28 Oct 2022 21:55
During the panel discussion of the Valday International Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak about the causes, goals and consequences of Ukraine’s military operation for Russia and the historical unity of the Russian and Ukrainian people.
During the panel discussion at the International Valdai Discussion Forum on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the conflict in Ukraine, among numerous other topics. This is the escalation of long-term processes that Putin described as “tectonic changes in the world order”.
The President again blamed the West for causing the conflict. He recalled the coup in Kiev in 2014. The “bloody, anti-state and anti-constitutional coup” was completely unnecessary, since then-President Viktor Yanukovych would have had little or no chance in the agreed new elections anyway. But the West wanted to show “who is the master of the house,” according to Putin. Resistance to the coup in Crimea and Donbass sparked the conflict.
Putin cited two factors that made Russia decide to conduct the military operation. First, this would be NATO expansion and deliberately ignoring Russian security interests:
“Another attempt at the end of last year failed again. They just sent us away and said: ‘Sit quietly over there’… I’d rather not say anything inappropriate, in short, we were ignored.”
As a second trigger, the President named the public refusal by the Kiev regime to comply with the Minsk agreements. Among other things, he referred to the confession of the Ukrainian ex-president Petro Poroshenko. Poroshenko had previously admitted that he had never intended to implement the agreements he had signed. This problem had been massively suppressed in the reporting, but it was still real. Then Putin asked:
“What did that mean for us? That we had to do something for the Donbass.”
The reaction to Kyiv’s disregard of the Minsk agreements was Russia’s recognition of the Donbass republics. However, it would be impossible for Russia to leave the republics alone after formal recognition. On their own, they would not be able to survive. In addition, the majority of their population wished to join the Russian Federation. Since the Donbass regions would have been attacked by Ukrainian troops even in the event of formal accession to Russia, the decision to conduct the military operation was made logically. An intervention at a later date would only have been more difficult and would have resulted in higher casualties because of NATO’s military support to Ukraine.
Asked about the consequences of the military operation for Russia itself, Putin acknowledged that the country was suffering losses, primarily in human lives, but also in economic terms. At the same time, there are “huge gains” and ultimately this development would benefit Russia:
“Not so long ago we thought with apprehension that we ourselves would become some semi-colony. We could do nothing without our Western partners, have no financial accounts, have no technology, no markets.”
Russia’s economic fundamentals have turned out to be stronger “than anyone thought, possibly even ourselves.” Rebuilding the economy and replacing imports would help Russia strengthen its sovereignty:
“We always said we were a big country. Now we’ve realized that we can do it.”
No less important, however, is the mental component in the form of the willingness to fight for one’s own people. According to Putin, the traditional Russian slogan “We won’t let our people down” has been confirmed and strengthened. This would strengthen social cohesion.
Putin continued to support the thesis put forward in his article “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” of July 12, 2021, according to which Russians and Ukrainians are one people, Putin replied to a corresponding question:
“This is a historical fact. In the 9th century, the Russian state arose in our lands, in Novgorod and in Kyiv.”
Linguistic changes had only taken place under Polish influence since the 14th or 15th century, but even during the unification between Ukraine and Russia in 1654, Ukrainians referred to themselves in official documents as “Russian Orthodox people”. Putin further conceded:
“Of course, with the development of one ethno or another, different processes emerge. If a part of a unified ethno decides at a certain point in time that they have reached a level that they are a separate people, you can only respect that.”
Nevertheless, he pointed out that the historical and linguistic differences between Russians and Ukrainians had been increasingly strengthened and promoted from outside since the 19th century according to the principle of “divide et impera”. This development culminated in the collaboration of Ukrainian nationalists with Hitler, when they participated in the murder of Russians, Poles, Jews and other Ukrainians.
Putin went on to say that many areas of today’s Ukraine were “artificially” allocated to it. In particular, the Donbass was annexed to Ukraine by the Bolsheviks against the will of the local population. After 1945 Ukraine also received some Polish, Romanian and Hungarian territories. The President drew the conclusion:
“Only Russia could be a real guarantor of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Because it created today’s Ukraine.”
Another question had to do with the course of the fight. Putin explained that the original goal of helping Donbass has not changed. This is also what is meant when Russian official reports speak of a planned course of the military operation. The territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic was completely liberated. The capture of the new areas initially followed military logic, but their accession to Russia was a reaction to the wishes of the local population. On more concrete plans, Putin stated:
“Of course I know what the General Staff is planning, but I don’t think it’s the right occasion to talk about it.”
more on the subject – Putin: “The game of the West is dangerous, bloody and dirty”