President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, my friends.
I congratulate you on this holiday – the Day of the reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia.
This is a holiday for the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol. We understood this and saw it ourselves in the spring of 2014 during preparations for the referendum, and most importantly, following its outcome. As a result of the referendum, the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol returned to their family of origin, the family of the fraternal peoples of the Russian Federation.
But this is also a holiday for our enormous country. I refer to it as enormous since Russia remains the world’s largest territory.
If you look at our map, our big map, Crimea and Sevastopol look like a small dot, but we are talking about the restoration of historical justice. We are talking about the importance of this land for our country and our people. Why? It is very simple.
Our ancestors have been developing this territory since ancient times. In the 10th century a large part of it was simply incorporated into the Ancient Russian State. Prince Vladimir and his warriors were baptized here in Korsun or Chersonesus. This means that this is a sacred place, the centre of the formation of our spiritual unity. Eventually, this place became the foundation of the Russian nation and a united centralised Russian state.
This place is vital to our heart, soul and faith. But there is more to it. Later, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries these lands fully returned to their lawful owner, the Russian Empire. When foreign hordes invaded our country in 1853–1856, and when it was attacked by Nazi invaders in 1941–1945, every part of this land was soaked in the blood of Russian and Soviet soldiers. Of course, this is a holy land for us, for Russia.
In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks, as they formed the Soviet Union, gave away vast territories, geopolitical spaces, for reasons still hard to understand, to quasi-state entities. Later, as they themselves collapsed, collapsed the party from within and destroyed the Soviet Union, Russia lost great territories and geopolitical spaces.
However, I would like to say that we are ready to live under today’s geopolitical conditions. Moreover, we treat our neighbours not only as geographical neighbours, we treat the peoples of those countries as fraternal peoples; we are ready to lend them our shoulder and give them a hand to ensure progress, to move ahead together by using our competitive advantages, which are many.
But we will never tolerate one thing – someone using Russia’s rich gifts to damage the Russian Federation. I hope this will be heard.
The result of the 2014 referendum is not only a return to historical justice, the restoration of historical justice. We once again distinctly and clearly showed ourselves and the world that our people have the ability to unite around the interests of the Motherland.
And I certainly know the answer to the question I would like to ask today’s audience, yet I cannot resist the temptation to ask, and I cannot deny you the pleasure of giving me a positive answer. Please, take a deep breath and answer this: Do we love Russia?
Vladimir Putin: It is this love of our Motherland that runs in our blood, character, and the genes of our people that makes us strong and unites us around common challenges.
We have done a lot, yet there is much to be done in Russia in general and in the development of Crimea and Sevastopol. But we will do it, because we are a single, large, powerful force. Because we are united.
I congratulate you on this day, the Day of Crimea and Sevastopol’s Reunification with Russia. I wish you happiness.