Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that Russia is robustly securing its national interests and that this is something that [Russia's] Western partners do not like.
"You said that Russia has to a certain extent contributed to the tensions that we are now seeing in the world. Russia has made its contribution, but only in the sense that it is protecting its national interests increasingly robustly," Putin told a press conference on Thursday, responding to a question from a journalist about the intensification of Russian military flights near the borders of Western countries.
"We are not attacking (in the political sense of the word), we are not attacking anyone, we are only defending our interests," Putin said.
"Our Western partners, primarily Americans, are unhappy because we are doing just that," he said.
"Our Defense Ministry's budget for next year is about $50 billion. The budget of the Pentagon is almost ten times higher, $575 billion. Are you trying to say we are pursuing aggressive policies? Is there any common sense in that?" Putin said.
Putin recalled that Russia has only two military bases abroad on the tracks at risk for terrorism (in Kyrgyzstan and in Tajikistan, on the Afghan border). "I think it's in your interests, too, that everything is calm there. It's very clear. And the American bases are all over the globe. Are you trying to say that we are being aggressive?" Putin said, responding to a question from a Western journalist.
"What are U.S. armed forces, including tactical nuclear weapons, doping in Europe?" Putin said.
"The question is do we want equal relations? Yes, we do, but with unconditional respect four our national interests in the sphere of security and economics," Putin said.
Putin said the U.S. and the West currently do not have such respect for Russia's interests.
"Take the missile defense system. Who unilaterally withdrew from the Treaty, which is undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of the entire system of international security? Was it us? It was the States, and they did it unilaterally," Putin said.
Putin reiterated that the U.S. creates a threat to Russia by deploying its global missile defense system. "They are deploying elements of their strategic missile defense system in Alaska, Europe, Romania, Poland, right next to us. And you want to say that we are pursuing aggressive policies?" Putin told a Western journalist.
Putin recalled that it is the U.S. and NATO that are moving their bases and military infrastructure towards the Russian borders.
"Is anyone listening to us? Are they conducting any dialogue with us on this issue? No, there is nothing. The answer is always the same: 'It's none of your business, every country has a right to choose methods to ensure their security. OK, but then we will do it too. Why can't we?" Putin said.
"We want to develop normal relations in the sphere of security and counterterrorism. We will be working together on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. We will be working together on threats such as drug trafficking, organized crime, spread of severe infectious diseases, including Ebola. We will do it all together and we will work in the economic sphere, too, if our partners want that," Putin said.
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