Kipling, assassination, and a warning to the West In his latest state-of-the-nation speech, Putin makes new domestic promises and puts Russia’s adversaries on notice

Vladimir Putin addresses Russia’s Federal Assembly on April 21, 2021Kremlin Press Service

During Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech on Tuesday, the president warned that Moscow will respond to the provocations of Western countries that now “poke” at Russia. Meduza summarizes Putin’s remarks below. 

Domestic policy

The pandemic hasn’t ended in Russia and border controls must remain in place. People need to get vaccinated to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The Putin administration is prioritizing family care by making additional support available to poor families with young children. The government is introducing new payments to pregnant women and extra benefits for single parents. All families with children now in grade school will receive payments of 10,000 rubles ($130). Russia will build another 1,300 new schools and offer public university scholarships to another 45,000 students.

To improve the accessibility of public services, Putin committed to consolidating everything into a single-window system by next year and said these services would be accessible remotely at any time of day within three years.

To curb pollution, the president promised quota controls on emissions and fines for environmental damage. Anyone who profits from nature must clean up after themselves, he warned. Putin also pledged to help regional governments craft prudent financial policies. To develop Russia’s infrastructure, the Kremlin will complete a highway from Moscow to Yekaterinburg through Nizhny Novgorod within three years. 

Foreign policy

Russia will defend its national interests. In typical fashion, the West totally ignored the attempted assassination of Alexander Lukashenko. Whatever you think of Lukashenko’s politics, staging a coup and plotting political killings goes too far. Those who would provoke Russia should remember that Moscow has the latest weapon systems on alert and more are coming online every day. Russia nevertheless is trying to build good relations with everyone — with Asia, with Africa, with many European countries, with its allies in the Warsaw Pact… erm, the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

There’s been no end to the unfriendly actions against Russia, and some countries have adopted a rather nasty custom of poking at Russia for any reason and most often for no reason at all. It’s become a competition — a new kind of sport where you try to shout the loudest. Here we have behaved with the utmost restraint, and I mean that without any irony and in all modesty. We often don’t respond not just to these unfriendly actions but also to outright rudeness. We want good relations with all members of the international community, but we see what’s happening in reality. As I said, they’re poking at Russia here and there for no reason. And, of course, all around them… All sorts of little Tabaquis grovel to their Shere Khan. It’s just like in Kipling. They howl to appease their sovereign. Kipling was a great writer.

We genuinely want good relations with everyone in the community of nations, including, by the way, with those with whom our relations haven’t exactly worked out recently, to put it mildly. We honestly have no wish to burn any bridges, but anyone who mistakes our intentions for indifference or weakness and themselves plans to burn down these bridges or even blow them up should know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift, and severe. The organizers of any provocations that threaten the core interests of our security will regret their actions like they’ve never regretted anything before.

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