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Obama: Vladimir Putin is no 'chess master'

President Obama addressing reporters on Friday. Credit: Reuters

President Obama has rejected the charge that he has been outmanoeuvered by Russian president Vladimir Putin, arguing that the Russian president is presiding over "a huge economic contraction" due to the Ukraine crisis.

Speaking on CNN, he rejected the notion that Putin "is the chess master and outmaneuvering the West and outmanoeuvering Mr. Obama and this and that and the other".

"Right now, he's presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis and a huge economic contraction," Obama said in the interview recorded on Friday.

"That doesn't sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of America."

Panic Saturday: Shops 'expected to double takings'

A Centre for Retail Research report for found that delayed online orders, poor weather in some areas and earlier sales were expected to drive 60.9 million shoppers to the high street between today and Christmas Eve - up 14% on last year.

Department stores expected to double takings. Credit: PA

Britain's department stores can expect to double their takings this weekend, with outlets in the north of England set to benefit the most from Panic Saturday, according to data from payment processing company Worldpay.

It said the number of card payments processed by department stores in some parts of the UK just prior to Christmas rose by as much.


High Street shops offer up to 60% 'panic Saturday' discounts

High street hops have cut prices for what is expected to one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

High Street shops offer 60% 'panic Saturday' discounts Credit: )PA

Among the retailers offering discounts, Debenhams is selling some Christmas gifts at half-price, Boots is offering a 60% discount of selected fragrances, while Marks & Spencer has knocked 50% off the price of some beauty products.

The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has predicted in-store sales will reach £4.74 billion over the five days before Christmas - a 21% increase on last year.

High street stores braced for rush on 'panic Saturday'

Shoppers are expected to spend millions as they buy last-minute Christmas gifts. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

High street spending is set to reach £1.2 billion today as festive shoppers hit the stores on "Panic Saturday".

Thirteen million consumers will spend £2.1 million for every minute the shops are open on last-minute gifts and groceries at an average of £92.31 per person, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

Ordinary Russians count the cost of Putin's defiance

Vladimir Putin struck a defiant pose today when he answered questions from journalist for over three hours, without notes.

But on the streets of Moscow signs of the panic gripping his country were all too evident - one high-end car dealer suspended sales as the rouble's plummeting value leaves it uncertain of what to charge.

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports.


Putin: 'They will always try to put the bear on a chain'

Vladimir Putin was in defiant mood today. Credit: Reuters

Vladimir Putin was in defiant mood today when he faced his annual news conference, taking questions for over three hours from Russian and international journalists.

Among the Russian president's most eye-catching statements, he claimed Western countries wanted to "keep the bear on a chain" - a reference to a popular symbol of his country.

On the Russian economy recovering

Growth in the world economy is going to be secured. The pace will slow down, but there will be growth. The economy will grow and our economy will come out of its current situation. How long will it take? In the least favourable scenario I think about two years.

On a US-Saudi plot to lower the oil price

We are all witnessing a decline in energy prices. There are all sorts of conversations on why this is happening. Either there’s some kind of a plot by Saudi Arabia and the US to punish Iran or influence the economy of Russia, Venezuela, etc. It may be or it may not be.

On relations with the West

Sometimes I think, maybe it would be better for our bear to sit quiet, rather than chasing around the forest after piglets. To sit eating berries and honey instead. Maybe they will leave it in peace. They will not. Because they will always try to put him on a chain, and as soon as they succeed in doing so they tear out his fangs and his claws.

On his role in the current crisis

Responsibility for everything that happens in a country rests with the head of state, and further down according to rank.

Of course, the current situation has been provoked by external factors above all. But...much of what we planned to do and said we would do to diversify our economy over the last 20 years has not been done.

On Iran's nuclear programme

The Iranian government is showing great flexibility, in my view. I don't really undersand why a finaly agreement has not been signed on Iran's nuclear programme. I hope that will happen in the near future.

On his love life

Don't worry. Everything is fine. He asks 'do you have love?', I say 'what do you mean?', he says 'Do you love someone?', I say, 'Yes', he says 'Does somebody love you?', I say 'Yes'.

Russian government pledges £10 billion to support banks

Russia's government will provide 1 trillion roubles (£10.3 billion) in support to "systematically important" banks in the latest attempt to prop up the country's flagging economy.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters: "First of all, we will support systemically important banks, so that economic transactions will be provided for. They are the main holders of deposits, the main transactions are carried out in those (banks)."

He added that Russia' central bank would determine which banks were "systematically important".

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