Full transcript of Vladimir Putin’s speech announcing a ‘special military operation’

Russia cannot feel safe and develop, exist without the constant threat emanating from the territory of the modern Ukraine. Let me remind you that in 2000, 2005, we gave a military rebuff to terrorists in the Caucuses. We defended the integrity of our state, preserved Russia and, in 2014, we supported the people of Crimea and Sevastopol.

In 2015, the armed forces were used to put a reliable barrier to prevent the penetration of terrorists from Syria to Russia. There was no other way we could protect ourselves. The same thing is happening now.

You and I have simply not been given any other opportunity to protect Russia and our people, except the one we will have to us today. Circumstances require us to act resolutely and immediately. The People’s Republic of Donbas appealed to Russia for help.

In this regard, in accordance with Article 51, part seven of the UN Charter, with the approval of the Federation Council of Russia and pursuant to the Federal Assembly, on February 22 of this year, [we] ratified treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

I made a decision to conduct a special military operation. Its goal is to protect people who have been abused by the genocide of the Kyiv regime for eight years. And to this end, we will strive for the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation.

At the same time, our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force. At the same time, we hear more often lately from the West that documents signed by the Soviet totalitarian regime that fixed the results of the Second World War should not be implemented.

What can we respond to that?

The results of the Second World War, as well as the sacrifices made by our people on the altar of the victory of Nazism are sacred, but this does not contradict the high values of human rights and freedoms based on the realities that have developed during all post-war decades.

It also does not cancel the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in Article one of the UN Charter.

Let me remind you that not after the USSR was created, nor after the Second World War, no one asked people who lived in certain territories included in modern Ukraine how they themselves wanted to build their life. Our policy is based on freedom of choice for all to determine their own future and that of their children.

This transcript was translated from Russian by Washington Post journalist Mary Ilyushina. The official Russian version can be found here.

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