Relations with the US
President Putin said that Russia does not consider the US as an enemy and is ready for constructive cooperation with Washington.
Putin said Moscow and Washington should join efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the North Korean nuclear and missile problem.
He said that Russia would lift the sanctions it has imposed on the US, the EU and some other countries as soon as they lift their current sanctions against Russia for its alleged meddling in the Ukrainian crisis.
Denying any Russian involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would analyze the situation in Donbass in order to “make a timely decision that would adequately address the situation at hand.”
Putin also noted that Moscow hopes that Washington could play a "constructive role" in helping end the conflict in Donbass. He said that Russia and the United States could also join forces in dealing with global poverty and efforts to prevent climate change.
President Vladimir Putin said that in view of the US nuclear submarines’ proximity to Russia’s northern border, Moscow considers the deployment of missile defense systems in the Arctic as essential for ensuring Russia's security.
That said, he still reiterated Russia’s desire to be friends with the United States.
“I can say as the incumbent head of the Russian state that I know the sentiments of our people. We do not consider the United States as our enemy. Furthermore, twice in history, when we faced the most difficult times, we united our efforts, we were allies in the two world wars," Putin said.
Commenting on President Putin’s stated desire to mend fences with Washington, Moscow-based foreign policy expert Mikhail Troitsky said that in a break from his previous practice of not commenting on the domestic policy issues of other countries, Putin now describes as shortsighted those in the US who suspect President Trump of having some shady links to Russia.
President Trump remains under strong pressure from his opponents in the political establishment with The Washington Post reporting that Robert Mueller, brought on as an independent prosecutor, is investigating Trump’s possible obstruction of justice.
According to the newspaper, the probe followed Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey who told Congress last week that he believes he was fired by Trump to undermine the agency’s “Russia probe.”
Situation in Syria
Speaking about the situation in Syria, Putin said that because of the growing capability of the Syrian Army would now be able to scale down its military presence there to the Tartus and Hmeymim bases and would only help the Syrian armed forces “whenever necessary.”
No reason for concern
Mentioning the possibility of a new spiral of the arms race over the US missile-carrying nuclear submarines’ deployment close to Russia’s northern borders, the former head of the Defense Ministry’s international affairs department, Lt. General Yevgeny Buzhinsky, said that there was no reason for concern.
“It is not an arms race Putin was talking about. What he had in mind is a ballistic missile early-warning system. We now have such a system deployed along the entire length of our border, including in the Arctic, so there is no reason to talk about any arms race here,” Buzhinsky assured.
“[The US] plans to have 12 such submarines [in the Arctic]. We have exactly the same plans – 12 subs – so I don’t see any problems here,” he added.
President Vladimir Putin held his 15th annual “Direct Line” Q&A session in Moscow on Thursday. During the four-hour live linkup with the people the President answered almost 70 questions.
Putin’s call-in show in 2016 lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes, where the Russian leader answered 80 questions out of the 3 million that were submitted by various means.