ST. PETERSBURG, June 5. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday expressed hope that challenges created by the novel coronavirus pandemic would spur countries to remove politically motivated restrictions against each other. The Russian leader also told heads of world news agencies at a meeting organized by TASS that countries should not build partner relations based on the principle of making-friends-against-anyone, adding that "there should be some ethics" in relations between state leaders.
TASS gathered Putin’s main statements made at the meeting.
Causes of the pandemic
"Too many things have already been said on this subject, so it seems to me that making more comments about this would be senseless. I don’t think that I can say something new or compelling."
Role of the pandemic
"I wish with all my heart that the trials we faced last year would inspire us to work closer with each other, to finally get rid of politically motivated restrictions, especially at times when we need to join forces for the benefit of the people, in the name of their lives and health."
"I think that any partnership between countries must not be geared towards others. Countries should be friends with each other to achieve common goals, to address tasks facing them."
Relations with other leaders
"I don’t think I have the right to judge the activities of other leaders. If I did that, I would immediately ruin my relations with my colleagues. There should some ethics of relations at this level."
Interference into domestic affairs
"Our law [on foreign agents] is aimed solely at limiting interference in domestic affairs, just like it is done by many other countries. And we will keep doing this in the future. We will try to reduce interference into our internal affairs to the minimal level. We see nothing unusual and nothing to be ashamed of here."
"Our opposition, including non-systemic, works openly. The question is that all the people who are involved or say that they are involved in political activity, should work in accordance with the current law. It is a requirement for everyone."
Future of dollar
"If you heard me saying something about the dollar, and understood that we want to get rid of it as a reserve currency or as a universal means of payment, this is not the case. I was talking about something else. I was talking about the fact that the United States uses the dollar, uses its national currency for various kinds of sanctions."
Meeting with US president
"I do not expect any breakthroughs as a result of that meeting. But I think that in spite of contradictions - but they have not been created by Russia, I would like to mention that - we still have overlapping interests."
"I proceed from the fact that President Biden is a very experienced politician. He has been in politics for almost his whole life. <…> Therefore, I hope that our meeting will be constructive."
"The problem of empires is that they think they are so powerful that they can afford small inaccuracies and mistakes. <…> "But problems keep piling up. And, at some point, they are no longer able to cope with them. And the United States is now walking the Soviet Union’s path, and its gait is confident and steady."
Peace treaty talks with Japan
"Yes, we have amended the constitution. Undoubtedly, we must take this into account, but I don’t think that peace treaty talks must be suspended."
Relations with UK
"The most important thing is to treat each other with respect, to trust each other."
Cooperation with China
"You mentioned a treaty [of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation] that undoubtedly played a very important part in the development of Russian-Chinese relations which acquired indeed an absolutely unprecedented nature in terms of their quality and level of interaction. Yet you and I understand: the issue is not in the treaty, although this is a very important document, an important landmark. The issue is that Russia and China have a lot of coinciding interests. This is what lies at the core of our interaction."
"Strategic stability is highly important. We don’t plan to frighten anyone with our new weapons systems. We do develop them and have achieved some success but all countries <…> all the leading military powers do the same. It’s just that we are one step ahead."
Denuclearization of Korean peninsula
"We strongly oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction across the planet. And our friends in North Korea are among those who are aware of that. But a solution to this problem lies not in choking North Korea or slapping it with more sanctions. On the contrary, conditions that guarantee security to North Korea must be created."
Need to vaccinate
"Let me wish you all the best, and good health above all. This is so important under present-day conditions. And in order to stay in good health, one needs to be vaccinated with Russian vaccines."
"Both Russia and international experts have recognized Sputnik V as perhaps the most effective vaccine, its effectiveness stands at 97.6%. I think that it is the safest in the world. At least, our services haven’t recorded a single fatality though millions of people have already been vaccinated. Unfortunately, there were tragic incidents linked to other producers. I hope that we will not have to face such incidents.".