[…] Fyodor Lukyanov: Ok, Vladimir Vladimirovich, then it is agreed that Russia should not be destroyed. But you also made one very harsh statement not long ago.
Vladimir Putin: Pestering me with these statements again.
Fyodor Lukyanov: Well, I’m sorry, it’s my job, they pay me for it.
Vladimir Putin: Will there be just the two of us debating?
Fyodor Lukyanov: One minute please. Everything in its time.
Can you please explain to me? You didn’t say this at Valdai: “Why do we need the world if Russia isn’t in it?” Many interpreted this in their own way, that you meant “after me, the deluge,” you know the expression. Is this what you meant, or, I suspect, you meant something else?
Vladimir Putin: No. First, King Louis XIV said that in response to the accusations that he was spending too much money from the treasury on all sorts of palaces and entertainment. By the way, it was not such a waste, because after him a lot of things remained, palaces included. And second, he was also a statesman. If I remember correctly, he created the first regular army in Europe. Therefore, all the talk of his extravagance probably had real reason behind it, but this does not mean that he actually did what he once said during an argument.
As for my statement you quoted, I don’t remember, but I probably said it to Vladimir Solovyov.
Fyodor Lukyanov: Yes, in the film.
Vladimir Putin: But you cannot quote things out of context. I will remind you what this was about. I was asked whether we were ready and whether I was ready to use the weapons we have, including weapons of mass destruction, to protect ourselves, to protect our interests. And that’s what I answered.
I will remind you of what I have said. I have said that our nuclear weapons doctrine does not provide for a pre-emptive strike. I would like to ask all of you and those who will later analyse and in one way or another interpret my every word here, to keep in mind that there is no provision for a pre-emptive strike in our nuclear weapons doctrine. Our concept is based on a reciprocal counter strike. There is no need to explain what this is to those who understand, as for those who do not, I would like to say it again: this means that we are prepared and will use nuclear weapons only when we know for certain that some potential aggressor is attacking Russia, our territory. I am not revealing a secret if I say that we have created a system which is being upgraded all the time as needed – a missile early warning radar system. This system monitors the globe, warning about the launch of any strategic missile at sea and identifying the area from which it was launched. Second, the system tracks the trajectory of a missile flight. Third, it locates a nuclear warhead drop zone.
Only when we know for certain – and this takes a few seconds to understand – that Russia is being attacked we will deliver a counter strike. This would be a reciprocal counter strike. Why do I say ‘counter’? Because we will counter missiles flying towards us by sending a missile in the direction of an aggressor. Of course, this amounts to a global catastrophe but I would like to repeat that we cannot be the initiators of such a catastrophe because we have no provision for a pre-emptive strike. Yes, it looks like we are sitting on our hands and waiting until someone uses nuclear weapons against us. Well, yes, this is what it is. But then any aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable and they will be annihilated. And we as the victims of an aggression, we as martyrs would go to paradise while they will simply perish because they won’t even have time to repent their sins.
Fyodor Lukyanov: I feel the urge to address Metropolitan Tikhon right away, however, I will do this a bit later, if you do not object. […]