Russian President Vladimir Putin is upbeat about the Russian economy, which he says has returned to growth after a deep recession, as well as prospects for relations with a new U.S. president next year.
Putin said he "regrets" that U.S. presidential candidates use "the Russian card" in every election, leveling sometimes harsh charges that are "absolutely counterproductive."
But "we will judge by the deeds, not words of the new United States president, and will seek ways to normalize ties and advance our cooperation," he told reporters in St. Petersburg on June 17.
On the economy, Putin said, "we expected a slight economic decline by the end of this year, but now we are seeing growth."
Growth of about 0.5 percent recently has been fueled by 0.6 percent growth in Russian processing industries and 2.2 percent growth in agriculture, he noted.
While investment continues to decline, he said that reflected not only investor concerns about Russia's structural problems and Western economic sanctions, but low oil prices, which have killed off new energy industry projects.
Another sign of stabilization, he noted, is that the flood of capital flowing out of the country has stopped.