VLADIVOSTOK, September 12. /TASS/. In his speech at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), Russian President Vladimir Putin dwelt on the conditions that are needed to begin peace talks with Kiev. Thus, in his words, Kiev should annul its decree on the impossibility of such talks and stop its counteroffensive.
Apart from that, the president spoke about the ruble exchange rate, fuel prices, the demographic situation and migrant affairs in Russia.
Below are Putin’s key remarks.
About ruble exchange rate
"I do not believe there are any insurmountable obstacles and difficulties" in what concerns the ruble exchange rate. "There will be no hasty decisions" on this matter.
The Bank of Russia’s decision to raise the key rate stemmed from the need to diminish inflation risks. "Yes, it reduces lending opportunities, slightly holds back economic development, but it is a major factor in reducing inflation risks."
"There are no good or very good decisions here. There are some difficult choices to be made. They must, however, be made in a timely manner. So far, both the Bank of Russia and the government have done an excellent job."
About fuel prices
"The government failed to react promptly to changes on the global market caused by rising oil prices but this situation can be regulated. In general. Manufacturers and the government have agreed on how they will act in the near future."
About demography and migrants
Life expectancy is going up in Russia. "The average life expectancy stood at 71 years in 2001 and today it stands at 73.6 years. There was a period, I believe it was in July this year, when it slightly exceeded 74 years in a year-on-year rate." However, Russia is currently in the midst of another demographic crisis.
Migrants account for a mere 3.7% of Russia’s labor market, but it is important to see to it that there are no migrant ghettos, like in some foreign countries.
"Maybe, we won’t need that many migrants if we introduce new technologies that reduce the need for a lot of workers."
About dissidents leaving Russia
Some 160-170 people of culture have left Russia over their disagreement with the government’s policy. "If a talented person who could be working here is gone, probably, we have lost something. But, on the other hand, let me be frank, maybe it’s better for these people to work there, abroad, once they want to serve the interests foreign countries rather than brainwash millions of our citizens here by spreading some non-traditional values."
For citizens who left Russia, "no one closed" the door to come back.
About foreign agents
Russia's law on foreign agents "is almost a carbon copy of the US law, but much more liberal."
Putin also emphasized that he is constantly asking law enforcement agencies to submit proposals on how to improve the procedure for foreign agents. When asked whether it is possible to revoke the status of a foreign agent, Putin said: "Yes, it is possible. And there are such precedents, through a court decision."
About prospects for talks on Ukraine
"If the United States thinks that Ukraine is ready for talks, let them (the Kiev regime - TASS) cancel the ban on negotiations imposed by a decree from Ukrainian President [Vladimir Zelensky]<…>by which he prohibited himself and all others from conducting negotiations."
Russia can’t stop hostilities if it’s repelling an enemy counteroffensive. "From every side, the people we talk to, those who are mediating or would like to mediate, say to me, ‘Are you ready to cease hostilities?’ But how can we cease hostilities if the other side is conducting a counteroffensive? What are we supposed to do? They will counterattack, and we will say, ‘And we are standing down. We are not Trotskyists."
As a result, Ukraine is sustaining big losses in manpower - some 71,500 people since the beginning of the operation.
About combat spirit
In the past six to seven months, 270,000 people signed voluntary service contracts with the Russian Armed Forces. "1,000 to 1,500 people come to sign a contract with the Russian armed forces every day."
"Russian men understand what they will have to face, that they may give their lives for the homeland, become seriously wounded, but conscript to the army all the same." "They are defending the motherland’s interests."
About the role of foreign special services
Ukrainian saboteurs have recently been detained for plotting an attack on a Russian nuclear facility. "They told their interrogators that they had been trained by British instructors."
"Do they even understand what they are playing with? Does the British leadership and the prime minister know what their intelligence agencies are doing in Ukraine? Or, maybe, they don’t know at all? I accept that British intelligence acts at the behest of the Americans as well."
About presidential election in US
"I think there will be no fundamental changes regarding Russia in US foreign policy, no matter who is elected president." "The current authorities have tuned public opinion in America to an anti-Russian key and spirit - that's what it's all about. They have done it, and now it will be very difficult to somehow turn this ship in the other direction."
The campaign in the United States against the former president, Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election, "is a politically motivated persecution of a political rival." "And it's being done before the eyes of the US public and the whole world. They’ve just exposed their internal problems
Russia has never and in no place acted as a colonizer, unlike Western countries. "Our cooperation has always been built on an equitable basis or on the wish to help and support. Those countries which are trying to compete with us now, they have a completely different policy." Moscow has long admitted that the deployment of Soviet tanks to Hungary and Czechoslovakia was a mistake that "led only to the escalation of tensions."
Armenia has de facto recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh and committed this to paper in its Prague statement. Such a situation raises questions about the humanitarian component and the mandate of Russian peacekeepers to remain in the region. "The mandate is still valid. And the humanitarian issues of preventing some kind of ethnic cleansing there, of course, have not gone away."
Moscow "offered to mediate an agreement with Azerbaijan in such a way that two districts - Kelbajar and Lachin - would actually remain under the jurisdiction of Armenia. And the whole of Karabakh. But the Armenian leadership did not agree to this, although we tried to convince those in charge of the country for a decade."
"As regards private entrepreneurs, Elon Musk is, without question, an outstanding person. This should be acknowledged, and, I think, this is universally acknowledged throughout the world." "He is an active and talented businessman."