Russia not a country to run away: Putin

US, Turkey blasted over Syria crisis

18 December 2015 BBC Online

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used crude language in a furious new attack on Turkey over the shooting down of a Russian combat jet last month."The Turks", he said, had "decided to lick the Americans in a certain place". He was giving his wide-ranging annual news conference.Touching on next year's US presidential election, the Russian leader called Donald Trump a "very colourful, talented person" and the "absolute frontrunner in the presidential race". Mr Putin is now into his third term as president since 2000, battling an economic crisis. Critics say civil liberties have been steadily eroded under his rule. He remains one of the world's most recognisable politicians, and has topped the list of The World's Most Powerful People compiled by Forbes magazine for the third year running.Russia deployed its air force to Syria in September in support of President Bashar al-Assad and has been carrying out air strikes on his opponents.Its intervention has been heavily criticised by Turkey, the US and Gulf Arab states.Mr Putin said the downing of the Russian jet by Turkish warplanes on the Syria-Turkey border was a "hostile act" but Russia was "not the country" to run away.He said he saw "no prospect" of ties improving with Turkey - which Russia has put under sanctions - under its current leaders. There was, he said, a "creeping Islamisation of Turkey that would have Ataturk rolling in his grave".The remark appeared to be aimed at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose AKP party, with its Islamist roots, has been accused of seeking to dismantle the secular state founded by Kemal Ataturk.Mr Putin said Turkish officials should have picked up the phone to talk to Russia about their concerns that air strikes in Syria were hitting Turkmen rebels.While oil prices had fallen sharply, he said, manufacturing had shown slight growth and there was a healthy trade balance in agriculture."Our economy depends on oil and gas prices, we expected Brent to be worth $100 per barrel, but then it was $50, but this was an optimistic prediction too, our forecasts have to be amended again," Mr Putin said."GDP is falling, inflation is 12.3%, incomes, investment are falling too but the peak of the economic crisis is over." Mr Putin is known for his marathon performances at his news conferences, where he frequently uses hard-hitting, colourful language. This year's event lasted three hours and seven minutes - three minutes shorter than last year's. The record for a Putin news conference was set in 2008, at four hours 40 minutes.

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