Vladimir Putin takes questions in Moscow on Thursday during “Conversation With Vladimir Putin,” an annual call-in show on Russian television. (Mikhail Klimentyev, RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service via AP)

In his annual “direct line” press conference Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin spent four hours taking questions from the public on subjects ranging from the Ukraine conflict and the Iran nuclear deal to rural transport and the sale of milk to primary schools.

A record 3 million questions were logged. The first hour was dominated by discussion of the economy. Later the program moved to Russia’s relations with its neighbors and nations abroad.

The Guardian summed up some of event’s key points:

Iran: Putin insisted lifting a five-year embargo on the delivery of air defence missiles to Iran did not undermine international sanctions since the Russian ban was voluntary. The US and Israel have objected to the move announced this week. Putin said he made the decision since Iran had shown “a desire to reach compromise”. …

Ukraine: The Russian president denied Russian military forces were in Ukraine and said Kiev was violating a peace accord by maintaining an economic blockade on eastern regions under the control of pro-Russian rebels. …

Relations with west: Putin said the west must respect Russia’s interests if it wants to normalise diplomatic relations. He said the US “doesn’t need allies, they only need vassals” and that Russia would never accept that role.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.