From TASS

Has Vladimir Putin seen the Servant of the People TV series? Is dialogue with Zelensky possible? How to view Ukrainians’ national identity? Are Russians and Ukrainians one people?

In the second episode of our “20 Questions with Vladimir Putin” video interview, Andrei Vandenko spoke with the President about relations with Ukraine. Our special project “20 Questions with Vladimir Putin” consists of 20 episodes, in which we asked the President important and very bold questions. This project is the first-ever of its kind not only for TASS, but for the Russian segment of the Internet. The episodes will be uploaded from February 20 to March 26. Watch them on all TASS platforms!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG6dxqwxGE4

 

In this episode:

— On the Servant of the People TV series

— On relations with Zelensky

— On ties with Ukraine

— Who are the Ukrainians and what unites them with Russians?

— On relations between the Russian and the Ukrainian churches

— What tore ties between Russians and Ukrainians apart?

— On competitive advantages in today’s world

— On Ukrainian identity

— On Ukrainian nationalism

— What did Ukraine lose when relations with Russia fell apart?

— On the Ukrainian power structure’s interests

— On potential implications if Russia and Ukraine joined forces

Watch directly on Tass : https://tass.com/putins-interview-to-tass

 

Transcript:

Andrey Vandenko

Our next topic is Ukraine. Have you watched the Servant of the People series?

Vladimir Putin

No.

Andrey Vandenko

Even the part when President Goloborodko is picking out a wristwatch just like Putin’s?

Vladimir Putin

I haven’t seen it. I don’t know who Goloborodko is, or what he is choosing there. I haven’t seen it.

Andrey Vandenko

Right. So what we have here is an interesting duo: a ‘galley slave’ and a ‘servant of the people’.

Vladimir Putin

Well, whatever goes around comes around. It’s not what you call yourself that matters, but what you do, and how you do it.

Andrey Vandenko

Is there a chance that you could come to terms with Zelensky?

Vladimir Putin

On what?

Andrey Vandenko

On peace, on friendship.

Vladimir Putin

There’s always hope. But unfortunately, as you see, after returning from Paris he started talking about the necessity to review the Minsk Agreements. This begs the question. Nevertheless, we managed to agree on the prisoner swap, and we’ve agreed on gas.

Andrey Vandenko

The fact that today we are not friends with Ukraine – is this our loss?

Vladimir Putin

Yes, of course, but as I have said time and again, I believe that we are the same people.

Andrey Vandenko

The Ukrainians don’t like it very much either.

Vladimir Putin

I don’t know whether they like this or not, but if you look at the real situation, that is true. You see, we shared the same language until the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. And only as a result of Polonization, Ukrainians that lived in the territory under the Rzeczpospolita, only around the 16th century would the first language differences appear. In general, the term ‘Ukrainians’ was used when talking about the people who lived …

Andrey Vandenko

[arguing on the stress in the word ‘Ukrainians’]

Vladimir Putin

[arguing on the stress in the word ‘Ukrainians’]

Andrey Vandenko

[arguing on the stress in the word ‘Ukrainians’]

Vladimir Putin

Those who lived on the frontiers of the Russian state were called Ukrainians. Ukrainians lived in Pskov, those who defended the southern frontiers from attacks by the Crimean khan were called Ukrainians. Ukrainians were everywhere, even in the Urals. We did not have any linguistic differences. Moreover, something around the same time, up until the 14th–15th centuries even those people, the eastern Slavs, who lived in the Rzeczpospolita or in Muscovy or later in Poland were called Russians. The first linguistic differences appeared much later…

Andrey Vandenko

History is history, but right now we’re talking about the present day.

Vladimir Putin

In order to talk about today and tomorrow we need to know history, we need to know who we are, where we came from, and what unites us. And what unites us is…

Andrey Vandenko

Now, many things divide us.

Vladimir Putin

Many things do divide us, but we should not forget about the bonds that unite us. Also, we should avoid ruining what we have. Take the Church, for example. What was the point in destroying the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church? You know that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is in fact fully autonomous. It has been fully autonomous all along in all respects, including the election of hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Moscow Patriarchate has never had any influence on the election of hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. In fact, the UOC has always been independent. Completely. There has only been full communion and the liturgical commemoration of the Moscow Patriarch, who was recalled all the time in churches. That’s it! It has been the only thing uniting the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But they needed to cut the cords that bind. Why? You say people do not understand. They simply do not know it. They’ll understand better, if they know it. They should be told that.

Why should anyone shy away from it? It’s not an insult, is it? Time has passed. As a result of people sharing the border with the Catholic world, Europe, a community of people feeling to some extent independent from the Russian state began to emerge. How should we feel about that? I have already said: we should respect that. But we should not forget about our shared community. And moreover, in the modern world our joint efforts bring us huge competitive advantages. And, vice versa, division makes us weaker. The Ukrainian factor was specifically played out on the eve of World War I by the Austrian special service. Why? It is well-known – to divide and rule. Nevertheless, if it happened like this and a big part of the Ukrainian population got a sense of their own national identity, etc., we should respect that. We should understand where we are now, but not forget who we are and where we come from. And, by the way, the founding fathers of Ukrainian nationalism never spoke about any urgent need to break up with Russia. Strange as it may seem, but their basic works of the 19th century say that Ukraine is: a) multinational and should be a federal state, and b) should build good relations with Russia. Today’s nationalists seem to have forgotten that. I’ll tell you why they have forgotten that. You know why? Because the interests of the Ukrainian people are not the main issue on their agenda. How can it be in the interest of the Ukrainian people if the break-up with Russia has led to the loss of aerospace engineering, shipbuilding, aeronautical engineering and engine manufacturing. It is virtually deindustrializing the country. How can it be in any interest here?

The World Bank demands to end cross-subsidization. What’s so good about that? Or, they make them export round timber from the Carpathians. Soon, the Carpathians are going to become deforested. What was the reason for doing this? If we pool our efforts together we can innumerably bolster our competitive advantages, so why forfeit it? Why throw everything away? For what? Because the Ukrainian leaders or those who took power pursued their self-interests. And what were they? Not even to get more from robbing the Ukrainian people blind, but hold on to what they had previously stolen. That was the main objective. So, where’s the cold hard cash? Pardon my slang, where is the money? In foreign banks. And what are they supposed to do to hold on to it? Show that they are serving those who hold that money. Hence, the only thing that they trade in is Russophobia. Because some like dividing Ukraine and Russia, they believe it’s a very important goal. Since any integration of Russia and Ukraine, along with their capacities and competitive advantages would spell the emergence of a rival, a global rival for both Europe and the world. No one wants this. That’s why they’ll do anything to tear us apart.

 

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