Against a backdrop of falling approval ratings and a faltering economy, Russian President Vladimir Putin began his annual address to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday with an emphasis on domestic issues.

Speaking at Gostiny Dvor to 2,000 senior government officials, he focused on questions of internal economic and social development, before discussing Russia’s new missile program in light of the U.S. withdrawal from the INF.


Here is a selection of highlights from the address:

On demographics and poverty

—“Resolving demographic issues, increasing life expectancy and lowering the death rate are directly linked to overcoming poverty… there are too many poor people… we, of course, should focus our attention on this and on fighting this phenomenon.”

—“Poverty always weighs a person down. The state has to help people escape difficult situations. One of the ways of providing this support will be a social contract.”

—”Russia has entered into a difficult demographic period. The birth rate is falling. The reasons for this are objective. But this doesn’t mean that we should accept this situation. At the beginning of the 2000s we managed to reverse the negative trend. It seemed impossible but we did it.”

On the U.S. withdrawal from the INF treaty

—“The U.S. directly and crudely violated the rules of the [INF] agreement, they have had launchers in Romania for a long time. Russia doesn’t intend to deploy new missiles in Europe first.”

—“If the U.S. really is going to deploy missiles on the European continent, it will exacerbate the international situation and create a genuine danger for Russia, as there will be missiles with a 10-12 minute flight time to Moscow.”