On Thursday, December 19, the Moscow World Trade Center hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference with Russian and foreign journalists. The meeting has become 15th in a row, with a record number of media representatives accredited – 1,895 people. Most of them were journalists from different regions of our country, which is quite a remarkable thing, indicating the authorities' careful attention to the problems inside Russia. Besides, the conference was attended by foreign media correspondents as well – from China, the United States, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Japan and other countries. For them, the event was translated into three languages English, French and German.
It is worth reminding that Vladimir Putin has been using the format of a press conference since 2001. During this year's one, the Russian leader traditionally focused on Russia's domestic and foreign policy, which took a total of 4 hours and 18 minutes. In this interval of time, President Putin managed to answer dozens of questions from journalists, including those related to international life. I would like to elaborate on this part of his communication with the media.
The press conference began with a question from a Russian journalist on the abnormal warming in Moscow and, subsequently, about the Paris agreement Russia ratified this fall. Answering this question, Vladimir Putin expressed doubt about precision in calculating anthropogenic activity effect on the climate, but called for efforts to minimize this impact. "We should make our best efforts to prevent dramatic changes in the climate," the President said. At the same time, he stressed that Russia is not among the largest polluters as to emissions into the atmosphere. Later, Putin returned to the problem of ecology, noting that Russia has already adopted a law on introducing the best technologies available. According to him, the 300 enterprises with "the greatest negative impact on the environment are required to adopt appropriate renovation programs." At the same time, twelve enterprises have already done this.
At the very beginning of the press conference, Vladimir Putin answered the question of a Ukrainian journalist about prospects for resolving the Donbass situation and about his attitude to Kiev's latest statements in this regard. According to the Russian President, the revision of the Minsk agreements may lead the situation in Eastern Ukraine to a blind alley. "There is nothing more important than the Minsk Agreements," Putin said. "Of course, I was worried by the statement made by President Zelensky after he left Paris to the effect that they could be revised. If we revise the Minsk Agreements, the settlement process will hit a dead end, because the main element of the Minsk Agreements is a law on the special status of Donbass, which must be formalized in the Ukrainian Constitution." At the same time, Putin considers it inappropriate to "state opinion" of Zelensky or his other colleagues.
Vladimir Putin could not ignore Russian-American relations. Answering the question from the American political scientist Dimitri Simes with the Channel One, he said that the impeachment of US President Donald trump is an element of the domestic political campaigning. The President recalled unfounded accusations of his collusion with Moscow, that have never been confirmed. According to him, "We are interested in expanding and maintaining relations with the United States and will move in this direction regardless of who is in the White House or who controls the two chambers of Congress." The head of state also stressed Moscow's readiness to extend the START-3 Treaty at any moment, without which "there will be nothing left in the world to contain the arms race." Touching upon the new US sanctions, Putin said: "This will certainly affect the level of interstate relations... Knowing this, we too will mirror their steps, we will do just that".
During the press conference, Vladimir Putin got back to the sanctions once again when asked whether the situation in this area may change for the better. In his opinion, "there are various assessments of the consequences of these sanctions for all participants in this unpleasant process, but they all boil down to the same thing" – the loss of jobs. Other participants in international relations are coming to the market. There are both problems and benefits. For instance, an agricultural growth spurt. The helicopter engine industry has appeared, just as a breakthrough in the field of defense. The Russian economy managed to adapt to external shocks, with the ruble becoming more resistant to oil price fluctuations, the head of state said. We need to eliminate politically motivated restrictions in economic activities between the countries, Putin urged.
Answering the question of a Chinese journalist about the most significant results of Moscow's partnership with Beijing and ways to put an end to the unipolar world, Putin said the most important thing in Russian-Chinese relations was an unprecedented level of trust. According to him, it is also essential that the countries cooperate in high-tech and other areas, which is vital for the world order. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an illusion that a unipolar world was possible, but that was a mistake. "The world’s multipolarity is a derivative of economic relations." Previously, this share was formed by of the United States, today by China. Therefore, "the world simply cannot have a unipolar structure", and the role of Russia and China is really great, Putin explained.
A Japanese journalist asked about the Russian President's take on a military alliance between China and Russia, to which Putin replied that Moscow and Beijing were developing cooperation in the field of defense, but the missile early warning radar system developed by Russia and China, was not an offensive weapons system. He noted that Moscow and Beijing had no plans of creating a military alliance. At the same time, the head of state pointed to the lack of guarantees that new American offensive weapon systems were not going to be deployed on the Kuril Islands. And Russia is trying to find a way out of the situation jointly with the Japanese authorities.
A British journalist was primarily interested in Vladimir Putin's opinion on Russia's interference in the UK elections and relation prospects between Moscow and London after the latter leaves the European Union. Answering these questions, Putin said he was confident of no Russian interference in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom. The Russian President once again congratulated Boris Johnson on his victory in the recent parliamentary election and expressed hope for an improvement in Russian-British relations.
The Russian leader also commented on the decision by the Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ban Russian athletes from international competitions for four years. Vladimir Putin called the move unjust, since it is for the second time that all of the Russian athletes are punished, even though most of them are clean. In his opinion, the WADA decision runs counter to the Olympic Charter. Besides, this organization has no claims against the Russian Olympic Committee, the head of state stated.