Excerpts from responses to journalists’ questions following the G20 summit
Question: It would seem that fighting terrorism was one of the summit’s main subjects of discussion. We know that there will be no resolving this problem unless we take more effective steps to prevent the financing of terrorism. Were any concrete measures discussed at the summit? What was the line of discussion on these measures, and did you reach any agreements?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course, this issue was one of the key issues, the fight against terrorism, especially after the tragic events with the hostage taking and loss of life in Paris. Yes, of course we are well aware that we must cut off the channels used to finance terrorism, and we discussed this.
I gave examples based on our information about individuals financing various Islamic State subgroups in different countries. We have established that financing is coming from 40 countries, including G20 countries. We discussed this issue.
We discussed the need to implement the relevant UN Security Council resolution, which was adopted on Russia’s initiative, on preventing financing of terrorism, unlawful trade in objects of art after terrorists pillage museums in the territories they seize, and unlawful sale of oil and petroleum products and earnings from this sale.
I also showed our colleagues satellite images and aerial photographs that show very clearly the scale of this illegal trade in oil and petroleum products. You see columns of refuelling vehicles stretching for dozens of kilometres in lines so long that from a height of 4,000–5,000 metres they vanish over the horizon. It really looks more like an oil pipeline system.
We discussed this issue together, of course, and I hope that we will continue this work, which I think is extremely important for the fight against terrorism.
Question: I’ll return to the topic of terrorism.
There has been a series of tragic events throughout the world in the last month, in a range of locations: explosions in Bagdad, preparations for bombings and terrorist attacks in Istanbul, a Russian plane crash (I know that there is no official version of what happened, but all the experts believe that the version of a terrorist attack cannot be excluded), and the recent horrible events in Paris.
France launched a massive attack, a military operation in Syria. At every meeting or big gatherings here, every leader spoke of the need to join forces. Do you feel it is possible to create a truly unified anti-terrorist coalition in these conditions? And what would it look like? Because everyone is talking about joining forces, but nobody is actually saying what parameters should be involved and how this coalition should look.
Vladimir Putin: Of course, I think that not only can it be done; it must be done. If you recall, I already spoke about this at the 70th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly. That is precisely what I said. And the tragic events that followed only confirmed that we were right.
As for how this should look: there is nothing difficult about it. We must organise specific work to prevent terrorist attacks and fight terrorism on a global scale. We also suggested engaging in anti-ISIS cooperation. Unfortunately, our partners in the United States initially refused. They simply sent a written note that said, “We decline your suggestion.”
But indeed, life moves fast and often teaches us lessons. And I think that now, everyone is becoming aware that the only effective way to fight terrorism is to fight it together.
We never closed the doors to this cooperation. We feel that this cooperation can be established at a political level and at the level of the special services that must work together more actively, exchanging information, helping one another and warning one another of danger.
As for Syria, we must first decide – and the foreign ministers are working on this now – which groups we consider terrorist organisations, and which are simply armed but nevertheless a part of Syria’s healthy opposition, and focus our efforts in fighting the terrorist organisations specifically, in order to create conditions for a political settlement of the Syrian conflict.
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