A week after firing warning shots at a British military ship off the coast of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a belligerent speech against Western forces during his annual interview with voters on Wednesday (30) – the first since the start of the Covid pandemic and on the 18th of the mandate.
Last week, tensions between London and Moscow intensified with the entry of the destroyer HMS Defender off the coast of Crimea last Wednesday (23). For the British, the waters the ship was sailing belong to Ukraine, but for Russia, which annexed the peninsula in 2014, the region is its territory, and Moscow saw the invasion, which Putin said was planned. by the United Kingdom and the United States. States, like a tease.
A Russian Coast Guard boat fired warning shots at the ship, and announced by radio that it would do so if it did not change course. Even more aggressively, Sukhoi Su-24 fighter bombers surrounded the Defender and, according to Russia, four bombs were dropped in front of its route. London denies this part of the account.
For Putin, however, one of the most serious incidents between Russian and Western forces since the Cold War would not lead the world to a third war. “Even if we had sunk the ship, it is hard to imagine that the world would be on the brink of World War III because those who did [as provocações] they know they could not emerge victorious from such a conflict.
The comments reinforced the threat already posed by the Kremlin that Moscow would pump British ships into the Black Sea if there were more provocations.
Putin said the move was intended to reveal how Russian forces in the region would react to such intrusions and that a US spy plane had taken off from Greece earlier today to observe the movements.
“It was clear that the destroyer entered [na costa da Crimeia] look first for military targets, try to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated and where, how things would work and where everything is.
The president also said that Russia found out what the purpose of the exercise was and responded in such a way that only information deemed necessary by Moscow was provided to the West. Putin also said he saw a political element in the incident, which took place shortly after meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva.
“The Geneva meeting had just taken place, so why was this provocation necessary, for what purpose? To report that these people [americanos e britânicos] they do not respect Crimea’s choice to be part of the Russian Federation, ”he said.
Putin also accused London and Washington of lack of gratitude, saying that earlier this year he ordered Russian forces to withdraw from the Ukrainian border in April, when the president concentrated his troops in the region and closed areas of the Black Sea to put pressure on Kiev not to act against the separatists, as indicated by the military movements. The episode raised tensions with Westerners.
“We did it,” he said on Wednesday. “But instead of reacting positively and saying ‘okay, we understand your response to our complaints’, what did they do? They have invaded our borders.
Regarding more specifically relations with the Americans, Putin said he hoped that “the perception that the world is changing, as well as the need to revisit our priorities and interests in this fluctuating world, will lead to a better order. global for our relationships. [internacionais], including the United States ”.
As for Ukraine, at the center of last week’s tensions, the Russian president said he did not see why he should meet Volodimir Zelensky, president of the neighboring country, saying that “he has put the country back under external control total”.
“Vital issues for Ukraine are not resolved in Kiev, but in Washington and partially in Berlin and Paris. What can we discuss? “He said.” I do not deny [uma reunião], I just need to figure out what to talk about.
Other topics covered in the conversation included his estate and the status of the Covid vaccination in the country. With constitutional changes passed in a referendum last year, Putin could stay in power until 2036 – he first became prime minister in 1999 and has since served four presidential terms, in addition to his tenure as Prime Minister. Prime Minister under Dmitry Medvedev.
After all this time in power, the Russian president said he still did not see a successor. “When the time comes, I hope I can say that such and such a person, in my opinion, is worthy to lead a country as wonderful as our mother Russia.”
And despite the crackdown on opponents, he said the decision to run the country ultimately rests with the citizens. “They exercise their freedom of choice by direct secret ballot. It is the only way.”
As for Covid, Putin led his speech to encourage the population to get vaccinated, despite his stance against compulsory vaccination. The delta variant, identified in India, raised serious concerns in Russia, which saw its highest moving average death on Tuesday (29), with 590 deaths recorded, and the number of cases is also on the rise, with an average mobile infections of the 20 thousand also this Tuesday.
Authorities also attribute the growth to the slowdown in vaccination. Despite the start of the controversial development of Sputnik V, Russia applied the first dose to 15.2% of its 144 million people, and both to 11.7%.
As an incentive, Putin guaranteed he was vaccinated with Sputnik V and said the military received the same vaccine. “After the first dose, I didn’t feel anything. About four hours later, there was some tenderness at the application site, ”he reported. “I took the second [dose] for noon. At midnight, I took my temperature. It was 37.2 ° C. I slept, woke up, and my temperature was 36.6 ° C. That’s it.”