About Crimea after deoccupation
Previous Monday, I brought into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council not to extend the agreement on the so-called "friendship with Russia." And the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine will send a note to Moscow, and I will submit a corresponding bill to the parliament. And the Constitution proposes to exclude the norm, which allows the basing of the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine. After we return Crimea, there will be no Russian base in Sevastopol.
I would like to say frankly that most of the society is objectively unhappy: it was not possible to end the war and restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine. As a result of the aggression, 20% of the country's industrial potential is lost. This, of course, provoked a "domino effect" for the entire economy - along with Russia's aggressive closure of its market for Ukrainian goods, entailed a profound social crisis. We survived and resumed growth. However, the majority of Ukrainians have not yet felt the improvement of well-being, and the standard of living is recovering slowly and unevenly - by regions and by social and age groups. Pensioners are especially vulnerable. We have created an anti-corruption infrastructure, some of the new authorities have invested considerable financial resources of the taxpayers of Ukraine, but so far the coefficient of their usefulness has not satisfied me as president. And society is disappointed by the dynamics of anti-corruption struggle, people's claims are justified.
Emigration from the country got serious scales... Unfortunately, the authorities allowed miscalculations in the personnel policy, and experiments in this area proved to be ineffective. The pace of reforms is not at all the same as the speed that we projected at the start. The problems turned out to be deeper, the resistance is stronger, and the solutions are more difficult.
On the "soul of Putin"
Even now, after thousands of deaths in Donbas, after the tragedy of MH17, after Syria, Salisbury, in the West many people want to look into Putin's soul. I'm curious, what do you want to see there? This is visible for everyone - Russia supports right-wing and left-populist movements, inflates euroskepticism, interferes in elections around the world, in referendums, as it was in the Netherlands. The Kremlin thus promotes its alternative agendas, its values, hoping that it will be more difficult for the West to maintain a unified position against Moscow.
On sanctions against the Russian Federation and their possible weakening
It is extremely important that sanctions against Moscow are now linked not only with Ukraine. This means that there comes an absolutely sober understanding of the fact that Russia is not only our problem, but it is a threat to the entire civilized world. We will consistently oppose attempts to weaken the sanctions pressure on Russia. The Kremlin's tactical task is the lifting of sanctions in January next year under the pretext of allegedly not fulfilling the Minsk agreements by Ukraine. I think that we should destroy this scenario. We will not allow the removal of sanctions. However, be aware that there is a risk of their mitigation.
About UN peacekeepers
I emphasize that real progress in the settlement should be demonstrated. The main indicator of it is the coordination of a peacekeeping mission deployment in Donbas under the auspices of the United Nations. I will speak about this next week during my speech in New York at the UN General Assembly. The mission must be deployed throughout the territory of Ukraine, necessarily with its access to the Ukrainian-Russian border. This will create conditions for the implementation of part of the Minsk agreements, including the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied Ukrainian territory. If this does not happen, the law on a special order of local self-government will not work.
On the "fifth column"
Alas, on the Ukrainian political chessboard there are figures that allow Moscow to rule. For four years we have restored not only the army, but also reconnaissance. Therefore, we have not an approximate, but rather accurate representation of the Kremlin's plans. It is known how, on the basis of the "fifth column," they dream of forming a powerful pro-Russian opposition in the new parliament. And then make it a participant in a new coalition with the right of veto for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
About information security
I share the opinion of the Verkhovna Rada Chairman that during the election period the issue of information security is one of the main issues. Part of our information field is also occupied, as well as part of the Ukrainian sovereign territory. I am glad that the parliament is also aware of the depth of this problem. In Ukraine, there is still a network of Russian agents, which takes control of the media, and produces "independent public organizations." They are really independent - from Ukraine, but controlled by the Kremlin and inflating anti-Ukrainian, anti-European and anti-American sentiments. I support the idea of a bill on registration of agents of influence of the aggressor state. Such a law will not affect civil society, the media, or freedom of speech.
On fair elections
March 31 is already very close, and parliamentary elections are just around the corner. I am grateful to the people's deputies that previous week they adopted a law that will unlock the process of adopting the new CEC. As president, I guarantee free, fair, democratic elections of the head of state, the new parliament, local self-government bodies as they were held in 2014-2015.
On Friday, the large-scale international exercises Rapid Trident were completed at the Yavorovsky training ground. Servicemen from 14 countries, 10 of which are NATO member countries, have worked out military actions in the event of an offensive by a neighboring country. We have once again demonstrated to all our partners that we are not heading empty-handed into NATO, but as a solid partner with a weighty contribution to the common case of continental and transatlantic security.
About the army, language and faith
This is how we built an efficient army, we are giving the Ukrainian Church a worthy place in world Orthodoxy. It is very important: we finally defend, develop and affirm the Ukrainian language, which is the strength and success of our people. And in the future we will take effective measures to strengthen the state status of the Ukrainian language, to strengthen and spread it in all spheres of public life. No one will stop us. Thank you for your determination and unity. The army, language and faith are not a slogan, it is a formula of modern Ukrainian identity: "The army defends our land, the language protects our heart, the church protects our soul."
On the "Russian spring"
It's not me who said it, but all our international partners say that over the past four years, we in Ukraine managed to make far more positive changes than in the previous 23 years of independence. We saved Ukraine. "The Kremlin Barbarossa", "Putin's Blitzkrieg", the "Russian Spring" plan - all this ended in a few months. We created an army that liberated two-thirds of the Donbas territory, which were occupied in the spring of 2014.
About the support of the military
Our soldiers daily risk themselves on the front line. Therefore, we should provide systemic changes in personnel policy, opportunities for transparent and equitable career growth, military education. In the next year, according to the decision of the National Security Council proposed by me, the monetary support of the servicemen should be increased by at least 37%. In October we will start putting into operation new dormitories for contractors - 184 new premises, which will accommodate about 23 thousand contract soldiers.
On Putin's "trump cards"
The fact that Russia is so stubbornly struggling with sanctions shows that sanctions are effective, they act. The ruble is falling even with rising oil prices. The Russian government is forced to raise the retirement age, went on to raise the VAT. This is the price of aggression. Last year, an unpleasant surprise for the Kremlin was the fact that Ukraine prolonged the law on a special order of local self-government in certain regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk. By the responsible vote, people's deputies beat the trump card in Putin's hands.
The issue of national security and defense of the state remains for me as the president and for our entire team a daily priority ... Dear Ukrainians, the most reliable allies of the Armed Forces in the defense of the Motherland are our diplomats who operate in extremely difficult conditions. Their work requires considerable experience and skills.
On compensation for the occupation
The attack of Russia began with an attempt of annexation of Crimea, and it should end by its return – of course, with compensation for losses and the provision of already effective guarantees of non-repetition of aggression. We are fighting for this in international courts and, I am sure, we will win, as we won in Stockholm - "Gazprom" has to pay us 4.6 billion dollars totally.