Kremlin Publishes Full Megan Kelly Putin Interview – NBC Cut the Best Parts (Video + Transcript)

Putin is very confident in this interview. He knows that what he is saying makes Russia look very smart, and America look ridiculous.



Part 1. The Kremlin, Moscow, March 1, 2018

Megyn Kelly: So, thank you very much for doing this, Mr President. I thought that we’d start with some of the news you made today at your State of the Nation Address, then we will move into some facts about you in preparation for our long piece that we are putting together, and then tomorrow when we will have a longer time together, we will talk about more substantive issues together, if that is ok with you.

Vladimir Putin: Fine.

Megyn Kelly: You announced today that Russia has developed new nuclear-capable weapons systems, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that you say renders defence systems useless. Several analysts in the West have said this is a declaration of a new Cold War. Are we in a new arms race right now?

Vladimir Putin: In my opinion, the people you have mentioned are not analysts. What they do is propaganda. Why? Because everything I spoke about today was done not on our initiative, it is a response to the US ballistic missile defence programme and Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.

If we speak of the arms race, it began at that very moment, when the United States pulled out of the ABM Treaty. We wanted to prevent this. We called on our American partners to work together on these programmes.

Firstly, we asked them not to withdraw from the treaty, not to destroy it. But the US pulled out. It was not us who did this but the US.

Yet we again suggested we work together even after this. I told my colleague then, “Imagine what would happen if Russia and the US joined forces in the crucial area of strategic security. The world would change for a long period to come, and the level of global security would rise to an all-time high.” The reply was, “This is very interesting.” But they ultimately rejected all our proposals.

Then I said, “You understand that we will have to improve our offensive arms systems to maintain a balance and to have the ability to overcome your BMD systems.” They replied that they were not developing the BMD systems to counter us, that we were free to do as we pleased, and that they would not view our actions as spearheaded against the US.

Megyn Kelly: That happened right after 9/11, three months after 9/11.

Vladimir Putin: No, it was after the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002, and the conversations I mentioned were in 2003–2004.

Megyn Kelly: At the time that happened, I believe you were quoted as saying that you thought it was a mistake on the part of the United States, but not a threat. Do you perceive the United States as a threat today?

Vladimir Putin: We have always said that developing the missile defence system creates a threat to us. We have always said that. Our American partners would not publicly admit it, claiming that the system was spearheaded mainly against Iran. But eventually, in conversations and during talks they admitted that, of course, the system will destroy our nuclear deterrence potential.

Imagine the situation. What was the point of signing the treaty back in 1972? The United States and the Soviet Union had only two regions that they defended from missile attacks: one in the United States and one in the Soviet Union. That created a threat for a potential aggressor who would be struck in response. In 2002, the United States said, “We do not need this anymore. We will create anything we want, globally, all over the world.”

Megyn Kelly: Again, it was in the wake of 9/11, just to make it clear. 9/11 happened on September 11, 2001, and the United States was reassessing its security posture in the world for good reason, wouldn’t you admit?

Vladimir Putin: No, not for good reason.This is complete nonsense. Because the missile defence system protects from the kind of ballistic missiles that no terrorists have in their arsenal. This is an explanation for the housewives watching your programme. But if these housewives can hear what I am saying, if you show it to them and they hear me, they will understand that 9/11 and the missile defence system are completely unrelated. To defend themselves from terrorist attacks, the major powers must join their efforts against the terrorists rather than create threats for each other.

Megyn Kelly: About the weapon that you announced today, the ICBM, have you actually tested it and it works? Because some analysts are suggesting that you have tested it, and it failed. And that is why you only showed animations of it today, and have not yet produced any actual videos.

Vladimir Putin: I spoke about several systems today. Which one are you referring to, the heavy-duty intercontinental ballistic missile?

Megyn Kelly: Yes, the one that you claimed renders defence systems useless.

Vladimir Putin: All the systems I mentioned today easily overcome missile defence. Each one of them. This is the point of all these developments.

Megyn Kelly: But you have tested it?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course.

Megyn Kelly: And it worked?

Vladimir Putin: It did, very well.

Some of these systems require additional work. Some of them are already deployed. Some are in serial production.

Getting back to the beginning of our conversation, there is a missile defence system deployed in Alaska. The distance between Russia’s Chukotka and Alaska is only 60 kilometres.

Two systems are being deployed in Eastern Europe. One is already in place in Romania. Construction of another one is almost finished in Poland. There is also the navy. US ships are based very close to Russian shores both in the south and the north.

Imagine if we placed our missile systems along the US-Mexico or the US-Canada border in their territories on both sides and brought our ships in from both sides. What would you say? Would you take action? Meanwhile we would respond that you are escalating the arms race? Ridiculous, isn’t it? This is exactly what is happening.

Megyn Kelly: Just to come back. Are you saying that we are in a new arms race?

Vladimir Putin: I want to say that the United States, when it withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002, forced us to begin developing new weapon systems. We told our partners about it, and they said, “Do whatever you like.” Fine, that is what we did – so enjoy.

Megyn Kelly: You disclosed that Russia was developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that was powered by nukes that could render defence systems useless?

Vladimir Putin: Of course not. I did not know at the time how we could respond, to be honest. So it seems that our partners believed we would have nothing to respond with. Our economy was is dire straits, as well as the defence sector and the army. Therefore, I do not think anobody could have thought that in such a short period of time we would be able to make such a gigantic leap in the development of strategic weapons. I think the CIA must have told the US President that we would not do anything in response. While the Pentagon said something like, “And we will develop a powerful cutting-edge global anti-missile system.” So they did.

But I will answer your question directly. I can tell you what we told our American partners, what I said personally at the time.

Megyn Kelly: Just to clarify, do you mean George W. Bush?

Vladimir Putin: Who was President in 2002, 2003 and 2004?

Megyn Kelly: But did this happen continuously or just during that timeframe?

Vladimir Putin: Actually, we kept going on about it for 15 years. I said, almost literally, that we would not develop a system of anti-missile defence the way you are doing. Firstly, because it is too expensive, and we do not have the resources. And secondly, we do not know yet how it would work: you do not know, and we certainly do not either.

But, to preserve the strategic balance so that you would not be able to zero out our nuclear deterrence forces, we will develop strike systems that will be able to break your anti-missile systems.

We said this plainly and openly, without any aggression, I just told stated we would do. Nothing personal.

And the response was, “We are not doing this against you, but you do whatever you want and we will presume that it is not directed against us, not against the United States.”

Megyn Kelly: Let us talk about present day and going forward, because what you said today was that you would use these weapons if Russia or her allies come under attack. And the question is whether you meant any attack or only a nuclear attack on Russia or its allies?

Vladimir Putin: I heard you.

I would also like to say that in 2004 – I mentioned this today –I said at a news conference that we will be developing weapons and even mentioned a concrete missile system, Avangard as we call it.

It is called Avangard now, but then I simply spoke of how it would work. I openly said how it would work. We hoped that this would be heard and the US would discuss it with us and discuss cooperation. But no, it was as if they had not heard us. Strategic offensive arms reduction and an antimissile defence system are different things.

Megyn Kelly: So, you didn’t feel like you needed to disclose.

Vladimir Putin: We will be reducing the number of delivery vehicles and warheads under the New START Treaty. This means that the numbers will be reduced on both sides, but at the same time, one party, the United States, will be developing antimissile systems.

This will ultimately lead to a situation where all our nuclear missiles, Russia’s entire missile potential will be reduced to zero. This is why we have always linked this. This is how it was in the Soviet-American times; these are natural things, everyone understands this.

Megyn Kelly: But is it your contention that the 4,000 nukes that Russia now has cannot penetrate the existing military defence system?

Vladimir Putin: They can. Today they can. But you are developing your antimissile systems. Antimissiles’ range is increasing, and so is their accuracy. These weapons are being upgraded. This is why we need to respond to this appropriately, so that we are able to penetrate the system not only today but also tomorrow, when you acquire new weapons.

Megyn Kelly: That is why it would be a big deal if you really did have a nuclear-powered ICBM, which people are questioning, whether you have a usable one right now. When you said earlier that you have some that had tested positively and were excellent, you said others had not. So, for the record, right now, do you have a workable ICBM that is powered by nukes that you have tested successfully?

Vladimir Putin: Look, I did not say that the testing of some of these systems had been unsuccessful. All the tests were successful. It is just that each of these weapon systems is at a different stage of readiness. One is already on alert duty in line units. Another is in the same status. The work is proceeding on schedule with regard to some systems. We have no doubt that they will be in service, just as we had no doubt in 2004 that we would make a missile with the so-called cruise glide re-entry vehicle.

You have been referring all the time to intercontinental ballistic missiles, new missiles…

Megyn Kelly: You keep mentioning ICBMs.

Vladimir Putin: No. I am saying that we are developing just one brand of new heavy missile, which will replace a missile that we call Voyevoda, and you have dubbed it Satan. We will replace it with a new and more powerful missile. Here it is: a ballistic missile. All the other missiles are not ballistic.

Therein lies the entire meaning of this, because any antimissile defence system operates against ballistic missiles. But we have created a set of new strategic weapons that do not follow ballistic trajectories and the antimissile defence systems are powerless against them. This means that the US taxpayers’ money has been wasted.

Megyn Kelly: But again, you say that you are going to use these weapons, these nuclear-powered weapons if Russia or its allies come under attack. Any attack or only a nuclear one?

Vladimir Putin: There are two reasons why we would respond with our nuclear deterrence forces: a nuclear attack on the Russian Federation or a conventional attack on the Russian Federation, given that it jeopardises the state’s existence.

Megyn Kelly: That is consistent with the existing Russian doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons.

Vladimir Putin: Exactly, there are two possible reasons for a nuclear retaliation.

Megyn Kelly: Are you interested in new talks to extend the new strategic arms control treaty?

Vladimir Putin: The START-3 Treaty will expire soon. We are ready to continue this dialogue. What do we consider important? We agree to a reduction or to retaining current terms, to a reduction in delivery vehicles and warheads. However, today, when we are acquiring weapons that can easily breach all anti-ballistic missile systems, we no longer consider the reduction of ballistic missiles and warheads to be highly critical.

Megyn Kelly: So will these weapons be part of those discussions?

Vladimir Putin: In the context that the number of delivery vehicles and the number of warheads they can or will carry should, of course, be included in the grand total. And we will show you from a distance what this will look like.

Our military experts know how to conduct these inspections. In this sense, there are fine-tuned mechanisms and a sufficiently high level of trust. Generally, military experts are working together professionally. Politicians talk a lot, but military experts know what they are doing.

Megyn Kelly: You are a politician

Vladimir Putin: I am also an officer, and I am the Commander-in-Chief. I also served as a military intelligence officer for 17 years.

Megyn Kelly: Are you proud of that fact? Do you like the fact that you were in the KGB? Do you like people to know that?

Vladimir Putin: I do not see it from an emotional perspective. This gave me a lot of experience in the most diverse fields. I found it useful when I moved on to the civilian sector. Of course, this positive experience helped me in this sense.

Megyn Kelly: How so? How did it help?

Vladimir Putin: You know, after I left the intelligence service, I worked as Assistant Rector at St Petersburg University. I worked with people, established contacts, motivated people to act and brought them together. This is very important in the academic environment. Later, I was Deputy Mayor of St Petersburg. I assumed even greater and broader responsibility. I dealt with St Petersburg’s international ties, and that is a metropolis with a population of five million people. While working in this capacity in St Petersburg, I first met Henry Kissinger. Of course, all this helped me in my work at that time, and my additional experience later helped me in my work in Moscow.

Megyn Kelly: Do you think it gives you an advantage over your adversaries and your allies?

Vladimir Putin: It is hard for me to say. I have no other experience. The only thing I know is that my partners, including heads of state and government, are exceptional and outstanding people. They have gone through stringent selection and elimination procedures. There are no chance people at this level. And each of them has his or her own advantages.

Megyn Kelly: What about that? You have been in power for a long time here in Russia, poised to go into another term as president. You have had four American presidents come and go during that time. I am wondering if you had a favourite, if there was one you liked more than the others?

Vladimir Putin: I am sorry, but this is not a very tactful question. Each of my partners is good in their own right. In all, we had good relations with practically all of them. With Bill Clinton, though he was leaving office, we were able to work together for several months. Then with presidents Bush, Obama, and with the current President too, but to a lesser extent, of course. All of them have something to respect them for. At the same time, we can argue and disagree with each other, and it happens often, we have diverging views on many issues, even on key ones, but we nevertheless managed to maintain normal, human relations. If it were not for that, it would have been not only harder, but much worse for everyone.

Megyn Kelly: How important do you think it is to project strength as a President?

Vladimir Putin: It is important not to project strength, but to show it. It is also important how we understand power. It does not mean banging the table with a fist or yelling. I think power has several dimensions.

Firstly, one should be confident that he is doing the right thing. Secondly, he must be ready to go all the way to achieve the goals.

Megyn Kelly: I wonder this because one of the images that we see of you in the United States is without the shirt on a horse. What is that about?

Vladimir Putin: Well, I have breaks. There are your Russian colleagues, there is the internet. But we do not do this on purpose. They take the photos they like. I have lots of photos of me in the office, working with documents, but nobody is interested in them.

Megyn Kelly: (Laughs.) You are saying they like the shirtless photos?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I have seen “photos” of me riding a bear. I have not ridden a bear yet, but there are such photos already.

Megyn Kelly: Now what about you personally? Your elections are coming up in two weeks. You are 65 years old now. Most people would be slowing down a little in their lives. Do you see that for yourself at all in the future?

Vladimir Putin: First, there are many politicians around the world who are older than I am and who are still working active.

Megyn Kelly: Including in my country.

Vladimir Putin: Not only in the United States, in other countries, too. There are many such people, in Europe and everywhere in the world. But if a person assumes the highest offices, he must work as if he is doing it for the first and last day of his life.

There is the Constitution. I have never violated it and have never changed it. Of course, if voters give me the opportunity to serve another term, I will do it to the best of my ability

Megyn Kelly: Last question for tonight, it is late. Forgive me; this may be a long one. What do you see as your greatest accomplishment as president and what do you see as your biggest mistake? And what did you learn from it?

Vladimir Putin: You know, these would be very close.

Our biggest achievement is that our economy has changed radically. It has almost doubled in scale. The number of people living below the poverty line has decreased by half.

At the same time, the number of people living below the poverty line remains large, and we must work on that. We must remove the gap between people with very high and very low incomes. In this context, we have many achievements and many unresolved issues.

Back in the early 2000s, our population shrank by nearly a million people a year. Can you imagine the scale of the disaster? Almost 900,000 people. We have reversed this trend. We have even achieved a natural population increase. We have very low infant mortality, and we have reduced maternal mortality to almost zero. We have prepared and are implementing a large-scale programme of supporting mothers and children. Our life expectancy is growing at a high rate.

Much has changed in our economy. But we have not achieved our main economic goal: we have not yet changed the economic structure as we need to. We have not yet reached the required growth of labour efficiency. But we know how to do it, and I am confident that we will do it. The thing is that we had no opportunity to do this before, because until recently we did not have the macroeconomic conditions for taking specific measures in these areas.

At the beginning of our path, inflation was about 30 percent, but now it is 2.2 percent. Our gold and currency reserves are growing, and we have achieved macroeconomic stability. This offers us an opportunity to take the next step towards enhancing labour efficiency, attracting investment, including private funds, and changing the structure of our economy.

I am talking in large blocks. There are also more specific areas, such as modern technology and artificial intelligence, digitalisation, biology, medicine, genome research, and so on.

Megyn Kelly: Much more on the economy and how Russia is doing – tomorrow, and on your re-election. Thank you so much for your time. You have had a long day. I look forward to meeting up with you in Kaliningrad.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

* * *

Part 2, Kaliningrad, March 2, 2018

Megyn Kelly: Mr President, good to see you again.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Megyn Kelly: So, we are here in Kaliningrad. Why is that? This is a port that, I am told, could not be more threatening to NATO, to Europe. It is a Russian military base. It is a Russian military port. It is home to some of your nukes. Are you trying to send a message?

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Why Kaliningrad? Because I regularly visit Russian regions. This is one of these regions. This time, I came here to attend a conference of the regional media, which they decided to hold here. It was not my decision but theirs, your colleagues from the Russian regional media. I have an agreement with them that I attend such meetings once a year and meet with them, and that is why I am here today. It does not have anything to do with any external signals; it is our domestic affair.

Megyn Kelly: Understood. So, the last time we met in June, I asked you about the conclusion of our American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in our presidential election. You told me that there was nothing specific in these reports, that if there is anything specific, you said, then there will be something to discuss. You told me, as they used to say in the KGB: addresses, houses, names. Since then, 13 Russians and three Russian-owned companies have been indicted by a special prosecutor named Robert Mueller in the United States for interfering in our election. The IRA agency, Yevgeny Prigozhin and others running a cyber warfare operation out of an office at 55 Savushkina Street, St Petersburg, Russia. Addresses, houses, names. So, can we have that discussion now?

Vladimir Putin: Of course. We not only can but I think we must discuss this issue if it keeps bothering you. But if you think that the question has been asked, I am ready to answer it.

Megyn Kelly: Why would you allow an attack like this on the United States?

Vladimir Putin: What makes you think that the Russian authorities and I gave our permission to anyone to do anything? You just named some people; I have heard about some of them, some of them I do not know, but they are just individuals, they do not represent the Russian government. Even if we suppose, though I am not 100 percent certain, that they did something during the US presidential election campaign (I simply do not know anything about it), it has nothing to do with the position of the Russian government. Nothing has changed since we spoke last time in St Petersburg. There are some names, so what? It could just as well be some Americans who while living here, interfered in your own political processes. It has not changed anything.

Megyn Kelly: But it was not Americans. It was Russians. And it was hundreds of people, a monthly budget of 2.5 billion dollars, all designed to attack the United States in a cyber warfare campaign. You are up for re-election right now. Should the Russians be concerned that you had no idea this was going on in your own home country, in your own hometown?

Vladimir Putin: You know, the world is very large and diverse. We have rather complicated relations between the United States and the Russian Federation. And some of our people have their own opinion on these relations and react accordingly at the level of the Russian Government and at the level of the Russian President. There has never been any interference in the internal political processes in the United States.

You have named some individuals and said that they are Russian. So what? Maybe, although they are Russian, they work for some American company. Maybe one of them worked for one of the candidates. I have no idea about this, these are not my problems. Do you know that, for example, after the presidential election in the US, some Ukrainian officials sent messages congratulating Hillary Clinton, even though Trump had won? Listen, what do we have to do with this?

Now, in my opinion, Mr Manafort, that is his name, he was initially accused of having something to do with Russia’s interference in the presidential election in the United States. It turned out that just the opposite was true: in fact, he had connections to Ukraine. And he had some issues with Ukraine. What do we have to do with this?

You know, we have no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. But if you are interested in talking about this, I would like to widen the scope of our discussion.

Megyn Kelly: I want to go through it. I do want to go through it. If we can do it step by step that would be more clear for the viewers who are following us. Let me ask you this: you say the Russian Federation did not order it. Do you condone these activities?

Vladimir Putin: We do not condone or order. But I say that there are internal political processes in the United States itself and there are people who wanted to achieve some result. They could have used some tools in other countries: such technologies exist. They could have sent relevant information from France, from Germany, from Asia, from Russia. What do we have to do with this?

Megyn Kelly:But it was not the Russians.

Vladimir Putin: Well, all right, Russians, but they were not state officials. Well, Russians, and so what? The are 146 million Russian people, so what?

Megyn Kelly: What have you done to satisfy yourself with that fact?

Vladimir Putin: What fact?

Megyn Kelly: What have you done to satisfy yourself that it was not Russians? You suggest maybe it was Americans, maybe it was the French. What have you done to satisfy yourself that the 13 Russian nationals who have just been indicted, those three Russian companies, including, as you pointed out, some of your close friends, were not behind this? This has caused an international incident.

Vladimir Putin: I know that they do not represent the Russian state or the Russian government. And I have no idea what they did and what they were guided by. Even if they did something, then our American colleagues should not just say something in interviews with the media but give us specific data, with proof. We are ready to consider it and talk about it. But you know what I would like to say…

Megyn Kelly: That would be great. Will you extradite them to the United States?

Vladimir Putin: Never. Just like the United States, Russia does not extradite its citizens anywhere. Have you ever extradited any of your citizens? This is my first point.

Second, I do not believe anything illegal was committed.

And, third, we have repeatedly suggested that the United States and Russia establish relations in this area and sign a corresponding interstate treaty on extraditing criminals. The United States has evaded this proposal and does not want to sign it with Russia. What are you hoping for? That we will extradite people to you whereas you will not? This is not a proper way to go about international affairs.

There is more to it. Please listen to me and take to your viewers and listeners what I am about to say. We are holding discussions with our American friends and partners, people who represent the government by the way, and when they claim that some Russians interfered in the US elections, we tell them (we did so fairly recently at a very high level): ”But you are constantly interfering in our political life.“ Would you believe it, they are not even denying it.

Do you know what they told us last time? They said, ”Yes, we do interfere, but we are entitled to do so, because we are spreading democracy, and you are not, and so you cannot do it.“ Do you think this is a civilised and modern approach to international affairs?

Yesterday, you and I talked about nuclear weapons, and that once the United States and the Soviet Union realised that they were moving towards possible mutual destruction, they agreed on rules of conduct in the security sphere given the availability of weapons of mass destruction. Let us now agree on how to behave in cyberspace, which never used to have such a big role and scope.

Megyn Kelly: Okay, so let me ask you: you have stated explicitly you believe that America interfered in Russian elections, right?

Vladimir Putin: We made a proposal to the United States, our partners back during President Obama’s watch: let us agree on how we build our relations, develop common rules acceptable for all, and adhere to them in cyberspace.

The first reaction of the Obama Administration was negative, but then, at the very end of his presidential term, they told us: ”Yes, it is interesting, let us talk about it.“ But again, everything disappeared and vanished in some swamp. Well, let us agree on this, we are all for it.

Megyn Kelly: Okay, so let me ask you: you have stated explicitly you believe that America interfered in Russian elections, right?

Vladimir Putin: The US does this all the time.

Megyn Kelly: But Russia did not interfere in America’s election?

Vladimir Putin: No, and there are no plans in Russia to do so. It is impossible. It is impossible for us.

Megyn Kelly: Why not? Why wouldn’t you?

Vladimir Putin: First, we have principles whereby we do not allow others to interfere in our domestic affairs and do not poke our noses into other people’s business. This is a principle we have. This is the first point I wanted to make.

My second point is that we do not have a comparable number of tools.

Megyn Kelly: Come on. Come on.

Vladimir Putin: No, we simply cannot do that.

Megyn Kelly: You told me just yesterday, because we were amping our missile defence systems, we have to respond in kind with increased nuclear technology. Now you want me to believe that we attacked your Russian elections and you say, we are going to take that road.

Vladimir Putin: This is not a matter of missiles. This is a completely different area.

In addition, we lack the necessary instruments.

Megyn Kelly: Cyber warfare.

Vladimir Putin: This is a completely different area of activity. It has nothing to do with cyber warfare. Russia does not have the kind of tools the US has. We do not have global media outlets comparable to CNN. You think we do? We have Russia Today, and nothing else. This is the only Russian media outlet, and even then, it was designated…

Megyn Kelly: Is that cyber tools?

Vladimir Putin: You keep interrupting me, this is impolite.

Megyn Kelly: Forgive me, sir.

Vladimir Putin: We have one media outlet, Russia Today, and even it was designated as a foreign agent so that it is unable to do its work properly. It is the only media outlet of this kind, while the US has a whole range of outlets, and immense possibilities online. The internet is yours. The United States control all the internet governance tools, all located on US territory. Do you think that a comparison can be made in any way? This is simply impossible. Let us come together and agree on the rules of conduct in cyber space. But it is the US who refuses to do so.

Megyn Kelly: David and Goliath. The Mueller indictment is very specific about what the Russians were doing. There is a specific email, a damning email that is cited therein by a female Russian who appears to have been caught red-handed. She says as follows, “We had a slight crisis here at work. The FBI busted our activity. Not a joke. So I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the colleagues. I created all these pictures and posts and the Americans believe that it was written by their people.” And now you want to sit here and say you do not have the tools to do it? That we have the market cyber interference? This is just not true.

Vladimir Putin: I do not even understand what you are talking about. You see, this is just nonsense. The US Congress analysed the information from Russian sources that appeared online. The information coming from media outlets like Russia Today was also analysed and turned out to be one hundredth of a percent of the overall information flow in the United States, just one hundredth of a percent. Do you think that this fraction had any impact on the election? This is just nonsense, don’t you see? This is the same old business when the people who lost refuse to admit it. You see, I have commented on this on a number of occasions. It has yet to be seen what the US policy toward Russia will be like under the current administration. Many things remain unclear, since we have not yet been able to start working or to establish normal contacts.

However, it is absolutely clear that the current US President adopted a specific stance in terms of domestic policy, and decided to reach out to the people who were ready to support his campaign promises. This is what led to his victory, not any kind of outside interference. To claim otherwise makes no sense. Will anyone believe that Russia, a country located thousands of kilometres away, could use two or three Russians, as you have said, and whom I do not know, to meddle in the elections and influence their outcome? Don’t you think that it sounds ridiculous?

Megyn Kelly: Now you are talking about causation. But I am still on whether you did it. And it is not true that you do not know the individuals who were accused of conducting this. One of your good friends is actually accused of helping conduct this. His name is Yevgeny Prigozhin. Do you know him?

Vladimir Putin: I know this man, but he is not a friend of mine. This is just twisting the facts. There is such a businessman; he works in the restaurant business or something. But he is not a state official; we have nothing to do with him.

Megyn Kelly: After you heard about him being indicted, did you pick up the phone and call him?

Vladimir Putin: Certainly not.I have plenty of other things to worry about.

Megyn Kelly: He is your friend. He has been indicted.

Vladimir Putin: Did you hear what I just said? He is not my friend. I know him, but he is not a friend of mine. Was I not clear? There are many people like that. There are 146 million people in Russia. That is less than in the US, but it is still a lot.

Megyn Kelly: He is a prominent businessman.

Vladimir Putin: A prominent businessman? So what? There are many prominent people in Russia. He is not a state official, he does not work for the government; he is an individual, a businessman.

Megyn Kelly: Some people say his real job is to do your dirty work.

Vladimir Putin: Who are those people? And what dirty work? I do not do any dirty work. Everything I do is in plain view. This is your prerogative; some people in your country enjoy doing dirty work. You think we do the same. That is not true.

Megyn Kelly: It is a) the fact that you know him, you admit that. He is a prominent Russian businessman. And he is specifically accused of running this operation; b) this is the same man who has been accused of sending Russian mercenaries into Syria and they attacked a compound held by American back militia. This guy gets around.

Vladimir Putin: You know, this man could have a wide range of interests, including, for example, an interest in the Syrian fuel and energy complex. But we do not support him in any way. We do not get in his way but we do not support him either. It is his own personal initiative.

Megyn Kelly: You did not know about it?

Vladimir Putin: Well, I know that there are several companies, several Russian companies there, maybe his among others, but this has nothing to do with our policy in Syria. If he does anything there, he does not coordinate it with us; he probably coordinates it with the Syrian authorities or the Syrian businesses he works with. We do not interfere in this. Does your government interfere in every step your businesses take, especially small businesses? It is essentially a medium-sized business. So, does your president interfere in the affairs of every medium-sized US business? That is just nonsense, isn’t it?

Megyn Kelly: If the 13 Russian nationals plus three Russian companies did in fact interfere in our elections, is that okay with you?

Vladimir Putin: I do not care. I do not care at all because they do not represent the government.

Megyn Kelly: You do not care?

Vladimir Putin: Not at all. They do not represent state interests. If you are worried about anything, state it officially, send us documents proving it and explain what exactly those people are accused of. We will see if they have violated Russian laws…

Megyn Kelly: I did that.

Vladimir Putin: No, this is not true. If they violated Russian law, we will prosecute them. If they did not, there is nothing to prosecute them for in Russia. But after all, you must understand that people in Russia do not live under US law but under Russian law. This is how it is. If you want to reach an agreement with us, let us negotiate, choose the subject, make an agreement and sign it. But you refuse to do this. I am telling you for the third time: we have proposed working together on cyberspace issues. But the US refuses to work like this and instead throws 13 Russians to the media. Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked: maybe they have dual citizenship or a Green Card; maybe, the US paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either.

Megyn Kelly: I will give you one piece of evidence. Andrei Krutskikh is an advisor to the Kremlin when it comes to cyber issues. In his speech to an information security forum in February 2016, he reportedly said, quote, “I am warning you. We are on the verge of having something in the information arena which will allow us to talk to the Americans as equals.” What do you think he meant? Because it certainly sounds like a threat right before an election hack.

Vladimir Putin: Sometimes I think you are joking.

Megyn Kelly: No, I am deadly serious.

Vladimir Putin: A man says something about how he sees our contacts and our work with our foreign partners, the US in this case, in a certain area. I have no idea what he said. Ask him what he meant. Do you think I control everything?

Megyn Kelly: He is an advisor to the Kremlin on cyber.

Vladimir Putin: So what? There are 2,000 people working in the administration; do you think I control everyone? Peskov is sitting in front of me, he is my press secretary and he sometimes says things that I see on television and think, what is he talking about? Who told him to say this?

I have no idea what he said. Ask him. Do you really think I can comment on everything administration or government personnel say? I have my own work to do.

Megyn Kelly: I think when it comes to our two countries you know exactly what is going on. And this is Russia’s problem now. It is. The heads of the US intelligence agencies just testified to Congress that Russia, Russia poses the greatest threat in the world to the American security, greater than ISIS. You cannot get the sanctions lifted. The relationship between our two countries is nearly non-existent right now. Did not this interference, whether you knew or you did not know about it, backfire against Russia?

Vladimir Putin: Listen, you are exaggerating. I do not know about someone saying something and I am not going to comment on it, and neither do I follow what is going on at your Congress.

I am more interested in what is going on at the State Duma, if they have approved a bill on a healthcare or utilities issue; if they delay certain discussions or not. Is a special interest lobbying against a nature conservation, or forestry, or environmental law? This is what I am interested in. You should follow what they are discussing in Congress; I have enough on my plate without that.

Megyn Kelly: You know that the sanctions have not been lifted. You know that the relationship between our two countries is at not an all-time low but is getting there. And this is in part the reason. And so, Russian interference in the American elections is important.

Vladimir Putin: Listen, sanctions have nothing to do with the myth of some Russian interference in the US election. Sanctions are about something else entirely: the desire to halt Russia’s progress, to contain Russia. This policy of containing Russia has been pursued for decades, on and off. Now it is back. It is a misguided policy, which not only affects Russian-US relations but also US businesses because it frees up space for their competitors on our market.

You and I were at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. The largest business delegation was from the US. People want to work with us, but they are not allowed to; they are contained in order to contain Russia. They have been contained and contained so that our defence industry cannot develop, among other things. We discussed this yesterday. Did they manage to achieve anything? No, they did not: they have never managed to contain Russia and never will. It is simply, you know, an attempt with tools that…

Megyn Kelly: Can we contain Russia in cyber warfare?

Vladimir Putin: I think it is impossible to contain Russia anywhere. You need to understand this. Listen, you cannot even contain North Korea. What are you talking about? Why would you do that? Why do we have to contain, attack or cast suspicion on each other? We are offering cooperation.

Megyn Kelly: That is my question to you. That is my question to you. Why, why would you interfere in our election time and time again? And why would not you, for that matter? Let me put it to you that way. You have spent a day, every time I have seen you, in St Petersburg, in Moscow and now here in Kaliningrad, telling me that America has interfered in Russia’s electoral process and that Russia has a robust cyber warfare arsenal. And yet you want us to believe that you did not deploy it. Do you understand how implausible that seems, sir?

Vladimir Putin: That does not seem implausible to me at all, because we do not have such a goal, to interfere. We do not see what we have to gain by interfering. There is no such goal. Let us suppose this was our goal. Why, just for the sake of it? What is the goal?

Megyn Kelly: Creating chaos. That is the goal.

Vladimir Putin: Listen to me. Not long ago President Trump said something absolutely correct. He said that if Russia’s goal was to sow chaos, it has succeeded. But it is not the result of Russian interference, but your political system, the internal struggle, the disorder and division. Russia has nothing to do with it whatsoever. Get your own affairs in order first. And the way the question is framed, as I mentioned – that you can interfere anywhere because you bring democracy, but we cannot – is what causes conflicts. You have to show your partners respect, and they will respect you.

Megyn Kelly: You once said, Mr President, that you believed the interference in our election was done by some patriotic Russians. An answer like that, you understand, will lead people to ask, are you the patriotic Russian?

Vladimir Putin: I am the President of the Russian Federation. It is my constitutional duty to address a host of issues concerning the protection of Russia’s interests. When I spoke of patriotic people, I meant that you can imagine that, in the face of a deteriorating Russian-US relationship, people – and people use cyberspace – will express their points of view, their opinions, including on this global network. Of course, they are free to do so. How can we really prohibit it? But we cannot control it and, most importantly, we are not directing it. Please note that this is not the position of the Russian state.

Megyn Kelly: You cannot? The Russian intelligence services cannot find out who is doing this, bring it to your attention? You are unable to stop it?

Vladimir Putin: Perhaps if we looked into it carefully we would find those people, if they exist. But we have no such goal. We propose holding official talks and you refuse. So what do you want? For us to open investigations just because Congress said so? Let us sit down, sign an agreement on working in cyberspace and comply with it. How do you want to do it? There is no other way of conducting international affairs.

Megyn Kelly: So you have no goal to stop it. So what does that mean for our elections in 2018 and 2020? We can expect more of the same?

Vladimir Putin: I did not say that stopping it is not a goal. I said we had…

Megyn Kelly: You just said that.

Vladimir Putin: No, I did not. I said we do not interfere in our people’ private lives and cannot stop them from expressing their opinion, including on the internet. But I also said that Russia’s official position is that we do not interfere in the political processes of other countries as a state. That is the most important part. I want it to be recorded in our conversation today, for people in the US to understand this.

Megyn Kelly: And forgive me, but I am trying to get to one level below that, whether you have the goal of stopping your own citizens from behaving in this manner, which has undermined relationships between our two countries?

Vladimir Putin: I want to say that we will stand in the way of everything that violates Russian law or our international agreements. For the third or fourth time, I will say that we are ready to sign a corresponding agreement with the United States. You still refuse. Let us sit down at the negotiating table, identify what we consider important, sign the document and comply with it with proper verification.

Megyn Kelly: You are the President, sir. Respectfully, I still did not hear an answer about whether you want to crack down on the Russians who committed those crimes. It sounds like the answer is no. If I am wrong, please correct me. I understand you want a negotiation with the United States directly. But internally, you could put a stop to this if you had the desire.

Vladimir Putin: I want you to listen to me. We will counter anything that violates current Russian law. If the actions of our citizens – no matter what they are and whom they target – violate current Russian laws, we will respond. If they do not violate Russian law, we cannot respond.

Megyn Kelly With this?

Vladimir Putin: With anything. If no Russian law has been broken, no one can be held accountable.

Megyn Kelly:Will this violate Russian law?

Vladimir PutinI must look at what they have done. Give us the materials. Nobody has given us anything.

Megyn Kelly: You know this. Hacking into the Democratic National Committee, hacking into John Podesta’s email, creating interference in our election by creating bots that spread false information on Twitter, on Facebook. Spreading this information when it comes to Black Lives Matter, when it comes to the shooting we just had in Parkland, Florida, when it comes to our presidential election. Spreading fake news in order to alter the course of the presidential race. That is what I am talking about.

Vladimir Putin: With all due respect for you personally and for the body of the people’s representatives, the US Congress – and we treat all these people with respect – I want you to really understand this. Do you have people with training in law? Of course, you do. One hundred percent. Highly educated people. We cannot even launch an investigation without cause. Our conversation today or an inquiry in the US Congress is not sufficient cause. Give us at least an official inquiry with a statement of facts, send us an official paper. After all, a conversation on air cannot be grounds for an investigation.

Megyn Kelly: The intelligence agencies in the United States, now a special prosecutor with a criminal indictment – that is not enough for you to look into it?

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely not. If you do not have legal training, I can assure you that an inquiry is required for this.

Megyn Kelly I do.

Vladimir Putin: Then you should understand that a corresponding official inquiry should be sent to the Prosecutor-General’s Office of the Russian Federation. That said, we do not even have a treaty on how to proceed. But send us something in writing at least.

Megyn KellyVladimir Putin could not order an investigation into whether this was done in a way that undermines its relations with a major partner, the United States of America?

Vladimir Putin: Give us something in writing, an official inquiry. We will look at it.

Megyn Kelly: You said that the last time and now I am back with an indictment.

Vladimir Putin: There is nothing in writing. Send an inquiry to the Prosecutor-General’s Office. It is necessary to go through official channels rather than with the help of the media and harsh words in the US Congress, levelling accusations against us that are totally unsubstantiated. Give us something in writing.

Megyn Kelly: Let me ask you this: you were President back in 2001 when the FBI arrested one of its own, Robert Hanssen, for spying for the Russian Federation. In retaliation, President George W. Bush kicked 50 illegit Russian spies out of the United States, and the Kremlin did the same, throwing 50 Americans out of the US Embassy in Moscow immediately. This is a tradition that goes back for decades. December 2016: after our intelligence agencies agreed that Russians interfered in our election President Obama expelled dozens of Russians and seized two Russian-owned properties. And yet, you did nothing, you did nothing in response. Why not?

Vladimir Putin: We believed andI still believe that there were no grounds for this whatsoever. This is the first point.

Secondly, this was done in clear violation of international law and the Vienna Convention on DiplomaticRelations. The totally groundless seizure of our property constitutes a flagrant violation of international law. We were strongly hoping for a response from the new Administration. But since none is forthcoming – and I have already said this and the Foreign Minister repeated this – we will turn to the appropriate courts of the United States to protect our interests.

Megyn Kelly: Let me ask you about President Trump. Any time he says anything about you it is supremely deferential. Never a harsh word for you. Although if you look at the ways he speaks about members of his own party, even members of his own staff, never mind of the other political leaders, he frequently personally insults them. Why do you think he is so nice to you?

Vladimir Putin: This is not about being nice to me personally, in my view. I think he is an experienced person, a businessman with very extensive experience and he understands that if you need to partner with someone, you must treat your future or current partner with respect, otherwise nothing will come of it. I think this is a purely pragmatic approach. This is my first point.

Second, even though this is his first term as President, he is a quick study, and he understands perfectly well that trading accusations or insults at our level is a road to nowhere. It would just mean depriving our countries of their last chance for dialogue, simply the last chance. This would be extremely unfortunate.

You may have noticed that I, for my part, show respect to him and all my other colleagues, not only in the United States, but also Europe and Asia.

Megyn Kelly: You may, but the truth is our President has referred to the leader of North Korea as “little rocket man.” So he is not quite as diplomatic depending on who he is talking about. I am sure you saw that, yes?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I did. You are aware of our position on that account. We urge everyone to show restraint.

Megyn Kelly: So what do you think of President Trump?

Vladimir Putin: The question is not entirely appropriate, because President Trump’s work should be assessed by his constituents, the American people. There is one thing I would like to say: like it or not – we may dislike certain things as well – he does his best to keep the election promises that he made to the American people. So, he is consistent in this sense. I think that, in fact, this is the only proper way to show respect for the people who voted for him.

Megyn Kelly: He has praised your leadership. Is he an effective leader?

Vladimir Putin: Well, again, this is up to the American people to decide. He has strong leadership qualities, of course, because he takes responsibility when he makes decisions. To reiterate, whether some people like his decisions or not, he still goes ahead and does it. This, of course, is a sign of leadership qualities.

Megyn Kelly: Do you ever read his tweets?

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not.

Megyn Kelly: Do you ever tweet?

Vladimir Putin: No.

Megyn Kelly: Why not?

Vladimir Putin: I have other means of expressing my point of view or making decisions. Well, Donald is a more modern person.

Megyn Kelly: Would you say he is more colourful than you are?

Vladimir Putin: Maybe.

Megyn Kelly: Let me ask you one question going back to the election interference issue. There are two theories on you at least. One is that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State you felt that she interfered with the elections here in 2011 and 2012, inciting protests here, including against you and it made you angry. Two is when the Panama Papers were leaked showing a massive money trail that led to you and some of your associates that that was the last drop for you. Do either of those things make you angry?

Vladimir Putin: This is complete nonsense. Speaking about Hillary, I know her personally, and we generally always maintained a good dialogue every time we met. I cannot understand why at some stage… Her advisers probably suggested that she focus part of her election campaign on criticising developments in Russia. Well, it was their choice. I never took it personally. It was just their policy.

As for all those files, this is complete nonsense. They mention some of my friends. So what? As you know, this has had no effect whatsoever. This is nothing but nonsense and media chatter. I have forgotten all about it. I do not remember what it was all about. Actually, nothing of this kind can make me angry. I am guided by pragmatic considerations, not emotions.

Megyn Kelly: Since you mention it, a friend of yours was mentioned in those Panama Papers. Let me ask you about him. Sergei Roldugin. Legend has it that this guy introduced you to your ex-wife, that he is the godfather to one of your daughters. He is a cellist by trade, right?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I know him very well. He is a friend and a wonderful musician. He has devoted his life to art and music. By the way, many artists here are also involved in business one way or another. Apart from me, Sergey also has other ties in the country, including business people who have involved him in this work. He has made his money legally. He has not made hundreds of billions [of dollars]. Everything he earned he has spent on the purchase of musical instruments abroad, which he has brought to Russia. He uses some of these instruments personally, for example the cello. He plays the cello.

Megyn Kelly: A $12 million Stradivarius.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, something like that. But it is a unique instrument.

Megyn Kelly: That is a lot of money.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, it is. He must be eccentric, but then, all artists are eccentric. To spend all this money on musical instruments. I think he bought two cellos and two violins. He plays one himself and has given the others to other musicians, who are playing them. He has brought all these instruments to Russia.

Megyn Kelly: According to the Panama Papers, this mass of series of leaked documents about offshore bank accounts, he has got assets, this cellist, of at least a $100 million, including a one-eighth stake in Russia’s biggest TV ad agency, a $6 million yacht, a stake in a truck manufacturer, a 3-percent interest in a Russian bank. He must be one heck of a musician.

Vladimir Putin: Well, I know nothing about his business, but I do know that he has only enough money to buy these musical instruments. All the rest is on paper. He does not have anything else apart from what he has bought. Maybe he does have something else, but you should ask him about it. I do not control his life.

Megyn Kelly: But the question is how a cellist makes that much money? People ask it because many people believe that is really your money.

Vladimir Putin: Listen, just look at many Russian art figures, and probably there are people like this in your country as well. After all, there are art personalities in the US, including Hollywood celebrities who either run restaurants or own some stock. Aren’t there many people like this in the US entertainment industry and art world? I am sure that there are many people of this kind, and more than in Russia. In Russia, there are also quite a few art figures who do business apart from their creative work. In fact, there are many such people, and he is just one of them. So what? The question is not whether he runs a business or not or whether he made a profit or not. The question is whether there were any violations. As far as I know, he did not commit any violations.

Megyn Kelly: That is right. There is no issue with making money. I am an American, we are capitalists. The question is whether that is really your money.

Vladimir Putin: This is not my money, that is for sure. I do not even know how much Mr Roldugin has, as I have already said. As far as I know, he has not committed any violations in his business and creative undertakings, he did not violate any Russian law or norm.

Megyn Kelly: Speaking of money, back in the 1980s and 1990s, in the wake of multiple bankruptcies, the Trump Organisation found it hard to secure loans in the United States and looked elsewhere. Mr Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., said that ten years ago and I quote, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Were you aware of the degree of Russian money flowing into properties?

Vladimir Putin: This is all nonsense. There were no investments in Trump properties in Russia, as far as I know. I do not even know if there were any serious plans for making these investments.

Megyn Kelly: Come on.

Vladimir Putin: Look, you keep thinking that the whole world revolves around you. That is not the way it is.

Megyn Kelly: It is not about me. It is about what Donald Trump Jr. says.

Vladimir Putin: Do you think we know everything what Donald Trump’s son has said? You see, this is not the way things are. Donald came here to Russia when he was not even nominated. I did not even know that he had been to Russia. I learned about it only afterwards, when I was told that as it turned out he had been to Russia. By the same token, I ignore what his son said on this occasion. Did Donald Trump’s son infringe on any rules or laws? If so, charge him. If he did not, why do you keep picking on every word?

Megyn Kelly: Years ago, before Donald Trump ran for president, he said he knew you and he spoke with you a lot. Is that true?

Vladimir Putin: No, I had never met him. You mean before he became President and before he decided to run for President, right?

Megyn Kelly: Before he ran.

Vladimir Putin: No, we had not met. We never talked to each other, neither by phone or otherwise.

Megyn Kelly: You are poised to be re-elected for your fourth term as president here in Russia, right?

Vladimir Putin: We will see what the Russian voters decide.

Megyn Kelly: How does somebody like Vladimir Putin, who is as popular as you are here in Russia, feel any threat from Navalny? I realise he has got in legal trouble, but could you pardon this guy and let him mount a meaningful challenge to you?

Vladimir Putin: As for the question about whom I could work together with and whom I would not want to work together with, I can tell you in all honesty that I would like to and am ready to work with people who want Russia to become a stronger, more effective, competitive and self-reliant country. But to achieve that, the people we are talking about should have a clear plan of action designed to promote national development in today’s environment. There are people like that, including …

Megyn Kelly: But Navalny is such as man and has a fair amount of popularity here in Russia.

Vladimir Putin: Any person can be pardoned if he deserves it.

Megyn Kelly: Why don’t you?

Vladimir Putin: If he deserves it. There are no exceptions for anyone. No exceptions. But we are not talking about pardon now; we are talking about certain political forces. They do not have a development programme for the country. What do they have that is positive and what I like? That they expose problems, and this is actually good, this is the right thing to do, and it needs to be done. But this is not enough for the country’s progressive development, simply not enough. Because focusing on problems is not enough; moreover, it is even dangerous, because it can lead to destruction, while we need creation.

Megyn Kelly: Our political analysts tell me you are exactly right about your chances in the upcoming election, that you have no meaningful opponents so you will likely win. What is next after that? The Chinese President just abolished term limits. Is that something you would ever do?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think that I should talk about my political plans with you now at this meeting, in this conversation, in this interview for American television. But I think I told you yesterday, I never changed the Constitution or adjusted it to my needs, and I do not have any such plans today.

As for China, before criticising decisions in a country like China, you need to think and recall that there are 1.5 billion people living there and, after thinking about it, you need to come to the conclusion that we all are interested in China being a stable and prosperous state. How it should be done best, it is probably up to the Chinese people and the Chinese leadership.

Megyn Kelly: Can you leave power? Because some of the experts that we have spoken to have said it would be near impossible for you because someone in your position would likely either be thrown in jail by your adversaries or worse. They say it is actually sad that you will have to stay in power in order to stay well.

Vladimir Putin: What your so-called experts say is their wishful thinking. I have heard a lot of nonsense like this. Why do you think that I will necessarily be succeeded by people ready to destroy everything I have done in recent years? Maybe, on the contrary, a government will come to power determined to strengthen Russia, to create a future for it, to build a platform for development for the new generations. Why have you suddenly decided that some destroyers would arrive and wipe out whatever they can? Maybe there are people who would like this, including in the United States. But I do not think they are right, because the United States, I think, should be more interested in the other option – in Russia being a stable, prosperous and developing country, I mean if you really can look at least 25–50 years ahead.

Megyn Kelly: Have you groomed a successor? Is there anyone in mind?

Vladimir Putin: I have been thinking about this since 2000. Thinking is not a crime, but in the end, the choice will still be up to the Russian people. Whether I like or hate someone, other candidates will run for president and eventually the citizens of the Russian Federation will make the final decision.

Megyn Kelly: Let me ask you a bit about Syria. Do you believe the chemical weapon attacks in Syria are fake news?

Vladimir Putin: Of course.

Firstly, the Syrian Government destroyed its chemical weapons long ago.

Secondly, we know about the militants’ plans to simulate chemical attacks by the Syrian army.

And thirdly, all the attempts that have been made repeatedly in the recent past, and all the accusations were used to consolidate the efforts against Assad. We are aware of these goings-on, and they are not interesting. One wants to say, “Boring.”

Megyn Kelly: The bodies of dead children thanks to sarin gas attacks? That is boring?

Vladimir Putin: Are you sure that these deaths are the result of chemical attacks by the Syrian Government? I, on the contrary, blame this on the criminals and radicals, on the terrorists who are staging these crimes in order to lay the blame on President Assad.

Megyn Kelly: That is not what the United Nations has concluded. They autopsied the bodies of the dead children. Your Foreign Minister suggested it was all made up. Do you believe that?

Vladimir Putin: Of course. I am absolutely sure that it was. Because there was no serious investigation.

Megyn Kelly: There were no dead bodies?

Vladimir Putin: Maybe there were dead bodies, which is to be expected in a war. Look how they liberated Mosul: it was razed to the ground. Look how they liberated Raqqa: the dead have not yet been removed from the ruins or buried. Do you want to talk about this?

Megyn Kelly: That is what we call whataboutism. That is you pointing to somebody else’s bad behaviour to justify your wrong or that of your ally. We are talking about Assad and dead children thanks to sarin gas. Sarin gas. And you are telling an international audience it never happened?

Vladimir Putin: Look here, to be sure that this was indeed how it happened, a thorough investigation must be conducted and evidence must be gathered at the site. Nothing of this has been done. Let us do this.

Megyn Kelly: Let us do it. They wanted to investigate the helicopters and the UN wanted to go and check the helicopters that were on site. And Russia said no. Russia said no. Why?

Vladimir Putin: There was nothing of the kind. Russia did not say “No.” Russia is for a full-scale investigation. If you do not know this, I am telling you this now. It is not true that we are against an objective investigation. That is a lie. It is a lie just as the vial with the white substance that allegedly proved that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which the CIA gave to the US Secretary of State. He later apologised, but the damage had been done, the country had been ruined. This is yet another piece of fake news, which has no substance behind it. An investigation should be conducted to gather the substance. We are in favour of such an investigation.

Megyn Kelly: Since the beginning of the year, there have been at least four chlorine-based chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Our Secretary of State Tillerson just said that Russia bears the responsibility for this given your earlier promises to reign in chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Your response?

Vladimir Putin: I will tell you that a) we have nothing to do with this, and that we demand a full-scale investigation.

As for crimes, go back to Raqqa and at least bury the dead bodies, which are still lying amid the ruins after the air strikes at residential neighbourhoods there. And investigate these attacks. This will give you something to do.

Megyn Kelly: One of the questions that our audiences have is how do we walk this back? How do we get to the place where these two great nations are less adversaries and something closer to allies, which we clearly are not right now. Do you agree we are not?

Vladimir Putin: Unfortunately, we are not. But we were not the ones who made the US our adversary. It was the US, the US Congress, who called Russia its adversary. Why did you do that? Did Russia impose sanctions on the United States? No, it was the US that imposed sanctions on us.

Megyn Kelly: You know why.

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not. Can I ask you a different question? Why did you encourage the government coup in Ukraine? Why did you do that? The US directly acknowledged spending billions of dollars to this end. This was openly acknowledged by US officials. Why do they support government coups and armed fighting in other countries? Why has the US deployed missile systems along our borders?

Listen, Russia and the US should sit down and talk it over in order to get things straight. I have the impression that this is what the current President wants, but he is prevented from doing it by some forces. But we are ready to discuss any matter, be it missile-related issues, cyberspace or counterterrorism efforts. We are ready to do it any moment. But the US should also be ready. The time will come when the political elite in the US will be pushed by public opinion to move in this direction. We will be ready the instant our partners are ready.

Megyn Kelly: Before I leave you, what do you hope your legacy will be?

Vladimir Putin: I strongly believe that my legacy would be to create a powerful development momentum for Russia, and make the country a resilient and balanced democracy that is able to benefit from the latest advances of the technology revolution. We will keep up our efforts to improve our political system and the judiciary. And I am certain that all this, taken together, would strengthen the unity of the Russian Federation and the unity of our people, and enable us to move forward with confidence for years to come.

Megyn Kelly: Mr President, thank you very much for having us here.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Endtime News Updates 03-13-2018

Nikki Haley threatens a military strike if the UN refuses to act against this regime

U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday that the United States was prepared to take matters in our own hands if the U.N. refused to act against the Assad regime in Syria.

Here’s what she said

In a statement given at the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Haley gave a brief history of U.S. involvement in Syria, and warned that military action might be taken against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“This is no cease-fire. This is the Assad regime, Iran and Russia continuing to wage war against their political opponents,” Haley charged.

“If we can’t save families that haven’t seen the sun for weeks because they have been hiding underground to escape barrel bombs,” she said, “then the Security Council is as impotent as its worst critics say it is.”

“When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action,” she said.

“We warn any nation that is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime, the United States remains prepared to act if we must,” Haley added. “It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again.”

See video of full speech:


Russia Threatens Military Action Against US If Washington Strikes Syria

While mystery still surrounds the statement by now-former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who on Monday – when he already knew he was fired – said that Moscow is “clearly” behind the poisoning of Russian double-agent Skripal in the UK and that the Russian action would “trigger a response”, and whether this was a tacit defiance of Trump as he no longer had anything to lose, it is clear that relations between Russia and the US, if not so much Trump, are once again at rock bottom, if not worse.

Confirming this, one week after the WaPo reported that the US is considering new military action against Syria over Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attacks (as on every other prior occasion), the Russian military threatened action against the U.S. if it strikes Syria’s capital city of Damascus.  The threat, by Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov, was reported by Russia media sites such as state news agencies  RIA and Tass, according to CNBC.

The General also said Russia had “reliable information” about militants preparing to falsify a government chemical attack against civilians. In other words, another US-false flag attack, like the one launched in 2013 which nearly caused military conflict between Russia and the US.

Gerasimov predicted that the U.S. would then use this attack to accuse Syrian government troops of using chemical weapons. He added that the U.S. would then plan to launch a missile strike on government districts in Damascus.

“In several districts of Eastern Ghouta, a crowd was assembled with women, children and old people, brought from other regions, who were to represent the victims of the chemical incident, ” Gerasimov said, according to RIA.

But far more ominously, Gerasimov said Russia would respond to a U.S. strike on Syria if the lives of Russian servicemen were threatened, targeting any missiles and launchers involved: “In case there is a threat to the lives of our military, the Russian Armed Force will take retaliatory measures both over the missiles and carriers that will use them,” the Russian General said.

The comments come as Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, which is supported by Russia, continues to carry out airstrikes over the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta just outside Damascus, and where the US has alleged Assad has again used chemical weapons.

The United Nations Security Council had demanded a ceasefire in Syria two weeks ago; on Monday, the U.S. threatened to “act if we must” if the UN ceasefire resolution continues to be ignored. U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hailey, said Monday that the U.S. was drafting a new ceasefire resolution with “no room for evasion” and warned the country was prepared to act.

“It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again,” Haley told the UN Security Council on Monday. “When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Syrian proxy civil war, in which the U.S. and other allies have supported “moderate” rebel groups to topple the Assad regime under the pretext of fighting ISIS, goes on: the war is also seen as a battle for influence between Russia and the West in the Middle East. As ISIS’ influence has waned and rebel-held locations reclaimed, Assad has regained the upper hand in Syria, and so has Russia.

This is why the US has been increasingly eager to provoke Russia.

Still, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that establishing more deescalation zones in Syria was not a priority for now, Reuters reported. He told reporters that it was important to prevent violation of ceasefire agreements in eastern Ghouta, a situation which he planned to discuss with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who is on a visit to Moscow.

Finally, if the US does indeed pursue military action against Syria using the worn out “chemical attack” false flag, and if Russia does indeed retaliate against US warships in the region, remember to go all in stocks, because nothing is quite as bullish – to Keynesians – as World War III.


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Syria becomes a testing ground as Russia revives its defence industry

Half of worldwide arms exports now go to the Middle East

Across rebel-held Syria the roaring sound of incoming jets sends terrified residents scrambling for makeshift shelters.

For Russia’s military, that same sound signifies a degree of success.

While it is still a far second to the United States on the list of global weapons exporters, the war in Syria has served as a marker of Russia’s efforts to sell its own weapons abroad, particularly in the Middle East.

“Today our military industrial complex made our army look in a way we can be proud of,” Vladimir Shamanov, a former commander of Russia’s airborne troops who now serves as head of the Russian Duma’s defence committee, told journalists last month. “As we helped the brotherly Syrian people, we tested over 200 new types of weapons.”

Read more: Russian weapons in Syria

“It’s not an accident that today they are coming to us from many directions to purchase our weapons, including countries that are not our allies.”

Russia’s military had not been fully involved in an active conflict for decades, until its intervention in Syria in 2015 gave it a chance to show off the new weapons it had developed – from the T90 tank to a pair of Su-57 stealth fighter prototypes that were reported to be in Syria in February.

“It’s pretty indicative of how [the] Russian arms industry has become this main pillar of the Russian economy,” said Yury Barmin, an analyst of Russian policy in the Middle East at the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow. “Whether it is good or bad, it’s definitely been something that has been happening – at least the interest in Russian weapons has spiked.”



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Turkish military says it has encircled Syria’s Afrin

Turkish government spokesman says its armed forces has gained control of more than half of the surrounding area and vowed to clear the town of militants



Trump-Russia: Putin criticised for Jewish ‘election meddling’ remark

The Russian president faces a backlash after suggesting minority groups, including Jews, may be responsible for meddling in the 2016 US election.

Vladimir Putin made the comments during a US TV interview with Megyn Kelly.

US lawmakers and Jewish groups are among those criticising him.

Some are publicly asking US President Donald Trump to push Mr Putin for a clarification on what he meant when questioning whether certain groups were actually Russian.

Mr Putin was being asked during the NBC interview about charges of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election after 13 nationals were charged by the US special counsel’s office last month.

“I couldn’t care less because they do not represent the government, I could not care less. They do not represent the interests of the Russian state,” Mr Putin said.

“Maybe they’re not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked.

“Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”

‘Classic anti-Semitic stereotypes’

Mr Putin has been criticised by some groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“President Putin bizarrely has resorted to the blame game by pointing the finger at Jews and other minorities in his country,” ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

“It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that have plagued his country for hundreds of years, with a comment that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The comment refers to a work of fiction published in a Russian newspaper in 1903, which was used to justify propaganda that there was a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal said the “repulsive” remark should be denounced by world leaders.

Julia Davis, a Russian media analyst, said the comments made clear that Mr Putin only considers “ethnically Russian” people nationals, which she labelled a “disturbing distinction”.

Others suggested that Mr Putin was not blaming any group for the interference comments, rather just dismissively running through a list.

The American Jewish committee has said that Mr Putin should clarify the comments “at the earliest opportunity”.


Subterranean water in diamonds confirms Gen. 7 Flood

In an unprecedented recent discovery, new direct evidence corroborated by scientists verifies that oceans of underground water exist deep inside the Earth’s mantle, which was revealed while recovering water trapped inside of diamonds.

University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) geo-scientist Oliver Tschanuner and his colleagues discovered in their latest study that traces of water were trapped inside diamonds while being pushed up – by intense pressure – to Earth’s surface.

More evidence the Flood is not a Christian myth

However, the highly pressurized underground water comes to no surprise to many Christian scientists and other creationists who have been monitoring the latest research, which corroborates the Genesis 7 Flood account described as the “fountains of the great deep” bursting forth to reshape the Earth into the present geographical characteristics we see today.

“While at least three recent studies have found evidence to support the theory, what few scientists are noting is that the discovery of actual droplets of the water hundreds of miles deep below the Earth’s surface corroborates what the Bible said in the Genesis Flood account,” WND reported. “The discovery is being hailed by other scientists as groundbreaking and surprising.”

In his latest study that was published Thursday in the journal, Science, Tschauner was ecstatic to find impurities in diamonds – which typically depreciates their worth – and the water found inside them helps to explain exactly how the topology of the Earth was formed.

“Small inclusions in diamonds brought up from the mantle provide valuable clues to the mineralogy and chemistry of parts of Earth that we cannot otherwise sample,” the Science piece, “VII Inclusions in Diamonds: Evidence for Aqueous Fluid  in Earth’s Deep Mantle” stated. “Tschauner et al. found inclusions of the high-pressure form of water called ice-VII in diamonds sourced from between 410 and 660 km depth – the part of the mantle known as the transition zone … The inclusions suggest that local aqueous pockets form at the transition zone boundary owing to the release of chemically bound water as rock cycles in and out of this region.”

And this groundbreaking discovery was in no way isolated, as Tschauner found water injected inside of diamonds that were jettisoned from miles beneath Earth’s surface in areas spanning the globe – from China, to Botswana, to the Republic of South Africa.

“This shows that this is a global phenomenon,” the UNLV scientist insisted.

With such intense pressure deep within the mantle – which lies beneath the 10-mile-thick layer known as Earth’s crust – water trapped miles underground was not considered likely by most scientists in past decades.

“Scientists theorize the diamonds used in the study were born in the mantle under temperatures reaching more than 1,000-degrees Fahrenheit,” WND explained. “The mantle – which makes up more than 80 percent of the Earth’s volume – is made of silicate minerals containing iron, aluminum, and calcium among others. Until relatively recently, scientists were skeptical that water could be found there.”

Yet Tschauner is elated that his discovery serves to help scientists understand the processes that have formed the Earth – while also helping them to learn where and how heat is produced miles beneath the Earth’s crust.

“These discoveries are important in understanding that water-rich regions in the Earth’s interior can play a role in the global water budget and the movement of heat-generating radioactive elements,” the professor asserted, according to WND. “It’s another piece of the puzzle in understanding how our planet works.”

Ironically, Tschauner made an inadvertent discovery by finding water – which corroborates the Flood account of the Bible – as he was actually looking to find carbon dioxide within the Earth’s crust to prove the global “climate change” theory that the majority of scientists and climatologists are commissioned to prove by today’s academic institutions.

“We’re still looking for it, actually,” Tschauner noted, according to WND.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem mantle petrologist Oded Navon said that the discovery of water in diamonds means that a water-rich fluid exists between the upper and lower mantle – an area known as the “transition zone” – and it is believed that water is present at the top of the lower mantle, as well.

“This is really the first time that we see water at such depths,” Navon shared, according to WND.

Oceans of water underground

The concept of oceans of water underneath the Earth’s surface is nothing new in the scientific community, with another discovery being made back in 2014, when geophysicist Steve Jacobsen of Northwestern University and seismologist Brandon Schmandt from the University of New Mexico found evidence of vast oceans of water being trapped underneath Earth’s mantle.

“Four hundred miles beneath North America, Schmandt and Jacobsen found deep pockets of magma, which indicates the presence of water,” announced based on a report issued by Science. “However, this isn’t water in any of the three forms we are familiar with. The pressure coupled with the high temperatures forces the water to split into a hydroxyl radical (OH) which is then able to combine with the minerals on a molecular level. This water, which is bound up in rock, could indicate the largest water reservoir on the planet. It is believed that plate tectonics cycle the water in and out, and the water affects the partial melting of rock in the mantle.”

Jacobson also confirmed that the discovery of water deep inside the Earth helps scientists understand the processes that shaped it.

“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” Jacobson stated  in a press release. “I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades.”

And this is no small amount of water, as Jacobson said that if just 1 percent of the mantle rock’s weight in the transition zone was water, it would be approximately three times more water than what we see in today’s oceans.

“After decades of searching scientists have discovered that a vast reservoir of water, enough to fill the Earth’s oceans three times over, may be trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface, potentially transforming our understanding of how the planet was formed,” the Guardian reported. “The study used data from the USArray, a network of seismometers across the U.S. that measure the vibrations of earthquakes, combined with Jacobsen’s lab experiments on rocks simulating the high pressures found more than 600km underground.”

The processes taking place deep beneath the Earth’s surface were further detailed in the research.

“It produced evidence that melting and movement of rock in the transition zone – hundreds of kilometers down, between the upper and lower mantles – led to a process where water could become fused and trapped in the rock,” the Guardian’s Melissa Davey recounted from the study. “The discovery is remarkable because most melting in the mantle was previously thought to occur at a much shallower distance, about 80km below the Earth’s surface.”

It was noted that the vast amount of water trapped underneath the Earth could very likely be serving as a buffer for the surface water above the crust.

“If [the stored water] wasn’t there, it would be on the surface of the Earth, and mountaintops would be the only land poking out,” Jacobsen explained to the New Scientist.



Endtime News Updates 03-12-2018


Spirit of Antichrist Surging

Recently channeling through my  TV channels, I heard more than one preacher say that we are to get ready for the “anointing” in these last days. The anointing to which they referred, I found out by listening further, meant, according to the speakers, that a special ability will be placed upon the Church (all within the Body of Christ). The anointing will bring about a great revival and a massive move of the Holy Spirit that will bring a tremendous number of souls to salvation.

The preachers I heard didn’t say where in the Bible this promised anointing is found. At least I missed it if they did give scriptural references.

And that’s the problem I have with this last-days great revival I’ve heard about for years. I can’t find a scriptural proof-text that makes such a promise.

There are references that there will be many saved during the Tribulation. For example, Revelation 7:9-17 foretells a time when a tremendous multitude of saints will bow before the throne of God along with the angelic billions. John the Revelator is told that these are the martyrs who came out of Great Tribulation. God will wipe away all their tears and will comfort them forever in his majestic presence.

There are other references to a multitude of souls being added to God’s Kingdom. All such references, however, are to the time following the Church Age. I can find no specific prophecy that there will be either a great end-of-this-age revival, or of a massive number of souls being added because of such a revival.

Now, there might come a revival and an addition to the Kingdom of the magnitude these preachers proclaim. But if so, it isn’t announced any place in the Bible that I can find.

On the other hand, there are prophecies of the times leading up to the Tribulation that tell quite a different story than the prediction of a last-days revival. Jesus, Himself, said that the love of many will grow cold. People will be like they were in the days of Noah and of Lot–i.e., they will be doing evil and thinking only evil thoughts, while business goes on as usual.

The Apostle Paul tells us that “evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” and that even within the Church, people will be falling for false teachers and doctrines of devils. Not only will these be following “strange winds of doctrine,” but they will “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”

In other words, they won’t endure sound doctrine, but will follow fables. Much of this very thing is going on in the world of Christendom even as I write this.

Paul lists a litany of the characteristics of end-times man as recorded in 2 Timothy 3. Men will have a “form of godliness” but will “deny the power thereof.” Nowhere does Jesus, Paul, or any other of the prophets tell of a time when men would be turning to the Gospel message en masse for the salvation of their souls.

John implies that in the last days, the “spirit of Antichrist” will dominate the human condition. Here is what he writes under Holy Spirit direction:

1 John 2:18–Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

1 John 2:22–Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

1 John 4:3–And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

2 John 1:7–For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Many of the largest church assemblies today fit the portrayal of the Laodicean church. These most dramatically manifest their Antichrist spirit through their 1) turning more and more toward universalism, and 2) embracing replacement theology.

Universalism is the burgeoning belief system that teaches that there are many ways to God the Father and Heaven. It is a direct turning away from Jesus Christ as the only Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6).

Replacement theology is the satanic lie accepted by more and more so-called mainstream Christian ministries that hold that the Church has replaced Israel as recipient of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This, of course, is a massive part of the very satanic ploy that will ultimately bring all peoples of planet earth to Armageddon.

We don’t have to hear of ABC’s The View host Joy Behar mocking Vice President Mike Pence’s hearing Christ speaking to him to know the spirit of Antichrist is surging. Mocking anything and everything to do with the Name of Jesus Christ is rampant, even within much of a large percentage of those who claim Christianity as their spiritual platform. One great example of this is Catholic Pope Francis, who has a number of times proclaimed that there is more than one way to heaven.

This is a blatant display of the Antichrist spirit surging in these closing moments of the Age of Grace.

Spirit of Antichrist Surging


IDF preparing for conflict with ISIS

The IDF is preparing for the possibility that ISIS may become a security threat, now that the terror organization has succeeded in amassing enough money in recent years to carry out terror attacks in close proximity to Israel.

“They’ve always had daring, and they evince much self-confidence against the Egyptian enemy,” said Colonel Avi Rahamim, commander of the IDF’s Sagi Brigade, stationed near the Egyptian border. “They have begun organizing professional army groups, have appointed ersatz commanders, and everything seems to be more organized, allowing them to achieve not-insignificant accomplishments.”

Surprisingly, ISIS’ only successes have been in the Sinai, adjoining Israel.

“Their activities in the Sinai Peninsula have gained strength in the past year,” Rahamim noted. “ISIS is trying to achieve independence in the region, They worked to rob a bank and accumulate money. They’ve accumulated a million dollars, which is just about equal to the organization’s annual budget.”

“We have been analyzing our operational responses to make sure they are appropriate for the enemy facing us. We have observed the way they attack Egyptian targets, and keep adjusting our operational responses in line with the scenarios being played out in our vicinity,” he concluded.


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The OPEC Deal Could Fall Apart In June

Authored by Irina Slav via,

OPEC’s oil production cut agreement could start falling apart soon, as Saudi Arabia and Iran once again face off. This time, however, the spat is over determining what the best price level is for the commodity. That’s what Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

The split, apparently, stems from Saudi Arabia’s insistence that crude oil should be kept closer to US$70 a barrel – a level Brent touched briefly early this year – and Iran’s equal insistence that US$60 is a better place for oil to trade at.

This disagreement could see the cartel start unwinding the cuts as early as June, when it will meet with its partners to discuss progress and next steps. Zanganeh’s explanation of the Iranian stance is anything but a surprise: “If the price jumps [to] around $70 … it will motivate more production in shale oil in the United States,” he told the WSJ.

Zanganeh is not wrong, but the problem is that U.S. drillers have demonstrated that they could pump more at US$60 a barrel, too, so bringing prices closer to that level is not a guaranteed way to stymie U.S. oil production growth. Production has been growing steadily, last week hitting 10.37 million bpd.

The oil production in the United States is not the only problem. The bigger problem is soaring U.S. exports that are eating away the market share of OPEC members. This could be the last drop to swing OPEC in Iran’s favor.

Bloomberg quoted an ING analyst yesterday as saying that crude could fall below US$60 a barrel because of rising U.S. exports to Asia, a key market for every producer. The OPEC deal is under threat, ING commodities strategist said, because U.S. crude supplies are displacing OPEC’s. “The longer the deal goes on, it’s going to start falling apart. They continue to give market share away to the U.S.”



Putin’s Russia: From basket case to resurgent superpower

Vladimir Putin and his Russia look more invincible today than at any other time in his 18 years in power.
Since Putin last faced an election in 2012, Russians have invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, blanket-bombed Syria, been accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election and claimed to have a scary new nuclear arsenal.
“No one listened to us. You listen to us now,” he said earlier this month, boasting about those weapons.
Putin will overwhelmingly win re-election as president on March 18, again. So why bother holding a vote at all?
He disdains democracy as messy and dangerous — yet he craves the legitimacy conferred by an election. He needs tangible evidence that Russians need him and his great-power vision more than they worry about the freedoms he has muffled, the endemic corruption he has failed to eradicate, the sanctions he invited by his actions in Crimea and Ukraine.
“Any autocrat wants love,” said analyst Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center, and Putin gets that love “from high support in elections.”
Expected to win as much as 80 percent of the vote, Putin will further cement his authority over Russia, a czar-like figure with a democratic veneer.
During his 14 years as president and four years as prime minister of the world’s largest country, Putin has transformed Russia’s global image, consolidated power over its politics and economy and imprisoned opponents. He has offered asylum to Edward Snowden, quieted extremism in long-restive Chechnya, hosted phenomenally expensive Olympic Games and won the right to stage this year’s World Cup.
Now 65-years-old, he’s not planning to leave anytime soon.
For 19-year-old art history student Maria Pogodina, “Putin is all of my conscious life, and so it’s clear I have a lot to say thank you for.”
Yet Pogodina worries about some of his policies as she prepares to vote and hopes to see a gradual transformation.
“I am not talking about revolution, no way,” the teenager said, summing up the stance of many Russians of all ages. “I hope and believe it won’t happen and that we can avoid civil conflict.”
The election will confirm Putin’s argument that to improve life in Russia, the country needs continuity more than it needs drastic change, independent media, political opposition, environmental activism or rights for homosexuals and other minorities.
Russia will remain disproportionately dependent on oil prices, and its 144 million people will stay poorer than they should be — and many will remain convinced that the world is out to get them.
Putin’s most important mission in the next six years will be working out a plan for what happens when his next term expires in 2024: Will he anoint a friendly successor or invent a scheme that allows him to keep holding the reins?
Today’s all-powerful Putin bears little resemblance to the man who took his tentative first steps as president on the eve of the new millennium.
Catapulted to power on Boris Yeltsin’s surprise resignation as president, Putin walked into his new office Dec. 31, 1999, in a suit that seemed too big for his shoulders. His low-level KGB background made him seem shifty, and many Russians regarded him as little more than a puppet of the oligarchs then pulling the Kremlin’s strings.
Russia was still emerging from a tumultuous post-Soviet hangover. Contract killings dominated headlines, its army couldn’t afford socks for its soldiers, and its budget was still dependent on foreign loans.
Eighteen years later, Putin’s friends run the economy and Russia’s military is resurgent.
An entire generation has never known a Russia without Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin in charge. And an increasing number of other leaders — President Donald Trump among them — are emulating his nationalist, besieged fortress mentality.
The once-feisty Russian media has fallen silent. Kremlin propaganda now has a global audience, via far-reaching networks RT and Sputnik.
Yet while Putin looks invulnerable on the surface, he has reason to worry.
The Kremlin is lashing out at opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s recent investigations of corruption, fearing they could spur public uproar. And the battle for succession threatens to cause damaging splits within Putin’s inner circle.
Meanwhile, Russia’s disillusioned youth could turn against him. Some have joined Navalny’s protests; others just won’t bother to vote, quietly sapping his power.
And a newly elected Putin is likely to continue the Cold War-like relationship with Trump’s United States.
Russia sees the investigation into alleged meddling in the U.S. election as concocted — but also as a sign that Russia is important again, and that Americans are obsessed with weakening Russia at all costs.
“Does the U.S. treat Russia equally? Does it take Russia seriously? That’s an enormously important benchmark” for Russians, Rojansky said. “They are not benchmarking themselves against China.”
Ever since a leading U.S. diplomat was recorded giving instructions to Ukrainian opposition figures, Russians have been convinced that Washington caused the Ukraine conflict by messing in Russia’s backyard, and that America bears responsibility for the ensuing fighting. It has killed thousands and remains unresolved.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea prompted U.S. and European Union sanctions, sending Putin’s popularity skyrocketing.
Crimea is framed as Russia’s biggest victory in the Putin era, a restoration of might and righting of historical wrongs. To drive the message home, the March 18 election is being held on the fourth anniversary of the takeover.
The last time Putin faced voters, he also was guaranteed victory but was on shakier ground. A movement led by Navalny had brought masses to the streets of Moscow and other cities, as the educated middle class chafed at Putin’s backward-looking vision.
Since then, Navalny has been arrested repeatedly and is barred from running for president for criminal convictions that are seen as politically driven. Other opposition figures also have been sidelined, such as onetime billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent 10 years in prison for tax fraud charges seen as punishment for political ambitions. He now lives abroad.
Meanwhile, Russia’s problems persist.
Putin has barely bothered with campaigning. When he does, he promises a brighter future, implicitly acknowledging a lackluster present.
With around 20 million Russians currently living below the official poverty line of about $180 a month, he pledges higher wages and pensions. He wants better health care to boost life expectancy from 73, several years below European levels. Recent space launch failures have drawn attention to troubles with the struggling aerospace industry, once a pillar of Soviet pride, and he wants Russia to catch up on robotic technologies and artificial intelligence.
“To put it mildly, Putin will have plenty to do in his next term,” Kolesnikov said.
Notably, he must ensure that his country can outlast him.
Political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin asked, “sooner or later there will be no Putin, and at that point, what will we do with Russia?”