Putin: Some want Russia ‘dismantled like Yugoslavia’

Baku: “Russia showed it can defend its compatriots,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin during an annual televised address from the Kremlin, APA reports.

Vladimir Putin said Crimea is sacred for Russia and his country will always respect the people of fraternal Ukraine and its sovereignty.

“We have condemned the forcible seizure of power and murders in Odessa. What we are seeing now in Ukraine, the tragedy in the southeast, fully confirms that Russia’s regarding February events as coup d’etat is right. Some countries would like to see Russia dismantled in the same way as Yugoslavia. Separatism received support from abroad. The U.S. always affects our relations with neighbors directly or indirectly,” he said.

The Russian president said Chechnya faced again “rebels” coming from abroad. He said he is confident Chechen forces will deal with attack in Grozny.

Putin said despite what happened in the international arena, his country is not going to suspend the relations with Europe and the U.S. “Russia will continue to cooperate with the countries of Africa and the Middle East. We will expand our presence in the regions where integration process strengthened, politics and economy are not mixed. We will never choose self-isolation, go through xenophobia, suspicion and search of enemy. These are signs of weakness. We are strong and confident. We will either be sovereign or melt away.”

He pledged that Russia would be open to the world – to foreign investment and joint projects. But he warned that it faced a “hard time ahead: much depends on each of us at our workplace”. Western sanctions should be seen as a stimulus, he argued.

Touching on the Russian-Ukrainian relations, Putin said that his country supports Ukraine. Russian banks invested $ 25 bln in the economy of Ukraine.

Moreover, Russia’s Ministry of Finance lent $3 bln loan to Ukraine, Gazprom invested $4.5 billion and reduced gas prices. It makes $32.5 billion in total.