Putin started the press conference Thursday morning by outlining Russia's economic statistics and forecasts for the coming year.
Growth is estimated to have reached 1.8 percent in 2018, he said, and industrial output is estimated to have grown 3 percent in this year. He said inflation was at an "acceptable level" (it stood at 3.8 percent, as of November) and that decreasing unemployment was encouraging and would stand at 4.8 percent in 2018.
"For the first time since 2011, we see a budget surplus and this is going to be around 2.1 percent of (gross domestic product)," he added.
Putin's annual media question and answer session comes at an challenging time for the economy.
Several key Russian sectors are subject to Western sanctions including the banking, infrastructure, oil and military industries. Sanctions were imposed after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and role in a pro-Russian uprising in east Ukraine. There are restrictions on numerous individuals and entities alleged to have links to the government.
The major oil exporter has also had a torrid time with volatile oil prices over the last year. A barrel of Brent crude cost around $67 in January. But the price zig-zagged throughout the spring and summer and reached around $85 in October, before falling to its current level of $55. Russia formed a close relationship with fellow oil producer, and OPEC leader, Saudi Arabia, to stabilize prices by cutting production.
Amid fears of a drop in global supply both producers agreed to pump more oil in summer. In early December, that decision was reversed with the alliance deciding to cut again. Despite Russia's reliance on oil exports for much of its growth, Putin once again stressed the need for structural reforms and diversification when asked by one journalist why growth was not higher.
"We cannot provide for the necessary rate of economic growth unless we change the structure of our economy," he said.
Putin's annual press conference is largely seen as a way for the Kremlin to show it is transparent and accountable but the level of questioning is not usually overtly critical on Putin. According to the Russian state-owned news outlet Russia Today, which live broadcast the conference, this year's Q&A saw a record number of journalists accredited for the event, at 1,702.