Putin curbs anti-Western rhetoric in state of the nation address

President Vladimir Putin struck an unusually conciliatory tone in his annual state of the nation address on Thursday, saying Moscow wanted to get on with the incoming U.S. administration and was looking to make friends not enemies. Putin has used previous set-piece speeches to lash out at the West and the United States in particular, but he reined in his criticism this time round and focused most of his speech on domestic social and economic issues. “We don’t want confrontation with anyone. We don’t need it. We are not seeking and have never sought enemies. We need friends,” Putin told Russia’s political elite gathered in one of the Kremlin’s grandest halls.

We are ready to cooperate with the new U.S. administration. We have a shared responsibility to ensure international security.

President Vladimir Putin

Putin has spoken previously of his hope that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may help restore tattered U.S.-Russia relations, and analysts said he was unlikely to want to dial up anti-Western rhetoric before Trump’s inauguration in January. The Russian leader said he was hoping to find common ground with Washington on fighting global terrorism in particular. That was a reference to Syria where Moscow is backing President Bashar al-Assad, while the outgoing U.S. administration has supported anti-Assad rebels. Russia hopes Trump will give Russia a freer hand there and cooperate militarily to fight Islamic State.

We will build our future without advice from anyone else.

President Vladimir Putin