Although there are still two weeks left until the presidential elections, Russian President Vladimir Putin already feels as though he has been re-elected. In his address to the Federal Assembly last Thursday, Putin also introduced his program, the two major supporting pillars of which were developing economic prosperity and a frantic arms race.
Following in the footsteps of Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the Russian Federation, Putin has, during his term of office, used the annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly to introduce his program to politicians and the world. Similarly to other annual addresses in the EU and the U.S., Putin's address this year was very ambitious in nature, reported ETV's international news program "Välisilm."
"Overall, in the next six years, we must almost double the spending on road construction and repairs in Russia and to allocate more than 11 trillion roubles for this from all sources," Putin said in his address. "This is a lot — keep in mind that we have allocated 6.4 trillion roubles from 2012-2017 — but we need 11 trillion."
A significantly more important part of his speech addressed plans for the Russian Armed Forces. According to Putin, strategic arms are being developed in Russia that do not use ballistic trajectories, rendering missile defense systems useless against them. Among other types of arms, the Russian president once again stressed the importance of nuclear capability, adding that it is precisely nuclear weapons that help ensure peace.
"I deem it necessary to emphasize — and it is very important — that Russia's growing military power is a solid guarantee of global peace as this power preserves and will preserve strategic parity and the balance of forces in the world," Putin said.
Former Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces and current MP, retired Gen. Ants Laaneots said that the majority of Putin's address last week was aimed at internal consumption, but was very characteristic of the Kremlin-based power elite. "But the [Russian] people aren't that stupid," he added.
Moscow is justifying the need for nuclear weapons and new, smarter missile systems with the fact that Russia is facing NATO missiles to the West. In his address, Putin introduced a new missile system, called the Sarmat, which has been in development.
"Sarmat has practically no range restrictions," the Russian president claimed. "As the video clips show, it can attack targets via both the North and South Poles. Sarmat is a formidable missile and, owing to its characteristics, is untroubled by even the most advanced missile defense systems."
"Our missile defense has never been about [Russia]," Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters on Thursday, adding that the U.S. must ensure that it has a solid nuclear deterrence system. "The American people should rest assured that we are fully prepared."
Similarly to the Americans, Laaneots found that, first and foremost, other countries must be prepared to defend themselves.
Editor: Aili Vahtla