The fate of the Akkuyu nuclear plant, which is planned to be built in Turkey by Russia, will be left to the companies involved in the project to decide, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
Speaking at his annual press conference in Moscow, Putin said the decision over whether the Akkuyu nuclear power plant will be realized belongs to the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, and its partners in Turkey.
"Russia will not take any step that would harm its economic interests," he added.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow were strained after Turkey brought down a Russian military jet on Nov. 24 after its violation of Turkey's airspace near the Syrian border.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak announced on Dec. 3 that the Russian-proposed Turkish Stream natural gas project, which planned to carry Russian gas to Turkey, was also suspended.
Putin said Thursday that the Turkish Stream project talks may continue but only if the European Union acts as a guarantor for the project.
"However, [Russian gas company] Gazprom or its Turkish partner [Turkey's Petroleum Pipeline Corporation BOTAS] have not received any guarantees from the EU so far," he added.
The Turkish Stream is one of the projects that could allow Moscow to transmit its gas to European markets while bypassing Ukraine.
Putin also highlighted Ukraine’s impending expulsion from the free trade agreement of the Commonwealth of Independent States starting from Jan. 1, 2016.
"Russia does not think of imposing any sanctions on Ukraine. However, I can say, economic relations between Russia and Ukraine will get worse," he warned.
Low oil prices and 2016 budget
Putin stated that Russia may need to recalculate its budget for 2016 due to falling oil prices.
"However, Russia will not rush into this. We have to see what new developments will bring," he said.
With the government’s budget in previous years based on oil prices averaging above $100 per barrel, Putin said that these circumstances have changed dramatically as oil prices have now fallen to $38 per barrel.
Russia expects budget revenues to reach 13.7 trillion rubles ($204 billion) next year, while budget expenditures are projected to be around 16 trillion rubles ($238 billion).
Having stressed that his government is well aware of the fact that the Russian economy is highly dependent on external factors, oil and natural gas exports, he said "Nevertheless, statistics show that we have passed the lowest point in the economic crisis."
Putin said unemployment rate is holding steady at 5.6 percent taking into account that the Russian economy is expected to grow by 0.7 percent in 2016, 1.9 percent in 2017, and 2.4 percent in 2018.
Putin explained that privatization of the Russian oil companies Rosneft and Aeroflot Airlines company depends on favorable market conditions.
"If there are the necessary market conditions, I support the privatization of these companies," he said.
Downed Russian warplane
The Russian president also spoke about the downing of a Russian warplane on Nov. 24 after it violated Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings.
Putin said: “It cannot be said that we see Turkey as an enemy country, yet our relations deteriorated. I do not know how to get out of this situation,” adding that it was up to Turkey from now on.
“If Turkey thought that we would retreat from Syria following the downing of the plane, Russia is not that country,” Putin added.