Putin hopes to fix ties with US, pool anti-terror efforts
In a conciliatory state-of-the-nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday voiced hope for mending a rift with the US 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 Syria war and other disputes.
Putin emphasised that friendly relations between the two superpowers are essential for global stability.
"Russia-US 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 non-proliferation regime."
Putin's live address contrasted with some of his recent speeches, in which he launched scathing attacks on the US and its allies.
Tensions escalated during the US election campaign, when President Barack Obama's 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.
Putin noted in his speech that Russia has faced "attempts of foreign pressure with all tools involved from the myths about Russian aggression, (allegations) of meddling in elections to the hounding of our athletes," a reference to doping scandals.
But he also emphasised 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," Putin said. "But we won't allow any infringement on our interests and neglect of them."
He said that Russia is "ready for cooperation with the new American administration," and hopes to pool efforts with the US in combating international terrorism.
"Our servicemen in Syria are fulfilling that task," Putin added.
Russia has conducted an air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping his forces make significant gains, most recently in Aleppo, Syria's largest city before the war.
In a phone call on November 16, Trump told Putin that he looks forward to "a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia," according to his transition team.
Putin said that 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 new divisions.
He mentioned an intention to develop stronger ties with China and India, adding that it is dictated by long-term interests rather than a strain on Russia's ties with the US and the European Union.