Vladimir Putin spent four hours responding to queries from the Russian people today as part of his annual "direct line" Q&A session in Moscow, which can be viewed in its entirety here. While he spoke on lighter matters, like the sale of milk in schools, he also touched on Ukraine and the economy, the Guardian reports. He maintains that "there are no Russian troops in Ukraine," and that Kiev is "cutting off" regions controlled by pro-Russian rebels with an economic blockade, the BBC reports. Putin said Western sanctions on Russia aren't just about Crimea or Ukraine, but "the need to constrain our development," CNN reports. He also appeared optimistic about Russia's economic crisis, noting a full recovery is about two years away.
Touching on his decision to allow the sale of an air defense system to Iran, Putin said Iran showed "a desire to reach compromise." Though Israel and other countries fear the system could pose a danger, "It is a defense weapon," Putin said. "Iran is not a threat to Israel at all." Putin also described the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov as "tragic and shameful," noting the mastermind of the killing may never be found. Critics say that the broadcast is more about giving Putin a platform to speak than having Russians grill him about policy. Putin's team sifted through 3 million questions received via email, video, and text, and none too critical or personal were heard. The broadcast was scheduled to last three hours, but Putin usually goes over his time. He spoke for a record-breaking four hours and 47 minutes in 2013.