President Vladimir Putin
Interview with German ARD Television Part 1
September 19, 2001
QUESTION: Mr. President, thanks for the opportunity to interview you. We are
now at your residence on the Black Sea, in Sochi. Does it mean that you are
not concerned by the situation in the world at this moment, you being now in
Sochi and not in Moscow?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, of course, no. Technologically I can work here and am working
in full, same as in the Kremlin. I must say, perhaps, on the contrary, there
is here an opportunity to concentrate on the main themes in international and
domestic politics, without being distracted by trifles, as I have to do in Moscow.
So I must tell you that I'm here in contact also with my colleagues from Europe,
from the United States and, of course, with the entire leadership of the Russian
Federation constantly, in full contact: with the Defense Minister, the Minister
of Internal Affairs (today alone I talked with both several times), and with
the director of the Federal Security Service, of the intelligence service, with
the Chairman of the Government. Just the day before yesterday I talked with
Mr. Chirac before his departure for Washington, with our Minister of Foreign
Affairs I today spoke after his arrival in the United States capital, and so
QUESTION: At this moment an increasing number of signs attest that the Americans
will respond and not only respond, but also perhaps they will really deliver
an armed strike at Afghanistan. If this occurs, what will be the reaction of
Vladimir PUTIN: We believe that, as I already said, evil without a doubt must
be punished. Moreover the response to the aggression with which the United States
has been confronted must be prompt. We, of course, believe that the generally
recognized international rules will be observed and the United States will consult
as it takes decisions with its allies as well: with the direct NATO allies,
with Russia and with other leading powers of the world. That's why the Minister
of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr. Ivanov, is in Washington today.
QUESTION: How far are you willing to go in cooperation with the USA and with
NATO if a military strike is delivered? Is it conceivable that Russia will give
consent to the use of airfields on the CIS territory, for example, in Tajikistan?
Vladimir PUTIN: You said: CIS - this means the Commonwealth of Independent States.
These states are independent in the true sense of the word. We, of course, have
certain influence, just as they have some on us. We all come from one state
- the Soviet Union - we have many ties, we economically are present there quite
weightily, but political decisions of this kind these states make independently.
That's the first point.
Second, as regards the possible involvement of Russia, we are ready to cooperate
with the United States in the struggle against terrorism in the broadest terms.
We haven't yet had any specific requests on this question, but security services
have long since been cooperating. The question is, this cooperation should be
taken to a new qualitative level. We are ready for this. And, of course (I cannot
fail to say that), all of our actions must and will be in full conformity with
Russian law and the international obligations assumed by Russia and the rules
of international law.
QUESTION: Is it conceivable that, for example, Russian forces will act in this
case on the United States' and NATO's side, or do you rule out such a possibility?
Vladimir PUTIN: You know our position, it is a principled one. The use of the
Armed Forces outside the Russian Federation, in the first place, calls in our
country for a special legislative procedure and requires endorsement by the
Federal Council, that is the upper house of the Russian parliament.
Besides that, use of the Armed Forces in third countries may occur only by a
decision of the Security Council of the United Nations. We have up until now
observed these rules and intend to do so. But this does not mean that we cannot
discuss questions of this kind and together with our partners think over a possible
response in connection with the terrorist acts.
I must say that members of the UN Security Council, in any case its permanent
members, have wholly and entirely identified themselves with the United States
and support the struggle against terrorism. Only yesterday, as I already said,
I talked with the President of the People's Republic of China, who also stressed
that his country did not accept terrorism in any of its manifestations and was
willing to cooperate with the international community in the struggle against
this evil, which is becoming ever more dangerous.
QUESTION: You said the United Nations must deal with this question. But won't
that become a brake, that is to say, it will be impossible to act so long as
a protracted debate goes on there, weighing up some or other positions for a
long time, while there is the perfectly clear interest of the USA in using military
force as soon as possible?
Vladimir PUTIN: I have sufficiently clearly defined my position at the first
reaction after the terrorists dealt their strike against the United States.
I said that this was a strike against the whole of humanity, at least against
the entire civilized world, of which Russia considers itself a part. Therefore
we regard the strike against the United States in the broadest sense as a strike
against the entire civilized world. In this sense we do not divide our interests
with those of other countries, including with the interests of the United States.
I believe responses to the most malicious, most dangerous manifestations of
terrorism ought to be sufficiently effective and quick. The involvement of Russia
in such actions, I repeat, is limited to Russia's internal laws and our commitments
to our partners. So far we have received no specific proposals. And, of course,
we will make our decisions, bearing in mind the level and nature of our partnership
with the United States and with the NATO countries.
QUESTION: I would like now to turn to the example of the struggle against terrorism,
which exists in your own country, I mean Chechnya. You are operating there against
armed terrorist groups and here, probably, no one will object to you now, especially
in view of the events now occurring. And yet, despite this, I will ask you a
You have operated by military means, but these actions were directed also against
the civilian population, among whom there were also many casualties. Two years
on, this conflict still has not been resolved by military means. As it seems
to us. You have still not managed to win the hearts of the peaceful population
there. Does this method of action not mean that as a matter of fact, you are
engendering new terrorism while you are combating the old one? I mean by acting
with such means.
Vladimir PUTIN: The struggle against terrorism cannot, must not and is not limited
to military methods, if we want to achieve positive results.
As to our plans, military plans in the Caucasus, they have been achieved. And
I cannot agree with you that our military actions there have not led to the
results which we had expected. Indeed, we didn't expect any other results. We've
destroyed large bases of terrorists, have destroyed their organized structures,
they don't exist. We set ourselves this task, and it has been achieved. But
we never really thought that the very roots of this phenomenon could be fully
eradicated there in a year and a half or two. That requires lots of intense,
large and many-sided work. This work is associated with improving the social-economic
standard of living for the population of the North Caucasus and Chechnya, in
particular. This is associated with cultural work, it is associated with religious-ideological
work, because we must offer the bulk of the population something other than
the man-hating ideas being put forward by religious fanatics.
As for the peaceful population, I draw your attention to the fact that we used
to be told eighteen months back we would never find a single Chechen who would
cooperate with federal forces in the slightest way. Today a civil administration
of Chechnya has been established, in each district the heads of administrations
work, Chechens by nationality, and bandits keep striking at them. As you know,
many people from among the Chechen population have already died at the hands
of bandits, including noted religious workers. All this suggests that the population
of Chechnya understands what is happening there and they are turning towards
the federal center. We have no doubt on that score. Of course, this requires
a certain time and, of course, it will require certain efforts.
The same thing, I think, we will all have to do together internationally, the
same thing will have to be done against other centers of terrorism. That we
are interconnected, I think, today does not need being proved. It is an obvious
fact for all. Support comes from certain centers and we have to work together
against those centers.
Of course, with just military operations this cannot end. It will not lead to
positive results, but here the cohesion of the world community is needed and
effective actions on a whole number of issues, the first of which is to deprive
bandit groups and terrorist organizations of financial support, to exert a positive
economic influence on the state entities and on the states in which terrorism
takes place, and to cooperate with these states in the humanitarian regard.
This a whole large range of work.
QUESTION: Essentially, maybe this cannot be directly compared, but we encounter
an analogous problem in Palestine. This means that we see from the example of
Palestine, and you from the example of Chechnya, that matters should be led
to a political solution. Did l understand you right?
Vladimir PUTIN: Yes, absolutely right.
QUESTION: Before moving to the German section, two or three more questions concerning
Russian relations with the USA. You said that after the terrorist acts in New
York and Washington it is becoming obvious that the Americans' antimissile umbrella
planned for deployment is either unnecessary or it won't save from such attacks.
And may I put the question entirely differently, notably that that's what is
needed right now, once terrorists have now obtained a possibility to use such
technologies and with the use of missiles?
Vladimir PUTIN: Of course, no. For what was it that the terrorists used? Civilian
aircraft. And a national missile defense system protects only against missiles
and only against ballistic missiles. You understand the difference between a
civilian aircraft and ballistic missiles? Even "rogue countries" in
the next 50 years will not be able not only to have, but even to come nearer
to such technologies. Of what are we speaking? There is simply not even a subject
for talk. This, though, does not mean that we must not think of how to adapt
the system of security in the world that has developed as of now to the possible
dangers which may await us in some historical perspective. And we are ready
for this dialogue.
QUESTION: Is it conceivable in the present situation, marked by a global crisis
conditioned by the fight against terrorism, that you will say: "If you
- Americans - slightly reduce the pace of realization of your plans to deploy
an antimissile umbrella, we will show a still greater capacity, for example,
in military terms, to render you more considerable support in the struggle against
terrorism" or you cannot imagine this kind of haggle?
Vladimir PUTIN: No, we do not want to and will not have any haggle here. To
us the question of combining efforts in the struggle against terrorism is an
independent topic of our cooperation. Of course, we are aware that if in this
matter, in this field we reach mutual understanding, and on this ground, can
effectively cooperate with each other, this will create a good climate for solving
other problems too. But, I think, it would be wrong here to haggle with each
other and to exploit the difficulties with which our partners are confronted
to solve some other tasks. We've got no such aim and we will not be doing that.
QUESTION: If the Americans, despite your objections, unfold the antimissile
umbrella, despite the fact that Russia and not just Russia alone are against
this. What can Russia undertake in this case?
Vladimir PUTIN: I, strictly speaking, already spoke of this. This is a decision
which America can take independently. It has a right to do so, because in the
Treaty itself on Antiballistic Missile Defense of 1972 there is an appropriate
provision which envisages a procedure for dissolving this Treaty unilaterally.
Either side which intends to take such a decision must notify the partners six
months in advance. Therefore if our American partners take such a decision,
half a year before withdrawal from the Treaty they must inform us, and we in
this case will not stage any hysteria. But we do think that this would be an
erroneous step. And here's why. Today's system of international security is
largely based on the ABM Treaty of 1972. The START-1 Treaty is connected with
it, and so is the START-2 Treaty, which we have ratified. Our US partners so
far haven't, unfortunately. Associated with it is a whole series of other international
legal obligations in this sphere, in the sphere of international security, approximately
30 treaties and agreements. This will be destroyed overnight. We are not proposing
anything in return. We consider this is incorrect. We hold this to be a mistake.
There will be no great harm to our own national interests from the Americans'
withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, because Russia in the next 30 years will certainly
be able to ensure its security. We know this, our US partners know this. The
position of Russia protects rather not its own security, but the position of
Russia proceeds from the need to take care of the international structure, of
the international security architecture which has developed as of now.
QUESTION: And the last question before we pass on to German topics because to
our great satisfaction you will visit our country. You and Russia are criticized
in the world for supplying, for example, nuclear technologies to such states
as Iraq or North Korea, the so-called states of concern as they are now called
by Americans, previously they called them rogue states. And such states of concern
are getting Russian nuclear technologies and weapons. It means that the weapons
are already there. Will you stop these supplies?
PUTIN: You know, there is a saying, it may not sound very nice, but I think
it would be appropriate: we believe that meat and flies should be kept separate.
Let us separate flies from meat.
As for nuclear cooperation with Iran, we are talking about cooperation in the
field of atomic energy, the building of atomic power plants and so on. Our American
and some other Western partners are planning to do exactly the same in North
Korea which is also called a rogue state. Why should everybody else be allowed
to work there while Russia shouldn't be allowed to work with the same technologies
with Iran? We see this as a political justification of unfair competition. That's
Secondly, as regards cooperation in the military-technical field. Yes, we do
sell weapons to other countries. You know in what place we are in terms of sales?
I think we are in fourth or fifth place. We are well behind the United States,
Great Britain and some other countries. We are in fourth place. The arms market
is fairly limited. If our Western partners can offer to compensate us for the
possible losses if we stopped our activities in the sphere of military-technical
cooperation, we can think about it. But we must comply with our obligations
under the treaties we have concluded.
And the last thing. In this cooperation we never go beyond the framework of
the international commitments we have assumed and we will never transfer any
technologies connected with the spread of mass destruction weapons, including
nuclear military technologies. Russia has signed a corresponding agreement on
non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons and it strictly abides by these
QUESTION: So, it means that even nuclear technologies are delivered only for
PUTIN: Absolutely. Let me draw your attention to the fact that Germany has provided
Iran with a loan of 2 billion marks guaranteed by Hermes. Why are European countries
working in Iran actively and Russia has no right to do the same?
And I would like to end my answer to the question where I started it: flies
should be kept separate from meat and we should know exactly which is where.
QUESTION: Now let us pass on to Germany. You are planning to visit Germany.
Can you see a situation arising that will prevent you from going to Germany
if, for example, the international crisis takes another turn for the worse directly
on the eve of your visit?
PUTIN: Everything will depend on what will happen in the world. But I think
that in the current situation, on the contrary, I must go to Germany, unless,
of course, the leadership of the Federal Republic finds that the time of the
visit does not correspond to the events happening in the world. Germany is one
of our leading partners both in the economic and in the foreign policy sphere.
We have twice spoken with the Chancellor by phone about the recent events in
the United States. He put forward very important initiatives, in my view, very
timely initiatives in terms of activating the G-8. I support him and I think
that, on the contrary, it would be right to meet with the leaders of Germany,
to discuss the emerging situation and talk about coordinating our efforts.
QUESTION: Against the background of the crisis situation in the world, can German-Russian
relations play a special role? Can you see, for example, Germany and Russia
coming forward with a joint initiative on resolving this crisis? Will you discuss
such issues with the Chancellor?
PUTIN: Yes, of course, I don't see how we can avoid this topic. Of course, we
will discuss our interaction, of course, we will think how to support our American
partners together morally, politically and at the level of special services.
Germany is a locomotive of a united Europe and in that sense the position of
Germany on very many issues is important for us.
As for the fight against terrorism, I can tell you that it is an area in which
we should proceed, in spite of all the acuteness, and perhaps being mindful
of the acuteness, in an extremely cautious manner. This is an area where sometimes
it pays to say less and do more. And in any case we should not provoke criminal
elements to some negative actions by rash remarks, let alone rash and ill-considered
QUESTION: What are the features of German-Russian relations in this connection?
Is it an element that distinguishes these relations, say, from the relations
Russia has with Italy and France? Are we closer to each other in that sense
-- Germany and Russia -- in order to work out such an initiative?
PUTIN: In general we would like to establish a closer dialogue with Europe on
security issues. The military and defense topics are being actively discussed
in Europe today. We watch these processes attentively. I have said and I would
like to repeat that it does not give us any cause for concern. Only, we would
like the actions in this direction to be as transparent as possible. As you
know, we are building our relations with NATO within the PJC. I see no reason
why we shouldn't cooperate with the Europeans in the same way and perhaps even
more closely. As I have said, one of the key elements in the uniting Europe
is, of course, the position of Germany and we regard it as being of fundamental
significance. We watch especially closely what Berlin says and how.