Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed a series of domestic and foreign policy issues in a Q&A session with the public.
“Through Train with Vladimir Putin” is an annual event, broadcast on TV and radio.
It was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are some quotes from his meeting on Wednesday when Moscow’s relations with the West were severely strained by Ukraine, the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, and allegations of cyber attacks.
Regarding vaccination against COVID:
Last year, Russia became the first country to approve the COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V and released the first batch of vaccines to the public.
Putin said: “I chose to inoculate Sputnik 5. The army is inoculating Sputnik 5. After all, I am the commander-in-chief.
“After the first shot, I didn’t feel anything at all. About four hours later, the place I shot was a bit soft. I took the second shot at noon. At midnight, I took my temperature. It was 37.2. (Celsius). I go to bed and wake up, my body temperature is 36.6. That’s it.
“I do not support mandatory vaccination, and I continue to hold this view.”
Since 2014, Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. After fighting subsided last year, the conflict escalated again in early 2021. In April, as Russia assembled more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and Crimea, Ukrainian President Zelensky invited Putin to meet in eastern Ukraine.
Putin rejected the proposal, saying that Ukrainian leaders are welcome in Moscow “at any time.” Russia later announced its withdrawal, but both Washington and Kiev stated that the withdrawal was limited.
On Wednesday, the Russian leader said: “Why should I [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Has Zelensky relinquished complete external control of his country? The important problems of Ukraine were not resolved in Kiev, but in Washington, partially in Berlin and Paris. What is there to discuss? I am not rejecting (seeing him), I just need to understand what to talk about. “
About Russia recently Black sea mouth With the United Kingdom:
Earlier this month, relations between the West and Russia deteriorated due to the Black Sea incident. Russia claimed that it fired warning shots and dropped bombs on the path of a British destroyer that strayed into its territorial waters, but Britain disputed this claim.
“Of course this is a provocation. It is absolutely clear. What do they want to show and what goals they want to achieve? First of all, it (provocation) has several components. It is not only done by the British, but also by the Americans. Because the British destroyers entered our country’s territorial waters during the day, at 7:30 in the morning, I felt that the US strategic reconnaissance aircraft flew out of the NATO army in Greece and Crete. This was reported to me… .. We saw it well and observed it. Obviously, the destroyer (entered our waters) was first to pursue military goals, trying to expose our army’s actions to prevent such provocations with the help of reconnaissance aircraft…
“There is also a political factor. There was just a meeting in Geneva (with US President Joe Biden). One must ask why such a provocation is necessary. Why do all this? To emphasize that these people do not respect Crimea. People choose to join the Russian Federation.
“Even if we sink a British destroyer near Crimea, the world is unlikely to be on the brink of World War III. Because I know that those who do this cannot win this war. This is very important. I don’t think we will be satisfied with this development.
“But at least we know why we are fighting. We are in our territory, we are fighting for ourselves, we are fighting for our future. We are not the ones who go to them, fly thousands of kilometers and arrive by water. They are here People who come to our border and violate our territorial waters.”
On social media:
In recent months, Russia has imposed fines on social media companies, claiming to refuse to delete posts encouraging children to participate in protests. These bans were issued at a mass rally in support of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Putin said: “We do not intend to stop anyone, we intend to cooperate with them. But there are also problems. They told us not to comply with our requirements and Russian laws.
“We told them,’You are spreading child pornography, instructions on how to commit suicide and preparing Molotov cocktails, etc. You need to take it down.’ They don’t even listen to what we say. This is wrong.”
Regarding the successor:
Putin told the Russians on Wednesday that the time has come for him to appoint a possible successor in the Kremlin, but said that the final choice is in the hands of voters.
Putin, 68, has been president or prime minister since the turn of the century. His current six-year term in the Kremlin will end in 2024. His remarks are being carefully analyzed to find clues as to whether he plans to extend the rule.
Last year, Russia amended its constitution, allowing him to serve another six-year term in the Kremlin, possibly continuing to serve as president until 2036.
“On the one hand, they say that the holy place will never be empty and there are no irreplaceable people,” Putin said. “On the other hand, my duty is to make recommendations to those who will run for president. It happens in all countries in the world, and I don’t know any exceptions.
“Of course, when the time comes I hope I can say that, in my opinion, this or other people are worthy of leading our motherland, Russia, such a wonderful country.”