ST. PETERSBURG, July 14. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Tuesday he decided to write an article about the unity of Russians and Ukrainians several months ago, because active work on the ‘anti-Russia’ project has started in Ukraine, and this cannot but cause concern in Moscow.
The Russian leader said that just like in individual freedoms, a state’s freedom is limited by the freedom of others, and called upon those who had begun ‘military exploitation’ of the Ukrainian territory to take Russia’s concerns seriously.
TASS gathered the main points of Putin’s comment.
Why the article was written
The idea of the publication, which is "slightly more than just an article" emerged because relations with Ukraine have changed drastically. "In all appearances, active work on the ‘anti-Russia’ project has begun, and of course this cannot but cause certain concern with us," Putin said.
Moreover, forces that favor normal ties with Russia have no chance of engaging in legitimate political activities in Ukraine. "Nationwide mass media are getting closed, [people] are placed under house arrest as was the case with [Ukrainian lawmaker and party leader Viktor] Medvedchuk. At the same time, Ukrainian governmental bodies make absolutely illegitimate decisions, which are beyond their sphere of competence. Therefore, those forces have no chance of engaging in legitimate political work," Putin said.
Article’s target audience
In the president’s words, his article is addressed to "to residents of both modern Russia and modern Ukraine, as well as to sponsors of Ukraine’s present-day leadership." "They also need to know who we are and what we think about each other. In my opinion, this is important for all of us," the Russian leader said.
In his opinion, Ukraine’s incumbent political leadership "should take a pause and read this article carefully first, analyze it, examine some documents" if Kiev wants to discuss it. "It would be quite hard to contest this article, because it is fair and is really based on historical documents," the Russian president said.
He also advised those who are currently engaged in "military exploitation" of the Ukrainian territory to take account of Moscow’s concerns: "I do expect our concerns to be taken seriously," Putin added.
Freedom of a state
Putin compared a country’s freedom with individual freedoms, saying that every nation has the right to choose its own path. "There is a well-known formula: the freedom of a person, everyone's freedom is limited by the freedom of others," he said. "If it comes into conflict with the freedom of another person, then you need to think about certain restrictions, self-restrictions. The same applies to states."
According to him, if certain threats are created, especially threats on the security track, "then of course we must understand what to do with this."
The ultimate goals of Ukraine’s foreign policy were not of utmost importance for Moscow, the president continued. "What really matters to us is that they pose no problems and no threats for us," he said.
Speaking about relations with other countries, Putin said Russia was creating economic and political unions with those seeking this form of integration. "We create economic or defense unions, such as the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] or the EAEU [Eurasian Economic Union]," Putin said. "But we do not drag anyone into those [unions].
In his words, the Union State of Russia and Belarus is a type of integration when both states preserve their sovereignty, not a state in its literal sense.
Ukrainian gas transit
"Despite the present-day difficulties, Russia has certain liabilities under this contract [on gas transit] and, naturally, it will fulfill them in full," Putin told journalists.
Commenting on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s initiative to discuss the Nord Stream 2 project during the future meeting of the Normandy Quartet leaders (Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine), Putin said the issue of gas transit via Ukraine and other gas-related matters should not be linked with the Normandy-format talks on the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
In his article, Putin mentioned "the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians," who now inhabit Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, respectively.
When asked whether the tripartite "greater Russian nation" was a thing of the past, Putin replied: "Of course, not."
Soviet Union’s delayed action mines
Putin reiterated that The USSR republics’ right for secession was "the most dangerous delayed action mine" under the statehood of the Soviet Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. In his words, the Soviet Union’s early leaders, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, had a debate about it.
Another delayed action mine was the Communist Party’s leading role, because "it turned out that it was the only thing that held the entire country together as a single nation."
Putin said he might raise the subject again in future: "There were other delayed action mines as well. Maybe, we will talk about them later.".