Russian president’s end of year press conference reveals his odd beliefs about Ukraine, recycles Kremlin propaganda

23 December 2021, 02:56 PM

At a marathon end-of-year conference in Moscow on Dec. 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to provide guarantees that Russia would not invade Ukraine, with reports that the buildup of Russian troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border was continuing.

Putin shifted the blame to Ukraine for the tensions in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, and said there was no chance of “building a relationship” with Kyiv.

NV has put together the highlights of Putin’s conference. The general tone of Putin’s conference, when asked about Ukraine, was increasingly aggressive and peppered with common clichés from Russian propaganda.  

Video of day

The Kremlin can’t guarantee it won’t invade Ukraine

“As for the guarantees, our actions will not depend on the outcome of the negotiations but rather on unconditional provision of security for Russia,” Putin said in response to a question by a journalist from the UK’s Sky News. 

“We made it crystal clear that further eastward expansion of NATO is unacceptable. The United States brought missiles to our doorstep. Is that too much to ask for? Just don’t bring missile systems to our backyard. What would Americans say if we deployed missiles on the Canadian or Mexican borders? Who used to own California? And Texas? ... You expect guarantees from us? It’s you (the West) who should give us guarantees. Right now. This very moment. Stop covering up your actions.”

Ukraine is (allegedly) planning a military operation. Russia will not wait “until things get heated” 

“It seems like Ukraine is planning a third military operation and, maybe, this is what we should prepare for,” Putin said. “The second option is that Ukraine will create an ‘anti-Russian’ state with weapon supplies and a brainwashed population. How can our country live with that? Constantly looking over our shoulder? Then radicals will be sent to resolve the situation in Donbas. …We have to think of our short-term security prospects. Wait until things get heated? This is a serious matter.”

Talks in Geneva will be the next step in discussing “red lines” for the Kremlin and the United States

 “We have made it very clear: there should be no eastward expansion,” Putin said. “The ball is in their court. In general, we can see a positive response. The United States is ready for the talks in Geneva, country representatives have been appointed. We are hopeful that this is the way to the resolution of the situation.”

Annexing Crimea. Russia couldn’t have done things any differently, say the occupiers

“Things got tense in 2014,” Putin said. “Before that time the Kremlin worked closely with (former Ukrainian President Viktor) Yushchenko and (former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia (Tymoshenko), there were arguments over the gas supply but we were ready to continue our cooperation. What happened in 2014? A bloody coup d’etat. Of course, the citizens were outraged. Yanukovych accepted all the demands, the West gave guarantees and everyone came to an agreement. A few days later there was a coup d’etat. Why? There is no answer to that. The opposition victory (at the next Ukrainian elections) was imminent. Why did they do that? Russia couldn’t have done anything differently in Crimea. We couldn’t just passively observe the situation in Ukraine and, particularly, in the Donbas.”

Russians are being “squeezed out of their historical territory” in Ukraine

“We were forced to act in 2014,” Putin said. “This is how the crisis came about. All right. The Ukrainian authorities tried to resolve the issue by force. What was the result? They were surrounded, then there were casualties and the Minsk agreements followed. Are they good or bad? They are the only option. What is the issue with them? They (the Ukrainians) don’t want to abide by them. They call Russians living in these territories non-indigenous people. Then they (the Ukrainians) are squeezing Russians out of these historically Russian territories. They (the Ukrainians) say Russia should stick to the agreements. We are fine with that.”

How do you imagine “the horror of war in Ukraine”? How will you give the order to shoot Ukrainians? 

“There are always people who spit at the screen watching the situation in Ukraine,” Putin responded to an Ekho Moskvi journalist who remarked that Ukrainians were probably spitting at the screen while watching Putin’s press conference.  

 “There’s stark poverty. Everyone is getting ready for a severe winter. Pensioners ask Rada (parliament) MPs why they are being annihilated. So, there are plenty of reasons to spit at the TV from both sides. Ask the Ukrainian government how they give daily orders to shell their own people,”

The Ukrainian constitution should be amended and Donbas should receive autonomy 

“The Minsk agreements state that the Ukrainian constitution should be amended and autonomy should be granted (to the Donbas). Ukraine should organize elections and pardon (Russian proxy force members). What have we got? Instead of elections there is a military administration, instead of a pardon there is a political purge. Rather than resolve the issue politically, they deploy their troops. What happened to the commitment to amend the constitution? The agreements state that they should be agreed upon with the leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic. However, Ukraine does not consult Donbas representatives and actually refuses to talk to them, although it was Ukraine that insisted on their signatures under the documents.” (Note: The non-government-controlled parts of Ukraine’s Donbas are effectively occupied by Russia and are under Moscow’s control.)

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Russia does not see itself as a side of the conflict

"The fate of Donbas should be decided by the local people,” Putin said. “Our role is to act as middlemen and create the best possible condition to determine these people’s future. Are there any issues? Yes, because, under the Minsk agreements, Russia is the middleman but they want to declare us a side of the conflict. We did not agree to that.”

(Note: There is overwhelming evidence that Russian weapons and troops are regularly supplied to the non-government-controlled parts of the Donbas, and that the armed groups active there are commanded from Moscow.)

Ukraine is to blame for the broken ceasefire:

"We had reached an agreement that only the highest authorities up to the ministers in Kyiv, Donetsk and Luhansk (in the non-government controlled parts of Ukraine’s Donbas) could give an order to attack in response to an attack.  The authorities in Kyiv just reversed this decision and delegated the authority to field commanders. Now clashes broke out again. Ask them why they did that.” 

There is no chance of establishing a relationship with Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is influenced by “Nazis” and Viktor Medvedchuk, the former leader of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform - For Life party, is under sanctions for charges relating to treason.  

"Instead of answering people’s questions about peace, Zelensky has come under the influence of radicals, of ‘Nazis’ and is riding out this growing trend in Ukrainian society.  How is this a problem for us? We want to build a friendly relationship with Ukraine at any cost, we agree to almost anything.

How can we build a relationship with the current government given their actions? It’s virtually impossible. We are ready to work with the forces eager to build a friendly relationship with Russia. What happens to these forces? Fabricated charges, sanction against Ukrainian citizens. (Note: Putin’s close friend Viktor Medvedchuk is currently under investigation in two criminal cases and is under sanction by the National Security and Defense Council.), and street violence. In Odesa, people were burned alive in the Trade Union House, has anyone lifted a finger about that? (Ukraine) clamps down on people who are happy to work with us, thus, there is no chance of building a relationship. That is the problem.”

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