‘Can’t stuff this bear’ & other Putin Q&A quotes

The range of answers at Vladimir Putin’s annual meeting with the media varied from purely practical to practically poetic and even personal. RT has compiled the most memorable quotes from the president.

On the Russian economy bearing the cost of reuniting with Crimea

“It’s not payback for Crimea. It’s the cost of our natural desire to preserve Russia as a nation, a civilization and a state.”

“Russia pays the cost of remaining a nation, a civilization and a state.”

On “Russian bear” playing nice with the West

“They won’t leave [the bear] alone. They will always seek to chain it. And once it’s chained, they’ll rip out its teeth and claws. The nuclear deterrence, speaking in present-day terms. As soon as this happens, nobody will need [the bear] anymore. They’ll stuff it. And start to put their hands on its Taiga [Siberian forest belt] after it. We’ve heard statements from Western officials that Russia’s owning Siberia was not fair.”

On Russian military build-up

“Do we place our troops at US borders? Who is placing NATO troops, military infrastructure closer to us? Does anyone listen to us, talk to us about it? No, nothing. There is always the same response: it’s not your business.”

On West’s responsibility for the civil war in Ukraine

“You [the West] should have told the radicals: ‘You know what, guys, we want to see you in Europe, but going that way you will get into Europe.’ I am certain that if they took this position, there would not have been the civil war and those multiple casualties. But the colleagues took another position and went from handing over cookies in Maidan to giving political and economic promises. By the way, they still have to pay that money to the Ukrainian people. And they don’t.”

“But for West’s position, there wouldn’t be civil war in Ukraine.”

On not regretting the decision to pardon Khodorkovsky

“He wrote that his mother was ill. A mother is sacred – I say that without irony. He served most of his term, so there was no sense keeping the man locked up, considering that he might have lost the only chance to say goodbye to his Mom. I don’t regret anything and I believe I did the right thing.”

On the size of his salary

“Frankly, I don’t know. They bring it and I send it to my account without counting it.”

On making friends with officials

“There are no officials in my inner circle and I hope there will never be. I have colleagues. There are certain state functions that a man cannot perform once he gets personally close with people. I realized it long ago. I try to keep a certain distance from everyone, to work in a friendly atmosphere and with a full comprehension of the responsibility before the people.”

On being one of Russia’s most-eligible bachelors after his divorce

“I’m fine. Don’t worry.”