Putin: Russian Bear Won't Become “Stuffed Animal”

A defiant Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Thursday his country's relations with the West and policies toward Ukraine while speaking in his annual news conference in Moscow. Putin said Russia was unfairly criticized for looking after its own interests, and compared his country to the United States. "To chop Texas from Mexico is fair, but when we make decision about our territories it is unfair," he said. "Do they want our bear to become a stuffed animal?" He insisted Russia's economy and the ruble would quickly recover from the current crisis, but acknowledged that the ruble could slide further because of falling oil prices and warned that spending cuts might be necessary, NBC News reported. Putin blamed 25 percent of the economic crisis on sanctions imposed after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

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