Vladimir Putin has criticised Washington’s high handed approach to international politics, describing the United States as a lone wolf that listens to no-one and has no intention of ever doing so.
And in his annual address to the nation, the Russian president said the huge scale of American military spending created pressure on the rest of the World to respond.
“Their budget is 25 times bigger than ours. That means that when it comes to defence their home is their castle. It also means we have to build our castle, because we know how the world works.”
Putin also said Russia’s longstanding demand to enter the World Trade Organisation should not be used as a bargaining chip. Washington has vetoed Russia’s accession, accusing Moscow of inadequate financial regulation and failure to respect intellectual property rights.
Putin sought to reassure on the reliability of Russian energy supplies, amid European concerns that Moscow might use its position as the world’s largest fuel producer as a political weapon.
“Russia can play a positive role helping Europe develop a unified energy strategy,” he said. “We must conquer new markets while satisfying our internal needs and those of our traditional partners.”
But Putin said the biggest problem facing Russia was a population that’s declining by 700 000 each year. He promised increased aid for parents of young children and an easing of restrictions on immigration from the former Soviet Union.