Putin’s Annual Tour de Force Press Conference
by Stephen Lendman
During the Great Depression and WW II, Franklin Roosevelt gave 30 evening radio addresses, known as fireside chats – the first time a US president communicated directly with ordinary Americans, discussing major issues of the time.
His high popularity derived from his communication skills, along with vital New Deal social programs fast disappearing today.
In December 1987, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev went out of his way to mingle briefly with ordinary Americans in Washington – after morning Soviet embassy business, including with Vice President GHW Bush.
En route to the White House to meet with Ronald Reagan, his motorcade stopped. He startled onlookers by exiting his car and began pressing the flesh. One woman marveled, saying: “The guy is a PR genius.”
Today he’s an aging former world leader with important geopolitical thoughts when expressing them publicly.
Perhaps no other world leader currently communicates more effectively with the Russian and foreign press through unscripted annual marathon Q & A sessions than Vladimir Putin – an eagerly anticipated event because of his candor, straight talk, no double talk, demagoguery and deception like Obama.
He skipped his usual opening statement, jumped right into taking and answering questions in his customary straightforward way.
He welcomed Donald Trump’s recent statement, urging cooperative relations with Russia. He doesn’t rule out the possibility of a Saudi/US conspiracy to lower the oil price to hurt the economies of Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
“(T)hey’re might be a struggle of traditional producers of crude oil and shale oil,” he said. “The main thing for us is the overall level of prices, but if the low price is kept for too long, the companies will stop investing in new deposits.”
He urged unity among nations to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups. He called Turkey’s downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber in Syrian airspace “an enemy act…Would it not have been easier just to pick up the phone,” he stressed.
He minced no words, saying “(t)here is a problem with the Turkish leadership,” pointing fingers at Erdogan, a tinpot despot.
“This was a stab in the back,” he said. “On an inter-state level, I do not see the prospect for improving relations.” Turkey constantly violated Syrian airspace before. “Let them try now,” Putin said. Russian aircraft and S-400 defense systems control Syrian skies.
He rejected US-led international calls to oust Assad, stressing Syrians alone have the right to decide who’ll “govern them and under what standards and rules.”
He intends to keep combating terrorism in Syria as long as Russian airpower is needed.
He declined to comment on the US presidential campaign, saying only “(w)hoever (is elected), we are ready and we want to develop our relations with the United States. We are going to work with any president the American people vote for.”
A record 1,390 journalists attended Putin’s 11th annual tour de force marathon. Last year’s yearend session took place against the backdrop of conflict in Ukraine and souring East/West relations.
This year it’s Syria and combating the scourge of terrorism. The event lasted slightly over three hours, answering numerous questions from dozens of Russian and foreign journalists.
Despite economic hard times, early November polling data showed his approval rating at an all-time 89.9% high – double what Obama scored in a recent December poll.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.