During his address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin stressed that “one year ago, to protect the people in our historical lands, to ensure the security of our country and to eliminate the threat coming from the neo-Nazi regime that had taken hold in Ukraine after the 2014 coup, it was decided to begin the special military operation. Step by step, carefully and consistently we will deal with the tasks we have at hand.”
For the last eight years, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have been living under undisguised aggression, blockade and attempts at forceful and economic suffocation. Thousands of civilians became victims of Ukrainian neo-Nazis, tens of thousands became disabled, hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes. Russia could not but react to the genocide of the population of these regions, doomed to physical destruction.
As Putin noted: “We were doing everything in our power to solve this problem by peaceful means, and patiently conducted talks on a peaceful solution to this devastating conflict. Behind our backs, a very different plan was being hatched. As we can see now, the promises of Western leaders, their assurances that they were striving for peace in Donbas turned out to be a sham and outright lies.” It is a well-known fact that Russia has always been open to constructive dialogue with everyone interested in peace. At the end of 2021, we formulated reasonable and balanced proposals to the US and NATO on security guarantees. However, all principal points for us were directly rejected.
Moreover, the Russian leadership had reliable information that, by February 2022, the Ukrainian henchmen of Washington were prepared for another bloody and punitive operation in the Donbas. It was also known about plans to strike the Russian Crimea and Sevastopol. Undoubtedly, we could not allow this to happen. In this regard, ask yourself a question: “Who initiated the conflict?” I will answer with the words of President Putin: “They were the ones who started this war, while we used force and are using it to stop the war.” Another important point is that the special military operation takes place in accordance with the fundamental provisions of the UN Charter, which gives states the right for legitimate self-defense in the event of a threat of use of force, which we have exercised. As you can see, Russia follows the true spirit of international law, not some kind of “rules-based order,” arbitrarily introduced by the West and its henchmen.
The Middle East is well acquainted with the Western “commitment” to international law: The examples of Iraq, Libya and other countries in the region that have severely suffered from the democratizing exercises of the Westerners are tangible proof of this. Those who stood behind the horrific atrocities against sovereign Arab nations are now shedding crocodile tears over Russia’s allegedly “illegal and unprovoked actions,” simultaneously introducing absolutely illegitimate sanctions against our country and its people, designed – and this is even openly articulated – to “put in place” or, in other words, to destroy Russia as a sovereign state. While accusing Russia of far-fetched aggressiveness, the West bashfully omits that wars unleashed in the current millennium by its leader – the US – resulted in almost 900,000 people killed, and more than 38 million refugees. I emphasize, Americans themselves provide these numbers. What kind of humanity or legality can the perpetrators of these mass tragedies talk about?
Russia is not at war with the people of Ukraine, who have always been not only our closest neighbor, but literally a brotherly people. Unfortunately, the population of this fraternal country has become a hostage of the criminal Kyiv regime and its Western masters. To help them free themselves from this maleficent “guardianship” is our sacred duty and responsibility – and this approach of the Russian leadership is fully shared by the Russian people. The Russian Federation has consistently supported the aspirations of the Middle Eastern nations to gain true independence and sovereignty. Our policy has always been focused on the peaceful coexistence of all countries and nations, which we do not divide between the “golden billion” and the others. We do not think that certain regions are a “heaven on Earth” and other parts of the world are “jungles.” On the contrary, equality of all members of the international community is an imperative principle of Russian foreign policy.
We highly appreciate the multifaceted and promising relations with Saudi Arabia, our good friend and partner. We are united with the Saudi people by common understanding of the supremacy of universal laws, not invented “rules,” traditional values, religious and cultural norms, and respect for genuine, not loosely interpreted, human rights. The Kingdom is one of the states that have their own voice and the right to make sovereign decisions. This is especially valuable in the turbulent modern world, with its ongoing, uncompromising struggle for the future of our civilization, where everyone’s voice, especially the reasonable ones, should be taken into account. For Russia, a country that sacrificed millions of its citizens’ lives while fighting inhumane German Nazism, the desire for peace and good neighborliness with all nations is organically inherent. We never rejected dialogue, even with our principal opponents, but we are not ready to succumb to rough dictates and pressure. I think that such a vision is close to our Saudi partners as well.
Riyadh is taking a balanced approach regarding the Ukrainian crisis, and we highly appreciate this position. We are aware of the proposals of Saudi friends to mediate in the settlement of the conflict by political and diplomatic means. Such gestures of goodwill could be in demand in due course. I would like to emphasize that the history of our official relations with the Kingdom goes back to the 1920s. In 1926, our country was the first to recognize the united Saudi state created by King Abdulaziz. I am convinced that our shared capital, accumulated over the past century, is a solid foundation for further progress toward a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia in the interests of our friendly nations.