Vladimir Putin’s reply to the BBC’s question on Russian “unpredictability”

Press conference following Russia-US talks, Geneva, 16 June 2021

Question from BBC News (Steve Rosenberg):

Mr President, Joe Biden is calling for stable and predictable relations with Russia. But it is believed in the West that unpredictability is a feature of the Russian foreign policy. Are you ready to give up unpredictability for the sake of improving relations with the West?

Vladimir Putin: You are a famous wordsmith who has reached a high degree of perfection in this field; this is to be envied. In the first part of your question, you said “it is believed in the West.” In the second part, you asked if we are ready to give this up. If something is believed in the West, this does not mean that it is true.

Let me begin with the first part of your question. You said it is believed in the West that Russia’s foreign policy is unpredictable. Let me return the puck. The US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002 was an absolutely unpredictable decision. Why was it necessary to do this, thereby destroying the basis of international stability in the field of strategic security? Then pulling out of the INF Treaty in 2019. Is this stability? Absolutely not. The withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, is this stability? There is almost nothing left in the sphere of strategic stability. Thankfully, President Biden adopted an absolutely adequate decision to extend the New START Treaty for five years.

Or take the situation with Ukraine and Crimea – is it a song and dance situation? Was it for the sake of stability that coup d’état was supported in Ukraine after former President Yanukovych had agreed to accept all demands of the opposition? He was actually ready to step down and to hold new elections in three months. But no, it was decided to stage a bloody coup d’état, which has led to the consequences everyone is aware of, in the southeast of Ukraine and later in Crimea.

And you say we are unpredictable? No, I don’t think so. In my opinion, we are responding absolutely adequately to the arising threats. I believe that for the situation to be really stable we should coordinate the rules of conduct in all the spheres you have mentioned: strategic stability, cyber security, and the settlement of regional conflicts.

I think that it is possible to come to an agreement on all these issues; at least this is my impression after the meeting with President Biden today.


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