Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke in an interview published on Friday about war and peace in Ukraine, the risks of advances in genetics and artificial intelligence and fears of a world war.
The following are the key points, as translated by Reuters from the Russian based on a Kremlin transcript.
ON WAR AND PEACE IN UKRAINE
After a half-hour lecture on the history of Russia and Ukraine dating back to the dawn of Slavic history in 862, Putin said that Russia and Ukraine almost agreed to a peace deal in Istanbul shortly after the full-scale war began in 2022 but that it was turned down by Ukraine at the behest of the West, specifically Boris Johnson, then British prime minister.
He suggested the West and Ukraine think about peace.
“Wouldn’t it be better to come to an agreement with Russia? To agree, understanding the situation that is today, understanding that Russia will fight for its interests to the end, and, understanding this, actually return to common sense, start respecting our country, its interests and look for some solutions?”
And Russia? “We are ready for this dialogue.”
Putin questioned why the United States needed to spend so much on arming Ukraine for a war he cast in some ways similar to a “civil war”.
“Does the United States need this? Why? It is thousands of kilometres away from its territory! Don’t you have anything else to do?” Putin said. He said there were mercenaries from the United States, Poland and Georgia fighting for Ukraine.
ON THE RISKS OF A GLOBAL WAR
Asked about NATO fears that the situation could grow into a global war or nuclear conflict, Putin said that the West was trying to scare its populations with the myths of a Russian threat. Despite worries in the West, Putin said, Russia had not used tactical nuclear weapons.
Putin said Russia would only ever attack Poland or Latvia if there was an attack on Russia from Poland. Russia, Putin said, has no interests in Poland or Latvia. Putin denied Russia had designs on the whole continent of Europe.
“You don’t need to be some sort of analyst to know that this contradicts common sense – to get involved in some sort of global war. A global war would bring the whole of humanity to the brink of extinction. It is obvious,” Putin said.
Putin said the West had failed to understand that Russia, after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, wanted to be part of the family of so called ‘civilised peoples’ but that its hopes were spurned as NATO enlarged eastwards.
The West, Putin said, was more afraid of China than of Russia due to its swift economic growth.
ON THE WORLD, AI AND GENETICS
Putin said the world was changing faster than during the collapse of the Roman Empire, mentioning advances in genetic research and artificial intelligence. He said geneticists could create a “superman” and quipped that Elon Musk had put a chip in a human brain.
But he said that humanity needed to think about what to do about the advances in genetics and artificial intelligence and suggested the nuclear arms control treaties of the Cold War could be a guide.
“When there arises an understanding that the boundless and uncontrolled development of artificial intelligence or genetics or some other modern trends, cannot be stopped, that these researches will still exist just as it was impossible to hide gunpowder from humanity… when humanity feels a threat to itself, to humanity as a whole, then, it seems to me, there will come a period to negotiate at the inter-state level on how we will regulate this,” Putin said.
ON NORD STREAM
Asked who blew up the pipeline, Putin indicated it was the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
“The CIA has no alibi,” Putin said.
ON US JOURNALIST EVAN GERSHKOVICH
Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 29, 2023, in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison. Gershkovich denies the charges.
Putin said Gershkovich was caught “red handed” receiving classified information on behalf of U.S. intelligence. But he said it made no sense to keep him in jail in Russia.
“I do not exclude that the person you mentioned, Mr. Gershkovich, may end up back in his homeland. Why not? It makes no sense, more or less, to keep him in jail in Russia,” Putin said. “These negotiations are underway.”
Putin suggested that in return, Moscow wanted Germany to free Vadim Krasikov, who was convicted of the 2019 murder of a Chechen dissident in Berlin, although he did not mention Krasikov by name.
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