03 December / 2015

Address to the Federal Assembly by the President Vladimir Putin

Moscow, Kremlin, December 3, 2015

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia, members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies,

I would like to begin my Address with words of gratitude to the Russian servicemen who are fighting international terrorism.

Today here in the St George’s Hall, a historic hall of Russian military glory, we have combat pilots and representatives of the Armed Forces who are taking part in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria.

Gelena Peshkova and Irina Pozynich, who lost their husbands in the war against terror, have joined us too. My deepest respect to you and the parents of our heroes.

I would like us all to honour the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives while doing their duty, and the memory of all Russian citizens who fell at the hands of terrorists.

(Moment of silence)

Colleagues,

Russia has long been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. This is a fight for freedom, truth and justice, for the lives of people and the future of the entire civilisation.

We know what aggression of international terrorism is. Russia faced it back in the mid-1990s, when our country, our civilian population suffered fr om cruel attacks. We will never forget the hostage crises in Budennovsk, Beslan and Moscow, the merciless explosions in residential buildings, the Nevsky Express train derailment, the blasts in the Moscow metro and Domodedovo Airport.

These tragedies took thousands of lives. We still grieve for them and will always grieve, along with the victims’ loved ones.

It took us nearly a decade to finally break the backbone of those militants. We almost succeeded in expelling terrorists fr om Russia, but are still fighting the remaining terrorist underground. This evil is still out there. Two years ago, two attacks were committed in Volgograd. A civilian Russian plane was recently blown up over Sinai.

International terrorism will never be defeated by just one country, especially in a situation when the borders are practically open, and the world is going through another resettlement of peoples, while terrorists are getting regular financial support.

Terrorism is a growing threat today. The Afghanistan problem has not been resolved. The situation there is alarming and gives us no optimism, while some of the yet recently stable and rather well-doing countries in the Middle East and North Africa – Iraq, Libya and Syria – have now plunged into chaos and anarchy that pose a threat to the whole world.

We all know why that happened. We know who decided to oust the unwanted regimes and brutally impose their own rules. Where has this led them? They stirred up trouble, destroyed the countries’ statehood, set people against each other, and then “washed their hands”, as we say in Russia, thus opening the way to radical activists, extremists and terrorists.

The militants in Syria pose a particularly high threat for Russia. Many of them are citizens of Russia and the CIS countries. They get money and weapons and build up their strength. If they get sufficiently strong to win there, they will return to their home countries to sow fear and hatred, to blow up, kill and torture people. We must fight and eliminate them there, away from home.

This is why it has been decided to launch a military operation there based on an official request from the legitimate Syrian authorities. Our military personnel are fighting in Syria for Russia, for the security of Russian citizens.

The Russian Army and Navy have convincingly demonstrated their combat readiness and their increased capabilities. Modern Russian weapons have proved to be effective, and the invaluable practice of using them in combat conditions is being analysed and will be used to further improve our weapons and military equipment. We are grateful to our engineers, workers and all other personnel of our defence companies.

Russia has demonstrated immense responsibility and leadership in the fight against terrorism. Russian people have supported these resolute actions. The firm stance taken by our people stems from a thorough understanding of the absolute danger of terrorism, from patriotism, high moral qualities and their firm belief that we must defend our national interests, history, traditions and values.

The international community should have learned from the past lessons. The historical parallels in this case are undeniable.

Unwillingness to join forces against Nazism in the 20th century cost us millions of lives in the bloodiest world war in human history.

Today we have again come face to face with a destructive and barbarous ideology, and we must not allow these modern-day dark forces to attain their goals.

We must stop our debates and forget our differences to build a common anti-terrorist front that will act in line with international law and under the UN aegis.

Every civilised country must contribute to the fight against terrorism, reaffirming their solidarity, not in word but in deed.

This means that the terrorists must not be given refuge anywhere. There must be no double standards. No contacts with terrorist organisations. No attempts to use them for self-seeking goals. No criminal business with terrorists.

We know who are stuffing pockets in Turkey and letting terrorists prosper from the sale of oil they stole in Syria. The terrorists are using these receipts to recruit mercenaries, buy weapons and plan inhuman terrorist attacks against Russian citizens and against people in France, Lebanon, Mali and other states. We remember that the militants who operated in the North Caucasus in the 1990s and 2000s found refuge and received moral and material assistance in Turkey. We still find them there.

Meanwhile, the Turkish people are kind, hardworking and talented. We have many good and reliable friends in Turkey. Allow me to emphasise that they should know that we do not equate them with the certain part of the current ruling establishment that is directly responsible for the deaths of our servicemen in Syria.

We will never forget their collusion with terrorists. We have always deemed betrayal the worst and most shameful thing to do, and that will never change. I would like them to remember this – those in Turkey who shot our pilots in the back, those hypocrites who tried to justify their actions and cover up for terrorists.

I don’t even understand why they did it. Any issues they might have had, any problems, any disagreements even those we knew nothing about could have been settled in a different way. Plus, we were ready to cooperate with Turkey on all the most sensitive issues it had; we were willing to go further, wh ere its allies refused to go. Allah only knows, I suppose, why they did it. And probably, Allah has decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by taking their mind and reason.

But, if they expected a nervous or hysterical reaction from us, if they wanted to see us become a danger to ourselves as much as to the world, they won’t get it. They won’t get any response meant for show or even for immediate political gain. They won’t get it.

Our actions will always be guided primarily by responsibility – to ourselves, to our country, to our people. We are not going to rattle the sabre. But, if someone thinks they can commit a heinous war crime, kill our people and get away with it, suffering nothing but a ban on tomato imports, or a few restrictions in construction or other industries, they’re delusional. We’ll remind them of what they did, more than once. They’ll regret it. We know what to do.

We have mobilised our Armed Forces, security services and law enforcement agencies to repel the terrorist threat. Everyone must be aware of their responsibility, including the authorities, political parties, civil society organisations and the media.

Russia’s strength lies in the free development of all its peoples, its diversity, the harmony of cultures, languages and traditions, mutual respect for and dialogue between all faiths, including Christians, Muslims, Judaists and Buddhists.

We must firmly resist any manifestation of extremism and xenophobia while defending our ethnic and religious accord, which is the historical foundation of our society and the Russian statehood.

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Colleagues, we are interested in broad business cooperation with our foreign partners, and we welcome investors who focus on long-term work on the Russian market, even though the current circumstances they face aren’t always favourable. We highly appreciate their positive attitude to our country, and the fact that they see advantages for growing their respective businesses in our country. Russia is involved in integration processes designed to open additional avenues for expanding economic ties with other countries.

We have reached the next level of cooperation within the Eurasian Economic Union by creating a common space, with free movement of capital, goods and labour. We have reached a basic agreement on combining Eurasian integration with the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt. A free trade zone with Vietnam was established. Next year, we will host the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi, and I am sure we will be able to work out a mutually beneficial agenda for cooperation.

I propose holding consultations, in conjunction with our colleagues from the Eurasian Economic Union, with the SCO and ASEAN members, as well as with the states that are about to join the SCO, with the view of potentially forming an economic partnership. Together, our states make up nearly a third of the global economy in terms of purchasing power parity. Such a partnership could initially focus on protecting investments, streamlining procedures for the cross-border movement of goods, joint development of technical standards for next-generation technology products, and the mutual provision of access to markets for both services and capital. Of course, this partnership should be based on principles of equality and mutual interest.

For Russia, this partnership will open new possibilities for increasing exports of food and energy, as well as offering services in engineering, education, healthcare, and tourism to the Asia-Pacific Region, allowing us to play the leading role in forming new technology markets, and re-orienting major global trade flows to Russia.

We will continue to upgrade our transport infrastructure and expand major logistic centres, such as the Azov-Black Sea and the Murmansk transport hubs, modern ports in the Baltic Sea and the Russian Far East. We will consolidate the system of inter-regional air transport, including in northern and Arctic regions. We will review in detail the situation with inland waterways and river routes during a forthcoming State Council meeting.

The Northern Sea Route should become a link between Europe and the Asia-Pacific Region. To enhance its competitiveness, we will extend the preferential regime of the free port of Vladivostok to key Far Eastern harbours, as requested by the entrepreneurs who operate in this strategically important Russian region.

The socioeconomic development of this region is a major national priority. Investors have shown great practical interest in the new methods of operation we have proposed, including priority development areas.

I instruct the Government to expedite decisions on levelling off energy rates for the Far Eastern regions wh ere they are considerably above average national rates, and I urge the Parliament to promptly hear the draft law on the free allocation of land plots to people in the Far East.

Over the past few years, major investments have been made in the development of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, and people there have noticed the improvements. Komsomolsk-on-Amur must become one more rapidly developing centre in the Far East. It is a city with a rich history and modern high-tech industries, which turn out civilian products that enjoy high demand and also work fruitfully for the defence sector. But this city’s urban and social infrastructure has been neglected.

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Colleagues, we have repeatedly faced a historical choice of which road to take to further development. We crossed another milestone in 2014 when Crimea and Sevastopol were reunified with Russia. Russia declared a voce piena its status as a strong state with a millennium-long history and great traditions, as a nation consolidated by common values and common goals.

We are acting with the same confidence now, at a time when Russia is waging an expressly open, direct struggle against international terrorism. We are making and implementing decisions, knowing that only we can cope with the tasks facing us, but only if we act together.

I will cite a quotation that seemed stunning even to me. These words were said by a man who was far removed from politics, Dmitry Mendeleyev, who expressed these thoughts more than a hundred years ago: “We will be immediately destroyed if we are divided. Our strength lies in our unity, our warriors, our benign domesticity that multiplies the numbers of our people; our strength lies in the natural growth of our intrinsic wealth and love of peace.” These are wonderful words that are pertinent to us today.

At the same time Russia is a part of a global world that is changing rapidly. We understand well the complexity and scale of existing problems – both foreign and domestic. There are always difficulties and obstacles on the path to progress and development. We will respond to all challenges; we will be creative and productive; we will work for the common good and for the sake of Russia. We will move forward in unity and working together we will achieve success.

Thank you.