Vladimir Putin sat down for his annual, wide-ranging press conference Thursday in Moscow, with President Trump's impeachment and climate change among the topics making headlines. Trump will be surely be pleased with his comments on the first topic in particular. Highlights from Bloomberg, the AP, the BBC, and NBC News:
- Impeachment: He called Wednesday night's impeachment of Trump "far-fetched" and slammed Democrats. "The party that lost the election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results by other means," he said. Putin likened impeachment to the investigation of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. "It then turned out that there was no collusion and it could not form the basis for an impeachment, and now there is this made-up pressure on Ukraine."
- Climate change: Putin said the climate is clearly changing, but he didn't necessarily blame man-made causes. "No one knows the real reason" for it, he said, adding that it "might arise from planetary processes." Russia must nonetheless deal with the consequences, he said, noting that Russian cities and towns built on permafrost are at risk. He said Russia is abiding by the Paris climate pact of 2015. "It is hard to calculate how humanity is affecting the climate, almost impossible," Putin said. "However, doing nothing is not the answer. We have to do as much as we can."
- Staying in power: He was a little cagey when asked about staying in control of Russia when his term expires in 2024. He said amending the Constitution to allow it should be done only after a long public discussion. He dodged a question about whether he could assume a different governing position, say as leader of a Russia-Belarus union.
- Ukraine: He defended pro-Russian rebels in the eastern part of Ukraine and rejected the idea of revising a 2015 agreement between Russia and Ukraine, which the AP characterizes as a "diplomatic coup" for Moscow. Ukraine's current leader wants to revise it, but "there is nothing but the Minsk agreement," Putin said. "If we start revising the Minsk agreement, it will lead to deadlock."
- Lenin's body: He sounded skeptical about moving Lenin's embalmed body out of its tomb in Red Square, as some are demanding. While he criticized Lenin's policies, Putin said many older Russian citizens who see him as a national hero would be offended.
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