Full text of Vladimir Putin's speech
Russia's President announced the attack on Ukraine in a televised speech. We document the speech, which is a declaration of war.
"Dear citizens of Russia! Dear friends!
Today I again consider it necessary to come back to the tragic events in Donbass and the key issues of ensuring Russia's own security.
I would like to start with what I said in my speech on February 21 this year. It's about what worries us the most, these fundamental threats that, year after year, step by step, are crudely and unabashedly directed at our country by irresponsible politicians in the West. By that I mean the eastward expansion of the NATO bloc, bringing its military infrastructure closer to Russia's border.
It is well known that over the past 30 years we have persistently and patiently tried to reach an agreement with the leading NATO countries on the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. In response to our proposals, we have consistently encountered either cynical deceit and lies or attempts at pressure and blackmail as the North Atlantic Alliance continues to expand, despite our protests and concerns. The war machine is in motion and, I repeat, is approaching our borders.
Why is all this happening? Why this outrageous way of speaking from a position of uniqueness, infallibility and permissiveness? Where does this careless, contemptuous attitude towards our interests and absolutely legitimate demands come from? The answer is clear, understandable and obvious. The Soviet Union weakened in the late 1980s and then collapsed completely
In general, one has the impression that almost everywhere, in many regions of the world, where the USA goes to enforce its order, bloody, non-healing wounds, boils from international terrorism and extremism remain
This also includes the promises made to our country not to expand NATO one inch further east. I repeat: you have deceived us, or, to put it in the vernacular, simply dumped
By the way: American politicians, political scientists and journalists themselves write and say that a veritable empire of lies has been created in the USA in recent years. It's hard not to agree - because that's the way it is
In the military sphere, even after the collapse of the USSR and the loss of much of its potential, modern Russia is now one of the most powerful nuclear powers in the world, in addition to having certain advantages in a number of cutting-edge weapon systems. There should therefore be no doubt that a direct attack on our country would result in defeat and dire consequences for any potential attacker
The problem is that on the areas adjacent to us - I emphasize on our own historical areas - an anti-Russia hostile to us is being created, which has been placed under complete external control, intensively populated by the armed forces of the NATO countries and pumped full of the latest weapons.
For the US and its allies, this is a so-called policy of containment of Russia, an obvious geopolitical dividend. For our country, however, it is ultimately a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a nation
The leading NATO countries are supporting extreme nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine to achieve their own goals, who in turn will never forgive the people of Crimea and Sevastopol for their free choice to reunite with Russia
They will, of course, go to Crimea, as they did in Donbass, with war to kill, just as the punitive squads of gangs of Ukrainian nationalists, Hitler's collaborators during the Great Patriotic War, killed defenseless people. They also openly lay claim to a number of other Russian territories (...)
Circumstances require us to act decisively and immediately. People's republics of Donbass have asked Russia for help. In this regard, in accordance with Article 51(7) of the UN Charter, with the approval of the Federation Council and in accordance with the Friendship and Assistance Treaties with the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, ratified by the Federation Assembly, I have decided to conduct a special military operation.
We don't intend to occupy all of Ukraine, but to demilitarize it. The aim of the Russian special operations is to protect the people who have been mistreated and murdered by the Kiev regime for eight years. To this end, we will seek to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine and bring to justice those who have committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including Russian citizens.
Clashes between Russia and nationalist forces in Ukraine are inevitable. It's only a matter of time. They prepare, they wait for an opportune moment. Now they even claim possession of nuclear weapons. We won't allow that.
Russia cannot feel safe, cannot develop and cannot exist if it is constantly threatened by Ukraine. The appropriation of Ukraine by the North Atlantic Alliance is unacceptable. Russian politics is based on freedom, and everyone should be able to enjoy this right, including residents of Ukraine. Everyone should have the freedom to decide about their own future and that of their children. And we consider it important that this right can be exercised by all peoples living on the territory of present-day Ukraine. Anyone who wants it.
Neither at the founding of the Soviet Union nor after the Second World War were people living in what is now Ukraine ever asked how they wanted to organize their own lives. The Ukrainian military has pledged allegiance to its people - not to the anti-popular junta plundering Ukraine.
Dear comrades! Your fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers did not fight against the Nazis to defend our common fatherland so that today's neo-Nazis could take power in Ukraine. I urge you to disobey the criminal orders, lay down your arms immediately and go home. All soldiers of the Ukrainian army who comply with this requirement are allowed to leave the war zone and are free to return to their families.
We respect and will continue to respect the sovereignty of all emerging countries in the post-Soviet space. An example of this is the assistance we have provided to Kazakhstan, which has faced tragic events and whose statehood and integrity have been called into question.
NATO, on the other hand, is approaching the borders of Russia. Moscow has been trying for 30 years to reach an agreement not to expand the bloc to the east and has faced deception, pressure and blackmail in the process. Russia is ready for any development, all decisions have been made. I hope I am heard.
The real strength lies in justice and truth standing on the side of Russia.
Dear citizens of Russia, the well-being, the existence of entire states and peoples, their success and viability always have their origin in a strong root system, their culture of values, the experience of their ancestors. And, of course, it directly depends on the ability to quickly adapt to an ever-changing life, the cohesion of society, its willingness to consolidate and join forces to move forward. Strength is always in demand. Always – but it can be of different quality.
At the heart of the politics of the empire of lies, to which I referred at the outset, is, above all, raw, direct violence. In such cases we say: You have power, you don't need intelligence. But you and I know that real power lies in the justice and truth that is on our side.
Now a few important, very important words for those who might be tempted to join the action from the side. Whoever tries to hinder us, let alone create a threat to our country and our people, must know that Russia's response will be immediate and will lead to consequences that you have never seen in your history. We are prepared for any development of events. All necessary decisions have been made in this regard. I hope to be heard."
Translated from German into English
By Kwame Sekyere