about them. They are developing all their components, so do we. But, in my view, this does not mean that they are ready to wage this nuclear war tomorrow. If they want to, what is there to do? We are ready.

Dmitry Kiselev: You play a key role not only in Russia, but also in the world, because billions of people associate with you the hope for international justice, for the defence of human dignity, for the protection of traditional values. How does it feel to feel that level of responsibility?

Vladimir Putin: To tell you the truth, I don’t feel it at all. I am simply working in the interests of Russia, in the interests of our people. Yes, I understand what you are saying now, and I am ready to comment on it. But I don’t feel like I’m some sort of master of the world’s destinies. Believe me, nothing even close. I am just doing my duty to Russia and to our people, who consider Russia their Motherland.

As for other countries of the world, the way we are treated around the world is very closely related to this. That’s what is interesting. It is a phenomenon, that’s for sure.

What I would like to draw attention to. You are absolutely right here, many people in the world are looking at us, at what is happening in our country and in our struggle for our interests.

That’s what I think is important. Why is this happening? Not because we are formally members of BRICS or because we have some kind of traditional relations with Africa. This is also important, but the point, in my opinion, is quite different. The point is that this so-called “golden billion” has been practically parasitising on other peoples for centuries, 500 years. They tore apart the unfortunate peoples of Africa, they exploited Latin America, they exploited the countries of Asia, and of course no one has forgotten that. I have the feeling that it is not even the leadership of these countries, although it is very important, but the ordinary citizens of these countries feel in their hearts what is happening.

They associate our struggle for our independence and true sovereignty with their aspirations for their own sovereignty and independent development. But this is aggravated by the fact that there is a very strong desire in Western elites to freeze the current unjust state of affairs in international affairs. They’ve spent centuries filling their bellies with human flesh and their pockets with money. But they must realise that the vampire ball is ending.

Dmitry Kiselev: Are you alluding to their, as you put it in your recent Address [to the Federal Assembly], colonial manners? That’s what you’re saying.

Vladimir Putin: That’s the way it goes.

Dmitry Kiselev: But now you have painted a perfectly fair picture of people seeing some hope in Russia. How is it that Western propaganda, with all its power, its colossal resources and tools, has failed to banish Russia, isolate it and create a false image of it, although it strived to do so in the heads of billions of people? How did that happen?

Vladimir Putin: Because what I just said is more important to people. People all over the world feel it in their hearts. They don’t even need any pragmatic explanations for what is happening.

Dmitry Kiselev: You mean despite the wave of this dirt?

Vladimir Putin: Yes. In their own countries they also deceive people, and it has an effect. They – in many countries – believe that this is in their interests because they don’t want to have such a huge country like Russia on their borders. The largest in the world in terms of territory, the largest in Europe in terms of population – not such a large population in the global dimension, not comparable to China or India, but the largest in Europe – and now also the fifth largest economy in the world. What do they need such a competitor for? They think: no, it is better, as some American specialists have suggested, to divide it into three, four, or five parts – it will be better for everyone. They proceed from that.

And part of, at least, Western elites, blinded by their Russophobia, were delighted when they brought us to the line after which our attempts to stop the war unleashed by the West in Ukraine in 2014 by force began, when we switched to conducting a special military operation. They even rejoiced, I think. Because they believed that now they would finish us off, now, under this barrage of sanctions, practically a sanctions war declared against us, with the help of Western weapons and war through Ukrainian nationalists, they would finish off Russia. Hence the slogan: “To inflict a strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield”.

But later came the realisation that it was unlikely, and still later – that it was impossible. And they came to understand that instead of a strategic defeat, they are faced with powerlessness, a powerlessness despite the fact that they were relying on the might of the all-powerful United States. They felt frustrated seeing the unity of the Russian people, the fundamentals of the Russian financial and economic system and its sustainability, and before the growing capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.