Less said, the better
In his year-end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin remained coy as ever on a range of hot-button subjects. There were, however, some headline assertions. Although Putin dodged the question as to whether Russia-based hackers altered the outcome of the US Presidential election, he was scathing about the Democrats, essentially branding them bad losers. Even though the CIA believes that Kremlin operatives were to blame, no solid proof has been forthcoming. Questions of racism and sexism in the voting patterns aside, many among the US electorate just weren’t convinced that Hillary Clinton was the agent of change they desired. Of course, US President-elect Donald Trump isn’t doing a great job of “draining the swamp”. Trump's Cabinet is already the richest in modern history and includes an array of the super wealthy, prominent business executives and climate change deniers—so much for being an agent of change. Putin also said that he wants a “business-like relationship” with the Trump government. Getting rid of some of the EU and US-backed economic sanctions against Russia seems to be Moscow’s top foreign policy priority, something which Putin hopes to achieve with a Trump administration. There are indications that the incoming US president may work towards lifting some of these sanctions. It is interesting to note Trump’s pick for US secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, reportedly has ties to Putin and has panned sanctions against Moscow in the past. Putin also described the recent “liberation” of Syria’s second city of Aleppo as a sizeable step toward the restoration of stability in the Arab country and the region in general. Even the biased Western media has acknowledged the significance of Russia-backed Syrian government’s victory in Aleppo. In the midst of this civil war, Russia has even managed to turn NATO member Turkey on his side.