Putin Reassures That Russia Won't Resurrect An Empire
Thu, 16th Apr 2015 14:58
Moscow/Berlin (Alliance News) - Russia has no plans to resurrect an empire but it will never be a "vassal" of the US, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
"We have no imperial ambitions. But we can ensure that ethnic Russians living in countries close to us can live decently," Putin said during his annual call-in show on Russian television.
The Russian President was referring to the Eurasian Economic Union, a group of former Soviet States that was formed earlier this year and faced accusations that it was dominated by Russia.
Asked about the strained relations with the US, Putin said that Washington needs no allies, only vassals. "Russia cannot exist in such a system," he said.
Putin defended his policies in Ukraine, which caused the worst crisis between Moscow and the West since the Cold War, and blamed the Ukrainian leadership for lacking the politcal will to solve the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the country's east that has killed more than 6,000 people in the past year.
The four-hour-long show was overshadowed by the killing of Oles Buzina, a Ukrainian journalist well-known for his pro-Russian views, who was shot dead in Kiev as Putin was speaking. Asked about the crime, Putin linked it to a recent series of murders of government opponents in Ukraine and suggested that Ukraine's failure to solve them hampers the country's European ambitions.
"Both in Europe and in America they prefer not to take notice," he complained.
Late on Wednesday, Oleh Kalashnikov, a former lawmaker for the party of exiled President Viktor Yanukovych, was shot dead in Kiev.
However, Putin admitted that he did not know, if somebody had ordered the February 27 murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, calling it "absolutely shameful and tragic."
Asked if Nemtsov was killed because he had damning evidence of Russian troops in Ukraine, he merely reiterated that there are no Russian troops there.
Putin was adamant that Moscow was not meddling in the politics of its western neighbour and renewed his demand that Kiev ends what he called the "economic blockade" of the rebel-held districts, in line with the peace plan inked in the Belarusian capital Minsk in February.
The Russian leader insisted that implementing the plan, which stipulates special political status for the separatist territories after a ceasefire and weapons withdrawals, was the only solution to the conflict.
When a woman from Gukovo, a Russian town on the border with Ukraine, asked if there will be a war between both countries, Putin replied drily "I assume that this is impossible. Live in peace."
Speaking about the sanctions against Russia, Putin reiterated his view that the West is using Ukraine as a pretext to re-enact a policy of containment.
"This isn't directly linked to Ukraine because we need to implement the Minsk agreements, and we are doing everything to implement them," he said.
He added that he does not expect the sanctions to be lifted soon, because they are "of strategic importance to some of our partners to contain our development."
The US and the EU imposed economic sanctions against some Russian state companies and banks last summer in response to what it said was Russia's role in inciting the separatist conflict in Ukraine.
Western leaders have said that they won't lift the sanctions before Russia stops undermining the Minsk agreement by supporting the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Putin argued that the sanctions will only spur Russia to boost its economy.
"We must use this situation ... to achieve new levels of development," he said.
The president downplayed the sanctions' effect on the last year's rouble devaluation saying that a correction in the currency's value had been "unavoidable" anyway.
The Russian currency lost more than half its value against the dollar and the euro late last year, a devaluation that most analysts linked to falling oil prices. However, it has bounced back in recent weeks, rising more than 30% against the dollar.