Georgiy Muradov, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Crimea under the President of Russia and Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea provided an interview to United World International. Muradov said they were reacting with patience on sanctions and warned his government was able “to deal an economic blow” to Europe. Indicating readiness to cooperate with Türkiye, Muradov said that Ankara needed to understand that Crimea is part of Russia. Muradov emphasized that Türkiye and Russia had a wide range of common interests and warned against the NATO threat in the Black Sea.
How is the current status in Crimea?
Today we aim to strengthen and develop our relations with all friendly and neighboring states. One of them, of course, is the Republic of Türkiye. We value the ties with Türkiye. We believe that the potential of such ties with Russia is also enormous. Regardless of what is happening in the Black Sea region today, this attitude is very promising in the coming period.
Russian Crimea has been developing very rapidly in recent years. Our Turkish friends see this with their own eyes when they visit Crimea. The full integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation is not surprising, because Crimea has always been part of Russia. Crimea is a historically important and sacred land for us. It is where the baptism of the Russian prince Vladimir took place and where we gained our national character as Russian people.
As you all know, the religious value of the Russian people is Orthodoxy, Eastern Christianity. This is our spiritual basis and the meaning of our life. The principle of monotheism, the ideals of justice and goodness of the Christianity – for instance ‘don’t kill’, ‘don’t steal’ – are all about the common good of humanity. In some parts of our world these truths are being abrogated and completely abnormal. There, unnatural proposals are being introduced into the social and public life of humanity. We are, of course, supporters of traditional values: values of freedom, justice and the defense of one’s spiritual roots. These values are linked to our historical memory, which we cherish and try to pass on to future generations. This is also present in the Islamic understanding of the world: Those who do not remember their past lose their future. Therefore, speaking about Russia-Türkiye relations, I would like to emphasize that if there is a desire to develop relations with the Russian Crimea. Crimea is ready for cooperation.
What is the current situation in Russia’s campaign against NATO’s eastward expansion? How will it continue?
NATO is an aggressive bloc that poses a danger to our world. They expanded despite agreements Russia had made in the late 1980s and early 1990s with Western countries, including the NATO bloc. Officials from Germany, the United States and other Western countries said they would not expand even an inch towards Russia. But NATO has taken five separate expansion steps. Now NATO is taking actions that are critically dangerous for Russia’s security.
When I talk about NATO’s aggression, I mean concrete facts. Over the past decades, NATO has proven itself as a bloc that uses military force against many states. This was true in Yugoslavia, which was largely artificially divided into parts. It also occurred in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and other countries. The same happens in Syria. One way or another, all these actions brought NATO closer to Russian territory. Therefore, NATO has no credibility in our eyes. At the end of 2021, we suggested NATO should turn back to a position of balance of power with Russia. We offered to make an agreement with them that NATO does not pose a threat to Russia.
The US should not only refrain from stationing its offensive systems closer to Russia’s borders, but also, it should avoid installing air defense systems here. Their current approach essentially attempts to close down our region and prepare a force that would attack Russian armed forces immediately, once they state a threat.
This crisis has started in 2014. Do you know what Ukraine is for Russia? Novorossia is a territory that has long been part of the Russian state. Our Russian people consists of three main lines, including the Ukrainian and Byelorussian threads. These peoples have lived together for 1000 years and we don’t see them as separate peoples, just as you cannot separate the South or East of Türkiye from its North or West.
In 2014, attempts were undertaken that posed a vital threat to the Russian state. There was a military coup with the aim of making Ukraine a member of NATO. The military coup was carried out by forces completely in line with the US and NATO. This coup was not supported or joined by all regions of Ukraine. The eastern parts of the country rebelled and rejected to support the nationalist force established by the coup. Afterwards, they declared ther independence.
I would like to remind a very important point: The Autonomous Republic of Crimea is the Republic of Crimea, which is sovereign with its own constitution. You can find it in Article 138, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of Ukraine. The Republic of Crimea held its own referendum and we declared that we don’t want to live as a part of the Ukrainian government. This happened in accordance with the constitutional procedure. But NATO did not like it, because they wanted to make Crimea a NATO naval base that would confine the Russian fleet and threaten Russia as a whole.
The people of Crimea became aware that it would become an object of war. They were using arms going to force it to become a part of Ukraine.
The vast majority of the population of the Republic of Crimea is integrated into the Russian people, language and culture. The people of Crimea decided to join Russia to prevent ethnic cleansing. And Russia, respecting the decision of the Crimean people, has authorized Crimea joining the Russian Federation.
Crimea, as the closest region to the Bosporus, the Dardanelles and the Mediterranean, is an important factor in Black Sea policy. Crimea has always been a gateway to the outside world for the Russian Empire and the countries of the Soviet Union. We are ready to advance our relations with all sides. We are always ready to advance our relations with the Republic of Türkiye, once Ankara recognizes that Crimea is part of the Russian Federation and displays a true will to progress relations with Moscow.
Of course, the will of the people of Crimea to determine its own fate needs to be acknowledged, as it occurred in accordance with the UN Charta and other international agreements.
It is very important for us to establish direct maritime ties between Crimea and Türkiye, which have existed throughout history. There was intensive trade and cooperation in the Black Sea region during the periods of the Greek city-states, the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. I think this will all be revitalized. It just needs some time. Our economic ties are developing. We always welcome our Turkish partners in good faith for cooperation.
As for the NATO member states, I think they are making a very big historical mistake for themselves, because they are leading to a big war by giving heavy weapons to Ukraine. The Kiev regime is acting with the aim of destroying the people of Russian origin. And this mistake could lead to a huge world crisis, a world conflict. I particularly want to emphasize that Russia has repeatedly warned the NATO not to make such a move.
They think that economic sanctions will make Russia weaken. They should not forget that we have not yet used our main weapons – and these are not just big nuclear missile systems.
Have the Western sanctions on Russia been effective? How did they affect the Russian economy?
The sanctions are obviously an economic madness. They have put the whole world in a difficult situation. We have talked about this many times in Switzerland and at other big international conferences. We said that the sanctions policy could lead to a major conflict, that’s how the world wars always started.
These sanctions are of course devastating for the global economy of the World Trade Organization, of which almost every country is a member. And most importantly, they are completely incompatible with the rules of economic relations between states, because they are based on a one-sided method. They are illegal and illegitimate because they have not been approved by the United Nations. We invite Western countries to think rationally. Countries should be assessed by the sum of the various resources for potential development and the ability of the population to withstand attacks. The history of Russia during the Soviet era shows our potential for survival. We certainly have enough resources. Even if we isolate ourselves from the whole world, again we have enough resources.
But Europe has very few resources. Russia has always served as a natural resource provider for Europe. We were very happy to provide these natural resources to Europe. But have the relations between Russia and Europe been mutually beneficial? Not at all.
We sold our resources to Europe very cheaply while in turn Europe made very high profits and prospered by producing final products. We did this for peace and stability. What did Europe do in response? They imposed sanctions on us, including on natural resources.
They cut off their own throats. Now they are the ones who are suffering, not us. Our currency has the same strength. It even got stronger. The policies that created these problems will cause a huge popular outrage in Europe.
We built together a powerful and huge natural gas pipeline that helped Europe develop. Then someone unknown blew it up near the coast of Germany. They say they don’t know who did that, but the investigators saw a huge piece of pipe, bent 90 degrees, had exploded. So, it means that this action was done with a powerful torpedo. If you remember, President Biden has made it clear that the US has ways to disrupt this gas pipeline. They are telling a lie that leads to the destruction of cooperation.
“We could strike an economic blow that would rock Europe”
It will be difficult to improve the relations again. We no longer trust the West. In my opinion, Russia’s response to these sanctions was very moderate, we did not adopt similar sanctions. Russian culture, Russian sportspeople and in general any Russian presence were banned. These approaches remind me of the attitude towards the Jews on the eve of World War II. We could strike an economic blow that would rock Europe, but we are not doing it. We are being very patient politically and economically. But that does not mean that our patience is infinite.
Have the sanctions contributed to the development of Russia’s cooperation with friendly countries?
It is quite normal for us to work with those who don’t engage with the sanction policy. During this period, Russia further developed relations with many states in its south and east.
How do you evaluate the US pressure on Crimea?
Crimeans have long ago decided that they will not live with Ukraine. Therefore Crimea is an integral and historic part of Russia. No other solution is open for discussion. Just as Americans do not discuss if Texas and California are part of the US, we do not discuss Crimea either.
In Türkiye, there are reports such as “Turks in Crimea cannot practice their culture freely, they are not compatible with Russia”. What do you think about that?
Here live the Crimean Tatars. It would be wrong to call Tatars Turks, just as it would be wrong to call Poles or Bulgarians Russians. Let me remind you: Siberian Tatars, Altai Tatars, Khazar Tatars, Caucasian Tatars, Crimean Tatars; these are all branches of the Tatar people. Together with the Russians they created our state. They cannot be separated from our state. The Crimean Tatars have now returned to their big Tatar family and they feel absolutely comfortable.
You need to understand Russia. Russia is not only made up of Russians, many other small peoples are gathered around the big Russian people. Why did the Tatars choose Russia? Russia promised them: “You can live freely with us, you can speak your own language.”
We have provided state support for local languages and this has been the case for centuries. Now we are helping Crimean Tatars to preserve their culture, traditions and religion. This system implies a civilization unique in the world. You cannot find anything similar. France, for example, has only one state language, whereas we have many. In Crimea we have 3 state languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar.
We have universities where the Crimean Tatar language is taught. In Crimea, those who consider themselves Crimean Tatars constitute about 13.5% of the population. They have media, television and radio in their mother tongue.
“We hope that Mr. Erdogan will accept this invitation”
Also, the mosque problem, which was not solved during the Ukraine period, was solved when we became part of Russia. All mosques are officially registered now. There are about 400 mosques, 30 of them were built recently. The huge mosque in Simferopol, which our President invited the Turkish president to inaugurate, is one of them. We hope that Mr. Erdogan will accept this invitation.
How do you see Russia-Türkiye relations? What is Russia’s interpretation of the US threat to Türkiye?
We have a lot of shared interests. There are huge economic projects that can be realized through cooperation between the two countries. These relations should be permanent. And it should not be something like “I win but you don’t win”- as European countries do. Everything should be reciprocal.
As for the relations between Türkiye and the US, it would not be appropriate for me to make comments, because I am a foreigner, a diplomat. I can only wish that other states, including the US, would treat Türkiye as sincerely as we do.
What is important for Russia is that everything around us should be peaceful, constructive and based on mutual interests. This is our principle. As you can see, we try not to allow any war, any threats on our borders. We try to keep them away, so of course we want Türkiye to live in peace with all other states.
What is the future of gas deals between Russia and Türkiye? How would you say on the economic developments between Türkiye and Russia?
I will only emphasize the big projects we have at hand now. We have agreed on gas. Of course we support the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. But mutual benefit and long-term consistent cooperation is one of the important conditions for us.
“Türkiye should understand that Crimea is Russia’s gateway to the world”
But I want to emphasize one thing: Türkiye should understand that Crimea is Russia’s gateway to the world. I recently went to Novorossiysk, there are ships standing in the middle of the Black Sea, there are queues, and we have 7 ports in Sevastopol. Let’s build this sea corridor in a mutually beneficial way. I assure you, Türkiye will get more economic advantages here from a nuclear power plant and from a gas hub.
The US is posing a threat to Türkiye in the Eastern Mediterranean similar to its threats to Russia in Ukraine. How do you evaluate this?
I am going to put forward a principle. In difficult situations, there may be misunderstandings, problems or disputes between states. We are committed to the principle that all these disputes should be resolved on the basis of the international law. These principles are broad enough. They cover a wide range of areas – sea, air, etc. All the conditions for cooperation are already laid down there. Therefore, it is not appropriate for me to comment on Türkiye’s problem with another country. We are in favor of resolving all misunderstandings at the international stage.
What would you like to say to the Turkish people?
Today we are talking about more than a partnership of states and civilizations. Because today, it is necessary to keep the peace, to protect our planet from a great war. In this context, the partnership of civilizations plays a very important, though not decisive, role. The partnership of Russian civilization, Eastern Christian civilization and Islamic civilization is a very important factor for peace and stability on the whole planet. Türkiye is one of the oldest countries in the Muslim world and the closest country to us. Peaceful, stable, favorable relations with Türkiye are important for maintaining peace all over the planet.
The people of Crimea seem to be increasingly well integrated socially and politically. With a mild winter climate and many attractive aspects for the further development of tourism I wish them a peaceful future.