Russian President Vladimir Putin has used his annual state-of-the-nation speech to address topics ranging from domestic issues such as interethnic relations and immigration to international concerns such as Iran and Ukraine.
Putin's 70-minute address in St. George's Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace coincided with the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Russia’s post-Soviet constitution. The speech mostly focused on domestic concerns, but did touch on a variety of international issues.
He said a final decision on settling Iran's suspect nuclear problem should guarantee Tehran's right to develop peaceful atomic energy.
"This year a breakthrough has been achieved regarding the Iranian nuclear program, although it is just the first step. Further and patient quest for a broader solution must continue to guarantee Iran's integral right to develop peaceful nuclear energy along with -- I want to emphasize this -- security of all the countries in the region, including Israel," Putin said.
Putin also indirectly criticized the United States, saying Russia does not aspire to be a superpower or teach others how to live. He added that the attempts of some countries to do so had led to "mess and chaos" in the Middle East and North Africa.
He praised what he called Russia's "successful efforts" to curb an escalation of the civil war in Syria, saying that Russia had behaved as "a reasonable and responsible power."
"As the situation around Syria and now around Iran has shown, any international problem can and should be solved exclusively by political means, refraining from the use of force that has no future and is rejected by most world countries," Putin said.
Politics At Home
Putin also said he will not allow anyone to achieve military superiority over Russia, saying Moscow "will respond to any challenges." He criticized a European missile-defense shield being built by the West as "defensive only in name."
On Ukraine, he said he hopes Kyiv can find a political solution and said it has a choice whether or not to join a Russian-led Customs Union.
On Russia's domestic matters, Putin said that, according to GDP, Russia had become one of the "five largest economies in the world." That statement, however, contradicts an International Monetary Fund report that ranks Russia eighth, with a GDP of $2 trillion.
He also addressed the country's interethnic problems. He slammed what he called the "reckless and impudent natives of some southern regions, corrupt law enforcers who cover up ethnic criminal groups, and the so-called Russian nationalists, the so-called separatists, who take any tragedy as a reason for vandalism and bloodbaths."
Putin also called on parliament and regional authorities to regulate the system of the immigration of foreign workers from former Soviet republics to Russia.