Thursday, December 4, 2008
Vladimir Putin has again put the blame for the global financial crisis on the outgoing U.S. administration. But speaking during his annual televised Q&A session with the public, the Prime Minister said that Russia can weather the economic storm.
The session lasted for about three hours. The Russian Prime Minister and the leader of the most popular Russian political party, United Russia, covered a variety of issues ranging from the global financial crisis to relations with Europe and the United States to purely domestic topics.
Watch the full version of Vladimir Putin’s Q&A session:
‘The U.S. started the crisis, but we can weather it‘
Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin has again put the blame for the global financial crisis on the outgoing U.S. administration.
“The crisis started in the USA, there’s no need to prove it now. The authorities in that country mishandled their power and infected the world with the crisis,” he said.
But despite the trouble that all world economies face now, Russia’s performance in 2008 was good, Putin said. Inflation is expected to be just 1% higher than early estimates, while real incomes grew by 12.6%. The economy will grow by about 6.8% as compared to the estimated 7.5%.
Putin made an assurance that the country can whether the financial storm. He said all social initiatives the government have promised will be implemented, but he added Russia must be prepared for a difficult time.
“This will be a difficult period in the world economy and in ours too. We have to be morally, organisationally, financially and even politically ready for this,” the Prime Minister warned.
He added: “Russia has seen worse problems, after all, it is over 1000 years old.”
As an example of a worse crisis, the Prime Minister mentioned the 1990s, when “we faced problems of territorial integrity as well as the total disintegration of manufacture and the social sphere”.
Putin said that today Russia is in a completely different position. He believes it has a strong chance of overcoming the financial problems with minimal damage to the economy and the Russian people.
Adequate response to U.S. steps
Vladimir Putin said Russia will be responding adequately to any steps by the new U.S. administration.
“When a government changes in any country – even more so in a superpower like the U.S. – there is change. We expect the change to be positive,” he said.
Putin described how there were positive signs from Washington during the recent NATO summit  in Brussels, where Georgia and Ukraine were not given the Membership Action Plan and Russia was invited to renew informal dialogue with the alliance.
And if Washington chooses not to push ahead with its plans for the anti-missile defence system in Europe, Russia will take adequate steps in response, Putin promised.
“We are told that Russian interests should be taken into account when building relations with it. If these words are not just hot air, if they are transformed into real policies, our reaction will certainly be adequate and our American partners will feel it at once,” Putin said.
Russian war ships under U.S. nose
Vladimir Putin stated Russia does not need to place its permanent military bases in Cuba and Venezuela .
“But we have agreed with Venezuela that our war ships can use its ports for refilling and replenishing their food supplies. We don’t have such an agreement with Cuba but I think their leadership won’t object,” he went on to say.
Then he added: “I wish to reveal a secret to you. When we announced that our war ships will go to Venezuela for joint exercises we got a lot of requests from other countries to use their ports for our ships”.