Putin: NATO's further expansion to the East is unacceptable
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds an annual press conference during which he discusses the most pressing issues on Russia's domestic and foreign agenda, the Omicron mutant, and the economy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual press conference, on Thursday, during which he tackled pressing issues concerning Russia's domestic and foreign agenda, the Omicron, and the economy.
Putin demanded the West "immediately" provide Russia with security guarantees amid spiraling tensions involving a massive deployment of Russian troops toward Ukraine.
Speaking at his annual news conference, he referred to a list of demands that Russian officials released publicly earlier this month that amounted to a major restructuring of European security and NATO's policies.
Putin said that the West should be the first to give Russia immediate security guarantees, after decades of breaking its promises to pursue its own security interests in the post-Soviet space.
"You [the Western nations] demand some kind of guarantee from me. It's you who must give us guarantees — immediately, right now — instead of chatting us up for decades… while doing what you planned for," he said, referring to NATO’s eastward expansion.
Putin's debate with the west over Navalny
Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized Germany and France on Thursday for not returning his calls when he asked to share evidence concerning the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
"We sent multiple official requests on behalf of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, asking for any evidence of poisoning. Nothing," the president said at an annual press conference.
Putin added that he had personally asked the French and German leaders to allow Russian experts to come over and take samples, but he was met with "silence" from their part.
"There is nothing to talk about. Let’s turn this page if you have nothing to respond with," he added.
He accused Navalny, who is jailed in Russia on charges of violating parole, of using politics as an excuse for law-breaking.
"There have always been prisoners in every country… So, do not commit crimes hiding behind politics," the president said.
It seems that a third military impression is being prepared in Ukraine and Russia is being warned in advance not to interfere, Putin said.
The president stressed that the Minsk agreements on the conflict in eastern Ukraine represent the only possible resolution, but Kyiv does not want to fulfill them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, answering a British journalist's question about the "possibility of an attack" by Russia on Ukraine, said that Moscow does not threaten anyone.
"We are not the ones who are threatening someone. Are we the ones who came there, to the US borders, or to the borders of the United Kingdom or somewhere? They came to us, and now they still say: no, now Ukraine will join NATO as well," Putin said on Thursday during an annual end-of-year press conference.
He added that "The future of Donbas should be determined by the people who live in Donbas. That's all. It can not be done differently," adding that the further expansion of NATO to the East is not acceptable for Russia.
"In this regard, we have made it clear that NATO's further expansion to the East is unacceptable," Putin said when asked about security guarantees.
Russia's foreign debt is the lowest in the world
The Russian president revealed that Russia's general external debt has fallen to 4% in comparison to the GDP, which is the lowest debt level in the world.
"External state dept decreased a little. This is the lowest level in the world, approximately 4%," Putin told his annual end-of-year press conference.
The work of the Russian government and the Central Bank this year is satisfactory, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"In general, I think that both the work of the government and the work of the Central Bank deserve ... a satisfactory assessment. The result is positive," Putin said at his annual press conference.
He believed that the Russian economy was more prepared to face the pandemic compared to other economies.
"Pre-pandemic level was 4.6-4.7%, and now it is 4.3%, but it may raise a bit by year-end and reach 4.4%," Putin said, adding that an 8% inflation is expected in Russia this year.
Regarding the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Putin said that Russian experts are doing everything they can to fight the virus, and they are working successfully to fight and combat the new variant Omicron.
He said that the war against the coronavirus continues, and we know about the danger of the Omicron mutator, stressing that the collective immunity against the virus in Russia is 59.4%, but that is not enough and should be raised to nearly 80%, according to him.
"The rate is low — 59.4% as of yesterday evening… It’s Russia’s herd immunity, which includes those who have recovered and those who have been vaccinated," he told the end-of-year press conference.
Speaking at the annual press conference, the president said there was a "need for mutual vaccine recognition and their global rollout as fast as possible and in as many numbers as possible."
"Otherwise we won’t be able to deal with this problem globally. Humanity will have to live with it and bear huge losses. There is even a word for them — excess mortality," the president added.