The residents of the self-proclaimed eastern Ukrainian republics have the right to decide their future under the internationally accepted right of people to self-determination. “We must follow the general principles of the international law, and the people of Novorossiya have the right to decide their own fate,” Putin said.
The economic blockade of Ukraine's eastern regions is an absolutely futile and counterproductive path for the country's statehood.
Putin believes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is willing to restore peace in his country, but a numer of other senior officials oppose the idea. “Naturally, the president of Ukraine wants to settle [the crisis], I have no doubts of his determination to do that. But he is not the only one [political force] there," Putin told reporters.
Putin said the appropriate path to settling the Ukrainian crisis was to stop building walls and start building a common humanitarian space.
Putin said Russia's position regarding the Ukrainian crisis was right, while the Western position was wrong. The West has accused Moscow of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs after the government coup in Kiev. A number of countries have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in Ukraine’s internal affairs and underlined the importance of allowing Donbas residents to be heard, calling on Kiev to establish political dialogue with the breakaway regions.
The Economic situation in Russia may start improving already in the first quarter of 2015. “I said that even given the most unfavorable internal market condition this situation may last for about two years … But the situation may start improving even earlier … in the first, second quarter, in mid-2015 or at the end of the next year. No one can say for sure,” Putin said during a press conference.
The Russian economic recovery will take two years at worst. “If the situation takes a negative turn, then we will have to introduce some amendments to our plans. Naturally, something will have to be trimmed. However, I would like to stress that a “positive rebound,” as experts call it, and subsequent growth are inevitable under present circumstances,” the Russian leader told reporters.
On the Ruble and Central Bank:
Putin expressed hope that the ruble would continue to strengthen again foreign currencies. The Russian authorities are planning a series of measures that proved successful back in 2008.
Russia’s Central Bank needs to hike key rates in order to stabilize the country’s macroeconomy. In an effort to halt the devaluation of the national currency the Russian Central Bank on Monday raised its key interest rate from 10.5 percent to 17 percent.
Relations With the West:
Putin said Russia was not attacking the West politically, but only protecting its own national interests. "The problem of modern international relations," he believes, "is that our [Russia's] partners refuse to stop; they think they have won."
Russia is willing to develop cooperation with the West, but on an equal basis and only if its national interests are respected. “Do we want relations on an equal basis? Yes, we do, but on the condition that our national interests are respected, in the sphere of security and in the sphere of economy,” the Russian leader said.
On Issues of Gas:
Putin said there was a possibility of creating a European gas hub on the Turkey-Greece border and it would depend on the European Union’s will. Russia is ready to work in this direction.
President Putin stressed that Russia is the only reliable gas supplier to Europe.
On Extrajudicial Executions:
Although relatives of terrorists could be aware of their plans, this does not give anyone, including the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the right for extrajudicial executions. Everyone living in Russia must comply with the existing laws and nobody should be considered guilty, unless the court rules so, Putin said.
According to Putin, the Russian government does not repress people who are against its policies. “I would like to assure you that there is no organization or any sort of repression against people who don’t agree with our actions, for example in Ukraine, Crimea, or any other external issues, no one from official government organs do this,” Putin said.
On Military Budget and External Threats:
The Russian Defense Ministry’s budget will increase to $50 billion in 2015. “The Defense Ministry’s budget has grown for next year to about $50 billion, but the Pentagon’s budget is almost 10 times higher, about $575 billion,” Putin said.
Washington's planned deployment of US missile defense elements in Europe threatens Russia. “They have been deploying strategic missile defense elements not only on Alaska, but also in Europe, in Poland and Romania, right at our borders,” Putin said.
Russia is worried about Washington's plans to install an Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense complex in Romania by 2015, and a similar system in Poland by 2018. Putin urged the international community to address this issue.
On His Private Life:
Putin assured that his private life was fine. "Everything is fine, don’t worry," Putin said. In 2013, Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced a decision to terminate their marriage, attributing the outcome to the pressure created by constant public attention.
Khodorkovsky, who was arrested on October 25, 2003, spent ten years in prison for fraud and tax evasion until he was pardoned this year. The former energy magnate has since relaunched his "Open Russia" foundation to push for political reforms in Russia.
Russia is ready to further liberalize its market for Georgian goods, Putin said.
Putin said he would be glad to meet with senior Georgian officials in Moscow. "If the Georgian leadership believes it is possible, we will be ready to meet any representative of the Georgian leadership, including the president and the prime minister, here in Moscow," Putin said.
According to Putin, Iranian leaders are demonstrating considerable flexibility and the issue with the country's nuclear development will soon be settled.
On Possibility of Next Presidential Term:
Putin said it was too early for him to decide whether to run for another term in office. Putin also mentioned he took full responsibility for everything that was happening in the country.