From Russia With Love: Putin’s New Year Message To Obama

Sarah Myles - Author
By

Jan. 1 2015, Updated 3:40 a.m. ET

Among New Year greetings extended to world leaders by President of Russia Vladimir Putin was a clear message to U.S President Barack Obama — using historical precedence to highlight the responsibility of their respective nations to work toward global stability on the basis of equality.

The press service of the Kremlin in Russia released details of the published message, reported by the Russian News Agency TASS.

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“In his message to U.S President Barack Obama, the Russian Head of State pointed out that next year both countries will mark the 70th anniversary of a victory for which they had fought shoulder to shoulder as anti-Hitler coalition allies. The Russian President said that historical date is a reminder of the responsibility Russia and the United States bear for maintaining world peace and stability and their special role in resisting global challenges and threats. It was noted that Russian-U.S partnership might develop successfully with reliance on the principles of equality and mutual respect.”

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The call for “equality” and “mutual respect” comes at a time when Russia is weathering a heavy economic storm, in which the ruble has lost almost half its value, sending Russia toward recession. These challenges have been created by the combination of dropping oil prices – a natural resource upon which the Russian economy depends – and sanctions imposed upon Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea.

Relations between Russia and the U.S became particularly strained when Russian troops began to seize Crimea in February, after the pro-Russia Ukranian president was “driven from power.” CBS Newsreports that, since April 2014, the fighting between government troops and rebels in the region – directly resulting from the annexation – has killed an estimated 4,700 people.

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Europe Online Magazinereports that President Putin issued New Year messages directly to 35 countries in total, in addition to several international organizations. The absence of Ukraine was immediately noted, however, not least because it has been prominently included in previous years.

Along with these direct messages, the Wall Street Journalreports that President Putin used his televised New Year address to Russia to laud the annexation of Crimea as a significant achievement – further defying international criticism.

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“[This event] will remain a very important epoch in domestic history forever… Love for one’s motherland is one of the most powerful and uplifting feelings. It manifested itself in full in the brotherly support to the people of Crimea and Sevastopol when they resolutely decided to return home.”

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While President Putin’s televised address highlighted those events regarded as Russian achievements — including the hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics — little mention was made of the economic strife currently faced by Russia.

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