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Obama didn't respond on Syria targets: Putin

The West does not have a clear picture of what is happening in the Syrian civil war, and Russia's military intervention is to target terrorists and not prop up Syrian leader Bashar Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin told CNBC on Tuesday.

"Let me be clear, we are not going to get into leadership (debates about Syria). There is only one leader in Syria, which is the Syria people," Putin said, answering a question from CNBC at the "Russia Calling" investment forum hosted by Russian investment bank VTB Capital.

"What we're trying to achieve is to contribute to is the fight against terrorism, which is a threat both to the U.S., to Russia, to European countries and the whole world," he said.

"They (the Western alliance) don't have a clear understanding of what's happening on the ground."

Russia's economy was the main topic of the conference but a geopolitical and humanitarian crisis in the Middle East has also pushed Moscow into the spotlight, with the country's military involvement in the Syrian civil war causing concern.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Over the last month, Russia has begun bombing campaigns in Syria, ostensibly joining Western countries fighting the terrorist group Islamic State. As Russia stepped up its bombing campaign this weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama accused Moscow of acting solely to prop up Assad's regime.

Asked by CNBC's Geoff Cutmore how he would respond to Obama's remarks, Putin drew a laugh from the audience by removing his earpiece.

"All our actions fully comply with the United Nations charter and international law, contrary to the actions of our colleagues from the so-called U.S.-led international coalition which is acting without any U.N. Security Council resolution and invitation of the Syrian authorities," Putin said.

The Russian president told CNBC that Moscow had asked the Western allies for information on targets, and specifically on where to strike, and had received no response.

"At the military level, we asked them (the U.S.) to give us the information regarding the targets that they believe are 100 percent belonging to terrorists, and what we received as an answer was that they weren't going to do that. Then, the second question was asked — please tell us which targets should not be attacked by us. No answer received! What should we do then?" he said.

"The first thing we hear right now is that they're not ready to cooperate with us and that we're attacking the wrong targets," he added.

"I haven't been inventing things, (we asked them) to give us targets we should not pound and there was no response."

His comments come amid a torrid economic and political environment for Russia. Russia's economy has been on a rollercoaster ride over the last couple of years since the government's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its role in the pro-Russian uprising in Ukraine resulted in Western sanctions.

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That economic isolation, coupled with the low price of oil, has weighed greatly on the country's currency, the ruble, and its economy, which is expected to experience a 3.8 percent contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015.

Addressing the audience, Putin said the government's aim was to provide macro-economic stability, adding that Russia would "respond in a sensitive way to what's happening on financial markets."

Putin was also optimistic that his country's economy would rebound and that the trough of the crisis "had been reached, if not passed, already." However, he added that the government needed to focus on structural change in the economy.

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