Russian President Putin makes keynote speech in Sochi

(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Thursday delivered a keynote speech at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Following are quotes from the speech:

On military spending:

“This is a completely healthy budget and a healthy economy, so it’s not true to say that we spend too much on guns and forget about butter.”

“All previously announced development plans, the achievement of strategic goals and all social obligations assumed by the state for the population are being fully implemented.”

On the budget:

“We are coping [with financing the conflict] and I have reason to believe that we will cope in the future … Ultimately, at the end of the year we will have a [budget] deficit somewhere around 1% of GDP. And for the coming years – 2024-2025 – we expect that the deficit will be somewhere around 1% of GDP …

“We have a stable, sustainable situation. We have overcome all the problems that arose after sanctions were imposed on us, and begun the next stage of development on a new basis.”

On Western ‘arrogance’:

“Western influence over the world is a giant Ponzi scheme.”

“All the time, we hear ‘You must’, ‘You have to’, ‘We’re seriously warning you’. Who are you anyway? What right do you have to warn someone? Maybe it’s time you got rid of your arrogance, stopped behaving that way towards the world.”

“It’s time to drop this thinking, from the era of colonial rule … That era is long over, and will never return.”

On Russia’s approach:

“We have always tried and are trying to offer solutions that take into account everyone’s interests, but our interlocutors in the West seem to have completely forgotten that there are such concepts as reasonable self-restraint, compromises, readiness to give in something in order to achieve what is acceptable to everyone.

On war in Ukraine:

“There is permanently increasing military and political pressure [from the West]. We have to respond. I have said many times that it was not us who started the war in Ukraine. On the contrary, we are trying to end it.”

On confrontation with West:

“Everyone realises that in an international system where arbitrariness reigns … anyone can be under attack simply for the reason that this or that country was not liked by the hegemon, who has lost his sense of proportion and, I would add, his sense of reality. Unfortunately, we have to admit that our counterparties in the West have lost their sense of reality.”

“Adherence to bloc approaches, the desire to drive the world into a situation of constant confrontation between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is a vicious legacy of the 20th century. It is a product of Western political culture. The West always needs an enemy.”

(Reporting by Reuters; Compiled by Kevin Liffey)