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Putin: Nato powers 'building a new Berlin Wall'

Vladimir Putin arriving at the annual address. Credit: Reuters

Vladimir Putin has accused Nato countries of "building a new Berlin wall" and blamed other nations for the current situation in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian President said Moscow was ready to mediate in the crisis in a bid to resolve it politically, rather than militarily.

When asked by a Ukrainian journalist how many Russian soldiers had been sent into the region, Putin denied sending any - claiming any that went did so of their own volition.

He also said the current economic crisis in Russia was not a penalty for its involvement in Crimea, claiming sanctions were an attempt to turn Russia from a bear with "claws" into a stuffed animal.

Putin predicts rouble recovery and blames 'external factors'

Vladimir Putin making his annual address. Credit: APTN

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country's uncertain economic situation has been provoked by "external factors", and believes it may take two years for the country to return to growth.

Making an annual address in Moscow, he said he believes the country's currency, the rouble - which has recently been in freefall - will inevitably recover.

He also said he was confident Russia had sufficient currency reserves to deal with the uncertainty and said the central bank and government were taking adequate measures.

Putin added the Central Bank's current interest rate of 17% will not last throughout the currency's crisis.

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Sony share price jumps after pulling The Interview

Sony Pictures has cancelled the release of comedy The Interview on the fictional assassination of North Korea's leader Credit: Reuters

Sony's shares closed 4.8 percent higher in Tokyo today - outperforming the 2.3 percent gain on the Nikkei benchmark index.

Investors said it was hoped that pulling The Interview would help to bring an end to the studio's current crisis.

"By not releasing the movie, they won't be hacked again. Investors think that from here on, further damage probably won't be done," said Makoto Kikuchi, CEO of Myojo Asset Management. "Whether that justifies a 5 percent jump in Sony's stock, I'm not so sure."

Before The Interview was cancelled, Sony is estimated to have lost $84.41 million (£54.2 million) from leaks of its other current releases, such as Fury and Annie.

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