President Vladimir Putin
Interview with German ARD Television Part 1
Sochi, Russia
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 on.

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 Russia?

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 question.

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 one thing.

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 accords.

QUESTION: So, it means that even nuclear technologies are delivered only for peaceful uses.

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 actions.

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.


© Publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.