Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the 'priority' of national development as part of his annual address to the Federal Assembly Thursday, promising to halve the poverty rate within six years and provide jobs for people.
Addressing Russian lawmakers and other prominent figures in attendance, Putin said that as many as 20 million Russians were living in poverty and that the government had to ensure that real incomes grew.
"We have not reached the necessary level in terms of people's well-being," he said, calling the poverty rates "unacceptable" despite nearly halving the number from a decade ago.
The Russian leader, who is up for reelection later in March, also pledged to cut poverty by further half, boosting pensions and creating more daycare places. He also called for spending on urban infrastructure to be doubled over the next six years.
In a direct message to the United States and allies, Putin dedicated considerable time to showcasing the country's latest defense technologies including new nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile that renders defense systems “useless.”
Despite the arms build up, Putin maintained that his nation had no desire to "take anything from anyone" and insisted that, on the contrary, it was a "guarantee for peace in the World."
Among the other military technology highlighted during his two-hour speech, Putin said the country had developed a new supersonic weapon, as well as unmanned air and sea vehicles.
Putin said the development of these weapons was a consequences of the unilateral decision by the United States to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, as well as to the sanctions passed against the country and the increasing military build up of NATO troops on its borders.
The head of state insisted that the United States had dismissed efforts to restore the effects of the ABM Treaty, and that warnings by Russia that it would have to build its arms were ignored.
“Well, listen to us now,” he said.
Putin added that Moscow would regard a nuclear attack on its allies as a nuclear attack on Russia itself and would immediately respond.
"We would consider any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies to be a nuclear attack on our country. The response would be immediate," Putin said.
Almost 70 percent of Russians are ready to support Putin in the March 18 election, according to a poll published Thursday by state news agency, TASS.