Putin on NATO and how top ally China will overtake U.S. 

December 24, 2021 - 17:57

TEHRAN - Speaking to journalists at his annual end-of-year press conference, the Russian President has addressed questions on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues that have dominated Russian headlines over the past 12 months. 

Topping the agenda was tensions with NATO that have seen a dramatic escalation recently. Vladimir Putin stressed that meetings alone (with NATO or the U.S.) will not be enough for the Kremlin for the tensions to ease insisting “we don’t care about negotiations, we want results. not an inch to the East they told us in the 1990s, and look what happened – they cheated us, vehemently and blatantly.”

Last week, Moscow sent documents to the U.S. and NATO seeking assurances that the Western forces and their advanced military hardware will not expand further eastwards towards Russian borders in a bid to ease the friction between the two sides. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also revealed talks between Russian and American officials will be held in early January next year. Putin pointed out “now they’re saying that [NATO] will have Ukraine as well. This means they will deploy their weapons [in Ukraine], even if it's not officially part of NATO.” According to the Russian leader, it is now up to the North Atlantic Alliance to “immediately” come up with guarantees as opposed to just “talking about it for decades.”

The Russian leader has long maintained that Western officials had always promised that NATO forces would not seek to fill the void that was left behind following the fall of the Warsaw Pact, but it instead went ahead with making Eastern bloc nations such as Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, and Poland NATO members. There is a concern in Russia of NATO stationing missiles in non-member state Ukraine which will essentially allow NATO to reduce “their flight time to Moscow to seven-to-ten minutes, and if hypersonic weapons are deployed, to just five.” Russia has warned it will prevent such threats.

There is a concern in Russia of NATO stationing missiles in non-member state Ukraine. The Russian President said it was important to “calculate the risks of such a war, even if it is the result of a provocation.” According to Putin much of Ukraine is historically “Russian lands with Russian populations that were cut off from Russia” by the fall of the Soviet Union.
“We accepted this” he noted. “We helped new states to grow and worked with all governments no matter their foreign policy. Remember our relations with [President Viktor] Yushenko and [Prime Minister Yulia] Timoshenko? Just like today’s leadership, they were speaking about pro-West orientations. We talked with them, we had certain arguments and conflicts, about gas and so on, but we managed to engage in a dialogue and we worked with them and were ready to go on, and we didn’t even think about doing anything regarding Crimea.”

Among the other highlights of the press conference, Putin touched on his country’s ties with Asian superpower China. He forecasted that within the next three decades, China will surpass the United States in every aspect of its economy, predicting that Washington will lose its global dominance in both finance and trade. He said “today, China’s economy is already larger than America’s in terms of purchasing power parity.” According to Putin, “by 2035-2050, it will have surpassed [the U.S.] and China will become the leading economy in the world according to all metrics.”

The Russian president accused the West of working to undermine the world’s most populous nation and with attempts to hold back its economic growth. He says efforts such as the U.S.-led boycott of the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing purportedly over alleged human rights abuses is a false attempt to try and ensure China “cannot raise its head” above its competitors. Putin strongly rebuked the move as “unacceptable and erroneous,” and an “attempt to restrain the development of the People’s Republic of China.” 

This month, Putin and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping held a virtual meeting amid escalating tensions between the two nations on one hand and the West on the other. Following the talks, Moscow said that both sides agreed to initiate a combined financial mechanism to lessen independence on U.S.-controlled platforms. Experts say the measure appears to be in response to a series of warnings that the West may press ahead with plans to disconnect Russia from the international SWIFT financial system as a form of punitive measure.

During the press conference, Putin said China is Russia’s number-one partner, pointing out that “we have very trusting relations and it helps us build good business ties as well.”
He says “we are cooperating in the field of security. The Chinese Army is equipped to a significant extent with the world’s most advanced weapons systems. We are even developing certain high-tech weapons together,” Putin also praised his Chinese counterpart and “friend”, Xi Jinping, saying “we have very trusting relations and it helps us build good business ties as well.” 

Once again, Putin rejected claims that Russia is deliberately choking off supplies of gas to Western Europe in an effort to put pressure on the EU not to block the Moscow-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The project, which has been completed, is awaiting certification from German regulators. The President strongly denied such allegations, which have previously been leveled at the Kremlin by Washington and a number of mainstream western news outlets. “Of course, it’s not [true]. They are lying all the time, Gazprom is delivering the volume [of gas] requested by its partners in full, in accordance with existing contracts.”

He added that “[Russia] is not the only supplier to the European market. But we’re probably the only ones who are increasing deliveries, there were adverse weather conditions last year. A long, cold spring. Not enough gas was pumped into storage. Wind turbines didn’t work. All this has created a deficit.”

Asked about opposition figure Alexey Navalny, who is currently serving a prison sentence, Putin said that it was time to move on from the matter. He says the Russian prosecutor’s office had not received even one document supporting accusations that he was poisoned with Novichok before being taken ill on a flight to Moscow. Putin told reporters “There is no need to talk about it” simply telling reporters “Let’s move on.” The Western-backed activist was taken ill shortly after his plane took off from the Siberian city of Tomsk. He was taken to hospital and, following requests from his family, was then flown (oddly enough) to Berlin and treated in a clinic there. Doctors in Germany later claimed that Navalny had been infected with the toxic nerve agent, which made headlines in the West but Moscow’s requests for samples or evidence to back up the allegations fell on deaf ears.

Earlier this year, in another twist, Navalny returned to Russia, with the full knowledge that he would more than likely be jailed for breaking the conditions of a suspended sentence handed down to him in 2014 when he was found guilty of embezzling $415,000 from two different firms. He was later handed a sentence of two years and eight months for breaking the law. 

In front of Russian journalists as well as reporters from around the world; Putin touched on many other issues such as the coronavirus, economy, and Russia’s declining population, but his comments on NATO and China will likely dominate the headlines for the foreseeable future.

Leave a Comment

1 + 5 =