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Putin To Hold News Conference Amid Ruble Crisis, Sanctions

The economy and international affairs will be key topics at Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual news conference on December 18.

The conference comes as the ruble has lost about half of its value since the start of the year amid worries over the country's economy, which has been affected by cheaper oil and Western sanctions over Russia’s activities in Ukraine.

In his recent address to parliament, Putin accused Russia’s former Cold War enemies of trying "to contain the rising power of Russia, to influence it or even better -- to use it in their own interests."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on December 16 that the sanctions could be lifted within “weeks or days, depending on the choices that President Putin takes."

In a move likely to anger Moscow, President Petro Poroshenko said on December 17 he would soon ask parliament to abandon Ukraine's neutral "non-bloc" status, and suggested he would steer the country closer to NATO.

With reporting by
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