- There are powers that be who are thwarting President Trump in establishing good relations with Russia.
- Why sign accords with North Korea and then withdraw from them?
- Mikheil Saakashvili is an insult to the Georgian and Ukrainian nations!
A few days ago, an international four-hour press conference – an already established political event in Moscow – took place during which Russia’s President Vladimir Putin answered questions from national and foreign journalists. The many queries concerned a variety of problems, from small, local to international. Of the many topics three stood out as the most important:
(i) Russia’s economy
(ii) relations with the United States
(i) President Putin enumerated economic achievements that his country could be proud of and, as he often reminds national and international audiences, he drew a brief comparison to the sad years of the Yeltsin era (without mentioning the previous president, though), when life expectancy dropped to 65 as compared with the present 73. It meant a loss of lives and the lowering of living standards comparable to those during the civil war [1917-1925]. For the last few years, the country has been experiencing constant growth, with record harvest and grain exports. No more shock therapy, assured President Putin. Sanctions imposed on Russia have only had the effect of reorienting the country’s economy towards the internal market. The financial resources that have already been invested in Russia, said the president, guaranteed further development. True, the Russian leader admitted, corruption was still a problem and it tended to recur in the same branches of industry.
(ii) Asked about his evaluation of President Trump’s policy making, Vladimir Putin was evasive, saying it was the American nation who is in a position to give approval or disapproval to its own president. Yet, he admitted that the steps that Trump took inspired the market with confidence. The Russian leader expressed his disappointment that, contrary to his pre-election promises, Donald Trump was not able to establish better relations with Russia. Apparently, said the Russian President, the powers that be imposed constraints on him in this respect. The Russian President quoted the military expenditure in the United States and Russia: while the former spends $700 bn, the latter merely $46 bn. Vladimir Putin deplored the enormous pressure that is being exerted on the Russian mass media outlets like Russia Today and Sputnik which, according to the western sources, pose a threat. The president compared the worldwide network of powerful American mass media corporations to that of the few smaller ones run by Russia and was surprised how they could be regarded as dangerous.
There were questions about North Korea to which the Russian leader gave a brief explanation. He reminded the audience that in 2005, Washington signed accords with Pyongyang but then on the following day, seeing the latter’s compliance, began to withdraw from them, raising more demands. As a result the North Korean authorities walked out of the agreement and persisted in the development of their nuclear programme, so much so as they saw how the West swiftly dealt with Libya’s leader and was about to topple Assad in Syria. All the blame was put on Washington.
(iii) Asked about Ukraine, Vladimir Putin repeated, as on many other occasions, that Ukrainians and Russians are the same Slavic nation (at which moment the Russian part of the audience began to clap their hands), that the two share the same spiritual roots. He briefly retold Ukraine’s history and pointed up that its beginning dates back to the mid-seventeenth century, when the country comprised a small piece of land, and that it was only in the twenties of the twentieth century that the Bolsheviks carved out a large chunk of Russia to create Ukraine, and Nikita Khrushchev joined to it Crimea in a procedure that ran afoul of the binding law. President Putin expressed no wonder that parts of the Ukrainian population were in revolt against Kiev since they simply protested against the military coup which swept up President Yanukovich. Asked about Mikheil Saakashvili, Putin said he was an insult [плевок] both to the Georgian and Ukrainian people and could not understand how the former Georgian president could make a vocal public statement in Kiev claiming he was a Ukrainian. Have you run out of indigenous Ukrainians, President Putin asked a Ukrainian journalist, to be forced to rely on such an insult in your domestic matters?
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