Putin’s remarks came as he continued a tour that’s seen the Russian leader visit Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina and Brazil. During a busy schedule, Putin also held bilateral meetings with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales and President of Uruguay Jose Mujica.
The three Latin American Heads of State, all of whom have previously been critical
of US foreign policy to a greater of lesser degree, were attending the sixth joint summit
in Brasilia of leaders of BRICS states
(Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and their South American opposite numbers.
Initially, Putin had expressed surprise
after a journalist asked him about “recent news” concerning the United States having "declared new sanctions against Russia."
“Really?” was the Russian president’s response.
But replying to a follow-up question concerning Russia's response options to such further sanctions, given that Putin had earlier said Russia might prepare retaliatory measures, the Russian President said
, “We will need to see what those sanctions entail. We will need to look into it calmly, without any commotion.”
But it was the Russian President’s subsequent remarks that revealed a historical distrust of US foreign policy stretching back to the start of Putin’s first stint as President of the Russian Federation in 2000.
“In general, I would like to say that unfortunately, those who plan foreign policy actions in the United States — this is not a recent observation but one pertaining to the last 10 to 15 years — are conducting an aggressive foreign policy and, in my view, a rather unprofessional one, because whatever they do, there are problems everywhere,” opined Putin
He went on to lay the blame for problems in a number of countries, stretching from North Africa, through the Middle East and into central Asia, squarely at America’s door.
“Just look: there are problems in Afghanistan; Iraq is falling apart; Libya is falling apart. If General el-Sisi had not taken control in Egypt, Egypt would probably be in turmoil now as well. In Africa, there are problems in many countries,” expanded Putin
Nor did the US escape criticism for events in Ukraine as he added, “They touched Ukraine, and there are problems there as well.”
Explaining his thinking, Putin said
, “It would be good if everyone understood that we must rely on the fundamental principles of international law and domestic law, and treat statehood and constitutionality with great care, particularly in nations that are just getting on their feet, where the political system is still fairly young and immature, and where the economy is still developing.”
It isn’t difficult to imagine a chorus of “Ukraine” echoing around the corridors of the State Department in response.
Putin went on to state, “We need to treat state institutions with great care. There are grave consequences when they are regarded with disdain: disintegration and internal conflicts, as we are currently observing in Ukraine.”
Putin said those pushing other countries towards such developments, “should never forget that the blood of the soldiers in the regular army, the blood of the fighters in the resistance, and the civilians, first and foremost, is on their hands, as are the tears of the mothers, widows and orphans – they are on their conscience, and they do not have any moral right to shrug off this responsibility onto anyone else’s shoulders.”
Specifically on Ukraine, Putin said there ought to be a call to all sides to “immediately cease hostilities and start talks.”
But he lamented the absence of such calls “on the part of our partners, first and foremost our American partners.”
The US, Putin said, was doing quite the opposite, “pushing Ukraine’s current authorities toward continuing a fratricidal war and continuing retributive operations.”
“This policy holds no promise,” added the Russian President.
On sanctions, Putin referred to their “boomerang effect” and said they were driving the Russo-American relations into a stalemate, while at the same time, “seriously damaging them”.
In Putin’s view, such a state of affairs could only be harmful to the US Administration and the American people’s long-term strategic national interests.
The Russian President saw diplomatic negotiation as the only way forward to defrost the freezer into which relationships between Moscow and Washington had fallen. In that regard, Putin said, “the door to the negotiation process ...remains open,” expressing the hope that, “reason and the desire to settle all problems via peaceful, diplomatic means will prevail.”