Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered a trademark robust response on Tuesday to proposals that the North Caucasus republics should be economically and socially separate entities from Russia.
“Those who are saying this should have something cut off of them,” Putin said in an interview with Chechen media in connection with the 60th anniversary of the birth of Chechnya’s first Kremlin-backed president, the late Akhmat Kadyrov.
“They don’t know what they are talking about,” he said, referring to unnamed politicians and political commentators.
“The moment a country starts to reject some problem territories is the beginning of the end of that country as a whole,” he warned.
The North Caucasus republics cannot exist independently because they will be spiritually and economically occupied by “certain foreign forces” and will be used as a tool “to weaken Russia,” Putin said.
In February 2009 Putin famously “invited” a French reporter who questioned the Kremlin’s war in Chechnya to convert to Islam and come to Moscow for circumcision.
“I would recommend that he who does the surgery does it so you’ll have nothing to grow back, afterwards,” he said at the time.