December 18, 2014 / 9:35 AM / in 5 years

HIGHLIGHTS-Putin says economy to rebound, wants end to Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-year news conference on Thursday. Below are some of his comments.

UKRAINE

“We think the crisis should be solved, the sooner the better.”

“It should be solved through political measures, not with the pressure ... of an economic blockade or the use of armed forces.”

“We assume a general political space will be re-established. It’s hard to say now what it would be. But it seems this is what we should aim at. Both sides (of the conflict) should aim at that - both.”

“People living in southeast Ukraine should be respected.”

“In our view, this really is a punitive operation carried out by Kiev (in east Ukraine).”

“I think we have been right on the Ukrainian crisis and think out Western partners were not.”

ECONOMY

“Clearly the current situation is caused mainly by external factors.”

“External economic factors are having an impact, mainly the price of oil and gas. I think the central bank and the government are taking adequate measures.”

“If the situation develops unfavourably, we will have to amend our plans. Beyond a doubt, we will have to cut some (spending). But a positive turn and an exit from the current situation are inevitable.”

“The growth of the global economy will continue and our economy will rebound from the current situation.”

“Under the most unfavourable external economic scenario, this situation may go on for about two years. But it may also start improving in the first quarter, in the middle, at the end of the next year.”

“One way or another the economy will adapt to living and working with low energy prices.”

“Gross domestic product growth in the first ten months of this year stood at 0.7 percent, maybe 0.6 percent.”

“Current external conditions are spurring us on, will make us more effective, switch us to the innovative development path.”

“We must guarantee private property, stop chasing people with the help of law enforcement bodies.”

“This is no retribution for Crimea, this is retribution, more likely, for our natural desire for safeguard ourselves as a nation, civilisation, state.”

BUDGET

“It’s certain that the budget will have a surplus.”

“Despite all the turbulence on the financial market, the federal budget will be executed with a surplus this year, that is revenue will be higher than spending by some 1.2 trillion roubles, roughly 1.9 percent of GDP.”

CENTRAL BANK AND RATES

“I believe that the central bank and the government are taking adequate measures.”

“I think some actions could have been taken more swiftly.”

“I hope the main interest rate will not remain (at its current level) throughout these difficult times which are related to external economic conditions.”

“Surely, one can give a hard time to (central bank chief) Nabiullina, but one should remember that, in general, their policies are adequate. The central bank is not the only one to be held responsible for the current situation in the country.”

(On foreign exchange interventions): “The central bank stopped and was right to do so. Maybe they should have done it sooner ... maybe then they would not have had to raise the (main) rate to 17 percent.”

EXPORTERS

“We should work with exporters who have very large foreign currency revenues.”

Asked whether exporters might be told to sell foreign-currency earnings to support the rouble: “As far as I know the central bank is not planning - and neither is the government - to limit exporters along these lines. And this is right.”

GOVERNMENT

“The government should also be taking measures... Gasoline prices, food prices, we should deal with that.”

REPRISALS IN CHECHNYA AFTER A RECENT ATTACK

“As a general rule, relatives of people who commit terrorist acts know about it, at least in the vast majority of cases. But that does not give anyone, including the head of Chechnya, the right to extrajudicial reprisals.”

WEST

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall, after the collapse of the Soviet Union we have completely opened to our partners. And what did we get? Direct, full support of terrorism in North Caucasus... Is that what partners do?”

“No matter what we do, we always encounter problems (from the West), opposition and fight against us.”

“Russia is protecting its national interests more and more rigidly. We are not attacking in the political sense of the word, we did not assault anyone. We are only protecting our interests. And the discontent of Western partners, the American ones first and foremost, is precisely because of that.”

“We have only two (military) bases abroad... American bases are all around the world. And you want to say we are acting aggressive?... What are American armed forces, including tactical nuclear arms, doing in Europe?”

“The United States... creates threats for us. They deploy elements of the strategic anti-missile defence system not only in Alaska but in Europe, in Romania and Poland, right next to us.”

NATO

“Didn’t they tell us after the collapse of the Berlin Wall that NATO would not expand eastwards? But it happened immediately. Two waves of expansion. Is that not a wall? ... It’s a virtual wall... And the anti-missile defence system right next to our borders? Is that not a wall?”

SUPPORT

“Stability is based on - and there is no stronger base - the support of the Russian people. In the main, there is such support for the direction of our foreign and our domestic policy.”

OTHER

“The gas contract with China was not made at a loss. Both sides will benefit.”

“It’s necessary to legalise not only offshore properties but properties where the rights are assigned to relatives (of the business owners).”

“The Bashneft case has nothing to do with revision of privatisation results.”

Reporting by Moscow newsroom, complied by Gabriela Baczynska,

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