Obama says Russia is a smaller, weaker country than the US

Obama: Russia is smaller, weaker country
Obama: Russia is smaller, weaker country

In his final news conference of the year, President Barack Obama emphasized that Russia cannot change or significantly weaken the U.S., adding that Russia is a smaller and weaker country.

He said Russia's economy "doesn't produce anything that anybody wants to buy," except oil, gas and arms. The only way Russia can affect the U.S., he said, is "if we lose track of who we are" and "abandon our values."

"Mr. Putin can weaken us just like he's trying to weaken Europe if we start buying into notions that it's OK to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents or discriminate against people," he said.

When asked if he would specifically name Russian President Vladimir Putin as directly responsible for the election hacking, Obama said he wanted to give the intelligence community a chance to gather the information necessary. He added, however, that "not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin," reaffirming that the hacking happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.

"This is a pretty hierarchical operation," he said. "Last I checked, there's not a lot of debate and democratic deliberation, particularly when it comes to policies directed at the United States."

Obama reaffirmed his message of political unity and bipartisanship, urging the country to reunite across party lines to defend itself against Russia and others.

"Our vulnerability to Russia or any other foreign power is directly related to how divided, partisan, dysfunctional our political process is," he said. "That's the thing that makes us vulnerable."

On whether President-elect Donald Trump's comments about Russia and Putin embolden Russia, Obama said he would prefer to wait and see, in order to give Trump time to gather his team and become fully briefed on the issues.

The president referenced a survey that said that 37 percent of Republican voters approved of Putin, adding that "Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave."

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.