“Direct line with Vladimir Putin”, an annual event, is broadcast on television and radio.
It was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are some of his quotes from Wednesday’s session, which comes as Moscow’s ties with the West are highly strained on topics such as Ukraine, jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny and allegations of cyber attacks.
To get vaccinated against COVID:
Last year, Russia became the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, and to release the first batch.
Putin said: “I chose to get vaccinated with Sputnik V. The military gets vaccinated with Sputnik V, and after all, I’m the commander-in-chief.
“After the first hit, I didn’t feel anything at all. About four hours later, there was tenderness where I got the hang of it. I did the second (shot) at noon. At midnight, I measured my temperature. It was 37.2 (Celsius). I fell asleep, woke up, and my temperature was 36.6. That was it.
“I am not in favor of compulsory vaccination and I continue to share this point of view. “
Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014. After a lull in fighting last year, the conflict escalated again in early 2021. In April, as Russia rallied more than 100,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border and in Crimea, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited Putin to meet in eastern Ukraine.
Putin rejected the offer, saying instead that the Ukrainian leader was welcome in Moscow “at any time.” Russia later announced a withdrawal of its troops, but Washington and Kiev say the withdrawal was limited.
On Wednesday, the Russian leader said: “Why should I meet [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy if he ceded his country to full external control? Vital questions for Ukraine are not resolved in Kiev, but in Washington and partly in Berlin and Paris. What is there to discuss? I’m not refusing (to meet him), I just need to figure out what to talk about.
On Russia’s recent feud between the Black Sea and the UK:
Relations between the West and Russia deteriorated further earlier this month following an incident in the Black Sea. Russia claims to have fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British destroyer that got lost in its territorial waters, but the UK has disputed this account.
“It is of course a provocation. It is absolutely clear. What did they want to show and what goals did they want to achieve? First of all, it (the provocation) had several components. This was not only carried out by the British but also by the Americans, as the British destroyer entered our territorial waters during the day, and early in the morning at 7:30 a.m. I think an American strategic reconnaissance aircraft had taken off from a NATO army. in Greece, in Crete. It was reported to me… We have seen it well, observed it well. It was clear that the destroyer (entered our waters) first to pursue military objectives, attempting with the help of the reconnaissance plane to reveal the actions of our soldiers to stop such provocations …
“There was also a political component. A meeting (with US President Joe Biden) had just taken place in Geneva. We must ask ourselves why it was necessary to make such a provocation. Why is all this being done? In order to emphasize that these people do not respect the choice of the Crimeans to join the Russian Federation.
“Even if we had sunk the British destroyer near Crimea, it is unlikely that the world would have been on the brink of World War III. Because I know that those who do this cannot come out victorious in this war. Its very important. I don’t think we would have been happy with this development.
“But at least we know why we are fighting. We are on our territory, we are fighting for ourselves, for our future. We weren’t the ones going towards them, traveling thousands of miles and arriving by river. They are the ones who came to our borders and violated our territorial waters.
On social networks:
In recent months, Russia has fined social media companies which it says have refused to remove posts encouraging children to join protests. The bans came amid mass rallies in support of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.
Putin said: “We are not planning to block anyone, we are planning to work with them. But there are problems. They tell us to go viral and not comply with our demands and Russian laws.
“We tell them, ‘You are distributing child pornography, instructions on how to kill yourself and how to mix Molotov cocktails, etc., you have to delete that.’ They don’t even listen to what we’re saying. It’s wrong. “
On a successor:
Putin told the Russians on Wednesday that the time would come when he nominates his eventual Kremlin successor, but said the choice would ultimately be up to voters.
Putin, 68, has been in power as president or prime minister since the turn of the century. His current six-year term in the Kremlin is due to end in 2024. His comments are being closely analyzed as to whether he plans to extend his reign.
Last year, Russia changed its constitution allowing it to run for two more six-year terms in the Kremlin, potentially remaining president until 2036.
“On the one hand, they say that a holy place is never empty and that there are no irreplaceable people,” Putin said. “On the other hand, my responsibility is to give recommendations to the people who will run for president. It happens in all countries of the world, I know of no exceptions.
“Of course, the time will come when I hope I can say that in my opinion such and such a person is worthy to lead a country as wonderful as our homeland, Russia. ”