Putin's Annual Tour de Force News Conference Underway
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Nothing in the West matches it, unimaginable for a US or other Western leader to spend hours answering scores of questions.
Putin does it annually in televised events, answering questions from journalists and others, his straightforward style always refreshing.
Questions include ones asked live from the audience, submitted online, through text messages and by phone - responding candidly like always, polar opposite standard practice by duplicitous Western politicians.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said interest in this year's Q & A session was "huge," the event to "be special" in Putin's last year of his current term, intending to run for reelection next March.
His longest session ran four hours and 40 minutes in 2008, this one likely to go on for a considerable time.
A record number of journalists were accredited to attend, over 1,600 from Russia, Germany, Japan, France, China, Poland, America and elsewhere.
It's Putin's 13th tour de force Q & A session, answering questions on numerous topics, domestic and geopolitical.
Here's a sample of what he said so far. In 2017, Russia's economy resumed growth. "Our GDP rose 1.6% this year and industrial output also grew by 1.6%. Very good growth rates were demonstrated at the same time by automotive industry, chemical industry, pharmaceuticals and, certainly, agriculture," Putin explained.
Growth was aided by oil prices recovering sharply from their early 2016 low, doubling to over $60 a barrel - Brent Crude today trading at $62 a barrel, WTI crude at nearly $57.
In 2018, Russian defense spending is budgeted at 2.8% of GDP, far less in dollars than what America budgets.
Sino/Russian relations remain strong politically and economically.
America attacked Japan unreasonably with nuclear weapons in 1945. A nuclear strike on North Korea would be catastrophic. Deescalating tensions on the peninsula is essential.
"US lawmakers, senators are quite curious. They've put us into the same box as North Korea, Iran...and then they want us to ameliorate relations with both."
Washington considers RT and Sputnik a threat, a thinly veiled attack on media freedom.
Trump was prevented by anti-Russian forces in America from improving bilateral relations.
Putin rejected accusations of state-sponsored doping. He'll "fight for the protection of Russian athletes' interests in international courts."
"We will never quit any treaties" agreed on, he said. The US unilaterally withdrew from the INF Treaty. Russia won't follow suit.
Moscow has no intention of engaging in an arms race with Washington. It'll defend the nation responsibly.
Low oil prices affected Russia's economy much more than sanctions.
Putin's tour de force Q & A continues live, including online.
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