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Putin talks of Afghan disaster, plans for future at Eastern Economic Forum

The president also noted that Russia did not rule out placing a bid to host the Olympic Games in the future

VLADIVOSTOK, September 3. /TASS/. Despite developments in Afghanistan, the West is reluctant to stop imposing its standards on other countries, and developed countries aren’t providing enough assistance to others in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on Friday.

TASS has put together the most important and striking statements from the president’s address.

On situation in Afghanistan

"The reality is that the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia - TASS) now controls almost all of Afghanistan," Putin pointed out. "So, we should be guided by reality," he added.

According to him, the country's disintegration is what poses the main threat to Moscow. "Russia is not interested in a disintegrated Afghanistan. If it happens, there will be no one to talk with," Putin noted.

At the same time, in his words, the situation in Afghanistan can be described as a disaster. "It is a disaster because the Americans, who are very pragmatic people, spent over $1.5 trillion on this campaign, and what’s the result? And if we look at the number of people left in Afghanistan, who used to work for the collective West, the United States and its allies, then it will be clear that it is a humanitarian disaster, too," the Russian president stressed.

On attempts to impose democracy

"If a nation needs democracy, it will end up establishing it so there is no need to do that by force," Putin emphasized. However, even after Afghanistan, the West continues to pursue the same practice. "As for Afghanistan, they say: we got there and made a lot of mistakes. However, the same process continues in relation to other countries. What are sanctions? They are a continuation of the same policy aimed at imposing their standards," he specified.

Still, there is hope that Western countries "will realize that acting like before and trying to civilize other nations is a failed policy."

On "global police officer"

"It is the United Nations and the UN Security Council, particularly its five permanent members, that should be responsible for maintaining global order," Putin pointed out.

On fight against pandemic

"It is mostly advanced economies that enjoy the benefits of [COVID-19] vaccination. They produce most of the vaccines and use them to protect their own population. But very little is being done to protect humanity in the broader sense. That’s bad for the producers, too, because all this boomerangs around the world," Putin stressed.

On origins of COVID-19

"Trying to determine the causes of a phenomenon is the right thing to do. However, it’s not right to politicize things," Putin noted. "Those who are politicizing the issue are making huge, calamitous mistakes in the fight against the pandemic," he said.

On Olympics

"Regrettably, there have been ever fewer contenders in the world for hosting the Olympics," Putin said, adding that Russia did not rule out placing a bid to host the Games in the future. "Vladivostok is one of the likely venues," he added.

However, "it is too early to discuss the issue as everything will have to undergo a thorough evaluation." Besides, there is a need to ensure Russia’s full participation in major international events. "It’s not up to us. It depends on those who politicize global sports," Putin explained.

On Lavrov and Shoigu

"I do regret [letting them go]. They are doing a good job in their positions," Putin said. However, if the two ministers, who rank high on the United Russia party’s electoral list, make it into the State Duma (the lower house of parliament), they will need to decide for themselves.

On relations with Ukraine

"I believe that the situation that we are currently in is completely abnormal and unnatural. Sooner or later - and it better be sooner - we will fully restore our relations with Ukraine," Putin emphasized.

It would be good if a Ukrainian president attended economic forums in Russia’s Vladivostok or St. Petersburg one day, but whether it would be the current head of state, Vladimir Zelensky, "does not depend on us, it depends on the Ukrainian people and voters." "If President Zelensky is elected [for a second term] and sets the goal of improving relations with Russia, not only in word but in deed, then it is a yes," Putin said.

However, the situation is different at the moment. "It’s not the first generation of Ukrainian leaders that came to power under a slogan calling for better relations with Russia <...> and later, they deceived their voters in a disgraceful manner, turning their actual policy in another direction," the Russian president stressed.

On peace treaty with Japan

"We believe that the absence of such a document in our relations is nonsense. The more so because both Russia and Japan are interested in the full normalization of relations," Putin said. "We have never refused to hold dialogue on a peace treaty," he added.

At the same time, Moscow believes that the parties need to discuss the possible deployment of US troops and missiles near the Russian border. "All these questions have been put to Japan. We have not received any answers yet. I believe that in this sense the ball is in our partners’ court," Putin noted.

On plans for 2024

When asked if he planned to participate in the APEC summit in Brunei in 2024, the Russian president said: "We’ll see. It is a long way to go before 2024, we have to take care of ourselves with pandemics attacking us from various directions."

After it was clarified that the summit was scheduled to take place after Russia’s presidential election, Putin said: "I do understand it. This is why I’m saying, let us live in peace until then."