Russian President Vladimir Putin has set out his stall for the next round of Russian foreign policy initiatives to his ambassadors and permanent representatives of the Russian Federation.
Every two years Putin delivers his take on the state of the world and Russian diplomacy from this platform.
This year fighting is going on on former Soviet soil. Protecting anyone who sees Russia as home remains a priority, he says.
“In Ukraine, as you can see, our compatriots, Russian people and people of other nationalities, saw their language, culture and civil rights threatened. What kind of reaction did our partners expect from us after how events unfolded in Ukraine? We certainly had no right to leave the Crimean people and Sevastopol citizens at the hands of militant nationalists and radicals.”
Putin also warned Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko that he would bear the political responsibility for violence from now on, following his renewed offensive against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Putin said he regretted Poroshenko had refused Moscow and international mediators’ calls for a ceasefire extension, and said that working with, not against Europe was a priority for Moscow he insisted.
“Europe is our natural and most important trade and economic partner. We want to ensure that there are new opportunities for business cooperation. For this we need to modernise the legal base for our cooperation, and improve the stability and predictability of relationships, primarily in strategically important areas like energy.”
As for the United States, Putin said it was crucial the relationship should be seen as one of equals.
“Our contacts with the United States of America are of huge importance for the whole world. We are ready for constructive dialogue but – I would like to underline again – on the basis of equal rights”.
While much of his statement was designed to be heard in Washington, the relationship between the two nuclear superpowers has as much effect on their neighbours as it does on each other, as Ukraine is learning.
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