Moscow: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin, expected to reclaim the presidency in March elections,
has promised a balanced foreign policy but warned against
outside interference in domestic affairs.
Addressing Russians yesterday on primetime television to
explain his controversial decision to seek a third mandate as
president, Putin said his foreign critics should mind their
own business and "fight inflation" and "obesity" in a thinly
veiled but startling dig at the United States.
"In the past, today and in the future we have conducted
and will conduct a balanced policy aimed at creating
favourable conditions for the country`s development," Putin
"And this means that we want to have good neighbourly,
friendly ties with all our partners."
Putin spoke after many analysts in the West warned that
his planned Kremlin comeback could deal a blow to the
US-Russian "reset" in ties and usher in frostier relations
with the West.
Replying to a request from his interviewers to comment
on Western attempts to brand him a "hawk," Putin said: "First
off, a hawk is a good little bird. I am a person anyway. But I
am against any clichés."
"Naturally, we`ve protected and will protect in the most
active manner our national interests but we`ve always done
this in a civilized way and will continue to do so in the
Putin`s announcement of his decision to seek the
presidency which he already held between 2000 and 2008 shocked
many in the West.
Many critics, especially abroad, have accused the former
KGB officer of seeking to bully smaller neighbours and
pressure them into closer cooperation with Moscow.
"I can tell these critics -- and they are clearly
unscrupulous critics: you know what, mind your own business,"