‘We have no obsession that Russia must be a superpower’ – Putin

© Michael Klimentyev
Russia has no “imperial ambitions,” and the image of “bare-chested man on horseback” is not meant to cultivate the image of strength, but rather to promote a healthy lifestyle, Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin told CBS's ‘60 Minutes.’

We have no obsession that Russia must be a superpower. The only thing we do is protecting our vital interests,” Putin told CBS's Charlie Rose. “Nuclear weapons and other weapons are the means to protect our sovereignty and legitimate interests, not the means to behave aggressively or to fulfill some non-existent imperial ambitions.”

Russia’s president met with the American journalist in the state Novo-Ogaryovo residence near Moscow. While thanking Putin for inviting “us to your home” on a “lovely Russian afternoon,” the reporter touched on the president’s love for his country’s culture and history.

Moscow has fewer of the major sights and landmarks compared to St. Petersburg, but they are all of exceptional significance to Russia,” Putin, whose native city is Russia's “northern capital,” said. “I am sure that the vast majority of Russian citizens have great love and respect for their motherland,” Russia’s leader added, saying that the national culture and history are worth being proud of.

There is something that unites me and other citizens of Russia. It is love for our motherland,” Putin told CBS, explaining his popularity rating in the country.

When speaking about the country’s heritage, the president delved into personal history while talking about World War Two. His family “suffered heavy losses” during the Great Patriotic War, Putin said, explaining that four out of five brothers in his father’s family were killed, with the situation being “much the same” on his mother’s side.

Russia suffered terribly. No doubt, we cannot forget that and we must not forget, not to accuse anyone but to ensure that nothing of the kind ever happens again,” Putin said, adding that all sacrifices suffered by other allied nations are also remembered in Russia.

Our joint struggle against Nazism will still be a good basis to cope with the challenges we are facing today,” the Russian leader said, reminding the reporter that it was in Russia where “the decision to establish the United Nations was taken ... at the Yalta Conference.”

The American journalist talked to the president in light of his visit to New York and address at the UN General Assembly, as well as his tete-a-tete with US President Barack Obama – the first one in a long while.

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While Rose said that Putin was “very much talked about” in the US, mentioning that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio had called him a “gangster,” while others called him a tsar, the Russian leader was less eager to label his American counterpart.

I do not think I am entitled to assess the President of the United States. This is up to the American people. We have good personal relationship with President Obama, our relations are quite frank and business-like. And this is quite enough to do our job,” Putin said, adding that “there is a dialogue and we hear each other.”

When told that he was seen “first of all, as a strong leader who presents himself in a strong way” by Americans, the Russian President said that “any man in my place should set a positive example for other people.”

Having mentioned his passion for sports, Putin said that he believed that “a healthy lifestyle is an extremely important thing which underpins the solution to numerous important problems, including the health of the nation.”

Healthy lifestyle, fitness and sports should become fashionable,” he said, adding that “it is impossible to solve the health problems of millions of people with the help of pills.