Vladimir Putin: “We realize how ruinous an Iron Curtain will be for us.” Source: Mikhail Metsel / TASS
President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to TASS on Sunday, November 23, where he said Moscow was not and would not be isolated in the global arena and dismissed the risk of “catastrophic consequences” for the Russian economy on account of Western sanctions, an oil price decline and a fall in the value of the rouble.
“We do not need to compete (with the West). We simply do not need to compete,”- Putin said in the interview, which was a part of TASS’ First Persons special project. “We need to calmly pursue our own agenda.” Taking aim at the West, he said, “If Russia starts talking about it, protecting people and its interests, immediately it becomes bad.”
Putin said he was not bothered by attempts to exert external pressure on Russia. “The moment Russia stands on its feet, becomes stronger and declares its right to defend its interests abroad, the attitude to the country and its leaders instantly changes,” he said.
At the same time, Putin is convinced that “we should not inflame, dramatize” the situation. The president said: “One should understand, this is the way the world is. It is a fight for geopolitical interests, which have behind them the country’s significance, its ability to generate new economy, resolve social issues, improve its people’s quality of life.” He continued: “A fight for geopolitical interests results in that a country either becomes stronger and more effective in addressing its financial, defence, economic and then social issues, or slips down to the ranks of third- or fifth-rate countries and is no longer able to defend the interests of its people.”
The president also insisted that Russia has no intention of fencing off from the rest of the world and is not building new barriers. “We are not and shall not,” he said. “We realize how ruinous an Iron Curtain will be for us,” he added. Putin continued: “There were periods in other nations’ history when they tried to cut themselves off from the rest of the world and paid very dearly for that. Practically with degradation and break-up.” He stressed, “We shall by no means follow this path and no one will build a wall around us. It is impossible!”
Putin also said that he did not feel any discomfort over the strain in relations with the G7. “No, I do not. What do I care about discomfort? I need a result,” he said.
“You know, if we want to pat each other on the shoulder, call each other friends, go visit each other and attend G8 summits, but the whole value of informal contacts boils down to the permission to sit next to them, without our interests taken into account and without giving attention to Russia’s position on resolving this or that key issue, then what is the point of it all?”
Another presidential term?
Asked whether he will remain president forever, Putin replied: “No.” He continued: “It would be wrong and harmful for the country and I don’t need it either.” Putin said, “You see, I am in such a state and in such a position that I have nothing to hide…” He went on to add that it was not a matter of fatigue. “I proceed from the realities of today, from mid-term forecasts… There is no point for me to be hanging on to anything. No point at all,” Putin said.
He went on to add that the constitution allowed him to run for another presidential term. “Indeed, there is a possibility of me running again,” the president said. “(The constitution) allows it but it does not mean that I will take this decision,” Putin stressed. “I shall decide depending on the overall context, my internal understanding, my frame of mind,” he said, adding that it was too early to be discussing it. “I do not yet know if this possibility (of running for another term) will be implemented,” Putin concluded.
The president rejected the notion that everything in Russia depends on him personally. “It is an erroneous opinion, a misconception, it is not so. Absolutely not so!” he insisted. “It only seems that everything depends on the head of state,” Putin stressed. At the same time he admitted that “indeed one has to interfere” in some matters, where there is no unity of opinion. “But to say that the president decides any issues himself, always and everything depends on him… It is not so,” Putin said.
At the same time, he thinks it natural that many things in Russia are associated with his name. “The head of state is in one way or another always associated with their country, and this is true not only for Russia,” Putin said.
“Strategic decision” on Crimea
The president also said that in the situation with Crimea a strategic decision was taken and he was sure that he was right to take it.
“When a Russian person feels they are right, they are invincible. (…) If we felt that we had done something, excuse me, foul, had acted unjustly, then everything in this country would be hanging on a thread. When one is not convinced that one is right, it always leads to some doubts, and they are dangerous. In this case, I have no doubts,” Putin said.
Asked whether the consequences of Russia’s actions on Crimea had been calculated, Putin replied in the affirmative. “Yes, it is a strategic decision,” he said. Further asked whether he thought it would all end well, the head of state said, “I think this is what will happen.”
The full text of the interview in available in Russian
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