Putin says he has personally heard tapes from the plane where the Polish president personally orders the pilot to land despite poor weather conditions. Says people should stop using the tragedy to spoil relations between Russia and Poland.
The Power Vertical's Brian Whitmore again:
We're two hours in and here are some general observations.
Putin looks cocksure, but he also looks bored. He's strutting, but he is also scripted. He's gloating, but he also appears to be going through the motions. So far, the trademark salty language and memorable quips have been absent. Yes, he's taking a victory lap, but his heart doesn't really seem to be in it. Maybe he'll perk up after halftime.
Putin has seemed most animated on questions about the U.S. and the hacking scandal. And it is worth noting that his barbs here have been exclusively directed at Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party. What this suggests, of course, is that he wants to gloat but doesn't want to say anything that could alienate the incoming Trump administration.
One interesting thing to watch: Putin gave his traditional diatribe against U.S. plans for missile defense. And since Trump plans to develop missile defense, this will probably turn out to be a point of contention between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.
Putin says he looked into the question of the wreckage and that investigators are still using it.
Next question is from a Polish reporter. He asked Putin two years ago about the investigation into the 2010 plane crash near Smolensk that killed the Polish president and other officials and whether Russia would return the wreckage. Putin said he'd look into it. Asks how that is going.
Putin praises the contribution of Bashkortostan to the effort to defeat Nazi Germany. Putin says there are many areas where Russia must be more independent, including the banking sector, defense, etc. Notes that as soon as there are political problems with the West, Western countries begin applying economic pressure on Russia. Putin says Russia must develop its own financial rating systems and consulting sector. Putin says Russia must increase its sovereignty in these sectors.
Question is about the word "war," which Russians remember from their World War II experience and which is being used more and more these days -- "information war," "hybrid war," etc. Says there foreign consultants continue to work in the Russian defense sector. Asks what steps the government plans to make the defense sector and the economy independent of foreign inputs.