The Latest: Putin: 'Nothing unusual' in Trump nukes comment

The Latest on Russian President Vladimir Putin's end-of-year press conference (all times local):


1:30 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says he sees "nothing unusual" in Donald Trump's pledge to strengthen the U.S. nuclear forces, calling the statement is in line with the U.S. president-elect's campaign promises.

Speaking at an annual news conference Friday, Putin also said Russia's military is stronger than that of any potential aggressor, though he admitted that the U.S. has a bigger military.

"Indeed, they have more missiles, more submarines and more aircraft carriers, we aren't arguing with that, but we are simply stronger than any aggressor."

Putin says the Russian military modernization helped strengthen the nation's nuclear forces.


1:15 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the nation's economy is on the path to recovery.

Speaking at an annual end-of-year news conference Friday, Putin said the Russian economy is expected to shrink by 0.6-0.7 percent this year — a much smaller decline compared to 2015 when it contracted by 3.7 percent.

Russia is enduring a deep recession in the wake of Western sanctions and the sharp drop in oil prices.

Putin said some sectors have posted growth this year, showing that the Russian economy is on the mend.

Despite the economic backdrop, Putin said hard currency reserves of the Russian Central Bank increased this year, from $368 billion to about $385 billion.