News / Europe

Putin Strikes Conciliatory Tone in Crimea Speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Duma lawmakers during a meeting in Mria sanatorium about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Yalta, Crimea, Aug. 14, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Duma lawmakers during a meeting in Mria sanatorium about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Yalta, Crimea, Aug. 14, 2014.
VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday his country would stand up for itself but not at the cost of confrontation with the outside world, a seemingly conciliatory note after months of tough rhetoric over the crisis in Ukraine.

Putin spoke Thursday in Yalta during the final day of a two-day visit to Crimea, the Ukrainian region Russia annexed in March.

He was addressing an assembly largely comprised of Russian ministers and members of parliament traveling with him.

The tone of Putin's comments was seen as low-key and he avoided the kind of barbs he has previously directed at Western countries during the crisis, which has dragged East-West relations to their lowest ebb since the Cold War.

“We must calmly, with dignity and effectively, build up our country, not fence it off from the outside world,” he said. “We need to consolidate and mobilize but not for war or any kind of confrontation ... for hard work in the name of Russia.”

In additional comments, Putin said Russia should aim to sell its oil and gas for roubles globally because the dollar monopoly in energy trade was damaging Russia's economy.

And, he said that he had signed off on establishing a Russian military force in Crimea but said the presence would not be too heavy or costly.

Crimea as symbol for Russia

Ukraine has denounced Putin's visit to Crimea, refusing to recognize Moscow's takeover of the strategic Black Sea peninsula of nearly two million mostly Russian-speaking inhabitants.

Dismissing Ukraine's protests, Putin said Crimea should become a symbol of a powerful and unified new Russian state.

Speaking of the crisis in eastern Ukraine, he said that Russia "will do everything that depends on us to make sure that the (Ukraine) conflict ends as soon as possible."

However, he did not spell out how Russia intended to help.

Kyiv has accused Russia of fueling the separatist rebellion in Ukraine’s east as part of efforts to destabilize the country for its pro-Western course.

National interests

On Thursday, Putin explained his thoughts about Russia's foreign policy doctrine, saying it should be peace-loving.

“All our partners in the world should understand that Russia, like any other large, powerful sovereign state, has various ways and means of ensuring its national interests, and these include armed forces,” he said.

“But this is not a panacea and we do not intend, like some people, to dash around the world with a razor blade and wave that blade around. But everyone should understand that we also have such things in our arsenal," Putin added.

Many of Putin's critics in Western capitals say he has made dovish comments before, but that they are not been matched by actions on the ground.

European countries and the United States allege that Russia is supplying arms to separatists in eastern Ukraine. They have also said a Russian aid convoy headed to Ukraine could be a cover for a military attack.

Moscow has denied such allegations, saying it is only interested in protecting the largely Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine.

US commander visits Poland

The commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe arrived in Poland Thursday for talks on boosting the United States' military presence in a country where the crises in neighboring Ukraine crisis has increased concern over Russia’s ambitions in the region.

It was not clear whether the visit of General Donald M. Campbell, was focused on Poland's military cooperation with NATO or bilateral agreements with the United States.

Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, told Reuters in an interview Wednesday that NATO member states were close to agreeing steps to beef up the alliance's military presence in eastern Europe.

Poland is currently hosting 350 U.S. soldiers, seven helicopters and two Hercules transport aircraft, which are on exercises in the country, a spokesman for the Polish military said. About twelve F-16 fighter jets are due to arrive in the coming days.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has separately called for a “pre-positioning of equipment and supplies [in Poland] in order to be able to receive rapid reinforcements if needed.”

He also said NATO should look into strengthening its regional headquarters in Poland.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

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Comment Sorting
by: Jux from: USA
August 17, 2014 8:07 PM
The denouncement of Putin's presence in the Ukranian region by the civilians is a sign of mistrust in Putin's speech on resolving the Ukranian crisis. actions speaks louder than words and this means that what Putin is saying doesnt matches his action, he is doing an opposite thing and saying the opposite. This issue might evolve into another cold war or proxy battle if not resolved quickly.

by: baser from: Germany
August 14, 2014 11:10 PM
Putin draws attention off with his conciliatory statements. In coming days you will see that 280 lorries which Moscow send as humanitarian mission in Ukraine will supply Russia 's army offensive. Don't trust Russia!!!!
In Response

by: Dan from: England
August 23, 2014 7:14 PM
A German telling the world not to trust Russia. How many world wars did Russia start again?

by: Patrick from: Ca
August 14, 2014 6:48 PM
While I applaud Russia's hutzbah for not allowing gmos in their country, but they are full of double standards just like us! Let's put the razors for shaving faces not blasting the planet into oblivion!

by: David from: Germany
August 14, 2014 11:52 AM
Russia will pay high price for annexation of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine. I assure you,that nobody will invest in Russia big sum of money. Also,EU will reduce consumption of Russia's gas. I would like to cook my meat on USA's LNG gas rather than on Russia's one.
In Response

by: Dan from: England
August 23, 2014 7:17 PM
You do know there are no facilities to transport America's LNG to Europe don't you? You do realise these facilities cost 10's of millions of dollars right? You do realise the west has no money to buy these facilities?

Enjoy your cold bratwurst this winter.

by: Jaguar
August 14, 2014 11:16 AM
Wave the blade around ...... but everyone should understand that we also have such things in our arsenal."That is the clearest indication that Mr Putin will not hesitate to use the weaponry he has at his disposal and the West needs to take cognizance of this statement for in it, he spells out quite clearly his intent. However he is still not dealing with those responsible for shooting down the Malaysia aircraft with the BUK missile system nor has he stated how they came to be in possession of such sophisticated equipment. Very non committal for a Head of State.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
August 14, 2014 10:12 AM
Ukraine of Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk is free to denounce Putin's visit to Crimea and refuse to formally recognize Moscow's takeover of the strategic Black Sea peninsula of nearly 2 million mostly Russian-speaking inhabitants. But Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk cannot rewrite and denounce the chapter of the world history with Crimea as THE PART of the RUSSIAN Empire for 134 years having started from the year of 1783. In Soviet times, Crimea was also the part of the RUSSIAN Soviet Republic.
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
August 15, 2014 3:03 AM
You are right, Gannady, Russians did and will take back by force anything stolen from Russia.

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