Putin's press show in the Kremlin
Vladimir Putin repeated his harsh criticism of Turkey at his annual press conference on Thursday and said he planned to continue military operations in Syria. Economic interests have prompted the Russian president to exercise restraint, some commentators posit. Others criticise Putin's failure to present any clear strategy for the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.
Moscow adopting friendlier tone
Putin seems to be taking a new and more conciliatory line vis-à-vis the West, the conservative daily La Vanguardia observes: "President Putin has clearly adopted a different tone to that of a year ago when he seemed ready to defend his positions no matter what the risk. Without having renounced its goal of regaining superpower status, Russia is in fact at a crucial point in its history. Putin's policy of expanding Russian influence in Asia - through the agreement with China - and also in Africa clashes with the political and economic interests of the Western countries which are forcing him to defuse tensions and seek compromises. In particular as regards the future of Syria both sides are compelled to cooperate. This explains his friendly stance during the last meeting with the US negotiator [John Kerry]."
Planless Kremlin boss shoots his mouth off
The Russian president came across as completely lacking a strategy in his press conference, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita finds: "There was no indication that he has any idea how to end the conflicts in Syria through political means. Basically he just rejected the US proposals. And nor does he have a plan for how to resolve the conflicts in Turkey and Ukraine. Perhaps he decided not to bring them up because he knows he has already lost both. If he were to go into more detail he would have to admit that. But as long as the crises there continue, he can at least go on pretending he's the great victorious politician who decides the world's fate. That's why he just did a lot of shouting, with insults and threats."
Low oil price Russia's major weakness
At his annual press conference Putin aimed to come across as strong to conceal his country's weaknesses, the conservative daily Die Welt believes: "At 36 dollars a barrel, the price of oil - Russia's key source of income - is dangerously close to the low level Moscow had to cope with during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Whether or not it rises to 50 dollars next year, as the president hopes, remains to be seen. To all intents and purposes unable to distribute campaign gifts, Putin is focusing on foreign policy. ... This weakness is worrying. It could lead the Russians to act in a foolhardy way and do things everyone will regret. What attitude should the West adopt? Deterrence and détente! It must be ready for anything but must not let itself be frightened, while at the same time keeping all the doors open for discussions. Putin must know that he is dealing with a self-confident - and relaxed - discussion partner."
Putin's penchant for oddballs
At his press conference the Russian president showed a fondness for people with a dubious reputation in the West, the conservative daily Večernji list comments: "Putin gave us an insight into his world, in which Fifa boss Sepp Blatter deserves not criminal investigations but the Nobel Peace Prize. In Putin's world Donald Trump is not a nutcase, as even the German weekly Die Zeit describes him, but a talented, brilliant man, the absolute frontrunner of the US presidential campaign. With Putin in Russia, someone like Trump leading the United States of America is all the world needs now!"