Putin warns of outside forces that wish to split Russia and take over its natural resources
President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that there are people in the world who wish to split up Russia and take over its vast natural resources, and others who would like to "rule over all mankind," a veiled reference to the United States. Speaking in front of Moscow's iconic St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, Putin told a group of military cadets and youth group members that while "an overwhelming majority of people in the world" are friendly toward Russia, there are some who "keep saying to this day that our nation should be split."
"Some believe that we are too lucky to possess so much natural wealth, which they say must be divided," Putin said, speaking on National Unity Day. "These people have lost their mind," he added with a smile. Many Russians fear that their country's rapidly declining population and enormous natural wealth could one day leave it vulnerable to outside predators. But the theme of invasion was central to Sunday's holiday, which Putin created by decree in 2005 to commemorate the defense of Russia from a Polish-Lithuanian incursion in the beginning of the 17th century.
Putin on Sunday referred to the battle as a turning point in Russia's history that united the nation. Not missing a chance to take a shot at the United States, Putin said there are people who "would like to build a unipolar world and rule over all of mankind." He counted them as among the minority in the world who do not maintain a "friendly attitude" toward Russia. He said any attempt to establish a unipolar world was doomed to fail.
"Nothing of this kind has ever occurred in our planet's history, and I don't think it will ever happen," the president said.
Putin has been highly critical of the United States for the invasion of Iraq and opposes its plans to build a limited missile shield in central Europe. Concern about outside forces wanting the division of Russia arose last month during Putin's three-hour nationally televised call-in show. A Siberian worker asked Putin about comments he said were made years ago by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright suggesting that Siberia had too many natural resources for one country. "I know that some politicians play with such ideas in their heads," Putin replied, adding that such talk was "political erotica."
Putin, whose two-term presidency ends next year, said Russia will continue playing an active role in foreign policy and there are many people who look to Russia as a defender of small nations' rights and interests. Intended to invoke patriotism, National United Day has been hijacked by extreme nationalist groups that call for ridding Russia of foreigners and returning the pre-communist monarchy.
Putin says Russia will defend natural resources in Siberia
President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday that Russia would defend its vast natural resources in Siberia, saying Russia was 'not Iraq' and would not allow outsiders to gain control of its resources. "Thank God Russia is not Iraq. Russia has the strength and the means to defend itself," Putin said during a live television question-and-answer session with Russians from around the country. He dismissed talk of any outside country getting direct control over Russia's abundant natural resources in Siberia and contrasted the situation with that in Iraq. "The best example are the events in Iraq, a country which was challenged in defending itself and which had enormous oil reserves. And everyone has seen what happened there. They learned to shoot at each other. But so far, establishing order has not really worked out." He was responding to a question from a resident of the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, who had asked him to comment on a remark by a former US official suggesting that Russia should share the natural wealth of Siberia. "I know you are worried about this,' Putin said. 'I know that these kinds of ideas are circulating in the minds of some politicians,' he added, without elaborating. Putin said Russia was working on strengthening and modernising its army and navy as was its 'right' and added that 'we will continue to do this."