The G20 summit has ended in Antalya, Turkey. The summit, in which President of Russia Vladimir Putin took part, adopted the G20 Leaders’ Communique and the G20 Statement on the Fight against Terrorism.
On the last day of the summit, Nov 16, Vladimir Putin held a press conference during which he answered several questions on the most burning issues of today.
President Putin expressed his gratitude to the hosts of the summit and praised the atmosphere of the meeting.
Commenting on the situation with the Ukraine’s debt and his meeting with the managing director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, Vladimir Putin said:
“Our partners from the IMF have been convincing us that we could accept to restructure Ukraine’s debt of $3 billion, which was to have been paid by the end of next month, the end of this year. They say that we could make a concession to Ukraine and defer this payment of $3 billion to next year. They say that this would help Ukraine and would ensure that Russia, as the creditor, receives its payment.
We drew our partners’ attention to the fact that our debt is not a private debt, but is sovereign debt that was offered to Ukraine on non-market principles and conditions. But in order to ensure the return of this money, and to avoid putting Ukraine in a difficult situation, we made what I think was an unexpected proposal to our partners. Not only did we agree to a restructuring of Ukraine’s debt, but we proposed better conditions for this restructuring than those the International Monetary Fund requested of us.
We were asked to defer this payment of $3 billion to next year. I said that we are ready to accept a deeper restructuring with no payment this year, a payment of $1 billion next year, $1 billion in 2017, and $1 billion in 2018. But our partners are sure that Ukraine’s solvency will grow and that we can be sure of receiving $3 billion next year. If this is the case, they see no risk in providing guarantees for this credit.
We have asked for such guarantees either from the United States government, the European Union, or one of the big international financial institutions. We hope that this matter will be settled by the start of December this year, given the International Monetary Fund’s work timetable.
I discussed this matter with Ms Lagarde, and also had the chance to have brief exchanges with the President of the United States and the US Secretary of the Treasury. They reacted to our proposal with interest. We agreed with our partners to discuss the details of our proposal very soon.
If our partners are that certain that Ukraine’s solvency will improve, persuade us that this is so, and believe this themselves, let them provide guarantees. If they cannot provide guarantees, this means that they do not believe in the Ukrainian economy’s future. I think this would not be good for them if this is so, and if they are trying to convince us of something that is not in fact the case, this would not be good for our Ukrainian partners either.
We think that this proposal is a realistic possibility and we see no problems in sharing the risks with our partners.”
“We believe that there is enough stamina, wisdom and responsibility among all people this depends on. And we are not going to watch the situation in southeast Ukraine getting worse; on the contrary, we will help to ensure that the actual ceasefire we managed to achieve through a great deal of effort is not broken, that it will promote the political process.
As regards the discussion on Ukraine, indeed, I think it is natural and there is nothing strange about it: after the tragic events in Paris, after the crash of our plane, a situation where much remains unclear, we spoke first and foremost about these problems. But nevertheless, Ukrainian issues did not disappear from the agenda. I discussed these issues with practically all my colleagues whom I met in the bilateral format, and this topic has not been forgotten.”, he later elaborated on his meeting with Angela Merkel on the issue of Ukraine’s crisis.
When asked to comment on fighting terrorism as one of the summit’s main subjects of discussion, President Putin replied:
“…this issue was one of the key issues, the fight against terrorism, especially after the tragic events with the hostage taking and loss of life in Paris. Yes, of course we are well aware that we must cut off the channels used to finance terrorism, and we discussed this.
I gave examples based on our information about individuals financing various Islamic State subgroups in different countries. We have established that financing is coming from 40 countries, including G20 countries. We discussed this issue.
We discussed the need to implement the relevant UN Security Council resolution, which was adopted on Russia’s initiative, on preventing financing of terrorism, unlawful trade in objects of art after terrorists pillage museums in the territories they seize, and unlawful sale of oil and petroleum products and earnings from this sale.
I also showed our colleagues satellite images and aerial photographs that show very clearly the scale of this illegal trade in oil and petroleum products. You see columns of refueling vehicles stretching for dozens of kilometers in lines so long that from a height of 4,000–5,000 meters they vanish over the horizon. It really looks more like an oil pipeline system.
We discussed this issue together, of course, and I hope that we will continue this work, which I think is extremely important for the fight against terrorism.”
Answering the question if it is possible to create a truly unified anti-terrorist coalition and what would it look like, Vladimir Putin said:
“I think that not only can it be done; it must be done. If you recall, I already spoke about this at the 70th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly. That is precisely what I said. And the tragic events that followed only confirmed that we were right.
As for how this should look: there is nothing difficult about it. We must organize specific work to prevent terrorist attacks and fight terrorism on a global scale. We also suggested engaging in anti-ISIS cooperation. Unfortunately, our partners in the United States initially refused. They simply sent a written note that said, “We decline your suggestion.”
But indeed, life moves fast and often teaches us lessons. And I think that now, everyone is becoming aware that the only effective way to fight terrorism is to fight it together.
We never closed the doors to this cooperation. We feel that this cooperation can be established at a political level and at the level of the special services that must work together more actively, exchanging information, helping one another and warning one another of danger.
As for Syria, we must first decide – and the foreign ministers are working on this now – which groups we consider terrorist organizations, and which are simply armed but nevertheless a part of Syria’s healthy opposition, and focus our efforts on fighting the terrorist organizations specifically, in order to create conditions for a political settlement of the Syrian conflict.”
When asked about non-ISIS targets of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria, Mr Putin commented: “In general, this criticism was practically not voiced. It’s hard to even criticize us. They tell us, “You’re hitting the wrong targets!” Then we say, “Tell us where we should strike, give us the targets!” But they don’t give them to us. “Then tell us where we shouldn’t hit.” And they don’t tell us that, either. How, then, can we be criticized?
You know, I don’t want to sneer at this. Strangely enough, they have their own reasons for it. And one of them, I will tell you point blank, is that they are afraid to give us a list of territories not to strike, because they fear that this is exactly where we will strike, that we will deceive them. It seems they judge us based on their own notions of decency.
But I can confirm that right now (on the battlefield, so to speak), we have established contacts with some (not all, of course) of the uncompromising, even armed Syrian opposition groups; they themselves asked us not to strike the territories they control. We have reached these agreements and are fulfilling them.
Moreover, this part of the armed opposition believes that it is possible to begin active operations against terrorist organizations – against ISIS first of all – with our support from the air. And we are prepared to provide that support. If this happens, it will mean that President al-Assad’s army on one side and the armed opposition on the other are fighting their common enemy. It seems to me that this can become a good foundation for subsequent work and a platform for political settlement.
Indeed, when I was in Paris recently within the framework of the Normandy format, I suggested this idea to President of France Mr Hollande. We made the first steps in this direction and overall, so far, they are positive.
We very much need the help and support of the United States, European nations, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran in order to make this process irreversible. This is another matter that I discussed with my colleagues today in a great deal of detail.”
President Putin concluded his press conference with the following statement in regards to the fight against terrorism: “…now is not the time to assess who is better or worse, or look for reasons why the previous steps have been more or less effective. Right now, we need to look forward and join forces in the fight against this common threat.”