Moscow – In his annual state-of-the-nation address, President Vladimir Putin voiced hope for improving ties with the United States once President-elect Donald Trump takes office. He argued that the normalization of ties between Moscow and Washington will make the world safer, and said that Russia will be ready to contribute to settling global crises if its interests are respected.
In the speech, Putin toned down his usual criticism of the West, a signal that the Russian leader is ready to take a more conciliatory stance to help end the spiraling confrontation with the U.S. and its allies. His address to a crowd of senior officials and lawmakers in the white-and-gold Kremlin hall was heavily focused on economic and social issues.
MUTING CRITICISM OF THE WEST
Over the past few years, Putin often launched scathing attacks on Washington and its allies, blaming them for the Ukrainian crisis, the turmoil in the Middle East and the ongoing buildup of NATO forces near Russia’s borders.
The moderate tone of his state-of-the-nation address reflected the Kremlin’s hopes for better ties with the West following Trump’s victory. During the election campaign, Hillary Clinton and the White House criticized Trump for praising Putin’s leadership and promising closer ties with Russia. President Barack Obama’s administration openly accused Russia of hacking the Democratic Party’s sites and email accounts in an effort to interfere with the election _ the accusations Russia has dismissed.
Putin’s quick phone call with Trump following his victory bolstered hopes for better ties. According to Trump’s team, he told Putin in the Nov. 16 call that he was looking forward to “a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia”.
In his speech, Putin said that “we are ready for cooperation with the new American administration”. “It’s important to normalize and develop our bilateral ties on an equal and mutually beneficial basis. We share responsibility for ensuring global security and stability and strengthening the non-proliferation regime,” he added.