He also defended Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March, saying it had followed a democratic vote for independence and prevented a tragedy like the inferno in the port city of Odessa this month that left dozens of pro-Moscow activists dead.
"With regard to Crimea, our position is clear... They voted in favour -- that is an undeniable fact," Putin said.
"If this had not been done we would have seen a tragedy, like we saw in other cities. Like in Odessa where 50 people were burned alive. I think we did the right thing."