MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The first episode of the four-part documentary series by Stone, simply called "The Putin Interviews," aired on the Showtime television network on Monday night. The remaining three parts are to be broadcast over the next three days.
Putin on US Politics, Anti-Russia Rhetoric
Putin said that the US leadership has become trapped in a cycle of making mistakes due to a belief that their country is exceptional and could do whatever it wants without thinking about the consequences.
"I think that when the United States developed a feeling that it is leading the so-called civilized world, especially after the Soviet Union's collapse, the United States got a false sense that it is able to do everything without any consequences. This is always a trap. In such situation a man or a country begins to make mistakes. There is no need to analyze the situation, no need to think about the consequences. The state begins to function ineffectively. One mistake follows another. That is the trap in which, as I believe, the United States got caught into," Putin said.
The Russian president added that a sense of being the leading world power transformed into imperialistic mindset and forced the US leadership into following a corresponding policy.
Putin also added that he would explain the strategy of the United States in full detail once he retires.
"I will certainly answer this question, and give a very detailed answer, and a very frank one, but only after I retire," Putin said when asked to explain US strategy.
Stone, in turn, suggested that the strategy of the United States could be in destroying the Russian economy, changing the country's leadership, making Russia its ally and then taking Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
"Such a course of thought, such a version of policy is possible. If it is so, I consider such policy as a wrong one especially because such viewpoint at the relations with Russia is not aimed at the future. The people that think so do not look at least 25-50 years forward. And if they did, they would build their relations with Russia in a different way and would not try to turn Russia into their vassal," Putin replied.
Putin added that the United States should focus on building equitable relations with Russia instead of spending large amounts on defense.
"In 2016, under various estimations, [the US spent] more than $600 billion [on defense]. This, of course, is beyond limits. This is more than all the countries of the world spend for this purpose put together," Putin said.
At the same time, the Russian leader assured his nation's partners in the West that they should not be frightened by the nuclear arsenal it possesses.
"The main thing that Russia has is its people with its self-consciousness. These people cannot exist outside its sovereignty, its statehood, and this understanding, and not the threat of a retaliatory nuclear strike, should set all our Western partners on building long-term equitable relations with Russia. And then one will not need to spend such money on defense," Putin said.
Additionally, Putin called the US politicians’ focus on anti-Russia rhetoric during the recent presidential election campaign a "big mistake."
"Unfortunately, the United States developed a fashion to speculate and, I’d say, abuse the Russian issue during election campaigns. Then they tell us, ‘Don't you pay attention to this! You need to understand that this is just election rhetoric, we will come to agreement with you later.’ But sacrificing international relations in the course of current political processes is, I believe, a big mistake," Putin said.
According to the president, Moscow cannot welcome the Pentagon’s statements about Russia being the main threat to the United States. Nevertheless, Putin did stress that Russia was always ready for the dialogue on almost any track of cooperation.
US Supporting Anti-Russia, International Terrorism
According to Putin, the United States has contributed to that creation of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which is outlawed in many countries, including Russia, and that this support dates back to the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
"Al-Qaeda is not the result of our activities. This is the result of activities of our US friends. This all started in the times of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. When the US security services supported different movements of Islamic fundamentalism in their struggle against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The US side has nurtured both al-Qaeda and [infamous terrorist Osama] bin Laden," Putin said.
The Russian leader noted that the situation had run out of Washington's control, and the United States should understand their role in aiding terrorists.
"It always happens like this. Our US partners should have been aware of it. It is their fault," Putin stressed.
Putin also said the United States was using terrorists to destabilize the Russian domestic political situation.
"The Cold War is in the past, we have clear, transparent relations with the whole world, with Europe, with the United States, and of course we were counting on their support and instead we saw US security services supporting terrorists. And I will tell you something which I believe is important, we have a strong opinion that our US partners support Russia in words, speak of their readiness to cooperate, including in righting terrorism, while in reality they use these terrorists to destabilize the intra-political situation in Russia," Putin said.
According to Putin, the United States supported the conflicts which arose in Russia’s Chechnya region and Northern Caucasus.
When Russian troops were engaged in a counterterrorism operation in the Chechen Republic, the United States provided both financial and political support to terrorists in the region, Putin said.
"If to speak about political support, there is no need in proving evidence. It has been done publicly, openly. And if to speak about urgent financial support — we have such evidence and furthermore have already provided it to our US colleagues," Putin said.
The president added that he had informed his then-US counterpart George W. Bush about this evidence and named several representatives of US security services that had provided support to Chechen militants.
"The response of the US president was very appropriate… He said: 'I will deal with it,'" Putin added.
The Russian leader said that Moscow had later received a response from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the issue.
"Indeed, we have later received via our partner links a letter from the US CIA, which said that our colleagues consider that they have a right to maintain relations with all the representatives of the opposition and would continue to do so. It was obvious that the speech was not only about opposition groups, but about terrorist groups and organizations. But at the same time they had been presented as just opposition," Putin added.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a number of terrorist and separatist groups emerged in Russia's Chechen Republic, which have been supported by a number of foreign jihadists. In order to restore peace and order in the region, Moscow launched a counterterrorism operation.
Russia and NATO
Putin said that the possibility of Russia's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) caused Washington to become uneasy because being a part of NATO would mean that the alliance would not be able to manipulate Russia. The president noted that he had mentioned this possibility during one of his meetings with then-US President Bill Clinton during the latter's visit to Moscow.
"Why did our partners get nervous? Because if Russia joins [NATO], it will always have a voice, we would not allow manipulating us, but our US friends do not even allow a thought about this," Putin said.
Russia was very open after the Soviet Union's dissolution and its openness even concerned Moscow's nuclear program, Putin pointed out.
"We have not practically had any secrets left. There were the US observers on a constant duty at one of our major and main facilities manufacturing the nuclear weapon components… We have already been open enough. There was no additional threat in [accession to NATO] for us," Putin stressed.
At the same time, the absence of an official guarantee that NATO would not expand its eastern border was a mistake made by last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Putin underlined.
"It was not fixed on paper. It was a mistake, on Gorbachev's part. It's necessary to fix things in politics, even fixed things are often violated. He simply had a talk and decided that everything was over," Putin said.
The Russian president noted that, when deciding on the unification of Germany and the subsequent withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe, US officials and NATO leadership, particularly Manfred Woerner, who headed the alliance in 1988-1994, assured Moscow that the eastern border of NATO would not be moved further than the eastern border of the German Democratic Republic.