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Putin says Russia prepared for any economic situation




President Vladimir Putin said Thursday Russia was prepared to face any economic situation as the country’s energy-dependent economy reels from lower oil prices.

“The government, of course, is preparing scenarios for any development of the situation,” Putin said at his annual press conference in Moscow.

Putin said Russia had calculated its 2016 budget based an oil price of $50 per barrel, a figure he said was an “optimistic” assessment of the situation as the Brent hovered around $37 on Thursday.

The slide in oil prices — which have tumbled since the start of the month — along with Western sanctions have battered Russia’s economy and heavily devalued its currency.

But despite a downward trend in oil prices, the Russian government will not rush to adjust its budget, Putin said.

“Volatility [in oil prices] is very high,” Putin said “We will not hurry to recalculate and make adjustments to the budget because it entails a reduction in funding and in the social sphere and the real sector.”

Putin said Thursday that the peak of Russia’s economic crisis had passed and that there were signs of “stabilising business activity” starting in the second quarter.

He said the government was expecting economic growth of 0.7 percent for next year and 1.9 percent in 2017.

Putin said last December that Russia’s economic woes “under the most unfavourable world conditions” would last two years.

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