St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016
Transcription based on captioning translation:
“Now about the missile defense system —
Listen to me, we are all adults at this table and experienced [professionals] at that, but i am not going to hope that you are going to relay everything exactly how I said it in your publications. Neither will you attempt to influence your media outlets. I just want to tell you this on a personal level.
I must remind you though — you already know this — that major global conflicts have been avoided in the past few decades due to the geo-strategic balance of power which used to exist.
The two super-nuclear powers essentially agreed to stop producing both offensive weaponry as well as defensive weaponry.
It’s simple how it works — where one side becomes dominant in their military potential, they are more likely to want to be the first to be able to use such power.
This is the absolute linchpin to international security — the anti-missile defense system [as previously prohibited in international law], and all of the surrounding agreements that used to exist.
It’s not in my nature to scold someone, but when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty 1972 they delivered a colossal blow to the entire system of international security. That was the first blow when it comes to assessing the strategic balance of power in the world.
At that time  I said that we will not be developing such systems also, because A) it is very expensive, and B) we aren’t yet sure how they will work [for the Americans.]
We’re not going to burn our money.
We’re going to take a different option and develop offensive weaponry in order to retain said geo-strategic balance. That was all. Not to threaten someone else.
They said – ‘Fine, our defense system is not against you and we assume that your weaponry is against us.’
‘Do what you like’
As I already mentioned, this conversation took place in the early 2000s.
Russia was in a very difficult state at that time — economic collapse, civil war, and the fight against terrorism in our Caucasus region, complete destruction of our military-industrial complex .– they wouldn’t have been able to imagine that Russia could ever again be a military power.
My guess is they assumed that even that which was left over from the Soviet Union would eventually deteriorate. So they said, ‘sure, do what you like!’
But we told them about the reactionary measures we were going to take, and that is what we did. And I assure you — that today we have had every success in that area.
I’m not going to list everything, all that matters is we have modernized our military-industrial complex. And we continue to develop new generation warfare. I’m not even going to mention systems against the missile-defense system!
No matter what we said to our American partners to curb the production of weaponry, they refused to cooperate with us. They rejected our offers and continue to do their own thing.
Some things I cannot tell you right now publicly, I think that would be rude of me. And whether or not you believe me, we offered real solutions to stop this arms race. They rejected everything we had to offer.
So here we are today — and they’ve place their missile defense system in Romania always saying ‘we must protect ourselves from the Iranian nuclear threat!’ Where’s the threat? There is no Iranian nuclear threat. You have an agreement with them and the US was the instigator of this agreement — where we helped. We supported it.
But if not for the US then this agreement would not exist — which I consider Obama’s achievement. I agree with the agreement, because it eased tensions in the area. So President Obama can put this in his list of achievements.
So the Iranian threat does not exist, but missile defense systems are continuing to be positioned — that means we were right when we said that they are lying to us.
Their reasons were not genuine in reference to the ‘Iranian nuclear threat.’
Once again they lied to us.
So they built this system and now they are being loaded with missiles. You as journalists should know that these missiles are put into capsules which are utilized from sea-based, mid-range Tomahawk rocket launchers. These are being loaded with ‘anti-missiles’ that can penetrate distances of up to 500 km.
But we know that technologies advance. We even know in which year the Americans will accomplish a new missile which will be able to penetrate distances of up to 1000 km, and then even further. And from that moment on they will be able to directly threaten Russian’s nuclear potential.
We know year by year what’s going to happen and they know that we know!
It’s only you that they tell tall-tales to and you spread it to the citizens of your countries. Your people in turn do not feel a sense of impending danger — that is what worries me.
How can you not understand that world is being pulled in an irreversible direction?
That’s the problem.
Meanwhile, they pretend that nothing’s going on. I don’t know how to get through to you anymore.
And they justify this as a ‘defense’ system not weaponry that is used for the purposes of an offense. Systems that ‘prevent aggression.’ This is absolutely not true.
A missile defense system is one element of the whole system of offensive military potential. It works as part of a whole that includes offensive missile launchers.
One complex blocks, the other launches a high precision weapon, the third blocks a potential nuclear strike, and the fourth sends out its own nuclear weapon in response. This is all designed to be part of one system. This is how it works in current, non-nuclear, but high precision missile defense systems.
Well okay, let’s put aside the actual missile ‘defense’ issue — but those capsules into which ‘anti-missiles’ are inserted — as I’ve mentioned — they are sea based on warships which can carry the Tomahawk subsonic cruise missile system. One could deploy it to position in a matter of hours and then what kind of ‘anti-missile’ system is that?
How do we know what kind of missile is in there? All you have to do is change the [programming from non-nuclear to nuclear]! That’s all it would take. This would happen very quickly and even the Romanian government itself won’t know what’s going on. Do you think they let the Romanians call any shots? Nobody is going to know what is being done — not the Romanians, and the Polish won’t either.
[Chuckling] Do you think I’m not familiar with their strategies? Ha!
From what I can see we are in grave danger.
We had conversations once with our American partners — where they said they’d like to develop ballistic missiles but without a nuclear warhead. And we said, ‘Do you actually understand what that might entail? So you’re going to have missiles launching from submarines or ground territories — this is a ballistic missile — how do we know whether or not it has a nuclear warhead?! Can you even imagine what kind of scenario you can create?’
But as far as I am aware, they did not go through with developing these weapons — they have paused for now. But the other one they continue to implement.
I don’t know how this is all going to end. What I do know is that we will need to defend ourselves. And I even know how they will package this — ‘RUSSIAN AGGRESSION’ again! But this is simply our response to your actions.
Is it not obvious that I must guarantee the safety of our people? And not only that, but we must attempt to retain the necessary strategic balance of power — which is the point that I began with — let me return to it in order to finish my response.
It was precisely this balance of power that guaranteed the safety of humanity from major global conflict over the past 70 years. It was a blessing rooted in a ‘mutual threat’ but this mutual threat is what guaranteed mutual peace on a global scale.
How they could so easily tear it down, I simply don’t know. I think this is gravely dangerous.
I not only think that, I am assured of it.”
2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum
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