Putin sees ties with U.S. as key to stability around world
Says he wants to pool efforts against terror
MOSCOW | In a conciliatory state of the nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday voiced hope for mending a rift with the U.S. and pooling efforts in fighting terrorism.
The speech reflected Moscow’s hope that President-elect Donald Trump could help repair ties with Washington that have sunk to a post-Cold War low over the crisis in Ukraine, the Syrian war and other disputes.
Mr. Putin, who has employed tougher language in past addresses, emphasized that friendly relations between the two powers are essential for global stability.
“Russia-U.S. cooperation in solving global and regional problems answers the interests of the entire world,” he said. “We share responsibility for ensuring global security and stability and strengthening the nonproliferation regime.”
Tensions escalated during the U.S. election campaign, when the Obama administration accused Moscow of hacking American political sites and email accounts in an effort to interfere with the vote. The Kremlin has rejected the accusations.
Mr. Putin noted in his speech that Russia has faced “attempts of foreign pressure with all tools involved — from the myths about Russian aggression, [accusations] of meddling in elections to the hounding of our athletes,” a reference to doping scandals.
But he also emphasized that Russia bears no grudge against the West and is open for a “friendly and equal” dialogue on global issues.
“We don’t want confrontation with anyone,” he told an audience of senior officials and lawmakers in an ornate, white-marble Kremlin hall.
“Unlike our foreign colleagues who are seeing Russia as an enemy, we have never been looking for enemies. We need friends,” Mr. Putin said. “But we won’t allow any infringement on our interests and neglect of them.”
He said Russia is “ready for cooperation with the new American administration” and hopes to pool efforts with Washington in combating international terrorism.
“Our servicemen in Syria are fulfilling that task,” Mr. Putin said.
Russia has conducted an air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping the forces of its longtime ally make significant gains, most recently in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the war.
In a phone call Nov. 16, Mr. Trump told Mr. Putin that he looks forward to “a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia,” according to his transition team.
Mr. Putin said Russia is open to a “friendly and equal dialogue” about global security. He pointed to the European migration crisis as an example of even “seemingly prosperous countries and stable regions” facing divisions.
He mentioned an intention to develop stronger ties with China and India and said the plan is dictated by long-term interests rather than a strain on Russia’s ties with the U.S. and the European Union.
Mr. Putin focused most of his speech on economic and social issues. He said the Russian economy is on the way to recovery and pointed to growth in some sectors of industry and agriculture. He said agricultural exports this year will top $16 billion, surpassing weapons exports.
The Russian economy contracted 3.7 percent in 2015, and the recession has continued this year under the combined blow of low oil prices and Western sanctions.