Putin praises Trump, wants to ‘improve ties’ with US

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised US president-elect Donald Trump Friday for “keenly” feeling public sentiment and says he wants to improve Russia-US relations.

Speaking at an annual end-of-year news conference televised live on Friday, Putin said a meeting with Trump could happen after the US president-elect completes forming his team.

He also denied the White House’s claims that Russia had interfered in the US election.

While the Russian leader says he agrees with Trump’s assessment of the current low level of US-Russian relations he added that they “can’t be worse”.  Indeed, relations between the two countries had reached their lowest level since the Cold War times.

Responding to Trump’s pledge to bolster US nuclear forces, Putin said he saw “nothing unusual”, calling the statement in line with the president-elect’s campaign promises.

Below are more highlights from Putin’s news conference.

On US Politics

“The party that is called the Democrats has clearly forgotten the original meaning of that name.”

“The use of administrative resources (by the Democrats) is absolutely shameless.”

“Outstanding figures in American history from the ranks of the Democratic Party would likely be turning in their graves. Roosevelt certainly would be.”

“They (the Democrats) are losing on all fronts and looking elsewhere for things to blame. In my view this, how shall I say it, degrades their own dignity. You have to know how to lose with dignity.”

On Donald Trump and the military

“In the course of his election campaign he (Trump) spoke about the necessity of strengthening the US nuclear arsenal, and strengthening the armed forces. There’s nothing unusual here. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised by the words of certain other official representatives of the current administration who have for some reason set about proving that the armed forces of the United States are the most powerful in the world. No one disputed that.”

“If anyone is unleashing an arms race it’s not us … We will never spend resources on an arms race that we can’t afford.”

On participation in elections in 2018

“When the time is ripe (I’ll say). I will look at what is happening in the country and in the world, and based on the results of what we have done and what we can do the decision will be made on whether I will participate in upcoming elections for the Russian president.”

On the economy

“[Economic] growth is happening thanks to certain sectors of the economy – machine building, chemicals, manufacturing and agriculture.”

“We saw some economic growth in November … This year we will probably have minus 0.5-0.6 percent (economic growth).”

On inflation

“This year (inflation) will be significantly less than 6 percent … most likely in the region of 5.5 percent – this is a record low inflation rate, and gives us cause to expect that we will be able to reach our target and very soon get to inflation of 5 percent and then 4 percent.”

On the budget deficit

“The budget deficit will be a bit bigger .. 3.7 percent. In my view this is an absolutely acceptable amount because, among other reasons, we have preserved a positive external trade balance – more than 70 billion dollars [and] we have preserved our reserves … the central bank’s gold and forex reserves have even grown, and are now a little over 385 [billion dollars]. Judging by that measure, everything is fine. It’s a good safety margin.”

On OPEC and oil prices

“We think that in the second half of 2017 the surplus of oil in the market will disappear and the oil price will stabilise. We are counting on a stabilization (of prices) at today’s level.”

“It (Russian oil production cuts agreed with OPEC) will be a smooth reduction that will hardly affect our overall output. This is perfectly acceptable to us, and we are counting on a rise in prices, which has already happened … a difference in the oil price of $10 will mean extra revenues to the budget of 1.75 trillion roubles (27.42 billion euros) and an extra 750 billion roubles of income for oil companies, despite lower output. So at the end of the day everyone ends up winning.”

On doping

“In this area transparency is absolutely essential … Undoubtedly there is a certain political element in all these issues. Sport should be cleansed, along with culture, of any sort of politics. Sport and culture are things that should unite people and not divide them.”

On Ukraine and Crimea

“I am sure that sooner or later there will be a normalisation of relations with Ukraine, and it (a bridge between Russian and Crimea) will be very beneficial to the development of Russia-Ukraine relations, and future commercial and humanitarian links.”

On pensions

“All the necessary money is in place next year so we can from February 1 increase pensions in line with the rate of inflation in 2016.”

On Aleppo

“The president of Turkey and the leaders of Iran [also] played a huge role in this (managing the situation around Aleppo). I don’t know if this will sound immodest, but without our participation it would have been impossible.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

Date created : 2016-12-23

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