Amidst a grueling schedule of phone calls with foreign leaders and statements addressing the Ukraine crisis and the downing of MH17, Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday held a session with the Russian Security Council, on the announced topic of “Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Unusual for Security Council meetings, his opening remarks were televised and released in transcript form. Putin said: “I should make it clear from the start that, obviously, there is no direct military threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country. Primarily, the strategic balance of forces in the world guarantees this.” In the course of the speech, it became clear that this remark alluded to Russia’s nuclear weapons capabilities, as well as to its excellent relations with countries representing at least half the world’s population, as evidenced in the BRICS summit and his South American tour.
The Russian President talked about the threat to the sovereignty of other countries. “Ever more frequently,” he said, “we hear of ultimatums and sanctions. The very notion of state sovereignty is being washed out. Undesirable regimes, countries that conduct an independent policy or that simply stand in the way of somebody’s interests get destabilized.”
He said that “color revolutions,” better described as “takeovers instigated and financed from the outside,” were a means to do this. He added, quote]”Frequently the forces used here are radical, nationalist, often even neo-fascist, fundamental forces, as was the case, unfortunately, in many post-Soviet states, and as is the case with Ukraine now. … People came to power through the use of armed force and by unconstitutional means. True, they held elections after the takeover, however, for some strange reason, power ended up again in the hands of those who either funded or carried out this takeover. Meanwhile, without any attempt at negotiations, they are trying to suppress by force that part of the population that does not agree with such a turn of events.”
Then, Putin charged, “They present Russia with an ultimatum: either you let us destroy the part of the population that is ethnically, culturally and historically close to Russia, or we introduce sanctions against you. This is a strange logic, and absolutely unacceptable, of course.” He noted that Ukrainian forces had attacked Donetsk during the handover of the MH17 airliner black boxes, and again called on Kiev “to comply with elementary norms of human decency and introduce a cease-fire for at least some short period of time to make the investigation possible.”
Four Areas of Action
- Strengthening of “interethnic harmony.”
- Protecting the Constitutional order through consistent economic and legal policies throughout Russia.
- Economic and social development: “We must ensure priority development for strategically important regions, including in the Far East and other areas; we must simultaneously reduce drastic gaps between regions in terms of the economic situation and people’s living standards…we must think about additional steps to decrease the dependence of the national economy and financial system on negative external factors. I am not just referring to instability in global markets, but possible political risks as well.”
- The Armed Forces as “the most important guarantor of our sovereignty and Russia’s territorial integrity.” Putin warned, “We will react appropriately and proportionately to the approach of NATO’s military infrastructure toward our borders, and we will not fail to notice the expansion of global missile defense systems and increases in the reserves of strategic non-nuclear precision weaponry.” In particular, he rejected the notion that the US/NATO BMD program is defensive: “That’s not the case. This is an offensive system; it is part of the offensive defense system of the United States on the periphery. Regardless of what our foreign colleagues say, we can clearly see what is actually happening: groups of NATO troops are clearly being reinforced in Eastern European states, including in the Black Sea and Baltic seas.”