Covering numerous topics, from foreign politics to the Russian budget, the price of oil, sports doping allegations as well as the US election during his annual end-of-year news conference, Russian president Vladimir Putin slammed the US Democratic party saying "the party that is called the Democrats has clearly forgotten the original meaning of that name" and added that "the use of administrative resources (by the Democrats) is absolutely shameless."
He continued the rout saying "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."
Continuing his barrage against the Democratic Party, Putin said it is "losing on all fronts" and that it is wrongly trying to blame President-elect Donald Trump's victory on external factors. "You need to learn how to lose gracefully," he said.
He added that "losers always look for someone to blame, but they should first of all look at themselves.
Putin then said that "the most important thing is what was revealed. It's not like people invented this information - what they reported is true. It showed how the Democratic Party manipulated the system against Bernie Sanders. Instead of apologizing, they began to look for people to blame."
Putin added that the question of who hacked the U.S. Democratic party was not important, but that the hacks revealed that public opinion in the United States was being manipulated.
Putin also mocked the "archaic" U.S. electoral system, which he said "is a problem" and that it’s up to U.S. people to sort it out, however he conceded that the "U.S. is great country, will draw conclusions from vote."
Putin also spoke about Trump, lauding the President-elect for his win, and said it was no surprise. “Right up to the end, nobody believed he would win — except us." He credited Trump’s victory to his ability to keep his “finger on the pulse of the mood of society" adding that Trump “went all the way, even though no one believed that he would win, apart from you and me."
The Russian president said on Friday he wanted constructive relations with the United States under President-elect Donald Trump.
Putin also acknowledged his own rising support among Republican voters in the US: “I don’t put it down to me, the fact that a large part of Republican voters support the Russian president,” he said. “It means that a large part of the American people have the same idea of how the world should be, of our common dangers and problems.”
Additionally, Putin addressed Trump's comments about the need to boost the U.S. nuclear arsenal, saying they were perfectly normal. Trump's comments, made in a tweet on Thursday, seemingly in response to Putin's own comments earlier in the day. But Putin said he was surprised by the fuss Trump's tweet had caused and how it had been linked to his own statements about Russia's plans to modernize its own nuclear arsenal.
Putin said on Thursday Russia's military was "stronger than any potential aggressor". He made clear on Friday he did not regard the United States as a potential aggressor.
"I was a bit surprised by the statements from some representatives of the current U.S. administration who for some reason started to prove that the U.S. military was the most powerful in the world," said Putin.
"Nobody is arguing with that."
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Other highlights from the Putin press conference via Reuters:
ON DONALD TRUMP AND THE MILITARY
"In the course of his election campaign he (Trump) spoke about the necessity of strengthening the U.S. 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)."
"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 stabilize. 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 rubles ($28.65 billion) and an extra 750 billion rubles of income for oil companies, despite lower output. So at the end of the day everyone ends up winning.”
"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 normalization 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."
"All the necessary money is in place next year so we can from Feb.1 increase pensions in line with the rate of inflation in 2016."
"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."