December 19, 2019 / 10:34 AM / a month ago

Russian President Vladimir Putin's end-of-year news conference

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The following are highlights from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual end-of-year news conference on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

ON CHANGING PRESIDENTIAL TERM LIMITS

“One thing that could be changed about these (presidential) terms is removing the clause about ‘successive’ (terms). Your humble servant served two terms consecutively, then left his post, but with the constitutional right to return to the post of president again, because these two terms were not successive. (This clause) troubles some of our political analysts and public figures. Well, maybe it could be removed.”

ON IMPEACHMENT OF U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

“You phrase your question as if Trump’s presidency is coming to an end. I am not sure that’s the case. (The impeachment bill) still needs to go through the Senate where Republicans as far as I know have a majority. It’s unlikely they will want to remove from power a representative of their party based on what are, in my opinion, completely fabricated reasons.”

ON EXTENDING THE NEW START ARMS CONTROL TREATY

“We are ready until the end of the year to extend the existing agreement, the new START treaty.”

“But thus far there has been no answer to any of our suggestions. And without a new START treaty, there is nothing to curb an arms race. And that, in my opinion, is bad.”

ON PROGRESS OF RUSSIA’S NATIONAL PROJECTS

“I believe that there is no need to revise anything in principle. Individual responsibility (for the projects’ progress) has been introduced, it could be strengthened.”

“Out of the 38 goals that were set for this year, we consider 26 to have been achieved.”

ON RUSSIA’S DOPING SCANDAL

“If WADA does not have any claims against our national Olympic Committee, then our team should be allowed to participate under its own flag.”

“We are doing everything to make sure Russian sport is clean.”

ON UKRAINE PEACE TALKS

“I was of course concerned by (Ukrainian President) Zelenskiy’s statement... that (the Minsk Agreements) could be revised. If a revision of the Minsk Agreements starts, then the situation could enter a complete dead end.”

“Direct dialogue on Donbass is needed. It is lacking.”

Slideshow (2 Images)

ON UKRAINE GAS TALKS

“This is a very difficult, sensitive topic. We would like to solve this problem.”

“We will look for a solution that is acceptable for all parties, including Ukraine... We will preserve gas transit through Ukraine.”

“We have no desire to exacerbate the situation in the energy sector or use this to influence the situation in Ukraine itself.”

Reporting by Moscow bureau; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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