Meeting with Security Council permanent members
Vladimir Putin met via videoconference with permanent members of the Security Council on
Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, Deputy Chair of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, Minister of the Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin, and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov.
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Note: The Kremlin website has been down for days, being under constant DDoS attacks as part of the raging information war trying to suppress any Russian voice. It seems to work for now, but I publish these two important speech transcripts in case it goes down again.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrades,
On February 24, we commenced the special military operation in Ukraine. In achieving its objectives of protecting our people in Donbass and providing for the security of our Motherland, Russian soldiers and officers are acting courageously, like true heroes.
Our servicemen are fighting hard, fully understanding the righteousness of their cause. Soldiers and officers remain in position even after being wounded. They sacrifice themselves, their lives, to save their fellow soldiers and civilians.
Our servicemen and Donbass militia are really displaying mass heroism.
I would distinguish the personnel of the 100th Motorised Rifle Brigade fighting in the Donetsk area. Its servicemen under the command of Colonel Alexey Berngard breached the deeply fortified defenses in the Volnovakhi region that have been strengthened and equipped by the nationalists for almost eight years.
Tank platoon commander Lieutenant of the Guards Viktor Sokolnik destroyed fived tanks in battle.
On February 25, outside of Chuginka, company leader of the 163th armour regiment Captain Alexei Lyovkin came upon nationalist units including 15 tanks and six mechanized infantry combat vehicles. He and his personnel attacked the enemy and destroyed all the MICVs and five tanks, completing the mission without losses.
I have signed an executive order on awarding the title of Hero of Russia to Lieutenant Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov, regrettably, posthumously. During a battle he confidently lead his soldiers, taking care of his subordinates as a good commander should. Even when he was seriously wounded, he continued fighting to his last breath, blowing up himself, along with the militants who surrounded him, with a grenade. He did that because he knew who he was dealing with —neo-Nazis who torture and brutally murder prisoners.
I am a Russian. As they say, all my relatives are Ivans and Marias. But when I see heroes like this young man, Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov, a resident of Dagestan and an ethnic Lak, and our other soldiers, I can hardly stop myself from saying: I am a Lak, a Dagestani, a Chechen, an Ingush, a Russian, a Tatar, a Jew, a Mordovian, an Ossetian… It is impossible to name all of the more than 300 nationalities and ethnic groups that live in Russia. I think you can understand me. I am proud to be part of this world, part of our powerful and strong multinational people of Russia.
At the same time, I will never abandon my conviction that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation, even though some people in Ukraine have been intimidated, many have been duped by nationalist Nazi propaganda, and some have consciously decided to become followers of Bandera and other Nazi accomplices, who fought on Hitler’s side during the Great Patriotic War.
It is a fact that we are fighting neo-Nazis, which can be seen from the course of the hostilities. The nationalist and neo-Nazi units —and there are foreign mercenaries in them, including from the Middle East— are using peaceful civilians as a human shield. As I have said, there is objective data and photos of how they deploy military equipment in residential districts. They are behaving like this, like outright criminals, and instead of honouring their promise to remove that equipment from residential neighbourhoods, kindergartens and hospitals, they are deploying more tanks, artillery guns and mortar launchers there.
They have also taken foreign nationals hostage, including thousands of young people, students who were receiving an education in Ukraine. For example, they held 3,179 Indian citizens, most of them students, at the railway station in Kharkov for over a day. And they are still holding the majority of them, including 576 in Sumy. The neo-Nazis opened fire on the Chinese students who wanted to leave Kharkov, wounding two of them.
As I have said, hundreds of foreign nationals are trying to leave the combat zones, but they are being prevented from doing so. In fact, they are being held hostage; the hostage-takers are playing for time or are offering them a chance to leave via Lviv or Poland, that is, to cross the combat zone, thereby risking their lives.
Our service personnel have opened corridors in absolutely all conflict areas. They have offered transportation so peaceful civilians and foreign nationals can go to a safe place.
I would like to point out again that the nationalists are preventing them from doing this. Moreover, they are telling foreign nationals to turn to their own authorities, which have to seek the assistance of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. In fact, they are pushing these people into the line of fire.
The nationalists are acting even worse towards their own citizens, their own people. As I said, they are using people as human shields. Our service personnel have reported instances where people in residential buildings in the Donetsk People’s Republic —in Severodonetsk, Lisichansk and other towns— are forced to gather in the middle floors; the windows and walls in the lower floors are broken open to mount heavy weaponry such as cannons, and tanks, and machineguns, and snipers are placed on the roof and on the upper floors.
It is only fascists that did this, they were the ones that treated civilians so inhumanely when Soviet forces were fighting them, including as they were liberating Ukraine.
I would like to repeat that our soldiers and officers are trying to prevent civilian casualties, and regrettably, they are sustaining losses while doing this.
It is our duty to support the families of our dead and wounded comrades, who fight for the security of our Fatherland, for our people, for the people of Russia.
All family members of the servicemen who have perished during this special military operation in Ukraine will be issued a death gratuity and a one-time payment of 7,421,000 rubles. Monthly compensation will also be paid to each family member of the deceased.
In addition, I consider it necessary to approve an additional payment of 5 million rubles to each family of Defence Ministry service members, and service members and other personnel of the other security agencies killed during the operation.
Any service personnel wounded during the operation will be issued benefit payments as well. I am referring to insurance benefits and one-time payments for being wounded, injured or for receiving a concussion.
Wounded contract service personnel found unfit for duty will be issued a one-time payment of 2,968,000 rubles, and a monthly payment in case of permanent disability. All these measures are provided for by law.
At the same time, I believe that an additional payment of 3 million rubles should be stipulated for Defence Ministry service personnel and service members and other personnel of other security agencies who are wounded during the operation.
I would like to emphasise once again that our men and officers are fighting in Ukraine for Russia, for a peaceful life for the citizens of Donbass, and for the denazification and demilitarisation of Ukraine, so that no anti-Russia, which the West has been creating for years right on our border, can threaten us, including with nuclear weapons, as has recently become the case.
Our people are proud of their Armed Forces. We will never forget our comrades who have been killed in action. We will do everything necessary to support their families and children, to give them an education, to support their loved ones.
Let us pay our respects to our soldiers who have died doing their military duty during this special military operation in Ukraine.
(Minute of silence.)
I would like to say that the special military operation is proceeding on schedule and according to plan. All the tasks are being fulfilled. The Defence Minister will report in more detail on this.
Mr Shoigu, please.
Meeting with female aircrew members of Russian airlines
Vladimir Putin visited the Aeroflot aviation training centre and met with female aircrew members of Russian airlines on
Before the meeting, the President inspected flight and emergency rescue simulators at the training centre. They simulate a real-life mid-air environment. The President inspected a cockpit allowing pilots to more effectively control the MC-21 medium-haul narrow-body airliner. He also used a simulator to fly a Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner in the company of Aeroflot flight detachment commander Maria Kasyanik. Vladimir Putin also visited the unique Water-Land centre, whose specialists train flight crews to deal with emergencies, including water landings, mid-air firefighting operations and evacuating passengers via inflatable ramps.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, who headed the Aeroflot Group just recently, has been asking me for quite a while to come here and to see this training and simulator centre. By coincidence, the well-known events are taking place, and March 8 is approaching. Therefore, he and I decided not to put off the visit any further and to see the facilities you have here, to find out how they are used and to evaluate this centre’s prospects.
I should say that all this is quite impressive. Maria Kasyanik has shown me how to control the aircraft, and I moved the joysticks under her guidance. This is really great, all the more so as next-generation simulators are available, the chief has also discussed them, and I have had a look.
But, of course, we should use this opportunity to discuss the sector’s development prospects. We will probably also talk about the current situation because, naturally, it is impossible to avoid it.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you all on the upcoming International Women’s Day and to wish you and your colleagues all the best. I will be able to address all women of Russia a bit later.
But I would like to say that the sector which we are talking about and where you work and with which you are affiliated employs over 70,000 women, including over 200 pilots and co-pilots, as well as flight attendants, of course, who are a special category and caste.
The people in Russia have always treated aviation with great respect and interest, especially for ladies in aviation. I think the first female Russian aviators emerged in the early 20th century, and they won a reputation for themselves during the Great Patriotic War. We know all those famous names of female aviation regiments and their combat record. Today, women work in all positions, including flight controllers, engineers, technicians, and I repeat once again, flight attendants and pilots. On the whole, this is a substantial female force that supplements the aviation sector’s male section.
I think that is all for opening remarks since it would be more useful and to the point if I answer your questions. So, let’s go over to that part now.
Once again, congratulations on the upcoming International Women’s Day.
Remark: Thank you.
Do you have any questions? Or shall we just have some tea?
Maria Kotova: We have questions.
Good afternoon, Mr President,
My name is Maria Kotova. I am the co-pilot of the Airbus A320 airliner operated by Aeroflot.
My question concerns the current situation in Ukraine. We all support your actions and the special operation underway there. Of course, the most important question that, one way or another, each of us has been asking ourselves lately is: why did this special operation begin? Could it not have been avoided?
In our minds, we understand and strongly support your actions, but as women we worry about our families and loved ones who live in Ukraine. We are aware that the civilians are not impacted. But still, we would like you to reassure us: what is in store for us at the end of this road? What is the military operation in Ukraine supposed to end with?
Vladimir Putin: I will provide a brief overview and start, as they say in such cases, from the “centre of the field.” I mentioned this at the beginning of the operation and even before this decision was made, which was undoubtedly a difficult decision to make.
What is this about? The fact of the matter is that after the anti-constitutional coup in Ukraine, which was, unfortunately, strongly supported by Western countries… Let us face it. They are not hiding the fact that they spent US$5 billion on it, handing out cookies on Maidan and so on. And then, instead of bringing the situation back on track, even if it spiralled out of control, even if it was what is known as an excessive act —there is such a legal concept, that is, they planned one thing, but did another. Anyway, they could and should have brought this situation back onto the political track. Moreover, right before the coup, three foreign ministers came to Kiev in 2014, signed an agreement with the incumbent authorities and acted as guarantors of these agreements to the effect that the situation would remain within the political track.
Nothing of the kind. They carried out a coup d’état and supported the perpetrators. Then followed the well-known events related to Crimea and southeastern Ukraine, Donbass, whose residents refused to support the coup.
As you know, Crimea made a decision, people came to the referendum and voted to once again become part of the Russian Federation. Naturally, we could not but support this, all the more so since they were threatened by nationalists and neo-Nazis. There is a great deal of evidence that they were right.
Later on, or practically in parallel, events started in Donbass. What was the outcome? People who began to resist these developments were persecuted. The Kiev authorities started conducting military operations on that territory. They conducted two large-scale punitive operations with the use of heavy weapons and combat aircraft. They attacked Donetsk directly with tanks and bombed its squares from aircraft.
Both military campaigns failed. They sustained defeat. This was followed by the emergence of the so-called Minsk Agreements or the Package of Measures, to use its official name. They showed the way to a peaceful settlement of this conflict. And we did everything we could to let the developments follow in this vein to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and protect the interests of the people who live on these territories.
And what did they demand? Basic things: the right to speak their mother tongue, this is the Russian language, and follow their traditions and culture. There were no special demands. Nothing special.
But no. These territories were put under siege and switched off from the banking system, food supplies and payments of pensions and other benefits. Sometimes, some handouts were thrown in. But to receive those benefits and pensions people had to cross the delimitation line.
Now listen carefully. Maybe this will sound rough but the situation compels me to say such things. You see yourselves that stray dogs attack people in different regions. They injure and even kill people (this is a separate problem and the local authorities must deal with it). Then we see how these dogs are poisoned and shot dead. But, look, people in Donbass are not stray dogs. From 13,000 to 14,000 people have been killed over these years. Over 500 children were killed or mutilated.
But what is most intolerable is that the so-called civilised West preferred to turn a blind eye to these events during all these years. Over eight years!
Moreover, recently the Kiev authorities began to say bluntly that they are not going to fulfil these agreements. They are saying this from TV screens and online. They are saying on the record: “We don’t like them, we won’t do anything.”
Meanwhile, Russia continued to be accused of failing to fulfil these agreements. This is simply nonsense, the theatre of the absurd: the white is called black and the black is called white.
It has been getting worse lately. Suddenly, there has been renewed talk about admitting Ukraine to NATO. Actually, it has been on for a long time, but has intensified lately. Do you understand what this could lead to or even can still lead to? If Ukraine is a NATO country, then in accordance with the North Atlantic Treaty, all other members must support that country in the event of a military conflict.
No one is recognising Crimea as a part of Russia, except for you and me. They carry out military operations in Donbass, and they will also move into Crimea, and we will have to fight with the entire NATO organisation. Do you see what that means?
Are the consequences clear enough? I think that everyone understands.
Now they are talking about gaining a nuclear status, that is, acquiring nuclear weapons. We cannot ignore such things either, especially because we know how the so-called West acts with regard to Russia. First, Ukraine has had nuclear competencies since the Soviet times. As far as enrichment and nuclear materials are concerned, they are capable of launching such projects. They have missile competencies. Suffice it to mention Yuzhmash —it created intercontinental ballistic missile equipment for the Soviet Union. They can boost it and do it. And they will also receive help with that from across the ocean. And then they will say that we do not recognise their nuclear status, that they did it themselves, and they will put these systems under control, and from that moment, from that very second, Russia’s future will change dramatically. From then on, our strategic adversaries would not even need to have intercontinental ballistic missiles. They would be able to keep us at the nuclear gunpoint, and that would be it.
But how can we let this go unnoticed? These are absolutely real threats, not some far-fetched nonsense. And our young men who are fighting there now are giving their lives, they are giving their lives to fight for our future, for the future of our children. This is a completely obvious thing.
People who do not want to understand this, especially among today’s leadership, must understand that if they continue to do what they are doing —I have already said this too— they will call into question the very future of Ukrainian statehood. And if this happens, it will be entirely on them.
What is happening now? I have already spoken about the goals we have identified.
The first is to protect the people who live in Donbass, of course. How? By demilitarising and denazifying Ukraine and giving it a neutral status. Why? Because a neutral country will not be planning on joining NATO. Right now, their Constitution says they are planning to join NATO. You understand, they included this in the Constitution.
What is meant by denazification? I have spoken with my Western colleagues about this: “So what? You also have radical nationalists.” Yes, we do, but we do not have people with extreme views in the Government. And everyone admits that they have them. Yes, maybe we have some idiots who are running around with the swastika, but do we support this at the government level? Do we have thousands of people parading with torches in Moscow or in our other regional capitals, with the swastika and with torches, like in the 1930s in Germany? Do we have this? But they do, and they support it. Do we support those who killed Russians, Jews, and Poles during the war? Do we hail them as heroes? But they do.
What is happening now is also very important. Look, foreign citizens have been taken hostage in Sumy and Kharkov —over 6,000 young people, students. They were driven to a railway station and have been kept there for three days. We told everyone about this and sent this information to the current leadership of Ukraine. “Yes, yes, of course, we will deal with it now.” We informed the leaders of major European countries about this. I spoke to them personally. “Yes, yes, we will influence them right now.” We told the UN Secretary-General about this: “Yes, yes, we will settle this problem now.” But nobody is doing anything about it.
They treat even worse those people whom they consider their own citizens. They are simply using them as a human shield.
This is taking place in Mariupol now as we are talking with you. They called us from the government, from Kiev and spoke with our military: “Provide humanitarian corridors so that people can leave.” Of course, our people responded instantly and even suspended hostilities. They looked at what was happening. Nobody was allowed out. Do you understand what they are doing? They do not let anyone leave but are using people as a human shield. Who are they? The neo-Nazis, of course.
We note the presence of militants from the Middle East and some European countries there. We know about them, we hear them in the air. They are using so-called Jihad mobiles —they stuff cars with explosives and drive them towards the troops. But they fail to achieve anything and they won’t reach their aims.
Who are they if not neo-Nazis? It is by these actions that they are destroying their own country and their statehood.
Therefore, one of our key demands is demilitarisation. In other words, we are helping people, residents of Donbass to achieve a neutral status and demilitarisation of the country because we must understand clearly what weapons are there, where they are deployed and who controls them.
Different options are possible here. We are discussing them now, in particular, with representatives of the Kiev government during the talks in Belarus. We are grateful to President Lukashenko for organising this work and helping us conduct them. Our proposals are on the negotiating table. We hope a group of negotiators from Kiev will respond positively to them. This is more or less what I wanted to say. Let’s go on.
Yulia Shvidkaya: Yulia Shvidkaya, co-pilot with Aeroflot Airlines.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
I have a question about the current situation. The thing is that there are so many rumours about the possibility of martial law, the enlistment of volunteers, the call-up of reservists, and that the new conscripts will be sent to Ukraine.
Can you tell us precisely if martial law will be declared and if conscripts will be sent to Ukraine?
Vladimir Putin: Much of what is taking place now, of what we can see and what we come up against are methods of fighting Russia. Incidentally, the sanctions that are imposed on us are like a war. Thankfully, it has not got to that yet.
I think that our so-called partners understand what this can lead to and how much is at stake, despite their reckless statements, for example, like the statement made by the UK Foreign Secretary, when she blurted out that NATO could get involved in the conflict. And we immediately had to take a decision to put our deterrence forces on high alert.
Their reaction was instantaneous: they said that it was a misunderstanding. But nobody rebuffed her (the UK Foreign Secretary is a woman), and nobody has disavowed those statements. They could have told us something like, “You know, it’s her personal opinion, take no notice.” But nobody uttered a single word! What should we think about this? How should we regard it? Of course, we took that statement as a warning and acted accordingly.
And now I will answer your question about volunteers, conscripts, martial law and the like. Under the law, martial law is declared by a Presidential executive order, which should be approved by the Federation Council, in case of foreign aggression, in particular, in the zones of hostilities.
This is not the case now, and I hope it will not come to that. This is the first point.
Second, about the state of alert. There are several options: martial law or the state of alert, which is also declared by a presidential executive order and approved by the Federation Council in case of large-scale internal threats.
There is also the state of emergency. It is usually declared in a specific region or throughout the country in the event of manmade disasters, natural disasters, etc. Thankfully, this is not the case either.
We are not planning to declare a state of alert on the territory of the Russian Federation. There are no such plans and no necessity for this now.
Yes, we see that attempts are being made to stir up our society. Incidentally, this is further proof of what I have said —that we are dealing not with ordinary radicals but with neo-Nazis. Our people can freely express their opinions of what they like or do not like about our actions in Ukraine. But in Ukraine those who express views such as members of the so-called liberal part of our society do are grabbed on the street and shot. We have proof of that. Our security services are collecting this information and will provide it later on. They are simply shot dead. In our country, some of our liberal intellectuals hold protest rallies, but those who say similar things about Russia in Ukraine are simply executed straightaway, without charge or trial.
Now, about the martial law. To reiterate, it is usually imposed in case of an external aggression, a military threat. I hope this will not happen, despite irresponsible statements by certain officials.
We are hearing voices that a no-fly zone should be imposed over Ukraine. It is impossible to do this in Ukraine. It can only be done from the territory of neighbouring states. However, we will consider any move in this direction as participation in the armed conflict of the country from whoseterritory a threat to our servicemen is created. We will consider them participants in hostilities that very second. Their membership in any organisation will not matter then. So, I hope the understanding of this is there and it will not come to this, either.
Only professional servicemen —officers and contract soldiers— are taking part in this operation. There are no conscripts, and we are not planning to get them involved. To reiterate, only men who made a very responsible voluntary choice to take part in this operation and to defend their Motherland are participating in this operation. They are carrying out this mission honourably. In my answer to your first question, I provided the reason why this is so and why we are entitled to say this.
The same applies to those who are called up to the training camps. We do not plan to do this with this category, either. They are regularly called up to training camps. They were called up before and they will be called up afterwards. But we are not going to have this category participate in this conflict, in this operation. We have enough forces and means to address the tasks that we have set for ourselves with the use of the professional army.
By the way, speaking of the operation itself I know there are many speculations about it. Frankly, I have no time to get into that, but they report to me that there is much chitchat about what is going on. All analysts are seeing what is happening, so I will not reveal any secret to you. We could have acted in a variety of ways. We could simply (by the way, this answers your question, in part) help the republics of Donbass right on the line of contact, at the frontline, so to say, and simply reinforce them with our army. But in this case, the other side, I mean reckless support for nationalists and radicals coming from the West, would have provided endless support with the material resources, ammunition, equipment, and so on.
Therefore, our General Staff and the Defence Ministry took a different road. The first thing they did was destroy all the military infrastructure. Not completely but most of it: arms and ammunition depots, aircraft and air defence systems. Destroying air defence systems takes some time (you are civilians, yet you are connected with aviation) —they must be identified and then hit. This work has been practically finished. Hence the demand to impose a no-fly zone. However, doing so would have tremendous and disastrous consequences not only for Europe but also globally. I think those on the other side who are not completely at sea understand that.
That is why we chose that road, and it turned out to be absolutely correct. Our servicemen are working without haste and are doing everything to ensure the safety of civilians. Unfortunately, those bandits, neo-Nazis do not spare people. They shoot dead even their own service personnel who do not want to offer armed resistance. We know about such facts, too. Nationalists, Banderites, neo-Nazis —it is hard to call them anything else —shoot their own servicemen. These nationalists were put in nearly every military unit, up to several dozen in each, and they act in exactly that cruel way.
But I repeat that we are not engaging and are not going to engage conscripts or reservists in this military operation. I presume that our army will fulfil all the tasks it is facing, and I do not have the slightest doubt about that. The very course of the operation proves that. It is going according to schedule, and everything is being done according to the General Staff’s plan.
As for volunteers and those young people who come to military recruiting stations, we are grateful to them for this patriotic impulse and the desire to support the country and the Armed Forces. The very fact of their coming does matters, for sure. However, their assistance is not needed for now, and I believe it will not be needed.
I am turning to the cameras so that they will see and hear me say, “Thank you.”
Let us proceed.
To be continued.
“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…”