Full transcript of unique Putin interview with NBC News’ Keir Simmons

Full transcript of exclusive Putin interview with NBC News' Keir Simmons

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Here is the total transcript of the NBC News interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which passed off in Moscow on June 11, 2021. The interviewer is Keir Simmons of NBC News.

KEIR SIMMONS: Mr. President, it has been a very long time because you sat down with an American tv community. Almost three years, I believe. Thank you in your time. There’s so much to debate. I hope we have now time to get to — the entire points. But I need to start— with— some information from the U.S.— simply right this moment. In the U.S. it is reported that Russia is getting ready, maybe inside months, to provide Iran with a sophisticated satellite tv for pc system, enabling Tehran to trace army targets. Is that true? (Note from NBC: President Putin’s interpreter interprets the underlined query from English into Russian as, “According to reports from the US, over the next few months, Russia is preparing new hacks of military facilities for the benefit of Iran’s nuclear program. Is that true?”)

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Would you thoughts repeating the query once more, that we’re getting ready to hack what sort of amenities?

KEIR SIMMONS: No. It’s — it — the — the report right this moment is that — Russia is getting ready to provide or to supply to Iran a satellite tv for pc know-how which can allow Iran to focus on — army — to make — to — to make army targets. (LAUGH) (Note from NBC: President Putin’s interpreter interprets this query from English into Russian as the next, including the underlined phrase, “There have been reports that Russia is planning to turn over satellite technology to Iran for tracking and striking military targets.”)

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. No. We haven’t got that sort of packages with Iran. No, it is simply nonsense yet again, but once more. We have cooperation plans with Iran, together with the army and technical cooperation. And all of this matches the framework of the choices that have been agreed upon in our program in regard to Iran’s nuclear program within the context of U.N. choices along with our companions within the preparation of the JCPOA whereby some level sanctions, together with within the space of army and technical cooperation, ought to be lifted from Iran.

We have sure packages which — concern typical weapons, if it will get that far. However, we’ve not even gone to that stage but. We do not even have any sort of actual cooperation even within the typical weapons space. So if — if anyone is — inventing one thing relating to — trendy space-based know-how, that is simply — plain fiction. This is simply — faux information. At the very least, I do not know something about this type of factor. Those who’re talking about it in all probability know extra about it. It’s simply nonsense, rubbish.

KEIR SIMMONS: So presumably you’d agree that giving Iran satellite tv for pc know-how which may allow it to focus on U.S. servicemen and girls in locations like Iraq — or to share that info with Hezbollah or the Houthi in Yemen so they may goal Israel and Saudi Arabia, (DINGS) that giving Iran that sort of — satellite tv for pc know-how can be harmful?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, why are we speaking about issues that don’t exist? There is not any topic for a dialogue. Somebody has — invented one thing, has made one thing up. Maybe that is only a bogus story in order to restrict any sort of army and technical cooperation with Iran.

I’ll say as soon as once more — that is simply — some faux info that I’ve no information about. For the primary time I’m listening to about this info from you. I — we do not have — this type of — intentions. And I’m not even certain that Iran is even capable of accommodate this type of know-how.

This is a separate topic, a really high-tech topic. We do not rule out— cooperation with many world nations in house. But — in all probability everyone is aware of very properly our place in phrases that we’re categorically in opposition to house militarization all collectively.

We consider that house ought to be free from any and all types of — weapons positioned in — close to in near-Earth orbits. We haven’t got this type of plans or any plans, particularly in regards to the switch of know-how of the extent that you’ve got simply described.

KEIR SIMMONS: So let’s transfer on to your summit with President Biden. The context for the summit is that he is assembly with the G7, a gaggle that you simply used to belong to — with NATO, with European— leaders. President Biden has outlined his first journey to Europe as quote, “about rallying the world’s democracies.” He views you as a pacesetter of autocrats, who is set to undermine the liberal democratic order. Is that true?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, I do not know. Somebody presents it from a sure perspective. Somebody seems to be on the improvement of this example and at yours really (THROAT CLEARING) in a distinct method. All of that is being provided to the general public in a method that’s discovered to be expedient for the ruling circles of a sure nation.

The proven fact that President Biden has been assembly up together with his allies, there may be nothing uncommon about it. There’s nothing uncommon a couple of G7 assembly. We know what G7 is. I’ve been there on quite a few events. I do know what the values are in that discussion board.

When folks get collectively and talk about one thing, it is at all times good. It’s higher than to not get collectively and to not talk about. Because even within the context of G7 there are issues that require ongoing consideration and consideration as a result of there are — variations, unusual as it might appear.

There could also be — variations in assessments of worldwide occasions on the worldwide enviornment and amongst them. And — very properly then — let get collectively and talk about it. As far as NATO, I’ve mentioned on many events, “This is a Cold War relic.” It’s one thing that was born within the Cold War space— . I’m undecided why it nonetheless continues to exist.

There was a time and there was some discuss that this group can be reworked. Now it has been sort of forgotten. We presume that it’s a army group. It is an ally of the United States. Every every so often, it is smart to satisfy up together with your allies, though I can have an concept of how the dialogue goes on there.

Clearly all the things is set by consensus. However, there is only one opinion that’s right. Whereas the opposite opinions usually are not fairly that proper — placing it — in cautious phrases. Well, there we go. Allies are getting collectively. What’s — so uncommon about it?

I do not see something uncommon about it. As a matter of reality — it is a signal of respect to the U.S. allies earlier than a — summit between the U.S. and Russian presidents. Probably it’s being offered as want to search out out their opinion on the important thing points of the present agenda, together with these points that President Biden and I’ll talk about.

However, I’m inclined to assume that regardless of — all of those niceties, the United States so far as their relationship with Russia, might be selling what they think about vital and essential for themselves, above all for themselves, of their financial and army pursuits. However, to listen to what their allies should say about — in all probability by no means hurts. This is working process.

KEIR SIMMONS: So let’s speak about — your assembly with President Biden, the summit that can occur after these conferences. President Biden requested you to satisfy with him. He did not make any preconditions. Were you stunned?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. We have a bilateral relationship that has — deteriorated to what’s the lowest level in — latest years. However, there are issues that — want a specific amount of — evaluating notes and — identification and willpower of mutual positions, in order that issues which can be of mutual curiosity might be handled in an environment friendly and efficient method within the pursuits of each the United States and Russia.

So, there may be nothing uncommon about it. In reality, regardless of this— seemingly harsh rhetoric we anticipated, these — ideas as a result of the US home political agenda made it inconceivable for us to revive the connection at a suitable degree — this assembly ought to have — taken place in some unspecified time in the future.

So, President Biden launched this initiative. Prior to that, as you’ll know, he had supported the extension of— the START treaty, which after all was certain to satisfy with— assist from our aspect. We consider that it is a treaty within the space of containment of— strategic offensive weapons, has been— labored by and totally, and meets— our pursuits, and meets the U.S. pursuits. So this provide — may — may very well be anticipated.

KEIR SIMMONS: Will you go into the summit — agreeing — to start — extra arms management talks instantly after the summit? Because as you point out, President Biden has prolonged new START by 5 years. Washington would love that to be the start, not the top of that dialog.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We know what issues and what issues Americans need to talk about with us, we perceive these questions, issues, and issues. We’re ready for this joint work. We have — sure, if not variations, than completely different understandings of what tempo — at what tempo and in what instructions we must be transferring.

We know what constitutes priorities for the U.S. aspect. And — that is — typically talking, is a course of that must be superior on the skilled degree alongside the strains of the Foreign Ministry — and Defense — Ministry on the Russian aspect, Pentagon and State Department of the U.S. aspect.

We are ready for this work. We’ve heard alerts that the U.S. aspect wish to see these negotiations resumed at this — professional degree of pros. We will see if the circumstances for this have been created following the summit. Of course we’re not saying no. We are proposed to— do that work.

KEIR SIMMONS: President Biden needs predictability and stability. Is that what you need?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, these are a very powerful issues. This is a very powerful factor. This is a very powerful worth, if you’ll, in worldwide affairs.

KEIR SIMMONS: s — sorry to interrupt you. But he would say that you’ve got precipitated a number of instability and unpredictability.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, he says one factor. I say one other factor. But perhaps in some unspecified time in the future — in sure methods our rhetoric varies and is completely different. But if you happen to ask my opinion now, I’m telling you what it’s. The most vital worth in worldwide affairs is predictability and stability.

And I consider that on the a part of — the U.S. companions, that is one thing that we’ve not seen lately. What sort of stability and predictability— may there be there if we keep in mind the 2011 occasions in Libya the place the nation was primarily taken aside, damaged down?

What sort of stability and — predictability have been there? There has been discuss of a continued presence of troops in Afghanistan. And then impulsively, growth!, , the troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan. What, is that this predictability and the soundness once more?

Now the Middle East occasions. Is this predictability and stability, what all of this can result in? Or in Syria? What is steady and — predictable about this? I’ve requested my U.S. counterparts, “You want Assad to leave? Who will replace him? What will happen when somebody— he’s replaced with somebody?”

The reply is odd. The reply is, “I don’t know.” Well, if you do not know what’s going to occur subsequent, why change what there may be? It may very well be a second Libya or one other Afghanistan. Do we would like this? No. Let us — sit down collectively, discuss, search for compromise options which can be acceptable for all of the events. That is how stability is achieved. It can’t be achieved by imposing one explicit perspective, the “correct” perspective, whereby all the opposite ones are incorrect. That’s not how stability is achieved.

KEIR SIMMONS: Let’s get to another points. I need to simply discuss somewhat bit extra about your relationship with —

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, please.

KEIR SIMMONS: — President Biden. This won’t be the Helsinki summit. President Biden is — isn’t President Trump. You as soon as described President Trump as a vivid individual, proficient. How would you describe President Biden?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well even now, I consider that former US president Mr. Trump is a unprecedented particular person proficient particular person, in any other case he wouldn’t have grow to be US President. He is a colourful particular person. You could like him or not. And, however he did not come from the U.S. institution.

He had not been a part of large time politics earlier than, and a few prefer it some don’t prefer it however that could be a reality. President Biden, after all, is radically completely different from Trump as a result of President Biden is a profession man. He has spent nearly his complete maturity in politics.

He has been doing it for a substantial amount of years and I’ve already mentioned that and that’s an apparent reality. Just consider the variety of years he spent within the Senate, and what number of years he was concerned within the issues of worldwide politics and disarmament, nearly on the professional degree.

That’s a distinct sort of individual, and it’s my nice hope that sure, there are some benefits, some disadvantages, however there won’t be any knee-jerk reactions on behalf of the sitting US president that we can adjust to sure guidelines of engagement, sure guidelines of communications and can have the ability to discover factors of contact and customary factors.

KEIR SIMMONS: Well, President Biden says — one time whenever you met, you have been inches away from one another, shut to one another. And he mentioned to you, “I’m looking in your eyes, and I can’t see a soul.” And you mentioned, “We understand each other.” Do you keep in mind that trade?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As far as soul, I’m undecided. one has to consider what soul is. But I don’t keep in mind this explicit a part of our conversations, to be sincere with you. I don’t keep in mind. We all, after we meet, after we get collectively, after we discuss, after we work and— try and obtain some options, all of us proceed from the pursuits of our nations and our states. And that is basic and is the bedrock of all our actions and intentions. And— that is the driving pressure and the motive for organizing conferences of this type. And— so far as soul goes, that is one thing for the church.

KEIR SIMMONS: Yeah. You’re a spiritual man. President Biden is saying he advised you to your face, “You don’t have a soul.” (LAUGH)

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I don’t keep in mind this.

KEIR SIMMONS: He says it was about —


VLADIMIR PUTIN: — one thing incorrect with my reminiscence.

KEIR SIMMONS: — it was 10 years in the past, 10 years in the past when he was vp, he says.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, he in all probability has a superb reminiscence. I— I— I — I don’t rule this out, however I do not keep in mind this. In private encounters, folks attempt to act appropriately. I don’t keep in mind any inappropriate components of conduct on the a part of my counterparts. I do not assume that something like that — has occurred. Perhaps he did say one thing, however I don’t keep in mind.

KEIR SIMMONS: Would you will have felt that was an inappropriate factor to say?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, that will depend on the context. It will depend on what kind they’re mentioned in. One can say this in several methods. It might be offered in several methods. But typically, folks meet up with a purpose to set up a relationship and create an surroundings and circumstances for joint work, with a view to attaining some sort of constructive outcomes.

If — one is — going to have a combat with anyone else — why trouble and — have a gathering? One’s higher off — trying into price range and social insurance policies — domestically. We have many points that we have now to resolve. What’s the purpose then? It’s simply — a waste of time.

Of course, one can and current this for home political consumption, which I consider is what has been carried out in — the U.S. within the final two years, the place the U.S.-Russia relationship was sacrificed for the sake of a fierce political strife contained in the U.S. We can see that.

We realize it very properly. We have been accused of all types of issues: election interference, cyber assaults and so forth and so forth. And not as soon as, not as soon as, not one time did they trouble to provide any sort of proof or proof. Just unfounded accusations. I’m stunned that we have now not but been accused of— scary the Black Lives Matter motion. That would have been a superb line of assault. But—

KEIR SIMMONS: What do you assume —

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We didn’t try this.

KEIR SIMMONS: What do you consider the Black Lives Matter motion?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I believe that, after all, this motion was — utilized by one of many political forces domestically in the middle of election — campaigns. But there may be — th — th — there are some grounds for it. Let’s keep in mind Colin Powell who was State- secretary, was in cost — of — the Pentagon.

Even he wrote in — his e book that even he as a high-ranking official had felt some sort of injustice in the direction of himself his complete life as a — as somebody with a darkish complexion. Even from the Soviet — days— and in Russia, we have now at all times handled with understanding the combat of African Americans for his or her rights.

And there are specific roots to it. And— there are — there’s a sure— basis for this. But regardless of how noble the objectives that anyone is pushed by, if it reaches sure extremes, if it spills over into — if it acquires components of extremism— we— we c — we can’t approve this.

We can’t welcome it. So our angle to that is quite simple. We assist African Americans’ combat for his or her rights, however we’re in opposition to any varieties and sorts of extremism, which sadly generally, regrettably, we witness at the moment —

KEIR SIMMONS: You point out cyber—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —nowadays.

KEIR SIMMONS: You point out cyber assaults— and deny any involvement— by Russia. But Mr. President, there may be now a weight of proof, an extended listing of alleged state-sponsored cyber assaults. Let me offer you 5. There’s so much, however it makes a degree. The U.S. intelligence neighborhood says Russia interfered with the 2016 Election.

Election safety officers mentioned Russia tried to intrude with the 2020 Election. Cybersecurity researchers mentioned authorities hackers focused COVID vaccine researchers, hacking for COVID vaccines. In April the Treasury Department mentioned the SolarWinds assault was the world’s worst with n— together with not— the targets together with 9 federal businesses. And simply earlier than your summit, Microsoft says it is found one other assault with targets together with organizations which have criticized you— Mr. Putin. Mr. Presi— President, are you waging a cyber conflict in opposition to America?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Dear Keir, you will have mentioned that there’s a weight of proof of cyber assaults by Russia. And then you definately went on to listing these— official U.S. businesses which have acknowledged as a lot. Is that what you probably did?

KEIR SIMMONS: Well, I’m— telling—


KEIR SIMMONS: I’m providing you with details about who mentioned it so you possibly can reply.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Right. Right. You are conveying info to me as to who mentioned that. But the place is proof that this was certainly carried out? I’ll inform you that this individual has mentioned that, that individual has mentioned this. But the place is the proof? Where is proof? With— when there may be— when there are costs— with out— proof, I can inform you, you possibly can take your criticism to the International League of Sexual Reform.

This is a dialog that has no topic. Put one thing on the desk in order that we are able to look and reply. But there is not something like that. The la— newest factor— one of many newest assaults so far as I do know, was in opposition to the pipeline system within the U.S. Right, sure. So what?

KEIR SIMMONS: But that is— however— the c— you— you point out—


VLADIMIR PUTIN: Just a second. As far as I do know, the shareholders of this firm even decided to pay the ransom. They paid off the cyber gangsters. If you will have— listed a whole set of U.S. particular companies (highly effective, international, respectable), in any case they will discover whoever the ransom was paid.

And— as soon as they try this, they may notice that Russia has nothing to do with it. Then— there’s the cyber assault in opposition to a meat processing plant. Next time they may say there was an assault in opposition to some Easter eggs. It’s changing into farcical, like an ongoing farcical factor, unending farcical factor. You mentioned “plenty of evidence,” however you have not cited any proof. But th— once more, that is— this— that is an empty dialog, a pointless dialog. What precisely are we speaking about? There’s no proof.

KEIR SIMMONS: You’ve moved on to this query of— ransomware and— and— and criminals. Russian-speaking criminals is the allegation— are focusing on the American lifestyle: meals, gasoline, water, hospitals— transport. Why would you let Russian-speaking criminals disrupt your diplomacy? Wouldn’t— you need to know who’s accountable?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, the best factor to do can be for us to take a seat down calmly and agree on joint work in our on-line world. We did recommend that—

KEIR SIMMONS: In September.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —to Obama’s administration in Octo— – we began in September and – throughout his final yr in workplace. In October at first, they did not say something. Then in November, they got here again to us and mentioned that, sure, it was fascinating. Then— the election was misplaced.

We restated— this— proposal to Mr. Trump’s administration. The response was that it’s fascinating, however no— it did not— it did not— it did not come to the purpose of precise negotiations. There have been— there are grounds to consider that we are able to construct an effort— on this space with the brand new administration, that the home political scenario— within the U.S. won’t stop this from taking place.

But we have now proposed to do that work collectively. Let’s agree on the ideas of mut— mutual work. Let’s discover out what we are able to do collectively. Let’s agree on how we’ll construction counter-efforts in opposition to the method that’s— gathering momentum.

We right here within the Russian Federation have— cyber crimes which have elevated— many instances over in the previous few years. We’re making an attempt to reply to it. We’re on the lookout for cyber criminals. If we discover them, we punish them.

We are prepared to have interaction with worldwide members, together with the United States. You are those who’ve refused to have interaction in joint work. What can we do? We can’t construct— this work, we can’t construction this work unilaterally.

KEIR SIMMONS: Well, I’m not the federal government, Mr. Putin. I’m only a journalist asking— you—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I perceive that.

KEIR SIMMONS: —questions. But if you happen to— you clearly need to negotiate. You should have one thing to barter with. You— you do not ask for a truce except you are preventing in a conflict.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, so far as a conflict, NATO— and I’d— I’d like to attract your consideration to that. N— NATO has formally acknowledged that it considers our on-line world a battlefield, an space of— army motion—


KEIR SIMMONS: And you are concerned in that—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —that is coaching—

KEIR SIMMONS: —discipline.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —it conduc— it conducts—

KEIR SIMMONS: Russia is—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It conducts workouts in that battlefield.

KEIR SIMMONS: —preventing on that battlefield. Correct?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. No. No. No, that’s not right.


VLADIMIR PUTIN: That isn’t right. Really. If we needed to try this, NATO mentioned that it considers our on-line world an space of— fight. And— it prepares and even conducts workouts. What stops us from doing that? If you try this, we’ll do the identical factor. But we do not need that. identical to we do not need house militarized, in the identical method we do not need our on-line world militarized. And we have now instructed on many events, agreeing on mutual work within the cybersecurity space on this—


VLADIMIR PUTIN: —on this space. But your— your— your authorities refuses to.

KEIR SIMMONS: Isn’t— I imply, I noticed your proposal from— from September, from simply in September. Isn’t what you are proposing? That if you happen to can come to an settlement over hacking and election interference, then you definately’ll name off the hacking and the election interference if America agrees to not remark in your elections and your political opponents?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What we rely on is that no one ought to intrude in home inside affairs of different international locations, neither the U.S. in ours or we in— the USA’s— political processes or every other nations. All nations of the world ought to be given a possibility to develop calmly

Even if there are disaster conditions they should be resolved by the folks domestically, with none affect or interference from the surface. I do not assume that this name by the U.S. administr— right this moment’s administration is price something. I— it seems to me that the U.S. authorities will proceed to intrude in— in— political processes in different international locations.

I do not assume that this course of might be stopped, as a result of it has gained a number of momentum. However, so far as joint work in our on-line world for the prevention of some unacceptable actions on the a part of cyber criminals— cyber criminals— that’s undoubtedly one thing that may be agreed upon. And it’s our nice hope that we can set up this course of with our U.S. companions.

KEIR SIMMONS: If you have been in America, what would you concern may occur subsequent? The lights being switched off the way in which they have been in western Ukraine in 2015?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You imply if I have been in America, what— what— what would I be— you imply if I have been an American, what I might be afraid of?


VLADIMIR PUTIN: Is that the query?

KEIR SIMMONS: What ought to Americans fear? What may occur subsequent if there is no settlement on cyber?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, this is rather like house militarization. This is a really harmful space. At some level, with a purpose to obtain one thing within the nuclear space by way of— confrontation within the space of nuclear— weapons, the united states and the United States did comply with comprise this explicit arms race.

Cyberspace is a really delicate space. As of right this moment, a substantial amount of human endeavors depend on digital applied sciences, together with the functioning of— authorities. And after all interference in these processes may cause a number of injury and a number of losses. And everyone understands that. And I’m repeating a 3rd time— for the third time: Let’s sit down collectively and agree on joint work on easy methods to— obtain safety on this space. That is all.

What’s— what’s unhealthy about it? I do not even perceive. I’m not— I’m not asking you. I’m not making an attempt to place you on the spot. But— for me as— as an unusual citizen, it could not be clear and comprehensible. Why is it that your authorities refuses to— to do it?

Accusations preserve coming, together with as much as— interference— involvement in a cyber assault in opposition to some sort of a meat processing plant. But our proposal to begin negotiations on this space are being turned down. This is a few sort of nonsense, however that is precisely what’s been taking place.

Once— I— I repeat another time. It is my hope that we can begin partaking in constructive work on this space. In phrases of what is to be afraid of, why is it that we recommend agreeing on one thing? Because what— folks might be afraid of in America, are nervous of in America, the exact same factor generally is a hazard to us. U.S. is a high-tech nation. NATO has declared our on-line world an space of— fight. That means they’re planning one thing. They are getting ready one thing. So clearly this can’t however fear us.

KEIR SIMMONS: Do you concern that— American intelligence is deep inside Russian methods and has the power— to do you a number of injury in cyber?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I’m not afraid, however I keep in mind that it’s a risk.

KEIR SIMMONS: Let me ask you about— human rights— a problem that— President Biden— will increase— Mr. President. He’ll increase the— difficulty of Alexei Navalny, focused for assassination, now in a Russian jail. Mr. President, why are you so threatened by opposition?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Who says that I really feel threatened by opposition or we’re threatened by opposition? Who advised you— who advised you that—

KEIR SIMMONS: Well— properly, a Russian court docket has simply—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —that I’m scared by opposition?

KEIR SIMMONS: Well— properly—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It’s— it is simply humorous—

KEIR SIMMONS: A Ru— excuse me. I’m sorry. A Russian court docket has simply outlawed organizations linked to Mr. Navalny. Literally each non-systematic opposition determine is going through felony costs. In journalism— Meduza and VTimes have been hit with “foreign agent” labels— and face collapse. Mr. President, it is as if dissent is solely not tolerated in Russia anymore.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: This— properly, you’re presenting it as dissent and intolerance in the direction of dissent in Russia. We view it utterly in a different way. You have talked about the legislation on overseas brokers, however that is not one thing that we invented. That legislation was handed again within the 1930s within the United States. And that legislation is way harsher than ours, and it’s directed and meant, amongst different issues, at stopping interference within the home political affairs of the United States—

KEIR SIMMONS: But— however— however, Mr. President—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: And on the entire, I consider that it’s justified.


VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you need me to maintain— would you like me to reply—

KEIR SIMMONS: Look, I’m simply gonna—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you need me to maintain answering?

KEIR SIMMONS: In America, we name what you are doing now “whataboutism.” “What about this? What about that?” It’s a method of not answering the query. Let me ask you a direct query. Did— did you— did you—


KEIR SIMMONS: —did you—


KEIR SIMMONS: Let me ask you—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I— I’ll look. I’ll look—

KEIR SIMMONS: Let me ask—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let me— let— let me reply. You’ve requested me a query. You usually are not liking my reply , so that you’re interrupting me. This is— that is inappropriate. So there we go. In the United States, this legislation was adopted a very long time in the past. It’s working, and sanctions below that legislation are a lot harsher—

KEIR SIMMONS: There you go, nonetheless speaking about—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —than right here—

KEIR SIMMONS: —United States.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —as much as— as much as imprisonment. Yes, sure, sure. Again you aren’t letting me… But I’ll— I’ll— I’ll revert to us. I’ll return to us. Don’t fear. I can’t simply— I can’t simply be targeted on U.S. issues. I’ll— I’ll revert, and return, and touch upon what’s taking place—

KEIR SIMMONS: Because— I— as a result of—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —on what is going on right here.

KEIR SIMMONS: Because, Mr. Pre— Mr. President, I— I believed your— I believed your— perception was that nations should not intervene in different international locations’ home affairs, should not touch upon different—


KEIR SIMMONS: —international locations’—


KEIR SIMMONS: —politics. But there you’re, doing it once more.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. No. If— you muster endurance and let me end saying what I imply to say. Everything might be clear to you. But you aren’t liking my reply. You don’t need my reply to be heard by your viewers. That is the issue. You are shutting me down. Is {that a} free expression—

KEIR SIMMONS: Please reply.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —or is that free expression American method? So thanks very a lot. Here we go. The U.S. adopted this legislation. We handed this legislation very not too long ago with a purpose to shield our society in opposition to outdoors interference. We’re in a few of the— states, a overseas observer involves a polling station.

The prosecutor says, “Come a l— few feet closer, and you’ll go to jail.” Is that standard? Is that democracy within the trendy world? But— that’s an precise observe in a few of the states. We haven’t got something like that . When I speak about these legal guidelines about noninterference or makes an attempt at interference, what do I imply as utilized to Russia?

Many entities of the so-called “civil society,” the rationale I say “so-called civil society” is as a result of a lot of these entities are funded from overseas. Specific related motion packages are ready. Their core members are skilled overseas. And when our official authorities see that, with a purpose to stop this type of interference in our home affairs, we make related choices and undertake related legal guidelines.

And they’re extra lenient than yours. You have— we have now a saying: “Don’t be mad at the mirror if you are ugly.” It has nothing to do with you personally. But if anyone blames us for one thing, what I say is, “Why don’t you look at yourselves?” You will see yourselves within the mirror, not us. There is nothing uncommon about it. As far as political actions and the political system, it’s evolving. We have 44 registered events. Well, 34 I believe. And 32— are about to take part in varied electoral processes—

KEIR SIMMONS: Those are the registered—


VLADIMIR PUTIN: —throughout this nation in— September. Yes, sure—

KEIR SIMMONS: We solely have a restricted period of time, Mr. President.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There can also be non-systemic opposition. You have mentioned that some folks have been detained. Some individuals are—

KEIR SIMMONS: Those are those which can be being—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —in jail. Yes, that’s all true. You talked about sure names.


VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, sure. I’ll— I’ll— I’ll— I’ll speak about it. Yes. I— I’ll— I can’t go away any of your questions—

KEIR SIMMONS: Alexei Navalny—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —unattended.

KEIR SIMMONS: —is— is his identify. Can I ask you— can I simply ask you—


KEIR SIMMONS: —a direct query? Did you order Alexei Navalny’s assassination?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course not. We haven’t got this type of behavior, of assassinating anyone. That’s one. Number two is I need to ask you: Did you order the assassination of the girl who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman? Do you realize that 450 people have been arrested after coming into the Congress? And they did not go there to steal a laptop computer. They got here with political calls for. 450 folks—

KEIR SIMMONS: You’re speaking concerning the Capitol riot.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —have been detained. They’re going through— they’re trying— they’re— they’re jail time, between 15 and 25 years. And they got here to the Congress with political calls for. Isn’t that persecution for political views? Some have been accused of plotting to topple— to take over-government energy. Some are accused of— theft. They did not go there to rob. The individuals who you will have talked about, sure, they have been convicted for violating their standing, having been beforehand convicted— given convent— given suspended sentences— which have been primarily warning to not— violate the Russian legal guidelines.

And they utterly ignored the necessities of the legislation. The court docket went on and— handed— and turned the conviction into actual jail time. Thousands and 1000’s of individuals ignore— necessities of the legislation, and so they don’t have anything to do with political actions, in Russia yearly and so they go to jail. If anyone— if anyone is definitely utilizing political actions as a protect to cope with their points, together with— obtain their business— objectives, then— it is one thing that they should be held chargeable for.

KEIR SIMMONS: There you go once more, Mr. President. “What about America?” when I’ve requested you about Russia. Let me ask you— you talked about Congress. Let me ask you one other direct query that you simply— can reply. And it is an allegation that has been made, an accusation that has been made repeatedly now— within the United States.

The late John McCain— in Congress referred to as you a killer. When President Trump was requested— was advised that you’re a killer, he did not deny it. When President Biden was requested whether or not he believes you’re a killer, he mentioned, “I do.” Mr. President, are you a killer?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, I’m— over my tenure, I’ve g— gotten used to assaults from all types of angles and from all types of areas below all types of— pretexts and causes and of various caliber and fierceness. And none of it surprises me. People with whom I work and with whom we argue, we— we’re not bride and groom. We do not swear eternal love and friendship.

We are companions. And in some areas, we’re rivals or rivals. As far as harsh rhetoric, I believe that— that is an expression of total U.S. tradition. Of course in Hollywood, as a result of we talked about Hollywood initially of our dialog, there are some— deep issues— in— Hollywood— macho— which might be handled as— cinematographic artwork however as a rule it’ s macho conduct that’s a part of— U.S.- political tradition the place it is thought of regular.

By the way in which, not right here. It isn’t thought of regular right here. If this rhetoric is adopted by a suggestion to satisfy and talk about bilateral points and issues of worldwide insurance policies, I see it as want to have interaction in joint work. If this want is critical, we’re ready to assist it.

KEIR SIMMONS: I do not— I do not— I do not assume I heard you reply the query, the direct query— Mr. President.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I did reply. I did reply. I’ll add— if you happen to let me, I’ve heard dozens of such accusations, particularly through the interval of— some grave occasions throughout our counterterrorism efforts in North Caucuses. And when it occurs, I’m at all times guided by the pursuits of the Russian folks and Russian state. And— sentiments by way of who calls anyone what, what sort of labels, (THROAT CLEARING) this isn’t one thing I fear about within the least.

KEIR SIMMONS: Th— let me offer you some names. Ann— Anna Anna Politkovskaya, shot lifeless. Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned by polonium. Sergei Magnitsky, allegedly crushed and died in jail. Boris Nemtsov, shot moments from the Kremlin, moments from right here. Mikhail Lesin— died of— blunt trauma in Washington, D.C. Are all of those a coincidence, Mr. President? (LAUGH)

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, you realize, I do not need to come throughout as being impolite, however— this seems to be like— some sort of— indigestion, besides that it is verbal indigestion. You talked about many people who certainly suffered and perished at completely different closing dates for varied causes on the hand of various people.

You talked about Lesin. Lesin used to work in my administration. I— favored him very a lot. He died— he perished or died within the United States. I’m undecided if he perished or died. We ought to ask you ways precisely he perished. I— remorse to at the present time that he’s not with us. In my opinion, he is a really first rate individual.

As far as— the others, we discovered a few of the criminals who dedicated— these crimes. Some are in jail, and we’re ready to proceed to work on this mode and— alongside this avenue figuring out everyone who violate the legislation and by their actions trigger injury, together with to the picture of the Russian Federation.

However—simply piling all the things collectively is— meaningless— inappropriate, and baseless. If— one sees it as a line of assault, then very properly. Let me take heed to it— another time. But I repeat it— I— I’d prefer to repeat that I’ve heard it— many instances. But this does not baffle me. I do know which path to maneuver in to safe the pursuits of the Russian state.

KEIR SIMMONS: Let’s transfer on— to Belarus and Ukraine— two— points that can definitely come up in— in your summit— with— President— Biden. Did you will have prior information {that a} business airliner can be pressured to land in (THROAT CLEARING) Belarus and that— a journalist can be arrested?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. I didn’t learn about this. I did not know— about any airliner. I did not know concerning the individuals who have been detained there subsequently. I discovered about it from the media. I did not know— I did not have a clue about any detainees. I— I— I do not know. It— it’s of no curiosity to us.

KEIR SIMMONS: You seem to have authorized of it— judging by your assembly with President Lukashenko quickly afterwards.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Not that I approve of it. Not that I condemn it. But, properly, it occurred. I mentioned not too long ago in one of many conversations— with a European— colleague— the model of Mr. Lukashenko who advised me about it was that— info had been given to them that there was an was an explosive system— on board the airplane. They knowledgeable—

KEIR SIMMONS: And you consider that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —the pilot with out forcing the pilot to land. And the pilot decided to land in Minsk. That is all. Why ought to I not consider him? Ask the pilot. It’s the best factor. Ask the— ask the chief pilot. Ask the commander of the— plane. Did you ask him if was he pressured to land? Because I— I’ve not— heard or seen an interview with the commander of the plane— that—landed in Minsk.

Why not ask him? Why not ask him if he was pressured to land? Why do not you ask him? It— it is truly even odd. Everybody accuses Lukashenko, however the pilot hasn’t been requested. You know, I can’t however recall one other related scenario the place the airplane of the president of Bolivia was for— was pressured to land in Vienna the order of the U.S. administration.

Air Force one, a presidential airplane, was pressured to land. The president was taken out of the plane. They searched the airplane. And you do not even recall that. Do you assume it was regular— that was good, however what Lukashenko did was unhealthy?

Look, allow us to converse the identical language and— allow us to use the identical ideas. If, properly, Lukashenko is a gangster, how concerning the scenario with the Bolivian— president? Was it good? In Bolivia, they considered it as humiliation of the entire nation. But— everyone saved mum to not irritate the scenario. Nobody is recalling that. By the way in which, this isn’t the one scenario—

KEIR SIMMONS: You’re— you are— you are recalling it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: This isn’t the—

KEIR SIMMONS: You’re— you are—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —solely scenario of this type.

KEIR SIMMONS: With respect, you are—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: If it’s him, you gave him an instance to comply with.

KEIR SIMMONS: —recalling it. But (THROAT CLEARING) is a totally completely different instance, Mr. President. We are speaking about (LAUGH) a business flight. Shouldn’t folks have the ability to take a business flight throughout Europe with out concern of being shot down like within the case of (THROAT CLEARING) MH-17 or pressured down so {that a} dictator can arrest a journalist?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. Look, I’ll inform you another time. What President Lukashenko advised me, I haven’t got any cause to not consider him. For the third time, I’m telling you: Ask the pilot. Why do not you ask the pilot: Was he—


VLADIMIR PUTIN: —being scared? Was he being threatened? Was he being pressured? The proven fact that info appeared that there was a bomb in— on the airplane, that people, individuals who had nothing to do— who have been passengers who had nothing to do with politics or any sort of home conflicts that— they may understand it negatively— may very well be nervous about it, after all that is a foul factor.

There is nothing good about this. And clearly we condemn all the things that has— to do with— this, and worldwide terrorism, and using— plane. Of course, we’re in opposition to this. And— you have advised me that the touchdown of the plane of the president of Bolivia is a totally completely different matter.

Yes, it’s completely different besides that it’s ten instances worse than what was carried out, if something was carried out in Belarus. But you simply will not acknowledge it. You are— ignoring it, and also you need thousands and thousands of individuals world wide to both not discover it or neglect about it tomorrow. You will not get away with it. It will not occur.

KEIR SIMMONS: In the case of neighboring Ukraine— earlier this yr, the European Union mentioned you had greater than 100,000— troops (THROAT CLEARING) on the Ukrainian border. Was that an try and get Washington’s consideration?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, first, Ukraine itself continuously and I believe remains to be doing that— saved bringing personnel and army gear to the— battle space within the southeast of Ukraine, Donbas. That’s one. Two is that we carried out— workouts in our territory and never simply within the south of the Russian Federation but in addition within the far east and within the north, within the Arctic.

Simultaneously, army workouts have been being held in several components of the Russian Federation. At the very t— on the similar very time, the U.S. was conducting— army workouts in Alaska. Do you realize something about it? Probably not. But I’ll inform you that I do know.

And that’s in direct proximity to our borders. But that is in your territory, in your land. We did not even take note of it. What is going on now? Now, at our southern borders, there may be— there’s a conflict recreation, Defender Europe, 40,000 personnel, 15,000 models of army gear. Part of them have been airlifted from the U.S. continent on to our borders. Did we airlift any of our army know-how to the U.S. borders? No, we didn’t.

KEIR SIMMONS: Many of these—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Why are you nervous then?

KEIR SIMMONS: But a lot of these workouts are a resp— are a response to your actions— Mr. President. Do you are worried that your opposition to NATO has truly strengthened it? For six years, NATO has spent extra on protection.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Some— some protection. Some protection. During the united states period, Gorbachev, who remains to be— thank God, with us— bought a promise— a verbal promise— that— there can be no NATO growth to the east. Where is that—

KEIR SIMMONS: Where is that—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —promise? Two methods of growth.

KEIR SIMMONS: Where is that written down? Where is that promise written down?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Right, proper, proper. Right, proper. Well carried out. Well carried out. Correct. You’ve bought a degree. Nyah nyah nyah, bought you good. Well, congratulations. Of course, all the things ought to be sealed and written on paper. But what was the purpose of increasing NATO to the east and bringing this infrastructure to our borders, and all of this earlier than saying that we’re those who’ve been appearing aggressively?

Why? On what foundation? Did Russia after the united states collapsed current any risk to the U.S. or European international locations? We voluntarily withdrew our troops from Eastern Europe. Leaving them simply on empty land. Our— folks there— army personnel for many years lived there in what was not regular circumstances, together with their kids.

We went to large bills. And what did we get in response? We bought in response infrastructure subsequent to our borders. And now, you’re saying that we’re threatening to anyone. We’re conducting conflict video games regularly, together with generally shock army workouts. Why ought to it fear the NATO companions? I simply do not perceive that.

KEIR SIMMONS: Will you commit now to not ship any additional Russian troops into Ukrainian sovereign territory?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, we— did we— did we are saying that we have been planning to ship our armed formations anyplace? We have been conducting conflict video games on— in our territory. How can this not be clear? I’m saying it once more as a result of I would like your viewers to listen to it, your— listeners to listen to it— each on the screens of their televisions and on the web.

We carried out army workouts in our territory. Imagine if we despatched our troops into direct proximity to your borders. What would have been your response? We did not try this. We did it in our territory. You carried out conflict video games in Alaska. God bless you.

But you had crossed an ocean, introduced 1000’s of personnel— 1000’s of models of army gear near our borders, and but you consider that we’re appearing aggressively and by some means you are not appearing aggressively. Just take a look at that. Pot— pot calling the kettle black.

KEIR SIMMONS: Moving on— the Biden administration has mentioned that in your— at your summit they may convey up— the case of two U.S. prisoners in Russia— Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed. They are two former— Marines. Trevor Reed— is— affected by— COVID in jail. Why do not you launch them forward of the summit? Wouldn’t that present goodwill?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do know that we have now— sure U.S. residents who’re in jail, have been convicted, discovered responsible. But if— one considers the variety of— Russian Federation residents who’re in U.S. prisons, then these numbers do not even examine. they can’t be in contrast. The United States has— made a behavior in the previous few years—


VLADIMIR PUTIN: —of catching Russian Federation residents in third international locations—

KEIR SIMMONS: I simply— there is a restricted period of time, Mr. President—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —and— take them to—

KEIR SIMMONS: Unless we are able to have extra time—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —again to the U.S. in violation of all worldwide authorized norms and put them in jail—

KEIR SIMMONS: I’d be very pleased to have— to maintain going for one more 30 minutes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I decide the time right here, so don’t be concerned about time. Your man— the— Marine— he is only a drunk and— a troublemaker. As they are saying right here— he bought himself— shitfaced and— began a combat. Among different issues, he— he hit a cop. It’s— it is nothing. It’s only a widespread crime. There is nothing to it.

As far as potential negotiations on the topic, certain— it may be talked about. Obviously we’ll increase the matter of— our residents who’re in jail within the U.S. . Yes, it may be a selected dialog. Sure. We’re h— pleased to do it— though it does not appear that the U.S. administration— has— raised that matter. But we’re ready to try this.

Our pilot Yaroshenko has been in jail within the U.S. for a superb n— I do not know what number of years, 15, perhaps 20 years. And— there additionally— the issue appears to be a standard crime. We— may and may speak about it. We— we’ve not been speaking about this, however we may. If the U.S. aspect is ready to debate it, so are we.

KEIR SIMMONS: So his household will discover that extremely distressing to listen to you speak about him that method. It does sound although as if you happen to would think about some sort of a prisoner swap.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is nothing— there’s nothing h— nothing offensive about it. He— he bought drunk on vodka and began a combat. He fought a cop. There is nothing offensive about it. These issues occur in life. There is nothing— nothing horrible about it. It occurs to our males as properly. Somebody— anyone— gulps down some vodka and begins a combat. So you violate the legislation, you go to jail. What would have occurred if he’d— fought a cop, if he’d hit a cop in your nation? He would have been shot lifeless on that spot, and that’s the top of it. Isn’t that the case?

KEIR SIMMONS: And on the prisoner swap query, is that one thing that you’d think about? Are you trying to negotiate? You’re assembly with the president.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, after all. Of course. Even higher can be a dialogue of the potential of— coming into into an settlement on extradition of people who’re in jail. This is a regular worldwide observe. We have such agreements (THROAT CLEARING) with a number of international locations. We’re ready to enter into such an settlement with the United States.

KEIR SIMMONS: Just to be clear so we hear it from you, which Russian prisoners within the U.S. would you be hoping to convey again to Russia by identify?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, we have now a complete listing. I simply talked about— a pilot, a pilot named Yaroshenko who was taken to the U.S. from a— third nation and was given— a prolonged sentence. He has main— well being points, however the jail administration isn’t being attentive to this.

You have— talked about that— that your citizen has— coronavirus, however— no one’s being attentive to the well being problems with our citizen. We’re ready to debate these points. Moreover, it is smart, as you accurately mentioned, and I utterly agree with you, there are issues of humanitarian nature. And— why not talk about them so long as they pertain to the well being and lifetime of— particular people and— of their households? Of course. Sure factor.

KEIR SIMMONS: Just rapidly earlier than I transfer on, as regards to prisons, once more with Alexei Navalny, will you commit that you’ll personally guarantee (THROAT CLEARING) that Alexei Navalny will go away jail alive?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look— such choices on this nation usually are not made by the president. They’re made by the court docket whether or not or to not set anyone free. As far because the well being, all people who’re in jail, that’s one thing that the administration of the precise jail or penitentiary institution is chargeable for.

And- there are medical amenities — in— penitentiaries— which can be maybe not in the perfect situation. And— they’re those whose duty it’s. And I hope that they do it correctly. But to be sincere, I’ve not visited such locations for a very long time.

I visited one in Saint Petersburg a while in the past and— that was a really grave impression that was made on me by the medical amenities in a jail. But since then, I hope, some issues have been carried out— to enhance the scenario. And— I proceed from the premise that the person who you will have talked about, the identical sort of measures will— apply to that individual, not in any method worse than to anyone else who occurs to be in jail.

KEIR SIMMONS: His identify is Alexei Navalny. People will word that you simply weren’t ready to say—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Oh, I do not— I c— I do not care.

KEIR SIMMONS: —that he would depart jail alive.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, look. I— look. Please take heed to me fastidiously. His identify might be something. He’s one of many people who’re in jail. For me, he one of many residents of the Russian Federation who has been discovered responsible by a court docket of legislation and is in jail. There are many voters like that.

By the way in which, our so-called jail inhabitants— the people who find themselves in jail, has in the previous few years— been lowered by virtually 50%, which I think about a giant victory for us and— a serious signal of— our authorized system changing into extra humane.

He won’t be handled any worse than anyone else. Nobody ought to be given any sort of particular remedy. It can be incorrect Everybody ought to be in an equal scenario. This known as essentially the most favored nation remedy. Not worse than anyone else. And the person who you will have talked about, that applies to him as properly.

KEIR SIMMONS: Appreciate the additional time, Mr. President. The staff has been in quarantine for nearly two weeks, so this interview is essential to us. I need to ask you about China. China is engaged on its fourth plane provider. It has two. Russia has one, and it isn’t in— in service for the time being. China refused to participate in arms management talks final yr. You complain a lot about NATO to your west. Why do you by no means complain about China’s militarization to your east?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The very first thing I need to say is that over the previous few years, the previous few many years, we have now developed a strategic partnership relationship— between Russia and China that beforehand had not been achieved within the historical past of our nations, a excessive degree of— belief and cooperation in all areas: in politics, within the financial system, within the space of know-how, within the space of army and technical cooperation. We don’t consider that China is a risk to us. That’s one. China is a pleasant nation. It has not declared us an enemy, because the United States has carried out.

KEIR SIMMONS: China hasn’t b—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Don’t you realize something about this? That’s— that is primary. Number two is that China is a big, highly effective nation, 1.5 billion. In phrases buying— energy— parity, the Chinese financial system has exceeded that of the United States. And by way of commerce for the earlier yr, final yr, China has— China has tied Europe for the primary place, whereas the U.S. has dropped to the second place. Do you realize about this?

China has been creating. And— I perceive that what’s starting is— a sure sort of— confrontation with China. Everybody understands it. We can see it. Why conceal from and be frightened of— these points? However, we’re not alarmed by it, together with, amongst different issues, by the truth that our protection sufficiency, which is how we describe it, is at a really excessive degree, together with due to this. But a very powerful factor is the character and degree of our relationship with China. You mentioned China could have 4 plane carriers. How many does the United States have?

KEIR SIMMONS: Much more.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There you go. That’s my level. Why would we fear concerning the Chinese plane carriers? On prime of all the things else, we have now a vastly huge border with China, however it’s a land border. It’s a land border. What? Do you assume the Chinese— plane carriers will cross our land border? This is simply— a meaningless— dialog—


KEIR SIMMONS: But you— you even have a Pacific coast.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You are proper that there might be 4 of them. It is right that there might be 4 of them. Right. Coast? Well, the coast is big. But the— the majority of the border between us and China is a land border. And, sure— you are proper that there might be 4 of them as a result of one must be in upkeep, one must be on fight responsibility, one must be in repairs. There is nothing extreme right here for China.

That is why what you mentioned, that China will not interact in negotiations— arms management— it refuses to barter reductions in nuclear offensive weapons. You ought to ask the Chinese about it, whether or not it is good or unhealthy. It’s— for them to resolve. But their arguments are easy and comprehensible.

The degree— each by way of the quantity of— ammunition and— warheads and— supply autos, the United States and Russia are far, far forward of China. And the Chinese justly say, “Why would we make reductions if we are already far behind what you have? Or do you want us— do you want us to freeze our level— of nuclear deterrence?

“Why ought to we freeze? Why we a rustic with a 1.5 billion inhabitants can’t no less than set the aim of attaining your ranges?” These are all debatable issues that require thorough consideration. But— making us responsible for China’s position is just comical.

KEIR SIMMONS: What do you think of China’s treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, (THROAT CLEARING) I have met— certain— Uyghurs. It’s also— it— it’s always possible to find individuals who criticize the central authorities. I have met Uyghurs on my trips to China, and I assure you at the very least what I heard with my own ears, that on the whole they welcome the policies of the Chinese authorities in this area. They believe that China has done a great deal for people who live in this part of the country from the perspective of the economy, raising the cultural level, and so on and so forth. So why should I offer assessments—

KEIR SIMMONS: You— you— you know that—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —looking at the situation—

KEIR SIMMONS: You know that—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —from— from— from— from a s— from outside—

KEIR SIMMONS: You know— you know there are many— Uyghurs who do not say that and that America has accused China of genocide. The secretary of state has accused China of genocide over the Uyghurs. There is the accusation of a million— Uyghurs in so-called concentration camps. Is that your message to the Muslim communities in the former Soviet Union? You don’t think anything wrong is happening there?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As far as the Muslim community in Russia, I need to give a message to it through policies of the Russian authorities vis-à-vis Muslims in the Russian Federation. That is how I need to give my message to the Muslim community in the Russian Federation. We’re an observer in the Organization of Islamic Conference.

About 10% of our population, probably a little more, are Muslims. They are citizens of the Russian Federation who do not have any other fatherland. They’re making a colossal contribution to the development of our country. And that— pertains to both— clerics and— ordinary citizens.

Why should I speak to and build a relationship with this part of— our population by reference to the situation in China without understanding thoroughly what is happening there? I think that— you’re better off asking about all these problems the foreign minister of the Chinese— People’s Republic or the— U.S. State Department.

KEIR SIMMONS: It’s just a question of whether you are prepared to criticize China. China, for example, abstained on Crimea at the Security Council. China’s biggest banks have not contravened American sanctions against Russia. Do you think you get 100% support from China?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, we are neighboring countries. One does not choose one’s neighbors. We are pleased with the level, as I said, – unprecedentedly high level of our relationship as it has evolved over the last few decades, and we cherish it, just like our Chinese friends cherish it, which we can see. Why are you trying to drag us into some kind of matters that you evaluate as you see it fit for building your relationship— with China? I— I will tell you completely— can I— can I speak—

KEIR SIMMONS: Please. Yeah.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: —can I be completely honest? We can see attempts at destroying the relationship between Russia and China. We can see that those attempts are being made in practical policies. And your questions, too, have to do with it. I have set forth my position for you.

I believe that this is sufficient, and I’m confident that the Chinese leadership being aware of the totality of these matters, including the part of their population who are Uyghurs, will find the necessary solution to make sure that the situation remains stable and benefits the entire multi-million-strong Chinese people, including its Uyghur part.

KEIR SIMMONS: You understand, of course, I— I’m just trying to question you about Russia’s position in relation to China and the United States. Let me ask you in— yeah, let me ask you in a different way. Are you splitting off from the U.S. space program and moving forward with China?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. No, why? We are prepared to work with the U.S. in space. And— I think recently the head of NASA said that he could not imagine development of space programs without its partnership with Russia. We welcome this statement.


VLADIMIR PUTIN: And we value—

KEIR SIMMONS: —I just— I just explain? Because the— the head of the Russia space agency h— has threatened— leaving the international space program in 2025— and specifically talked about sanctions— in relation to that threat.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, honestly, I don’t think that Mr. Rogozin, that is the name of the head of— Roscosmos, has threatened anyone in this regard. I’ve known him for many years, and I know that he is a supporter— he is a supporter of expanding the relationship with the U.S. in this area, in space.

Recently, the head of NASA spoke in the same vein. And I personally fully support this. And we have been working with great pleasure all of these years, and we’re prepared to continue to work. For technical reasons though, and that’s a different matter, is that the International Space Station is— coming to an end of its service life.

And maybe in this— regard, the Roscosmos does not have plans to continue their work. However— based on what I heard from— our U.S. partners they, too, are looking at future cooperation in this particular segment in their certain— in a certain way.

But on the whole, the— cooperation between our two countries in space is a great example of a situation where despite any kind of problems in political relationships in recent years, it’s an area where we have been able to maintain and preserve the partnership and both parties cherish it.

I think you just misunderstood the head of the— Russian space program said. We are interested in continuing to work with the U.S. in this direction, and we will continue to do so if our U.S. partners don’t refuse to— to— to do that. It doesn’t mean that we need to work exclusively with the U.S.

We— have been working and will continue to work with China, which applies to all kinds of programs, including— exploring deep space. And— I think there is nothing but —positive information here. I— frankly, I don’t see any ex— any— contradictions here. I don’t think any mutual— exclusivity here.

KEIR SIMMONS: Let— let me— let me ask you— one more way just to understand the relationship between China, Russia, and the— America. If the People’s Liberation Army made a move on Taiwan— how would Russia respond to that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What? Are you aware of China’s plans to militarily solve the Taiwan problem? I don’t know anything about it. As we frequently— say— politics do not require the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is inappropriate in politics. There is no “may very well be” and “can be” in politics.

I cannot comment on anything that— is not a current reality of the modern world. Please bear with me. Don’t be angry with me. But I think this is— this is a question about nothing. This it not happening. Has China stated that it intends to solve the Taiwan problem militarily? It hasn’t happened.

For many years, China has been developing its relationship with Taiwan. There are different assessments. China has its own assessment. The U.S. has a different assessment. Taiwan may have its different assessment of the situation. But fortunately, hasn’t come to— a military clash.

KEIR SIMMONS: I’m being told to wrap up. But if I could just— ask you a couple more questions. Our own And—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Sure, please. Go ahead—

KEIR SIMMONS: Our own— our own Andrea Mitchell— saw just this month— the last border crossing into Syria— where supplies literally keep people alive. You’re threatening to close that crossing in July— at the Security Council. Why would you do that, knowing that it will cause the death of refugees?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look— unfortunately there are a great deal of tragedies there already. And— all our actions in their totality need to be geared at stabilizing the situation and bringing it into a normal course. And with support of Russia, Syria has been able— Syria— the Syrian authorities have been able to bring back under their control over 90% of the Syrian territory.

What needs to be set up now is just humanitarian assistance to people, irrespective of any kind of political context. But our partners in the West, in the West in general, both the U.S. and Europeans— have been saying that they’re not going to give help to Assad.

What does Assad have to do with it? Help out people who need that assistance. Just the most basic things. They won’t even lift restrictions on supplies of— medications and medical equipment even in the context of— the corona— virus infection. But that is just inhumane.

And this kind of cruel attitude to people to people cannot be explained in any way. As far as the crossing— border crossings. There is the Idlib area where— combatants are still robbing people, killing people, raping people. There is— nothing’s happening. There is the— Al-Tanf Zone, which by the way is controlled by U.S. military.

Recently there we caught a group of— gangsters, bandits who came— who had come from there. And they directly said that they had— specific goals as far as— Russian military facilities. As far as border crossings, our position is such that assistance needs to be given just as it should be done in the entire world, as it is provided for in the provisions of international humanitarian law.

Assistance should be given through the central government. It shouldn’t be discriminated against. And if there are grounds to believe that the central government of Syria will plunder something, well, set up observers on the part of the International— Red Cross and— Red Crescent oversee everything.

I don’t think that anybody in the Syrian government is interested in stealing some part of this humanitarian assistance. It just needs to be done through the central government. And in this sense, we support President Assad because a different mode of behavior would be undermining the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic. And that’s all. As far as the Idlib zone, the Turkish troops there effectively control the border between Turkey and Syria and convoys cross the border— without any restrictions on their numbers in both directions.

KEIR SIMMONS: Mr. President, you extended the constitution so that you could be president of— of Russia until 2036. Do you worry that the longer you are in power and without any sign of someone to replace you, the more instability there may be when you finally do choose to leave office?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What will collapse overnight? If we look at the situation in which Russia was in the year 2000 where it was balancing on the brink of preserving its territorial integrity and sovereignty, the number of— individuals below the poverty line was colossal. It was catastrophic.

The GDP level had dropped below anything that’s acceptable. Our FX and gold reserves were $12 billion, whereas our— foreign debt was $120 billion if we—count it in dollars. Now, there are many other problems. The situation is completely different.

Of course, somebody will come and replace me at some point. Is all of this going to collapse? We’ve been fighting international terrorism. We have nipped it in the bud. Is it supposed to come back to life? I don’t think so. Another matter is that on the political scene, different people can emerge with different points of view. Great. Very good. You know, I have linked my entire life to— my entire fate to the fate of my country to such an extent that there isn’t a more meaningful—

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (IN PROGRESS) —goal in my life than the strengthening of Russia. If anybody else— and if I see that person, even if that person is critical of some areas of what I have been doing, if I can see that this is an individual who has constructive views that he or she is— committed to this country and is prepared to sacrifice his entire life to this country, nor just some years, no matter his personal attitude to me, I will make sure, I will do everything to make sure that such people will get support.

It is a natural biological process. At some point, someday, we will all be replaced. You will be replaced at where you are. I will be replaced at where I am. But I am confident that the fundamental pillar of— the Russian economy and statehood and its political system will be such that Russia will be firmly standing on its feet and look into the future confidently.

KEIR SIMMONS: And would you look from that person for some kind of protection the same way that you offered to Boris Yeltsin when you took over?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I am not even thinking about that. These are third-tier issues. The most important thing— the single most important thing is the fate of the country and the fate of its people.

KEIR SIMMONS: Very good. Thank you very a lot in your time, Mr. President. We’ve gone over, and I actually respect it. It was a very fascinating dialog, so thanks.

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