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Watch: Russia will retaliate if US deploys missiles in Europe

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Watch: Russia will retaliate if US deploys missiles in Europe
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REUTERS
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In his annual address to the parliament on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government would retaliate if Washington deployed any missiles in Europe.

Putin did clarify that he was not seeking direct confrontation with the US.

In response to the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), he said Russia would not take the first step in deploying missiles but warned his American counterparts of the risks if they did so.

Putin criticised the US for withdrawing from the INF Treaty, saying accusations that Russia violated the treaty were made to cover up the fact they always wanted to withdraw from it.

He said the US ignored Russia's "legitimate interests" and continued to organise "anti-Russian activities" such as illegal economic sanctions.

The Russian leader said his country was not a threat to the US and wanted to build a friendly relationship based on mutual respect.

"We are not interested in confrontation and do not seek it," he said.

However, he said Washington should take note of Russia's weapons before making any moves because he will always guarantee the country's security.

"Among the US ruling class, there are many of those who get carried away by the idea of their exceptional nature and superiority above the rest of the world.

"Naturally, this is their right to think the way they want. But they know how to calculate, don't they?" asked Putin.

"Let them calculate the range, speed of our weapon systems in development. This is all we are asking for.

"Let them first calculate and only then take decisions that might bring about additional serious threats for our country [Russia], and certainly will lead to a response from Russia, whose safety will be guaranteed."

The rest of the world

Putin praised his relations with many countries, highlighting his cooperation with China, India, Japan and said he hoped to restore relations with the European Union.

"We also hope that the European Union, the leading countries of Europe, will take real steps to restore normal political and economic relations with Russia.

"Citizens of these countries are interested in such cooperation with Russia," he said.

Domestic Affairs

The first half of Putin's speech focused on domestic issues where he talked about internal economic and social development, specifically the "national projects" in education, housing, agriculture, and health care that "protect the people".

He said the government will do everything it can to strengthen families via its programmes.

Putin also addressed state policy on payments and benefits to mothers who have more than one child. He said that mothers earning up to two more times "the bare minimum" should be eligible for subsidies for having children.

Poverty

Putin said that many of those living in poverty are pensioners, broken families, families with many children, and families with a seriously ill family member.

Pensions must at least equal the poverty line with additional benefits, he added.

Healthcare

Putin says that many citizens were not satisfied with their access to medical facilities, particularly in remote locations.

He said that medical care must be available in every town by the end of 2020 and called for the modernization of medical centres.

Environment

He addressed the issue of overflowing landfills located near residential areas and said more control needed to be exercised over waste disposal.

Putin said that all urban landfills should be eliminated within the next six years and called for more environmentally sensitive incineration plants.

Economy

Putin said the best way to overcome poverty was to increase the rate of economic growth.

He said that Russia's economic reserves were bigger than its debts (national and commercial) for the first time in history.

Putin wants to create a "powerful scientific-technological foundation" to boost the economy and called for investments in private start-ups.

"All our legislation must be based on the new technological environment," he said.

As for the investment climate, Putin said that "honest businessmen shouldn't go around being afraid of criminal prosecution". The comment comes less than a week after one of Russia's best known foreign investment managers was thrown into jail.

Weapons

Putin announced that Russia will deploy its first submarine equipped with a nuclear-powered undersea drone this spring.

Euronews correspondent Galina Polonskaya had more details on his speech.

The opposition

Weighing in on Putin's annual address, opposition leader Aleksei Navalny said that last year's crowd preferred the "cartoons about the rockets" more than domestic issues.

"They don't applaud well this time round. Putin has been reading his address for 20 minutes but there's not a single stand up ovation. Last time when they showed the animated cartoons on missiles, the audience liked it more."