“We aren’t looking for enemies," Vladimir Putin said Thursday during his annual state-of-the-nation speech. "We need friends." He says he's hoping one of those friends is the US under President-elect Donald Trump, who Putin wants to work with as equals, Bloomberg reports. "We are ready for cooperation with the new American administration," Al Jazeera quotes Putin as saying. The Guardian notes Putin was gentler toward the US than he had been in recent years, perhaps because Trump has said it would be "nice" to work with Russia.
Russia's middle class is being decimated by a recession, and getting the sanctions placed on the country by the US in the wake of incidents in Crimea and Ukraine lifted is one of Putin's few hopes. Trump has said he may be willing to do so. He has also offered to work with Russia in Syria—where Russia is backing the government against US-supported rebels—to fight the Islamic State. "I am counting on joining forces with the United States in the fight with the real, not made-up, threat of international terrorism,” Putin said during his speech Thursday. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)