Putin's Annual Marathon Press Conference Tour De Force
by Stephen Lendman
On December, 18, Putin held his annual Q & A marathon. Discussing vital issues.
Wide-ranging ones. Responding forthrightly to questions. Giving straight-talk honest answers.
Polar opposite Obama. Making him look buffoon-like by comparison. A serial liar. With no credibility whatever.
His latest Cuba gambit more stunt than policy change. Expect Cubans soon enough to realize they were had.
Likely smart enough to know already. The devil they've known for over half a century is more villainous now than ever.
Fidel is right saying he "harbor(s) (not) the slightest doubt that the United States is about to commit, and lead the world toward, the greatest error in its history."
"A nuclear war is inevitable," he believes. Perhaps any time. Earlier Castro thought against Iran. Perhaps still today.
Likely extremely concerned about hostile US relations toward Russia. Hugely dangerous. Ukrainian flashpoint conditions.
At age 88, his intellect remains acute. His knowledge of vital issues impressive. His honesty and integrity impeccable.
His forthrightness noteworthy. His fear of potential disaster too important to ignore. It bears repeating. The devil he dealt with for over half a century is meaner and nastier than ever.
Putin, like Castro, knows what he's up against. Not about to roll over for Washington. Especially on issues mattering most.
Including national sovereignty inviolability. Opposition to war. Peace, equity and justice. Multi-world polarity.
Cooperative relations with all nations. On the right side of history. Polar opposite Obama on vital geopolitical issues.
Thursday was Putin's 10th annual Q & A press conference. Discussing important issues facing Russia.
Including sanctions. Plummeting oil prices. Declining ruble valuations. Economic problems. East/West Relations. Ukraine. Lots more.
H blamed sanctions for around a fourth of Russia's economic problems. Plummeting oil prices hit hard. Lower ruble valuations.
Russia's economy lacks diversification, he said. He intends remedying things going forward.
"The rate of growth may be slowing, but the economy will continue to grow and our economy will overcome the current situation," he stressed.
"I believe about two years is the worst case scenario after which growth will resume."
"But the situation may start improving even earlier…in the first, second quarter, in mid-2015 or at the end of the next year. No one can say for sure," said Putin.
"If the situation takes a negative turn, then we will have to introduce some amendments to our plans. Naturally, something will have to be trimmed."
"However, I would like to stress that a 'positive rebound,' as experts call it, and subsequent growth are inevitable under present circumstances."
He intends various measures to increase ruble valuations. In 2008, they proved successful, he said.
He urged faster central bank action. Saying its policies "need to be coordinated, collective and prudent, but without interference into the central bank or the government's sphere of competence."
"Nevertheless, there must be coordination and it must be timely." Perhaps more interest rate hikes. To halt ruble devaluation. Begin returning it to higher valuations. Stabilize Russia's economy.
Putin criticized Western countries. Their imperial priorities. Seeing other regions as vassal areas. Subservient ones. To be exploited.
"They will always try to chain the bear," he said. "And once it's chained, they'll rip out its teeth and claws."
"The nuclear deterrence, speaking in present-day terms. As soon as this happens, nobody will need (the bear) anymore."
"They'll stuff it. And start to put their hands on its Taiga (Siberian forest belt). We've heard statements from Western officials that Russia owning Siberia (isn't) fair.”
"The problem of modern international relations is that our partners refuse to stop. They think they have won."
"Do we want relations on an equal basis? Yes, we do, but on the condition that our national interests are respected, in the sphere of security and in the sphere of economy."
He called Russia Europe's only reliable gas supplier. Distinguished between legitimate political opposition and internal threats.
"Saying (a)n opposition figure, even if he's very harsh, in the end he fights for the interests of his motherland, but the 'fifth column represents people who fulfill what is dictated to them in the interests of another government, and they are used as an instrument to reach political goals that are foreign to us."
Russia doesn't repress opposition elements, he stressed. "I would like to assure you that there is no organization or any sort of repression against people who don't agree with our actions, for example in Ukraine, Crimea, or any other external issues, no one from official government organs do this," he said.
He defended Russia's Ukraine policy. Going all-out for peace and stability. Debunking notions otherwise. Criticizing US hypocrisy.
Saying "(t)o take Texas from Mexico is fair, but when we make decisions about our territories, it is unfair."
"I believe we are right in the Ukrainian crisis and our Western partners are wrong."
America's empire of bases is everywhere, he said. "(A)ll over the world, and you're trying to say that we're being aggressive."
Russia has only two foreign bases. In Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, he said.
"We have a military budget of $50 billion while the Pentagon's budget is (over) ten times that amount."
"Do we place our troops at US borders? Who is placing NATO troops, military infrastructure closer to us?"
"Does anyone listen to us, talk to us about it? No, nothing. There is always the same response. It's not your business."
Washington's menacing missile defense system threatens Russia. "They have been deploying strategic missile defense elements not only on Alaska, but also in Europe, in Poland and Romania, right at our borders," said Putin.
Concerned about US plans to install Aegis Ashore ballistic missiles in Romania. By 2015. Similar ones in Poland. By 2018. Urged international leaders to address this issue responsibly.
He stressed the importance of observing Minsk protocol ceasefire terms.
Donbas residents have the right to choose their own future. Under internationally accepted rule of law principles.
The economic blockade is futile. Counterproductive. Wrong, he stressed.
"We must follow the general principles of the international law, and the people of Novorossiya have the right to decide their own fate," he said.
He justifiably blamed Western countries for Ukrainian crisis conditions. "But for the West's position, there wouldn't be civil war in Ukraine," he said.
The road to peace requires building common humanitarian space. Not walls, he stressed. "Russia pays the cost of remaining a nation, a civilization and a state."
He may visit Tehran next year. Iranian leaders show considerable flexibility. On issues regarding their nuclear industry. He hopes for P5+1 resolution soon.
Despite hard times, the vast majority of Russians support Putin. An astonishing 81%. In a recent AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.
A Final Comment
Rodney Shakespeare is Professor of Binary Economics at Trisakti University, Britain. He teaches postgraduate Islamic economics and finance.
On December 18, he discussed Russian economic conditions on RT International. His comments are important and incisive.
He emailed this writer the following. Explaining the gist of what he said as follows:
"Russia will recover (probably relatively) in under two years. It will probably be relatively because the Western financial system is in difficulty and a collapse is certain which will affect everybody."
"The basic reasons for this are the huge and continuing levels of un-repayable debt; rich-poor division; and a failure to understand the technological shift which is destroying jobs."
"But Russia will survive. It has vast primary resources - diamonds, wood, gold, iron, wheat, oil, gas etc."
"It has large financial reserves (around $400 billion dollars); AND its government takes in more money than it spends!! This is unheard of in the Western world!"
"Also NB in about six months the first part of the new money-exchange system will have been built and will enable Russia and China to bypass the Western system."
"If Russia has any immediate difficulty it should remember the 1998 crisis when the IMF, Americans and the City of London tried to smash Malaysia as an independent nation."
"All of the advisers were traitors. So Prime Minister Mahathir turned to a man who was unemployed, down to his last one hundred dollars and was lying on his bed on a torrid Kuala Lumpur night."
"This was Tan Sri Nor Mohammed Jakcop who was summoned to rush to Buenos Aires (where Mahathir was on a state visit), given a packet of visits and asked to write down the solution to the crisis in under two pages."
"He did so and the rest is history. Within three years Mahathir had exacted a grovelling apology from the IMF."
"The overall message was that you can use capital controls if your basics are OK (which is broadly the case with Russia)."
"The present crisis is an excellent opportunity for Russia to break free from its reliance on foreign, Western finance."
"It should rely on its own finance and, at the same time, become independent in all aspects of the economy (which is largely possible for Russia - just as Iran has done)."
Money does NOT have to be borrowed from the international banking system which creates it out of nothing, adds interest and makes it repayable in dollars etc."
"(T)hen does a run on your currency and subsequently picks up your assets for peanuts. This is what Mahathir was fighting and did successfully fight."
"It's all LIES about the need to borrow from abroad and the need to have international 'investors.' "
"You can just as easily borrow interest-free from your own national bank but it is unwise to allow this too much UNLESS the borrowing is for building productive capacity AND spreading it in the population (only this creates a properly balanced market economy in which producers and consumers are the same)."
"Generally, NEVER borrow from abroad because it gives the lever by which you can be smashed."
"The theoretical case for borrowing from abroad is that the 'investments' are for economic efficiency but, in practice, they are nothing of the sort being short-term hot money which is only there to get as big a profit as possible before rushing away."
Professor Rodney Shakespeare
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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