MOSCOW (Reuters) – The following are highlights from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual phone-in on Wednesday.
Putin spoke in Russian. The quotes below were translated into English by Reuters.
PUTIN ON GETTING VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19
“I thought that I needed to be protected as long as possible. So I chose to be vaccinated with Sputnik V. The military is getting vaccinated with Sputnik V, and after all I’m the commander-in-chief.
“After the first shot, I didn’t feel anything at all. About four hours later, there was some tenderness where I had the shot. I did the second (shot) at midday. At midnight, I measured my temperature. It was 37.2 (Celsius). I went to sleep, woke up and my temperature was 36.6. That was it.
“I don’t support mandatory vaccination, and I continue to hold this point of view.”
PUTIN ON UKRAINIAN COUNTERPART VOLODYMYR ZELENSKIY
“Why should I meet with Zelenskiy if he has given up his country to full external control? Vital issues for Ukraine are not resolved in Kyiv, but in Washington and partly in Berlin and Paris. What is there to discuss? I’m not refusing (to meet him), I just need to understand what to talk about.”
PUTIN ON STANDOFF WITH BRITISH WARSHIP IN BLACK SEA
“This is of course a provocation. That’s absolutely clear. What did they want to show and which goals did they want to achieve? First of all, it had several elements. It was not only carried out by the British but also the Americans, because the British destroyer entered our territorial waters during the day, and early in the morning, at 7:30, I think an American strategic spy plane flew out of a NATO military in Greece, in Crete. This was reported to me… We saw it well, observed it.
It was obvious that the destroyer entered (the waters near Crimea) pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated and where, how things work and where everything is located.
There was also a political component. The meeting in Geneva had just happened, so why was this provocation needed, what was its goal? To underscore that those people (the Americans and British) do not respect Crimeans’ choice to join the Russian Federation.
Even if we had sunk the ship it is hard to imagine that the world would have been on the verge of World War Three because those doing it (the provocation) know that they could not emerge as victors from such a war.
This is very important. I don’t think that we would have been happy with that development… But at least we know what we are fighting for. We are on our territory, we fight for ourselves, for our future. We were not the ones to go to them, flying thousands of kilometres and arriving by waterways. They were the ones who came to our borders and violated our territorial waters.”
PUTIN ON A POSSIBLE SUCCESSOR
“A time will come when, I hope, I can say that such and such a person is worthy in my opinion of leading such a wonderful country like Russia, our homeland.”
PUTIN ON RELATIONS WITH UNITED STATES AND THE WEST
“I really hope that the realisation that the world is changing, as well as the need to reassess our priorities and interests in this fluctuating world, will lead to a better world order for our (international) relations, including with the United States.”
PUTIN ON FOREIGN SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
“We don’t plan on blocking anyone, we plan to work with them. But there are problems. They tell us to buzz off and don’t comply with our demands and Russian laws.
“We tell them ‘you are spreading child pornography, instructions on how to commit suicide and how to prepare Molotov cocktails and so on, you need to take that down’. They don’t even listen to what we are saying. This is wrong.”
PUTIN ON INFLATION
“We have to suppress inflation, which is why the central bank slightly raised the key rate for there not to be an excess supply of money in the economy. I hope that inflation will return to the 4% target but we are unlikely to achieve that this year. I think it will reach 5%.”
(Reporting by Moscow bureau; Editing by Toby Chopra/Alex Richardson/Andrew Osborn)