The second part of Vladimir Putin's interview to TASS News Agency has been published.
The 20 Questions with Vladimir Putin project is an interview with the President of Russia on the most topical subjects of social and political life in Russia and the world. Total recording time is 3.5 hours.
February 21, 2020
Ukraine (Interview to TASS News Agency)
Andrei Vandenko: The next subject is Ukraine.
Have you seen the ”Servant of the People“ series?
Vladimir Putin: No.
Andrei Vandenko: Even the segment when president Goloborodko is choosing a wristwatch like Putin's?
Vladimir Putin: I haven't seen it. I don't know either Goloborodko or who is choosing what there. I haven't seen it.
Andrei Vandenko: Ok. Though a very interesting pair forms: a galley slave and a servant of the people.
Vladimir Putin: As you know, whatever goes around comes around. Ultimately, it’s not how you call yourself, it’s what you do and how you do it.
Andrei Vandenko: Is there a chance that you come to terms with Zelensky?
Vladimir Putin: What about?
Andrei Vandenko: About peace, about friendship.
Vladimir Putin: Hope is the last thing to die. Yes, there is a chance. But unfortunately, after his return from Paris he started talking about the necessity to revise the Minsk Agreements. This begs the question.
Nevertheless, we managed to agree on the exchange of detained persons and we now managed to agree on gas.
Andrei Vandenko: Does the fact that today we are not friends with Ukraine represent a loss for us?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course, but as I have repeatedly said I believe that we are one and the same people.
Andrei Vandenko: The Ukrainians don't like it very much either.
Vladimir Putin: I don't know whether they like this or not but if you look at the reality that is true. You see, we had no difference in our languages until the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
And only as a result of Polonization, the part of the Ukrainians who lived in the territory under the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, only around the 16th century the first language differences appeared. In general, the Ukrainians [with an accent on the first a] were called the people who lived …
Andrei Vandenko: Ukrainians [with an accent on the first i].
Vladimir Putin: Ukrainians [with an accent on the first a] were the people who lived on the frontiers of the Russian state. There were Ukrainians in Pskov; Ukrainians were the people who defended the southern frontiers from attacks by the Crimean khan. Ukrainians were in the Urals. Ukrainians were everywhere. We had no language differences.
Moreover, around the same time, before the 14th and 15th centuries, even those people, the east Slavs, who lived in the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – both in Muscovy and in Poland – were called Russians. The first language differences appeared much later…
Andrei Vandenko: History is history, but now we are talking about the present day.
Vladimir Putin:To talk about today or tomorrow we need to know history, need to know who we are, where do we come from, what unites us.
What unites us is…
Andrei Vandenko: Now many things divide us.
Vladimir Putin:Many things divide us. But we should not forget about things that unite us. And should not destroy what we have. For example, the Church. Why did one need to destroy the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church?
You know that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is in fact fully autonomous; it has been fully autonomous before, including in terms of the election of hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Moscow Patriarchate has never had any influence on the election of hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
In fact, it has always been independent, completely. There has been only spiritual unity and mentioning. The Patriarch of Moscow has been mentioned, recalled all the time in churches. That's it! It has been the only thing uniting the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But they needed to cut the cords that bind. Why?
You say people do not understand. They simply do not know it. If they know, they will understand better. They should be told that. Why should one be embarrassed? Is it insulting for people?
Some time passed. As a result of people sharing the border with the Catholic world, with Europe, a community of people feeling to some extent independent from the Russian State began to emerge. How should we feel about that? I have already said: we should respect that. But we should not forget about our shared community.
Moreover, in the modern world our joint efforts give us huge competitive advantages. And, vice versa, division makes us weaker.
The Ukrainian factor was specifically played out on the eve of World War I by the Austrian special service. Why? It is well-known – to divide and rule. Absolutely clear.
Nevertheless, if it happened this way, and a big part of the Ukrainian population got a sense of their own national identity and so on, we should respect that. We should proceed from the reality but not forget who we are and where we come from.
By the way, the fathers of the Ukrainian nationalism, they never spoke about the urgent need to break up with Russia. Strange as it may seem, but their major works of the 19th century say that Ukraine is: a) multinational and should be a federal state, and b) should build good relations with Russia.
Today’s nationalists seem to have forgotten that. I will tell you why they have forgotten that. You know why? Because the interests of the Ukrainian people are not the main issue on their agenda.
How can it be the interest of the Ukrainian people if the break-up with Russia has led to loss of space engineering, shipbuilding, aircraft engineering and engine manufacturing; it is virtually the deindustrialization of the country that is happening. How can it be among interests?
The World Bank demands to stop cross-subsidizing. What's good in it? Or, they make them export round wood from the Carpathians. Soon the Carpathians will turn bald.
Why do this if, by joining efforts, we increase our competitive advantages manifold? Why lose it? Why throw everything away, what for?
Because the Ukrainian leaders or those who got power pursued their self-interests. And what were they? It was not even to earn more by robbing the Ukrainian people but to retain what has been plundered before. This was the main objective.
So, where is the ‘dough’? Pardon my French. Where is the money? In foreign banks. What do they need to do for this? Show that they serve those who have this money.
Hence, the only thing they sell is Russophobia. Because some like dividing Ukraine and Russia, they believe it's a very important mission. Because any integration of Russia and Ukraine, along with their capacities and competitive advantages, would lead to the emergence of a rival, a global rival for Europe and the world. No one wants it. That's why they'll do anything to pull us apart.