Russian Vladimir Putin dove into his country’s recent acts of aggression in an interview with PBS, stressing that he insists upon respect for Mother Russia on the world stage — or else.
“I keep hearing that Russia wants to be respected. Don’t you want to be respected? Isn’t there anyone who wants to [not] be self-respected and humiliated? That is a strange way to see things — it’s not an exclusion which Russia demands to be respected. Is there anyone who wants to be neglected and humiliated?” Putin said.
“It’s something about respect or the lack of respect. The thing is we want to meet our own interests without detriment to our partners,” he said. “But sure we count on a constructive and substantial dialogue. And when there is none, or let’s say the unwillingness to talk to us, then there is a counter-response on our side.”
The crisis in Ukraine, he said, was their fault because they didn’t respect Russia.
“Ukraine was proposed to sign an association agreement. As everybody knows, Ukraine is area member within the framework. And it is Ukraine who insisted on establishing — there are lots of incentives and benefits. For 17 years we have been negotiating with Euro on the conditions of our accession to the WTO,” Putin said.
“It’s not the way people do things. And on our proposal to hold associations, we answered it is none of your business. Is that the way issues are discussed and settled, particularly with Russia? It isn’t about just respect. We want our interests to be protected.”
Russia, he insisted, “is aimed at developing good neighborly relations, both with Iran and with all the countries in the region.”
And if President Obama inks a final nuclear agreement with Iran, it will be one of “his main achievements in the foreign policy.”
“So I believe that the ball is on your side now. And we expect that among all the difficulties, the president of the United States will achieve the result,” Putin added.
The sanctions placed on Russia after Putin invaded Ukraine are “very far from a catastrophe,” he said.
“We would not like to respond to any destructive actions that our partners are imposing on us, even to the detriment of their own economy. Based on the calculations, including on those of our European partners, some of them even measure losses of $40 billion or $50 billion. Based on the recent details we have heard from Europe, experts believe that the losses of European producers there may amount up to $100 billion,” he said.
Putin chided interviewer Charlie Rose for calling Russian policy aggressive.
“We are not being aggressive. We are persistent,” he retorted. “We are consistent in pursuing our interests … for a long time, for decades, we were silent.”