January 20, 2023

Excerpt from Putin speech on 80th anniversary of ending of the siege of Leningrad:  Ukraine lands “are our historic territories”

…the tragedy associated with the events in Ukraine indeed unfolded in 2014 after the anti-constitutional anti-state armed coup in Ukraine. As we know, we had to help the Crimeans in this context. Then the events in Donbass followed. In fact, the serious hostilities in Donbass have not stopped since 2014, and they included the use of heavy equipment, artillery, tanks and aviation. All this took place there.

Everything we are doing today, including the special military operation, is an attempt to end this war, as I have said many times. This is the essence of our operation. We also want to protect our people who live on these territories. These are our historical territories. As I have said, after the collapse of the Soviet Union… I will not give any assessments now – this is neither the place nor the time, but anyway, Russia accepted this situation despite the fact that these are our historical, Russian territories, but in terms of history we reconciled ourselves to it.

Nevertheless, we had to react to what was happening there after the coup d’état, when they actually began exterminating people living in those territories only because of their connection with Russian culture, Russian language and traditions of their people and their forefathers. 

We tolerated it for a long time and tried to come to an agreement. As it has recently turned out, they were messing around with us; they were lying to us. This was not the first time this has happened to us. Yet we did everything in our power to settle the problem peacefully. It has become obvious now that it was an inherently impossible mission; the enemy was only preparing to bring this conflict to the hot phase. As I have said, there was no other way than to do what we are doing now. 

As for crimes against civilians committed by the neo-Nazis, who have gained ground and are running the show in Ukraine, who seized power there as a result of the coup d’état… Everything that happened after that matters, but the initial root of the current power in Ukraine is the coup d’état. We must never forget this. But it is essential to record everything they are doing now, especially to civilians, and we will do it. Our Investigative Committee is doing this; it is not only recording facts but is also summing them up and giving it a legal assessment. We will certainly continue doing this.

Providing information support for all our actions and getting the truth across to people in Russia and in other countries, but above all to people in Ukraine is one of the main areas of our joint efforts. There are very many people in Ukraine who can see what is happening and have a correct understanding of the events, especially after what the current rulers started doing to civilians, when they created the so-called retreat-blocking detachments, like the ones used during World War II, and what they are doing to the Russian Orthodox Church. I have no doubt that they will not get away with it.

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