MOSCOW • The following are highlights from Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual end-of-year news conference yesterday:
ON THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR
"If, God forbid, something like that were to happen, it would lead to the end of all civilisation and maybe also the planet... There are currently certain specifics, there is a danger... We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the international order of arms control."
ON TALEBAN PEACE TALKS
"Talks with the Taleban are being held. This is probably inevitable. It is important to understand what the talks are about and what they will lead to. If there is an actual force that controls a significant part of territory, it has to be taken into account. But then it should be done openly, publicly."
ON BRITISH-RUSSIA TIES
"It is in the interests of both countries, both governments to get out of this deadlock... Are we interested in restoring full relations with Britain? Yes... And we know that British (companies) work pretty actively here."
ON SPY POISONING CASE
"It's good that he wasn't killed... Thank God, Skripal is alive... It's simply an excuse to organise yet another attack on Russia. If there were no Skripals, they would have come up with something else, that's clear to me. There's only one goal: to constrain Russia's growth as a possible competitor."
ON RUSSIAN CAPTURE OF UKRAINIAN SAILORS
"Provocations are always bad. A provocation aims to escalate the situation. Why do our Ukrainian partners need this development? They need to escalate the situation around the elections, to raise the rating of one candidate for the post. Did the provocation achieve its aims? In terms of raising ratings, maybe... An investigation is ongoing. After the proceedings, it will become clear what will happen to (the sailors)."
ON KURILS DISPUTE WITH JAPAN
"The US base on Okinawa has been there for decades now... We don't understand the level of sovereignty Japan has when such decisions are made... What will happen after a peace agreement is signed, we don't know. But without an answer to this question, it will be very difficult for us to take any major decisions... I am convinced - and Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe agrees - the current situation is not normal."