The Russian President met with the world’s leading news agencies on Friday, addressing various topics from his upcoming meeting with the US counterpart this month to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden are scheduled for a summit on June 16 in Switzerland, from with the Russian President said he “do not expect any breakthrough results”.
“But despite certain disagreements, we still have overlapping interests, including environmental issues and strategic stability,” Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) held virtually.
“President Biden is an experienced politician. He spent his whole life in politics. I hope that our meeting would be constructive,” Russian state news agency TASS quoted Putin as saying.
‘Issues related to Palestinian settlement should not be sidelined’
Commenting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Putin said the issues regarding the resolution of this issue should not be “sidelined.”
“It is important that the issues related to the Palestinian settlement should not be relegated to the background, and they should not be sidelined, especially given the acuity, and given the importance of this problem not just to the Middle East, but to the whole world,” he stressed.
His remarks came as a response to a question by Yusuf Ozhan, Anadolu Agency’s deputy director-general and editor-in-chief, when he asked how or in what ways Russia could contribute to the diplomatic resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Putin said Russia has very good and friendly relations with Israel and Palestine, and it is involved in these processes and it has been there for dozens of years.
Welcoming the normalization of relations among some countries in the region, particularly between Arab nations and Israel, Putin said: “Once intergovernmental ties re-established, it always benefits the people of these countries and these nations.”
In 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco announced controversial normalization agreements with Israel following moves decades ago by Egypt and Jordan, which signed deals with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
Putin also said a multilateral platform and cooperation are needed to discuss all the existing issues and stressed that there are some issues that require “a great deal of special attention from the international community.”
“Without a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is not possible to achieve durable peace in the region,” he said.
The Russian President also pointed out that it is important to overcome the intra-Palestinian differences.
Besides the issue of Israeli settlements, there are other issues that have massed and all of them require a “careful study,” he argued.
He expressed hope for the current problems, including principal issues such as a two-state solution, that is the establishment of a Palestinian state and an Israeli state, to be resolved with “due regard for the interests of both Israeli and Palestinian people.”
“It’s very important not to be guided by current short-term interests. What we need to do is to have in mind a durable, long-term peace. But in this short conversation, we are having, especially given the fact that it’s remote, I don’t think I will be able to come up with a recipe to address this protracted problem. But Russia will continue together with other participants to make a contribution to finding a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he added.
An Egyptian-brokered truce that took effect in the early hours of May 21 ended Israel’s 11-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 289 people, including women and children, and left behind a trail of destruction. Health centers and media offices, as well as schools, were among the structures targeted.
Use of US dollar
Answering a question about whether Russia will completely abandon using the US dollar, Putin argued that his remarks were not fully understood.
“If you heard me saying something about the dollar, and understood that we want to get rid of it as a reserve currency or as a universal means of payment, this is not the case. I was talking about something else,” he said as quoted by TASS.
Explaining that he criticizes the way the US uses the dollar, Putin said: “I was talking about the fact that the United States uses the dollar, uses its national currency for various kinds of sanctions.”
Meanwhile, mentioning the US’ future, he said: “The problem of empires is that they think they are so powerful that they can afford small inaccuracies and mistakes. […] But problems keep piling up. And, at some point, they are no longer able to cope with them. And the United States is now walking the Soviet Union’s path, and its gait is confident and steady.
Responding to remarks by Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6, who called Russia “an objectively declining power and an extremely challenging place,” Putin said Moore is new and will gain some experiences and then will likely revisit his assessments (on) if Russia is a “declining power”.
“So why you are bothered and concerned, just live your life and do not try to spoil Russian-British relations further,” he said.
The relations between the two countries furthered last year, Putin said, adding: “If you do not try to interfere in this process, everything is going to be good.”
Against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
Drawing to the political system in Russia, he said: “Our opposition, including non-systemic, works openly. The question is that all the people who are involved or say that they are involved in political activity should work in accordance with the current law. It is a requirement for everyone.”
When the protesters against the election results entered the Congress building in the US, 450 people were detained while 31 others are still kept behind the bars, he said, asking: “Why are you only interested in our non-systemic opposition?”
“We have 35 parties. 32 of them are allowed to participate in the elections. Some of the parties are reorganizing their structure,” he added.
On Jan. 6, when the Congress convened to certify Electoral College votes of then-President-elect Joe Biden, a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol building. Ensuing clashes left five people dead. Two law enforcement officers took their lives in the aftermath of the raid.
As for the strategic stability, Putin said: “It is highly important. We don’t plan to frighten anyone with our new weapons systems. We do develop them and have achieved some success but all the leading military powers do the same. It’s just that we are one step ahead.”
“Besides, North Korea is aware of our attitude towards being opposite to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction across the planet. But a solution to this problem lies not in choking North Korea or slapping it with more sanctions. On the contrary, conditions that guarantee security to North Korea must be created.”
On the Russia-China relations, Putin said: “Russia and China have a lot of coinciding interests. This is what lies at the core of our interaction.”