( RT ) - Vladimir Putin has delivered possibly his final address to the country's political elite ahead of next month's presidential election. The President outlined his view of Russia's long-term development to Russia's top officials at the State Council.
Usually the speech is made every year in front of the State Council.
This year there were 750 people there: the top MPs, the top governors. The address was also televised live.
Putin's address focused more on domestic issues and the results of his two presidential terms. He thanked the people of Russia for their support, which, he said, has been essential for his team's success.
The Russian leader said that over the eight years the country has managed to overcome grievous economic problems, turning it into an attractive target for investors. It has also fended off international terrorists and separatism, making Russia a whole country again.
Putin stressed that much has been done in terms of political stability and the government's independence from business elites and foreign lobbies. He said it has resulted in curbing poverty and has given the people certainty in their future and although there is still much to be done, progress has been huge.
He also outlined Russia's course for the near future. He believes the country needs to invest in education and the creation of modern high-tech industries. He said being dependent on energy is not bad for the economy, but it still leaves the economy vulnerable to price changes. So now the task is to utilise resources and experience and continue modernisation.
Vladimir Putin lashed out at NATO countries. He said the bloc has adopted the policy of enlargement and is coming closer and closer to Russia's borders. At the same time NATO has failed to provide a sensible explanation as to why it's doing this and so far has been unable to quell Moscow's concerns over foreign military bases on Russia's doorstep. Here he cited the planned deployment of U.S. anti-missile components in Eastern Europe.
Putin went on to say that the competition for resources is getting fiercer in the world, and many conflicts and political actions have "the smell of gas and oil". Being a country rich in natural resources, Russia has every reason to be cautious.
Still, the Russian leader believes the path of confrontation is too costly, and the country should not allow itself to be dragged into a new arms race, which would be detrimental to the economy and its growth. Russia wants to be a reliable partner for all the international community and is eager to contribute to solving all sorts of global problems.