Russian President Vladimir Putin has addressed a number of domestic and foreign policy issues in a question and answer session with the public.
“Hotline with Vladimir Putin,” an annual event, is broadcast on television and radio.
It was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Below are some of his quotes from Wednesday’s session, which come as Moscow’s ties to the West are heavily strained by issues such as Ukraine, jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, and allegations of cyberattacks. .
When vaccinated against COVID:
Last year, Russia became the first country to grant approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, and launched the first batch to the public.
Putin said: “I chose to be vaccinated with Sputnik V. The army is being vaccinated against Sputnik V and, after all, I am the commander-in-chief.
“After the first shot, I didn’t hear anything. About four hours later, there was a certain tenderness where I made the shot. I did the second (shot) at noon. At midnight I measured the temperature. It was 37.2 (centigrade). I went to sleep, woke up and my temperature was 36.6. That was all.
“It does not support mandatory vaccination and I continue to hold that view.”
Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014. After a break in fighting last year, the conflict intensified again in early 2021. In April, when Russia gathered more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and in Crimea, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited Putin to meet in eastern Ukraine.
Putin turned down the offer and said the Ukrainian leader was welcome in Moscow “at any time.” Russia later announced a retreat of troops, but both Washington and Kiev say the withdrawal has been limited.
On Wednesday, the Russian leader said, “Why do I have to meet? [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy if he has ceded his country to complete external control? Vital issues for Ukraine are not resolved in Kiev, but in Washington and partly in Berlin and Paris. What is there to discuss? I don’t refuse (to know him), I just need to understand what to talk about. “
About the recent Russia I spat out the Black Sea with the United Kingdom:
Relations between the West and Russia were further aggravated earlier this month by an incident in the Black Sea. Russia says it fired warning shots and dropped bombs on the passage of a British destroyer that was diverted to its territorial waters, but the UK has disputed that story.
“It simply came to our notice then. This is absolutely clear. What did they want to show and what goals did they want to achieve? First, (the provocation) had several components. Not only was it carried out by the British, but also by the Americans, because the British destroyer entered our territorial waters during the day and, in the early hours of the morning, at 7:30, I think a plane of US strategic recognition came from a NATO army in Greece, in Crete. I was informed of this … We saw it well, we observed it. It was clear that the destroyer (entered our waters) first of all pursued military objectives, trying with the help of the reconnaissance aircraft to reveal the actions of our military to stop these provocations …
“There was also a political component. A meeting (with US President Joe Biden) had just taken place in Geneva. One has to wonder why it was necessary to carry out this provocation. Why is all this being done? In order to emphasize that these people do not respect the choice of Crimean people to join the Russian Federation.
“Even if we had sunk the British destroyer near Crimea, it is unlikely that the world would have been on the brink of World War III. Because I know that those who do this cannot emerge victorious from this war. This is very important. I don’t think we would have been happy with that development.
“But at least we know why we are fighting. We are in our territory, we fight for ourselves, for our future. We were not the ones who went to them, flying thousands of miles and arriving by waterways. They came to our borders and violated our territorial waters. “
On social media:
In recent months, Russia has fined social media companies for claiming to have refused to withdraw posts encouraging children to join the protests. These bans have come amid massive rallies in support of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.
Putin said: “We do not plan to block anyone, we plan to work with them. But there are problems. We are told that we are baffled and do not comply with our requirements and Russian laws.
“We tell them, ‘He’s spreading child pornography, instructions on how to commit suicide and preparing Molotov cocktails, etc., you have to get rid of him. They don’t even hear what we’re saying. That’s wrong.”
In a successor:
Putin told Russians on Wednesday that the time would come when he would appoint his possible successor to the Kremlin, but said the decision would ultimately be up to voters.
Putin, 68, has been in power as president or prime minister since the turn of the century. His current six-year term in the Kremlin will end in 2024. His comments are being closely scrutinized for clues as to whether he plans to expand his government.
Last year, Russia changed its constitution, allowing it to run for two more six-year terms in the Kremlin, which could remain president until 2036.
“On the one hand, they say that a sacred place is never empty and that there are no irreplaceable people,” Putin said. “On the other hand, my responsibility is to give recommendations to the people who will run for the presidency. It happens in every country in the world, I know of no exceptions.
“Of course, the time will come when I hope to be able to say that, in my opinion, this or that person is worthy of leading a country as wonderful as our homeland, Russia.”