Month: September, 2015
Syria, USSR Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation which remains in force
| September 30, 2015 | 9:57 pm | political struggle, Russia, Syria | No comments
In this Oct. 12, 2011 file photo, supporters of the Syrian government hold a pro-Russian banner to show their support for President Bashar Assad and to thank Russia and China for blocking a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria for its brutal crackdown, during a demonstration in Damascus, Syria.

Syria, USSR Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation Which Remains in Force

10/01/2015

Continuing a long history of cooperation, Syrian President Bashar Assad has requested that Russian combat jets launch airstrikes on positions of Islamic State (ISIL) extremists in the Syrian territory. The airstrikes began on Wednesday.

MOSCOW, (Sputnik) — The cooperation deal between Syria and the USSR was first signed almost 35 years ago.On October 8, 1980, the governments of the Soviet Union and the Syrian Arab Republic signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in Moscow. According to the document, the USSR and SAR committed themselves to expanding and strengthening bilateral friendship and cooperation between the two states, including the areas of politics, economy, military, in science and technology as well as culture.

The two parties pledged to strengthen universal peace and security of nations, to facilitate détente and embody it in specific forms of cooperation, to resolve contentious issues by peaceful means and to eliminate hegemonism and aggression from international relations.

The late-20th-century document stressed that the USSR would respect the Syrian Arab Republic’s policy of nonalignment, an important factor for preserving and strengthening international peace and security and ensuring détente.

The treaty expressly stated that in the occurence of situations jeopardizing peace or security for either party, the two parties would promptly contact each other to coordinate positions and cooperate to eliminate emerging threats so that peace can be restored.The treaty stipulated expanded mutual exchange of opinion and regular consultations on issues of interest to both parties, with a focus on Middle Eastern-related challenges.

The USSR and the Syrian Arab Republic pledged to strengthen and expand mutually beneficial economic and scientific-technological cooperation, as well as to exchange experience in industry, agriculture, irrigation and water resource management.

The two signatories agreed to cooperate on crude oil and other natural resource production and extraction, as well as in communications, transportation and in training specialists.

The treaty stipulated an expanded mutual trade on an equal basis, with mutual benefits and a most-favored-nation principle.

The parties pledged to cooperate and exchange experience in science, art, literature, education and healthcare, as well as information, cinematography, tourism and sports.

According to the document, the parties pledged to expand military cooperation in the interest of strengthening defense capabilities.

Each party agreed not to join alliances or any groups of states that foment actions or events directed against the other party.

The contracting parties pledged not to sign any international agreements running counter to the treaty.The treaty was originally to remain in force for a period of 20 years from the date of its enactment. If neither of the contracting parties stated its desire to terminate the treaty six months prior to this deadline, the document would remain in force for an additional five years until one contracting party notified the other party in writing about its intention to terminate the treaty six months before this five-year period expired.

On November 14, 1980, the USSR’s Presidium of the Supreme Soviet — the USSR Parliament — issued an executive order ratifying the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Syrian Arab Republic.

The agreement remains in force to this day.

Russia’s Role in Syria Offers New Opportunities Over Failed US Policy
Russian Perspective in Syria Based on State’s Sovereignty
‘Without Cooperation With Russia, US Is Only a Second Fiddle in Syria’
Support for Syria Turning Russia Into a ‘Diplomatic Superpower’
Russia Supports Syria’s Statehood, Not Assad in Specific – Foreign Ministry

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151001/1027817141/Treaty-of-Friendship-Cooperation-Between-USSR-Syria-Which-Remains-in-Force.html#ixzz3nHUAVvil

Communists to contest United Russia’s “parliamentary monopoly” in Constitutional Court

Communists to contest United Russia’s “parliamentary monopoly” in Constitutional Court

http://www.rt.com/politics/316786-communists-to-contest-united-russias/
Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation © Maksim Blinov
The chief lawyer of the Communist Party faction in the State Duma said that his comrades would soon oppose United Russia’s long-term domination in parliament and seek changes that would not allow any party to get a majority of seats.

We are preparing a quite unique appeal to the Constitutional Court concerning the monopoly of one party in the State Duma,” MP Vadim Solovyov said in an interview with TASS news agency.

He went on to explain that the Constitution provides that there should be no monopoly on power in Russia, including the monopoly on state power and ideology. Communists intend to use this principle and propose a major amendment to the law that would not allow one party to get more than half of all parliamentary seats. He noted that the same law might introduce quotas for parliamentary representation for one political party, for example, of 47 percent.

Constant holding of over 50 percent of parliamentary seats [by one party] is a trait of a totalitarian state,” Solovyov said.

READ MORE: Communists rally against election results

This is the first time the Communists have brought up the idea of a major parliamentary reform, but previously they have repeatedly proposed to change the principles of forming a government to give the parliamentary opposition a way to share power. The latest motion, which has yet to be considered by the Lower House, makes it obligatory for all parliamentary parties to nominate their candidates for ministers’ posts proportionally to their representation in the State Duma. The parliamentary majority party would get only one guaranteed post, that of prime minister. The candidates for government posts can be MPs or from outside parliament.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is the largest opposition party in parliament, holding 92 out of 450 seats. The parliamentary majority party United Russia holds 238 seats.

According to public opinion polls, United Russia’s domination is likely to remain after the next parliamentary elections due in September 2016. In early September, the independent Levada polling agency found out that 41 percent of Russians intended to support United Russia if the elections took place next weekend. United Russia’s popularity among those who had already decided to vote was even higher at 61 percent.

Africa/Global: Climate Action Beyond Paris
| September 30, 2015 | 8:48 pm | Africa, Analysis, Climate Change, political struggle | No comments

Africa/Global: Climate Action Beyond Paris

AfricaFocus Bulletin
September 30, 2015 (150930)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“Temperatures over subtropical southern Africa have risen at more
than twice the global rate over the last five decades.” – CSIR,
South Africa. *** “To date, 436 institutions and 2,040 individuals
across 43 countries and representing $2.6 trillion in assets have
committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.” – Arabella
Advisors, USA. *** “Kenya is emerging as a hotspot for off-grid
solar power. A 2014 study by M-KOPA Solar and InterMedia shows that
14 per cent of the surveyed population use solar as their primary
lighting and charging source.” – The Nation, Kenya

For a version of this Bulletin in html format, more suitable for
printing, go to http://www.africafocus.org/docs15/clim1509.php, and
click on “format for print or mobile.”

To share this on Facebook, click on
https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=http://www.africafocus.org/docs15/clim1509.php

While news media in coming months may focus primarily on the global
climate summit coming up in Paris two months from now, it is already
clear to everyone that governmental commitments to reduce carbon
emissions to be made in Paris will fall short of that needed to curb
global warming short of catastrophic results for the planet [See
http://tinyurl.com/nq3m2wt for summary and links to a report on the
“intended national determined contributions” (INDCs).]

Even more than the results in Paris, however, the race to save the
planet and to limit the damage to regions already most affected,
particularly those in Africa, will be determined by actions before
and after Paris, around the world. Shell’s decision to stop drilling
in the Arctic in response to massive public pressure is one example.
The quotes above point to a few of the other places that action
is making a difference and can make more.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains two short articles and one
excerpt from a longer report on different fronts of the fight for
significant action on climate change and climate justice: global
fossil-fuel divestment, Africa-based and Africa-specific research on
the rapidly mounting damage from global warming, and one example of
the accelerating growth of off-grid solar power, particularly in
East Africa (See M-KOPA website at http://solar.m-kopa.com).

Another relevant article not included here is “55GW of Solar PV Will
Be Installed Globally in 2015, Up 36% Over 2014; Solar will account
for roughly half of new electricity capacity out to 2020.”
GreenTechMedia, June 17, 2015 http://tinyurl.com/pkkkttq
Note that GreenTechMedia (http://www.greentechmedia.com/) is a
fundamental source for following global technological developments
in renewable energy.

For talking points and previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on climate
change and the environment, visit
http://www.africafocus.org/intro-env.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Measuring the Growth of the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean
Energy Investment Movement

Arabella Advisors, September 2015

[Excerpts only. For full report visit
http://www.arabellaadvisors.com/ – direct URL:
http://tinyurl.com/o6ng6p5]

Executive Summary

To date, 436 institutions and 2,040 individuals across 43 countries
and representing $2.6 trillion in assets have committed to divest
from fossil fuel companies. The divestment movement has grown
exponentially since Climate Week in September 2014, when Arabella
Advisors last reported that 181 institutions and 656 individuals
representing over $50 billion in assets had committed to divest. At
that time, divestment advocates pledged to triple these numbers by
the December 2015 Paris UN climate negotiations. Three months before
the negotiations, we have already witnessed a fifty-fold increase in
the total combined assets of those committed to divest from fossil
fuels.

* Pledges have spread to sectors not traditionally associated with
divestment, including pension funds and private companies. In 2014,
foundations, universities, faith-based organizations, NGOs, and
other mission-driven organizations led the movement. Today, large
pension funds and private-sector actors such as insurance companies
hold over 95 percent of the total combined assets of those committed
to divest.

* While historically based in the United States, the divestment
movement now spans the globe. In 2014, 78 percent of divesting
institutions were US-based. Today, 57 percent are US-based.
Institutions that have chosen to divest represent more than 646
million individuals around the world.

* Climate risk to investment portfolios is helping drive the
exponential growth of divestment. Reports by Citigroup analysts,
HSBC, Mercer, the International Energy Agency, Bank of England,
Carbon Tracker Initiative, and others have offered evidence of a
significant, quantifiable risk to portfolios exposed to fossil fuel
assets in a carbon constrained world. The leaders of several of the
largest institutions to divest in the past year have cited climate
risk to investment portfolios as a key factor in their decision.

* Thanks to increasing commitments to invest and a proliferation of
fossil free products, more capital is flowing toward climate
solutions. Globally, investment in clean energy reached $310 billion
in 2014. Among those pledging to divest, many are also committing to
invest in climate solutions: those institutions and individuals that
have pledged to both divest and invest in clean energy collectively
hold $785 billion in assets. Other Key Areas of Growth:

* The faith community is making a strong case for the moral
responsibility to act on climate and to provide clean energy access
to the world’s poor, bolstering the divestment movement. Faith
leaders of diverse religions and creeds are demanding our world’s
leaders take meaningful action to curb climate change at the UN
climate negotiations in Paris in December. Many are also divesting
their own assets of fossil fuels: 126 faith-based organizations with
a collective $24 billion in assets have committed to divest.

* University commitments have nearly tripled in the past year, as 40
educational institutions with $130 billion in assets have pledged to
divest. A number of prominent universities have committed in the
last year, including the University of California, Georgetown, and
Oxford. The University of California is the largest higher education
commitment to date, with a $98 billion portfolio.

* Divestment by state and local governments worldwide is also
growing: The California General Assembly voted this month to divest
its $476 billion public employee pension funds from companies that
get at least half of their revenue from coal mining. Providence,
Rhode Island became one of the largest cities to commit to divesting
all its funds from top coal companies. In Australia, the city of
Newcastle— home to the largest coal port in the world—voted to
divest, as did the government of the Australian Capital Territory.

* Foundation pledges have grown rapidly since September 2014, as 116
foundations with over $10 billion in assets have committed to divest
from fossil fuels.

The surge in the divestment and investment movement comes at a
critical moment, as the world’s leaders converge on Paris in
December 2015 to negotiate an agreement to curb catastrophic
warming. The growth of divestment is adding to mounting pressure
globally for governments to make meaningful commitments to
transition to a clean energy economy. Divesting and investing in
clean energy has offered millions of individuals across the world an
opportunity to take direct action on climate. A large and mobilized
constituency is now demanding political and financial action on
climate, and this pressure will likely continue to build
irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations in Paris.

A History of the Divestment Movement

The fossil fuel divestment movement was born when climate advocates
decided to directly challenge the fossil fuel industry. Inspired by
the moral arguments of the historical anti-war and anti-apartheid
divestment campaigns, a group of students launched a coordinated
series of divestment efforts on half a dozen college campuses in
2011, calling on their administrations to divest endowments from
coal and other fossil fuels and invest in clean energy and “just
transition” strategies to empower those most impacted by
environmental degradation and climate change. By spring 2012, the
campaign had spread to an estimated 50 campuses. Since then,
students, alumni, and professors have launched sit-ins, rallies, and
occupations of administration offices on campuses around the world.

The movement gained steam as the moral arguments of the student
divestment campaigns converged with an increasing recognition of
financial risks associated with investment in fossil fuels. In the
summer of 2012, author and longtime climate activist Bill McKibben
published “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” in Rolling Stone,
forging a link between fossil fuel divestment and the need to keep
global warming under two degrees Celsius (2° C). Drawing on the
groundbreaking analysis “Unburnable Carbon” by the London-based
Carbon Tracker Initiative, he argued that a broad-based global
movement should directly confront the fossil fuel industry because
its viability is rooted in existing carbon reserves that cannot be
burned without severe consequences for the climate. McKibben,
350.org, and other leading climate organizers threw their support
behind the student divestment campaigns, launching a global
divestment effort.

The movement quickly grew beyond universities as new sectors
responded to the call to act. A diverse group of faith
congregations, environmental NGOs, municipalities, and health care
organizations signed on as early adopters of divestment. Led by the
Wallace Global Fund, 17 foundations—controlling $1.8 billion in
assets—launched “Divest-Invest Philanthropy” in response to the
movement’s charge that foundations should not hold assets in a
fossil fuel industry that worked in direct opposition to their
stated missions. Ten cities, led by Seattle, announced they would
also divest from fossil fuels. “Cities that do so will be leaders in
creating a new model for quality of life, environmental
sustainability, and economic success,” argued Seattle Mayor Mike
McGinn.

As the broader climate movement reached a crossroads in the fall of
2014, the divestment campaign won global recognition as a critical
component of climate action. In September 2014, the world’s leading
climate advocates converged on New York City for Climate Week, which
included the “People’s Climate March,” an unprecedented event that
saw 400,000 people take to the streets to demand that the world’s
leaders act on climate. The week of action coincided with the United
Nation’s Climate Summit, which sought to catalyze meaningful climate
action in advance of formal international negotiations to reach a
global climate treaty in 2015. During Climate Week, divestment
advocates announced that, as of September 2014, 181 institutions and
local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion
in assets had pledged to divest from fossil fuels. A report by
Arabella Advisors (http://www. arabellaadvisors.com/) found that, in
just three years, the divestment campaign had mobilized billions of
dollars in capital and engaged a broad segment of society in its
efforts to accelerate the transition to a clean-energy economy.

The movement’s growth was heralded by world leaders and covered
widely in the global media. Prominently featured was a notable
commitment by the heirs of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller
to divest the Rockefeller Brothers Fund endowment. The divestment
and investment movement was recognized in the UN’s formal climate
summit proceedings as one of many important actions to catalyze the
transition to a clean energy economy. At the same time, Archbishop
Desmond Tutu issued a stark call to action on climate, calling for
“an end to the fossil fuel era” and an “apartheid- style boycott to
save the planet.” In a press conference announcing that the
divestment movement had exceeded $50 billion in total assets of
those committing, leading advocates set the bar even higher for
2015, pledging to triple the total assets by the 2015 Paris UN
climate negotiations. Since then, the total combined assets of those
committing to divest has increased, fifty-fold, expanding in scope
and scale in ways no one fully anticipated.

****************************************************

CSIR projects drastic temperature increase over Africa

11 September 2015

CSIR climate modellers believe that 2015 is on its way to be the
warmest year ever recorded. This is partially due to climate-change,
and partially due to a massive El Nino event currently developing in
the Pacific Ocean. Temperatures over subtropical southern Africa
have risen at more than twice the global rate over the last five
decades.

Moreover, further warming of between 4 – 6 degrees C over the
subtropics and 3 – 5 degrees C over the tropics are projected by the
end of the century under low mitigation, relative to the present-day
climate. This was revealed in a CSIR study using a regional climate
model integrated on a powerful computer-cluster at its Centre for
High Performance Computing (CHPC), to obtain detailed projections of
future climate change over Africa.

This study comes ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 21st Conference of the Parties (CoP 21),
due to take place in Paris, France in November 2015. This meeting
aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on
climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees C.

“If the negotiations fail to ensure a high-mitigation future, we are
likely to see rapidly rising surface temperature across the
continent,” says Dr Francois Engelbrecht, CSIR Principal Researcher
and leader of the study entitled, “Projections of rapidly rising
surface temperatures over Africa under low mitigation.”

Africa is particularly vulnerable to excessive temperature increases
due to the continent’s dependence on subsistence farming and rain-
fed agriculture. “For many regions, the impact of temperature
increases on the agricultural and biodiversity sectors may be
significant, stemming from temperature-related extreme events such
as heat-waves, wild fires and agricultural drought,” explains Dr
Engelbrecht.

Heatwaves are rare events over Africa under present day conditions.
The highest number of heat wave days occurs over the Limpopo river
basin region in southern Africa, the eastern interior and east coast
regions of South Africa and the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.
Drastic increased occurrences of heat wave days may be expected
across the continent under climate change, contributing to decreased
maize crop yield through the exceedance of critical temperature
thresholds increases in livestock mortality and adverse impacts on
human health. If a heat wave occurs during a drought, which dries
out vegetation, it can contribute to bushfires and wildfires.
Wildfires cause large financial losses to agriculture, livestock
production and forestry in Africa on an annual basis.

“Globally, Africa is the single largest source of biomass burning
emissions,” says Engelbrecht. “It is very important to understand
the impacts of increasing occurrences of fires on the African
savannas, as well as potential feedbacks to the regional and global
climate system”. Moreover, Engelbrecht and his co-authors point out
in the paper that general reductions in soil-moisture are plausible
to occur across the continent, as a result of enhanced evaporation
that occurs in response to increasing surface temperatures. “In the
subtropics, this effectively implies a longer burning season and a
shorter growing season”, says Engelbrecht.

Considering the fact that African temperatures in the subtropics are
projected to rise at 1.5 times the global rate of temperature
increase (an estimate that may be conservative) and the aim of the
upcoming UNFCCC negations seeking to keep global warming below 2
degrees C compared to pre-industrial temperatures – the Long Term
Global Goal (LTGG), Engelbrecht is of the opinion that the trends
and projections of rapidly rising African temperatures should be a
key consideration at the UNFCCC negotiations. “The relatively high
rate of temperature increases over Africa should be considered when
deciding on the suitability of the LTGG of the UNFCCC in terms of
climate-change impacts in Africa” Under low mitigation, the world is
likely to experience an increase in global average surface
temperature of 3 degrees C or more, and the relatively strong
temperature signal over Africa is of particular concern within this
context.”

The full paper, which has been published in Environmental Research
Letters, is available here: http://tinyurl.com/qxlzq59

***************************************************

“M-KOPA Solar connects 250,000 homes to power in East Africa”

Daily Nation, September 23, 2015

http://www.nation.co.ke – direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/oyof6hz

In Summary

M-KOPA is one of the fastest growing power providers in the region,
connecting solar to over 500 new homes each day.

Each M-KOPA Solar home is calculated to save $750, compared to using
kerosene over a four-year period.

The battery-powered 8W home system has three lights, a phone-
charging facility and a chargeable radio.

By Edwin Okoth

A local ‘pay-as-you-go’ off grid energy provider has announced
connecting 250,000 homes across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to a
solar power system.

M-Kopa Solar which provides payment plan for supply of a solar
lighting system, a radio and phone charging apparatus said the
achievement was in line with its target to connect one million
customers by 2018 to its solar power systems.

The firm’s Managing Director and Co-Founder Jesse Moore said the
growth in connected customers was satisfactory as the region renewed
focus on renewable energy.

“Last September we celebrated 100,000 customers, and a year later we
are already at a quarter-million. With hundreds of great customers
coming on board every day, we are helping East Africa leapfrog over
the grid to enjoy cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable solar power,”
Mr Moore said.

Off-Grid Solar Power

Kenya is emerging as a hotspot for off-grid solar power.

A 2014 study by M-KOPA Solar and InterMedia shows that 14 per cent
of the surveyed population use solar as their primary lighting and
charging source.

M-KOPA is one of the fastest growing power providers in the region,
connecting solar to over 500 new homes each day.

The battery-powered 8W home system has three lights, a phone-
charging facility and a chargeable radio.

The savings generated by using off grid solar over kerosene are said
to be substantial for individual households and the broader East
African economy.

Alex Nduati, an Athi river resident became the plan’s 250,000th
customer when he purchased an M-KOPA III solar home system.

“I am so excited to take home a solar system that will give me much
more value than kerosene, and with M-KOPA’s daily payment plan it is
affordable for me. I purchased this system for my rural home where
there is no access to electricity,” Mr Nduati said.

Each M-KOPA Solar home is calculated to save $750, compared to using
kerosene over a four-year period.

This means that the combined projected savings by the 250,000
households using M-KOPA Solar is $187 Million.

The Nairobi-headquartered, M-KOPA Solar now has a network of over
1,500 direct sales agents and 100 customer service centres across
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

*****************************************************

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a
particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please
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or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about
reposted material, please contact directly the original source
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RESPONSE TO: Bernie Sanders: Barack Obama was naive when it came to Congress
| September 30, 2015 | 8:46 pm | political struggle | No comments
By A. Shaw
Obama made two catastrophic mistakes in his first term.
OBAMA’S FIRST MISTAKE
Obama disbanded his campaign’s magnificent organization that arose in 2007 and 2008, a powerful political force that should have been used after the Nov. 2008 victory to attack political foes and defend political friends.
In other words, Obama should have transformed his transitory campaign into an enduring mass movement after his Nov. 2008 victory.
In Nov. 2008, Obama suggested that U.S. Left return to its customary activities — streetwalking, babbling, and recruiting deadbeats.
In 2008, the sobbing U.S. Left accepted Obama’s ass-kissing suggestion.
Consequently, the working and middle classes lost a precious apparatus.
OBAMA’S SECOND MISTAKE
While Obama was president-elect from Nov. 2008 to Jan. 2009, he  grew obsessed and deranged by his preoccupation over the idea of “bipartisan governance.”
Wherever Obama went or stopped somewhere, he windbagged about “bipartisan governance,” as if the Buddha, Moses, the Nazarene, the Prophet Muhammad and Jesse Jackson had anointed this bipartisan  nonsense.
GOP reactionaries in the House and Senate informed Obama that his ideal of “bipartisan governance” won’t get the job done.
The GOP reactionaries  insisted that the only way an agreement on spending, the deficit, and imperialist aggressions could be reached, required that Obama kiss the asses of the assembled GOPs.
Obama kissed and requested reciprocity.
The GOPs replied that they don’t kiss liberals, socialists, and Communists.
During his second term, Obama has tried to wipe the mess from around his mouth.
Bernie Sanders: Barack Obama was naïve when it came to Congress
| September 30, 2015 | 8:42 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

The Buzz

September 29, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Barack Obama was naive when it came to Congress

But the Vermont senator isn’t sure how he would do things differently

The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

Bernie and beyond
| September 30, 2015 | 8:26 pm | Analysis, Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Bernie and Beyond

http://mltoday.com/article/2264-bernie-and-beyond/30

By Greg Godels and Joseph Jamison
The US left, with declining influence on events here and afar, is caught in a consuming debate over the Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for President.Arrayed on the left of the left are the skeptics, some arguing, as Bruce Dixon did in Black Agenda Report, that Sanders is a “sheep dog” for the Democratic Party, a false candidate, a loyal Democrat running to rally the Party’s more left-leaning base into the Hillary/Biden corral.Counterpunch has equally served as a base for those dissecting Sanders proclaimed leftism, exposing his shabby record on almost all foreign policy matters and his dogged economism: reducing nearly all justice issues to the question of economic inequality. He has become a kind of Piketty-candidate.

Arrayed elsewhere are those who see the Sanders campaign as of some value to the left, some importance to the cause of political independence, or, broadly speaking, a beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak political landscape.

Sanders supporters point to the rallies and opinion poll numbers as demonstrating a thirst for progressive politics that is latent in the general public. Indeed, they do demontrate such thirst. But the question remains: does Sanders intend to or will he be able to quench that thirst?

Excited by Jeremy Corbyn’s recent success in attaining the British Labour Party leadership, many on the left see a parallel with the Sanders campaign. Nothing could be more misleading.

Corbyn is a man of the left, a leader who came from left movements, led left movements, and relies on the support of left movements. He thanked his backers for their help in a column he regularly writes for the UK Morning Star, a paper supported by the working class and friendly to Marxists. His close associates have deep roots in the left, the labor movement, and the anti-imperialist movements.

Bernie Sanders has been a career politician for over 40 years. He has not used his considerable influence to encourage independent non-electoral actions.

Corbyn is engaged in an intense struggle for the future of his party. The right wing of the Labour Party is now on the defensive. Corbyn eagerly faces a battle to establish a labor- based, anti-imperialist agenda on a party that formerly rivaled the Conservative Party in its embrace of neo-liberalism, imperial aggression, and corporate coddling. While he has not won a general election, he is in a position to radically change the direction of the Labour Party going forward. Barring a party coup, he has years to build on his victory.

Sanders has no opportunity to change the course of the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton has garnered a huge list of endorsements from the party’s elected officials; Sanders has enjoyed only a handful of endorsements from minor officials. Clearly, there is no rebellion boiling within the corporate dominated Democratic Party. Further, Sanders has pledged to endorse and support the nominee after the primary elections. He will not lead an insurgency within or outside of the party. Whatever Sanders accomplishes in the primary will dissolve afterward. The morning after Super Tuesday 2016, or thereabouts, Sanders supporters are almost certain to scratch their heads and wonder what exactly they got in return for all their toils.

For those looking for a guide in the debate, Marxist theory demonstrates the patterns of bourgeois governance and the historically evolved institutions designed to preserve ruling class power. Marxist Victor Perlo summarizes the theory simply, but accurately:

In the United States, elective offices are divided between representatives of two capitalist parties, Republican and Democratic. There are differences in the identity of the main groups that usually support Republicans and those that mainly support Democrats, but these differences are not essential on the main questions. The majority of the most powerful magnates prefer to support the Republicans, who are the most reactionary in domestic policy, but enough of them will shift to the Democrats when such a shift is considered desirable. Frequent shifts between the two parties are necessary because the policies and actions of the administrations– of whichever party– bring about mass disillusionment among the voters, who had been deluded by demagogic promises of campaigners. (Super Profits and Crisis: Modern US Capitalism, 1988, pp. 258-259)

Where, we should ask, does Bernie Sanders fit into this characterization of the two-party system? Is his campaign different than earlier campaigns, earlier Democratic “insurgencies” that served as a safety valve for mass dissatisfaction? Doesn’t Perlo’s account explain the ruling class shift to Obama (demonstrated by the flow of corporate campaign contributions)? Wasn’t mass dissatisfaction with Bush defused by Obama-mania? As the Perlo quote implies, the glue holding together this brilliant edifice for bourgeois rule is the two-party system (and the lack of a working class party). Does Sanders challenge this edifice?

He might challenge it, if he had not conceded beforehand that he would not run as an independent and, therefore, not challenge it.

Writing in the same year (1988), a group of Soviet social scientists collectively offered the following appraisal of the US two-party system. First, the Soviet analysts reject the idea that the US two-party system is unique. They view this system as one of the models of capitalist society’s political structure:

The most important [difference] is that no other party, except a bourgeois one, has managed to fit into the system… As we see it, the basic mission of that institution consists in protecting bourgeois social relations and not abstract national interests…

The continual transformation of the consensus-alternative elements in party stands serves as the most important means for the two-party institution to oppose the movement for independent political action.

Thus, the two-party system quite firmly neutralizes popular attempts to break free of the ruling class’ political control. No wonder Lenin called it “one of the most powerful means of preventing the rise of an independent working-class, i.e., genuinely socialist, party.” …[M]uch of the credit in the fight against the movements for independent action goes to the Democratic Party which, since the late 19th century, has performed immense services for the US Establishment by integrating within its structure social forces seeking to break free of the control of the two-party tandem…

Thus, it has been stated that the consensus-alternative principle [“Without consensus, the two-party system would be unable to effectively defend the common interests of the ruling class. Without offering an alternative, the parties would completely lose their individual character”  – A. A. Mishin] opens up wide scope for maneuver by the components of the two-party system in order to hold class contradictions in check and helps them retain their dominating position in the political process. (From the preface and introduction to The US Two-Party System: Past and Present)

To our mind, little has changed in the two-party system since the Soviet scholars made this assessment. The recent history of Howard Dean’s Deaniac movement and the Obama “hope and change” movement surely fit squarely into the Soviet analysis: both were successful in “integrating within [the Democratic Party] structure social forces seeking to break free of the control of the two-party tandem [system].” Both were successful in dissipating voter disillusionment. Sanders fits the same mold.

Some may see the Marxist position as fatalistic, shutting every avenue to change through electoral politics.

That would be a misunderstanding.

The Marxist position points to two tasks essential for escaping the two-party trap: establishing a political movement of independence — independent of the two parties — and building a working class-based party. Neither result will spring forth fully formed. Working on one or both projects is a thankless, difficult commitment — far more difficult than jumping on a Democratic Party bandwagon for a couple of months every four years.

Absent from most discussions about political independence is a sense of crisis. The left, above all, should reason historically and recognize that, given the recent blows to US democracy, time is not on our side. Accepting the bourgeois election cycle  — and going with a corporate Democrat one more time — carries an unseen  cost.  It is to postpone work on the historical task of breaking up Big Business’ two-party system. The corporate grip on electoral politics will be tighter in 2018 and 2020 and beyond. The full, obscene consequences of the “Citizens United” decision and the “superpacs” are still to be felt. Billions of corporate Dark Money dollars will flow into the 2016 campaigns. Union density drifts lower and lower. We must act with urgency to build political independence.

Activists for progressive change have alternatives to Sanders. They can plant seeds for the future by participating in existing third party movements — Greens, Peace and Freedom Party, etc.– and supporting working class candidates where they find them. There may even be independent-minded Democrats deserving of encouragement, showing promise of escaping the two-party quicksand.

While Sanders poses no threat to the “alternative-consensus” logic, his candidacy does afford trade unionists an opportunity to combat the unproductive political rigidity of the US labor movement top leadership that has invariably backed corporate Democrats. By supporting the Sanders candidacy, unionists can challenge the subservience of the leadership to the Democratic Party mainstream.

It would be opportunist  — and dishonest — to turn a blind eye to Sanders’ limitations, but it would be sectarian, the opposite error,  to ignore that he has excited the hopes of parts  of the US progressive electorate — liberals,  students, social democrats, and a few unions.  That base is important to unions and to the left.

In the working-class movement, sectarianism is a policy or practice that isolates the left from masses of people in struggle , as a result of ideological and political rigidity or dogmatism. The best elements in the Sanders campaign will be striving to push him to better positions now, and after the campaign, seeking to gather in the forces in his base who see the need for more advanced, genuinely independent  candidacies. If they take up that seond task, they can avoid the great mistake of 2009, waiting around for Obama to organize the potentially independent forces  (people of color, youth,  first-time voters) that he set in motion to win in November 2008.

That fight is a fight worth having and a small step for political independence.

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/article/2264-bernie-and-beyond/30#sthash.SElveJLY.dpuf

Putin’s interview with Charlie Rose
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives interview for CBS and PBS channels

World in Focus: Putin’s Full Interview Ahead of UN General Assembly Address

© Sputnik/ Michael Klimentyev
http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150929/1027695060/putin-interview-charlie-rose-transcript.html

Due to the strict time limits set for each leader’s address at the UN General Assembly, President Putin took another opportunity to share all of his views on the world’s most vital and urgent issues – here is a full account of what the Russian leader had to say about global politics in his interview with talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose.

On the eve of his much anticipated address at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with American talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose to share his opinion on today’s hottest news topics.

CHARLIE ROSE: This time of year, we call it Indian summer.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In Russia we call it even better. We call it Old Wives’ summer.

CHARLIE ROSE: I like it much better, indeed. What would you be doing today if you were not having this interview? On Sunday. Do you work seven days a week?

VLADIMIR PUTIN:… everyone in my status does exactly that.

CHARLIE ROSE: We hope you are going to come to New York.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In this case, I also hope to come to New York. I recall you moderating our discussion at the [International] Economic Forum in St Petersburg. I would like to thank you for your work with us during that event.

CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you. I like St Petersburg very much and after this interview I expect to see more of Moscow.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Especially given the fact that Moscow has less of the major sights and landmarks compared to St Petersburg but they all are of exceptional significance to Russia.

CHARLIE ROSE: We had a very interesting tour of the State Hermitage while we were in Russia. And we made a film about it. And there was great reception in America for that with a special TV piece. I want to thank you for inviting us to your home on what I would have described as a lovely Russian Sunday afternoon. You call it Old Wives’ summer. We will do our interview, it will be broadcast on Sunday, and the next day you will speak to the United Nations in a much-anticipated address. It will be the first time you have been there in a number of years. What will you say to the UN, to America, to the world?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Since this interview will be aired prior to my speech, I do not think it reasonable to go into much detail about everything I am going to speak about, but, broadly, I will certainly mention some facts from the history of the United Nations.

Putin on the United Nations: Past, Present and Future

Now I can already tell you that the decision to establish the United Nations was taken in our country at the Yalta Conference. It was in the Soviet Union that this decision was made. The Soviet Union, and Russia as the successor state to the Soviet Union, is a founding member state of the United Nations and a permanent member of its Security Council.

Of course, I will have to say a few words about the present day, about the evolving international situation, about the fact that the United Nations remains the sole universal international organisation designed to maintain global peace. And in this sense it has no alternative today. It is also apparent that it should adapt to the ever-changing world, which we discuss all the time: how it should evolve and at what rate, which components should undergo qualitative changes. Of course, I will have to or rather should use this international platform to explain Russia’s vision of today’s international relations, as well as the future of this organisation and the global community.

CHARLIE ROSE: We are expecting you to speak about the threat of the Islamic State and your presence in Syria that is related to that. What is the purpose of your presence in Syria and how does that relate to the challenge of ISIS?

Putin on the Fight Against Terrorism and Russia’s Presence in Syria: ‘We Act on the Request of the Syrian Government’

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I believe, I am pretty certain that virtually everyone speaking from the United Nations platform is going to talk about the fight, about the need to fight terrorism, and I cannot avoid this issue, either. This is quite understandable because it is a serious common threat to all of us; it is a common challenge to all of us. Today, terrorism threatens a great number of states, a great number of people — hundreds of thousands, millions of people suffer from its criminal activity. And we all face the task of joining our efforts in the fight against this common evil.

Concerning our, as you put it, presence in Syria, as of today it has taken the form of weapons supplies to the Syrian government, personnel training and humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

We act based on the United Nations Charter, i.e. the fundamental principles of modern international law, according to which this or that type of aid, including military assistance, can and must be provided exclusively to legitimate government of one country or another, upon its consent or request, or upon the decision of the United Nations Security Council.

In this particular case, we act based on the request from the Syrian government to provide military and technical assistance, which we deliver under entirely legal international contracts.

CHARLIE ROSE: The Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States welcomed your assistance in the fight against the Islamic State. Others have taken note of the fact that these are combat planes and manpad systems that are being used against the conventional army, not extremists.

Putin on President Assad’s Fight Against So-Called Opposition: ‘We have been providing assistance to legitimate government entities only’

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is only one regular army there. That is the army of Syrian President al-Assad.

And he is confronted with what some of our international partners interpret as an opposition. In reality, al-Assad’s army is fighting against terrorist organisations.

You should know better than me about the hearings that have just taken place in the United States Senate, where the military and Pentagon representatives, if I am not mistaken, reported to the senators about what the United States had done to train the combat part of the opposition forces.

The initial aim was to train between 5,000 and 6,000 fighters, and then 12,000 more. It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as 4 or 5 people actually carry weapons, while the rest of them have deserted with the American weapons to join ISIS. That is the first point.

Secondly, in my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter. We have been providing assistance to legitimate government entities only.

In this connection, we have proposed cooperation to the countries in the region, we are trying to establish some kind of coordination framework. I personally informed the President of Turkey, the King of Jordan, as well as the Saudi Arabia of that, we informed the United States too, and Mr Kerry, whom you have mentioned, had an in-depth conversation with our Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on this matter; besides, our military stay in touch and discuss this issue. We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists.

CHARLIE ROSE: Are you ready to join forces with the United States against ISIS and is it why you are in Syria? Others believe that it might be part of your goal, that you are trying to save President al-Assad’s administration because they have been losing ground and the war has not been going well for them, and you are there to rescue them.

Putin on the Syrian Conflict Settlement: ‘There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies’

VLADIMIR PUTIN: That’s right, that’s how it is. We provide, as I have said twice during our interview and can repeat again, we provide assistance to legitimate Syrian authorities. Moreover, I strongly believe that by acting otherwise, acting to destroy the legitimate bodies of power we would create a situation that we are witnessing today in other countries of the region or in other regions of the world, for instance, in Libya, where all state institutions have completely disintegrated.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing a similar situation in Iraq. There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies, support them in their fight against terrorism and, of course, at the same time encourage them to start a positive dialogue with the “healthy” part of the opposition and launch political transformations.

Putin on Toppling President Assad: ‘It is only up to the Syrian people living in Syria to determine who, how and based on what principles should rule their country’

CHARLIE ROSE: As you know, some coalition partners want al-Assad to go before they can support the government.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would like to advise or recommend them to forward this suggestion not to al-Assad himself, but rather to the Syrian people.

It is only up to the Syrian people living in Syria to determine who, how and based on what principles should rule their country, and any external advice of such kind would be absolutely inappropriate, harmful and against international law.

CHARLIE ROSE: We have already discussed this earlier, but do you think that President al-Assad, who you support… Do you support what he is doing in Syria and what is happening to those Syrians, to those millions of refugees, to hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed and many — by his own force?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: And do you think that those who support the armed opposition and, mainly, terrorist organisations just in order to overthrow al-Assad without thinking of what awaits the country after the complete destruction of state institutions are doing the right thing?

We have already witnessed that, I have already mentioned Libya. That was not so long ago.

The United States actively contributed to the destruction of these state institutions. Whether they were good or bad is a different question. But they were destroyed, and the United States suffered grave losses after that including the death of its ambassador. Do you understand what this leads to?

That is why we provide assistance to the legal government agencies precisely, but — and I would like to stress it again — we do it hoping that Syria will launch political transformations necessary for the Syrian people.

Time and again, with perseverance worthy of a better cause, you are talking about the Syrian army fighting against its people. But take a look at those who control 60 percent of Syrian territory. Where is that civilised opposition? 60 percent of Syria is controlled either by ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra or other terrorist organisations, organisations that have been recognised as terrorist by the United States, as well as other countries and the UN. It is them and not anyone else who have control over 60 percent of Syrian territory.

Putin on the Threats of the Islamic State and the Refugee Crisis

CHARLIE ROSE: You are worried about what might happen after al-Assad. You are worried about anarchy; you look at the threat of ISIS. Are they different? Are they unique as a terrorist organisation?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It has become unique because it is going global. They have set a goal, which is to establish a caliphate on the territory stretching from Portugal to Pakistan. They already lay claims to the sacred Islamic sites like Mecca and Medina. Their actions and their activities reach far beyond the boundaries of the territories under their control.

As for the refugees, Syria is not their only country of origin. Who is fleeing Libya? Who is fleeing the countries of Central Africa where Islamists are in charge today? Who is fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq? Do the refugees come from Syria only? And why do you think that the Syrian refugees flee only as a result of President al-Assad’s actions to protect his country?

Why don’t you think that the refugees flee from the atrocities of terrorists, from ISIS, who decapitate people, burn them alive, drown them alive and destroy cultural monuments?

People flee from them too, they flee mainly from them. And from the war — this is clear.

But there would be no war if these terrorist groups were not supplied with arms and money from the outside. It seems to me that somebody wants to use either certain units of ISIS or ISIS in general in order to overthrow al-Assad and only then think about how to get rid of ISIS. This task is difficult and, in my opinion, practically impossible.

Putin on Fear of Islamic State Threat to Russia: ‘We have nothing to be afraid of. We are in our country and we are in control of the situation’

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you fear that they may come to Russia? Do you fear that if it does not stop now they may come to Russia from Europe or even to the United States and that is why you have to step in because no one else is doing what’s necessary to lead the charge against ISIS?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Indeed, few actors take serious steps to combat this threat. Few actors take serious effective measures. We learned about the effectiveness of the actions of our American partners during the Pentagon report in the US Senate. To tell the truth, their effectiveness is low. You know, I am not going to speak ironically here, or pick or point at anyone. We propose cooperation, we propose to join efforts.

Are we afraid or not? We have nothing to be afraid of. We are in our country and we are in control of the situation. But we have undergone a very difficult path of combating terrorism, international terrorism in the North Caucasus. That is point number one.

Point number two is that we know for certain that today there are at least 2,000 and may be even more than 2,000 militants in Syria who are from Russia or other former Soviet republics and, of course, there is the threat of their return to Russia. And this is why it is better to help al-Assad do away with them there than to wait until they come back here.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, but you say that you stepped in because you did not think that the job was being done well and you listen to what is going on in the American Senate, you heard the results and you said that Russia must act.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We are already acting and we have always acted this way. We have cooperated with many countries and we continue to cooperate, including with the United States. We constantly send to our colleagues through special services’ channels the information necessary for the American special forces in order to make our contribution to ensuring security and safety, including safety of American citizens both in the United States and beyond.

But I think that this level of coordination is insufficient today; we need to work more closely with each other.

CHARLIE ROSE: In your opinion, what is the strategy that you are recommending, other than supporting the al-Assad regime?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have already said, we should help President al-Assad’s army.

And there is no one else at all who is fighting ISIS on the ground, except for President al-Assad’s army.

So, I want you, your audience to finally realise that no one except for al-Assad’s army is fighting against ISIS or other terrorist organisations in Syria, no one else is fighting them on Syrian territory. Minor airstrikes, including those by the United States aircraft, do not resolve the issue in essence; in fact, they do not resolve it at all.

The work should be conducted on the spot after these strikes and it should all be strictly coordinated. We need to understand what strikes are needed, where we need to strike and who will advance on the ground after these strikes. In Syria, there is no other force except for al-Assad’s army.

Putin on Deployment of Russian Troops to Syria: ‘Russia will not take part in any field operations on the territory of Syria or in other states’

CHARLIE ROSE: Would Russia deploy its combat troops in Syria if it is necessary to defeat ISIS?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russia will not take part in any field operations on the territory of Syria or in other states; at least, we do not plan it for now. But we are thinking of how to intensify our work both with President al-Assad and our partners in other countries.

CHARLIE ROSE: What does it mean?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It means that our armed forces will not take part in hostilities directly and they will not fight. We will support al-Assad’s army…

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you mean airstrikes?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I mean war, combat operations on the territory, the infantry and motorised units.

CHARLIE ROSE: What else will be required? As we come back to the problem of many people considering that al-Assad is helping ISIS, that his terrible attitude towards the Syrian people and the use of barrel bombs and other actions are helping ISIS, and if he is removed, the transition period would be better at some point for the purposes of fighting ISIS.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In secret services’ parlance, I can say that such an assessment is a blatant act by al-Assad’s enemies.

It is anti-Syrian propaganda, there is nothing in common between al-Assad and ISIS, they fight against each other. And I repeat once again that President al-Assad and his army are the only force that actually fights ISIS.

CHARLIE ROSE: But there were reports earlier saying that you were getting ready to provide support to them, and that what you wanted to see was a negotiated political transition.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We think that the issues of political nature should be solved in any country, including in Syria, primarily by its people — in this case by the Syrian people themselves.

But we are ready to provide assistance both to the Syrian authorities and the healthy opposition for them to find some points of contact and agree on the political future of their country. It is for this purpose that we have organised a series of meetings between the representatives of the opposition and al-Assad’s government in Moscow. We took part in the Geneva Conference on this issue. We are ready to further act in this direction, urging sides, the official authorities and the opposition leaders, to agree with each other exclusively through peaceful means.

Putin on the ‘Vacuum of American Leadership’ in Syria: ‘We are not stepping into the vacuum of American leadership, we are trying to prevent the creation of a power vacuum in Syria in general’

CHARLIE ROSE: The Washington Post wrote today: “Into the vacuum of American leadership has stepped Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has dispatched troops and equipment to Syria in an effort to force the world to accept his solution to the war, which is the creation of a new coalition to fight the Islamic State that includes the Assad government”. It is interesting that they say you have stepped into a certain vacuum of American leadership. This is what The Washington Post writes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We are not stepping into the vacuum of American leadership, we are trying to prevent the creation of a power vacuum in Syria in general, because as soon as the government agencies in a state, in a country are destroyed, a power vacuum sets in, and that vacuum is quickly filled with terrorists. This was the case in Libya and Iraq; this was the case in some other countries. The same is underway in Somalia, the same happened in Afghanistan. And challenging American leadership is not at stake.

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, a vacuum is an issue. It seems that you are a little irritated by one point: you are talking about a strong centralised government being Russia’s DNA and you have a huge fear that there is no strong government in Syria and in other countries, that there is some sort of anarchy.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I am not saying that there is no strong government there. I mean that if there was no government at all, there would be anarchy and a vacuum, and the vacuum and the anarchy would soon evolve into terrorism.

For instance, in Iraq, there was a famous person, Saddam Hussein, who was either good or bad. It was at a certain stage (you might have forgotten, haven’t you?) that the United States actively collaborated with Saddam when he was at war with Iran: weapons were supplied, diplomatic and political support was provided and so on.

Then the US fell out with him for some reason and decided to do away with him. But when Saddam Hussein was eliminated, the Iraqi statehood and thousands of people from the former Baath party were also eliminated.

Thousands of Iraqi servicemen, who were part of the state’s Sunni elite, found themselves thrown out into the street. No one gave a thought about them, and today they end up in the ISIS army. That is what we stand against.

We are not against a country exercising leadership of any kind anywhere, we are against thoughtless actions that lead to such negative situations that are difficult to rectify.

CHARLIE ROSE: As you know, Iran’s representative General Soleimani has recently visited Moscow. What role will he as well as the Kurdish forces play in Syria? And what needs to be done in this respect?

Putin on Joint Fight Against the Islamic State

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As I have already said, I think that all countries of the region should join their efforts in the fight against a common threat — terrorism in general and ISIS in particular. It concerns Iran as well, it concerns Saudi Arabia (although the two countries do not get along very well, ISIS threatens both of them), it concerns Jordan, it concerns Turkey (in spite of certain problems regarding the Kurdish issue), and, in my opinion, everybody is interested in resolving the situation. Our task is to join these efforts to fight against a common enemy.

CHARLIE ROSE: This wording is very broad, among other things, it can mean new efforts by Russia to take up the leadership role in the Middle East and it can mean that it represents your new strategy. Is it really a new strategy?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, we have already mentioned why we increasingly support al-Assad’s government and think about the prospects of the situation in the region.

I have already said it, you asked about it yourself and I replied.

There are more than 2,000 militants in Syria from the former Soviet Union. So instead of waiting for them to return back home we should help President al-Assad fight them there, in Syria. This is the main incentive that impels us to help President al-Assad.

In general, we, of course, do not want the situation in the region to somaliarize, we do not want any new Somalias there because this is all in close vicinity of our borders; we want to develop normal relationships with these countries. We have traditionally, and I want to stress it, traditionally been on very friendly terms with the Middle East. We expect it to stay this way in the future.

Putin on His Pride in Russia: ‘We have no obsession that Russia must be a super power in the international arena. The only thing we do is protecting our vital interests’

CHARLIE ROSE: You are proud of Russia and it means that you want Russia to play a more significant role in the world. This is just one of the examples.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is not an end in itself. I am proud of Russia and I am sure that the vast majority of Russian citizens have great love and respect for their Motherland. We have much to be proud of: Russian culture and Russian history. We have every reason to believe in the future of our country. But we have no obsession that Russia must be a super power in the international arena. The only thing we do is protecting our vital interests.

CHARLIE ROSE: But you are a major power because of the nuclear weapons you possess. You are a force to be reckoned with.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I hope so (laughing), otherwise what are these weapons for?

We proceed from the assumption that nuclear weapons and other weapons are the means to protect our sovereignty and legitimate interests, not the means to behave aggressively or to fulfil some non-existent imperial ambitions.

Putin on his Meeting With President Obama and on President Obama Himself

CHARLIE ROSE: When in New York, will you request a meeting with President Obama?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Meetings of this kind are arranged in advance. I know that during such events every second, let alone minutes, of President Obama’s day are scheduled, there are many delegations from all over the world, so…

CHARLIE ROSE: You think he will not have a spare minute for the President of Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, it is up to him. We are always open for contacts of any kind: at the highest level, at the level of ministries and agencies, at the level of special services, if necessary. But I would be happy if President Obama finds a few minutes for a meeting and then, of course, I would appreciate such a meeting. If for some reason it would not be possible for him, never mind, we will have an opportunity to talk at the G20, or at other events.

CHARLIE ROSE: You know, if you’d like to see the President, you can say: “I have a plan for Syria, let’s work together. Let’s see what we can do. Not only let’s work together on Syria, let’s see what we can do on other things.”

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, the thing is that these are difficult issues; they can be finalised only at the top level between the presidents, but before that preparations are needed with preliminary consultations between foreign ministers, defence ministries, and special services. This means a lot of work and if this work is ready to be completed, then it makes sense to meet and complete it. If our colleagues have not approached the final stage, President Obama and I can meet, shake hands and discuss current issues, we — and I am personally — are always ready for such contacts.

CHARLIE ROSE: But we are talking about leadership and if you are going there to make a big speech you want the President of the United States to fully be on board as much as he can. Once you pick up the phone and call him and say… Same as you did after our conversation in St Petersburg, you called the President. You said, “Let’s make sure we meet and discuss some issues. The issues that are too critical and the two of us can do better than one of us.”

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, I have done so, I have called President Obama, and President Obama called me on various issues. This is part of our regular contacts, there is nothing unusual or extraordinary about it. Let me repeat once again: any personal meetings are usually prepared by our staff. I tell you for the third time that we are ready, but it is not just for us to decide. If Americans want to meet, we will meet.

CHARLIE ROSE: Your need to prepare is none because you deal with these issues every day. You need no preparation to see the President of the United States, nor does he. This is a diplomatic nicety you are suggesting. But I hear you; you are prepared to meet him.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: For how long have you been a journalist?

CHARLIE ROSE: For more years than I want to remember.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It is difficult for me to advise you on what you are ready or not ready for. Why do you think that you can advise me on what I am ready or not ready for, as this is not my first term as President? But this is not the most important thing.

What is most important is that Russia – the President of Russia, its Government and all my colleagues – we are ready for these contacts at the highest level, at the level of governments, ministries, agencies. We are ready to go as far as our American partners. Incidentally, the UN platform was created precisely for this, to seek compromise, to communicate with one another. So it will definitely be nice if we make use of this platform.

CHARLIE ROSE: What do you think of President Obama? What is your evaluation of him?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not think I am entitled to assess the President of the United States. This is up to the American people. We have good personal relationship with President Obama, our relations are quite frank and business-like. And this is quite enough to do our job.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you think his activities in foreign affairs reflect a weakness?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Why? I do not think so at all. The point is that in any country, including the United States, may be in the United States even more often than in any other country, foreign policy is used for internal political struggle. An election campaign will soon start in the United States. They always play either Russian card or any other, political opponents bring accusations against the current head of state, and here there are a lot of lines of attack, including accusations of incompetence, weakness, of anything else. I do not think so and I will not meddle in America’s internal political squabbles.

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me ask you this question: Do you think he listens to you?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that we all listen to each other when it does not contradict our own ideas of what we should and should not do. But, in any case, there is a dialogue and we hear each other.

CHARLIE ROSE: You said Russia is not a super power. Do you think he considers Russia an equal? Considers you an equal? Which is the way you want to be treated?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Laughing) Ask him, he is your President! How can I know what he thinks? I repeat we have peer-to-peer interpersonal relationships, we respect each other in any case and we have business contacts at quite a good working level. And what do the American President, the French President, the German Chancellor, the Japanese Prime Minister or the Chinese Premier of the State Council or the Chinese President think, how do I know? We judge not by what seems to us, but by what people do.

Putin on his Past of the Intelligence Officer: ‘Whatever we do, all the knowledge, the experience, they stay with us, we carry them on, use them in one way or another’

CHARLIE ROSE: Of course. You enjoy the work, you enjoy representing Russia, and I know you have been an intelligence officer. Intelligence officer knows how to read other people; that’s part of the job, right?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It used to be my job. Now I have a different job and for quite a while already.

CHARLIE ROSE: Someone in Russia told me, “There is no such thing as a former KGB man. Once a KGB man, always a KGB man.”

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know every stage of your life has an impact on you. Whatever we do, all the knowledge, the experience, they stay with us, we carry them on, use them in one way or another. In this sense, yes, you are right.

CHARLIE ROSE: Once, somebody from the CIA told me that the training you have is important, that you learn to be liked as well. Because you have to charm people, you have to seduce them.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, if the CIA told you so, then it must be true. They are experts on that. (Laughing)

Putin on Russian — American Cooperation

CHARLIE ROSE: Think out loud for me though, because this is important. How can the United States and Russia cooperate in the interest of a better world? Think out loud.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We think about it all the time. One of our objectives today is very important for many people, for millions of people on our planet – it is joining efforts in the fight against terrorism and other similar challenges: countering drug trafficking and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fighting famine, preserving environment and biodiversity, taking efforts to make the world more predictable, more stable. And, finally, Russia…

CHARLIE ROSE: Stable where?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Everywhere, in all parts of the world. You mentioned yourself that Russia and the United States are the biggest nuclear powers, this leaves us with an extra special responsibility. By the way, we manage to deal with it and work together in certain fields, particularly in resolving the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme. We worked together and we achieved positive results on the whole.

CHARLIE ROSE: How did it work? President Obama has often thanked you for the assistance that you gave in reaching the final accord. What did you do? What did you negotiators contribute, your Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The thing is, however strange it may seem, that the interests of the United States and of the Russian Federation do coincide sometimes. And in this case, I just told you that we have a special responsibility for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, our interests certainly coincide.

That is why together with the United States we worked hard and consistently on resolving this problem.

Russia was guided not only by these reasons but also by the fact that Iran is our neighbour, our traditional partner, and we wanted to bring the situation back on track. We believed that this settlement will help to improve the security situation in the Middle East. In this respect, our assessments of what happened on Iran’s nuclear programme almost fully coincide with the assessments of our American colleagues.

CHARLIE ROSE: As you know, the Republicans are likely to win the elections. There is a big debate as for the Iran’s nuclear deal. What would you tell them?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have just said it. If you need me to repeat it, I can.

I am confident that the agreement we have achieved meets the interests of international security, strengthens the situation in the region, puts serious obstacles to proliferation of nuclear weapons because this situation is under a full and all-round control of the IAEA, and improves the situation in the Middle East on the whole, because it allows to build normal business, commercial, partner and political relations with all countries in the region.

Putin on his Popularity and Rating: ‘There is something that unites me and other citizens of Russia. It is love for our Motherland’

CHARLIE ROSE: The popularity rating you have in Russia, I believe, makes every politician in the world envious. Why are you so popular?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is something that unites me and other citizens of Russia. It is love for our Motherland.

CHARLIE ROSE: It was an emotional moment at the time of the [World War II Memory], because of the sacrifices Russia had made. And you were staying with a picture of your father with tears in your eyes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, my family and my relatives as a whole suffered heavy losses during the Second World War. That is true. In my father’s family there were five brothers and four of them were killed, I believe. On my mother’s side the situation is much the same. In general, Russia suffered heavily.

No doubt, we cannot forget that and we must not forget, not to accuse anyone but to ensure that nothing of the kind ever happens again.

As a matter of fact, we treat veterans with much respect and that includes the American veterans. They were at our Victory Parade on May 9, this year.

We remember the sacrifices that suffered other allied nations, Great Britain, China. We do remember that. I believe that this is our common positive memory.

Our joint struggle against Nazism will still be a good basis to cope with the challenges we are facing today.

CHARLIE ROSE: Is that what you would like to rekindle, the sense of partnership with America against common enemies?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Not against common enemies, but in each other’s interests.

CHARLIE ROSE: As far as we know, you are very popular, but, forgive me, there are many people who are very critical towards you in Russia. As you know, they say it is more autocratic than democratic. They say that political opponents and journalists had been killed and imprisoned in Russia. They say your power is unchallenged. And they say that power, an absolute power corrupts absolutely. What would you say to those people who worry about the climate, the atmosphere in Russia?

Putin on Democracy in Russia and in the US: ‘Russia, as well as any other country, does not need dictators’

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There can be no democracy without observing the law and everyone must observe it – that is the most basic and important thing that we all should remember.

As for those tragic incidents as losses of lives, including those of the journalists, unfortunately, it happens in all countries around the world.

But if it occurs in Russia, we take every step possible to ensure that the perpetrators are found, identified and punished. We will work on all issues in the same way.

But the most important thing is that we will continue improving our political system so that people and every citizen will feel that they can influence the life of state and society, they can influence the authorities, and so that the authorities will be aware of their responsibility before those people who gave their confidence to the representatives of the authorities in the elections.

CHARLIE ROSE:  If you as the leader of this country insist that the rule of law be observed, if you insist that justice be done, if you because of your power do that, then it could go a long way to eliminating that perception.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: A lot can be done, but not everyone immediately succeeds in everything. How long has it taken the democratic process to develop in the United States? Since it was founded. So, do you think that as regards democracy everything is settled now in America? If this were so, there would be no Ferguson issue, right? There would be no other issues of similar kind, there would be no police abuse. Our goal is to see all these issues and respond to them timely and properly. The same applies to Russia. We also have a lot of problems.

CHARLIE ROSE: The people who killed Nemtsov will be prosecuted to the fullest?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I said it at once that this is a disgraceful chapter of our contemporary history and that the criminals must be found, identified and punished. And despite the fact that the investigation has been underway for a long time, it will eventually be concluded.

CHARLIE ROSE: You know that I admire Russia and the Russian culture very much, its literature, its music. It is a large country, a big country. Many people, including Stalin, have said Russia needs a strong, authoritative figure. They worship what Stalin said was that kind of figure. Was Stalin right?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. I don’t remember him saying that so I cannot confirm these quotes.

Russia, as well as any other country, does not need dictators, but it needs equitable principles of organizing the state and society: just, effective, flexibly responding to changes inside and outside the country – that is what Russia needs.

CHARLIE ROSE: But there is a tradition of strong leadership here.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, there is parliamentary democracy in most European countries, there is parliamentary democracy in Japan, there is parliamentary democracy in many countries, but in the United States, for some reason, the State is organized differently, there is quite a stringent presidential republic.

Each country has its own particular features, its own traditions that find their reflection today and will find it in future. There are such traditions in Russia but it is not a question of a strong figure, although a strong figure is needed in power, it is a question of what is implied by this term.

It is one thing if it is a person with dictatorial tendencies. But if it is a fair leader, who acts within the law and in the interests of a vast majority of society, who acts coherently and is guided by principles, it is a completely different matter.

Putin on Being Called a Tsar: ‘You know what they say in Russia: “Hard words break no bones”. It is not what your supporters, friends or your political adversaries call you that matters’

CHARLIE ROSE: As you know, some have called you a tsar.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: So what? You know, they call me different things, you know what they say in Russia…

CHARLIE ROSE: Does this title fit you?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, it doesn’t. You know what they say in Russia: “Hard words break no bones”. It is not what your supporters, friends or your political adversaries call you that matters.

What is important is what you think you must do in the interests of the country, which put you in such position, such post as the Head of the Russian State.

CHARLIE ROSE: Are there people in Russia who are fearful of you?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not think so. I assume most people trust me, if they vote for me in elections. And it is the most important thing. It places great responsibility on me, immense responsibility.

I am grateful to the people for that trust, but I surely feel great responsibility for what I do and for the result of my work.

CHARLIE ROSE: As you know, you are very much talked about in America.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do they not have anything else to do? (Laughs.)

CHARLIE ROSE: Or maybe they are curious people? Or maybe you are an interesting character, maybe that is what it is? They see you, first of all, as a strong leader who presents himself in a strong way. They know that you were the KGB agent, who retired and got into politics. In St. Petersburg you became deputy mayor, then moved to Moscow. And the interesting thing is that they see these images of you, bare-chested man on horseback, and they say there is a man who carefully cultivates his image of strength. I am asking is this image important to you?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I am sure that, after all, any man in my place should set a positive example for other people. In those areas where he can do so, he must do so.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a grave social situation in Russia; our social protection system was destroyed; numerous problems emerged which we have not been able to cope with effectively yet, to get rid of them, in health, sports development.

I believe a healthy lifestyle is an extremely important thing which underpins solution to numerous important problems, including the health of the nation.

It is impossible to solve health problems of millions of people with the help of pills. People need to put it into practice, have passion for it; healthy lifestyle, fitness and sports should become fashionable.

That is why I believe it is right when not only me, but also my colleagues – the prime minister, ministers, deputies of the State Duma – when they, like today, for example, participate in two marathons, when they visit football matches, when they themselves take part in sport competitions.

That is how, inter alia, millions of people start feeling interest in and love for fitness and sports.  I believe it is extremely important.

CHARLIE ROSE: I hear you and it is important. But may I suggest that you do like the image that you present bare-chested, on a horseback. The image of a strong leader. That’s who you want to be seen as, for your people and for the world?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I want everyone to know that Russia in general and the Russian leadership, it is something effective and properly functioning.

That the country itself, its institutions, leaders are represented by healthy, capable people who are ready for cooperation with our partners in every single area: sports, politics, fight against modern threats. I have nothing but a positive feeling about it.

Putin on America and a Meeting With Donald Trump: ‘Any person who gains trust of the American people may be rest assured of our cooperation’

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, people believe that you are a strong leader, because you have a strong central government and you can suggest what will happen if you do not have that. Are you curious about America more than simply another nation that you have to deal with? Because they are curious about you as I suggested. Are you curious? Are you watching the republican political debates?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: If you ask me whether I watch them on a daily basis – I would say no. But it is interesting for us to know what is happening in the US. It is a major world power, and today it is an economic and military leader – no doubt about it. That is why America has a strong influence on the situation in the world in general. Of course, it is interesting for us to know what is happening there. We closely follow the developments in the US, but if you wonder whether we follow the ups and downs of their political life on a daily basis – I would rather say no than yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, Donald Trump, you know who he is, said he would like to meet you, because, he said, you would get along.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Oh, yes, I have heard about it.

We welcome any contacts with the future US president, whoever he or she will be. Any person who gains trust of the American people may rest assured of our cooperation.

CHARLIE ROSE: Marco Rubio is running for a Republican nomination and he says terrible things about you.  This is a political debate, a political campaign, of course, I understand that. But he said you were a gangster, he was attacking you and he was attacking Russia.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: How can I be a gangster, if I worked for the KGB? It is absolutely ridiculous.

CHARLIE ROSE: What do you like most about America?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: America’s creative approach to solving the problems the country is faced with, its openness and open-mindedness which make it possible to unleash the potential of the people.

I believe that largely due to these qualities America has made such tremendous strides in its development.

CHARLIE ROSE: Russia had Sputnik, your country got to space before the United States. Russia has extraordinary astrophysicists. Russia has extraordinary achievements in medicine, in science, and in physics. Do you hope that what you can do is restore Russia’s leadership and create the same kind of innovation, that you just admired America for? And will you do that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We should not lose what has been created over the previous decades, and provide precisely those conditions that I have mentioned to unlock the potential, the full potential, of our citizens. Our people are very talented, we have a very good basis, as you have mentioned.  You said you love Russian culture, which is also a great basis for the inner development.

You have just mentioned Russian scientific achievements. We need to maintain them and create opportunities for people to develop freely and fulfil their potential. I am sure, I am totally convinced, that it will ensure sustainable development of science, high technology, and the entire economy of the country.

Putin on Homosexuality: ‘The problem of sexual minorities in Russia has been deliberately made controversial in Russia. There is no such problem in Russia’

CHARLIE ROSE: In America, as you know, the Supreme Court discussed the issue of homosexuality. In America the Supreme Court discussed a constitutional right for same sex marriage. Do you applaud America for that? Do you think it is a good idea to make it a constitutional right for same-sex marriage?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know that it is a diverse group of people. For example, some homosexuals oppose adoption of children by these couples, oppose themselves. Are they less democratic than other members of this community, gay-community? No, probably not. This is simply a point of view of some people.

The problem of sexual minorities in Russia has been deliberately made controversial in Russia. There is no such problem in Russia.

CHARLES ROSE: Please, explain it to us.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let me explain. It is well known that homosexuality is a criminal offense in the United States, in four US states. If it is good or bad, we know the decision of the Constitutional Court, but this problem has not been dealt with yet, it is still being addressed by the legislation of the Unites States. It is not the case in Russia. In the post-Soviet Russia…

CHARLES ROSE: Do you condemn it?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, I do. I think that a person cannot be criminally or otherwise prosecuted, his or her rights cannot be infringed upon the grounds of nationality, ethnicity or sexual orientation in the modern world. It is absolutely unacceptable. And it is not the case in Russia.

If I am not mistaken there was Article 120 in the Penal Code of the former RSFSR that prosecuted homosexuality. We have abolished this provision; people aren’t prosecuted for it anymore.

Homosexuals in Russia live in peace, work, are promoted, receive national awards for their achievements in science, art or any other sphere, medals are awarded to them, I have awarded them myself.

What was the question? The question concerned the ban on promoting homosexuality among minors.

To my mind, there is nothing undemocratic about this legal act. Personally, I think that children should be left alone, they should be given an opportunity to grow up, to become aware of themselves and decide themselves who they are: men or women, if they want to have a traditional or homosexual marriage. I do not see here any infringement on gay rights. I think that some people intentionally speculate about this issue to represent Russia as an enemy. It is one of political instruments to attack Russia.

CHARLES ROSE: Who commits those attacks on Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Those who do this. You just look who does this.

CHARLES ROSE: There is as much recognition of gay rights and gay marriages as they have in the US? Is that your position?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We do not only recognise, but ensure their rights. In Russia all people enjoy the equal rights, including homosexuals.

Putin on Ukraine, US Participation in Overthrowing Yanukovych, Its Sovereignty and Minsk Agreements

CHARLES ROSE: Ukraine, we have already discussed it. Many people believe that as a result of what happened in Crimea the United States and the West imposed sanctions. And those sanctions have hurt Russia. And that you believe [that by re-emerging and] that by trying to be a positive force around the world and in Syria you might somehow lessen the focus on Ukraine.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You mean to divert attention from the Ukrainian issue? Our actions in Syria are aimed at diverting attention from Ukraine…
No, it is false.

The Ukrainian issue is a separate huge issue for us, I will tell you why. Syria is another issue; I have already told you that we are against disintegration, the terrorists coming to the country, the return of people who are fighting there for terrorists to Russia. There is a whole range of problems there.

As for Ukraine, it is a special issue. Ukraine is the closest country to us. We have always said that Ukraine is our sister country and it is true. It is not just a Slavic people, it is the closest people to Russia: we have similar languages, culture, common history, religion etc.

Here is what I believe is completely unacceptable for us.

Addressing issues, including controversial ones, as well as domestic issues of the former Soviet Republics through the so-called coloured revolutions, through coups and unconstitutional means of toppling the current government. That is absolutely unacceptable. Our partners in the United States are not trying to hide the fact that they supported those opposed to President Yanukovych. Some claimed to have spent nearly several billion dollars.

CHARLIE ROSE: You believe the United States had something to do with the ousting of Yanukovych, when he had to flee to Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I know this for sure.

CHARLIE ROSE: How can you know for sure?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It is very simple.

We have thousands of contacts and thousands of connections with people who live in Ukraine. And we know who had meetings and worked with people who overthrew Viktor Yanukovych, as well as when and where they did it; we know the ways the assistance was provided, we know how much they paid them, we know which territories and countries hosted trainings and how it was done, we know who the instructors were. We know everything.

Well, actually, our US partners are not keeping it a secret. They openly admit to providing assistance, training people and spending a specific amount of money on it. They are naming large sums of money: up to $5 billion; we are talking about billions of dollars here. This is why it is no longer a secret; no one is trying to argue about that.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you respect the sovereignty of Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Certainly. However, we would like other countries to respect the sovereignty of other states, including Ukraine, too.

Respecting the sovereignty means preventing coups, unconstitutional actions and illegitimate overthrowing of the legitimate government. All these things should be totally prevented.

CHARLIE ROSE: How does the renewal of the legitimate power take place in your judgment? How will that come about? And what role will Russia play?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: At no time in the past, now or in the future has or will Russia take any part in actions aimed at overthrowing the legitimate government.

I’m talking about something else right now – when someone does this, the outcome is very negative. Libya’s state is disintegrated, Iraq’s territory is flooded with terrorists, it looks like the scenario will be the same for Syria, and you know what the situation is in Afghanistan.

What happened in Ukraine? The coup d’état in Ukraine has led to a civil war, because, yes, let’s say, many Ukrainians no longer trusted President Yanukovych.

However, they should have legitimately come to the polls and voted for another head of state instead of staging a coup d’état. And after the coup d’état took place, someone supported it, someone was satisfied with it, while others were not. And those who did not like it were treated from the position of force. And that led to a civil war.

CHARLIE ROSE: I repeat, what are you prepared to do regarding Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let me tell you. If that is your question, then I think that both Russia and other international actors, including those who are more actively engaged in the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis (that is the Federal Republic of Germany and France, the so-called Normandy Quartet, certainly, with close involvement of the United States, and we have intensified our dialogue on this issue), we should all be committed to the full and unconditional implementation of the agreements that were achieved in Minsk. The Minsk Agreements have to be implemented.

CHARLIE ROSE: That is what John Kerry said yesterday after his meeting with the British Foreign Minister. He mentioned Ukraine after Syria. He said: “We have to have a full implementation of the Minsk Agreements”. Does it mean that you and John Kerry agree on this issue: to implement the Minks Agreements?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, we fully agree. Would you now exercise your patience and listen to me for two minutes without interruptions? I ask you not to censor this information. Can you do that? Do you have enough authority for that?

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, I do.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The implementation of the Minsk Agreements involves several issues, but I will get to the core points. Nothing matters for a drastic change in Ukraine more than political transformations.

Firstly, the Constitution should be amended as stipulated in the Minsk Agreements. And the most important thing, Minsk Agreements say that it must be done in coordination with Donetsk and Lugansk. It is a matter of principle. Right now Ukraine is in the process of amending its

Constitution, the first reading is over, yet no one had discussed a single point with Donetsk and Lugansk, and nobody intends to either. That is the first point.

Secondly, (and it is clearly stated in the Minsk Agreements) the law on the special order for local self-government in these regions, which has already been adopted in Ukraine, has to be implemented.  The law has been adopted, but its implementation was postponed. It means that the Minsk Agreements have not been implemented.

Thirdly, an amnesty law needs to be adopted.  Do you think that it is possible to have a dialogue with the representatives of Lugansk and Donetsk if they all are being prosecuted and subject to criminal proceedings? That is exactly why the Minsk Agreements establish to adopt an amnesty law. However, it has not been adopted.

There is a number of other points. I mean conducting local elections, for instance, the Agreements say clearly to adopt a law on local elections in coordination with Donetsk and Lugansk. The law on local elections was adopted in Ukraine, the representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk forwarded their proposals on this law three times, but no one ever responded, though the Minsk Agreements say clearly: “by agreement with Donetsk and Lugansk.”

You know, I respect and even like John Kerry, he is an experienced diplomat, he told me once, that he opposed Star Wars at some point, and he was right. Perhaps, if it was he who had to decide on the ABM, now we might have had no conflict regarding ballistic missile defense.  However, he slants as far as the situation in Ukraine is concerned.

The one side, Kiev, says that it has done a lot and implemented the Minsk Agreements, but it is not the case, since these actions should be agreed upon with Donetsk and Lugansk. However, there is no coordination at all.

As to the implementation of the already adopted law on the special order for local self-government in these regions, the Minsk Agreements state that it should be done “within 30 days”. Nothing has been done, the implementation has been postponed.

That is exactly why we stand for the full and unconditional implementation of the Minsk Agreements by both sides, in strict accordance with the Agreements’ language, rather than its biased interpretations.

CHARLIE ROSE: I gave you four minutes and I did not interrupt, did I?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I could see that you tried hard not to interrupt. I am very grateful to you for that.

CHARLIE ROSE: You are right, I enjoyed your speech.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In fact, I am telling you the truth.

CHARLIE ROSE: Americans are going to see you the way they have never seen you. You are more conversational and expressive. It is good, indeed.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you. In fact, everything that I have said is absolutely true. Do you understand it?

The Minsk Agreements will not help to solve the issues if Kiev acts unilaterally all the time, though the Minsk Agreements state “by agreement with Donbass”. [There is no coordination.] It is a matter of principle.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you really think so?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is not much to think about, everything is written, the only thing to do is to read it. It is stated “by agreement with Donetsk and Lugansk”, just read the document.

I am telling you, there is no coordination there, that’s it. It is stipulated: “to introduce a law on the special status within 30 days”. But it has not been introduced. The question is: who does not implement the Minsk Agreements?

CHARLIE ROSE: You have mentioned the Secretary of State; he also said that it is important not only to implement the Minsk Agreements but also for separatists to give up the idea of independent elections. John Kerry said that yesterday.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I am familiar with the position of our American friends, and this is what I have to say.

I have just said that, but it seems that I have to repeat.

This is what the Minsk Agreements say about local elections: “To pass a law on local elections by agreement with Donetsk and Lugansk”.

What happened instead?

Kiev passed the law on its own without any kind of discussion with Donetsk and Lugansk whatsoever and completely disregarding the draft project they had sent three times. There was no dialogue at all; they just passed the law without consultations.

Moreover, the law adopted by Kiev states that no elections are to be held in Donbass. Now, what kind of law is that?

In fact, they have prompted the representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk to hold elections of their own. That’s it.

We are ready to discuss these issues with Mr. Kerry, but, first of all, we have to ensure that both sides implement their written commitments, instead of trying to pass their own initiatives off as something good.

CHARLIE ROSE: I hear you, but I wanted to repeat this, because Secretary Kerry emphasized separatists’ elections. Yes, I really hear you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In this case, the Secretary of State Kerry is dodging as a diplomat, but that is fine, this is his job. All diplomats dodge, and he is doing the same.

CHARLIE ROSE: You would never act like that, would you?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would not do that. I am not a diplomat.

CHARLIE ROSE: Who are you? How do you see yourself?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I am a human being, a citizen of the Russian Federation, a Russian.

Putin on Disintegration of the Soviet Union: ‘The Russians have turned out to be the largest divided nation in the world nowadays’

CHARLIE ROSE: You also said that the worst thing that happened in the last century was the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Soviet empire. There are those who look at Ukraine and Georgia and think that you do not want to recreate the Soviet empire, but you do want to recreate a sphere of influence, which, you think, Russia deserves because of the relationship that has existed. Why are you smiling?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Laughing) Your questions make me happy.

Somebody is always suspecting Russia of having some ambitions, there are always those who are trying to misinterpret us or keep something back.

I did say that I see the collapse of the Soviet Union as a great tragedy of the XX century. Do you know why?

First of all, because 25 million of Russian people suddenly turned out to be outside the borders of the Russian Federation. They used to live in one state; the Soviet Union has traditionally been called Russia, the Soviet Russia, and it was the great Russia.

Then the Soviet Union suddenly fell apart, in fact, overnight, and it turned out that in the former Soviet Union republics there were 25 million Russians. They used to live in one country and suddenly found themselves abroad. Can you imagine how many problems came out?

First, there were everyday issues, the separation of families, the economic and social problems. The list is endless. Do you think it is normal that 25 million people, Russian people, suddenly found themselves abroad?

The Russians have turned out to be the largest divided nation in the world nowadays. Is that not a problem? It is not a problem for you as it is for me.

CHARLIE ROSE: How do you want to solve this problem?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We want to, at least, preserve the common humanitarian space within the modern civilized framework, we want to ensure that there are no national boundaries, so that people could freely communicate with each other, and we want the joint economy to develop using the advantages that we inherited from the Soviet Union.

What are they? They include the common infrastructure, railway transport, road network, power system and finally, I dare say, the great Russian language, which unites all former republics of the Soviet Union and gives us clear competitive advantages in promoting various integration projects in the former Soviet Union area.

You have probably heard that we had established the Customs Union first and then transformed it into the Eurasian Economic Union. When people communicate freely, when labour force, goods, services and funds move freely as well, when there are no state dividing lines and when we have common legal regulation, for example, in the social sphere — all that is good enough, people should feel free.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did you have to use the military force to accomplish that objective?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course, no.

CHARLIE ROSE: Russia has military presence on the borders with Ukraine, and some argue that there have been Russian troops in Ukraine itself.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you have a military presence in Europe?

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The US tactical nuclear weapons are in Europe, let us not forget this. Does it mean that the US has occupied Germany or that the US never stopped the occupation after World War II and only transformed the occupation troops into the NATO forces? That is one way of seeing it, but we do not say that. And if we keep our troops on our territory on the border with some state, you see it is a crime?

CHARLIE ROSE: I did not say it was a crime.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: All the processes that I mentioned, the natural economic, humanitarian and social integration, do not require any armed forces.

We have established the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union not by force, but through a compromise. It was a challenging, complicated, multi-year process based on agreement, compromise and mutually acceptable conditions in the hope of creating for our economies and for our people better competitive advantages in the world markets and in the world as a whole.

CHARLIE ROSE: So, why are we talking about this? Tell me about the Baltic states and your intentions towards the Baltic states.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We would like to build friendly and partnership relations with them. Many Russians have been living there since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are being discriminated there, their rights are being violated.

Do you know that many Baltic states have invented something new in the international law? What citizenship-related notions did the international law have before? The answer is: a citizen, a foreigner, a stateless person and dual nationals, or people with dual citizenship.

The Baltic republics have invented something totally new. Do you know what? They use the word ‘non-citizens’ for people who have been living for decades in the territory of Baltic states and have been deprived of a number of political rights.

They cannot participate in the election campaigns; they have limited political and social rights. Everybody keeps quiet about it, as if this is the way it should be. Of course, this cannot but cause a certain reaction.

I assume that our colleagues from both the United States and the European Union will proceed from current humanitarian law and ensure political freedoms and rights of all people, including those who are living in the territory of Baltic states after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

As for economic relations, we have sustainable and highly developed contacts with these countries.

But, you know, there are some things that confuse me (to put it mildly).

CHARLIE ROSE: Confuse you?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: They perplex me and disappoint me. We all say that we need to bring together our views, to pursue economic and political integration.

For example, the Baltic countries (I have already mentioned that since the Soviet times we have common power supply and power system) were, naturally, a part of the common energy grid of the Soviet Union.

What are they doing now? Everyone seems to be talking about the convergence of Russia and the European Union. But what is really happening?

Nowadays, there are plans to separate the Baltic states from the common power system of the former Soviet Union and to integrate them into the European system.

What does it mean for us in practice? In practice, it means that a number of zones will emerge between several regions of the Russian Federation, where we will have no power transmission lines, since previously we used to have a loop transition through the Baltic countries.

And it means that we will have to reform the system, spending billions of dollars, as well as our European partners who will also have to spend billions of dollars to integrate the Baltic countries into their power grid.

What for? If we really seek some kind of joint work and integration, not just by words but also by deeds, what is the use of all this? And this is the case in many areas – they do the opposite of what they say.

In my opinion, these all are growth-related problems and I believe that common sense – in this or other area – will prevail in the end.

We all are interested in an open development, without any prejudice; this refers particularly and, perhaps, primarily to the Baltic countries, for them it is more important than for Russia.

Take, for example, Lithuania. Do you know, what was its population in the Soviet times? It was 3.4 mln people. It was a small country, a small republic. And what is it now? I have looked though the recent statistics, today the population of this country is 1.4 mln people. Where are the people? More than half of the citizens have left the country.

Can you imagine a situation when more than half of the Americans left the territory of the United States? It would be a catastrophe! What does it mean?

It means that the broken ties, first of all, in the economy, adversely affect all of us, including Russia.

So, I am deeply convinced that we should abandon the phobias of the past, look forward into the future and, while acting on the basis of international law, establish good-neighbourly and equal relations.

Putin on Anti-Russian Sanctions: ‘Now, with the sanctions imposed and our partners having left our market voluntarily, we have an opportunity to develop’

CHARLIE ROSE: And, of course, we have to lift sanctions.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: If somebody prefers to work by means of sanctions, he is welcome to do so. But sanctions are a temporary measure.

Firstly, they contradict the international law.

Secondly, tell me where this policy of sanctions proved to be effective. The answer is nowhere; and sanctions against such country as Russia are unlikely to be effective.

CHARLIE ROSE: Since the sanctions were imposed, even your friends are worried about the Russian economy, because of the sanctions first, but also because of declining oil prices. Is that a huge challenge for you? Is that a troubling global economic reality?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, the sanctions, as I said, are illegal actions, destroying the principles of the international global economy, the principles of the WTO and the UN.

The sanctions may be imposed only by the decision of the UN Security Council.

A unilateral imposition of sanctions is a violation of international law. Well, whatever, let’s put aside the legal aspect of the matter.

Of course, they do damage, but they are not the main reason for the slowdown in the growth rates of the Russian economy or other problems related to inflation.

For us, the main reason is, of course, the decrease in prices in the world markets of our traditional export goods, first, of oil and, consequently, of gas, and some other products. This is the core factor. Sanctions, of course, have a certain impact, but they are not of crucial and fundamental importance to our economy.

CHARLIE ROSE: Will you survive sanctions?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Naturally, beyond any doubts, it is even out of discussion.

Sanctions even have a certain advantage. Do you know what is it?

The advantage is that previously we used to buy many goods, especially in the area of high technology, with petrodollars. Today, amid the sanctions, we cannot buy or we are afraid that we will be denied access to hi-tech goods, and we had to deploy large-scale programs to develop our own high-tech economy, industry, manufacturing and science.

In fact, we would have to do this anyway, but we found it difficult as our own domestic markets were filled with foreign products, and we found it very difficult to support our local manufacturers within the WTO regulations.

Now, with the sanctions imposed and our partners having left our market voluntarily, we have an opportunity to develop.

Putin on his Term in the Office: ‘It will depend on the specific situation in the country, in the world and my own feelings about it’

CHARLIE ROSE: There are two more questions. You were President, Prime Minister and once again President. How long do you want to serve and what do you want to be your legacy? This is one question.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The period of my service will depend on two conditions. Firstly, of course, there are rules stipulated by the Constitution, and I surely will not infringe them. But I am not sure whether I should take full advantage of these constitutional rights. It will depend on the specific situation in the country, in the world and my own feelings about it.

CHARLIE ROSE: And what do you want your legacy to be?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russia should be an effective and competitive state with a sustainable economy, developed social and political system flexible to changes domestically and globally.

CHARLIE ROSE: Should it play the main role in the world?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As I said, it should be competitive, be able to protect its own interests and influence the processes that are important to it.

CHARLIE ROSE: Many say that you are all-powerful and they believe you can have anything you want. What do you want? Tell America, tell the world what Vladimir Putin wants.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I want Russia to be the way I just described it. It is my greatest desire, I want the people here to be happy and I want our partners around the world to seek to develop relations with Russia.

CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you. Thank you, it was a pleasure.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you.

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