Putin Speaks Plainly: Russia is Ours and We Won’t Budge; Our Nukes Aren’t Going Anywhere!
— Today, are many books about Trump are coming out, they were all published in a row.
Vladimir Putin: We will read them.
— Yes, they are very interesting to read. They create an image of a person who hears and listens only to himself. When you meet him, does he listen to you?
— That's not true. Maybe he really behaves likes that with someone, but it's their fault. But between him and me… But we have a quite normal, professional dialog. So, of course, he listens, and not only that: he reacts, I see it. He reacts to the arguments of his opponent, he may disagree with something, just like I can disagree with him. We have different views on some things, different approaches. But it's a normal discussion between two partners. So I disagree with those who say that Trump howls and doesn't listen to anyone. It's not true.
— You know, there are people among the commentators, political scientists, who often discuss that when the relationship is in a complete deadlock, and we seem to have one. Sometimes a sobering, powerful crisis helps both sides to understand that the danger is real and one should do something to step back from the line. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a famous example of this. Today, one may sometimes hear an opinion voiced that we need something like that so that the Americans would look away from their domestic situation and would understand that the stakes are high and they need do something positive.
— It's a bad idea. Stroking tensions and hysteria is not our method, as the saying goes. In general, putting the world on the verge of some universal crisis with an unpredictable result is an irresponsible policy. We have never pursued this policy and we never will.
— Thank you. That was explicit. But still, I recall one of your quotes: In 2011 you spoke about the ballistic missile defense system but mentioned a broader phrase: Russia isn't afraid of any conflict. There were different conflicts back then, which ones are Russia afraid of today?
— There aren't any. We're not afraid of anything. A country with such a territory, with such a defense system, with such a people who are ready to stand for their independence, sovereignty, not every country has such a predisposition of citizens ready to give their lives for their fatherland. But we do. No one can do anything about it and it gives us the confidence that we may feel safe.
— Okay, you said that we don't create problems for anyone. I bet that someone from the audience will argue about that with you later because the perception is that Russia creates many problems. When is later? We've been here for quite a time.
— Let's start then already.
— Okay. How long will we sit here then? Excuse me. Nevertheless, let's assume it's true. But if we don't create problems, maybe someone does that to us?
— Of course, they do, they do their best.
— You had a wonderful, well-known quote about the popular metaphor that Russia is a bear, and that a bear doesn't ask anyone for permission, that he is the owner of the taiga and will not move to different climate zones, that he will not give his taiga to anyone, that should be clear to everyone, that's final. How is the situation with the taiga? Is anyone encroaching on it or has the «that's final» happened?
— The «that's final» has been there always. Even today. Well, listen, we live in a world the security of which is based upon nuclear capability. Russia is one of the largest nuclear powers. And you know, I've said it publicly, that we modernize our missile strike systems as a response to the strengthening of the ballistic missile defense systems of the USA. Some of the systems are already in service, some will be deployed in the near future, over the next few months. I'm talking about the Avangard system. It's an obvious fact, the experts understand and realize that too, that we have outrun all of our, let's say, partners and rivals in this sphere. No one has hypersonic precision weapons yet. Some plan to test them in 18 months or 2 years. To start the tests. We already have them in service. It's a hi-tech modern weapon.
So, in that sense, we feel safe. There are many other risks, it's natural, they're universal. The environment, climate change, terrorism, which I spoke about, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If we don't put an effective obstacle to it, then it's unknown what will it lead to, who will possess deadly weapons. So, nothing has changed about that. We're not encroaching on anyone, we have a vast territory, we don't need anything from anyone. But we do value our sovereignty, independence. We did so throughout the history of our country. It's in the blood of our people, as I've mentioned many times already. In this context, we feel safe and calm.