Putin blames West for mounting tensions at year-end press conference

In response to a direct question about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin said: “How would the Americans react if on their border with Canada we deploy our missiles (…) it’s a matter of security? and you know our red lines “.
Putin addressed the strengthening of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border in recent months. He said it was simply a response to NATO’s eastward expansion and that he would continue to act in Russia’s interest.

“They outright deceived us. Five waves of NATO expansion. There they are, now in Romania and Poland, with weapons systems,” Putin said.

He added that Russia “does not want military action” but has pointed the finger at the United States and NATO, “he said,” we have directly asked that there be no more NATO movement towards the East. The ball is in their court. He later added: “I sometimes feel like we’re on different planets. ”

Putin was also asked about his country’s emerging alliance with China. He noted that China and Russia were increasing trade, collaborating on human rights and fighting climate change.

Perhaps more alarming to some Western observers, he said that “China has one of the most advanced technological armies and we are working with them to develop high precision weapons.”

Putin has been questioned by international media about current criticisms of his regime. Asked about jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his alleged poisoning, the Russian president said neither Germany nor France – the two countries that condemned Putin for his opponent’s treatment – were able to provide proof of poisoning. He went on to criticize the United States and the United Kingdom for having less liberal laws than Russia, wrongly claiming that the United States criminalizes citizens who do not get vaccinated.

Asked about accusations that Gazprom, the majority Russian state-owned gas company, was choking supplies to Europe, causing prices to soar, he said “they lie in the West all the time about it. “.

Putin said Gazprom was fulfilling all of its contracts, then accused Germany of selling Russian gas to Poland at a higher price. He criticized the European Union for causing “panic, panic, panic” over Russian gas exports.

The Russian president seemed eager to talk about his national agenda, saying “let’s not get bogged down in the international agenda … let’s go to the regions”, before answering questions from the local media.

Naturally, many questions focused on Russia’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and fears over the Omicron variant.

Putin has said he hopes Russia will achieve up to 80% collective immunity by 2022. He said the current level of 59.4% collective immunity in the country is insufficient.

“This concerns both our fellow citizens who have recovered and who have been vaccinated. Here, about 70 million received the first vaccine, about 70 million and more received two injections, but it is not enough”, a- he told reporters.

Speaking of the threat posed by the Omicron variant, Putin added that the pandemic cannot be resolved without a global distribution of vaccines.

“I am talking about the need for mutual recognition of vaccines and for the distribution of these vaccines around the world as quickly as possible and in as large a quantity as possible, otherwise we will not face this problem globally, mankind. will live with all of the time and suffer huge losses, ”he said.

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