Russian President Vladimir Putin has addressed his mysterious love life and accused the West of acting like ‘an empire’ in a rousing end-of-year press conference.
Speaking after the Russian rouble’s collapse against the American dollar this week, Mr Putin accused Western countries of trying to weaken Russia as tensions rage over conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“Our (Western) partners have not stopped. They decided that they are winners, they are an empire now and the rest are vassals and they have to be driven into a corner,” Mr Putin said.
“As soon as they have torn out its claws and teeth, then the bear won’t be needed at all – they will make a stuffed dummy out of it.”
“This is not about Crimea, the thing is that we are protecting our independence, its sovereignty and its right to exist.”
The European Union and the US have imposed sanctions on Russia for supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed over 4,000 people.
Putin’s love life
Mr Putin also addressed the state of his love life after divorcing his wife of 30 years earlier this year.
Asked if he was in love with someone, the Russian leader said “I do, I tell you” but refused to give any more details, saying: “Everything is in order. Don’t worry”.
Mr Putin said he maintained good relations with his ex-wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva, saying the pair were on “friendly” terms.