President Putin urges Russian resilience for hard times

President Putin urges Russian resilience for hard times

President Vladimir Putin has warned Russians of hard times and urged self-reliance, in his annual state of the nation address to parliament.

Speaking to both chambers in the Kremlin, Mr Putin accused Western governments of seeking to raise a new iron curtain around Russia.

Russia has been hard-hit by falling oil prices and by Western sanctions imposed over its role in eastern Ukraine.

The government has warned that Russia will fall into recession next year.

Mr Putin accused foreign “enemies” of having supported the “Yugoslav scenario” for Russia, which would mean disintegration at the hands of separatists, but “we did not let it happen”.

He expressed no regrets for annexing Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, saying the territory had a “sacred meaning” for Russia dating back to the early spread of Christianity.

The final draft of Vladimir Putin’s annual speech is written by the president himself. It is his view of the state of the Russian nation and highlights his priorities for the year ahead.

So it is telling that Mr Putin chose to stress his unwavering, hard line on the crisis in Ukraine: what happened in Kiev was an “illegal coup” and Crimea, which Russia annexed, was like “holy land” for Russia and would always be treated that way.

Mr Putin went on to accuse the West of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs, claiming that sanctions were merely an excuse to “contain” the country as it grew stronger and more independent.

Earlier this year, such talk worked well, fuelling a surge in patriotism. But Russians are starting to feel the economic consequences of their president’s foreign policy, through sanctions. For those who worry, there was little suggestion from this speech that things would improve soon.




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