12:56 GMT28 January 2021
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year press conference on Thursday. The event was the first since the beginning of President Putin’s new presidential term, which began in May. A record number of journalists, over 1,700 had been accredited for the press conference, according to the Kremlin.

    Sputnik has discussed this with British political commentator — Marcus Godwyn.

    Sputnik: What are the biggest impressions you took away from Vladimir Putin's press conference this time around?

    Marcus Godwyn: As usual this was a sterling performance. This time we had an audience. Vladimir Putin himself, his style hasn't really changed very much over the years. He remains consistent, but the way they stage his annual event it's often very different. Last year they decided to have no audience in the studio whatsoever. In earlier days there used to be groups of people gathered around in various regional towns and villages etc.

    Today (Thursday) was a very high energy, a lot of adrenaline in the actual TV studio where it was taking place; more journalists gathered together there than ever before and all major issues were covered. One or two personal questions and so on, but all the major issues facing the world now: from nuclear war to the schism in the church with the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Church, everything important was covered. The domestic economic matters and, of course, the extremely unpopular pension reforms, everything was mentioned.

    Sputnik: Putin had said that the different approach to the poisoning of the Skripals and the murder of Khashoggi reflects the desire to constrain Russia, do you agree? How would you assess that statement?

    Marcus Godwyn: Obviously, we know that Khashoggi was killed or at least we think we do. Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States and the Western world in general. In fact, Saudi Arabia and Israel were born in some ways out of the British Empire by the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

    READ MORE: 'They Should Not Squeal': Kremlin Explains Putin's Remark on US INF Withdrawal

    The Skripal affair, whatever actually happened to those two individuals, was created in order to give the British government a very strong anti-Russian propaganda tool. So, of course, the way the Western world, especially the British and American, treat this is going to be totally different; night and day, black and white.

    Sputnik: But the reaction though, I believe that Putin pointed out that Khashoggi is dead and the Skripals are not dead it would appear…

    Marcus Godwyn: He did seem to say that he thinks that Skripal is alive. So I guess he has some important information. That is news to some of us actually.

    Sputnik: In the case of Khashoggi there haven't been any embassies recalling diplomatic personnel, there hasn't been the reaction and that was a killing, there was tapes of that. It was then admitted that they did kill him, they said it was accidental, but why was the reaction of Western and other governments why was it so different between these two cases?

    Marcus Godwyn: Because the Western world in general, specifically the current British administration and those behind them in the British deep state are obsessed with creating more and more anti-Russian propaganda. The Skripal affair was actually when it broke very strong. I was in Moscow at the time and I was in Moscow at the time of the presidential elections and it definitely made a very big difference to the way people voted. People in Russia saw this is a preparation for some kind of war.

    To accuse a foreign state of poisoning with nerve gas two of its citizens, or at least one of its citizens because Skripal himself was, of course, a British spy by this time, you cannot get much more serious other than actually firing rockets or guns at somebody.

    The whole point of it is to create anti-Russian propaganda. Therefore, obviously, the Western word in general, specifically the Anglo-Saxon world, is going to go along with that and use that as an excuse to harm Russia in any way they possibly can. They do not really want to harm Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is doing their bidding and is an ally of them.

    READ MORE: Putin REVEALS Whether He Will Ever Tie the Knot Again

    I have read analysis, which I think is correct, the reason there has been some reaction by the United States and other Western governments to Khashoggi and none about the genocide that Saudi Arabia has been conducting in Yemen for the last three years is because the King of Saudi Arabia is a little bit too independent for the Americans liking.

    Therefore it doesn't matter what his human rights record is, if he shows too much independence they might prefer to try to get rid of him and set somebody else up, but, obviously, we cannot expect. We've seen it since the Litvinenko affair back in 2006 this anti-Russian propaganda especially coming from Great Britain. It is never ending and they have to keep reinventing it because the British government can't go back.

    Putin said relations with Great Britain are in an absolute stalemate. It's like a cul-de-sac with no through road. The British government have backed themselves into the position. I don't see that they can back down from this position and stay in power.

    Sputnik: Out of the various outcomes what would be the most conducive to restoring good relationship between UK and Russia?

    Marcus Godwyn: That's absolutely clear, a general election, and if Jeremy Corbyn could win, this is the only possibility. I see nobody in the current Conservative Party who will take any different line to Theresa May whatsoever. Theresa May may go but if Conservatives remain in power, even with a minority government as they have now, I don't see anything is going to change.    

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Marcus Godwyn and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    anti-Russian propaganda, press conference, Vladimir Putin, Russia
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