Vladimir Putin met with heads of the world’s leading news agencies on the sidelines of the 2019 St Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 6th, 2019.

[…] TASS Director General Sergei Mikhailov: We always started our recent meetings by agreeing that our planet is going through the most dangerous period of confrontation: countries flare up, entire regions blaze, there are sanctions, trade wars, fake news – this is the content of nearly all news feeds from all world agencies. They are talking about a new cold war. Every country is certain that it knows who is to blame for that.
Why do we have to start our conversation in 2019 with the same question: why is the world not becoming any safer? Where is our civilisation going? Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? What can the countries that are the main players in the political process do about it? This is a generalised question, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: If we look around at the murals, at the frescoes, look up – there is war everywhere. Unfortunately, this has been the case for ages. Human history is full of stories of conflict. It is true that all conflicts were followed by periods of peace. But it would be better to avoid the conflicts altogether.
After the invention and creation of nuclear weapons, humanity has maintained a state of relative global peace for almost 75 years – relative, of course, with the exception of regional conflicts.
Let’s recall Winston Churchill, who first hated the Soviet Union, then called Stalin a great revolutionary when they had to fight Nazism, and then, after the Americans developed nuclear weapons, he practically called for the Soviet Union to be destroyed. Remember his speech at Fulton that kick-started the Cold War?
But as soon as the Soviet Union acquired nuclear weapons, Churchill initiated the coexistence of the two system concept. I do not think he was such an opportunist, but he worked with reality. He accepted reality. A clever man and a pragmatic politician.
Little has changed since that time. We should just keep in mind, should understand what kind of world we live in, and what threats and dangers might await us. If we do not keep this “fiery serpent” under control, if we let it out of the bottle, God forbid, this could lead to a global catastrophe.
Look, today everyone is addressing environmental issues, and they are right to do so, because there are global threats such as climate change, anthropogenic emissions, and so on. All this is correct. Even children are engaged in this, girls and boys all over the world.
But they do not realize, these young people, especially teenagers and children, they are not aware of the global threat and serious challenge posed by possible global conflicts. This is something adult men and women should think about.
However, I get the impression that these issues have somehow become commonplace, and have kind of been shifted to the background. This raises natural concerns.
Our US partners upped and withdrew from the ABM Treaty. So, ladies and gentlemen, I want to ask you: Did any one of you go out with a poster and protest?
No one, silence. As if this is the way it’s supposed to be. Incidentally, this was the first step towards a fundamental destabilisation of the global security framework, and a major step at that.
Now, we are talking about our American partners terminating, also unilaterally, their INF Treaty membership.
In the first case, they at least acted honestly and withdrew from the treaty unilaterally. However, in the second, apparently fully aware that they will bear responsibility for it, they try to blame Russia.
Listen: you and your readers, your audience should open the INF Treaty and read it. Its articles clearly stipulate that short- and medium-range missile launchers cannot be deployed on land. The treaty says so outright. However, they went ahead and deployed them in Romania and Poland which is a direct violation.
Check out what short-range and medium-range missiles are, and then compare them to UAVs. They are the same thing. Now, look at the specifications of the targets for the antimissiles. They are exactly medium- and short-range missiles.
Everyone is pretending to be deaf, blind or dyslexic. We have to react to this somehow, don’t we? Clearly, so. They immediately start looking for perpetrators in Russia. Of course, the threat is serious.
Renewing the START-3 Treaty is on our agenda. However, we can choose not to. Our latest systems guarantee Russia’s security for a fairly long period into the future, I mean we have made significant strides.
And, I must put it bluntly, we have outrun our competitors in terms of creating hyper-weapon systems. If no one is interested in renewing the START-3 Treaty, we will not renew it. We have already said a hundred times that we are ready to do so, but no one is willing to talk about it with us.
Please note that there is no formal negotiating process, and everything will expire in 2021. Mind you, there will be no more instruments to limit an arms race.
Or, for example, deploying weapons in outer space. Do we understand what this means or not? Ask the experts. It means that each of us will have to live at all times, say, under a nuclear weapon. Permanently! But we are doing this, and doing it quickly. Will anyone ever think about it, talk about it, or show any concern? No, complete silence.
Or, take low-yield nuclear weapons, or non-nuclear strategic missiles. What if a global-range strategic missile is launched from a submarine in the middle of the ocean? How do we know if it carries a nuclear charge or not? Do you realise how serious and dangerous this is?
What if the other side responds right away? What will happen then? I am deeply convinced that this should be the subject of an open and absolutely transparent professional discussion, and the international community should be involved in this process as much as is possible in matters of this kind. In any case, people have the right to know what is happening in this sphere.
To reiterate, we are ready to do this. Once again, we are confident in our security, but there is, of course, a concern about the complete dismantling of the entire mechanism of control over strategic armaments and non-proliferation.
What’s the solution? It is in cooperation, period. The most recent conversation I had with President Trump, I must say, inspires certain optimism, because Donald told me that he, too, was concerned about this. He is fully cognizant of the amount of arms-related expenses incurred by the United States and other countries. This money could be used for other purposes. I completely agree with him.
The US Secretary of State came here. We met in Sochi, and he spoke along the same lines. If they think so, we should take some practical steps towards making a joint effort.
Again, today, talks between the countries with the most powerful nuclear potential are the most important ones. However, on a personal note, I think that all nuclear countries should be involved, including official and unofficial.
Talking only with the officially recognised nuclear powers and leaving out the unofficial countries means they will continue to develop nuclear weapons. In the end, this process will grind to a halt even between the official nuclear states. So, by and large, we need to create a broad platform for discussion and decision-making.
In this sense, of course, this could be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Sergei Mikhailov: Thank you, Mr President. […]
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