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Putin: 'External factors' are to blame for plunging Russian economy
Putin: 'External factors' are to blame for plunging Russian economy

Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed "external factors" for the plunge in his country's economy, but said it would bounce back within two years even “under the most unfavorable circumstances.” Speaking at his annual news conference Thursday, Putin was typically defiant, defending the annexation of Crimea, downplaying Russia's role in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and blaming the West for the deterioration of relations between Russia and NATO countries. Putin insisted, as he has before, that the West had begun to build “new walls” around Russia almost as soon as the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Speaking for more than three hours to...

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