Putin Pushes Economic Growth At Annual Press Conference

(@FahadShabbir)

Putin pushes economic growth at annual press conference

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he would take Russia into "a new economic league," during an annual press conference that follows months of growing discontent at home.

Moscow, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 20th Dec, 2018 ) :President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he would take Russia into "a new economic league," during an annual press conference that follows months of growing discontent at home.

International tensions, from an ongoing stand-off with Ukraine to increasingly frosty relations with Washington, also loomed large at the event.

Economic questions dominated the opening exchanges, with Putin beginning as usual by reeling off growth figures.

"The main thing is that we need to get into a new economic league. We could very well take the fifth place in terms of size of economy. And I think we'll do that," Putin said from behind a large wooden desk to an audience of hundreds of journalists.

Russia is currently ranked 12th in the world pecking order by the International Monetary Fund, with economic output worth some $1.5 trillion. The IMF list is led by the United States followed by China, Japan, Germany and with Britain in fifth place.

Putin said the economy grew 1.7 percent over the first 10 months of the year, roughly in line with predictions, while unemployment was down.

Full-year growth is estimated at 1.8 percent.

"After a long break, a small growth in real incomes has none the less been recorded," he added.

The press conference comes with the longtime leader's approval rating sliding, the first notable decline in his popularity since 2014, following an unpopular pension reform.

Putin was re-elected to a fourth term in March with nearly 77 percent of the vote, but recent polls have seen his support falling to below 50 percent.

His previous term in the Kremlin was defined by a decline in living standards for many Russians, despite what were perceived as foreign policy wins.

Moving onto foreign policy questions, Putin warned of a "collapse of the international arms (control) system" after Washington announced it would withdraw from a key Cold War treaty.

Putin earlier said Moscow would develop new missiles in response to US President Donald Trump's dramatic decision to drop the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.