Putin meets Russian MPs in Yalta, focuses on Crimea

 

Text of statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a "meeting with members of political parties represented in the State Duma on 14 August 2014" in English by Russian presidential website on 18 August. Subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Vladimir Putin had a meeting in Yalta with members of political parties represented in the State Duma.

Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, heads of State Duma political party groups and heads of federal ministries.

* * *

Excerpts from transcript of meeting with members of political parties represented in the State Duma

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,

Crimea

We are meeting today in Crimea. It was a conscious choice to meet with you here. I want to start by thanking you all for the ceaseless attention you have been paying to developing our two new regions, and of course for the consolidation, unity and solidarity that all parties in the State Duma and indeed all of our country’s political forces showed during those days that were of such decisive importance for the fate of Crimea and Sevastopol and for our entire country.

Let me take this opportunity to note the productive and substantial work the State Duma accomplished during the spring session. You approved amendments to our country’s Constitution and passed important laws concerning the economy and social sector. In just a short timeframe you examined the so-called ‘Crimean package’ of laws, which were passed in order to regulate key areas of life in Crimea and Sevastopol during the transition period. This was extremely important and concerns the operation of the banking and financial systems and pension payments. You took a number of important decisions that directly concern people’s interests. I remind you that 12 federal constitutional laws and 283 federal laws were passed in all.

Finally, during the spring session, you began work on improving the local self-government system and took a decision that significantly increases the role and responsibilities of municipalities and regions. Overall, you have accomplished a lot, done a lot of hard work, and we all deserve to meet now in Crimea at this time.

Looking at the decisions taken to develop municipal and regional government, we see that they are based on a flexible approach, and this kind of flexible approach and logic is especially important for our two new regions, Crimea and Sevastopol, where so much has to be done from scratch.

Regional and local elections will take place here in September, as in many other Russian regions. It is important that regional and local government work be organized effectively and that powers and responsibilities be clearly delineated.

But I say again, we must at the same time take into account the regions’ particular circumstances and traditions and best practice in local and regional government. First and foremost of course are the interests of the people living in these regions.

I know that many deputies arrived in Crimea on the eve of our meeting – probably not only to enjoy the summer sun and the southern coast, but because I know you also met with people, and this is extremely important. Indeed, it is important and highly useful. After all, State Duma deputies are constantly doing this work in other territories. It is very important, of course, to visit this place as well and talk to local people.

A serious expert discussion also occurred within the framework of the special seminars on economic issues that were held yesterday, as well as on the history of Crimea. I hope that today, we will discuss many of the suggestions made within the framework of the seminars. I generally suggest that we not only conduct today’s meeting as an evening or day of questions and answers, but count on us to exchange ideas and suggestions. It will be a pleasure for me and Mr Medvedev to hear the suggestions you may have for developing these territories.

We have a great deal to do here. We have accumulated an enormous heap of problems that have essentially been unresolved for decades. Sometimes, one gets the sense that Crimea lived like a poor relation. The previous authorities pumped a lot out of it and gave little or nearly nothing back. My sincere discussions with certain leaders speak to this directly. Indeed, they do not even try to hide it.

Yes, there were many problems, and now there are even more in that nation. And, of course, they should have supported other territories. They took a lot from Crimea and gave little back. That is the cause for the neglect of infrastructure, the economy, the social sector, and the low incomes of the majority of citizens. Now, within the framework of the transition period, we are taking the most pressing, priority measures to remedy the situation.

First of all, we are working to improve the reliability of Crimea’s energy supply. Reserve capacities have been created for key social facilities.

The next step is integrating Crimea’s energy systems with all of southern Russia, which will allow us to solve the energy deficit problem. A great deal of work is also underway to set up water supplies and create new communication and telecommunication systems.

Second is infrastructure and removing transport limitations. Despite the increased amount of flights and ferries in the Kerch Strait, we still have problems. And here, we will need the Cabinet and the regional authorities to do some extra work. Corresponding instructions have already been set forth and issued.

I want to point out that this year we allocated over 5.6 billion roubles [about $156 million] from the federal budget on fixing roads and railways in Crimea. We are about to set off on a project to build the Kerch Bridge. Works on the site will begin in the next few weeks. The bridge must be opened by the end of 2018.

We just discussed this issue yesterday and came to the conclusion that even if it is not effectively used up to its maximum capacity at first, we still need to complete this project with a certain potential, in the sense that it will certainly reach its full capacity, because we will need to develop the port infrastructure as well.

Third is the social sector. I have already said that it has been neglected. This concerns both healthcare and education. This year, we will direct about two billion roubles from the federal budget alone for modernizing hospitals and clinics in Crimea and Sevastopol. People who need high-tech medical assistance can get it at leading clinics in Russia. We have already allocated the funds for this – half a billion roubles for Crimea and Sevastopol for 2014.

In the future, healthcare sector in Crimea and Sevastopol will operate within Russia’s compulsory medical insurance system. We will renovate and reequip the entire network of medical facilities.

We will also bring the educational system in order, from universities to preschools and children’s vacation facilities. This is a lot of work and it is impossible or very difficult to do it all overnight, but we will certainly work consistently in this direction and do everything over time.

Yesterday, I met with regional leaders in Sevastopol; there is a natural population decline. It is surprising. The birth rate is lower than Russia’s average. And where do we see it? In Crimea, on the Black Sea coast. It seems unbelievable! So we will have to do a great deal.

I will note that children’s health camps in Crimea were at 100 per cent capacity during the first session of this summer. And right now, the Taurida international youth forum is currently under way here in Crimea.

The potential for organizing children’s and youth recreation in Crimea is great, enormous, and naturally, it is not fully realized, but should be. In this regard, of course, I support the suggestion by leader of the Communist Party faction in the State Duma Mr Zyuganov to create a presidential international children’s centre on the basis of the legendary Artek.

Moreover, we need to prioritize resolving the issue of increasing pensions and salaries for public employees. They were significantly lower than in Russia. We gradually increased pensions and salaries. Thus, the pensions in Crimea have already grown nearly two-fold, nearing the average Russian indicator. From January 1, 2015, public employees’ pensions and salaries will be paid in full accordance with Russian legislation.

Colleagues, friends, right now, the long-term economic and social development challenges in Crimea and Sevastopol have particular significance. A corresponding federal programme has been drafted. The Cabinet and Prime Minister Medvedev are giving this a great deal of attention. The total amount of funds for the programme through 2020 is over 700 billion roubles.

Its main goal is to ensure dynamic growth in Crimea and Sevastopol, to make them economically self-sufficient and successful, to create new jobs, upgrade the infrastructure, industry, agro-industrial complex, social sector and tourist sector. I count on the State Duma deputies and the regions you represent to get actively involved in implementing these objectives and providing support to Crimea and Sevastopol.

The most important condition for success is maintaining stability, interethnic and interfaith harmony in the region. I already spoke about this yesterday at the Security Council meeting in Sevastopol. It is important to fully rehabilitate the repressed peoples and, what I feel is extremely important, to ensure real equality for three languages: Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar. Preserving and developing ethnic cultures and traditions of all peoples living here is an extremely important challenge.

Looking at history, I want to note the following. Crimea truly does hold a special place in the history of our nation, our Fatherland. The Crimean land also remembers our triumphs and our victories, but it also recalls the tragedy of the fratricidal Civil War and other woes. Here in Perekop, Russians killed other Russians while blinded by mutual hate, and over 150,000 compatriots were forced to leave their Fatherland at the end of 1920.

But Crimea’s legacy also includes the poet Maximilian Voloshin, who called for reconciliation during the years of the Civil War and provided shelter in his home to people from both sides of the conflict. In the last several months, I have received many letters from the descendants of those who left Russia after the revolution and the Civil War. They now live all around the world – in the US, Europe and Australia. They are everywhere!

But I must note – and I say this with respect and love for these people – their letters include words of support, belief in Russia, concern for the future of our nation and, of course, Crimea and Sevastopol. And these people have carried their love for the Fatherland over generations. This certainly calls for respect.

I feel that Crimea can serve as a unique bench mark even today; it can play a unique, unifying role for Russia, becoming its own sort of historical, spiritual source, another way of reconciliation, to finally cure the wound inflicted upon our people as a result of the dramatic split of the 20th century, to restore the link of times and eras, the unity of Russia’s historical path, our national consciousness, conduct our own kind of cultural and historical therapy. And let’s think about how to meet this objective together with participation by deputies, representatives of political party, public and religious organizations and cultural workers.

Ukraine

Colleagues, unfortunately, today we see how fraught the national and civil divide, radicalism and intolerance is in Ukraine. The situation becomes more dramatic with each passing day; the nation has plunged into bloody chaos and a fratricidal conflict. The southeast is suffering from a large-scale humanitarian crisis; thousands of people have already been killed and hundreds of thousands have become refugees, literally losing everything. It is a great tragedy.

We are carefully monitoring what is happening there, putting these questions before Ukraine’s leadership and the international community, as well as key international organizations, and we will do everything we can in order for this conflict to end as quickly as possible, so that the bloodshed in Ukraine comes to an end.

Response to sanctions

As you know, the Government of Russia has made the decision to limit imports from many nations that imposed entirely unfounded and unlawful sanctions on Russia. But I want to note that this is not just a retaliatory measure. This is, first and foremost, a measure for supporting Russian manufacturers as well as opening our markets to the nations and manufacturers that want to cooperate with Russia and are prepared for that kind of cooperation.

Strengthening Russia, traditional values

At the same time, regardless of the external political and economic situation, the most important thing for us right now, as always, are our internal affairs, our goals, concerns and objectives that are set before us by the people of Russia, the citizens of Russia. We must focus on resolving our national problems and challenges. Our future is only in your hands. We must ensure high-quality governance and work by political and civil institutions. And most importantly, we must provide high living standards for Russian citizens.

We must strengthen traditional values. Incidentally, many people support Russia in this choice – not only citizens of our nation, but many other nations around the world as well, including western countries where these values are deteriorating in the current political environment.

We must ensure the successful development of our nation, using our wealth of internal reserves. We must create additional incentives for industrial and agricultural development, conditions for developing the creative potential of Russian producers, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and workers.

This is what builds Russia’s competitiveness and its appeal. I repeat: we must calmly, commendably and effectively build our nation, not fencing it off from the outer world, not breaking ties with partners, but also not allowing them to treat us with disparagement or boss us around.

We must consolidate and mobilize. But not for wars or conflicts, not for countering anyone – rather, for hard work in the name of Russia and for Russia.

It is very important to strengthen the unity of Russian society. A great deal depends on you, colleagues, on the deputies, politicians and public leaders. It depends on how persuasive we are in conversations with our voters, our citizens, how decisive and insistent we are in implementing initiatives and projects that we announce. The citizens’ trust in public authorities is the key, the most important and most critical factor in our movement forward.

I want to thank you for our joint work during the previous period and wish you success. Thank you very much.

<…>

Agriculture

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We are approaching a very important moment (I mean in our activities in general) – in autumn, we will have to approve the budget. This is a complicated procedure, and usually results in a compromise between industries, between various spheres of life. Certain priority areas were mentioned here, and I share them overall, without any extreme views, but still. We also spoke of the need to further develop agriculture. The Prime Minister already said that, given the decisions to limit imports, we are not only creating preferential conditions for our agricultural producers and clearing out the market for them. I have to tell you, and there are people here who deal with this professionally, that as you may know we have been regularly hearing requests of late from our agricultural producers regarding the market: they are asking for a possibility to develop their own market on an adequate comprehensive basis. Now this opportunity is being given. Naturally, this is followed by yet another request – for financial help. This is a fair and proper question. I would like to repeat that we spoke about this with our colleagues in the Government, and they are working on an additional programme of support for agriculture.

Militarization of economy

Now regarding the militarization of our economy. As you may know, in the Soviet Union, we had complete militarisation. We need competent, modern, efficient and compact Armed Forces. This is the target of the programme until 2020. We are developing it in segments, but this is overall an ambitious goal and huge money – 20 trillion roubles [over $550 billion]. We need to properly spend the money, and I assure you that we are talking about the most sophisticated arms, such offensive and defensive systems that are as yet unavailable to other armies of the world. We are yet to cheer up our partners with ideas and their implementation – in terms of the systems I have just mentioned.

Some things have already been disclosed; say in the area of strategic offensive arms, I mean nuclear deterrence forces. Some information remains secret, but we will disclose it when the time comes. We are working hard, and our engineers, researchers and workers are putting a lot of effort into it. Overall, I have to say that we need to create it all first. This is not militarisation, but, as you understand, this is a very significant extra impulse for the development of the defence industry. This means orders and extra funding for modernization – the 3 trillion you all know about.

Foreign policy

Now regarding our foreign policy principles. It should remain peaceful. Mr Zhirinovsky [Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia] said that the czar, instead of sending humanitarian aid to the Serbs, sent his army, though he quickly added that that was a mistake. You know, we should learn from others’ mistakes, not from our own. We have already made a lot of mistakes, and will make more, therefore let us at least try to avoid making the obvious mistakes. Though I have to agree with some of the speakers that all our partners in the world should see that Russia, just as any other large, powerful, sovereign state, has different tools for ensuring its national interests, and these include the Armed Forces and military equipment. However, this is not a cure-all and we do not intend to run around the world waving a razor blade, as some people do. Nevertheless, everyone should know that we have such means available.

Russia will not give up Crimea

Now about whether we will give it [Crimea] up. Mr Vasilyev [Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, leader of the United Russia faction] spoke here. How can we do that? This would be the same as giving ourselves up. This is impossible. The decision was made, and it is irrevocable.

I think it was Mr Mironov [leader of A Just Russia party faction] who spoke here of the military component in Crimea. I would like to inform you: the Defence Ministry has drafted both addenda to the arms programme and a separate programme for the creation and development of a military grouping in Crimea, and I have already approved this programme. It will not be excessive, it will not be costly. We will not have excessive personnel or arms here. However, this programme is an integral part of the overall development plan of our Armed Forces, including its territorial component.

<…>

Constitution, European Court of Human Rights, treaties

VLADIMIR PUTIN (responding to a statement by State Duma deputy from A Just Russia party Yelena Mizulina regarding certain amendments to the Constitution, possible withdrawal of Russia from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and possible denunciation of international treaties): Regarding amendments to the Constitution, you know what I think of this document, it holds together the entire country and all our lives. I think we should be very careful in our approach. We need to get a very detailed expert opinion in every case, and discuss all these issues with the public, but with great care.

We have a well-balanced document. It is like a living organism: if something is removed, something else might grow where we do not need it. Therefore, we need to show great care. This does not mean we have the text for all times and we should not consider ways to improve our Constitution. Of course, we can and should consider this. I am only calling on you to be very careful here.

Regarding the European Court of Human Rights. I agree that some of its resolutions are politicized and far from its initial purpose: it does not regulate legal relations and does not protect any rights; it simply executes some political functions.

A good example is when Russia was awarded some penalty regarding Transnistria [Dniester region]. We had nothing to do with it, a person was held in prison in Transnistria and Russia was awarded a penalty. This is total nonsense, an unlawful decision, but this is the way it was. Generally, this is possible, but for now, we have all sorts of discussions with them and maintain dialogue. However, if this practice continues, this is possible, but it is not on our agenda now.

Now regarding a mechanism for denouncing agreements and treaties. I am not sure we need any special mechanism. The United States simply unilaterally withdrew from the Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement, and that was it, no matter how hard we tried to convince them. They proceeded from what they considered their national security interests. We will do the same when we find it right and important for the maintenance of our interests.

<…>

Crimea’s incorporation was will of people

VLADIMIR PUTIN (responding to a statement by State Duma deputy Leonid Kalashnikov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation): You have briefly mentioned the problem. Naturally, since we are here, in Crimea, this is what I can say. I actually said this many times before, but I will use this opportunity to repeat that we never annexed Crimea. We did use our Armed Forces, but only to give the people living here the opportunity to express their views regarding their future. This may have been the first time such a comprehensive plebiscite was ever held here, a comprehensive referendum on issues vital for the people living here. Therefore, any mention of illegal action is nonsense. We simply asked the people what they wanted. What is this if not democracy? What is democracy if not the power and the opinion of the people? Therefore, all these accusations are groundless. But this is so.

Medium and short-range missiles

Now over to medium and short-range missiles. A reasonable question. Why? We signed this agreement with the United States. Only Russia and the United States limit themselves in the production and possible use of these weapons. However, this does not really make any difference to the United States. They have friendly Canada on one side, Mexico on the other. Our situation is completely different. Only our two states do not develop, do not produce medium-range missiles. Meanwhile, North Korea, the People’s Republic of China, Pakistan, India, Israel, Iran – almost all the countries in the world are working on this type of weapons. So, the development of these missiles in China or India does not cause any concern to us, because these are friendly states and I am certain that the relations we have established with China and India will last, bearing in mind the peculiarities of international relations and prospects for their development. However, the development of this class of missiles, say, in Pakistan cannot but raise our alarm because, frankly speaking, we know that this country has a complicated and so far unstable political regime, unfortunately, and we do not know how the situation will develop and who will have control over these weapons, especially considering that this is a nuclear power. There are many other questions as well regarding other countries. Meanwhile, we have imposed a limit on ourselves. But we are of course considering this and analysing the situation. We are now quite capable of ensuring our own security with the systems we have got and the ones we are working on. However, this was not an idle inquiry.

US Afghan transit, food import ban

Regarding the Afghan transit. Should we denounce corresponding agreements with the United States? As you may know, there was a lot of talk about the possible use of the airfield in Ulyanovsk, wasn’t there? I know that your party, the Communist Party was strongly opposed to this. However, nothing happened and it is not used. Zero use. This is one thing.

The other is that we should never follow the principle of harming ourselves simply out of spite. We are interested in stability in Afghanistan. So, if some countries, say the NATO states, or the United States are investing resources, including money into this – it is their choice, but it does not run counter to our interests. So why should we stop them?

Do you want us to get into war there again? No, I do not believe anybody wants this. Therefore, if we see any unlawful actions regarding this country, we consider them and look for ways to respond. However, our response should not harm us; it should only be beneficial for us. The way we are acting now and the way the Government is acting in connection with the limitations of food imports. Exactly!

You see, if this happened four years ago we would not have done so, because our agricultural producers were not ready to supply the required products to our markets. A decade ago, we imported 360,000 tons of poultry from the United States. Last year, as far as I remember, the figure was only 200. This is because we have managed to set up such poultry raising facilities that even Europe does not have – wonderful, modern and efficient.

We have significantly raised the production of so-called ‘red meat’, primarily pork. However, we have not yet reached the required rates of beef production, because the production cycle there is longer. Say, with pork it is about 5-6 years after capital investment, while with beef, the cycle is 8-12 years, and it requires greater investment. Therefore, we only need some time.

Nevertheless, we are ready to supply to the domestic market enough products of adequate quality to meet at least the basic demand. Today we made the move. I cannot say it is catastrophic for our partners, but rather painful. I believe our actions are justified.

First, we did not violate any WTO rules or any of our commitments to the WTO. They are now considering taking us to courts; I am not sure if they have formulated their claims yet, but when we joined the WTO we clearly wrote in our agreement that we have the right to introduce limitations if this has to do with the national security. After western states – the USA, Europe, Australia, Canada, Norway – introduced limitations, including financial limitations on the activity of Rosselkhozbank [Russian Agricultural Bank] – now, what does this bank have to do, say, with our disagreements over Ukraine?

They limited this bank’s access to international lending institutions. Thereby they are actually creating more favourable conditions for their products on our domestic market; therefore, our response was absolutely justified. This is not only about Rosselkhozbank; Sberbank [Savings Bank], VTB and others are providing significant funds for agriculture.

Therefore, our actions are a) legal, b) justified and c) are not detrimental, but beneficial to our economy and our producers. These are the kind of tools we should look for, the kind of actions we should take – ones that would not do us any harm. We may want to pinch someone hard, but if it can harm us – we should better not. Let us follow this principle.

<…>

International trade, moving away from the dollar

VLADIMIR PUTIN (responding to a statement by State Duma Deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Ilya Drozdov): Regarding selling energy resources for roubles. I believe this would be the right thing to do, and we should work in this direction. The point is that this is not easy.

Say, crude oil is traded at international stock exchanges for dollars. This is an international practice that took shape decades ago, and it is very difficult to break. Moreover, our companies engaged in this trade are interested in receiving euros or dollars. Oil is traded only in dollars. This is a kind of unilateral dollar monopoly on this trade. In my opinion, it is detrimental to this very sector of the global economy itself. We have to move carefully here. We are already trying to reach agreements wherever it is possible, feasible and meets our interests to trade in commodities, which could include energy resources, in national currencies. Say, we are working on an agreement with the People’s Republic of China to trade in roubles and yuans – not an easy process. This should be done gradually, step by step. We are taking the first steps.

We are discussing the issue of trade in various commodities within BRICS as well. We have even signed a corresponding agreement on expanding trade in national currencies. I repeat that this is a matter of time and major efforts by experts. We will do this gradually, while it is a fact that we need to shift to trade in national currencies in certain segments of the global market.

Now about the quality of our agricultural produce. Of course, it is better, 100 per cent. Unfortunately, mass food production in many industrially developed countries is largely based on the use of chemicals, on medicines that they give to cattle to keep it healthy, and the various growth stimulators: the faster your cattle grows the faster your turnover and the more money you can make. But this is harmful.

Look at the situation with obesity in some countries. It is terrible! This has to do with food. Our produce is of course much better and healthier. The issue is that there should be enough of it. As I already said, the production cycle, say, of beef is longer and requires significant investment. We are already doing this, we already have large facilities and we will develop them.

I already spoke about the development of relations within BRICS. We have just signed two very important documents in Brazil: on setting up a joint bank and on creating a currency reserve pool. This is very important. These are only the first steps. The bank is a financial institution that should be used to develop our economies, and the currency reserve pool is of equal importance.

This means that Russia, China, Brazil, South Africa and India should all allocate part of their currency reserves to this pool. Russia suggested allocating $30 billion. This is done for various reasons, primarily to strengthen macroeconomic stability in these countries, including Russia. Another goal is to maintain our currency reserves intact.

Our colleagues have already spoken of this here. I would like to stress that this is very important. For instance, Mr Zhirinovsky spoke here, among other things, of the huge national debt of the United States, and this is the dollar – the main currency in the world. What will happen to it? I am certain our American partners do not know for sure, to say nothing of the other countries. Our currency reserves are nominated largely in US dollars. Therefore, the creation of a reserve currency pool is a very important measure.

Alcohol and tobacco

Now over to some products you mentioned: tobacco and alcohol. We should fight alcoholism among the population, and we should limit smoking. However, this should not be done the way it was done back in Soviet times, when in the course of the anti-alcohol campaign they cut down entire vineyards, here in Crimea most probably, and in Krasnodar Territory they destroyed all the vines. Did this help reduce alcoholism? I do not think so.

People started drinking methylated spirits, they distilled their own ‘moonshine’, and so on. There is no simple solution here. This requires a complex effort. We have to promote a healthy lifestyle and develop sports – not only big sports, but mass sports as well. We should always offer people an alternative. And we should be just as careful with fighting smoking.

If we simply raise prices (we often discuss this with the Government, you seem to have supporters there who suggest raising excise duty 5 or 10 times) people will not smoke less if we do it in one click. They will simply switch to all sorts of substitutes, that is all. We need to work towards this goal calmly and steadily, explaining things to people, and if we do raise excise duty, we should do it gradually.

Assurances to foreign investors

As for foreign investment, I do not agree with you at all here. We have to create such conditions in Russia that both foreign and our own investors get a clear signal: they do not cheat in Russia. If an individual or a company decides to invest, they should be certain that nobody would take their investment away, that it is guaranteed by our state policy.

I call on all of you to take on such an attitude to this issue, because this is the only way we can increase trust in our economy and attract all the investment we need not only into tobacco or alcohol production, but into other sectors of the economy as well. It only takes one wrong signal in a certain sector of the economy to get a negative impact on all the others. However, this does not mean we should not fight smoking. This can be done by means of a tax policy, by means of explanations and certain limitations – all of this is possible. We need to consider it all calmly and professionally.

Regarding the ban on energy drinks. You know, I share your position. Though I do not want it to sound as though we intend to ban them all tomorrow, I would be a bit more proactive in this respect than we have been so far.

<…>

Trade with US and EU, reserves, taxation

VLADIMIR PUTIN (responding to a statement by State Duma deputy from United Russia party Andrey Makarov): Concerning the pressure exerted [on Russia] by the economic measures you mentioned, these measures are indeed very primitive and in my opinion ineffective and harmful. I agree with you that they pursue the goal of ensuring and maintaining US global domination, and perhaps they even seek to consolidate their competitive advantage on global markets by squeezing us out a bit from the European market and pulling Europe a bit closer their way.

As our colleagues have noted already, our bilateral trade with the United States comes to slightly more than $27 billion, but our bilateral trade with Europe comes to $440 billion. You see the difference? Any changes in these relations have an immediate impact on us and on the Europeans, but have practically no impact at all on the United States. In this respect, your analysis of the situation is entirely correct.

I want to point out that the Government is constantly drafting and implementing economic stimulus measures. We can debate about what hasn’t been addressed yet and what still needs to be done, but if you look at all of the Government’s proposals, you will see that practically all of our policies aim to stimulate the economy.

Our recent infrastructure development plans are a good example, including in the east of Russia, the plans to modernize the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian railways and so on, or the new ring road in the Moscow Region. All of these measures aim to free up the bottlenecks in the economy caused by lack of infrastructure. These are also stimulus measures. The entire programme to support the agriculture sector is a stimulus measure too.

Yes, during the 2008-2009 economic crisis we took measures of an even clearer nature, directly supporting, for example, the automotive industry so that it would not collapse like a house of cards. But that was in the middle of a serious crisis. It probably would not be the best course to act in this same way now, because we would risk creating disincentives for building up the base for companies to develop on their own resources. But I do agree that we need to keep reflecting on measures to stimulate growth.

You asked what I think about raising taxes and spending our reserves. I am not in favour of either. I would rather not raise taxes or spend our reserves. But the fact that the Finance Ministry and the Economic Development Ministry are always arguing with each other about the need to either raise taxes or dip into the reserves is just part of normal professional discussion. I do not want to waste everyone’s time here by going deeper into this issue now. But let me assure you that we are giving these matters our constant attention.

Back in the days of ancient Rome there was a senator who declared that Carthage must be destroyed, and he always ended all his speeches that way. We are exactly the same in that we always end up arguing about whether or not to spend our reserves, whether or not to raise taxes, and what exactly the tax manoeuvre is about: just idle talk, or would they lead to a real increase in the tax burden on the economy?

I would rather not raise the tax burden or eat into the reserves, but it would be wrong to just sit on a sack of money and do nothing at all. No one can accuse us of doing nothing, however. I already mentioned the big infrastructure projects to develop the eastern regions, for example. We will finance these projects with money from the Reserve Fund. The Reserve Fund is our safety cushion, but we also need to keep it at a certain level. It would be the wrong course, however, to keep these funds in foreign securities alone. We have heard criticism on this point, and if anyone thinks that we do not pay attention to this criticism, they are wrong. We are taking appropriate steps in response.

On the subject of a tax amnesty, the idea looks quite attractive in principle. We did carry out such an amnesty a few years ago. But the effect was not what we had hoped for, and that is the whole problem. We have to be very cautious when it comes to tax amnesties or any other kind of amnesty, otherwise someone commits a crime, serves half their sentence, and then there’s an amnesty, and a year later there’s another amnesty, and then another. Taking this road would only cancel out the state authorities’ efforts to combat crime. It is the same when it comes to tax amnesties.

People happily evade taxes and then along comes an amnesty, and three years’ later there’s another amnesty. I am not saying an amnesty is impossible. In principle, if the issue is analysed at the expert level, and if the State Duma examines it and ultimately takes a legislative decision, I would sign the law. But we need to think about the expediency of such a measure too. We need to look at its effectiveness, examine things from this angle. That is what I am trying to say.

<…>

Migration

VLADIMIR PUTIN (responding to a statement by State Duma deputy from A Just Russia party Svetlana Goryacheva): Regarding the idea of studying and applying other countries’ experience, including in work with young people, we most certainly should and will do this. But there is a lot of negative experience abroad too, a lot of problems with drug addiction, often xenophobia flourishing, and various other things, not so traditional things… You know the sort of thing I have in mind. We don’t need that kind of experience. But they have positive experience too of course. We need to analyse the overall situation and take the best of what they can offer, that is without question. We also need to take the best of what our own history offers, draw on our own culture, and at the same time look at what other countries are doing too.

When it comes to foreign experience with migrants, say, there is nothing worth borrowing abroad. They have nothing but problems and even worse than our own. They have already publicly declared the failure of the policies they have been following so far, publicly said that they don’t work. This is a unique situation for the Western establishment. Just five or so years ago, no one could have imagined anyone would be so bold as to say such a thing. Now they are not just talking about it but are trying to address the problem. Their attempts have been very clumsy so far.

We have more positive experience to draw on here because Russia developed right from the start as a country of many ethnicities and faiths. We have a tradition not just of coexistence but also of interpenetration of cultures and religions. This is a very important historical background that we certainly should put to good use. Nearly 10 per cent of Russia’s population are Muslims, for example, but these are not migrants, these are our citizens, they have no other homeland and most of them see Russia as their greater motherland. They have their own local native land, and then there is their big home, Russia. We must not allow discrimination of any sort. But at the same time, we also need to learn how to regulate local employment markets using modern methods.

You noted the sectors in which immigrants or migrants are particularly prominent: the construction sector, produce markets and so on. Of course, we need to open schools of different levels, and vocational colleges, and we must give young people the opportunity to get an education. This is all needed. But we also require other measures, too, to regulate the labour markets. In the construction sector, for example, if business finds it more profitable to hire a migrant for a cheap wage, you won’t get anywhere even if you send a policeman to watch over every company. They will still keep hiring migrants, you see? This is why we need to take rational economic measures, but coming up with the right policies is not so easy.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin proposed extending the permit system and making it more flexible, adapting it to each of the country’s regions so as to give us economic means and levers for influencing the business community’s hiring practices. The permit would have one cost in Moscow, for example, and a different cost in Ryazan, say. We would need to give the regions the right to be flexible in regulating and using this system.

Let’s try introducing this system and see if it brings some results. But let me appeal to you, colleagues, and say that if you have your own ideas, we would be happy to hear your proposals on the modern and civilized methods we could use to better regulate this very sensitive area. I do agree with you here.

Crimea

Colleagues, I want to thank you once more for the work together over the first six months of the year, and for today’s meeting. I wanted very much for us to have the chance to meet in an informal setting here in Crimea. Your colleagues from Crimea’s parliament and Sevastopol’s legislative assembly came to Moscow during those decisive days that I already mentioned. I imagine that many of you have already been to Crimea, but probably not all, and I wanted all of you to come here, spend some time looking around, talk with people, get a feel of the atmosphere, breathe the air, and have an opportunity to see Crimea and Sevastopol.

Everything becomes a lot clearer, a lot fresher and more vivid, when you see and hear it for yourself, and this first hand impression of these regions will help us to respond better to the problems that have built up here and take more considered decisions on issues in areas such as transport, energy, water supply and any other problems.

One other thought that I want to mention with respect to Crimea, something that we have already heard here. We hear some people say that it is an expensive undertaking [to support Crimea], and people ask how does public opinion in Russia feel about this?

Crimea and Sevastopol are part of Russia, and so it is therefore absolutely natural to develop our country and develop its individual regions. We do this for the people living in these regions, and also for the entire country. This is not some kind of gift, but our duty, our obligation to develop all of Russia’s regions.

If a particular region is lagging behind, we must give it more attention. We do this for the Far East, for example, and we have not changed our plans in this respect. We do this for some of the regions in the south of Russia, and here too our plans remain unchanged.

We need to take this same special approach now to Crimea and Sevastopol because they lag behind the Russian Federation average in terms of their socioeconomic development. But we are doing this in the interest of the entire nation.

Thank you very much.

Source: President of the Russian Federation website, Moscow, in English 0840 gmt 18 Aug 14

Advertisements

Khrushchev’s son told why gave Crimea Ukraine

Son of the first Secretary of the CPSU, Nikita Khrushchev Sergei Khrushchev said, for what purpose his father in 1954, gave the Crimea to Ukraine
Igor Samusevich
chelovek-online | 02/04/2014

Sergei Khrushchev told the publication Daily Beast, for which his father in 1954, gave the Crimea to Ukraine. This was done with the sole purpose to unite under one jurisdiction leaders of the construction project channel between the peninsula and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR.

Son of Soviet leader said that for reunification with Russia the Crimea – a matter of national pride and now Crimea back to Russia forever. "Russia will never surrender," – said Sergei Khrushchev.

"Time Putin – this time in order to bring Russia, the destruction of the oligarchy, strengthening the role of the government," – said Khrushchev. RF President he called a reformer.

Sergei Khrushchev accused the West of supporting the revolution in Ukraine, that what he is confident and has led to a crisis.

March 16 in the Crimea held a referendum on joining the Crimea and Sevastopol in the Russian Federation as a new federal subjects. 96.77% of the population of the republic in favor of reunification with Russia. Turnout in Crimea average was 83.1%. March 18 signed a treaty of accession of Crimea to Russia. The State Duma and the Federation Council approved this document, and then the federal constitutional law on education in the Russian Federation two new entities – Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol city under federal jurisdiction. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the document on March 21.

[My personal translation – RD]

http://chelovek-online.ru/zakon/article/politika/syn-khrushchyeva-rasskazal-zachem-krym-otdali-ukraine/

 

Khrushchev’s Son: “Russia Will Never Surrender”
Sergei Khruschev, the son of the Soviet leader who gave Crimea to Ukraine, says that his father never intended to separate Crimea from Russia and Russia will never give it back.
Josh Rogin
The Daily Beast | 04.02.14

When Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukrainian control in 1954, it was simply for logistical and symbolic reasons, according to his son Sergei. Now, he swears, Russia will never give it back.

Sergei Khrushchev has been living in the United States since emigrating from the Soviet Union in 1991 and is a naturalized American citizen, but he speaks as if he is still in the Russian government. He views the ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich as an illegal seizure of the Kiev government by force and he insists that 96 percent of Crimeans voted to separate from Ukraine and join the Russian federation. Khrushchev spoke to The Daily Beast ahead of a Tuesday night speech at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

“Russia will never surrender,” he said about the escalating battle over the fate of Crimea, which Vladimir Putin invaded and then annexed after a popular referendum that took place outside the view of international observers.

Nikita Khrushchev led Russia during the most serious standoff of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took both countries to the brink of nuclear war. In the American telling of history, Khrushchev the elder ultimately backed down. But in the current tensions over Ukraine, the son said, only Russia really has a huge stake in the outcome and therefore will prevail if the conflict escalates.

“For the United States, it’s just one more attempt to show Russia who is the master of the world’s politics. For the Russian President and Russia itself, it’s a matter of national pride and they will oppose it as much as it can,” he said.

Back in 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukrainian administration, the main reason was that construction of two major canals between Ukraine and Crimea was underway. Khrushchev wanted to streamline the process by placing both sides of the project under one administration, according to Sergei. The 300 year anniversary of the treaty that joined Ukraine to Russia was a happy coincidence, he said.

“My father was the leader of the Soviet Union. Russia and Ukraine were two union republics, equal inside the Soviet Union,” he added. “For my father there was no difference because it was all inside one state.”

Khrushchev blames the decision to let Crimea go on Boris Yeltsin, who he said was distracted with his own ambitions and in 1991 told Ukrainian leaders they could have Crimea.

“I think my father would have been very unhappy with what Yeltsin decided to do,” Khrushchev said.

It’s impossible to say how Nikita Khrushchev would have handed the current crisis in Ukraine because he never would have been able to imagine that the Soviet Union would be disbanded and disappear from the map, Sergei said.

“What would President George Washington think about the war in Iraq? He would say ‘You are crazy, your real enemy is in London, not Baghdad.’ So you can’t take a historical figure out of his time.”

But Sergei Khrushchev sees Putin as a reformer in the mold of his father and comparable to Theodore Roosevelt, who busted up corporate monopolies in the United States in the early 20th century.

“The Putin era is an era of bringing Russia back to the order, destroying the oligarchy, and enforcing the role of the government,” he said.

Ukraine historically had no identity and was simply an amalgamation of farmers who lived on the Russian periphery and applied to join Russia in the mid-17th Century, and even then it was only Eastern Ukraine, said Khrushchev. Western Ukraine joined them in 1945, but there are still essentially two countries there living together, he said.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/02/khrushchev-s-son-russia-will-never-surrender.html

Ukraine Could Recover Crimea Only If Russia Were Seriously Weakened, Moscow Analyst Says

Paul Goble
The Interpreter | July 14, 2014

Staunton, July 14 – The Ukrainian government lacks the resources to recover Crimea, according to a Moscow military analyst, and could do so only if Russia were to “weaken to the point that it simply could not defend” the peninsula. Otherwise, talk about “the return of Crimea to Ukraine” is, in his words, “something fantastic.”

That conclusion offered by Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Moscow Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology, in today’s Profil may be true in the short term and from a narrowly military point of view.

But it ignores what can happen when the international community refuses to recognize as legitimate one country’s illegal seizure of territory by another as it did regarding Japan’s seizure of Manchuria in 1931 and the Soviet Union’s occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1940 and again in 1944-45.

Non-recognition policy in both cases led ultimately to the reversal of those crimes, and while it took Japan’s defeat in World War II and the Soviet Union’s impending collapse in 1991 to achieve, such a policy, already articulated by some members of the international community, can ultimately achieve the same result for Crimea.

Nonetheless, because this is a long-term prospect in an increasingly short-time-horizon world – all too many in the West will argue now as they did during détente that because something cannot be changed immediately, it should not be pursued at all — it is important to consider what Russian commentators like Pukhov are saying regarding military issues.

He told Vladimir Rudakov of Profil that for Ukraine to recover Crimea, Russia’s military capabilities would have to be “approximately what they were at the end of the 1980s” in the Soviet Union. “In other words,” Ukraine would need “a castastrophe” in all of Russia to achieve its ends. “In the foreseeable future,” that is something out of “science fiction.”

“It is clear one should ‘never say never,’” of course, Pukhov added. Who would have thought a year ago that “Ukraine would be splitting apart and that Russia would return Crimea to itself?” But Ukraine lacks the military capacity to reverse things, and it isn’t going to get more than “economic help” from the West.

Kyiv simply ought not to “expect military assistance from NATO” because “no one in Europe or the United States wants to die for Luhansk, Donetsk, Gorlovka or Bakchisaray.” And no mercenary army will be willing to get involved because it would be up against a regular Russian army and would suffer losses without the possibility of a victory.

Crimea is easy to defend, as the events of November 1920 showed. But now, an outside force if it were well-equipped and led could attack from the air and the sea and overcome the kind of defense the Whites put up against the Reds 94 years ago. But Ukraine lacks the capacity to do that, Pukhov said, and Russia’s capabilities to defend its territory are far greater.

In this situation, he continued, Ukraine is “much more likely” to seek to organize “provocations” against the Russian authorities in Crimea “with the assistance of the disloyal population, for example, the Crimean Tatars” and especially with those Crimean Tatars who are part of the radical Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir organization.

Pukhov concluded that “in any case, provocations are easier and more secure to organize by outside hands than by one’s own,” an evaluation that certainly could be applied to Russian actions in Ukraine and that even more certainly reflects Moscow’s calculations about what Kyiv is likely to try – and even more how the Russian side can counter it.

http://www.interpretermag.com/ukraine-could-recover-crimea-only-if-russia-were-seriously-weakened-moscow-analyst-says/

 

NATO is not an assistant to Kiev
Return Crimea Ukraine – it’s an incredible scenario, says military expert Ruslan Pukhov
Profile | 14.07.2014

clip_image001
Experts are sure that the deplorable state of the Ukrainian army will not let her win the Crimea from Russia. Photo: ITAR-TASS / Mykola Lazarenko

Ukraine still hopes to regain the Crimea. Kiev authorities and then perform appropriate statements. According to some reports, Ukrainian troops are pulled to the border with the peninsula. Under the guise of strengthening the time boundary, in the Crimean isthmus is active concentration plants Castle. Simultaneously, in the Kherson region, which is called the main springboard for a possible military strike, declared a total mobilization of men under the age of 35 years.

Recently, a new Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey taking oath in the meeting hall of the Verkhovna Rada, said from the podium that will do everything possible to re-Crimea became part of the Ukrainian state, and was held in Sevastopol Ukrainian "Parade of victory." However, the director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) Ruslan Pukhov believes such a scenario is fantastic.

– Can we seriously discuss the possibility of the return of the Crimea to Ukraine by military means? Do Kiev resources to implement this scenario?

– In my opinion, these resources have no current Kiev authorities. Seriously, this scenario can be discussed only if we admit the possibility of weakening Russia to such a level that it can not simply defend the Crimea. The collapse of the defense capability should be about the same as at the end of the 80s, the Soviet Union. In other words, the script returns the power of Crimea to Ukraine is impossible without the implementation of a catastrophic scenario for Russia. In the foreseeable future, both of these scenarios from unscientific fantasy. Clearly, the "never say never." Really, who thought a year ago that Ukraine will collapse, and that Russia will regain the Crimea? But if you get away from the catastrophic and apocalyptic scenarios, I think, other scenarios just unrealizable.

– Ukraine is not able to solve this problem by military means?

– Yes. This is due primarily to the state of the Ukrainian army, incompatibility with combat training, strength and equipment of the armies, as well as financial and economic potentials, the general collapse of the Ukrainian economy, the quality of its political elite.

– Can we assume that Ukraine for solving these problems can get outside help?

– If we talk about economic aid, it is possible. And now to the needs of the Ukrainian army unnamed "sponsors" donate body armor, night vision devices, items of equipment. However, military assistance from NATO Kiev should not wait. No one in Europe or the United States does not want to die for Lugansk, Donetsk, Gorlovka or Bakhchisarai.

– A so-called "private armies"?

– Owners of private armies – not fools. For them, it is primarily a business. And to die, none of them signed. Max, what they can do in such a situation – advice and training of personnel. But no private army does not take an army to fight a regular – American, Russian, Chinese, French, with any developed nation army.

– Always, when it comes to capturing the Crimea, the memory comes the story of a century ago: in November 1920, the Civil War, crossing Lake Siwash storming well fortified Perekop Isthmus. To date, it still can only go on such options?

– Now, of course, can be planted with sea landings, helicopter landings. But Ukraine is physically can not do. In Kiev there are not enough able-bodied and serviceable helicopters (they can be counted on the fingers, and besides, most of them involved in the Donbass). He has no mobility and combat landing craft. But there is also the people who will be ready to go on such a suicidal adventure.

– Can we therefore expect provocations? For example, attacks on Russian troops in order to draw them actually Russian military conflict in the Ukraine?

– Provocation is much easier to arrange through disloyal population – for example, the Crimean Tatars. Especially because some of them went to Syria school, especially those who are in the radical Islamist group "Hizb ut-Tahrir." I recall that in Russia and some other countries it is recognized as a terrorist, and its activity is prohibited, but during the stay of the Crimea as part of Ukraine "Hizb ut-Tahrir" quite legally operated in the territory of the peninsula. In any case, provocation easier and safer to hold other hands than his own.

[My personal translation – RD]

http://www.profile.ru/eks-sssr/item/84008-vozvrashchenie-kryma-ukraine-eto-neveroyatnyj-stsenarij

CRIMEA DID NOT HEAR THE DRAFT

Yury Gavrilov
DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia) | June 6, 2014 Friday

FOUR HUNDRED DRAFTEES ALREADY ARRIVED TO CRIMEAN PENINSULA FROM THE MAINLAND

More than 1,200 draftees of the Southern Military District will serve at ships and in coastal troops of the Black Sea Fleet. The press service of the Southern Military District reported this yesterday.

Six weeks before completion of the spring draft 400 young soldiers already arrived to the military units stationed on Crimean Peninsula. Before sending to the army all of them received personal electronic cards with biometric information and information about initial military training. Draftees were also given bankcards to which soldiers’ salaries of 2,000 rubles would be transferred monthly.

Military officials explain a relatively small draft to Crimean garrisons by the human resources policy of the Defense Ministry: crews of ships and marine units are manned predominantly with professional soldiers and sailors now. For them the Armed Forces try to create decent conditions of life and service. For example, this explains a big quantity of candidates for the role of contract servicemen. For example, this year the Defense Ministry already fulfilled a plan of their recruitment by 80%.

However, not everything is that simple. At a meeting in the Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu said frankly that commanders who infringed on rights of contract servicemen discredited professional human resources policy. This is applicable to the time of arrival of soldiers to service, duration of exercises with them, time of departure from a military unit and procedure of granting of leisure to contract servicemen. The minister demanded the officers to strictly observe requirements of article 224 of the regulations of internal service of the Armed Forces and regulations of service time for professional servicemen.

Crimean guys are not drafted to the army yet. Although the Defense Minister announced this soon after entrance of the peninsula into Russia, there appeared the people willing to speculate on this topic quickly. One of the newspapers said with reference to Crimean and Ukrainian mass media that this spring and summer conscripts from the peninsula would be drafted and sent to serve to the Far East and Dagestan. It was also said that this news alarmed parents of conscripts very much and many of them "started speaking about intention to give up the recently received Russian citizenship and even to arrange protest actions."

The Defense Ministry responded to the obviously provocative publication. General Igor Konashenkov, head of the press service and information department of the Defense Ministry, denied such information. The reason was not in the fact that Crimean youths were afraid of military service. The drafting plan was composed in the General Staff before the entrance of the peninsula into Russia and so young residents of Crimea were not mentioned there. The system of military registration in the new Russian subjects also requires readjustment in accordance with the normative legal base that is in effect in our country. So, the Defense Ministry decided to postpone the draft in Crimea and Sevastopol until spring of 2015.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said:

– It is presumed that they will serve on the Crimean Peninsula until the end of 2016 and afterwards they will serve on the entire territory of Russia.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta, June 04, 2014, p. 17

 

Russia to have "first-class" military airfields in Crimea

Russia will upgrade military airfields in Crimea to "first-class" facilities and operate them as it sees fit, Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev has said.

Interfax-AVN quoted him saying at Buturlinovka airfield in Voronezh Region on 12 June that airfields in Crimea, the region Russia annexed last spring, never belonged to Ukraine. "Essentially, there never were any Ukrainian airfields in Crimea. There were ones that temporarily belonged to Ukraine," he said.

"We shall bring the military airfields in Crimea to first-class condition and we will use them," said Bondarev. "We shall sit where we need to sit."

Modernization of Su-25

Another Interfax-AVN report on 12 June said that Russia would continue to modernize Su-25 attack jets. "Planes are already being supplied to the Air Force. We shall continue the modernization of Su-25SM3," he said.

He said work was under way to improve the range of the guided missiles and their accuracy as well as to install radio-electronic jamming equipment.

Oldest air force regiment to be recreated

Bondarev also announced on 12 June that the Air Force would in 2017 recreate the 899th Assault Aviation Regiment ("the oldest in the country"). It was disbanded under former defence chief Anatoliy Serdyukov. "The 899th Assault Aviation Regiment will be deployed here, at Buturlinovka airfield, in 2017 on Su-25SM planes," said Bondarev. The regiment will have 24 Su-25SM jets. Buturlinovka airfield is currently home to the 47th Joint Aviation Regiment.

Acquisitions

On 10 June, Interfax-AVN reported that Russia’s Southern Military District had received Su-34 bombers. "The Southern Military District’s Separate Bomber Aviation Regiment has taken delivery of three more new-generation aircraft," the district press service was quoted saying. Another Interfax-AVN report on 10 June said the jets would be based at Morozovsk airfield in Rostov Region.

The press service said that the Southern Military District would this year receive a total of around 50 new and modernized Su-27SM, Su-30SM, Su-34, Su-30M2 and Su-35S jets, over 15 Mi-26T and Mi-8 helicopters.

It said that "in late 2013" the Separate Bomber Aviation Regiment received six new planes built at Chkalov plant in Novosibirsk. In May 2014, units in Krasnodar Territory and Rostov Region took delivery of two Su-27 jets and four Mi-35 helicopters.

A yet another Interfax-AVN report on 10 June said that three Su-30SM fighter jets had joined Domna airbase (Transbaykal Territory). They arrived from a plant in Irkutsk.

The Air Force had previously received 18 Su-30SM jets, in 2012-2014.

T-50 catches fire

In the meantime, Russia’s new T-50 fighter jet (also known as PAK FA and the fifth-generation fighter jet) may have suffered a set back during trials. One of the jets caught fire at landing. Interfax-AVN reported on 10 June, quoting the United Aircraft Construction Corporation: "Smoke could be seen over the right air intake of the T-50 during its landing at the Gromov Flight and Research Institute airfield in Zhukovskiy, near Moscow, after a routine test flight. Fire then broke out locally. It was quickly put out. The plane can be repaired. No-one was injured."

Four T-50 jets are undergoing testing at Zhukovskiy. Two more are going through "on-the-ground experimental works", said Interfax-AVN. One of them is an "integrated ground-based test bed", the other is going through "static testing".

Interfax-AVN said about the testing of T-50: "The aerodynamic characteristics, stability and controllability characteristics, the dynamic strength, the functioning of on-board equipment and the plane’s systems have been checked under the PAK FA testing programme. The testing of the optical radar system and the active phased array radar as part of the plane were in full swing. Positive results have been received. Mid-air refuelling has been carried out. Super manoeuvrability regimes are being worked on. Plane systems are being worked at on test beds. Experimental work is being carried out on the ground."

Two new air defence regiments go operational

On 9 June, Interfax-AVN reported that two new air defence regiments had gone operational in Moscow Region.

"The decision was taken after air defence units from Kantemirovskaya tank and Tamanskaya motor-rifle divisions achieved high results during a tactical training exercise with live firing at Kapustin Yar range in Astrakhan Region," the Western Military District was quoted saying.

These units were formed in 2013. They hit "all targets using the minimum number of missiles", the report said.

The units have Tor, Osa, Strela-10, Igla and Tunguska systems.

Source: Interfax-AVN military news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0739, 0746, 0800 gmt 12 Jun 14; 0944, 0550, 1301, 1214 gmt 10 Jun 14; 1312 gmt 9 Jun 14

 

Crimean Tatars are at a crossroads in their tactics

Will Crimean Tatar Jihadists Join Forces With the Caucasus Emirate?
Eurasia Daily Monitor
May 22, 2014
— Volume 11, Issue 96

As the Crimean Tatars commemorated the 70th anniversary of their deportation from Crimea on May 18, many wondered what the Tatars’ next moves under the Russian occupation will be. Having already deported ethnic groups en masse—the Karachays in November 1943, the Chechens and Ingush in February 1944 and the Balkars in March 1944—the Soviet leadership sent 200,000 Crimean Tatars into exile in Central Asia in May 1944 (http://www.echo.msk.ru/programs/victory/1293090-echo/).

The Tatars in Crimea have been trying to work out a unified position toward the Russian takeover of their republic, but they are unsure how to reject Russia’s annexation of the peninsula and how to oppose it. Mustafa Cemilev—Crimean Tatar leader and former head of the Mejlis, the unofficial parliament of the Crimean Tatars—addressed the heads of states of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, saying that the Tatars would never recognize Russia’s occupation of Crimea (http://www.regnum.ru/news/polit/1775403.html).

However, this is the voice of only a small part of the population of the peninsula. At the time of the first occupation of Crimea by Russians at the end of the 18th century, 90 percent of the population of the peninsula (nearly a half million people) were Crimean Tatars, and Russians comprised only 4 percent. However, now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the Crimean Tatars comprise only 10–12 percent, while ethnic Russians make up nearly 60 percent of Crimea’s population (http://www.crimea-on-line.ru/population.faces). Over the two centuries of Russia’s occupation of Crimea, the Russians did everything in their power to reduce the Tatar population. Russian policies forced Crimean Tatars to seek refuge in Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars fled, according to estimates (http://www.bigyalta.com.ua/node/33747).

Today, however, no one is in a position to help the Crimean Tatars. This is the view of the leader of the Crimean Tatars’ jamaat in Syria, Emir Abdul-Karim Krymsky, who is the deputy to Emir Salautdin, the Chechen commander of the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar armed group. Speaking of his achievements in Syria in an address published online on May 13 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrXE5YQ246E#t=106), Emir Abdul-Karim Krymsky also spoke about Crimea. He noted that appealing to European institutions was of no use as they would do nothing for Crimea. Instead, he called on the Crimean Tatars to fight, pointing out that the struggle against Bashar al-Assad showed that it was possible to fight a regime in urban conditions. Thus, the leader of the Crimean Tatar jamaat in Syria openly called for a war against the Russian presence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrXE5YQ246E#t=106, starting at 16:38).

The Crimean Tatar emir calls on his compatriots to leave Crimea and join him in Syria if there is no opportunity to put up a fight in Crimea, which probably means that Crimean Tatar militants in Syria are not prepared to help their compatriots in Crimea in the near future and that the Crimean Tatars in Syria consider fighting there to be more important than in Crimea. Another important point in his speech is his recognition of the primacy of the Caucasus Emirate: he states that the Caucasus Emirate is the greatest attainment of Muslims in Russia. This appears to suggest that the only chance for the Crimean Tatars to launch an underground war against Russian is to form an alliance with the Caucasus Emirate.

As of today, Crimean Tatar society is politically diverse. There are people who entirely support the political course of Mustafa Cemilev and want to base their struggle on nationalist political goals implemented through a party. To counter this group, Moscow will establish its own party among the Crimean Tatars, one that will be directed by the Russian security services. President Vladimir Putin has tried to calm the rising tensions surrounding the Crimean Tatar issue. The problem, however, is that Russia and its president equate the Crimean Tatars and the Tatars of Tatarstan. Currently, Moscow is trying to use Tatarstan’s President Rustam Minnikhanov as leverage in Crimea (http://www.newsru.com/russia/01apr2014/tatar.html). Such an approach will produce nothing but resentment among the Crimean Tatars, who consider themselves a separate nation with a long history (http://www.moskva-krym.com/nacia.html).

In other areas it will be interesting to see what happens to the several thousand members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Crimea (http://www.odnako.org/blogs/hizb-ut-tahrir-kak-vozmozhniy-soyuznik-partii-yanukovicha-v-krimu/). That party is officially designated as a terrorist organization and outlawed in Russia, and its adherents in Crimea are most likely to migrate to mainland Ukraine or Turkey, since they will not be able to exist in their homeland given their persecution by Russia (http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=1525839).

Another possibility is that the adherents of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Crimea may decide to go underground, automatically producing an armed underground movement in Crimea. While members of Hizb ut-Tahrir do not follow the same Islamic teachings as the North Caucasian Salafists, the followers of these teachings in Crimea might join forces because members of Hizb ut-Tahrir have an extensive network across the peninsula but have no expertise in fighting a guerrilla war. The Salafists, on the other hand, have experience fighting against al-Assad’s regime in Syria, but do not have an extensive social base in Crimea.

Thus, the Crimean Tatar Islamists are involved in a process of assessing the new situation, which could further accelerate if Moscow makes increasingly more mistakes in regard to the way it handles the Crimean Tatars. As of today, the developments suggest that Crimean Tatar jihadists will possibly seek a union with the Caucasus Emirate, which will automatically expand the borders of the virtual emirate to the territory of Crimea.

–Mairbek Vatchagaev

Crimea after the Georgian crisis

Hedenskog, Jakob
FOI-R–2587–SE, November 2008

Abstract: Russia´s war in Georgia was a bitter lesson for those who might have forgotten that military means still exists as a tool in Russian foreign policy. While Crimea may not face a risk itself of being the next target, as speculated in international media immediately after the Georgian Crisis, it nevertheless has some serious problems: First, Russia´s influence in Crimea is very high due to the presence of the Black Sea Fleet, the dominance of the Russia media and the general support for Russian policy from the ethnic Russian majority population in Crimea. Second, there is serious potential for ethnic conflict in Crimea between Russian extreme nationalists and disillusioned young Crimean Tatar men. Although the potential for conflict might not be strong enough by itself to spark a serious ethnic clash, it constitutes a weakness that can be further exploited by Russia. Third, Kyiv lacks the will or the appropriate leverage to get its policies implemented in Crimea and to resist the growing Russian influence there.

Download report [pdf]:

http://www.foi.se/templates/Pages/DownloadReport.aspx?FileName=\a23be220-fbeb-4ab0-bb44-288f1903988c.pdf&rNo=FOI-R–2587—SE