VLADIVOSTOK, September 7. /TASS/. Russia has lost nothing and will lose nothing as a result of its military operation in Ukraine, but on the contrary, has enhanced its sovereignty, as the polarization around the world and within the country will bring about some benefits, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on Wednesday.
The president, who in contrast to his last year’s speech focused on international issues, stated that Russia is coping with the aggression of the West, whose stability was thrown into "the furnace of sanctions," and slammed the Istanbul grain deal as "outrageous deceit." When touching upon political restrictions on Russian energy exports, he told Europe "let the wolf’s tail freeze," citing a Russian folk tale. Commenting on EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s statements, Putin said, "Let God be his judge." Additionally, he suggested that Western journalists might visit the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant "as soon as tomorrow."
Putin drew attention to the development of the Far East. He suggested extending the down payment assistance program for homebuyers in the region until at least 2030 and promised new support measures for the region’s growth. The president also commented on the verdict to Ivan Safronov saying that the counterintelligence agency had been investigating him for several years, and the court considered his guilt proven.
TASS summarized Putin’s key statements.
About developments in Ukraine
The Russian operation in Ukraine is a tit-for-tat response to what had been going on there since 2014, "I would like to emphasize once again that we have not started anything in terms of military operations. We are only trying to end the hostilities."
"I believe that we have lost nothing and will lose nothing. And from the standpoint of gains, I can say that our main gain is stronger sovereignty. This is an inevitable result of what is going on," he stressed.
"A certain polarization is taking place both in the world and within the country. I believe that this will bring about certain benefits, because everything that is unnecessary, harmful and everything that prevents us from moving forward will be renounced. We will gain momentum and the pace of development," Putin said.
About grain deal
The Istanbul grain deal turned out to be "another outrageous deceit," as almost all the agricultural products shipped from Ukraine have gone to EU countries, whereas Russia and the poorest economies were "merely ditched."
Russia can put forward a proposal of limiting the Ukrainian grain exports to the European Union.
"I will definitely have a word with the Turkish President, Mr. Erdogan on this issue. After all, we were the ones who worked out the Ukrainian grain export mechanism," the president said.
Nevertheless, Moscow will continue to work on the deal, "in the hope that the goals, for the sake of which this case was organized, will eventually be achieved."
Global food prices are still growing because of the restrictions on Russian exports, which are still in effect, regardless of the fact, they were officially waived from sanctions.
"It is a cunningly drawn-up, sophisticated design when no sanctions appear to be in place, but there are restrictions related to logistics, vessel chartering, funding, and insurance," he said.
"It is obvious that with this approach the scale of problems with food products in the world will only grow, unfortunately, to our great regret, which is capable of leading to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe," Putin stressed.
About gas and "wolf’s tail"
A price cap on Russian gas imports, which is being weighed by the European Union, is "yet another stupidity, another non-market decision that has no future," which might result in a price hike.
Russia has no problems with exports of its energy resources, as the gas delivered from Russia via pipelines "is many times more competitive than the liquefied natural gas shipped across the ocean."
Moscow will not be implementing "the political decisions that contradict contracts."
"We won’t be supplying anything if it runs counter to our interests," he said. "Those who are imposing whatsoever on us are not in a position to tell us what they want. Let them think about it."
"There is only one thing left for us to do, as in a famous Russian folk tale, we will chant: "let the wolf’s tail freeze," Putin said citing a children’s tale, which says how a fox, another character, gets the wolf to fish in an ice hole with his tail.
Allegations that Moscow is using the Nord Stream gas pipeline as "an energy weapon" are "another load of nonsense."
Russia is poised to restart Nord Stream 1 as soon as tomorrow, but "they wouldn’t let [us do it]," and "pushing the button" is enough to switch Nord Stream 2 on.
In general, Russia is placing a stake on "the thoughtful and smart development of Russia’s natural riches," so the raw materials extracted in the country will be used primarily for stepping up national sovereignty, whereas the sector of extraction is already protected "against unfriendly actions."
About "furnace of sanctions"
The United States’ slipping global dominance and Western elites’ inability to accept objective facts have become a catalyst for the West’s "frenzy of sanctions." As a result, the high level of Europe’s industrial development and Europeans’ living standards "are being thrown into the furnace of sanctions" and sacrificed for the United States to maintain its global dictatorship.
European companies’ competitiveness is diminishing due to the disrupted ties with Russia among other factors.
"It would not be surprising if ultimately the niche of European business both on the continent and in the global market will be occupied by their American patrons. They never limit themselves in following their interests and do not hesitate to reach their goal," Putin said.
Moreover, "in the attempt to resist the course of history, Western countries have undermined the key pillars of the world economic system," so confidence in the dollar, euro, and other Western currencies has been lost and inflation rates have hit many-year record highs.
About Zaporozhye NPP
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report about the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is credible.
"Yes, I undoubtedly trust this report," the president said. "They [the IAEA - TASS] are, of course, under pressure <…> and they cannot sat it straightforwardly that shelling comes from the Ukrainian territory, but it is an obvious thing," the head of state said.
The claims that Russia is shelling the NPP it controls is "nonsense," he added.
Russia is poised to take "anyone, including a large group of journalists, including European and US journalists" to the nuclear power plant "as soon as tomorrow."
About visas and contacts
Russia should not respond in kind to visa restrictions against Russian citizens, "We shouldn’t do anything that does not serve our interests," Putin said.
Russia will not be cutting contacts with Western countries, including those in culture, education and sport.
"Those who do it are not isolating us, they are isolating themselves," Putin said.
Moreover, Moscow will welcome if Western companies will continue their operation "despite all their own restrictions."
"Let them come and work, what’s so bad about it?" he noted.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s calls "to defeat Russia on the battlefield" is a "bizarre diplomatic approach."
As for his words about "a fascist Russia," "let God be his judge, let him claim what he wants," but in the 1930s "he would have been on the side of the coup plotters" in Spain.
About Russian business
"On the whole, the Russian business community is showing in the highest degree their responsibility for the country, for the Motherland, for citizens of Russia. I want to take a note of this and want to thank them for it," Putin said.
When speaking about those business people whose accounts and yachts were seized in the West, Putin recalled that they had been warned of possible consequences.
"They should have kept those boats here, and should have invested their money not in foreign assets, but in the development of Russian infrastructure. They would have lost nothing, but would have made a profit on the money they invested," Putin said.
"Russia is a sovereign country, and we will always protect our national interests while pursuing an independent policy course," Putin said.
Russia appreciates the same qualities in those of its partners who have proved reliable and responsible over years of cooperation in trade, investment and other spheres, he added, referring primarily to Asia-Pacific countries.
According to Putin, "the overwhelming majority of Asian-Pacific nations find the destructive logic of sanctions inacceptable, and business relations [with the region] are based on mutual benefit," and this is "the region’s huge competitive advantage and the key to its dynamic, long-term development."
About multipolar and "rules-based" order
"[Russia’s] vision of a multipolar order is that of a world that must be more just, a world that shouldn’t be based on the diktat of one country, which imagines itself as God’s representative on Earth, or perhaps even higher, and builds its entire politics on its alleged exclusiveness," Putin specified.
"Many say today that Russia is violating international law. I believe that this is absolutely not true," he insisted adding that international law has been violated by those who invaded Libya and Iraq, but who are now referring to certain invented rules.
About new British prime minister
When commenting on the appointment of Liz Truss as the UK’s prime minister, Putin said that "a procedure far from the democratic principles of electing a head of government" is in effect in the UK.
"The people of Great Britain are not participating in the change of government in this case," he said.
How London will build relations with Russia under Prime Minister Liz Truss will depend on the British ruling elites, he assumed.
"Our duty is to protect our own interests. We will be doing it consistently and nobody should have any doubts about it," he pledged.
About economic situation
"Russia is coping with the economic, financial and technological aggression of the West," the president said.
In general, "the peak, the most difficult situation [in the country’s economy] has been passed. The situation is normalizing," although some problems remain in place "in several industries and regions, at individual enterprises in the country, especially those that were related to supplies from Europe or supplied their products there."
In particular, the unemployment rate is at a historic low - below 4%, and inflation is declining as well. It may reach around 12% by the end of the year, and by the second quarter of next year, it is likely to decrease to 5-6%, "and others say that 4% will be reached."
There will be a decline in GDP, but it will be insignificant, somewhere around 2%, he said adding that this year’s budget will have a surplus of up to 0.5 trillion rubles despite the rise in expenditures.
About development of Far East
The down payment assistance program for homebuyers in the Far East will be extended at least until 2030. Five billion rubles will be earmarked annually for renovating Far Eastern cities and towns with a population below 250,000 people, which is half of the funds allocated for urban renovations across Russia.
The Russian authorities will continue to support the rapid development of the Far Eastern regions, including through state support, Putin pledged.
Organized by the Roscongress Foundation, the Seventh Eastern Economic Forum will be running from September 5 to September 8 in Vladivostok. TASS is the event’s general information partner and its official photohost agency.
This year, the theme of the forum is: "On the Path to a Multipolar World."