Crimea an­nex­a­tion strate­gic: Putin

Lesotho Times - - International -

MOSCOW — Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of the Crimean Penin­sula was a “strate­gic decision,” Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said in an in­ter­view pub­lished Sun­day, brush­ing aside a sug­ges­tion that tough re­tal­ia­tory sanc­tions may have come as a sur­prise.

Mr Putin said that sanc­tions, lower oil prices and a plum­met­ing cur­rency would not have “cat­a­strophic con­se­quences” for his na­tion’s fal­ter­ing econ­omy.

In a lengthy in­ter­view with the staterun Tass news agency, he said he had never made any reck­less de­ci­sions in his nearly 15 years run­ning Rus­sia.

“When a Rus­sian feels he is right, he is in­vin­ci­ble,” Mr Putin said. “I never take ar­bi­trary de­ci­sions, de­ci­sions that may en­tail con­se­quences I don’t fore­see. And if I can­not see the con­se­quences, I pre­fer to wait.”

Mr Putin ap­peared to be try­ing to strike a note of con­fi­dence while Western sanc­tions against Rus­sia’s fi­nan­cial and en­ergy sec­tors were in­creas­ingly bit­ing the econ­omy.

Many Rus­sian eco­nomic ex­perts pre­dict stag­nant growth or a re­ces­sion next year. Food prices are ris­ing, and the tough econ­omy is in­creas­ingly hit­ting or­di­nary Rus­sians’ pock­et­books.

Rus­sia is be­com­ing more iso­lated on the world stage, although Mr Putin said any Western at­tempts to im­pose a new Iron Cur­tain would fail.

The in­ter­view came a week after the Rus­sian pres­i­dent took an early exit from a sum­mit of world lead­ers in Aus­tralia after com­ing un­der re­peated at­tacks for his coun­try’s ac­tions in Ukraine.

A burn­ing con­flict in east­ern Ukraine has cost at least 4,300 lives since April.

Mr Putin said he did not in­tend to rule Rus­sia for the rest of his life and that he would obey the Rus­sian con­sti­tu­tion, which man­dates that he step down as pres­i­dent in 2024 if he wins another sixyear term in 2018.

Stay­ing in of­fice through­out his life would be “detri­men­tal for the coun­try, and I don’t need it ei­ther,” Mr Putin said.

He also said that he saw Western me­dia as cap­tured by po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests. Even when Amer­i­can pub­li­ca­tions crit­i­cise the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, he said, they most likely are do­ing so at the be­hest of the pres­i­dent’s op­po­nents.

He made the re­marks when asked how he felt about be­ing named the most pow­er­ful per­son in the world by Forbes, ahead of Pres­i­dent Obama.

“This could be a method of in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal strug­gle in the United States, es­pe­cially on the eve of the elec­tions,” Mr Putin said.

— Wash­ing­ton Post

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