Pavel Zarubin: President Biden is pondering running for re-election, and in his latest interview he said that the main priority of the collective West is to finally put Putin “down where he cannot cause the kind of trouble he’s been causing.” What kind of trouble do you think you were causing and what do you feel about this desire to put you down?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: You know the point is… First of all, I believe that President Biden is certainly one of the most experienced politicians in the world, in terms of his time in the so-called upper echelons of power. He has been in politics for a long time and, of course, he is an experienced person who knows what tasks he should set for himself and how to achieve them. If they have no other tasks but how to construct relations with Russia, that’s fine in a sense.
So, despite the experience I have mentioned, still…We have a well-known saying in Russia: live a lot, learn a lot. And this applies not only to President Biden, but to the political elites in the United States as a whole. We must learn to respect others, and then there will be no need to put anyone down. But the desire to suppress someone all the time for some reason or no reason at all leads to problems. Of course, they love doing that with their usual brilliance – and they do it well: they put on a fake smile and pat everyone on the shoulder. But respect for other people, for other countries, for other nations lies in something else – in taking their interests into account. And then there will be no need to put anyone down.
But I will repeat the point that the desire to suppress someone means exactly that they have to learn a lot. And the key is to learn respect for others. It includes, among other things, the ability to search for compromises.
But if they are taking an interest in Russia, that is not a bad thing actually.
Pavel Zarubin: Actually, is it possible to put you down?
Vladimir Putin: This is not about me personally. This is about the country’s interests, and it is impossible to put down Russia’s interests, they will have to be taken into account.
Pavel Zarubin: Today, you had several back-to-back bilateral meetings. Clearly, journalists were most interested in your talks with Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban. It is also clear that he will now face obstruction from his Western counterparts. What do you think about these methods? Not only are active politicians being targeted but also leaders who used to work with you and cooperate with you in the past.
Vladimir Putin: Regarding my counterpart today, Mr Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, he is part of a small cohort of European politicians who know how to assert their interests. He does this persistently, consistently, and in my view, quite tactfully. Our views do not always overlap, and moreover, we often find ourselves on entirely different platforms. But this does not prevent us from talking and looking for solutions to various issues and problems.