16:16 Dec. 1, 2016
In his speech, Putin demanded a status equal to that of the U.S. for Russia
Russian president Vladimir Putin has addressed the country's parliament, The Federal Assembly, with his traditional annual speech, a Russian analogue for the State of the Union.
Comparing to the previous speech of 2015, the latest Putin's address was almost totally stripped of mentions of Ukraine, Donbas or Turkey, but rather far more concentrated on social issues in Russia - education, fighting corruption, taxation and healthcare.
Russia is resolving its problems in difficult outer circumstances, but its people proved to be capable of this, Putin said.
"The citizens have incorporated, and we see it, we must thank our citizens, they have concentrated over the patriotic values not because they are totally satisfied. No, we're having a lot of problems even now. But there's an understanding of their reasons, and most importantly, a certainty of overcoming them for sure," the Russian leader claimed.
Contrary to Putin's usual public style, the latest parliament speech contained much less anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western rhetorics. Russian president stressed that the Western sanctions turned out to be profitable for the country's domestic producers and were not the main reason for the economic decline. However, the sanctions pressure can't last forever, and even Russian consumers need a more competitive market, so the limitations over the war against Ukraine must be lifted, in Putin's opinion.
On Russia's foreign policy and external affairs, Putin did not mention Ukraine or the recent U.S. elections at all, but repeated his usual rhetorics on Russia being surrounded by enemies and humiliated and underrated by the world.
"We will not tolerate violating our interests and neglecting them. We want to be and we will be masters of our own destiny, will forge the present and the past without any prompts and unasked advises from abroad," Putin stated.
According to him, in the past years, Russia faced attempts of putting itself under pressure from abroad.
"Everything was put into use - from myths about Russian aggression, propaganda, meddling in elections to bullying our athletes, including Paralympians. The paid-for media campaigns, forging and stuffing the incriminating materials, bossy preachments have annoyed everyone wildly. If necessary, we ourself can give a good lesson to anyone," Putin said.
A big deal of the speech was dedicated to relations with the United States. The Kremlin is ready to cooperate with the upcoming U.S. presidential administration on an equal footing, as the two countries share the common responsibility for security and stability in the world.
"It's important to normalise and start developing bilateral relations on the equal and mutually ludicrous basis,", the Russian president said, adding that the Kremlin relies on the U.S. in "struggle against real problems, that of international terrorism", Putin said.
In Syria, the Russian armed forces showed their new abilities and the growing military might, Russian president also stressed, repeating his last year's statement made amid the row over downing a Russian jet by Turkey in Syria.