Vladimir Putin: “Russia raised its head and emerged as a real geopolitical competitor”

17:31 13.09.2023 •

Photo: Kremlin.ru

During the plenary session of the 8th Eastern Economic Forum Vladimis Putin answered many questions of the moderator of the discussion is Ilya Doronov, managing director of the RBC TV channel. Key points, particulary on international themes.

Q. Here is my question: Do you think that these global domestic plans would have been made and implemented if no sanctions had been adopted [against Russia], first in 2014 and later in 2022, if the borders had not been closed, and if we had not been deprived of depositing capital [abroad]?

Vladimir Putin: We started doing this long before the events that took place in the past few years, in 2014, and we did it because we saw the global economic development trends. We saw the rise of new centres of influence and economic development. I believe I do not need to name these countries, which everyone knows about. We saw what was changing and how, and we can see today that these trends have not slowed down but are gathering momentum.

But what happened after 2014, after the Western countries supported a coup in Ukraine and started the war in Donbass: many processes began to accelerate.

Just now we, together with the moderators and our colleagues, discussed the development plans for the Eastern Operating Domain. There is money, investors are interested because there is a market, and they are ready to invest their own money because they can see the profits from such a big cargo turnover. A good return on investment is guaranteed. That is why this work began a long time ago, and the events in the global economy over the past years have given a boost to our work in the Far East.

Vladimir Putin: Many businesspeople are interested, there is a trend: earlier, many of our businesspeople created some platforms for themselves and then saw that their legally earned money got confiscated. You know, this is not my money, but the money of our companies and entrepreneurs, and it is simply beyond the pale. People who have been doing this do not understand that there will be negative consequences for them, it seems that they still do not understand that.

Take, for instance, restrictions on dollar settlements. What will it lead to? It has resulted in a situation where all countries are now considering creating their own tools, new settlement systems and are contemplating whether they should keep their savings in the US or somewhere in Europe, and if it is viable to invest in these countries’ securities.

I can assure you, I know this is happening. Of course, everyone will give it some thought. Our gold and forex reserves have been frozen but we have already earned twice as much. It is not about these 300 billion, but the shattered confidence in those who are doing it. They are undermining trust in them. The same is happening in trade and restrictions on trade.

So, God knows, it is their own fault that they will inevitably face negative consequences, it is already happening. This is not what we wanted, but it is an objective process related to the increasing number of rapidly developing economic centres.

Nevertheless, we can see that logistics chains and goods deliveries have now virtually been restored, and everything has been normalised. We can see that this is also linked with the national currency exchange rate, including the restrained return of foreign currency revenues, to put it mildly, and a desire to deposit something abroad once again… We can see this, and we understand everything. We need to reach some agreement with the business community, and they should understand and proceed from the premise that it is more reliable to operate here. Consequently, they should not step on one and the same rake. I am confident that those whom I am addressing understand me.

Yes, we have major companies, especially in the energy sector; however, private companies are developing rapidly, and we support them, including here in the Far East.

Look, we provide state-backed infrastructure investment for all investment in the Far East. In the past three years or so, we have invested an estimated 15 billion in business support infrastructure, I do not remember the exact figure. Additionally, we have invested 8.5 billion since early 2023 alone. As far as I know, we will be investing an additional 33 billion in the next three years. This also concerns many other areas. We are incentivising the work of our companies and creating privileges for them, especially here, in the Far Eastern region. Let us stay here, on this territory.

By the way, the number 25 billion just came to my mind. This is how much we spent on infrastructure in recent years. We spent 8.5 billion in the first six months of this year, and 33 more billion has been set aside. That is how we are doing it, and we will keep doing it. We realise that investing in infrastructure should be our way of supporting businesses. So, we are doing this and will keep doing it in the future.

Vladimir Putin: We gained many things in the 1990s, meaning above all, emancipation and freedom, but, regrettably, we also lost a great deal, mindlessly wasting and even squandering what we had achieved in the previous decades during the Soviet era.

But, as you know, the historical memory of the nations with which we were friendly, cooperated and helped in their development has been preserved. It will not be difficult to restore our relations based on the new principles, because people in these countries want this. I am referring to Laos, where we see many friends, the Asia-Pacific region as a whole and Africa.

The Russia-Africa Summit took place recently. Frankly, I was surprised once again by the Africans’ openness and their desire to work with us. I have been thinking about this too. You see, the point is not only that we did something for Africa, helping their people regain freedom and independence and fight against colonialism, although this also important. They remember that, but they also remember other things.

What do I see as the main point? The main point is that we have never acted as colonisers anywhere. Our cooperation has always been based on equality or a desire to provide help and support. The countries that are trying to compete with us, including now, had a completely different policy. When people look at what happened in the past during their cooperation with Russia, or the Soviet Union as it was called then, and with other countries, their scales are tilted in favour of Russia, which we must certainly take into account and remember today.

If we look at Africa and our cooperation, we see that we helped it. What did the former colonisers do? Back in 1957 – I was recently been shown a photograph – they brought people from Africa in cages to European countries, for example, Belgium. It is an ugly sight, children put up on display in cages.

Yes, they brought people in cages and put them up on display, whole families and children in separate cages. How can you forget this? Nobody in Africa will ever forget this.

And now they are trying to issue commands and pursue their neo-colonial policy there. They have put all African countries in debt, which runs into trillions of dollars. In other words, they have created a financial credit system for Africa under which the African countries can never pay off their loans. These are not credit arrangements at all; it is a form of contribution, if you see what I mean.

We used and still use a completely different approach, which gives us certain advantages when working with our partners, including those with whom we had special relations during the Soviet era and those with whom we are relaunching relations now. Our friends are aware of this as well.

Q.: Since we have touched upon this subject anyway, can I ask you a question: What do you do with those who do not think this way? For example, what about the Baltic states, the Czech Republic or Hungary, who are saying that Russia acted as a colonising power when it ordered its tanks to invade Prague or Budapest?

Vladimir Putin: We have long since recognised that this part of the Soviet Union’s policy was a mistake and did nothing but escalate tensions. A country’s foreign policy must not directly contradict the interests of other nations. That is all there is to it.

However, if we are talking about stepping on rakes, this is the case today for the leading Western powers, primarily the United States. It has been pressuring its allies and its so-called partners – after all, it does not have any friends, only interests. This is an extension of a well-known British formula.

Q.: Since we talked about logistics: Belt and Road, the Chinese initiative, marks its 10th anniversary this year. We have the Greater Eurasian Partnership project. But after the G20 summit it was announced that – I will specify the countries – the US, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Jordan and India have concluded work on a historic, as it was put, agreement on a new India – Middle East – Europe economic corridor. Russia is not included, nor is China. Do you think this initiative will affect the implementation of our own and Chinese projects and what does it mean for us in general?

Vladimir Putin: I think it is for our good; it will help us develop logistics. First, this project has been discussed for a long time, maybe for the past several years. Truth be told, the Americans joined it at the last minute. But I do not really see why they would want to be part of it, except maybe in terms of some business interest. In the meantime, the additional traffic of goods along this corridor will be in fact an addition to our North – South project. We do not see anything here that could harm us in any way.

The North – South corridor goes to the Persian Gulf and then to India. If there is another route, I believe it includes Israel, we will be able to reach the Mediterranean through the Black Sea and use this corridor. I do not know, the colleagues who presented this project need to consider it carefully. This is only a memorandum of intent so far.

But we should see the economics of this project because cargo is supposed to reach the sea by railroad, and then it will be loaded aboard sea vessels, and then travel to either the Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia; it will be once again reloaded onto the railroad. And this double transshipment and its impact on the economics should be calculated.

In terms of time, if we go from Northern Europe, from St Petersburg to Mumbai, it will take the same amount of time as via the North – South route. I reiterate, the economics should be considered. I think that our route might be more efficient.

Also, interest in using the Suez Canal will not go anywhere. I do not think it would somehow have a negative impact on the Suez Canal. I do not believe that will happen. And, finally, the last thing. Cargo shipment volumes are growing every year, and I think that the more such routes the better.

Vladimir Putin: I think that we should emulate many of our partners, for example, India. They are focused on the manufacture and use of Indian-made vehicles. I think that Prime Minister Modi is doing the right thing in promoting the Make in India programme. He is right.

We have [Russian-made] automobiles, and we must use them; this is absolutely fine. This will not lead to any infringements of our WTO obligations, absolutely not. It will concern state purchases. We must create a certain chain regarding what cars different classes of officials can drive, so that they will use domestically-made cars.

Q.: Then I have a question about the presidential election in the United States. What are your expectations regarding this? They are taking place next year, and some strange things are happening there; we understand that Trump could be taken into custody at any time.

Vladimir Putin: Why should we be concerned about that? I believe there will be no fundamental change in US foreign policy towards Russia, regardless of who becomes President.

It is true that we hear Mr Trump say he can resolve many serious problems, including the Ukraine crisis, in a few days. Well, that is something to be happy about. It would be good. But, in the grand scheme of things, we… by the way, despite the accusations of him having special ties with Russia, which is complete nonsense and absurdity, he imposed the greatest number of sanctions on Russia during his presidency. So, I find it difficult to say what to expect from a new President, whoever it may be. It is unlikely, though, that any crucial change will take place, because the current authorities have conditioned American society to be anti-Russia in nature and spirit; that is how things are. They did this, and it will now be very difficult for them to turn that ship around. That is the first point.

Second, they view Russia as an existential and constant adversary or even an enemy and implant this idea into the heads of ordinary Americans. This is not good because it fosters hostility. Despite this, there are many people in America who want to build good and friendly business relationships with us and, moreover, share many of our positions, primarily from the perspective of preserving traditional values. We have many friends and like-minded people there. But, of course, they are being suppressed.

So, we have no way of knowing who will be elected, but whoever it is, it is unlikely that the anti-Russia policy of the United States will change.

As for the persecution of Trump, well, in today's conditions, in my view, that’s a good thing.

Q.: Why is that?

Vladimir Putin: Because it reveals the rotten American political system, which should not be able to claim it can teach others about democracy.

Everything that is happening to Trump is the political persecution of a political rival. That is what it is. And it is happening in the eyes of the US public and the whole world. They have exposed their domestic problems. In this sense, if they are trying to fight us, it is good because it shows, as they used to say in Soviet times, the beastly appearance of American imperialism, its beastly snarling grimace.

Everything that deals with Russia’s relations with the West revolves around the geopolitical interests of the Western countries. This applies to all these attacks, including in the spiritual domain – they are all an extension of this geopolitical confrontation. Of course, the West has long sought to convert Russia to Catholicism and to bring it under the Holy See’s rule. And when that failed, they started searching for ways to cast our country as the Evil Empire. It was Reagan who coined this phrase, but in fact we have been seeing this since the Middle Ages, or maybe even earlier.

Whenever Russia raised its head and emerged as a real geopolitical competitor, and I am talking about competition here and nothing else, Russia instantly came up against someone’s containment policies.

Vladimir Putin: By the same token, the West is seeking to contain China in its development, seeing that under the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership and with our friend, President of the People’s Republic of China at the helm, the country has been making great strides in its development. This comes as a shock to them, and they are doing everything to slow China’s development. But they have not been able to do this, they are late. This is a missed opportunity for them, and it is already too late. This is an objective process.

This is not just about China. There is also India, as well as Indonesia. New centres of power will emerge, and in their efforts to contain these processes certain Western countries, led by the United States, will do nothing but hurt themselves.

Q.: Xi Jinping visited Russia, and we remember the video when you saw him off, and he said: we started change which has not been seen for the past 100 years. What did he mean?

Vladimir Putin: You know, we talked to each other one on one for four hours. There were so many nuances and details. All I can say is that in recent years we have indeed reached an unprecedented level in our relations. This applies to our interactions in all their aspects.

We had a meeting with the Chinese delegation today. Compared to our statistics, the Chinese’ statistics show an even greater volume of trade between our countries. We have every chance to maybe reach $200 billion in trade this year, even if I cannot be sure that we will succeed since it depends on various changing factors like price fluctuations or currency exchange rates, so we will have to wait and see how they effect it. But what matters here is that we are proactive in promoting our cooperation, rather than specific figures.

Indeed, we have reached a remarkable level in our relations on international security matters and in terms of coordinating our positions. We act in each other’s interests and seek to hear each other on many important issues. This means both listening and hearing, and responding at the government level, at the heads of state level, at the ministerial level, as well as in the contacts between security and military agencies and institutions. We have upgraded our cooperation and reached unprecedented heights in this regard.

But here is an interesting fact: We are not creating any military alliance or trying to use our friendship against anyone. Our friendship is designed to serve our people. This is the way for us to move forward.

You know, China is an independent country, and it prioritises its own interests. The same applies to Russia as it pursues its own interests.

It would be wrong to argue that we do not respond to each other’s requests. Let me cite a sensitive issue dealing with opening the Chinese market to our coal and mining companies. China too faces some challenges in the coal industry, and they also want their miners to supply their goods to the domestic market, but still, they opened their market to our coal producers, and this has been quite a substantial effort.

However, we must do our part and demonstrate the advantages we have to offer. And our Chinese partners have been quite receptive to our initiatives.

We have been quite good in high technology, and the project to build nuclear power plants in China goes on, and there are quite a few of them, in fact. Of course, Russia is a leading provider in this sector with outstanding performance, both domestically and internationally. Our Chinese partners acknowledge this and offer us these projects and let us use these sites, despite the fact that they are developing their nuclear sector too. However, they have been willing to reach out to us since our proposals have their own competitive advantages.

For example, we need to reach common ground on the wide-body aircraft project. This is a challenging task, but we are making progress, even if the talks have been going on for quite some time now, but still, we must deliver. To give you another example, in helicopter manufacturing we have a clear competitive edge on the international market, but this has not prevented us from working with China. We will make heavy-lift helicopters – there is an agreement to this effect too. We have been working together in the space sector, and despite certain challenges we have some competitive advantages here as well. They are quite willing to work with us.

Once again, we must recognise that the People’s Republic of China has achieved a lot in high technology under the guidance of its current leader. It is our duty to talk this over with them, and this work is underway. We must understand how they can benefit from working with us in order to offer them favourable terms. This is normal business practice. The fact that it rests on a solid foundation of mutual trust cannot be underestimated. I am certain that we will move forward.

Vladimir Putin: Who is a foreign agent in Russia? It is a person who engages in public activities for money from a foreign state. And this law does not even prohibit them from continuing this activity; it only requires them to disclose the sources of their funding. We know very well that whoever pays the piper calls the tune. If they are paid here, inside the country, to engage in public activities, at least they should show the source of their funding. There is nothing unusual about that.

Q.: I have a Ukraine-related question. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited Ukraine, and then gave an interview to ABC, in which he said that Ukraine is ready for talks with Russia, adding that the terms and future borders would depend on Ukraine's opinion. However, he also said that peace talks are currently not an option, since quote-unquote “It takes two to tango,” implying that Russia is not willing to engage in these talks. I have two questions. Can you comment on this? And second, in your opinion, what is behind the US Secretary of State’s position? Did he hear you saying in Sochi that the counteroffensive has failed and it is time to start talking? And the third question: why is the US Secretary of State making such statements on behalf of Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin: You should ask him why he is making statements on behalf of Ukraine; I have no way of knowing. Regarding the negotiating process: if the United States believes that Ukraine is ready to talk, then let it start by rescinding the Ukrainian President's executive order that prohibits talks. There is a presidential executive order in which he prohibits himself and everyone else from holding talks. Blinken says they are ready. Okay, let them start by canceling this decree or executive order, or whatever they call it; that would be the first step.

Now, as for the general situation. Many people, including myself, understand this: Ukraine is conducting what they call a counteroffensive. There are no results, of course. Let's refrain from calling it a failure or not a failure. There are no results. There have been significant losses. Since the start of the counteroffensive, they have lost 71,500 troops. And they want to achieve results at any cost, as they say. Sometimes it seems as if these are not even their own people that they are throwing into this counteroffensive; it is as if they are not their own people. Frankly… this is what the commanders from the front line are telling me. It is amazing.

Q.: Do you talk to them over the phone?

Vladimir Putin: All the time.

Ukrainians have suffered significant losses, including 543 tanks and nearly 18,000 armoured vehicles of various classes, and so on. So, it appears that they want, as their Western curators are telling them, to bite off as much territory as they can, pardon my language. And then, when all resources, both personnel and equipment and ammunition, are close to zero, they will seek to stop the hostilities, saying they have been talking about wanting negotiations for a long time now, but use these talks only to buy time and to replenish their resources and to restore the combat capabilities of their armed forces.

This tactic is possible. In any case, it is one possibility. Again, if there is a sincere desire to achieve something through talks, then let them do so. But why is Blinken saying that?! Let the Ukrainians themselves say that they are rescinding the executive order I mentioned and say so.

They have publicly stated that they will not engage in talks. Now let them publicly state that they want to. I do not see anything here that would damage their image.

Listen, from all sides the people we communicate with who would like to act as intermediaries, are asking: are you ready for a ceasefire? How can we cease hostilities if the other side is conducting a counteroffensive? What should we do? They will continue their counteroffensive, and we will say we are stopping? We are not Trotskyites who said that movement is everything, and the ultimate goal is nothing. That is a bad theory.

Q.: So, it means that first, Kyiv should stop the hostilities, prove it, and then we would be ready to talk?

Vladimir Putin: Listen, I have already told you that first they should rescind the executive order that prohibits talks and announce that they want to engage in negotiations, and that is all there is to it. Then we will see what happens next.

Q.: A decision has been made to send depleted uranium shells. There is now talk that Ukraine might also receive long-range missiles – with a range of up to 300 kilometres. First, how do you think this might affect the situation on the front? And second, how will we respond to that?

Vladimir Putin: You know, we talked about that, but I have to repeat. Not too long ago, the US administration considered the use of cluster munitions to be a war crime, they said this publicly. Now they are sending cluster munitions to the combat area in Ukraine. They announced publicly that it was a crime, but they are doing it anyway. Overall, they don’t care what people think of them; they always do everything only in their own interest. They made some estimates, and since the 155-mm ammunition is running out and it is hard to manufacture it in Europe or in the US, they are supplying what they have in their arsenals. Well, they have cluster bombs, so there they go. The same is true of depleted uranium. Using this is a crime, they said, not me, they said it is a crime. But they are doing it now anyway.

Nothing is working. Of course, it is taking a toll on us. The same is true of depleted uranium. It contaminates the ground. Is that bad? It’s very bad.

Q.: By the way, IAEA head [Rafael Mariano] Grossi said, “No, nothing like this will happen.”

Vladimir Putin: We know what it is. The land will be contaminated anyway. And what about it? Has it altered the situation? The British have been sending these shells for a long time. Has it changed anything on the battlefield? No. Now they are going to send F-16s. Will it change anything? No. It is just dragging out the conflict.

Their election process begins in November, and they need to show some results at any cost. They are pushing Ukraine to continue the hostilities, no matter what they say publicly, because they do not care about Ukrainians. Surprisingly, today's Ukrainian leadership does not seem to care about its own people, either; they just throw them like firewood into a stove, plain and simple.

Will this change anything? I think not. I am sure it will not. Will it drag the conflict out? Yes, it will.

But what concerns us is the fact that they have no restraints. Let me share a story. Not long ago, on our territory, the Federal Security Service, during an armed confrontation, eliminated several troops and captured the rest. They turned out to be a sabotage group from Ukrainian special services. Interrogations are underway. What were their objectives? Their mission was to damage one of our nuclear power plants, blow up a power line, high-voltage transmission lines, with the aim of disrupting the power plant’s operation. This was not their first attempt at that. During the interrogation, they said they had been trained by British instructors. Do they understand what they are playing with? Are they trying to provoke us into taking retaliatory actions against Ukrainian nuclear facilities?

Does the British government and the Prime Minister know what their intelligence agencies are doing in Ukraine, or are they are clueless? I even consider the possibility that British intelligence agencies are acting under the instructions of the Americans, and we know who the ultimate beneficiary is. Do they understand what they are dealing with, or not? I think they are simply underestimating the situation.

Q.: They did not experience Chernobyl.

Vladimir Putin: You know I am aware that once I say this, they will start yelling that this is another threat, nuclear blackmail, and so on. I assure you that what I just said is the full and unadulterated truth.

These individuals are in our custody and cooperating. I know the likely reaction: “They will say whatever you want at gunpoint.” No, that is not the case, and the leadership of the British intelligence agencies knows that I am telling the truth. But I am not sure if Britain’s leaders truly understand what is going on.

These things really concern us because they do not know where to stop, and this could lead to serious consequences.

Q.: But we know that we will not target nuclear infrastructure.

Vladimir Putin: I told you that they could be provoking us into taking such actions.

Q.: How justified, do you think, are Yerevan's claims to the effect that Russia and the CSTO failed to help, and the Nagorno-Karabakh siege has not been lifted, either, which led to a humanitarian disaster?

Vladimir Putin: Since Armenia has recognised Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, what is there to discuss? This is the key aspect of the issue. Armenia determined the status of Karabakh itself. That is all there is to it.

Vladimir Putin: We carried out a partial mobilisation. As you know, we called up 300,000 people. Over the past six or seven months, 270,000 people have volunteered for contract service in the Armed Forces and volunteer units.

Q.: Is this in addition to the partial mobilisation?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course, they signed up in the past six or seven months. People go to military recruitment offices and sign contracts. As many as 270,000 have done this. Moreover, the process continues. Every day, between 1,000 and 1,500 people come to sign up, every day.

You know that this is the distinguishing feature of the Russian people, Russian society. I do not know if this is possible in any other country because our people consciously sign up in the current situation, knowing that they will be ultimately sent to the frontline. Our men, our Russian men, realising in full measure what lies ahead and understanding that they might die defending their Motherland or be seriously wounded, they still make this choice, voluntarily and consciously, to protect their country’s interests.

You spoke about elections. They have been held everywhere, including in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions and in the Lugansk and Donetsk republics. They were held in difficult conditions there, and I admire the courage of the staff at polling stations. When bombing raids began there – the enemy also targeted voting stations, people went into basements, leaving them to resume their work when the raids were over. People came to voting stations and stood in lines despite the possibility of attacks on them.

Why am I saying this? The reason is that our soldiers, our men, our heroes who are fighting on the frontline know that there are people they must protect, and this is the key point. We are protecting our people.

Vladimir Putin: As for the Olympic Movement itself, this is what I would like to say. I believe that the current management of international federations and the International Olympic Committee are distorting Pierre de Coubertin’s original idea that sport must be beyond politics, that it should not disunite people – it should unite them.

What has happened over the past few decades? The Olympic Movement has been caught in the trap of financial interests. International sports and the international Olympic Movement has been commercialised, which is unacceptable, and this commercialisation has resulted in… What am I talking about? The sponsors, commercial airtime, the leading Western companies, which ultimately provide the basis for the functioning of the International Olympic Committee and the movement as a whole, directly depend on the political organisations and governments in their countries.

Taken together, this combination has created a situation in which international sports and the Olympic Movement are declining and no longer fulfil their main functions. The main idea [of sports] is not only to break records but to bring people together, but the international Olympic Movement is no longer doing this. This is deplorable for the Olympic Movement itself because alternative movements will be created, one way or another, and nothing can be done about this because it is an objective process.

Next year, we will hold the World Friendship Games; we will hold competitions within the framework of BRICS, and those who are depoliticised will happily attend them. This will have a destructive effect on the current international organisations. They must be rejuvenated, including in terms of personnel.

It is regrettable that this is happening, but we will protect the interests of our athletes. This is the first point. Second, we will create alternative possibilities for them, including in terms of the financial results of their achievements.

Q.: What is the image of the future for Russia?

Vladimir Putin: You have just mentioned that for some countries, the image of their future includes their membership in organisations like NATO or the EU. Do you realise what you have just said? In other words, their future is linked not only to interaction with others, but with their complete dependence on others.

In the defence sphere, they need someone to provide cover for them; otherwise, they will fail. In the economic sphere, they need someone to send them funds, or else they will not be able to lift their economy. By the way, no one wants peace in Ukraine because, if the war comes to an end, they will have to answer to their people for the economic and social aspects, and there is not much to show. I doubt that, once the hostilities are over, the recovery of Ukrainian economy will ensue. Who will even feed them? I doubt it.

Vladimir Putin: We are the makers of our future. I recently met with young scientists at Sarov. They asked me questions too, at least we talked about this. What about? I want to say this, maybe in a different format, but the core idea will be the same. Scientists engage in R&D. Industrialists work in the sphere of material production, agriculture, in the industrial sector, etc. Cultural figures create images to preserve our values, which shape the inner life of every person and each citizen of Russia. All of this taken together will certainly yield a result. All of this should become embodied in our country’s self-reliance, including in the areas of security and defence. But this does not mean that this country will go into self-isolation. This means that we will develop our own country and make it even stronger in cooperation with our partners and friends and in integration with the overwhelming majority of countries that represent most of the world population.

Look, despite all the restrictions imposed against Russia… What did they hope for? They expected our financial system to fall into pieces, the economy to collapse, industrial plants to grind to a stop, and thousand-strong work teams to be left jobless. But nothing of that happened. Last year’s performance placed Russia among the top five major world economies in terms of purchasing power parity and the economy’s volume. There is every chance that we will continue along this path. I did say that inflation in Russia had grown somewhat, but it is within the bounds of relevant indicators. Unemployment is at a historical low of three percent. This is unprecedented – a three-percent national unemployment figure.

Taken together, all of this gives us every reason to think that Russia not only has a sustainable and good future but also that this future is secured by the efforts of our entire multi-ethnic people.


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