Megyn Kelly: So, thank you very much for doing this, Mr President.
thought that we'd start with some of the news you made today at your
State of the Nation Address, then we will move into some facts about
you in preparation for our long piece that we are putting together,
and then tomorrow when we will have a longer time together, we will
talk about more substantive issues together, if that is ok with you.
Vladimir Putin: Fine.
MK: You announced today that Russia has developed new
nuclear-capable weapons systems, including an intercontinental
ballistic missile that you say renders defence systems useless.
Several analysts in the West have said this is a declaration of a
new Cold War. Are we in a new arms race right now?
VP: In my opinion, the people you have mentioned are not
analysts. What they do is propaganda.
Why? Because everything I
spoke about today was done not on our initiative, it is a response
to the U.S. ballistic missile defence program and Washington's
unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in
If we speak of the arms race, it began at that very moment, when the
United States pulled out of the ABM Treaty. We wanted to prevent
this. We called on our American partners to work together on these
Firstly, we asked them not to withdraw from the treaty, not to
destroy it. But the U.S. pulled out. It was not us who did this but
Yet we again suggested we work together even after this. I told my
"Imagine what would happen if Russia and the U.S.
joined forces in the crucial area of strategic security. The world
would change for a long period to come, and the level of global
security would rise to an all-time high."
The reply was,
very interesting." But they ultimately rejected all our proposals.
Then I said,
"You understand that we will have to improve our
offensive arms systems to maintain a balance and to have the ability
to overcome your BMD systems."
They replied that they were not
developing the BMD systems to counter us, that we were free to do as
we pleased, and that they would not view our actions as spearheaded
against the U.S..
MK: That happened right after 9/11, three months after
VP: No, it was after the U.S. withdrew from the ABM Treaty
in 2002, and the conversations I mentioned were in 2003–2004.
MK: At the time that happened, I believe you were quoted as
saying that you thought it was a mistake on the part of the United
States, but not a threat. Do you perceive the United States as a
VP: We have always said that developing the missile defence system creates a threat to us. We have always said that.
American partners would not publicly admit it, claiming that the
system was spearheaded mainly against Iran. But eventually, in
conversations and during talks they admitted that, of course, the
system will destroy our nuclear deterrence potential.
Imagine the situation. What was the point of signing the treaty back
The United States and the Soviet Union had only two regions
that they defended from missile attacks: one in the United States
and one in the Soviet Union. That created a threat for a potential
aggressor who would be struck in response.
In 2002, the United
"We do not need this anymore. We will create anything
we want, globally, all over the world."
MK: Again, it was in the wake of 9/11, just to make it
clear. 9/11 happened on September 11, 2001, and the United States
was reassessing its security posture in the world for good reason,
wouldn't you admit?
VP: No, not for good reason. This is complete nonsense.
Because the missile defence system protects from the kind of
ballistic missiles that no terrorists have in their arsenal.
an explanation for the housewives watching your program. But if
these housewives can hear what I am saying, if you show it to them
and they hear me, they will understand that 9/11 and the missile
defence system are completely unrelated.
To defend themselves from
terrorist attacks, the major powers must join their efforts against
the terrorists rather than create threats for each other.
With NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.
MK: About the weapon that you announced today, the ICBM,
have you actually tested it and it works? Because some analysts are
suggesting that you have tested it, and it failed. And that is why
you only showed animations of it today, and have not yet produced
any actual videos.
VP: I spoke about several systems today. Which one are
you referring to, the heavy-duty intercontinental ballistic missile?
MK: Yes, the one that you claimed renders defence systems
VP: All the systems I mentioned today easily overcome
missile defence. Each one of them. This is the point of all these
MK: But you have tested it?
VP: Yes, of course.
MK: And it worked?
VP: It did, very well.
Some of these systems require additional work. Some of them are
already deployed. Some are in serial production.
Getting back to the beginning of our conversation, there is a
missile defence system deployed in Alaska. The distance between
Russia's Chukotka and Alaska is only 60 kilometers.
Two systems are being deployed in Eastern Europe. One is already in
place in Romania. Construction of another one is almost finished in
Poland. There is also the navy. U.S. ships are based very close to
Russian shores both in the south and the north.
Imagine if we placed our missile systems along the
U.S.-Mexico or the
U.S.-Canada border in their territories on both sides and brought our
ships in from both sides. What would you say? Would you take action?
Meanwhile we would respond that you are escalating the arms race?
Ridiculous, isn't it?
This is exactly what is happening.
MK: Just to come back. Are you saying that we are in a new
VP: I want to say that the United States, when it
withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002, forced us to begin developing
new weapon systems. We told our partners about it, and they said, "Do whatever you like." Fine, that is what we did
- so enjoy.
MK: You disclosed that Russia was developing an
intercontinental ballistic missile that was powered by nukes that
could render defence systems useless?
VP: Of course not. I did not know at the time how we
could respond, to be honest.
So it seems that our partners believed
we would have nothing to respond with. Our economy was is dire
straits, as well as the defence sector and the army. Therefore, I do
not think anybody could have thought that in such a short period of
time we would be able to make such a gigantic leap in the
development of strategic weapons.
I think the CIA must have told the
U.S. President that we would not do anything in response.
Pentagon said something like,
"And we will develop a powerful
cutting-edge global anti-missile system."
So they did.
But I will answer your question directly. I can tell you what we
told our American partners, what I said personally at the time.
MK: Just to clarify, do you mean George W. Bush?
VP: Who was President in 2002, 2003 and 2004?
MK: But did this happen continuously or just during that
VP: Actually, we kept going on about it for 15 years. I
said, almost literally, that we would not develop a system of anti-missile defence the way you are doing.
Firstly, because it is too expensive,
and we do not have the resources. And secondly, we do not know yet
how it would work: you do not know, and we certainly do not either.
But, to preserve the strategic balance so that you would not be able
to zero out our nuclear deterrence forces, we will develop strike
systems that will be able to break your anti-missile systems.
We said this plainly and openly, without any aggression, I just told
stated we would do. Nothing personal.
And the response was,
"We are not doing this against you, but you do whatever you want
and we will presume that it is not directed against us, not
against the United States."
MK: Let us talk about present day and going forward,
because what you said today was that you would use these weapons if
Russia or her allies come under attack.
And the question is whether
you meant any attack or only a nuclear attack on Russia or its
VP: I heard you.
I would also like to say that in 2004
- I mentioned this today - I
said at a news conference that we will be developing weapons and
even mentioned a concrete missile system, Avangard as we call it.
It is called Avangard now, but then I simply spoke of how it would
work. I openly said how it would work. We hoped that this would be
heard and the U.S. would discuss it with us and discuss cooperation.
But no, it was as if they had not heard us.
Strategic offensive arms
reduction and an antimissile defence system are different things.
MK: So, you didn't feel like you needed to disclose.
VP: We will be reducing the number of delivery vehicles
and warheads under the
New START Treaty. This means that the numbers
will be reduced on both sides, but at the same time, one party, the
United States, will be developing antimissile systems.
This will ultimately lead to a situation where all our nuclear
missiles, Russia's entire missile potential will be reduced to zero.
This is why we have always linked this.
This is how it was in the
Soviet-American times; these are natural things, everyone
MK: But is it your contention that the 4,000 nukes that
Russia now has cannot penetrate the existing military defence
VP: They can. Today they can. But you are developing
your antimissile systems. Antimissiles' range is increasing, and so
is their accuracy. These weapons are being upgraded.
This is why we
need to respond to this appropriately, so that we are able to
penetrate the system not only today but also tomorrow, when you
acquire new weapons.
MK: That is why it would be a big deal if you really did
have a nuclear-powered ICBM, which people are questioning, whether
you have a usable one right now. When you said earlier that you have
some that had tested positively and were excellent, you said others
So, for the record, right now, do you have a workable ICBM
that is powered by nukes that you have tested successfully?
VP: Look, I did not say that the testing of some of
these systems had been unsuccessful.
All the tests were successful.
It is just that each of these weapon systems is at a different stage
of readiness. One is already on alert duty in line units. Another is
in the same status. The work is proceeding on schedule with regard
to some systems.
We have no doubt that they will be in service, just
as we had no doubt in 2004 that we would make a missile with the
so-called cruise glide re-entry vehicle.
You have been referring all the time to intercontinental ballistic
missiles, new missiles…
During an interview to American TV channel NBC.
MK: You keep mentioning ICBMs.
VP: No. I am saying that we are developing just one
brand of new heavy missile, which will replace a missile that we
call Voyevoda, and you have dubbed it Satan.
We will replace it with
a new and more powerful missile. Here it is: a ballistic missile.
All the other missiles are not ballistic.
Therein lies the entire meaning of this, because any antimissile
defence system operates against ballistic missiles. But we have
created a set of new strategic weapons that do not follow ballistic
trajectories and the antimissile defence systems are powerless
This means that the U.S. taxpayers' money has been
MK: But again, you say that you are going to use these
weapons, these nuclear-powered weapons if Russia or its allies come
under attack. Any attack or only a nuclear one?
VP: There are two reasons why we would respond with our
nuclear deterrence forces: a nuclear attack on the Russian
Federation or a conventional attack on the Russian Federation, given
that it jeopardizes the state's existence.
MK: That is consistent with the existing Russian doctrine
on the use of nuclear weapons.
VP: Exactly, there are two possible reasons for a
MK: Are you interested in new talks to extend the new
strategic arms control treaty?
VP: The START-3 Treaty will expire soon. We are ready to
continue this dialogue. What do we consider important? We agree to a
reduction or to retaining current terms, to a reduction in delivery
vehicles and warheads.
However, today, when we are acquiring weapons
that can easily breach all anti-ballistic missile systems, we no
longer consider the reduction of ballistic missiles and warheads to
be highly critical.
MK: So will these weapons be part of those discussions?
VP: In the context that the number of delivery vehicles
and the number of warheads they can or will carry should, of course,
be included in the grand total. And we will show you from a distance
what this will look like.
Our military experts know how to conduct these inspections. In this
sense, there are fine-tuned mechanisms and a sufficiently high level
of trust. Generally, military experts are working together
Politicians talk a lot, but military experts know
what they are doing.
MK: You are a politician
VP: I am also an officer, and I am the
Commander-in-Chief. I also served as a military intelligence officer
for 17 years.
MK: Are you proud of that fact? Do you like the fact that
you were in the KGB? Do you like people to know that?
VP: I do not see it from an emotional perspective. This
gave me a lot of experience in the most diverse fields. I found it
useful when I moved on to the civilian sector. Of course, this
positive experience helped me in this sense.
MK: How so? How did it help?
VP: You know, after I left the intelligence service, I
worked as Assistant Rector at St Petersburg University. I worked
with people, established contacts, motivated people to act and
brought them together.
This is very important in the academic
environment. Later, I was Deputy Mayor of St Petersburg. I assumed
even greater and broader responsibility. I dealt with St
Petersburg's international ties, and that is a metropolis with a
population of five million people.
While working in this capacity in
St Petersburg, I first met Henry Kissinger. Of course, all this
helped me in my work at that time, and my additional experience
later helped me in my work in Moscow.
MK: Do you think it gives you an advantage over your
adversaries and your allies?
VP: It is hard for me to say. I have no other
experience. The only thing I know is that my partners, including
heads of state and government, are exceptional and outstanding
people. They have gone through stringent selection and elimination
There are no chance people at this level. And each of
them has his or her own advantages.
MK: What about that? You have been in power for a long time
here in Russia, poised to go into another term as president. You
have had four American presidents come and go during that time.
wondering if you had a favorite, if there was one you liked more
than the others?
VP: I am sorry, but this is not a very tactful question.
Each of my partners is good in their own right. In all, we had good
relations with practically all of them.
With Bill Clinton, though he
was leaving office, we were able to work together for several
months. Then with presidents Bush, Obama, and with the current
President too, but to a lesser extent, of course.
All of them have
something to respect them for. At the same time, we can argue and
disagree with each other, and it happens often, we have diverging
views on many issues, even on key ones, but we nevertheless managed
to maintain normal, human relations.
If it were not for that, it
would have been not only harder, but much worse for everyone.
MK: How important do you think it is to project strength as
VP: It is important not to project strength, but to show
It is also important how we understand power. It does not mean
banging the table with a fist or yelling. I think power has several
Firstly, one should be confident that he is doing the right thing.
Secondly, he must be ready to go all the way to achieve the goals.
MK: I wonder this because one of the images that we see of
you in the United States is without the shirt on a horse. What is
VP: Well, I have breaks. There are your Russian
colleagues, there is the internet. But we do not do this on purpose.
They take the photos they like. I have lots of photos of me in the
office, working with documents, but nobody is interested in them.
MK: (Laughs.) You are saying they like the shirtless
VP: You know, I have seen "photos" of me riding a bear.
I have not ridden a bear yet, but there are such photos already.
MK: Now what about you personally? Your elections are
coming up in two weeks. You are 65 years old now. Most people would
be slowing down a little in their lives. Do you see that for
yourself at all in the future?
VP: First, there are many politicians around the world
who are older than I am and who are still working active.
MK: Including in my country.
VP: Not only in the United States, in other countries,
too. There are many such people, in Europe and everywhere in the
world. But if a person assumes the highest offices, he must work as
if he is doing it for the first and last day of his life.
There is the Constitution. I have never violated it and have never
changed it. Of course, if voters give me the opportunity to serve
another term, I will do it to the best of my ability
MK: Last question for tonight, it is late. Forgive me; this
may be a long one. What do you see as your greatest accomplishment
as president and what do you see as your biggest mistake? And what
did you learn from it?
VP: You know, these would be very close.
Our biggest achievement is that our economy has changed radically.
It has almost doubled in scale. The number of people living below
the poverty line has decreased by half.
At the same time, the number of people living below the poverty line
remains large, and we must work on that. We must remove the gap
between people with very high and very low incomes. In this context,
we have many achievements and many unresolved issues.
Back in the early 2000s, our population shrank by nearly a million
people a year.
Can you imagine the scale of the disaster? Almost
900,000 people. We have reversed this trend. We have even achieved a
natural population increase.
We have very low infant mortality, and
we have reduced maternal mortality to almost zero. We have prepared
and are implementing a large-scale program of supporting mothers
Our life expectancy is growing at a high rate.
NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.
Much has changed in our economy. But we have not achieved our main
economic goal: we have not yet changed the economic structure as we
We have not yet reached the required growth of labour
efficiency. But we know how to do it, and I am confident that we
will do it. The thing is that we had no opportunity to do this
before, because until recently we did not have the macroeconomic
conditions for taking specific measures in these areas.
At the beginning of our path, inflation was about 30 percent, but
now it is 2.2 percent. Our gold and currency reserves are growing,
and we have achieved macroeconomic stability. This offers us an
opportunity to take the next step towards enhancing labour
efficiency, attracting investment, including private funds, and
changing the structure of our economy.
I am talking in large blocks.
There are also more specific areas,
such as modern technology and artificial intelligence,
digitalization, biology, medicine, genome research, and so on.
MK: Much more on the economy and how Russia is doing - tomorrow, and on your re-election. Thank you so much for your time.
You have had a long day. I look forward to meeting up with you in
VP: Thank you.
Mr. President, good to see you again.
VP: Good afternoon.
MK: So, we are here in Kaliningrad. Why is that? This is a
port that, I am told, could not be more threatening to NATO, to
Europe. It is a Russian military base. It is a Russian military
port. It is home to some of your nukes. Are you trying to send a
VP: Why Kaliningrad? Because I
regularly visit Russian regions. This is one of these regions. This
time, I came here to attend a conference of the regional media,
which they decided to hold here.
It was not my decision but theirs,
your colleagues from the Russian regional media. I have an agreement
with them that I attend such meetings once a year and meet with
them, and that is why I am here today.
It does not have anything to
do with any external signals; it is our domestic affair.
MK: Understood. So, the last time we met in June, I asked
you about the conclusion of our American intelligence agencies that
Russia interfered in our presidential election.
You told me that
there was nothing specific in these reports, that if there is
anything specific, you said, then there will be something to
discuss. You told me, as they used to say in the KGB: addresses,
houses, names. Since then, 13 Russians and three Russian-owned
companies have been indicted by a special prosecutor named Robert
Mueller in the United States for interfering in our election.
IRA agency, Yevgeny Prigozhin and others running a cyber warfare
operation out of an office at 55 Savushkina Street, St Petersburg,
Russia. Addresses, houses, names. So, can we have that discussion
VP: Of course. We not only can but I think we must
discuss this issue if it keeps bothering you. But if you think that
the question has been asked, I am ready to answer it.
MK: Why would you allow an attack like this on the United
VP: What makes you think that the Russian authorities
and I gave our permission to anyone to do anything?
You just named
some people; I have heard about some of them, some of them I do not
know, but they are just individuals, they do not represent the
Even if we suppose, though I am not 100 percent
certain, that they did something during the U.S. presidential election
campaign (I simply do not know anything about it), it has nothing to
do with the position of the Russian government.
Nothing has changed
since we spoke last time in St Petersburg. There are some names, so
what? It could just as well be some Americans who while living here,
interfered in your own political processes.
It has not changed
MK: But it was not Americans. It was Russians. And it was
hundreds of people, a monthly budget of 2.5 billion dollars, all
designed to attack the United States in a cyber warfare campaign.
You are up for re-election right now. Should the Russians be
concerned that you had no idea this was going on in your own home
country, in your own hometown?
VP: You know, the world is very large and diverse. We
have rather complicated relations between the United States and the
And some of our people have their own opinion on
these relations and react accordingly. At the level of the Russian
Government and at the level of the Russian President, there has
never been any interference in the internal political processes in
the United States.
You have named some individuals and said that they are Russian. So
what? Maybe, although they are Russian, they work for some American
company. Maybe one of them worked for one of the candidates. I have
no idea about this, these are not my problems.
Do you know that, for
example, after the presidential election in the U.S., some Ukrainian
officials sent messages congratulating Hillary Clinton, even though
Trump had won? Listen, what do we have to do with this?
Now, in my opinion, Mr Manafort, that is his name, he was initially
accused of having something to do with Russia's interference in the
presidential election in the United States. It turned out that just
the opposite was true: in fact, he had connections to Ukraine. And
he had some issues with Ukraine. What do we have to do with this?
You know, we have no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of
other countries. But if you are interested in talking about this, I
would like to widen the scope of our discussion.
MK: I want to go through it. I do want to go through it. If
we can do it step by step that would be more clear for the viewers
who are following us. Let me ask you this: you say the Russian
Federation did not order it. Do you condone these activities?
VP: We do not condone or order. But I say that there are
internal political processes in the United States itself and there
are people who wanted to achieve some result.
They could have used
some tools in other countries: such technologies exist. They could
have sent relevant information from France, from Germany, from Asia,
from Russia. What do we have to do with this?
MK: But it was not the Russians.
VP: Well, all right, Russians, but they were not state
officials. Well, Russians, and so what? The are 146 million Russian
people, so what?
MK: What have you done to satisfy yourself with that fact?
VP: What fact?
MK: What have you done to satisfy yourself that it was not
Russians? You suggest maybe it was Americans, maybe it was the
What have you done to satisfy yourself that the 13 Russian
nationals who have just been indicted, those three Russian
companies, including, as you pointed out, some of your close
friends, were not behind this? This has caused an international
VP: I know that they do not represent the Russian state
or the Russian government. And I have no idea what they did and what
they were guided by.
Even if they did something, then our American
colleagues should not just say something in interviews with the
media but give us specific data, with proof. We are ready to
consider it and talk about it.
But you know what I would like to
MK: That would be great. Will you extradite them to the
VP: Never. Just like the United States, Russia does not
extradite its citizens anywhere. Have you ever extradited any of
your citizens? This is my first point.
Second, I do not believe anything illegal was committed.
And, third, we have repeatedly suggested that the United States and
Russia establish relations in this area and sign a corresponding
interstate treaty on extraditing criminals.
The United States has
evaded this proposal and does not want to sign it with Russia. What
are you hoping for? That we will extradite people to you whereas you
will not? This is not a proper way to go about international
There is more to it. Please listen to me and take to your viewers
and listeners what I am about to say.
We are holding discussions
with our American friends and partners, people who represent the
government by the way, and when they claim that some Russians
interfered in the U.S. elections, we tell them (we did so fairly
recently at a very high level):
"But you are constantly interfering
in our political life."
Would you believe it, they are not even
Do you know what they told us last time? They said,
"Yes, we do
interfere, but we are entitled to do so, because we are spreading
democracy, and you are not, and so you cannot do it." Do you think
this is a civilised and modern approach to international affairs?
Yesterday, you and I talked about nuclear weapons, and that once the
United States and the Soviet Union realized that they were moving
towards possible mutual destruction, they agreed on rules of conduct
in the security sphere given the availability of weapons of mass
Let us now agree on how to behave in cyberspace, which
never used to have such a big role and scope.
MK: Okay, so let me ask you: you have stated explicitly you
believe that America interfered in Russian elections, right?
VP: We made a proposal to the United States, our
partners back during President Obama's watch: let us agree on how we
build our relations, develop common rules acceptable for all, and
adhere to them in cyberspace.
The first reaction of the Obama Administration was negative, but
then, at the very end of his presidential term, they told us:
it is interesting, let us talk about it."
But again, everything
disappeared and vanished in some swamp. Well, let us agree on this,
we are all for it.
With NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.
MK: Okay, so let me ask you: you have stated explicitly you
believe that America interfered in Russian elections, right?
VP: The U.S. does this all the time.
MK: But Russia did not interfere in America's election?
VP: No, and there are no plans in Russia to do so. It is
impossible. It is impossible for us.
MK: Why not? Why wouldn't you?
VP: First, we have principles whereby we do not allow
others to interfere in our domestic affairs and do not poke our
noses into other people's business. This is a principle we have.
This is the first point I wanted to make.
My second point is that we do not have a comparable number of tools.
MK: Come on. Come on.
VP: No, we simply cannot do that.
MK: You told me just yesterday, because we were amping our
missile defence systems, we have to respond in kind with increased
nuclear technology. Now you want me to believe that we attacked your
Russian elections and you say, we are going to take that road.
VP: This is not a matter of missiles. This is a
completely different area. In addition, we lack the necessary instruments.
MK: Cyber warfare.
VP: This is a completely different area of activity. It
has nothing to do with cyber warfare. Russia does not have the kind
of tools the U.S. has. We do not have global media outlets comparable
You think we do? We have Russia Today, and nothing else.
This is the only Russian media outlet, and even then, it was
MK: Is that cyber tools?
VP: You keep interrupting me, this is impolite.
MK: Forgive me, sir.
VP: We have one media outlet, Russia Today, and even it
was designated as a foreign agent so that it is unable to do its
work properly. It is the only media outlet of this kind, while the
U.S. has a whole range of outlets, and immense possibilities online.
The internet is yours. The United States control all the internet
governance tools, all located on U.S. territory. Do you think that a
comparison can be made in any way? This is simply impossible.
come together and agree on the rules of conduct in cyber space. But
it is the U.S. who refuses to do so.
MK: David and Goliath. The Mueller indictment is very
specific about what the Russians were doing. There is a specific
email, a damning email that is cited therein by a female Russian who
appears to have been caught red-handed. She says as follows, "We had
a slight crisis here at work.
The FBI busted our activity. Not a
joke. So I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the
colleagues. I created all these pictures and posts and the Americans
believe that it was written by their people." And now you want to
sit here and say you do not have the tools to do it? That we have
the market cyber interference?
This is just not true.
VP: I do not even understand what you are talking about.
You see, this is just nonsense. The U.S. Congress analysed the
information from Russian sources that appeared online.
information coming from media outlets like Russia Today was also
analyzed and turned out to be one hundredth of a percent of the
overall information flow in the United States, just one hundredth of
Do you think that this fraction had any impact on the
election? This is just nonsense, don't you see? This is the same old
business when the people who lost refuse to admit it. You see, I
have commented on this on a number of occasions. It has yet to be
seen what the U.S. policy toward Russia will be like under the current
Many things remain unclear, since we have not yet
been able to start working or to establish normal contacts.
However, it is absolutely clear that the current
adopted a specific stance in terms of domestic policy, and decided
to reach out to the people who were ready to support his campaign
promises. This is what led to his victory, not any kind of outside
To claim otherwise makes no sense. Will anyone believe
that Russia, a country located thousands of kilometers away, could
use two or three Russians, as you have said, and whom I do not know,
to meddle in the elections and influence their outcome?
think that it sounds ridiculous?
MK: Now you are talking about causation. But I am still on
whether you did it. And it is not true that you do not know the
individuals who were accused of conducting this. One of your good
friends is actually accused of helping conduct this. His name is Yevgeny Prigozhin. Do you know him?
VP: I know this man, but he is not a friend of mine.
This is just twisting the facts. There is such a businessman; he
works in the restaurant business or something. But he is not a state
official; we have nothing to do with him.
MK: After you heard about him being indicted, did you pick
up the phone and call him?
VP: Certainly not. I have plenty of other things to worry
MK: He is your friend. He has been indicted.
VP: Did you hear what I just said? He is not my friend.
I know him, but he is not a friend of mine. Was I not clear? There
are many people like that. There are 146 million people in Russia.
That is less than in the U.S., but it is still a lot.
MK: He is a prominent businessman.
VP: A prominent businessman? So what? There are many
prominent people in Russia. He is not a state official, he does not
work for the government; he is an individual, a businessman.
MK: Some people say his real job is to do your dirty work.
VP: Who are those people? And what dirty work? I do not
do any dirty work. Everything I do is in plain view. This is your
prerogative; some people in your country enjoy doing dirty work. You
think we do the same. That is not true.
MK: It is a) the fact that you know him, you admit that. He
is a prominent Russian businessman. And he is specifically accused
of running this operation; b) this is the same man who has been
accused of sending Russian mercenaries into Syria and they attacked
a compound held by American back militia.
This guy gets around.
VP: You know, this man could have a wide range of
interests, including, for example, an interest in the Syrian fuel
and energy complex. But we do not support him in any way. We do not
get in his way but we do not support him either.
It is his own
MK: You did not know about it?
VP: Well, I know that there are several companies,
several Russian companies there, maybe his among others, but this
has nothing to do with our policy in Syria.
If he does anything
there, he does not coordinate it with us; he probably coordinates it
with the Syrian authorities or the Syrian businesses he works with.
We do not interfere in this. Does your government interfere in every
step your businesses take, especially small businesses? It is
essentially a medium-sized business.
So, does your president
interfere in the affairs of every medium-sized U.S. business? That is
just nonsense, isn't it?
MK: If the 13 Russian nationals plus three Russian
companies did in fact interfere in our elections, is that okay with
VP: I do not care. I do not care at all because they do
not represent the government.
MK: You do not care?
VP: Not at all. They do not represent state interests.
If you are worried about anything, state it officially, send us
documents proving it and explain what exactly those people are
accused of. We will see if they have violated Russian laws…
MK: I did that.
VP: No, this is not true. If they violated Russian law,
we will prosecute them. If they did not, there is nothing to
prosecute them for in Russia. But after all, you must understand
that people in Russia do not live under U.S. law but under Russian
law. This is how it is. If you want to reach an agreement with us,
let us negotiate, choose the subject, make an agreement and sign it.
But you refuse to do this. I am telling you for the third time: we
have proposed working together on cyberspace issues. But the U.S.
refuses to work like this and instead throws 13 Russians to the
Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or
Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked:
maybe they have dual citizenship or a Green Card; maybe, the U.S. paid
them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either.
MK: I will give you one piece of evidence. Andrei Krutskikh
is an advisor to the Kremlin when it comes to cyber issues. In his
speech to an information security forum in February 2016, he
reportedly said, quote,
"I am warning you. We are on the verge of
having something in the information arena which will allow us to
talk to the Americans as equals."
What do you think he meant?
Because it certainly sounds like a threat right before an election
VP: Sometimes I think you are joking.
MK: No, I am deadly serious.
VP: A man says something about how he sees our contacts
and our work with our foreign partners, the U.S. in this case, in a
certain area. I have no idea what he said. Ask him what he meant.
you think I control everything?
MK: He is an advisor to the Kremlin on cyber.
During an interview to American TV channel NBC.
VP: So what? There are 2,000 people working in the
administration; do you think I control everyone?
Peskov is sitting
in front of me, he is my press secretary and he sometimes says
things that I see on television and think, what is he talking about?
Who told him to say this?
I have no idea what he said. Ask him. Do you really think I can
comment on everything administration or government personnel say?
have my own work to do.
MK: I think when it comes to our two countries you know
exactly what is going on. And this is Russia's problem now. It is.
The heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies just testified to Congress
that Russia, Russia poses the greatest threat in the world to the
American security, greater than ISIS. You cannot get the sanctions
lifted. The relationship between our two countries is nearly
non-existent right now.
Did not this interference, whether you knew
or you did not know about it, backfire against Russia?
VP: Listen, you are exaggerating. I do not know about
someone saying something and I am not going to comment on it, and
neither do I follow what is going on at your Congress.
I am more interested in what is going on at the State Duma, if they
have approved a bill on a healthcare or utilities issue; if they
delay certain discussions or not. Is a special interest lobbying
against a nature conservation, or forestry, or environmental law?
This is what I am interested in. You should follow what they are
discussing in Congress; I have enough on my plate without that.
MK: You know that the sanctions have not been lifted. You
know that the relationship between our two countries is at not an
all-time low but is getting there. And this is in part the reason.
And so, Russian interference in the American elections is important.
VP: Listen, sanctions have nothing to do with the myth
of some Russian interference in the U.S. election. Sanctions are about
something else entirely: the desire to halt Russia's progress, to
This policy of containing Russia has been pursued
for decades, on and off. Now it is back. It is a misguided policy,
which not only affects Russian-U.S. relations but also U.S. businesses
because it frees up space for their competitors on our market.
You and I were at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. The largest
business delegation was from the U.S.
People want to work with us,
but they are not allowed to; they are contained in order to contain
Russia. They have been contained and contained so that our defence
industry cannot develop, among other things. We discussed this
Did they manage to achieve anything? No, they did not:
they have never managed to contain Russia and never will. It is
simply, you know, an attempt with tools that…
MK: Can we contain Russia in cyber warfare?
VP: I think it is impossible to contain Russia anywhere.
You need to understand this. Listen, you cannot even contain North
Korea. What are you talking about? Why would you do that? Why do we
have to contain, attack or cast suspicion on each other?
MK: That is my question to you. That is my question to you.
Why, why would you interfere in our election time and time again?
And why would not you, for that matter?
Let me put it to you that
way. You have spent a day, every time I have seen you, in St
Petersburg, in Moscow and now here in Kaliningrad, telling me that
America has interfered in Russia's electoral process and that Russia
has a robust cyber warfare arsenal. And yet you want us to believe
that you did not deploy it.
Do you understand how implausible that
VP: That does not seem implausible to me at all, because
we do not have such a goal, to interfere. We do not see what we have
to gain by interfering. There is no such goal.
Let us suppose this
was our goal. Why, just for the sake of it? What is the goal?
MK: Creating chaos. That is the goal.
VP: Listen to me. Not long ago President Trump said
something absolutely correct.
He said that if Russia's goal was to
sow chaos, it has succeeded. But it is not the result of Russian
interference, but your political system, the internal struggle, the
disorder and division. Russia has nothing to do with it whatsoever.
Get your own affairs in order first.
And the way the question is
framed, as I mentioned - that you can interfere anywhere because you
bring democracy, but we cannot - is what causes conflicts. You have
to show your partners respect, and they will respect you.
MK: You once said, Mr President, that you believed the
interference in our election was done by some patriotic Russians. An
answer like that, you understand, will lead people to ask, are you
the patriotic Russian?
VP: I am the President of the Russian Federation. It is
my constitutional duty to address a host of issues concerning the
protection of Russia's interests.
When I spoke of patriotic people,
I meant that you can imagine that, in the face of a deteriorating
Russian-U.S. relationship, people - and people use cyberspace - will
express their points of view, their opinions, including on this
Of course, they are free to do so. How can we really
prohibit it? But we cannot control it and, most importantly, we are
not directing it. Please note that this is not the position of the
MK: You cannot? The Russian intelligence services cannot
find out who is doing this, bring it to your attention? You are
unable to stop it?
VP: Perhaps if we looked into it carefully we would find
those people, if they exist. But we have no such goal. We propose
holding official talks and you refuse. So what do you want? For us
to open investigations just because Congress said so?
Let us sit
down, sign an agreement on working in cyberspace and comply with it.
How do you want to do it? There is no other way of conducting
MK: So you have no goal to stop it. So what does that mean
for our elections in 2018 and 2020? We can expect more of the same?
VP: I did not say that stopping it is not a goal. I said
MK: You just said that.
VP: No, I did not. I said we do not interfere in our
people' private lives and cannot stop them from expressing their
opinion, including on the internet.
But I also said that Russia's
official position is that we do not interfere in the political
processes of other countries as a state. That is the most important
part. I want it to be recorded in our conversation today, for people
in the U.S. to understand this.
MK: And forgive me, but I am trying to get to one level
below that, whether you have the goal of stopping your own citizens
from behaving in this manner, which has undermined relationships
between our two countries?
VP: I want to say that we will stand in the way of
everything that violates Russian law or our international
agreements. For the third or fourth time, I will say that we are
ready to sign a corresponding agreement with the United States. You
Let us sit down at the negotiating table, identify
what we consider important, sign the document and comply with it
with proper verification.
MK: You are the President, sir.
Respectfully, I still did
not hear an answer about whether you want to crack down on the
Russians who committed those crimes. It sounds like the answer is
no. If I am wrong, please correct me. I understand you want a
negotiation with the United States directly.
But internally, you
could put a stop to this if you had the desire.
VP: I want you to listen to me. We will counter anything
that violates current Russian law.
If the actions of our citizens
- no matter what they are and whom they target - violate current
Russian laws, we will respond. If they do not violate Russian law,
we cannot respond.
MK: With this?
VP: With anything. If no Russian law has been broken, no
one can be held accountable.
MK: Will this violate Russian law?
VP: I must look at what they have done. Give us the
materials. Nobody has given us anything.
MK: You know this. Hacking into the Democratic National
Committee, hacking into John Podesta's email, creating interference
in our election by creating bots that spread false information on
Twitter, on Facebook.
Spreading this information when it comes to
Black Lives Matter, when it comes to the shooting we just had in
Parkland, Florida, when it comes to our presidential election.
Spreading fake news in order to alter the course of the presidential
race. That is what I am talking about.
VP: With all due respect for you personally and for the
body of the people's representatives, the U.S. Congress - and we treat
all these people with respect - I want you to really understand
this. Do you have people with training in law? Of course, you do.
One hundred percent. Highly educated people.
We cannot even launch
an investigation without cause. Our conversation today or an inquiry
in the U.S. Congress is not sufficient cause. Give us at least an
official inquiry with a statement of facts, send us an official
After all, a conversation on air cannot be grounds for an
MK: The intelligence agencies in the United States, now a
special prosecutor with a criminal indictment - that is not enough
for you to look into it?
VP: Absolutely not. If you do not have legal training, I
can assure you that an inquiry is required for this.
MK: Kelly I do.
VP: Then you should understand that a corresponding
official inquiry should be sent to the Prosecutor-General's Office
of the Russian Federation. That said, we do not even have a treaty
on how to proceed. But send us something in writing at least.
MK: Vladimir Putin could not order an investigation into
whether this was done in a way that undermines its relations with a
major partner, the United States of America?
VP: Give us something in writing, an official inquiry.
We will look at it.
MK: You said that the last time and now I am back with an
VP: There is nothing in writing. Send an inquiry to the
Prosecutor-General's Office. It is necessary to go through official
channels rather than with the help of the media and harsh words in
the U.S. Congress, leveling accusations against us that are totally
unsubstantiated. Give us something in writing.
MK: Let me ask you this: you were President back in 2001
when the FBI arrested one of its own, Robert Hanssen, for spying for
the Russian Federation. In retaliation, President George W. Bush
kicked 50 illegit Russian spies out of the United States, and the
Kremlin did the same, throwing 50 Americans out of the U.S. Embassy in
This is a tradition that goes back for decades.
December 2016: after our intelligence agencies agreed that Russians
interfered in our election President Obama expelled dozens of
Russians and seized two Russian-owned properties. And yet, you did
nothing, you did nothing in response.
VP: We believed and still believe that there were no
grounds for this whatsoever. This is the first point.
Secondly, this was done in clear violation of international law and
the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The totally groundless
seizure of our property constitutes a flagrant violation of
international law. We were strongly hoping for a response from the
But since none is forthcoming
- and I have
already said this and the Foreign Minister repeated this - we will
turn to the appropriate courts of the United States to protect our
MK: Let me ask you about President Trump. Any time he says
anything about you it is supremely deferential. Never a harsh word
for you. Although if you look at the ways he speaks about members of
his own party, even members of his own staff, never mind of the
other political leaders, he frequently personally insults them.
do you think he is so nice to you?
VP: This is not about being nice to me personally, in my
view. I think he is an experienced person, a businessman with very
extensive experience and he understands that if you need to partner
with someone, you must treat your future or current partner with
respect, otherwise nothing will come of it. I think this is a purely
pragmatic approach. This is my first point.
Second, even though this is his first term as President, he is a
quick study, and he understands perfectly well that trading
accusations or insults at our level is a road to nowhere. It would
just mean depriving our countries of their last chance for dialogue,
simply the last chance. This would be extremely unfortunate.
You may have noticed that I, for my part, show respect to him and
all my other colleagues, not only in the United States, but also
Europe and Asia.
MK: You may, but the truth is our President has referred to
the leader of North Korea as "little rocket man." So he is not quite
as diplomatic depending on who he is talking about. I am sure you
saw that, yes?
VP: Yes, I did. You are aware of our position on that
account. We urge everyone to show restraint.
MK: So what do you think of President Trump?
VP: The question is not entirely appropriate, because
President Trump's work should be assessed by his constituents, the
There is one thing I would like to say: like it or
not - we may dislike certain things as well - he does his best to
keep the election promises that he made to the American people.
he is consistent in this sense. I think that, in fact, this is the
only proper way to show respect for the people who voted for him.
MK: He has praised your leadership. Is he an effective
VP: Well, again, this is up to the American people to
decide. He has strong leadership qualities, of course, because he
takes responsibility when he makes decisions. To reiterate, whether
some people like his decisions or not, he still goes ahead and does
This, of course, is a sign of leadership qualities.
MK: Do you ever read his tweets?
VP: No, I do not.
MK: Do you ever tweet?
MK: Why not?
VP: I have other means of expressing my point of view or
making decisions. Well, Donald is a more modern person.
MK: Would you say he is more colorful than you are?
MK: Let me ask you one question going back to the election
interference issue. There are two theories on you at least.
that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State you felt that she
interfered with the elections here in 2011 and 2012, inciting
protests here, including against you and it made you angry.
when the Panama Papers were leaked showing a massive money trail
that led to you and some of your associates that that was the last
drop for you.
Do either of those things make you angry?
VP: This is complete nonsense. Speaking about Hillary, I
know her personally, and we generally always maintained a good
dialogue every time we met. I cannot understand why at some stage…
Her advisers probably suggested that she focus part of her election
campaign on criticizing developments in Russia. Well, it was their
choice. I never took it personally. It was just their policy.
As for all those files, this is complete nonsense. They mention some
of my friends. So what? As you know, this has had no effect
whatsoever. This is nothing but nonsense and media chatter. I have
forgotten all about it. I do not remember what it was all about.
Actually, nothing of this kind can make me angry. I am guided by
pragmatic considerations, not emotions.
MK: Since you mention it, a friend of yours was mentioned
in those Panama Papers. Let me ask you about him. Sergei Roldugin.
Legend has it that this guy introduced you to your ex-wife, that he
is the godfather to one of your daughters.
He is a cellist by trade,
VP: Yes, I know him very well. He is a friend and a
wonderful musician. He has devoted his life to art and music. By the
way, many artists here are also involved in business one way or
Apart from me, Sergey also has other ties in the country,
including business people who have involved him in this work. He has
made his money legally. He has not made hundreds of billions [of
dollars]. Everything he earned he has spent on the purchase of
musical instruments abroad, which he has brought to Russia.
some of these instruments personally, for example the cello. He
plays the cello.
MK: A $12 million Stradivarius.
VP: Yes, something like that. But it is a unique
MK: That is a lot of money.
VP: Yes, it is. He must be eccentric, but then, all
artists are eccentric. To spend all this money on musical
instruments. I think he bought two cellos and two violins. He plays
one himself and has given the others to other musicians, who are
playing them. He has brought all these instruments to Russia.
MK: According to the Panama Papers, this mass of series of
leaked documents about offshore bank accounts, he has got assets,
this cellist, of at least a $100 million, including a one-eighth
stake in Russia's biggest TV ad agency, a $6 million yacht, a stake
in a truck manufacturer, a 3-percent interest in a Russian bank. He
must be one heck of a musician.
VP: Well, I know nothing about his business, but I do
know that he has only enough money to buy these musical instruments.
All the rest is on paper. He does not have anything else apart from
what he has bought.
Maybe he does have something else, but you
should ask him about it. I do not control his life.
MK: But the question is how a cellist makes that much
money? People ask it because many people believe that is really your
VP: Listen, just look at many Russian art figures, and
probably there are people like this in your country as well. After
all, there are art personalities in the U.S., including Hollywood
celebrities who either run restaurants or own some stock.
there many people like this in the U.S. entertainment industry and art
world? I am sure that there are many people of this kind, and more
than in Russia. In Russia, there are also quite a few art figures
who do business apart from their creative work. In fact, there are
many such people, and he is just one of them.
So what? The question
is not whether he runs a business or not or whether he made a profit
or not. The question is whether there were any violations.
As far as
I know, he did not commit any violations.
MK: That is right. There is no issue with making money. I
am an American, we are capitalists. The question is whether that is
really your money.
VP: This is not my money, that is for sure. I do not
even know how much Mr Roldugin has, as I have already said. As far
as I know, he has not committed any violations in his business and
creative undertakings, he did not violate any Russian law or norm.
MK: Speaking of money, back in the 1980s and 1990s, in the
wake of multiple bankruptcies, the Trump Organisation found it hard
to secure loans in the United States and looked elsewhere.
Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., said that ten years ago and I quote,
"Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot
of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
you aware of the degree of Russian money flowing into properties?
VP: This is all nonsense. There were no investments in
Trump properties in Russia, as far as I know. I do not even know if
there were any serious plans for making these investments.
MK: Come on.
VP: Look, you keep thinking that the whole world
revolves around you. That is not the way it is.
MK: It is not about me. It is about what Donald Trump Jr.
During an interview to American TV channel NBC.
VP: Do you think we know everything what Donald Trump's
son has said? You see, this is not the way things are.
here to Russia when he was not even nominated. I did not even know
that he had been to Russia. I learned about it only afterwards, when
I was told that as it turned out he had been to Russia.
By the same
token, I ignore what his son said on this occasion. Did Donald
Trump's son infringe on any rules or laws? If so, charge him. If he
did not, why do you keep picking on every word?
MK: Years ago, before Donald Trump ran for president, he
said he knew you and he spoke with you a lot. Is that true?
VP: No, I had never met him. You mean before he became
President and before he decided to run for President, right?
MK: Before he ran.
VP: No, we had not met. We never talked to each other,
neither by phone or otherwise.
MK: You are poised to be re-elected for your fourth term as
president here in Russia, right?
VP: We will see what the Russian voters decide.
MK: How does somebody like Vladimir Putin, who is as
popular as you are here in Russia, feel any threat from Navalny? I
realize he has got in legal trouble, but could you pardon this guy
and let him mount a meaningful challenge to you?
VP: As for the question about whom I could work together
with and whom I would not want to work together with, I can tell you
in all honesty that I would like to and am ready to work with people
who want Russia to become a stronger, more effective, competitive
and self-reliant country.
But to achieve that, the people we are
talking about should have a clear plan of action designed to promote
national development in today's environment. There are people like
that, including …
MK: But Navalny is such as man and has a fair amount of
popularity here in Russia.
VP: Any person can be pardoned if he deserves it.
MK: Why don't you?
VP: If he deserves it. There are no exceptions for
anyone. No exceptions. But we are not talking about pardon now; we
are talking about certain political forces. They do not have a
development program for the country.
What do they have that is
positive and what I like? That they expose problems, and this is
actually good, this is the right thing to do, and it needs to be
done. But this is not enough for the country's progressive
development, simply not enough.
Because focusing on problems is not
enough; moreover, it is even dangerous, because it can lead to
destruction, while we need creation.
MK: Our political analysts tell me you are exactly right
about your chances in the upcoming election, that you have no
meaningful opponents so you will likely win. What is next after
that? The Chinese President just abolished term limits.
something you would ever do?
VP: I do not think that I should talk about my political
plans with you now at this meeting, in this conversation, in this
interview for American television. But I think I told you yesterday,
I never changed the Constitution or adjusted it to my needs, and I
do not have any such plans today.
As for China, before
criticizing decisions in a country like China,
you need to think and recall that there are 1.5 billion people
living there and, after thinking about it, you need to come to the
conclusion that we all are interested in China being a stable and
How it should be done best, it is probably up to
the Chinese people and the Chinese leadership.
MK: Can you leave power? Because some of the experts that
we have spoken to have said it would be near impossible for you
because someone in your position would likely either be thrown in
jail by your adversaries or worse.
They say it is actually sad that
you will have to stay in power in order to stay well.
VP: What your so-called experts say is their wishful
thinking. I have heard a lot of nonsense like this. Why do you think
that I will necessarily be succeeded by people ready to destroy
everything I have done in recent years?
Maybe, on the contrary, a
government will come to power determined to strengthen Russia, to
create a future for it, to build a platform for development for the
Why have you suddenly decided that some destroyers
would arrive and wipe out whatever they can? Maybe there are people
who would like this, including in the United States.
But I do not
think they are right, because the United States, I think, should be
more interested in the other option - in Russia being a stable,
prosperous and developing country, I mean if you really can look at
least 25–50 years ahead.
MK: Have you groomed a successor? Is there anyone in mind?
VP: I have been thinking about this since 2000. Thinking
is not a crime, but in the end, the choice will still be up to the
Whether I like or hate someone, other candidates
will run for president and eventually the citizens of the Russian
Federation will make the final decision.
MK: Let me ask you a bit about Syria. Do you believe the
chemical weapon attacks in Syria are fake news?
VP: Of course.
Firstly, the Syrian Government destroyed its chemical weapons long
Secondly, we know about the militants' plans to simulate chemical
attacks by the Syrian army.
And thirdly, all the attempts that have been made repeatedly in the
recent past, and all the accusations were used to consolidate the
efforts against Assad. We are aware of these goings-on, and they are
One wants to say, "Boring."
MK: The bodies of dead children thanks to sarin gas
attacks? That is boring?
VP: Are you sure that these deaths are the result of
chemical attacks by the Syrian Government? I, on the contrary, blame
this on the criminals and radicals, on the terrorists who are
staging these crimes in order to lay the blame on President Assad.
MK: That is not what the United Nations has concluded. They
autopsied the bodies of the dead children. Your Foreign Minister
suggested it was all made up. Do you believe that?
VP: Of course. I am absolutely sure that it was. Because
there was no serious investigation.
MK: There were no dead bodies?
VP: Maybe there were dead bodies, which is to be
expected in a war. Look how they liberated Mosul: it was razed to
the ground. Look how they liberated Raqqa: the dead have not yet
been removed from the ruins or buried. Do you want to talk about
MK: That is what we call whataboutism. That is you pointing
to somebody else's bad behavior to justify your wrong or that of
your ally. We are talking about Assad and dead children thanks to
sarin gas. Sarin gas. And you are telling an international audience
it never happened?
VP: Look here, to be sure that this was indeed how it
happened, a thorough investigation must be conducted and evidence
must be gathered at the site. Nothing of this has been done. Let us
MK: Let us do it. They wanted to investigate the
helicopters and the UN wanted to go and check the helicopters that
were on site. And Russia said no. Russia said no. Why?
VP: There was nothing of the kind. Russia did not say
Russia is for a full-scale investigation. If you do not know
this, I am telling you this now. It is not true that we are against
an objective investigation. That is a lie. It is a lie just as the
vial with the white substance that allegedly proved that Iraq had
weapons of mass destruction, which the CIA gave to the U.S. Secretary
He later apologized, but the damage had been done, the
country had been ruined. This is yet another piece of fake news,
which has no substance behind it. An investigation should be
conducted to gather the substance.
We are in favor of such an
MK: Since the beginning of the year, there have been at
least four chlorine-based chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Our
Secretary of State Tillerson just said that Russia bears the
responsibility for this given your earlier promises to reign in
chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
VP: I will tell you that a) we have nothing to do with
this, and b) that we demand a full-scale investigation.
As for crimes, go back to Raqqa and at least bury the dead bodies,
which are still lying amid the ruins after the air strikes at
residential neighborhoods there. And investigate these attacks.
This will give you something to do.
MK: One of the questions that our audiences have is how do
we walk this back? How do we get to the place where these two great
nations are less adversaries and something closer to allies, which
we clearly are not right now. Do you agree we are not?
VP: Unfortunately, we are not. But we were not the ones
who made the U.S. our adversary. It was the U.S., the U.S. Congress, who
called Russia its adversary. Why did you do that? Did Russia impose
sanctions on the United States?
No, it was the U.S. that imposed
sanctions on us.
MK: You know why.
VP: No, I do not. Can I ask you a different question?
Why did you encourage the government coup in Ukraine? Why did you do
that? The U.S. directly acknowledged spending billions of dollars to
this end. This was openly acknowledged by U.S. officials.
Why do they
support government coups and armed fighting in other countries? Why
has the U.S. deployed missile systems along our borders?
Listen, Russia and the
U.S. should sit down and talk it over in order
to get things straight. I have the impression that this is what the
current President wants, but he is prevented from doing it by some
But we are ready to discuss any matter, be it
missile-related issues, cyberspace or counterterrorism efforts. We
are ready to do it any moment.
But the U.S. should also be ready. The
time will come when the political elite in the U.S. will be pushed by
public opinion to move in this direction.
We will be ready the
instant our partners are ready.
MK: Before I leave you, what do you hope your legacy will
VP: I strongly believe that my legacy would be to create
a powerful development momentum for Russia, and make the country a
resilient and balanced democracy that is able to benefit from the
latest advances of the technology revolution.
We will keep up our
efforts to improve our political system and the judiciary.
And I am
certain that all this, taken together, would strengthen the unity of
the Russian Federation and the unity of our people, and enable us to
move forward with confidence for years to come.
MK: Mr. President, thank you very much for having us here.
VP: Thank you.