MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Alexander Yurov) - President Vladimir Putin began his state of the nation address to parliament by referring to his address three years ago, in which he set the goal of doubling GDP within a decade.
The president has spoken of the issue more than once since then, but this year he for the first time presented it as an objective whose attainment was almost assured.
"On the whole, we have been successful in tackling this challenge" he said. "The average annual growth rate in the past three years was 7%." This means that Russia can double GDP by the set deadline.
The president said the country's new objective was to spur economic progress, which calls for creating equal conditions for business and improving the macroeconomic situation. Putin said increasing state investments was an important but not the core goal and called for learning to choose the right priorities. He said this required gaining technological advantages over Russia's main rivals.
Putin named several mining sectors where the country has ensured these advantages. His address is expected to give a new impetus to the development of the aerospace, aircraft, power generation and communications sectors.
He said Russia was capable of becoming the leader in nanotechnologies. (Nanotechnology is any technology that exploits phenomena and structures that can only occur at the nanometer scale, which is the scale of several atoms and small molecules.)
The president said it was necessary to spur the development of high-tech sectors and called on the government to encourage the acquisition of high technologies abroad and to make maximum use of Russia's geographic situation for the development of all types of communications.
The sectors he praised are the pride of Russians. The world's first man in space was Russian, and the country holds the world record in the duration of manned flights. It is also participating in the International Space Station project. The president said the aerospace sector could create a reliable defense shield for the country and develop technologies to predict natural disasters. He spotlighted the need to increase investments into the sector, said the creation of aircraft holdings was taking too long, and called for attaining this objective as soon as possible.
Putin praised energy companies as the drivers of economic progress and the sector's achievements, saying that energy giant Gazprom had become the world's third largest company in terms of capitalization. But he also mentioned the need to use energy resources more efficiently and to facilitate promising power generation sectors, notably hydro and nuclear generation.
For the first time in years, the president spoke about reforms not as an end goal. This time the Russian leader discussed state investments and the state as a crucial partner that should devise the policy of progress for the entire economy and its strategic sectors, and improve the living standards of the people.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).