MOSCOW, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- This year has brought the Kremlin's policies wide recognition, both internationally and domestically, making President Vladimir Putin a confident speaker during his four-hour annual press conference.
Moscow's moderate approach -- bringing Ukraine closer to Russia, mediating political solutions to the Syrian and Iranian crises, and maintaining a comparatively stable domestic economy -- helps it advance on the right track, experts say.
SOFT HAND FOR MUTUAL BENEFITS
Putin said the Kremlin supported Kiev due to their "special relations" and denied that Moscow attempted to "suffocate" Ukraine.
While both Russia and the European Union (EU) were "pulling the Ukrainian blanket" from each other, Moscow behaved more honestly and tenderly, said Vladimir Yevseev, Director of the Center for Political and Social Studies at the Russian Academy of Science.
Russia and the EU both exerted pressure on Kiev, but Moscow at least stated the pros and cons of Kiev's choices while the EU only deceived the Ukrainians, Yevseev told Xinhua.
Putin strongly denied the allegations Moscow had "stolen" Ukrainian's "European dream", noting Russia only offered Ukraine more favorable conditions than the EU.
Russia did take Ukraine's interests into account, agreed Veronika Krasheninnikova, Director of the Institute of Foreign Political Studies and Initiatives.
"I've read the 906-page treaty Kiev was supposed to sign with the EU," she told Xinhua. "According to the document, the EU prioritizes Ukraine's military and foreign integration, whereas economic cooperation is buried somewhere in the final clauses."
JOINT SUCCESS WITH WORLD POWERS
"We may be proud of our approach to these global issues based on fundamental principles of international law," Putin told reporters during his ninth annual press conference, referring to progress made in resolving the Syria and Iran issues.
He admitted Russia's success would not have been possible without the participation of other players.
He singled out the United States and China among them.
"In the Syrian and Iranian issues Russia's role was instrumental, the U.S. role was important, and China's role was supportive," Yevseev said.
Russia, the United States, and China may each have worked on different tracks, but all in the same direction towards a fruitful outcome. In contrast, the EU did everything to prevent progress, he said.
According to Krasheninnikova, Moscow successfully utilized the U.S. and the EU's weaknesses in addressing those two long-standing problems.
"Moscow coerced Washington into cooperation in the Middle East, and it would be inexcusable for Washington not to accept Russia's hand stretched out," she said.
"CONSERVATISM" MEANS ADVANCEMENT, NOT RETREAT
Putin also expressed his satisfaction with economic conditions and political situations in the country, saying the government's work this year had fulfilled its duties despite an economic slowdown.
"Despite the obvious economic slowdown, Russia has stood firm amidst world economic storms. This is thanks to the Kremlin's moderate policy, call it conservative or not," Krasheninnikova said.
Yevseev said Putin's "conservative" model of economic development would not lead to stagnation, though there was little to be proud of in the current economic situation.
While Russia's economic growth remained far from satisfying, no one could deny Russia's economy was quite stable, unlike the United States and the EU, Krasheninnikova said.
In addition to economic stability, the president reaffirmed his social policy was aimed at preserving traditional values in Russian society.
"Putin's conservatism means to prevent society from sliding backward and to keep it moving forward," Krasheninnikova said, emphasizing the Russian model centered on development rather than decline.