During the meeting with war correspondents at the Kremlin Vladimir Putin has made many significant statements:
- What is the point of our actions? We will have to take two steps from the centre of the field. After all, we wanted and still want to have the best possible relations with all our neighbours after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is what we are doing. We have accepted that what happened, happened, and now we must live with it.
- You know, I’ve already said that, no secret here, we did offer every option to our Western partners, as I used to call them, we thought we were one of them, we wanted to be in the family of so-called civilised nations. I reached out to NATO suggesting that we look into that possibility, but we were quickly shown the door; they didn't even bother to consider it. I also suggested creating a shared missile defence system.
- Ukraine is part of the effort to destabilise Russia. By and large, this should have been kept in mind when decisions were made on breaking the Soviet Union up. But then, apparently, it was expected that our profound relations would be decisive. But due to a number of historical, economic and political circumstances the situation took a different path. We tried everything on this path as well. In fact, we have, for decades, if not fed, but sustained their economy – you are aware of this, since I have written and talked about it – with cheap energy, other things, loans and so on. To no avail. How did it end eventually? They started killing our supporters in the streets and eventually staged a coup d’etat.
- Then they pulled themselves together, and events immediately started unfolding in the southeast, in Donbass – after the coup d’état, they realised that we would not be able to just leave Crimea – we simply could not leave it, this was impossible, it would have been a betrayal on our part. But we didn’t touch Donbass… Eventually, we were compelled to act in defence of these people. We were simply compelled to do this. Nine years! We genuinely tried to agree – difficult as i was – on somehow keeping Ukraine’s southeast as part of the country, we were sincerely working for this. Now we know that our so called partners simply cheated us – they swindled us, as people say. They never planned to fulfil any of the agreements, as it turned out, and so it all came to the current situation.
- Demilitarisation. We are dealing with this gradually, methodically. What are the Armed Forces of Ukraine fighting with? Do they produce Leopards or Bradleys or the F-16s they haven’t received yet? They don’t produce a thing. The Ukrainian defence industry will soon cease to exist altogether. What do they produce? Ammunition is delivered, equipment is delivered and weapons are delivered – everything is delivered. You won't live long like that, you won't last. So, the issue of demilitarisation is raised in very practical terms.
- Overall, though, this is a large-scale offensive: they started out on the Vremevsky ledge, in the Shakhtersky and Zaporozhye directions. It began precisely with the use of strategic reserves and continues as we speak: right now, with us gathered here and discussing it, there is a battle going on in several combat areas.
- The enemy was not successful in any sector. They suffered big losses. Good thing for us. I will not give the number of personnel losses. I will let the Defence Ministry do it after it runs the numbers, but the structure of losses is unfavourable for them as well. What I mean to say is that of all personnel losses – and they are approaching a number that can be called catastrophic – the structure of these losses is unfavourable for them. Because as we know, losses can be sanitary or irretrievable. Usually, I am afraid I may be off a little, but irretrievable losses are around 25 percent, maximum 30 percent while their losses are almost 50/50. This is my first point. Second, if we look at irretrievable losses, clearly, the defending side suffers fewer losses, but this ratio of 1 to 10 is in our favour. Our losses are one-tenth of the losses of the Ukrainian forces.
- The situation is even more serious with armour. During this period, they lost over 160 tanks and more than 360 armoured vehicles of different types. This is only what we are seeing. There are also losses that we don’t see. They are inflicted by long-range precision weapons at masses of personnel and equipment. So, in reality Ukraine has sustained heavier losses. By my calculations, these losses are about 25 or maybe 30 percent of the equipment supplied from abroad.
- As for our losses – let the Defence Ministry talk about other indicators and personnel – I said they lost over 160 tanks and we lost 54 tanks, some of which can be restored andrepaired.
- (About the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant). It is clear who is to blame – Ukraine was working at this. You know, I am not going to say things that I am not one hundred percent sure of, but by and large, we did not record any big explosion just before the destruction. At any rate, this is what was reported to me. But they had targeted the Kakhovka HPP with HIMARS many times. That’s the whole point. Maybe, they placed munitions there – I don’t know right now, or maybe they undermined the structure with something minor and it triggered the break. But as far as we are concerned, we are not interested in this now because there are arduous consequences for the territories that we control and that belong to Russia. This is the first point.
- Now the second point. Unfortunately, I will say a strange thing now but nevertheless, this unfortunately ruined their counteroffensive in this direction. Why unfortunately? Because it would have been better for us if they had launched their offensive there – better for us because it would have been a bad offensive position for them. But that didn’t happen because of the flooding.
- Now we must approach the issue of environmental safety and sanitary safety very seriously, because cattle burial sites and cemeteries are underwater. This is a serious problem, but it is solvable. We will need to use the chemical protection troops: the Minister has already reported to me, he gave the command. Together, by joining forces, I think we will be able to solve all the problems, including with water supply. As for the people, everyone will receive assistance in accordance with Russian law and standards. All these conditions are known, they are envisaged in our laws. Everything will be done in the same way as for any other citizen of the Russian Federation, for every household.
- Polish mercenaries are indeed fighting there – you are absolutely right, I agree with you – and they are suffering more loss. In fact, they are trying to hide them, but their losses are serious. It is a pity that they hide this from their population too. Mercenaries are being recruited – right in Poland, and in other countries, by the way. They are sustaining losses. That’s first.
- Concerning drones. You probably know, and your colleagues also know, at one time we had a situation at Khmeimim when drones flew in and, unfortunately, dropped several grenades, and we lost personnel there. But we rather quickly learned to deal with this, in various ways, with various means. It is sometimes difficult, but it is a solvable task.
- Apparently, the same is true here: our relevant agencies need to make the necessary decisions, because the traditional air defence system, as you surely know, is calibrated for missiles, for large aircraft. As a rule, the drones you are talking about, and you are also aware of this, they are made of modern lightweight materials, made of wood, and it is quite difficult to detect them. But they are being detected. Although, it is necessary to carry out corresponding work, detect them in time, and so on. And this, of course, is being done, and will be done for sure, as far as Moscow and other major centres are concerned, I have no doubts about it whatsoever.
- As for border areas, there is a problem, and it is connected – and I think you understand this too – mainly with a desire to divert our forces and resources to this side, to withdraw part of the units from those areas that are considered the most important and critical from the point of view of possible offensive by the armed forces of Ukraine.
- Of course, we need to strengthen the border, and if any of you work there, you surely can see that this process is moving quite quickly, and this task of strengthening the borders will also be solved. But the possibility of shelling our territory from the territory of Ukraine certainly remains. And there are several solutions here. First, increasing effectiveness and counter-battery combat; but this does not mean that there will be no missiles flying at our territory. And if this continues, then we will apparently have to consider the issue – and I say this very carefully – in order to create some kind of buffer zone on the territory of Ukraine at such a distance from which it would be impossible to reach our territory.
- We, unlike Ukraine’s current authorities, cannot employ terrorist methods: we still have a state, a country, while it is a regime there. They operate, in fact, as a regime based on terror: they have a very tough counterintelligence regime, martial law. I don’t think we need to do that now. We just need to improve and expand the work of law enforcement agencies and special services. And in general, it seems to me that the tasks in this regard are also solvable. But in general, introducing some kind of special regime or martial law across the country does not make any sense; there is no such need today.
- The West is flooding Ukraine with weapons, this is a fact, nobody is hiding this; on the contrary, they are proud of it. By the way, there are some problems here because, to a degree, they are violating certain aspects of international law by supplying weapons to an area of conflict. Yes, yes, yes, they prefer not to pay attention to this, but they are doing it. Never mind, they will keep doing it anyway, and it makes absolutely no sense to reproach them because they have their own geopolitical goals concerning Russia, which they will never attain, never. They must realize that, after all.
- During the year, we increased the production of our main weapons by 2.7 times. As for the manufacture of the most in-demand weapons, we increased this by ten times. Ten times! Some industrial companies work in two shifts and some in three. They practically work day and night and do a very good job… I would like to use this opportunity to thank our labourers and engineers that are working day and night. Many of them go to the frontline to adjust equipment right in the zone of hostilities and do a very good job.
- When we are talking about one of our main goals – demilitarization – this is exactly how it is being achieved. They have less and less of their own equipment – almost nothing is left of it. They have some old Soviet plants where they try to repair hardware but the number is constantly decreasing because when we get information on what is taking place and where, we try to deal with it. Meanwhile, our production is growing and the quality is improving. The specifications – the range and precision – are being improved. If we did not have this special military operation we probably would not have understood how to upgrade our defence industry to make our army the best in the world. But we will do this.
- No one would ever have thought about starting a conflict with Ukraine if we had normal relations as persons. There is not even a need for a Union State. But what they did there was they created an anti-Russia. They created it as a basis underlying their own existence. They created the anti-Russia and began to strengthen it. This is the problem.
- There is a NATO issue as well. After all, when Ukraine gained independence, the Declaration of Independence explicitly stated that Ukraine was a neutral state. Who was it that, in 2008, when things were just fine with no Crimean events in sight, suddenly said they wanted to join NATO, and NATO opened its doors to them, declaring at the summit in Bucharest that NATO’s doors were open to Ukraine?
- (Q.: “Are we going to keep moving our red lines?”) Is the special military operation itself not a response to them crossing these lines? This is the first and the most important point. We said many times “Do not do this, let's do that, we are ready for talks.” In the end, they prompted us to try to use force to end the war that they started in 2014. They keep telling us, “You started the war, Putin is the aggressor.” No, they are the aggressors, they started this war, and we are trying to stop it, but we are compelled to do so with the use of the Armed Forces. Is this not the answer to their crossing the red lines? Are strikes on Ukraine’s energy system not an answer to them crossing the red lines? And the destruction of the headquarters of the main intelligence directorate of the armed forces of Ukraine outside Kiev, almost within Kiev’s city limits, is it not the answer? It is.
- We will continue to work selectively. We will not do what these halfwits are doing when they target civilian sites and residential areas. Of course, we will not do this. We will continue to provide selective responses.
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