TEXTY have studied 10,000 transcripts of Putin's speeches delivered during the 22 years of his rule.
TEXTY have studied 10,000 transcripts of Putin's speeches delivered during the 22 years of his rule.
Putin sympathized with George W. Bush and disliked Barak Obama. This was the first of many interesting insights that our study revealed. During his early days in office, Russia’s leader declared commitment to friendship with the West. He argued that Russians share European values. However, his rhetoric reversed in 2006-2007.
There were a number a factors behind that change: a rapid increase in oil prices, the assasination of Shamil Basayev, who embodied the Chechen resistance, in 2006 which helped Russia to resolve the Caucasus issue and complete the “counter-terrorist operation”. As a result, Russia made a comeback as a global player and for the first time in history took a vote at the 2013 G20 Saint Petersburg summit. It must have been those events that dispelled Putin's last doubts in becoming a dictator for life and caused him to start grooming a successor. However, he was still apprehensive of the revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia caused by the people’s aspirations for a change in leadership. The rapid rise of Russia, which had done nothing to get rid of the contempt for the colonized peoples of the former empire and the USSR, and Putin's personal ambitions mixed into an explosive cocktail that was begging for a match. The situation was exacerbated by the dwindling prestige of the United States which had taken a hit after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Putin decided that it was his chance to tailor the world to his own wants and needs. Here is what happened next.
Mentions of countries in Putin’s official statements
The USA: from Partnership to Hatred
When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, he declared that Russia had turned the page. The new president of Russia insisted that despite being the legal successor of the Soviet Union, Moscow intends to achieve its foreign policy goals through other means.
The first years of Putin's rule were marked by his friendly attitude towards world leaders and international organizations. The man in the Kremlin announced laying the foundation of a democratic state in Russia.
According to Putin’s words, the freedom of speech was a top priority. In reality, Putin did just the opposite by gradually taking complete control over Russian media.
The United States was declared to be one of Russia’s key partners.
The separatist movements in Chechnya and other parts of Eastern Caucasus and the threat of terror attacks were Russia's biggest problems in 2000-2003. Putin offered a number of explanations for the war in Chechnya. Later wars and conflicts initiated by the Russian Federation were based on similar rationale: “In that situation, we had no other choice but to secure the territory of Chechnya and prevent using it as a springboard for attacks on Russia. Russia can no longer afford such experiments” , “Make no mistake: it is not the Chechen people that we are fighting there. We never intended to suppress or enslave Chechnya. This is far beyond our plans and objectives and, simply put, quite impossible.”
During those years Putin did not object against building new US military bases on foreign soil.
The Russian Federation wanted to foster relations with NATO. Putin even said that Russia might become a NATO member one day.
Vladimir Putin was among the first world leaders who phoned US president George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks offering support and assistance. That was a honeymoon era of the relations between the presidents of the USA and Russia.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Putin called Russia a US ally in the War on Terror.
Putin’s rhetoric on Russia-USA relations was so convincing that Europeans felt completely safe. According to Putin, the new alliance would not disturb the established areas of global influence.
However, the situation started to change in the later years. In 2003, Putin condemned the US invasion into Iraq. He was also dissatisfied with the growth of pro-American sentiment in the post-Soviet space even though he had publicly stated that he did not mind the competition.
n 2004 and onwards, his rhetoric on the West became more aggressive. Putin responded to the criticisms of anti-democratic trends in Russia by attacking the democratic systems in the West.
NATO and the EU continued to expand. The new members from the Central and Eastern Europe aspired to join the alliance to secure themselves against the aggressive Russia. As the old “members of the club” were not exactly welcoming, the debates grew tense.
The president of Russia claimed that the USA and European states had been secretly sponsoring color revolutions. The Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine made Putin apprehensive about Russia's ability to project power in the post-Soviet space. The events, however, were only part of the natural development of those countries whose people wanted to remove the ineffective elites from power and get rid of poverty.
Putin started to accuse external powers of instigating the Chechen wars. This narrative later became a staple of Russian propaganda.
In February 2007, Putin made his notorious Munich speech. The Kremlin leader fired a broadside at the Unites States which, he claimed, had come to dominate in global relations. He criticized the West for interfering with the affairs of other countries and claimed Russia’s right to pursue a sovereign policy.
Between May 2008 and May 2012 Putin temporarily appointed Dmytro Medvedev as president and chaired the Russian government which resulted in a decline in his statements on international affairs.
When Putin was re-elected as president, he immediately reverted to the Munich rhetoric criticizing the West and the United States. Although during the Medvedev presidency the USA attempted to unilaterally “reset” the Russia policy, Putin made it clear that it had been in vain.
The relations between Russia and the West changed radically in 2014–2015. According to Putin, the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine was “an unconstitutional coup and armed seizure of power”, orchestrated by the USA and Western states: “Russia had no part in the Ukrainian crisis. The crisis stemmed from a conspiracy of the United States and its Western allies. They consider themselves the victors of the Cold War and, therefore, entitled to impose their will on other nations of the world”.
According to Putin, the areas of conflict on the world map were the handiwork of the Americans.
The US-led West was presented as the main antagonist.
After Putin’s claim of being provoked by the US and NATO to invade Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the lofty rhetoric of the early 2000s is the only reminder of Russia's friendly relations with the US of the days of old.
Ukraine: from Partnership to Hatred
Ukraine has always been a focal point of Putin's policy.
During Leonid Kuchma’s presidency in 2000-2004, Putin encouraged multifaceted economic cooperation between Ukraine and Russia. The presidents of Russia and Ukraine organized joing military parades.
They also discussed the idea of creating a joint enterprise with Germany to control the gas transmission system of Ukraine. Putin tried to lure Ukraine into the Eurasian Economic Union. But Kyiv did not bite and limited its involvement by the observer status. The relations between Putin and Kuchma continued along the lines of partnership, but neither ever admitted “limitless friendship.
In 2004, Ukraine was swept by the Orange Revolution which prevented the pro-Russian candidate Victor Yanukovych from seizing an illegal victory in the presidential election. While Russian officials questioned the legitimacy of Viktor Yushchenko as Ukraine’s new president and accused the West of Yanukovych’s defeat, Putin made public statements stressing his willingness to cooperate with the new leader.
The Russia-Ukraine “gas crisis” began in 2005. The Russian president accused Kyiv of stealing gas. This narrative later become a key element of the campaign to discredit Ukraine as a gas transit partner.
Putin has always opposed Ukraine’s pro-European and pro-North Atlantic course despite his public statements regarding his concerns about NATO expansion: “I am convinced that many of our partners including Ukraine and Georgia have made friends within NATO. We don't mind that at all. Russia has been developing its own relations with NATO. We even formed the NATO-Russia council that offers a forum for consultation and cooperation which has been quite productive so far. However, NATO expansion by means of admission of those countries is a different matter entirely”.
The relations between Ukraine and Russia got back on track after Viktor Yanukovych had become Ukraine’s president. For a while, Viktor Yanukovych demonstrated complete loyalty. Although his humanitarian policy was markedly pro-Russian, his administration was preparing to ink a deal with the EU.
In 2013, Ukraine was ready to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. It was a fall from grace moment for Yanukovych: Putin started to criticize Ukraine's leadership and accused them of betraying the country's national interests. The “customs war” began”: Russia blocked Ukrainian export.
Putin's objection against Ukraine's European course was well-masked in his public statements.
However, Putin's actions were much less benign.
Putin’s remarks on the common origins of Ukrainians and Russians became more frequent.
The president of Russia started talking about Russian territories gifted to Ukraine: “During our co-existence, Ukraine transformed into a large European country which now benefits from the integration of additional territories and population at the expense of other former republics including Russia — for example, certain regions in the west. Those territories were made part of Ukraine during the Soviet era which was practically a gift”.
Putin used the Maidan events of 2013-2014 as a pretext for the annexation of Crimea and the invasion into Donbas. However, certain accounts give reasons to believe that the occupation of Crimea was planned well before Yanukovych’s hasty escape.
Putin's speeches became riddled with narratives which dominated the anti-Ukrainian propaganda to this day. For example, he called the Maidan eventsе “an unconstitutional coup and armed seizure of power”, his version of the annexaction of Crimea was — “expression of the free will of the people”, while the conflict in Donbass was called “civil war: ““the coup d’etat triggered a civil war in Ukraine”, and, of course, it is the Americans that are to blame.
Following the annexation of Crimea, Putin made a cynical statement on the future of Ukraine , and added that “Russia respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
At the beginning of Petro Poroshenko's presidency, Putin hoped to reach an agreement with Kyiv to legalize the annexation of Crimea and the autonomy of Kremlin’s puppet “republics.
When all those attempts failed, Putin's rhetoric became hostile.
Although Russia was able to coerce Ukraine into signing the so-called Minsk accords, they offered enough space for interpretation, and all the attempts to enforce the performance of the agreements in Russia’s version ultimately failed. .
The ascension of Volodymyr Zelenskyy to power in 2019 offered a new opportunity to revisit the accords.
At beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic Putin's attention shifted away from Ukraine, but not for long.
In 2021, Putin's rhetoric became hostile again: Putin's article “On the Historic Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” is a prime example of such hostile and aggressive narrative. In the article, the president in Russia objected to the independence of the Ukrainian people and called Ukrainians “Russians’ younger brothers”. Furthermore, Putin also refused to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty unless it never leaves the fold of the "Russian world".
Putin demanded that Ukraine formally agrees to waive its aspirations to join NATO even though the leaders of NATO had constantly emphasized that Ukraine has zero chances of joining the alliance in the near future.
The leader of Russia reiterated the narrative on external control. He also complained about rampant Russophobia and the transformation of Ukraine into “anti-Russia”. . However, Putin's blackmail of NATO members and Kyiv was in vain.
On 24 February 2022, Putin launched a full-scale war against Ukraine.
China: Seeking Consolation after the Breakup with the West
China, India and Japan all frequently mentioned in Putin's public statements are among the countries which Russia intends to develop relations with including economic cooperation. During Putin's first two presidencies, the cooperation between Russia and China was at the nascent stage and did not have any specific content.
It was as early as in 2000 that Putin said: “Let me make myself very clear: China is our strategic partner in the truest sense of the word. Our partnership extends to many areas which include ensuring international security and developing good-neighborly relations as well as cultural, economic and government contacts to promote all areas of national endeavor”.
That was not an isolated case: similar lofty rhetoric has marked Putin's entire rule.
Although Putin recognized the territorial integrity of China, he stressed that the return of Taiwan under the jurisdiction of China must only be conducted in a peaceful manner.
Since 2016, China has been among the countries most frequently mentioned in Putin's speeches and interviews. This appears to be the natural consequence of the deteriorated relations with the West. Putin hoped to turn Beijing into a real ally.
In 2020-2022 Moscow tried to demonstrate that Russia and China stand as one to defy the West. After the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Putin’s pro-Chinese rhetoric radicalized. Putin started calling the leader of Chine Xi Jinping “dear friend” while Bejing was called Russia’s ally.
At the beginning of his first presidency, Vladimir Putin encouraged Western entrepreneurs to invest big into Russia and invited them to take part in joint investment projects. Germany and France were Russia's main business partners in Europe.
Putin never got tired saying that Russia is a European country: “Our invitation to partnership is based on the fact that Russia is a European country. Although our territory spans most of Eurasia, there is no question that Russia shares European culture and mentality”.
Germany invested tremendously into Russia’s economy: from the automotive industry to manufacturing household chemical products”.
The Nord Stream story began.
Germany eventually assumed the role of Russia's primary trade partner and lobbyist of economic integration with Moscow.
The development of relations with France followed a similar logic. However, Moscow also relied on Paris as an ally in countering the influence of NATO. Emmanuel Macron's ambitions to reduce Europe's dependence on the USA reflected in his words on the death of NATO's nerve center aligned with Putin's interests.
Putin wanted to drive a wedge among European states. To this end, he developed relations with separate states instead of building them on the EU level.
The former Soviet republics — first and foremost, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan — find frequent mention in Putin's speeches.
Since 2000, Vladimir Putin has been dreaming of a new form of integration in the post-Soviet space — the Eurasian Economic Community. The idea about the new form of integration has been Putin's idée fixe throughout his time in the president’s office. Most of the mentions about the Eurasian Economic Community and the Customs Union date back to 2012-2013.
Putin has been trying to build a single union state with Belarus since 2000, but the idea didn't seem to take off at first.
All was quiet until the recent few years. Today, as the president of Belarus Oleksandr Lukashenko is under Putin’s thumb, Russia has established full control over Belarus.
Kazakhstan is still able to choose between Russia and China. However, this hesitation does not prevent Putin from praising the friendly relations with this country.
Following the intervention of Russia-led CSTO forces to assist the Kazakh authorities during the public unrest of January 2022, Putin even claimed that a maidan had been averted.
Initially, Putin supported the American military operation in Afghanistan: “The Taliban must not be allowed to be part of the future government of Afghanistan”.
The Kremlin leader spoke proudly about Russia's contribution into the work of the 6+2 contact group under the aegis of the United Nations.
As time went on, Putin started to criticize the USA and blame Washington for invading the country, and today Taliban delegations visit Russia officially.
Syria became the focus of Putin’s keen interest alongside Ukraine in 2015. The Russian president sent troops to assist the president of Syria Bashar al-Assad in fending off the insurgents. Helping al-Assad to keep the office was Putin's moment of success.
Russian victories in Syria cemented Putin’s authority in the region. While talking to his own people, the president of Russia justified the military intervention with the protection of Russia’s national interests.
The American invasion into Iraq in 2003 put the US-Russia relations to the test. Russia denounced the decision of the American administration although one year earlier Putin justified president Bush's stand on Saddam Hussein's regime.
However, after the invasion, Putin stopped holding back his criticism of the United States.
At the same time, Putin attempted to prevent confrontation. Putin wanted to uphold global order together with the United States: “The United States and Russia share the same interest in insuring the security of the entire mankind”.
To this day, Putin has been using the American invasion into Iraq to criticize the USA and justify Russia's invasion into Ukraine. The propagandists employ a simple narrative: if the Americans can do it, why can't we?
Russia has always called Iran a friendly state even despite public denouncement of its nuclear program.
Russia's votes in favor of certain anti-Iranian resolutions and decisions in the UN hardly had any effect, if any, on the tone of Russo-Iranian relations.
Putin has always protected Iran against the criticism of the US and Europe and was an active proponent of Iran's nuclear deal with the West.
Today, Putin has sided with Iran and China in an attempt to form an anti-American alliance.
Turkey has become an important asset for Putin.
The country's refusal to join the anti-Russian sanctions did not go unnoticed by Putin.
Turkey is importing about 50 % of its natural gas from Russia and has no intention of breaking up the party. The country is quite content with the relations with Putin and the Russian Federation which are considered “strategically important”".
Russian propagandist media pick up Putin words and feed them to the Russian public. However, those narratives are not set in stone: they evolve just like Orwell predicted: the narratives are tailored to Vladimir Putin's policy. The US-led West, Putin's collective ally in the early 2000s, has been dubbed the principal and the oldest enemy of the Russian people. The European values which Putin said were shared by Russians have suddenly become evil. Today, the Soviet victory over the Nazi Germany is presented as the main historic achievement of the Russian people and has cult-like status.
Mentions of various subjects in Putin’s official statements
The Great Patriotic War
The cult of the Soviet victory over the German fascism and Nazism has spread and rooted deeply in Russia. Putin has been playing a key role in the propagation of such ideas. The history card is a key element of Russia's foreign policy.
During the first years of Putin’s rule when Moscow tried to build relations with Europe and the United States, the collective West was called the main ally of the USSR in World War II. Putin even shared the victory with the Americans. He praised Lend-Lease and the Second Front. He denounced the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. And last, but not least, he used the term “World War II” alongside the Russian moniker “Great Patriotic War”.
As the relations with the West worsened, the interpretation of history changed, too. The USSR was portrayed as the main fighter against fascism and Nazism in Europe.
Putin claimed that the victory over fascism was inconclusive, and that fascism was making a comeback.
The president of Russia has been using this ideology as a platform to unite Russians and the countries which share Putin's views and keep the war in Ukraine going.
The term “nuclear weapons” has been by Vladimir Putin's in public speeches quite frequently during his office.
After the start of Russia's war against Ukraine and following the defeats of Russian army, Putin actively threatened to go nuclear. The threats of using nuclear weapons were used as a deterrent to discourage other countries from helping Ukraine or engaging in the war on its side.
In the early 2000s, Putin used the monstrous arsenals of Soviet-made nuclear weapons to make claims about Russia’s “superpower” status.
At that time, the president of Russia excluded the possibility of a nuclear conflict and relied on the United States and China to guarantee that.
This is why Russia actively opposed any idea of admitting new members to the nuclear club. In particular, it pressed on such “nations friendly to Russia” as Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
Putin even raised the issue of threats to Russia’s environment posed by the production of nuclear weapons.
According to Putin, the proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the biggest threats to Russia.
He was also an active proponent of minimizing nuclear testing.
At the end of 2022, Putin assured that Russia would not transfer its nuclear weapons to anyone. We have never transferred, do not and will not ever transfer our nuclear weapons to any party. However, we shall remain committed to protecting our allies, if need be, with all the means available, but just a few months later in 2023 he announced their deployment to Belarus. At present, the Belorussian military are being trained to operate nuclear arms .”
Under Putin’s rule, Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) started to play a key role in the national policy and became one of the pillars of the regime. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of ROC, actively supports the war in Ukraine and takes part in the mobilization activities.
Putin considers Orthodoxy a prime example of the “traditional values”. At the meeting of the Bishops' Council in February 2013, Putin pledged to uphold both the traditional values and the religious sentiment in the Russian society. Soon enough, the State Duma passed the law which made offending the feelings of believers a criminal offense.
The Russian government has been pushing the narrative that people of all faiths are contributing to Russia's swift victory in the war, and that the process is being spearheaded by ROC.
Putin attempts to tie the historic Ukraine to Russia through Orthodoxy by claiming that the Ukrainian territories share the same spiritual past with Moscow.
In 2022, Vladimir Putin used the term “traditional values” 20 times. Although he seems quite fond of the word “value” and uses it a lot, the term “traditional values” is a much rarer occurrence. This is especially true about his first two presidential terms (2000-2008).
In 2012, while answering the question about information threats to children, Putin argued that Russians ought to embrace the traditional values.
In 2013, the president of Russia coined the term “quasi-values”.
It was the time of an active rhetorical opposition of the “traditional values” to the Western ones. However, it remains unclear what exact values Putin had in mind.
Putin explains that, in fact, there are two Wests. There is a West which shares the traditional, first and foremost, Christian values and another aggressive, cosmopolitan and neo-colonial West.
While talking about Western values, Putin uses such flowery language as “quasi-values”, “the so-called neo-liberal values” or “fake values”.
According to Putin's speeches, it is the “Western values” that are to blame for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Imposing them makes the West aggressive. In Putin’s opinion “traditional values cannot be imposed — they must simply be respected and cherished as the century-old choice of each people. Such is our understanding of traditional values, and this approach is shared and accepted by the vast majority of mankind”.
In 2021-2022, Putin warned Russians that the West wishes to strip them of the mythical “traditional Russian values”.
In 2022, Vladimir Putin repeatedly accused Ukraine of committing genocide in Donbas.
For the last few years, Putin has repeatedly raised the subject of genocide in Donbas. This rhetoric is used to justify Russia’s war against Ukraine and legalize the “Special Military Operation” in the eyes of common Russians.
In 2022, Putin also repeatedly mentioned the genocide of the peoples of the USSR committed by the Nazi. The president of Russia used such parallels to prove that the West intends to kill Russians: such were the crimes committed by the Nazi during World War II and now — by the US-led West.
Interestingly, the term “genocide” was mobilized by Putin at the dawn of his presidency. During the Chechen wars, Putin insisted on the genocide of Russian people in Chechnya which is why, he said, Russia is fighting Chechens.
The term “Russophobia” started to appear in Putin's speeches in 2014. Earlier, in 2009, Dmytro Medvedev had warned about the spread of Russophobia in Ukraine: “I personally believe that the Ukrainian President took up quite a contentious attitude towards our country. He is guided by Russophobic perceptions”.
Later, Putin used this term to describe the Maidan events. Since then, the term “Russophobia” has been a key element of Putin's propagandist narratives regarding Ukraine.
If one were to take Putin's word, a few years later, the United States decided to best Ukraine in Russophobia.
Eventually, Putin started to call anyone who disagrees with his policy or criticizes Russia a “Russophobe”. In his opinion, it is the “Russophobes” that are in favor of keeping the world single-polar. ”Firstly, I would like to consider and state my opinion on the reasons of what is happening today — the reasons of that Russophobia. It does exist, and it has become a common trend in some countries. Where does it come from? I am convinced that the world is changing towards multipolarity, and those who favor the hegemony of a single country are against that”>
Amid the war on Ukraine and after the Western economic sanctions and those against select Russian individuals, the president of Russia claimed that Russophobia equals racism.
Not many Ukrainian words have slipped into Putin's rhetoric, but maidan holds a special place among them. Putin associates this word with chaos, the seizure of power, and the loss of Russian influence over Ukraine.
According to the president of Russia, the maidan was a special operation to carry out an insurrection using paid protesters. He refuses to believe that people may want to protest against the government through their own free will.
Putin uses the term “maidan” to instill fear in Russians. Since the Russian propaganda has been using this term exclusively in connection with destabilization and chaos, Russian officials and Putin have been associating any protests in Russia with internal “maidan”.
Mentions of heads of state in Putin’s official statements
Dear Comrade Bush and the Evil Obama
Putin and the Presidents of the USA
Putin's opinions on Joe Biden in his public statements have been scarce. “President Biden is obviously quite a different case from Donald Trump since he is a professional politician who has spent almost his entire life in the business of politics”. Here is another opinion: although it seems positive, it does have a tinge of ridicule: “You know, I must say that the image of president Biden painted by our media and even that painted by the American media in his home country is quite far from reality. He’s been on a long trip, he has crossed the Atlantic — he must be tired from jet lag, you know, when you change time zones quickly. I know that it can be hard from personal experience. But no, he still looks healthy and strong”.
According to Putin Donald Trump is an outstanding person. He also sneered at Trump while defending him: “They say that Trump went to party with Moscow prostitutes as soon as he came to visit. Firstly, he is a grown man of caution and sensibility, and secondly, he has extensive experience of organizing beauty contests for many years, and has been around the most beautiful women in the world. You know, I can hardly imagine him throwing a party at a hotel and engaging in lewd activities with some girls who have a low sense of social responsibility. Russian girls are the best, no question about it, but I am sure that Trump knows better”.
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected president of the US, and his first term coincided with Dmytro Medvedev’s presidency. Despite Putin's claims of good partner relations with Barack Obama, Putin criticized him repeatedly as a person.
During the time in office, Putin managed to build warm and friendly relations with two US presidents: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
George W. Bush rose to the rank of Putin’s friend. The Russian president had multiple informal meetings with president Bush. He visited him at Camp David and proposed a toast for Texas, Bush's home state. Putin even played on Bush’s side by voicing support during his election campaigns. While criticizing the American operatin in Iraq, Putin avoided using Bush's name and blamed his administration instead.
Putin spoke warmly about his relations with Bill Clinton Путін характеризував як дружні й теплі.
“What a scam!”
Putin and Ukrainian Presidents
Putin’s opinions on Zelenskyy have mostly been negative.
Putin is convinced that the influence of nationalists on Zelenskyy prevented him from performing the Minsk accords.
Putin's attitude to Petro Poroshenko was hardly any better. Although Putin was willing to find a compromise with Poroshenko at the beginning of the latter’s presidency, he accused him of starting a war in Donbas.
Viktor Yanukovych was a disappointment for Vladimir Putin. When the former president of Ukraine was ready to sign the EU Association Agreement, he was accused of back-stabbing. Still, Putin later came to Yanukovych’s defense. Putin did not call Yanukovych his friend very often nor did he single him out among other leaders of state.
Putin's feelings for Yanukovych’s predecessor Viktor Yushchenko were mixed. Initially, Putin said that Yushchenko and he had a history and assured that he was willing to cooperate with the newly elected president.
However, the two fell out in 2005. Their relations reached the lowest point during Dmytro Medvedev's presidency. Later, Putin called Yushchenko a corrupt nationalist. . Putin kept repeating that Yushchenko’s victory over Yanukovych in the 2004 presidential election was illegal.
Putin's remarks onLeonid Kuchma have mostly been neutral. He considered Kuchma a reasonable man that he could negotiate with. Leonid Kuchma’s presidency was a period of close cooperation between Russia and Ukraine.
Putin also mentioned Leonid Kravchuk, but much less positively. In his opinion, the former president of Ukraine was a nationalist.