Dissecting Putin?s St. Petersburg speech


Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday delivered a speech at the plenary session of the 19th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Before 7,000 government officials and business leaders, Putin gave his insight into a number of pressing issues that both Russia and the rest of the world are greatly concerned about.

Putin slammed the United States in his speech for imposing its standards on Russia without consideration for Moscow’s interests.
By funding nongovernmental organizations, the U.S. has been interfering in Russia’s internal political processes and trying to force Moscow to accept its decisions on global issues, he said.
Putin stressed that the so called “new cold war” is not caused by local conflicts, such as the crisis in eastern Ukraine, but Washington’s decisions, including its withdrawal from the anti-missile defense treaty, which he believed would push both countries toward a new spiral of arms race.
It makes more sense for the two major powers to understand each other’s strategic interests and narrow differences via dialogue with the concept of non-conflict and non-confrontation, he said.
In this regard, Putin warned Washington not to “use the language of ultimatums” when talking to Moscow, while expressing the country’s willingness to restore bilateral ties and beef up cooperation in dealing with global challenges, such as terrorism, narcotics trade, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Noting that the global economic landscape is changing, Putin said the Asia-Pacific region would become the primary source of growth over the next decade.
Following on the “inevitable” trend, Russia has been stepping up its cooperation with the region since last year, an important choice the country has made to offset the impact of Western sanctions against it and improve its economic structure, he said.
Putin mentioned in particular the cooperation between Russia and China, saying both sides are discussing the integration of Eurasian Economic Union framework with China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, which is conducive to implementing major joint infrastructure projects, simplifying trade, and strengthening cooperation through various financial instruments.

Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) flagged a 2.2 percent year-on-year fall in the first quarter of 2015, and the deficit is expected to reach 3.7 percent of GDP for the year as a whole, Putin said.
Nevertheless, the president did not shy away from his confidence in national economy. He said Russia has successfully weathered sanctions and prevented a very deep crisis.
The Russian economy has built up sufficient reserves to give it the “inner solidity” it needs, he said, citing that the country has absorbed short-term fluctuations, introduced import substitute plans, maintained a stable budget, and prevented a jump in unemployment.

Putin reiterated that Russia should not be blamed for the crisis in neighboring Ukraine, saying it was the Western support to the “anti-constitutional coup” that led to a severe conflict and to a “civil war” in Ukraine.
He called on all concerned parties to completely fulfill the new Minsk agreement clinched in February, and called for direct dialogue between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.
Russia should exert influence over the conflicting sides in the country, Putin said, while urging the West to do the same.
He also voiced his hope that the crisis be resolved via negotiations, rather than violence, and expected to hold dialogue with Kiev on a trust-based, equal and comprehensive basis.
Russians and Ukrainians enjoy a common history, a common culture and common spiritual roots, thus they are doomed to a common future, Putin said. Enditem


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