MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual end-of-year televised news conference Thursday. He touched on a number of topics in the lengthy discussion, and what follows is a breakdown of the main points the Russian leader made on the most important of them:
President Putin said the Syrian people themselves must determine who rules the country.
Putin, who met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week, said that Moscow supports a U.S. draft of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria.
He said a new constitution for Syria must be drafted, and a new election prepared in which the Syrians themselves will determine their country's leadership.
He added that Russia believes a political settlement is the only way to end the Syrian crisis.
Putin said his country's military involvement -- which began in September seemingly as an effort to keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power as rebel forces closed in -- would continue until that political transition process begins.
Putin said Russia and the U.S. agree on the need to ensure work on a new constitution and create mechanisms of control over future elections.
He did not specifically say whether Russia and the U.S. had reached any sort of agreement on what role, if any, Assad should have during a transition, which has been a sticking point for years.
The U.S. government insists Assad, who has been accused of killing thousands of his own citizens with indiscriminate bombing and alleged chemical weapons attacks, must leave office.
Relations with Turkey
President Putin said Turkey acted contrary to its own interests by downing a Russian warplane. He said that sees no possibility of overcoming the diplomatic strain under the current Turkish leadership.
Putin said that Russia had been willing to accommodate Turkey's interests and said he was stunned to see that Ankara hadn't tried to explain its action and immediately turned to NATO for help instead.
Putin said the deployment of Russian air defense missiles to Syria had put an end to violations of Syrian airspace by Turkish military aircraft.
Putin said Russia wants a quick settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
He said that "we are interested in seeing the conflict settled as quickly as possible," and urged the Ukrainian government to swiftly approve legislation on holding local elections in Ukraine, accusing the Ukrainian authorities of dragging their feet on the issue.
Russia wants the conflict settled and is ready to use its influence with the rebels in eastern Ukraine to reach a compromise, he said.
Putin said Russia will discuss a possible exchange of prisoners with Ukraine.
He said Russia has had no regular troops in eastern Ukraine, but at the same time he added that there have been people "performing some military tasks."
Asked if Moscow is ready to exchange the two men Ukraine says were Russian soldiers for Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and other prisoners, Putin said any exchange must be equal and details could be discussed with the Ukrainian authorities.
President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia's economy was showing signs of stabilization despite plummeting oil prices, an expected annual decline of 3.8 percent, and the fact that average income in Russia dropped this year for the first time during hisrule.
Speaking at an annual news conference televised live, Putin said that despite the GDP drop, Russia's main commodity, its industries, had started to rebound.
He said his Cabinet was coping well with the economic crisis and that he saw no reason to revamp its membership. He said drastic personnel changes would do no good.