Putin’s full speech at Munich Security Conference


Richard Moore

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Munich Conference on Security Policy

Putin, Wladimir W.
President, Russian Federation
Nation/Organisation: Russian Federation

Speech at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy

(The speech was held in Russian. Find the English translation below.)

Thank you very much dear Madam Federal Chancellor, Mr Teltschik, ladies and 

I am truly grateful to be invited to such a representative conference that has 
assembled politicians, military officials, entrepreneurs and experts from more 
than 40 nations.

This conference¹s structure allows me to avoid excessive politeness and the need
to speak in roundabout, pleasant but empty diplomatic terms. This conference¹s 
format will allow me to say what I really think about international security 
problems. And if my comments seem unduly polemical, pointed or inexact to our 
colleagues, then I would ask you not to get angry with me. After all, this is 
only a conference. And I hope that after the first two or three minutes of my 
speech Mr Teltschik will not turn on the red light over there.

Therefore. It is well known that international security comprises much more than
issues relating to military and political stability. It involves the stability 
of the global economy, overcoming poverty, economic security and developing a 
dialogue between civilisations.

This universal, indivisible character of security is expressed as the basic 
principle that ³security for one is security for all². As Franklin D. Roosevelt 
said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: ³When
peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in 

These words remain topical today. Incidentally, the theme of our conference ­ 
global crises, global responsibility ­ exemplifies this.

Only two decades ago the world was ideologically and economically divided and it
was the huge strategic potential of two superpowers that ensured global 

This global stand-off pushed the sharpest economic and social problems to the 
margins of the international community¹s and the world¹s agenda. And, just like 
any war, the Cold War left us with live ammunition, figuratively speaking. I am 
referring to ideological stereotypes, double standards and other typical aspects
of Cold War bloc thinking.

The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place 

The history of humanity certainly has gone through unipolar periods and seen 
aspirations to world supremacy. And what hasn¹t happened in world history?

However, what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the
end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of 
authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.

It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the 
day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for 
the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.

And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, 
democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of
the minority.

Incidentally, Russia ­ we ­ are constantly being taught about democracy. But for
some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible 
in today¹s world. And this is not only because if there was individual 
leadership in today¹s ­ and precisely in today¹s ­ world, then the military, 
political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important 
is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no 
moral foundations for modern civilisation.

Along with this, what is happening in today¹s world ­ and we just started to 
discuss this ­ is a tentative to introduce precisely this concept into 
international affairs, the concept of a unipolar world.

And with which results?

Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. 
Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of 
tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have
not diminished. Mr Teltschik mentioned this very gently. And no less people 
perish in these conflicts ­ even more are dying than before. Significantly more,
significantly more!

Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force ­ military 
force ­ in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an 
abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to 
find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political
settlement also becomes impossible.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of 
international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming 
increasingly closer to one state¹s legal system. One state and, of course, first
and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every 
way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational 
policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about 

In international relations we increasingly see the desire to resolve a given 
question according to so-called issues of political expediency, based on the 
current political climate.

And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one 
feels safe. I want to emphasise this ­ no one feels safe! Because no one can 
feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of 
course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

The force¹s dominance inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire 
weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, significantly new threats ­ though they 
were also well-known before ­ have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism
have taken on a global character.

I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously 
think about the architecture of global security.

And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests 
of all participants in the international dialogue. Especially since the 
international landscape is so varied and changes so quickly ­ changes in light 
of the dynamic development in a whole number of countries and regions.

Madam Federal Chancellor already mentioned this. The combined GDP measured in 
purchasing power parity of countries such as India and China is already greater 
than that of the United States. And a similar calculation with the GDP of the 
BRIC countries ­ Brazil, Russia, India and China ­ surpasses the cumulative GDP 
of the EU. And according to experts this gap will only increase in the future.

There is no reason to doubt that the economic potential of the new centres of 
global economic growth will inevitably be converted into political influence and
will strengthen multipolarity.

In connection with this the role of multilateral diplomacy is significantly 
increasing. The need for principles such as openness, transparency and 
predictability in politics is uncontested and the use of force should be a 
really exceptional measure, comparable to using the death penalty in the 
judicial systems of certain states.

However, today we are witnessing the opposite tendency, namely a situation in 
which countries that forbid the death penalty even for murderers and other, 
dangerous criminals are airily participating in military operations that are 
difficult to consider legitimate. And as a matter of fact, these conflicts are 
killing people ­ hundreds and thousands of civilians!

But at the same time the question arises of whether we should be indifferent and
aloof to various internal conflicts inside countries, to authoritarian regimes, 
to tyrants, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction? As a matter
of fact, this was also at the centre of the question that our dear colleague Mr 
Lieberman asked the Federal Chancellor. If I correctly understood your question 
(addressing Mr Lieberman), then of course it is a serious one! Can we be 
indifferent observers in view of what is happening? I will try to answer your 
question as well: of course not.

But do we have the means to counter these threats? Certainly we do. It is 
sufficient to look at recent history. Did not our country have a peaceful 
transition to democracy? Indeed, we witnessed a peaceful transformation of the 
Soviet regime ­ a peaceful transformation! And what a regime! With what a number
of weapons, including nuclear weapons! Why should we start bombing and shooting 
now at every available opportunity? Is it the case when without the threat of 
mutual destruction we do not have enough political culture, respect for 
democratic values and for the law?

I am convinced that the only mechanism that can make decisions about using 
military force as a last resort is the Charter of the United Nations. And in 
connection with this, either I did not understand what our colleague, the 
Italian Defence Minister, just said or what he said was inexact. In any case, I 
understood that the use of force can only be legitimate when the decision is 
taken by NATO, the EU, or the UN. If he really does think so, then we have 
different points of view. Or I didn¹t hear correctly. The use of force can only 
be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN. And we do not 
need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN. When the UN will truly unite the 
forces of the international community and can really react to events in various 
countries, when we will leave behind this disdain for international law, then 
the situation will be able to change. Otherwise the situation will simply result
in a dead end, and the number of serious mistakes will be multiplied. Along with
this, it is necessary to make sure that international law have a universal 
character both in the conception and application of its norms.

And one must not forget that democratic political actions necessarily go along 
with discussion and a laborious decision-making process.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

The potential danger of the destabilisation of international relations is 
connected with obvious stagnation in the disarmament issue.

Russia supports the renewal of dialogue on this important question.

It is important to conserve the international legal framework relating to 
weapons destruction and therefore ensure continuity in the process of reducing 
nuclear weapons.

Together with the United States of America we agreed to reduce our nuclear 
strategic missile capabilities to up to 1700-2000 nuclear warheads by 31 
December 2012. Russia intends to strictly fulfil the obligations it has taken 
on. We hope that our partners will also act in a transparent way and will 
refrain from laying aside a couple of hundred superfluous nuclear warheads for a
rainy day. And if today the new American Defence Minister declares that the 
United States will not hide these superfluous weapons in warehouse or, as one 
might say, under a pillow or under the blanket, then I suggest that we all rise 
and greet this declaration standing. It would be a very important declaration.

Russia strictly adheres to and intends to further adhere to the Treaty on the 
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as well as the multilateral supervision 
regime for missile technologies. The principles incorporated in these documents 
are universal ones.

In connection with this I would like to recall that in the 1980s the USSR and 
the United States signed an agreement on destroying a whole range of small- and 
medium-range missiles but these documents do not have a universal character.

Today many other countries have these missiles, including the Democratic 
People¹s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, India, Iran, Pakistan and 
Israel. Many countries are working on these systems and plan to incorporate them
as part of their weapons arsenals. And only the United States and Russia bear 
the responsibility to not create such weapons systems.

It is obvious that in these conditions we must think about ensuring our own 

At the same time, it is impossible to sanction the appearance of new, 
destabilising high-tech weapons. Needless to say it refers to measures to 
prevent a new area of confrontation, especially in outer space. Star wars is no 
longer a fantasy ­ it is a reality. In the middle of the 1980s our American 
partners were already able to intercept their own satellite.

In Russia¹s opinion, the militarisation of outer space could have unpredictable 
consequences for the international community, and provoke nothing less than the 
beginning of a nuclear era. And we have come forward more than once with 
initiatives designed to prevent the use of weapons in outer space.

Today I would like to tell you that we have prepared a project for an agreement 
on the prevention of deploying weapons in outer space. And in the near future it
will be sent to our partners as an official proposal. Let¹s work on this 

Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defence system to Europe 
cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this 
case, an inevitable arms race? I deeply doubt that Europeans themselves do.

Missile weapons with a range of about five to eight thousand kilometres that 
really pose a threat to Europe do not exist in any of the so-called problem 
countries. And in the near future and prospects, this will not happen and is not
even foreseeable. And any hypothetical launch of, for example, a North Korean 
rocket to American territory through western Europe obviously contradicts the 
laws of ballistics. As we say in Russia, it would be like using the right hand 
to reach the left ear.

And here in Germany I cannot help but mention the pitiable condition of the 
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The Adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was signed in 1999. It
took into account a new geopolitical reality, namely the elimination of the 
Warsaw bloc. Seven years have passed and only four states have ratified this 
document, including the Russian Federation.

NATO countries openly declared that they will not ratify this treaty, including 
the provisions on flank restrictions (on deploying a certain number of armed 
forces in the flank zones), until Russia removed its military bases from Georgia
and Moldova. Our army is leaving Georgia, even according to an accelerated 
schedule. We resolved the problems we had with our Georgian colleagues, as 
everybody knows. There are still 1,500 servicemen in Moldova that are carrying 
out peacekeeping operations and protecting warehouses with ammunition left over 
from Soviet times. We constantly discuss this issue with Mr Solana and he knows 
our position. We are ready to further work in this direction.

But what is happening at the same time? Simultaneously the so-called flexible 
frontline American bases with up to five thousand men in each. It turns out that
NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders, and we continue to strictly 
fulfil the treaty obligations and do not react to these actions at all.

I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the 
modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the
contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual 
trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? 
And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the 
dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even 
remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I
would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels 
on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ³the fact that we are ready not to 
place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm 
security guarantee². Where are these guarantees?

The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as 
souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was 
possible thanks to a historic choice ­ one that was also made by our people, the
people of Russia ­ a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a 
sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family.

And now they are trying to impose new dividing lines and walls on us ­ these 
walls may be virtual but they are nevertheless dividing, ones that cut through 
our continent. And is it possible that we will once again require many years and
decades, as well as several generations of politicians, to dissemble and 
dismantle these new walls?

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

We are unequivocally in favour of strengthening the regime of non-proliferation.
The present international legal principles allow us to develop technologies to 
manufacture nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And many countries with all good
reasons want to create their own nuclear energy as a basis for their energy 
independence. But we also understand that these technologies can be quickly 
transformed into nuclear weapons.

This creates serious international tensions. The situation surrounding the 
Iranian nuclear programme acts as a clear example. And if the international 
community does not find a reasonable solution for resolving this conflict of 
interests, the world will continue to suffer similar, destabilising crises 
because there are more threshold countries than simply Iran. We both know this. 
We are going to constantly fight against the threat of the proliferation of 
weapons of mass destruction.

Last year Russia put forward the initiative to establish international centres 
for the enrichment of uranium. We are open to the possibility that such centres 
not only be created in Russia, but also in other countries where there is a 
legitimate basis for using civil nuclear energy. Countries that want to develop 
their nuclear energy could guarantee that they will receive fuel through direct 
participation in these centres. And the centres would, of course, operate under 
strict IAEA supervision.

The latest initiatives put forward by American President George W. Bush are in 
conformity with the Russian proposals. I consider that Russia and the USA are 
objectively and equally interested in strengthening the regime of the 
non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their deployment. It is 
precisely our countries, with leading nuclear and missile capabilities, that 
must act as leaders in developing new, stricter non-proliferation measures. 
Russia is ready for such work. We are engaged in consultations with our American

In general, we should talk about establishing a whole system of political 
incentives and economic stimuli whereby it would not be in states¹ interests to 
establish their own capabilities in the nuclear fuel cycle but they would still 
have the opportunity to develop nuclear energy and strengthen their energy 

In connection with this I shall talk about international energy cooperation in 
more detail. Madam Federal Chancellor also spoke about this briefly ­ she 
mentioned, touched on this theme. In the energy sector Russia intends to create 
uniform market principles and transparent conditions for all. It is obvious that
energy prices must be determined by the market instead of being the subject of 
political speculation, economic pressure or blackmail.

We are open to cooperation. Foreign companies participate in all our major 
energy projects. According to different estimates, up to 26 percent of the oil 
extraction in Russia ­ and please think about this figure ­ up to 26 percent of 
the oil extraction in Russia is done by foreign capital. Try, try to find me a 
similar example where Russian business participates extensively in key economic 
sectors in western countries. Such examples do not exist! There are no such 

I would also recall the parity of foreign investments in Russia and those Russia
makes abroad. The parity is about fifteen to one. And here you have an obvious 
example of the openness and stability of the Russian economy.

Economic security is the sector in which all must adhere to uniform principles. 
We are ready to compete fairly.

For that reason more and more opportunities are appearing in the Russian 
economy. Experts and our western partners are objectively evaluating these 
changes. As such, Russia¹s OECD sovereign credit rating improved and Russia 
passed from the fourth to the third group. And today in Munich I would like to 
use this occasion to thank our German colleagues for their help in the above 

Furthermore. As you know, the process of Russia joining the WTO has reached its 
final stages. I would point out that during long, difficult talks we heard words
about freedom of speech, free trade, and equal possibilities more than once but,
for some reason, exclusively in reference to the Russian market.

And there is still one more important theme that directly affects global 
security. Today many talk about the struggle against poverty. What is actually 
happening in this sphere? On the one hand, financial resources are allocated for
programmes to help the world¹s poorest countries ­ and at times substantial 
financial resources. But to be honest -- and many here also know this ­ linked 
with the development of that same donor country¹s companies. And on the other 
hand, developed countries simultaneously keep their agricultural subsidies and 
limit some countries¹ access to high-tech products.

And let¹s say things as they are ­ one hand distributes charitable help and the 
other hand not only preserves economic backwardness but also reaps the profits 
thereof. The increasing social tension in depressed regions inevitably results 
in the growth of radicalism, extremism, feeds terrorism and local conflicts. And
if all this happens in, shall we say, a region such as the Middle East where 
there is increasingly the sense that the world at large is unfair, then there is
the risk of global destabilisation.

It is obvious that the world¹s leading countries should see this threat. And 
that they should therefore build a more democratic, fairer system of global 
economic relations, a system that would give everyone the chance and the 
possibility to develop.

Dear ladies and gentlemen, speaking at the Conference on Security Policy, it is 
impossible not to mention the activities of the Organisation for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As is well-known, this organisation was created to
examine all ­ I shall emphasise this ­ all aspects of security: military, 
political, economic, humanitarian and, especially, the relations between these 

What do we see happening today? We see that this balance is clearly destroyed. 
People are trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to 
promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries. And this 
task is also being accomplished by the OSCE¹s bureaucratic apparatus which is 
absolutely not connected with the state founders in any way. Decision-making 
procedures and the involvement of so-called non-governmental organisations are 
tailored for this task. These organisations are formally independent but they 
are purposefully financed and therefore under control.

According to the founding documents, in the humanitarian sphere the OSCE is 
designed to assist country members in observing international human rights norms
at their request. This is an important task. We support this. But this does not 
mean interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and especially not 
imposing a regime that determines how these states should live and develop.

It is obvious that such interference does not promote the development of 
democratic states at all. On the contrary, it makes them dependent and, as a 
consequence, politically and economically unstable.

We expect that the OSCE be guided by its primary tasks and build relations with 
sovereign states based on respect, trust and transparency.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

In conclusion I would like to note the following. We very often ­ and 
personally, I very often ­ hear appeals by our partners, including our European 
partners, to the effect that Russia should play an increasingly active role in 
world affairs.

In connection with this I would allow myself to make one small remark. It is 
hardly necessary to incite us to do so. Russia is a country with a history that 
spans more than a thousand years and has practically always used the privilege 
to carry out an independent foreign policy.

We are not going to change this tradition today. At the same time, we are well 
aware of how the world has changed and we have a realistic sense of our own 
opportunities and potential. And of course we would like to interact with 
responsible and independent partners with whom we could work together in 
constructing a fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and 
prosperity not only for a select few, but for all.

Thank you for your attention.

© 1999 - 2007   Munich Conference on Security Policy

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