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Live Blog: Putin's Annual Press Conference

The Russian president fields selected questions on domestic and international affairs, with the country showing signs it might pull out of recession in 2017 and Russia's military supporting Assad in Syria and separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's 12th annual press conference was staged in front of around 1,500 selected journalists in Moscow, many of whom wave signs to try to get their questions addressed.

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-- At his press conference with selected journalists on December 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin downplayed U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's tweet on nuclear capabilities as "nothing new" but warned of the threat of a new arms race with the United States if any side develops antimissile systems.

-- Putin also paraphrased Trump on the election-hacking question, saying, "How would we know it was Russia ...[and not] someone lying on a sofa who did it?"

-- He vowed that the assassination this week of Russia's ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, would not damage Russia-Turkey ties.

-- Putin downplayed the possibility of an early Russian presidential election in 2017, saying, "It is possible, but inexpedient." He left open whether he would run for a fourth term.

-- Putin cited "reasons for optimism" on Russia's economy and an "overall positive dynamic" based on 0.6 percent economic contraction in 2016.

-- On doping in sports, Putin called it "unthinkable" that Russia had any state program for doping (despite mounting evidence in multiple reports from international athletic groups, including another damning announcement today).

* NOTE: Times are stated according to local time in Moscow (GMT/UTC +3)

14:14 23.12.2016

14:13 23.12.2016
14:13 23.12.2016
14:13 23.12.2016

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.

14:12 23.12.2016

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.

14:12 23.12.2016

Putin says he looked into the question of the wreckage and that investigators are still using it.

14:11 23.12.2016

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.

14:10 23.12.2016

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.

14:09 23.12.2016

14:08 23.12.2016

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.

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