On Thursday, Russian president Vladimir Putin talked about some important matters during his annual address to the people of Russia. Putin is in a very good place right now. His popularity is growing, Donald Trump, whom Russia supported, won the presidential elections in the U.S. and the pro-Russian populism all over Eastern Europe is growing. Still, he seemed uncharacteristically restrained and tempered.
The annual address
The annual address took place in the mesmerizing St. George’s Hall in the Great Kremlin Palace. Putin had an audience which included barons, both political and economic ones. He had an interesting remark to make. He said that
“Even in the most seemingly affluent countries and stable regions, more and more fractures and conflicts on political, ethnic, religious and social grounds are rising.”
This may come as a surprise to some countries who have accused Russia of doing exactly those things. Of promoting anti-establishment movements in order to weaken and disorientate other liberal democracies. Germany is one of the countries which have been very adamant in this regard. Their foreign intelligence chief warned that Russia wants nothing more but “political uncertainty”.
Cooperation with the U.S.
Vladimir Putin expressed his wish to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the United States. Also with the country’s new administration. It is interesting to notice that he never mentioned Donald Trump by name. Still, he kept himself from making jokes or subtle ironies about the U.S., the way he was doing last years. This means that something has indeed changed. Putin talked about how everyone should treat Russia as a global power. Not a regional one, the way Barack Obama used to call it.
While talking about nuclear policy between Russia and The U.S., Putin mentioned that
“I would like to emphasize that attempts to break strategic parity are extremely dangerous and can lead to a global catastrophe. This must not be forgotten for a single second.”
During the presidential campaign, many Russian news outlets presented Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, as a “Russophobic hawk”. On the other hand, Donald Trump was deemed as the one to bring a new balance in the relationship between the two nations.
Vladimir Putin talked for about an hour, but apart from these very important international matters, his speech was mainly about national issues. He said that the two years during which Russia suffered an economic decline only made the nation stronger. It did not weaken it at all. Now, the economy of Russia is the 13th one in the world, behind countries like Australian, Canada or South Korea.
All in all, we will see what is going to happen between the United States and Russia. Now, both leaders seem to be wanting to work together. This is something that has not happened for quite some time and it will be interesting to observe how they are going to collaborate. There are urgent ad important matters at hand, and a mutual collaboration might be key to dealing with them. Still, it all need to matter in the long run too, not just for a few months.
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