Putin addresses Russia amid economic crisis
President Vladimir Putin struck an optimistic chord at his end-of-year news conference Thursday, telling Russians the country’s economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilise.
He said the current crisis could last two years at most, but the economy could recover faster if external factors change for the better. Putin said the nation’s currency reserves are sufficient to keep the economy in stable condition.
The ruble strengthened on Thursday morning ahead of Putin’s speech.
It hit an all-time low on Tuesday, prompting Russia’s central bank to reassure banks and financial companies that it would provide additional capital if necessary. At one point the currency plunged to 80 rubles to the dollar. The ruble has lost nearly 60 percent of its value against key Western currencies this year.
Putin addressed the Ukraine crisis Thursday, saying he wants Ukraine to remain one political entity. He voiced hope that the crisis could be solved through peace talks, suggesting that Kyiv and the Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine should conduct a prisoner swap before Christmas.
Russia has been hit by Western sanctions, put in place after Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.