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The 5 best Vladimir Putin quotes from 'Direct Line' event

Talking to Putin

Vladimir Putin addressed his public and took questions in his yearly "Direct Line with Putin"—an event where the Russian president is broadcast taking live questions over the phone.

This year's call came amid tough times for Russia, which has a struggling economy, plunging currency and an expensive war in neighboring Ukraine.

In fact, the co-host on the tightly managed broadcast began the session by pointing out that it's been a year where Putin has had a lot on his shoulders: "No one but you," she said, "could have handled this."

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What follows are some of Putin's most notable quotes, translated from Russian by CNBC, with some independent experts' take on what the strongman had to say.

Russian economy:

Putin: "The stability and reliability of the Russian banking sector is clear, and there would have been a correction in the regardless of sanctions. … Unemployment is up a little, but not as bad as the euro zone."

"Putin's main message on the economy was one of resilience and opportunity," said Alexander Kliment, director of Russia and Emerging Markets Strategy at Eurasia Group. "As he tells it, Russia has performed better than expected given the external shocks of low oil prices and Western sanctions, and that while things would probably be difficult for about two years, this is an opportunity for Russia to strengthen its economy and self-reliance."


Vladimir Putin
Maxim Shipenkov | Pool | Reuters

The European Union and United States have imposed tough sanctions on Russia for its military forays into Ukraine. Putin attempted to turn the sanctions into something positive for his country.

Putin: "We shouldn't just 'get through it,' but we should use sanctions to our advantage."

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Edward Mermelstein, an attorney who works as an adviser on cross-border investments in the Russian Federation, said Putin understands that the economy cannot support growth under current conditions.

"With that said, he must control public opinion in order to maintain political support for current initiatives," Mermelstein said.

The war against Ukraine:

Putin maintained, again, that there are no Russian troops in Ukraine, a country which Western analysts agree Russia has invaded. Putin said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had a chance to resolve things peacefully but he did not.

Putin: "People are sick of poverty, corruption, fraud and oligarchs making their way to political power."

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Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, told CNBC that despite all of Russia's economic difficulties, Putin is still gambling on the notion that "the Russian people perceive the Ukrainian system to be dysfunctional and more chaotic than in Russia, where at least the Kremlin's power ... provides some stability."


Putin: "Arms to Iran are justified."

Reva Bhalla, vice president of Global Analysis, Stratfor, said: "Putin is sending a not-so-subtle message to the Americans that providing lethal weapons to Ukraine will be countered by Russian weapons shipments to Iran. The problem (for Putin) is that the threat is not as potent as it used to be now that the Americans are on the path to normalizing relations with Iran."

And the winner is...

Putin: "People should always criticize the government, the president. When there's criticism, it's good. You can look at things in different ways. It's healthy."

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia group and foreign affairs columnist at Time magazine, said Putin "stands above any opposition, but of course they have the right to express themselves. Until it turns out that they don't."