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Putin hails close relations with Beijing

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-15 09:51
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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow on Thursday. REUTERS

Both countries working together on many aspects, Russia president says

Russia's trade volume with China this year is expected to grow by 30 percent to $220-230 billion, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday at an annual news conference.

"I would like to repeat, the Russia-Chinese relationship has maintained the highest level in history," Putin said, calling the cooperation between the two neighbors "unprecedented".

Russia and China are working together on various aspects, such as infrastructure construction and high-tech development, and Sino-Russian relations have been able to ensure global stability, Putin said.

Putin noted the visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow in March played an important role in boosting bilateral relations, and the two heads of state agreed on further development of practical cooperation.

Putin made the remarks as he held his annual televised Direct Line question-and-answer session with Russian citizens, a traditional event that this year is being combined with his year-end news conference with Russian and foreign journalists. It was held at the Gostiny Dvor event center in central Moscow.

Around 600 people took part in the question-and-answer session.

Reporters from some "non-friendly" countries were present, the Russia 24 TV channel said, referring to foreign media outlets from nations opposed to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, including the United States.

Putin spoke about the economy first, noting inflation in Russia may rise to 8 percent by the end of this year, though the government and the Bank of Russia are taking steps to bring it to the targeted levels.

Meanwhile, foreign national debt is decreasing, which demonstrates macroeconomic and financial stability. National debt has decreased from $46 billion to $32 billion, Putin said.

When answering a video question from soldiers on the front line in east Ukraine, he said Russian forces have destroyed 747 Ukrainian tanks and nearly 2,300 armored vehicles since Kyiv launched its counteroffensive in June.

Russia is ready to build relations with the US, Putin said when asked about the possibility of normalization of ties with the West nearly two years after the conflict with Ukraine erupted.

'Imperialism politics'

Putin called the US an "important and necessary country" in the world but said its "imperialism politics" get in the way of relations with Moscow.

Russian troops are improving their positions along the entire front line in Ukraine, Putin said.

Asked about Ukrainian attempts to secure a foothold on the left bank of the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region, Putin said this was Kyiv's "last attempt" to bring its counteroffensive back to life. Russia has taken the Kherson side of the waterway since the start of the special military operation.

"I think this is silly and irresponsible from the leadership of the country. But it's their business," he added.

Peace in Ukraine will come when Russia reaches its objectives, including denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine, the Russian leader said.

Kyiv is currently "getting everything for free", he said, referring to the military aid supplied by its Western backers. He said the conflict could end "and it looks like it's ending".

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