Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Vladimir Putin Press Conference; Putin: We Agreed Our Ambassadors Should Return to Their Posts, We Will Begin Consultation on Cyber Attacks. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 16, 2021 - 12:00   ET


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Secondly, they proposed that the frontier, the border between Russia and Ukraine should be closed.


And thirdly, in three months time, they should have elections after those first two initial steps. You'll have to be a legal specialist and have special education to understand that that has nothing to do with Minsk agreements. So, you know, what kind of supplementary obligations should Russia take on?

As far as the exercises are concerned, we are mounting those on our own territory just as the U.S. does on its territory, but we are not bringing in huge amounts of stuff and equipment up to the frontiers of the U.S. Unfortunately, the U.S. is doing that to us now. So, you know, you should look at what the U.S. is doing, not Russia.

As far as nonsystematic or nonstandard opposition is concerned, and the gentleman you've quoted, first of all, this man knew that he was breaking the law of Russia. He is somebody who has been twice convicted and he consciously ignored the requirements of the law. The gentleman, in question, went abroad for treatment. His registration was not asked for.

As soon as he got to the hospital, he showed his videos on the internet, but he ignored the demands of the laws and knowing about that he came back to Russia. And so I take the view that he wanted, consciously, to break the law. He did exactly what he wanted to do, so what kind of discussion are we having? What will we talk about there?

As far as the unofficial opposition is concerned, I'd just like to say the following. Look, I don't think I'm going to say anything complicated, it will be completely comprehensible. If you manage to get the message across to your spectators, I should be very grateful, and in an objective way.

First of all, Russia has been called the U.S.'s enemy. This has been publicly proclaimed by Congress. So the U.S. should, in principle, support democracy and the political organization. That's your American law after all. Let us now ask the question if we are the enemy, which organization -- which organizations will the U.S. support in Russia? I don't think they're going to be ones that will strengthen Russia,

but those which want to contain it, and that statement was made public. So if organization and people who are trying to materialize to realize American ambitions in Russia, how should we explain that? How should we understand that? I think we must be very cautious, but we will only act within the framework of Russian legislation.

UNKNOWN (through translator): I'd just like to prolong that topic, especially as much as we hear this kind of rhetoric all the time, particularly with regard to the prisoners in Russia. How did Biden actually bring up the whole question of divine (ph)? And one more question, of course, we've all been witnesses to the new start - stage in Russia/U.S. relations with regard to diplomacy and so on, and he was particularly course in relation to what he said about you.

PUTIN: We did actually broach the whole question of human rights and the people - what people represent in Russia. We have actually spoken about that on his initiative. Secondly, as far as his rather outspoken statements because everybody know - knows about that.


After that, President Biden rang me, we explained things. He prepared that - he proposed that we meet as a result of that in Geneva, and I think that the ensuing discussion was very constructive. And i think that this is a very experienced politician. We had talked for almost two hours, and that is not something you do in such a detailed way with many politicians.

As far as the other point is concerned, you remember that his predecessor had a different view, and this one decided to act differently, and his reply was different from Trump's. You know, in principle, everything that happened in - happens in our countries, one way or another, is the responsibility of the leaders themselves.

Who - look at the streets of America, every single day there are shootings and killings. You don't have time to open your mouth and you are shot dead. Well, you remember the man who shot the woman in the back or who drove his car over her? And then there was that shooting at the wedding. Let's say it was an error because that that happens, but shooting helicopters in - of civilians in Iraq, what was that about? Who is responsible for that? Who are the murderers there?

And on human rights, listen to me, what about Guantanamo? What - it's still working, and it doesn't come under any kind of law, international, American, nothing, but it still exists. C.I. prisons, which were opened in lots of states which you exercise torture, is that human rights?

I don't think that, in many ways, you know you could say that protects the rights of men, human rights. We know, in practice, that that happens and I think that we have - we - you know, beholden to take our corresponding attitude to it.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Some leaders are protecting interest of those who - On the Arctic, you said you talked about that. The U.S. have been reproaching Russia for militarizing the arctic for a long time, and Secretary of State Blinken, in May, actually talked about that. What did you - what did you say then?

PUTIN: Yes, we actually talked about that in some detail in the reinforced format. We're talking about the high north and the Arctic in general, which is -- which has a huge interest for all countries, and there was absolutely no grounds for militarizing it. We are not doing anything that was not in the Soviet Union, and we are, in fact, reviving structures.

We are actually restoring things, but to modern standards, and that includes protecting nature. All that is under the administrative emergencies, EMERCOM for example. The protection of the environment, for example, is paramount. I said to my colleagues, I can't see any particular concern. I don't understand your concerns on this incident.

On the contrary, I think we ought to be cooperating on this issue. Russia responded with eight members of the Arctic Council, by the way, that's actually chairing it at the moment. And moreover between Alaska and (inaudible), there is a strait on one side, U.S. on the other side, Russia.


All that should bring us to join our efforts. This whole question of the northern passage is underpinned by international law. I think it was in 1982, and the Polar Code was -- dates back a long way to 1917. We, in Russia, are determined to commit and stick by these international standards and norms, laws. We are prepared to help all interested countries and companies to open up the northern passage.

And I think that, you know, it will be open, you know, particularly with regard to, you know, in view of climate change. And you have to remember that we have the most powerful nuclear fleet - Navy in Russia, and with - that will help. On the question of international maritime law, its -- its mission is to actually describe the rules of the international navigation for inner or interior waters, for international waters, for coastal waters, and also the open sea.

Inner seas are in somebody's territory. Territorial waters are twelve nautical miles, and then there's another extension for another 12 - 12 nautical miles. And then, you know, there's the whole question of military vessels going through peaceful waters. We are -- we are not protesting about that. But inner seas, I think there are five in general, (inaudible), bay and so on. They're bays essentially, or estuaries, and that covers thousands of nautical miles, I think 6,000.

It is our international -- it is our - within our rights to allow shipping through that. We allow everybody. And Russian authorities supposedly weren't sticking to the Polar Code. We were excluded for some reason on that.

So what we have to do is to work together, all interested countries have to work together on this, particularly with regard to the Arctic Council. There are loads of issues that - which need very detailed examination, I have no doubt about that, but we will work together and we will not exempt any particular issue.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Good day. (Inaudible). Good relations, not bad relations with the U.S., was always the promise of stability. Biden agreed with you, you say. So you say that there was a certain sort of -- there was a calm in these negotiations, but where are the red lines? There are red lines everywhere. Which red lines would you like to make sure that we maintain?

PUTIN (through translator): I think that everybody understands what our American partners are talking about, and they understand what we're talking about in this respect, particularly when we talk about red lines. I have to be absolutely frank here, we have to very carefully and in detail describe those red lines, but bearing in mind the fact that we talked about cyber security, strategic security, and so on.


I think that as a result of that, and particularly in terms of joint work in the Arctic, everything should be, you know, subject to eventual agreement. CBC news. American colleagues.

UNKNOWN: Mr. President, thank you so much for taking my question. President Biden has said that he would respond if cyber attacks from Russia do not stop. I'm curious, what did he tell you? Did he make any threats?

And a quick follow-up, if I may sir, the list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned or jailed is long. Alexei Navalny, his organization calls for free and fair elections, an end to corruption, but Russia has outlawed that organization, calling it extremist. And you have now prevented anyone who supports him to run for office. So my question is, Mr. President, what are you so afraid of?

PUTIN (through translator): Right, well once again, I would like to repeat what I said about so-called foreign agents and the people who say that they are part of the unauthorized opposition. I have already spoken to your colleagues, now I have to repeat that to you. Okay, once again, the U.S. has passed a law, which said that the U.S. would particularly favor individual organizations in Russia, and at the same time they declared the Russian Federation as an enemy.

They publicly declared that they will try to contain Russia. My question is which organizations, which political organizations in the U.S., are going to be supported by the U.S., especially if they pay them? We, the same as the American's in the 1930s, have endorsed a law, but their work is not prohibited.

If the organization has an extremist character, that's another kettle of fish. I just want to tell you that that one, in question, particularly called for public mass demonstrations and also involved or urged minors to take part in street demonstrations.

And obviously they were being used or manipulated against the law enforcement agencies. America quite recently had to deal with terrible events after the murder of -- or the killing of the African-American, and Black Lives Matter ensued.

I don't want to make any judgment about that, but what we saw, mass violations of the law and so on and so forth, we sympathized with the American's, but we do not wish that this kind of thing should happen on our territory and we will do our utmost to prevent it. And fears, I don't want to talk about that, that's absolutely irrelevant.

UNKNOWN: You didn't answer my question, sir. If all of your political opponents are dead, imprisoned, poisoned, doesn't that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?

PUTIN: Well, on the question of who is murdering whom, people rioted and went into the Congress in the U.S. with political demands, and many people were declared as criminals and they are threatened with imprisonment from 20 to 25 years. And these people were immediately arrested after those events. On what grounds, we don't know always. The states didn't actually inform us about that. One of the participants were just shot on the spot and unarmed as well.


Many countries are going through exactly what we're going through. Let me just repeat, we sympathize with what was happening in the states, but we do not wish that to happen in Russia.

UNKNOWN (through translator): A couple more questions, because the president has his own timetable, his own program to pursue after this?

UNKNOWN (through translator): Did the American side manage to talk about the exchange of prisoners of Russians in U.S. prisons?

PUTIN (through translator): President Biden did actually raise that question about American prisoners in the Russian Federation, we did discuss that. We might be able to find some kind of compromise there, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the secretary and the Department of State will be working on it.

UNKNOWN (through translator): One last question, please.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Good day, Russia one channel. You said that with Biden you talked about trade, business in both countries is very interested in developing further (inaudible) what kind of outlook do you see?

PUTIN (through translator): Well, that really depends on the American side. I think that after the introduction of sanctions in the economic sphere, the States has more to answer than Russia.

Yes, it certainly influenced our development, partially, partially, at least. The U.S. has to some extent completed its mission of containing Russia, but it didn't particularly harm us. And on the question of American businesses in Russia, the biggest dedication at the Saint Petersburg economic forum was from the U.S. as far as restrictions -- the sanctions are concerned on American companies, they are the ones that are suffering the real damage. And, you know, they -- they've lost that advantage to other countries.

What is the point of all that, we ask? But there is damage, there is loss nonetheless. The trade has actually gone up in the first quarter of this year by 16.1 percent. Let's hope that will increase and continue.

OK, let's have a couple questions. I am hearing a couple questions over there. The lady there.

UNKOWN: Ann Simmons, Wall Street Journal.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity of taking the floor. A couple years ago you met President Biden when he was vice president. And he said that you -- he looked at you in the eyes and he saw no soul there, and you said that we -- that means we understand each other.

Tell us, what did you see when you looked at him in the eyes? And do you think he's a man you can work with? And tell me, did President Biden invite you to the White House, and if so did you agree to go there?

PUTIN (through translator): He did not invite me to the White House, and no invitation of that kind was given. I think we really have to have the right conditions before we can get to that stage.

As far as looking in eyes and finding souls a concern, well, I actually don't remember that but this is not the first time I've heard that statement, but if he asks -- if you ask me what kind of partner or interlocutor President Biden is, I would say that he is very balanced, professional man. It's obviously clear that he's very experienced. He talked a bit about his family.


And what his mother told him. They are important things, maybe they're not quite relevant, but it does talk about the level of his moral values, which is very attractive. And it seems to me that we did speak the same language. It certainly doesn't apply that we must look into each other's eyes and find a soul or swear eternal friendship, but essentially our talks were pragmatic. Question over there, please.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Andrei Kalisnikov (ph), Komrusant (ph) Newspaper, (inaudible). Have you got some new illusions as a result of these negotiations?

PUTIN (through translator): I didn't have any to begin with. What are you talking about illusions, there are no illusions. I have no illusions. Let's go on to the next question. Give him the mic -- give the lady the microphone, please.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Two questions about global change, climate change, did you talk about that with President Biden? And on American - American media, you gave a long interview to NBC. Do you think that is right that you did that, whereas Biden didn't give our Russian journalist the same kind of advantage (ph)? PUTIN (through translator): Well on the question of distortions or

omissions and cyber attacks and so on and so forth, I think that's, you know, the practices of international relations in the present world. I've quite - I'm quite used to that, and have become used to it over the years, for decades now.

But as far as who gives an interview to whom, that I think is decided by respective leaders or countries and whether or not they actually want to get a message across. We try to do that by giving an interview to the American press. As far as the activity of our media is concerned, President Biden, for example, raised the question as to the work or the freedom - free Europe's in - free European in radio feed in Russia, which we said was a foreign agent.

I think that micro leagues (ph) don't actually know that before that, two very important media outlets, Russia Today and Sportnic (ph), they actually were declared foreign agents. We replied in like, and they registered and so on, and they stuck to American legislation.

It created all kinds of problems with staffing and so on and so forth, but we don't have those kinds of problems. And unfortunately, the American media does not actually comply with all the provisions of Russian legislation in that respect.

And I heard that, we will be able to make progress on that through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I meant the lady, actually, but -- you can go afterwards maybe. Thank you very much.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Yura News (ph). We've all seen how you shook Joe Biden's hand, and we just wonder to what extent you have now got to a new level of trust? Do you think that at this present stage we are - we can talk about a new stage of bilateral relations?